Monday, December 31, 2007

The Economy in 2007 has an interesting article counting down their Top 10 Economic Stories of 2007.

We live in a new Gilded Age, one in which the wealthy are doing amazingly well -- really well -- while the vast majority of Americans try to cover spiraling costs with stagnant wages and struggle to stay afloat. This year, AlterNet writers analyzed the shifts in the American economy during (and before) the Bush years, held corporations accountable for the kinds of outrages the commercial media rarely touch and even found a few bright spots within the gloom.

The list covers everything from the corporate-driven fallacy of painless motherhood to the disintegration of the middle-class in America. There are links to fuller articles for each item on the list. It's an informative read.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Navy JAG Andrew Williams-Letter to Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann

Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Williams, A JAG officer with the Naval Reserve, resigned from the Navy, in protest over the accepted use of torture, in particular, water-boarding. Although he doesn't think much will change, he felt the need to take a stand and keep his commitment to honor his country and to defend the Constitution. Sadly, he had to acknowledge for himself that continuing to serve in a military that no longer honours that commitment, was no longer possible. To that end, he wrote a letter to Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, explaining his position.

Lt. Cmdr. Williams says:

The final straw for me was listening to General Hartmann, the highest-ranking military lawyer in charge of the military commissions, testify that he refused to say that waterboarding captured U.S. soldiers by Iranian operatives would be torture.

His testimony had just sold all the soldiers and sailors at risk of capture and subsequent torture down the river. Indeed, he would not rule out waterboarding as torture when done by the United States and indeed felt evidence obtained by such methods could be used in future trials.

Below is the text of his letter, a very direct call-out of where we have come to.

Thank you, General Hartmann, for finally admitting the United States is now part of a long tradition of torturers going back to the Inquisition.

In the middle ages, the Inquisition called waterboarding “toca” and used it with great success. In colonial times, it was used by the Dutch East India Company during the Amboyna Massacre of 1623.

Waterboarding was used by the Nazi Gestapo and the feared Japanese Kempeitai. In World War II, our grandfathers had the wisdom to convict Japanese Officer Yukio Asano of waterboarding and other torture practices in 1947, giving him 15 years hard labor.

Waterboarding was practiced by the Khmer Rouge at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison. Most recently, the U.S. Army court martialed a soldier for the practice in 1968 during the Vietnam conflict.

General Hartmann, following orders was not an excuse for anyone put on trial in Nuremberg, and it will not be an excuse for you or your superiors, either.

Despite the CIA and the administration attempting to cover up the practice by destroying interrogation tapes, in direct violation of a court order, and congressional requests, the truth about torture, illegal spying on Americans and secret renditions is coming out.

That about says it all.

Bill of Rights?...What Bill of Rights?

Whenever I see any kind of concise or compiled list of the damage that has been done to my country by the current administration (and its backers), I am just awestruck at what they have been able to accomplish and get away with. I'm also aware of the pitfalls of believing, without question, in our country. I don't mean to imply that we shouldn't believe in America, at all. I'm talking about that insideous tendency that Americans have to believe that our country is infallible and invincible. It's only been the last year that accusations of "conspiracy freak" and "traitor" have begun to lessen (somewhat) against those who have been speaking out about what has been going on here.

Marktheshark, from Daily Kos, has compiled an eye-opening (and frightening) list of the progressive pecking away that the Bush administration has been doing to the Constitution and, specifically, the Bill of Rights. A couple of examples are:

January 2001

• President Bush signs off on a presidential directive that delays [indefinitely] the scheduled release of presidential documents authorized by the Presidential Records Act of 1978, pertaining to the Reagan-Bush administration.

• The Bush regime begins the process of radically broadening scope of documents and information which can be deemed classified

As Mark points out, "They hit the ground running in January 2001 and took the insidious path to power; taking a little at a time, so we unwitting Americans wouldn’t notice."

The list continues:

February 2001

• The National Security Agency (NSA) sets up
Project Groundbreaker, a monitoring program for domestic call infrastructure.

February -- April 2001

• A secret order issued by the Bush regime authorizes NSA monitoring of domestic phone and internet traffic

...and more recently:

September – October 2003

• The FBI changes its traditional policy of destroying all data and documents collected on innocent citizens in the course of criminal investigations. This information would, according to the bureau, now be permanently stored. Two years later in late 2005 Executive Order 13388, expanded access to those files for "state, local and tribal" governments and for "appropriate private sector entities," which are not defined

January 2004

• The FBI begins keeping a database of US citizens based on information obtained via NSLs

June 2006

• Supreme court rules that evidence obtained in violation of the "knock and announce" rules can still be permitted in court

...and it goes on from there.

I began this post talking about the American tendency to believe blindly. I speak to that because Mark's primary point is that we haven't been paying attention. I accept that, but I also believe that it is more than that. There is a fundamental belief by many in this country that it just isn't possible for America to experience the militarism, totalitarianism, and overall degradation of our system that other countries do, that somehow we are different and immune to that. We aren't, and to continue to cling to that falsehood is doing as much, if not more damage than not paying attention.
And here is the rest of it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Oregon's Supplemental Session

Barring any traction for Sen. Larry George's (R-Sherwood) lawsuit to halt it, February 4, 2008 is the scheduled start date for the Oregon legislature's supplemental session. Although I don't live in Senator Avel Gordly's district, I do receive her newsletter. Her most recent letter includes the committee schedules (generally) and who is on what committee. I am posting it here so that folks know who to contact on the various issues.

February 2008 Supplemental Session Committee Schedules

Senate Committee Meeting Schedule (month of February 2008 only)

