Friday, May 29, 2009

The Hispanic Vote

May 28, 2009
The Hispanic Vote (John Feehery)
@ 12:52 pm
Much has been said about the importance of the Hispanic vote.

Some Republican strategists say that for the GOP to be competitive in future presidential elections, they’ll have to capture about 40 percent of this fastest-growing minority group.

President George W. Bush, who spoke a bit of Spanish, had a strategy to reach out to Hispanic voters and actually hit that 40 percent number in the 2004 election.

But it has been a bad couple of years for the Republicans when it comes to the Hispanic vote.

As a Pew survey points out, “Some 57 percent of Hispanic registered voters now call themselves Democrats or say they lean to the Democratic Party, while just 23 percent align with the Republican Party — meaning there is now a 34-percentage-point gap in partisan affiliation among Latinos. In July 2006, the same gap measured just 21 percentage points — whereas back in 1999, it had been 33 percentage points.”

The debate over President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, may make that trend even more pronounced.

What has caused this collapse of Republican support in the Hispanic community?

According to surveys, hard-line opposition to illegal immigration is the big reason for the slide. Again, according to Pew, “By 41 percent to 14 percent, Hispanic registered voters say the Democrats rather than the Republicans are the party doing the better job of dealing with illegal immigration … Immigration has become a more important issue to Latinos since the last election. Some 79 percent of Hispanic registered voters now say it is an ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important issue in the upcoming presidential race; up from 63 percent who said the same thing in June 2004.”

The Hispanic community is no monolith. Cubans vote differently than Mexicans. Dominicans have different concerns than Venezuelans. Puerto Ricans don’t have the same political impulses as Salvadorans.

But they all have a desire to be respected. They share a similar language. They all have come to America to help their families have a better life. But many of them have loved ones whom they have left back at home.

George Bush understood all of that. He looked at the Hispanic community as an opportunity to get votes, not as a threat to American independence. He viewed Hispanics as hardworking Americans worthy of respect. And as a result, he got a pretty big percentage of their votes.

Unfortunately, the party doesn’t seem to have President Bush's sensitivity to the Hispanic community. The immigration debate at times took on a racist undertone that turned off many potential voters in that community.

And now, we have Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, who seem to want to dig the hole deeper with this vital voting bloc.

Newt is done running for office and Rush has never run for office, so their comments are notable only in how destructive they are for the party. Keep in mind, it was Rush Limbaugh (and Lou Dobbs) who worked hard against an immigration bill that would have fixed our immigration laws and taken that issue off the table for the next election.

The irony in all of this is that it was the Democrats who pulled out all the stops when it came to stopping the first Hispanic Supreme Court nominee. Democrats wouldn’t allow Miguel Estrada to get a vote to become a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals. They filibustered because they were afraid that Bush would then appoint him to the Supreme Court. It was an unbelievable and unconscionable decision by the Democrats, but somehow they got away with it.

It was Democrats who did nothing to pass an immigration bill in either the House or the Senate, despite President Bush’s best efforts to get something done. And Democrats have put immigration reform on the backburner for their agenda this year.

Democrats have used and abused their Hispanic supporters. Most Hispanics are pro-life. Democrats have a radical anti-life agenda. Most Hispanics are religious, while the Democrat Party is avowedly secular. Many Hispanics (Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans) are strongly anti-communist, while the Democrats find anti-communism to be passé. Many Hispanics are small-business owners, but the Democrats want to tax small-business owners the hardest.

But Hispanics look beyond all of these issues and continue to flock to the Democrats, because they perceive that the GOP is a bunch of racists who don’t want to welcome them into the country, let alone into the party.

Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich haven’t helped change that perception in these opening days of the debate over Sonia Sotomayor. Senate Republicans, for the long-term good of the party, should strongly condemn incendiary language in the debate, and then vote her onto the Supreme Court. She is going to get in anyway. Let her get in with GOP support.


Archived under: National Party News, The Judiciary

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gay Marriage Rights

Focus on gay marriage rights stays on state fights

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- California's status as a guardian of gay rights slipped this week when its highest court upheld a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, even as other states extended the institution to gay couples.

"Are the people of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire more sexually literate than Californians?" asked the National Sexuality Resource Center, a San Francisco-based think tank, naming the states where gays can or soon will be able to wed.

The California Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the ban on gay marriage, known as Proposition 8, in a state that's home to 14 percent of the nation's same-sex couples and was the first to offer gays the spousal rights of marriage without being ordered to by a court.

Voters in 2008 passed the constitutional amendment, which trumped an earlier state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

In spite of the setback in the state, gay rights advocates say they still believe what happens there is important no matter the outcome. Supporters and opponents spent $83 million on the Proposition 8 campaign last year, making it the most expensive election on a social issue in the nation's history.

"Certainly California remains very important in this epic struggle just because it's so big," said Richard Socarides, who served as President Bill Clinton's adviser on gay civil rights.

And because of its size, gay rights advocates say they'll continue their campaign to win over more voters. Leaders of Equality California and Courage Campaign said they have started canvassing in more conservative parts of the state, working with religious and ethnic groups and otherwise learning from mistakes made during last year's failed campaign.

"The biggest thing California can do is win back marriage at the ballot box," said Mary Bonauto, the civil rights director of Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, which brought the lawsuit that led to Massachusetts becoming the first state to sanction same-sex marriage.

"We have won marriage in courts, we have even now marriage winning in legislatures," she said. "To win it with the people would crumble the right wing's whole house of cards."

Bonauto said that if California advocates succeeded in getting Proposition 8 reversed, it would mark an unprecedented milestone: 28 other states have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage but none have been challenged with a popular vote.

As California gay rights groups prepared to launch a campaign to repeal Proposition 8 at the ballot box next year, two lawyers announced Tuesday they had filed a federal lawsuit challenging the initiative in the hopes of getting the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, the lawyers who represented opposing sides in the 2000 Bush v. Gore election challenge, said they think the high court is ripe to take on the issue. They filed on behalf of two gay men and two gay women.

"I felt it was very important we present the American people and the courts a unified front and tell the courts and the American people through our presence and our participation this is not about right or left or partisan politics," Olson said. "This is about what we all share as Americans."

But it wasn't a move welcomed by all advocates. Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said the suit "sends a powerful message that the time for change has come," but also warned the lawyers of the "only one shot at the U.S. Supreme Court."

They and "any attorneys bringing a case that will affect the freedom and legal status of an entire community bear a very heavy responsibility to be certain they have fully considered the consequences," Minter said.

