Web Osi Speaks!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Web Site Will Show How Non-Profits, Charities Spend". AMEN.

Web site will show how non-profits, charities spend
By Linda B. Blackford

A spate of spending scandals at non-profits and charities in recent years has led the governing boards of other organizations to seek to make their financial information more transparent.

Now the Blue Grass Community Foundation — an umbrella organization for more than 200 Kentucky non-profits and charities — is going to help them. On Wednesday, they're launching a new Web site that allows donors to see how much these groups spend and how they spend it.

"A lot of people have heartfelt charitable intent, but they want to know they're giving to a solid organization," said Lisa Adkins, executive director of the Blue Grass Community Foundation. "People give more when they have confidence, and the key to having confidence is having knowledge."

So far, more than 90 of the foundation's groups have voluntarily joined the Web site,, including small ones, such as Seedleaf, a community gardening non-profit, and bigger ones, such as Centre College.

Once viewers click on the organization's name on the site, they can see yearly revenues and expenses, along with pie charts to show what percentage of the group's budget goes to its programs versus administrative costs. The site also shows the board's governance structure, the members of its board of directors, the programs it offers and financial information for the previous three years.

For those people who want even more details, the site links directly to the group's 990 tax form, which shows individual salaries and other more specific information.

Adkins said the technology works through Guidestar, the Washington, D.C., organization that compiles nearly all the 990 forms turned into the IRS.

Transparency is a growing concern for community foundations, Adkins said. The first such Web site was launched by her former employer, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, which eventually decided to make the technology public. Adkins said the Blue Grass group is the 10th community foundation to set up such a site.

"Non-profits have told us they believe this is a step they can take to distinguish themselves, to show they are transparent and accountable," she said.

Dan Moore, vice-president of non-profit programs for Guidestar, said more and more community foundations are moving toward such Web sites.

"Philanthropy is moving online," Moore said. "Community foundations are known for their deep knowledge of their communities, and they're now bringing that knowledge forward."

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee in Nashville set up in 2004.

Spokeswoman Kallie Bienvenu said more than 1,200 non-profit organizations in Tennessee have joined the site.

"We want to enhance giving and to help donors feel confident and good about the gifts they can give," Bienvenu said. "It's a great way for organizations to get their information out there."

Here in Lexington, Chrysalis House, a non-profit center that supports women and their families through recovery from alcoholism and other addictions, has joined the new site. Assistant Director Mary Allison Belshoff said the group was eager to get on board.

"Goodgiving shows our potential donors that we are good stewards of our funding, which will be evidenced over the years on the site," Belshoff said.

She said fund-raising could improve, particularly from people who want to give to specific programs. One important facet of the site is that it allows online donations. Using online fund transfers such as PayPal are very expensive for non-profits to operate on their own Web sites, Belshoff said.

"That way, we'll be able to save a lot of money," she said.

Mackenzie Royce, executive director of the Bluegrass Conservancy, said she hopes will increase her group's visibility.

"We think this forum gives our non-profit a great opportunity to share our story and connect with potential donors," Royce said. "We believe it can really provide the donor a snapshot of our non-profit land trust mission and our goals, our needs and our financial situation."

The Blue Grass Community Foundation will launch the site with a news conference Wednesday afternoon. State Auditor Crit Luallen will be the keynote speaker at the Keeneland Club at 4:30 p.m.

"While our focus is on public dollars, much of the work we've done has pointed to the need for more transparency and accountability on the part of all public and non-profit boards," Luallen said. "This initiative will really bring increased transparencies, with the added incentive of encouraging more people to give."

The Blue Grass Community Foundation will hold an information session on the new Web site at 9 a.m. Jan. 12. For information, e-mail or call the foundation at (859) 225-3343.

There also will be an online seminar from 2 to 3 p.m. Jan 27. To register, go to

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Editor's comment: What a novel idea. You suppose we can get our state and federal governments to be so transparent? I guess we can keep insisting on it, and hopefully someone will hear us and do something about it!


Please Do Not Laugh At This Headline: Senate Passes Food Safety Oversight Bill, Beef Or Eggs Not Included.

Food safety bill: Spinach gets new oversight, but not beef
By Les Blumenthal

WASHINGTON — Months after her 2-year-old son died from eating a fast-food hamburger tainted with E. coli in January 1993, Diana Nole of Gig Harbor, Wash., went to Capitol Hill and asked Congress to overhaul the nation's food-safety laws.

Now Congress could be on the verge of passing a sweeping measure that Nole and others say is a "step forward" but falls short of what's truly needed.

The Senate Tuesday passed a bill designed to give the Food and Drug Administration new powers to protect consumers from unsafe food. The measure was approved 73-25, and an effort is under way to reconcile it quickly with a more stringent version approved by the House of Representatives before the lame-duck session of Congress ends. President Barack Obama has indicated he'd sign the bill.

"This legislation means that parents who tell their kids to eat their spinach can be assured it won't make them sick," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who as the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee wrote the bill, referring to a more recent e-coli outbreak traced to spinach.

However, the measure does nothing to sort out the overlapping jurisdictions among the FDA and other federal agencies that regulate food safety. The new bill doesn't cover meat, poultry and eggs because the Department of Agriculture regulates them.

The Senate bill would give the FDA new powers to recall tainted food, increase inspections of food processors and impose tougher food-safety standards on producers.

The action came after contaminated eggs, peanuts and produce sickened hundreds of people this year, and more than 550 million eggs suspected of salmonella contamination were recalled.

But the measure requires the FDA to inspect what it defines as "high risk" producers only once every three years. The bill also exempts small farms from the new requirements.

Even so, backers of the legislation said it represents a major overhaul and were quick to point out that it received bipartisan support. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne illnesses sicken 76 million Americans every year; 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 — 14 a day — die.

For Nole, the passage of time has helped ease the pain of her son's death, but it remains.

Michael Nole was the first of three children in Washington state to die after eating contaminated and undercooked meat from Jack in the Box restaurants. More than 600 people were sickened and more than 100 were hospitalized.

"It's easier than it was," his mother said. "Of course I think of him every day. I see him in my other kids."

Nole and her husband often visit their son's grave on his birthday, which is Dec. 9.

The Noles have two other children, boys 17 and 13, and much of their energy is focused on raising them rather than advocating for new food-safety laws. But she still follows the legislation and was reading the Senate bill over lunch Tuesday. "It's a step forward," she said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is also a member of the committee.

"Today marks a bittersweet and long-overdue victory for the families and individuals that were affected by the E. coli outbreak that shook Washington state and the Northwest in 1993," Murray said. "This legislation is the first food-safety legislation to pass in decades and will go a long way to making sure the U.S. continues to have the safest food supply in the world."

Others, including Nole, aren't so sure.

Nole said she was especially bothered that the bill didn't cover meat, poultry and eggs. She also said that all farms, regardless of size or whether they were organic, should be covered.

"I'm glad to see it is still moving forward," she said of the effort to secure tougher food-safety regulations. "But I don't trust the government. It's up to the consumer."

Nole is one of the founders of a food safety group called Safe Tables Our Priority. Nancy Donley, the president of the group, said the Senate bill could have been better but that it nonetheless would improve food safety.

"The bottom line is we believe it will save lives, but we still have a few issues," Donley said, adding she thought the bill lacked the "teeth" to be effective.

Nole said she hadn't been active lately with Safe Tables Our Priority, but that could change when her two sons are grown.

"You have two choices in life," she said. "You can let it beat you or you can beat it. I decided it wouldn't beat me."

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With The Budget Axe Swinging, Steve Beshear Seeks To Protect 81 Appointed Policy Advisors And Assistants.

Beshear seeks to spare jobs of 81 appointees

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Gov. Steve Beshear is trying to spare the jobs of dozens of political appointees whose positions are set to be eliminated at the end of the year under a new budget-cutting law.

Beshear's office says the group of 81 officials includes policy advisers and special assistants whose positions are essential. The governor wants the Kentucky Personnel Board to exempt the employees from the new law.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the request has detractors among rank-and-file state workers.

"Many of these jobs don't actually do anything that serves the public," said Melissa Jan Williamson, vice president of the Kentucky Association of State Employees. "Most of the public service is performed by the merit workers, who are paid less and who are being furloughed."

