Sunday, July 31, 2011
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Giving in To Obama Would Essentially Condone The President’s Damage To This Country.
Giving in to Obama would essentially condone the president’s damage to this country
By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER
WASHINGTON — We’re in the midst of a great four-year national debate on the size and reach of government, the future of the welfare state, indeed, the nature of the social contract between citizen and state. The distinctive visions of the two parties - social-democratic versus limited government - have underlain every debate on every issue since Barack Obama’s inauguration: the stimulus, the auto bailouts, health care reform, financial regulation, deficit spending. Everything. The debt ceiling is but the latest focus of this fundamental divide.
The sausage-making may be unsightly, but the problem is not that Washington is broken, that ridiculous ubiquitous cliche. The problem is that these two visions are in competition, and the definitive popular verdict has not yet been rendered.
We’re only at the midpoint. Obama won a great victory in 2008 that he took as a mandate to transform America toward European-style social democracy. The subsequent counterrevolution delivered to that project a staggering rebuke in November . Under our incremental system, however, a rebuke delivered is not a mandate conferred. That awaits definitive resolution, the rubber match of November 2012.
I have every sympathy with the conservative counterrevolutionaries. Their containment of the Obama experiment has been remarkable. But reversal - rollback, in Cold War parlance - is simply not achievable until conservatives receive a mandate to govern from the White House.
Lincoln is reputed to have said: I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky. I don’t know whether conservatives have God on their side (I keep getting sent to His voice mail), but I do know that they don’t have Kentucky - they don’t have the Senate, they don’t have the White House. And under our constitutional system, you cannot govern from one house alone. Today’s resurgent conservatism, with its fidelity to constitutionalism, should be particularly attuned to this constraint, imposed as it is by a system of deliberately separated - and mutually limiting - powers.
Given this reality, trying to force the issue - turn a blocking minority into a governing authority - is not just counter-constitutional in spirit but self-destructive in practice.
Consider the Boehner plan for debt reduction. The Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm calls it “regrettably insufficient.” Of course it is. That’s what happens when you control only half a branch. But the plan’s achievements are significant. It is all cuts, no taxes. It establishes the precedent that debt-ceiling increases must be accompanied by equal spending cuts. And it provides half a year to both negotiate more fundamental reform (tax and entitlement) and keep the issue of debt reduction constantly in the public eye.
I am somewhat biased about the Boehner plan because for weeks I’ve been arguing (in this column and elsewhere) for precisely such a solution: a two-stage debt-ceiling hike consisting of a half-year extension with dollar-for-dollar spending cuts, followed by intensive negotiations on entitlement and tax reform. It’s clean. It’s understandable. It’s veto proof. (Obama won’t dare.) The Republican House should have passed it weeks ago.
After all, what is the alternative? The Reid plan with its purported $2 trillion of debt reduction? More than half of that comes from not continuing surge-level spending in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next 10 years. Ten years? We’re out of Iraq in 150 days. It’s all a preposterous “saving” from an entirely fictional expenditure.
The Congressional Budget Office has found that Harry Reid’s other discretionary savings were overestimated by $400 billion. Not to worry, I am told. Reid has completely plugged that gap. There will be no invasion of Canada next year, no bicentennial this-time-we-really-mean-it 1812 do-over. Huge savings. Huge.
The Obama plan? There is no Obama plan. And the McConnell plan, a final resort that punts the debt issue to Election Day, would likely yield no cuts at all.
Obama faces two massive problems - jobs and debt. They’re both the result of his spectacularly failed Keynesian gamble: massive spending that left us a stagnant economy with high and chronic unemployment - and a staggering debt burden. Obama is desperate to share ownership of this failure. Economic dislocation from a debt ceiling crisis precisely serves that purpose - if the Republicans play along. The perfect out: Those crazy tea partyers ruined the recovery!
Why would any conservative collaborate with that ploy? November 2012 constitutes the new conservatism’s one chance to restructure government and change the ideological course of the country. Why risk forfeiting that outcome by offering to share ownership of Obama’s wreckage?
Labels: General information
Economists Say U.S. Debt May Not Be As High As You Think. Well, Knock Me Over With A Feather!
Economists say U.S. debt may not be as high as you think
By James Rosen
WASHINGTON — Economists dismayed by the debt-ceiling pyrotechnics on Capitol Hill and at the White House say that political leaders' failure to deal with the short-term crisis bodes poorly for their ability to confront another looming fiscal disaster.
And the problem is compounded, many economists say, by how the United States calculates its debt.
In trying to understand the debt ceiling — a subject many people had never considered before this summer — it helps to know a few things about the layers that make up the United States' $14.34 trillion mountain of debt.
The U.S. blends two kinds of debt, and some economists say that makes little sense. Moreover, we don't even have a good way of paying back one of those types of debt. More on that later.
The first type of debt is what the government owes to outside bondholders: individuals, pension funds, other groups and foreign governments. The second type is a sizable amount of intra-governmental debt, or obligations of the Treasury Department to various trust funds — basically what we owe ourselves.
Alex Brill, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research center in Washington, said that counting external and internal debt together didn't make economic sense and blurred the real fiscal situation the U.S. faces.
"Not all of the debt is the same, and it doesn't all matter the same," Brill said. "What really matters is debt held by the public."
Those are the outside bondholders, and they take up about two-thirds of the total U.S. debt. As of Monday, the most recent date for which the Treasury Department provided figures, the U.S. owed $9.75 trillion to them.
Almost one-third of the U.S. debt — $4.59 trillion — is in the form of IOUs dedicated to programs such as Social Security, Medicare and the pension plans for federal workers and military personnel. That's what the United States owes its citizens.
As an analogy, Brill suggests thinking of a family that's facing medical bills now and college bills in the future. Say the family has set aside $3,000 for college costs, encounters a $13,000 medical bill, pays $10,000 of it with a credit card and uses the college savings to pay the rest.
That family's real debt is $10,000, but the Treasury Department's method of calculation would place it at $13,000.
While the family does need to replenish the college savings, the movement of money within its personal accounts doesn't affect its credit score.
"When you blend this real debt with the kind of accounting debt where the left hand borrows from the right hand, you end up with something that's completely meaningless in economic terms," Brill said.
This practice enables some lawmakers to exaggerate the severity of the problem that underlies the debt-limit impasse.
For example, Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, told Fox News earlier this month: "The debt as it exists today — 95 percent of GDP — is so high, economists tell us it's dragging down (economic) growth at least 1 percent."
But considering only the $9.75 trillion that's owed to bondholders, the U.S. debt is 65 percent of the GDP; still worrisome, but nowhere near the 140 percent level that's fueling the Greek debt crisis or the 100 percent-plus levels of other troubled European governments.
This kind of distinction, though, provides little solace in the face of the coming entitlement crisis just a few years down the road.
President Barack Obama and lawmakers are struggling to agree on a debt-ceiling hike before next Tuesday, which would allow the government to borrow more money in order to fund a more than $1 trillion budget deficit.
As they wrangle, they're only tenuously offering solutions to entitlement obligations that are many orders of magnitudes more. Those obligations eventually will total at least $60 trillion.
"This huge debt burden won't bankrupt the country on Aug. 3, but it does demonstrate that there is an enormous and growing problem that gets much harder to deal with the longer it is left unaddressed," said Christopher Frenze, a former staff director of the American Action Forum, a conservative policy institute in Washington.
That coming threat stems from another issue, the IOUs to ourselves.
For years, increased spending has forced the government to raid federal trust funds. It takes payroll tax revenues earmarked for Social Security or Medicare, for instance, and uses them to cover unrelated expenses. But it doesn't have a way to pay back the money.
It would be as if a family kept a budget on paper that put aside set sums each month for defined needs, but it spent all that money and more in its daily activities.
Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard economist who's advised U.S. government leaders, views the debt-limit crisis as concealing a deeper dilemma: Americans expect federal benefits they're not willing to pay for.
"We're on a completely unsustainable path," Rogoff said. "People are just convinced the government doesn't need any money. They're mad at all the borrowing, but they get even madder when taxes go up or they don't get the programs they like."
Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/07/26/118283/economists-say-us-debt-not.html?storylink=addthis#.TjRQrWHrxPM.facebook#ixzz1TcT4hAVt
Al Cross: David Williams Is Down But Far From Out.
Written by Al Cross
FRANKFORT, Ky. — It's still July, but the race for governor has begun in earnest, with the incumbent and his main challenger on paid TV so much, and targeting the same audiences, that their ads occasionally run back to back.
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican state Senate President David Williams have had what amounted to their first debate, before the Kentucky Farm Bureau board, and Saturday they will headline the political speaking at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Graves County.
Williams needs as many face-offs with Beshear as he can get.
He has trouble at both ends of his base: Republican moderates don't like his views or, perhaps more so, his personality; and some ardent conservatives who have coalesced around the tea party label see him as a part of a ruling, pro-tax elite.
