18 July, 2008

The Irony of Attacks on Michelle Obama

Here's a wonderful quote:

[Senator Barack] Obama [(D-IL)] said the attacks are ironic because his wife is "the most quintessentially American woman I know."

You don't get out much, do you Barack?

Pelosi Stands Firm Against Offshore Drilling

You know for 8 years, I've listened to people complain about how stubborn President George W. Bush (R-USA) is.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-06) and Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have him beat hands down.

Now, with gas prices soaring, those drilling restrictions are facing their most severe test in years as calls intensify to more aggressively pursue domestic oil. Yet despite increasing pressure from President George W. Bush, a full-bore assault by congressional Republicans and some anxiety among her own rank-and-file Democrats, Pelosi is not budging.

"The president of the United States, with gas at $4 a gallon because of his failed energy policies, is now trying to say that is because I couldn't drill offshore," Pelosi said in an interview. "That is not the cause, and I am not going to let him get away with it."

Her voice carries considerable weight since, as speaker, Pelosi is in a position to prevent a vote on expanded drilling from reaching the floor

And she and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, appear intent on holding the line against calls to approve drilling in areas now off limits.

Gas is "at $4 a gallon because of his failed energy policies"? Sorry, Ms. Pelosi, the numbers just don't add up.

They mount the counterargument that the oil and gas industry is not aggressively exploring large expanses it has already leased on land and offshore. They also have urged Bush to pour some fuel from national reserves into the commercial supply chain in an effort to lower prices.

Congress is so smart about managing business.  I'm sure that the oil industry could learn from them on how to get oil out of the ground cheaply and effectively.

These are two more bums that need to be thrown out. For Harry Reid we have to wait until 2010.

Throw Da Bums Out!

Here are a few more bums we can throw out.  Since all of these are in the House, they're up for re-election.

  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03)
  • Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA-01)
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA-11)
  • Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT-04)
  • Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-CA-32)
  • Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-CA-10)

Why these six wonderful people?  They've sponsored the Transportation and Housing Options for Gas Price Relief Act of  2008 which would allocate taxpayer money (sign me up anytime you start a bill with that phrase) to:

-- expand public transportation;
-- encourage “pay-as-you-drive” auto insurance policies that reward low-mileage drivers with lower insurance premiums;
-- reduce commuting costs by providing incentives to employers and employees to take transit, bicycle, carpool, walk, or telecommute to work;
-- help local governments create "walkable, bikeable" communities;
-- help Americans make "smart" transportation and housing choices by educating them about their options;
-- create “location efficient mortgages" that would make owning a home near transit more affordable.

Democrats really think we can "conserve" our way out of this. I'd be laughing if I weren't crying.

More bums we can throw out:

  • Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-WV-03)
  • Rep. Nancy E Boyda (D-KS-02)
  • Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN-07)
  • Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL-11)
  • Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT-02)
  • Rep. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-AS)
  • Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL-14)
  • Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ-08)
  • Rep. Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY-20)
  • Rep. John J. Hall (D-NY-19)
  • Rep. Paul W. Hodes (D-NH-02)
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA-11)
  • Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ-13)
  • Rep. Zachary T. Space (D-OH-18)
  • Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH-13)
  • Rep. Timothy J. Walz (D-MN-01)
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)
  • Rep. Charles A. Wilson (D-OH-06)
  • Rep. John A. Yarmuth (D-KY-03)

No doubt you're wondering what these 19 people have been up to.

They've sponsored the wonderfully named Drill Responsibly in Leased Lands Act of 2008 (DRILL).

Wait, I'm for drilling, so I should be for this act, right?


Trying to demonstrate that Democrats are not opposed to drilling in acceptable locales, the House is scheduled to vote on Thursday on a proposal that would deny oil companies any new leases unless they can show they are diligently exploring existing holdings. It would also require annual lease sales from lands in Alaska set aside as a National Petroleum Reserve, and directs the Interior Department to make sure a pipeline is linked to the reserves. Democrats, not subtly, are calling the measure the Drill Responsibly in Leased Lands, or Drill, Act.

