CHARTER REVISION WON BY 3-1
MARGIN; OCCUPY WHOEVER WINS BIG (jmo)
THE MOST IMPORTANT VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6TH MAY BE THE STRAIGHT UP OR DOWN
VOTE FOR OR AGAINST THE NEW, PROPOSED, CHARTER...
There are perhaps some reasons to vote "no"and a number of reasons to
vote "yes" - see "changes."
Among these, not the least of which is the proficient manner this
exercise was undertaken, in full public
SO THERE WE HAVE IT: It comes
down to who votes.
2012 Presidential Debate Cycle went...
E L E C T I O N D A
Y T U E S ., N O V E M B E R 6 t h
- A R O L L O
F T H E D I C E
O n S e p t . 1 3 , 2 0 1 2 - C T C A M P A I G
N $ $ $
6, 2012, 6am to 8pm, W.M.S. GYM - Election
Day 2012! 82% turnout - very low for Weston. Why?
West Coast and
earthquakes...political and/or natural, as in 1964,
in San Francisco, or L.A. in 1960 (JFK). Remember
ELECTIONS: U.S. SENATE AND HOUSE...PLUS CT
SHABAN WINS THE 135TH
WATCH TERRIFIC LWV
OF WESTON DEBATE FOR CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY 135th HOUSE DISTRICT
smile before the contest - (right) hot into the debate on 12 subjects+,
having to remain seated (one asked if he could stand) this was very
Connecticut General Assembly House District 135 - LWV of Weston
1 hour 35
minutes 4 seconds.
Best viewed with Internet Explorer, which will
automatically open Windows Media Player and start playback without
waiting for the download to complete.
In our opinion, these websites and their
"top" pictures speak volumes.
As election looms, many voters fear the
process is compromised
By Tony Pugh — McClatchy Newspapers
November 2, 2012 Updated Nov. 3, 2012
WASHINGTON — Only days before millions of Americans cast their ballots,
a climate of suspicion hangs over Tuesday’s national
elections.Accusations of partisan dirty tricks and concerns about long
lines, voting equipment failures and computer errors are rampant,
particularly in key battleground states such as Ohio and Colorado,
where absentee and provisional ballots could decide a close election.
“Those will be the states that are the most prone to confusion and
chaos and contesting if the election is close or within what some
people call the ‘margin of litigation,’ ” said Charles Stewart III, a
political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of
Mitt Romney’s taxes
Last Updated: 4:47 AM, September 22, 2012
Posted: 11:29 PM, September 21, 2012
Mitt Romney’s 2011 tax return — and a summary of his filings between
1990 and 2009 — are now public, and they give America all it needs to
know about where he and Barack Obama stand on wealth redistribution.
Obama believes in giving — but to Washington, with the take to be
filtered through, and diminished by, the bureaucracy. Romney
in a far more personal approach. Does he ever.
Turns out Romney and wife Ann donated a generous $4,072,772 to charity
last year. That works out to 30 percent of their gross income of
$13,696,951. And going back to 1990, they’ve given an average of
percent of their adjusted gross income to charity.
So much for Team Obama’s canard that heartless fat cat Romney “doesn’t
care about the poor.”
As for the Obamas, their charitable deductions have gone up only in
recent years — averaging about 5.5 percent between 2005 and 2008, when
he was planning a presidential run. But between 2000 and 2004, before
he became nationally prominent, they gave between 0.4 and 1.4 percent.
And the Romneys give three times as much to charity in an average
single day than Vice President Joe Biden and his wife did in an entire
decade; the Bidens’ charitable giving amounts to about one-quarter of 1
percent of their income.
Moreover, the Romneys also paid nearly $2 million in taxes last year,
for an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent.
And contrary to Senate Majority Leader Hary Reid’s base lie that “they
haven’t paid taxes for 10 years,” the Romneys paid both state and
federal taxes every year at an average annual effective rate of 20.20
percent — double the national average. It also turns out that the
Romneys claimed only about 55 percent of their actual giving as a
Which means they actually paid more taxes than they were legally
But wait — last July, Romney said that “if I had paid more [taxes] than
are legally due, I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president.”
By which he meant that “people would want me to follow the law and pay
only what the tax code requires.”
Well, it turns out he didn’t do that — he went beyond what the law
requires. Which in some corners of the Twitterverse yesterday was
cited as proof that Mitt Romney simply can’t be trusted in the White
So there you have it: Mitt Romney doesn’t cheat on his taxes, for
sure. But unlike people like Warren Buffett and Bill Clinton —
constantly complain that they should be paying more taxes than they’re
legally required to — Mitt Romney actually does pay more.
Plus, as noted, he gives a lot away.
So much for Romney’s income-tax issue.
(l), desperate housewife
(c) and some guy...
Definition of malaise: A vague feeling of bodily discomfort,
as at the beginning of an illness. Obama Campaign
Co-Chair Eva Longoria, is the star listed, and others there in spirit?
Pushed by Obama, Democrats Alter
Platform Over Jerusalem
By MARK LANDLER, NYTIMES
September 5, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Obama, seeking to quell a storm of
criticism from Republicans and pro-Israel groups, directed the
Democratic Party on Wednesday to amend its platform to restore language
declaring Jerusalem the Israeli capital.
The change, approved in a voice vote that had to be taken three times
because of a chorus of noes in the arena, reinstated the line
“Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel” in a section that
describes Mr. Obama’s policy toward the country. That sentence was in
the 2008 platform, but the Democrats removed it this year, saying that
they wanted to spotlight other elements of Mr. Obama’s policy and that
the platform should reflect a sitting president rather than a candidate
After a day of protests, however, and the prospect of an onslaught of
Republican attack ads, the president and the Democrats abruptly
reversed course. The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee,
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, said in a statement
that the change was made to “maintain consistency with the personal
views expressed by the president and in the Democratic Party platform
A senior administration official emphasized that the president had
intervened to bring the platform in line with his own views. “The
president expressed his view in 2008, and it hasn’t changed,” the
official said. “The party platform has not changed from 2008. And the
position of the United States government hasn’t changed in decades as
it relates to Israel’s capital and peace negotiations.”
Delegates also voted to put “God” back in the platform, amending a
section about the government’s role in helping people reach their
“God-given potential.” The removal of “God-given” had left the platform
without any references to God, giving Republicans a target to paint the
party as out of touch with family values.
The changes were meant to be a routine bit of business, conducted by
the convention’s chairman, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.
But they turned into a minor spectacle after the hall seemed balanced
between yes and no votes, providing an unruly start to an evening meant
to showcase attacks on Mitt Romney by former President Bill Clinton and
The Romney campaign pounced, saying that “Mitt Romney has consistently
stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.” Claiming
that Mr. Obama had refused to state his position, Andrea Saul, a Romney
spokeswoman, said, “Now is the time for President Obama to state in
unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s
The restoration of Jerusalem puts the platform, a largely symbolic
document, at odds with the official position of the government, which
is that the city’s status should be determined in a negotiation between
Israelis and Palestinians.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s most
powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, proposed including language about
Jerusalem’s status as the Israeli capital in written testimony to the
platform drafting committee. People close to the group said it was
troubled by the omission of Jerusalem.
“We welcome reinstatement to the Democratic platform of the language
reaffirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” the group said in a
statement after the vote.
The political status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues
in any potential peace settlement between the Israelis and the
Palestinians, with both the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority
asserting that the holy city is their capital.
Among those shouting “no” on the convention floor was a delegate from
Washington State, Majid al-Bahadli, who said, “Jerusalem is Arab and
Jewish and Christian; it cannot be for one country.” Mr. Bahadli, an
Iraqi-American who said he had been in a prisoner of war camp under
Saddam Hussein, said the vote process was undemocratic.
The drafting committee held two public hearings on the text, a
Democratic official said, and none of the Jewish advocacy groups in
attendance, including Aipac, proposed inserting language on Jerusalem.
People close to the advocacy groups said that the committee shared only
“flashes” of the language with them.
The Democrats have accused Republicans of making Israel a political
football by painting Mr. Obama as an unreliable partner. But it is the
Democrats who have tripped up on Israel at their convention this week.
On Tuesday, Ms. Wasserman Schultz got into a dispute with Israel’s
ambassador to the United States, Michael B. Oren, when she told a
Democratic training group that Mr. Oren had accused Republicans of
endangering Israel by criticizing Mr. Obama’s record on it.
Mr. Oren issued a statement saying: “I categorically deny that I ever
characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel. Bipartisan
support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great
friends on both sides of the aisle.”
Making Bam look good
By JOHN PODHORETZ
Last Updated: 12:26 AM, September 4, 2012
Posted: 10:42 PM, September 3, 2012
Tonight, as the Democratic National Convention opens, a very special
American will address the delegates and the nation. I have been leaked
an advance text of those remarks.
Fellow Democrats and citizens of the world, I am certain you are aware
of the high honor I have bestowed upon you this night — as I, the man
commonly known as “the greatest ex-president,” deign to speak before
you at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
I’m sorry I was a few minutes late to the podium; I just decided to
write a book at 7:52 and only completed it at 7:59. It is the 377th
volume of my great ex-presidency, not counting my seven-canto epic
poem, “Wives of Reprehensible Dictators To Whom I Have Sucked Up.” Asma
al-Assad gave that one five stars on Amazon, which is the most you can
give, but not as much as it deserved.
You will admire my new book. It is a sober and illuminating look at the
problems facing our world. It’s called “Israel Stinks,” and it serves
as a sequel to my 376th, “Phooey on Israel.” That was, of course, a
prequel to my 324th, “Man, Do I Hate Israel,” which was, in turn, a
followup to my 283rd, “Fifty Shades of How Much I Hate Israel.”
I know some of you are perplexed that I was approached by the Obama
campaign to appear here in Charlotte. Some have asked why Barack Obama
would seek to associate his presidency with mine in any way, given that
the headwinds he faces this year are somewhat similar to the ones that
faced me in 1980 as a sitting president.
Indeed, some point out that he has alienated the American Jewish
community as no Democratic leader has since my presidency.
This is an outrage. I will not stand here and see my record impugned in
this way. I made things much worse than Barack Obama did!
Did Barack Obama preside over a nation in which interest rates rose to
Did Barack Obama do nothing when Iranians seized 52 American diplomats
and held them hostage?
Did Barack Obama launch the most disastrous rescue mission of all time,
sending a single helicopter to Iran that blew up in the desert?
Sure, Barack Obama is running for re-election in a year in which
economic growth has slowed significantly. But can he claim that in the
second quarter of his reelection year, the economy actually shrank in
absolute terms? You bet your life he can’t. Only I can claim that!
And while he has blamed everything from the previous administration to
the weather to the Europeans to the previous administration for the
nation’s continued economic ills, Barack Obama has not directly blamed
the American people for the economy’s ills, as I dared to do in my
legendary “malaise” speech.
And what about Barack Obama and the Jewish community? Sure, donations
from Jews are down, and the president and his aides are concerned. But
because of my handling of matters relating to Israel, and because of my
barely disguised hostility and rage toward those who called me out on
it, Ronald Reagan received somewhere between 39 and 45 percent of the
Jewish vote in 1980.
Let’s see Barack Obama do worse than that!
Americans may say the country is on the wrong track by a margin of
two-to-one. They may believe for the first time that their children are
going to be worse-off than they were. Sixty percent of them don’t like
But my fellow Democrats, Barack Obama hasn’t brought the American
people to their knees the way I did after just one term. My record
stands firm. No matter what, he’s not going to be the worst Democratic
president in history.
America, please cast a vote for Barack Obama in November. I’m Jimmy
Carter, and I’m here to remind you: It could have been worse.
Thank you, and may God bless me.
Norris says country is at a tipping
Tuesday, September 4, 2012 |
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 11:10am
Chuck Norris is taking a tough
stance against President Barack Obama in a two minute commercial,
saying the United States is at a tipping point and “may be lost
The actor, who has a history of
supporting Republicans, urges voters to come to the polls in November
to prevent Obama from being re-elected.
“It is because of that we can no
longer sit quietly or stand on the sidelines as our country goes the
way of socialism or something much worse,” Norris said.
Norris, who appears with his wife,
seems to be making the case to evangelical Christians to vote
Republican in the election. In the commercial, he claims more than 30
million evangelical Christians failed to vote in 2008, allowing Obama
to win the election.
The commercial doesn’t mention
Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Both Parties chose to be in Hurricane Alley for National
Connecticut’s GOP heads to Tampa with high expectations, little status
Ana Radelat, CT MIRROR
August 24, 2012
Washington -- Connecticut's GOP, a minority in the state, is also
likely to be a minority at the party's national convention in Tampa,
where more conservative voices will speak louder, sit in better seats
and stay in more convenient hotels.
That doesn't faze Jerry Labriola, the chairman of the Connecticut
Republican Party and the leader of the state's 53-member delegation: 28
official delegates and 25 alternates.
"I'll hopefully give them a great delegation experience and the time of
their lives," Labriola said.
Labriola and a few other Connecticut delegates arrived in Tampa early
to lay the groundwork for the convention.
The rest of the cream of Connecticut's Republican Party will begin
arriving in Tampa this weekend for a convention that's expected to draw
as many as 50,000 people to town, 2,286 of them delegates. The
convention begins Monday afternoon with an invocation and ends Thursday
evening with the formal nomination of a presidential candidate and his
In between, there will be a lot of political rhetoric and even some
intrigue, but little drama as former Gov. Mitt Romney has wrapped up
more than enough delegates -- including all of Connecticut's -- to win
the nomination. So the convention, held in the cavernous Tampa
Bay Times Forum, will be all about Romney and his vice presidential
choice, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
Romney's biggest worry is that Tropical Storm Isaac, expected to reach
hurricane strength, is heading toward Florida, according to federal
storm trackers. That raises the possibility of a delayed, or even
canceled, convention. There's also a smaller nuisance for Romney.
Former Republican rival Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has delegates that he's
not released and there's been squabbling over the seating of some of
them, especially a delegation from Maine. According to GOP rules, the
support of a plurality of delegates from at least five states allows a
candidate to put his name into nomination and make a speech.
In many states, including Massachusetts and New York, state party
conventions hold votes to select delegates to national conventions. But
in Connecticut, GOP officials chose them, a mix of elected officials
and party activists. Because Romney won Connecticut's GOP primary, all
of the state's delegates are pledged to him. The Connecticut
delegation has also invited about 60 "guests" to the convention, many
of them family members and large donors.