Merit workers are especially unhappy about political appointees because the merit workers were required to take six days of unpaid furlough this fiscal year, Williamson said. Beshear said furloughs are needed to trim payroll costs and balance the budget. But the state would be better served if Beshear eliminated the political jobs that provide negligible value, she said.

Policy advisers on average start with a $75,729 annual salary, and special assistants on average start at $61,980. Beshear didn't submit names, just titles and agencies, when he made the request.

"While some of these non-merit positions are called 'assistants,' they include deputy commissioners, deputy directors, general counsels, policy advisers and the chief public health nurse - positions that remain essential to the service of the agency or cabinet," Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said.

She said the 81 jobs are necessary but that the administration is committed to reducing the cost of appointed positions by $5 million by June 30, when the fiscal year ends. She said the administration doesn't know how many other appointees are expected to lose their jobs Dec. 31. She said state agencies are reducing appointed positions through retirement, attrition and layoffs but that she didn't have numbers available.

Governors traditionally put hundreds of political appointees on the state payroll, and the employees serve at the governor's pleasure, unlike merit workers, and usually leave with the governor.

The legislature tried to force Beshear to curb political appointments last winter, in response to the state budget shortfall. Beshear said then that the state had 826 full-time appointees. The Herald-Leader reported the most recent data shows the number was up to 856 by Sept. 29.

A bill Beshear signed into law limits the number of mid-level appointees to no more than one per cabinet secretary, commissioner or office chief. Any positions in excess are to be abolished Dec. 31 unless granted a reprieve by the Personnel Board.

Beshear's request came before the board in November, but it postponed action until its next meeting on Dec. 10. Chairman Cecil Dunn said the board wants to know more about the appointees' duties and their necessity.

"We were told these are all, quote, kind of policy-making positions, they help decide policy," Dunn said. "I'm not sure I understand what that means. That's one of the things we're going to have to find out."

Lawmakers said earlier this year that they worried about the rising cost of political patronage when essential state services are being cut.

"I hope that as it makes this decision, the Personnel Board considers the state of the economy right now, where we have 10 percent unemployment, as well as the state budget," Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown and chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, said this week.


Louisville Courier Journal Editorial: Snubbing The President.

Snubbing the President

President Obama gallantly and rightly used the term “shellacking” to describe the verdict that mid-term voters delivered to Democrats a few weeks back.

But gracious in victory, Republican leaders were not. Two days after the election, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. John Boehner, who will be elevated to speaker of the House, snubbed the President's invitation to meet to “talk substantially about how we can move the American people's agenda forward.”

Messrs. McConnell and Boehner blamed the cancellation on “scheduling conflicts in organizing their caucuses.” The White House meeting reportedly has been rescheduled. Nevertheless, it is highly unusual for members of the opposite party to snub a presidential invitation to talk.

But this snub fits what's becoming a troubling pattern of Republicans who openly disrespect Mr. Obama in ways that Republicans or Democrats in years past wouldn't have dreamed of — because, big policy differences notwithstanding, they at least respected the office.

When unemployment is still high, when health care is straining family budgets, when North Korea is bearing its teeth, when the fight over Bush-era tax cuts remains to be resolved, when American boots are on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, and when terrorists still are plotting to blow Americans up, this is no time for Republicans or Democrats to be more concerned about the next election than they are about cooperating to try to find whatever common ground there is to be found.

Mid-term elections invariably send presidents the message that some mid-course policy corrections are in order. But Republicans are mistaken if they believe that the upshot of this mid-term is that Americans in general are more vested in denying Barack Obama a second term than they are in having their elected leaders work with the President to try to help ease what's ailing them right now.


Joel Pett On Tom Delay's "Spin Cycle".


Monday, November 29, 2010


Gatewood Galbraith to enter Kentucky governor's race

Perennial Kentucky candidate Gatewood Galbraith will formally kick off his independent 2011 campaign for governor with a news conference in Frankfort on Wednesday

Galbraith, along with his running mate Dea Riley, will outline plans for “restoring Kentucky to prosperity” in the Capitol Rotunda at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Galbraith, a Lexington lawyer and marijuana advocate, is making his ninth race for public office since first running for state agriculture commissioner in 1983, never getting much above 15 percent of the vote.

Riley is a former marketing director and political consultant raised in Shelby County, according to the campaign Website.



The new heresy
Will someone step up and be the leader of the centrist movement?


NEW YORK — In a political culture where moderation is the new heresy, centrism is fast becoming the new black.

Political outliers - not quite Republican, not quite Democrat - are forming new alliances in a communal search for “Home.” Exhausted by extremism and aching for real change, more and more Americans are moving away from demagoguery and toward pragmatism.

Soon they may have options. Next month, a new political group, No Labels (, will launch in New York City. Led by Republican strategist Mark McKinnon and Democratic fundraiser Nancy Jacobson, the organization has raised more than $1 million. Backers include Andrew Tisch, co-chair of Loews Corp.; Ron Shaich, founder of Panera Bread; and Dave Morin, ex-Facebook executive.

The group hopes to attract both politicians who feel they’ve lost elections for being too moderate, and voters who feel homeless. There are plenty of each.

Congress’ historically low approval ratings, the anti-incumbency spirit of the midterm elections, and now the influx of tea-party-backed candidates - not to mention Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart’s well-attended rally for sanity - are all testament to dissatisfaction with Washington’s systemic failings.

Alas, there is little reason to hope that things will change or improve when the new Congress convenes in January. Republicans seem determined to continue their “hell no” strategy. New tea party legislators seem determined to fight establishment Republicans, thus diluting Republican power. Democrats aim to dig in their heels.


As further evidence, witness recent reaction to the bipartisan fiscal reforms recommended by Erskine Bowles (Democrat) and Alan Simpson (Republican), both respected for their nonpartisan approach to problem-solving. Neither party was enthusiastic, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi objecting most strenuously. “Hell no” isn’t just for Republicans anymore.

When the porridge is either too hot or too cold, the moment for something in between is ripe. More Americans now self-identify as independent rather than Republican or Democrat, even though they may be forced by a lack of alternatives to vote in traditional ways.

But what if there were an alternative? There’s little appealing about either party dominated by a base that bears little resemblance to who we are as a nation or the way most of us live our lives.

Yet, moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans alike have been banished. Purged by any other name. Some of them have landed in the No Labels camp.

Jun Choi, a Democratic former mayor of Edison, N.J., told The Wall Street Journal he lost because he wasn’t extreme enough. Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire state senator, thinks she lost for being too moderate.

In South Carolina, Republican Rep. Bob Inglis lost because he wouldn’t demonize Barack Obama. In a recent interview, he told me that he refused to say that Obama is a Muslim, or that he wasn’t born in the U.S., or that the president is a socialist. Inglis was warned by a Republican operative that conceding Obama’s legitimacy would cause him problems. Indeed, Inglis lost to a tea party candidate.

Inglis is otherwise one of the rational conservatives who dare to suggest that, yes, we have to make painful cuts in entitlements. And, heresy of all, he acknowledges that climate change is real and that a carbon tax, offset by tax cuts elsewhere, is a plausible approach to regulation.

Inglis’ measured, thoughtful tone corresponds to a different school of political thought than what has dominated this past political season. Rational and calm, he resisted the finger-pointing and hyperbole that tend to capture attention and votes.

Can an Inglis ever survive in such a culture? If not, what are we left with?

The answer may be partially evident in the write-in election of Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The first successful write-in candidate in a U.S. Senate race since Strom Thurmond was elected in 1954, Murkowski won the third way. Defeated in the Republican primary by Sarah Palin’s pick, Joe Miller, Murkowski refused to fade into history’s index of has-beens.

She kept her seat by promoting ideas and solutions and by rebuking partisanship.

Alaskans are by nature independent and reliably rogue, as a nation has witnessed. Thus, it may be too convenient to draw conclusions about a broader movement, but centrism has a place at the table by virtue of the sheer numbers of middle Americans, the depth of their disgust, and the magnitude of our problems.

All that’s missing from a centrist movement that could be formidable is a leader.



WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange LEAKS Diplomatic Secrets. Is He A HERO Or A VILLAIN?

Go to WIKILEAKS and check it all out.


We Forgot To Laugh, And This Is The Best I Can Do. LOL.


Kentucky Is Incarcerating Its Way Into Poverty. Read More.

