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Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama Gets Honest About Small Town America's Decay, Elitists Lash out

When Barack Obama tells the truth about conditions as we know them Hillary takes the low road.

You know, I just spent seven and a half years disagreeing with the administration that has given us an unprecedented military and economic mess. I saw it coming, it came, and in some ways it was worse, and promises to get worse, than I foresaw. I the course of these seven years, I have had my patriotism questioned and demeaned fairly often. I was even put in a book, as one of a hundred people who were hurting America.

When I got into this book, my relatives worried that I would get shot by some rightwing nut, even though several of them were and are rightwing nuts themselves (and they carry guns). All this time, though, I considered myself a patriot and a loyal American because I was able to see the destruction that was being wreaked upon the nation, and in particular, upon the middle and working classes, by the Republican liars and war criminals and job outsourcers and health care destroyers and army wreckers and infrastructure ignorers and media whores and agriculture blackmailers (see this month's Vanity Fair).

So now, Barack Obama tells the truth about conditions as we know them -- that the countryside and the small towns are dying in many places in our country, and that the corporatocracy doesn't care enough to do a thing about it. He points out that immigrant-baiting, gay-baiting, gun-baiting, and religious pandering have helped to destroy those towns and that countryside, that those being destroyed have been cynically enlisted by their very own destroyers to provide the votes that help accomplish the destruction. And this is what Senator Hillary Clinton says about it: "Senator Obama's remarks were elitist and out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans."

From Senator Clinton's remarks, I infer that to actually see what has gone on in the US in the last 20 years is unAmerican. It doesn't matter who you are, where you were born, what you pay in taxes, what else you might have contributed to the culture, how you vote, who you support. If you don't support fundamentalist religion, job outsourcing, and free access to guns, then you are not even American.

I cannot believe how angry this makes me. I cannot believe that after the last seven and a half years, I can even get this angry. Yes, I know she is pandering to her audience. Yes, I know she will do anything to get elected. Yes, I know that she and Bill Clinton are corrupt to the core, and that I should have never expected anything better of her.

But, please, any of you angry white women who still support this craven shill, don't mention it to me. Do me the following favor -- apologize to your children for not stopping the war that Hillary voted for, the war that is going to impoverish them. Then apologize to them for the effects of global warming that are going to make their lives hell. Then apologize to them for the school shooting they may someday see, the one where the kid gets the guns out of his father's gun case, or buys at a gunshow. Apologize to them for the meaningless wars they are going to fight and pay for. Then tell them that "American values" killed their hopes and maybe killed them. And ask them if they think it's going to be worth it.

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Historical Quote of the Day

My Life "If [Republicans] could cut funding for Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment, middle-class Americans would see fewer benefits from their tax dollars, feel more resentful paying taxes, and become even more receptive to their appeals for tax cuts and their strategy of waging campaigns on divisive social and cultural issues like abortion, gay rights, and guns."

-- Bill Clinton, in his 2004 memoirs, My Life, making the same argument as Sen. Barack Obama.

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Clinton: Gore And Kerry Lost Because They Were Viewed As Elitist

Speaking to reporters in Pennsylvania on Sunday, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that previous Democratic nominees lost in the general election because they were viewed as out of touch with the nation:

Pressed on whether she truly believes Obama is an elitist, Clinton called him "a good man," but recalled the narratives of the 2000 and 2004 president election.


"You don't have to think back too far to remember that good men running for president were viewed as being elitist and out of touch with the values and lives of millions of Americans," she said.

Clinton later reiterated the argument at a CNN sponsored forum. Watch the video:

At the same CNN forum, Barack Obama said that he thought Gore had won the 2000 Election. Watch the clip:


Related: Clinton Says It's Not Relevant Last Time She Went To Church Or Fired A Gun

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Obama turns tables on Clinton

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., leaves the stage as Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., begins his time participating in a Compassion Forum at Messiah College, in Grantham, Pa., Sunday, April 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
AP Photo: Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., leaves the stage as Democratic presidential hopeful,...

STEELTON, Pa. - Democrat Barack Obama lashed out Sunday at rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, mocking her vocal support for gun rights and saying her record in the Senate and as first lady belied her stated commitment to working class voters and their concerns.