House Republican Leader Larry Cafero said he was chosen as a delegate
because he's an honorary chairman of the Romney campaign in Connecticut
and the state's highest-ranking Republican elected official. He
said the convention aims to "galvanize the base" and showcase some of
the GOP's rising stars, including some House and Senate candidates, as
well as working to defeat President Obama.
"This year we will run against an incumbent, so the energy will be
extremely high," Cafero said.
The last time a Republican candidate was able to unseat an incumbent
Democrat was 40 years ago, when Jimmy Carter occupied the White House.
Platform, and agendas
Besides boosting Romney, some Connecticut delegates may be looking to
improve their own political future. Cafero and fellow delegates
former Rep. Chris Shays, who lose the Senate primary to Linda McMahon,
and Tom Foley, who unsuccessfully ran against Dannel Malloy for
governor, may start testing the waters for a gubernatorial run in 2014.
State Rep. Themis Klarides of Derby also traveled to Tampa earlier this
week as a member of the platform committee. The platform details
the party's position on a host of issues. It includes a "Human Life
Amendment" that calls for a ban on abortion, without mention of the
more common exceptions for victims of rape or incest. There are also
tough anti-gay marriage and immigration planks in the platform.
Klarides, who is pro-choice, said she argued against the gay marriage
and abortion planks, to no avail.
The controversial platform underscores that the national GOP has
marched to the right. Klarides said she can agree with the planks
on economic issues, but said Northeast Republicans can't embrace the
platform's social agenda. She predicted Connecticut's delegates
will huddle with the convention's other moderate Republicans from
neighboring states like New York and Massachusetts.
"We all joke that if we are in the South or Midwest, we wouldn't be
allowed in the Republican Party," Klarides said. "But when you are in a
group like this, it really hits home."
Another member of the platform committee, state Sen. Scott Frantz,
skipped the platform debate altogether because of a "scheduling
But he's eager to travel to Tampa this weekend, although wary of Isaac.
"When you leave a convention you feel you've done something good for
the country," he said.
While every evening will be spent at the convention hall listening to
speakers, it won't be all work for Connecticut's delegates.
They'll attend a whirl of lunches, parties and receptions and even go
on a short cruise. Much of the tab for these social activities, and
even the delegates' breakfasts, will be picked up by corporate
sponsors. AT&T, Aetna, Dominion Resources Services Inc., Nestle
Waters North American and RR Donnelley Inc., have already signed up as
sponsors of the delegation's events.
But not every Connecticut Republican will join in the fun.
Some of the state's highest-profile Republicans, including Senate
candidate McMahon and House candidate Andrew Roraback, running for the
5th Congressional District, have decided to stay on the campaign trail
and skip the convention.
"I didn't discourage her from campaigning," said Connecticut Republican
Party chief Labriola. "And I'd rather have Roraback raising money and
preparing for the fall campaign."
Labriola, at his first national convention, has a rather quixotic
mission. He hopes to persuade the Romney campaign and the
Republican National Party to spend time and money in Connecticut, a
true "blue" state.
"I've been pushing them since last spring to not write us off," said
Labriola, encouraged by polls that show Romney trailing Obama by 8
percentage points in Connecticut.
Obama won the state by 23 points over Sen. John McCain in 2008.
There's a pecking order at national party conventions.
Delegations from the president and vice president's home states are
given preference and usually the best seats in the convention hall.
Then comes vital swing states like Ohio and Virginia. Then loyal
Connecticut, and other strongly Democratic states -- especially small
ones with few electoral votes -- usually receive the least desirable
hotels and nosebleed seats at the convention hall.
While delegates from Mitt Romney's home state of Massachusetts stay a
short walk from the convention venue, for example, the Connecticut
contingent is assigned to the seaside Bilmar Beach Resort hotel, a
50-minute drive from the convention center. The resort will also house
the North Dakota delegation. Cafero said Connecticut's lack of
clout can be expected because there are no Republicans in the state's
congressional delegation and Connecticut's governor is a Democrat.
"For the first time in a generation, Connecticut is a one-party state,"
ELECTION DAY TUESDAY,
NOVEMBER 6, 2012 - ballot in Weston to come - how will Charter Revision
Question be phrased? Another ballot concern:
Sec'y of the State Merrill
Breaking News from CTNEWSJUNKIE
Republican Party on LINE 'A' again...LAWSUIT AGAINST SECRETARY
STATE SUCCEEDS. GOP to have top line because their
candidate had the highest
number of votes in 2010 Gubernatorial
Election. Democrats on line 'B' this year - read decision here.
Merrill hopes surging voter interest wasn't weakened by Hurricane Sandy
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
November 5, 2012
With 100,000 new voters registered in the past six weeks and power
restored to all polling places, Connecticut's chief elections official
said she hopes other aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy won't keep voters
from casting ballots Tuesday.
"The bottom line is Connecticut is ready to vote tomorrow," Secretary
of the State Denise W. Merrill said Monday during a midmorning news
conference in her Capitol office. "We've seen a big surge in interest
for this presidential election."
Connecticut has gained 202,000 new voters since January, pulling the
total number of active, registered voters to close to 2.1 million. This
includes: 872,243 unaffiliated voters, 767,693 Democrats and 430,439
Republicans. The total voter list falls about 5,000 shy of the peak
Connecticut hit just before the 2008 presidential election. Since
January, the unaffiliated rolls have grown by 92,592, while Democrats
picked up 70,928 voters and Republicans gained 33,067.
"This is good news," Merrill said. "The public is still very clearly
interested in this election."
Power restored to polling places
In other good news, power has been returned to all 773 of the state's
polling places, but two will be closed nonetheless on Election Day,
Merrill reported. Flooding damage has forced the closure of
polling sites at Ocean Beach Park in New London and at the Longfellow
School on Ocean Terrace in Bridgeport. Election officials have
ordered the opening of two new polling places: the Harbor School on
Montauk Avenue in New London and the Regional Vocational Aquaculture
School on St. Stephens Road in Bridgeport.
The secretary also praised local election officials' efforts,
particularly after Hurricane Sandy struck one week ago, noting that
they registered voters and distributed absentee ballots under difficult
"This morning what I'm feeling is mostly thankful, Merrill said. "I
hope that all of our efforts here paid off and we'll have a great
Turnout in Connecticut ranged between 75 percent and 80 percent during
the last few presidential elections, but Merrill said, "I wouldn't be
totally surprised (by something less), but I'm hoping for a typical
Shortly before noon on Monday, the state's two major electric utilities
reported just under 35,700 customers left without power, most in
westernmost Fairfield County. Connecticut Light & Power, the
state's largest electric utility, reported 24,081 outages, or about 1
percent of its 1.2 million customers. CL&P not only hit its
primary goal of having at least 98 percent of outages corrected by
Monday or Tuesday, but it also surpassed its targets for bringing
sufficient out-of-state repair crews into Connecticut.
CL&P spokesman Frank Poirot reported Monday that the utility had
brought in 3,225 line repair workers and 1,300 tree removal workers
from 16 counties and four Canadian provinces. That contingent
complements about 400 line workers on CL&P's regular staff and 300
tree removal contractors from within the state that regularly work with
United Illuminating, which serves 325,000 customers in 17 communities
in south central and southwestern Connecticut, reported 10,613 outages,
or about 3 percent of its base, shortly before noon.
But Merrill said she is concerned that even with most power restored,
residents might be distracted from voting if they suffered major damage
to their homes, or if fallen trees still hinder travel around town.
Poirot, who appeared on WNPR's public affairs program "Where We Live"
Monday morning, told host John Dankosky that "the high density of
mature trees that have been uprooted" has made it difficult to clear
some roads in Greenwich and surrounding towns in western Fairfield
Some of the largest trees can weigh 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, he said,
adding that it takes considerable time to remove them from streets and
Merrill also announced Monday that the state will again operate both a
hotline and an email address to receive reports of any problems or
irregularities at the polls. Individuals can report problems by calling
1-866-733-2463 or by emailing email@example.com.
"We will have zero tolerance in Connecticut for either voter fraud or
voter intimidation," she said.
Merrill said that her office would be launching a cooperative program
this Election Day with approximately 100 volunteers from the
Connecticut Bar Association. These volunteers, who have received
training in elections law from the secretary's office, would be
empowered to be the office's "eyes and ears," Merrill said.
If municipal officials request guidance or other advice from the
secretary's office with a problem at the polls, these volunteers will
investigate and report back to Merrill, who then would respond. The
volunteers, she said, would have no authority to give instructions to
local election officials.
Merrill also reminded voters Monday that while it is a "good idea" to
bring a driver's license with them when they cast a ballot, they also
can comply with the state's identification requirement by bringing a
bank statement, a utility bill, a pay stub from work or a Social
Sec'y of the State Denise Merrill
Sandy won't stop
Brian Lockhart, CTPOST
Published 12:23 a.m., Saturday, November 3, 2012
BRIDGEPORT -- As Election Day approaches, registrars in the state's
largest city promised that voters will not be turned away by damage
from Hurricane Sandy or a repeat of the poor planning that marred
2010's close gubernatorial contest.
"We have at least one and a half ballots per eligible voter,"
Bridgeport Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala assured the Secretary of
the State Friday, referring to 2010, when her office under-ordered
ballots, delaying the final results of the gubernatorial election for
"We will be swimming in ballots," Ayala said.
Bridgeport was the third and final stop on Secretary of the State
Denise Merrill's tour of storm-ravaged Fairfield County to assess
whether the area was ready to open the polls Tuesday. She met with
Ayala, Mayor Bill Finch and with a deputy Republican registrar.
"I think we can assure a very smooth Election Day," Finch added,
crediting United Illuminating, whose performance he criticized days
earlier, for restoring power to the city's 24 polling locations.
Merrill spokesman Av Harris said Greenwich and Trumbull, which were
also on Friday's itinerary, will be prepared as well. The biggest
question is how damage from Hurricane Sandy will impact turnout.
"I am worried about that," Merrill said, noting the tangle of downed
trees blocking roads in Greenwich. "That makes a huge difference in
people's sense of whether they want to go out and vote."
After Sandy had swept through, no city's election preparation had
aroused more concern than Bridgeport's. The Democratic stronghold has
in recent years played an important role in election outcomes, from Jim
Himes' 2008 victory over veteran Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, to
Dannel Malloy's razor-thin triumph in 2010 over Republican Tom Foley in
the gubernatorial race.
"I wanted to come down ... to see for myself exactly what the situation
is," said Merrill, who has been communicating all week with municipal
elections officials. "I'm feeling a lot better about it, personally."
Still, Merrill said the drive from Hartford to the southwestern
Connecticut shoreline proved an eye-opener.
"Up in Hartford it looks like nothing happened," she said.
Ayala told Merrill that because of ongoing restoration efforts there
should be only one change in polling locations. The site at Longfellow
Elementary has been shifted to the nearby Aquaculture School due to
"So they (voters) don't have to go too far out of their way," Ayala
said, adding post cards announcing the change were being mailed Friday.
Merrill noted utility companies are offering to provide generators to
polling places that remain without electricity Tuesday, which she said
avoids the confusion of last-minute moves. Bridgeport's
registrars have also contacted 95 percent of poll workers to confirm
they are still available Tuesday and have staff going door-to-door
trying to reach the remaining 5 percent. A training session has been
scheduled for Saturday.
One way or another, CL&P promises power
Keith M. Phaneuf and Mark Pazniokas
November 1, 2012
Connecticut Light & Power, the state's largest electric utility,
promised Thursday night it will provide power to every polling place in
its service area on Tuesday, either by the completion of restoration
work or by providing temporary generators.
"It is on our high priority list," said William Quinlan, a CL&P
United Illuminating expects to have power restored to polling places in
its smaller territory, a hard-hit stretch of shoreline from New Haven
to Bridgeport, said Tony Marone, a senior vice president. Marone
said 143 of the 192 polling places in UI's 17 cities and towns have
power, 25 are without and the status of 24 are being checked. A
major goal of candidates and elections officials is to avoid the
confusion of having to relocate polls so late in the campaign season.
In Bridgeport, Mayor Bill Finch said he expected power to be restored
to the eight or nine polling places now without power.
UI officials strongly objected Thursday to complaints by Finch and
others that the utility was slighting the city in its repair efforts.
Marone said 41 percent of Bridgport was blacked out, compared with 49
percent in Fairfield, 72 percent in Trumbull and 82 percent in Easton.
Marone reported two or three incidents of harassment of line workers in
Bridgeport, including a truck that was pelted with eggs.
Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill reported earlier Thursday that
electrical power has been restored to another 30 to 35 polling places
with Election Day just five days off. But her office still was
reporting close to 100 polling places without power -- the same number
she reported mid-day Wednesday before the latest round of repairs took
How does that add up?
It's because Wednesday's estimate didn't include any numbers from
United Illuminating. So while Connecticut Light & Power Co.
reported 100 polling places without power in its jurisdiction
Wednesday, and between 65 and 70 still without power as repairs
continued late Thursday afternoon, UI weighed in for the first time
Thursday -- and reported 25 polling places out of power in its service
area. Do the math, and that leaves 90 to 95 polling sites -- most
of which are schools, senior centers or other municipal buildings --
still without service late Thursday afternoon.
"At this point, we are monitoring the situation very closely with our
partners at the local level who must administer the presidential
election on Tuesday November 6," Merrill wrote in a statement Thursday
after conferring with officials from both companies. "We still
have some polling places that lack electricity, and both power
utilities have assured us they are working very hard to restore power
to these locations as soon as possible."
There are 773 polling places statewide spread across the state's 169
cities and towns.
Merrill added that "at the local level, towns and cities are already
executing their election preparation functions and backup plans where
necessary for preparing voter lists and making sure the voting machines
are ready to use next Tuesday. We will be ready to vote next
Tuesday no matter what, and the preferences would be not to move or
consolidate any polling locations unless absolutely necessary."
The president of the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut,
Bethlehem Republican Registrar Melissa J. Russell, said she and her
colleagues have been keeping handwritten updates of voter lists to
record people who have registered since Hurricane Sandy caused more
than 600,000 outages statewide Monday and early Tuesday.
"It is paramount that people be able to vote," Russell said, adding
that registrars will use their handwritten lists to help check-in new
voters on Election Day.
The deadline for potential voters to register to cast a ballot on
Election Day originally was this past Tuesday, but Gov. Dannel P.
Malloy extended that deadline until 8 p.m. Thursday, because of the
hurricane. Residents who fail to meet the registration deadline
still can cast a ballot for president only. Under state law, citizens
can obtain a presidential ballot at town or city hall from their
municipal clerk up to the close of business on Election Day.
