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Obama fear down?

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 07-02-2011

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John Fund takes a shot at explaining the decline in Glenn Beck’s ratings:

I think the best explanation is the election in November convinced a lot of people, ‘Oh, you know Obama is moving to the center. He signed this deal extending all of the tax cuts. He brought in Bill Daley, Bill Clinton’s Commerce secretary. There’s less angst. There’s less fear of Obama – therefore the fever goes down.





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Ben Smith’s Blog

“Tear down this wall,” part 2

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 06-02-2011

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(Scott)

More on President Reagan’s historic 1987 speech at the Brandenburg Gate:

Here’s some additional background history about the speech that is little known or understood by even those who were there.

During a pre-visit to Berlin, the White House advance team chose the Brandenburg Gate as the backdrop. The Reichstag was adjacent. It would make a perfect visual for the message the President was to deliver.

The decision to have the President deliver the speech in front of the Gate created a number of problems that were little understood and certainly not appreciated by the visiting staffers. Their plans to leverage the imagery of the President standing in front of the gate also created potentially large political implications. The wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate was recessed inside the Soviet Occupied Sector of Berlin (East Berlin) by as much as 10 meters. And the podium for the speech, as well as the area where the crowd gathered to witness the speech, was in the British Occupied Sector of Berlin. To further complicate matters, the Wall in the front of the Gate was covered in vulgar anti-American and anti-Reagan graffiti.

To complicate matters further, under the Quadripartite Agreement (American, British, Soviet,and French) for the Administration of Occupied Berlin, the Soviets had full access rights to the area, including a nearby Soviet World War II Memorial.

To avoid potential confrontations with the Soviets, the British had disarmed their Royal Military Police in the area. The British were also leery of the security responsibilities for the President in their sector, particularly in an area so close the armed East German patrols, armed East German Guard towers, and Soviet patrols that frequently made incursions into the area in front of the Gate. The British solution was to cede all security responsibilities in that portion of the British Sector to the US Military Police and US Secret Service.

This responsibility was heartily accepted by the Americans. We carefully planned the security which included use of Army explosive detector dogs, some 45 uniformed US Army Military Police, along with appropriate augmentation by US Secret Service resources. We were to carry loaded weapons as we did routinely in the American Sector of Berlin. This operational detail caused the British considerable concern. Having already abrogated responsibility for security of the event, their response was to request a place for a liaison officer in the US command center in the basement of the Reichstag. This request was accommodated.

Prior to sealing the area with a security cordon on the morning of the speech, one crucial task remained. The Wall had to be painted to mask the obnoxious Marxist inspired graffiti. This was accomplished by a team of US Military Police confinement specialists. During the darkness of the early dawn hours prior to the President’s arrival, these special MPs entered the Soviet Sector with coveralls, large buckets of thick quick-drying paint and rollers. Under the eyes of armed East German border guards, the MPs covered the entire Wall facing the West from the Reichstag to an area well beyond the Brandenburg Gate. While one crew covered the Wall with white paint, another crew spray painted the Wall with welcoming and friendly graffiti. “Hello World! Welcome Reagan! God Bless America!

One funny moment occurred when a press bus arrived earlier than expected. A small little lady waddled up and asked what was going on when the paint supplies were being loaded into the back of a supply truck. As the truck drove off, that was one more story Helen Thomas missed.

I was the US Army Chief of Military Police Administration in Berlin at the time, and Commander of Allied Check Point Charlie. The MP troops who performed this historic security mission were under my command. For those of us there, it seemed that President Reagan actually won the Cold War that day when he told Mr. Gorbachev to “Tear Down This Wall.” I like to think that our Military Police also helped win the war with a can of spray paint: “Welcome Reagan!”

Larry Bronstein
LTC, USA (Ret)

Thanks to Colonel Bronstein for adding to the background of the speech for our readers today.




Power Line

“Tear down this wall”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 06-02-2011

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(Scott)

Not many speeches are mighty deeds. When Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987, he performed a mighty deed by giving the speech he gave (video excerpt below).

