Saturday, July 11, 2009

PHLASHBACK: President Reagan's Veto Message On Fairness Doctrine


Message to the Senate Returning Without Approval the Fairness in Broadcasting Bill

June 19, 1987

To the Senate of the United States:

I am returning herewith without my approval S. 742, the ``Fairness in Broadcasting Act of 1987,'' which would codify the so-called ``fairness doctrine.'' This doctrine, which has evolved through the decisional process of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), requires Federal officials to supervise the editorial practices of broadcasters in an effort to ensure that they provide coverage of controversial issues and a reasonable opportunity for the airing of contrasting viewpoints on those issues. This type of content-based regulation by the Federal Government is, in my judgment, antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment.

In any other medium besides broadcasting, such Federal policing of the editorial judgment of journalists would be unthinkable. The framers of the First Amendment, confident that public debate would be freer and healthier without the kind of interference represented by the ``fairness doctrine,'' chose to forbid such regulations in the clearest terms: ``Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.'' More recently, the United States Supreme Court, in striking down a right-of-access statute that applied to newspapers, spoke of the statute's intrusion into the function of the editorial process and concluded that ``[i]t has yet to be demonstrated how governmental regulation of this crucial process can be exercised consistent with First Amendment guarantees of a free press as they have evolved to this time.'' Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241, 258 (1974).

I recognize that 18 years ago the Supreme Court indicated that the fairness doctrine as then applied to a far less technologically advanced broadcast industry did not contravene the First Amendment. Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367 (1969). The Red Lion decision was based on the theory that usable broadcast frequencies were then so inherently scarce that government regulation of broadcasters was inevitable and the FCC's ``fairness doctrine'' seemed to be a reasonable means of promoting diverse and vigorous debate of controversial issues.

The Supreme Court indicated in Red Lion a willingness to reconsider the appropriateness of the fairness doctrine if it reduced rather than enhanced broadcast coverage. In a later case, the Court acknowledged the changes in the technological and economic environment in which broadcasters operate. It may now be fairly concluded that the growth in the number of available media outlets does indeed outweigh whatever justifications may have seemed to exist at the period during which the doctrine was developed. The FCC itself has concluded that the doctrine is an unnecessary and detrimental regulatory mechanism. After a massive study of the effects of its own rule, the FCC found in 1985 that the recent explosion in the number of new information sources such as cable television has clearly made the ``fairness doctrine'' unnecessary. Furthermore, the FCC found that the doctrine in fact inhibits broadcasters from presenting controversial issues of public importance, and thus defeats its own purpose.

Quite apart from these technological advances, we must not ignore the obvious intent of the First Amendment, which is to promote vigorous public debate and a diversity of viewpoints in the public forum as a whole, not in any particular medium, let alone in any particular journalistic outlet. History has shown that the dangers of an overly timid or biased press cannot be averted through bureaucratic regulation, but only through the freedom and competition that the First Amendment sought to guarantee.

S. 742 simply cannot be reconciled with the freedom of speech and the press secured by our Constitution. It is, in my judgment, unconstitutional. Well-intentioned as S. 742 may be, it would be inconsistent with the First Amendment and with the American tradition of independent journalism. Accordingly, I am compelled to disapprove this measure.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

June 19, 1987.

Note: The message was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on June 20.

Friday, July 10, 2009

GM exits bankruptcy, CEO vows better performance

GM exits bankruptcy, CEO vows better performance

By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer
51 mins ago

DETROIT – A leaner General Motors arose on Friday, making an unusually quick exit from bankruptcy with ambitions of making money and building cars people are eager to buy.

Once the world's largest and most powerful automaker, new GM is now cleansed of massive debt and burdensome contracts that would have sunk it without federal loans. The U.S. government owns a majority stake although the Obama administration says it has no plans to run the automaker.

The new GM also emerges amid the worst sales slump in a quarter-century.

At a news conference, CEO Fritz Henderson said the new GM will be faster and more responsive to customers than the old one and it will make money and repay government loans faster than required.

Henderson said GM completed its 40-day stay under court supervision far faster than anyone thought it could. He said it would repay about $50 billion in government loans ahead of a 2015 deadline.

He said the company now will focus more on customers, including a partnership with eBay to test auctioning vehicles online.

The new GM will also build more cars and trucks that consumers want and launch them faster than in the past, the CEO said.

"We recognize that we've been given a rare second chance at GM, and we are very grateful for that. And we appreciate the fact that we now have the tools to get the job done," he said.