State law doesn't have any provision for postponing the election, and
Merrill noted Wednesday that all election machines are capable of
functioning on battery power.
State Supreme Court Will Rule On Ballot
Line Between Republicans And
By Christopher Keating On August 14, 2012
The State Supreme Court will rule whether the Republicans can recapture
the top ballot line in November’s election in an appeal of a state
The state Republican Party filed a lawsuit last week that sought to
place their party on the top line in all elections in November,
including those for the U.S. Senate, 151 state House of Representative
seats and 36 seats in the state Senate.
The party sued Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who ruled against
the Republicans three weeks ago by saying that the Democrats would keep
the top line on the 2012 election ballot. Republicans had questioned an
original decision by Merrill, a longtime Democrat, to place the
Democrats on the top line in the 2011 municipal elections after
charging that Merrill made a mistake last year because of the
complicated results of the 2010 race for governor.
Av Harris, a spokesman for Merrill, told Capitol Watch on Tuesday night
that the two sides have agreed to skip the trial court and go directly
to the Supreme Court.
“The facts really aren’t in dispute,” Harris said. “We have to get to a
Although Democrat Dannel P. Malloy won the race in 2010, he did it with
a combination of votes from both the Democratic Party and the
union-backed Working Families Party. As a result, Republican Tom Foley
captured more votes on the Republican line than Malloy captured on the
The top party on the line is normally the party of the winning
candidate for governor, but the Republicans now want that reversed
because of Foley’s vote count.
The lawsuit, filed for the Republicans by attorneys Proloy K. Das and
Richard P. Healey of the Hartford law firm of Rome McGuigan, states
that Foley won 560,874 votes on the Republican line and Malloy won
540,970 votes on the Democratic line. Malloy’s 26,308 votes on the
Working Families Party line helped prove to be the difference in the
closest gubernatorial election in more than 50 years.
The two sides interpreted the law in sharply different ways.
Merrill wrote to Republicans last month that “you do not differentiate
between the appearance of a candidate on the ballot by party nomination
and by nominating petition with a party designation. Taking this
crucial difference into account results in the conclusion reached by my
office in 2011: the Democratic Party is listed on the first row on the
ballot followed by the Republican Party listed on the second row.”
The key point, according to Merrill, is that “votes cast for candidates
appearing on two separate lines on the ballot are to be treated as
votes for the candidate and included in such candidate’s vote totals
for such election.’’
To back up their case, Republicans cited the 1994 election of
Republican Governor George Pataki in New York State. Pataki defeated
incumbent Governor Mario Cuomo, but only after the votes of the
Republican and Conservative Party lines were added together. As a
Democrat, Cuomo captured more votes on his line than Pataki did on the
For the next four years, the Democrats held the top spot on the ballot
in New York State.
“For purposes of balloting, we should be on the top line,’’ House GOP
leader Larry Cafero told Capitol Watch recently. “Mario Cuomo had the
most on the Democratic line. … We are stating that the Secretary of the
State got it wrong in 2011.’’
But Merrill maintains that there are differences in the precise
language of the laws between New York and Connecticut – leading to a
different result. Merrill is a Democrat who was elected in the
statewide election at the same time as Malloy in November 2010.
“Unfortunately, the secretary’s unfounded and apparently
partisan-driven position leaves us no choice but to seek redress in the
courts,” state GOP chairman Jerry Labriola said in a statement. “We
believe the Secretary of the State’s interpretation is wrong and it
would be unfair to Connecticut voters to allow these elections to
On primary eve, Merrill calls
GOP ballot suit 'regrettable distraction'
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
August 13, 2012
Connecticut's chief elections official insisted Monday that her office
acted properly in awarding the top line on the November ballot to the
Democratic Party, despite a lawsuit from Republicans that claims their
candidates should appear first.
Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill also announced measures she
hopes will enhance turnout at Tuesday's primaries for the U.S. Senate
and House, the General Assembly and select municipal offices. One of
them is an easy way for voters to find their polling place.
"We are confident we have consistently interpreted the law and applied
it correctly," Merrill said during a mid-morning press conference in
her Capitol office.
The secretary referred to the lawsuit filed Friday by the state
Republican Party as a "regrettable distraction" and a "waste of
taxpayers' money" that will siphon crucial resources from her office
during a busy state campaign season.
"My staff is already stretched thin trying to manage this election,"
she said, noting that the office received more than 5,000 telephone
calls on Election Day alone in 2010, the last statewide election.
Merrill, a Hartford Democrat, also called Republican accusations that
her position was motivated by partisan politics "an insult" to her and
her staff. "We look at the law and interpret the law as professional
election administrators," she said. "I'm sorry to see this sort of
The dispute centers on the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, which Democrat
Dannel P. Malloy won, outpolling Greenwich Republican Tom Foley 567,278
votes to 560,874. But while Foley appeared in just one place on the
2010 ballot -- the line for the Republican nominee -- Malloy received
540,970 votes on the Democratic line, and 26,308 votes by virtue of
also being the nominee of the Working Families Party.
The state GOP cited Section 9-249a of the Connecticut General Statutes.
It states that "the party whose candidate for governor polled the
highest number of votes in the last-preceding election" appears first
on the ballot.
And it also states that "other parties who had candidates for governor
in the last-preceding election" would have their candidates on future
ballots "in descending order, according to the number of votes polled
for each such candidate."
Merrill wrote to Republican State Chairman Jerry Labriola on July 27
that Democrats earned the top spot given that Malloy garnered the most
votes for governor -- regardless of the fact that he received them from
two different party lines on the 2010 ballot.
"Unfortunately the secretary's unfounded and apparently partisan-driven
position leaves us no choice but to seek redress in the courts,"
Labriola wrote in a statement last week.
The two sides now head to a Tuesday hearing in Hartford Superior Court.
Also Monday, Merrill announced a hotline and two new web features to
encourage more Democrats and Republicans to participate in Tuesday's
The secretary's office and the State Elections Enforcement Commission
will again monitor a hotline to hear concerns of any voters who notice
any inappropriate behavior at the polls. Concerns can be reported by
calling 1-866-733-2463 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help voters find their precinct quickly, the secretary announced a
new online application available at at www.sots.ct.gov on the homepage
of her office website.
By clicking on the red, white and blue "Where Do I Vote" button, voters
can enter their home address and learn the location of their polling
place, and directions on how to get there from their home.
Given that Connecticut completed the redistricting process last winter
that re-sets the boundaries of its U.S. House and state legislative
districts, many voters could be confused about where to cast their
"This is another great example of technology making it easier than ever
to take part in the democratic process," Merrill said. "By providing
this free service to anyone with Internet accessibility, I hope many
voters take advantage of easily finding their polling location and go
out and vote."
Malloy is among those changing polling places since last fall, when he
voted at the Annie Fisher School in Hartford. This year, the polling
place for his West End neighborhood is the Hartford Seminary.
Merrill said based on primary turnout in recent years, she expects
Tuesday's Democratic and Republican contests to attract 25 percent to
30 percent of eligible voters, though it could be higher in the 5th
Congressional District, where three Democrats and four Republicans are
seeking their parties' nominations.
"We have some very hot elections in Connecticut this year," she said.
"They're being watched nationally."
The secretary's Internet site also offers a second new feature that
allows residents to confirm if they are registered to vote. This can be
resolved simply by entering their name and date of birth into the site.
Merrill rebuffs GOP, says
Democrats earned top spot on state ballot
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
July 27, 2012
Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill notified Connecticut's top
Republicans Friday that Democrats will remain at the top of the ballot
this fall, and that she disagrees with their legal argument that the
GOP earned the top spot based on the 2010 gubernatorial results.
In a letter to Republican leaders in the state House and Senate and to
the state GOP chairman, Merrill wrote that Democrats earned the top
spot given that Democrat Dannel P. Malloy garnered the most votes for
governor -- regardless of the fact that he received them from two
different lines on the 2010 ballot.
Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford, outpolled Republican Tom Foley of
Greenwich 567,278 votes to 560,874. But while Foley appeared in just
one place on the 2010 ballot -- the line for the Republican nominee --
Malloy received 540,970 votes on the Democratic line, and 26,308 votes
by virtue of also being the nominee of the Working Families Party.
The state House and Senate minority leaders, Lawrence F. Cafero of
Norwalk and John P. McKinney of Fairfield, and GOP State Chairman Jerry
Labriola wrote Thursday to Merrill, arguing the Republicans deserve the
top ballot spot.
The GOP leaders cited Section 9-249a of the Connecticut General
Statutes. It states that "the party whose candidate for governor polled
the highest number of votes in the last-preceding election" appears
first on the ballot.
And it also states that "other parties who had candidates for governor
in the last-preceding election" would have their candidates on future
ballots "in descending order, according to the number of votes polled
for each such candidate."
But Merrill said Friday that the Working Families Party technically
didn't even have "minor party status" for the gubernatorial race under
the law during the 2010 campaign.
The party, a pro-labor organization, has had organizational papers
filed with the state since the mid-2000s, and was entitled to a spot on
the gubernatorial ballot because it filed petition papers in 2010.
But it didn't gain "minor party status" for that office until after the
2010 election. Under state law, such status is conferred when more than
1 percent of the voters casting ballots for an office do so for the
minor party candidate.
The GOP legislative leaders also wrote to Merrill that New York faced
"the identical issue" in 1995 and determined that while Republican
George Pataki had defeated Democrat Mario Cuomo in the 1994
gubernatorial contest, Cuomo received more votes on the Democratic line
than Pataki had on the GOP line. Pataki also had been endorsed by New
York's Conservative Party and received enough votes on that line to
gain the victory.
"We believe we have a solid case to make that Republican candidates for
office this fall should be placed first based on the results of the
2010 gubernatorial election," Cafero said. "We have case law to support
But Merrill said the two states' statutes are not identical. While New
York law specifically determines top ballot status based on each party
line's result in the gubernatorial election, Connecticut law makes no
reference to line-by-line results.
Pat O'Neill, a spokesman for the House Republican Caucus, said Friday
that "our lawyers are evaluating the secretary of the state's response
to our letter," and no decisions have been reached about potential
Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo and Jonathan Harris, the
state party's executive director, said Thursday that they think
Democrats are entitled to the top spot on the ballot.
"In my mind, the plain meaning of the statute ... talks of the highest
number of votes collectively" received by a party's gubernatorial
candidate, and not necessarily votes tied just to one line, Jonathan
Harris said. "If you look at the plain language of this statute, it
indicates the Democrats should be on line A."
Cafero said Republicans didn't raise the issue before last fall's
balloting because they didn't realize that the law was interpreted
improperly. "Maybe shame on us, but it never occurred to us," he said.
State Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said he began to research state
election law in May after someone mentioned Malloy's Working Families
Party support at a dinner party. Fasano added that this led him to
review the New York case over the summer.
candidates earned top spot on the next state ballot
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
July 26, 2012
The state legislature's top Republicans charged Thursday that GOP
candidates should have been placed at the top of the ballot during last
fall's municipal elections, and challenged Connecticut's chief
elections official to correct the matter before the state elections
State law rewards the party with the best showing in the gubernatorial
contest by placing its candidates first on the ballot for the next four
In the 2010 gubernatorial election, Democrat Dannel Malloy finished
6,404 votes ahead of Republican Tom Foley. But Foley earned all 560,874
of his votes on the GOP line. Malloy, who was endorsed by both the
Democratic Party as well as the Working Families Party, collected
540,970 votes on the Democratic Party line, and 26,308 votes on the
Working Families ticket.
So which party truly finished first in terms of ballot order rights?
Republicans now assert it was theirs.
"Though candidate Dannel Malloy polled the most votes overall, he did
so by combining the totals of two separate party lines," the state
House and Senate minority leaders, Lawrence F. Cafero of Norwalk and
John P. McKinney of Fairfield, wrote Thursday to Secretary of the State
Denise W. Merrill. "Though sufficient for the victory, it has no
bearing on the order of the parties on the ballot."
The two GOP leaders cited Section 9-249a of the Connecticut General
Statutes. It states that "the party whose candidate for governor polled
the highest number of votes in the last-preceding election" appears
first on the ballot.
And it also states that "other parties who had candidates for governor
in the last-preceding election" would have their candidates on future
ballots "in descending order, according to the number of votes polled
for each such candidate."
"The Republican Party line for governor garnered more votes than any
other party line in 2010," McKinney said. "Under Connecticut law, our
candidates for state and federal office deserve the top line
designation on this year's ballot. The Republican Party has earned
The GOP legislative leaders asked Merrill, a Mansfield Democrat, to
confirm in writing that Republican candidates would be listed first on
the ballot at the election for state and federal offices this November.
Merrill's spokesman, Av Harris, said the secretary's office expected to
complete its review of the legal questions raised by the Republican
legislators by Friday.
Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo and Jonathan Harris, the
state party's executive director, said Thursday that they believe
Democrats are entitled to the top spot on the ballot.
"In my mind, the plain meaning of the statute ... talks of the highest
number of votes collectively" received by a party's gubernatorial
candidate, and not necessarily votes tied just to one line, Jonathan
Harris said. "If you look at the plain language of this statute, it
indicates the Democrats should be on line A."
The GOP legislative leaders also wrote to Merrill that New York faced
"the identical issue" in 1995 and determined that while Republican
George Pataki had defeated Democrat Mario Cuomo in the 1994
gubernatorial contest, Cuomo received more votes on the Democratic line
that Pataki had on the GOP line. Pataki also had been endorsed by New
York's Conservative Party and received enough votes on that line to
gain the victory.
"We believe we have a solid case to make that Republican candidates for
office this fall should be placed first based on the results of the
2010 gubernatorial election," Cafero said. "We have case law to support
Cafero said Republicans didn't raise the issue before last fall's
balloting because they didn't realize that the law was interpreted
improperly. "Maybe shame on us, but it never occurred to us," he said.
State Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said he began to research state
election law in May after someone mentioned Malloy's Working Families
Party support at a dinner party. Fasano added that this led him to
review the New York case over the summer.
Cafero added that because Republicans didn't realize initially they
were entitled to the top line, he believes Merrill's office might have
accidentally made the wrong assumption as well.
AUGUST 14 PRIMARIES: U.S.
Senate, both Parties. GENERAL ELECTION GOES TO DEMOCRAT CHRIS MURPHY
IN WESTON: Registered
(turnout 15%) .
Registered Republicans: 1930 (turnout 31%).
RESULTS IN WESTON: For
open U.S. Senate seat...unofficial
DEM/Murphy 281- Bysiewicz
GOP/McMahon 263 - Shays 338
comments on Republican Primary on R.I.N.O., reigning in spending.
