Thursday, January 31, 2013
HERE'S WHY SENATE REPUBLICANS CONTINUE TO PUSH IMMIGRATION REFORM. I'M ROTFLMAO!
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
BILL O'REILLY AND CHARLES KRAUTHAMER EXPLAIN OBAMA'S AND MARCO RUBIO'S IMMIGRATION BILLS. ENJOY.
I'M GLAD U. S. SENATE CONFIRMED JOHN KERRY AS SECRETARY OF STATE. I CAN'T WAIT FOR CHUCK HAGEL TO BE CONFIRMED TOO.
Kerry Sails Through the Senate as Secretary of State
By MICHAEL R. GORDON
WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Senator John Kerry as secretary of state on Tuesday, filling a key position on President Obama’s retooled national security team.
The nomination was approved by a vote of 94 to 3. Only three senators, all Republicans, opposed the nomination: Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, and James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma. Mr. Kerry voted present.
Mr. Obama’s first choice for the job, Susan E. Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, withdrew as a candidate after Republicans criticized her for comments she made after last September’s deadly attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat who has served in the Senate since 1985, had strong support on both sides of the aisle. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the panel he has led for the last four years, gave his nomination unanimous approval hours before the Senate vote.
In a statement, Mr. Obama took note of Mr. Kerry’s bipartisan support. “John has earned the respect of leaders around the world and the confidence of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, and I am confident he will make an extraordinary secretary of state,” the president said.
Mr. Kerry, who is a Vietnam veteran, a former presidential nominee and the son of a diplomat, will be inheriting a difficult agenda. The conflict in Syria has killed more than 60,000 people. The international envoy on the Syrian crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, who reported to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, has made no headway. Egypt is in turmoil. By Mr. Kerry’s own account, relations with Russia have deteriorated.
As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee during Mr. Obama’s first term, Mr. Kerry was a loyal ally of the White House and served as an interlocutor with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, among others.
During a nearly four-hour confirmation hearing last week, Mr. Kerry demonstrated familiarity with a broad range of issues, but he did not present any new ideas on how to address them.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose last day as secretary of state is Friday, said at a global forum at the Newseum on Tuesday that she expected Mr. Kerry to undertake a new effort to narrow differences between Israel and the Palestinians.
Taking note of the recent Israeli parliamentary elections, in which a centrist coalition made significant gains, Mrs. Clinton said that the shifting political landscape might facilitate progress.
“I actually think that this election opens doors, not nails them shut,” she said. “I know that President Obama, my successor, soon to be Secretary of State John Kerry, will pursue this.”
Mr. Kerry, 69, suggested in his confirmation hearing last week that he would try to make headway in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though he provided no specifics as to how.
“I have a lot of thoughts about that challenge,” he said. “We need to try to find a way forward, and I happen to believe that there is a way forward.”
Mr. Obama has also named former Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, to succeed Leon E. Panetta as secretary of defense, and John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, permanently succeeding David H. Petraeus, who resigned in November.
Mr. Hagel and Mr. Brennan will surely face more questions than Mr. Kerry did from senators of both parties when their confirmation hearings are held, though their nominations are expected to be approved.
Mr. Hagel’s hearing is scheduled for Thursday, and Mr. Brennan’s for Feb. 7.
No date has been set for Mr. Kerry’s resignation from the Senate. The governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, a Democrat, will make an interim appointment to succeed Mr. Kerry until a special election can be held.
POTUS BARACK OBAMA AND HILARY CLINTON AGREE TO BURY THE HATCHET, JOE BIDEN IS INVOLVED. ROTFLMAO!
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
ACCUSED IRAQI TERRORISTS IN KENTUCKY, MOHANAD SHAREEF HAMMADI AND WAAD RAMADAN ALWAN, RECEIVE LIFE AND 40 YEAR SENTENCES FROM FEDERAL JUDGE THOMAS B. RUSSELL IN BOWLING GREEN.
By BRETT BARROUQUERE
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — An Iraqi man who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in Kentucky was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole and a co-defendant received a 40-year sentence for his role in a plot to ship weapons and cash to insurgents in Iraq.
Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 25, protested U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell's decision to send him away for life while granting 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan less time in prison. Hammadi told Russell about growing up poor in Bayji, Iraq, and said his role in the scheme was merely helping a friend load a truck for much-needed money.
Hammadi's attorney, James Earhart of Louisville, had sought 25 years in prison for his client and said he would appeal the life sentence.
"A 25-year-old getting a life sentence is a tragedy," Earhart said. "The life that he lived is a tragedy."
Hammadi and Alwan pleaded guilty in 2011 and 2012 to working with a man they thought was an insurgent in the United States to ship thousands in cash, machine guns, rifles, grenades and shoulder-fired missiles to al-Qaida in Iraq from 2010 through 2011. Prosecutors said the two were actually working with a confidential informant who recorded the pair's activities and no money or weapons ever left the United States.
The two were arrested in May 2011 in Bowling Green, Ky., after a federal sting operation.
Former Pennsylvania National Guard Sgt. Brandon Miller of Chadds Ford, Pa., described the sentences as "outstanding."
Ford received a Purple Heart for burn injuries sustained when his Humvee blew up after hitting a roadside bomb near Bayji, where Alwan and Hammadi admitted to planning explosives.
U.S. Attorney David Hale said if Alwan hadn't cooperated, he would also have gotten a life sentence, but his help was valuable to investigators.
Alwan's attorney, Scott Wendelsdorf, declined to comment after the hearing.
Prosecutors described Alwan as a seasoned terrorist in Iraq. They said he worked with the Mujahidin Shura Council, a violent group that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, torture and deaths of two soldiers with the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division and the death of a third soldier from the same unit while they were patrolling about 60 miles south of Baghdad in June 2006.
Prosecutors linked Hammadi to Jaish al Mujahidin, also known as the Mujahidin Army, a group that claimed responsibility for shooting down American helicopters in Iraq in 2006 and 2007.
Alwan's sentencing went relatively smoothly, with prosecutors petitioning Russell for a lesser sentence because of the defendant's cooperation and guilty plea. But Hammadi's hearing grew contentious at times as prosecutors accused him of changing his story in an effort to secure less prison time.
At two points during the hearing, Justice Department prosecutor Larry Schneider confronted Hammadi after he changed his account of what happened in Iraq and later in Bowling Green. Hammadi told Russell he wasn't part of an insurgent group in Iraq, even though he told the confidential informant he took part in at least 11 improvised explosive-device attacks on U.S. soldiers.
Like Alwan, Hammadi pleaded guilty to falsifying immigration records by not disclosing insurgent activities, in order to get into the United States.
"You did lie on your immigration forms. ... Is that correct?" Schneider asked.
"Yes," Hammadi said after a long pause. "Because it was what you wanted to hear."
Hammadi described his comments to the confidential informant as "just talk" that prosecutors misunderstood.
"If I was asking you how many people in my country, my town were killed, what would you say?" Hammadi asked Schneider, who repeatedly described the defendant as a terrorist.
"Mr. Hammadi, you are facing a life sentence," Schneider replied. "You don't get to ask questions."
Alwan and Hammadi arrived in the United States in 2009. Both admitted to taking part in insurgent activities in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. Schneider said federal authorities became aware of Alwan when they found out he had been held in an Iraqi prison in June 2006 for insurgent activities. It is unclear how or why Alwan was released from prison. Later, federal authorities found his fingerprint on an unexploded bomb in Iraq and launched an investigation.
Alwan recruited Hammadi into the plot in January 2011 and the pair spent five months working with the informant, prosecutors said.
Russell describe Alwan as "eagerly joining the operations in Kentucky" and recruiting Hammadi as part of an attempt to lead a terrorist cell in the United States.
"His motivation was to help the insurgents in their activities," Schneider said.
Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/crime/article/Iraqi-men-sentenced-in-Ky-terrorism-case-4231073.php#ixzz2JQKzJzHm
SOME REPUBLICANS IN CONgress SUGGEST IMMIGRATION BREATHROUGH! LOL.
Monday, January 28, 2013
Day Before Sentencing, Iraqi In Terrorism Plot Case, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, Argues "Sentencing Entrapment".