"She knows better. Shame on her. Shame on her," Obama told an audience at a union hall here.

The Illinois senator has spent three days on the defensive after comments he made at a San Francisco fundraiser were disclosed that suggested working class people are bitter about their economic circumstances and "cling to guns and religion" as a result.

Obama reiterated his regret for his choice of words at the fundraiser but suggested they had been twisted and mischaracterized. He said he'd expected blowback from GOP nominee-in-waiting John McCain, but had been "a little disappointed" to be criticized by Clinton.

Then, laughing along with the union audience, Obama noted that Clinton seemed much more interested in guns since he made his comments than she had in the past.

"She is running around talking about how this is an insult to sportsmen, how she values the Second Amendment. She's talking like she's Annie Oakley," Obama said, invoking the famed female sharpshooter immortalized in the musical "Annie Get Your Gun."

He continued: "Hillary Clinton is out there like she's on the duck blind every Sunday. She's packing a six-shooter. Come on, she knows better. That's some politics being played by Hillary Clinton."

Clinton has told campaign audiences that she supports the rights of hunters. Saturday, she reminisced about learning to shoot on family vacations in Scranton, where her father grew up. She's also said she once shot a duck in Arkansas, where she served as first lady.

Clinton, who is trailing Obama in the popular vote and pledged delegates, has pounded Obama since Friday, when audio from his San Francisco appearance was posted on The Huffington Post Web site. She hoped the comments might give her a new opening to court working-class Democrats less than 10 days before the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, which she needs win to keep her campaign going.

At the San Francisco fundraiser, Obama tried to explain his troubles in winning over some working-class voters, saying they have become frustrated with economic conditions: "It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Campaigning in Scranton on Sunday, Clinton denounced those remarks yet again as "elitist and divisive" and suggested they would alienate voters in Pennsylvania and other states holding primaries in the coming weeks.

"Senator Obama has not owned up to what he said and taken accountability for it," she told reporters during an informal news conference outside a home. "What people are looking for is an explanation. What does he really believe? How does he see people here in this neighborhood, throughout Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, other places in our country? And I think that's what people are looking for, some explanation, and he has simply not provided one."

Indiana and North Carolina vote on May 6.

"You don't have to think back too far to remember that good men running for president were viewed as being elitist and out of touch with the values and the lives of millions of Americans," Clinton added, referring to John Kerry, the defeated 2004 Democratic nominee.

"I think it's very critical that the Democrats really focus in on this and make it clear that we are not (elitist). We are going to stand up and fight for all Americans," Clinton said.

Fighting back, Obama said Clinton's history proved she was not as sensitive to the concerns of blue collar voters as she tried to project.

"I just have to remind people of the track record," Obama said, noting Clinton accepted campaign contributions from PACs and drug and insurance industry lobbyists, which he does not.

"This is the same person who took money from financial folks on Wall Street and then voted for bankruptcy bill that makes it harder for folks right here in Pennsylvania to get a fair shake. Who do you think is out of touch?" Obama said.

"This is the same person who spent a decade with her husband campaigning for NAFTA, and now goes around saying she's opposed to NAFTA," Obama said, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement that is widely unpopular in blue collar communities.

The Clinton campaign issued a quick retort to Obama's comments.

"For months, Barack Obama and his campaign have relentlessly attacked Hillary Clinton's character and integrity by using Republican talking points from the 1990s," said spokesman Phil Singer. "The shame is his. Senator Clinton does know better — she knows better than to condescend and talk down to voters like Senator Obama did."

Obama planned to further address the question of which candidate was most in touch with middle-class voters in a speech Monday to The Associated Press annual meeting in Washington.

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Survey Results In: Local PA Voters not as dumb/bitter as HRC, MSM or Mydd think

So how is Bitter-Gate playing outside in the real Pennsylvania world? Well don't look to the MSM talking endlessly about "bitter." Don't look to HRC who spent all day Saturday speaking about "bitter." Don't look to MyDD where the number 1, 2, and 3 top rec'ed story is from the same diarist who works for Hillary and tries to stuff bitterness down our gullets. Don't even look to DailyKos where we have become super bitter by this.