The new company arose Friday as the bulk of General Motors Corp.'s assets were transferred to a company controlled by the U.S. government.

Henderson said the company would reduce its overall U.S. salaried employment by 20 percent by the end of 2009. He said management ranks will be cut by 35 percent, or 450 executives, including the elimination of its North American president position. Henderson said he will take responsibility for North American operations.

He said Bob Lutz, a legendary industry executive, was "unretiring" to become a vice chairman responsible for all creative elements of products, marketing and customer relationships. Lutz had previously planned to retire at the end of the year after more than four decades in the auto business.

The automaker is launching a "Tell Fritz" Web site to allow owners and the public to share their concerns with senior management and he planned to go out on the road every month, Henderson said.

"We need to listen to the questions, ideas and the concerns of the people who matter the most," Henderson said.

The new company will focus on three top priorities, customers, cars and culture, Henderson said.

"If we don't get this right, nothing else is going to work," he said during a morning news conference at GM's Downtown Detroit headquarters. "Business as usual is over at General Motors."

New Chairman Edward Whitacre Jr. said the 40-day period had been extremely challenging. "There have been a lot of long hours, there have been a shuttering of plants, there have been painful layoffs," he said. Whitacre cited the "strong leadership" of Henderson and the management team, giving the CEO who replaced Rick Wagoner a vote of confidence.

"We all want to win and we are going to win," Whitacre said.

The company's logo will emain blue with white underlined GM letters. Henderson said GM has no plans to change the background color to green. "It's not in my plans actually," he said.

GM has considered the change to represent its new environmental focus.

Concessions made by the United Auto Workers union just before the company entered bankruptcy protection have brought GM's labor costs down to where they are fully competitive with Toyota Motor Corp., Henderson said.

Henderson also said the U.S. government has urged them to form a "world-class board" and has vowed that it would not get involved in day-to-day decisions. Steve Rattner, the head of the Obama administration's auto task force, "wants the company to perform," Henderson said.

GM ranked as the top global automaker in terms of sales for 77 years before Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. snatched its crown in 2008. The company sold nearly 8.4 million cars and trucks around the world in 2008, falling short of Toyota's nearly 9 million.

Once the largest corporation in America, GM held the top spot in the Fortune 500 ranking for 20 years before being pushed out of the top spot in 1973 by Exxon Mobil Corp. It reclaimed No. 1 status in 1985 and held it for another 15 years.

Turning a profit will not be easy. GM has piled up losses and survives only because it expects to receive $50 billion in U.S. government loans. Without the loans, its executives have said the company would have been sold off in pieces.

In addition to the U.S. government's 61 percent controlling interest, the United Auto Workers union gets a 17.5 percent stake of the company through its retiree health care trust, and the Canadian government will control 11.7 percent. The remaining shares went to bondholders of the old company.

The parts of GM not moving to the new company will become part of "old GM," a collection of assets and liabilities that will be sold to pay creditors.


Associated Press Writers Ken Thomas in Washington, D.C., and Kimberly S. Johnson and Jeff Karoub in Detroit contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

State Lawmakers Considering Move to Opt Out of Federal Health Care By Katie Cobb

Lawmakers in six states are considering legislation to "protect" citizens from a federal health care plan by creating statewide initiatives to vote on whether to opt out of the national program -- even before Congress has created the program


June 25, 2009

Congress has yet to come up with a clear prescription for the nation's health care system. But some state legislators are already urging voters not to take the medicine.

Under Arizona's Health Care Freedom Act, which was passed by the state legislature this week, a voting initiative will be placed on the 2010 ballot that, if passed, will allow the state to opt out of any federal health care plan. Five other states -- Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming -- are considering similar initiatives for their 2010 ballots.

"Our health care freedoms are very much at risk by health care reforms proposed in Washington, D.C.," said Arizona state Rep. Nancy Barto, the Republican legislator who sponsored the measure. "We needed to act as a state to protect our citizens and ensure that they will always be able to buy their own health care and not be forced into a plan they don't want."

But an opponent of the bill, state Rep. Phil Lopes, says the measure has less to do with individual freedom and more to do with the protecting the status quo. "The proponents of this are saying the system we have now works and we don't want any kind of reform," the Democratic legislator said. "This flies in the face of what the public tells us they want."