Iraqi in terrorism case argues 'sentencing entrapment'
Mohanad Shareef Hammadi's lawyer cites a study of more than 500 terrorism prosecutions since 9/11 in entrapment defense Hammadi said he was unemployed and had no money or weapons when he was recruited by Waad Ramadan Alwan Lawyer said including surface-to-air Stinger missiles was government attempt to get a longer sentence for Hammadi
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Hoping to avert a life sentence, one of two Iraqi refugees to be sentenced Tuesday in Kentucky for attempting to send weapons and cash to al-Qaida alleges the government improperly schemed to get him a longer sentence.
A lawyer for Mohanad Shareef Hammadi cites a study of more than 500 terrorism prosecutions since 9/11 that found an FBI informant led more than one-third of the plots and provided all the necessary weapons, money and transportation.
In a sentencing memorandum, Hammadi's appointed lawyer, James Earhart, says his client was unemployed and had no money, weapons or means of transporting them when he was recruited by a confidential government informant.
In the first terrorism case in Kentucky, Hammadi and Waad Ramadan Alwan are to be sentenced in Bowling Green by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Thomas B. Russell.
They both pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and lying about their backgrounds when they applied to be admitted into the United States as refugees.
They were arrested in May 2011 after they agreed to help a government informant load cash and weapons, including surface-to-air Stinger missiles, into a tractor-trailer, believing it was destined for al-Qaida.
Alwan also pleaded guilty to attempting to kill U.S. soldiers when he was an insurgent in Iraq.
In sentencing memos, prosecutors don't recommend a sentence for either defendant but assign "offense levels" to their crimes that would give them both life sentences.
In an unusual argument, Earhart asks for a reduced sentence of 15 years for his client, claiming he was a victim of "sentencing entrapment" by the government.
Unlike in a standard entrapment defense, in which a defendant claims he didn't have the required intent to commit the offense, Earhart contends that the government entrapped Hammadi into committing a more serious offense by including the Stinger missiles.
Conspiring to export a missile carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years, Earhart says, and the "only reason this weapon was introduced by the government into the scheme" was to get that sentence. He alleges that the Justice Department was frustrated with courts imposing lower sentences in similar cases.
Earhart says that Hammadi initially lived in Nevada after he came to the U.S., but with no family there and unable to speak English, he moved to Bowling Green to take a job in a poultry factory. He got sick, lost that job, and was behind on his rent when the confidential informant began pressuring Alwan in January 2011 to recruit Hammadi, Earhart says.
The informant told Hammadi about the money and weapons that he and Alwan were supposedly shipping to Iraq and offered to pay Hammadi to participate, Earhart says in the sentencing memo.
The informant told Hammadi that all he had to do was carry the money and weapons supplied by the informant from a storage container to a truck.
"Hammadi had no role in the selecting or securing of the weapons," Earhart says in the memo.
He cites a survey of 508 terrorism prosecutions -- including those of Alwan and Hammadi -- published in the August 2011 edition of Mother Jones magazine, in partnership with University of California-Berkeley's investigative reporting program, that found in more than 150 of the cases the FBI provided the money and weapons and in "some cases even planted specific ideas for the plots."
The report's author, Trevor Aaronson, who has expanded on his findings in a book, "The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terror," published earlier this month, questions whether "U.S. law enforcement is creating the very enemy the U.S. fears," Earhart says.
He says the government, understandably trying to protect Americans from terrorism, has found "bigoted and suggestible" immigrants who are incapable of committing terrorism on their own and created acts of terrorism out of their "fantasies of bravado and bigotry."
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd declined to comment on Aaronson's book but referred a reporter to a review of it in The Wall Street Journal on Jan. 23 in which a former FBI supervisory special agent said Aaronson's claim that the FBI has cooked up terrorist plots is erroneous and that "an impartial review" of the agency's efforts to fight terrorism after 9/11 would give it "high marks overall."
Prosecutors Michael Bennett and Bryan Calhoun, both assistant U.S. attorneys, and Lawrence Schneider, a trial attorney in the Justice Department's counterterrorism section, don't respond directly to Earhart's claims in their sentencing papers.
But they say that both Hammadi and Alwan had a history of attacking Americans before they left Iraq.
Hammadi isn't charged with committing terrorist offenses there, but the prosecutors say he told the FBI after he was arrested that he participated in at least 10 improvised explosive device attacks on American targets as a member of the Jaysh al Mujahidin terrorist group. He also said that he fired on a U.S. soldier in an observation tower and that his goal in Iraq was "to kill Americans."
Alwan's fingerprint was found on an unexploded IED in Iraq, according to court records. Prosecutors also say in their sentencing memo that he told the informant that he blew up two Bradley tanks and participated in hundreds of attacks with IEDs, including one that killed Americans.
At one point he told the informant that his "lunch and dinner" were Americans, the memo says.
WARREN COUNTY SCHOOL'S DISTRICT BUDGET BALLOONS IN WAKE OF ATTORNEY HIRE.
After spending no more than $65,684 on fees in any single year since 2007, board hired full-time attorney at $117,500 salary
By CHUCK MASON
The second-highest-paid employee in the Warren County Public Schools is its attorney.
While an attorney earning a good salary might not be surprising, Barton D. Darrell’s $117,500 salary as full-time legal counsel for the school system – compared to legal fees paid by similarly sized Kentucky school systems – is a healthy income indeed and an increase in legal spending for the district compared to years past.
From 2007-11, the highest amount the county school system paid for legal fees in a single fiscal year was $65,684 in FY 2010-11.
School officials say Darrell is worth the money. Superintendent Tim Murley – the system’s highest-paid employee at $145,000 – appreciates Darrell’s contributions to the management staff.
“He’s an expert in school law. Before (he was hired), I was making my best guess,” Murley said.
School board Vice Chairman Mike Wilson said the $117,500 paid Darrell annually is money well spent.
“His salary is below market value,” said Wilson, who considers Darrell’s professional expertise in school law an asset to the district.
“The cost is justified by the size of the district,” Wilson said.
Warren County serves nearly 14,000 students. With the size of the school district and the complexity of the legal issues confronted by the school board, the district could have a full-fledged legal department, Wilson said.
Murley said he has a good working relationship with Darrell and that it has been an asset to the district to have the board counsel on staff, rather than at the other end of a telephone line.
Darrell’s salary is part of a four-year contract with the Warren County Board of Education dated July 22, 2011. It runs through June 20, 2014, and is automatically renewed each fiscal year thereafter. He is subject to a yearly evaluation by the school board, a clause in the contract states. He is required to work 240 days each year.
The school board is required under the contract to pay his insurance, his contribution to the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System and $1,000 of membership dues to the Warren County Bar Association, the Kentucky Bar Association and the American Bar Association “unless paid by another entity.”
The school board is to pay for tuition costs for seminars Darrell might attend and $5,000 for professional malpractice insurance. He is to receive a district-provided cellphone for business use and a computer. He is also to be reimbursed for out-of-district travel and “reasonable expenses.”
Darrell said last week that he started paying his own retirement costs this year and has not chosen to bill the district for any expenses.
“I haven’t billed the district a dime,” he said.
The contract grants Darrell the same number of annual sick leave days, holidays, emergency days and personal days as administrators who work a 12-month schedule, and it mandates that Darrell maintain his license to practice law in Kentucky.
Spending comparisons, rising fees
The Bowling Green Independent School District, which serves just under 4,000 students, does not employ a full-time attorney. And other Kentucky school districts that are comparable in size to Warren County’s – Hardin, Daviess and Kenton – do not employ full-time attorneys and pay considerably less in annual legal fees than Warren County.
Before Darrell was hired, Warren County Public Schools paid considerably less annually in legal costs. In the five fiscal years from 2007-08 through 2011-12, the district paid a total of $199,605 for legal services through the Bowling Green law firm of Bell, Orr, Ayers & Moore.
Before serving as the Warren County schools’ legal counsel, Darrell was employed through Bell, Orr, Ayers & Moore as the legal counsel for the Daviess County Public Schools. Daviess County Superintendent Owens Saylor said Darrell was paid $130 an hour. Legal costs to the district in fiscal year 2008-09 were $6,973; in fiscal year 2009-10 they were $13,532 and in fiscal year 2010-11 they were $7,970, Saylor said.