Our friend Peter Robinson was the man who wrote the speech. He tells the story behind the speech in his memoir How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life. On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the speech, Peter recalled the events leading to it for Power Line readers in a form condensed from his book. As we celebrate the centennial anniversary of Reagan’s birth today, we remember:

In April 1987, when I was assigned to write the Brandenburg Gate address, I spent a day in Berlin with the White House advance team, the logistical experts, Secret Service agents, and press officials who went to the site of every presidential visit to make arrangements. In the evening, I broke away from the advance team to join a dozen Berliners for dinner. Our hosts were Dieter and Ingeborg Elz, who, after Dieter completed his career at the World Bank in Washington, had retired to Berlin. Although we had never met, we had friends in common, and the Elzes had offered to put on this dinner party to give me a feel for their city. They had invited Berliners of different walks of life and political outlooks-businessmen, academics, students, homemakers.

We chatted for awhile. Then I explained that, earlier in the day, the ranking American diplomat in West Berlin had told me that over the years Berliners had made a kind of accommodation with the wall. “Is it true?” I asked. “Have you gotten used to it?”

The Elzes and their guests glanced at each other uneasily. Then one man raised an arm and pointed. “My sister lives twenty miles in that direction,” he said. “I haven’t seen her in more than two decades. Do you think I can get used to that?” Another man spoke. As he walked to work each morning, he explained, a soldier in a guard tower peered down at him through binoculars. “That soldier and I speak the same language. We share the same history. But one of us is a zookeeper and the other is an animal, and I am never certain which is which.”

Our hostess broke in. A gracious woman, Ingeborg Elz had suddenly grown angry. Her face was red. She made a fist with one hand and pounded it into the palm of the other. “If this man Gorbachev is serious with his talk of glasnost and perestroika,” she said, “he can prove it. He can get rid of this wall.”

* * * * *

Back at the White House I adapted her comment, making “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” the central line in my draft. On Friday, May 15, the speeches for the President’s trip-he would be traveling to Rome and Venice before reaching Berlin-were forwarded to the President, and on Monday, May 18, the speechwriters joined him in the Oval Office. My speech was the last we discussed. “Mr. President,” I said, “I learned on the advance trip that this speech will be heard not only in West Berlin but throughout East Germany. Is there anything you’d like to say to people on the other side of the Berlin Wall?”

The President cocked his head and thought. “Well,” he replied, “there’s that passage about tearing down the wall. That wall has to come down. That’s what I’d like to say to them.”

* * * * *

With three weeks to go before it was delivered, the speech was circulated to the State Department and the National Security Council. Both attempted to suppress it. The draft was naive. It would raise false hopes. It was clumsy. It was needlessly provocative. State and the NSC submitted their own alternate drafts-my journal records that there were no fewer than seven. In each, the call to tear down the wall was missing.

When in early June the President and his party reached Italy (I remained in Washington), Ken Duberstein, the deputy chief of staff, sat the President down in the garden of the palazzo in which he was staying, then briefed him on the objections to my draft. Reagan asked Duberstein’s advice. Duberstein replied that he thought the line about tearing down the wall sounded good. “But I told him, ‘You’re President, so you get to decide.’” And then, Duberstein recalls, “he got that wonderful, knowing smile on his face, and he said, ‘Let’s leave it in.’”

The day the President arrived in Berlin, State and NSC submitted yet another alternate draft. Yet in the limousine on the way to the Berlin Wall, the President told Duberstein he was determined to deliver the controversial line. Reagan smiled. “The boys at State are going to kill me,” he said, “but it’s the right thing to do.”

The Bible instructs us that a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Something of the meaning of that simile is brought home to us in Reagan’s great speech of June 12, 1987.

berlin-speechwriters-l.jpg

The photo above from the Reagan Library depicts President Reagan and his speechwriters meeting on May 18, 1987, to discuss the speech. Peter is in the middle of the sofa on the left side of the photo.




Power Line

Unemployment Rate Down, But Only 36,000 Jobs Created

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 06-02-2011

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Credit: EPI  
    

Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted an early Spring on Groundhog Day, but the thaw in the jobs market is still far away.  The U.S. Labor Department reported today that the country created only 36,000 jobs in January-not nearly enough to keep up with the growth in the workforce.

The unemployment rate fell to 9.0 percent, down from 9.4 percent in December and 9.8 percent in November. Much of the decline in the jobless rate may be due to an increase of 500,000 people who gave up looking for jobs last month.

Although two months of  lower unemloyment is welcome news, the economy is not creating jobs fast enough to keep up with population growth or to accomodate those who have dropped out of the job market. Creating more jobs will require major investments in job creation by investing in infrastructure, education and innovation to build what we need for the future and create good jobs now.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said

It is crucial that we ramp up efforts to create new jobs and ensure that the economic recovery can lift up America’s workers–and not just further enrich corporate CEOs and the super-rich.

