Monday, May 31, 2010


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 28, 2010

Presidential Proclamation--Memorial Day

Since our Nation's founding, America's sons and daughters have given their lives in service to our country. From Concord and Gettysburg to Marne and Normandy, from Inchon and Khe Sanh to Baghdad and Kandahar, they departed our world as heroes and gave their lives for a cause greater than themselves.

On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price to defend the United States and the principles upon which America was founded. In honor of our country's fallen, I encourage all Americans to unite at 3:00 p.m. local time to observe a National Moment of Remembrance.

Today, Americans from all backgrounds and corners of our country serve with valor, courage, and distinction in the United States Armed Forces. They stand shoulder to shoulder with the giants of our Nation's history, writing their own chapter in the American story. Many of today's warriors know what it means to lose a friend too soon, and all our service members and their families understand the true meaning of sacrifice.

This Memorial Day, we express our deepest appreciation to the men and women in uniform who gave their last full measure of devotion so we might live in freedom. We cherish their memory and pray for the peace for which they laid down their lives. We mourn with the families and friends of those we have lost, and hope they find comfort in knowing their loved ones died with honor. We ask for God's grace to protect those fighting in distant lands, and we renew our promise to support our troops, their families, and our veterans. Their unwavering devotion inspires us all -- they are the best of America.

It is our sacred duty to preserve the legacy of these brave Americans, and it remains our charge to work for peace, freedom, and security. Let us always strive to uphold the founding principles they died defending; let their legacy continue to inspire our Nation; and let this solemn lesson of service and sacrifice be taught to future generations of Americans.

In honor of their dedication and service to America, the Congress, by a Joint Resolution, approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), has requested the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. The Congress, by Public Law 106-579, has also designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe, in their own way, the National Moment of Remembrance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 31, 2010, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.

I request the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Sunday, May 30, 2010


Remarks of President Barack Obama

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weekly Address

Washington, DC

This weekend, as we celebrate Memorial Day, families across America will gather in backyards and front porches, fire up the barbeque, kick back with friends, and spend time with people they care about. That is as it should be. But I also hope that as you do so, you’ll take some time to reflect on what Memorial Day is all about; on why we set this day aside as a time of national remembrance.

It’s fitting every day to pay tribute to the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States of America. Still, there are certain days that have been set aside for all of us to do so. Veterans Day is one such day – when we are called to honor Americans who’ve fought under our country’s flag.

Our calling on Memorial Day is different. On this day, we honor not just those who’ve worn this country’s uniform, but the men and women who’ve died in its service; who’ve laid down their lives in defense of their fellow citizens; who’ve given their last full measure of devotion to protect the United States of America. These are the men and women I will be honoring this weekend, and I know many of you are doing the same.

There are any number of reasons America emerged from its humble beginnings as a cluster of colonies to become the most prosperous, most powerful nation on earth. There is the hard work, the resilience, and the character of our people. There is the ingenuity and enterprising spirit of our entrepreneurs and innovators. There are the ideals of opportunity, equality, and freedom that have not only inspired our people to perfect our own union, but inspired others to perfect theirs as well.

But from the very start, there was also something more. A steadfast commitment to serve, to fight, and if necessary, to die, to preserve America and advance the ideals we cherish. It’s a commitment witnessed at each defining moment along the journey of this country. It’s what led a rag-tag militia to face British soldiers at Lexington and Concord. It’s what led young men, in a country divided half slave and half free, to take up arms to save our union. It’s what led patriots in each generation to sacrifice their own lives to secure the life of our nation, from the trenches of World War I to the battles of World War II, from Inchon and Khe Sanh, from Mosul to Marjah.

That commitment – that willingness to lay down their lives so we might inherit the blessings of this nation – is what we honor today. But on this Memorial Day, as on every day, we are called to honor their ultimate sacrifice with more than words. We are called to honor them with deeds.

We are called to honor them by doing our part for the loved ones our fallen heroes have left behind and looking after our military families. By making sure the men and women serving this country around the world have the support they need to achieve their missions and come home safely. By making sure veterans have the care and assistance they need. In short, by serving all those who have ever worn the uniform of this country – and their families – as well as they have served us.

On April 25, 1866, about a year after the Civil War ended, a group of women visited a cemetery in Columbus, Mississippi, to place flowers by the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen at Shiloh. As they did, they noticed other graves nearby, belonging to Union dead. But no one had come to visit those graves, or place a flower there. So they decided to lay a few stems for those men too, in recognition not of a fallen Confederate or a fallen Union soldier, but a fallen American.

A few years later, an organization of Civil War veterans established what became Memorial Day, selecting a date that coincided with the time when flowers were in bloom. So this weekend, as we commemorate Memorial Day, I ask you to hold all our fallen heroes in your hearts, and if you can, to lay a flower where they have come to rest.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

H. Res. 360 - "LEST WE FORGET"

The House of Representatives, again acting like adults, recently passed H. Res. 360. We are reminded, by a Congressional vote of 422 to nothing, that Monday May 31, 2010 is a time to reflect upon and honor America's veterans. Here is the text of that resolution.

At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

H. Res. 360
In the House of Representatives, U. S.,
May 19, 2009.

Whereas the United States has fought in wars outside and inside of its borders to restore freedom and human dignity;

Whereas the United States has spent its national treasure and shed its blood in fighting those wars;

Whereas the National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs maintains 128 national cemeteries that serve as the final resting place for nearly 3,000,000 veterans and their dependents;

Whereas each year, millions of Americans visit the national cemeteries, memorials, and markers;

Whereas overseas sites annually recognize Memorial Day with speeches, a reading of the Memorial Day Proclamation, wreath laying ceremonies, military bands and units, and the decoration of each grave site with the flag of the United States and that of the host country; and

Whereas these splendid commemorative sites inspire patriotism, evoke gratitude, and teach history: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives strongly urges Americans and people of all nationalities to visit national cemeteries, memorials, and markers on Memorial Day, where the spirit of American generosity, sacrifice, and courage are displayed and commemorated.


The Old Guard escorting the cassion at Arlington National Cemetery

by Rudyard Kipling

God of our fathers, known of old--
Lord of our far-flung battle line
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard--
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard--
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!

Friday, May 28, 2010


Yesterday's rant focused on the non-sense of one overzealous Republican State Senator from Arizona attempting to punish American Citizens who are born in America, but whose parents are illegal aliens.

Senator Pearce is not alone in his thinking. He has a lot of company in the extreme right wing of society, company in the form of members of Congress. H.R. 1868, the BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP ACT OF 2009 seeks to amend § 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth.

Under the H.R. 1868 a child born in America must have at least one American parent, or a parent who is an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States, or an alien performing active duty in the armed services of the United States.

H.R. 1868 was introduced by Republican Nathan Deal from Georgia's 9th District.

The bill currently has 91 co-sponsors, they are:

Republican Todd W. Akin of Missouri's 2nd District
Republican Spencer Bachus Spencer of Alabama's 6th District
Republican Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland's 6th District
Republican Gus M. Bilirakis of Florida's 9th District
Republican John Boozman of Arkansas' 3rd District
Republican Paul C. Broun of Georgia's 10th District
Republican Michael C. Burgess of Texas' 26th District
Republican Ken Calvert of California's 44th District
Republican John R. Carter of Texas' 31st District
Republican Howard Coble of North Carolina's 6th District
Republican Michael K Conaway of Texas' 11th District
Republican Geoff Davis of Kentucky's 4th District
Republican John Fleming of Louisiana's 4th District
Republican Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska's 1st District
Republican Trent Franks of Arizona's 2nd District
Republican Phil Gingrey of Georgia's 11th District
Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia's 6th District
Republican Parker Griffith of Alabama's 5th District
Republican Dean Heller of Nevada's 2nd District
Republican Wally Herger of California's 2nd District
Republican Darrell E. Issa of California's 49th District
Republican Walter B. Jones, Jr. of North Carolina's 3rd District
Republican Peter T, King of New York's 3rd District
Republican Jack Kingston of Georgia's 1st District
Republican Doug Lamborn of Colorado's 5th District
Republican Daniel E. Lungren of California's 3rd District
Republican Kenny Marchant of Texas' 24th District
Republican Thaddeus G. McCotter of Michigan's 11th District
Republican John L Mica of Florida's 7th District
Republican Gary G. Miller of California's 42nd District
Republican Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania's 18th District
Republican Rand Neugebauer of Texas' 19th District
Republican Mike Pence of Indiana's 6th District
Representative Todd Russell Platts of Pennsylvania's 19th District
Republican Bill Posey of Florida's 15th District
Republican Mike D. Rogers of Alabama's 3rd District
Republican Peter J. Roskam of Illinois' 6th District
Republican Pete Sessions of Texas' 32nd District
Republican Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania's 9th District
Republican Lamar Smith of Texas' 21st District
Republican Cliff Stearns of Florida's 6th District
Democrat Gene Taylor of Mississippi's 4th District
Republican Fred Upton of Michigan's 6th District
Republican Zach Wamp of Tennessee's 3rd District
Republican Ed Whitfield of Kentucky's 1st District
Republican Robert J. Wittman of Virginia's 1st District
Republican Rodney Alexander of Louisiana's 5th District
Republican Gresham J. Barrett of South Carolina's 3rd District
Republican Brian P. Bilbray of California's 50th District
Republican Jo Bonner of Alabama's 1st District
Republican Kevin Brady of Texas' 8th District
Republican Henry E. Brown, Jr. of South Carolina's 1st District
Republican Dan Burton of Indiana's 5th District
Republican John Campbell of California's 48th District
Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah's 3rd District
Republican Mike Coffman of Colorado's 6th District
Republican John J. Duncan, Jr. of Tennessee's 2nd District
Republican Randy J. Forbes of Virginia's 4th District
Republican Virginia Foxx of North Carolina's 5th District
Republican Scott Garrett of New Jersey's 5th District
Republican Louie Gohmert of Texas' 1st District
Republican Sam Graves of Missouri's 6th District
Republican Ralph M. Hall of Texas' 4th District
Republican Jeb Hensarling of Texas' 5th District
Republican Duncan D. Hunter of California's 52nd District
Republican Sam Johnson of Texas' 3rd District
Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio's 4th District
Republican Steve King of Iowa's 5th District
Republican John Kline of Minnesota's 2nd District
Republican John Linder of Georgia's 7th District
Republican Donald A. Manzullo of Illinois' 16th District
Republican Tom McClintock of California's 4th District
Republican Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of California's 25th District
Republican Candice S. Miller of Michigan's 10th District
Republican Jerry Moran of Kansas' 1st District
Republican Sue Wilkins Myrick of North Carolina's 9th District
Republican Pete Olson of Texas' 22nd District
Republican Joseph R. Pitts of Pennsylvania's 16th District
Republican Ted Poe of Texas' 2nd District
Republican Tom Price of Georgia's 6th District
Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California's 46th District
Republican Edward R. Royce of California's 40th District
Republican John B. Shadegg of Arizona's 3rd District
Republican Adrian Smith of Nebraska's 3rd District
Republican Mark E. Souder of Indiana's 3rd District
Republican John Sullivan of Oklahoma's 1st District
Republican Todd Tiahrt of Kansas' 4th District
Republican Greg Walden of Oregon's 2nd District
Republican Lynn A. Westmoreland of Georgia's 3rd District
Republican Joe Wilson of South Carolina's 2nd District

There are 92 Republicans and 1 Democrat willing to turn back the clock and pass a law designed to challenge the settled law of the land. Remember that in the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), the Court said that being born in America, jus soli, was sufficient to confer citizenship. In Wong Kim Ark the Court said that both the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (14 Stat. 27) makes the underlying position of H.R. 1868 untenable.

These racist Republicans are trying to dismantle the decision in Wong Kim Ark because that they don't comprehend that the statute enforced the Constitutional provision. A new statute which is clearly repugnant to the Constitution must also fail.

I get worried when I see Republicans starting to dismantle things. We all saw how well things went when they dismantled the regulatory framework that governed Wall Street. Gee, it was just like in the days before those reforms were instituted. Only this time it was a Great Recession instead of a Great Depression. And remember how the GOP along with Bush and Cheney went all deregulatory with the big oil companies?  We have polluted the Gulf of Mexico with the fruit of their deregulations.

Now they want to tinker with the fundaments of freedom and liberty embodied in the Post Civil War Amendments.  No thanks GOP, thanks alot, I think America wants to keep the freedom its got.


A couple of days ago I read a story from the Washington Post "Popular benefit of health-care law excludes military families" by David Hilzenwrath. That link is:

In all the anxiety surrounding the debate about Health Care Reform military families were concerned that they'd lose the good plan they already have, TRICARE. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates requested Congress exclude military families and TRICARE from the overhaul.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

It turns out that "Obamacare," as the Republicans are want to call Health Care Reform, isn't so bad as the Health Insurance/Republican propaganda said it was. Now America's military families are wanting to get some of what the rest of the nation's families got.

Remember the problem that occurred in the coverage of American young adults. When they were 18 and not in school their health care was being canceled by the insurance industry. I remember on particularly painful incident involving former Kansas City Royal, Fred Patek. Patek's daughter, Kimberly. was no longer on the family's plan and her coverage had not yet begun. She was paralyzed in an automobile accident. The bills were massive. Several fundraisers were held to assist in paying those fees.

Under Health Care Reform that can't happen anymore. American families are seeing the benefit of their college age kids not being put at risk by the insurance industry. Military families rightly want the same.

That takes us back to H.R. 5136, the Defense Appropriation Bill. Specifically Section 708 titled "EXTENSION OF DEPENDENT COVERAGE UNDER TRICARE." This will cover the older military "brats" until they reach age 26 unless they can enroll in an eligible employer-sponsored plan.

For those who want to read chapter and verse of the TRICARE expansion, link up at or link to and search using the keyword TRICARE or the bill number H.R. 5136.
Representative Martin Heinrich
The Washington Post reports that the TRICARE expansion amendment to this bill was proposed by New Mexico's Democratic Representative Martin Heinrich. Heinrich is from Albuquerque and is a freshman in the Congress.

H.R. 5136 was before the House last night in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, to make amendments.  If you want to see our elected leaders acting like adults with true bipartisan effort, you should see them pass one of Ike Skelton's bills.  H.R. 5136 remains as unfinished business, last night was all about making amendments.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


State Senator Russell Pearce is the man who brought us Arizona SB1070. That would be the infamous "Show Me Your Papers Law" recently signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and being challenged preemptively by a sizeable number of plaintiffs.

Pearce previous authored another jewel of racial lunacy. That was SB 1108 back in 2008. Today's version is on its way to becoming law as State Education Superintendent Tom Horne and Governor Jan Brewer are both on board with the newly signed Arizona House Bill 2281, the Ethnic Studies law. Horne wants to become Arizona's next Attorney General.

Among the subjective criteria the anti-ethnic studies statute, and Horne's new policy announces, are classes which: 1) promote the overthrow of the government of the United States, 2) promotes resentment towards a race or class of people, 3) are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, or 4) advocates ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

The new law and Horne's new regulation are intended to rid the state of such evils as Tucson's Mexican-American Studies as well as Black Studies classes. These courses are to be banned even where they are optional classes. Well, so much for teaching about Saint Patrick's Day or Columbus Day!

So you see, Arizona has gone about as far as it can go. S.B. 1070 sort of copied federal immigration law, but forgot to include certain important due process considerations which the federal law and practice employs. Oh, it also kind of wants Arizona law enforcement to engage in guesswork to enforce the statute. What was that you ask, "arbitrary and capricious?" get away you're going to bother the powers that be in Arizona. And no Arizona isn't finished, these clowns in government costume can go further.

Today, before the grandchildren began to rise, I saw Senator Pearce on MSNBC. He apparently wants to rid the state of "Anchor Babies." Anchor babies are the American citizens, born in the U.S.A., whose parents are not legally in the nation. He wants Arizona to refuse to issue birth certificates to these children. Who knows maybe someday one of these uppity kids will want to become President of the United States! This ought to stop them

Senator Pearce wants to punish these American citizens because their parents failed his racist "you got be an American to procreate an American citizen" test.
Russell Pearce (at podium)

Pearce relies on In Re Thenault, 47 F. Supp. 952, 953 (D.D.C. 1942), this is a case around which the Senator's apparently diminutive mind cannot be wrapped. Pearce engages in an obvious case of a person hearing only what they want to hear and rushing headlong into taking something out of context. Here is what In Re Thenault says:

"[T]he mere physical fact of birth in the country does not make these children citizens of the United States, inasmuch as they were at that time children of a duly accredited diplomatic representative of a foreign state. This is fundamental law and within the recognized exception not only to the Constitutional provision relative to citizenship, Amendment Article 14, Section I, but to the law of England and France and to our own law, from the very first settlement of the Colonies."

"Those children" which were the subject of the dispute of In Re Thenault were the offspring of diplomats, on diplomatic missions, and that is why they are considered to always be the citizen of the country which sent parents on their duty. The far right's wing nut law division fails to realize that it is this exact legal premise which makes Arizona's senior United States Senator, John McCain an American citizen.

McCain's daddy was an officer in the United States Navy stationed in the Panama Canal Zone with the Senator's feisty mom when John McCain was born.  He was not born in the United States and he is not Panamanian.

When you want everyone you don't like not to be allowed to be here, then you take the words out of context. Unfortunately the new face of the Republican Party is littered with these racists. Those who support this anchor baby rationale include Paul Rand and Brian Bilbray. Where, you ask, did all the Dixiecrats go? Gone to the Tea Party Movement of the Grand Old Party, that's where they went.

Not since yesterday's rant am I reminded of the "Conspiracy Theory" of the Fourteenth Amendment. You remember how dopey I said it was for corporations, without a soul to save or a butt to kick, could be considered to be persons. Well the fellow responsible for this was a former Senator from New York by the name of Roscoe Conklin. Conklin was one of the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment. When he left the Senate he became a lawyer and got a deep pocket client in the form of the Southern Pacific Railway Co.

Roscoe Conklin
In a little dispute called Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railway, 118 U.S. 394 (1886) he sold the notion that the Fourteenth Amendment intended for the term "persons" to include corporations. He offered up his personal diary as proof. Many of his contemporaries believed that he had gotten away with perjury as he padded his purse with his fees. Nonetheless he prevailed, and that is where the burr under yesterday's saddle was born.

This is important because Senator Pearce tries to use a very similar ruse, popular with the wing nut crowd, to justify the Fourteenth Amendment not applying to foreigners. He offers up a litany of the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment whose words today appear to support his position.

The big difference is that Roscoe Conklin got the Supreme Court to rule in his favor. Legislative history may be useful in garnering an understanding of a statute or Constitutional provision. Legislative history is not precedent, it does not carry the weight of law, it is not the law. It is often used, as here, to rouse the rabble, not to provide a basis for codifying apparent plain error. Oh, and the Supreme Court rejected the arguments being paddled by Senator Pearce and his racist think tank.  That's the other problem with Pearce's theory,the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against it.  That's the stare decisis problem.

The University of Minnesota has a top rate review of citizenship on line. I took the following, lock, stock, and barrel from:
Wong Kim Ark
The Fourteenth Amendment also eliminated any doubt that persons born in the United States of non-citizen parents were citizens. Such a proposition was confirmed by the Court in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898). Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco in 1873. His parents were native-born Chinese merchants who lived in this country as resident aliens. They left the United States in 1890 and returned to China permanently. Wong Kim Ark made a temporary visit to his parents in 1894, but upon return the following year to the United States, was not permitted to land at San Francisco. The government claimed Wong Kim Ark was not a U.S. citizen but a Chinese laborer, and was barred entrance under the Chinese Exclusion Act (22 Stat. 58). He challenged his exclusion in federal court, claiming citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Gray, in delivering the opinion of the United States Supreme Court, rejected the government's contention that the rule of jus sanguinis -- citizenship by blood relationship -- determined nationality in the United States. To the contrary, both the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (14 Stat. 27) had explicitly reaffirmed "the fundamental principle of citizenship by birth within the dominion." Wong Kim Ark. Hence, children born in this country were citizens without regard to the nationality of their parents. Wong Kim Ark won readmission to the United States.

You can read for yourself what Senator Pearce believes, He forwarded an e-mail from a racist organization containing his ideas. Of course he made the obligatory apology. Then he went on MSNBC and regurgitated this foul thinking. That link is

Hey, Senator Pearce, here's what the lady with the lamp has to say:
The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus, provides a better view of immigration than does Senator Pearce's weak arguments.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


This past January the Supreme Court overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and partially overruled McConnell v, Federal Election Commission with its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

That decision opened the flood gates for corporate money to pollute the American political process. H.R. 5175 - the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, is poised at the Rules Committee on its way to a floor vote. H.R. 5175 was sponsored by Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen, with 114 cosponsers.
Justice Kennedy
Much of what Justice Kennedy said in his majority opinion in Citizen's United makes sense to me. I love the First Amendment. I am a strong advocate for free speech. I accept the proposition that in elections, more speech is always better than less speech. The problem I have with Citizen's United is the legal fiction of a corporation being a "person" and entitled to speak on electoral matters.

Corporations don't have a soul to save or a butt to kick, all you can do is hit them in the pocketbook. Corporations seem to be a lot like Missouri's Mules. In order to get their attention you have to whack them in the head, or that other end.

The catastrophe continuing to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico is a perfect example of why Citizen's United doesn't make sense. The cozy relationship between bureaucrats and the Oil Industry ended up with an unsafe well being drilled. Now shall we let British Petroleum, Halliburton, and other energy conglomerates buy a Congress, or a Congress and a White House? The cost of purchasing politicians is less expensive than drilling safely, or really paying all the extended costs of this crisis.

H.R. 5175 tries to salvage the Federal Campaign Act of 1971. It makes a determined effort. Under the bill government contractors will be prohibited from making campaign contributions in federal elections. Foreign corporations are also banned from making contributions. Campaign finance disclosures are tightened by H.R. 5175. The bill clarifies, using the "reasonable person" standard, of a clearly identifiable candidate.
Rachel Maddow
In a Rachel Maddow like "Moment of Geek", the bill requires that persons required to file a report after making a campaign contribution are then required to "electronically file" reports after making subsequent contributions. The bill presumes that the "internets" are working. Or maybe the Congress is privy to some new technology, perhaps an "FEC REPORT AP" for your smart phone? Well the reports have to be "searchable, sortable, and downloadable." I can just feel the famous Maddow glee!

The bill is technical. It is a primer for the FEC to study and employ in the wake of Citizen's United, It just isn't enough for me. It will still be challenged because of the dopey rule that corporations are persons. That's hogwash!

My idea is to amend the Constitution saying that only registered voters can make campaign donations, of any nature, to candidates for federal office. Only corporations whose primary business is the "news business" may make endorsements for candidates in federal elections.

The only people who should have a voice in campaigns and elections will be registered voters with skin in the game. No Unions, no Chambers of Commerce, No associations of lawyers, doctors or Indian Chiefs, no hospitals or insurance companies, no churches, temples or synagogues, neither bowling leagues, taverns, or civic organizations. And, Mr. Justice Kennedy, no PACs.

Justice Kennedy displayed a rare disconnect with reality and the magnitude of influence created by corporate cash in his obiter dictum in Citizen's United. Kennedy noted that out of the millions of corporations only about 2000 had trekked the arduous path to set up a PAC. Mr. Justice Kennedy! Get real! Only the wealthiest corporations set up PACs. Kennedy has blindly compared Fortune 500 corporations to your janitor's closely held family corporation. Kennedy clearly mixed his applesauce in with his chicken manure, yuck!

The Senate version of this bill is S. 3295.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


H.R. 5136, the Defense Department authorization bill is now available on the House Rules Committee website. Here is a brief summary of where our tax dollars will be going in F.Y. 2011.

Army- $5.986 Billion for aircraft
           $1.631 Billion for missiles
           $1.616 Billion for weapons and tracked combat vehicles
           $1.946 Billion for ammunition
           $9.398 Billion for other procurement

Navy & Marine Corps-
          $19.132 Billion for aircraft
          $3.350 Billion for weapons, including missiles
          $15.724 Billion for shipbuilding and conversion
          $6.450 Billion for other procurement

Marine Corps-
          $1.379 Billion for procurement

Navy & Marine Corps-
          $871.991 Million for ammunition

Air Force
          $15.355 Billion for aircraft
          $672.420 Million for ammunition
          $17.911 Billion for other procurement

         $4.399 Billion for procurement

That is a broad view of Defense Department spending for next year. You can tell by these figures that the Army is carrying the brunt of battlefield duty. Why else would they need nearly $2 Billion for ammunition when the Marine Corps is looking for just under $872 Million and the Air Force is seeking $672 Million for ammunition. We need to remember that we are at war. We need to support our Troops.

President Obama has our military on track fighting the correct war against the true enemy, is using Predator Drones to strike at the leadership of Al Qaeda, and has a plan for drawing down our operations.

We also need to be smart with our money. Apparently the Navy, or some shrewd lobbyist on behalf of the Military-Industrial Complex, wants every cent appropriated for aircraft, all $19.132 Billion (by the way that's more money for aircraft than the Air Force is getting) spent this year. It is the clause in H.R. 3156 I could find only one such clause in the bill like this. Here it is:

§122 (h) (2)

‘‘(2) USE OF EXCESS FUNDS.—The Secretary of
Defense shall ensure that any excess funds are obli
gated or expended for the advance procurement or
procurement of F/A–18E or F/A–18F aircraft under
this section, regardless of whether such aircraft are in
addition to the 515 F/A–18E and F/A–18F aircraft
planned by the Secretary of the Navy.

This may be a good idea, this may be Pork! A million years ago, I was hitchhiking back to K.C. from Springfield, Mo, where I went to SMSU. That was when I first encountered this practice of spending every last cent of appropriated funds. Again, that was a long time ago when hitchhiking wasn't so dangerous! I had a large brown suitcase with a massive Budweiser sticker on it. That was my main attention getter; and it got me lots of free rides. No, I did not travel with brew!

Anyway, my last car had left me in the infamous Grandview Triangle, which the Missouri Department of Transportation (Mo. Dot.) is now trying to call the "3-Trails Crossing," with limited success. It was a lovely spring day, kind of like today. My eye was drawn to a bridge. The bridge spanned two hills and did not connect to any road or highway.

What a waste of money, I thought. If I'd been smart I'd have claimed ownership of the "Bridge to Nowhere" title right there and then. I wasn't that clever. But I did know where Mo. Dot. had their offices. I looked them up in the phone book. No, cell phones were only the subject of science fiction back then, and we accessed the University's computer with "IBM cards." There was no internet. I managed to get through to lead engineer on the project.

"Why did you spend all that money building that bridge when it doesn't connect to anything," I asked him. "To save money," he replied. He went on to explain that building the bridge now would save money because Mo. Dot. had every reason to believe that construction costs were going to rise. We got tomorrow's expensive bridge at today's lower cost.
Ike Skelton
I've got nothing but respect and admiration for Congressman Ike Skelton, the Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services - who introduced this bill. I trust his judgment. We don't agree 100% on everything, but he is a damn good Democrat and I believe in party unity. Nonetheless, I think I'll keep reading the bill and see if anything else perks my interest.

You should read it too. Go to Thomas, and plug the bill number in the search bar.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Hawaii's 1st Congressional District

The votes are in from Hawaii's 1st Congressional District and I send my congratulations and best wishes to the Republican victor Charles Djou.

1.5% of the vote was earned by 11 candidates (4 Republicans, 3 Democrats, and 4 candidates without major party affiliation).

The winner, Republican Charles Djou, won with 39.7% of the vote. Democratic candidates took the next 58.8% of the vote. Colleen Hanabusa garnered 31.% and Ed Case took 27.8% of the vote. The numbers courtesy the Honolulu Star Bulletin.

Had this been a primary election, then Djou would be the Republican candidate and Hanabusa the Democratic candidate. This was, however, a special election to fill the unexpired term of Representative Neil Abercrombie. Abercrombie left the House to run for Governor of Hawaii.

Ed Case, a former Congressman, has gotten the ire of many Hawaii Democrats when he tried, and failed, to unseat Senator Daniel Akaka in the 2006 election cycle. The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports that Hanabusa, who was trailing in the polls, surged ahead on election day with strong support from organized labor.

The hoopla coming out of the Republicans will be short lived. Djou did not win because of anti-incumbent fervor nor did he win because of massive right wing support from the Tea Party. Djou, a former City Councilman, is a popular youthful figure in Hawaii's Republican circles. Djou played errorless politics while Hanabusa and Case fought to the bitter end.

The message for Democrats is unity. There has to be a place for Hanabusa and another place for Case. They just can't both be representing the same district in Congress at the same time. That's a political corollary to one of Newton's Laws: two politicians can't occupy the same office at the same time.

While the Democratic Party has the majority in the House and the Senate, their margins are not so large as to allow us Democrats to do as we please. As a party we can willingly embrace unity; compromise being a necessary element in the art of politics. Or we can embark on an ideological purge, as the Tea Party movement is doing in the Republican Party.

Sure, I wanted the Public Option in Health Care Reform. God bless Senator Maria Cantwell from the state of Washington. I too wanted to see Glass-Steagall built back into S. 3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. In both cases what came out was a lot better than we would have had with a Republican majority. If we would have gotten anything at all!

We can embrace the message of party unity willingly, or we can learn it the way Robert F. Kennedy reminded us of another way of learning painful lessons. Quoting the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, Kennedy told us that "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
Our internecine squabbles don't amount to a hill of beans compared to letting the Republicans sneak in while we are feuding one with another. If you don't believe me then let's keep on fighting amongst ourselves, wisdom which comes from the awful grace of God is just around the corner!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sexual Predators, Whigs, The Constitution, & Health Care Reform

The Supreme Court

Once upon a time in a burgeoning new city on the banks of the Potomac River reigned the short lived administration of President William Henry Harrison. Harrison would be pleased today, all the long dead Whigs rest easy today, because the United States Supreme Court has affirmed the broad expanse of the Congress in enacting laws which are "Necessary and Proper" (U.S. Constitution Article I. §8, Clause 18. The Whigs wanted broad legislative control of the federal government as opposed to strong executive powers prevailing in the affairs of state.

The case is called United States v. Comstock, et al, and was handed down May 17, 2010. It is a case asking if the Congress exceeded its authority when it said that the government may hold mentally ill, sexually dangerous federal prisoners beyond the dates those convicts would otherwise have been released. The convicts are subjected to civil commitments pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §4248

Civil Libertarians may be aghast at this decision. I am not. Folks who go out and terrorize women and children, place whole communities on edge, steal the flower of innocent youth, often leaving dead, and always leaving wrecked lives in the wake of their conduct are sick persons. Society does not need to tolerate their illness.

Due Process of Law is not violated in these cases. Each person subjected to civil commitment under the Adam Walsh Act, 18 U.S.C. §4248 gets a hearing, is provided counsel if he or she is indigent, is allowed to raise a defense. The hearings are not sham pretenses of the law, these are held in federal courts. Due Process is satisfied. Well, that's my opinion as the Supreme Court did not reach these issues in this case.

At first blush America's new political movement, the Tea Party folks, might think that this is a well decided case, which it is. Hold your Constant Comment, Nellie. You might want to actually read a case before you get all giddy with glee at the result!

The first thing about which to take notice is the level of scrutiny the courts will apply to cases of this sort. As a rule of thumb the higher the level of scrutiny the courts employ then it is more likely the complaining party will win. The converse is likewise true, the lower the level of scrutiny the courts employ then the less likely the complaining party will win. As the level of scrutiny rises the government is required to more narrowly tailor its actions to achieve the desired goal.

This case does not apply a high level of scrutiny test. It applies a low level of scrutiny called the "means-ends" test. The Court, relying on precedent said:
The Constitution “addresse[s]” the “choice of means” “primarily . . . to the judgment of Congress. If it can be seen that the means adopted are really calculated to attain the end, the degree of their necessity, the extent to which they conduce to the end, the closeness of the relationship between the means adopted and the end to be attained, are matters for congressional determination alone.” Burroughs v. United States, 290 U. S. 534, 547–548

Then the Court marches down the heart of Tea Party thought by explaining this opinion in terms of the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Since these convicts may also be wanted on State charges, those advocating a Tenth Amendment violation say the feds must release the convict and let the State take over.