In short, screw HRC, MyDD, Kosians, etc. if you want to know how the good folks of PA are taking notice to bitter-gate. Instead, if we want to see what is going on let us take a look at what the local PA papers are saying about this. When looking at what is being said in the local papers across PA we see there is no traction concerning this dumb ass story. It may be used as a smoke screen by Hillary to detract from her string of gaffes this week: Penn, Bill's retelling of Tuzla, Colombia, that nutty laughing fit, etc. As we now see, this week has been one of HRC's worse. And to get us to look the other way they are getting us to bite at "bitter." Well PA isn't bitting on the Nutter Butter sandwich.

Who is saying what in the local papers across PA.

The Allentown Call not only has little to nothing about "bitter-gate" THEY USE TODAY'S PAPER TO THROW THEIR SUPPORT BEHIND Obama!!!

The Beaver County Time forgot the "bitterness" and talk only about how Obama is "winning" and how Spector predicts Obama will win the nomination. I guess we can see why HRC is "bitter."

The Bloomburg Press Enterprise has nothing to be "bitter" about but for Bill Clinton is visiting. I guess they missed the "bitter-gate" story.

The Bradford Era must have missed the entire story. Shocking!

The Butler Eagle zippity dooodaaa on "bitter" and now HRC is getting more bitterer! Hey but according to The Eagle Chelsea is going to be around. And no, they are not going to ask her about Monica!

The Carlisle Sentinel had it listed fourth after "Lee likely to miss '08 with torn ACL", "Chevrolet Blazer reported stolen in Hopewell Township," "Nesting geese attack unwary shoppers in Illinois," and FINALLY! "Obama’s ’bitter’ remarks give Clinton an opening before key primary." The story quotes Huffington Post along with others. Thus, it is balanced and really is not the rally call HRC wants...and boy is she Bittereerereerer!

The Chambersburg Public Opinion must have been asleep at the HRC wheel b/c they forgot to mention it. Even on their link to Statewide News they screwed up the HRC directives! Now I'm even getting bitterer.

What is with The Connellsville Courier didn't they get the memo?!! Maybe they will figure out how to spell bittererererer for HRC manana! Nary a bitter word here.

The Doylestown:Intelligencer Record forgot bitter but let us know Vanilla Ice has been released from a Florida jail after being charged with beating his wife. For those of you who don't know, Doylestown is a suburb of Philly.

The DuBois:Courier-Express remembered, on their front page to report "Bethlehem man dies after falling into well near Sigel" but forgot the Directive on Bitter.

The Easton Express-Timeshas a front page story about their interview with HRC but forgot to mention her bite on "bitter." What up dudes? But it is 48 degrees and cloudy there.

Hellayuya!!!! The Easton Express Times in Erie got the memo and read it. Whew, when I thought the troops were asleep in the trenches. They pulled a piece off the AP talking about 'bitter gate'

The Gettysburg Times got confused and read the Ron Paul memo instead. They get my all time favorite mistake on the HRC memo: Their front page story has a picture of Ron Paul in their town rather than getting bitter. I guess HRC's rant is not getting traction when a dead candidate such as Paul beats out "bitter-gate."

Hanover's Evening Sun does feature a pole on Charleton Heston's "best movie." Kind of on point. Heston would have sided with HRC over Obama now that we see how she is a big hunter.

The Harrisburg Patriot-News reports nothing. I mean nothing on nothing. So HRC shouldn't be all too miffed. I don't think this paper would report the end of the world.

The Hazleton Standard Speaker missed their cue. Baaaaaahstards!

Honesdales Wayne Independant is mummmmmm on their bitterness.

Harrisburg's Indiana Gazette report how Obama eroded HRC's lead and then way down the page they give the AP link to "bitterville."

The Kittanning Leader Times like their brethren, will disappoint hardcore MyDD lovers.

The Lebanon News Damn Pinkos! How dare they ignore HRC's biggest hook in 14.9 weeks!