Senate Commerce and Labor

Meets Mon., Wed. & Fri. 10 a.m.-noon, HR B

Chair: Senator Ben Westlund

Vice Chair: Senator Gary George

Senator Richard Devlin

Senator Floyd Prozanski

Senator Jackie Winters

Senate Sub-Committee on Health Care Reform

Meets Tuesday 1-3 p.m., HR A

Chair: Senator Frank Morse

Senator Alan Bates

Senator Ben Westlund

Senator Frank Morse

Senate Education & General Government

Meets Tues. & Thurs. 8:30-10:15 a.m., HR B

Chair: Senator Vicki Walker

Vice Chair: Senator Jeff Kruse

Senator Mark Hass

Senator Rick Metsger

Senate Elections and Ethics

Meets Tues., Wed., & Thurs. 3:30-5:30 p.m., HR B

Chair: Senator Kate Brown

Vice Chair: Senator Ted Ferrioli

Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson

Senate Environment & Natural Resources

Meets Mon. & Wed., 1-3 p.m. Fri., 3:30-5:30 p.m., HR B

Chair: Senator Brad Avakian

Vice Chair: Senator Roger Beyer

Senator Alan Bates

Senator David Nelson

Senator Floyd Prozanski

Senate Finance & Revenue

Meets Mon., & Wed. 1-3 p.m., Fri. 3:30-5:30 p.m., HR A

Chair: Senator Ginny Burdick

Vice Chair: Senator Frank Morse

Senator Jason Atkinson

Senator Mark Hass

Senator Rod Monroe

Senator Bruce Starr

Senator Ben Westlund

Senate Health & Human Services

Meets Mon., Wed. & Fri. 10 a.m.-noon, HR A

Chair: Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson

Vice Chair: Senator Avel Gordly

Senator Margaret Carter

Senator Jeff Kruse

Senator Bill Morrisette

Senate Judiciary

Meets Tues., Thurs. & Fri. 1-3 p.m., HR B

Chair: Senator Floyd Prozanski

Vice Chair: Senator Roger Beyer

Senator Ginny Burdick

Senator Vicki Walker

Senator Doug Whitsett

Senate Rules and Executive Appointments

Meets Tues., 10 a.m.-noon, Thurs., 1-3 p.m., HR A

Chair: Senator Richard Devlin

Vice Chair: Senator Ted Ferrioli

Senator Jason Atkinson

Senator Brad Avakian

Senator Kate Brown

Senate Services to Seniors and People with Disabilities

Meets Tue., & Thur. 10 a.m.-noon, HR B, Fridays, 1-3 p.m., HR A

Chair: Senator Bill Morrisette

Vice Chair: Senator Jeff Kruse

Senator Peter Courtney

Senate Transportation

Meets Tues., Thurs., and Fri. 1-3 p.m., HR C

Chair: Senator Rick Metsger

Vice Chair: Senator Bruce Starr

Senator Gary George

Senator Larry George

Senator Betsy Johnson

Senator Rod Monroe

Senator Joanne Verger

Joint Committee Meeting Schedule

Joint Committee Meeting Schedule

Joint Ways & Means

Meets Mon., Tues., Wed. & Thurs. 3:30-5:30 p.m., HR F

Co-Chair: Senator Kurt Schrader

Co-Chair: Representative Mary Nolan

Vice Chair: Senator Margaret Carter

Vice Chair: Representative Nancy Nathanson

Senator Alan Bates

Senator Avel Gordly

Senator Betsy Johnson

Senator Rod Monroe

Senator David Nelson

Senator Joanne Verger

Senator Doug Whitsett

Senator Jackie Winters

Representative David Edwards

Representative Larry Galizio

Representative Bruce L. Hanna

Representative Bob Jenson

Representative Susan Morgan

Representative Chip Shields

Representative Patti Smith

House Committee Meeting Schedule

House Agriculture and Natural Resources

Monday-Friday. 8-9:30 a.m., HR C

Chair: Representative Arnie Roblan

V. Chair: Brian Clem

V. Chair: Brian Boquist

Representative Jackie Dingfelder

Representative Bill Garrard

Representative Greg Macpherson

Representative Karen Minnis

House Business and Labor

Monday-Friday 3:30-5 p.m., HR C

Chair: Representative Mike Schaufler

V. Chair: Representative Sal Esquivel

V. Chair: Representative Paul Holvey

Representative Chuck Burley

Representative Kevin Cameron

Representative Chris Edwards

Representative Diane Rosenbaum

House Consumer Protection

Monday-Friday 1-2:30 p.m., HR D

Chair: Representative Paul Holvey

V. Chair: Representative Suzanne Bonamici

V. Chair: Representative Donna G. Nelson

Representative Larry Galizio

Representative Vic Gilliam

Representative Fred Girod

Representative Chuck Riley

House Education

Monday-Friday 1-2:30 p.m., HR E

Chair: Representative Peter Buckley

V. Chair: Representative Gene Whisnant

V. Chair: Representative Betty Komp

Representative Brian Clem

Representative Mitch Greenlick

Representative Jerry Krummel

Representative John Lim

Representative Arnie Roblan

Representative John Huffman

House Revenue

Monday-Friday 10-11:30 a.m., HR F

Chair: Representative Phil Barnhart

V. Chair: Representative Tom Butler*

V. Chair: Tobias Read

Representative Vicki Berger

Representative Scott Bruun

Representative Sara Gelser

Representative Andy Olson

Representative Diane Rosenbaum

Representative Brad Witt

House Elections, Ethics and Rules

Monday-Friday 8-9:30 a.m., HR F

Chair: Representative Diane Rosenbaum

V. Chair: Representative Vicki Berger

V. Chair: Representative Peter Buckley

Representative Sal Esquivel

Representative Dave Hunt

Representative Chip Shields

Representative Kim Thatcher

House Energy and the Environment

Monday-Friday 1-2:30 p.m., HR F

Chair: Representative Jackie Dingfelder

V. Chair: Representative Chuck Burley

V. Chair: Representative Ben Cannon

Representative E Terry Beyer

Representative Bill Garrard

Representative Tobias Read

Representative Greg Smith

House Government Accountability and Information Technology

Monday-Friday 10-11:30 a.m., HR E

Chair: Representative Chuck Riley

V. Chair: Representative Chris Edwards

V. Chair: Representative Dennis Richardson

Representative E. Terry Beyer

Representative Kim Thatcher

House Health Care

Monday-Friday 3-4:30 p.m., HR D

Chair: Representative Mitch Greenlick

V. Chair: Representative Tina Kotek

V. Chair: Representative Dennis Richardson

Representative Suzanne Bonamici

Representative Scott Bruun

Representative Ben Cannon

Representative Linda Flores

Representative Sara Gelser

Representative Ron Maurer

House Veterans’ Affairs

Monday-Friday 5-6:30 p.m., HR E

Chair: Representative Jeff Barker

V. Chair: Representative Mike Schaufler

V. Chair: Representative Wayne Scott

Representative Brian Boquist

Representative Deborah Boone

House Workforce and Economic Development

Monday-Friday 8-9:30 a.m., HR D

Chair: Representative Brad Witt

V. Chair: Representative John Lim

V. Chair: Representative Chuck Riley

Representative Phil Barnhart

Representative John Huffman

Representative Fred Girod

Representative Paul Holvey

House Human Services and Women’s Wellness

Monday-Friday 8-9:30 a.m., HR E

Chair: Carolyn Tomei

V. Chair: Sara Gelser

V. Chair: Andy Olson

Representative Jean Cowan

Representative Vic Gilliam

Representative Tina Kotek

Representative Ron Maurer

House Judiciary

Monday-Friday 10-11:30 a.m., HR C

Chair: Representative Greg Macpherson

V. Chair: Representative Jeff Barker

V. Chair: Gene Whisnant

Representative Suzanne Bonamici

Representative Kevin Cameron

Representative Linda Flores

Representative Betty Komp

Representative Wayne Krieger

Representative Chip Shields

House Emergency Preparedness And Ocean Policy

Monday-Friday 10-11:30 a.m., HR D

Chair: Deborah Boone

V. Chair: Jean Cowan

V. Chair: Donna G. Nelson

Wayne Krieger

Mike Schaufler

House Rural Policy

Monday-Friday 5-6:30 p.m., HR D

Chair: Representative Arnie Roblan

V. Chair: Representative Jean Cowan

V. Chair: Representative Fred Girod

Representative Tom Butler*

Representative Phil Barnhart

House Transportation

Monday-Friday 3-4:30 p.m., HR E

Chair: Representative E. Terry Beyer

V. Chair: Representative George Gilman

V. Chair: Representative Carolyn Tomei

Representative Peter Buckley