Prison and poverty an endless loop
How long can legislature ignore need for change?

One popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

By that measure, Kentucky is off-the-walls wacko when it comes to locking people up.

That's not news, but it is reinforced by a recent report from the Pew Charitable Trusts about the impact of imprisonment on economic mobility.

We've known for a long time that the economics of locking people up are simply terrible. It costs a lot of money, there's little indication that locking more people up has made us safer and the people imprisoned have a hard time becoming productive taxpaying members of society upon release.

The Pew study takes this all a step further by looking at the impact on the economic prospects of the families of people imprisoned.

The findings aren't surprising, but they are both eye-opening and dreadful:

"Former inmates work fewer weeks each year, earn less money and have limited upward mobility. These costs are borne by offenders' families and communities, and they reverberate across generations," the report notes. The Pew report takes a national view so there are no Kentucky-specific data. But a 2008 Pew study in found that Kentucky had the nation's fastest-growing prison population.

Since 2000, the number of people locked up in Kentucky has grown 45 percent, compared with 13 percent for the rest of the nation. Total state spending on corrections reached $513 million last year, up from $117 million at the end of the 1980s.

We also know that Kentucky is among the poorest states in the nation, with 17 percent of our citizens living below the federal poverty line. Intergenerational poverty is also a Kentucky curse.

Poor children don't have the same access to many of the ingredients that lead to academic and economic success — consistent health care, good nutrition and educational enhancement.

So poverty begets poverty, and Kentucky languishes at or near the bottom of the socio-economic pool. Finally, we know that despite some remarkable examples to the contrary, poverty and crime are closely linked.

The insight from the Pew study is that our addiction to incarceration is adding to our tragic poverty, which in turn almost certainly increases crime.

A few rays of hope

One of the most troubling aspects of this downward spiral is that it's at least partly self-induced.

Although Kentucky's prison population growth outstrips the nation, our crime rate is below that of the rest of the country. As the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has pointed out, while our incarceration rate was soaring, violent and property crimes in Kentucky fell by 12 and 14 percent respectively.

We don't have more crime, we've simply designated more crimes punishable by imprisonment. And by doing so, we're relegating more children to a life in poverty. Remember what we said at the beginning about insanity?

There are a few rays of hope:

■ Gov. Steve Beshear and Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown acknowledge the problem and have taken measures to reduce the prison population without endangering public safety.

■ Earlier this year, the General Assembly recognized the problem by creating the Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances to get at the heart of the problem, which is choosing imprisonment as the option of choice for non-violent drug-related crimes.

■ In addition, Beshear announced in August that the state is working with the Pew Center on the States to analyze our prison population growth and explore ways to reduce recidivism while holding offenders accountable and controlling spending on corrections.

We don't know exactly what will come of these efforts, but almost certainly the recommendations will involve some mix of reducing the types of offenses considered felonies, easing off on the prison time associated with others and investing in diversion and rehabilitation rather than imprisonment for non-violent offenders.

Beware fear factor

Some public figures will try to use fear — the emotion that got us into this irrational mess — to block reforms and further their careers.

We're all for spirited, even brutal, public debate. But when the fearmongers start warning that we won't be safe in our homes unless more and more people are locked up try to remember a few things:

■ Virtually all inmates are released. We don't lock the doors and throw away the keys.

■ One in 28 children in the United States now has a parent behind bars.

■ Nationally, more than two-thirds of men were employed before they entered prison, 44 percent of them lived with their children and more than half were the primary earners for the family.

■ Imprisonment, not just conviction, seems to be a key factor in depressing future earning opportunities. "Serving time reduces hourly wages for men by approximately 11 percent, annual employment by 9 weeks and annual earnings by 40 percent," the Pew report concludes.

Locking people up, it turns out, is often a short-term and ineffective solution that creates long-term intractable problems.

Some legislative session soon, we'll have a choice between investing in long-term solutions or maintaining our commitment to spending more money on prisoners than on students.

It's a test of our collective sanity.

Here's hoping we pass.

To find a copy of the study, "Collateral Costs; Incareration's effects on economic mobility," go to the Pew Charitable Trusts Web site at

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TSA Pat Downs Are Likely Unconstitutional. Read Why.

Why the TSA pat-downs and body scans are unconstitutional
By Jeffrey Rosen

The protest on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was called National Opt-Out Day, and its organizers urged air travelers to refuse the Transportation Security Administration's full-body scanning machines.

But many appeared to have opted out of opting out. The TSA reported that few of the 2 million people flying Wednesday chose pat-downs over the scanners, with few resulting delays.

There have been high-profile acts of civil disobedience in response to the two controversial procedures recently deployed by the TSA for primary screening - the body-scanning machines and the intrusive full-body pat-downs - including software programmer John Tyner's unforgettable warning to a TSA official: "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested." But the public seems less opposed to the scanners than civil libertarians had hoped. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 32 percent of respondents said they objected to the full-body scans, although 50 percent were opposed to the pat-downs offered as an alternative.

That means opponents of the new measures will have to shift their efforts from the airports to the courts. One advocacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, has already filed a lawsuit, calling the body scanners unconstitutional. Could this challenge succeed?

Courts evaluating airport-screening technology tend to give great deference to the government's national security interest in preventing terrorist attacks. But in this case, there's a strong argument that the TSA's measures violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

Although the Supreme Court hasn't evaluated airport screening technology, lower courts have emphasized, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in 2007, that "a particular airport security screening search is constitutionally reasonable provided that it 'is no more extensive nor intensive than necessary, in the light of current technology, to detect the presence of weapons or explosives.' "

In a 2006 opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, then-Judge Samuel Alito stressed that screening procedures must be both "minimally intrusive" and "effective" - in other words, they must be "well-tailored to protect personal privacy," and they must deliver on their promise of discovering serious threats. Alito upheld the practices at an airport checkpoint where passengers were first screened with walk-through magnetometers and then, if they set off an alarm, with hand-held wands. He wrote that airport searches are reasonable if they escalate "in invasiveness only after a lower level of screening disclose[s] a reason to conduct a more probing search."

As currently used in U.S. airports, the new full-body scanners fail all of Alito's tests. First, as European regulators have recognized, they could be much less intrusive without sacrificing effectiveness. For example, Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, the European airport that employs body-scanning machines most extensively, has incorporated crucial privacy and safety protections. Rejecting the "backscatter" machines used in the United States, which produce revealing images of the body and have raised concerns about radiation, the Dutch use scanners known as ProVision ATD, which employ radio waves with far lower frequencies than those used in common hand-held devices. If the software detects contraband or suspicious material under a passenger's clothing, it projects an outline of that area of the body onto a gender-neutral, blob-like human image, instead of generating a virtually naked image of the passenger. The passenger can then be taken aside for secondary screening.

TSA Administrator John Pistole acknowledged in recent testimony that these "blob" machines, as opposed to the "naked" machines, are the "next generation" of screening technology. His concern, he said, is that "there are currently a high rate of false positives on that technology, so we're working through that."

But courts might hold that, even with false positives, "blob" imaging technology that leads to a secondary pat-down is less invasive and more effective than imposing a choice between "naked" machines and intrusive pat-downs as primary screening for all passengers.

In the Netherlands, there's another crucial privacy protection: Images captured by the body scanners are neither stored nor transmitted. Unfortunately, the TSA required that the machines deployed in U.S. airports be capable of recording, storing and transmitting images when in "test" mode. The agency promised, after this capability was revealed by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, that the test mode isn't being used in airports. But other agencies have abused the storage capability of the machines. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted in August that it had saved more than 35,000 images from body scanners at the Orlando federal courthouse.

In evaluating the constitutionality of these scanners, U.S. courts might hold that the machines can't be considered "minimally invasive" as long as images can be stored and recorded.

In January, the European Commission's information commissioner criticized the scanners' "privacy-invasive potential" and their unproven effectiveness. And tests have shown that the machines are not good at detecting low-density powder explosives: A member of Britain's Parliament who evaluated the scanners in his former capacity as a defense technology company director concluded that they wouldn't have stopped the bomber who concealed the chemical powder PETN in his underwear last Christmas.

So there's good reason to believe that the machines are not effective in detecting the weapons they're purportedly designed to identify. For U.S. courts, that's yet another consideration that could make them constitutionally unreasonable.