Daviess County has about 10,000 students. Hardin County, which has about 13,000 students, paid $26,000 in legal costs in fiscal year 2010-11, Finance Director Gary Milby said. The district paid $29,000 in fiscal year 2011-12.
Kenton County, which has about 13,000 students, paid $67,945 in legal costs in fiscal year 2011-12, according to records listed online.
In a response to an open records request regarding the Warren County district’s current legal costs, Warren County Public Schools Finance Director Chris McIntyre said in an email:
“Due to the size, growth and complexity of the Warren County Public Schools, an in-house legal expertise was a logical choice. Although Bell Orr Ayers & Moore provided a vital resource, the availability to address vital issues that transpire all hours of the day, night and weekend was a hurdle.”
New role created but empty
The district has an unfilled assistant superintendent’s vacancy created last year. That vacancy can be filled only by someone holding a superintendent of schools certification.
Darrell is taking classes at his law school alma mater, the University of Louisville, to obtain his school superintendent certification.
Nine Warren County school employees, including Murley, already hold a superintendent’s certificate, according to Marcie Lowe, executive staff adviser/legislative liaison for the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board in Frankfort.
Darrell earned his law degree in 1987. He is also a 1984 graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College, where he serves on the college’s board of trustees. He described the desire to obtain his superintendent certification as a natural progression for him since he comes from “a long history of education” in his family.
While Darrell has neither taught in a public school nor served as a school principal, state law does not preclude him from serving as a superintendent once he receives his certification, which he said he might be able to complete by late spring or early summer of this year.
During a special board meeting June 19, the Warren County school board created a position described in the board minutes as “BOE General Counsel/Assistant Superintendent of Compliance.”
Murley asked the board to create the assistant superintendent position and said he currently has no plans to fill that position or to vacate his own job. Murley said he isn’t grooming anyone to be his successor, and when Murley does retire, the board will be charged with finding his replacement.
“I have 32 years in, and I am 55 years old,” Murley said. “I enjoy what I do, and I will know when it is time not to do it.”
Warren County has one assistant superintendent. A district the size of Warren County could use another assistant superintendent in the organizational structure, but the district can’t afford it, Murley said.
Darrell says he doesn’t have his eye on Murley’s job in Warren County at this time, but he doesn’t rule out applying for the assistant superintendent’s job once he obtains the certification.
“If I were certified and the district had the desire and I was still interested, I would apply for that position,” Darrell said.
School employees holding superintendent certificates
Nine Warren County Public Schools employees have the certification needed to become a superintendent.
Lori Ann Martin, John Dempsey, Joseph “Pat” Stewart, Kathy Goff, Ron Vinson, Reed Norris, Tommy Hodges, David “Shawn” Holland and Murley all hold superintendent certificates, according to an email from Marcie Lowe, executive staff adviser/legislative liaison for the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board in Frankfort.
Goff is the assistant superintendent in the Warren County schools. Martin is an English as a second language teacher at Lost River Elementary School, while Dempsey is an assistant principal at Warren Central High School. Stewart is director of student services at the central office, and Vinson teaches at the Jackson Academy alternative school. Norris works in the central office as director of districtwide student services and is a former principal at Warren East High School, while Hodges is an assistant principal at Warren East. Holland serves as principal at Rich Pond Elementary.
WORDS OF WISDOM, WORDS TO LIVE BY, AND WORDS TO PONDER FOR PATRIOTS LIKE ME.
-- Noah Webster, History of the United States
UNITED STATES CELEBRATES THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE U. S. SUPREME COURT ABORTION DECISION OF ROE V. WADE. *STOP THE MASS KILLINGS ALREADY!*
Friday, January 25, 2013
NEW KENTUCKY LAW VOIDS LOCAL GUN REGULATIONS, ALLOWS CITIZENS TO CARRY GUNS IN MOST CITY BUILDINGS.
BY Jessie Halladay
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- People can now openly carry a firearm in any city-owned facility in Kentucky — including libraries, parks, the zoo, city council chambers and city hall — thanks to a revision made to state law last year.
The law, which applies to any legal firearm, also states that in some places, like suburban firehouses run by special districts, people with the appropriate permit may carry concealed weapons.
The revision, which became subject to enforcement this month, clarifies that firearms may only be regulated by the state, voiding all local ordinances and restrictions.
"Local governments can't regulate firearms," said Rep. Bob Damron, a Democrat from Nicholasville, Ky., who sponsored the bill, which was passed in 2012.
State law prohibits firearms in schools, jails and prisons. Colleges and universities are allowed to prohibit guns under state law, and restrictions in court buildings are set by the judicial branch. Private businesses may still prohibit guns, and a separate state statute allows cities to ban people from carrying concealed firearms into their facilities.
But with few state regulations specifically addressing guns on property owned by local governments and special districts, signs prohibiting people from openly carrying firearms have started coming down.
Damron said Kentuckians have not always been clear about where they are allowed to carry their firearms because of varied local policies and laws. But local bans were illegal, Damron said.
The bill passed the state House 88-8 on March 14 and the Senate less than two weeks later 34-2. Gov. Steve Beshear signed it into law April 11. A spokeswoman for Beshear had no immediate comment Thursday.
The law has created some consternation.
In response to the measure, Hardin County officials enacted an ordinance that bans concealed firearms from county buildings, said Hardin County Attorney Jenny Oldham. But the county is seeking advice from the attorney general's office on whether county-owned Hardin Memorial Hospital must allow openly carried firearms or is exempt because it is a health care facility.
In Louisville, the law has prompted a review of all metro government policies that might reference firearms, and some concern about its impact.
"We have serious concerns about the safety implications for our employees of metro government and the public who comes into these buildings," said Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell, whose office is nonetheless making sure city laws and policies comply with the new state law.
Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said the city will now allow anyone openly carrying a firearm into its buildings. Other weapons, however, remain banned — "even though you can bring guns, you can't bring knives," Poynter noted — so metal detectors and security will remain.
"We have concerns for the safety of our workers," said Poynter, who pointed out that sometimes the work of government can make people angry. "To be able to come to the office with a gun is disconcerting to some of our employees. But the law seems quite clear on that."
Metro Councilman Kelly Downard said he's not afraid that people will act inappropriately.
"There are a whole lot of things more dangerous than that around City Hall," Downard said. "That doesn't scare me."
But Councilwoman Madonna Flood said the law "flies in the face of common sense."
It is not far-fetched that people may use weapons in meetings when they become upset, she said, citing the fatal September shooting of two men at a Spring Creek Homeowners Association meeting.
"When you bring guns into a situation where things become heated," Flood said, "you're asking for trouble."
Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak said adjusting to the new rules is a "big change" for zoo staff, since guns had not been allowed there previously. Signs that once asked patrons to return any weapons to their cars have been removed.
Walczak said the zoo is developing training for personnel so they can monitor the zoo and ensure the safety of patrons, should someone bring in a firearm.
Stephanie Phelps, who visited the Louisville Free Public Library with her young son this week, said the idea of having guns inside a library makes her feel very uncomfortable.
"I don't think it's right at all," she said, adding that she would be concerned about someone who is emotionally unstable having a weapon and becoming agitated.
"They snap and they've got a gun and there goes everybody," she said.
Craig Buthod, library director, said incidents like the shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people, including 20 children, were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, have heightened awareness about the potential for danger.
But he said he doesn't believe many gun owners will opt to bring their firearms into libraries, especially because they are places where children gather.
"I think most people have better sense," Buthod said. "I don't think we'll have very many people bringing guns."
In suburban fire districts, which are considered special districts under state law and aren't governed by the city or county, fire chiefs and trustee boards are no longer allowed to make their fire stations gun-free zones.
Additionally, because special districts are not covered under the separate law that allows cities to ban concealed weapons, they also must allow those with permits to bring guns into their buildings.
That includes firefighters on duty — something that has been met with mixed reaction among fire chiefs.