Not so, says Christine Herrera, director of the Health and Human Services Task Force for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The group's 1,800 state legislator members have endorsed a resolution opposing a Medicare-modeled federal health plan and a national health insurance exchange, two concepts that are gaining ground in Washington.

"Our state legislatures are looking at what's going on in Washington as trampling state's rights," Herrera says.

Some state legislators say they worry that a government-mandated program will effectively eliminate their traditional role in regulating health insurers -- an important power base. Others raise constitutional concerns. "The real goal of national health insurance exchange isn't competition -- it's a federal power grab that flies in the face of the Tenth Amendment," says Wisconsin state Rep. Leah Vukmir, a Republican.

The Tenth Amendment ensures that "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." It's the same constitutional roadblock Franklin D. Roosevelt ran into during the Great Depression when he tried to ram through the first round of recovery programs under the New Deal. In a series of rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court found the National Recovery Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act and several other recovery programs unconstitutional.

But constitutional scholars say it's unlikely history will repeat itself with health care reform efforts. "It's hard to imagine Congress passing anything that would be plausibly challengeable under the Tenth Amendment, but it's certainly theoretically possible," said Paul Bender, professor of constitutional law at Arizona State University. He said Congress has broad powers to regulate interstate commerce, which would include something as big as health care.

But Bender also said he sees a striking similarity between the current makeup of the Supreme Court and the "Nine Old Men" who stymied FDR's sweeping reform efforts in the 1930s. "Both sets of jurists seem to share a belief that the balance of power has shifted too far in favor of Congress at the expense of the states," Bender said.

Some state lawmakers who oppose President Obama's efforts to implement a national health care plan say the inevitable result will be socialized medicine. "The public plan and national health insurance exchange will squeeze out private insurance and put us on the road to single-payer health care," warns Georgia state Sen. Judson Hill, a Republican.

"Having the public plan now will mean socialized medicine later," he said.

Hill and other state legislators expressed concerns that millions of people will drop their private coverage if there is political pressure to keep a public plan's premiums low and benefits high. And if private insurers leave the market, they say, consumers will essentially be left with no choice of plans and no control over how their health care dollars are spent.

"Pure speculation," says Lopes. "In 1964 this was the same argument insurance companies made with President Lyndon Johnson when he proposed Medicare. Medicare did not do away with private insurance companies. They did very well."

"Protecting the rights of individuals to be in control of their health and health care must be a fundamental component of health care reform," says Dr. Erick Novack, chairman of Arizonans for Health Care Freedom, which promoted the state's ballot measure. "We are confident that the people of Arizona will vote to ensure their own rights."

With a constitutional challenge to health care reform problematic at best, that vote may turn out to be largely symbolic. But for now, that doesn't seem to be stopping other states from following Arizona's lead.

Monday, July 06, 2009

McNamara, defense chief during Vietnam War, dies

McNamara, defense chief during Vietnam War, dies

By PETE YOST and MIKE FEINSILBER, Associated Press Writer
29 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Robert S. McNamara, the cerebral secretary of defense vilified for his role in escalating the Vietnam War, a disastrous conflict he later denounced as "terribly wrong," died Monday. He was 93.

McNamara died at 5:30 a.m. at his home, his wife Diana told The Associated Press. She said he had been in failing health for some time.

McNamara was fundamentally associated with the Vietnam War, "McNamara's war," the country's most disastrous foreign venture, the only American war to end in abject withdrawal.

Known as a policymaker with a fixation for statistical analysis, McNamara was recruited to run the Pentagon by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 from the presidency of the Ford Motor Co. — where he and a group of colleagues had been known as the "whiz kids." He stayed in the defense post for seven years, longer than anyone since the job's creation in 1947.

His association with Vietnam became intensely personal. Even his son, as a Stanford University student, protested against the war while his father was running it. At Harvard, McNamara once had to flee a student mob through underground utility tunnels. Critics mocked McNamara mercilessly; they made much of the fact that his middle name was "Strange."

After leaving the Pentagon on the verge of a nervous breakdown, McNamara became president of the World Bank and devoted evangelical energies to the belief that improving life in rural communities in developing countries was a more promising path to peace than the buildup of arms and armies.

A private person, McNamara for many years declined to write his memoirs, to lay out his view of the war and his side in his quarrels with his generals. In the early 1990s he began to open up. He told Time magazine in 1991 that he did not think the bombing of North Vietnam — the biggest bombing campaign in history up to that time — would work but he went along with it "because we had to try to prove it would not work, number one, and (because) other people thought it would work."