Broadly, U.S. courts have held that "routine" searches of all travelers can be conducted at airports as long as they don't threaten serious invasions of privacy. By contrast, "non-routine" searches, such as strip-searches or body-cavity searches, require some individualized suspicion - that is, some cause to suspect a particular traveler of wrongdoing. Neither virtual strip-searches nor intrusive pat-downs should be considered "routine," and therefore courts should rule that neither can be used for primary screening.

Will the Supreme Court recognize the unconstitutionality of body-scanning machines? It might have ruled against them five years ago, when the balance of power was controlled by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

O'Connor was an eloquent opponent of intrusive group searches that threatened privacy without increasing security. In a 1983 opinion upholding searches by drug-sniffing dogs, she recognized that a search is most likely to be considered constitutionally reasonable if it is very effective at discovering contraband without revealing innocent but embarrassing information. The backscatter machines seem, in O'Connor's view, to be the antithesis of a reasonable search: They reveal a great deal of innocent but embarrassing information and are remarkably ineffective at revealing low-density contraband.

The Supreme Court might not view the matter differently today, now that O'Connor has been replaced by Alito, who wrote the lower-court opinion insisting that screening technologies had to be both effective and "minimally intrusive." Last year, the court struck down strip-searches in schools by a vote of 8 to 1.

In many cases, furthermore, Supreme Court justices are influenced by public opinion, consciously or unconsciously, and some polls suggest that opposition to these screening measures has grown in recent months. That reflects a basic truth of the politics of privacy: People are most likely to be outraged over a particular privacy invasion when their own privacy has actually been violated.

By Sunday evening, a projected 24 million U.S. travelers will have flown over the Thanksgiving holiday, and although less than 3 percent of them will have received intrusive pat-downs, many more will have gone through the scanners, holding their hands up in surrender as detailed images of their bodies flashed across a government screen.

It's possible, of course, that the TSA will respond to the backlash by rethinking its screening policies or that Congress will step in with regulations. But if not, the Supreme Court may be asked to hear a constitutional challenge to the body scanners before long. If the justices take the case, they should strike down the use of "naked" machines and intrusive pat-downs as an unreasonable search and a violation of what Justice Louis Brandeis called "the most comprehensive of rights" - namely, "the right to be let alone."

Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University, is the author of "The Naked Crowd: Reclaiming Security and Freedom in an Anxious Age."

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Words To Live By, And Words To Ponder. (Words That Mean A Whole Lot Today Than Ever Before).

Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices - The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions - The first is a patron, the last a punisher - Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil.

-- Thomas Paine, Common Sense

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

North Carolina's Former Governor Mike Easley, From Favored Son To Felon.

Long, odd arc of Mike Easley as mystifying as the man himself

RALEIGH -- When Mike Easley was sworn into office as governor for his second term in January 2005, the world seemed to lie at his feet. He was the Southeast's only two-term Democratic governor; political operatives whispered about a future bid for president.

Five years later, Easley is a felon. His transgression seemed like a simple booking error: failing to properly file campaign finance reports. But the two-year criminal investigation revealed a classic political scandal: popular politician undone by gifts and favors. In his case, a discounted vacation lot, loaned cars and campaign contributions used for home repairs.

The exposure and legal fight have shattered Easley's once solid reputation, decimated his finances and could have him fighting for his law license.

It's a far fall. And, for many, nearly inexplicable.

Though Easley held leadership roles in the state for nearly two decades, he is perhaps the least understood politician in North Carolina's history.

Easley and some of his backers say the explanation is simple: He has been mugged by both sides of the political spectrum, from a Republican U.S. Attorney's Office and from The News & Observer, a paper with historically Democratic leanings.

"He happened to be governor in the 'gotcha age,'" said Joseph Cheshire V, Easley's attorney. "We live in this age of 'no matter what you do, someone is going to find fault with it.'"

"Mike is a nice, personable guy who does his own thing, in his own time in a way he wants to do it," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, who has known Easley and worked with him since the 1980s. "That's what people don't understand about him, and people aren't keen on things they can't understand."

With all the promise 2005 brought, some say Easley felt trapped as governor. It was a snug fit: an introvert in the state's biggest fishbowl and a politician who disliked politics.

Some look for answers in that second term, when his quirks were accentuated - an outsider who never really fit, a loner who tended to distrust people, and a tightfistedness that went beyond frugality.

Outsider to insider

Easley had always been a bit of an outsider, a Catholic altar boy in Rocky Mount, a largely Protestant Eastern North Carolina town. A lifelong learning disability made it difficult for him to read; he struggled in school.

Early in his career he embraced his outsider status as a district attorney in southeastern North Carolina. Easley went after political corruption, helping prosecute 34 public officials in his three-county district, including former Lt. Gov. Jimmy Green.

Despite this, Easley thrived politically. He projected a friendly next-door neighbor image, the funny guy who could impersonate just about every big politician in the state.

He would soon be invited to play politics on a statewide level, when political scouts saw how he captivated voters during commercial spots for Tony Rand, who ran for lieutenant governor in 1988.

Easley would eventually be elected attorney general twice and governor twice, claiming nearly two decades in the state's highest offices.

Despite his political triumphs, Easley wasn't the Democratic Party's guy.

The unspoken back-scratching required of party loyalists made Easley bristle. He sometimes refused to return the calls of major fundraisers.

"Easley was a puzzle to many people in Raleigh, especially the political and journalistic community," said Ferrel Guillory, director of the Program on Public Life at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "He was not given to press conferences and speeches. ... His personal habits and his way of doing things were not what we were accustomed to."

Easley craved privacy. Friends say he is fiercely independent and slow to take counsel. In his final years in office, he was nearly invisible to the media. When reporters pressed, he seemed to retreat more.

"He has his own way of going about things. He was not as open as some politicians. He never craved the limelight," said Berkley Skinner, a lifelong friend from Rocky Mount.

Easley's own rules

Easley had an unorthodox style of governing.

His Cabinet secretaries had extraordinary discretion to run their own agencies.

"I think he got to where he was on cruise control with everything second term," said Nick Garrett, a former fundraiser from Wilmington who befriended Easley and performed house repairs that came under scrutiny at the State Board of Elections. "He had all his comrades in good positions working for him and watching over things."

Easley's hands-off style provoked criticism by those who say he largely ignored major problems within the mental health system and probation system in those years.

Easley also kept his own hours, often staying awake much of the night. It was not unusual for him to take off in the middle of the day to play golf, especially in his later years in the governor's mansion.

Though Easley made tremendous strides in education and the economy while governor, most citizens best remember his antics. At a fundraiser in Concord, he drove a NASCAR car as a stunt, and he crashed it. He would later repeat the episode in downtown Raleigh as he raced in the streets around the Executive Mansion.

When Easley faced his biggest of decisions, he often did it alone. Few political advisers had access to Easley. And when they spoke, Easley often seemed uninterested.

Even those considered to be on Easley's side of the political fence were kept at arms' length.

He was not close to his predecessor, former four-term Gov. Jim Hunt. Easley had a stormy relationship with such powerful Democratic legislative leaders as Senate leader Marc Basnight and House Speaker Joe Hackney. Easley was not even on speaking terms with his own state party chairman.

And so, when Easley fell, he was alone.

Easley's circle believes Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue threw Easley under the bus by releasing travel records that sparked much of the investigations. And U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan also did Easley no favors when she said she would not pressure the Obama administration to replace Republican U.S. Attorney George Holding until his investigation of Easley was finished.

"Mike kept a very close circle," said Garrett, the former fundraiser. "He kept to himself and made light of politics. He wasn't really interested in what others thought of it either."

Tight with money

As dominant in Easley as his wit was his intense frugality, rooted in childhood.

His grandfather had owned of a chain of tobacco warehouses, but the family fortune sharply declined when Easley was a child.

"Money was not plentiful [in the Easley home]," said Skinner, the childhood friend. "He worked all his life. That was because of necessity."

In college, Easley was teased for his unwillingness to spend money. Fraternity brothers, such as Jim Hughes, tell stories of Easley going on a trip with $5 in his pocket and returning with $10. Even Cheshire, his lawyer, laughs when he remembers Easley inviting him to lunch in the 1980s, then disappearing when the check arrived.