Harrods Creek Fire Chief Kevin Tyler said he's very uncomfortable with having his firefighters carrying weapons while on duty, for several reasons. Traditionally, firefighters do not carry weapons, and the public has come to expect that, Tyler said.
While obtaining a concealed carry permit requires some certification and training, Tyler said that's not sufficient for first responders. "We are seen as the people who help you," Tyler said, not the people who enforce laws and carry guns.
Jeff Riddle, chief of Middletown Fire, said on any given shift he has two or three firefighters who carry their personal weapons. Riddle said firefighters carrying guns present many potential problems, but there is nothing he can do to prevent it.
Riddle said the trustees have approved a new policy that prohibits leaving any potentially harmful item, including a gun, knife and medication, unattended in the firehouse. "If they bring it in, they are personally liable," Riddle said.
Buechel Fire Chief Rick Harrison, meanwhile, said he welcomes his firefighters who have permits to carry their firearms on duty. Harrison said there are times when firefighters encounter dangerous situations in which guns would provide added safety. For several years, Harrison has had permission from the trustee board to carry his weapon inside the firehouse.
"The gun they are allowed to carry is for their personal protection," Harrison said. He said the department plans to conduct additional training in firearm safety.
Harrods Creek Sgt. Ali Thomas, who has a concealed carry permit, said he won't be taking his gun to work.
Thomas, a former military police officer, said as a firefighter he doesn't want the added responsibility of carrying a gun on duty. "It's an added, unnecessary risk" that he'd have to worry about, Thomas said.
While Damron said he would be willing to look at whether the revised law is causing unexpected consequences, he firmly believes regulation should rest with the state.
He also sees no problem allowing guns in libraries, parks or other public venues.
Generally, "I'm in favor of giving people the right to protect themselves wherever they are," he said. Areas may be safer "if you have a carry concealed holder in those areas than if they were gun-free zones."
U. S. SENATE HOLDS HEARING ON BENGHAZI WITH HILARY CLINTON TESTIFYING. LOL.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
THE GOP IS DISAPPOINTED IN POTUS BARACK OBAMA FOR NOT EXTENDING THEM A HAND. I'M ROTFLMAO!
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
KENTUCKY TEA PARTY GEARS UP TO JOIN OTHER TEA PARTY GROUPS IN DEVOURING ONE OF THEIR OWN!
Several Kentucky Tea Party groups plotting to defeat McConnell in 2014
United KentuckyTea Party
Groups endorsing Tuesday's news release by the United Tea Party of Kentucky include:
Boone County Tea Party
Bowling Green SOKY Tea Party Steering Committee
Campbell County Tea Party
Central Kentucky Tea Party Patriots of Hardin County
Grant County Tea Party
Heartland Tea Party, which includes members from LaRue, Adair, Green, Taylor, Casey and Nelson counties
Kenton County Tea Party
Maysville Tea Party
Nelson County Tea Party
Northern Kentucky Tea Party
Owensboro Tea Party
Take Back Kentucky, based in Grayson County
TeaPop (Tea Party of the People), based in Lexington
T.E.A. Party Patriots of Metcalfe County
Tea Party Patriots, based in Elizabethtown
Bullitt County Tea Party
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Many of Kentucky's Tea Party leaders are plotting a strategy to defeat U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican primary, a spokesman for a group calling itself the United Kentucky Tea Party said Tuesday.
Tea Party groups in the state are so dissatisfied with McConnell that "we are working on a battle plan with the ultimate goal to retire him next year," said John T. Kemper III of Lexington, a spokesman for the group.
Kemper's comment came a day after the group, which describes itself as a roundtable of leaders from more than a dozen Tea Party groups in Kentucky, issued a news release warning McConnell that "we will not allow our message or movement to be co-opted for political purposes."
Kemper, a developer who lost a bid for state auditor in 2011 and a bid for Congress in 2010, would not identify any potential opponent for McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, but acknowledged that he is "probably on a short list of folks."
Meanwhile, an out-of-state Super PAC expressed interest in helping "the right candidate" defeat McConnell. Last year, Liberty For All spent almost $700,000 to help elect Republican Thomas Massie to Northern Kentucky's 4th Congressional District seat.
Preston Bates, executive director of Liberty For All, said in an email Tuesday that McConnell is "anything but a tea partier" and is "that special politician who could unite libertarians, independents, anti-war Democrats, everyone" against him.
"Should the right candidate emerge — be they Republican, Democrat, or Independent — Liberty For All will remain committed to electing those dedicated to more civil liberties, more economic freedom, and freeing America from corporate influence," Bates said.
Liberty for All is primarily funded by John Ramsey, a college student from Nacogdoches, Texas, who is armed with an inherited fortune.
McConnell, who has represented Kentucky since 1985, is seeking re-election next year. So far, no one has announced to challenge him. He already has a $7 million campaign war chest and the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green, a Tea Party favorite.
In a news release sent by email late Monday, the United Kentucky Tea Party said McConnell and state Republican leaders are being "intellectually dishonest" by calling anyone associated with McConnell's campaign a Tea Party leader.
"The Tea Parties in Kentucky are led by local grassroots individuals, not by any national organization," the statement said. "Any representation otherwise by the Republican Party leadership of Kentucky or Senator McConnell and his surrogates is inconsistent with the truth and will be vigorously and publicly disputed every step of the way."
Kemper said the group was referring to McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton.
Benton led the 2010 general election campaign of Paul, who rode the Tea Party wave to defeat Attorney General Jack Conway in the general election and the McConnell-backed candidacy of then-Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the Republican primary election.
Benton also managed the 2012 presidential bid for Paul's father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Benton is married to one of Ron Paul's granddaughters.
Asked about the news release, Benton said he has received a "wonderful reception" from grassroots groups as he has travelled the state on behalf of McConnell.
"Leader McConnell is a great friend of the Kentucky Tea Parties and is committed to giving them a seat at the table and bringing their voices to Washington," Benton said.
Kemper said he finds it "humorous" that Benton, in his email messages to Republicans across the state about the McConnell campaign, uses the greeting "Dear Patriot."
The latest example of that was last weekend, when Benton sent out an email about President Obama's proposals on gun control.
"Dear Patriot, You and I are literally surrounded," Benton wrote. "The gun grabbers in the Senate are about to launch an all-out assault on the Second Amendment."
Concern about McConnell by several Tea Party members intensified this month after McConnell brokered a fiscal cliff deal that killed planned income tax hikes on most Americans but postponed deep federal spending cuts.
Cathy Flaig, former president of the Northern Kentucky Tea Party, which covers Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties, said Tuesday her group "willingly signed" the news released issued by the United Kentucky Tea Party.
"Truth be told, most Tea Party members I know in Kentucky are polite to Sen. McConnell but not enthusiastic at all about him," Flaig said. "My question is, what has he done for Kentucky?"
An issue of strong interest in Northern Kentucky, she said, is the building of a new bridge across the Ohio River that will require tolls.
"The federal government can build a bridge in Afghanistan in eight months without tolls. Why not in Northern Kentucky?" she said. "He's Senate minority leader. It seems like he could do something to help Kentucky."
Flaig said she does not know whether the Tea Party will find a candidate next year to run against McConnell.
"I just know he's not as well liked as he thinks he is," she said.
Hans Marsen, state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots in Elizabethtown, said he's aware that several Tea Party groups in Kentucky have formed the United Tea Party of Kentucky and issued Tuesday's news release.
"The bottom line is that, he can believe it or not, there is not great support for the senator among Tea Party members in Kentucky," Marsen said.
"It would be good to see an alternative to him on the 2014 Republican primary ballot," he said.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/01/22/2486321/several-kentucky-tea-party-groups.html#storylink=omni_popular#wgt=pop#storylink=cpy
POTUS BARACK OBAMA, REPUBLICANS AND THE DEBT CEILING. LOL.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
NO MATTER HOW BAD THE WORLD IS, THERE'S NO REASON WHY WE CAN'T HAVE A "WONDERFUL WORLD WITH BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE". AND YES, PLEASE NO MORE "VIETNAM"!
TOUR DE LANCE IS OVER. THANK GOD.