So, before oil companies can lease any more land, they have to prove that they're using the lands they're already leasing. Once again, apparently Congress thinks that oil companies lease land just for fun.

This act is the opposite of "Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less."  It's "Testify Now. Lease Later. Pay More."

High Price of Gasoline? Blame India and China, Not Congress

So says Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) (emphasis mine):

I put more responsibility on China and India who are using the oil. This is not a situation where the blame game really applies, though there is really enough blame to go around. But Congress is no more to blame than India and China.

Ummmmm....ok. That's not entirely wrong.  I've mentioned here before that increased worldwide demand is a big reason for the higher prices. However, Mr. Nelson, it doesn't matter if "Congress is no more to blame than India and China". Because there's little we can do about China and India.  We can do something about Congress.

We can "throw da bums out"! You seem like a good one to start with. Unfortunately, we have to wait four more years for that.

Mr. Nelson, there are always two sides of high prices. It's the law of supply and demand.  We may not be able to do much about China and India's demand, but we can increase our supply.

17 July, 2008

Speaker Pelosi (D-CA-06) on Drilling

From Michael Ramirez, courtesy of Power Line (click to enlarge):

The Candidates and the Fifth Amendment

This is the fifth post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views pertaining to the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment is the "kitchen sink" amendment from the framers regarding legal procedures and trials.

Here's the text:

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

Ok, so we have Grand Juries, double jeopardy, self incrimination, due process, and eminent domain.

Yippee. This is going to be a long post.

As usual, we'll be starting with Barack Obama.

Doing some research, the first thing that I stumbled upon is that the telecom immunity provision of the 2008 Amendments to the FISA Act is under criticism not only for violations of the Fourth Amendment (as I documented here), but also the Fifth. Fifth Amendment protectors claim that your phone records and conversations are private property and cannot be seized without just compensation. Seems a little bit of a stretch to me, but I'm no expert on Constitutional Law.

Doing a search on Mr. Obama and the Fifth Amendment only yields FISA criticisms and criticisms of his associates who have used the self-incrimination clause of the Fifth Amendment.

So, we'll have to look at the specific clauses and not just the amendment as a whole.

I can find nothing in Obama's speeches or writings that leads me to believe that he wants to endanger Grand Jury rights. I'm personally not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

I can find nothing in Obama's speeches or writings that leads me to believe that he wants to endanger rights to protection from double jeopardy.

Barack Obama has interesting and frankly inconsistent views regarding due process.

He supports due process for Osama bin Laden:

“The first thing I’d support is his capture, which is something this administration has proved incapable of achieving,” Obama said. “I would then, as president, order a trial that observed international standards of due process. At that point, do I think that somebody who killed 3,000 Americans qualifies as someone who has perpetrated heinous crimes, and would qualify for the death penalty. Then yes.”

and Guantanamo detainees:

And, you know, let’s take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, “Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.”

and for illegal immigrants:

Obama opposes the “Shuler bill,” HR 4088, which establishes what many consider a deeply flawed national worker identification program and would use the Social Security system to require employers to fire any workers whose names do not match their Social Security numbers. Obama says the privacy of all U.S. workers must be protected and no one should be fired without full due process.

Yet not for infants (he strongly opposed the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act):

I just want to suggest ... that this is probably not going to survive constitutional scrutiny.

Number one, whenever we define a previable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we're really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a – child, a 9-month-old – child that was delivered to term. …

I mean, it – it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute. For that purpose, I think it would probably be found unconstitutional.

These positions are remarkable in their inconsistency.

I find nothing in Obama's speeches or writings that lead me to believe he has any interest in curtailing the use of eminent domain. As I've mentioned before, he's remained completely silent on the Kelo decision by the SCOTUS, but he has praised the justices in the majority on that decision as the types of justices he would nominate.