"Don't Make the Same Mistake
recorded before Republican Convention.
Senate Debate for Democrats in Bridgeport - story here.
24 Party Primaries Aug. 14
by Christine Stuart | Jul 17, 2012 7:34pm
The primaries for the two open seats being
vacated by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman and U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy have
attracted the most media attention, but Secretary of the State Denise
Merrill wanted to remind voters Tuesday that there are plenty of party
primaries for the state House and Senate, Registrar of Voters, and
Democrats statewide will be able to vote on at least 19 primaries
depending on where they live and Republicans are eligible to cast their
ballots in at least 5 primaries.
“It is important that voters are fully aware of the primaries taking
place on August 14th,” Merrill said Tuesday. “Some of the most closely
watched Congressional races in the country are being contested in
Connecticut. I encourage registered Democrats and Republicans to find
out about the candidates and make their voices heard on primary day by
The press release comes just a few days after one announcing that there
are more than 800,000 unaffiliated voters in the state, who will be
unable to vote in Connecticut’s closed primary system.
Voters have until noon Aug. 13 to register with one of the two major
parties, if they want to vote in the Aug. 14 primary.
In the U.S. Senate race both party’s will have a primary. On the
Democratic side U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy will face off against former
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, while Republican Linda McMahon
battles former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays on the Republican side.
There is also a Democratic and Republican primary in the 5th
Congressional District. On the Democratic side, House Speaker Chris
Donovan faces former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Dan Roberti, a
newcomer from Kent. On the Republican side, Sen. Andrew Roraback faces
challenges from Lisa Wilson-Foley of Simsbury, Mark Greenberg of
Litchfield, and Justin Bernier of Plainville.
In the 2nd Congressional District Republicans Daria Novak and East Lyme
First Selectman Paul Formica will battle for a chance to run against
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney.
Democrats also have intra-party primaries for three state Senate seats.
State Rep. Tom Reynolds and Sprague First Selectwoman Cathy Osten will
battle for retiring Sen. Edith Prague’s seat. In Bridgeport, Sen. Ed
Gomes will try to fend off challenges from former state Sen. Ernest
Newton, who spent time in prison for corruption, and state Rep. Andres
Along the shore, state Rep. James Crawford will battle with Mary Ellen
Klinck for retiring Sen. Eileen Daily’s seat. There are no Republican
primaries for state Senate this year.
On the House side there are a dozen Democratic battles and one
Republican primary, where Harold Shaker is challenging state Rep. David
In cities like Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven the primary is
generally considered the election. However, in New Haven there aren’t
any intra-party fights brewing this year.
In Hartford state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez faces a challenge from Victor
Luna and state Rep. Hector Robles faces a challenge from Edwin Vargas,
the former head of the Hartford teacher’s union. There’s also party
primaries in Hartford for both the Democratic and Republican Registrar
of Voters. Republican Registrar Salvatore A. Bramante faces a challenge
from Nyesha C. McCauley and Democratic Registrar Olga Vazquez faces a
challenge from Ramon Arroyo, Gonzalez’s husband.
There’s another interesting three-way Democratic primary in Windsor for
a new district created during the redistricting process. Leo Canty, a
long-time labor leader, Brandon McGee of Hartford, and Windsor Mayor
Donald Trinks, will battle for the new district with combines a large
portion of Windsor and the north end of Hartford into a single district.
This list of 24 primaries is below:
United States Senator Republican *Linda E. McMahon and Christopher Shays
United States Senator Democratic *Christopher S. Murphy and Susan
Representative in Congress – 2 Republican *Paul M. Formica and Daria
Representative in Congress – 5 Republican *Andrew Roraback, Justin
Bernier, Lisa Wilson Foley, and Mark Greenberg
Representative in Congress – 5 Democratic *Chris Donovan, Elizabeth
Esty, and Dan Roberti
State Senate – 19 Democratic *Tom Reynolds, Catherine A. Osten
State Senate – 23 Democratic *Ernest E. Newton II, Andres Ayala, Jr.,
and Edwin A. Gomes
State Senate – 33 Democratic *James Crawford and Mary Ellen Klinck
Assembly District – 3 Democratic *Minnie Gonzalez and Victor M. Luna,
Assembly District – 5 Democratic *Leo Canty, Brandon McGee, and Donald
Assembly District – 6 Democratic *Edwin Vargas, Jr. and Hector Luis
Assembly District – 13 Democratic *Joe Diminico and Tom Gullotta
Assembly District – 35 Democratic *Tom Vicino and Tony A. Palermo
Assembly District – 58 Democratic *Kathy Tallarita and David Alexander
Assembly District – 63 Democratic *Michael J. Renzullo and Doug Bendetto
Assembly District – 75 Democratic *Victor Cuevas and David Aldarondo
Assembly District – 91 Democratic *John P. Flanagan and Michael C.
Assembly District – 107 Republican *Harold A. Shaker and David A.
Assembly District – 116 Democratic *Louis P. Esposito, Jr. and David C.
Assembly District - 128 Democratic *Christina M. Ayala and Angel Reyes
Assembly District – 132 Democratic *Sue Brand and Kevin Coyner
Hamden – Bethany Probate District Democratic *Craig B. Henrici and
Edward C. Burt, Jr.
Registrar of Voters - Hartford Republican *Salvatore A. Bramante and
Nyesha C. McCauley
Registrar of Voters – Hartford Democratic *Ramon L. Arroyo and Olga
* Denotes the endorsed candidate
polling place changes for August primary
Friday, 22 June 2012 00:00
Weston voters who want to vote in the August primary will not do so in
the usual polling place due to construction this summer at the middle
The Weston town clerk and the Weston registrars of voters announced
that the polling place for the Tuesday, Aug. 14, primary for state,
district and federal offices has been moved to the Weston Intermediate
School from the Weston Middle School.
The move is being made for the primary only, due to a window
replacement project at Weston Middle School.
Weston Intermediate School is located at 95 School Road.
Polls for the primary will be open in the intermediate school gymnasium
on Tuesday, Aug. 14, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Unaffiliated voters may not vote on primary day in Connecticut.
Unaffiliated voters (voters not registered with any party) may declare
a party affiliation to vote in a particular primary by completing a new
voter registration card.
New voter applications need to be postmarked by Aug. 9 or be delivered
in person to the registrars office at Weston Town Hall by noon on Aug.
ART IMITATES LIFE DEPARTMENT:
POLITICS IS (A) LIKE A MOVIE OR (B) THE
REVERSE. IF (A), WHICH MOVIE?
ON POWER GRID AS SERIOUS AS ECONOMIC CRISES?
From most recent "Die Hard" movie ("...shut down the government with a
lap top"); Watergate break won Hollywood kudos ("All the President's
Men"); off-shore bundling Democrat Division. "Supporter
of 99%" in Westport (campaign not to compensate town for police-fire
overtime) by helicopter for campaign
$$. Gas prices?
A 21st-Century Islam
By ROGER COHENn NYTIMES
September 21, 2012
LONDON — The Muslim world cannot have it both ways. It cannot place
Islam at the center of political life — and in extreme cases political
violence — while at the same time declaring that the religion is
off-limits to contestation and ridicule.
Islam is one of the world’s three great monotheistic religions. Of them
it is the youngest by several centuries and, perhaps for that reason,
the most fervid and turbulent. It is also, in diverse forms, a
political movement, reference and inspiration.
Politics is a rough-and-tumble game. If the emergent Islamic parties of
nations in transition — like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and
Ennahda in Tunisia — are to honor the terms of democratic governance
they will have to concede that they have no monopoly on truth, that the
prescriptions of Islam are malleable and debatable, and that
significant currents in their societies have different convictions and
The past couple of weeks have been discouraging. Nobody expects a U.S.
standard of freedom of speech to be adopted — or even fully understood
— in these societies; they will set their own political and cultural
frameworks inspired by a still fervent desire to escape from despotism,
whether secular or theocratic, and by the central place of faith.
But the failure in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt to control violent mobs of
Salafis enraged by mockery in America and Europe of Islam and the
Prophet Muhammad suggests an unacceptable ambivalence: The rule of law
here on earth must override divine indignation.
The world has tried Islamic republics. It found them oxymoronic. As
Iran illustrates, they don’t work: Republican institutions, shaped by
the wishes of men and women, fall victim to the Islamic superstructure,
supposedly shaped by God.
The great challenge of the Arab Spring is to prove that, as in Turkey,
parties of Islamic inspiration can embrace a modern pluralism and so
usher their societies from a culture of grievance and victimhood to one
of creativity and agency.
Just how deep the grievances remain in the Arab world — over loss of
power, economic stagnation, colonial intrusion, Western wars and Israel
— has been clear in the latest eruption. Change will be slow.
But it is coming: These societies will not return to tyranny. The West
has an overwhelming strategic interest in supporting transitions that
offer the youth of the Arab world opportunity: Egypt now dwarfs
Afghanistan in its importance to fighting Islamic extremism.
But the West will not do so by compromising its own values. The
porn-grade American movie that started the unrest was pitiful. The
murderous violence that followed from Cairo to Benghazi was criminal.
Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper, then had a strong
editorial case for mocking the religious fundamentalism that produced
the killing; it chose to do so through caricatures of Muhammad.
Gérard Biard, the editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo, put the case
well: “We’re a newspaper that respects French law. Now, if there’s a
law that is different in Kabul or Riyadh, we’re not going to bother
ourselves with respecting it.” Alluding to all the violence, Biard
asked: “Are we supposed to not do that news?”
He is right. There are too many hypocrisies in Islam — deploring
attacks on it while often casting scorn on Judaism and Christianity,
claiming the mantle of peace while inspiring violence — for it to
expect to be spared the cartoonist’s arrows.
The video insulting Muhammad reflected the visceral Islamophobia of its
authors. Charlie Hebdo was driven by a different agenda: the refusal to
be cowed by a spate of atavistic Islamist religious violence.
Still, I defend the right of the video’s authors even if I loathe what
they produced. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 1969 Brandenburg v. Ohio
decision, overturned the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had
menaced political officials with violence, saying that “the
constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a
State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force.” As Glenn
Greenwald wrote in The Guardian, “Obviously, if the state cannot
suppress speech even where it explicitly advocates violence, then it
cannot suppress a video on the ground that it implicitly incites
The rich maelstrom of ideas in the United States is inextricably tied
to this fundamental freedom. It cannot be compromised.
As for the new leaders of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, and the great mass
of moderate Muslims, they might recall the words of the late Grand
Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri protesting the stolen Iranian election
of 2009 — an example of God’s supposed will imposed over the will of
“A characteristic of a strong and legitimate government — Islamic or
not — is that it is capable of respecting all opinions, whether they
support it or oppose it. This is necessary for any political system, in
order to embrace all social classes and encourage them to participate
in the affairs of their nation, and not dismiss and repulse them.”
Montazeri fell out with Ayatollah Khomeini because his Iranian
theocracy was incapable of “respecting all opinions.” Decades on, in
this Arab awakening, that challenge remains for political Islam.
By The Editors
September 13, 2012 4:00 A.M.
Behold the harvest of the Arab Spring: attacks — contemporaneous if not
coordinated — on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the consulate in
Benghazi, Libya, on the anniversary of September 11. In the former, the
American colors were hoisted down, desecrated, and burned, and the
black flag of Islamism raised in their place. In the latter, the
American ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three members of his
staff were murdered in a rocket attack as they attempted to evacuate
the facility. Whether both acts of terrorism were committed in protest
of a low-budget American film allegedly insulting to the Prophet
Mohammed or, as reports now suggest, the Libyan attack was a planned
response to the killing of al-Qaeda’s No. 2 in Yemen, the portent is
The sacrosanctity of diplomats and their missions is among the oldest
and most basic axioms of intercourse between civilized nations, and the
fact that neither the Egyptian nor the Libyan government acted to
prevent these assaults suggests that barbarism is alive and well in
Arab North Africa. Egypt’s failure is especially conspicuous, because
that country actually has a functioning government and military. Nearly
as disturbing was the response, both preemptive and cowardly, of the
U.S. mission in Cairo, which went out of its way to condemn not its
besiegers, but private citizens of the West who may or may not have
“hurt the religious feelings” of riotous Muslims.
Americans are murdered by Islamists, and sovereign American soil is
violated, on the anniversary of September 11, and the first word from
the administration to reach the world is an apology. So naturally, the
mainstream media are focusing on what they in their considered wisdom
have determined is Mitt Romney’s crass and ill-timed response to the
crisis, even as the Obama campaign found itself in a foot race with the
Obama administration to see whether the former could condemn Romney
before the latter condemned the terrorists.
But Romney was right to call the Cairo embassy’s obsequiousness
“disgraceful,” which is why the White House eventually followed
Romney’s lead in disavowing it. Romney was also right to defend his
statement against charges that he had “jumped the gun,” saying it is
“never too early . . . to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend
our values.” Although the press acted as if Romney’s performance at the
press conference was laughably unpresidential, what he said was
appropriate and true: “It breaks the hearts of all of us who think of
these people who have served during their lives for the cause of
freedom and justice and honor,” and “the attacks in Libya and Egypt
underscore that the world remains a dangerous place, and that American
leadership is still sorely needed.”
Above the political fray and campaign hay, there is also the question
of what to do next. There are reports that elite Marine
counterterrorism units are even now en route to Libya, and we
understand that the president has ordered increased security at U.S.
diplomatic facilities. These are both to the good, and we should not be
hamstrung by diplomatic niceties or, indeed, by these governments’
demonstrably weak sovereignties in bringing the terrorists to justice.
But the question remains why Stevens and embassy staff were not
effectively protected in the first place, on either side of the embassy
If President Obama is to meet with the Egyptian leader, Mohamed Morsi,
the embassy breach should be the first item on the agenda. If we are to
follow through on the provision of aid to Egypt, for instance, the
money should change hands only after guarantees are made and concrete
steps are taken to protect our missions. Notably, while the Libyan
government has already formally apologized for the outrages on its
soil, the Egyptian government has not. Its prime minister, Hisham
Kandil, merely called the breach “regrettable” — immediately before
calling on the United States to “criminalize acts that stir strife on
the basis of race, color, or religion.”
That is, Egypt’s new government wants the United States to repeal the
First Amendment. But when it comes to Islamists who seize American soil
or kill American citizens, we prefer solutions rooted in the amendment
just after it.
Israeli Leader Sharpens Call on U.S.
to Set Limits on Iran
...Addressing reporters here in
on Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu unequivocally rejected those comments and
back at the United States.