The current jobs report underlines the absolute necessity of President Obama’s plan to invest now in infrastructure, education and innovation to build our future and create good jobs. 

 He urged Democrats and Republicans in Congress to follow the example of the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce who have joined together in support of the president’s plan to invest in America and create jobs.

According to the report, 13.9 million are officially jobless, down from 14.5 million last month. Records for long-term unemployment have been shattered by the recession. Last month,  43.8 percent of unemployed workers-some 6.2 million people-had been out of work for six months or longer. That’s down from 44.3 percent in December. Long-term unemployment has also disproportionately affected African American workers.

EPI economist Heidi Shierholz says today’s jobs report shows the labor market moving in two directions at the same time.  Some of the lack of jobs growth can be chalked up to unusually cold weather in January and snowstorms in the Midwest and Northeast, she said. But it will take at least another month to see if the labor market is rebounding. .

Manufacturing added 49,000 jobs in January, continuing a welcome trend. Retail sales added 28,000 and health care gained 11,000 jobs. Construction jobs continued declining with 32,000 jobs lost last month.    

The recession has left us with a shortfall of 11 million jobs needed to get us back to pre-recession unemployment rates. The nation lost 7.2 million  jobs since the recession started in December 2007; it is also down the 3.7 million jobs needed over the last three years in order to match population growth (see chart above).

The economy needs to add about 150,000 new jobs each month to keep up with the growth in the labor force. But to lower the nation’s unemployment rate to 6 percent by 2013 and make up for the more than 7 million jobs lost due to the recession, the economy needs to add 350,000 jobs a month.

The jobless rate has been at 9 percent or more for the past 21 months—the longest it has been this high since World War II, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The underemployment rate, which includes unemployed workers, part-time workers who want full-time jobs and workers who have given up looking for work, is more than 16 percent.

African American and Hispanic workers have been particularly hard hit and have experienced higher unemployment and underemployment rates, as well as larger declines in real median incomes. The jobless rate for African Americans was 15.7 percent in January and 11.9 percent for Hispanics.

Few experts believe the jobless rate will dip below 6 percent before 2014; the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office predict the unemployment rate might dip to just above 7 percent in that year.

Although it has not passed the peak rate of 10.8 percent it hit during some months in 1982, the current downturn has seen a larger and more sustained increase in the unemployment rate than at any other time since the Great Depression.

The outrageous truth behind the jobs crisis is that some in this nation—like Wall Street CEOs—are doing very well while millions struggle to make ends meet. Nearly three years into the economic recovery, some 43.6 million Americans—more than 14 percent—relied on food stamps in November to purchase groceries as high unemployment and stagnant wages crimped working family budgets.

Yet last year, “total compensation and benefits at publicly traded Wall Street banks and securities firms hit a record of $ 135 billion ” at a time when the nation continues to struggle through one of the worst economic periods in its history. “Things are shifting back to where they were before,” said Robert Brown, a University of Denver law professor, about Wall Street pay before and after the recession.

AFL-CIO NOW BLOG

Unemployment Rate Down, But Only 36,000 Jobs Created

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 06-02-2011

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Credit: EPI  
    

Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted an early Spring on Groundhog Day, but the thaw in the jobs market is still far away.  The U.S. Labor Department reported today that the country created only 36,000 jobs in January-not nearly enough to keep up with the growth in the workforce.

The unemployment rate fell to 9.0 percent, down from 9.4 percent in December and 9.8 percent in November. Much of the decline in the jobless rate may be due to an increase of 500,000 people who gave up looking for jobs last month.

Although two months of  lower unemloyment is welcome news, the economy is not creating jobs fast enough to keep up with population growth or to accomodate those who have dropped out of the job market. Creating more jobs will require major investments in job creation by investing in infrastructure, education and innovation to build what we need for the future and create good jobs now.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said

It is crucial that we ramp up efforts to create new jobs and ensure that the economic recovery can lift up America’s workers–and not just further enrich corporate CEOs and the super-rich.

The current jobs report underlines the absolute necessity of President Obama’s plan to invest now in infrastructure, education and innovation to build our future and create good jobs. 

 He urged Democrats and Republicans in Congress to follow the example of the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce who have joined together in support of the president’s plan to invest in America and create jobs.

According to the report, 13.9 million are officially jobless, down from 14.5 million last month. Records for long-term unemployment have been shattered by the recession. Last month,  43.8 percent of unemployed workers-some 6.2 million people-had been out of work for six months or longer. That’s down from 44.3 percent in December. Long-term unemployment has also disproportionately affected African American workers.