Whew. That's a lot. And I tried to be brief.

Well, let's look at John McCain.

McCain suffers from the same FISA problems as Obama.

Like Obama, I can find nothing in McCain's speeches or writings that leads me to believe that he wants to endanger Grand Jury rights. Again, I'm personally not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

I can find nothing in McCain's speeches or writings that leads me to believe that he wants to endanger rights to protection from double jeopardy.

He has been in favor of giving Miranda rights to enemy combatants. He disagrees with Obama regarding Osama bin Laden and the Boumediene ruling by SCOTUS. In fact, McCain has called the Boumediene ruling "one of the worst decisions in the history of the country"

Articles detailing how McCain feels about enemy combatants are the only things I can find on him and due process.

He co-sponsored the Secure Public Networks Act (usually called McCain-Kerrey) which details domestic uses and restrictions of encryption. Since the bill requires that encryptors turn over their keys or passwords to the government, it can be claimed that this is a form of self-incrimination.

Note that this bill also has Fourth Amendment implications, and I missed that in my review of McCain and the Fourth Amendment.

McCain is no fan of eminent domain has been harshly critical of Kelo and has essentially said he will use Kelo as "litmus test" for potential Justices. He wants it overturned.

The protection of property rights lies at the heart of our constitutional system. The Framers of our Constitution drew upon classical notions of legal rights and individual liberty dating back to the Justinian Code, the Magna Carta, and the Two Treatises of John Lockeall of which recognize the importance of property ownership in a governmental system in which individual liberty and the free market are paramount.

In fact, from what I can tell, property rights have been a big deal to McCain throughout his political career.

So, where does that put us? You'll notice that I once again added in how the candidates feel about rights for enemy combatants. However, I will once again, be ignoring those feelings when assigning grades. I feel that rights granted to enemy combatants are at best peripheral to the discussion of American citizens rights.

For Obama we have: nothing on grand juries, nothing on double jeopardy, against due process for infants, nothing on self-incrimination, and against property rights due to his tacit support of eminent domain.

For McCain we have: nothing on grand juries, nothing on double jeopardy, nothing on due process, problems with self-incrimination, and support of property rights.

For the above, nothing is good as it means I wasn't able to find anything bad. :)

Obama: C

McCain: B+ His only negative is McCain-Kerrey.

Fifth Amendment: Advantage McCain.

On a general campaign note, the Obama camp better have a plan for dealing with his stance on the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act. At some point, a 527 is going to release an ad claiming that Obama supports infanticide. It's inevitable. I am sure he doesn't, but hyperbole works in campaign ads, and they don't have to be true to be effective.

UPDATE: Grades lowered per this post.

Results so far:

Obama McCain
First Amendment* F
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+
Fifth Amendment D+ B-

* Obama's First Amendment grade lowered as documented in this post.

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.

16 July, 2008

The Candidates and the Fourth Amendment

This is the fourth post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views pertaining to the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. There's a bit more to speak about regarding this than the Third, especially in light of recent FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) activities.

Let's go straight to the text:

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

For Barack Obama, we should get straight to the 2008 amendments to FISA.

FISA is a broad extension of the powers of the government to perform searches.

According to the Wikipedia article linked above, the act:

  • Prohibits the individual states from investigating, sanctioning of, or requiring disclosure by complicit telecoms or other persons.
  • Permits the government not to keep records of searches, and destroy existing records (it requires them to only keep the records for a period of 10 years).
  • Protects telecommunications companies from lawsuits for "'past or future cooperation' with federal law enforcement authorities and will assist the intelligence community in determining the plans of terrorists."
  • Removes requirements for detailed descriptions of the nature of information or property targeted by the surveillance.
  • Increased the time allowed for warrantless surveillance to continue from 48 hours to 7 days.
  • Requires FISA court permission to wiretap Americans who are overseas.
  • Prohibits targeting a foreigner to eavesdrop on an American's calls or e-mails without court approval.
  • Allows the FISA court 30 days to review existing but expiring surveillance orders before renewing them.
  • Allows eavesdropping in emergencies without court approval, provided the government files required papers within a week.
  • Prohibits the government from invoking war powers or other authorities to supersede surveillance rules in the future.