Representative Greg Smith

Representative Tobias Read

Representative Tom Butler*

* Representative Butler has announced his intention to resign his position. Committee assignments may change once Representative Butler’s successor has been appointed.


Bad Bush Appointees...Tip of the Iceberg

Heather Wokusch has a weekly e-letter that I subscribe to. It's actually really interesting and a good way to catch things that tend to fly under the radar.
This week, the e-letter focuses on Bush's Top 10 Worst Appointees for Reproductive Rights specifically. It's an eye-opening list to read. This administration has so degraded and attacked our government structure that this list only scratches the surface.

1. Patricia Funderburk Ware

In 2001, Bush named abstinence-only proponent Patricia Funderburk Ware to be Executive Director of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). Ware’s qualifications for the job of promoting "effective prevention of HIV disease" included criticizing condom use and lobbying against HIV/AIDS being in the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Two years later, Ware recommended that a controversial character named Jerry Thacker join the PACHA panel. Thacker has called AIDS a "gay plague" and homosexuality a
"deathstyle." Amid public protest, Thacker soon withdrew his nomination and Ware
left her PACHA post.

2. Tom Coburn

Bush nominated then-Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to be PACHA co-chair in 2003. Coburn supports mandatory reporting to public authorities of the names of those testing positive for HIV/AIDS.

He favors "the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life."

According to Coburn, the gay community "has infiltrated the very centers of power in
every area across this country, and they wield extreme power ... That agenda is the
greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the
rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That's a gay agenda."

Who else would you want advising the Bush administration on AIDS?

3. David Hager

Hager was one of three religious conservatives that Bush put on the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in 2002 and only public outcry prevented him from becoming its chairperson. Critics argued that in his gynecology practice, Hager had refused to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women and had recommended Scripture readings to alleviate headaches and premenstrual syndrome.

A memo which Hager wrote helped persuade the FDA to overrule its own advisory panel in 2004, thus preventing the emergency contraceptive "Plan B" from being made more
easily available. Critics assailed the FDA’s decision as ignoring scientific evidence, but in Hager’s assessment: "Once again, what Satan meant for evil, God turned into good."

A downright criminal side of Hager emerged when his former wife went public with the fact that he had been emotionally, physically and sexually abusive during their 32-year marriage, forcibly sodomizing her on a regular basis. As Hager’s ex-wife told The Nation magazine in May 2005, "it was the painful, invasive, totally nonconsensual nature of the [anal] sex that was so horrible."

Hager left the FDA committee soon after The Nation article was published.

4. & 5. Lester Crawford and Norris Alderson

As Acting Commissioner of the FDA, Lester Crawford was notorious for blocking
over-the-counter access to emergency contraception (EC).

Democratic senators initially halted Crawford’s confirmation to head the FDA, but gave approval in June 2005 after he promised to take action on EC by September 1, 2005. Once sworn in, however, Crawford stalled yet again, despite the FDA Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee’s having voted 23 to 4 in favor of making EC available over-the-counter.

Dr. Susan Wood, the well-respected head of the FDA Women’s Health Office, soon resigned in protest - and that’s when things got really bizarre. Weeks after Wood stepped down, the FDA Women’s Health Office sent out a mass email announcing that she would be replaced by Dr. Norris Alderson, who was duly listed on the FDA site as: "Acting Director, Office of Women’s Health, Associate Commissioner for Science."

One small problem. Alderson is a veterinarian.

The administration appointed an animal doctor to be in charge of women’s health. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

After predictable outcry, the FDA tried to pretend that Alderson had never been appointed in the first place. Recipients of the initial mass emailing, of course, knew otherwise.

To make things even weirder, Crawford himself suddenly resigned as head of the FDA in September 2005 (just months after having been confirmed), amid allegations of not having properly disclosed his financial holdings to the Senate.

In August 2006, the FDA finally approved making the EC "Plan B" available
over-the counter to consumers 18 years and older.

6. John G. Roberts

Progressives balked in September 2005 when Bush put forward far-right extremist John G. Roberts to head the US Supreme Court. In Robert’s illustrious career, he had fought against minority voting rights, argued against women’s educational rights, and tried to limit the rights of women prisoners. A legal brief Roberts contributed to said that Roe vs. Wade was "wrongly decided and should be overruled."

Roberts became Chief Justice within weeks of his nomination, and as expected, has dragged the Supreme Court to the right. In the past two years, for example, the Roberts’ court upheld the constitutionality of a federal anti-abortion law (the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Act) and decreased public school students’ rights to free speech.

7. Samuel Alito

In January 2006, the stridently anti-choice Samuel Alito was sworn in to the US Supreme Court. Alito had previously argued that the strip-search of a mother and ten-year old girl without a warrant was constitutional and that women should be required to tell their husbands before getting an abortion.

Alito stated in a 1985 application to be Deputy Assistant Attorney General: "I am
particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion." For good measure, he added, "I am and always have been a conservative."

Alito replaced the moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the nation’s high court. The obvious shift to the right caused by the addition of Roberts and Alito led Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to observe: "It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much."

8. Paul Bonicelli

In October 2005, Paul Bonicelli was appointed as Deputy Assistant Administrator for the US International Development Agency’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA). Bonicelli’s main prior claim to fame was being Dean of Academic Affairs at the fundamentalist Patrick Henry College, where the Student Honor Code mandates: "I will reserve sexual activity for the sanctity of marriage." Patrick Henry College also has a 10-part Statement of Faith which says that hell is a place where "all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."

Bonicelli’s current office at DCHA is responsible for: "strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights; promoting more genuine and competitive elections and political processes; increasing development of a politically active civil society; and implementing a more transparent and accountable governance."