The Lehighton:Times News what gall! They mention HRC, big time, is coming to town. Yet, they forgot to talk about how she is mad and hell and never "bitter."

Levittown's Bucks County Courier Times pandering baaaaastarrrds! They mention Hillary is coming, Bill is coming, and about some guy robbing a place at sword-point. Where's the bitter burger?

Well I'm not going on from here. If you chucklehead want to look on go to the listing of local PA papers and do your own browsing.

I'd cross post it on MyDD but they booted me after they threw out the 1st Amendment. Instead they have one of HRC's workers at 1, 2, & 3 for rec list. That is what happens when you kick out all oposing opinion. You get the only one remaining opinion...coming straight out of the HRC campaign mouth. It's feeling very 1984 these days.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: As said by backgroundnoise, don't write letters to the editors, send them receipts showing them you are as mad as hell and won't take it any more! Go and voice your opinion by putting your money where your hope is!!

For the record, just b/c HRC says Scranton is her HomeTown, don't eat that garbage!! Go to her bio....she is from Chicago.

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Obama Picks Up Endorsement Of DNC Committee Member

Barack Obama reportedly got a much-needed boost from one of the last uncommitted Democratic super delegates Sunday, following two days of pointed attacks from his competitors.

Democratic National Committee member Nancy Larson told the Associated Press Sunday that she has decided to throw her support behind Obama.

Larson says Obama will bring new people into the political process and has the best chance of beating presumptive Republican nominee John McCain for the White House.

With the Keystone State's primary a little more than a week away, rival Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton spent Sunday afternoon knocking on doors in her father's childhood hometown of Scranton. Her staff is hoping the day will help emphasize her middle-class roots.

Clinton continues to cast Obama as an elitist following his comments that working-class voters are "bitter" about economic conditions. Obama has since apologized for his choice of words.

McCain also criticized Obama for the remarks. The Arizona senator will be campaigning in Pittsburgh Monday.

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'That boy's [Obama] finger does not need to be on the button' [updatex3]

More bigotry from the Republicans. Truly disgusting.
Blow up his email.

Other contact info (thanks bumblebums):

Washington, DC Office

1108 Longworth Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-3465 phone

(202) 225-0003 fax

DIGG IT UP!

BUZZ IT UP!

Linked from the Politico:

U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, a Hebron Republican, compared Obama and his message for change similar to a "snake oil salesman" [at a Northern Kentucky Lincoln Day dinner].

He said in his remarks at the GOP dinner that he also recently participated in a "highly classified, national security simulation" with Obama.

"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button," Davis said. "He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country."

Glad to see that ignorance and bigotry are alive and well in the GOP.

Some information for Mr. Davis on Obama.

Obama was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii to Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham. His parents met while both were attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father was enrolled as a foreign student. They separated when he was two years old and later divorced. After her divorce, Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, and the family moved to Soetoro's home country of Indonesia in 1967, where Obama attended local schools in Jakarta until he was ten years old. He then returned to Honolulu to live with his mother's family while attending Punahou School from the fifth grade until his graduation in 1979. Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at Occidental College for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.

UPDATE: To nobody's surprise, the press is all over this.

The racially charged overtones of the Democratic presidential primary has ensnarled Congressman Geoff Davis after a comment he made about Barack Obama during a Saturday night speech.

During his talk at Saturday's Fourth District Lincoln/Reagan Day Dinner in Boone County, Davis, a Hebron Republican seeking re-election, made the following comment when questioning the national security credentials and experience of Obama, an African-American from Illinois:

"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button," Davis said. "He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country."

[snip]

Campbell County Democratic Party Chairman Ken Mullikin said he could "not believe" Davis would make such a comment.

"When you get somebody in an emotionally charged situation they speak what is on their mind," Mullikin said. "That comment clearly shows what Geoff Davis really believes about African-Americans."

UPDATE 2: What is it with republicans and red buttons?

Update 3: Davis apologizes. After Obama's campaign blasted him.

Says Obama spokesman Bill Burton:

"It’s hard to tell what is more outrageous - Representative Davis’ condescending and personal attack, or his absurd and offensive claim that Barack Obama is not prepared to defend America."

