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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year (2011).

Happy New Year (2011), everyone. May the blessings of the past year be multiplied a thousand fold, and may everything that went wrong in 2010 be righted, in Jesus' Christ name we have prayed -- AMEN!

(As is my tradition, I shall go to bed early, and leave the revelers to please themselves, as they wish).


Check Out Washington Post's Best Of 2010.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Yesterday Was The Last Day To Switch Parties To Vote In Kentucky's Primary At The Clerks' Offices. Tomorrow Is The Last Day Online. Follow Link NOW!

Yes, follow this link, or you'll be sorry --- or not.

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Political Hired Guns Descend On Kentucky For 2011.

Political hired guns look to Ky. governor's race

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Political consultants from across the country are beginning to get involved in a GOP gubernatorial primary race in Kentucky that pits a well-financed, establishment Republican against an obscure outsider with tea party backing but little money.

In past years, the race would have been considered no contest. But after a year in which well-known Republicans went down to defeat in primaries, people are paying attention.

Consultants fresh off the high-profile U.S. Senate campaigns of tea party darlings Sharron Angle of Nevada and Christine O'Donnell of Delaware enlisted Monday to help long-shot candidate Phil Moffett, a Louisville businessman making his first run for public office. Other out-of-staters have signed on with Burkesville lawyer David Williams, the state Senate president who is widely considered one of the most powerful politicians in Kentucky.

With no federal races scheduled in the coming year and only Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi electing governors, some of the nation's top political consultants could bring fresh strategies to state elections.

Phil Laemmle, a retired University of Louisville professor, said the dearth of elections nationally could be a boon for state-level candidates who have a larger pool of top consultants to draw from.

"In any race with any visibility, I don't think you can succeed unless you have competent consultants and campaign advisers," Laemmle said. "From a campaign standpoint, they're irreplaceable."

The most recent consultants to get involved in the Kentucky governor's campaign are the Prosper Group's Zack Condry and Kurt Luidhardt, online fundraisers from Indianapolis whose previous clients include Florida Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts as well as Angle and O'Donnell.

Already, Moffett had contracted with Florida fundraiser Teresa Dailey, who helped raise money for Republican Marco Rubio's successful U.S. Senate race bid earlier this year and who previously helped raise money for the re-election campaign of then-President George W. Bush.

Williams tapped Virginia-based pollster Brian Gotlieb to do public opinion research early in his campaign. He also brought on Florida-based Phil Vangelakos, owner of Brushfire Digital, to oversee his campaign Web site and bolster his online strategies. Vangelakos also was involved in the successful re-election campaigns this year of U.S. Reps. Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Tom Rooney of Florida.

Williams campaign manager Scott Jennings said in an e-mail Monday that "many people from across Kentucky and across the country have expressed an interest in helping the campaign."

The Williams campaign reported a strong fundraising kickoff in November, generating about $500,000 from a single event. The campaign has given no updated totals since then.

"We will report next week, and I think you will find that we have crushed our primary opponent," Jennings said.

Moffett campaign manager David Adams declined to say how much his candidate has raised. At last accounting, Moffett had put $30,000 of his own money into the race.

"Phil Moffett is on his way to becoming the most compelling candidate in the country in 2011, but very few people know him now," Adams said.

Luidhardt said Moffett will likely have to depend on online fundraising for his primary campaign, as many 2010 tea party candidates did. An example is U.S. Sen.-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Bowling Green eye surgeon who overcame long odds to win the primary and general elections against established candidates.

"In 2010, the worst guy to be, not only across the country but even in Kentucky, was an elected official running for office," Luidhardt said. "I think voters are still looking for people who are new ... That's why I think somebody like Phil has a lot of potential."

Republican activist Larry Forgy, a Lexington attorney and two-time Kentucky gubernatorial candidate, said voters got behind conservative candidates like Williams in the most recent election, and will do the same in the coming election.

"He is precisely what the people of this state need," Forgy said of Williams. "He's a conservative candidate who also has sense enough to deal with the problems the state is facing."


In Case You Missed It, David Williams Defends Richie Farmer's Questioned Spending At Agriculture. Watch Video.

"Stumbo Says Gambling Is Dead This Legislative Session". And Many Will Say: Amen.

Stumbo says gambling is dead this legislative session
By Beth Musgrave

FRANKFORT — House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Wednesday that the legislature is unlikely to tackle any gambling related legislation this session, which begins next week.

Proponents of expanded gambling have pushed the legislature to change the law to allow for video lottery terminals, or VLTs, at the state’s race tracks. However, those efforts have been stymied by the Republican-controlled Senate over the past several years.

After November’s election, the Senate Republicans increased their majority to 22. There are now 15 Democrats and one independent who caucuses with the Republicans.

“Obviously the makeup of the Senate hasn’t changed any,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. “Until that changes, until there is some movement, I don’t think that the General Assembly, or at least the House, is going to act on anything in that regard.”

Earlier this month, Senate Republicans unveiled a sweeping agenda for the 2011 legislative session, which begins Tuesday and lasts 30 days.

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, has said the Senate plans to pass much of that agenda during the first few days of the legislative session, which is typically used for organizational purposes and the election of leadership positions. The agenda includes creating a commission to examine the state’s tax structure, tweaking the state pension plan for new state employees and making changes to some state election laws.

The Republican agenda also includes a proposal that is similar to Arizona’s controversial law that would allow police officers to ask for identification and detain people they suspect are in the country illegally. That bill has not yet been filed.

But Stumbo said he didn’t believe that the state needed to tweak its immigration laws because he believes that there are current laws that would allow police to ask questions about a person’s immigration status.

Instead, Stumbo said he supports a measure pushed by Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, which would penalize companies that hire illegal immigrants who do business with state and local governments. Under Damron’s previous bills, any company convicted of employing illegal immigrants could not receive government contracts for up to five years if the measure becomes law.

“I think there will be some discussion on immigration,” Stumbo said. “If you really want to solve the immigration issue, then you make the burden on the employers. Because if the jobs aren’t here, neither would the illegal immigrants be here.”

The House Democratic caucus was supposed to meet earlier this month but those meetings were canceled because of the weather. Stumbo said that after the caucus meets the priorities for the 30-day session will become more clear. However, Stumbo said he does expect the House Democrats to tackle legislation that would increase the state’s drop out age from 16 to 18, a measure that has been pushed by Gov. Steve Beshear. Similar efforts to increase the drop out age have failed in previous legislative sessions.

Stumbo said he believes there is also support for a measure that would require people to obtain a prescription for some cold medicines that contain high amounts of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

The state’s narcotics officers are encouraging passage of the bill as a way to curtail methamphetamine use in Kentucky.

Stumbo said even after the Democratic majority meets next week, it is unlikely that the Democrats will unveil a sweeping agenda.

“None of us is running for governor over here,” Stumbo quipped. Williams is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Beshear is also seeking re-election in 2011.


Lexington Herald Leader: [Kentucky's] Pro-Hunting [Constitutional] Amendment Unnecessary.

Pro-hunting amendment unnecessary

What's wrong with this picture?

Kentucky is impoverished, the state budget is stretched too thin, unemployment is high, hundreds of thousands of our residents don't have health insurance, drug abuse is rampant and the prisons are bursting at the seams while the schools are struggling to educate our children.

So, with a legislative session looming, several concerned lawmakers pre-file a bill to provide a constitutional protection for the right to hunt and fish, a right they all readily admit is not under threat.

Come again? Rep. John "Bam" Carney, R-Campbellsville, one of the bill's sponsors, explained it this way: "We thought it was important that we make a statement here for states' rights. I don't see any imminent threat to our hunting rights at the moment. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say." To paraphrase: There's no problem but we want to waste our time on this.

The scary thing about this is that Kentucky has real problems. An ounce of prevention would be better applied to things like improving schools and providing drug rehabilitation.

Politics can be an amusing sport, but when it gets this far out of whack it verges on dangerous. Kentucky politicians, always too willing to be patsies for some national ideologues, seem to have bought into this manipulation based on a faux-states-rights philosophy.

Let's hope this meaningless proposal is quickly brushed aside by hard-working legislators who realize a legislative session is better spent trying to address real, current problems in the state.

Read more:


"Hopey Changey" Thingy. LOL.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ILLEGAL Immigration Is On The Minds Of Kentucky State Senator David Williams And Others.

Senator David Williams unveils immigration reform bill
By Stephenie Steitzer

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, on Wednesday unveiled his proposal for immigration reform, which mirrors the Arizona immigration law that is being challenged in a federal appeals court.

Williams, who is running for governor next year, wants to require local law enforcement to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.