Finally, in 1993, after the Cold War ended, he undertook to write his memoirs because some of the lessons of Vietnam were applicable to the post-Cold War period "odd as though it may seem."

"In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam" appeared in 1995. McNamara disclosed that by 1967 he had deep misgivings about Vietnam — by then he had lost faith in America's capacity to prevail over a guerrilla insurgency that had driven the French from the same jungled countryside.

Despite those doubts, he had continued to express public confidence that the application of enough American firepower would cause the Communists to make peace. In that period, the number of U.S. casualties — dead, missing and wounded — went from 7,466 to over 100,000.

"We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of our country. But we were wrong. We were terribly wrong," McNamara, then 78, told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of the book's release.

The best-selling mea culpa renewed the national debate about the war and prompted bitter criticism against its author. "Where was he when we needed him?" a Boston Globe editorial asked. A New York Times editorial referred to McNamara as offering the war's dead only a "prime-time apology and stale tears, three decades late."

McNamara wrote that he and others had not asked the five most basic questions: "Was it true that the fall of South Vietnam would trigger the fall of all Southeast Asia? Would that constitute a grave threat to the West's security? What kind of war — conventional or guerrilla — might develop? Could we win it with U.S. troops fighting alongside the South Vietnamese? Should we not know the answers to all these questions before deciding whether to commit troops?

He discussed similar themes in the 2003 documentary "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara." With the U.S. in the first year of the war in Iraq, it became a popular and timely art-house attraction and won the Oscar for best documentary feature.

The Iraq war, with its similarities to Vietnam, at times brought up McNamara's name, in many cases in comparison with another unpopular defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld. McNamara was among former secretaries of defense and state who met twice with President Bush in 2006 to discuss Iraq war policies.

In the Kennedy administration, McNamara was a key figure in both the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis 18 months later. The crisis was the closest the world came to a nuclear confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States.

McNamara served as the World Bank president for 12 years. He tripled its loans to developing countries and changed its emphasis from grandiose industrial projects to rural development.

After retiring in 1981, he championed the causes of nuclear disarmament and aid by the richest nation for the world's poorest. He became a global elder statesman.

McNamara's trademarks were his rimless glasses and slicked down hair and his reliance on quantitative analysis to reach conclusions, calmly promulgated in a husky voice.

He was born June 9, 1916, in San Francisco, son of the sales manager for a wholesale shoe company. At the University of California at Berkeley, he majored in mathematics, economics and philosophy.

As a professor at the Harvard Business School when World War II started, he helped train Army Air Corps officers in cost-effective statistical control. In 1943, he was commissioned an Army officer and joined a team of young officers who developed a new field of statistical control of supplies.

McNamara and his colleagues sold themselves to the Ford organization as a package and revitalized the company. The group became known as the "whiz kids" and McNamara was named the first Ford president who was not a descendant of Henry Ford.

A month later, the newly elected Kennedy invited McNamara, a registered Republican, to join his Cabinet. Taking the $25,000-a-year job cost McNamara $3 million in profit from Ford stocks and options.

As defense chief, McNamara reshaped America's armed forces for "flexible response" and away from the nuclear "massive retaliation" doctrine espoused by former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. He asserted civilian control of the Pentagon and applied cost-accounting techniques and computerized systems analysis to defense spending.

Early on, Kennedy regarded South Vietnam as an area threatened by Communist aggression and a providing ground for his new emphasis on counterinsurgency forces. A believer in the domino theory — that countries could fall to communism like a row of dominoes — Kennedy dispatched U.S. "advisers" to bolster the Saigon government. Their numbers surpassed 16,000 by the time of his assassination.

Following Kennedy's assassination, President Lyndon Johnson retained McNamara as "the best in the lot" of Kennedy Cabinet members and the man to keep Vietnam from falling to the Communists.

When U.S. naval vessels were allegedly attacked off the North Vietnamese coast in 1964, McNamara lobbied Congress to pass the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which Johnson used as the equivalent of a congressional declaration of war.

McNamara visited Vietnam — the first of many trips — and returned predicting that American intervention would enable the South Vietnamese, despite internal feuds, to stand by themselves "by the end of 1965."

That was an early forerunner of a seemingly endless string of official "light at the end of the tunnel" predictions of American success. Each was followed by more warfare, more American troops, more American casualties, more American bombing, more North Vietnamese infiltration — and more predictions of an early end to America's commitment.