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Tim Russert Nails Hillary Clinton Over Bosnia Trip Falsehoods

Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press, nailed Hillary Clinton over her repeated falsehoods regarding her 1996 trip to Bosnia. Clinton has said, on multiple occasions, that her plane had to make a "corkscrew" landing due to danger and that she had to run off the plane because there could be sniper fire. These statements were false, and Russert has video of Clinton repeating these statements four different times.

Watch the segment from Meet the Press below:

Read more of HuffPost's coverage of this story here.

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So About That Tree of Liberty…


Tonight, a group of about 20 D.C.-area libertarians headed down to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial for some flash mob fun. The prank was harmless revelry: To ring in Jefferson’s birthday, we would meet on the steps of the memorial at 11:55pm, wearing iPods, then dance for about 10 minutes, capture the whole thing on video, and leave.

Courtney and I were about 10 minutes late, but by the time we arrived it was already over. The National Park Police broke the whole thing up just a few minutes in, punctuating their lack of a sense of humor by arresting one of the dancers (we’re keeping her name private at least until she’s released later this morning). She was cuffed, taken out to a paddy wagon, then booked and held at a Park Police station. Everyone I spoke with says there was no noise, there were no threats, and no laws broken (the park police I spoke with–including the arresting officer (who, oddly enough, denied to me that he was the arresting officer)–declined to say why she had been arrested).

The police refused to answer any questions, referring all calls to the communication number of the Park Police, which at this hour is closed. They also refused to give their badge numbers.

I’ll post some video tomorrow morning of two flash mobbers who say she was doing nothing at all–she was barely even dancing. Her crime was apparently to ask “why?” when the park police told the group they had to disperse. Note too that this was at around midnight. No one was bumping into tourists, or obstructing anyone’s way. I guess the only conclusion, here, is that it’s apparently illegal to dance on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial–even with headphones. You know, post 9-11 world and all. Harmless fun will be interpreted in the most threatening context imaginable. Whimsy and frivolity will not be tolerated.

Of course, the real irony here is that all of this happened at the Jefferson Memorial, in observance of Jefferson’s birthday. Go out to celebrate the birth of the most hardcore, anti-authoritarian of the Founding Fathers, get hauled off in handcuffs. The photo’s almost poetry, isn’t it? One of history’s most articulate critics of abuse of state authority looks on as a park police cop uses his elbow to push a female arrestee into one of said critic’s memorial pillars.

The people I spoke with say the other officer pictured in the foreground of this photo told the rest of the group to “shut the fuck up.” When one person politely asked why it was unnecessary to use the word “fuck,” the officer replied that if the guy who asked the question used any more profanity, he too would find himself arrested.

More from Julian Sanchez and Megan McArdle.

MORE: Sheesh. If you’re curious as to how we could be at the point where dancing is cause for arrest, read some of the comments at Megan McArdle’s site (link above). I guess an unlawful arrest is fine so long as the arrestee is upper class, privileged, and/or libertarian (because she’s probably a pot-smoker and/or illegal downloader, anyway!).

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Ohio state troopers disciplined for Ku Klux Klan photo

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) -- A highway patrolman who was photographed in a handmade Ku Klux Klan costume while on duty the day before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday has been suspended without pay, authorities said.

A fellow trooper who transmitted the cell-phone photo of white-masked lawman has been demoted.

Craig Franklin, a 12-year veteran of the Ohio Highway Patrol, is pictured in the January 20 photo with a white cone on his head, white paper mask and a white cloth covering his shoulders, according to a highway patrol report.

Franklin is otherwise in trooper uniform. A handgun holster, a radio normally issued by the patrol and other police equipment can be seen in the photo, the report said.

Franklin and Trooper Eric Wlodarsky told an investigator that the picture was taken as a joke and was modeled on a television skit by comedian Dave Chappelle.

Highway patrol officials began an investigation after the patrol's Administrative Investigative Unit received an anonymous letter that included two photographs of Franklin in the outfit, an interoffice memo said.

Franklin, Wlodarsky, another trooper and a dispatcher discussed Martin Luther King Jr. Day at their post on the day the photo was taken, the report said. The national holiday was the following day.