In other words, a guy who thinks that non-believers "shall be confined in conscious
torment for eternity" has been put in charge of promoting human rights across the

9. Eric Keroak

In 2006, Bush tapped Eric Keroack to be Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs at the Health and Human Services Department. Keroack opposes contraception, has described premarital sex as "modern germ warfare," and espouses the bizarre, unscientific belief that casual sex depletes "bonding" hormones. He was previously medical director of a Christian pregnancy counseling service which described contraception as "demeaning to women."

And that’s who the Bush administration chose to oversee the distribution of $283 million in family planning funds for the nation.

Keroack resigned in March 2007, after state Medicaid officials began taking action against his private medical practice.

10. Susan Orr

Keroack was replaced by Susan Orr, who had been "Senior Director for Marriage and Families" at the anti-gay, anti-reproductive rights Family Research Council. In her prior career, Orr had opposed the emergency contraception RU-486 and gushed that Bush was "pro-life … in his heart" for withholding funds from international family planning groups which even discussed abortion.

Orr has claimed that contraception is "not a medical necessity." Yet she now is
in charge of facilitating access to both contraception and sex education for low-income families across the nation.

And what is Bush doing now?

""On September 11, we saw clearly that evil exists in this world, and that it does not value life ... Now we are engaged in a fight against evil and tyranny to preserve and protect life." – George W. Bush in 2002, linking abortion rights with terrorism, as he declared the 29th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to be "National Sanctity of Human Life Day."

Bush has used his Oval Office years to limit reproductive freedom and stack critical posts with rightwingers bent on rolling back the clock.

And now it appears yet another reactionary Bush appointee is on track to get a lifetime position as a federal judge...

Bush nominated Wyoming lawyer and former state representative Richard Honaker to the US District Court back in March, but the reproductive rights group NARAL believes he may soon get a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Honacker authored a 1991 bill which would have outlawed most abortions, and has said that abortion is "wrong, and no one should have the right to do what is wrong."

If the nomination goes through, Honacker will stay on the bench long after Bush is out of office, and he’ll join a growing list of appointees eager to regulate your sexuality.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Crime is Down...Let's Build More Prisons!

Or so goes the thinking of Kevin Mannix.

I know Mannix' new ballot initiative has been covered in other places, but I feel the need to keep it in the public eye. The initiative system in Oregon is so completely abused that no matter how insane and unneccessary something is, the misinformation campaigns of people like Mannix, or Bill Sizemore always seem to sucker enough votes to be a threat and/or cause harm to the state.

Mannix wants a new law in Oregon, to supplement his Measure 11 success (for him maybe, not so good for the state), that would make prison sentences (18-36 months) mandatory for burglars, car thieves, identity thieves and low-level drug dealers. Well, if you watch nothing but the local evening news, where the first ten minutes of the broadcast are filled with nothing but robberies, shootings, break-ins, assaults and drug busts, than you might think Mannix is on the right track. But is he?Leaving aside that I have absolutely no use for manipulative people like Mannix who profit off of creating fear amongst voters, I decided to take a look around. Lo and behold we are not being crushed under the weight of a rampaging criminal element hellbent on taking everything of value from us. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. 2006 (the most recent available) statistics released by the FBI show that property crimes in Oregon fell by 16.6% from 2005 to 2006, well above the national trend. Yet, Mannix wants to initiate a law, carrying a $400 million price-tag to swell the prison population in Oregon, who is already the third fastest growing penal system in the country. In a time when we consistently fail to meet the educational, health and safety needs of many Oregonians, why would we want to mandate (and it would be a mandate) more money for prisons that are not neccessary?

David Rogers, executive director of the Partnership for Safety and Justice, says it perfectly:

“What is clear from these new figures is that we’re doing a good job of reducing property crimes and making our communities safer without building three or four new prisons and without locking up non-violent drug and property offenders for up to three years, as we will have to do under the Mannix Measure,” said Rogers. “We’re on a path to improved public safety that focuses on treatment, education opportunities and jobs, a much less expensive and more effective way to combat crime than mandatory sentences and costly prison sentences.”

There is absolutely no need for this new proposal from Mannix.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

John Edwards in Iowa

I just really like this man.

And here is the rest of it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Senators need to EARN that promotion to POTUS

I was, sadly, not surprised when the Clinton, Obama, and Biden campaigns all announced that the SENATORS would not be heading back to Washington to follow through on their commitment to support Senator Chris Dodd (also a candidate for president)in his efforts, including filibuster if neccessary, to get the retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry removed from the FISA bill that came to the Senate floor for debate (and vote). Fortunately, Dodd, along with a helping hand from several other senators (including our own Ron Wyden) succeeded in getting the debate and vote on FISA shelved until January. Hopefully this will give the Senate the time to do, as Wyden suggests, READ the damn thing. But what about the missing candidates/senators? Don't forget that we are still PAYING these people to do a job. And why are we, as citizens, supposed to trust them to lead us and restore the rule of law (not to mention trust) to the Office of President, when they can't even pull away from their own self-serving plans to honor a commitment that they made to Dodd and get to Washington to be the SENATORS that they still are? And if they try and use the excuse that there are larger priorities, they need to take a look at some stats released by Dodd's campaign:

11,300+ people emailed the Senators (candidates)
(16,000 people visited the page, a 75% follow through rate)...
506,000+ emails were sent to the Senate...
5,700+ comments were submitted through the website (350+ were posted on Twitter) in 7 hours...
135+ people joined the Facebook group since 11am...
340 people reported the phone calls they made to the Senate...

And those are just the stats from Dodd's site, not including people (like myself) who called and emailed on their own.

American citizens KNOW what their priorities are, and the candidates will find that showing up and suiting up is a big one.

I spent alot of years in management and I guarantee you that I would never consider promoting someone who not only fails to show up, but also fails to honor the commitment they made to do the work in exchange for that paycheck. Supporters of all three of these people (Clinton, Obama, Biden) need to really put some thought into who it is that they are supporting, and what those candidates' priorities really are.
The fight against immunity isn't over, only delayed. Keep the pressure up.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Filibuster in the morning

Chris Dodd is set to take to the senate floor in the morning regarding the FISA bill, and not yield. According to his website,

Senator Dodd will leave the campaign trail in Iowa to return to Washington on Monday to speak on the floor before the vote to invoke cloture on the FISA bill takes place. Sen. Dodd is prepared to offer an amendment which strips the retroactive immunity provision from the underlying bill, and will seek a vote on that measure next week.

During the filibuster, Dodd can take questions from other senators, for 20 minutes each. So far, Russ Feingold and Edward Kennedy have agreed to ask questions. I'm really hoping that Wyden (I wrote off Smith a long time ago) will be there supporting Dodd, as well. As far as I can tell, neither Clinton nor Obama have said whether they will be there, or if they will ask questions. They have both previously pledged to support Dodd in this action. If they don't, this should serve as a wake up call to their supporters. If they can't show their support for a fellow Democratic senator, respect for citizens' privacy over corporate profits, and the rule of law (not to mention their campaigns), than they in no way, shape, or form, deserve the title of President of the United States

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dodd set to Filibuster...will Wyden support him?