EPI economist Heidi Shierholz says today’s jobs report shows the labor market moving in two directions at the same time.  Some of the lack of jobs growth can be chalked up to unusually cold weather in January and snowstorms in the Midwest and Northeast, she said. But it will take at least another month to see if the labor market is rebounding. .

Manufacturing added 49,000 jobs in January, continuing a welcome trend. Retail sales added 28,000 and health care gained 11,000 jobs. Construction jobs continued declining with 32,000 jobs lost last month.    

The recession has left us with a shortfall of 11 million jobs needed to get us back to pre-recession unemployment rates. The nation lost 7.2 million  jobs since the recession started in December 2007; it is also down the 3.7 million jobs needed over the last three years in order to match population growth (see chart above).

The economy needs to add about 150,000 new jobs each month to keep up with the growth in the labor force. But to lower the nation’s unemployment rate to 6 percent by 2013 and make up for the more than 7 million jobs lost due to the recession, the economy needs to add 350,000 jobs a month.

The jobless rate has been at 9 percent or more for the past 21 months—the longest it has been this high since World War II, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The underemployment rate, which includes unemployed workers, part-time workers who want full-time jobs and workers who have given up looking for work, is more than 16 percent.

African American and Hispanic workers have been particularly hard hit and have experienced higher unemployment and underemployment rates, as well as larger declines in real median incomes. The jobless rate for African Americans was 15.7 percent in January and 11.9 percent for Hispanics.

Few experts believe the jobless rate will dip below 6 percent before 2014; the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office predict the unemployment rate might dip to just above 7 percent in that year.

Although it has not passed the peak rate of 10.8 percent it hit during some months in 1982, the current downturn has seen a larger and more sustained increase in the unemployment rate than at any other time since the Great Depression.

The outrageous truth behind the jobs crisis is that some in this nation—like Wall Street CEOs—are doing very well while millions struggle to make ends meet. Nearly three years into the economic recovery, some 43.6 million Americans—more than 14 percent—relied on food stamps in November to purchase groceries as high unemployment and stagnant wages crimped working family budgets.

Yet last year, “total compensation and benefits at publicly traded Wall Street banks and securities firms hit a record of $ 135 billion ” at a time when the nation continues to struggle through one of the worst economic periods in its history. “Things are shifting back to where they were before,” said Robert Brown, a University of Denver law professor, about Wall Street pay before and after the recession.

AFL-CIO NOW BLOG

Breaking down Florida player-by-player

Posted by admin | Posted in Sports | Posted on 04-02-2011

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(AP photo/Phil Sandlin)

(AP photo/Phil Sandlin)

A scouting report on the Gators, individually:

Kenny Boynton (6-2, Soph.) – Scored 15 points in win over Vanderbilt on Tuesday, but made just four of 13 shots. Has made just six of 24 shots over last two games, including three-of-12 from three-point range. Has scored in double figures five of Gators’ eight conference games. Scored just four points in Florida’s loss at Mississippi State. Don’t foul him, though. Boynton has missed just two free throws in conference play, making 29 of 31 from the line.

Durand Macklin (6-10, Sr.)  – Had a sub-par game against Vandy, scoring just six points and grabbing five rebounds. That broke a streak of three-straight double-digit games. Scored 23 points in Florida’s double-overtime win at Georgia. Grabbed 10 rebounds in home loss to South Carolina. Macklin isn’t a shot-blocker. He’s blocked seven in conference play.

Erik Murphy (6-10, Soph.) – Starting to see a little more time. Scored seven points just four minutes at Georgia, and seven points in nine minutes at Mississippi State. Did not score in nine minutes against Vandy, but did snatch four rebounds. Most minutes in conference play was 13 in the Gators’ blowout of Arkansas back on Jan. 22.

Chandler Parsons (6-10, Sr.) – Is on a streak of four straight double-digit rebound games. Grabbed 15 against Arkansas, 12 at Georgia, 10 at Mississippi State and 11 against Vanderbilt on Tuesday. Had a double-double against Georgia and Vandy, scoring 18 points in each. Is not a good free-throw shooter, making just 54.5 percent from the line for the year. Has made nine of 15 free throws over Florida’s last four games.

Casey Prather (6-6, Fr.) – Has scored just eights points in conference play, six of those coming in lopsided win over Arkansas. Played 10 minutes that night. Usually plays about 5-6 minutes per game.

Alex Tyus (6-8, Sr.) – The dreads are gone as the senior has a new haircut. On the court, he’s failed to score double-digits the last three games. Had just two points on one-of-six shooting against Vanderbilt. Has made just seven of 22 shots over his last three games. Did score 18 in the win at Tennessee back on Jan. 11.

Erving Walker (5-8, Jr.) – Has scored in double digits seven of Florida’s eight SEC games. Only single-digit performance was two-point effort against Arkansas. Scored 20 against Ole Miss and 24 in double-OT win at Georgia, including three-point shot that sent the game into a second overtime. Has made just seven of 33 three-pointers in his last five games, however. Was one-of-six from three against Vanderbilt.

Scottie Wilbekin (6-2, Fr.) – Has become a trusted bench player backing up at point guard. Has played double-digit minutes in all eight of Florida’s SEC games. Not a scorer. High in conference play is five points against Vanderbilt and at Auburn. Has taken only two free throws in the eight league games. Missed both.

Will Yeguete (6-7, Fr.) – Got his most minutes in conference play with 13 against Mississippi State. Played 10 minutes against Vanderbilt. Is coming off back-to-back six-rebound games against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Made just one of six free throws against Vandy.

Patric Young (6-9, Fr.) – Freshman played has played anywhere from 16 to 30 minutes in SEC games. Scored 12 points in loss to South Carolina, and grabbed seven rebounds in win at Tennessee. Surprisingly, did not get a rebound in the win over Vandy on Tuesday night. Is not a shooter. Is three-of-six from the floor in last three games, which includes 69 minutes.

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John Clay’s Sidelines

Open Left is closing down; archives will remain

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 04-02-2011

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http://www.openleft.com/diary/21606/open…

Via Susie Madrak at Surburban Guerrilla.

Recent quick hits

1. LeBron Shoots Down The Magic – ESPN

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 04-02-2011

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CBC.ca
1. LeBron Shoots Down The Magic
ESPN
ORLANDO, Fla. — This would be a much more interesting story if LeBron James had seen Dwight Howard mocking his pregame "powder toss" and those old "family portraits" from James' Cavs days before the Heat played the Magic Thursday
LeBron James explodes for 51, Heat make Magic disappearExaminer.com
Do Not Make LeBron James AngrySLAM Online
Heat's Dwyane Wade Bruised in Thursday's Game Against Orlando MagicSportsrageous
Washington Post –Sun-Sentinel (blog) –CBSSports.com
all 991 news articles »

Sports – Google News

Mubarak Shuts Down Social Media: Big Mistake

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 04-02-2011

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The decision of the Egyptian authorities to turn on the Internet yesterday after a week of interruption reversed a massive, shortsighted mistake. While controlling the Internet may have seemed like an obvious solution to a situation rapidly spiraling out of control, the Internet actually provided an outlet for the pent-up rage of young Arabs. That rage quickly found expression on the streets instead.

In the attempt to control the growing unrest, the Egyptian government played catch-up on the Internet front. Protestors demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak relied heavily on Facebook and Twitter. Social media had become the primary way for protests to be organized. On January 25, Twitter was shut down; the following day Facebook, Gmail and YouTube were pulled. Yet these measures were far from complete.

On January 27, a day after the Egyptian government tried to shut down the Internet, one Facebook page devoted to a protest had 80,000 followers. In the absence of a central point of control of the Internet, the Egyptian government had to rely on Internet service providers to comply with their demands.

And though the Mubarak regime cut off the Internet, information flows found ways around it. Google, for instance, created a voice-to-tweet service that allowed Egyptians to leave voicemail messages that were turned into tweets. Other Internet services allowed streaming audio clips from young Egyptians to be heard from anywhere on the world.

Egyptian bloggers contacted by CyberDissidents.org, an organization started by Nathan Sharansky in support of victims of authoritarian regimes, stated that the government’s move against the Internet was very “stupid.” Kareem Amer, a blogger who spent the last four years in Egyptian prison, stated that blocking the Internet actually made Mubarak weaker. It provoked a great outrage among Egyptians and helped fuel the desire to get rid of Mubarak. And indeed, it deprived the government itself of the ability to monitor the movements of the demonstrators, which it had been able to do on social media Web sites.

The unfolding of events that started with the self-immolation of a single fruit vendor in Tunisia on December 17—leading as of now to protests in Yemen, Jordan, and Egypt—suggests the revolutionary potential of the new media. In Egypt, for instance, 20 percent of the population has access to the Internet, and 95 percent has cell phones. Information (and disinformation) travels on these networks like wildfire.