He is far behind in polls, getting no boost from his underwhelming primary victory. He is far behind in money, and without a big infusion of personal funds that he may not have, he will surely stay behind. He is running against a powerful incumbent who can easily raise money from those who stand to gain or lose at the hands of the state. Williams has power of his own, as the legislature's main gatekeeper, but it is no match for the power — and the perceived and feared power — of an executive who appears to be on track for another term.
That being said, the race is far from over, Williams can't be written off, and Beshear seems to know that.
The lengths to which Beshear is going to avoid face-offs with Williams, stiffing him and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on July 12 but giving an added-starter speech to the group that night, indicate a healthy fear of the challenger's ability to frame the issues, show expertise and paint damaging comparisons. At Fancy Farm, the command performance for statewide candidates, the nominees and independent Gatewood Galbraith will get a dose of media attention that could resonate for days.
Most attention right now is on the national-debt debate, and the incredible intransigence of the tea party caucus in the House threatens permanent, national damage to the Republican brand. But the debate has hurt President Obama's poll numbers, too, and in places where he is firmly unpopular, such as Kentucky, he could shoulder most of the blame for a debacle. (That wouldn't be fair, since Republicans created the crisis, but Harry Truman taught us where the buck stops.)
From the start, Williams' main chance, perhaps his only chance, has been to use Obama to capitalize on voters' unhappiness with the economy and government in general. At the Farm Bureau forum, Williams repeatedly injected Obama or the federal government into discussion of state issues, and as the race develops that strategy is likely to be aimed more personally at Beshear.
The Governor has said that he will support the President for re-election, and like other Democratic governors has not joined lawsuits challenging Obama's health care reforms. He says he is not for changing the state's tax system or its public pensions, Kentucky's best example of an entitlement that needs reform. The state's credit rating has been downgraded partly because Beshear has deferred debt payments that will raise costs in the long run.
Can Williams use that three-legged stool to “morph” Beshear into Obama, in the same way that Republicans turned Joe Prather into Bill Clinton in the famous TV commercial in the 1994 special election for Congress? It would be a stretch. Unlike Prather, Beshear has high name recognition and favorability. He said after the Farm Bureau forum that he didn't think voters would see the election as a chance to make “some national statement,” and “issues in a governor's race are about Kentucky.”
Usually, yes. But Democrats probably won the close 1995 governor's race by federalizing it, painting GOP nominee and 1991 candidate Larry Forgy as a henchman of Republicans who would dismantle New Deal programs that had helped Kentucky. Ads associating Beshear, running mate Jerry Abramson and Attorney General Jack Conway with Obama could have some impact.
But someone must pay for those ads, and before Williams can use such issues to push voters his way, he must get them to like him, or at least tolerate him to the point where they will listen to his case.
Those concerns seem to drive Williams' current TV strategy. Despite his apparent shortage of money, he is running an ad called “Dad,” in which he says he has spent his life “trying to live up to the standards” set by his late father, longtime Cumberland County Clerk Lewis Williams. Those were high standards, and Lewis Williams' only son looks into the camera and tells voters, “Some days I have met those goals and others I have not.”
Thus David Williams offers himself to voters as a human being, not the caricature he and his critics have created in his 11-plus years as Kentucky's most powerful legislator. It's a good ad, but many good ads have been run by losing candidates. Williams has help, however.
Until the “Dad” ad began July 19, Williams' post-primary presence on TV was from the Republican Governors Association: ads touting him as a fighter of taxes, government spending and “Obama's job-killing policies.” The first RGA ad wasn't very good, but Beshear went back on the air July 18, a week after it began. Williams, probably fearing that fresh polling would show no movement in his direction, had to get on the air — perhaps not as much to persuade voters as to persuade potential contributors that he still has a chance.
Al Cross, former Courier-Journal political writer, is director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky. His opinions are his own, not those of the university.
Labels: General information
The Rich ... And The Poor.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
For Those Of You Who Like Donald "The CHUMP" Trump, Watch As He Urges Congressional Republicans To Allow Default So POTUS Barack Obama Will Lose Re-Election. Yep, What An A-- Hole
Labels: CERTIFIED IDIOT
Some Democrats In CONgress Are Trying Their Best To CON Us With A BOGUS 14Th Amendment Debt Limit Raising Argument. Don't Fall For The SCAM!
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, made a plea on the Senate floor Saturday evening for President Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling if Congress fails to strike a deal before the Aug. 2 default deadline.
“If the Congress through inaction, through inaction or action, tries to destroy or alter those obligations I believe it is incumbent on the chief executive to exercise his authority to make sure the full faith and credit of the United States is not jeopardized. The president should use his authority to do so," Harkin said.
Harkin joins a growing number of Democrats who have called on the president to broadly interpret a section of the 14th Amendment which says “the validity of the public debt… shall not be questioned” as justification for him to authorize continued borrowing if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.
Read more about the 14th Amendment argument here.
Harkin noted that other presidents have acted when “the vital security of the United States was at stake.” He cited Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease Program to help Britain fight off the Nazis in World War II.
“I believe this is just like those times,” Harkin said. “The security, the future improvement of the United States and future generations depend upon the president taking this action, boldly and forthrightly, to preserve the integrity and to make sure that the obligations and the full faith and credit of the United States is not questioned.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., echoed Sanders, saying "if we fail this" she hoped the President would raise the debt ceiling anyway.
"If we can't get together the President will have to take that responsibility, but I hope we can and show the world that we can still work together," Sanders said.
Earlier this month, former President Clinton said if he was in President Obama’s shoes, he would invoke the Constitution and raise the debt ceiling “without hesitation.”
“I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy,” Clinton told The National Memo.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said during Saturday night’s floor debate that he agreed with President Clinton and urged President Obama to use the 14th Amendment as a last-ditch option.
“He must use his Constitutional authority under the 14th Amendment to pay our debts,” Sanders said. “I think that’s just what he should do if he’s left with no other way to protect the full faith and credit of the United States.”
President Obama has said he does not believe the Constitution gives him authority to act without Congressional approval.
"I have talked to my lawyers," he said at a town hall last week. "They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument."
The administration has stopped short of saying the president will not invoke the amendment, but maintains that it “does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Editor's comment: Some IDIOTS in CONgress are trying to CON us. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution gives NO such debt limit raising power to the President, under the guise of ensuring "the validity of the public debt… shall not be questioned".
Even if the Constitution did grant such a power to the President, such a power would be further limited by Section 5 of the Amendment, which states: "The Congress shall have the power to enforce [it], by appropriate legislation ... ."
Yep, the power, if it exists, is left to Congress' authority to enforce.
Editor's note: Yes, the Let's do the clicky thingy!
Indigenous, Non-English Languages Struggle To Survive In U.S.
By Jarondakie Patrick
WASHINGTON — Frankie Quimby of the Georgia Sea Island Singers remembers when the Geechee language, formally known as Gullah, was unpopular and known as the language of the uneducated.
"It was a time when black history was not taught in schools," Quimby said. "The teachers said (students) have lost their heritage."
Indigenous and non-English languages such as Gullah — which originated with slaves from West Africa and includes some English — face a host of obstacles to survival in today's United States, including a lack of resources, the fact that most of the speakers are dying off and a stigma that the languages are for uneducated people. But some schools and programs are fighting that stigma and trying to preserve these languages for a new generation.
According to Ethnologue, an encyclopedia of the world's languages, 60 languages have become extinct in the U.S. since 1950 and 94 languages are in danger of becoming extinct.
Gullah, which is spoken by an unknown number of descendants of West African slaves along the Atlantic coastal plains of South Carolina and Georgia, carries "a certain stigma...as there often is with language varieties spoken by African-Americans in this country," said Tracey Weldon, an associate professor of linguistics at the University of South Carolina.
Quimby said that what it meant to be Gullah had changed. In 2005 the American Bible Society and the Penn Center at St. Helena Island, S.C., had the Bible translated into Gullah.
Recently, a teacher from a summer school in the Gullah community invited Quimby to come and share some language, games and Gullah culture with the students.
Michael Allen, the coordinator of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, a program of the National Park Service, said that summer camps at which performers came to sing and dance in Gullah helped kids learn about their heritage.
"Language is recognized as a central part of understanding the culture," Allen said.
Weldon said she now hears some of her students embracing their Geechee heritage.
"It's changing in the way it's being used," she said.
Preserving language has become important to many cultures that fear their heritage will be lost. For American Indians, some help could be provided by the Native Class Act, a bill introduced in June by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, that would help American Indian reservations and communities strengthen language- and culture-based education and promote teacher training and development.
"Teaching young people through their cultures and traditions helps them to learn well, because culture and traditions are the roots of their lives," Akaka said at a recent hearing on expanding culture-based education.
