Justices may extend gun owner rights nationwide

Justices may extend gun owner rights nationwide

By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer Mark Sherman, Associated Press Writer Tue Mar 2, 9:12 pm ET

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court suggested Tuesday it will strike down U.S. cities’ outright bans on handguns, a ruling that could establish a nationwide ownership right fervently sought by gun advocates. But the justices indicated less severe limits could survive, continuing disputes over the “right to keep and bear arms.”

Chicago area residents who want handguns for protection in their homes are asking the court to extend its 2008 decision in support of gun rights in Washington, D.C., to state and local laws.

Such a ruling would firmly establish a right that has been the subject of politically charged and often fierce debate for decades. But it also would ensure years of legal challenges to sort out exactly which restrictions may stand and which must fall.

Indeed, the outcome of the Washington lawsuit in 2008 already has spawned hundreds of court challenges, including one in Massachusetts over a state law requiring gun owners to lock weapons in their homes.

Two years ago, the court announced that the Constitution’s Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess guns, at least for self-defense in the home.

That ruling applied only to federal laws and struck down a ban on handguns and trigger lock requirement for other guns in Washington, a city with unique federal status. At the same time, the court was careful not to cast doubt on other regulations of firearms.

The court already has said that most of the guarantees in the Bill of Rights serve as a check on state and local laws. Still, “states have substantial latitude and ample authority to impose reasonable regulations,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was among the majority in the 2008 decision.

“Why can’t we do the same thing with firearms?” he asked.

Alan Gura, the lawyer who represents the Chicago challengers, also has filed a new suit against Washington over the city’s prohibition on carrying loaded weapons outside the home.

The justices themselves acknowledged that only through future lawsuits would the precise contours of the constitutional gun right be established. “We haven’t said anything about what the content of the Second Amendment is beyond what was said in Heller,” Chief Justice John Roberts said, using the name of the Washington resident who challenged the city’s ban.

Roberts and the four other justices who made up the majority in the Washington case remain on the court, so it would not be a surprise to see them extend the Second Amendment’s reach to the states.

Still, James Feldman, a Washington-based lawyer representing the city of Chicago, urged the court to reject the challenges to the gun laws in that city and its suburb of Oak Park, Ill. Handguns have been banned in those two places for nearly 30 years, although they appear to be the last two remaining jurisdictions with outright bans, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Feldman ran into difficulty with several justices who formed the majority in 2008 — the ruling’s author Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Kennedy and Roberts. Only Thomas asked no questions, as is his custom during argument.

Even those who were not in the 2008 majority appeared to recognize that some extension, or incorporation as it is called, of the Second Amendment is likely. “Would you be happy if we incorporated it and said reasonable regulation is part of the incorporation?” asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who only joined the court last year.

As in earlier cases applying parts of the Bill of Rights to the states, the justices suggested they use the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, which was passed in the wake of the Civil War to ensure the rights of newly freed slaves.

The court has relied on that same clause — “no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law” — in cases that established a woman’s right to an abortion and knocked down state laws against interracial marriage and gay sex.

This is the approach the National Rifle Association favors.

For years, Scalia has complained about the use of the due process clause. But Tuesday he said, “As much as I think it’s wrong, even I have acquiesced in it.”

Gura urged the court to employ another part of the 14th amendment, forbidding a state to make or enforce any law “which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

Breathing new life into the “privileges or immunities” clause might allow for new arguments to shore up other rights, including abortion and property rights, liberal and conservative legal scholars have said.

But why use that approach, calling for overturning 140 years of law, Scalia said, “unless you’re bucking for a place on some law school faculty?”

Gura assured the court he was not in search of a job.

A decision is expected by the end of June.

The case is McDonald v. Chicago, 08-1521.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Bribe ‘Em: Obama Now Trading Judgeships For Votes

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Bribe ‘Em: Obama Now Trading Judgeships For Votes


Posted by Lori Ziganto (Profile)

Wednesday, March 3rd at 8:58PM EST


Chicago-style politics once again coming home to roost. The Weekly Standard is reporting that Obama is now selling judgeships for health care votes:

Tonight, Barack Obama will host ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he’s obviously trying to persuade them to switch their votes to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson of Utah. The White House just sent out a press release announcing that today President Obama nominated Matheson’s brother Scott M. Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

“Scott Matheson is a distinguished candidate for the Tenth Circuit court,” President Obama said.  “Both his legal and academic credentials are impressive and his commitment to judicial integrity is unwavering.  I am honored to nominate this lifelong Utahn to the federal bench.”