I certainly hope so. Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he will let the FISA version that contains retroactive telecommunications immunity proceed to a floor vote on Monday. Back in October, Senator Chris Dodd vowed to do whatever it takes, including a filibuster, to keep this version of FISA from being made law. Also, at the time, the other presidential candidates currently serving in the Senate: Clinton, Obama and Biden all pledged to publicly support Dodd's filibuster. Dodd's campaign is asking folks to remind the candidates of that pledge. We'll see if they stay true to their word and actually demonstrate their worthiness to be president.

This also means that we, again, need to make sure that our senators know that we expect them to stand up for us, even if that means supporting the filibuster. Now, I don't expect Gordon Smith to support anything having to do with choosing citizens over big business money in his pockets, but I do expect Wyden to do so. Or at least I hope he does.Late this afternoon, Wyden released a statement regarding Reid's decision. (Typos and misspells are from the release)

I want to say a word about the process which the distinguished senate majority leader has jus touched on. I was one of two in the senate intelligence committee to oppose the intelligence committee's version of the legislation. I am strongly opposed to granting telecommunications companies total retroactive immunity when they have been accused of wrongdoing in the president's wireless wiretapping legislation. It was the major reasonable why i opposed the legislation.

I do, however, respect Senator Reid's decision to hold the debate on this legislation under the regular senate rules. certainly, the distinguished majority leader has been under a lot of pressure from all sides to change the rules that in one way might favor one side or the other, but i think the majority leader has made the right decision by insisting that this debate go by the book.

I've had the chance now to work with the distinguished majority leader for more than a quarter of a century. I know how much respect he has for the senate and for this institution. He firmly believes in the committee process. He firmly believes in the senate rules and traditions, and he worked to carry those beliefs out as both the minority whip and the minority leader.

I'm heartened by his statement that he strongly disagrees with the immunity, and that leads me to believe that he will definitely vote against it. Ron Wyden is no stranger to the filibuster (big oil) and has used the threat of one on several occassions, particularly around Alito, death with dignity, and net neutrality.

Wyden is known as a nice man and as respectful of his fellow senators. I admire that about him. However, hopefully this respectfulness doesn't extend to supporting Reid over the rights of American citizens against rampant corporate invasion of privacy and disregard for the law.

Calls for Cheney Impeachment

Well, if I didn't already know that the mainstream media picks and chooses its stories, and that major announcements are made at the end of the day on Fridays, when it is assumed that no one is paying attention, it would surprise me that I haven't seen this headline on any major outlets:

Three senior members of the House Judiciary Committee have called for the immediate opening of impeachment hearings for Vice President Richard Cheney.

This is BIG news folks! Is it time to start partying in the streets, or anything? No, of course not, but when you have people in Congress finally standing up and recognizing that the actions taken by this administration are too great to ignore, it needs to be news, particularly when those people belong to the body that is assigned the investigative authority, to begin with:

Democrats Robert Wexler of Florida, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin on Friday distributed a statement, “A Case for Hearings,” that declares, “The issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our constitution. The charges against Vice President Cheney relate to his deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.”

It's fairly well-known that Rep. John Conyers, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, is, and has been, open to investigating Cheney. However, evidently Pelosi has kept the pressure on to not pursue an investigation. Something tells me we won't find out her motives until she is long gone.

According to the article though:

It is notable, however, that Baldwin maintains warm relations with Pelosi and that Wexler, a veteran member of the Judiciary Committee has historically had an amiable and effective working relationship with Conyers. There is no question that Conyers, who voted to keep open the impeachment debate on November 7, has been looking for a way to explore the charges against Cheney. The move by three of his key allies on the committee may provide the chairman with the opening he seeks, although it is likely he will need to hear from more committee members before making any kind of break with Pelosi — or perhaps convincing her that holding hearings on Cheney’s high crimes and misdemeanors is different from putting a Bush impeachment move on the table.

Let's keep our fingers crossed. For good measure, drop a note to Conyers, urging him to move ahead with an investigation.

2426 Rayburn BuildingWashington, DC 20515 (202) 225-5126

2615 W. Jefferson Trenton, MI 48183 (734) 675-4084

669 Federal Building231 W. LafayetteDetroit, MI 48226 (313) 961-5670

And here is the rest of it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Recession in Oregon?

Honestly, I don't know. I am not an economist nor do I desire to be one! There is an interesting report that has been released, however, by the real ecnomists at the University of Oregon. Obviously they don't guarantee a coming recession, but if history is any indication, unfortunately the chances are pretty good (bad?) that things aren't going to be pretty.

"As a general rule," according to the Oregon Economic Forum's monthly report released Monday morning, "a decline in the index of greater than 2 percent over six months (annualized), coupled with a decline in more than half of its components, signals that a recession is likely imminent."

The index, maintained by the UO College of Arts and Sciences and its Economics Department, tracks eight indicators ranging from interest rates to payrolls.

In October the index dropped 0.5 percent to 102.0 -- the third consecutive monthly fall. (The index stood at 100 in 1997). Oregon initial unemployment claims rose in October to the highest level since November 2006. Residential building permits issued in the state dropped to the lowest level since September 2000.

Economists cautioned that the "general rule" merely signals, but by no means guarantees, that a recession is coming. But their report highlighted October's negative results, and said: "A decline of this breadth and magnitude preceded the 2001 recession and suggests a weak economic environment in the near term."

This would be one of those times that I hope that the professionals and experts have no idea what they are talking about. I'm not holding my breath.
And here is the rest of it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Still Kennedy's Party?

Religion in America, and the role it plays in how our country is governed is a hot topic these days. The religious right has worked for years to convince us that we are a "Christian" nation and that our laws should be designed and administered in accordance with the tenets of the Christian church. Even worse, they contend that this was the original intent of the founders of this country. Obviously they haven't spent much time really reading Washington, Paine, Jefferson, or even better Madison.

I started thinking about writing this post as I was reading an incredibly powerful Kos diary entry. The author addresses, among other things, the current comparisons between Romney and JFK (which to me is a bit like comparing James Madison with Jerry Falwell, but that's another post) by focusing on the entirety of Kennedy's speech to a collection of Protestant leaders when he was running for president. Contrary to the current spin that would have us believe that he made the speech in order to defend his own Catholicism, Kennedy spoke directly to his unshakable belief in the separation of church and state.

In his speech Kennedy insists that he believes in an American in which "no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference." At no point does Kennedy coddle his audience by suggesting that he will allow a crack in the wall. Instead, he challenges them to put up or shut up.