More than 90 percent of Indian students attend public schools operated by their local school districts, which don't include instruction in American Indian languages, William Mendoza, the acting director of the White House Initiative for Tribal Colleges and Universities at the Department of Education, testified at the hearing.
"There are few venues for collaboration between tribes and states, even in the case of school district-operated public schools located on tribal lands," Mendoza said.
The New Kituwah Academy in Cherokee, N.C., which has 60 students, found that creating an immersion school helps children learn about their culture, identity and, most importantly, the language.
Gilliam Jackson, the Kituwah Academy administrator, said some parents were apprehensive about the small classes and isolation from public North Carolina schools.
"There's always a fear my child is not going to be able to operate in what they call 'the real world,' " Jackson said.
The academy has much smaller classes than most private schools in North Carolina do, with three students to a class in the preschool and only two to a class in the elementary school. Jackson said this allowed children who needed more attention in certain subjects to receive it.
Students also can be exposed to Cherokee culture through the Cherokee Central School System, which operates schools on Cherokee reservations in North Carolina, Jackson said the language could effectively be dead in 25 years if students weren't immersed in conversational language.
Most fluent speakers in the area were in their late 50s, Jackson said.
"The Cherokee Central School System exposes students to (the Cherokee words for) colors, food and animals, but that doesn't produce speakers," Jackson said, adding that learning colors and how to count to 20 in Cherokee wasn't going to preserve the language.
According to the Alaska Native Language Center, a research center that documents and teaches native languages in Alaska, Central Alaskan Yupik is the largest of the state's native languages and is still the first language spoken by native children in 17 Yupik villages. With 68 villages in all, home to about 21,000 people, there are about 10,000 Yupik speakers.
Lawrence Kaplan, the director of the Alaska Native Language Center, said the center assists a lot of native and non-natives in learning the language. The center also publishes dictionaries, grammar, and books that can be used for training and teaching.
Kaplan said that while there were about 2,000 Alaskan speakers of the Inupiaq language, there were many more in Canada and Greenland. He said that American culture used to place a greater importance on assimilation and requiring that all Americans speak English — although that's slowly changing.
"There may be a greater tolerance of bilingual (speakers) in other countries," Kaplan said. In the past, he said, the message from American schools was "We should assimilate and learn English," that that's what it meant to be an American.
"Those ideas are no longer put forth by schools or government entities," Kaplan said.
Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/07/29/118741/indigenous-non-english-languages.html#storylink=omni_popular#ixzz1Tc9GM0OK
Labels: General information
Republican House Votes Down Democratic Senate Debt Limit Plan. Watch Some Of The Debate.
"Where Are The Shovel-Ready Stimulus Projects?"
By Victor Davis Hanson
HUNTINGTON LAKE — Our politicians love soaring platitudes followed by little, if any, follow-up. The more Americans are promised shovel-ready stimulus projects, new sources of power and other fantasies, the more we accept that bureaucracy, regulations, lawsuits and impact statements will prevent much from ever being done.
The president himself, after demanding nearly a trillion dollars in borrowed money for the budget, confessed that his "shovel-ready" projects proved not so shovel-ready after all. Much of the vast sums of borrowed money instead went to subsidize nearly insolvent pensions, entitlements and bloated state budgets.
Unemployment is still at 9.2%, with nearly 50 million people on government-subsidized food stamps -- even as American infrastructure is crumbling, the private sector is moribund, and national timidity prevents any new large, visionary construction.
Prior generations gave us space projects; ours is about ending them. Boeing once ruled the skies; now the government sues to stop Boeing from opening a new plant.
But it was not always so. A hundred years ago, the Big Creek Hydroelectric Project here in the central Sierra Nevada Mountains of California was the nation's first large effort to generate electricity from falling water -- to provide electric power for a growing Los Angeles nearly 250 miles away.
Industrialist and entrepreneur Henry Huntington conceived the gargantuan effort, begun in 1911. In just 157 days, a supply railroad up the mountains was built with picks, shovels and horse-drawn scrapers by thousands of workers struggling at over 6,000 feet in elevation.
In just two years, electricity was flowing southward from a new powerhouse generating unit at Big Creek that harnessed San Joaquin River water released from the new Huntington Lake reservoir.
Huntington's dream project -- eventually expanded, and today managed by the Southern California Edison power company -- would eventually encompass six major lakes, 27 dams, and 24 powerhouse generating units that repeatedly capture the descending High Sierra water to generate over 1,000 megawatts of clean electricity.
The interconnected lakes store precious water for 1 million acres of irrigated California farmland thousands of feet below. The thriving High Sierra sailing, sports and tourist industry grew up around the new lakes and roads. Far from destroying the environment, the Big Creek project created beautiful alpine reservoirs and gave millions of middle-class Californians access for the first time to the beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Few appreciate that the entire project was built with private funds.
How did our ancestors -- poor and with limited technology -- so quickly create such a vast project, which today probably would pose insurmountable challenges to their far richer high-tech descendants?
They were far more in need and far more self-confident than we are today -- acting when they were 80% sure of success rather than endlessly talking and delaying in expectation of an always-elusive 100% certainty.
In 1911 there was a desire for the new wonders of electricity, but no prior generation to have supplied it. Today, we take the power for our iPads and video games for granted, and are more likely to nitpick the environmental and social sensibilities of past generations who gave us what we so nonchalantly use in the present.
Quite simply, Big Creek could not be built today in the United States. Environmentalists would claim that the pristine nature of the San Joaquin River would be unnecessarily altered, citing a newly discovered colony of spotted newts or dappled dragonflies in the way of the proposed penstocks. Unions would demand blanket representation without elections -- and every imaginable compensation for such hazardous duty.
Workers would apply for stress-related disability benefits given the dizzying heights and the dank subterranean mining. Government regulators and inspectors would outnumber project engineers. Private entrepreneurs world never risk such a chancy investment without ironclad government guarantees of profits despite enormous cost overruns. And the public would be as skeptical of the risk as they would be eager to enjoy its dividends when completed.
The Big Creek project, like the Panama Canal, the Hoover Dam, the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate bridges, and the interstate highway project were the work of confident but less wealthy bygone generations. They understood man's ceaseless elemental struggle against nature to survive one more day, and did not have the luxury to second- and third-guess the work of others before them.
We should remember the lesson of Henry Huntington's Big Creek Project, started 100 years ago this year, as we let rich irrigated farm acreage lay idle and pass on exploiting new oil and gas fields -- preferring to argue endlessly over how to redistribute our inherited but ever-shrinking national pie.
Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/07/30/118242/commentary-where-are-the-shovel.html#ixzz1Tc5ZXaoN
Labels: Political economics
Bowling Green GOP Campaign Headquarters Opens Today.
DEGENERATE Bowling Green, Kentucky, Man Charged With Sexual Abuse Of A 4-Year-Old Girl.
By DEBORAH HIGHLAND
Bowling Green police charged a 20-year-old man Thursday with first-degree sexual abuse of a 4-year-old girl.
Ronnie Earl Hittson Jr., 5301 Scottsville Road, Lot 48, admitted to Detective Jared Merriss that he performed a sex act on the child, according to Warren Circuit Court records.
The girl said that while she was in her father’s care, Hittson, who was 19 at the time of the alleged assault and was a friend of the child’s father, “hurt” her. The incident was reported to city police April 29, according to city police records.
The Daily News does not name victims of alleged sexual assaults.
During a forensic interview, the girl used a stuffed bear to demonstrate what had happened to her, according to Warren Circuit Court records.
Merriss interviewed Hittson on Monday and again Thursday. During a police interview, Hittson admitted to the sexual encounter with the child and told police that he performed a sex act on himself after the encounter, according to court records.
Hittson is in the Warren County Regional Jail, with bond set at $25,000 cash.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. Court records indicate that further criminal charges will be filed against Hittson at a later date.
Friday, July 29, 2011
kEY aIDE tO sTEVE bESHEAR aLLEGEDLY gAVE cOAL oPERATORS wORD tHAT a cOAL rEGULATOR hATED bY cOAL oPERATORS wAS gOING tO bE fIRED.
By John Cheves
FRANKFORT — An employee of Alliance Coal said an aide to Gov. Steve Beshear called him in 2009 to tell him that a state regulator unpopular with the coal industry was about to get fired, according to court records filed Friday.
The revelation solves a 19-month-old mystery about how key members of the coal industry learned about the firing of Ron Mills, the state's mine permits director, around the same time Mills was informed of his dismissal.
Mills was unpopular with the industry for blocking a controversial policy called "the 331⁄3 rule," which allows coal companies to mine without showing they hold the legal right to enter all of the land in their mining plans. The Beshear administration overturned Mills and reinstated the policy following industry lobbying.