A federal judge in July blocked Arizona from enforcing such a provision after the federal government sued the state. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last month heard arguments in the case but has not ruled. The law is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Williams' office released copies of Senate Bill 6 late Wednesday and did not respond to requests for comment.

As is the case with Arizona's law, Williams' bill would allow police to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and check their status with federal officials.

Proponents of the measure say states must act to enforce immigration laws because the federal government has failed to do so.

Opponents argue it would lead to harassment of Hispanics and violate the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

A 2009 report by the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center estimates there are 30,000 illegal immigrants in the state.

Rev. Patrick Delahanty, associate director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, said he wants to see a comprehensive analysis of how much the bill would cost already cash-strapped prisons, jails, courts and law enforcement agencies.

In addition, he said, because the bill would likely be challenged in court by civil rights groups, the state could incur thousands or millions of dollars in legal fees defending the measure.

“This is not the answer to the immigration problem, and in fact it's just harmful,” he said.

Delahanty said the bill could have other unintended consequences, such as scaring crime witnesses and domestic violence victims away from cooperating with authorities. And, he said, it could hurt the horse and tobacco industries by driving away migrant workers who may be here legally but fear being harassed.

Williams said he plans to have the Senate vote on the immigration bill and others when the legislature convenes next week.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Wednesday he believes law enforcement already has the authority to ask about a person's immigration status.

He said he supports an effort by Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, to prohibit private companies from receiving government contracts if they are convicted of employing illegal immigrants.

Damron's bill passed the House last session but died in the Senate.

“If you really want to solve the immigration issue, then you make the burden on the employers,” Stumbo said.

Reporter Stephenie Steitzer
Reporter Tom Loftus contributed to this report.

Editor's comment: It's always a very good day, whenever and wherever ILLEGAL immigration is being tackled.


Eugene Robinson: Moment Of Truth For Republicans?

Moment of truth for Republicans?
By Eugene Robinson

WASHINGTON — It's been not quite two months' time since Republicans won a sweeping midterm victory, and already they seem divided, embattled and — not to mince words — freaked out. For good reason, I might add.

Sen. Lindsey Graham captured the mood with his mordant assessment of the lame-duck Congress: “Harry Reid has eaten our lunch.” Graham's complaint was that the GOP acquiesced to a host of Democratic initiatives — giving President Obama a better-than-expected deal on taxes, eliminating “don't ask, don't tell,” ratifying the New START treaty — rather than wait for the new, more conservative Congress to arrive.

It was a “capitulation … of dramatic proportions,” Graham said in a radio interview last week. “I can understand the Democrats being afraid of the new Republicans. I can't understand Republicans being afraid of the new Republicans.”

Oh, but there's reason to be very afraid.

I don't want to overstate the Republicans' predicament. They did, after all, take control of the House and win six more seats in the Senate. But during the lame-duck session, it seemed to dawn on GOP leaders that they begin the new Congress burdened with great expectations — but lacking commensurate power. It's going to be a challenge for Republicans just to maintain party unity, much less enact the kind of conservative agenda they promised to their enthusiastic, impatient voters.

In the Senate, there could be as many as 11 Republicans who might defect and vote with the Democrats, depending on the issue. There's a small but newly assertive group of moderates — Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and independent Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — along with newcomer Mark Kirk of Illinois, who seem likely to fit that mold. And judging by the vote tallies in the lame-duck session, a half-dozen other GOP senators are willing to go their own way.

This means that if Majority Leader Reid plays his cards well — and recently he has been playing very well indeed — it will be difficult for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to keep enough of his troops together to sustain a filibuster. The new Senate will be considerably more Republican than the old Senate, but whether it's actually more conservative remains to be seen.

On the other side of the Capitol it's a different story, with the tea party movement ousting Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The new House will be decidedly more conservative than the old House — and that's the problem.

The presumptive next speaker, John Boehner, can easily block initiatives that Obama proposes. But Boehner has said repeatedly that he understands how tentative his majority is and how temporary it could prove to be. My reading of the electorate is that voters want Congress to tackle big problems, rather than waste the next two years mired in gridlock. But not all of the necessary solutions will go over well with the tea party crowd.

The most obvious example is the ballooning national debt. “Cut wasteful spending” is a nice campaign slogan, but it's flat-out impossible to cut enough spending to close the budget gap. And now the big goodies-for-everyone tax deal has been signed into law. Likewise, “entitlement reform” sounds good — but ignores the fact that beneficiaries of government programs feel, well, entitled.

Any comprehensive solution that sets the nation on a path toward fiscal health will mean that at least some of us pay higher taxes. I wish Boehner luck in explaining this fact of life to his tea party freshmen. He'll have a hard enough time even persuading them to keep the government solvent by voting to increase the debt ceiling, which will soon be necessary.

Of course, Boehner will be able to win Democratic votes for legislation that absolutely, positively has to pass. But if I know Pelosi, who will be minority leader, she'll exact concessions.

Republicans face what, for them, is an unpleasant but inescapable reality. Ideologically, most Americans describe themselves as moderate or conservative; but when it comes to getting assistance from the government, most Americans are moderate or liberal. Look at health care, the issue that won the election for the GOP. According to polls, voters clearly favor the benefits that Obama's reforms will provide. All they really oppose is the insurance mandate that makes those benefits possible.

The idea of small, limited government may be appealing, but this is a big, complicated country. As some Republicans already know, and others soon will learn.

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


Today Is "Hump" Day, So You Deserve A Bonus Carton. Hugh Hefner Finds True Love; Fiancee Finds Hers, Too. LMAO.


Michael Gerson: [POTUS Barack] Obama's Next Big Gamble.

Michael Gerson | Obama's next big gamble
By Michael Gerson

WASHINGTON -- The main achievements of the lame-duck session of Congress were reminders of what might have been. President Obama gave something to get something. To secure a second stimulus, he accepted Republican economic methods. To pass the New START treaty, Obama offered assurances to Republican senators on nuclear modernization and missile defense. Contrast this to health care reform, imposed in party-line maneuvers that left an aftertaste of ideological radicalism.

The American political system, it turns out, was not broken — just poorly used for nearly two years.

But the lame-duck session was also a preview of conflicts to come. The defeat of the omnibus spending bill — a trillion-dollar, earmark-laden declaration of congressional imperviousness to public sentiment -- was exactly the sort of fight Republicans are spoiling to repeat.

Which leaves a vacationing President Obama with his largest strategic decision since choosing to pursue health reform at all costs. In his State of the Union address, he will take a first cut at the economic message he carries to re-election or defeat.

Some of that message is predictable. Obama is likely to propose a multi-year cap or freeze on discretionary spending. But there is no way he can outbid Republicans when it comes to cuts. The president is also likely to endorse budgetary reforms such as an earmark ban.

All of this would be useful; none of it decisive. Only two proposals currently under discussion would reshape the American economic debate as well as the president's public image: reform of the tax code or reform of entitlements. Both are necessary, difficult, and politically deceptive.

Overhauling the tax system seems the easier approach. It isn't. Most serious plans, including the options raised by the president's debt commission, would broaden the tax base, consolidate and lower rates, and eliminate most tax deductions and exemptions. But even a revenue-neutral tax overhaul creates a complicated system of winners and losers. Especially if the mortgage interest deduction, the charitable deduction and the child tax credit are modified or eliminated, the losers know immediately who they are. The winners must be persuaded of abstract, future benefits.

Republicans would have an easy time criticizing a thinly disguised tax increase for millions of Americans. It would seem like another Obama overreach that fundamentally changes the economy in frightening ways -- confirming an image that the president desperately needs to change.

The other option, entitlement reform, seems more politically dangerous. It is actually more promising.

Medicare is the main policy challenge here, because rising health costs are the primary cause of unsustainable entitlement commitments. But Medicare reform — the topic of intense, ideological debate — is a political nonstarter. While Social Security is a relatively small contributor to future deficits, reforming it would be a large symbol, and a logical place to begin.

A member of the House Republican leadership recently told me that bipartisan Social Security reform could be written “on the back of a napkin” — which is essentially what Obama's debt commission did. It set out a plan that would cut benefits for high-income earners, make the payroll tax more progressive and gradually raise the retirement age (with a hardship exception for those engaged in manual labor).

Obama's liberal base contends that the Social Security trust fund is not in immediate trouble. But this argument depends on an elaborate accounting trick. The trust fund is not filled with assets — gold bullion and Apple stock. It is filled with debt issued by the government to itself. The surpluses of the trust fund are actually liabilities for the government as a whole. And these illusory surpluses are regularly used to subsidize the rest of the budget. The scheme begins to collapse in 2037, when promised benefits for Social Security recipients will suddenly drop by a quarter — unless the system is reformed.

