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December 31, 2014

Jim Webb campaign addresses first 2016 presidential election controversy

Jim Webb campaign addresses first 2016 presidential election controversy

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2016 United States Presidential Election
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  • 6 January 2015: Wikinews interviews Christopher Hill, U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate
  • 31 December 2014: Jim Webb campaign addresses first 2016 presidential election controversy
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  • 5 July 2012: On the campaign trail, June 2012
  • 19 January 2012: Rick Perry withdraws from U.S. presidential race, endorses Gingrich

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb
Image: United States Congress.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for former U.S. Senator Jim Webb, a potential 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate, attacked the Business Insider for its report Monday that Webb’s Political Action Committee (PAC) paid nearly US$100,000 (about 80,000) to Webb’s wife and daughter over the course of the past six years. Ashleigh Owens, who represents Webb’s Born Fighting PAC, accused the Business Insider of “[a]dding up numbers across several years [to create] a sensational headline”. The controversy marks the first for Webb since he became the first major candidate to open an exploratory committee last month.

Claiming the Webb family “has made quite a bit of money from [Jim Webb’s] political career”, the Business Insider reported that of US$961,515.34 raised, Webb’s PAC paid a total of US$91,999.91 to his wife Hong Le Webb and daughter Amy Webb Hogan, with US$14,834.34 and US$24,412.20 disbursed, respectively, in 2014, years after fundraising ceased.

“This story as written misrepresents reasonable compensation for real and provable work done”, said Owens in a press release. “The activities of the PAC increased in 2014 when Jim Webb decided to re-enter the political discussions of our country.”

According to Owens, in 2014, Hong Le Webb, who works as an attorney, was paid for “vetting design consultants, negotiating contracts and content management” relating to the exploratory committee website. Hogan was compensated for her work in the “administration, management and design” of websites as well as the “handling of FEC [Federal Election Commission] compliance matters”.

Webb, a 68-year-old Vietnam War veteran, served as Secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan. He was elected to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate in 2006 and served one term. Webb favors less US intervention abroad, fewer free trade agreements, and supports gun rights.

According to National Interest editor Jacob Heilbrunn, Webb’s views on foreign policy and social issues may attract “anti-war progressives as well as conservative-minded Southern white men.” The Nation labeled him the “worst nightmare” of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is widely expected to run for president in 2016.

U.S. News & World Report reported at least one Clinton operative pitched unflattering stories about Webb to media outlets since late last month.



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December 24, 2009

Closure of Guantánamo prison will take longer than expected

Closure of Guantánamo prison will take longer than expected

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

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Detainees at Camp X-Ray in January 2002

The New York Times said on Wednesday that the Obama administration may not be able to close the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and transfer terrorism suspects held there until 2011 at the earliest.

The administration announced plans last week to acquire an under-utilized state prison in the Midwest state of Illinois to house up to 100 Guantánamo detainees. However, The Times says the United States Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay the state for the facility, which would cost about $150 million.

The report says the White House approached lawmakers on the United States House of Representatives Appropriations Committee several weeks ago about adding $200 million to the 2010 military spending bill for the project. Democratic leaders refused, defeating the request due to the project’s controversial nature.

The administration wants to buy the prison as part of efforts to fulfill President Obama’s order to close Guantánamo Bay. The president has acknowledged that the January 2010 deadline for closing the prison will not be met. The plan to close the prison and house the terror suspects in the U.S. has been met with fierce opposition by some members of Congress. Republicans say the closure of the prison and moving of inmates to American soil will make the country a greater target for terrorists.

The White House contends that the current prison at Guantánamo has become a terrorist recruiting symbol. It also pointed out that it would save taxpayers money as the Department of Defense currently pays $150 million to run the Guantánamo prison, while it will only cost $75 million to run the prison in Illinois.

However, some moderate Democrats have also raised concerns, Representative Loretta Sanchez, Democrat from California cited security concerns saying “[p]articularly making something on U.S. soil an attraction for Al Qaeda and terrorists to go after — inciting them to attack something on U.S. soil — that’s a problem, and we need to think it through.”

Senator Jim Webb, a Democrat from Virginia recently stated that suspects of terrorism “[d]o not belong in our country, they do not belong in our courts, and they do not belong in our prisons.”

Guantánamo, which now has some 200 inmates, has been harshly criticized by human rights advocates for the alleged abuse and mistreatment of detainees.

The Times says the Obama administration will not have another opportunity to secure funding for the Thomson Correctional Center until Congress takes up a supplemental appropriations bill for the war in Afghanistan. The bill is expected to be finished in March or April.

However, the newspaper says the administration is more focused on securing funding for the Illinois facility in appropriations bills for the 2011 fiscal year, which will not be debated until late 2010. Officials told the Times it could take eight to 10 months to install new fencing, towers, cameras and other security upgrades to the Thomson Correctional Center before any transfers take place.



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November 17, 2006

Virginia Bill of Rights to deny legal status to same-sex and unmarried relationships

Virginia Bill of Rights to deny legal status to same-sex and unmarried relationships

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Virginia, United States — A ballot referendum to amend the Virginia Bill of Rights that denies to same-sex and unmarried couples any legal status that approximates that granted to married couples was approved by state voters during the U.S. midterm election by a 57% to 43% margin.

The Virginia result, along with voters from seven other U.S. states who decided on similar constitutional amendments, brings the total to 27 states that now constitutionally ban the recognition of same-sex unions at the state level. Arizona voters failed to pass a similar ballot initiative this election cycle, making it the first and only U.S. state to reject a constitutional ban.

Both the governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, and Senator-elect, Jim Webb, publically opposed the amendment before the vote. Governor Kaine said the broad language against the recognition of the “legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals” within the referendum might have negative consequences on the state’s business climate. Further, that “it would invite protracted court challenges in areas including contracts, custody cases and end-of-life decisions.”

The Attorney General of Virginia, Robert F. McDonell argued that the rights of unmarried individuals are still protected, because such legal protections flow from common law, not solely from marriage.

However, the Bill of Rights is the basis and foundation of government. Thus, as discussed by Raymond A. Warren, any portion of common law that is determined by the seven-member Virginia Supreme Court to be in conflict with the amendment would no longer provide any such protection within Virginia.

The amendment establishes a section that explicitly prevents the government from recognizing the legal status of any relationships outside of heterosexual marriage. Though paragraph one of the amendment specifically bans same-sex marriage, paragraph two prevents the government from recognizing the legal status of any relationship of unmarried individuals that would in anyway approximate marriage.

That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.

– Section 15-A. “Marriage” which was amended to the Virginia Bill of Rights

Transfer of power and business concerns

Judge Warren argues that one of the greatest dangers of this amendment is that “no body knows what the sentence means”. The Judge’s position is reinforced by the views of an eminent Professor of Law within Virginia, who is a recognized expert on the social issues surrounding marriage. The professor described the amendment as “murky”.

Judge Warren argues that this modification affectively transfers broad power to the 7-member Supreme Court to interpret how this amendment affects the existing laws, benefits and rights that unwed partners currently enjoy. This would be in contrast to instead creating public policies, which could be adjusted through democratic processes as social understandings of the underlying issues evolve.

The Judge’s argument, which is consistent with Tim Kaine’s and Senator-elect Jim Webb’s position, is that there will be significant costs to the society and many years of uncertainty, as these issues are worked-out in the courts.

For instance, the domestic partner benefits that are offered by many companies operating in Virginia are a concern. Since corporate policies must be consistent with Virginia law, these domestic partner benefits are at risk. This uncertainty may then discourage both the talent and the employers who need to attract that talent from doing business in the state.

Making “murky” modifications to the very foundation of government, which in-turn underlies the most complex social system in history, argues for prudence and pause.

Potential for unintended impacts on current law

All of Virginia’s current laws were formed on the foundation that they needed to secure the rights identified in the Bill of Rights. However, that foundation has now fundamentally changed. The state is now forbidden from recognizing a broad set of previously recognized rights associated with unwed relationships. So many existing laws may now be unconstitutional, or will no longer safeguard same-sex or unwed couples and their families.

For example, in 2004 Ohio passed a similar amendment with practically identical language. They also had a 27-year-old domestic-violence law that was applied to all domestic partners. But on May 30, 2006, Ohio’s Third Appellant Court ruled that that law was now unconstitutional due to Ohio’s 2004 “Defense of Marriage” amendment. Though Ohio’s Supreme Court must still hear this case, it does demonstrate how the amendment threatens the stability of existing laws concerning unwed relationships. An excerpt from the ruling follows:

In doing so [finding Ohio’s domestic violence law unconstitutional], we noted that it was unlikely that this was an intended result of the Defense of Marriage Amendment. However, we felt constrained to apply the amended provision of the Ohio Constitution as written, and held that the relationship established in the statute for cohabitants intended to “approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effect of marriage” in violation of the Amendment.

– May 30, 2006, State v. Shaffer, 2006-Ohio-2662

Stabilizing the marriage tradition

The institution of marriage, as a union between one man and one woman has been a dominant tradition within our society for at least 2 thousand years. The existence of a fundamental tradition that is rooted with the procreation of the human species argues for a conservative and measured approach when faced with absorbing the changes demanded by an evolving society. (Buckley and Ribstein)

Since the recognition of same-sex marriage represents a significant departure from these traditions, Virginia law has prohibited same sex marriage for over 30 years. Judge Warren argues that it would have been unlikely that Virginia’s rather conservative judges would have changed the definition of marriage, even without the amendment.

However, supporters of the amendment are also concerned that the recognition of new standard form relationships, such as same-sex unions could have unintended consequences.

For example, a writer of The Weekly Standard, Stanley Kurtz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, blames same-sex marriage in the Netherlands for an increase in parental cohabitation contracts. He asserts that same-sex marriage has detached procreation from marriage in the Dutch mind and would likely do the same in the United States.

However, in the 1999 case of Baker v. State, the Vermont court rejected as illogical and lacking empirical support, the argument that giving the same benefits to same sex and heterosexual couples would have unpredictable effects on the institution of marriage(Buckley and Ribstein). However, it stopped short of requiring the recognition of same sex marriage. The court noted that arguments about destabilization of the institution of marriage are “not altogether irrelevant. A sudden change in the marriage laws or the statutory benefits traditionally incidental to marriage may have disruptive and unforeseen consequences.”

Security of Individual Rights

The 1776 Bill of Rights was the first document in the Americas to declare protection of Individual Rights to all people, to define these rights as forming the foundation of the government and to recognize Individual Rights as being superior to all other Laws instituted by the government.

Rights differ fundamentally from other instituted laws. Individual Rights are an inherent power or liberty, not awarded by human power, to which one is justly entitled and which cannot be legally deprived or restricted by government. Laws, on the other hand, are the obligations and restrictions instituted by governments that are needed to secure those rights. Since rights are considered superior to laws, the judicial branch should necessarily strike down the passage of any law that violates any of these rights.

The state Supreme Courts of Massachusetts in 2003 and of New Jersey last month, have ruled that anti-same-sex marriage laws were unconstitutional because they found that the state had to give the same rights to gay couples as they did to heterosexual couples.

To avoid this outcome, proponents of preserving only heterosexual marriage as an acceptable partnership, have chosen to amend marriage laws, which carried the risk of being found unconstitutional, into the Bill of Rights.

The following sections of the Virginia Bill of Rights may be in conflict with the “Marriage” amendment:

Section 1 That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

– Sections 1 of the Virginia Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is also a vehicle whereby Virginia decided what is a right.

That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people, that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.

– Article 1, Section 2. Constitution of Virginia

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November 10, 2006

U.S. Senate majority goes to Democrats

U.S. Senate majority goes to Democrats – Wikinews, the free news source

U.S. Senate majority goes to Democrats

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Friday, November 10, 2006

George Allen, incumbent Republican Senator from Virginia, conceded the state’s mid-term election to Democratic challenger Jim Webb on Thursday. Democrats have now gained the six seats needed by the party to hold majority control of the Senate.

“The people of Virginia have spoken, they have spoken in a closely divided voice. We have two 49ers,” Allen said during the afternoon press conference in Arlington. Allen garnered 49.25% of the vote, compared to the 49.55% who supported Webb. “I do not wish to cause more rancor by protracted litigation that would not, in my opinion, alter the results.”

The concession by Allen in traditionally Republican Virginia follows what were once prospects for an Allen 2008 presidential bid. An easy Allen re-election campaign to the Senate was expected, but what came was the Democrats ability to frame the election as a national referendum on the war in Iraq. Democrats may have succeeded nationally to draw on the issue of Iraq, but local politics were very much in play in Northern Virginia.

According to the Virginia Pilot, “Unofficial returns gave Democratic nominee Webb a 120,000-vote advantage over Allen in Northern Virginia’s eight localities. But Webb trailed badly across most of the rest of the state and would have decisively lost the election without his Northern Virginia support.” The margin by which Webb won was 9,000 votes.

Allen’s formulaic stance against tax increases, whether for highway taxes to improve congested northern highway and commuter corridors, or outright fiscal conservativism of all taxes in the face of a burgeoning national deficit, worked against him.

The state constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriage supported by Allen, but opposed by Webb and Governor Tim Kaine, and most Northern Virginians, worked against Allen in the election.

Related news

  • “2006 U.S. Congressional Elections” — Wikinews, November 8, 2006

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November 9, 2006

Allen Concedes in Virginia, giving Democrats control of Senate

Allen Concedes in Virginia, giving Democrats control of Senate

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Thursday, November 9, 2006

Sen. George Allen (R-VA) today conceded the senatorial race to Democrat James Webb, confirming that there would be a Democratic majority in the Senate and the House for the first time in over a decade.

With this win, the Democrats have now gained more seats in Congress than the Republicans did in the 1994 ‘Republican Revolution’ that first brought Conservatives to control of the House and the Senate.

Webb won the Virginia seat by 7200 votes out of 2.37 million, as reported by the Washington Post. When Allen did not request a recount, that ensured a Democratic majority in the Senate.

Rumor said that Allen had hoped to use his Senate seat as a springboard to a run for the Presidency; and more rumors suggested that if Vice President Dick Cheney were forced to resign (“due to ill health”) following investigations of laws broken by Bush and Cheney, that Allen had hoped to be appointed in Cheney’s stead. With the loss of the Senate seat, Allen’s visions of a Presidential run have become impossible.

Webb, who was a decorated Vietnam veteran and an early opponent of the war in Iraq, is quoted (by atrios at http://atrios.blogspot.com/) as saying that he was particularly concerned with issues of economic fairness and social justice:

“[It was reported] that I came to the Democratic party purely on issues regarding the Iraq war. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I think I and a lot of people like me had aligned themselves with the Republican party on national security issues but were always concerned about issues of economic fairness and social justice.”

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November 8, 2006

United States Democrats win House majority

United States Democrats win House majority

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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

House of Representatives

The United States Democratic Party is projected to win control of the United States House of Representatives, the lower house of the United States Congress, the federal legislature. The Republican leadership has conceded defeat.

Senate

In the races for the 33 open seats of the United States Senate or upper house, the Democrats are projected to win five of the six seats they need to gain a majority. Several races are too close to call.

The key race in Virginia, upon which the outcome of majority control of the Senate may rest, Republican incumbent George Allen was asked to concede on Wednesday by Senator and chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Charles Schumer. Allen’s opponent, Democratic challenger Jim Webb garnered an unofficial win by the slim margin of 7,000 votes in over 2 million cast.

By state law, the Virginia State Board of Elections will perform a vote recount when election results are within one percentage point difference between candidates. The time table for the election to be certified November 27. The losing candidate has 10 days from the certification to appeal.

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October 29, 2006

Democratic challenger for U.S. Senate seat calls Iraq war \’strategic blunder\’

Democratic challenger for U.S. Senate seat calls Iraq war ‘strategic blunder’

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

The weekly Democratic Party radio broadcast on Saturday featured Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat challenger James Webb, who said “I told you so,” referring to his prediction before the Iraq war that, “our troops would become terrorist targets, and that there was no exit strategy because the people who were doing this did not intend to leave.”

Calling the war a “strategic blunder”, Webb said the Bush administration should “make it clear that we have no intention to build permanent bases in Iraq.” The presence of U.S. forces in Iraq destabilize the region, where their withdrawal would take the moral high ground away from {[w|Muslim}} insurgents, Webb said.

Webb also called on the Administration to open a diplomatic dialogue with Syria and Iran, countries with a vested interest in the security of Iraq. “We could also encourage accountability among other nations in that region, who are now threatened by Iraq’s instability and will benefit by a proper solution.”

The too-close-to-call and hotly contested Senate race between Webb and incumbent Republican opponent George Allen is closely watched as Democrats try to gain majority control in both the Senate and House of Representatives in the November 7 mid-term election.

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