McNamara's first wife, Margaret, whom he met in college, died of cancer in 1981; they had two daughters and a son. In 2004, at age 88, he married Italian-born widow Diana Masieri Byfield.

Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Liberty And Liberation On July 4


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, July 02, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Mission Accomplished: The withdrawal of U.S. troops from 15 Iraqi cities makes this a time to remember the sacrifices that made success possible — and the president who refused to lose.

Read More: Iraq

The concerns that former Vice President Dick Cheney recently expressed regarding our forces in Iraq are not to be taken lightly.

Reacting to the announcement last week that U.S. soldiers would leave Iraq's cities in a 24-hour span, Cheney reflected to the Washington Times that "one might speculate that insurgents are waiting as soon as they get an opportunity to launch more attacks."

Army soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 7th Calvary, Fort Hood, Texas, pause for a photograph at an American base on the outskirts of Baghdad. U.S. troops pulled out of Iraqi cities last Tuesday in the first step toward winding down the war effort by the end of 2011.<br />

Army soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 7th Calvary, Fort Hood, Texas, pause for a photograph at an American base on the outskirts of Baghdad. U.S. troops pulled out of Iraqi cities last Tuesday in the first step toward winding down the war effort by the end of 2011.

The former defense secretary for the first President Bush understood that the Iraqis eventually "have to stand on their own, but I would not want to see the U.S. waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point."

With over 4,300 of our servicemen and women having fallen to rid the world of the threat of Saddam Hussein and bring freedom to Iraq, it certainly should be a priority not to waste so much valor.

Unfortunately, President Obama's main concern seems to be something else: Keeping to his self-imposed, artificial timetable to end U.S. combat operations in little more than a year and get all our troops out by the close of 2011.

The president calls the troop pullback a "precious opportunity." But it's as much an opportunity for sleeper insurgent terrorists within Iraq, not to mention for neighboring Islamofascist Iran, as it is for the Iraqi people. That is why the U.S. should not get itself wedded to the feel-good notion that the mission is irreversibly accomplished.

With everyone fully aware that more violence is certain no matter how well prepared Iraq's more than 600,000 security force personnel may now be, the president warned of "difficult days ahead." He said he knew "there are those who will test Iraq's security forces and the resolve of the Iraqi people through more sectarian bombings and the murder of innocent civilians."

But he also made it pretty clear that the Iraqis will soon no longer be able to depend on America. "Iraq's leaders must now make some hard choices necessary to resolve key political questions to advance opportunity and provide security for their towns and their cities," the president said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking last Monday when four soldiers were killed, called Iraq "still a dangerous situation." Yet the president considers our activities there to be so off Americans' political radar screens that he is handing Iraq policy over to the increasingly clownish Vice President Joe Biden.

Sweeping Iraq under the rug is no way to finish such a gruelingly difficult job. The president's obvious wish that Iraq go away as he turns to other foreign policy challenges is in stark contrast to the manner in which his immediate predecessor handled the long war there.

President George W. Bush does not escape blame in his handling of Iraq. He should have recognized much sooner that the U.S. military strategy, which was not focused enough on counterinsurgency, was not working well.

Perhaps a Ronald Reagan would have done better on that mark. But once Bush saw that he had an intolerable situation on his hands he did something extraordinary.

Almost the entire Washington establishment of both parties ganged up on the White House to force a kind of "dignified surrender" down the president's throat. His father's secretary of state, James Baker, was summoned to co-direct what became known as the Iraq Study Group. Even conservative hero Ed Meese, Reagan's attorney general, was prevailed upon to join up.

But what the Iraq Study Group failed to study in very much depth was George W. Bush's rock-solid commitment to winning the war the terrorists started on Sept. 11, 2001. As Bob Woodward quoted him telling congressional Republicans visiting the White House in 2005, "I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney (the White House dog) are the only ones supporting me."

Bush's response to a unified, defeatist Washington was the Surge — substantial reinforcements led by a new commander, counterinsurgency warfare guru Gen. David Petraeus. Most experts and commentators said it had no chance of succeeding. Today, all concede that the Surge turned Iraq around.

It is questionable if even Reagan could have resisted the kind of united pressure from political friend and foe alike that George W. Bush was under during the months preceding the Surge. As we celebrate this 4th of July, we should be thankful for a 43rd president who refused to allow another Vietnam.