It is not only authoritarian regimes like that of Tunisia or Egypt that are struggling with the potential of social media for political activism. Even though “Internet freedom” is official U.S. government policy, the response of the Obama Administration to just about every recent development in the Middle East, as well as its failure to support the growing number of cyber dissidents in countries around the world, points to a dearth of serious commitment and strategic thinking within the U.S. government.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Opinion Striking Down, on Vagueness Grounds, California Regulation of “Handgun Ammunition”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-02-2011

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(Eugene Volokh)

I blogged about the decision last week here; the opinion is now available here. An excerpt:

[T]he text of the “handgun ammunition” definition provides no objective way … for a person … to determine if a particular ammunition caliber or cartridge is used more often, or used more than fifty percent of the time, or used for the most part in pistols, revolvers, or firearms with barrels of less than 16 inches, even though the same ammunition caliber or cartridge may also be used in rifles.

The law, as you may recall, regulates “ammunition principally for use in pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 12001, notwithstanding that the ammunition may also be used in some rifles.”




The Volokh Conspiracy

Judge Vinson’s Opinion Striking Down The Affordable Care Act Contains At Least 40 Errors

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-02-2011

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Judge Roger Vinson’s opinion striking down the Affordable Care Act has been widely criticized by progressives and conservatives alike, and for good reason. I combed through Vinson’s opinion with my colleagues Neera Tanden and Tony Carrk, and identified at least 40 glaring factual and legal errors in the opinion:

In the accompanying interactive examination of Vinson’s opinion, we show how he effectively writes an entire provision of the Constitution out of the document. How he butchers history, thumbs his nose at binding Supreme Court precedent, and relies on a constitutional theory that George Washington would find shocking. As we explain, even conservative legal scholars have questioned Vinson’s reasoning. And he wholly misunderstands health care and how it works.

We also explain that one section of Vinson’s opinion was lifted from a brief filed by an organization that has been labeled a hate group. And when Vinson somehow concludes that the Boston Tea Party renders the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, we take apart that argument, too.

As an example of the kind of downright sloppy errors that are pervasive in Vinson’s opinion, the judge at one point in the opinion makes the implausible claim that “[t]t was not until 1887, one hundred years after ratification, that Congress first exercised its power to affirmatively and positively regulate commerce among the states.” This is a truly remarkable claim — and one that Vinson cites no authority to support — but it also took me exactly 10 minutes with LexisNexis to prove Vinson wrong:

Vinson is wrong: George Washington signed a law regulating interstate commerce.

The first Congress passed, and President Washington signed, “An act for registering and clearing vessels, regulating the coasting trade, and for other purposes,” which required the owners of U.S. ships to register their vessels and even contained special rules governing ships traveling from Baltimore to Philadelphia. [“An Act for Registering and Clearing Vessels, Regulating the Coasting Trade, and for other purposes,” Wikisource.”]

There are, of course, at least 39 other errors in Vinson’s opinion, but it really tells you all you need to know about the quality of his reasoning that he saw no problem with fabricating a facially absurd claim about American history that any minimally competent lawyer could debunk in less time than it takes to brew a cup of tea.

The interactive examination of Vinson’s opinion appears below (click on the yellow text to read why Vinson is wrong):

Wonk Room

Egypt starts cracking down on journalists, human rights workers

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-02-2011

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Endgame?


The Mubarak regime has begun to act more forcefully to shore up its power after days of protests pushed it to the brink of collapse.  Security forces have begun arresting and intimidating bloggers, journalists, and human rights activists in an attempt to reimpose order in the wake of street fighting: The Egyptian government broadened its […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

Sarah Palin Turns Down CPAC Keynote Speech Invitation

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-02-2011

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Interesting:

After skipping the popular Conservative Political Action Conference for the past three years, Sarah Palin has once again turned down the invitation of CPAC officials to address the conference this year.

CPAC officials invited Palin to deliver the closing-night keynote speech on Saturday Feb. 12, immediately following the announcement of the results of CPAC’s annual presidential straw poll,  but after several days of negotiations, she declined.

“We’re disappointed that she wasn’t able to make it this year,” American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene said through a spokesman on Thursday. He noted that Palin “expressed interest in wanting to come this year,” but said that it came down to “a scheduling issue.”

Some will likely look at this and read 2012 implications into it considering that pretty much every other potential Republican candidate for President will be speaking at that conference, or participating in some other way, but Palin and CPA C have had a bit of a rocky history:

In 2010, she stayed away from the event citing the business dealings of the American Conservative Union and Keene, who is a lead organizer of the event.

In 2009, while still serving as governor of Alaska, she initially accepted an invitation to speak on the conference’s opening day, but later dropped out saying that she had to attend to the “duties of governing,” according to a CPAC spokesman. She sent a taped message to the conference instead.

In 2008, CPAC organizer Lisa De Pasquale said that Palin had to drop out of CPAC “at the last minute.”

So this could mean nothing more than the fact that she doesn’t want to travel to  D.C. next week. In any case, when the CPAC agenda was released last weekend with the identity of the keynote speaker unknown, there were many CPAC attendees who speculated that it would be Palin. Since that’s not the case, we’re still left guessing.




Outside the Beltway

Support Mubarak: Down the Revolution, Up Orderly Progress

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-02-2011

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Whatever may happen in the hours after I write this column, two things are certain: The next chapter in the magnificent and ancient civilization of the Nile will be yet to be known. And the role that America plays in Egypt's great, unfolding story remains also in doubt.

I well understand the Obama administration's uncertain message in the first week of the Egyptian tumult. We have always been conflicted in such moments. America's founding idea has pointed to our ultimate objective — domestic and foreign:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."


This founding principle of liberty was intended — when it was written — not just for Protestant former Englishmen, but for all men of all faiths — white, black, brown, yellow.

And yet, as America emerged into the world, the practical considerations of protecting our freedom and interests have often driven us not to champion those principles for others.

Sometimes we have fought magnificently for the rights of others; sometimes we have championed the local strongman to advance our vital interests. And one would have to be conspicuously naive to the ways of the world to condemn — as an absolute — the propriety of American foreign policy when it acts expediently for American interests.

The historic dilemma presents itself vividly now in Egypt.

Revolutions — French, Russian, Chinese, Iranian — have a typical trajectory. They are won on the street with the masses calling for freedom; they are stolen afterward by the best-organized, usually most malicious thugs (Napoleon, Lenin, Mao, the Mullahs).

Once in a while — as in our revolution — the cry of the street slogans become the principles of the government that follows. But usually not.

If the revolution in Egypt results in the fall of the existing governmental order, what are the chances that the people will be subsequently governed by a more just system? And what are the chances that America's interests will be advanced by that result?

Will the Suez Canal no longer be open and safe for its vast commerce?

Will the Middle East tilt further in the evil direction of radical Islamist forces? Will our ally Israel be further isolated from its neighbors and its right to exist?

And if the Suez Canal is threatened by an anti-Western regime, is it likely that we will find ourselves forced to occupy and protect the canal for world commerce?

Whither to go on, Egypt is not so much an ideological or partisan matter. There are former Reagan, Bush (1 and 2) and Clinton foreign affairs officials on both sides of the divide. Even hardheaded realists recognize the political implications of a people's ideas and faith. And even some idealists recognize that certain laudatory goals are not yet attainable.

The big questions on Egypt are mere factual ones: What will follow? Can we influence the decision? Can we avoid paying a price for not acting now?

Presidencies, kingly reigns, premierships, dictatorships — even if they last for decades — are often remembered in history for one decision or one phrase uttered in a moment of confusion and doubt. ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"). Some men get it right; others get it wrong.

President Obama may be facing one of those fateful moments now. Of course, if the path were obvious, it would not be fateful. But history and current conditions would suggest that the odds of the revolution resulting in a Western-oriented democracy that serves the interests of the Egyptian people are slim.

Providing public and private support of Mubarak and the provision of help to keep some semblance of the status quo (perhaps in the form of an army-led regime) is likely to serve both our immediate geopolitical interests and our ability to shape that regime in the interest of the Egyptian people.

President Obama had a chance in 2009 to respond with strong support for the Iranian green revolution — but his almost silence crushed the hope of many young Iranians and surely aided (inadvertently) the hated enemy Iranian regime.

Now, the president risks getting it wrong in the other direction: undercutting a friendly regime by sincere but ill considered support for a revolution that is more likely to result in a government adverse to our — and the Egyptian people's — interests. Note that a recent Pew poll of the Egyptian public disclosed that they preferred "Islamists" over "modernizers" by 59 percent to 27 percent (cited by Barry Rubin at the GLORIA Center website). Instant democracy, anyone?