Gay rights activists also were pressuring President Barack Obama to fulfill his campaign pledge to work toward repealing the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. The law prevents couples in states that recognize same-sex unions from securing Social Security spousal benefits, filing joint taxes and other federal rights of marriage.

The focus, however, remained on working though state legislatures and voters to win marriage rights, said Evan Wolfson, executive director of New York-based Freedom to Marry.

"Winning marriage in more states is crucial not only for the families living in those states, but for creating a comfort level that sets the stage for a national resolution," he said.


AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this story.

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Copyright 2008 Associated Press

Governor Schwarzenegger Keys To Success

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Betting Against the American Middle Class

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Betting Against the American Middle Class

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Rush Limbaugh blasts "Sotomayor is a Reverse Racist and A Party Hack!!!"

Rush: Sotomayor a 'reverse racist'
By: Andy Barr
May 26, 2009 05:01 PM EST

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh blasted President Barack Obama on Tuesday for picking a “reverse racist” and “hack” in Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.

“Here you have a racist — you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist,” Limbaugh said of Sotomayor on his show, alluding to the New York federal appeals court judge’s past statement that a “wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”

Liberals, "of course, say that minorities cannot be racists because they don't have the power to implement their racism,” Limbaugh said according to a transcript on his website. “Well, those days are gone, because reverse racists certainly do have the power. ... Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he's appointed one.”

Asked about Sotomayor’s remark Tuesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that “if you look at the context of the longer speech that she makes, I think what she says is very much common sense in terms of different experiences, different people."

Limbaugh used the line to accuse Sotomayor of being a “party hack,” though the radio host conceded that she will likely be confirmed.

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“The odds that she could be stopped are long,” Limbaugh said, before turning fire on moderate Republicans who he thinks will be “completely useless” in opposing Obama’s pick.

“When the rubber hits the road, such as in this nomination, where are these moderate Republican groups on the nomination? Where are the moderate senators? Where is Colin Powell? Where is Tom Ridge?” Limbaugh asked.

“I'm the one doing the heavy lifting. Colin Powell panders to moderate Republicans,” he said. “If the moderates in the Republican Party offer no way to address this danger, then they are useless.”

© 2009 Capitol News Company, LLC

The Dynamic of The Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor by Tom Goldstein

The Dynamic of the Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor

Posted By Tom Goldstein On May 26, 2009 @ 7:34 am In Uncategorized | Comments Disabled

The White House will announce a Supreme Court nominee at 10 a.m. The Senate Judiciary Committee will likely hold hearings in the third week of July, permitting written committee questions the following week and a floor vote before Congress leaves for its summer recess on the weekend of August 8. Absent the discovery of an ethical transgression, the Democratic majority on the Senate guarantees confirmation, so the new Justice will take her seat when the Court opens its 2009 Term on October 5.

Well before the hearings and votes, the immediate struggle will be to define both the nominee and the President (in light of his selection). In several prior posts, we have summarized Sonia Sotomayor’s principal opinions. Here, I discuss the lines of attack that likely will be directed at her if she is nominated by the President this morning.

The attacks are inevitable and tremendously regrettable, just as they were for Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. A cottage industry – literally an industry, given the sums of money raised and spent – now exists in which the far left and right either brutalize or lionize the President’s nominees. Because the absence of controversy means bankruptcy, it has to be invented by both sides, whatever the cost to the nominee personally and to the integrity of the judiciary nationally.

That is not to say that there aren’t legitimate – in fact, critical – debates over issues like judicial philosophy and the proper way to interpret the Constitution that can and should be front and center in a Supreme Court confirmation hearing. But the most extreme interest groups and ideologues are transparently uninterested in that reasoned debate as they rush to caricature the nominee and the opposing viewpoint.

Because proponents’ and opponents’ claims about nominees are provided for public consumption through the mass media, they involve bumper sticker messages; there is not much nuance. Almost always, they collapse into assertions of ideological extremism, as when some on the left attempted to portray John Roberts as a (secret) ideologue and single-minded tool of the government and corporations against individuals.

The public reaction to Roberts’ confirmation illustrates that Americans thankfully still think for themselves and that the White House’s most effective tool may be the nominee herself. But beyond a short statement at the announcement and fleeting remarks during courtesy visits to Senators, the nominee’s appearance at actual hearings won’t come for six weeks, which could be too late to repair her image if a sustained assault from the right actually took hold in the meantime. Controlling the narrative in the short-term will be essential.

I discuss below the four most probable lines of attack that committed ideologues are likely to advance, but to my mind basic political considerations make it very unlikely that mainstream Republican politicians will vocally join the criticism. The view of some that the nomination of Sotomayor will require the President to invest additional political capital seems completely wrong to me. Absent of course some ethical problem, the President simply has the votes.

Even more important, Republicans cannot afford to find themselves in the position of implicitly opposing Judge Sotomayor. To Hispanics, the nomination would be an absolutely historic landmark. It really is impossible to overstate its significance. The achievement of a lifetime appointment at the absolute highest levels of the government is a profound event for that community, which in turn is a vital electoral group now and in the future.

Equally significant for not only Hispanics but all Americans, Sotomayor has an extraordinarily compelling personal narrative. She is a first generation American, born of immigrant parents. She grew up in a housing project, losing her father as an adolescent, raised (with her brother) by her mother, who worked as a nurse. She got herself to Princeton, graduating as one of the top two people in her class, then went to Yale Law. Almost all of her career has been in public service–as a prosecutor, trial judge, and now appellate judge. She has almost no money to her name.

For Republican Senators to come after Judge Sotomayor is not only hopeless when it comes to confirmation (something that did not deter Democrats in their attacks on Roberts and Alito) but a strategy that risks exacting a very significant political cost among Hispanics and independent voters generally, assuming that the attacks aren’t backed up with considerable substance.

Objectively, her qualifications are overwhelming from the perspective of ordinary Americans. She has been a prosecutor, private litigator, trial judge, and appellate judge. No one currently on the Court has that complete package of experience.

The most likely dynamic by far is the one that played out for Democrats with respect to Chief Justice Roberts. Democratic senators, recognizing the inevitable confirmation of a qualified and popular nominee, decided to hold their fire and instead direct their attacks to President Bush’s second nominee. Justice Alito was the collateral damage to that strategy. Here, with Justice Stevens’s retirement inevitable in the next few years, Republican senators are very likely to hold off conservative interest groups with promises to sharply examine President Obama’s second (potentially white male) nominee.

Overall, the White House’s biggest task is simply demonstrating that Judge Sotomayor is the most qualified candidate, not a choice based on her gender and ethnicity. The public wants to know that her greatness as a Justice is informed by her personal history and her diversity, not that it is defined by those characteristics. For that reason, the focus on “empathy” — rather than the “wisdom” or “good sense” of the nominee in light of her experience — plays out poorly, in my opinion.