For most North Carolinians, the governor's $139,000 salary is handsome compensation. But in the business world in which governors operate, middle-level executives earn that amount or more.

"He could have made a fortune out there practicing criminal law," said Michaux, the legislator. "He made no fortune serving the people. And the temptation to have it is always there. It surrounds politicians."

Governors often cash in after they leave office, joining lucrative law practices and corporate boards.

"He would have had money beyond his ability to spend it if he had had the patience to wait a few years," said Hughes, who has written about Easley's tenure in state government.

Instead, Easley made decisions in his second term that would draw scrutiny from investigators and reporters.

"He's so smart and so capable," said Les Merritt, former state auditor and a Republican. "You really have to look at it and wonder if he thought he was doing anything wrong ... in my mind, though, he brought it on himself."

The fall

Last week, there was no gloating about Easley's fall.

Even those who have criticized Easley in the last few years say that his fate is tragic.

"He was such a great man brought to earth by such small failings," said Hughes.

"It seems extremely minor what he did," Basnight said. "Mike Easley never gained anything from his public service. I give thanks to Mike, not condemnation."

His friends wish the controversy would blow over so Easley might move along.

"As it would be for anyone, he was hurt very much by what was said about him in the media and by what people said behind his back," said Skinner. "It took a toll on him."

Easley never dreamed of political pursuits beyond his years in the governor's mansion, friends say. He always meant to return to a life he found most comfortable: well beyond the eyes of the public.

Even those simple desires are now in jeopardy.

He always hoped to practice law with his only child. Michael Easley, his son, passed the bar exam this year and took a job with McGuire Woods, the same firm Easley had to quit last year.

"They wanted to be a team," Cheshire, his lawyer, said. "Right now, that, like many things, are on hold."

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As Marriage Goes, So Goes The World As We Know It!

As marriage goes, so goes U.S. culture

Marriage and family help hold our society and civilization together, which is why it was troubling to learn that a recent study revealed more people feel marriage is becoming obsolete.

A study by the Pew Research Center revealed some interesting statistics about Americans’ feelings on marriage, cohabitation and kids with single parents or a parent who has never been married.

The study shows a major shift from previous studies, including one from 1960. Now, about 29 percent of children under 18 live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, a fivefold increase from that year.

On Thanksgiving Day, nearly 1 in 3 American children was living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never married.

These statistics are sad, especially for the children, and show that the fabric of our society is slowly unraveling.

In 1978, just 28 percent of Americans believed marriage was becoming more obsolete.

Today, about 39 percent say marriage is becoming obsolete. And that sentiment follows U.S. census data released in September that showed marriages hit an all-time low of 52 percent for adults 18 or older.

When asked what constitutes a marriage, the vast majority of Americans agree that a married couple, with or without children, fits that description. But 4 out of 5 surveyed pointed also to an unmarried, opposite-sex couple with children or a single parent. Three of 5 people said a same-sex couple with children was a family.

What we can take from all these statistics is that marriage is still important in this country, it’s just not as important as it once was.

There are many reasons for these statistics. The changing views of family are being driven largely by young adults 18-29, who are more likely than older generations to have an unmarried or divorced parent or have friends who do. Young adults also tend to have more liberal attitudes when it comes to spousal roles and living together before they are married.

Economics also plays into these statistics.

We understand that not every marriage is perfect and divorces are sometimes inevitable and we are living in different times, but as the family collapses, so does the fabric of our nation.


Haiti Needs To SHUN Devil Worship.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ben Chandler Blames POTUS Barack Obama And Nancy Pelosi For Democrats' Election WOES.

Chandler blames Obama, Pelosi for Democrats' losses in election
By Halimah Abdullah

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler said last week he partially blames the Obama administration and U.S. House leadership for Democrats' election losses and his extremely narrow re-election.

"If not there, where else does the responsibility lie?" said Chandler, D-Versailles, who had endorsed Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election. "You're talking about the loss of 60 or something seats held by capable public servants. There had to be something going on at a level above them. If that isn't the lesson, I don't know what is."

In a wide-ranging Herald-Leader interview last week, Chandler said Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should have focused on the economy before attempting to reform health care.

"I think it was a serious strategic error on the part of the administration to take on health care when the public was agitated about the economy," he said.

"People will tell you the economy was their first concern. And I actually told people with the administration this at the time that they were making a mistake and that they should focus on the economy."

Chandler said Pelosi did not deserve to be re-elected as leader of the House Democrats.

"It baffles me that you can suffer the largest defeat since 1938 and still maintain your leadership of the caucus," Chandler said.

Chandler was one of 43 House Democrats who voted for Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina to be House minority leader. Pelosi won easily with 150 votes.

"The candidate who was running against her is a much better fit for my district," Chandler said of Shuler.

"He's more of a moderate. I can tell you, Nancy Pelosi, the way she has been portrayed by Republican attack ads against conservative Democrats, is as a San Francisco liberal. That doesn't go over well in my district."

Shuler, like Chandler, is a Blue Dog Democrat, a self-described group of moderates whose ranks will be significantly diminished in the next session of Congress.

In seeking to unseat Pelosi, Shuler targeted her as a symbol of liberal Washington's failings.

Chandler's hard-fought victory over Republican newcomer Andy Barr will place him in the House minority, a suddenly bleak congressional terrain for Democrats.

More than 60 House Democrats, many of them friends of Chandler and members of the Blue Dog Coalition, were felled Nov. 2 by well-funded GOP challengers.

The loss of a core group of centrist Democrats and, to a lesser extent, Republicans, broadens an ideological divide in Congress. That could further stymie compromise and will certainly make Chandler's job a lot tougher in the upcoming two years, he said.

"We've gone from a situation of it being easier to get bills introduced and heard on the floor. Now it's going to be difficult for people in the minority to get anything done," Chandler said.

Still, just getting back to Congress was an accomplishment for Chandler.

"As the cycle developed it became apparent Democrats were more vulnerable based on their district and their state. The Midwest and the South was where Republicans made the bulk of their gains, and the Kentucky 6th (Congressional District) is smack in the middle of those," said Nathan Gonzales, a political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, a non-partisan political newsletter in Washington.

Considering the toxic political climate, Chandler fought back both hard and well, Gonzales said.

Andy Sere, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said just after the election that Republicans had targeted the Blue Dogs.

"When we set out to take back the majority this cycle, we looked at some of the obvious places, and it was where (John) McCain performed well in 2008, and those places are represented by Blue Dogs."

Even though Chandler had breezed to re-election in 2008, McCain carried the 6th Congressional District, winning every county over Obama except Fayette.

In targeting Chandler's seat, Barr and GOP groups such as the National Republican Campaign Committee aired a series of commercials criticizing Chandler's votes for the economic stimulus package and the cap-and-trade plan, which would have curbed greenhouse gas emissions but which critics say could have resulted in job losses in the state's coal industry.

Often, the advertisements prominently showed Pelosi, used such language as "Pelosi's lap dog," and pointed out the number of times Chandler's votes aligned with Pelosi's.

Although Chandler voted against the controversial health-care overhaul, the long debate over the legislation fueled passions nationwide and in his district.

In some districts, congressional Democrats were shouted down at town-hall meetings.

It was during this period Chandler was criticized, especially on talk radio, for not having town-hall meetings.

"Around about the time the town halls started was about the time he stopped coming on my show," said WVLK-AM 590's Jack Pattie, who is known for not having a political slant. "The people at his office stopped returning my calls."

Still, Pattie has some sympathy for Chandler, who used to appear on his show regularly.

"In a way I sort of feel sorry for him," Pattie said. "People came down on him for cap-and-trade, and then he voted against health care, and people still came down on him. And I was saying to callers, 'Wait a minute, he did exactly what you guys wanted him to do.' And they said: 'He did, but he didn't do it for the right reasons.' It was a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation."

Darren Farmer, judge-executive in Powell County, one of six counties Chandler carried in the 16-county district, said Chandler's vote in favor of the cap-and-trade bill may have been the biggest hurdle for him to overcome.

"The one thing the congressman had going against him was the cap-and-trade issue, and it was a big issue. It was the primary problem people had with him," Farmer said.

Still, Chandler prevailed in Powell County, as he did in Fayette, Franklin, Woodford, Bourbon and Montgomery counties.

"He's just very well known around here. People know him more as a neighbor rather than a congressman," Farmer said.