Mills is suing the state for wrongful termination in Franklin Circuit Court, arguing that he lost his job because he opposed illegal mining practices that benefited Alliance Coal and other politically influential companies. Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters has said he ordered Mills fired because of poor job performance. A trial is set for October.
Raymond "Rusty" Ashcraft, Alliance Coal's manager of environmental affairs and mine permitting, said in a June 6 deposition that he often communicates with the governor and his top aides about state policy. Employees of Alliance Coal, based in Tulsa, Okla., have given more than $109,000 in political donations since 2000 to Democratic and Republican candidates for state and local offices, including $7,750 to Beshear's campaign in 2007.
Beshear appointees fired Mills near the start of the workday on Nov. 13, 2009, and replaced him with his deputy. Around the same time, Ashcraft sent an e-mail to others in the coal industry advising them of the power shift at the Division of Mine Permits, which must approve their plans to remove coal.
"Ron Mills will be asked to resign this morning and will be replaced by Allen Luttrell on an acting basis," Ashcraft wrote in his email, which the Herald-Leader obtained last year from environmentalist Thomas FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council.
Ashcraft said in his deposition that he got a heads up about Mills' 2009 firing from one of two aides to the governor, both of whom are frequent contacts for him, but he could not remember which aide.
"I was notified by an individual in the governor's office. I don't recall which — you know, who that individual was," Ashcraft said in the deposition. "It was either Geoff Dunn or Jeff Belcher."
In their own depositions, Belcher denied calling Ashcraft about Mills' firing while Dunn said he cannot remember if he called Ashcraft.
"I do not know that — if I called him on Nov. 13," Dunn said.
Reached by telephone on Friday, Ashcraft declined to comment.
Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for the governor, said it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing litigation.
"However, as we have stated repeatedly in the past, this administration does not make any personnel decisions based on outside interests or pressure," Richardson said.
In his deposition, Ashcraft said he is not registered as an executive branch lobbyist because he doesn't think it's legally necessary. But he said he communicates the coal industry's views on a variety of issues to the governor's office and the Energy and Environment Cabinet.
Ashcraft said in his deposition that he successfully lobbied Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration in 2007 to enact the 331⁄3 rule, which Alliance Coal uses in Western Kentucky surface mines. Ashcraft said he successfully lobbied the Beshear administration in 2008 to reinstate the rule over Mills' objections.
Alliance Coal hired the governor's former law firm, Stites & Harbison of Lexington, to prepare a legal defense of the rule.
Also, emails in the court file show that on Oct. 12, 2009, Ashcraft wrote Adam Edelen, then Beshear's chief of staff, to provide the names of three men whom Alliance Coal wanted the governor to nominate to a federal panel to study "the ecological impacts associated with" mountaintop removal mining. The panel was organized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help it craft new regulations.
"Thanks. Will follow up in short order," Edelen replied to Ashcraft.
Beshear went on to nominate two of the three men, who were backed by the coal industry, Ashcraft said.
During the June deposition, Mills' attorney, Bernard Pafunda, quizzed Ashcraft about his interest in the EPA panel.
"Is Alliance Coal engaged in mountaintop mining?" Pafunda asked.
"No, sir," Ashcraft said.
"So why stick your nose into mountaintop mining?" Pafunda asked.
"Good question," Ashcraft said. "These names were suggested by other members of industry and sent to me."
Read more: http://www.kentucky.com/2011/07/29/1828928/beshear-aide-allegedly-gave-coal.html#ixzz1TYSgLAkA
Bowling Green Trial Ends With 10 Year Recommended Sentence.
Jurors recommend a sentence of 10 years for manslaughter conviction
By JUSTIN STORY
Leland Burns was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter Thursday, ending a three-day trial.
A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about two hours on the verdict and later recommended a 10-year sentence for Burns, 57, who was on trial in Warren Circuit Court on charges of murder and tampering with physical evidence.
Burns was charged in connection with the death of Casey Olmsted, 20, of Bowling Green, who was fatally shot Oct. 26, 2009, outside Burns’ home at 2514 Galloway Mill Road, Rockfield. The jury acquitted Burns on the tampering charge.
In his closing argument, Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron told jurors that Burns acted wantonly and excessively when Olmsted drove to his residence after engaging in an argument via several text messages with Burns’ son, Patrick Burns.
According to testimony, Olmsted was in his father’s car on Galloway Mill Road in front of the residence, yelling out the passenger side window toward Burns when Olmsted was struck by a bullet that entered his right shoulder and pierced his aorta and lungs, killing him.
“In our society ... you don’t get to shoot first and ask questions later and that’s what we have here,” Cohron said.
The use of deadly force was not justified in this case, Cohron argued, reminding jurors that Patrick Burns never set foot outside the house after Olmsted arrived.
“Instead of Leland Burns intervening as adults do, he opened fire on an unarmed 20-year-old leaving on a county road,” Cohron said.
Burns’ attorney, Brad Coffman of Bowling Green, argued Thursday that Burns never intended to kill Olmsted when he fired his .45-caliber handgun that night and that Olmsted was hit by a “stray bullet.”
Coffman said Burns was acting to protect his son from harm and that Burns fired warning shots over the car in order to scare off Olmsted, who had gotten into an argument with Patrick Burns over Latasha Sampson, a former girlfriend of Patrick Burns who had sex with Olmsted a week before the shooting.
“It’s a shame he died, but Casey was a hot-headed young man,” Coffman said. “He took his dad’s car without permission, he did not have a driver’s license, he set out to a rural part of the county to whip a young man he had never met.”
In addition to the bullet that killed Olmsted, police recovered three bullets from in a tree across the road from the Burns residence.
The defense did not call any witnesses, but during his closing argument, Coffman invited Leland Burns to stand beside him for a moment.
Dressed in a white shirt and black pants with his hair in a ponytail, Burns walked slowly from his table and stood beside his attorney as Coffman called him the “prime centerpiece” of his case and said he was proud to represent him.
Burns did not show any emotion when the guilty verdict was returned.
Jurors hear recorded statement from Burns
Leland Burns did not testify during his trial, and the only time jurors heard his voice was when Cohron played a recording of an interview Burns gave Kentucky State Police Detective Scott Skaggs not long after shots were fired.
The interview took place outside Burns’ residence and lasted 38 minutes.
Skaggs testified that he encountered Leland Burns in the passenger seat of a pickup truck outside the residence. Leland’s wife, Mary Burns, was in the driver’s seat and the two were preparing to leave for The Medical Center, Skaggs said.
At first, Leland Burns told Skaggs that he did not know what happened, but changed his story after Skaggs engineered a ruse and said he was told by Olmsted that Burns tried to scare him off.
Burns said he shot a 9 mm pistol in the air and told Skaggs he believed there were four or five other people in the car with Olmsted.
“I wasn’t shooting toward (Olmsted),” Burns said. “He threatened to come down here and whip my son.”
Burns later said he did not shoot straight up and that a bullet must have ricocheted.
He maintained he did not intend to harm Olmsted.
“I’d swear to you, I wasn’t trying to hurt nobody,” Burns said. “I was just trying to scare him off.”
About halfway into the interview, Skaggs told Burns that Olmsted had died.
Sounding dejected, Burns asked if he was going to be placed under arrest and what charges he would face.
Twenty-three minutes into the interview, Skaggs asks for consent to search the house for the weapon used in the shooting. Two minutes later, Burns said he wanted to shoot himself.
Most of the rest of the interview consisted of Skaggs trying to obtain consent from Burns to search for the handgun. At one point, Burns offered to turn himself in to police the following day.
“You just told me you wanted to kill yourself - I don’t believe I’m going to just let you go,” Skaggs said.
About five minutes before the interview ends, Burns appeared to take responsibility.
“I’m going to hell for this one,” Burns said.
Olmsted’s father gives emotional testimony
During the sentencing phase of the trial, Ken Casey, Olmsted’s father, read a written statement about how his son’s death had affected him and the rest of his family.
Casey said he learned of Olmsted’s death the morning of Oct. 27, 2009, while driving to work at Hopkinsville Community College, where he is a professor. He spoke of the helplessness he and his wife, Jane Olmsted, felt in the aftermath.
“This is the most god-awful thing that has ever befallen me and my family,” Casey said.
As jurors saw a photo of Casey Olmsted holding his daughter, Leah, Ken Casey said his youngest son had held his hopes and dreams for the future and spoke about the volunteer work Olmsted had done at a camp for underprivileged children.
Casey also talked about the thoughtfulness his son expressed in a journal family members found after Olmsted’s death.
“He had a kind side that you would not believe,” Casey said.
That kindness emerged most strongly after Olmsted became a father, Casey said.
Olmsted’s father said he was putting together a book about his son for Leah Olmsted, so that she can have a better idea about the father she lost.
“Casey was an imperfect person, but he loved her perfectly,” Ken Casey said.
Olmsted’s father said he was not without pity for Burns, but asked the jury to recommend the maximum 10-year sentence as punishment.