Speaking in English, he said, “The world tells Israel:
‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until
in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran
don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
NYTIMES, 11 Sept. 2012.
U.S. has no right to block Israel on
By Jeffrey Heller | Reuters
11 Sept. 2012
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on
Tuesday said the United States had forfeited any moral right to stop
Israel taking action against Iran's nuclear program because it had
refused to be firm with Tehran itself.
In comments which appeared to bring the possibility of an Israeli
attack on Iran closer, Netanyahu took the administration of President
Barack Obama to task after Washington rebuffed his own call to set a
red line for Tehran's nuclear drive.
"The world tells Israel 'wait, there's still time'. And I say, 'Wait
for what? Wait until when?'" said Netanyahu, speaking in English.
"Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines
before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before
Israel," he added, addressing a news conference with Bulgaria's prime
Netanyahu has been pushing Obama to adopt a tougher line against Iran,
arguing that setting a clear boundary for Iran's uranium enrichment
activities and imposing stronger economic sanctions could deter Tehran
from developing nuclear weapons and mitigate the need for military
But on Monday U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United
States would not set a deadline in further talks with Iran, saying
there was still time for diplomacy to work.
Netanyahu's comments came as diplomats said six world powers -
including the United States - were poised to voice "serious concern"
about Iran's uranium enrichment program and to urge Tehran to open up
access to suspected nuclear sites.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday that Washington
would have little more than a year to act to stop Tehran if it decided
to produce a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu has had a strained
relationship with Obama over Iran and other issues, such as Jewish
settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
But he has never put differences with Obama - who has pledged he will
"always have Israel's back" and is deep in a re-election campaign - in
the context of morality.
The website of Israel's Haaretz daily newspaper said Netanyahu had
carried out "an unprecedented verbal attack on the U.S. government".
Iran, which denies it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, has
threatened to retaliate against Israel and U.S. interests in the Gulf
if it attacked, and Obama's re-election bid could be thrown off course
by a new war.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney has accused him of throwing Israel
"under the bus".
Without mentioning Clinton by name but pointedly parroting her use of
the word "deadline", Netanyahu said not setting a clear boundary for
Iran would only encourage Iran to continue its quest for nuclear arms.
"If Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what
it's doing. It's continuing, without any interference, towards
obtaining a nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs,"
"So far we can say with certainty that diplomacy and sanctions haven't
worked. The sanctions have hurt the Iranian economy but they haven't
stopped the Iranian nuclear program. That's a fact. And the fact is
that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear
bombs," he added.
Netanyahu also watched troops conduct an infantry exercise in the Golan
Heights, where he said "the Israeli army is prepared for any
challenge". Israel captured the rocky plateau from Syria in a 1967 war
and then annexed it in a move never recognized internationally.
Widely thought to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, Israel says
a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence.
Recent tougher Israeli rhetoric on the issue has stoked speculation
that Israel might attack Iran before the U.S. ballot in November,
believing that Obama would give it military help and not risk
alienating pro-Israeli voters.
But over the past week, Netanyahu, in calling for a "red line", had
appeared to be backing away from military action and preparing the
ground for a possible meeting with Obama this month, when both address
the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
"The line is the president is committed to prevent Iran from acquiring
a nuclear weapon, and he will use every tool in the arsenal of American
power to achieve that goal," Jay Carney, a White House spokesman, said
Netanyahu has faced opposition at home to the idea that Israel might
attack Iran on its own. Opinion polls show a majority of Israelis do
not want their military to strike Iran without U.S. support.
An Israeli cabinet minister on Tuesday invoked his country's ostensibly
secret 2007 air raid on an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor to suggest
Israel could successfully strike Iran without U.S. support.
on this matter here.
Westport got the brush off -who pays for
Fla. officer in Obama motorcade
MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press
Updated 11:14 p.m., Sunday, September 9, 2012
O’s stimulus & The
rotten Jobs news
By NICOLE GELINAS
Last Updated: 12:29 AM, September 10, 2012
Posted: 10:29 PM, September 9, 2012
Friday’s job report was a post-convention headache for President Obama.
But it’s also a hangover from early in his term: He could’ve avoided
this problem had he thought harder about stimulus three years ago.
Private companies added only 103,000 jobs in August; they’d need to
create more than three times that for a full year to replace the 4.2
million-plus jobs that America is still missing from the recession.
And this isn’t a one-month slowdown. Growth has stagnated this
year. Meanwhile, public-sector employment lost ground. Last
month, state and local government shed 10,000 workers. Since mid-2008,
716,000 state and local workers have lost their jobs (or not been
replaced when they quit).
The 2009 stimulus was supposed to prevent these losses. It sent $200
billion to state and local governments over two years, mostly for
education and health care. The point was for governors and mayors to
avoid layoffs as tax revenues plunged — to tide them over until the
economy fixed itself. But this strategy was wrongheaded.
During the supposedly good years, state and local governments grew too
fast. Even today, state and local government employment is 7.3 percent
higher than in 2000. Yes, that’s below population growth — but
more than half of state and local jobs are in education, which is
(mostly) for young people, and the number of people ages 5 to 19 is up
only 2.9 percent since 2000.
This math makes one of Obama’s convention-speech pledges — to “recruit
100,000 math and science teachers within 10 years” — a head-scratcher.
It’s not clear that we need new teachers. Plus, governments can’t
employ new people, or keep the old, if they don’t have tax money from
private workers to pay them. Since 2000, the number of private-sector
workers is up only 1 percent.
If we want more public workers, we’ve got to grow the private economy
to pay for ’em.
But even if state and local governments had more private-sector tax
dollars, they’d have to spend them not on keeping workers, but on
paying benefits to existing workers. Here in New York City, the
taxpayers’ bill for public-worker pensions and other benefits has
nearly tripled, to $16.5 billion a year. New York is extreme, but the
rest of the country has the same problem. The 2009 stimulus
could’ve addressed this issue. Instead of sending states money for
worker pay, Washington could have earmarked more money for building and
rebuilding things like roads, bridges and urban transit. (The stimulus
only devoted a paltry $40 billion to such projects.)
That would’ve forced governments to cut benefits if they wanted to keep
teachers and other workers on the payroll (and forced public unions to
go along, once they knew the feds weren’t coming to the rescue).
Since the recovery was always going to be slow, it wouldn’t have
mattered if some road and bridge projects weren’t “shovel-ready.”
Governments could take their time and do them (sort of) right.
Instead, the approach Obama chose harms future infrastructure
investment, which is still a big campaign plank.
Last Wednesday, one of the Democrats’ new stars, Massachusetts Senate
candidate Elizabeth Warren, got a prime-time slot to speak on this
topic. “Obama believes in a country where we invest in . . . roads and
bridges,” she said. She spoke of a construction worker who “went nine
months without finding work.”
But voters can sense a gap between sentiment and reality. In 2009,
Obama promised to shore up our Depression-era infrastructure — but then
dedicated only about 5 percent of stimulus toward that goal. The result
shows now on the ground. As for Warren’s construction worker: He
was likely out of work because the stimulus let state and local
governments avoid the tough choices with their own money. The
problem for voters is that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan don’t have much to
say about this stuff either.
a choice: Pick the folk whose actions don’t match their
words, or pick the people who keep quiet on something that matters a
Canada closes embassy in Iran,
to expel Iranian diplomats
By Randall Palmer | Reuters
7 September 2012
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has closed its embassy in Iran and will expel
all Iranian diplomats in Canada within five days, Foreign Minister John
Baird said on Friday, denouncing Tehran as the biggest threat to global
"Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been suspended,"
He cited Iran's nuclear program, its hostility toward Israel and
Iranian military assistance to the government of President Bashar
al-Assad of Syria, which is locked in civil war with rebels. He also
said Iran was a state sponsor of terrorism.
Canada's move was swiftly applauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, who has strongly warned of the danger of a growing threat
Baird accused Iran of showing blatant disregard for the safety of
foreign diplomats. "Canada views the government of Iran as the most
significant threat to global peace and security in the world today," he
said in a statement.
"Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic
presence in Iran," he said, declaring that Iran had shown "blatant
disregard" for the Vienna Convention's guarantee of protection for
Ottawa has long had poor relations with Iran, in part because of its
enmity toward close Canadian ally Israel.
"I wish to congratulate (Canadian) Prime Minister Stephen Harper who
has made a bold leadership move that sends a clear message to Iran and
to the entire world," Netanyahu said in a statement from Jerusalem.
"The determination shown by Canada is of great importance in order for
the Iranians to understand that they cannot go on with their race
toward nuclear arms. This practical step must set an example of
international morality and responsibility to the international
community," he said.
The United States has not had a functioning embassy in Tehran since the
1979-81 hostage crisis, when 52 Americans were held for 444 days.
Britain's embassy in Tehran has been closed since it was stormed by
protesters last November.
During the hostage crisis, the Canadian embassy in Tehran sheltered six
U.S. diplomats who had avoided capture, and then helped them leave Iran
with Canadian passports in January 1980. The Canadian embassy then
closed, reopening only in 1988.
2012 PEW PENSION STUDY (2010 DATA)
U.S. public workers say organized
labor at a turning point
By Lisa Lambert and James B. Kelleher | Reuters
23 June 2012
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As America's biggest state and local government
employees' union gathered here this week, it faced obstacles like never
before. After a big defeat in Wisconsin, and under pressure to accept
cuts in jobs, pay, pensions and benefits, it needed to give convincing
Lee Saunders, who became the union's first African American president
on Friday, said the fight was "just getting started." He said the
mission for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees was to save nothing less than organized labor itself.
"Our success or failure will mark a turning point not only for our
union but for the entire labor movement," said Saunders, the former
number two who succeeded Gerald McEntee as president of the union, the
largest in the AFL-CIO federation.
The union had one of its darkest days on June 5 in Wisconsin, where
voters rejected a union-led effort to recall the state's governor,
Republican Scott Walker, who had tried to curtail the bargaining rights
of public sector employees. But the 3,500 delegates who came to
Los Angeles to mark AFSCME's 75th anniversary and elect its first new
president in 31 years, left the meeting grimly determined to do more
than just reverse their union's recent setbacks.
state is taking money that it should have paid into my retirement but
didn't, and it's giving it away in tax breaks to corporations," said
Steve Curran, a corrections officer from Connecticut.
Taxpayers have seen drastic cuts in public services after an economic
downturn and support for public workers is waning. Even some
Democrats, like Steve Rattner, the former head of the U.S. government's
auto task force who currently manages the personal investments of New
York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg, think public sector workers need
to share more of the pain from the downturn and slow-motion recovery.
"Their private sector counterparts have taken major pain as part
of this economic downturn and they have for the most part not taken
any," Rattner said.
"But they're going to have to take some pain and I think there ought to
be a way to do it peacefully and fairly."
The crossing guards, snow-plow operators and librarians who make up the
membership of the AFSCME pushed back during their convention this week.
"We've been demonized as the people who have it all," said Roberta
Lynch, deputy director of AFSCME's Council 31, which represents state
workers in Illinois.
While public workers have not seen the wage declines experienced by
some in the private sector, they have lost jobs dramatically over the
past three years, according to the Labor Department.
The perception is "almost as if the unions are drinking champagne while
others are suffering," said Harley Shaiken, a professor at University
of California Berkeley. "It's just the opposite. Public sector work is
remarkably insecure in this environment and tough concessions have been
According to AFSCME, its members have an average salary of $40,000 a
year and collect a pension of about $19,000 a year in retirement. These
figures are virtually impossible to compare to those of the private
sector given the wide mix of skills and education.
Members blame states for short changing contributions to their workers'
pension funds, especially during the 2007-2009 recession. "The pension
funds aren't going down the tubes because you're paying a retiree his
$800 or $1,000 a month," said Curran, the Connecticut corrections
"It's because the politicians are not putting in the money they're
supposed to be putting in."
Union leaders recognize that they need a swing in popular opinion.
After the convention, members plan a steady campaign to tell their
neighbors they have deep roots in their communities, provide essential
services and pay taxes, too. In introducing Vice President Joe
Biden to the convention on Tuesday, outgoing president McEntee said
endorsing Obama "was an easy decision" for the union, mostly because
there are no alternatives.
"President Obama and Vice President Biden are the only choice for the
99 percent of us," he said.
Ricky Feller, AFSCME's associate political director, said the union
will spend $100 million between now and November on political races and
get out the vote efforts across the country.
The Washington Times Inside Politics
By Sean Lengell
June 21, 2012, 02:00PM
House Speaker John A. Boehner said President Obama's use of executive
privilege in his administration's refusal to turn over documents
regarding the "Fast and Furious" gunrunning operation is proof the
White House is involved in a cover-up.
"The decision to invoke executive privilege is an admission that White
House officials were involved in decisions that misled the Congress and
have covered up the truth," the Ohio Republican told reporters
Thursday. "So what is the Obama administration hiding in Fast and
Mr. Boehner called the administration's refusal to fully cooperate with
a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoena to the
Justice Department for documents "a very serious matter."
"Until yesterday, it was just the Department of Justice that we were
concerned about," he said. "Clearly at the 11th hour and 50th minute,
the White House decided to inject themselves into this where there had
been no indication that a White House had been involved at all."
Mr. Boehner stopped short of demanding Attorney General Eric H. Holder
"This is about getting to the truth for the American people … it's not
about personalities," he said.
The Debt Indulgence
By DAVID BROOKS, NYTIMES
June 4, 2012
Every generation has an incentive to borrow money from the future to
spend on itself. But, until ours, no generation of Americans has done
it to the same extent. Why?
A huge reason is that earlier generations were insecure. They lived
without modern medicine, without modern technology and without modern
welfare states. They lived one illness, one drought and one recession
away from catastrophe. They developed a moral abhorrence about things
like excessive debt, which would further magnify their vulnerability.
Recently, life has become better and more secure. But the aversion to
debt has diminished amid the progress. Credit card companies seduced
people into borrowing more. Politicians found that they could buy votes
with borrowed money. People became more comfortable with red ink.
Today we are living in an era of indebtedness. Over the past several
years, society has oscillated ever more wildly though three debt-fueled
bubbles. First, there was the dot-com bubble. Then, in 2008, the
mortgage-finance bubble. Now, we are living in the fiscal bubble.
In this country, the federal government has borrowed more than $6
trillion in the last four years alone, trying to counteract the effects
of the last two bubbles. States struggle with pension promises that
should never have been made. Europe is on the verge of collapse because
governments there can’t figure out how to deal with their debts.