Monday, January 21, 2013
WATCH AND LISTEN TO POTUS BARACK OBAMA'S SECOND INAUGURAL SPEECH.
WATCH POTUS BARACK OBAMA, AND VPOTUS JOE BIDEN, TAKE THE OFFICIAL OATHS OF OFFICE FOR THEIR SECOND TERMS.
Labels: POTUS Barack Obama
AS POTUS BARACK OBAMA GETS READY TO DELIVER HIS INAUGURAL SPEECH LET US REFLECT ON HIS 2009 INAUGURAL SPEECH. BTW: I WAS THERE IN THAT FREEZING COLD! WATCH.
LET US LOOK BACK AT PREVIOUS PRESIDENTS' INAUGURAL SPEECHES. WATCH.
WORDS TO LIVE BY, WORDS OF WISDOM, AND WORDS TO PONDER FOR LIBERTY LOVERS LIKE ME.
HAPPY MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., DAY. MAY WE ALL RESOLVE TO KEEP HIS DREAM ALIVE, SHALL WE? WATCH VIDEO.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
WATCH AS POTUS BARACK OBAMA IS SWORN IN TO A SECOND TERM BY MY FAVORITE CHIEF JUSTICE, JOHN ROBERTS.
WATCH AS VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN IS SWORN IN BY MY FAVORITE LATINA, U. S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, SONIA SOTOMAYOR. NOTICE: "FOOT IN THE MOUTH" JOE MADE NO GAFFES!
Labels: Joe Biden
AS POTUS BARACK TAKES NEW OATH OF OFFICE, A QUICK LOOK BACK AT HIS PREVIOUS FOUR YEARS AS POTUS.BACK
Saturday, January 19, 2013
SO WHY DON'T WE SEE MORE MINORITIES IN POTUS BARACK OBAMA'S CABINET?
Friday, January 18, 2013
LANCE ARMSTRONG SPEAKS TO OPRAH. LOL.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
LANCE ARMSTRONG IS EXPECTED TO SPEAK TO OPRAH, AND FINALLY ADMIT TO BEING WHO WE KNOW HIM TO BE: A DOPE HEAD, A LIAR, A CHEAT, AND AN INSUFFERABLE PHONY!
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
POTUS BARACK OBAMA ANNOUNCES AIM TO HAVE BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR GUN BUYERS. I SUPPOSE LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE GOVERNMENT IS INVOLVED WITH, THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS! WATCH VIDEO.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
POTUS BARACK OBAMA VOWS FOR MORE DIVERSITY!
Monday, January 14, 2013
THERE'S DIVERSITY IN POTUS BARACK OBAMA'S CABINET. LOL.
Words To Live By, Words To Ponder, And Words Of Wisdom For All.
-- Richard Lee, Federal Farmer LIII
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Colin Powell: GOP Holds "Dark Vein Of Intolerance" (VIDEO) . TRUE THAT!
Friday, January 11, 2013
NEVER LET THEM TAKE YOUR GUN OR AMMO AWAY! NEVER!!
WHERE ARE THE SAVINGS? LOL.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
REPUBLICANS IN U. S. SENATE HAVE GONE INSANE OVER CHUCK HAGEL'S OBVIOUS HONESTY AND INTEGRITY. THAT'S SAD, INDEED.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
THE CLIFF WE AMERICANS REALLY WANT!
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
I AM GREATLY GRATIFIED THAT POTUS BARACK OBAMA NOMINATED CHUCK HAGEL, A MAN I ADMIRE GREATLY AND WHO I VOTED FOR WHEN I LIVED IN NEBRASKA, TO BE DEFENSE SECRETARY AS I HAD BEEN ADVOCATING LOUDLY FOR SO LONG. WATCH VIDEO.
THE GOP REACTION ON THEIR FISCAL CLIFF DEAL. LOL.
Monday, January 07, 2013
Mitch McConnell: "Perfect? No, But Deal Had To Be Done". I TOTALLY AGREE!
Most in Kentucky are spared Tax hikes; on to spending cuts
By Mitch McConnell
Now that the calendar has flipped to 2013 and the so-called fiscal cliff crisis in Washington has been averted, people are asking if the agreement I helped negotiate last week was a perfect solution.
I'll be the first to say it isn't.
If it were up to me, no American would face tax increases, especially as our economy is still struggling. But there was no way around the fact that without some kind of agreement, taxes were set to rise dramatically on every single Kentuckian. I had to act to prevent that from happening.
As the clock ran out on 2012, President Barack Obama's strategy became clear. By doing nothing, Democrats in Washington would get everything they wanted. All of the Bush tax cuts would expire, raising tax rates on every person who pays income taxes. Severe across-the-board defense cuts would take effect. And Obama would have trillions more of your tax dollars to spend.
It was a liberal's dream — but a taxpayer's nightmare.
Some counseled that we should simply let the president have his way. He's the one who has recklessly added trillions to the debt and done nothing to reform out-of-control entitlement programs that, if left unreformed, will drive the country into fiscal ruin. A majority of voters just rewarded that agenda by re-electing him to a second term. Why not just let them see what the effect of those policies really is?
Although it would've been the easiest decision politically, I believe that would be completely at odds with my duty to the people of Kentucky.
I knew that out of 4.4 million people who call Kentucky home, only about 5,800 tax filers had an income above $500,000. I hated the fact that taxes would rise no matter what I did, but I thought that if I could convince this White House to abandon some of its planned tax hikes and lock in the current middle-class rates permanently, I could ensure that 99.7 percent of Kentuckians were spared an income tax increase.
It wasn't pretty, but it worked.
By the time the deal was sealed and the Senate convened to vote, the massive tax increase I raced to avoid had already hit the books. Thankfully, the Senate approved the agreement 89 to 8, and we acted to repeal the new taxes before they hit Kentucky paychecks.
If I had thrown up my hands and blamed the entire mess on a liberal president who cannot be reasoned with, the average family of four in Kentucky would be paying $2,000 more next year in taxes. Some would have praised my unwillingness to bend but it would have done nothing to stop families from having less in their pocket as a result. For me, that's an easy choice.
Was it a great deal? No. As I said, taxes shouldn't be going up on anyone, and if I had had my way they wouldn't. Just as importantly, the transcendent issue of our time, the spiraling national debt, remains completely unaddressed. But was it worth it?
For Kentucky, there is no question in my mind that it was. Nearly everyone in the state was spared from the president's do-nothing strategy, and now that he's finally gotten his long-sought tax hike on the "rich," we can turn squarely toward the real problem, which is spending.
Predictably, the president is already claiming that his tax hike isn't enough.
I have news for him: The moment he and virtually every elected Democrat in Washington signed off on the current agreement, that was the last word on taxes. That debate is over. Now the conversation turns to cutting spending on the government programs that are the real source of the nation's fiscal imbalance. And the upcoming debate on the debt limit is the perfect opportunity to have that discussion.
It's time to end the bickering in Washington and have a serious, substantive discussion about our most pressing issue: the long-term debt in this country, and how the only way we will ever get it under control is through serious entitlement reform. It will take leadership from both parties to enact meaningful reform and change the direction of our country.
The American people desperately want us to have this debate. It's a debate Republicans are ready to have. I look forward to beginning that debate today, before it's too late, with the president.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/01/06/2466166/mcconnell-perfect-no-but-deal.html#storylink=cpy
RELIVE THE LOUISVILLE CARDINAL 2012 FOOTBALL DREAM SEASON. GO 'CARDS! WATCH VIDEO.
Labels: College sports
IT IS WITH PROFOUND SADNESS THAT I MOURN UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE DEAN, J. BLAINE HUDSON. REST IN PEACE, BROTHER.
J. Blaine Hudson career highlights
• Earned doctorate from University of Kentucky in 1981.
• Started working at University of Louisville in 1974 and joined its department of Pan-African Studies in 1998.
• Directed department’s Pan-African Studies Institute for Teachers and served as department chair and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before being appointed college dean in 2004.
• Published numerous articles and book chapters on African-American history and two books on the Underground Railroad.
• Chaired Kentucky African American Heritage Commission and Kentucky State Advisory Committee to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
• Recipient of 2002 Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Award.