If Obama pursues Social Security reform, liberals are threatening a serious political revolt — a genuine risk. But Obama's urgent political need is to polish his image among Independents on spending and debt. And this won't happen by being risk averse.

Social Security restructuring is not the obvious choice for Obama, but it is the smart one. It is achievable. It would invest Republican leaders in a constructive national enterprise. It would reassure global credit markets that America remains capable of governing itself. It would result in a more progressive, sustainable system. And it would make a dramatic, timely political statement: that the president is capable not only of expanding government but of reforming it.

Michael Gerson is a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush who writes a column for The Washington Post. His e-mail address is


Cal Thomas: Lame-Duck Reactions Offer A Preview Of Year To Come.

Lame-duck reactions offer a preview of year to come
By Cal Thomas

You don't have to be a psychic who forecasts future events for supermarket tabloids to accurately predict what awaits the new congressional Republican class of 2011. The writing is already on the computer screens and in the TV teleprompters.

A preview of coming attractions was trotted out during President Obama's last scheduled news conference of 2010. After spending most of the year worrying about the economy and whether the Democrats could fix it, sycophantic reporters gave new meaning to the term “lapdog.”

Following the lame-duck congressional session that rammed through legislation clearly at odds with the voters' message in the November election, ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper offered “congratulations” on the repeal of “don't ask, don't tell.” Tapper then sounded as if he was channeling gay-rights activists when he asked the President whether it is “intellectually consistent to say that gays and lesbians should be able to fight and die for this country, but they should not be able to marry the people they love.”

That prompted an answer from the President that his views on the subject of same-sex “marriage” are “evolving.” Let me go out on a limb and predict they will “evolve” to acceptance, even advocacy, just in time for his re-election campaign.

Mark Knoller of CBS Radio wanted the President to “explain the anger and even outrage many Democrats felt when the tax cut bill extended tax cuts not just for the middle class, but also for the wealthy.” They weren't tax cuts, but an extension of lower tax rates. The question could have come straight from the White House press office.

CNN's Dan Lothian asked about the President's frequent use of the “car-in-the-ditch” analogy, wondering who the President thinks will be behind the wheel when Republicans take control of the House, and “what do you think Republicans will be sipping and saying next year?”

And so it went with a liberal question about the defeated “DREAM Act,” and many other suck-up questions that ought to have embarrassed any self-respecting journalist.

On MSNBC, Tom Brokaw compared Obama's year-end legislative successes to Lazarus rising from the dead. As most nationally known journalists are anything but “religious,” that analogy could stump Brokaw's secular media colleagues. They might even have to look it up, which would not be a bad thing for them to do.

The lapdog big media will predictably question everything the new Republican House attempts to do, characterizing it as “insensitive,” pro-rich and even inhuman. They will be helped by unions, which will stage demonstrations against any program cuts or attempts to reduce the size and reach of government. Characters are already in the wings, waiting for their moment on stage. These will include the elderly, the poor, the homeless and other “victims” who make up much of the Democrat base. They will tell sob stories, and the media will dutifully cover them without fact-checking a single one, much less suggesting such people could better their lives by relying less on government and more on themselves.

As Byron York correctly noted in The Washington Examiner, Democrats will again cry “Washington is broken” after Republicans take control of the House and improve their numbers in the Senate. To them, Washington “works” only when it is passing bills authored by Democrats that cost and tax more, while expanding the size and reach of government. Washington is “broken” when Republicans say “no” to more dependence on government and yes to liberty, opportunity and personal responsibility.

The message from the November election was about ending Obamism, not expanding it. You wouldn't know that from the drooling big media, which are already trying to re-establish the liberal narrative that everything Democrats do is good and everything Republicans do is evil. The big question is: What narrative do Republicans have to counter, even replace, the Democrats' narrative? That I can't predict, except to say we'll soon know.

Cal Thomas is a columnist with Tribune Media Services. His e-mail address is


Joel Pett "Ribs" Republicans Once More.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

CNN Poll: POTUS Barack Obama's Political Fortunes Start Climb, Sarah Palin's Turn Sour.

Read political ticker, and check out the poll results.

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Now's The Time For Mendicant States To Stand Up.

Forcing states to own up
By George F. Will

WASHINGTON — The nation's menu of crises caused by governmental malpractice may soon include states coming to Congress as mendicants, seeking relief from the consequences of their choices. Congress should forestall this by passing a bill with a bland title but explosive potential.

Principal author of the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act is Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, where about 80 cents of every government dollar goes for government employees' pay and benefits. His bill would define the scale of the problem of underfunded state and local government pensions, and would notify states not to approach Congress like Oliver Twists, holding out porridge bowls and asking for more.

Corporate pension funds are heavily regulated, including pre-funding requirements. A federal agency, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., copes with insolvent ones. By requiring transparency, the government gave the private sector an incentive to move to defined contributions from defined benefit plans, which are now primarily luxuries enjoyed by public employees.

Less candor, realism and pre-funding are required of state and municipal governments regarding their pension plans. Nunes' bill would require them to disclose the size of their pension liabilities — and the often dreamy assumptions behind the calculations. Noncompliant governments would be ineligible for issuing bonds exempt from federal taxation. Furthermore, the bill would stipulate that state and local governments are entirely responsible for their pension obligations and the federal government will provide no bailouts.

Nunes' bill would not traduce any state's sovereignty: Each would retain the right not to comply, choosing to forfeit access to the federally subsidized borrowing that facilitated their slide into trouble.

Those troubles are big. A study by Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management calculates the combined underfunding of pensions in the all municipalities at $574 billion. States have an estimated $3.3 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities.

Nunes says 10 states will exhaust their pension money by 2020, and all but eight states will by 2030.

States' troubles are becoming bigger. Hitherto, local governments have acquired infusions of funds from federal budget earmarks, which are now forbidden. Furthermore, states are suffering “ARRA hangover” — withdrawal from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the 2009 stimulus. With about $150 billion for state and local governments, it raised the federal portion of state budgets from about a quarter to a third. Also, in 2009 and 2010, states and localities borrowed almost $200 billion through the ARRA's Build America Bonds program, under which Washington pays 35 percent of the interest costs. Republicans, in another victory over the president in negotiations on extending the Bush tax rates, extinguished that program, which they say primarily produced more public sector employees.

There are legal provisions for municipalities to declare bankruptcy. Some have done so. As many as 200 are expected to default on debt next year. There are, however, no bankruptcy provisions for states. Some who favor providing such provisions say states are “too big to fail,” and under bankruptcy, judges could rewrite union contracts or give states powers to do so, thereby reducing existing pension obligations. Unfortunately, government-administered bankruptcy of governments might be even more unseemly than Washington's political twisting of the bankruptcy process on behalf of General Motors and Chrysler, including the use of TARP funds supposedly restricted for “financial institutions.”

Oliver Twist did not choose his fate. California, New York and Illinois — three states whose conditions are especially parlous — did. And in November, each of these deep blue states elected Democratic governors beholden to public employees unions.

San Francisco is spending $400 million a year on public employees' pensions, up from $175 million in 2005. In November, San Franciscans voted on Proposition B, which would have required city employees to contribute up to 10 percent of their salaries to their pension plans, and to pay half the health care premiums of their dependents. Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist, says: “A typical San Francisco resident with one dependent pays $953 a month for health care, while the typical city employee pays less than $10.”

San Francisco voters defeated Proposition B. If they now experience a self-inflicted budgetary earthquake, there is no national obligation to ameliorate the disaster they, like many other cities and states, have chosen.

People seeking backdoor bailouts hope the fourth branch of government, aka Ben Bernanke, will declare an emergency power for the Federal Reserve to buy municipal bonds in order to lower localities' borrowing costs. This political act might mitigate one crisis by creating a larger one — the Fed's forfeiture of its independence.

George F. Will is a syndicated columnist with The Washington Post. His e-mail address is


But The Paducah Sun Does.

Senator Jim Bunning leaves office vindicated

Last spring, in his 12th year in the United States Senate, he held up a bill to extend unemployment benefits. It was classic (Jim) Bunning, and it evoked the predictable response.

Democrats castigated him. He didn't care. Fellow Republicans criticized him. He didn't care.

In what The Washington Post called “spectacularly bad politics,” Bunning blocked an attempt by Democrats to treat the extension as an “emergency” bill, which would exempt it from their own pay-as-you-go sham. He didn't oppose the extension, he just opposed borrowing another $10 billion to pay for it.

He reasoned that, if the extension was really as important as Democrats said it was, they should be willing to cut spending somewhere else to pay for it. He even offered a relatively painless suggestion: Use unspent money from the trillion-dollar stimulus bill.