Nations around the globe have debt-to-G.D.P. ratios at or approaching
90 percent — the point at which growth slows and prosperity stalls.
It all goes back to the increase in the tolerance for debt.
Democrats and Republicans argue about how quickly deficits should be
brought down. But everybody knows debt has to be restrained at some
point. The problem is that nobody has been able to find a political way
to do it.
The common view among politicians is that pundits may rail against
debt, but voters don’t actually care. Voters don’t want to face the
consequences of their spending demands. They’ll throw you out of office
if you make the tough decisions required to cut deficits. That’s why
debt mounts and mounts. Voters want it to.
Until maybe today.
Today voters in Wisconsin go to the polls to decide whether to recall
Gov. Scott Walker. I’m not a complete fan of the way Walker went about
reducing debt. In an age of tough choices, one bedrock principle should
be: We’re all in this together. If you are going to cut from the
opposing party’s interest groups, you should also cut from some of your
own. That’s how you build trust and sustain progress, one
administration to the next.
Walker didn’t do that. He just sliced Democrats. But, in the real
world, we don’t get to choose perfect test cases. And Walker did at
least take on entrenched interest groups. He did turn a $3.6 billion
deficit into a $150 million surplus, albeit with the help of a tax
collection surge. He did make it possible for willing school districts
to save money on health insurance so they could spend it on students.
Walker’s method was obnoxious, but if he is recalled that will send a
broader message, with effects far beyond Wisconsin. It will be a signal
that voters are, indeed, unwilling to tolerate tough decisions to
reduce debt. In Washington and in state capitals, it will confirm the
view that voters don’t really care about red ink. It will remove any
hope this country might have of avoiding a fiscal catastrophe.
On the other hand, if Walker wins today, it will be a sign, as the
pollster Scott Rasmussen has been arguing, that the voters are ahead of
the politicians. It will be a sign that voters do value deficit
reduction and will vote for people who accomplish it, even in a state
that has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1984.
A vote to keep Walker won’t be an antiunion vote. It will be a vote
against any special interest that seeks to preserve exorbitant
middle-class benefits at the expense of the public good. It will tell
the presidential candidates that it is safe to get specific about what
they will do this December, when hard deficit choices will have to be
President Obama has hung back from the Wisconsin race. I’m hoping
that’s not crass political opportunism but an acknowledgment that
governments do have to confront their unaffordable commitments. Mitt
Romney has been more straightforward, but even he hasn’t campaigned on
the choices he would make. If Walker wins, the presidential candidates
would have to be as clear before their election as Walker has been
The era of indebtedness began with a cultural shift. It will require a
gradual popular shift to reverse. Today’s Wisconsin vote might mark the
moment when the nation’s long debt indulgence finally began to turn
Read two other opinions
Benefits Are Great, and the Risks Exist Anyway
James Lewis (James Lewis is a former government official who writes on
cyber security and warfare at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington.)
June 4, 2012
Do U.S. cyberattacks on Iran protect us or endanger us? We could better
ask if having a downed pilot paraded through the streets of Tehran is
preferable to cyberattack, or whether it is better to risk the losses
that would accompany the series of attacks needed to destroy
well-defended nuclear facilities.
With Stuxnet, there are no television shots of burning buildings,
weeping victims or tortured pilots. The politics of cyberattack as an
alternative are compelling, although the attacks themselves lack the
destructiveness of their kinetic brethren.
The risks of Iran retaliating are not increased. The regime already
blamed Stuxnet on the United States and Israel. In any case, we have
been in sporadic covert conflict with Iran for decades, beginning with
the hostages and embassy bombings, Iranian attacks in Iraq, and recent
plots -- using proxies to provide a tissue of deniability -- against
United States diplomats.
Nor do cyberattacks against Iran increase the risk of damaging
cyberattacks against the United States. It is true that we are
defenseless; efforts to make us safer are hamstrung by self-interest,
ideology and the gridlock of American politics. But we are no more
vulnerable today than we were the day before the news. If someone
decides to attack us, they may cite Iran as precedent, but it will only
be to justify a decision they had already made.
We could ask whether the United States creates more problems for itself
when it makes public a new weapon while potential opponents keep it
secret. Four other countries can launch sophisticated and damaging
cyber attacks -- including China and Russia -- and plan to use them in
warfare. Another 30 nations are acquiring cyber weapons, including Iran
and North Korea.
There is a very old argument for disarmament that holds that if the
United States were to renounce some weapons -- usually nuclear weapons
-- the world would be a better place. This utopianism has a revered
place in American political thinking, but when humans invent weapons
they rarely give them up, especially useful weapons whose components
are easy to acquire. Cyberattack is now part of warfare, no different
from any other weapon. The publicity around Stuxnet may complicate U.S.
efforts to get international rules for the use of cyberattack, but the
White House decided that tampering with Iran’s nuclear program was more
important than possible risk to slow-moving negotiations.
Whether a covert program should remain covert is an operational and
political decision -- politics usually wins. Iran was not surprised to
learn that the United Sates is using cyberattack, nor was any other
major power, and if you think this news is a watershed moment you have
been sleeping under a tree.
IN NOVI EBORACI AT A COLLEGE
THAT RIPPED UP ITS TENNIS COURTS TO BUILD A SCIENCE BUILDING MANY YEARS
Two views of the present situation in America: going nowhere fast
(l) or talking to the faithful - at Barnard, ask a student a question
and "she wrote it down in her notebook." My Economics Prof.
Republicans Pledge New Standoff on Debt Limit
By JONATHAN WEISMAN, NYTIMES
May 15, 2012
WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner on Tuesday set the stage for a
bruising election-year showdown on fiscal policy, vowing to hold up
another increase in the federal debt ceiling unless it was offset by
larger spending cuts.
His combative comments came on the same day the Republicans’
presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, hit President Obama hard on his
fiscal stewardship in a speech in Des Moines, suggesting that Mr.
Romney and Congressional Republicans see an opening to attack the
president on the mounting federal debt and the size of the government.
Mr. Boehner’s stance threatened to throw Congress back into the
debt-limit stalemate that consumed Washington in 2011, but this time at
the height of a campaign that Republicans are trying to make a
referendum on Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy.
“A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation,” Mr.
Romney said, “and every day we fail to act we feed that fire with our
own lack of resolve.”
The Boehner comments, made at a fiscal summit meeting in Washington,
were the first public shot in what promises to be the most
consequential budget fight in a generation. On Jan. 1, nearly $8
trillion in tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts are
scheduled to take effect.
Mr. Boehner said he would not allow Congress to duck tough decisions
with another round of short-term measures. He also said the House would
pass an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts before the November
elections, and he urged lawmakers in both parties to reach a long-term
deal on spending and tax changes — but no additional taxes — to head
off a fiscal calamity.
“To get on the path to prosperity, we have to avoid the fiscal cliff,
but we need to start today,” he said.
Democrats immediately accused Mr. Boehner of once again holding the
nation’s full faith and credit hostage to his conservative political
agenda, even as Republicans cut corners on the deal struck last summer
to end the last debt-ceiling crisis.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, speaking at the same meeting
sponsored by the financier Peter G. Peterson, said the government could
bump into its borrowing limit before the end of the year, but, he said,
the Treasury has enough “tools” to keep the government afloat into
early next year. That should push a debt-ceiling showdown well past the
Mr. Geithner appealed to lawmakers to raise the debt ceiling “this time
without the drama and the pain and damage that it caused the country
last July.” And he said an orderly solution could be reached.
“Our objective should be to replace that very large set of expiring tax
provisions and broad-based, automatic, pretty crude spending cuts with
a more responsible, balanced glide path to fiscal sustainability,” he
Next year’s fiscal crisis has been brewing since early last decade,
when successive Republican Congresses used budget rules to pass large
but temporary tax cuts that could not be filibustered. The tax cuts
expire en masse at the end of this year after Mr. Obama and Republican
leaders agreed on a two-year extension. But the president has vowed not
to extend the tax cuts for upper-income families again. Regardless of
the election results, he will still be in the White House on Jan. 1.
Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said: “The American
people are tired of kicking things down the road. We’ve got to get this
done and done the right way.”
Top aides to Mr. Romney declined to say whether the campaign planned
his speech to coincide with Mr. Boehner’s. But as Mr. Romney’s
presidential campaign merges its operations more fully with the
Republican establishment in Washington, the messages are becoming more
similar. Republicans also have indicated they were eager to shift the
discussion from social topics like same-sex marriage back to economic
issues, which they believe play more to their advantage.
“The Obama campaign wants everybody to be distracted by shiny objects,”
said Rich Beeson, Mr. Romney’s political director. “He promised he
would cut the debt, and he has not done that.”
The exchange on fiscal policy came on the eve of a Senate budget
showdown engineered by Republicans using an obscure procedural
provision that says any senator can bring forward a budget if the
Budget Committee fails to produce one by April 1.
The main objective of the Republicans is to embarrass the president by
forcing the Senate to vote on his budget, which may not get a single
vote. That is not because no one supports his plan, but because a
presidential budget — which finances the government line by line,
agency by agency — is much more detailed than a Congressional budget,
which creates a broad outline for spending and taxes to be filled in
later by the committees of jurisdiction. Accepting a presidential
budget in its totality would be tantamount to ceding Congress’s
constitutional power of the purse.
But Republicans have not been able to unify around an alternative.
Instead, they will bring forward four different budgets for the 2013
fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1 — with a budget passed by House
Republicans viewed as the most liberal of the lot. One by Senator Rand
Paul of Kentucky would eliminate the Departments of Education, Commerce
and Energy; cut the National Park Service by 30 percent and NASA by a
quarter; and end Medicare in 2014. Senator Mike Lee of Utah proposes a
budget that would raise the retirement age to 68, cut the size of
government in half over 25 years, and end the payroll tax as well as
all taxes on savings and investment and replace them with a 25 percent
“These are not serious in nature,” said Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of
Nevada, the majority leader. “These are all just for show.” Senate
Democrats have not moved forward on a budget in large part because
Democratic leaders did not want to highlight internal divisions over
spending and taxes or subject senators facing tough re-elections to the
difficult votes Republicans would force on a budget.
Democrats’ coming convention disaster
By MICHELLE MALKIN
Last Updated: 11:57 PM, June 22, 2012
Posted: 11:07 PM, June 22, 2012
There aren’t Greek columns tall or wide enough to
camouflage Barack Obama’s impending North Carolina catastrophe. In
September, the campaigner-in-chief will travel to Charlotte for his
party’s presidential nominating convention. But the southern swing
state is turning into a Democratic disaster zone.
Start with the North Carolina Democratic Party. At the state party
convention last week, Obama for America was AWOL. The glaring absence
of high-level national Obama surrogates was noted “as odd,” according
to the Charlotte News and Observer. There’s good reason to steer clear:
The party is embroiled in a sordid sex scandal that won’t go away.
Earlier this year, former party communications staffer Adriadn Ortega,
26, accused former state party Executive Director Jay Parmley of
repeated sexual harassment and physical groping. Documents leaked to
the conservative Daily Caller news site revealed a hush-hush financial
settlement involving the two men. Ortega was fired; Parmley resigned;
state Democrats went into panic mode.
‘‘If this hits the media, the Democratic Party, our candidates and our
credibility are doomed in this election,” a local candidate complained
to North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman David Parker. A defiant
Parker resisted statewide calls (including a desperate request from
outgoing Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue) to resign. Ortega filed a
defamation suit against Parker and the state party last week.
The White House, which has trumpeted its stand against workplace
harassment, has been mute on the story.
Other Democrats are boycotting North Carolina to avoid an entirely
different taint: the scandal-plagued president himself. By
TheDaily.com’s count, at least seven Democratic officials will skip:
New York Reps. Bill Owens and Kathy Hochul; Pennsylvania Rep. Mark
Critz; three endangered politicians from West Virginia, Gov. Earl Ray
Tomblin, Sen. Joe Manchin, and Rep. Nick Rahall; and Utah Rep. Jim
The Democratic boycotters have dinged Obama on everything from his
election-year illegal-alien amnesty to his failed jobs programs to his
destructive war on coal. While “Forward!” may be the official Obama
campaign slogan, “Back Away!” is quickly becoming the dissenting
Democrats’ rallying cry.
North Carolina is riling Obama’s left flank, too. And national media
outlets are noticing. In a piece on the convention “going awry,”
Bloomberg News reported:
‘‘Voters just approved a state constitutional amendment to ban gay
marriage, which conflicts with Obama’s view on the issue. Convention
fund-raising has been slow, and labor unions tapped to fill the
financial gap are angry the convention will be in a city — Charlotte —
with no unionized hotels and in a state where compulsory union
membership or the payment of dues is prohibited as an employment
Thousands of anarchists, socialists and professional agitators also
plan on protesting in Charlotte. Self-declared progressives can’t
ignore Team Obama’s in-your-face decision to deliver his presidential
nomination acceptance speech at bailed-out Bank of America Stadium.
As I’ve reported previously:
* The financially troubled bank snagged a middle-of-the-night,
taxpayer-funded $45 billion banking bailout in 2008 and an estimated
$931 billion in secret federal emergency loans.
* In 2008, BofA’s political action committee gave its biggest
contributions to Obama totaling $421,000.
* After purchasing junk mortgage company Countrywide, BofA agreed to
pay $50 million in restitution payments on behalf of Countrywide
subprime-loan fraudster and Democratic fat cat Angelo Mozilo and an
Disgruntled leftists. Disgruntled centrists. Disgruntled unions.
Disgruntled corporate donors. Sexual-harassment scandal. Fund-raising
woes. And to top it all off: unrepentant class-warfare hypocrisy
packaged as “The People’s Convention” and brought to you by Bank of
The DNC promises to be a public-relations nightmare for Obama’s optics
geniuses. Too bad he can’t send his autopen instead.
Obama: Stop Condescending to Women
By CAMPBELL BROWN, NYTIMES
May 19, 2012
WHEN I listen to President Obama speak to and about women, he sometimes
sounds too paternalistic for my taste. In numerous appearances over the
years — most recently at the Barnard graduation — he has made reference
to how women are smarter than men. It’s all so tired, the kind of fake
praise showered upon those one views as easy to impress. As I listen, I
am always bracing for the old go-to cliché: “Behind every great
man is a great woman.”
Some women are smarter than men and some aren’t. But to suggest to
women that they deserve dominance instead of equality is at best a
cheap applause line.