Huh. How convenient. Especially when one takes into account Matheson’s past record on the health care boondoggle:

He voted against the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee back in July and again when it passed the House in November. But now he’s “undecided” on ramming the bill through Congress. “The Congressman is looking for development of bipartisan consensus,” Matheson’s press secretary Alyson Heyrend wrote to THE WEEKLY STANDARD on February 22. “It’s too early to know if that will occur.”

Perhaps they learned from the bribes of Senators “you don’t even have to get us drunk first” Landrieu and Nelson that outright cash money bribery back-fires a bit and are trying different tactics for Congressman. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch — your brother’s!

For anyone other than a delusional egomaniac, the fact that you have a super majority yet still cannot pass legislation — because no one wants it — would be enough to tell you, hey, maybe this isn’t a very good idea. Not Obama! Raised up politically in Chicago, he resorts to what he knows; strong arm tactics and outright bribery. This isn’t the first time more than just shades of his Chicago political background have come into play. He pulled the Chicago version of the petulant child saying “La la la, I can’t hear you” when he tried to freeze out Fox News and censor the citizenry’s news.

When that failed, much like everything he touches, he moved onto the Chicago-style equivalent of the smarmy, unethical Class President candidate, promising Pizza Fridays for votes. Now, for your brothers too! It has become a pattern, starting with bribery attempts for inconvenient primary challengers to drop their bids and has now moved onto vote buying. I’m starting to think that the Pay Czar is actually a Payola Czar.

They can’t, however, bribe the public with the public’s money. I do believe the 2010 elections might teach them that lesson.

Lid blows off Obama’s forgotten scandal

Lid blows off Obama’s forgotten scandal

March 3rd, 2010

By Drew Zahn, WorldNetDaily

 Obama’s Cronyism is being revealed

An updated investigation report on the scandal known as “Walpingate” adds fuel to the suspicion that President Obama may have fired Gerald Walpin, an independent inspector general, as an illegal act of political cronyism and revenge.

“Throughout our investigation of Mr. Walpin’s removal, the White House has repeatedly communicated that the president was not motivated by inappropriate political reasons,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., one of the authors of the updated report. “The fact is Gerald Walpin led an aggressive investigation of a political ally of President Obama that successfully recovered taxpayer dollars. While firing an investigator who uncovered the abuse of funds by a political ally might be considered an act of ‘political courage’ in Chicago politics, for most Americans it raises troubling questions.”

As WND reported, the White House fired Walpin shortly after the inspector general exposed sexual misconduct and gross misappropriation of federal funds by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a prominent Barack Obama supporter.

Independent federal inspectors general, however, are supposed to be granted special protection from political interference or retaliation – thanks in part to a law co-sponsored by then-Sen. Barack Obama – to ensure they are free to investigate waste and fraud uninfluenced by political cronyism.

The firing led to an investigation by inspectors general advocate Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Darrell Issa. Their initial 62-page report last November concluded that the administration did not adhere to the law governing inspectors general, that Obama’s defense against charges of political retaliation was “unsupported and unpersuasive” and that the White House “orchestrated an after-the-fact smear campaign to justify” Walpin’s termination.

Read More:

Obama’s Land Grab

Obama’s Land Grab

March 3rd, 2010

By Sen. Jim DeMint, Washington Times

  Obama is considering a blatant land grab

You’d think the Obama administration is busy enough controlling the banks, insurance companies and automakers, but thanks to whistleblowers at the Department of the Interior, we now learn they’re planning to increase their control over energy-rich land in the West.

A secret administration memo has surfaced revealing plans for the federal government to seize more than 10 million acres from Montana to New Mexico, halting job- creating activities like ranching, forestry, mining and energy development. Worse, this land grab would dry up tax revenue that’s essential for funding schools, firehouses and community centers.

President Obama could enact the plans in this memo with just the stroke of a pen, without any input from the communities affected by it.

At a time when our national unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, it is unbelievable anyone would be looking to stop job-creating energy enterprises, yet that’s exactly what’s happening.