• Co-author, with Mervin Aubespin and Kenneth Clay, of “Two Centuries of Black
Louisville: A Photographic History,” 2011.
J. Blaine Hudson, who once occupied the dean’s office at the University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences as a student protester and later led the college as dean for more than eight years, died Saturday, according to the school and A.D. Porter & Sons Funeral Home. He was 63.
During his career, Hudson chronicled the history of African Americans in Louisville, served on boards and commissions across the state and worked to solve the problem of gun violence in Louisville.
“He has been an intellectual jewel,” Merv Aubespin, a longtime friend of Hudson who co-authored a book on black history in Louisville with him, said in an interview Friday.
He said Hudson’s work was groundbreaking. “The areas that he studied, as far as African-American history, hadn’t been studied that much before he did,” Aubespin said.
Hudson, who was named acting dean in 2004 and was appointed to the post full time the following year, took a leave of absence in August, telling colleagues in an email that he had serious health problems and had undergone “cranial surgery.”
At the time, he said, “Prognosis is good; all marbles are still there.”
Hudson, however, stopped taking visitors and phone calls and communicated infrequently by email after that. The exact nature and severity of his illness remained a mystery to even his close friends.
The university announced last month that Hudson would step down as dean at the end of December.
John P. Ferré, an associate dean for faculty affairs, has been acting dean.
“Blaine has been a mentor to me, a dyed-in-the-wool historian who cared for the advancement of social justice and the arts and sciences,” Ferré said in a statement.
“Social justice and arts and sciences, of course, were much the same in his mind. Everyone — no matter what color, gender, sexual orientation, or political leaning — counted equally for Blaine. I loved that about him,” Ferré said.
On Saturday night, U of L spokesman Mark Hebert confirmed Hudson’s death and university President James Ramsey issued a statement recalling Hudson’s accomplishments.
“Blaine’s many years and contributions as a faculty member, department chair and dean has had, and will continue to have, a lasting impact on generations of U of L students,” he said.
“Blaine was a visionary and leader in the academy and the community. He will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” Ramsey said.
Raoul Cunningham, a civil rights activist, said Hudson had a huge impact on Louisville, starting with his time as an activist on campus in the 1960s and leading up to his time leading the College of Arts and Sciences.
In 1969, Hudson was arrested and expelled after occupying the same dean’s office he would later hold. He and other protesters demanded more black faculty, African-American representation on the board of trustees and the creation of a Pan-African Studies Department.
He was later allowed to re-enroll but lost credits for the semester in which he was expelled.
“As a member of the faculty and more specifically as dean, he had an impact on not only the university but the community as a whole,” Cunningham said.
Hudson taught history and Pan-African studies classes for years while holding various administrative posts. He was Pan-African Studies Department chairman from 1998 to 2003 and was an associate dean from 1999 to 2004.
Hudson, a lifelong Louisville resident, received his doctorate in higher education administration at the University of Kentucky and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from U of L.
Hudson was active in the community, working to teach others outside the university setting about black history and working to combat violence in western Louisville.
Mayor Greg Fischer said in an interview he chose Hudson earlier this year to chair his Louisville Violence Prevention Work Group because he knew the city and racial dynamics that often play into the violence.
“He came of age in the time of (the Rev.) Martin Luther King Jr. He not only studied the history, he lived the history as well,” Fischer said.
He called Hudson “a Renaissance man.”
Hudson has been chair of the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission and founded a program called the Saturday Academy, an enrichment program to teach people about African-American history and world history from an African-American perspective.
He led the effort to create a “Freedom Park” on U of L’s campus in an effort to counterbalance the Confederate statue erected near the campus in 1895.
“He leaves an incredible legacy of activism, teaching, scholarship, community service, leadership and integrity on and off the University of Louisville campus in many capacities,” Hudson’s family said in the obituary.
Hudson’s publications include the 2011 book “Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History,” with Kenneth Clay and Aubespin, a retired Courier-Journal associate editor.
Aubespin said that he and Clay began work on the book five years before it was published and found themselves relying so much on Hudson and his knowledge that a year into their work on it, they asked him to be a co-author.
“We were driving him nuts,” Aubespin said. “One day, I suggested to him ... that he join us. He said, ‘I’d be delighted.’ ”
The obituary said only that “the family will gather to commemorate his love” but gives no information about a funeral or memorial service.
It asks that expressions of sympathy be made with contributions to U of L’s Pan African Studies Department.
WORDS TO LIVE BY, WORDS OF WISDOM, AND WORDS TO PONDER, FOR LIBERTY LOVERS LIKE ME.
MIKE LUCKOVICH SEES THE TEA PARTY "TAIL" CHOKING THE GOP "DOG"? LOL.
Friday, January 04, 2013
Mitch McConnell's Welcome Role As Statesman On Fiscal Cliff!
Rogers, Chandler, Yarmuth OK'd deal
It was refreshing to see Sen. Mitch McConnell put his considerable abilities into unifying, rather than dividing or distracting.
McConnell played a critical role — maybe even the critical role — in crafting the compromise that averted what many economists said would have been a disaster for the recovering economy.
Kudos to McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, for helping avoid what, as he correctly said, would have been a self-inflicted wound.
Even though Republicans could brag that the deal protects almost 99 percent of U.S. households from automatic income tax increases, Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset was the only other Kentucky Republican who joined McConnell in voting for it.
Sen. Rand Paul was one of five Republicans and three Democrats in the Senate who voted no.
Also voting against the compromise hammered out by McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden were House Republicans Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville, Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green and Thomas Massie of Lewisburg, elected in November to fill a vacant seat.
Democrats Ben Chandler of Versailles and John Yarmuth of Louisville voted for the compromise. (Republican Andy Barr of Lexington replaces Chandler today as the 113th Congress convenes.)
Paul and the other three Kentucky kamikazes were willing to take the cliff dive by immediately ending all the Bush tax cuts and taking a meat ax to defense-industry and other government jobs.
Sucking that much money out of a fragile economy could have plunged the nation and the world back into recession and sent unemployment spiraling upward again.
The four Kentucky Republicans issued statements decrying the lack of spending cuts in the deal; Paul also bemoaned raising taxes even on the top 1 percent.
The agreement extended Congress' self-imposed deadline for across-the-board spending cuts by two months.
It's true we have tough decisions to make about how to balance what we want from government with what we're willing to pay in taxes. We also must rein in health care costs to protect Medicare for the future.
It's also true that the public heartily endorses taxing more of the wealthiest Americans than Congress just approved. Congress should consider reforms to simplify the tax code and broaden the tax base.
As Congress approaches future fiscal cliffs — most immediately, decisions about spending cuts and the debt ceiling — let's hope McConnell's rational desire to avoid self-inflicted wounds prevails.
Remember it was a Tea Party-inspired tantrum in the summer of 2011 over whether to pay the government's bills that created this fiscal cliff, sent the stock market into a tailspin and resulted in the U.S. government's first credit downgrade.
During the first Obama administration, McConnell made a name for himself as obstructionist-in-chief.
The Senate minority leader could do the country and his self-immolating party a favor by continuing to engage in the kind of pragmatic statesmanship that he's shown in the last few days.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/01/03/2462864/mcconnells-welcome-role-as-statesman.html#storylink=botnext#storylink=cpy
Labels: News reporting
Thursday, January 03, 2013
The Emancipation Of Abe Lincoln.
By ERIC FONER
ONE hundred and fifty years ago, on Jan. 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln presided over the annual White House New Year’s reception. Late that afternoon, he retired to his study to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. When he took up his pen, his hand was shaking from exhaustion. Briefly, he paused — “I do not want it to appear as if I hesitated,” he remarked. Then Lincoln affixed a firm signature to the document.
Like all great historical transformations, emancipation was a process, not a single event. It arose from many causes and was the work of many individuals. It began at the outset of the Civil War, when slaves sought refuge behind Union lines. It did not end until December 1865, with the ratification of the 13th Amendment, which irrevocably abolished slavery throughout the nation.
But the Emancipation Proclamation was the crucial turning point in this story. In a sense, it embodied a double emancipation: for the slaves, since it ensured that if the Union emerged victorious, slavery would perish, and for Lincoln himself, for whom it marked the abandonment of his previous assumptions about how to abolish slavery and the role blacks would play in post-emancipation American life.