My bigger concern is that in courting women, Mr. Obama’s campaign so
far has seemed maddeningly off point. His message to the Barnard
graduates was that they should fight for a “seat at the table” — the
head seat, he made sure to add. He conceded that it’s a tough economy,
but he told the grads, “I am convinced you are tougher” and “things
will get better — they always do.”
Hardly reassuring words when you look at the reality. According to the
Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, about 53.6
percent of men and women under the age of 25 who hold bachelor’s
degrees were jobless or underemployed last year, the most in at least
11 years. According to the Pew Research Center, if we broaden the age
group to 18- to 29-year-olds, an estimated 37 percent are unemployed or
out of the work force, the highest share in more than three decades.
The human faces shouldn’t get lost amid the statistics. I spent last
weekend with a friend who attended excellent private schools and
graduated from Tufts University two years ago. She’s intelligent,
impressive and still looking for a full-time job.
The women I know who are struggling in this economy couldn’t be further
from the fictional character of Julia, presented in Mr. Obama’s Web ad,
“The Life of Julia,” a silly and embarrassing caricature based on the
assumption that women look to government at every meaningful phase of
their lives for help.
My cousin in Louisiana started a small company with a little savings,
renovating houses. A single mom, she saved enough to buy a home and
provide child care for her son. When the economy went belly up, so did
her company. She was forced to sell her home and move in with her
parents. She has found another job, but doesn’t make enough to move
out. Family, not government, has been everything to her at this time of
crisis. She, and they, wouldn’t have it any other way.
Another member of my family left her job at an adoption agency just
before the economy crashed. Also a single mother, she has been looking
for a way back to a full-time job ever since. She has been selling
things on eBay to make ends meet. Friends and family, not government,
have been there at the dire moments when she has asked them to be.
Again, she, and they, wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is not to say that government doesn’t play a role in their lives.
It does and it should. But it isn’t a dominant one, and certainly not
an overwhelming factor in their daily existence.
It’s obvious why the president is doing a full-court press for the vote
of college-educated women in particular. The Republican primaries
probably did turn some women away. Rick Santorum did his party no
favors when he spoke about women in combat (“I think that can be a very
compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may
not be in the interest of the mission, because of other types of
emotions that are involved”); when he described the birth of a child
from rape as “a gift in a very broken way”; and how, if he was
president, he would make the case for the damage caused by
But Mitt Romney will never be confused with Rick Santorum on these
issues, and many women understand that. (I should disclose here that my
husband is an adviser to Mr. Romney; I have no involvement with any
campaign, and have been an independent journalist throughout my
career.) The struggling women in my life all laughed when I asked them
if contraception or abortion rights would be a major factor in their
decision about this election. For them, and for most other women, the
economy overwhelms everything else.
Another recent Pew Research Center survey found that voters, when
thinking about whom to vote for in the fall, are most concerned about
the economy (86 percent) and jobs (84 percent). Near the bottom of the
list were some of the hot-button social issues.
Tiffany Dufu, who heads the White House Project, a nonpartisan group
aimed at training young women for careers in politics and business, got
a similar response when she informally polled young women in her
organization. “The issues that have been defined as all women care
about are way off — young women feel it has put them further in a box
they don’t necessarily want to be in,” she told me. “Independence is
what is so important to these women.”
I have always admired President Obama and I agree with him on some
issues, like abortion rights. But the promise of his campaign four
years ago has given way to something else — a failure to connect with
tens of millions of Americans, many of them women, who feel economic
opportunity is gone and are losing hope. In an effort to win them back,
Mr. Obama is trying too hard. He’s employing a tone that can come
across as grating and even condescending. He really ought to drop it.
Most women don’t want to be patted on the head or treated as wards of
the state. They simply want to be given a chance to succeed based on
their talent and skills. To borrow a phrase from our president’s
favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, they want “an open field and a
In the second decade of the 21st century, that isn’t asking too much.
Brown is a former news anchor for CNN and NBC.
campaign gets creepy
By JOHN PODHORETZ
Last Updated: 3:57 AM, May 4, 2012
Posted: 10:02 PM, May 3, 2012
The political world was transfixed yesterday by the Obama campaign’s
release of a Web slide show called “The Life of Julia.” It takes about
two minutes to get through, and its purpose is to wow American women
with all the glorious government goodies they can and should claim
throughout their lives — just so long as Mitt Romney doesn’t get
elected and take them all away.
It takes us on a chronological journey through Julia’s life. We stop
every few years and are instructed about the ways in which government
programs are cosseting her, guiding her, giving her a leg up, keeping
her safe from harm and even graciously allowing her “not to worry about
her health” so she can focus on her career as a Web designer.
At the age of 31, Julia “decides to have a child” — apparently by
immaculate conception, since there is neither a mate nor
artificial-insemination facility in view. In the next slide, when his
mother is 37, little Zachary goes off to kindergarten.
For even this commonplace event, Julia will have President Obama to
thank, since “the schools in their neighborhood have better facilities
and great teachers because of President Obama’s investments in
At 42, when Julia wants to start her own Web-design business, she
doesn’t have to go it alone. Thankfully, the Small Business
Administration is there with a loan for her.
Eventually, she reaches 65 and is presented with the ultimate goodie:
Medicare. And with that, we draw a veil over the rest of Julia’s life
(before the death panels convene to put her out on the ice floe,
The slide show concludes with the words: “From cracking down on gender
discrimination in health-care costs to fighting for equal pay,
President Obama is standing up for women throughout their lives.”
“Julia” is a fascinating document — fascinating and instructive when it
comes to its portrayal of the kind of life Obama and his people think
American women should have.
The slide show basically says that women need government programs from
cradle to grave if they want to have a productive life — to get an
education, stay healthy, have children, see those children educated and
find meaningful work themselves “throughout their lives.”
The message of “Julia” is a complete vindication of Mitt Romney’s
charge that Obama is trying to create a “government-centered society.”
No wonder, then, that the tone of “Life of Julia” is so astonishingly .
. . paternalistic.
Remember that it is addressed specifically to female voters — white
female voters, if the line-drawn depiction of Julia is any guide. But
the images suggest drawings in a board book for toddlers, while the
words suggest the Obama campaign believes adult females are best
addressed as one would speak to a first grader.
“Julia” is an emblem of the brave new world of political campaigning.
It was clearly conceived as a means of spreading the Obama gospel on
Facebook. If you watch it on the Obama 2012 site and click the “like”
button, “Julia” will immediately appear on your Facebook page, where
others can watch it and click “share” to have it appear on their
The November election results will go a long way toward telling us what
kind of country Americans want the United States to be — whether they
want to continue down the road to a European social democracy.
The response to “Julia” over the next few weeks will offer some early
hints. If it really does go viral, maybe grown Americans really do want
to be treated like children.
If it doesn’t, that will suggest even Obama enthusiasts don’t
appreciate the condescension toward the value and virtue of independent
human endeavor that is at the root of Obamaism.
and one for all" - no, that is Dumas - in this election, I would
Pluribus Unum" - out of many, one.
By Charles Krauthammer
May 3, 2012 8:00 P.M.
“The pundits like to slice and dice our country into
red states and blue states . . . ”
– Barack Obama, rising star, Democratic convention,
Poor Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. Once again he’s been pilloried
for fumbling a historic Supreme Court case. First shredded for his
“train wreck” defense of Obamacare’s individual mandate, he is now
blamed for the defenestration in oral argument of Obama’s challenge to
the Arizona immigration law.
The law allows police to check the immigration status of someone
stopped for other reasons. Verrilli claimed that constitutes an
intrusion on the federal monopoly on immigration enforcement. He was
pummeled. Why shouldn’t a state help the federal government enforce the
law? “You can see it’s not selling very well,” said Justice Sonia
But Verrilli never had a chance. This was never a serious legal
challenge in the first place. It was confected (and timed) purely for
political effect, to highlight immigration as a campaign issue with
which to portray Republicans as anti-Hispanic.
Hispanics are just the beginning, however. The entire Obama campaign is
a slice-and-dice operation, pandering to one group after another,
particularly those that elected Obama in 2008 — blacks, Hispanics,
women, young people — and for whom the thrill is now gone.
What to do? Try fear. Create division, stir resentment, by whatever
means necessary — bogus court challenges, dead-end Senate bills, and a
forest of straw men.
Why else would the Justice Department challenge the photo-ID law in
Texas? To charge Republicans with seeking to disenfranchise Hispanics
and blacks, of course. But in 2008 the Supreme Court upheld a similar
law from Indiana. And it wasn’t close: 6–3, the majority including that
venerated liberal, John Paul Stevens.
Moreover, photo IDs were recommended by the 2005 Commission on Federal
Election Reform, co-chaired by Jimmy Carter. And you surely can’t get
into the attorney general’s building without one. Are Stevens, Carter,
and Eric Holder anti-Hispanic and anti-black?
The ethnic bases covered, we proceed to the “war on women.” It sprang
to public notice when a 30-year-old student at an elite law school
(starting private-sector salary upon graduation: $160,000) was denied
the inalienable right to have the rest of the citizenry (as co-insured
and/or taxpayers — median household income: $52,000) pay for her
Despite a temporary setback — Hilary Rosen’s hastily surrendered war on
moms — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will resume the battle with a
Paycheck Fairness Act that practically encourages frivolous lawsuits
and has zero chance of passage.
No matter. Its sole purpose is to keep the war-on-women theme going,
while the equally just-for-show Buffett Rule, nicely pitting the 99
percent versus the 1 percent, is a clever bit of class warfare designed
to let Democrats play tribune of the middle class.
Ethnicity, race, gender, class. One more box to check: the young. Just
four years ago, they swooned in the aisles for Obama. No longer. Not
when 54 percent of college graduates under 25 are unemployed or
How to shake them from their lethargy? Fear again. Tell them, as Obama
repeatedly does, that Paul Ryan’s budget would cut Pell Grants by
$1,000 each, if his domestic cuts were evenly distributed. (They are
not evenly distributed, making the charge a fabrication. But a great
Then warn that Republicans would double the interest rate on student
loans. Well, first, Mitt Romney has said he would keep them right where
they are. Second, as the Washington Post points out, this is nothing
but a recycled campaign gimmick from 2006, when Democrats advocated
(and later passed) a 50 percent rate cut that gratuitously squanders
student aid by subsidizing the wealthy as well as the needy.
For Obama, what’s not to like? More beneficiaries, more votes.
What else to run on with 1.7 percent GDP growth (2011), record
long-term joblessness, and record 8 percent-plus unemployment (38
consecutive months, as of this writing)? Slice and dice, group against
There is a problem, however. It makes a mockery of Obama’s pose as the
great transcender, uniter, healer of divisions. This is the man who
sprang from nowhere with that thrilling 2004 convention speech
declaring that there is “not a black America and white America and
Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”
That was then. Today, we are just sects with quarrels — to be exploited
for political advantage. And Obama is just the man to fulfill Al Gore’s
famous mistranslation of our national motto: Out of one, many.
ANOTHER USE OF THE SAME SLOGAN (ABOVE), WE THINK...
Following overturning of Affordable Health Care Act,
perhaps, this is an excellent message to the 99%?
From the Washington Times, 6-23-12
"...The 'Obama Event Registry' asks people
planning weddings to have guests send a donation to the campaign in
place of a gift to the newlyweds. 'Let your friends know how important
this election is to you,' the site exhorts. 'It’s a great way to
support the president on your big day' and 'goes a lot further than a
POP-UP THAT CAN'T BE BLOCKED BY FIREFOX
How many, we wonder, are ticked off at this Big Brother-like move?
WHAT HE REALLY MEANT WAS HE'LL TOSS THE BASIC UNDERPINNINGS OF
DEMOCRACY ONCE RE-ELECTED.
The threat of using nuclear weapons was always the way the peace was
kept during the Cold War; now we are threatened by everyone!
HOW ABOUT REVERSING GEARS?
Keep the First Amendment
By The Editors
April 23, 2012 4:00 A.M.
The phrase “stunning development” is
used far too often in our politics, but here is an item that can be
described in no other way: Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats,
frustrated by the fact that the Bill of Rights interferes with their
desire to muzzle their political opponents, have proposed to repeal the
That is precisely what the so-called
People’s Rights Amendment would do. If this amendment were to be
enacted, the cardinal rights protected by the First Amendment — free
speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition
the government for redress of grievances — would be redefined and
reduced to the point of unrecognizability. The amendment would hold
that the rights protected by the Constitution are enjoyed only by
individuals acting individually; individuals acting in collaboration
with others would be stripped of those rights.
The Supreme Court and U.S. law have
long held that Americans do not surrender the rights they enjoy
individually when they act in association with one another. This has
been a fundamental feature of U.S. law since the very beginning, and
even before that, inasmuch as the notion that collective action does
not deprive us of our rights goes back into the Common Law as well.
U.S. court cases going back to the 18th century recognize that fact, as
does federal statute: 1 U.S.C. §1 reads in part: “the words
‘person’ and ‘whoever’ include corporations, companies, associations,
firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as
Strange things give the Left the
heebie-jeebies, and “corporate personhood” seems like a strange thing.
But “corporate personhood” is simply the notion that incorporated
groups — businesses, political parties, unions, nonprofits, etc. — are
single entities under the law. One would think that the Left would find
this convenient: If Monsanto is not a “person” under the law, it cannot
be regulated, taxed, sued, or fined, because for the purposes of the
law it does not exist. Without the ability to treat enterprises as a
single legal entity, there would be no redress for damages caused by a
defective GM vehicle except to file claims against each individual
owner of the 1.57 billion shares of GM stock outstanding.
But if GM and Monsanto can be sued,
then they can defend themselves from suits. If they can be taxed on
their property, then they can own property. If they have liabilities
under contracts, then they have rights under contracts, too. If they
have liabilities under the law, then they have rights under the law.
But the Occupy Left and the
Democrats who sympathize with those ignorant misfits resent the fact
that some business enterprises oppose their political agenda and
support their opponents. (And some don’t: Wall Street gave generously
to the Democratic party, and to Barack Obama particularly, in the 2008
election cycle.) The Left controls the unions, the government
bureaucracies, most of the media, and the educational establishments,
but its dreams of taxation and regulation do not sit particularly well
with many who have to pay those taxes and suffer the regulation. The
answer, in the mind of Pelosi et al., is to strip those opponents of
their political rights.
The so-called People’s Rights
Amendment would have some strange consequences: Newspapers, television
networks, magazines, and online journalism operations typically are
incorporated. So are political parties and campaign committees, to say
nothing of nonprofits, business associations, and the like. Under the
People’s Rights Amendment, Thomas Friedman would still enjoy putative
First Amendment protection, but it would not do him much good inasmuch
as the New York Times Company, being a corporation, would no longer be
protected by the First Amendment. In short, any political speech more
complex than standing on a soapbox at an intersection would be subject
to the whims of Nancy Pelosi.