The document lists 14 properties that, according to the document, “might be good candidates” for Mr. Obama to nab through presidential proclamation. Apparently, Washington bureaucrats believe it’s more important to preserve grass and rocks for birdwatchers and backpackers than to keep these local economies thriving.

Read More:

How the Congressional Democrats Doom Obama to One Term

How the Congressional Democrats Doom Obama to One Term

By Clarice Feldman

At a dinner party at my home, a Democrat friend (who is a Washington player with extensive experience as a congressional staffer and in the executive branch before he entered the private practice of law) and I were discussing those things on which we did agree: the overstaffing on the Hill; the fact that much of that staff is young and utterly inexperienced; how the dismantling of the seniority system — which we’d all been for when the Southern committee chairs blocked civil rights legislation — had not been an unmitigated good; and the failures of this administration, with the almost certain consequence that Obama will not be elected to a second term.

I had in the back of my mind been mulling over my estimation that Obama is failing because he allowed the congressional Democratic leaders to shape major legislative endeavors. I believed that this delegation to Congress had resulted in unpopular legislation which filled the coffers of the various interest groups behind the party without meeting critical national needs. Further, I thought that this had been done in a way that was so openly corrupt (like the Louisiana Purchase) that it weakened the president and makes it increasingly likely that he will achieve nothing of significance…and certainly will be denied a second term.
I had considered this collapse of the incumbent’s power and popularity down to Obama’s failure to focus and his laziness and inattention to detail — not to mention his utter failure to master the executive skills he lacked when elected.
My friend had a very different take, and I think it so brilliant that I’d like to share it with you.
He believes that there is an interrelationship between the staffing situation on the Hill and the ineffectiveness of recent Democratic presidents like Carter and Obama — a structural problem that, if it remains uncorrected, will doom most Democrat presidents to a single term in office.
He observes that where once legislative initiatives originated in the office of the Chief Executive, in recent decades, they are increasingly being written on the Hill (by those inexperienced twenty-something staffers). The problem is that once a Democrat is elected president, if he has a Democrat majority in the Congress, then the Committee chairmen believe and act on the assumption that they are in charge. (He didn’t say this, as he remains a staunch Democrat, but I will — many of these congressional leaders come from safe districts far to the left of the majority of Americans.) They craft bills which might be popular in, for example, San Francisco or Manhattan or Boston, but are wildly unpopular across the country. The White House is largely cut out of the process, except to sell the package or twist what arms can be twisted in a White House gathering to obtain needed votes.
This process, my friend continued, dooms the president to one term because he quickly loses national support.
He concedes that there were two exceptions: Clinton and LBJ. He explains that LBJ never allowed himself to be manipulated by Congress. He paid great attention to every move on the Hill. He personally called in each recalcitrant committee chair and member and ruthlessly employed threats — such as promises to block all funds and assistance to their districts — if they failed to support him. Clinton, as we all know, manipulated Congress by his outsized charm and ability to seduce the opposition inside and outside his party to work with him on acceptable compromises.
It’s possible to nibble away a bit at my friend‘s thesis on some historic points. My friend didn’t say this, but, of course, Clinton’s charm offensive was more critical when the Republicans took over Congress. In fact, it may mean that Clinton was not an exception to the rule. One might argue, as well, that LBJ might not have been that exceptional either because the Democratic leadership in the 1960s was less extremely leftward than it presently is.
But without getting too far afield, I think my friend has made a valid point in general, and without a substantial change in the drift of the congressional Democratic leadership, his analysis will be applicable going forward.
That brings us to my friend’s final point: No one should be elected to the presidency without having had a lot of executive experience — either in business or at a government level outside of the Congress (governor, for example, or cabinet secretary).
Given the historic congressional overreach into executive functions and the disparity in the views of the safe Democratic districts from which so many congressional chairmen come compared to those of the American people, unless a president forcefully commands control of the process as LBJ did, or has the charm and skill of Clinton to woo his colleagues to his way of thinking, Obama and any other Democrat elected to the office can count on no more than one term.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/how_the_congressional_democrat.html at March 03, 2010 – 03:37:47 PM CST

Economists: Another Financial Crisis on the Way

Economists: Another Financial Crisis on the Way

Nonpartisan Group Led by Nobel Winner Calls for Stronger Financial Reforms


March 2, 2010 —

Even as many Americans still struggle to recover from the country’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, another crisis  one that will be even worse than the current one  is looming, according to a new report from a group of leading economists, financiers, and former federal regulators.