There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of Lincoln’s statement in 1864 that he had always believed slavery to be wrong. During the first two years of the Civil War, despite insisting that the conflict’s aim was preservation of the Union, he devoted considerable energy to a plan for ending slavery inherited from prewar years. Emancipation would be undertaken by state governments, with national financing. It would be gradual, owners would receive monetary compensation and emancipated slaves would be encouraged to find a homeland outside the United States — this last idea known as “colonization.”
Lincoln’s plan sought to win the cooperation of slave holders in ending slavery. As early as November 1861, he proposed it to political leaders in Delaware, one of the four border states (along with Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri) that remained in the Union. Delaware had only 1,800 slaves; the institution was peripheral to the state’s economy. But Lincoln found that even there, slave holders did not wish to surrender their human property. Nonetheless, for most of 1862, he avidly promoted his plan to the border states and any Confederates who might be interested.
Lincoln also took his proposal to black Americans. In August 1862, he met with a group of black leaders from Washington. He seemed to blame the presence of blacks in America for the conflict: “but for your race among us there could not be war.” He issued a powerful indictment of slavery — “the greatest wrong inflicted on any people” — but added that, because of racism, blacks would never achieve equality in America. “It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated,” he said. But most blacks refused to contemplate emigration from the land of their birth.
In the summer of 1862, a combination of events propelled Lincoln in a new direction. Slavery was disintegrating in parts of the South as thousands of slaves ran away to Union lines. With the war a stalemate, more Northerners found themselves agreeing with the abolitionists, who had insisted from the outset that slavery must become a target. Enthusiasm for enlistment was waning in the North. The Army had long refused to accept black volunteers, but the reservoir of black manpower could no longer be ignored. In response, Congress moved ahead of Lincoln, abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, authorizing the president to enroll blacks in the Army and freeing the slaves of pro-Confederate owners in areas under military control. Lincoln signed all these measures that summer.
The hallmark of Lincoln’s greatness was his combination of bedrock principle with open-mindedness and capacity for growth. That summer, with his preferred approach going nowhere, he moved in the direction of immediate emancipation. He first proposed this to his cabinet on July 22, but Secretary of State William H. Seward persuaded him to wait for a military victory, lest it seem an act of desperation.
Soon after the Union victory at Antietam in September, Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, a warning to the Confederacy that if it did not lay down its arms by Jan. 1, he would declare the slaves “forever free.”
Lincoln did not immediately abandon his earlier plan. His annual message to Congress, released on Dec. 1, 1862, devoted a long passage to gradual, compensated abolition and colonization. But in the same document, without mentioning the impending proclamation, he indicated that a new approach was imperative: “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present,” he wrote. “We must disenthrall our selves, and then we shall save our country.” Lincoln included himself in that “we.” On Jan. 1, he proclaimed the freedom of the vast majority of the nation’s slaves.
The Emancipation Proclamation is perhaps the most misunderstood of the documents that have shaped American history. Contrary to legend, Lincoln did not free the nearly four million slaves with a stroke of his pen. It had no bearing on slaves in the four border states, since they were not in rebellion. It also exempted certain parts of the Confederacy occupied by the Union. All told, it left perhaps 750,000 slaves in bondage. But the remaining 3.1 million, it declared, “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
The proclamation did not end slavery in the United States on the day it was issued. Indeed, it could not even be enforced in most of the areas where it applied, which were under Confederate control. But it ensured the eventual death of slavery — assuming the Union won the war. Were the Confederacy to emerge victorious, slavery, in one form or another, would undoubtedly have lasted a long time.
A military order, whose constitutional legitimacy rested on the president’s war powers, the proclamation often disappoints those who read it. It is dull and legalistic; it contains no soaring language enunciating the rights of man. Only at the last minute, at the urging of Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, an abolitionist, did Lincoln add a conclusion declaring the proclamation an “act of justice.”
Nonetheless, the proclamation marked a dramatic transformation in the nature of the Civil War and in Lincoln’s own approach to the problem of slavery. No longer did he seek the consent of slave holders. The proclamation was immediate, not gradual, contained no mention of compensation for owners, and made no reference to colonization.
In it, Lincoln addressed blacks directly, not as property subject to the will of others but as men and women whose loyalty the Union must earn. For the first time, he welcomed black soldiers into the Union Army; over the next two years some 200,000 black men would serve in the Army and Navy, playing a critical role in achieving Union victory. And Lincoln urged freed slaves to go to work for “reasonable wages” — in the United States. He never again mentioned colonization in public.
Having made the decision, Lincoln did not look back. In 1864, with casualties mounting, there was talk of a compromise peace. Some urged Lincoln to rescind the proclamation, in which case, they believed, the South could be persuaded to return to the Union. Lincoln refused. Were he to do so, he told one visitor, “I should be damned in time and eternity.”
Wartime emancipation may have settled the fate of slavery, but it opened another vexing question: the role of former slaves in American life. Colonization had allowed its proponents to talk about abolition without having to confront this issue; after all, the black population would be gone. After Jan. 1, 1863, Lincoln for the first time began to think seriously of the United States as a biracial society.
While not burdened with the visceral racism of many of his white contemporaries, Lincoln shared some of their prejudices. He had long seen blacks as an alien people who had been unjustly uprooted from their homeland and were entitled to freedom, but were not an intrinsic part of American society. During his Senate campaign in Illinois, in 1858, he had insisted that blacks should enjoy the same natural rights as whites (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness), but he opposed granting them legal equality or the right to vote.
By the end of his life, Lincoln’s outlook had changed dramatically. In his last public address, delivered in April 1865, he said that in reconstructing Louisiana, and by implication other Southern states, he would “prefer” that limited black suffrage be implemented. He singled out the “very intelligent” (educated free blacks) and “those who serve our cause as soldiers” as most worthy. Though hardly an unambiguous embrace of equality, this was the first time an American president had endorsed any political rights for blacks.
And then there was his magnificent second inaugural address of March 4, 1865, in which Lincoln ruminated on the deep meaning of the war. He now identified the institution of slavery — not the presence of blacks, as in 1862 — as its fundamental cause. The war, he said, might well be a divine punishment for the evil of slavery. And God might will it to continue until all the wealth the slaves had created had been destroyed, and “until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.” Lincoln was reminding Americans that violence did not begin with the firing on Fort Sumter, S.C., in April 1861. What he called “this terrible war” had been preceded by 250 years of the terrible violence of slavery.
In essence, Lincoln asked the nation to confront unblinkingly the legacy of slavery. What were the requirements of justice in the face of this reality? What would be necessary to enable former slaves and their descendants to enjoy fully the pursuit of happiness? Lincoln did not live to provide an answer. A century and a half later, we have yet to do so.
Eric Foner is a professor of history at Columbia and the author, most recently, of “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.” This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: January 1, 2013 An earlier version of this essay misquoted part of Lincoln's second inaugural address. He said the war, possibly divine punishment for slavery, might continue “until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword" — not "by the sword."
WE CONGRATULATE THE LOUISVILLE CARDINAL FOOTBALL TEAM AND QUATERBACK, TEDDY "TEDDY BEAR" BRIDGEWATER, FOR THUMPING FLORIDA GATORS AND CAPTURING THE SUGAR BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY. GATOR MEAT NEVER TASTED SO GREAT! GO 'CARDS!!
HERE'S HOW NICK ANDERSON AND JOEL PETT SAW THE FISCAL CLIFF DEAL. FUNNY, DON'T YA THINK?
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, CONgress APPROVES "FISCAL FIX" BAND AID, PUTS OFF DISASTER FOR NOW WHILE SETTING UP FUTURE REAL FISCAL FIGHTS.
POTUS BARACK OBAMA DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO LEAD. I'M ROTFLMAO!
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
WHITE HOUSE AND SENATE AVOID "FISCAL CLIFF", BUT WILL HOUSE BITE OR BARF?