“It will be my prayer that (Burns) will be forgiven,” Casey said. “However, I think ... he should spend the rest of his time on earth paying the price for this god-awful deed.”
Coffman asked Casey if it would have been much better for everyone if his son had stayed home the night he was shot. Casey twice responded, “I think you know the answer.”
Beth Burns, Leland’s daughter, testified that her father has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, along with heart and sinus problems that have caused him to be hospitalized twice since his arrest on Oct. 27, 2009.
Warren Circuit Judge Steve Wilson will formally sentence Burns on Sept. 19.
Steve Beshear Denies He Lied To Kentuckians Regarding The Fort Campbell Debacle.
Although the White House did not extend a formal invitation for Beshear to attend Obama's appearance, Beshear said he would have been there to greet the president if his schedule had allowed it.
"We learned of the president's visit about 36 hours before it was to take place," Beshear said during a Capitol news conference called to discuss an education grant. "There were apparently no formal invitations sent, but I feel as governor it is always my responsibility and privilege to welcome a president of the United States."
At the time of Obama's appearance, Beshear said he already was scheduled to meet with executives at Churchill Downs on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby.
Beshear was criticized by many, including Republican gubernatorial challenger David Williams, for appearing to snub the president and the troops Obama was honoring who were involved in the killing of Osama bin Laden.
But The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a series of Beshear administration emails showed Beshear was never formally invited to attend the event. Williams, the Senate president from Burkesville, accused Beshear on Wednesday of lying to the public about why he didn't attend the event.
"There's no other way to look at this than Beshear has been caught lying in a cynical effort to gain favor with Kentucky voters who don't approve of Barack Obama," Williams said.
Williams had previously criticized Beshear for not attending the event, saying that if he were governor, he would have appeared with the Democratic president even though Obama is unpopular in Kentucky.
Beshear insisted on Thursday that there was no snub on either side.
"It had nothing to do with politics as far as I am concerned" Beshear said. "The president didn't snub me, I didn't snub the president.'
Read more: http://www.kentucky.com/2011/07/28/1827228/beshear-denies-charge-that.html#ixzz1TSqLSAV8
Labels: Governor Steve Beshear
Debt Ceiling Brain Damage.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Mitch McConnell And Rand Paul On Opposite Sides Of John Boehner Debt Limit Plan.
Not every Republican in Congress is rowing in the same direction on the debt ceiling crisis.
Look no farther than Kentucky’s two GOP senators.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is supporting the debt ceiling plan being pushed by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and getting a floor vote later today.
Sen. Rand Paul not only doesn’t like the Boehner plan, but has penned a letter with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., urging fellow Republicans to reject the plan by the GOP’s most powerful leader in Congress.
Here is what McConnell told Senate colleagues this morning:
"The clock is ticking.
"In just a few days, the U.S. government will no longer have the ability to borrow money to pay its bills — a situation that the president and his advisors have said would trigger an economic Armageddon.
"So I was shocked last night when 53 Senate Democrats issued a letter saying that they intend to vote against the only piece of legislation that has any chance of preventing all this from happening.
"Even more shocking is the fact that Democrat leaders and the president himself have endorsed every feature of this legislation except one: and that’s the fact that it doesn’t allow the President to avoid another national debate about spending and debt until after the next presidential election.
"This assurance is the only thing the president and Senate Democrats are holding out for right now.
"The Democrats can try to justify their opposition to the House bill any way they want. They can claim they’re worried about a stalemate six months from now. They can ignore the fact that of the 31 times Congress and the president have raised the debt limit over the past 25 years, 22 of those debt limit increases lasted less than a year.
"To make the president’s reelection campaign a little bit easier.
"Now, it’s inconceivable to me that the president would actually follow through on this threat. After all, the president’s first responsibility is to do what’s best for the country, not his reelection campaign. Same goes for the Senate Democrats.
"It’s inconceivable to me that they would actually block the only bill that could get through the House of Representatives and prevent a default right now. It’s inconceivable to me that they would do this for no other reason than to help the president avoid another debate before the election about the need for Washington to get its fiscal house in order.
"But that’s precisely what we may be headed for this weekend: guaranteed default, or a bill that takes the specter of a default off the table while giving us another opportunity to address the very deficits and debts that caused this crisis in the first place.
"Democrats are playing with fire here, and it’s hard to conclude that they’re doing it for any other reason than politics.
"So I would urge Senate Democrats this morning to rethink their position, and to join Republicans in preventing default."
But Paul and Lee told reporters today that the Boehner package does nothing but add $7 trillion to $8 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years.
"I don’t think were yet serious about reforming the process," Paul said.
In their letter to other Republicans earlier this week, Paul and his three colleagues said the first-year cuts under the Boehner proposal "are a paltry $7 billion."
The speaker’s plan also will not prevent a downgrade to the credit rating of the United States, the senators contended.
"There remains one way to raise the debt ceiling that can both solve our long term debt crisis and avert a short term down grade – passage of Cut Cap and Balance or similar legislation that specifically ties the debt limit increase to a (balanced budget amendment to the Constitution)," the senators wrote. "We urge you to hold the line for real reform, to vote no on the Debt Limit extension, and to urge House leaders to stand up for taxpayers and our economic future."
David Williams Seeks Special Session To Tackle Employer Tax Matter, Governor Steve Beshear Undecided.
Written by Tom Loftus
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky employers could be socked with as much as $660 million in added federal taxes if the state can not make a pending $28 million interest payment on the money it has borrowed from the federal government for unemployment benefits, state officials said Thursday.
And Senate President David Williams said, if necessary, Gov. Steve Beshear should call a special legislative session to get authority from the General Assembly to make the interest payment using money from the state's recently replenished budget reserve.
“I'm calling on the governor to show cause why he should not call the General Assembly back into session to give him the authority to make that interest payment,” Williams said.
Beshear released a statement Thursday night saying his administration has been working “to explore every possible option” to avoid the problem, which he said is also facing 29 other states.
Beshear said he “remains open to any suggestions from the General Assembly,” but did directly address the issue of a special session.
Williams, a Republican, and Beshear, a Democrat, are running against each other in the Nov. 8 gubernatorial election.The issue surfaced at a meeting of the legislature's interim budget committee, where Budget Director Mary Lassiter said the administration has been working with the Kentucky business community to get Congress to approve a federal resolution before the interest payment is due Sept. 30.
“Business groups are being vigilant on this issue, and so are we,” Lassiter said.
The federal government's penalty if Kentucky fails to make the interest payment would be the loss of a big federal tax credit for Kentucky employers. This would amount to employers paying $400 per worker. Williams said the total statewide tab for all employers would be about $660 million.
Lassiter said state law does not give the governor authority to make the interest payment from state funds.
Williams said at a news conference: “The governor never sought that authority.”
Just this week the Beshear administration put $122 million into what had been an empty budget-reserve account, or rainy day fund. That money came from a $156.8 million state surplus at the end of last fiscal year June 30.
Williams said while no lawmakers want a special session, this issue is worth one if that's what it takes to avert the loss of the federal tax credit to Kentucky employers. He said the loss of the federal credit would be “devastating” to employers.
“We're fighting to hold on to every job that we can,” he said.
House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, said later, “I hope we can get this done without the need for a special session.” Clark said he believed the governor had the authority to use state funds to make the payment as an emergency state expense. “That's what I would do if I was governor,” he said.
At issue is Kentucky's debt of about $948 to the federal government for borrowings over the last three years to make unemployment benefit payments to Kentuckians.
Kentucky's trust fund that pays the benefits — which is funded with taxes on employers — went dry in 2009 as the national recession caused unemployment rates to skyrocket.
Last year the federal economic-stimulus program waived interest payments that were owed by many states on such debt. But interest payments due Sept. 30 have not been waived.
Kentucky owes an interest payment of about $28 million, Lassiter said.
But the only money available to make that payment under current law is about $8 million in a special account within the state unemployment program that gets its revenue from penalties and interest charged within the state program.
That means Kentucky needs to come up with $20 million.
Labels: General information
Della Tarpinian's Fight With Kentucky Bar Association Makes World Street Journal (WSJ) News.
For the better part of a decade, Della Tarpinian has been locked in a Kafkaesque battle with a trade association she doesn’t belong to, the Kentucky Bar Association. She’s been fined $5,000 and ordered to pay the costs of her investigation, for violating rules that the average non-lawyer might find maddeningly vague and hard to understand.
Such as: “A person is guilty of unlawful practice of law when, without a license issued by the Supreme Court, he engages in the practice of law.” That one tripped up Tarpinian, 53, who runs a small document-preparation firm in Owensboro, Kentucky specializing in uncontested divorces, wills and other simple legal matters.