I would not look with favor upon a President working to subvert the first amendment's guarantees of religious liberty. Nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so--and neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test--even by indirection--for it. If they disagree with that safeguard they should be out openly working to repeal it.

He goes on to say:

"I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all."

"Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice; where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood".

When Kennedy made his speech, he also made it clear that he would much prefer to discuss issues much more critical to the strength and welfare of this country:

"While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that we have far more critical issues to face in the 1960 election; the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers 90 miles off the coast of Florida--the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power--the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills, the families forced to give up their farms--an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space."

Amazing how we have so many of the same pressing issues as almost fifty years ago.

It's on this topic that I think the Kos article really gets to the core of alot of things.

"Any and all of those issues might have been the centerpiece of a Democratic speech today, because those issues remain unsolved. And oddly enough, many of these issues were also on the mind of the man who two thousand years ago stood up in his family church and announced that "I come bringing good news for the poor.""

There is a link in the article that takes you to an audio clip of Republican voters being interviewed in Iowa ahead of the upcoming primaries. At one point, one of them says,

"I make a great deal of money through my own hard work. I don't want to pay for someone else's child to eat breakfast at school anymore."

Here is how the author responds to that, because I cannot say it any better:

Get that? She makes not just enough money, but a "great deal of money." How dare anyone take it away for something so frivolous as feeding a poor child? And yet Republicans, through their actions in blurring the lines between church and state, have become the "party of faith." Because they say so. Because they are bold in their actions and snarling in their defense.

Note that we should not pretend that "a program will take your money." Or "the government will take your money." This is a democracy, and we are the government. I will take your money. I will. Some of that money you worked hard for and want to keep. I will give it to a kid who is hungry. If your concern is that poverty should be addressed by individuals, then there's a simple solution: feed him. If there are no poor children needing food, I won't have to take anything for them. If your position is that people would be more generous if only the government would stay out of it, then sorry. I'm not willing to put this child at risk to as part of your experiment. Besides, if that were true, then why were their more hungry kids before we started these programs to give them a little breakfast? If your position is that your being able to keep all your money is more important than a child being fed, then I simply think you're wrong. And sick. You want to keep that money? You better beat me at the polls.

The strategy of vultures gives us both a party and a nation that would embarrass John Kennedy. The erosion of that barrier between the interest of the state and that of the church gives us a church that Jesus would not recognize. As an American and a Christian, I find both results terrifying.

I've been reading about a growing backlash among evangelical groups against their far-right leadership because they have come to recognize that the racist, classist, hate-filled diatribe that those leaders are spewing and pursuing do not, in reality, truly represent the faith that they pretend so hard to appear to represent. I can only hope that the backlash continues to grow.

I can also only hope that the Democratic leadership will cease cowering behind the selfish need to win races and really stand up for what the party is supposed to be about. Just as it has been apparent for many years that the Republican party is no longer Lincoln's party, we are fast approaching a time when it will be said that the Democratic party is not Kennedy's party. That is a sad day that I hope won't come.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gordon Smith is SO not a moderate or friend of Oregon

The Alternative Minimum Tax Relief bill has stalled in the Senate. What's that you ask? Well, it is a bill that would have "protected millions of middle-class taxpayers from being hit with a surprise tax increase over the next several months" including more than 220,000 Oregon families, to start with. It also would have extended tuition tax credits for 53,000 Oregon college students and their families and the tax credits for 33,000 Oregon teachers who have out of pocket expenses in their jobs.

While Gordon Smith continues to insist on painting himself as a moderate who is not in cahoots with the Bush agenda, he exposes the hypocrisy of this claim when it comes down to actually voting in the best interests of his own constituents, by voting against legislation like this current bill and voting with what the administration wants. How much longer can Smith honestly and truly deceive himself into believing that Oregonians are really so unaware of what he is doing, or that we don't care? I guess we'll find out when Merkley retires Smith from the Senate.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Domestic Partnership, Equality, the Religious Right...and Blackwater

I'm really not easily shocked, and I don't know why I was when I was introduced to some seriously disturbing news last evening. Many may already know that Oregon's Domestic Parnership Law, scheduled to take effect on January 1st, 2008, has been the target of a referendum effort by the anti-gay zealots in Oregon. Recently, they failed to collect enough signatures to get a referendum on the ballot for next November. If they had succeeded, the law would have been put on hold until after the election.

Yesterday, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the referendum sponsors, against the state of Oregon and the Secretary of State, charging that they had collected enough signatures and that the state played favorites in the verification process.

The complaint filed in Federal Court by out of state attorneys alleges that Oregon's Secretary of State and a dozen county clerks erred by not creating special procedures to reinstate the signatures of people who said they had signed the petition, but whose signatures were found to be invalid using well established criteria.

Now, this lawsuit was not unexpected by me. It is pretty much par for the course as far as anti-gay and right-wing extremists are concerned. The lawsuit isn't what shocked me, nor is it what really frightens me now. What I find so disturbing here is who is behind the lawsuit, and their connections to other things.

The anti-gay forces in this case are being represented by an organization called the Alliance Defense Fund, an ultra-conservative group that began as a litigation funding pool for right-wing organizations, like Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice. Eventually, the ADF decided to get directly involved in the litigation fun.

What is so disturbing about this? Well, a little background on the ADF and more importantly, who is bankrolling it.

Much of the ADF's funding comes from some very powerful (and rich) far-right

“Some of the major donors include the Covenant Foundation, financed by the ‘Granddaddy’ of the Texas Christian Right, business mogul James Leininger, and the Bolthouse Foundation, which is underwritten chiefly with profits from Bolthouse Farms, a family-run California company whose products are often seen at organic markets and Whole Foods. Bolthouse requires recipients of its grants to pledge adherence to a statement of faith that includes the declaration that ‘man was created by a direct act of God in His image, not from previously existing creatures’ and a belief in ‘the everlasting blessedness of the saved and the everlasting punishment of the lost', and various members of the Amway-Prince Automotive empire, including the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation"

First of all, remind me not to shop at Whole Foods anymore!

I specifically want to focus on the Amway-Prince Automotive folks. Erik Prince, son of Edgar (who co-founded the
Family Research Council, a leading right-wing Christian group)and Elsa Prince, is vice-president of the Foundation, while his sister, Betsy is wife to Amway magnate, right-wing financier, and unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial candidate Richard DeVos. Erik, a former Navy SEAL and right-wing, born-again Christian, served as an intern in the G.W. Bush Whitehouse. A major Republican contributor, multimillionaire Prince is well-known for something else. As indicated by the title of this post, Erik Prince is tied directly to Blackwater USA, as its cofounder with another ex-Navy SEAL, Gary Jackson (Blackwater's current president). Prince serves as Blackwater's vice-president.