The amendment in bold has caused an uproar from Obama supporters, since he had originally promised to filibuster any bill which contained such an amendment, but instead not only voted for the bill, but also vote for cloture.

Frankly, the whole bill is most likely a loss from a Libertarians point-of-view.

Glassbooth.org has a mixed review of Mr. Obama:

"Supporters of this Conference Report have argued that we should just hold our noses and support the legislation, because it's not going to get any better. That does not convince me that I should support this report. I believe we owe it to the nation to do whatever we can to make this legislation better. We don't have to settle for a PATRIOT Act that sacrifices our liberties or our safety - we can have one that secures both." - Barack Obama

Then he voted yes to reauthorize it, but voted no on extending the wiretap provision. He co-sponsored the SAFE Act, which put limits on PATRIOT.

"Let me be clear: this compromise is not as good as the Senate version of the bill, nor is it as good as the SAFE Act that I have cosponsored. I suspect the vast majority of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle feel the same way. But, it's still better than what the House originally proposed. This compromise does modestly improve the PATRIOT Act by strengthening civil liberties protections without sacrificing the tools that law enforcement needs to keep us safe."

Glassbooth says he's neutral on giving the federal government more domestic surveillance power, but I'd say they're being generous. His only no vote in that area is in the PATRIOT Act's wiretap provision and his statement should not be encouraging to defenders of the Fourth Amendment:

"We should strengthen and improve intelligence capabilities. We must reform our domestic intelligence capabilities in a manner that balances the risks of impeding on the civil liberties of our citizens and increase international cooperation on all fronts. We should also give the Director of Intelligence the authority he or she needs over budget and personnel to be effective and accountable."

Q: Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes? A: The Supreme Court has never held that the president has such powers. As president, I will follow existing law, and when it comes to U.S. citizens and residents, I will only authorize surveillance for national security purposes consistent with FISA and other federal statutes."

He voted yes on extending the right of habeas corpus to Guantanamo detainees.

So, where do we find John McCain on these issues?

Not a whole lot different from Mr. Obama.

He also voted for the 2008 Amendments to FISA. I suppose if you're a Fourth Amendment advocate, you can say that at least Obama said he was originally going to oppose it.

Looking at Glassbooth.org's page on McCain we see:

He also voted for reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act. He did vote for extending PATRIOT's wiretap provision.

Glassbooth.org says that he supports giving the federal government more domestic surveillance power, when it claimed that Obama was neutral. I see barely a whisker's worth of difference between them.

"Q: Now, you have expressed some concerns about the NSA program. Does this change your mind? A: No. But my concerns are that we should have - the president should come to Congress with a proposal as to how we can best meet these new challenges. Look, everybody's got a BlackBerry now, the e-mails, all of the new technologies for communications, as opposed to, say, 10 or 15 years ago where we all just had a hard line. There are new challenges in the use of telecommunications that, in my view, indicate that we probably need some enhanced powers. But why not just come to Congress? Now Senator Specter is going to have some hearings on it - come to Congress, tell us what we need, what the president needs, and I am confident that he would get that authority. Q: But you do not believe that currently he has the legal authority to engage in these warrant-less wiretaps. A: You know, I don't think so, but why not come to Congress? We can sort this all out. I don't think - I know of no member of Congress, frankly, who, if the administration came and said here's why we need this capability, that they wouldn't get it. And so let's have the hearings. Let's have the administration come to Congress. I think they will get that authority, whatever is reasonable and needed, and increased abilities to monitor communications are clearly in order."