Chandler recognizes he survived against determined opposition.

"There was a lot of time, money and attention spent on driving the other message," Chandler said. "It's a lot easier to scare people. Lies carry faster than the truth."

Now, as Chandler prepares to head into the lame-duck session of Congress, he thinks about the success he's had at advocating for improved mine safety regulations and funding for cleanup efforts at the Blue Grass Army Depot — efforts that were under a Democratic-controlled House. He's looking ahead to a year in which the Republican-led House is expected to vote on such issues as whether to deny citizenship to children born in the United States to illegal immigrants.

"My major takeaway is that we lost 60-something odd seats because we didn't address people's concerns about the economy," Chandler said.

"And they'll be no less happy with the Republicans if they don't address concerns with the economy. And they'll face similar issues in 2012 if they bring up divisive social issues."

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Joel Pett Joins Others In Picking On Sarah Palin.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Change In Obamacare Begins.

California Rep. Lungren's proposed health care law change gains momentum
Rob Hotakainen

WASHINGTON — Months ago, when Republican Rep. Dan Lungren proposed the first major change to the new health care law, his idea fizzled.

He wanted to get rid of what he nicknamed the Universal Snitch Act: It's a provision in the law that would force businesses to report any transactions of more than $600 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Now his idea has picked up momentum: It is part of the new GOP Pledge to America, which House Republicans are promising to enact next year, and it won a key endorsement earlier this month from President Barack Obama.

It's kind of interesting to go from being a guy who's the pest on the windshield to being one of the leaders in something," said Lungren, of Gold River, the incoming chairman of the House Administration Committee. "When I first brought it up, there was concerted effort on the Democratic side not to even acknowledge what I was doing."

The president cited Lungren's bill as an area where he can work with the new GOP House majority.

At a news conference, Obama said the provision "appears to be too burdensome for small businesses" and should be examined.

"It just involves too much paperwork, too much filing," the president said. "It's probably counterproductive."

He said the measure was designed to raise revenue to pay for other provisions in the bill.

"But if it ends up just being so much trouble that small businesses find it difficult to manage, that's something that we should take a look at."

Replied Lungren: "I'm pleased that the president has said that it's burdensome."

Lungren's bill, called the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act, has 179 co-sponsors, including Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Republican Mike Johanns of Nebraska.

The legislation would scrap a provision in the health care law that would require businesses to file a 1099 tax form whenever they purchased more than $600 worth of goods or services from an entity or individual.

At a Senate hearing last week, Lawrence Nannis, chairman of the National Small Business Association, called the mandate "an ugly byproduct" of the health care law.

"The only solution to the huge problem posed by the new 1099 reporting provision is full repeal," Nannis said.

Lungren said the law would allow the federal government "to have a paper trail for every purchase you make."

Even though it took him months to get the bill on the Washington radar, Lungren said his legislation "explains itself" and has not attracted any significant opposition.

"Once you see it, how can you justify it?" he asked of the mandate.

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Jack CONway Falls Asleep On The J-O-B, As "Meth Lab Discoveries At All-Time High In State".

Meth lab discoveries at all-time high in state
By Bill Estep -

Kentucky is on track to record more than 1,000 illegal methamphetamine labs this year, the most since abuse of the highly addictive drug began climbing a decade ago.

That record is certain to help drive debate in the 2011 legislative session about a proposal to require a prescription for the cold and allergy drug that addicts and traffickers use to make meth.

"That's going to probably be a very controversial bill if the pharmaceutical companies are not happy with it," said the sponsor, state Rep. Linda Belcher, a Democrat from Bullitt County.

That's probably a given, Belcher said.

Police found 111 meth labs in October, the most ever in any single month, Kentucky State Police reported Wednesday.

As of Nov. 23, police had found 919 meth labs in the state.

That's already more than the 741 found last year — which was a record — and this year's final number will likely top 1,000, state police said.

The number of labs is up because people have found ways to evade restrictions on purchases of an ingredient needed to make meth, and because they have found simpler ways to convert that ingredient to meth in small, homemade labs, police say.

The ingredient at issue is pseudoephedrine, a decongestant found in some over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines.

Meth "cookers" amass piles of pills that contain the drug, then use a chemical process that involves toxic substances such as drain cleaner to convert the pseudoephedrine to meth in labs often fashioned from plastic bottles.

Each small lab doesn't produce much meth, so cookers create more labs, said Tommy Loving, director of the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force.

There are limits on how much pseudoephedrine a person can buy in a month, and Kentucky has an electronic tracking system that pharmacists have used to block thousands of attempts to buy more than the legal limit.

However, that system has not driven down the number of meth labs in the state.

Meth makers are increasingly circumventing the limits with a tactic called "smurfing" — getting a number of people to buy their limit of pills containing pseudoephedrine and turn them over to the cooker.

The smurfers get paid in cash or meth.

The National Methamphetamine and Pharmaceuticals Initiative, made up of police and prosecutors, says smurfing is at "epidemic proportions" across the country.

The tactic is helping drive the spike in meth labs in Kentucky, Loving said.

"That's not going to stop until we eliminate smurfing," Loving said.

The best way to do that is to require a prescription for medication containing pseudoephedrine, Loving said.

He and other supporters of that move point to Oregon as an example.

Oregon was the first state to require a prescription for pseudoephedrine, beginning in 2006.

This year, Mississippi became the second state with a similar requirement.

Oregon had far more meth labs than Kentucky at one point — 587 to 175 in 2001, for instance.

But the rule requiring a prescription for products containing pseudoephedrine has wiped out meth labs in Oregon, said Rob Bovett, a prosecutor there who wrote the state's law.

Only five small meth labs have been found in Oregon this year, Bovett said.

There has been a corresponding, significant drop in abuse of meth and in crime, he said.

"We're seeing meth driven down, down, down," Bovett said.

Police would like to cut the number of meth labs in Kentucky not only because they feed drug abuse, but because the labs can blow up or expose children, cookers and police to noxious fumes, and because used-up labs are hazardous waste, costly to clean up.

A prescription was required for pseudoephedrine before 1976, when Congress changed the law.

However, the Consumer Products Healthcare Association, which represents makers of over-the-counter medications, opposes requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine.

Among other things, the industry group argues that requiring prescriptions would mean inconvenience and higher costs because people would have to get prescriptions from doctors for common cold and allergy medicines such as Sudafed.

The association spent $307,777 on lobbying in the 2010 legislative session in Kentucky against bills that would have placed additional restrictions on obtaining pseudoephedrine.

That was more than any other group spent during the session.

Belcher, who sponsored a bill the association lobbied against, said she got calls from people who said they'd been told she was trying to get rid of all cold and allergy medicine. That was not correct, she said.

In reality, the bill she has pre-filed for the 2011 session would require a prescription for pills containing the drug. A prescription would not be needed for gel caps, because those can't be converted to meth, Belcher said.

Belcher said she doesn't think requiring a prescription for the pills would cause a big problem for consumers.

The Oregon Alliance for Drug Endangered Children says Oregon's law did not cause major inconvenience for consumers or drive up state Medicaid costs. Many people simply switched to cold and allergy medicine without pseudoephedrine, according to the alliance.

Even if there is some inconvenience, however, it would be worth it to combat the harm meth does to addicts and families and the costs it imposes on taxpayers, Belcher said.

"I think we may have to deal with a small amount of inconvenience to get rid of this problem," Belcher said. "It's a horrible drug."

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More Cartoonists Picking On Sarah Palin.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Message From POTUS Barack Obama. Watch.

Happy Thanksgiving To ALL Of You. Eat Heartily, Be Merry, And Above All Be EXCEEDINGLY Thankful And Grateful For The Lord's Bounties.

In observance, therefore, let me leave you the sage words of my hero, Abraham Lincoln below:

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln


Joel Pett Captures The "Bounty" Of American Thanksgiving. I Don't Know Whether To Laugh -- Or Cry.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Texas Jury Lowers The "Hammer" On Former CONgressman Tom DeLay, Convicts Him Of Money Laundering; He Faces Life In Prison. How Art The Mighty FALLEN!

Watch news video below:

Read more:DeLay convicted of money laundering charges

AUSTIN – A Travis County jury today found former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay guilty of political money laundering charges relating to a corporate money swap in the 2002 elections.