And we wonder why Blackwater gets a seemingly free ride with the administration, or why it makes billions for its work, in the name of the United States government?

Blackwater is a
private mercenary army that operates around the globe, and here in our own backyard. They provide the "security" in New Orleans and are building a huge "training camp" in California. This is a truly scary organization, and the fact that they are being legitimized by the United States government and directed by far-right Christian fundamentalists only makes them even more scary.

I remember reading last year sometime (I forget where) an editorial in which it was proposed that the neocon element of the Republican party had highjacked the religious right for their own purposes. That made alot of sense to me. At the time, and still, the dominant thought is that it is the religious extremists have highjacked the Republican party. I think it's some of both.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Hungry? Who has time to think of anything else?

I know I've posted a couple of times on the topic of hunger. Well guess what? People are hungry and as long as they are, I will continue to discuss it. As I noted previously, the Oregon Food Bank is in some dire straits right now. Evidently, it isn't just Oregon in trouble. Food banks and pantries all over the country are seing shortages and increased demand not seen in decades.

In a New York Times article published this weekend food organizations around the United States are in trouble:

“It’s one of the most demanding years I’ve seen in my 30 years” in the field, said Catherine D’Amato, president and chief executive of the Greater Boston Food Bank, comparing the situation to the recession of the late 1970s.

“We don’t have nearly what people need, and that’s all there is to it,” said Greg Bryant, director of the food pantry in Sheffield, Vt. We’re one step from running out,” Mr. Bryant said.

The Vermont Food Bank said its supply of food was down 50 percent from last year. “It’s a crisis mode,” said Doug O’Brien, the bank’s chief executive.

For two weeks this month, the New Hampshire Food Bank distributed supplies reserved for emergency relief. Demand for food here is up 40 percent over last year and supply is down 30 percent, which is striking in the state with the lowest reliance on food banks.

Ross Fraser, a spokesman for America’s Second Harvest, which distributes more than two billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually, said the shortages at food banks were the worst the organization had seen in 26 years.

“Suddenly it’s on everyone’s radar,” Mr. Fraser said. “Food banks are calling us and saying, ‘My God, we have to get food.’”

There are more examples in the article. Suffice to say, it isn't a pretty picture.

I've been thinking about this situation, and what increasing hunger means for this country. In a time when we need seriously innovative, creative thinking on things like global warming, Iraq, and even democracy, we have increasingly large numbers of people who don't even have the opportunity to think past their next meal, much less the larger issues of our day!

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a well-known tool for looking at what a human being needs for fulfillment and what motivates us.

Notice the very bottom level, where our most basic needs reside; all about physical sustenance. In the next level we find things like employment and physical self-care. Think about that. This society very much blames those in poverty for their own problems, particularly the extremely poor and homeless. While I do not, at all, advocate complete lack of self-responsibility, how can we expect folks to "get a job" or "eat healthier" when they don't have the opportunity to think beyond their immediate physical needs? Alot of people see food stamps, providing healthcare assistance, or other public assistance as handouts to the undeserving. I see these programs as an investment in the future of our society.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Jeff Merkley for United States Senate

There are alot of reasons why I like Jeff Merkley and believe that he would make an outstanding Senator for Oregon. He has a strong record of respecting and caring for our veterans, as well as a specific outline for continuing to do so at the national level. Merkley understands the damage being done by "fair trade agreements" that are anything but fair. He has a very specific outline for ending the occupation in Iraq and for stabilizing that region. In addition, Merkley knows that health care is a neccessity that should be enjoyed by every citizen, not just the have's and that in order to truly secure our nation and our future, we need to take bold action around energy independence and renewable energy.

All of these reasons are excellent and strong enough for me to support Mr. Merkley, in their own right. However, there is one issue that sets him apart for me.
It is the issue that brought him to my attention to begin with, during the 2007 Oregon Legislative session. That issue is education, in particular, post-secondary education. This is the statement that Merkley released during the session regarding this issue, and his stance on it, particularly the connection between investing in education and the corporate minimum income-tax (which has GOT to be increased people...sheesh!):

“Securing significant additional investment in our universities and colleges will be our top budget priority during these final weeks in the legislative session. The good news from the May economic forecast is that we can match the investment requested in the Governor’s budget for the operation of our colleges and universities. But we must not stop there. We can and must undertake additional steps as well, including:

** Implementing the ‘shared responsibility’ model for student scholarship assistance to make higher education much more affordable for our students.

** Greatly enhancing our investment in the construction and repair of our college and university buildings.

** Utilizing the anticipated revenue to make a significant improvement in the
operations budget for our colleges and universities beyond the Governor’s budget.

“Investing in our universities and community colleges is the single most important economicdevelopment strategy we can pursue. We can create a healthy business environment and attract good jobs and investment to Oregon, but we need a long-term strategy to do it.

“As part of that long-term strategy, this is the moment to adopt an increase in the absurdly low
$10 corporate minimum tax and dedicate it to higher education. The resulting revenue will
strengthen higher education today, but more importantly, it will build the foundation for a worldclass university system in the years ahead.”

My primary focus in my position in student government last year was to represent my school's students, and all of Oregon's college students, in the legislative process. In speaking to representatives in Salem, I tried to focus, not just on the difficulties that students face in obtaining their educations, but why it was important for our state to invest in those students and institutions of higher learning. It isn't just about getting a college education simply to get one. It isn't about helping students get a degree simply for their own benefit. It is about the direct impact that an educated citizenry has on the social and economic health of our state. It is about the direct connection between a trained, educated workforce and attracting strong economic growth to Oregon. It is about having trained and skilled professionals to replace all of those nurses and emergency personnel who are getting ready to retire. We can talk until we are blue in the face about emergency preparedness and domestic security, but if we don't have the qualified personnel to ensure that we have those things, than what is the point? Why expend any effort at all in bringing economic growth to our state and improving/expanding our transportation system if we don't have enough skilled and educated personnel to work at the businesses that this is supposed to attract? Education is THE base for a healthy, financially sound, democratic society. Merkley gets this. He understands that connection. That is the primary reason that, when Jeff Merkley announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, I didn't even have to think twice or question it. I knew, and I still know, that Merkley is the best candidate to represent Oregon in D.C.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hershey's-A dealer's new best friend?

So, if I try really hard and tighten my blinders, I can for about 5 seconds convince myself that corporate profitability doesn't really trump the health and welfare of customers for most corporations. Then I see something like this, and I am rudely dumped back into the reality of our economic system.

FAMILY COURT Judge Lori Dumas Brooks wanted to make sure she wasn't overreacting.
So she held the small blue packet of powdered substance in her palm and showed it around at work yesterday.

Everyone asked the same thing:

What was she doing with crack cocaine?