In the report, the panel, which includes Rob Johnson of the United Nations Commission of Experts on Finance and bailout watchdog Elizabeth Warren, warns that financial regulatory reform measures proposed by the Obama administration and Congress must be beefed up to prevent banks from continuing to engage in high-risk investing that precipitated the near-collapse of the U.S. economy in 2008.

The report warns that the country is now immersed in a “doomsday cycle” wherein banks use borrowed money to take massive risks in an attempt to pay big dividends to shareholders and big bonuses to management  and when the risks go wrong, the banks receive taxpayer bailouts from the government.

“Risk-taking at banks,” the report cautions, “will soon be larger than ever.”

Without more stringent reforms, “another crisis  a bigger crisis that weakens both our financial sector and our larger economy  is more than predictable, it is inevitable,” Johnson says in the report, commissioned by the nonpartisan Roosevelt Institute.

The institute’s chief economist, Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, calls the report “an important point of departure for a debate on where we are on the road to regulatory reform.”

The report blasts some of Washington’s key players. Johnson writes, “Our government leaders have shown little capacity to fix the flaws in our market system.” Two other panelists, Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT, and Peter Boone of the Centre for Economic Performance, voiced similar criticisms.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner “oversaw policy as the bubble was inflating,” write Johnson and Boone, and “these same men are now designing our ‘rescue.'”

The study says that “In 2008-09, we came remarkably close to another Great Depression. Next time we may not be so ‘lucky.’ The threat of the doomsday cycle remains strong and growing,” they say. “What will happen when the next shock hits? We may be nearing the stage where the answer will be  just as it was in the Great Depression  a calamitous global collapse.”

The panelists call for major banks to maintain liquid capital of at least 15 to 25 percent of their assets, the enactment of stiffer consequences for executives of bailout recipients and for government officials to start breaking up firms that grow too big.

In the report, Elizabeth Warren, who was chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, reiterates her calls for an independent agency to protect consumers from abusive Wall Street practices.

“While manufacturers have developed iPods and flat-screen televisions, the financial industry has perfected the art of offering mortgages, credit cards and check overdrafts laden with hidden terms that obscure price and risk,” Warren writes. “Good products are mixed with dangerous products, and consumers are left on their own to try to sort out which is which. The consequences can be disastrous.”

Frank Partnoy, a panelist from the University of San Diego, claims that “the balance sheets of most Wall Street banks are fiction.” Another panelist, Raj Date of the Cambridge Winter Center for Financial Institutions Policy, argues that government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have become “needlessly complex and irretrievably flawed” and should be eliminated. The report also calls for greater competition among credit rating agencies and increased regulation of the derivatives market, including requiring that credit-default swaps be traded on regulated exchanges.

With the Senate Banking Committee, led by Chris Dodd, D-Conn., poised to unveil its financial regulatory reform proposal sometime in the next week, the report calls on Congress to enact reforms strong enough to prevent another meltdown.

“Sen. Dick Durbin once said the banks ‘owned’ the Senate,” says Johnson. “The next few weeks will determine whether or not that statement is true.”

In response to the report, a spokesman for the Treasury Department told ABC News that the administration’s regulatory reform proposals would be the most significant Wall Street overhaul in generations.

“We laid out our strong principles of reform last June and we have been fighting every day since to see them enacted in law,” said Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams. “While we have a tough fight ahead, we are getting close to seeing Congress pass the most significant overhaul of the financial sector in our lifetimes

No longer Londonistan but Hamastan

No longer Londonistan but Hamastan

Wednesday, 24th February 2010

An immensely important and chilling analysis by the authoritative Intelligence and Analysis Information Centre in Tel Aviv highlights the shocking extent to which Britain has become the European epicentre of Hamas activity. Hamas, let us remind ourselves, is the genocidal terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organisation, now in cahoots with Shi’ite Iran, which is pledged to exterminate Israel and kill Jewish people everywhere, along with extinguishing human rights within the Islamic world. Its cause should be absolute anathema to the west, which should be doing everything in its power to stamp it out as the unconscionable threat that it is to life and liberty. Yet for the past decade, Britain has turned itself into the principal focus within Europe for the political, propaganda and legal activities of Hamas. The report states:

…in recent years, Hamas, with Muslim Brotherhood support, has managed to take over a considerable portion of the Palestinian discourse in Britain, at the expense of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, and has contributed to turning Britain into a center for extensive anti-Israeli activity.