WASHINGTON—The fiscal-cliff deal is now in the hands of the House, which convenes New Year's Day to consider a budget agreement that would boost income-tax rates for the first time in 20 years—but only for those with the highest incomes—maintain unemployment benefits, and limit the spending cuts that were looming as part of the cliff.
The Senate cleared the package 89-8 more than two hours into the New Year on Tuesday after President Barack Obama and Senate leaders finalized its contents.
The House convenes at noon Tuesday and its next steps are uncertain. Supporters of the compromise hope the big bipartisan vote of approval in the Senate would help propel the measure through the House and onto Mr. Obama's desk for his signature by Thursday.
Conservative Republicans, however, are dismayed the compromise raises tax rates and doesn't include more cuts in federal spending. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) has raised the possibility the House could amend the bill and send it back to the Senate.
House Republican leaders have made no decisions about how quickly to act, not wanting to get out ahead of their rank-and-file lawmakers, who want time to review the deal. Democrats are expected to deliver enough votes to help secure passage, assuming Mr. Boehner takes up the same package that cleared the Senate.
The delay in approval meant that the U.S. technically went over the fiscal cliff at midnight, but with U.S. markets closed Tuesday, the impact of missing the deadline could be minimal. What damage the wrangling has caused—to the 2013 tax-filing season and consumer confidence—is already assured.
The compromise was prepared for the Senate floor after Vice President Joe Biden, who brokered the deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) traveled to the Capitol for a New Year's Eve meeting with Senate Democrats, including many who harbored reservations about the deal.
"This shouldn't be the model for how to do things around here," Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor shortly before the vote. "But I think we can say we've done some good for the country. We've taken care of the revenue side of this debate."
One of the most strident opponents to the bill was Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. Speaking on the Senate floor shortly before the vote occurred, he railed against the compromise saying it benefited the wealthiest Americans at the expense of those who could afford it least.
"Maybe now we are all believers of trickle-down economics. Not I," Mr. Harkin said, declaring he would vote against the legislation.
In addition to Mr. Harkin, seven other lawmakers voted against the bill. They were: Democratic Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Michael Bennet of Colorado and Republican Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Richard Shelby of Alabama.
Major elements of the compromise would:
Permanently raise tax rates to 39.6% on income over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for jointly filing couples.
Raise taxes on capital gains and dividends for those households, from the current 15% to Clinton-era levels of roughly 20%.
Limit the value of personal exemptions as well as the value of itemized deductions, two restrictions that would kick in at $250,000 for individuals and $300,000 for married couples filing jointly. Those limits disappeared in 2010.
Set the estate tax rate at 40% on estates over $5 million, up from the 35% that applies now to those over $5.12 million. That isn't as high as the 45% rate Mr. Obama sought with a $3.5 million exemption.
Delay for two months part of the $110 billion in spending cuts that otherwise would have taken place in early January—cuts that would be replaced by tax increases and cuts in other programs.
It continues an existing pay freeze for members of Congress for the current fiscal year, but doesn't extend the pay freeze for federal government workers.
The bill also included a measure preventing a sharp increase in the price of milk that was feared early in the new year, and extending some other agricultural programs through September. The last five-year farm bill expired at the end of last September as lawmakers were unable to reach a deal on the sweeping legislation.
Left out of the bill were any disaster-relief funds to help assist the recovery effort from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy across the Eastern U.S. in October. The Senate passed a bill last week providing $60 billion in emergency relief, but the House has yet to act to bring forward similar legislation.
The wider deal doesn't do much to control the U.S.'s long-term budget woes, which are driven largely by entitlement spending, especially on health care, left untouched in this agreement. And depending on the budget math and the ultimate fate of the spending cuts, it may not do much for the short-run deficit either.
By waiting until the last minute, and by cutting a deal on a much smaller scale than either side once envisioned, Washington also deferred many of its thorniest questions, though perhaps for only a few weeks. In late February of early March, the Treasury Department will run out of extraordinary measures to deal with the government's borrowing limit—which it otherwise would have reached on Monday—and Congress would need to approve an increase.
The delay in the spending cuts will run out about the same time. In effect, Congress has delayed the fiscal cliff by erecting a new and potentially more dangerous one.
Mr. Biden, asked about the outlook for the compromise, told reporters that his long experience on the Hill taught him two things. "You shouldn't predict how the Senate is going to vote before they vote—you won't make a lot of money," he said. "And you surely shouldn't predict how the House is going to vote. But I feel very, very good."
Asked what pitch he made to liberals who were skeptical of the deal, Mr. Biden said he told them, "This is Joe Biden and I'm your buddy."
The changes in tax rates that were agreed to between Messrs. Biden and McConnell would raise roughly $600 billion in new revenue over 10 years. While that would represent the largest tax increase in decades, it would be less than 20% of the revenue that would have come in if policy makers allowed all the current tax breaks to expire on New Year's Eve.
The Biden-McConnell deal is a classic compromise that included something for everyone to love—and hate. The key question is whether the positive components and the pressure of the Jan. 1 deadline are enough to neutralize the parts that raise objections. If not, attacks from the left and right could combine to topple the deal.
For Republicans, the bill includes the bitter medicine of the first income-tax rate increase since 1993, a violation of the anti-tax orthodoxy that has defined their party. On the other hand, it would codify the Bush-era lower income-tax rates for most Americans as permanent law, ending the recurring battles over how long they will endure.
For Democrats, the bill's tax increase makes good on their party's marquee promise in the 2012 election to raise taxes on upper-income Americans and not the middle class. But many Democrats, especially liberals, were infuriated that the bill set the income threshold as high as $450,000.
Heading into a meeting with Mr. Biden and Senate Democrats, Sen. Clare McCaskill of Missouri said, "Nobody's happy—that means it's probably a compromise."
But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) said that Mr. Biden at the meeting told Democrats that the compromise advanced Democratic Party principles. "He told us we can stand proud and tall that a lot of our values were protected," said Ms. Boxer.
"There are many, many reasons people don't like the proposal but there is very close to unanimity that it's better than going over the cliff," Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) said after the meeting. "There are disagreements on this provision, that provision and other provisions are large and wide but the number of people who believe we should go over the cliff rather than vote for this is very small."
One sticking point in the talks had been automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester, set to take effect in coming days.
Republicans had insisted the cuts of $24 billion be offset with savings in other areas. The White House wanted some of the offset to be in the form of tax increases, not just other spending cuts.
The deal pays for delaying the sequester with a mix of new taxes and spending cuts, according to several congressional aides.
Of that $24 billion cost, $12 billion would come from a shift in the rules affecting workplace-based 401(k) plans. The change would allow plan holders to roll their 401(k) assets into a Roth IRA plan, which would require them to pay taxes up front on any gains in their plan. The benefit for investors would be that disbursements from Roth plans in retirement are tax free.
In effect, the move provides more up-front revenue to the Treasury, but potentially at the cost of revenue over the long term—as taxes paid when individuals make withdrawals from their 401(k) plans would likely be far greater.
Other elements of the deal could be costly. It calls for a permanent fix to the alternative minimum tax, a one-year extension of unemployment insurance benefits, and a five-year extension of other tax breaks. Among them are tax credits for families of modest means, including one for college tuition, and an expanded earned income tax credit, which provides cash to working poor families who don't earn enough to pay income taxes. It also would block a scheduled cut in Medicare payments to doctors for one year.
The deal taking shape also would include tax breaks adopted by the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year, aides with knowledge of the talks said. Among them was a one-year extension of the tax credit, with slight modifications that would allow wind-farm developers to claim the credit for projects that begin construction by Jan. 1, 2014.
Some Democrats and liberal activists said they believe the White House gave up too much, weakening Democrats' position heading into next round of budget talks with Republicans. "It's not a good deal if it gives more tax cuts to 2% and sets the stage for more hostage taking," Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a Twitter message.
Opposition to the deal also came quickly from conservatives. Heritage Action, a conservative political group, urged senators to vote against the bill and said it would be a "key vote" in its ratings of lawmakers.
"This kick-the-can approach, necessitated by a president who refuses to stop campaigning and start seriously addressing our nation's fiscal problems, is not an adequate solution to America's coming fiscal crisis, which is a result of overspending, not under-taxing," the group said in a written statement.