And we should hope his successor does not undo what history will remember as one of the great instances of presidential fortitude.

Czarred And Feathered


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, July 01, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Government: It's been suggested that the White House has more czars than the Russian Romanov dynasty. Has the administration forgotten that we have a government of elected officials, not of imperial appointments?

Read More: Europe & Central Asia

Czars, or functionaries with the task of ensuring White House commands are followed, have been part of the U.S. government for decades. It's unclear, though, how many are in this administration, as it is not an official title. from the St. Petersburg Times believes the count has swelled to as many as 28 under President Obama.

Many of these czars, most of whom are useless or counterproductive, are sitting in newly created positions. They range from Kenneth Feinberg, the pay czar who is the special master on executive compensation, to Earl Devaney, who, as the stimulus accountability czar, will chair the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board. Others among the 28 include:

• Green jobs czar. This post is held by Van Jones. Officially he is Obama's special adviser for enterprise and innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Jones was a founder and leader of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement. The group, now disbanded, had Marxist, Leninist and Maoist influences.

Jones admitted that he became a communist and radical after the officers accused of using excessive force on Rodney King were acquitted. He's supposedly a reformed anti-capitalist, but not everyone is convinced.

• TARP czar. Herb Allison is assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial stability. There's nothing alarming in his background, but there should be concerns about the position he's filling.

• Great Lakes czar. Cameron Davis is a special adviser overseeing the EPA's Great Lakes restoration plan. He's president of the Chicago-based Alliance for the Great Lakes conservation group.

• Science czar. John Holdren is an ideologue who frets over global warming (junk science) and is a pessimist (in 1980 he thought the world was running out of natural resources) and misanthrope (he's favored population control).

• Climate czar. Before Todd Stern was appointed, he was a senior fellow at the left-wing Center for American Progress. His empty rhetoric on global warming can hardly be distinguished from that of Al Gore.

• Car czar. Ed Montgomery, a University of Maryland dean, economist and a Labor Department deputy secretary in the Clinton administration, is director of recovery for auto communities and workers. He's no raving leftist, but he is discharging a duty the government should never have.

• Guantanamo closure czar. Danny Fried has the duty of overseeing the closure of the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The longtime diplomat has to navigate the fulfillment of Obama's promise to shut down Gitmo, a promise that helped get Obama elected but was always foolish.

• Faith-based czar. Dare we say that Joshua DuBois, director of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, is a community organizer? The 26-year-old pastor worked for Democratic Congressmen Rush Holt of New Jersey and Charles Rangel of New York.

• Urban affairs Czar. The White House has a director of urban affairs — Adolfo Carrion Jr. — but no czar for rural affairs. What does that say about how this administration values country folks?

• Regulatory czar. Obama wants to fill this post with Cass Sunstein, the Harvard law professor who has suggested "that animals should be permitted to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives," against people in our civil court system. Sunstein would likely do a fine job of regulating the country into paralysis.

The growth of a czarist regime is not healthy in a representative republic. When the executive branch isn't checked by the Supreme Court, which shouldn't let the president make fiat law, and Congress, which constitutionally confirms or denies a president's nominees for "public ministers," a risky imbalance of power arises.

Someone who considers himself a defender of the Constitution — say Robert Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who believes presidents intentionally try to bypass Congress by naming czars — should challenge the administration in court.

The White House shouldn't be center of a dynasty.

First Class First Lady


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Integrity: In a society that so often feeds on others' adversity, Jenny Sanford has reminded us that hard times bring out the best in good people. No politician's wife has ever shown more grace.

Read More: General Politics

South Carolina's first lady sacrificed her privacy and much of her time for the sake of her husband's political career. In return, she discovered that her husband, conservative Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, was having ongoing trysts with his Argentine mistress.

The details are the sort of thing that keep a gawking public coming back for more — steamy e-mails, a cover story that he was hiking incommunicado on the Appalachian Trail, the choice of Father's Day for adultery.

Unlike so many other jilted political wives of recent times, Jenny Sanford was not convinced by her ambitious husband or his aides to take part in the charade of standing with him disingenuously at some circuslike press conference. The cameras would not get their image of offender and victim, side by side.

Instead, the visual the media would be forced to accept was video of the first lady taking some well-deserved vacation time with family. This wife, so dedicated to her husband's aspirations that she actually managed his campaigns, told reporters that the governor's career was "the least of my concerns."