Democrats chose to play politics, using Bunning's stand to reinforce their portrayal of Republicans as heartless. This spooked fellow Republicans, who sensed an election-year disaster, and they pressured Bunning to stand down. He finally relented.

But to their amazement, the public backed Bunning. He added legions of new fans among an electorate alarmed by Washington's deficit spending. His fellow senators got it wrong. The Post got it wrong. It was spectacularly good politics. Principled stands often are.

Even The Post admitted: “The point Mr. Bunning was trying to make was a reasonable one: At some point, Congress has to stop borrowing and spending, even for worthy purposes.”

It turns out Bunning was ahead of the curve. And after observing how the voters responded, other Republicans and even some Democrats were emboldened to take a similar stand with subsequent spending bills.

Now the 79-year-old Bunning is leaving Congress after 24 years. Although he is the oldest Republican in the chamber, he was not ready to retire. Bunning was forced out by fellow Republicans, who decided his combative style and hard-line stances rendered him unelectable.

But he got the last laugh. Now Congress is full of Jim Bunnings, fiscal conservatives equally determined to end profligate spending and trillion-dollar deficits.

Bunning went from poster child for GOP callousness to taxpayers' champion. Now he hands off the baton to Rand Paul, 32 years his junior and equally committed to restoring fiscal discipline to Washington.

The two have this in common: A year ago, the party elite deemed them both unelectable.

Bunning was not without faults. He could be combative, and his intemperate statements sometimes needlessly alienated potential allies. But he was always a friend of the taxpayer, unwavering in his efforts to rein in spending and stop the growth of the federal government.

The midterm elections proved him right. Had Bunning remained in the race, he probably would have won.

He doesn't have to worry about that now. Others are taking up where he left off. Bunning now has time to enjoy his dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Kentucky owes a debt of gratitude to the Hall of Fame pitcher, whose career in public service was as distinguished as his career in Major League Baseball.

An editorial in the Paducah Sun.


So Louisville Courier Journal Does Not Like Jim Bunning.

Sen. Jim Bunning's example

After 24 years in Congress, Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky has given his last speech in the Senate and is headed into retirement.

His non-admirers will say his departure comes not a moment too soon — citing a long list of cringe-inducing outbursts, ranging from racist and homophobic campaign rhetoric in his 2004 Senate re-election effort, to his tasteless prediction that a Supreme Court justice would die of cancer within a year, to his heartless one-man effort to block extension of unemployment benefits during the worst economic crisis in 70 years.

His fans, both the genuine ones and the grudging ones, will credit the old beanballer with saying what he thought, as if that's some sort of self-contained virtue.

But there is a bigger point about Sen. Bunning's service: When conservative politicians embrace the right wing's anti-government dogma too rigidly, they don't accomplish much.

Stoutly conservative politicians can be engaged in fruitful government action. Even Dan Quayle cooperated with Ted Kennedy to produce a landmark job training and partnership act, and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah worked with Mr. Kennedy on national service legislation and on providing funds for health care coverage for uninsured children.

Sen. Bunning, however, leaves office with little in the way of substantive legislation to his credit. His contempt for those with differing perspectives left him unable to form constructive alliances, and his selective approach to government spending — trying to choke off money to help the uninsured, but willing to back two unfunded wars and budget-busting tax breaks for millionaires — failed for obvious reasons to command widespread respect.

His replacement, Rand Paul, will soon face a similar choice. Dr. Paul can continue providing red meat to the government-hating crowd, or he can seek to play a role in actually governing. It's a decision that will determine how relevant he will be.


This Gallup Poll Will Make My Fellow Conservatives Weep: POTUS Barack Obama And Hilary Clinton Are Most Admired Man And Woman Of 2010!

No further comments required, just check out Gallup Poll.

Yes, people: for you Conservatives, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are in the top ten

And yes, for Liberals George W. Bush and Glen Beck are also in the top ten.

Let the weeping commence henceforth!

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Someone Out There Doesn't Like Mitch McConnell.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Obamacare And The General Welfare Clause.

ObamaCare and the General Welfare Clause
The individual mandate is not the only problem with the health law. Its draconian Medicaid mandates on states exceed Congress's spending power.

Remember the Cornhusker Kickback? In a frantic effort to move ObamaCare through the Senate last December, Majority Leader Harry Reid procured Sen. Ben Nelson's vote by offering Nebraska a unique opportunity: His state alone would not have to pay for the dramatic expansion of Medicaid under the bill. The deal was dropped at the last minute, but not only because of the public outrage it generated. Many realized it was unconstitutional for a reason that now applies equally to the health-reform law: Both violate the general-welfare clause.

While Congress has no constitutional authority to directly commandeer state legislatures into doing its bidding, it can place conditions on the money it offers them. So in the 1980s, for example, states had to raise their drinking age to 21 or the federal government would hold back 5% of a particular state's highway funds. But Congress's authority to impose conditions is not limitless.

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Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States." The problem with the Cornhusker Kickback was that the citizens of 49 states would have had to pay for Nebraska's Medicaid exemption—without getting anything in return. The special exemption exceeded Congress's constitutional authority because it did not serve the "general welfare"—meaning, the welfare of the people of each and every state.

This defect is true of the new health law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Although the constitutional objections to its individual insurance mandate—the requirement that any person who isn't provided insurance by his employer buy it on his own—have gotten all the public attention, the law also has a "general welfare" problem. It will pile unspecified new costs on states by requiring them to extend their Medicaid coverage to more people. In Florida, 20 states have challenged these state mandates as exceeding Congress's spending power. Their challenge is based on South Dakota v. Dole (1987).

In Dole, the Supreme Court upheld the congressional mandate that every state raise its drinking age to 21, or lose 5% of its highway funding. But the Court also acknowledged that "in some circumstances, the financial inducement offered by Congress might be so coercive as to pass the point at which 'pressure turns into compulsion'" (quoting a 1937 opinion by Justice Benjamin Cardozo). The Court upheld the drinking age mandate because a state would only "lose a relatively small percentage of certain federal highway funds."

ObamaCare won't alter Medicaid in a relatively small way. It's an "all in or all out" proposition—not a threat of losing just 5% of some transportation funds, but a threat of losing 100% of the single largest federal outlay to the states.

The annual federal spending on Medicaid is now over $250 billion, more than all federal spending on transportation and education combined, and it is climbing quickly. States on average devote about 18% of their tax revenues to Medicaid, typically funding between 40% and 50% of their state's total Medicaid costs. The health law's changes to Medicaid will force them to pay even more of their own funds.

The 20-state challenge to the new law was heard in federal district court in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 16. Much of the argument concerned whether the threatened loss of Medicaid funding passes the threshold laid out in Dole, where persuasion becomes compulsion. We think the case also presents a serious "general welfare" problem.

Normal federal spending occurs irregularly throughout the U.S. If Nebraska gets a military base, for example, making the case that it serves the "common defense and general welfare of the United States" is easy, since citizens of other states benefit from the base. The same general-welfare story can be told about virtually all federal spending programs, which is why Chief Justice William Rehnquist said in Dole, "[i]n considering whether a particular expenditure is intended to serve general public purposes, courts should defer substantially to the judgment of Congress."

ObamaCare is different. Texas might be allowed to withdraw from Medicaid, but Congress will simply send the Medicaid portion of its citizens' federal tax payments to the 49 other states. Texas citizens would receive nothing in return.

Given the enormous sums involved, sending their tax payments to other states would make it nearly impossible for Texans to fund their own system of medical assistance to the poor: Texas's poor citizens would suffer while the state's tax payments would go to support the poor in other states. Taking from one state to benefit 49 others is as much a violation of the general-welfare clause as the Cornhusker Kickback, which proposed taking from 49 states to benefit one.

In short, the real key to the Medicaid challenge by the 20 states is not simply that withholding Medicaid funding is coercive. It is that the taxes paid by citizens of a state that opts out of Medicaid would no longer be spent in support of the general welfare of each and every one of the states—including itself.

The problem is not insurmountable: Congress could simply provide any state that chooses to withdraw from Medicaid a federal block grant equal to the amount that state's taxpayers would otherwise receive for Medicaid. That would make its choice to remain in or opt out of Medicaid truly voluntary and ensure that the Medicaid program serves the general welfare.

A cynic might respond, Congress would never offer such a block grant because then lots of states might withdraw. Exactly right. And this shows how the "coercion" principle of Dole is linked to the general-welfare clause. If the only way to withdraw from Medicaid is for a state to deprive its citizens of the benefit of their tax payments, they are in this sense unconstitutionally coerced into remaining.