The verdict came down five years after DeLay was forced to step down as the second most powerful Republican in the U.S. House. The charges also led DeLay to resign from his Sugar Land congressional seat in 2006.

DeLay was accused of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. On the conspiracy charge, DeLay faces a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and five to 99 years or life in prison on the money laundering count.

DeLay is out on bail until sentencing, tentatively set for Dec. 20.

In preparation for the 2002 elections, DeLay cloned his Americans for a Republican Majority political committee as Texans for a Republican Majority. TRMPAC was designed to help Republicans win a state House majority in preparation for a mid-decade congressional redistricting in 2003.

That redistricting helped the Republicans take a 17-15 majority from the Democrats and win a 21-11 GOP majority in the 2004 elections.

At the center of the case against DeLay was an exchange of $190,000 in corporate donations to TRMPAC for an equal amount of money donated by individuals to the Republican National Committee. The RNC money was given to seven Texas candidates specified by TRMPAC.

Corporate money cannot be used in candidate campaigns in Texas.

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Ann Coulter: Strange Men Grope Nancy Pelosi Or The Terrorists Have Won.

Strange Men Grope Nancy Pelosi Or The Terrorists Have Won
by Ann Coulter

As long as the head of the TSA, Long Dong Silver, refuses to get rid of the intrusive, possibly dangerous airport searches, how about requiring members of Congress to go through the same security screening in order to enter hallowed congressional office buildings?

Not just Barney Frank -- I mean all members of Congress. "We've patted you down twice, Congressman Frank. Why don't you just go to your office now?"

The Rayburn House Office Building is a far more likely target for a terrorist attack than a random flight out of a random American airport. But every passenger on every flight in America must allow a TSA agent to get to second base with them, in some cases third base, or appear live in a nude video in order to board the plane.

If that's necessary to keep us airline passengers safe, why not use the same security procedures to protect members of Congress?

According to the FAA, there were about 37,000 commercial flights per day in 2008. A mere six buildings contain the offices of every member of our country's entire legislative branch.

So why shouldn't the people entering those tempting terrorist targets be given the same security screenings as the roughly half-million Americans taking random commercial flights every day?

It can't be because Capitol Hill security guards recognize members of Congress and their staff. TSA agents presumably recognize lots of people going through airport security. Ten to 20 percent of passengers are frequent fliers taking the same routes over and over again, year after year.

In addition, TSA agents will recognize their neighbors of 40 years, their hometown mayor, their children's teachers, local and national celebrities, actors, athletes and other famous personalities. Some TSA agents probably recognize Christian Slater as that guy who sometimes has a gun in his carry-on bag.

But all those people have to take their shoes off, remove their computers from their luggage and be subjected to a pat-down because TSA agents are prohibited by the Homeland Security Department from using an ounce of common sense.

In June 2002, Al Gore got searched at an airport. Gore may have a forgettable face, but at that point, he had been vice president of the United States for eight of the previous 10 years, had run for president, and then had made a spectacle of himself by demanding a recount when he lost.

I've seen James Caan in an airport security line. Is James Caan less recognizable than Rep. Steve Rothman? (Tip for the TSA: When your agents are asking passengers for their autographs, you're probably not on the verge of nabbing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.)

Why are members of the ruling class the only Americans for whom it's possible to design a security system that takes the obvious into account?

If security guards at a big, fat terrorist target like the U.S. Capitol can be expected to figure out that members of Congress aren't a threat, why don't we trust TSA agents to figure out that little grandmothers, nuns and 8-year-olds aren't a threat either?

Nancy Pelosi is more likely to engage in a terrorist attack on America than any grandmother or 8-year-old. Just look at what she did to our health care.

Pelosi opposed the Gulf War on the grounds that it would be bad for the environment. She voted to reduce funds for the B-2 intercontinental bomber and repeatedly voted against a missile defense system. She voted to end Radio Marti broadcasts to Cuba. She voted against war in Iraq. She voted against a constitutional amendment to permit school prayer and against allowing state and local governments to display the Ten Commandments.

No wonder she has a 100 percent congressional rating from al-Qaida.

And yet Pelosi is not only able to breeze into the U.S. Capitol without a search, but she can usually board a commercial airline without submitting to the groping or nude body scan that awaits the rest of us. Members of Congress and government officials are generally exempted from the TSA's airport screenings.

Does TSA administrator John "Long Dong Silver" Pistole get searched at an airport? How about Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano? FBI Director Robert Mueller? Michelle Obama and the kids?

No, of course not. TSA agents are busy X-raying James Caan's shoes and feeling up nuns.

I'd feel safer if Pistole and Napolitano had the full body cavity search than Grandma. Anyone involved in the creation of an airport security system that requires pilots to be checked for weapons has got to be removed from any government job and promptly institutionalized, as he is a danger to himself and others.

We're talking about the pilot. Is there anyone in the government who can tell us why the pilot doesn't need a box-cutter to seize control of the airplane and kill everyone on it? You there, in the back -- the skinny guy with the big ears behind the teleprompter: Wanna take a guess? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

I'm for any program that requires Nancy Pelosi and Janet Napolitano to either be felt up or videotaped nude every morning by Jose, the $20-an-hour security guard -- just as they do for the rest of us.

Ann Coulter is Legal Affairs Correspondent for HUMAN EVENTS and author of "High Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Slander," ""How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)," "Godless," "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans" and most recently, Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and their Assault on America.


Sarah Palin Hits Back At Barbara Bush As One Of The "Blue Bloods"; Disses FLOTUS Michele Obama. Watch.


If You Live In Fayette County, New Mayor Jim Gray Needs Your Help With "Fresh Start" And Wishes You A Happy Thanksgiving. Check It Out.

Dear Osi,

Yesterday we announced the teams that will be working to transition city government and help launch Lexington's fresh start. During the campaign we promised to give Lexington a fresh start by tapping the considerable strengths of our community to create new solutions to old problems. By engaging experienced and creative minds in the community, we will work together and build a great city based on the twin pillars of economic opportunity and quality of life.

Our Transition Team Chair, UK Law Professor, Chris Frost will lead the effort to engage the community through a process that is inclusive, transparent and collaborative; one intended to identify ways we can make our government more efficient; and that will help us identify and seize opportunities.
If you'd like to get involved, we would like your input. We've set up a simple form so you can submit your thoughts on fresh ideas to improve our city and make our government more efficient. To get engaged simply click here and send us your ideas on what we can do to make government run more efficiently and make Lexington a better place to live.

You can monitor our progress at where you can find links to our transition documents and video announcements.

Thanks for your continued support. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving holiday.
All the best,

Jim Gray


FLOTUS Michele Obama Wishes ALL A Happy Thanksgiving. Read More.

Good afternoon,

Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to come together with family and friends to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. It's also an important time to be thankful for our men and women in uniform and their families who risk everything so that we can be safe and free. And we must also remember those in our community who are in need of our help and support -- especially during these tough economic times.

In our family, we have a tradition: Every year on the day before Thanksgiving, we take some time as a family to help out people in our community who are in need. Today, we're handing out turkeys, stuffing, pumpkin pies and all the Thanksgiving fixings with our friends and family at Martha's Table, a local non-profit organization.

This Thanksgiving, I encourage all Americans to find a way to give back -- and maybe even start a family tradition of your own. Whether you volunteer at a local soup kitchen, visit the elderly at a nursing home or reach out to a neighbor or friend who comes from a military family, there are plenty of ways to get involved in your community.

If you're not sure how to get started, visit

President Obama and I wish you and your family a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.


Michelle Obama
First Lady of the United States


Newly Elected U. S. Senator From Florida, Marco Rubio, Wishes ALL A Happy Thanksgiving. Read More.


Every Thanksgiving, we give thanks to God for all the blessings we have. And there are no people in the world that should be more grateful than the American people.

What we’ve had for over 200 years is unparalleled in human history – a free and prosperous society where generation after generation has been able to leave the next better off.

We’re thankful for the blessings of our country, and we’re also cognizant of the responsibilities that come with those blessings.

On this Thanksgiving holiday, let’s take a moment to reflect and remember how special a country we share, how exceptional it is in human history and how important it is we secure it for the next generation of Americans.

My wife Jeanette and I also want you to know how thankful we are for your friendship and support. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to travel throughout Florida for the better part of the past two years, meeting many extraordinary people and hearing so many inspirational stories about the talent, drive and hard work that make our state and country special.