Q: Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes? A: There are some areas where the statutes don't apply, such as in the surveillance of overseas communications. Where they do apply, however, I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is...I don't think the president has the right to disobey any law.

He opposed extending the rights of habeas corpus to Guantanamo detainees. There's a difference, but I want to discuss this one in my summation.

Like Obama, McCain said Guantanamo should be closed, but he wants to bring the specially created military justice system to US soil to try the inmates. He insisted that the inmates should not have access to civilian courts, regardless of where they are detained. "We made it very clear these are enemy combatants," McCain said yesterday, defending his position. "They have not, and never have, been given the rights of citizens of this country."

He's on record as strongly opposing torture of any kind. However, he did vote no on the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 which would've required the CIA to use the same standards for interrogation that are used by the Army.

Before I give the grades, I want to speak about habeas corpus and Guantanamo detainees. My belief on this one is that their positions here is not relevant to a discussion of Fourth Amendment rights. The framers clearly intended the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights to apply to citizens of the United States and not to enemy combatants. I agree with McCain that the detention camp at Guantanamo should be closed, but that military courts are the way to handle the situation.

So, I included their positions for those of you that think that it is important, but I will not be using those positions in determining the grades for the candidates.

One could argue then that torture doesn't belong in the discussion as well, since usually when we're talking about torture we're talking again about those same "enemy combatants", but I put it in for McCain because he has been so vocal about his beliefs here, and I think it says something about how he feels about the Fourth Amendment in general.

So, to the grades.

Obama: D+ He'd have made it to C or even C+ if he'd stood by his word on the FISA Amendments. He clearly has issues with the PATRIOT Act, but just as clearly doesn't want to get rid of the whole thing.

McCain: D+ While he supports PATRIOT's wiretaps, he also has many of the same issues with PATRIOT that Obama does. He's on the fringe of dropping to a D because of the wiretaps, but his strong opposition to torture nudges him up just enough to "claim" a D+.

Fourth Amendment: No Advantage

Results so far:

Obama McCain
First Amendment* F
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+

* Obama's First Amendment grade lowered as documented in this post.

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.

15 July, 2008

Two Statements On Offshore Drilling - One Smart, One Dumb

From President George W. Bush (R-USA):

Failure to act is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to me and it's unacceptable to the American people. So today, I've issued a memorandum to lift the executive prohibition on oil exploration in the OCS. With this action, the executive branch's restrictions on this exploration have been cleared away. This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress.

From Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-06):

The Bush plan is a hoax. It will neither reduce gas prices nor increase energy independence. It just gives millions more acres to the same companies that are sitting on nearly 68 million acres of public lands and coastal areas.

Please, if you believe Nancy Pelosi's statement, let me know.  You're exactly the kind of suc--I mean, 'business partner' I'm looking for in my next venture.

As Investor Business Daily has been kind enough to point out:

Oil companies have spent billions of dollars for those leases. Drilling has increased by more than 66% since 2000. They are searching for oil even as you read this. Some parts of those 68 million acres will have oil, some won't. But at $145 a barrel, you can bet oil companies have plenty of incentive to find it.

Let's get a clue here.  Oil companies are in the business of making money. This doesn't make them greedy, by the way, it just makes them like every other business in the world, including the Mom & Pop pizza stand down the street. And if they can make money drilling in those "68 million acres" they will. And they have been exploring and drilling them.

So, Pelosi's statement is dishonest.  It's also stupid. Just because there may or may not be oil there is no reason not to look for oil elsewhere.

Here's more of Pelosi's statement:

If the President wants to bring down prices in the next two weeks, not the next two decades, he should free our oil by releasing a small portion of the more than 700 million barrels of oil we have put in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

I'm not altogether opposed to that as long as it's part of "comprehensive plan" (God, I hate  that phrase), but to just open up our reserves without any long term plan attached to it is the height of idiocy. That may provide some small relief for a few weeks or months, but what is Pelosi's plan for next year and the year after?

I'm telling you, Republicans, become the Energy Independence Party, and you can win. 

It's the price of gas, stupid.

Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less.

UPDATE: After President Bush rescinded the EO, oil futures dropped over $9/barrel.  Someone tell Ms. Pelosi that she might want to rethink that "no immediate impact" line.

The Candidates and the Third Amendment

This is the third post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views pertaining to the Third Amendment of the Bill of Rights. We had fun with the first two, because everyone "knows" those amendments by heart. Few Americans remember much from their high school civics classes past the Second Amendment, though.

For reference, here's the text of the Third Amendment:

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

Ok, this post is going to be short. Some people claim that the third amendment establishes a right to privacy, but that ground seems more stable under the Fourth Amendment, so we'll talk about that there.

I can find nothing in any of Barack Obama's speeches or writings that leads me to believe that he has any plans that endanger your Third Amendment rights.

I can find nothing in any of John McCain's speeches or writings that leads me to believe that he has any plans that endanger your Third Amendment rights.

According to an article in The Onion from October 2007, the National Anti-Quartering Association says "every politician elected since 1866 has fully supported Third Amendment rights."

Obama: A+

McCain: A+

Third Amendment: No advantage

UPDATE: Grades lowered per this post.

Results so far:

Obama McCain
First Amendment* F
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B

* Obama's First Amendment grade lowered as documented in this post.

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.

14 July, 2008

The Candidates and the Second Amendment

This is the second post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views pertaining to the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and there's plenty of information, especially after the recent Heller decision by the SCOTUS.

For reference, here's the text of the Second Amendment:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Someone's beat me to it at a site called "Gun Owners of America". They also look at Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin, but I have no intention of doing so. Also, the articles here appear to have been written pre-Heller, so I will look at what the candidates have said since then. I'm also going to look at some other sites.

First, lets look at Barack Obama.

GOA doesn't like Barack Obama at all. Here are some quotes.

Obama told Iowa radio listeners last year that he is a "strong believer" in the rights of hunters and sportsmen, and that homeowners should have a firearm "to protect their home and their family." But then in the next breath, he says, "It's hard for me to find a rationale for having a 17-clip semiautomatic [sic]."

Obama supports the existing gun control laws on the books. Nowhere in his literature or in his campaign speeches does he stake out a position in favor of repealing any gun control measure that has passed into law.

Obama supports the gun ban in the nation's capital, saying the "DC handgun law is constitutional."

In 2004, Obama said he supports a national ban on concealed carry because the states that allow it are "threatening the safety of Illinois residents."

Barack Obama's Gun-Related Votes

The U.S. Senate Debated: Obama Voted:
Supporting concealed carry for citizens Anti-gun
Banning many common semi-automatic firearms Anti-gun
Disallowing self-defense in towns where guns are banned Anti-gun
Imposing one handgun a month restrictions Anti-gun
Requiring lock up your safety trigger locks Anti-gun
Protecting gun dealers from frivolous lawsuits Anti-gun
Outlawing gun confiscations during a national emergency Pro-gun
Squelching the free speech rights of gun owners Anti-gun
Restricting the interstate sales of firearms Anti-gun
Repealing the gun ban in Washington, DC Anti-gun

The NRA's Institute for Legislative Action site doesn't like Obama either:

FACT: Barack Obama voted to allow reckless lawsuits designed to bankrupt the firearms industry.

FACT: Barack Obama wants to re-impose the failed and discredited Clinton Gun Ban.

FACT: Barack Obama voted to ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting.

FACT: Barack Obama has endorsed a complete ban on handgun ownership.

FACT: Barack Obama supports local gun bans in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other cities.

FACT: Barack Obama voted to uphold local gun bans and the criminal prosecution of people who use firearms in self-defense.

FACT: Barack Obama supports gun owner licensing and gun registration.

FACT: Barack Obama refused to sign a friend-of-the-court Brief in support of individual Second Amendment rights in the Heller case.

FACT: Barack Obama opposes Right to Carry laws.

FACT: Barack Obama was a member of the Board of Directors of the Joyce Foundation, the leading source of funds for anti-gun organizations and “research.”

FACT: Barack Obama supported a proposal to ban gun stores within 5 miles of a school or park, which would eliminate almost every gun store in America.

FACT: Barack Obama voted not to notify gun owners when the state of Illinois did records searches on them.

FACT: Barack Obama voted against a measure to lower the Firearms Owners Identification card age minimum from 21 to 18, a measure designed to assist young people in the military.

FACT: Barack Obama favors a ban on standard capacity magazines.

FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory micro-stamping.

FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory waiting periods.

FACT: Barack Obama supports repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment, which prohibits information on gun traces collected by the BATFE from being used in reckless lawsuits against firearm dealers and manufacturers.

FACT: Barack Obama supports one-gun-a-month sales restrictions.

FACT: Barack Obama supports a ban on inexpensive handguns.

FACT: Barack Obama supports a ban on the resale of police issued firearms, even if the money is going to police departments for replacement equipment.

FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory firearm training requirements for all gun owners and a ban on gun ownership for persons under the age of 21.

And his comments about the Heller decision were weak, as I've noted here before.

"I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through commonsense, effective safety measures," Obama said.

In fact, it's pretty much impossible to find any article on the net that discusses Obama and the Second Amendment in a positive light.

GOA isn't exactly thrilled with John McCain either. Here are the quotes:

But as he ramped up for his presidential run in 2000, McCain, expanding on the 'maverick' theme, staked out a position on guns far to the left of his primary opponent, George W. Bush. McCain began speaking out against small, inexpensive handguns and he entertained the idea of supporting the 'assault weapons' ban.

As moviegoers flocked to see Pearl Harbor, they were treated to an anti-gun trailer ad featuring McCain. This time the Senator was pushing legislation to force people to keep firearms locked up in the home.

Also in 2001, McCain went from being a supporter of anti-gun bills to being a lead sponsor.

In the post-Columbine and post-9/11 environments, the Second Amendment was under attack as never before. Pro-gun patriotic Americans who stood as a bulwark to keep the Congress from eviscerating the Constitution were dismayed to look across the battle lines only to see Senator McCain working with the enemy.

He's authored the gunshow background checks bill that many have accused of being loaded with "poison pills". The NRA once called him one of the "premier flag-carriers for the enemies of the Second Amendment".

However, he was unequivocal in his support of the Heller decision, and at least claims to support gun rights on his website. He also spoke at the NRA convention in Louisville this year and tried to mend fences.

"The Second Amendment isn't some archaic custom that matters only to rural Americans who find solace in firearms out of frustration with their economic circumstances," McCain said.

McCain, who is viewed with suspicion among many gun owners because of his efforts to reform campaign finance laws and his decade-long battle with the NRA over background checks at gun shows, sought to mollify his conservative critics by declaring fealty to the Second Amendment. The presumptive GOP nominee did not abandon his support for background checks, but he tried to cast his disagreements with the NRA as isolated cases separate from otherwise solid support for gun rights.

Looking around the net, it's a mixed bag. Mostly negative articles about John McCain and the second amendment, but there are some (especially more recent ones) that are more positive. This is definitely an area where he's trying to appeal to the base.

So, then to the grades.

I don't think Libertarians would be thrilled with either.

Obama: D- Based totally on his lukewarm support of Heller, otherwise it'd be an F.

McCain: C- I'm tempted to give McCain a C because I agree the statement that his disagreements are isolated. However, they may be isolated, but they are also numerous. I wouldn't classify him an enemy to gun rights, but he's certainly no friend.

Second Amendment: Advantage McCain

Results so far:

Obama McCain
First Amendment* F
Second Amendment D- C-

* Obama's First Amendment grade lowered as documented in this post.

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.