The conclusion is clear. So long as Congress insists on threatening the taxpayers of any state that withdraws from Medicaid by sending their tax money to the other states—and, in the process, depriving them of the funds needed to assist their poorest citizens—federal courts should follow Dole and rule that the new Medicaid requirements are unconstitutional.

Mr. Barnett is a professor of constitutional law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Oedel is a professor of constitutional law at Mercer University Law School and deputy special attorney general for the state of Georgia in the 20-state health-care litigation. He is writing this in a personal capacity, and not as a representative of any party in the case.


It Looks Like The Fat Lady Has Sung In Alaska, As Joe Miller Won't Contest Lisa Murkowski's Winner Certification In Senate Race.

Go to Politico for more.


Of POTUS Barack Obama And The Hornets' Nest.

Elites got richer and angrier

By Jesus Rivas at 12:00am on Dec 26, 2010 Modified at 11:36am on Dec 27, 2010

When I was a child, I learned from my old man the right way to eliminate a hornet's nest.

He put a big plastic bag around the whole nest and closed the bag over it. Then, he detached the nest from the ceiling and the nest fell inside the closed bag. I could hear the enraged hornets flying and buzzing inside the bag, but they could not do any harm.

There is another way to eliminate a hornet's nest, though. One can start chipping away little pieces of the nest with a dull spoon, one little piece at a time.

This latter method also moves you toward the greater goal of eliminating the hornet's nest; but, needless to say, you will pay the consequences.

This seems to be what President Barack Obama did, attempting to rein in the political power that big corporations have accrued. He took a few measures that did not make a big difference in neutralizing their power, or gaining him popular support; but he did just enough to provoke the rage of corporate elites who came out in droves against his administration.

Consider the financial system. Obama gave big handouts to Wall Street, and allowed the same irresponsible unregulated behavior. Banks continued foreclosing on poor families, despite the suffering it was causing to so many people (and the fact that some foreclosures were not even legal).

The financial system made more money during Obama's presidency than it had made in recorded history.

But he added a few regulations on credit card companies and took away the control of the student loans from banks. He included enough regulation to taunt the economic elites who came out with millions of dollars in smear money to cost many Democrats re-election.

We also have the health care bill that includes big handouts to insurance companies, with insufficient regulations.

However, on some obscure page, there is a clause that says that, at some time in the future, insurance companies have to use 80 to 85 percent of the premiums to pay for medical expenses or give rebates.

Fifteen percent for the companies is not bad, but it is a lot less than the 23 to 30 percent they are making now. This was another scraping of the hornet's nest.

The insurance sector came after the Democrats with hornet-like rage, but they failed to provide universal health care for the American people. So, the Democratic base was not there for them on Election Day.

Unfortunately, Obama learned nothing from it. In his epic capitulation to Republican demands to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, Obama does not seem to realize he is helping his base very little and the hornets will not be any more grateful than they have been.

In the last days of this Congress, Democrats have been successful demonstrating that Republicans are willing to go against the very conservative values they profess, the interest of the American people and even the country itself. Clearly, the Democrats hope this would cost Republicans dearly in the next elections.

What the Democrats do not seem to realize is that people who pay that much attention to politics already vote Democratic, and the great majority of Americans will only see that the party failed to deliver on most of its promises, despite having the largest majority in decades.

With another $1 trillion in debt, how is Obama going to protect Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and all other social services the hornets are eager to destroy?

Obama talks about "the hard choices we will have to make," referring to the inevitable butchering of all social programs.

When are we going to ask the billionaires to make hard choices?

Why are the financial elites, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and the oil conglomerates always spared from "biting the bullet," while the poor people have been using bullets as staple food for years?

Our senior citizens devoted their lives to build this country up. They don't have a lot of choices left to make. How can the people who lost their houses and lost their jobs make hard choices?

Why are we asking hard choices of those who don't have any choice?

Reach Jesus Rivas at

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Dana Milbank: [POTUS Barack] Obama Might Need Refresher On His Lesson In Humility.

Obama might need refresher on his lesson in humility
By Dana Milbank

WASHINGTON — It took President Obama fewer than 50 days to go from shellacking to swashbuckling.

Seven weeks earlier, the President faced harsh questions about his leadership as he took responsibility for Democrats' loss of the House in the previous day's election. But the man who faced reporters Tuesday afternoon in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building was treated by his questioners as a conquering colossus — and Obama didn't mind wearing those shoes.

“A lot of folks in this town predicted that, after the midterm elections, Washington would be headed for more partisanship and more gridlock,” he said to a roomful of people who had predicted just that. “And instead, this has been a season of progress for the American people.”

He bestowed superlatives on his accomplishments:

“The most productive post-election period we've had in decades.”

“The most productive two years that we've had in generations.”

“The most significant arms-control agreement in nearly two decades.”

“The biggest upgrade of America's food-safety laws since the Great Depression.”

“Al-Qaida is more hunkered down than they have been since the original invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.”

More! Most! Biggest! And when he wasn't praising his accomplishments, he was praising himself: “One thing I hope people have seen during this lame-duck, I am persistent. I am persistent. You know, if I believe in something strongly, I stay on it.”

Careful, Mr. President. What got Obama in trouble in the first place were the extraordinarily high expectations that the nation had for his administration — and that Obama's campaign had encouraged. The humility forced on him by the Republicans' triumph in November served to focus Obama, leading him to cut a tax deal with the GOP that infuriated fellow Democrats but made possible the string of legislative achievements he rightly boasted about on Tuesday.

The frantic worries of recent weeks of a “failed one-term presidency” (as Katrina vanden Heuvel warned) were overstated. But now Obama's return to messianic status — his campaign-style event to sign the “don't ask, don't tell” repeal on Tuesday was held in the Interior Department auditorium to accommodate the huge and raucous crowd — risks unlearning the valuable lesson in humility.

“You racked up a lot of wins in the last few weeks that a lot of people thought would be difficult to come by,” pointed out Reuters' Caren Bohan, the leadoff questioner at the news conference. “Are you ready to call yourself the comeback kid?”

“It's a victory for the American people,” came the clichéd demurral.

And that was about as tough as the questioning got.

“Merry Christmas,” said ABC's Jake Tapper.

“Merry Christmas,” Obama replied.

“Happy holidays,” said CNN's Dan Lothian.

“Happy holidays,” Obama replied.

“Feliz navidad,” said CNN en Espanol's Juan Carlos Lopez.

Even Fox News' Mike Emanuel felt compelled to preface his question with a “Merry Christmas” — a wish Obama returned, in the spirit of the season.

The President, fresh from his successful triangulation of the Democrats in negotiating the tax deal, spoke as if he were an entity distinct from Republicans and Democrats alike.

He said he would “take to heart” voters' wishes for common ground, “and I hope my Democratic and Republican friends will do the same.” He suggested that “we've got to look at some of our old dogmas, both Democrats and Republicans.” The man who famously spoke of the need to “spread the wealth around” could be heard telling CBS News' Mark Knoller, “We celebrate wealth. We celebrate somebody like a Steve Jobs.”

Obama even looked better: The makeup was heavy, the lip injury faded, his blue tie coordinated with the curtains. He gave his questioners only half an hour — which turned out to be more than enough for the gentle lines of inquiry.

Lothian asked Obama to extend his campaign-season metaphor about Democrats pushing a car out of an economic ditch. “What kind of highway do you think it will be driving on in 2011?” the correspondent asked. “Who will really be behind the wheel?”

Obama, minutes from departure for his Hawaiian vacation, played along. “The car is on level ground,” he reported, adding automotive imagery about “a dent in the unemployment rate” and about how “the private sector is going to be the driving force” and the government “a catalyst.” A catalytic converter?

“The American people are driving,” Obama continued. “And both parties are going to be held accountable ... if we take a wrong turn.”

Very clever, sir. But, for your own safety and that of your passengers, please park the celebration.

Dana Milbank is a Washington Post columnist. His e-mail address is


We Pay Tribute To "Ivory Queen Of Soul" Teena Marie, The Funkiest White Chick We Ever Knew. RIP, Teena. We Love You.

Read more.

Enjoy below:

Below's Teena Marie recently:

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Charles Krauthammer: [POTUS Barack] Obama Has Come Back With A Vengeance.

Obama has come back with a vengeance
By Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON — Riding the lamest of ducks, President Obama just won the Triple Crown.

He fulfilled (1) his most important economic priority, passage of Stimulus II, aka the tax cut deal (the perfect pre-re-election fiscal sugar high — the piper gets paid in 2013 and beyond); (2) his most important social policy objective, repeal of “don't ask, don't tell”; and (3) his most cherished (achievable) foreign policy goal, ratification of the New START treaty with Russia.