From my family to yours, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

May God bless you.


Marco Rubio


Thomas Sowell: 'Security' Erodes Democracy.

'Security' erodes democracy
By Thomas Sowell

No country has better airport security than Israel — and no country needs it more, since Israel is the most hated target of Islamic extremist terrorists. Somehow, though, Israeli airport security people don't have to strip passengers naked electronically or have strangers feeling their private parts.

Does anyone seriously believe that we have better airport security than Israel? Is our security record better than theirs?

“Security” may be the excuse being offered for the outrageous things being done to American air travelers, but the heavy-handed arrogance and contempt for ordinary people that is the hallmark of this administration in other areas is all too painfully apparent in these new and invasive airport procedures.

Can you remember a time when a Cabinet member in a free America boasted of having his “foot on the neck” of some business or when the President of the United States threatened on television to put his foot on another part of some citizens' anatomy?

Yet this and more has happened in the current administration, which is not yet two years old. One Cabinet member warned that there would be “zero tolerance” for “misinformation” when an insurance company said the obvious, that the mandates of Obamacare would raise costs and therefore raise premiums. Zero tolerance for exercising the First Amendment right of free speech?

More than two centuries ago, Edmund Burke warned about the dangers of new people with new power. This administration, only halfway through its term, has demonstrated that in many ways.

What other administration has had an attorney general call the American people “cowards”? And refuse to call terrorists Islamic? What other administration has had a secretary of Homeland Security warn law enforcement officials across the country of security threats from people who are anti-abortion, for federalism or are returning military veterans?

If anything good comes out of the airport “security” outrages, it may be in opening the eyes of more people to the utter contempt that this administration has for the American people.

Those who made excuses for all of candidate Barack Obama's long years of alliances with people who expressed their contempt for this country, and when as president he appointed people with a record of antipathy to American interests and values, may finally get it when they feel some stranger's hand in their crotch.

As for the excuse of “security,” this is one of the least security-minded administrations we have had. When hundreds of illegal immigrants from terrorist-sponsoring countries were captured crossing the border from Mexico — and then released on their own recognizance within the United States, that tells you all you need to know about this administration's concern for security.

When captured terrorists who are not covered by either the Geneva Convention or the Constitution of the United States are nevertheless put on trial in American civilian courts by the Obama Justice Department, that, too, tells you all you need to know about how concerned they are about national security.

The rules of criminal justice in American courts were not designed for trying terrorists. For one thing, revealing the evidence against them can reveal how our intelligence services got wind of them in the first place, and thereby endanger the lives of people who helped us nab them.

Not a lot of people in other countries, or perhaps even in this country, are going to help us stop terrorists if their role is revealed and their families are exposed to revenge by the terrorists' bloodthirsty comrades.

What do the Israeli airport security people do that American airport security do not do? They profile. They question some individuals for more than half an hour, open up all their luggage and spread the contents on the counter — and they let others go through with scarcely a word. And it works.

Meanwhile, this administration is so hung up on political correctness that it has turned “profiling” into a bugaboo. It would rather have electronic scanners look under the clothes of nuns than to detain a Jihadist imam for some questioning.

Will America be undermined from within by an administration obsessed with political correctness and intoxicated with the adolescent thrill of exercising its newfound powers? Stay tuned.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. His column is distributed by Creators Syndicate.


Nick Anderson Captures Kim Jong Il: Don't Touch My Nuclear Junk. LMAO!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Barbara Bush Wishes Sarah Palin Goes Back To Alaska. OK, She's Not Alone. Watch Video.


Poll Poll Finds POTUS Barack Obama's Looking Weak For Re-election In 2012.

Poll: Obama's looking weak for re-election in 2012
Steven Thomma

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama emerges from a bruising midterm election with uncertain prospects for the next one in 2012, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

Nearly half of his own base — 45 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents — want someone to challenge him for the Democratic nomination, according to the poll.

And, assuming he wins re-nomination, barely more than 1 in 3 voters, or 36 percent, said they'll definitely vote for him, while nearly half, 48 percent, said they'll definitely vote against him.

"There's some serious electoral jeopardy and his position is very tenuous," said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which conducted the national post-election poll.

Obama's political weakness helps explain why so many Republicans are thinking of running for their party's nomination against him. That race is wide open, the McClatchy-Marist poll showed, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the early leader, but several others are competitive.

With politics about to pivot toward the presidential campaign, the poll underscored that Obama's standing will be a major factor.

He enters the second half of his term with his approval rating holding steady at 45 percent, 48 percent disapproving and 7 percent undecided.

"The good news for Obama was that, after the midterm, there wasn't any greater desertion," Miringoff said. "That's the best news. The bad news for him, people are still very tenuous about him."

His political problems start with his own base.

Among Democrats, 41 percent want someone to challenge Obama for the 2012 nomination, while 51 percent don't.

Moreover, a majority of Democratic-leaning independents, 56 percent, want him challenged, while 33 percent don't.

Among pro-Democratic voters who want him challenged: pluralities of women, voters younger than 45, and those without a college degree. Those who don't want him challenged include majorities of pro-Democratic men and college graduates, and a plurality of those 45 and older.

Presidents routinely win re-nomination. But even when a president beats back a primary challenge, it can weaken his candidacy in the general election.

President Jimmy Carter defeated Democratic challenger Edward Kennedy in 1980, but lost the general election to Republican Ronald Reagan. President George H.W. Bush bested Republican Pat Buchanan in 1992, but went on to lose the general election to Democrat Bill Clinton.

The poll also found that Obama's a centrist — within the Democratic Party.

Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 39 percent said they'd want any primary challenge to Obama to come from the left, and 40 percent said they'd want it to come from the right.

"He's in the murky middle," Miringoff said. "He's not energizing his base, nor is he convincing enough independents. Those numbers all reflect a real restlessness about him. This is not a pretty picture for him."

Among groups lining up against Obama early:

* Whites, by a margin of 57-27

* Men, 55-31

* Independents, 50-30

* Midwesterners, 51-35

* Southerners, 54-32

* Westerners, 47-41

Those planning definitely to vote for him rather than against him:

* Minorities, by a margin of 57-28

* Northeasterners, 39-36

* Liberals, 74-17

History suggests that these numbers are a snapshot of sentiment today, and not necessarily a prediction of the next election.

In the fall of 1994, President Bill Clinton suffered similar numbers, with only 38 percent saying he deserved re-election and 57 percent saying he didn't. Clinton went on to win a second term in 1996.

And in early 1991, shortly after his first midterm congressional election, President George H.W. Bush had great numbers, with 56 percent saying he deserved re-election and 38 percent saying he didn't. He went on to lose in 1992.

Obama would win, the poll suggests, if the election were held today, the Republican nominee were Sarah Palin and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also ran as an independent. Results: Obama 45 percent, Palin 31 percent, Bloomberg 15 percent, and 9 percent undecided.

On the Republican side, the first debate of candidates is scheduled for next spring at the Ronald Reagan library in California. The poll found a wide-open contest for the 2012 presidential nomination.

The numbers:
# Romney, 20 percent

# Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 16 percent

# Undecided, 14 percent

# Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, 13 percent

# Former Rep. Newt Gingrich, 10 percent

# New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 9 percent

# Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 5 percent

# Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, 4 percent

# Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, 3 percent

# Former New York Gov. George Pataki, 3 percent

# Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, 2 percent

# Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, 1 percent

Among the early trends: Romney is stronger among Republican-leaning independents than among Republicans; Palin is the reverse.

Also noteworthy: Tea Party supporters are evenly divided, with 19 percent for Romney, 17 percent for Huckabee, 16 percent for Palin, 13 percent for Gingrich and 10 percent for Christie.

"A lot of people all have some support," Miringoff said. "It's wide open."


This survey of 1,020 adults was conducted Nov. 15-18. Adults 18 and older residing in the continental U.S. were interviewed by telephone. Telephone numbers were selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. To increase coverage, this land-line sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers. The two samples were then combined. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

There are 810 registered voters. The results from this subset have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. There are 371 Democrats and Democratic leaning independents and 337 Republicans and Republican leaning independents. The results for these subsets have margins of error of plus or minus 5 and plus or minus 5.5 percentage points, respectively. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations.

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