The former Wall Street executive was even able to present a cheerful face to the swarm of reporters at the side of the car she was driving, as she headed off for some R&R. 

"I've got both my sisters," she said, pointing to them in the vehicle with her. "Am I okay? You know what, I have great faith and I have great friends and great family. And you know, we have a good Lord in this world, and I know I'm gonna be fine. Not only will I survive; I'll thrive."

She added: "I don't know whether he'll be with me, but I'm gonna do my best to work on our marriage because I believe in marriage. I believe in raising good kids; it's the most important thing in the world."

Driving away, she grinningly left the reporters with this sassy goodbye: "I wish we had room on the boat for y'all, but we do not!"

That's a first lady worth being faithful to. South Carolinians and all Americans won't soon forget her. Too bad Gov. Sanford did.

PHLASHBACK: President Reagan's Radio Address to the Nation on the Strategic Defense Initiative


July 12, 1986

My fellow Americans:

One week ago we showed the world what it means to love liberty. The spectacular celebration of our independence and Miss Liberty's centennial will likely be described by historians as a reflection of the good will, joy, and confidence so apparent in our country. Instead of focusing on problems, America's looking for solutions. Instead of fretting about this or that shortcoming, we're out creating, building, and making things better. Instead of lamenting dangers, we're putting our best minds to work trying to find ways of making this a safer, more secure world.

And that's what I want to talk with you about today: our major research effort called the Strategic Defense Initiative, SDI, which is aimed at ridding this planet of the threat of nuclear annihilation. Back in 1983 we enlisted some of America's top scientists and set in motion a research program to see if we could find a way to defend mankind against ballistic missiles, an antimissile shield, if you will. Our SDI research is searching out a more effective, safe, and moral way to prevent war -- a deterrence based on defenses which threaten no one, a deterrence that will be viewed as a success not by the threat of deadly retaliation but, instead, by its ability to protect. And never was a purely defensive system so sorely needed. Since the early 1970's the Soviet Union has been racing forward in a vast and continuing military buildup, including the expansion of their offensive nuclear arsenal and an intense effort to develop their own strategic defense. And as described in a publication issued last October by our State and Defense Departments, the Soviets also have deployed the world's only antiballistic missile system. These Soviet strategic defense programs have been termed ``Red Shield'' in an article in this month's Reader's Digest. They were confirmed in an open letter issued last month by a group of 30 former Soviet scientists now living in the United States.

In stark contrast, we are defenseless against the most dangerous weapons in the history of mankind. Isn't it time to put our survival back under our own control? Our search for an effective defense is a key part of a three-pronged response to the Soviet threat. We also have been moving ahead to modernize our strategic forces and, simultaneously, to reach fair and verifiable arms reduction agreements with the Soviet Union. The Soviets have yet to agree to arms reduction despite the strenuous efforts of several U.S. administrations. However, our SDI research to make nuclear missiles less effective also makes these missiles more negotiable. And when we talk about negotiations, let's be clear: Our SDI research is not a bargaining chip. It's the number of offensive nuclear missiles that need to be reduced, not the effort to find a way to defend mankind against these deadly missiles. And reliable defenses could also serve as insurance against cheating or breaking out of an arms reduction agreement.

All this makes it evermore important to keep our strategic defense research moving forward. We have set up a well-managed program which, in just over 3 years, has already accomplished much. Even faster progress than expected has been made in developing the system's ``eyes'' -- scientists call them sensors -- and its ``brains,'' which guide an interceptor toward its target, and methods of stopping incoming missiles, especially with nonnuclear means. Technological advances now permit us to detect and track an aggressor's missiles in early flight. It is in this boost phase that missiles must be intercepted and knocked out to achieve the protection we're looking for. There have been some major achievements in the diplomatic field as well. Great Britain, West Germany, and Israel have signed agreements to participate in the research, and talks with other major allies are expected.

Nothing of great value, of course, comes cheap. But a defensive system which can protect us and allies against all ballistic missiles, nuclear or conventional, is a prudent investment. I'm sorry to say, however, that some Members of Congress would take a shortsighted course, deeply cutting the funds needed to carry out this vital program. So, it's imperative your voice is heard. In the weeks ahead, it would be a tragedy to permit the budget pressures of today to destroy this vital research program and undercut our chances for a safer and more secure tomorrow. President Eisenhower once said, ``The future will belong, not to the fainthearted, but to those who believe in it and prepare for it.''

I agree with that, and I know you do, too. Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, MD.