"I thought she confiscated it in the courtroom," said Administrative Judge Kevin Dougherty.

No one could believe what the tiny pouch actually was: a new breath mint made by - get this - Hershey's.

Hershey's response?

"It's not intended to simulate anything," corporate spokesman Kirk Seville told me yesterday, refusing to acknowledge the similarities between the candy and street drugs.

"We have a longstanding commitment to consumer safety, product quality and responsible packaging," he said, adding that the Pacs are "clearly labeled."

"The dissolvable pouch is what makes the product innovative and unique. The overwhelming feedback from consumers is they love the product."

Yeah, right. Read the full article to get just a clue as to how many ways a product like this could go wrong. Then get on the horn to Hershey's and let them know that we, the public are neither stupid nor in favor of adding even more things to the endless list of reasons to worry about our kids.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The United States Constitution

The Constitution of the United States is the Law of the Land...our Supreme governing document. Everything else comes from it. That's a lot of authority and responsibility for a document that is, including all of the amendments, only about twenty pages long. There is, and always has been, alot of debate about what certain parts of the Constitution mean and which branch has what power. I'm not quite sure I understand what all of the hoopla is about because the document itself is fairly straightforward, particularly regarding the separation of powers and what constitutes a violation of the Constitution. In any event, I've decided to post the Constitution here, in its entirety, for those folks who want/need to review or for those who have never read the thing (I can think of an office-holder or two..or dozen who could do with a reading).
I'm not going to harp on whether or not I think that the current administration has broken the law, or whether Congress has abdicated its duty (Both answers are affirmative for me) because it's been done in many other
places. My goal here is to put the tools out there so that citizens are armed with what they need to know, in order to make up their own minds. There are some links for historical perspective and further reading.

The Constitution of the United States

Preamble Note
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article I. - The Legislative Branch Note
Section 1 - The Legislature
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
Section 2 - The House
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
(Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.) (The previous sentence in parentheses was superseded by Amendment XIV, section 2.) The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
Section 3 - The Senate
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, (chosen by the Legislature thereof,) (The preceding words in parentheses superseded by Amendment XVII, section 1.) for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; (and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.) (The preceding words in parentheses were superseded by Amendment XVII, section 2.)
No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
Section 4 - Elections, Meetings
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall (be on the first Monday in December,) (The preceding words in parentheses were superseded by Amendment XX, section 2.) unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
Section 5 - Membership, Rules, Journals, Adjournment
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two-thirds, expel a Member.
Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.
Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6 - Compensation
(The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.) (The preceding words in parentheses were modified by Amendment XXVII.) They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
Section 7 - Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, Presidential Veto
All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section 8 - Powers of Congress
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Section 9 - Limits on Congress
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
(No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.) (Section in parentheses clarified by Amendment XVI.)
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.

Section 10 - Powers prohibited of States
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Article II. - The Executive Branch Note
Section 1 - The President Note1 Note2
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
(The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not lie an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; a quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two-thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice-President.) (This clause in parentheses was superseded by Amendment XII.)
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
(In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.) (This clause in parentheses has been modified by Amendments XX and XXV.)
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Section 2 - Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
Section 3 - State of the Union, Convening Congress
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
Section 4 - Disqualification
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Article III. - The Judicial Branch Note
Section 1 - Judicial powers
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
Section 2 - Trial by Jury, Original Jurisdiction, Jury Trials
(The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.) (This section in parentheses is modified by Amendment XI.)
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Section 3 - Treason Note
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Article IV. - The States
Section 1 - Each State to Honor all others
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
Section 2 - State citizens, Extradition
The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
(No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.) (This clause in parentheses is superseded by Amendment XIII.)
Section 3 - New States
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
Section 4 - Republican government
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Article V. - Amendment Note1 - Note2 - Note3
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Article VI. - Debts, Supremacy, Oaths
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Article VII. - Ratification Documents
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth. In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names. Note

Go Washington - President and deputy from Virginia
New Hampshire - John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman
Massachusetts - Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King
Connecticut - Wm Saml Johnson, Roger Sherman
New York - Alexander Hamilton
New Jersey - Wil Livingston, David Brearley, Wm Paterson, Jona. Dayton
Pensylvania - B Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robt Morris, Geo. Clymer, Thos FitzSimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouv Morris
Delaware - Geo. Read, Gunning Bedford jun, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jaco. Broom
Maryland - James McHenry, Dan of St Tho Jenifer, Danl Carroll
Virginia - John Blair, James Madison Jr.
North Carolina - Wm Blount, Richd Dobbs Spaight, Hu Williamson
South Carolina - J. Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler
Georgia - William Few, Abr Baldwin
Attest: William Jackson, Secretary

The Amendments Note

The following are the Amendments to the Constitution. The first ten Amendments collectively are commonly known as the Bill of Rights. History

Amendment I - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II - Right to Bear Arms. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III - Quartering of Soldiers. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings. Ratified 12/15/1791.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI - Right to Speedy Trial, Confrontation of Witnesses. Ratified 12/15/1791.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII - Trial by Jury in Civil Cases. Ratified 12/15/1791.

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII - Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Ratified 12/15/1791

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX - Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X - Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Amendment XI - Judicial Limits. Ratified 2/7/1795. Note History

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

Amendment XII - Choosing the President, Vice-President. Ratified 6/15/1804. Note History The Electoral College
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;
The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;
The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.
The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Amendment XIII - Slavery Abolished. Ratified 12/6/1865. History

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XIV - Citizenship Rights. Ratified 7/9/1868. Note History

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Amendment XV - Race No Bar to Vote. Ratified 2/3/1870. History
1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XVI - Status of Income Tax Clarified. Ratified 2/3/1913. Note History

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Amendment XVII - Senators Elected by Popular Vote. Ratified 4/8/1913. History
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Amendment XVIII - Liquor Abolished. Ratified 1/16/1919. Repealed by Amendment XXI, 12/5/1933. History

1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Amendment XIX - Women's Suffrage. Ratified 8/18/1920. History

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XX - Presidential, Congressional Terms. Ratified 1/23/1933. History

1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.
6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.

Amendment XXI - Amendment XVIII Repealed. Ratified 12/5/1933. History

1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
3. The article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Amendment XXII - Presidential Term Limits. Ratified 2/27/1951. History

1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

Amendment XXIII - Presidential Vote for District of Columbia. Ratified 3/29/1961. History

1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXIV - Poll Tax Barred. Ratified 1/23/1964. History
1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXV - Presidential Disability and Succession. Ratified 2/10/1967. Note HistoryNote History
1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

Amendment XXVI - Voting Age Set to 18 Years. Ratified 7/1/1971. History

1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXVII - Limiting Congressional Pay Increases. Ratified 5/7/1992. History
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened..