. Potential Obama Appointees Questioned on Guns
The National Rifle Association has denounced the Barack Obama transition team’s questionnaire asking potential appointees about their own gun ownership.
The 63-question personnel form includes this query: “Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.”
Paul Light, professor of public service at New York University, told Politico.com that there was no such question for potential appointees when George W. Bush took office in 2000.
“It kind of sticks out there like a sore thumb,” he said.
Light hypothesized that the Obama camp might want to avoid the spectacle of a Cabinet-level or other high-ranking appointee who is found to have an unregistered handgun.
But the NRA, which spent millions in an attempt to defeat Obama, is crying foul over the question.
“Barack Obama and his administration are showing their true colors and true philosophy with regard to the Second Amendment,” said Chris Cox, the NRA’s top political official.
“It shows what we’ve been saying all along — this guy doesn’t view the Second Amendment as a fundamental constitutional right.”
Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina also denounced the question.
“It’s very odd and very concerning to put out a question like that,” he said.
DeMint’s campaign organization sent an e-mail to supporters vowing to endorse legislation that bars federal hiring discrimination on the basis of gun ownership.
The question put to potential appointees is just the latest Obama move to irk opponents of gun control, NewsBusters contributing editor Tom Blumer pointed out.
Among other things, Obama has voted to allow lawsuits designed to bankrupt firearms firms, voted to ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting, endorsed a complete ban on handgun ownership, voted to uphold local gun bans and the criminal prosecution of people who use firearms in self-defense, and supported a proposal to ban gun stores within five miles of a school or park.
2. Ted Turner: KGB Was ‘Honorable’
CNN founder Ted Turner said the former Soviet intelligence agency KGB was “honorable” — and equated the U.S. mission in Iraq with the U.S.S.R.’s invasion of Afghanistan.
During an appearance on last week’s “Meet the Press,” Turner — whose latest book is “Call Me Ted” — was asked by host Tom Brokaw if he believes all nuclear weapons can be eliminated if the U.S. and Russia take the lead.
Turner, co-founder of the Nuclear Threat Initiative to stem the spread of nuclear weapons, said “absolutely,” and called the Russians “very reasonable, pragmatic, practical people.”
When Brokaw mentioned Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s past with the KGB, Turner responded:
“Well, he had that background. But you know, we have an FBI, and we're not prejudiced against somebody who's worked at the FBI. It's an honorable place to work. And the KGB, I think, was an honorable place to work. And it gave people in the former Soviet Union, a communist country, an opportunity to do something important and worthwhile.”
The next exchange went like this:
Brokaw: “But in the meantime, it appears that he's very much more interested in just causing difficulty for the United States, getting in our face in a manner of speaking.”
Turner: “Well, wait. We're the ones, in my opinion, we're the ones that started that. We're the ones that started by putting the Star Wars system in Czechoslovakia and Poland when they wanted to be part of it. We've said that system is only to protect us from Iran or protect Europe from Iranian missiles. So why didn't we cooperate with the Russians? Why have we constantly been pushing on the Russians all the time?”
Brokaw: “Your friend, Jimmy Carter, tried to be friendly with Leonid Brezhnev, and for his friendliness what did Brezhnev do? ... He invaded Afghanistan.”
Turner: “Well, we invaded Afghanistan, too, and it's a lot further — at least it's on the border of the Soviet Union or the former Soviet Union or Russia...”
Brokaw: “But Ted, don't try to go there in terms of justifying that ... It was naked aggression on the part of the Russians at the time.”
Turner: “Well, going into Iraq was naked aggression on the part of the United States.”
Brokaw failed to challenge that assertion.
3. Hillary Needs ‘Fix’ to Serve on Cabinet
Sen. Hillary Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as Secretary of State in the Obama administration, according to the public interest group Judicial Watch.
The Ineligibility Clause of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that no member of Congress can be appointed to an office that has benefited from a salary increase during that Senator or Representative’s current term of office.
A January 2008 Executive Order signed by President George W. Bush during Hillary Clinton’s current Senate term increased the salary for Secretary of State from $186,600 to $191,300.
Specifically, Article I, section 6 of the U.S. Constitution states: “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 (salary and benefits) whereof shall have been increased during such time.”
At the 1787 Constitutional Convention there was fear that of members of Congress might create new jobs or give raises to existing jobs, and then take those jobs for themselves.
President Richard Nixon circumvented this provision after appointing Ohio Sen. William Saxbe to the position of Attorney General. The Attorney General’s salary had been increased during Saxbe’s term, but the Nixon administration managed to push legislation through Congress to reduce the salary to its previous level.
This scheme, known thereafter as “The Saxbe Fix,” was also used to allow Sen. Lloyd Bensen to assume the position of Treasury Secretary under President Clinton.
So Hillary will require a “Saxbe Fix” to serve as Secretary of State, according to Judicial Watch. But the group asserts that the tactic “may reduce the salary of Secretary of State to previous levels, but it does not affect what is a clear constitutional prohibition.”
4. Gen. James Jones Not Pro-Israel
Barack Obama’s appointment of retired Gen. James Jones as his national security adviser raised concerns in Israel that Jones is not a firm supporter of the Jewish state.
Jones, former supreme allied commander of NATO, served as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian security issues over the past year. During that time he was reported to have drafted a paper critical of some aspects of Israel’s security stance toward the Palestinians, according to the Jerusalem Post.
But the report, which Israeli government officials feared could cause tension between the U.S. and Israel, was never published.
However, it is known that Jones favors replacing Israeli forces in the West Bank with an international force.
He also opposes Israel’s demand that it retain extensive security control over the occupied territories even after a Palestinian state is established, the Israel newspaper Haaretz disclosed.
In discussions with the Bush administration, Israel has argued that its major population centers are vulnerable to rocket and suicide attacks from the West Bank, and control of the Jordan Valley is needed to prevent weapons smuggling into the West Bank.
Israel also wants control of border crossings, and maintains that Palestinians cannot be trusted with responsibility for security, according to Haaretz.
Jones has instead proposed a NATO-based international force that would eventually transfer control to the Palestinians.
Israeli officials maintain that an international force cannot provide the intelligence needed to ward off terrorist attacks.
As national security adviser Jones can be expected to make Israeli-Palestinian relations a top priority. In an interview with Inside the Pentagon in October, he said “nothing is more important” in the Middle East than a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
5. We Heard . . .
THAT Virginia businessman Earl Stafford is shelling out $1 million so that disadvantaged people, terminally ill patients, and wounded soldiers from around the country can stay in Washington for Barack Obama’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Stafford, founder of the technology company Unitech, will provide his guests with free lodging for three nights at the JW Marriott hotel, which offers a prime view of the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route.
He told The Washington Post that he is prepared to spend $600,000 more for a breakfast, a luncheon and two balls at the hotel.
At least 30 percent of the guests staying in Stafford’s 300 rooms and four suites are to be disadvantaged or needy in some way.
The African-American businessman said he wants to “bless those who otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to be part of the great celebration, the inauguration and the festivities.”
THAT the cost of the inauguration could leave financially-strapped Washington, D.C., with a record-breaking bill for services.
The bill for security and other outlays will almost certainly exceed the $15 million the federal government gives to the District of Columbia each year to defray the expense of holding events, according to the District’s congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
In 2005, with an estimated 300,000 people in attendance, President George W. Bush’s second inauguration cost the city more than $17 million. This year, officials expect nearly five times as many people, according to the DC Examiner’s Web site.
“There will be an additional amount necessary to handle the unprecedented crowds,” said Norton.
“It’s an outrage to have costs incurred for federal events.”