The heart of the Court's opinion lays at the intersection of the Necessary & Proper Clause and the Tenth Amendment. The Court rules that: That Amendment does not 'reserve to the States' those powers that are 'delegated to the United States by the Constitution,' including the powers delegated by the Necessary and Proper Clause."

In the exacting atmosphere of Supreme Court advocacy the advocates of the Tenth Amendment argued that even if the Necessary & Proper clause applied, its reach could not extend so far as does 18 U.S.C. §4248, Don't get lippy with the Lipton, Nellie, this may not be as much fun as you think!

The Court rejected the argument that the Congress must remain no more than one step removed from a specifically enumerated power when legislating pursuant to the Necessary & Proper Clause. The Court relied on well established law, citing McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316 ,416, 481 (1819). For a sense of perspective, James Monroe was the President when McCulloch was decided.

The Respondents, arguing a State Sovereignty theory, claimed that the Congress could not invade the province of state sovereignty in an area typically left to State control. They got shut down but good.

The Court said that the Tenth "Amendment does not “reserve to the States” those powers that are “delegated to the United States by the Constitution,” including the powers delegated by the Necessary and Proper Clause. See, e.g., New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 159. And §4248 does not “invade” state sovereignty, but rather requires accommodation of state interests."

Whoa, Nellie! Put your tea cozy down because the door to the Tenth Amendment just started closing. While the Tea Party folk may not like what the Court said, the spirits of Whigs rest easy with this decision.

In fact the Tea Party folk were left with only one peg upon which to hang their hopes. The Court expressly refused to make a grant of "police powers" to the federal government. The Wikipedia explanation of police powers will suffice. "Police power is the capacity of a state to regulate behaviors and enforce order within its territory, often framed in terms of general welfare, morals, health, and safety."

And why is that important you ask? Because Republicans fueled with Tea Party zeal and corporate cash are planning a full frontal assault on the recently passed and enacted Health Care Reform legislation, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010.

You see if Health Care Reform was passed pursuant to the Necessary & Proper Clause, and if it only requires an accommodation of sovereign state interests, then it may be crucial if the Court sees Health Care as a primary function of the sovereign States. Otherwise put, was Health Care Reform an invasion of authority delegated to the States by the Tenth Amendment?  My guess is that the Court won't reach this point because the primary issue will rest on taxation.

Justice Souter
The opinion in United States v. Comstock, et al, was written by Justice Souter, and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor. Justices Kennedy and Alito filed opinions concurring in the judgment. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Scalia partially joined.

For those who are counting, on the question of the authority of the federal government to enact legislation under the Necessary & Proper Clause despite strong Tenth Amendment arguments, the vote is 7 to 2.  What do you want to bet that Elena Kagan, Obama's choice to replace Justice Stevens on the high bench will get quizzed on the nexus of Necessary & Proper and the Tenth Amendment?

Elena Kagan

That looks very good for Health Care Reform.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Twenty days remain for someone to file for the Democratic nomination in Kansas' Second Congressional District.  The district is currently represented by Lynn Jenkins and deserves a whole lot better.  If you are a health insurance corporate executive, own a payday loan company (legalized loansharker), benefit from an exorbitant executive pay and bonus package from a Wall Street Bank bailed out by TARP, or otherwise belong to the upper echelons of America's wealthies persons, then Jenkins is your gal.

Jenkins has voted against every attempt to reign in Wall Street bonuses and golden parachutes. 

Jenkins voted against reforming health care.  Apparently the same health care plan she enjoys as a member of Congress is not, in her opinion, good enough for you.  Health Care Reform will extend coverage to 95% of all Americans, brings greater accountability to keep premiums down, allows families to keep their kids on the parents' plans as they transition into adulthood, and will cut the deficit by over $100 Billion in the first decade and over $1 Trillion in the second decade.

Jenkins prefers to be the voice of the Insurance Industry rather than represent the people of Kansas' Second.  When the overwhelming sense of the Congress was that it is time for the Health Insurance Industry to lose its exemption from our Anti-Trust Laws, Jenkins was only one of 19 House Members to side with the big money.  That was Roll Call 64 of the current Congressional session on H.R. 4626, the Health Insurance Fair Competion Act.

Jenkins voted against the law that mandates that all persons get paid the same without regard to gender.  That's right, even though Jenkins voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, she did not give back a huge percentage of her salary because she is a woman. 

Jenkins voted against the Childrens Health Insurance Program.  She also voted against the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.  At least she is consistent. 

Lynn Jenkins is anti-kids, anti-women, anti-working folk, anti-seniors, and pro-big business, pro-golden parachutes, and pro-health insurance companies being able to deny coverage, raise premiums, and overpay themselves.  Lynn Jenkins doesn't represent me.

Will a real Democrat please step forward?