Opponents’ first claim – likely stated obliquely and only on background – will be that Judge Sotomayor is not smart enough for the job. This is a critical ground for the White House to capture. The public expects Supreme Court Justices to be brilliant. Harriet Miers was painted (frequently, by conservatives) as not up to the job. The same claim (absurd to anyone who has talked with him) is still made by the left about Clarence Thomas. By contrast, John Roberts was described as brilliant and Sam Alito as exceptionally smart.

The objective evidence is that Sotomayor is in fact extremely intelligent. Graduating at the top of the class at Princeton is a signal accomplishment. Her opinions are thorough, well-reasoned, and clearly written. Nothing suggests she isn’t the match of the other Justices.

The second claim – and this one will be front and center – will be the classic resort to ideology: that Judge Sotomayor is a liberal ideologue and “judicial activist.” (Put to the side the emptiness of the labels – i.e., that one person’s principle (e.g., a decision invalidating state laws authorizing punitive damages) is another’s “activism.”) There is no question that Sonia Sotomayor would be on the left of this Supreme Court, just not the radical left. Our surveys of her opinions put her in essentially the same ideological position as Justice Souter. In the ideological cases where her rulings have been reviewed by the Supreme Court (for example, Malesko and the pending Ricci case), her views have aligned with the left of the current Court.

The third claim – related to the second – will be that Judge Sotomayor is unprincipled or dismissive of positions with which she disagrees. The three pieces of evidence initially cited for that proposition will be (i) the disposition of the Ricci case (in which a panel on which Sotomayor sat affirmed the dismissal of white firefighters’ claims in a very short and initially unpublished opinion), (ii) a panel appearance in which she acknowledged that appellate judges effectively make policy, and (iii) a speech in which she talked about the role of her gender and ethnicity in her decision making.

These reeds are too thin for that characterization to take hold. The public neither understands nor cares about the publication practices of the courts of appeals. It also is easily able to accept a judge’s recognition of the lawmaking effects of her decisions and the influences of her background. There just isn’t any remotely persuasive evidence that Judge Sotomayor acts lawlessly or anything of the sort.

Finally, critics will characterize her as gruff and impersonable, relying on excerpts from oral arguments and anonymous criticisms in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary. Judge Sotomayor’s personal remarks will resolve this question for the public, to the extent it cares at all. But there isn’t any reason to believe that she is anything other than a tough questioner. My impression from her questioning at oral arguments is that it is similar to the Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, and (in cases in which he was particularly engaged) Justice Souter.

All in all, if Judge Sotomayor is nominated in a few hours, her easy confirmation seems assured.

Supreme Court Justice Nomination- The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor

With the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, President Obama has a space on the high court to fill. One of the top prospects is Sonia Sotomayor.

A Puerto Rican woman with 16 years of court experience who currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, Sotomayor is a graduate of Yale Law and an editor of the Yale Law Review. She shares a biographical footnote with Souter: they both were appointed by George H. W. Bush -- Sotomayor to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1992. Sotomayor was elevated to the appeals court by President Clinton.

Sotomayor spent five years as a prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney before going into private practice as a commercial litigator. During that time she also served on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the New York City Campaign Finance Board, and State of New York Mortgage Agency, where she helped provide mortgage insurance coverage to low-income housing and AIDS hospices.

She left for the U.S. District Court in 1992. At the time, Sotomayor told the New York Times that she was inspired to become a judge by an episode of "Perry Mason."

"I thought, what a wonderful occupation to have," Ms. Sotomayor said. "And I made the quantum leap: If that was the prosecutor's job, then the guy who made the decision to dismiss the case was the judge. That was what I was going to be."

Sotomayor has been considered as a potential Supreme Court Justice by both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Is Waterboarding Torture ? Video Evidence.

RNC vs Pelosi

RNC's below-the-belt shot at Pelosi
By: Andie Coller
May 23, 2009 06:59 AM EST

She’s the 69-year-old speaker of the House of Representatives, second in the line of succession and the most powerful woman in U.S. history.

But when you see Nancy Pelosi, the Republican National Committee wants you to think “Pussy Galore.”

At least that’s the takeaway from a video released by the committee this week – a video that puts Pelosi side-by-side with the aforementioned villainess from the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger.”

The RNC video, which begins with the speaker’s head in the iconic spy-series gun sight, implies that Pelosi has used her feminine wiles to dodge the truth about whether or not she was briefed by the CIA on the use of waterboarding in 2002. While the P-word is never mentioned directly, in one section the speaker appears in a split screen alongside the Bond nemesis – and the video’s tagline is “Democrats Galore.”

The wisdom of equating the first woman speaker of the House with a character whose first name also happens to be among the most vulgar terms for a part of the female anatomy might be debated – if the RNC were willing to do so, which it was not. An RNC spokesperson refused repeated requests by POLITICO to explain the point of the video, or the intended connection between Pelosi and Galore.

But what isn’t open to debate is that the waterboarding conflict has been accompanied by a cascade of attacks on the speaker, not as a leader or a legislator, but as a woman.

Earlier this week, Pittsburgh radio host Jim Quinn referred to the speaker on his program as “this bitch”; last week, syndicated radio host Neal Boortz opined “how fun it is to watch that hag out there twisting in the wind.”

There has also been a steady stream of taunts about the speaker’s appearance, and whether it’s been surgically enhanced. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said, “I think if Speaker Pelosi were still capable of human facial expression, we’d see she’d be embarrassed.”

Even erstwhile presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee took the time to pen a poem that begins:

“Here's a story about a lady named Nancy / A ruthless politician, but dressed very fancy.”

One might argue that face-lift and fashion gibes are just sauce for the goose these days – especially given the president’s crack about John Boehner’s perma-tan during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

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But “hag”? The P-word? Really?

Not only is it bad form, say Democrats and women’s advocates, it’s bad politics.

“They can’t seem to distinguish between a backroom smirk among the boys and something you put out in public,” says former Hillary Clinton senior adviser Ann Lewis of the RNC video.

“It’s an attempt to demean your opponent, rather than debate them. If they’re serious that this is an issue of national security, then you’d think that one would want to debate it on the merits,” she says. “It’s almost as if they can’t help themselves.”

Of course, not all – or even most – of the recent attacks on Pelosi have involved her gender. Indeed, inside the Beltway, the criticism of the speaker has been almost entirely above the belt. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has called for Pelosi’s resignation without making cracks about her looks. Former Vice President Dick Cheney called her out Thursday without taking note of her gender. House Minority Leader John Boehner – who wants to move more slowly against Pelosi than some of his more aggressive House brethren – has kept up the pressure on her without marginalizing her as a woman.