After a lengthy investigation, the Kentucky Bar determined that Tarpinian’s clients couldn’t possibly have figured out how to fill out the paperwork they filed in court, without her coaching them behind the scenes. What surprised Tarpinian — and many other document-preparers around the country — is that the Bar could drag her before the state Supreme Court and have her fined for, as she sees it, competing against its members. Especially since a jury acquitted Tarpinian of similar charges in a 2004 criminal trial, after less than half an hour of deliberations.
“They only charge people that’s making money,” said Tarpinian, who has a paralegal degree and worked in a lawyer’s office before opening her own document-preparation firm in Owensboro. “It’s so ambiguous, so unclear.”
Small firms aren’t the only ones running afoul of their local bar association. LegalZoom, a nationwide provider of incorporation documents, divorce papers, wills and other legal forms, has been investigated in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other states. It’s being sued by lawyers in Missouri who want to form a class action on behalf of consumers statewide, even though there are no consumer complaints referenced in the case.
All 50 states have rules and laws prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law, ostensibly to protect consumers. Defenders of these laws make the analogy to doctors: You wouldn’t want an unlicensed doctor to remove your appendix, would you? But the analogy isn’t precise. While it’s true an unlicensed person can’t perform surgery or prescribe medicine, the American Medical Association doesn’t have the power to fine, say, a massage therapist who advises a client to take St. John’s Wort instead of Paxil. When it comes to the law, the bar associations of many states have the power not only to identify people who are violating their rules, but haul them into court.
This self-regulatory scheme bothers experts like Gillian Hadfield of the University of Southern California Law School, who thinks lawyers can use it to squelch competition and innovations such as automated legal document services. The U.K. never had unauthorized-practice rules, she notes, and in 2007 it established an independent commission to oversee all types of legal services including lawyers. The feds have also been critical at times of the legal profession’s attempt to maintain a closed shop. The Federal Trade Commission sent a threatening letter to the American Bar Association in 2002, warning that a proposed model standard for unauthorized practice would “raise costs for consumers and limit their competitive choices.”
There seem to be some glaring exceptions when it comes to enforcement. Members of politically powerful Realtors organizations rarely get dragged before state UPL commissions, even though they routinely provide contracts and advice involving the largest investment most consumers will ever make. Bank employees in many states can preside over mortgage closings. The Kentucky Bar Association tried to close these loopholes in 1999, but the U.S. Justice Department intervened. In a 2003 ruling, the state Supreme Court sided with the feds, noting that the Bar Association failed to provide any evidence consumers had been harmed.
State motor-vehicle departments also have teams of operators standing by to offer advice on how to obtain or recover another essential modern legal right, the right to drive. But lawyers who specialize in traffic tickets keep a sharp eye out for unlicensed competitors. Don Bailey first ran afoul of Ohio bar officials in 1996 when he was investigated for providing legal advice along with his service of filing vehicle-related paperwork. He signed a consent agreement — a typical pattern in these cases — then proceeded to build his License Resque into a prosperous business by providing paperwork and shuttling it to the local motor-vehicle bureau. The Cincinnati Bar Association repeatedly investigated him and filed legal actions against the firm. Finally in 2006, the state Supreme Court fined Bailey $50,000, citing his long-ago consent agreement.
Bailey refuses to pay, claiming he is indigent. Indignant, too. The Supreme Court decision says Bailey advised clients on time limits for filing forms, requirements for reinstating licenses, and communicated with motor vehicle department personnel on behalf of clients. Bailey says his advice ran to telling consumers how to fill out paperwork, when it needed to be filed, and practical tips like “if you’re filing with the court to recover your driving privileges, for God’s sake, don’t get another ticket.’”
“Is that being a lawyer?” he asks. “I can’t tell them what my experience has been over the years?”
A spokesperson for the Ohio Supreme Court, in a statement, said the rules are clear, citing “more than 80 years of case law from the Supreme Court of Ohio that clearly delineates what is and is not permitted.” The rules are designed for consumer protection, the court spokesperson said, although the court also hears complaints brought by lawyers. The state has prosecuted 34 cases since 2004, levying $22 million in fines but collecting only about $79,000 of that. The spokesperson couldn’t provide figures on how many cases began with consumer, as opposed to lawyer, complaints. The biggest fines were levied against American Family Prepaid Legal Corp., which targeted elderly consumers with “Living Will” products that supposedly bundled a broad array of legal services along with annuities and insurance. State consumer-protection laws cover the type of activity American Family was accused of, including misleading customers about the nature of the services it provided.
In Arizona, it’s the lucrative, high-volume business of processing immigration paperwork that has drawn the interest of unauthorized-practice officials. In 2003 the state created a licensing regime for document preparers, over the objections of lawyers.
“There’s been an ongoing battle here ever since,” said lawyer Kevin Torrey. He represents Karina Morales, a licensed document preparer who has been sued by the state licensing board for filing immigration papers for her clients. Torrey says the case stems from a disgruntled — and unlicensed — competitor who was sued by the bar and then filed a complaint against Morales because she remained in business. An administrative law judge has indicated he thinks document preparers should not be able to handle immigration matters, Torrey said, even though U.S. Customs rules have allowed the practice for more than a decade. Customs encourages people to use professional document preparers because of the volume and complexity of forms that must accompany an application, Torry said.
“People who can’t afford a lawyer, I don’t know how they could ever fill out that paperwork,” said Torrey. “My client after 12 years knows all the ins and outs.”
Tarpinian first got in trouble with the Kentucky Bar in 2001, shortly after she had moved from L.A. As with Bailey, the bar sent her a letter in 2003 warning her that an investigators had determined she was practicing law without a license. Tarpinian ignored the letter, and then the district attorney in Owensboro mounted an undercover sting operation, enlisting a state trooper to obtain a will. Tarpinian was indicted for the misdemeanor crime of practicing law without a license, with a possible sentence of 90 days in jail.
Her lawyer, Galen Clark (paid-up member of the Kentucky Bar) said the prosecutor tried to negotiate a plea bargain but Tarpinian refused. The case went before a six-member jury in 2004 that quickly acquitted her of the charge.
“From 2004 to 2010 they left me alone,” Tarpinian said. But meanwhile, judges in Owensboro started complaining about people who came into court with divorce and other papers that looked suspiciously well-prepared. Some judges began to refusing to process divorces if Tarpinian had prepared the paperwork, even though her clients weren’t complaining.
Shawn Dowden told me she filed an uncontested divorce in Daviess County Court in March, 2008 on forms Tarpinian had supplied.
“The court threw it out because of her, so I had to completely start over,” said Dowden, who had no complaint about Tarpinian. “The judge said she filled out my paperwork for me, but I filled it out myself.”
The judges filed a complaint with the Bar in 2010, Clark said, and Tarpinian was accused of violating the 2003 cease-and-desist letter even though she’d never signed it. Her crimes included preparing nine uncontested divorces and filling out a child support worksheet in which she calculated child-support obligations.The court concluded that Tarpinian’s clients representing themselves or pro se, couldn’t have drafted the documents they filed with the court.
These petitions are legally sophisticated pleadings, citing case law and court rules. They evidence legal knowledge well beyond the legal knowledge of an ordinary person. Each of these petitions are signed by the litigants, pro se. These pro se litigants did not create these petitions.
Tarpinian, like Bailey, has refused to pay her $5,000 fine.
“I pay my taxes, I’ve never broken any laws, and I’ve helped thousands of people who can’t afford an attorney and don’t want one,” she told me. “I’m still working even though they scared me to death.”
For document-preparers like Tarpinian, determining the fuzzy line they can’t cross over is difficult. One lawyer struggled to come up with a definition and finally told me the practice of law is giving advice that two lawyers can disagree upon, with neither one committing legal malpractice. That goes to the heart of any profession, which is exercising judgment honed by specialized education and experience. The judicial branch has a particular interest in insuring that people who collect fees to represent clients in court are qualified to be there.
But if even lawyers have trouble delineating the boundaries of the legal profession outside of court, how are non-lawyers expected to figure it out?
Labels: General information
For The Fort Campbell Fiasco, You May Want To Re-Visit This Video From Steve Beshear And David Williams. Watch Now.
I Predicted This Story Will Be Told, And I'm LOL With Cynicism.
South Central Kentucky Drug Task Force, Russellville Police Dept. see funding cuts, and dealers are capitalizing
By DEBORAH HIGHLAND
Drug dealers and methamphetamine cooks in Logan County are taking advantage of funding cuts and manpower shortages at the South Central Kentucky Drug Task Force and the Russellville Police Department.
“With us being short, our street level dealers are picking back up,” task force Director Jerry Smith said. “Prescription drugs are back up right now. We’re working hard on that, trying to come up with ways to get them.”
The task force that investigates drug crime in Logan and Simpson counties is down from six investigators to four, and funding has been cut for the second straight year, hindering efforts to track and prosecute dope dealers, Smith said.
At one time, the Russellville Police Department supplied two officers to the drug task force. But because of manpower shortages in the city department, those officers were pulled away from the task force and reassigned in the city department to prop up safety services there, Smith said.
Russellville is advertising to hire new police officers. Mayor Mark Stratton, who manages the day-to-day operation of the city, did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.
“There’s so many people making meth out here that they’re dumping their (meth) trash all over the roadways,” Smith said. “We have people call all the time that are finding it.”
Smith is also seeing an increase in street-level cocaine dealers in Logan County.
“We’re short, and I’m sure word of mouth gets out,” Smith said.
In September, Smith’s agency will run out of funding to pay overtime to investigators.
Logan County Sheriff Wallace Whittaker said he’s noticed an increase in methamphetamine cooks. People are out of work, meth is easy to make and there’s a strong market for the drug, Whittaker said.
The drug task force arrested a Glasgow man Wednesday after investigators spotted an unattended car parked in a farm field.
Investigators searched the area and found an anhydrous ammonia tank with the valve open and the chemical draining into 5-gallon buckets. Anhydrous ammonia, a farm fertilizer, is one of the primary ingredients needed to make meth.
The driver of the unattended vehicle, Jonathon Adam Wilson, 32, of Glasgow, came out from hiding before police K-9 units were turned loose to look for him. Wilson is charged with theft by unlawful taking and possession of anhydrous ammonia in an unapproved container.
“The drug task force needs more manpower and definitely more funding,” Whittaker said. “Basically, they are overloaded, and they don’t have the manpower to answer every drug complaint that is made right now. Probably not a night goes by that we don’t arrest somebody on drug charges.”
Labels: General information
Steve Beshear Continues To Try And Explain Away Fort Campbell Debacle, Suggesting A Disconnect Between Him And His Staff.
By ROGER ALFORD
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- In his first public response to a potentially bothersome political issue, Gov. Steve Beshear acknowledged Thursday he didn't snub President Barack Obama by not appearing with him when he visited Fort Campbell earlier this year.
Beshear told reporters at a Capitol press conference that he wasn't invited to join Obama on the May 6 visit to the Army base, but that, even so, he had tried to rearrange his schedule to be with the president.
The Democratic governor who is running for re-election this year had been sharply criticized by political opponents and pundits for "snubbing" Obama. Beshear did nothing to correct that misperception until The Associated Press obtained internal emails showing he wasn't invited.
Beshear's Republican gubernatorial opponent, Senate President David Williams, accused the governor of intentionally misleading the public. Williams charged that, because Obama is unpopular in Kentucky, Beshear benefited by not dispelling the misperception.
"Our work to try to get there and the fact that we couldn't get there had nothing to do with politics as far as I'm concerned," Beshear said Thursday. "The president didn't snub me. I didn't snub the president."
Williams charged that Beshear mislead reporters and the public.
"There's no other way to look at this than Beshear has been caught lying in a cynical effort to gain favor with Kentucky voters who don't approve of Barack Obama," Williams said.
Beshear was lambasted in newspaper editorials, in political blogs and on talk radio for not accompanying the president on the Fort Campbell visit. Not until the internal emails turned up did Beshear staffers acknowledged that the governor received no invitation.
"As we said all along, we learned of the president's visit to Fort Campbell about 36 hours before it was to take place," Beshear said Thursday. "There apparently was no formal invitations sent, but I feel as governor it's always my responsibility and privilege to welcome a president of the United States to our state any time we can, and so we scrambled around and tried to find a way that we could do that by being at Fort Campbell, and it just wasn't able to be worked out because of the schedule I had and the prior commitments I had."
Galbraith/Riley Campaign Demands "The Right To Know ... Re: The Ft. Campbell Duplicity Debacle".
Re: Calling on Steve Beshear re: the Ft. Campbell Duplicity Debacle
On May 6, 2011, after the execution of Osama bin Laden, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kentucky to honor the troops stationed at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. Specifically to be honored were those service men and women who had served an integral role of accomplishing the successful “Osama bin Laden Mission”. Noted by all was the absence of Governor Steve Beshear, who at the time released an official statement as reported by Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald Leader:
"Unfortunately, the president's visit was not confirmed until late last night — too late to make arrangements in the governor's schedule, considering his Oaks Day obligations," Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said when asked why Beshear will not be with the president, a fellow Democrat.
Today as reported, Governor Steve Beshear now claims via his staff that in fact “he was not invited” by the President and it was he who was snubbed by the President.
The absurdity of this explanation, given nearly 3 months after the actual event occurred, leaves the Galbriath/Riley campaign on behalf of the citizens of Kentucky and Kentucky’s military families demanding to know: Was what he said May 6th the truth or is his latest spin the truth? Why has Steve Beshear not made a direct statement to Kentuckians as to the matter? Why have only “staffers” and “spokespeople” spoken on his behalf. Why would the Governor of our state think he needs or even requires an invitation to honor our troops? Why did Steve Beshear not lead the event honoring our heroic troops in the first place?
We have the right to know!
Peggy Noonan: This Is No Time For Games. I AGREE "This Is No Time For Games".
Ronald Reagan wouldn’t be playing ‘Targeted Catastrophe.’
Looked at one way, it shouldn’t be hard. Both parties in Washington have every reason to want to prove they possess the baseline political competence to meet the government’s central and pending crisis, which is the spending crisis. Both parties should be eager to reach a debt ceiling agreement, if only to prove the system isn’t broken. Because really, they are the system. If it’s broken, they’re broken, and if they’re broken, who needs them?
RingmasterSo you’d think the hangman’s noose would have concentrated their minds. Instead, of course, it’s a battle. As this is written, the president seems to have the edge. But if he wins—whatever winning looks like—he’ll likely pay a price for his political victory. He usually does. He won on health care, which ruined his first two years in office and sharply accelerated the decline in his popularity.
The issues of spending and taxes should be decoupled. The spending crisis is what’s going on and demands attention now; it’s because of out-of-control spending that we are up against the debt ceiling. Taxes—whether to raise them on the wealthy, whether to reform the tax code and how—can’t be satisfyingly dealt with in the next few weeks. It is gameful of the White House to obscure the central crisis by focusing on a secondary one. The American people have very interesting thoughts and views on taxes, and in no way is it certain that this issue will always favor the Republicans. There’s an election in 2012, we can argue it through from now to then.
A central problem for Republicans is that they’re trying to do everything—cut spending, fight off tax increases, win national support—from the House. The House is probably not enough to win a fight like this. In the words of a conservative strategist, Republicans have one bullet and the Democrats have three: the presidency, the Senate, and a mainstream media generally willing to accept the idea that the president is the moderate in the fight.
The president is in the better position, and he knows it. Majority Leader Eric Cantor reports Mr. Obama went into enough-is-enough mode during White House talks this week, warned Mr. Cantor not to call his bluff, and ended the meeting saying: “Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting here?” I’m glad Reagan is his model for how presidents should comport themselves, but he should know Reagan never tried to scare people into doing things his way. Instead he tried to encourage support, and with a light touch. When locked in battle with a Democratic Congress he didn’t go on TV and make threats. He didn’t say, “Congress needs to know we must rebuild our defense system, and if they don’t, your children will die in a fiery hail of Soviet bullets.”
That was—how to put it?—not his style. It’s not any president’s style. But it’s what Mr. Obama was doing when he told CBS’s Scott Pelley that he isn’t sure there will be “money in the coffers” to send out Social Security checks. Soon he may be saying there won’t be money in the coffers to let students return to college or to pay servicemen. The president is playing Targeted Catastrophe. He’s attempting to agitate and frighten people into calling their congressmen and saying Don’t Cut Anything, Raise Taxes on Millionaires.
Three weeks of Targeted Catastrophe could be pretty effective. But if the president wins this way, there will be residual costs. He will have scared America and shook it up, all for a political victory. That will not add to affection or regard for the president. Centrists and independents, however they react in terms of support, will not think more highly of him.
Which gets me, briefly, to the latest poll on whether Americans think we’re on the right track or wrong track as a nation. The wrong-track number hit 63% this month, up from 60% last month, according to Reuters/Ipsos, which laid the increase to pessimism about the economy and “prolonged gridlock in Washington.”
Fair enough. But there’s more to be said about the nation the president seems to be busy agitating. It’s always assumed the right track/wrong track numbers are about the economy, which makes sense because economic facts are always in the forefronts of everyone’s minds. Will I get laid off, can I pay the bills, can my business survive?
But there are other reasons for American unease, and in a way some are deeper and more pervasive. Some are cultural. Here are only two. Pretty much everyone over 50 in America feels on some level like a refugee. That’s because they were born in one place—the old America—and live now in another. We’re like immigrants, whether we literally are or not. One of the reasons America has always celebrated immigrants is a natural, shared knowledge that they left behind everything they knew to enter a place that was different—different language, different ways and manners, different food and habits, different tempo. This took courage. They missed the old country. There’s a line in a Bernard Shaw play, “Mrs. Warren’s Profession”: “I kept myself lonely for you!” That is the unspoken sentence of all immigrants toward their children—I made myself long for an old world so you could have a better one.