None of the 13 troopers assigned to the Sandusky post are black.

"Obviously, we're extremely disappointed," said patrol spokesman Lt. Shawn Davis. "This kind of conduct cannot and will not be tolerated."

Following a March 24 hearing, Wlodarsky was demoted from sergeant to trooper, transferred to another post and must attend a diversity awareness class. Franklin was placed on a five-day unpaid suspension, and must take part in diversity awareness training, patrol documents showed.

A third trooper who received the picture via a text message was given a one-day suspension for failing to report the incident and forwarding the photo to a subordinate.

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35 firms OK'd to bid on Iraq oil deals

Thirty-five international oil companies have qualified to bid for future oil and gas contracts to develop one of the world's largest oil fields, an Iraqi oil ministry statement said Sunday.

"The total number of the companies and consortia that participated in the prequalification process was 120 from various nationalities," said the ministry's petroleum contracts and licensing office.

The office listed 35 companies that it said were qualified. They include, among others, BP PLC, Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Lukoil Holdings, China National Petroleum Corp., Edison International SpA and Eni SpA.

The contracts office, however, said it would continue updating the process of qualifying companies "especially those that didn't pass (the qualification process) by updating their information with the view to allowing as many as possible of the IOCs to participate in the next licensing round."

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Court to consider death penalty for child rape

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court this week hears arguments about whether the death penalty can be imposed for child rape, taking up for the first time in more than 30 years whether a crime other than murder can be punished by execution.

The nation's highest court has set arguments on Wednesday on whether the death penalty for the crime of raping a child represents unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.

It will be the second major death penalty case heard this year. In January, the justices considered the current lethal three-drug cocktail used in most U.S. executions.

A ruling is expected by late June on the challenge by two Kentucky death row inmates who argued the lethal injection method violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment by inflicting needless pain and suffering.

Executions in the United States last year fell to a 13-year low of 42, and have been temporarily halted since the Supreme Court agreed in late September to decide the lethal injection case.

The Supreme Court's review of death penalty-related cases comes amid a growing nationwide debate on capital punishment itself in one of the few democracies that still permit it.

The case involved an appeal by Patrick Kennedy of Louisiana, who was convicted of raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter and sentenced to death.

Of the more than 3,300 inmates on death row in America, Kennedy and another man convicted of child rape in Louisiana are the only two who did not commit murder.

The last execution in the United States for rape occurred 44 years ago.

AGE AT ISSUE

In 1977, the Supreme Court banned executions for rape in a case in which the victim was an adult woman but left open whether child rapists can be sentenced to death.

The Louisiana law was adopted in 1995. In its current version, rape can be punished by death when the victim was under 13 years of age.

At least four other states -- Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas -- have similar laws.

Jeffrey Fisher, a Stanford University law professor representing Kennedy, argued that the U.S. Constitution bars imposing the death penalty for rape, regardless of the victim's age.

"Society views capital punishment as excessive punishment for child rape," Fisher said, citing a national consensus and international norms.

"Today no Western nation authorizes the death penalty for any kind of rape," Fisher said, adding that it is allowed in only a handful of countries, including China, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

Juliet Clark, an assistant district attorney in Louisiana, said the death penalty represented a constitutional punishment for raping a child.

"Public outrage over the sexual violation of immature young children by predatory adults is extremely great due to the recognition that these offenders target and harm the most vulnerable members of our society," she said.

She said 14 states and the federal government authorize the death penalty for various offenses other than murder, such as treason, espionage, kidnapping and aircraft hijacking.

Nine states, led by Texas, supported Louisiana, while the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund supported Kennedy.

The two rights groups said a historical consensus existed against the death penalty for rape in the United States, except for Southern states willing in the past to execute blacks, especially those convicted of raping white women and children.

Paul Butler, a law professor at George Washington University, said moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy may hold the decisive vote on the court closely divided between conservatives and liberals.

Kennedy wrote the court's majority opinion in 2005 that abolished the death penalty for juveniles and he joined the majority opinion in 2002 that barred executions of mentally retarded criminals.

(Editing by Alan Elsner)

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