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, believes that those who attack female leaders on gender grounds do so out of weakness.

“In a way, it shows the desperation of the opposition,” she says. “If all else fails, you do something on their looks, or you remind them of sex.”

Phil Singer, who dealt with the issue as a spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, takes it one step further, arguing that such tactics are actually likely to be counterproductive in the end.

“As the degree of viciousness escalates and increases, I think women – and most people living in the modern era, including men – are more likely to rally to Pelosi’s cause,” he says.

He suggests that gender-based attacks can actually be the crucible within which a woman’s base of support is forged.

“Certainly nobody wants to be on the receiving end of this type of rhetoric, but in the long run I think it could end up making Nancy Pelosi a stronger national figure, and creating a real base for her,” he says.

While Pelosi has long had to endure her share of sexist sniping, Marie Wilson, president of The White House Project, which promotes women’s leadership, believes that the fact that the speaker’s clash with the CIA centers on truthfulness may have contributed to the recent rash.

“When I first saw this come up, I thought, ‘Oh no, it’s about honesty,’” she says.

Wilson – who gasped audibly when the RNC video was described to her – explains that her organization’s research has found that honesty and trustworthiness are the two areas in which Americans have higher expectations of women in politics than they do of men. And when women in power are viewed as or accused of being less than fully honest, she says, “that strikes at the heart of the cultural ideal in this country – wives, mothers, apple pie.”

However, she notes, “If a man gets in a situation about he-said, she-said, or what people knew, you don’t go to his maleness as a way to attack him.”

The reasons for them may be ineffable, but the attacks themselves seem to be all but inevitable for prominent or outspoken women – Republicans as well as Democrats. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was called a “bimbo” by “Politically Incorrect” host Bill Maher during the campaign; Meghan McCain has had to grapple with public attacks on her appearance from radio host Laura Ingraham.

(Palin’s office did not respond to a call from POLITICO on the Pelosi matter, and McCain declined to comment. None of the House or Senate Republicans contacted by POLITICO was both available and willing to comment on the RNC video.)

Says Singer: “It’s perverse in a way that to become a very strong figure, or to develop a very strong following, [women] have to go through something like this. I don’t think it’s fair, but certainly recent history suggests that it’s just the way it is.”

GOP vs. Pelosi vs CIA- Amazing video.-WOW- The Gloves have come off!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Will The Top 10 Percent rule change in Texas Colleges?

Texas Colleges- The 10 percent rule.

There was a terrific debate on the floor of the Texas Senate Tuesday, the kind that can make you fall in love with politics. Really, I mean that. Great debates are like watching the strategy in play at a tennis tournament or chess match.

The subject was Texas' 10 percent rule, which took effect back in 1997 after a federal appeals court prevented the University of Texas from considering race when looking at student admissions. (Since that ruling, the Supreme Court has restored allowing schools to use race as one of many factors in considering student admissions.) The rule works this way: Texas students who place in the top 10 percent of their high school class can gain automatic admission to a Texas university of their choice.

Tuesday's debate was about capping the number of students a university can admit under that rule so, essentially UT-Austin and perhaps A&M in the future, don't get overwhelmed by 10 percenters. About 80 percent of UT's freshmen class this year comes from the top 10 percent of Texas high schools. UT officials predict that the 2009 entering class could come entirely from top 10 percent grads.

That predicament neither benefits the school nor the state, as our editorial said Sunday. UT-Austin should have some kind of flexibility in determining its freshman class. And the state would benefit from a cap on 10 percenters because UT was not chartered to be a school only for elite students. In fact, one of the best observations of the day came from GOP Sen. Steve Ogden, who talked about UT in effect becoming a private university.

That point was made in an exchange with Ogden's fellow Republican, Florence Shapiro, who authored the change in the 10 percent rule. His back-and-forth with Shapiro on the floor was one of many the Plano senator had with colleagues during about six hours of debate.

And she did a masterful job answering questions, fending off bad amendments, accepting good ones and putting up with a lot of jabbing from colleagues. She kept calm, poised and factual during the discussions, some of which were enough to drive anyone over the edge. She particularly kept her cool answering the same question over and over from Democratic Sen. Eddie Lucio.

Several amendments were offered, but only three really affected the rule. The first set at 60 percent the number of 10 percent students that a university's freshman class can contain. The second established a scholarship fund to help eligible 10 percenters actually afford a Texas university. And the third put an eight-year limit on all these reforms. After that, the law goes back to its original state.

What was interesting was watching minority legislators like Dallas Democrat Royce West arguing to keep the 10 percent rule as is, with no 60 percent cap. In effect, West and others were arguing that UT should become a school that only serves elite students. Meanwhile, Republicans like Shapiro were arguing that it should serve a broader mass of students. Interesting reversal there.

Fortunately, an amendment by Republican Sen. Dan Patrick was beat back, but only by a few votes. Late in the afternoon, the radio talk show host offered a proposal that would cap the percentage of foreign and out-of-state students at UT-Austin to however many are enrolled today. (Something like seven percent of the UT undergraduate student body is from another state or country.)

He had a point: If only so many top 10 percent students could get into UT in the future, he didn't want the other slots going to a greater number of non-Texas students. The school should serve its state first.

True, but the Texas numbers are already high: 93 percent of UT's undergraduate student body is from Texas. So, it isn't like Texas kids are being ignored.

Also, several senators, including Democrat Judith Zaffirini, eloquently described the exposure Texas kids get from a diverse student body. And that's particularly important in the kind of economy in which we live.

Anyway, his amendment went down, which was good. And the Senate rightly put some limits on the 10 percent rule.

The action now moves to the House, where GOP Rep. Dan Branch will sponsor a Shapiro-like bill. I bet the debate there will be even livelier. It certainly was the last time the House tried to revise the rule back in 2007. Plus, there are 150 House members and only 31 senators. The chances for the House to heat up over this one are pretty good.

I can't wait. It will be like watching Connors and McEnroe in their heyday

Monday, May 18, 2009

Washington D.C.

MORE COPS!, originally uploaded by * Chris D.

Washington D.C. Photos.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Top Ten Surprises in The Sarah Palin Memoir- David Letterman Show

Governor Perry " I Don't Advocate Secession ."

Perry: I don't advocate secession
Sunday, May 17, 2009
About a month ago, I stood with a bipartisan group of Texas legislators to speak in support of a resolution honoring the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The resolution simply restates the Constitution's principle of federalism — that powers not granted to the national government, nor prohibited to the states, are reserved to the states or the people.

At a time when the federal government is passing trillion-dollar bailouts, bullying states to increase taxes and bureaucracies, and even taking control of private companies, Americans are increasingly reconnecting with the concept of limited government in that amendment.

I can't say I was surprised that critics recast my defense of federalism and fiscal discipline into advocacy for secession from the Union. I have never advocated for secession and never will.

Like the president, members of Congress and every other state governor, I have sworn oaths to our nation and Constitution. My sincere pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution has fueled my concern and my statements about the recent unprecedented expansion of our federal government.

The tea parties that rose up across the country are examples of what Thomas Jefferson, an architect of our Constitution, meant when he said, "Every generation needs a new revolution." In our time, informed dissent is taking shape in response to Washington's unprecedented excess.

When Congress and the resident make plans to increase the federal debt by one-third in just the administration's first 100 days, citizens and taxpayers should be worried. When federal stimulus bills force state governments to change long-standing laws, raise taxes and increase government spending, citizens and taxpayers should be outraged. The swollen river known as the federal government has clearly overflowed its banks.

President Barack Obama's budget takes a $1.7 trillion deficit and increases that by $177 billion. As planned spending continues, the deficit will eventually quadruple in size by 2019. As more Americans do the math and calculate the impact of a $765 billion deficit on their children's future, their frustration grows.

I suspect America's founders would be appalled at their successors taking control of private corporations, hiring and firing workers and breaking contracts. Watching the federal government purchase majority stakes in manufacturers should terrify anyone who ever saw a Cold War-era Russian automobile. Government lacks competitiveness, which makes it a breeding ground for inefficiency and stagnation.

Those looking for the positive impact of limited government and fiscal conservatism should turn their eyes to Texas. Our Constitution limits our Legislature to 140 days every two years with the bottom line of a balanced budget. Our freedom from an income tax makes Texas attractive to employers and entrepreneurs as do the state's predictable regulatory climate and fair legal system. Add hard-working Texans to our opportunity-friendly environment, and you start to understand why the state leads the nation in exports, job creation and Fortune 500 companies. Limited government works.

Apologists for an all-encompassing government tout side issues as a smokescreen to obscure the truly necessary debate on the proper role and size of government. That is why I have enthusiastically added my voice to the growing chorus of 10th Amendment supporters. None of us want to see unconstrained government of the magnitude that the amendment's authors were so careful to legislate against.

As we watch the federal government expand before our very eyes, those of us who value freedom are simply sounding the alarm with every means available to us. We cannot stand idly by while the system that has allowed Americans to determine their own destiny and compete on their own merits is dismantled. Instead, we will exercise our First Amendment rights and speak the truth to power until we achieve change that Texans can live with.

Austin American Statesman - May 17,2009

President Obama Notre Dame Speech In It's Entirety.

President Obama --Notre Dame Speech ,Video

Obama Notre Dame Speech - Full and Complete Text.

Thank you, Father Jenkins for that generous introduction. You are doing an outstanding job as president of this fine institution, and your continued and courageous commitment to honest, thoughtful dialogue is an inspiration to us all.

Good afternoon Father Hesburgh, Notre Dame trustees, faculty, family, friends, and the class of 2009. I am honored to be here today, and grateful to all of you for allowing me to be part of your graduation.

I want to thank you for this honorary degree. I know it has not been without controversy. I don't know if you're aware of this, but these honorary degrees are apparently pretty hard to come by. So far I'm only 1 for 2 as President. Father Hesburgh is 150 for 150. I guess that's better. Father Ted, after the ceremony, maybe you can give me some pointers on how to boost my average.

I also want to congratulate the class of 2009 for all your accomplishments. And since this is Notre Dame, I mean both in the classroom and in the competitive arena. We all know about this university's proud and storied football team, but I also hear that Notre Dame holds the largest outdoor 5-on-5 basketball tournament in the world - Bookstore Basketball.

Now this excites me. I want to congratulate the winners of this year's tournament, a team by the name of "Hallelujah Holla Back." Well done. Though I have to say, I am personally disappointed that the "Barack O'Ballers" didn't pull it out. Next year, if you need a 6'2" forward with a decent jumper, you know where I live.

Every one of you should be proud of what you have achieved at this institution. One hundred and sixty three classes of Notre Dame graduates have sat where you are today. Some were here during years that simply rolled into the next without much notice or fanfare - periods of relative peace and prosperity that required little by way of sacrifice or struggle.

You, however, are not getting off that easy. Your class has come of age at a moment of great consequence for our nation and the world - a rare inflection point in history where the size and scope of the challenges before us require that we remake our world to renew its promise; that we align our deepest values and commitments to the demands of a new age. It is a privilege and a responsibility afforded to few generations - and a task that you are now called to fulfill.

This is the generation that must find a path back to prosperity and decide how we respond to a global economy that left millions behind even before this crisis hit - an economy where greed and short-term thinking were too often rewarded at the expense of fairness, and diligence, and an honest day's work.

We must decide how to save God's creation from a changing climate that threatens to destroy it. We must seek peace at a time when there are those who will stop at nothing to do us harm, and when weapons in the hands of a few can destroy the many. And we must find a way to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity - diversity of thought, of culture, and of belief.

In short, we must find a way to live together as one human family.

It is this last challenge that I'd like to talk about today. For the major threats we face in the 21st century - whether it's global recession or violent extremism; the spread of nuclear weapons or pandemic disease - do not discriminate. They do not recognize borders. They do not see color. They do not target specific ethnic groups.

Moreover, no one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone. Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history.

Unfortunately, finding that common ground - recognizing that our fates are tied up, as Dr. King said, in a "single garment of destiny" - is not easy. Part of the problem, of course, lies in the imperfections of man - our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos; all the cruelties large and small that those of us in the Christian tradition understand to be rooted in original sin. We too often seek advantage over others. We cling to outworn prejudice and fear those who are unfamiliar. Too many of us view life only through the lens of immediate self-interest and crass materialism; in which the world is necessarily a zero-sum game. The strong too often dominate the weak, and too many of those with wealth and with power find all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of poverty and injustice. And so, for all our technology and scientific advances, we see around the globe violence and want and strife that would seem sadly familiar to those in ancient times.

We know these things; and hopefully one of the benefits of the wonderful education you have received is that you have had time to consider these wrongs in the world, and grown determined, each in your own way, to right them. And yet, one of the vexing things for those of us interested in promoting greater understanding and cooperation among people is the discovery that even bringing together persons of good will, men and women of principle and purpose, can be difficult.

The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved.

The question, then, is how do we work through these conflicts? Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?

Nowhere do these questions come up more powerfully than on the issue of abortion.

As I considered the controversy surrounding my visit here, I was reminded of an encounter I had during my Senate campaign, one that I describe in a book I wrote called The Audacity of Hope. A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an email from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election. He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life, but that's not what was preventing him from voting for me.

What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my website - an entry that said I would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose." The doctor said that he had assumed I was a reasonable person, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He wrote, "I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words."

Fair-minded words.

After I read the doctor's letter, I wrote back to him and thanked him. I didn't change my position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website. And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that - when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do - that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.

That's when we begin to say, "Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.

So let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women."

Understand - I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it - indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory - the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.

It's a way of life that has always been the Notre Dame tradition. Father Hesburgh has long spoken of this institution as both a lighthouse and a crossroads. The lighthouse that stands apart, shining with the wisdom of the Catholic tradition, while the crossroads is where "...differences of culture and religion and conviction can co-exist with friendship, civility, hospitality, and especially love." And I want to join him and Father Jenkins in saying how inspired I am by the maturity and responsibility with which this class has approached the debate surrounding today's ceremony.

This tradition of cooperation and understanding is one that I learned in my own life many years ago - also with the help of the Catholic Church.

I was not raised in a particularly religious household, but my mother instilled in me a sense of service and empathy that eventually led me to become a community organizer after I graduated college. A group of Catholic churches in Chicago helped fund an organization known as the Developing Communities Project, and we worked to lift up South Side neighborhoods that had been devastated when the local steel plant closed.

It was quite an eclectic crew. Catholic and Protestant churches. Jewish and African-American organizers. Working-class black and white and Hispanic residents. All of us with different experiences. All of us with different beliefs. But all of us learned to work side by side because all of us saw in these neighborhoods other human beings who needed our help - to find jobs and improve schools. We were bound together in the service of others.

And something else happened during the time I spent in those neighborhoods. Perhaps because the church folks I worked with were so welcoming and understanding; perhaps because they invited me to their services and sang with me from their hymnals; perhaps because I witnessed all of the good works their faith inspired them to perform, I found myself drawn - not just to work with the church, but to be in the church. It was through this service that I was brought to Christ.

At the time, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was the Archbishop of Chicago. For those of you too young to have known him, he was a kind and good and wise man. A saintly man. I can still remember him speaking at one of the first organizing meetings I attended on the South Side. He stood as both a lighthouse and a crossroads - unafraid to speak his mind on moral issues ranging from poverty, AIDS, and abortion to the death penalty and nuclear war. And yet, he was congenial and gentle in his persuasion, always trying to bring people together; always trying to find common ground. Just before he died, a reporter asked Cardinal Bernardin about this approach to his ministry. And he said, "You can't really get on with preaching the Gospel until you've touched minds and hearts."

My heart and mind were touched by the words and deeds of the men and women I worked alongside with in Chicago. And I'd like to think that we touched the hearts and minds of the neighborhood families whose lives we helped change. For this, I believe, is our highest calling.

You are about to enter the next phase of your life at a time of great uncertainty. You will be called upon to help restore a free market that is also fair to all who are willing to work; to seek new sources of energy that can save our planet; to give future generations the same chance that you had to receive an extraordinary education. And whether as a person drawn to public service, or someone who simply insists on being an active citizen, you will be exposed to more opinions and ideas broadcast through more means of communications than have ever existed before. You will hear talking heads scream on cable, read blogs that claim definitive knowledge, and watch politicians pretend to know what they're talking about. Occasionally, you may also have the great fortune of seeing important issues debated by well-intentioned, brilliant minds. In fact, I suspect that many of you will be among those bright stars.

In this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you've been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse.

But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.

This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame. And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.

For if there is one law that we can be most certain of, it is the law that binds people of all faiths and no faith together. It is no coincidence that it exists in Christianity and Judaism; in Islam and Hinduism; in Buddhism and humanism. It is, of course, the Golden Rule - the call to treat one another as we wish to be treated. The call to love. To serve. To do what we can to make a difference in the lives of those with whom we share the same brief moment on this Earth.

So many of you at Notre Dame - by the last count, upwards of 80% -- have lived this law of love through the service you've performed at schools and hospitals; international relief agencies and local charities. That is incredibly impressive, and a powerful testament to this institution. Now you must carry the tradition forward. Make it a way of life. Because when you serve, it doesn't just improve your community, it makes you a part of your community. It breaks down walls. It fosters cooperation. And when that happens - when people set aside their differences to work in common effort toward a common good; when they struggle together, and sacrifice together, and learn from one another - all things are possible.

After all, I stand here today, as President and as an African-American, on the 55th anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown v. the Board of Education. Brown was of course the first major step in dismantling the "separate but equal" doctrine, but it would take a number of years and a nationwide movement to fully realize the dream of civil rights for all of God's children. There were freedom rides and lunch counters and Billy clubs, and there was also a Civil Rights Commission appointed by President Eisenhower. It was the twelve resolutions recommended by this commission that would ultimately become law in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There were six members of the commission. It included five whites and one African-American; Democrats and Republicans; two Southern governors, the dean of a Southern law school, a Midwestern university president, and your own Father Ted Hesburgh, President of Notre Dame. They worked for two years, and at times, President Eisenhower had to intervene personally since no hotel or restaurant in the South would serve the black and white members of the commission together. Finally, when they reached an impasse in Louisiana, Father Ted flew them all to Notre Dame's retreat in Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin, where they eventually overcame their differences and hammered out a final deal.

Years later, President Eisenhower asked Father Ted how on Earth he was able to broker an agreement between men of such different backgrounds and beliefs. And Father Ted simply said that during their first dinner in Wisconsin, they discovered that they were all fishermen. And so he quickly readied a boat for a twilight trip out on the lake. They fished, and they talked, and they changed the course of history.

I will not pretend that the challenges we face will be easy, or that the answers will come quickly, or that all our differences and divisions will fade happily away. Life is not that simple. It never has been.

But as you leave here today, remember the lessons of Cardinal Bernardin, of Father Hesburgh, of movements for change both large and small. Remember that each of us, endowed with the dignity possessed by all children of God, has the grace to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we all seek the same love of family and the same fulfillment of a life well-lived. Remember that in the end, we are all fishermen.

If nothing else, that knowledge should give us faith that through our collective labor, and God's providence, and our willingness to shoulder each other's burdens, America will continue on its precious journey towards that more perfect union. Congratulations on your graduation, may God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Obama Speech At Notre Dame.

Speech key for Obama with Catholics
By: Carol E. Lee and Jonathan Martin
May 17, 2009 07:03 AM EST

President Barack Obama’s time at Notre Dame Sunday will be brief, but how he handles one of the biggest, most public controversies of his presidency so far could have a lasting impact on his relationship with a key constituency – Catholic voters.

It’s not just the few dozen graduates boycotting Obama’s 20-minute commencement address to protest his support for abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research. Or the bus loads of protestors driving in from Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit, activists who might never have voted for Obama in the first place.

The controversy — over a pro-abortion-rights president speaking at the nation’s flagship Catholic university — has in fact drawn wider attention to Obama’s views on a divisive issue. Some experts say that could trickle down to those who supported him as a candidate, threatening to upend a political strategy he has carefully tended for the past two years.

“Where it matters is for the Catholics who may have voted for the president but are anti-abortion,” said John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron. “It’s those groups where the president faces a challenge at Notre Dame and beyond that as well, because it’s possible that he could alienate them if the abortion issue becomes salient.”

Obama courted Catholics by keeping the focus on bringing pro- and anti-abortion rights groups together to reduce the number of abortions. He talked of depoliticizing a divisive issue that was at the heart of the “culture wars” Obama sought to avoid.

His stance helped him win over more religious Catholics, too, who liked his policies on issues such as the economy and health care, and saw him as moderate enough on abortion that they were comfortable supporting him.

But some of Obama’s policy decisions and appointments since take office have upset some in the anti-abortion community – and could put him in a situation where renewed disagreement on this one issue sours support from Catholics that was based on his broader platform.

The White House knows that Obama’s majority support among Catholics helped him get elected – he beat Sen. John McCain 54 percent to 45 percent among Catholic voters — and officials have stepped up their efforts to reach out to them since the Notre Dame controversy began in March.

But if the White House once hoped the speech was another way for Obama to reach out to this key constituency, the address instead is likely to be overshadowed by the public outcry, and in a state that Obama carried in the fall, Indiana.

White House Communications Director Anita Dunn declined to say whether administration officials were taken aback by the strong opposition and suggested the president would, in keeping with his political approach, use the moment to try to forge consensus.

"He doesn’t view this as a distraction," Dunn said. "He sees it as an opportunity."

He’s not the only one. Obama’s speech at Notre Dame has become an outlet for anti-abortion groups who have been waiting for a chance to pounce on a president they view as far left on the abortion issue.

In effect, they’re forcing him into a fight he never wanted to have.

“Barack Obama made no secret of trying to win over Catholics and Evangelicals,” said Jill Stanek, an anti-abortion blogger. “We’re trying to take that territory back.”

Obama will touch on the controversy in his speech, White House officials say, but he’ll do so in the context of saying that the students are graduating at a time when they need to come together and rise above old-style politics to move forward.

One administration official described it by saying Obama is not going to South Bend to take on the abortion issue. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters, “The president will obviously make mention of the debate that's been had.”

The demonstrations will greet Obama almost as soon as he arrives on campus. Organizers say there will be a picket line near the entrance of Notre Dame, so anybody who gets off the interstate will see it. Already, airplanes have been carrying banners featuring aborted babies, and trucks doubling as billboards targeting Obama on abortion have been doing loops around the campus. Some protestors have been arrested.

During the actual commencement, a few dozen students and their families will hold an alternative ceremony.

“A commencement should not be a political arena,” explained Mary Daly, a Notre Dame graduate who is leading the student boycott. “It’s not the place for a dialogue.”

Obama still has considerable support among Catholics. A recent Pew survey showed 50 percent of Catholics surveyed think Notre Dame was right to invite him to speak, while 28 percent disagreed with the invitation.

But Obama’s support has dropped among certain groups, including white Catholics who attend mass regularly, according to Greg Smith, a research fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. In February, two-thirds of white Catholics who attend mass every week approved of his job performance, and now less than half do, Smith said.

Obama also comes to Notre Dame as a new Gallup poll found that for the first time, the majority of Americans are anti-abortion.

Obama has sought to position himself well amid the changing sentiment.

Politically, Dunn pointed out, Obama has made clear to anti-abortion voters that they are welcome in the Democratic fold. Obama’s convention platform was amended to include references to pre- and post-natal care and adoption – ways "to reduce the need for abortions.”

Obama also gave his anti-abortion colleague, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Penn) a prominent speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention, 16 years after Casey’s father, the former Pennsylvania governor, was denied a convention speech.

The younger Casey ardently defended Obama, whom he endorsed at a key moment last year in the Democratic primary.

"He could be invited to speak and people could say that they disagree,” Casey said. "But the idea that you can’t appear on the campus of a Catholic college because you have a disagreement, even on something as important as this issue, I don’t think it’s good for school or the church.”

Casey said the opposition to Obama’s speech is "rooted in partisanship."

"It's people who didn't vote for him, don't support him and want to use this to register their disappointment," he said.

Others disagree and say Obama is increasingly alienating Catholics who voted for him in November.

“There’s a lot of buyer’s remorse growing out there,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center who recently joined Catholic leaders in urging Obama to remove Harry Knox from his White House advisory council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, charging that Knox made anti-Catholic remarks.

“The anger is growing,” he said. “And the sense of outrage is growing because people are seeing the Obama administration picking unnecessary fights and challenging Catholics to political duels.”

Bozell won’t be voicing his protest at Notre Dame. But for those who are, like Stanek, the more immediate goal is “to make Barack Obama radioactive on any Catholic college campus,” she said.

© 2009 Capitol News Company, LLC

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nancy Pelosi On Interrogation Techniques

Pelosi Statement on Congressional Briefings on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques
Friday, May 8, 2009

Contact: Brendan Daly/Nadeam Elshami, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. –Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on Congressional briefings related to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques:

“Of the 40 CIA briefings to Congress reported recently in the press, I was only briefed once, on September 4, 2002, as I have previously stated.

“As I said in my statement of December 9, 2007:

‘I was briefed on interrogation techniques the Administration was considering using in the future. The Administration advised that legal counsel for both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal.’

“I had no further briefings on the techniques.

“My understanding of the briefing I received is consistent with the description that CIA General Counsel Scott Muller provided to Congresswoman Jane Harman in a letter dated February 28, 2003, which states:

‘As we informed both you and the leadership of the Intelligence Committees last September, a number of Executive Branch lawyers including lawyers from the Department of Justice participated in the determination that, in the appropriate circumstances, the use of these techniques is fully consistent with U.S. law.’

“As reported in the press, a cover letter from CIA Director Panetta accompanying the briefings memo released this week concedes that the descriptions provided by the CIA may not be accurate.”