But everyone over 50 in America feels a certain cultural longing now. They hear the new culture out of the radio, the TV, the billboard, the movie, the talk show. It is so violent, so sexualized, so politicized, so rough. They miss the old America they were born into, 50 to 70 years ago. And they fear, deep down, that this new culture, the one their children live in, isn’t going to make it. Because it is, in essence, an assaultive culture, from the pop music coming out of the rental car radio to the TSA agent with her hands on your kids’ buttocks. We are increasingly strangers here, and we fear for the future. There are, by the way, 100 million Americans over 50. A third of the nation. That’s a lot of displaced people. They are part of the wrong-track numbers.
So is this. In the Old America there were a lot of bad parents. There always are, because being a parent is hard, and not everyone has the ability or even the desire. But in the old America you knew it wasn’t so bad, because the culture could bring the kids up. Inadequate parents could sort of say, “Go outside and play in the culture,” and the culture—relatively innocent, and boring—could be more or less trusted to bring the kids up. Popular songs, the messages in movies—all of it was pretty hopeful, and, to use a corny old word, wholesome. Grown-ups now know you can’t send the kids out to play in the culture, because the culture will leave them distorted and disturbed. And there isn’t less bad parenting now than there used to be. There may be more.
There is so much unease and yearning and sadness in America. So much good, too, so much energy and genius. But it isn’t a country anyone should be playing games with, and adding to the general sense of loss.
Labels: General information
Believe It Or Not: "The Government's Twice The Size It Was 10 years Ago. It's 30 Percent Bigger Than It Was When (Barack) Obama Became President."
Believe It, Or Not: Ad Campaign's Statement That Kentucky Has Lost 94,000 ... And Kentucky's Unemployment's Up 75 Percent" Since Steve Beshear Took Office Are ALL TRUE!
Throughout this year's campaign for governor, the Herald-Leader will fact-check statements made by candidates and their surrogates.
The statement: "Kentucky has lost 94,000 jobs" and "Kentucky's unemployment's up 75 percent."
— Bluegrass Prosperity, a group associated with the Republican Governors Association, in a television ad this week in support of Senate President David Williams' bid for governor.
The ruling: True
The facts: The ad focuses on Kentucky job losses during the administration of Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who is seeking re-election on Nov. 8.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kentucky's unemployment rate in December 2007, when Beshear took office, was 5.6 percent. In May 2011, the unemployment rate was 9.8 percent, an increase of 75 percent.
Similarly, in December of 2007, the number of unemployed in Kentucky was 112,470. In May of 2011, the number of unemployed was 207,013. The difference between 207,013 and 112,470 is 94,543.
However, higher unemployment has not been unique to Kentucky.
In December 2007, the national unemployment rate was 5.0 percent. It was 9.1 percent in May 2011, an increase of 82 percent.
The unemployment rate last month in Kentucky was 9.6 percent, the lowest since 9.2 percent in January 2009.
Read more: http://www.kentucky.com/2011/07/27/1826304/campaign-watchdog-claims-of-increased.html#ixzz1TLu4dIKL
Editor's comment: watch the video below:
Update: in a bit of good economic news today, applications for unemployment benefits dropped to lowest level since April. Read about it here.
Debt Limit Crisis, As Seen By Joel Pett.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
David Williams Accuses Steve Beshear Of Lying About Events Surrounding POTUS Barack Obama's Visit To Fort Campbell.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Republican David Williams is accusing Gov. Steve Beshear of misleading reporters about his reason for not attending an event at Fort Campbell with President Barack Obama.
A Beshear staffer said he had other obligations that prevented him from joining Obama at the Army base in May. But internal emails obtained by The Associated Press showed that Obama hadn't invited Beshear along.
Williams, who is running against Beshear in the general election, said in a statement Wednesday that Beshear "has been caught lying." The Beshear campaign declined to comment on Williams' assertion.
WFPL-FM reporter Phillip Bailey asked in an email the day of Obama's visit if the governor had been invited. Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson responded that the governor didn't find out about the visit in time to go.
Kentucky Is The 4Th Higest In The Nation For TOXIC Pollution, Ohio Is Number One.
In Case If Y'all Are Keeping Track, It Is True "President Reagan [Raised The Debt Ceiling] 18 Times; George W. Bush Did It Seven Times," As Stated By POTUS.
Business First Says Kentucky Lost 53,800 Jobs Since 2006, Ranks State 29th In Job Creation.
It NOW Appears It Was POTUS Barack Obama Who DISSED Steve Beshear During Navy Seals Fort Campbell Visit. My Apologies For Taking Steve Beshear To Task About It.
By ROGER ALFORD
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Gov. Steve Beshear was accused of snubbing President Barack Obama when the president visited Fort Campbell earlier this year to meet the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden.
But internal emails obtained by The Associated Press show that Beshear was the one who received a cold shoulder during Obama's visit to the Army post on the Kentucky-Tennessee line: The governor wasn't invited.
One of Beshear's closest advisers, Katie Dailinger, had quizzed the governor's secretary, Sally Flynn, in an email on May 6, the day of the Obama visit, asking if she had received an invitation for the governor from the White House.
"No," Flynn responded. "I didn't."
Flynn then sent a follow up, asking if some other Beshear staffer had received such an invitation.
"Not that any of us can tell," Dailinger replied in an email exchange the AP obtained under the state's open record law.
A White House official confirmed that Beshear wasn't invited.
The governor, now running for re-election, was mum about that, despite a barrage of criticism from political opponents and pundits. But in Kentucky, where Obama is widely unpopular, Beshear stood to improve his clout with voters by not refuting the perception that he had snubbed the president, even though critics were trying to paint him as unpatriotic and his staffers were worried about the fallout.
University of Kentucky political scientist Ernie Yanarella said the political storm was great for Beshear because it created the appearance of a rift between him and Obama.
"The governor benefited most from what happened," Yanarella said.
Some in Beshear's administration were worried that the fallout would be politically damaging.
"Let's hope this calms down," Beshear's chief speech writer, Dan Hassert, said in an email the day of the visit.
Such hopes were dashed in following days with Beshear being sharply criticized on talk radio, in the press and by political opponents.
"This was Obama's first visit to Kentucky and it seems, given the circumstances of his visit, that Beshear could've altered his plans to stand beside Obama," the Daily News of Bowling Green said in an editorial at the time. "He chose not to and the reason seems quite simple: re-election considerations."
The Lexington Herald-Leader said "we'd hate to think politics played a part in Gov. Steve Beshear's snubbing of the president." But, the newspaper went on to say, "maybe an incumbent Democrat, up for re-election in a red state didn't want to remind Kentuckians that his is indeed the party of Obama,"
Republican gubernatorial opponent David Williams seized on Beshear's absence, too, suggesting in stump speeches that the Kentucky governor had essentially put his re-election campaign ahead of country.
Beshear was entertaining chief executive officers at the famed horse track Churchill Downs while Obama was at Fort Campbell. Those CEOs, the governor's office said, were interested in creating jobs in Kentucky.
"Steve Beshear went to a horse race because he was worried about his own race," Williams said at the time.
In emails related to the Obama visit, reporters peppered Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson with questions centering on whether the governor had snubbed the commander in chief. Richardson responded that Beshear had learned of the presidential visit only 36 hours before it was to occur, and that he couldn't rearrange his schedule on such short notice.
`"While we tried to juggle the schedule so the governor could be in both places, we simply couldn't work it out," Richardson said in emails to reporters.
Louisville NAACP President Raoul Cuningham accused Beshear of playing hide-and-seek.
"And I think the governor needs to hope that African-Americans will not play hide-and-seek on him this election as he has played on the president," Cunningham told reporters at the time.
Although he has visited Kentucky only once since his election, Obama is a central figure in Kentucky's governor's race. Williams and other Republicans wield his name like a club, a campaign strategy that they hope can chip away at Beshear's 20 point lead in the polls. Obama lost Kentucky big in 2008, and polls show he hasn't improved his popularity since then.
In one of the emails, Mika Rothman, a staffer in the White House office of intergovernmental affairs, notified Beshear's Washington liaison, Rebecca Byers, that the president would be at Fort Campbell "to address service members who have recently returned from deployment." That email included no invitation. Such notifications are sent to elected leaders in any state that the president is visiting.
Richardson declined to comment on the reason why Beshear or his staffers didn't publicly disclose at the time that he hadn't been invited. That disclosure came only after the internal emails were turned over to AP.
"To the best of our knowledge, no elected officials were invited to participate in the president's visit to Fort Campbell," she acknowledged in a statement.