Also, and importantly, if America undercuts its ally of 30 years, we would be seen as feckless — and thus we would undermine the value of our support for allies current and future.

As Ari Shavit wrote in Israel's leading liberal paper Haaretz: "(The failure to support) Mubarak symbolizes the betrayal of every strategic ally in the Third World. Throughout Asia, Africa and South America, leaders are now looking at what is going on between Washington and Cairo.

Everyone grasps the message: America's word is worthless; an alliance with America is unreliable; American (sic) has lost it. A result of this understanding will be a turn toward China, Russia and regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Brazil. The second result of this insight will be a series of international conflagrations that will result from the loss of America's deterrent power."

So, for both our own reputation and our interests in the Middle East and beyond: Support Mubarak. Down the revolution. Up orderly progress.

Tony Blankley is executive vice president of Edelman public relations in Washington. E-mail him at [email protected] To find out more about Tony Blankley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Qatar: Down with Mubarak, residents say

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-02-2011

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Written by Shabina Khatri

Down with Mubarak.

That is the popular sentiment in the tiny Gulf Arab country of Qatar, whose residents have been furiously filling the Internet with support for Egyptian protesters, criticisms of Mubarak and statements of pride for Doha-based Al Jazeera for its no-holds-barred reporting of the week's events.

The peaceful peninsula has even experienced two protests in the past week, the most political activism Qatar has seen since the 2009 War in Gaza.

During the first protest against embattled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, which took place on Friday after jum'aa prayers, Qatari police intervened quickly, saying the event was “mamnua” – prohibited.

Protesters gather near the Egyptian embassy in Doha on Tuesday, calling for Mubarak to step down (Photos by Miko Mayer)

Freelance journalist Omar Chatriwala reported about the event on his blog, Synthetic Jungle:

Around 100 people gathered in Qatar to protest against the Mubarak government of Egypt, in a sign that the Gulf nation is not completely isolated from the unrest witnessed in other parts of the Middle East.

The crowd – decked out in Egyptian flags and wielding signs – assembled after Friday prayers in the capital Doha, a block from Egypt's embassy, which had been cordoned off by police. Authorities, meanwhile, sought to deter onlookers from joining the protest, saying it was a banned assembly.

After chanting slogans calling for democracy and an end to President Hosni Mubarak's rule, protesters held janazah (funeral) prayers on the street for those killed during recent demonstrations in Egypt…

Less than an hour after the gathering began – and at police urging – the demonstrators began to disperse, chanting a thank you to Qatar for allowing them to have their voices heard.

On Tuesday, a much bigger crowd – reportedly around 500 people – gathered near the Egyptian embassy. Police blocked off the area again, but this time seemed to allow protesters to have their say.

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Al Jazeera English assistant news editor Malika Bilal, who was at the scene, tweeted about the events.

@mmbilal said:

Ppl of all ages gathering in doha for #egypt solidarity rally. #tahrir square http://yfrog.com/h3v5rlj

And then:

‘Ya mubarak sa7 al nowm, alnaharda akhir youm' – the #doha crowd's fav chant #egypt #tahrir http://yfrog.com/gzvs2jj

@hussdajani chimed in:

HUGE march for #Cairo #Egypt #Jan25 in West Bay area in #doha #qatar ! Down with #mubarak http://yfrog.com/gye9znoj

When asked about the growing police presence, @mmbilal said:

the #qatar police are staying a considerable distance away from the crowd, so no, no arrests! #egypt #tahrir

And finally:

Last of the close to 3-500 ppl leaving #egypt solidarity rally in #doha as rain starts to fall. http://yfrog.com/h8guzytj

Not everyone has been excited about Qatar getting in on the protest action.

On Twitter, @DohaBen said:

Hope Qatar doesn't get too involved in protests like that…don't need any bad publicity.

Still, even in academia, support for recent events around the Middle East persists.

On Wednesday, Northwestern University in Qatar released an open letter signed by 18 faculty members (myself included), pieces of which were blogged by Al Jazeera English.

It reads:

Over the last few weeks throughout the Arab World, hundreds of thousands of people of all social backgrounds have felt a surge of freedom to express themselves to one another out in the open, a fundamental human impulse. They are neighbors gathering in cities, bloggers and tweeters getting word to one another, and journalists covering what matters …

We at Northwestern University in Qatar are a small part of the whole world that is watching, and we appeal to Arab governments to remove barriers to free expression. Let your people speak.

Global Voices in English