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Big Bad John -Senator John Cornyn

Gov. Perry Backs Resolution for Texas Sovereignty Under 10th Amendment

10 Things You Did Not Know About Kay Bailey Hutchison

10 Things You Didn't Know About Kay Bailey Hutchison

By Jennifer O'Shea
Posted July 24, 2008
1. Kathryn Ann Bailey was born July 22, 1943 in Galveston, Texas, and grew up in La Marque, a nearby suburb. Hutchison has said that she got her strong work ethic from her father, Allan, who was in real estate and often worked seven days a week.

2. Hutchison's family has a long history in Texas. Her great-great-grandfather, Charles S. Taylor, signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Taylor's law partner was Thomas Rusk, who became the first senator from Texas.

3. In high school, Kay Bailey was a popular—and busy—student. She did well in her classes and was voted the prom queen and queen of her senior class. She was also a cheerleader, and she studied ballet for 12 years.

4. During her college years at the University of Texas, she started as a government major, but switched to law because, she told an interviewer years later, she had not found a husband. When she completed her law degree at the University of Texas law school in 1967, she was one of only seven women in her graduating class.

5. After graduating from law school, Hutchison found that Houston law firms were reluctant to hire women at that time. Frustrated, she walked into television station KPRC in Houston and asked for a job. Despite her lack of experience, she was hired to cover local courts and politics.

6. Hutchison got into politics in 1971 after interviewing Anne Armstrong, who was then the new cochair of the Republican National Committee. Soon after, she left her television job to become Armstrong's press secretary.

7. In 1972, Hutchison became the first Republican woman to be elected to the Texas House of Representatives, where she was elected to two terms. One of her colleagues in the legislature was her future husband, Ray Hutchison.

8. After losing a close race for the House of Representatives in 1982, Hutchison left politics for a time to run a candy company in Dallas. She was later elected Texas state treasurer in 1990 in a race where her campaign manager was Karl Rove.

9. In 1993, Hutchison won a close special election to fill former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen's seat in the U.S. Senate when he left to join the Clinton administration. Hutchison recalled later that she arrived in Washington so quickly that she did not yet have an office staff in place and her colleague Phil Gramm loaned one of his staffers to help answer phones.

10. Hutchison and her husband have adopted two children, a daughter, Bailey, and son, Houston. The family lives in Dallas.


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

British Labour versus British National Party

Labour MP Denis MacShane blames 'xenophobic' Tories for rise of far-right BNP

By James Chapman
Last updated at 11:34 PM on 04th May 2009

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Denis MacShane says the Tories will be to blame if the BNP performs strongly in European elections
A senior Labour MP has prompted outrage by claiming that the Conservatives had 'prepared the ground' for a surge by the British National Party.

Former Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane said the Tories''xenophobic' attacks on the EU would be to blame if the far-Right party made ground in next month's European elections.

But his extraordinary claim was attacked by the Conservatives, who argued it was Labour's failings which had caused a disillusionment with mainstream politics.

Mr MacShane's analysis also appears at odds with warnings from senior Labour politicians that Government infighting risked allowing a BNP breakthrough.

There are mounting fears the party could win as many as six seats in European Parliament elections on June 4.

That would transform the BNP from a
fringe participant in local elections to a national organisation, with up to £2million of EU funding.

Mr MacShane, Labour's former Europe minister, said: 'Slowly, the European election is coming to the boil.

'It was the Greens in 1989, UKIP in 2004, so perhaps in 2009 it will be the BNP. The Tories have prepared the ground with their constant xenophobic attacks on Europe.'

But Baroness Warsi, Tory community cohesion spokesman, accused Mr MacShane of a 'lazy cop-out'.

'It's much easier to blame somebody else than address the failings and shortcomings of the Government, which means some voters feel that a fringe party is an attractive alternative,' she said.

Ken Clarke exposes Tories' Europe divide with claim leaders are 'less Eurosceptic than in the past'

'Labour either shout and scream that everybody who votes BNP is a racist or they try to blame us for raising legitimate issues to which they have no answer. It used to be immigration, now it's Europe.

'Most people who vote for the BNP aren't racist. I accept that they feel so frustrated by the sort of politics they see today that they feel the only way to be heard is to vote for a racist party.

'They would never want to have them in power. It's their way of giving the other parties a kick up the backside.'

And she claimed that the biggest issue concerning voters was Labour's reneging on its pledge to hold a referendum on the revived EU constitution.

Her comments came as former Labour leader Neil Kinnock warned that continued squabbling within the party risked handing seats to the BNP.

'We need to present a united front and not keep in-fighting which will hand victories to the BNP,' he said.

'Discussions of leadership challenges are ludicrous and damaging.'

The Hitler Card verses The British National Party

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Healthcare Reform very popular.

.Dr. Frank Luntz, a top Republican consultant on the language of politics, is warning the GOP that the American people want health-care reform.
Photo: AP

Planned Economy or Planned Destruction,1934

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dallas Hotel Approved. Vote NO is YES to Hotel.

McKinney Election results for Mayor and City Council Positions

Loughmiller,Brooks and Day Win Elections.

Mayor of McKinney- 100% of votes reported.

Loughmiller----------- 3249 votes 60%

Fuller------------------ 2134 votes 40%

City Council At Large

100% of votes posted.

Brooks------------------ 3219 votes 64%

Garza------------------ 976 votes 19%

Rath------------------- 857 votes 17%

District 1 City Council 100% of votes posted.

Day --------------------- 205 votes 54%

Tutson ----------------- 72 votes 19%

Malvern ---------------- 63 votes 17%

Wilder ------------------- 36 votes 10%

Don Day, David Brooks, Brian Loughmiller

With 85% of results in, Loughmiller with 60% of the votes for Mayor of McKinney, Texas. Brooks has 64% of the votes for City Council At Large position. Don Day has won City Council District 1 with 100% of the vote in.

McKinney ,Texas Early Voting Results

McKinney, Texas .Early Voting results
Mayor- Brian Loughmiller------- Votes --2483 -----61.7 %
George Fuller-----------------------------1541 -----38.30
At Large City Council --------
David Brooks ------------Votes --2489-------------- 66%
Curtis Rath ------------------------587 -------------15.57 %
Gilda Garza ------------------------695 -------------18.43 %
City Council District 1----------Votes
Don Day----------------------- 144---------------- --58.61 %
Alonso Tutson------------------- 46 ------------------18.85 %
Randal Wilder -------------------22----------- --------9.02%
Maurice Malvern ----------------33 ------------------13.52

Dallas Proposition too close to call. Early voting results in.