A broad network of activists and supporters: Initially composed of a core of Hamas operatives who found refuge in Britain in the 1990s, it is aided by radical Islamic elements (most conspicuously by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ parent organization), along with radical leftist organizations hostile to Israel and the West. They make it possible for Hamas and its ideology to infiltrate British politics, media and universities. Hamas has supporters in the British political system affiliated with the radical left such as George Galloway, Ken Livingstone,1 Jenny Tonge and Jeremy Corbin.2

C. As far as the media are concerned, Britain is one of the most important centers in the world, especially for the Arabic-language press, television and Internet. By exploiting the Arab media operating in London and by issuing its own publications, Hamas gained the capabilities to spread its message to the Muslim communities in the West and its target audiences in the Middle East.

D. As far as legal aspects are concerned, Hamas exploits the British legal system, which enables it to use British courts to bring suits against senior Israeli political and military figures on accusations of so-called “war crimes.” Thus for Hamas (through its network of local supporters), Britain is a convenient arena in which the Goldstone Report can be employed to make political and propaganda capital against Israel, using it as a basis for trying Israeli public figures and delegitimizing the State of Israel.

3. In the extensive anti-Israeli activity undertaken by Hamas in Britain, the movement is careful to hide its identity to keep from running afoul of the British legal system and authorities. For that reason its activists and supporters (including those who were formerly Hamas operatives) are careful not to identify themselves formally as Hamas activists, preferring to appear as supporters of the Palestinian cause, identifying it with Hamas’ ideology and policies.

Examples of this activity include:

An online bi-weekly Hamas magazine is published in London. Called Al-Fateh, it is aimed at children, who a very important Hamas target audience. The magazine does not specifically say it is affiliated with Hamas, but its contents are clearly Hamas-oriented.

… The monthly Filastin al-Muslima, Hamas’ main publication, has been issued in London since 1981. It spreads hate propaganda against Israel and encourages terrorism and terrorists.

the satellite channel Al-Hiwar. It is an Arabic channel operating from London affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood… It spreads radical Islamic messages and hatred for Israel.

…[Hamas]involvement in (and possibly initiating) legal actions to try senior Israelis in British courts: Dia’a al-Din Madhoun, head of the Hamas’ “documentation committee” (Al-Tawthiq) said that the committee had initiated suits in British courts against former Minister Tsipi Livni when it became known that she planned to visit Britain on December 13, 2009. He said that the committee was working in coordination with a lawyer in Britain named Tayib Ali and a group of other lawyers.7 Hamas’ “documentation committee” seems to provide such lawyers with “evidence” (concocted by the de facto Hamas administration) as “legal” foundations for trying Israelis. Tayib Ali is active in forums in Britain working to try so-called Israeli “war criminals,” and to that end, on December 7, 2009 lectured at a seminar to promote trials of “Israeli war criminals” under the sponsorship of a group called The Middle East Monitor.

… in our assessment, Hamas’ involvement in university activity is carried out through radical leftist organizations and radical Islamic elements (such as activists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood). Their activities include anti-Israeli incitement (through Hamas-supporting speakers who appear at university functions or student activities), initiatives for academic boycotts of Israel and for supporting the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip. Hints of Hamas involvement can be seen in the London School of Economics’ Student Union decision on November 26, 2009, to twin with the Islamic University in Gaza, Hamas’ political and military stronghold in the Gaza Strip. The Student Union of Queen Mary College followed in their footsteps (December 8, 2008). Both institutions are part of London University.

Providing money and material support for the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip through Lifeline convoys: The convoys are dispatched to the Gaza Strip by an organization called Viva Palestina, founded by pro-Hamas British MP George Galloway.

Every MP should be sent a copy of this report. We in Britain are no longer living in Londonistan, it seems, but in Hamastan.


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