Politically, these are all synergistic. The bipartisan nature of the tax deal instantly repositioned Obama back to the center. And just when conventional wisdom decided the deal had caused irreparable alienation from his liberal base, Obama almost immediately won it back — by delivering one of the gay rights movement's most elusive and coveted breakthroughs.

The symbolism of the “don't ask, don't tell” repeal cannot be underestimated. It's not just that for the civil rights community, it represents a long-awaited extension of the historic arc — first blacks, then women, now gays. It was also Obama decisively transcending the triangulated trimming of Bill Clinton, who instituted “don't ask, don't tell” in the first place. Even more subtly and understatedly, the repeal represents the taming of the most conservative of the nation's institutions, the military, by a movement historically among the most avant-garde. Whatever your views, that is a cultural landmark.

Then came START, which was important for Obama not just because of the dearth of foreign policy achievements in these last two years but because treaties, especially grand-sounding treaties on strategic arms, carry the aura of presidential authority and diplomatic mastery.

No matter how useless they are, or even how damaging. New START was significantly, if subtly, damaging, which made the rear-guard Republican opposition it engendered so salutary. The debate it sparked garnered the treaty more attention than it would have otherwise and thus gave Obama a larger PR victory. But that debate also amplified the major flaw in the treaty — the gratuitous re-establishment of the link between offensive and defensive weaponry.

One of the great achievements of the last decade was the Bush administration's severing of that link — first, by its withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, which had expressly prevented major advances in missile defense, and then with the 2002 Treaty of Moscow, which regulated offensive weapons but ostentatiously contained not a single word about any connection to missile defense. Why is this important? Because missile defense is essential for protecting ourselves from the most menacing threat of the coming century — nuclear hyper-proliferation.

The relinking that we acquiesced to in the preamble to New START is a major reversal of that achievement. Sure, Obama sought to reassure critics with his letter to the Senate promising unimpeded development of our European missile defense system. But the Russians have already watched this president cancel our painstakingly planned Polish and Czech missile defenses in response to Russian protests and threats. That's why they insisted we formally acknowledge an “interrelationship” between offense and defense. They know that their threat to withdraw from START, if the U.S. were to build defenses that displease them, will inevitably color — and restrain — future U.S. missile defense advances and deployments.

The difficulty Obama had overcoming the missile defense objection will serve to temper the rest of his nuclear agenda, including U.S. entry into the test ban treaty, and place Obama's ultimate goal of total nuclear disarmament blessedly out of reach. Conservatives can thus take solace that their vigorous opposition to START will likely prevent further disarmament mischief down the road. But what they cannot deny is the political boost the treaty's ratification gives Obama today, a mere seven weeks after his Election Day debacle.

The great liberal ascendancy of 2008, destined to last 40 years (predicted James Carville), lasted less than two. Yet, the great Republican ascendancy of 2010 lasted less than two months. Republicans will enter the 112th Congress with larger numbers but no longer with the wind — the overwhelming Nov. 2 repudiation of Obama's social-democratic agenda — at their backs.

“Harry Reid has eaten our lunch,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, lamenting his side's “capitulation” in the lame-duck session. Yes, but it was less Harry than Barry. Obama came back with a vengeance. His string of lame-duck successes is a singular political achievement. Because of it, the epic battles of the 112th Congress begin on what would have seemed impossible just one month ago — a level playing field.

Charles Krauthammer is a Washington Post columnist. His e-mail address is


Words To Live By.

"History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views."

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781


These Cartoons Should Make You Wanna Cry -- UNLESS You Are Rich!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kentucky Aims To Amend Its Constitution; Here's How Joel Pett Sees Effort. I'm LMAO!


To Our Readers, We Wish You A Happy Boxing Day. Whether You Box Today, Or Tomorrow, Enjoy.

Yes, enjoy boxing, folks.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

To Our Readers, We Wish You A Very Merry CHRISTmas. ... For Unto Us A Child Was Born In Bethlehem.



Check out POTUS and FLOTUS below:


In Our Quest To Please Each Other With Gifts, Don't Forget CHRIST Is The Reason For The Season.


Friday, December 24, 2010

ON CHRISTmas Eve, The Question What Did Jesus Look Like Was Wondered By CBS. Watch Video.


No Matter Where He Goes, POTUS Barack Obama Lives In 'The Bubble'.

No matter where he goes, Obama lives in 'the bubble'
By Steven Thomma

WASHINGTON — When he stepped off of Air Force One in sunny Hawaii to begin his annual Christmas vacation, President Barack Obama managed to escape Washington, but not "the bubble."

At home or on the road, the president lives in an isolating world — a White House world staffed by thousands of people who protect, advise, and serve him at an annual cost to taxpayers of about $1.5 billion.

He lives, works and plays behind fences and a wall of Secret Service agents. He never cuts the grass, does the laundry, or cleans the kitchen. He's driven a car only twice in nearly four years, once for 10 feet. He rarely goes to church; a chaplain visits him at his private Camp David mountain retreat. He doesn't go to movies; first-run releases are sent to him.

He says he tries to break through, reaching out for contact with ordinary Americans and the occasional feel of real life. But as Obama himself admits, it's hard.

"There is an inherent danger in being in the White House and being in the bubble," he said recently when asked following big midterm election losses if he'd lost touch with the American people. "When you're in this place, it is hard not to seem removed."

In the distant past, people could walk up to the White House and talk to the president. Then people started shooting at presidents, and the fences went up.

Once, they could drive by the White House. Then someone used a truck bomb to blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City, and the Secret Service closed that part of Pennsylvania Avenue to traffic in 1995.

Once, President Harry Truman could take walks around the streets of the capital. Then assassins tried to kill him, and presidents retreated behind the fences. When Obama walked a few hundred feet across Pennsylvania Avenue in mid-December to meet with business leaders at the nearby Blair House, one of his heavily armored limousines stood by and pedestrians were barred for blocks around.

Indeed, the wall separating the president from the people has grown ever higher, the bubble ever larger, particularly with the threat of terrorism.

Where President George H.W. Bush could sneak out for a quiet dinner at a Chinese restaurant, Obama has to plan well ahead to leave the building, even when he's taking what looks like a spontaneous outing for a hamburger.

"The ability to move any president is not what it was in 1989 or 1991," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "We couldn't decide to go somewhere tomorrow. It just takes a long time to get that apparatus moving."

Security is one way a president is cut off from people. Lifestyle can be another. The way presidents live can reinforce their connection with the American people or punctuate the differences.

"They're all in a bubble," said presidential historian Bert Rockman.

"Some of them have a more common touch than others. Clinton certainly did. Reagan did. The younger Bush did for a while. Others have lacked the common touch. Nixon didn't have it. Carter didn't have it. Obama is very comfortable in the company of intellectuals."

Truman not only took walks, he also insisted on washing his own socks and underwear. Ronald Reagan cleared brush and rode horses on his ranch. Bill Clinton had a taste for McDonald's. George W. Bush drove his own pickup truck at his ranch.

Obama doesn't do any of that.

At the White House, he has a staff of about 100 to cook and clean for him.

At the Camp David retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, the Navy provides staff to take care of the 49 buildings. It boasts a four-bedroom presidential lodge, a heated swimming pool, stables, a sauna, a movie theater, tennis courts and a golf driving range. "It's about the only place you can really walk freely and be alone virtually unencumbered," Reagan told Clinton after his election.

Obama went to Camp David 10 times his first year in office, less frequently than some predecessors. George W. Bush cherished the seclusion, going an average of 18 times a year.

All told, nearly 6,600 people work to take care of the president, according to Bradley H. Patterson, a veteran of the Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford White Houses who's written extensively about White House staff.

That includes the Secret Service, the White House policy staff, the people who take care of the White House and its grounds, as well as Camp David, Air Force One, the Marine One helicopters and the armored cars. It also includes a staff florist and calligrapher.

The price tag totaled $1.5 billion in 2008, the latest year records are available. The cost is all but hidden in the federal budget, spread out in 12 different places, Patterson said, including the departments of Defense and Homeland Security. The 200 to 300 people who clean and maintain the White House are listed in the General Services Administration and the National Parks Service, for example.

"There's no one White House budget," Patterson said.

Beyond the extraordinary services offered to him, a president makes personal choices about how much to connect to life outside his enclosed world.

"One of the challenges that we've got to think about is how do I meet my responsibilities here in the White House," Obama said last month, "but still have that opportunity to engage with the American people on a day-to-day basis ... give them confidence that I'm listening to them."

He doesn't attend church often and thus seldom mixes with other congregants.

A movie buff, he doesn't go to theaters or wait in line with other people for popcorn. Instead, the Motion Picture Association of America sends him movies. Obama has a private theater on the ground floor of the White House, and aides said he also watches them on his laptop.

Secret Service agents have chauffeured him since soon after he became a presidential candidate, so he's only driven twice since 2007. He steered a new Chevy Volt all of 10 feet during a factory visit in July, and once took an unseen drive of a Dodge Charger during a visit to the Secret Service training facility.

When he does interact with people in Washington, it's often with elites.

He attends events at his daughters' exclusive Sidwell Friends School, a favorite of the city's political and media elite. He meets frequently with journalists from The New York Times, giving them frequent access to his office and senior staff while refusing to talk to most media based outside the New York-to-Washington corridor.

He keeps in contact with a small group of close friends, including Chicago pals Martin Nesbitt, who owns a chain of airport parking lots, and Eric Whitaker, the executive vice president of the University of Chicago's Medical Center. In April, he and first lady Michelle Obama spent a weekend in Ashville, N.C., with Nesbitt, Whitaker and their wives.

He's also in constant contact with his Chicago friend Valerie Jarrett, who came to his White House as a senior adviser and is frequently in his tight social circle. When he vacationed in August on Martha's Vineyard, Jarrett went too, catching a ride up on Air Force One, then playing Scrabble with Obama and dining with him.

Obama does play golf and basketball regularly — something that links him to millions of like-minded jocks across the land.

However, he plays basketball in closed-off gyms, usually with close friends and aides such as Reggie Love, a former Duke University player who's Obama's personal aide, and Arne Duncan, Obama's Secretary of Education, who played hoops for Harvard and for pro teams in Australia.

When home, Obama plays golf on courses at Andrews Air Force Base or the Army's Fort Belvoir, far from prying eyes and media cameras. There, too, he usually plays with close friends or aides such as Marvin Nicholson, the White House trip director, and Ben Finkenbinder, who works in the press office.

One way he reaches out beyond his circle is by reading letters from ordinary Americans, 10 of them selected daily by staff and given to him each evening in a folder. "Some of them just break my heart," he said of them. "Some of them provide me encouragement and inspiration."

And he's involved with his daughters. He frequently attends events at their school — his motorcade stops for red lights on these unofficial treks — and he recently started a regular Sunday trek to a private gym to play basketball with them. "His girls keep him pretty grounded," Gibbs said.

Obama meets ordinary Americans during his travels around the country, but those interactions are limited. Often they're just a handshake and a smile for a cell phone camera during a stop in a diner or bakery. He often buys food, paying cash and leaving big tips. He seldom stays to eat.

On a recent trip to Winston-Salem, N.C., for example, he spent a total of two hours and 49 minutes on the ground, and about 40 minutes of that was in his limousine.

On a November trip to Kokomo, Ind., he went to a firehouse, an elementary school, an auto plant and a bakery and was back on Air Force One in three hours and 45 minutes. His stop at Sycamore Elementary lasted seven minutes.

And on a September trek to suburban Fairfax, Va., as part of his Backyard Tour to meet with regular people, he arrived in a family's yard at 1:42 p.m., spoke for 10 minutes, then answered questions for an hour and was back in the car at 3:21 p.m., headed back to the White House.

"I don't know that you totally judge it by time," Gibbs said. "Part of it is the quality of the interaction. Talking to someone on a factory floor is important, talking to somebody at a cash register at a bakery when you're there."

Quick stops or not, Obama plans more of them in 2011. "His goal is not necessarily to spend more time, it's to do more trips," Gibbs said.

"There are more things that we can do to make sure that I'm getting out of here," Obama said. "Getting out of here is good for me, too."

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The POTUS, Barack Obama, Wants You To Share His "Progress", And Wishes You "Happy Holidays". He Didn't Get My "Put CHRIST In CHRISTmas" Facebook Hint

Friend --

This time of year, Americans around the country are taking the time to exchange heartfelt messages with friends and loved ones, reflecting on the past year. They write of achievements and setbacks, of births, graduations, promotions, and moves.

These messages allow us to overcome the miles that separate us. And they allow us to continue one of the most basic American traditions that has held folks close for centuries -- the simple sharing of stories.

And as families gather around holiday tables this season, we also have the opportunity to share the stories of the change this movement has achieved together.

It is a narrative woven by individuals across America -- in big cities and small towns, hospitals and classrooms, in auto manufacturing plants and auto supply stores.

These are stories of rebuilding, and of innovation. Stories of communities breathing new life into old roads and bridges, of local plants harnessing alternative fuel into new energy. Stories of small businesses getting up, dusting themselves off, and beginning to grow again. Stories of soldiers who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq now coming home -- and enjoying the holidays this year in the company of loved ones.

These are stories of progress.

They unite us, and they are ours to share.

We've pulled many of them together in one place, PROGRESS. You can see what our reforms have meant to Americans in every state -- block by block, community by community.

Click here to read about stories of progress in your area -- and share them with your friends and family.

The reforms that we fought long and hard for are not talking points.

And their effects don't change based on the whims of politicians in Washington. They are achievements that have a real and meaningful impact on the lives of Americans around the country. They are achievements that would not have been possible without you. PROGRESS localizes them -- and brings them to life.

It tells of how a green technology business in Phoenix, Arizona, is using a grant through the Recovery Act's Transportation Electrification program to bring the first electric-drive vehicles and charging stations to cities around the country.

It tells how, thanks to closing the "donut hole" in prescription drug coverage, a diabetic woman in Burlington, Vermont will no longer have to choose between purchasing her monthly groceries or the insulin she needs to survive.

It tells about how 136,000 Pennsylvania residents' jobs were saved or created by the Recovery Act.

And about how, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 22,900 small businesses in Utah's 2nd Congressional District are now eligible for health care tax credits -- and how 17,500 residents in Idaho's 1st with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage.

There are thousands more stories like these.

In the coming days, as we gather with our loved ones at dinner tables around the nation, let's pass them on. Let's celebrate the spirit of service and responsibility that brought them to fruition. And let's steady ourselves with the resolve to continue pressing forward.

Because the coming year will hold new challenges -- battles that have yet to be fought, and stories of progress that have yet to be written.

Take a look at the progress we've made in your area -- and share the stories you read with your friends and family:

Happy holidays, and God bless,


P.S. -- Last week, seven OFA volunteers joined me at the White House for a special meeting -- and they brought along your feedback from the Vote 2010 campaign. It was incredibly meaningful for me to be able to hear directly from supporters like you. And your input will be front and center as we plot our course moving forward into the new year. Please take a couple minutes to check out some photos and stories from the meeting.

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FLOTUS Michele Obama Wishes You "Happy Holidays". I Guess She Did Not Get My Facebook Note About Putting CHRIST In CHRISTmas!

Good morning,

The holiday season is one of my favorite times of year at the White House.
The White House truly feels like the “People’s House,” as folks of all ages from across the country pass through the halls enjoying the beautiful décor and celebrating the history here at every turn.
More than 100,000 visitors will come to the White House this holiday season, and we wanted to give everyone a chance to share in the magic of the White House during the holidays.

That’s why one of my favorite decorations this year is the Military Appreciation Tree where visitors can leave their holiday messages for our troops and their families, many of whom will spend this holiday season far away from their loved ones. You can send your own season’s greetings to our men and women in uniform and our military families, as well as see all the holiday decorations and watch behind-the-scenes videos, on

This year’s White House theme, Simple Gifts, is a celebration of the simple things that bring joy during the holidays, like spending time with family and friends and serving those in need in our communities. And it’s a reminder to us all, particularly in these trying times, that some of the greatest gifts in our lives are those that don’t cost a thing.

On behalf of Barack, Malia, Sasha, and Bo, I wish you and your family a very happy and healthy holiday season.


Michelle Obama
First Lady of the United States
P.S. If you are looking for ways to give back to your community this holiday season, visit or check out the Toys for Tots program.

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It's Joel Pett Again With CHRISTmas In The Internet Age. LOL.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Louisville Courier Journal Sees Kentucky Transportation Cabinet "Passing The [In God We Trust] Plate" Over ROCK.

Passing the plate

Kentucky's transportation cabinet has unveiled an “In God We Trust” license plate, and that's unfortunate for several reasons, including that for three years the cabinet denied a faith-based organization permission for a similarly worded specialty plate that the group, “Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana,” hoped to use to raise money to fight pornography and the sex industry.

The cabinet decided that it had the authority to issue the plate, spokesman Chuck Wolfe said, even after Kentucky state legislators, who are not always noted for restraint or good judgment in matters of separation of church and state, considered but then declined to pass bills authorizing such a plate.

“The cabinet believes there's a sizeable group of people who would like to have this choice,” Mr. Wolfe said.

Of course, one of the best justifications for church/state separation is that “sizeable” groups have been known to run roughshod over religious or non-religious minorities. Moreover, people of faith were never given the opportunity to support ROCK's efforts because the Transportation Cabinet rejected that group's specialty plate application on the grounds that state law prohibits them on behalf of groups whose “primary purpose (is) the promotion of any specific faith, religion or anti-religion.”

The cabinet, following the lead of other states that issue “In God We Trust” license plates, apparently feels it isn't promoting religion. If so, since specialty plates cost motorists extra money, what we're witnessing in Kentucky is a cheesy money grab.

In the aftermath of Gov. Steve Beshear's endorsement of state tax incentives for a “creationist” theme park — in the name of economic development — it's fair to wonder what will be the next brick removed from the wall that's supposed to separate religion and government.

Editor's comment: it shocks me to find out that the Cabinet "STOLE" ROCK's idea for its own!


Dana Milbank:| Days Of Whine And Poses.

Days of whine and poses
By Dana Milbank

The lame-duck session of Congress has introduced Americans to the three-party system of government: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the Petulant Party.

Eight founding fathers of the Petulants took the stage Tuesday morning in the Senate TV studio to provide an update on their latest cause: The defeat of the nuclear arms treaty with Russia. The New START treaty has the enthusiastic support of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rest of the top military brass, not to mention all six living secretaries of State who served in Republican administrations.

But the Petulants do not care about Republican wise men. They do not care about the wishes of the uniformed military. What they care about is preserving the sanctity of . . . Christmas vacation?

“The fact that we're doing this under the cover of Christmas,” complained Sen. Jim DeMint, P-S.C., “is something to be outraged about.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, P-S.C., was outraged. “Here we are, the week of Christmas, about to pass potentially a treaty,” he protested.

And the leader of the group, Sen. Jon Kyl, P-Ariz., is already on record saying the Democrats' legislative agenda amounts to “disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians.”

So it has come to this: Members of the Petulant Party want to stop the START treaty (and block a bill that would help ground zero first responders pay medical bills) because they wish to get home to their figgy pudding. This might be called playing the Christmas card. [The Senate in fact passed the responders' bill Wednesday afternoon. — Editor.]

Of course, the Petulants' objections have little to do with yule. You don't defy the national security judgment of the U.S. military and reject the wisdom of generations of GOP elder statesmen simply because you have concerns related to the Advent calendar.

Petulant leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) spelled out the real reason on the Senate floor Monday. McConnell, who said Republicans' “single most important” goal was Obama's defeat, said that in this case he didn't want to facilitate “some politician's desire to declare a political victory and host a press conference before the first of the year.”

So powerful has been the Petulants' desire to deny Obama a news conference that they defied the recommendation of Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates (a Bush administration holdover) in their unsuccessful defense on Saturday of the “don't ask, don't tell” ban on openly gay service members. And, separately, the Petulants' efforts to prevent the Sept. 11 bill from coming to the floor earned labels such as “disgrace” and “national shame” from the usually friendly hosts at Fox News.

Quizzed about the Sept. 11 bill on Fox News Sunday, Kyl belittled the “emotional appeal” made by the first responders.

But Kyl was the one making an emotional appeal on Tuesday. He started his START news conference with a complaint that Democrats took “a very partisan approach to this treaty.”

That must be how they won the support of Colin Powell, Jim Baker and Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Other Petulants complained that Democrats were trying to “rush it through” (John Thune, S.D.) or “jamming the Congress” (Graham).

This “rush” lasted eight months and included extensive hearings before three Senate committees.

Still, Sen. Jeff Sessions, P-Ala., said the “rush” prevented a discussion of the fact that “the No. 1 threat . . . comes from Iran, South Korea and other places.”

“North Korea,” corrected Kyl.

The Petulants were clearly less disturbed by the substance than by perceived slights in the legislative procedure. Graham said he objected a “fill up the tree, rule-14 vote” (try turning that into a political slogan) and Orrin Hatch, P-Utah, said the rush meant that “I have to withdraw my support for something that I would like to support.”

This time, the petulance could not prevent an outbreak of reason on the Senate floor. “I will vote for the treaty because the last six Republican secretaries of state support its ratification,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced, adding that ratification “would extend the policies of President Nixon, President Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush.”

A couple of hours later, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., added his support. “If you look at the makeup of our Joint Chiefs,” he argued, “every single one of these gentlemen was appointed by a Republican president,” and “each of these people have firmly stated their support for this treaty.”

“The question,” Corker said, “is will we say ‘yes' to yes?”

On Tuesday, enough Republicans said “yes” to send the treaty to ratification on Wednesday. But the Petulant Party is only getting organized. As McConnell told Politico this week: “If they think it's bad now, wait 'til next year.”

Dana Milbank is a Washington Post columnist. His e-mail address is


Ruth Marcus: "[Haley] Barbour's Distorted Lens [On Race]". So SAD!

Barbour's distorted lens
By Ruth Marcus

WASHINGTON — It's too bad for Haley Barbour that he's not in my book group.

Sure, the Mississippi governor and potential presidential candidate might feel a little out of place. He would be the only man — and, as it turns out, the only Republican.

But Barbour might have saved himself a heap of trouble if he had been with us Sunday night to talk about The Help, Kathryn Stockett's novel about white women and their black maids in Mississippi during the 1960s.

Barbour is a smooth pol who seems to stumble whenever he encounters the subject of the South and race. When Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell erased slavery from the annual Confederacy Day proclamation, Barbour dismissed critics for “trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn't matter for diddly.” His soft focus recollection of the civil rights era makes Gone With the Wind look like a hit job on the Old Confederacy.

A few months back, Barbour gave an interview to Human Events, the conservative magazine, that wished away the South of fire hoses and church bombings. “My generation,” said Barbour, “went to integrated schools. I went to an integrated college — never thought about it.”

Perhaps he never thought about it because the actual facts were less pleasant. Barbour arrived at Ole Miss a few years after federal marshals were required to escort James Meredith onto the riot-torn campus. The schools in his hometown of Yazoo City were not integrated until 1970, by which point Barbour was in law school.

Now, Barbour, in an interview with the conservative Weekly Standard, has taken his airbrush to Yazoo City. Explaining how the local schools managed to desegregate without violence, Barbour said, “Because the business community wouldn't stand for it. You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town.”

By 1970, Yazoo's white establishment had concluded — albeit 16 years after Brown vs. Board of Education and in the face of a federal court order — that segregation was not a winning strategy. “We don't have much other choice,” Mayor Jeppie Barbour, Haley's older brother, told writer Willie Morris.

But Barbour's portrayal conveniently omits the more sinister role played by the councils — “the South's answer to the mongrelizers,” as one council pamphlet put it ( In Yazoo City as elsewhere in the South, the councils worked to intimidate whites and blacks from pursuing desegregation.

Not in Barbour's soft-focus recollection. “I just don't remember it as being that bad,” he said of racial tensions in Yazoo City. “I remember Martin Luther King came to town, in '62. He spoke out at the old fairground and it was full of people, black and white.”

I don't think that Barbour is being deliberately ahistorical or insensitive here. These comments are not a calculated political tactic. They are far more damaging than helpful, as Barbour's oops-I-did-it-again clarification Tuesday indicated. Barbour is no dumb tactician. Rather, and this is where The Help comes in, they reflect the limits of Barbour's cloistered worldview. Like the rest of us, his perceptions are inevitably skewed by the distorting lens of his background and upbringing.

The Help takes place in Barbour's backyard, Jackson, in 1962. The white women are not so much evil as they are oblivious to the inequities around them, not to mention the inequities they inflict themselves. Even the worst, Hilly, energetically raises money for “The Poor Starving Children of Africa” as she presses the “Home Help Sanitation Initiative,” so that the African-American help would have separate bathrooms in their employers' homes.

The unpleasantness of the civil rights movement is a subject to be diligently avoided. When one of the white women, Skeeter, begins to watch a television report about Meredith at Ole Miss, her mother immediately flips the channel to Lawrence Welk, announcing, ‘Look, isn't this so much nicer?' ” After Skeeter anonymously publishes a book about the maids' difficult and humiliating lives in “Niceville,” her friends can scarcely recognize themselves.

So when Barbour says he does not remember things “being that bad,” I suspect he is telling the truth. Barbour's failing is not in his faulty memory. It is in his consistent unwillingness to recognize the edifice of self-serving myth on which he has constructed his comfortable conclusions.

Ruth Marcus is a columnist for The Washington Post. Her e-mail address is

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