Representative Donna Edwards, a
Maryland Democrat, nonchalantly concluded that the amendment would of
course strip even political campaigns of the First Amendment rights:
“All of the speech which, whether it’s corporations of campaign
committees and others engage in, would be able to be fully regulated
under the authority of the Congress.” The entire point of having a Bill
of Rights is that there are some things Congress may not do. “Congress
shall make no law” is a phrase that Democrats cannot abide, apparently.
One of the great dangers of such
efforts to regulate political speech is that it puts incumbents in
charge of setting the rules of the game under which their power and
their position may be challenged. That is a recipe for abuse and
corruption, and for smothering those critics who would draw attention
to abuse and corruption.
Nancy Pelosi proposes to amend the
Constitution the way the iceberg amended the Titanic. The First
Amendment has served us well. Nancy Pelosi has not, but she has led her
Democrats to a disturbing place in their quest to secure power, even at
the cost of cashing in the Bill of Rights.
And a companion article here.
Connecticut health insurers say end of health mandate is end of
Ana Radelat, CT MIRROR
March 19, 2012
Washington -- Few will be watching the arguments next week in front of
the Supreme Court over the health care law more closely than
Connecticut insurers whose financial health hinges on the justices'
At the heart of the legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act is a
mandate that will require most Americans either to buy health insurance
or pay a fine. But if the mandate goes, the industry says, so
must the reforms, especially the most popular one that would bar
insurers from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing health
conditions. The mandate, which would bring many young and healthy
people into insurance pools, is what persuaded health insurers to
accept other reforms in the health care act.
"If you're going to ... take all comers, which the law requires by
2014, then you have to have a means to get the healthy people into the
pool also," said Mickey Herbert, former CEO of ConnectiCare. "And
that's where I think the insurance industry is really nervous right now
about how this thing could play out."
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and the America's Health
Insurance Plans filed a companion brief to the case before the Supreme
Court in the hope that the justices in their ruling will to allow them
to wiggle out of several reforms. The brief is supported by
Connecticut's insurers, including Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue
Shield and Cigna.
"Were the mandate to be invalidated, those interdependent legislative
provisions would be torn apart and the 'essential' counterbalance
stripped away, leaving the insurance-market reforms incapable by
themselves of functioning as Congress intended," the insurers' brief
It warned of a "market wide adverse-selection death spiral" that would
"thwart rather than advance Congress's goal of expanding affordable
Besides an end to the ban on denial of coverage to any American, even
those with pre-existing health conditions, insurers want to eliminate a
requirement that they uses a community rating system. That system
prevents health plans from setting premium prices based on an
individual's medical history, age or other factors, like smoking.
"The brief is intended to serve as a resource to deepen the Court's
understanding of the real-world economic implications for consumers of
delinking major provisions of the law that were widely understood to be
companion solutions as the nation debated health care reform," an AHIP
A Powerful Ally
To be argued from March 26-28, the case before the Supreme Court pits
the Obama administration against the National Association of
Independent Businesses and 26 states that say Congress overstepped its
authority by requiring Americans to obtain health insurance. A decision
on the case is expected in June.
The administration is going to argue for the Supreme Court to keep the
health care act intact. Administration officials will also argue that
if the mandate is judged unconstitutional, insurers should be required
to cover sick people or use community rating in setting premiums.
The administration thinks this is the only way to salvage some of the
health care bill, its biggest accomplishment.
Like the insurers, Farmington-based Advocacy for Patients with Chronic
Illness has filed a brief in the health care case urging the court to
reject the challenge to the ACA. It realizes premiums would skyrocket
if insurers were forced to cover people with pre-existing conditions
without the mandate.
But Jennifer C. Jaff, executive director of the Farmington group,
disagrees with the insurers and the administration that certain reforms
are irretrievably linked to the mandate. "I think there are other
mechanisms to try to encourage healthy people to purchase insurance,"
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said it's unlikely that insurers will
be freed from some of the act's reforms.
"It's not right legally and it's not right morally," he said.
Blumenthal acknowledged that Connecticut's health insurers "will be in
a difficult position," and said he'd assist them in seeking help from
state regulators on the issue.
"But they just can't ignore the law," he said.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, is more sympathetic.
"Unless you have a mandate, the insurance companies will not have the
money to cover all the things in the Affordable Care Act," Lieberman
He said it was a "mistake" to not include a severability clause in the
ACA and indicated that Congress may have to revisit the issue.
"If the Supreme Court finds the mandate unconstitutional, the
Affordable Care Act has to change," Lieberman said.
As evidence that reforms don't work without a mandate, health insurers
are citing eight states -- Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Washington -- that barred
insurers from rejecting anyone who wanted coverage but failed to force
healthy people to buy insurance.
"Our role now is to highlight the experience in those states that tried
market reforms without a mandate," said AHIP spokesman Robert
Zirkelbach. "Premiums skyrocketed, consumers had fewer choices and the
number of uninsured went up."
Stephen Wermiel, who teaches constitutional law at the American
University Washington College of Law, said, "it's a tricky issue" for
the court to agree to throw out other parts of the health care law with
The 11th Circuit Court decision the appeal to the Supreme Court is
based upon ruled that the mandate should be eliminated, but kept the
rest of the ACA intact.
The high court will also consider whether the ACA's expansion of
Medicaid, the government's health program for the poor, is
Since Medicaid is a shared federal/state program, states will
eventually have to pay for some of that expansion, prompting more than
half of them to challenge that requirement.
Wermiel declined to predict what the Supreme Court would do. "The
ultimate outcome could take a lot of shapes and forms," he said.
investigates call menacing phone message
Article published Feb 29, 2012
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Officials at the state Department of Energy and
Environmental Protection are investigating whether Deputy Commissioner
Jonathan Schrag left a menacing phone message for the leader of a
conservative women's group.
The Hartford Courant reports (http://cour.at/wHyTOE ) that Cynthia
David of Essex, leader of the Conservative Women's Forum, received a
voicemail message last Thursday night that had Schrag's voice, and the
caller's phone number was the same as Schrag's cell phone.
The message doesn't mention David's name, but suggests her emails are
being monitored. David had criticized a state environmental initiative.
Schrag denies making the call, but acknowledges the voice on the
message is his. He told a Courant columnist he believes someone may
have recorded private remarks he made in a social setting and played
them during the phone call.
Menacing Message Points Back
NOW YOU KNOW
6:56 PM EST, February 28, 2012
"One way to push back on e-mails is to freak someone out," Jonathan
Schrag, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Energy and
Environmental Protection, recalled saying in a social setting. Schrag,
in an interview Tuesday, would not describe the setting or the person
he claims to have made the comment to. But he said he told that person
that this message should be delivered to a political enemy: "We are
calling from the Democratic Electronic Monitoring Service. We
understand that you are an e-mailer with respect to Democratic
candidates. We wish you to know that your e-mails are being observed.
Last week, a call from Schrag's private cellphone number left that
menacing message at 11:45 Thursday night at the home of Cynthia David,
leader of the Conservative Women's Forum. The forum is an informal
group of 300 women who hold monthly lunches that feature a speaker.
Typically, 100 women attend. They send e-mails now and then alerting
each other to issues of interest. They do not raise money or endorse
David felt menaced by the late-night message warning her that her
e-mails were being "observed." It "scares the @#$% out of me," David
told me Tuesday.
Here's a stunning fluke in this incredible series of events. Last week,
David sent an e-mail to members of her group alerting them to a public
hearing today on a coastal management bill in the legislature that
would give the state extraordinary authority to take private property
along the shoreline. Her e-mail included links to the bill, an analysis
and some commentary. There was nothing unusual about it in this age of
activism and easy communication among like-minded people on the
Internet. David did not attend the hearing. It was the first time she'd
sent an e-mail to members of the group on a DEEP matter.
Schrag, interviewed by phone Tuesday afternoon, said, "It's not clear
to me how this happened. I'm concerned. I'm confused. I certainly don't
mean anyone any ill intent." The Fulbright scholar declared, "I'm not a
Schrag's explanation for the disturbing incident evolved Tuesday.
Through a spokesman, Dennis Schain, Schrag at first said that he'd lost
his personal and and state cellphones last week and had reported their
disappearance. By late afternoon, Schrag was offering an intricate,
improbable explanation: Someone recorded his private conversation,
edited a snippet, made a call on a number that's the same as his
cellphone — but it didn't come from him — and left the ugly thought on
the answering machine of a stranger who happens to be a conservative
activist. And that was his defense.
On one thing Schrag and David agree: From any angle, it's "bizarre."
David, who owns a small business, says, "Something is amiss with a
Harvard graduate, a deputy commissioner, who would do this."
Giving Schrag every benefit of the doubt and straining to suspend my
powers of disbelief, his explanation beggars belief. He declined to
provide details of the private conversation during which someone
apparently surreptitiously recorded the smash-mouth tactics of someone
who says he's not a partisan.
On Tuesday afternoon, DEEP spokesman Schain suggested that any kind of
trickery could be done with technology. How Schrag's personal cell
number, in his possession when the late-night dialing occurred, found
its way to David and left the ugly message on David's voice mail
flummoxes the deputy commissioner of complicated subjects. Maybe it was
a pocket dial, he mused. That would mean he had to have had her number
on his cell.
The call to David also comports with a disturbing theme emerging in the
Malloy administration. Some of its members, including at times the
governor, mistake power for truth. Malloy's narrow victory gave him and
his people power. They also believe it made them the repository of
truth. Those who disagree or cross them, whether it's a bond ratings
agency, Department of Transportation snowplow drivers, state police or
legislators who question the administration, are met with a harsh lash.
Dissent is not tolerated. The backlash is always disproportionate to
The midnight call from Schrag's cellphone caught the spirit of the
administration he serves in.
Father hit son for not watching State of the Union
Published 09:23 a.m., Thursday, February 23, 2012
STAMFORD -- A North Stamford father trying to make his pre-teen son
listen to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech nearly a
month ago, was arrested on a warrant Wednesday for striking his son
with a coffee mug when the youth would not pay attention.
Mohamed Shohan, 49, of 55 Mather Road, Stamford, was charged with
third-degree assault, disorderly conduct and risk of injury to a child.
He was released after posting $5,000 bond and will be arraigned on the
charges at state Superior Court in Stamford Thursday.
Youth Bureau Sgt. Joseph Kennedy said police were made aware of the
assault on Jan. 27 when the youth was brought to Stamford Hospital for
treatment of an injury to his face.
When police interviewed the 11-year-old boy, he told them that his
father recorded Obama's State of the Union address on Jan. 25 and the
two sat down to watch it at home the next day, Kennedy said.
When the boy kept acting out, the father lost his temper and grabbed a
coffee mug that his son was holding in his hand and hit him in the face
with it, causing a bruise to the bridge of his nose.
When interviewed by police, Shohan could not explain how his son was
injured. Over the past three weeks, police applied for and obtained an
arrest warrant for Shohan.
"The father ended up overreacting quite a bit," Kennedy said.
14 Primaries for U.S. Senate for both major Parties(l to r)
Winner of Democrat Primary Chris
Murphy v. Susan Bysiewicz;
winner of Republican Primary Linda McMahon v. Chris
One In Four Senate Candidates
Pans Obama’s Middle Class Tax Cut
by Christine Stuart | Jul 10, 2012 5:30am
All four candidates for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut responded Monday
to President Barack Obama’s plan to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire
for the wealthiest Americans, while keeping them in place for one year
for the middle class. But surprisingly only one in four panned the
“I just believe that anybody making over $250,000 a year should go back
to the income tax rates we were paying under Bill Clinton—back when our
economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus
in history, and plenty of millionaires to boot,” Obama said during his
noon press conference in the East Room of the White House.
Republican candidate Linda McMahon agreed. Seven-minutes after his
press conference aired, McMahon put out a press release touting her
proposal to extend the tax cuts to the middle class.
“President Obama and I agree that Congress must extend the current tax
rates for the middle class,” McMahon said. “Last week’s jobs numbers
reminded us that no matter what career politicians may say, our economy
is still sluggish and middle-class families are hurting. We should not
be raising taxes on anyone right now.“
She said that’s why middle class tax relief is the centerpiece of her
economic plan, which proposes decreasing the middle class tax rate from
25 to 15 percent. However, it should be noted she wants to maintain the
Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals also.
Her Republican opponent, former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, couldn’t
disagree more with what Obama said Monday.
“The only way to describe the President’s press conference today is
insanity,” Shays said. “It makes no sense to raise taxes when the
economy continues to falter. It is simply the wrong approach that will
actually make our economy worse.”
Shays accused Obama of playing “class warfare.”
“Class warfare may win an election, but it divides our country and
hurts our economy,” Shays said.
He suggested focusing on getting the country’s fiscal house in order
and simplifying the tax code as the path toward economic growth.
Democratic candidates Susan Bysiewicz and Chris Murphy both applauded
“Extending these cuts for the middle class and small businesses are an
important way to make the tax code work for the middle class,”
Sticking with her anti-Wall Street theme, Bysiewicz said Congress needs
to “end corporate welfare by eliminating all special interest tax
breaks and the hedge fund loophole that allows speculators to pay a
lower tax rate than the middle class, end the Bush tax cuts for the
wealthy, and fix the alternative minimum tax, which makes many middle
class families pay a higher tax rate than the wealthiest Americans.”
Murphy, who had to cancel a campaign stop in New Haven Monday morning,
issued a brief statement in support of the president’s proposal.
“I’ve always believed that Congress should preserve tax cuts for the
overwhelming majority of Americans while it works on broader tax reform
that will ask the wealthiest amongst us to pay a little bit more to
help bring down our deficit,” Murphy said in a statement.
24, 2012 GOP PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY
In Weston, 297 vote
Presidential Primary - Mitt Romney 250, Newt Gingrich 20, Ron Paul 17,
Rick Santorum 4, Uncommitted 6
NO INCUMBENT THIS YEAR - LIKELY SENATE PRIMARIES FOR BOTH MAJOR PARTIES
(CHRIS MURPHY [D] NOT SHOWN)
SENATOR LIEBERMAN NOT
RUNNING; LEADING REPUBLICAN U.S.
SENATE CANDIDATES MCMAHON (L) AND SHAYS (R); WILLIAM TONG OUT
(D); RULES CHANGES COMING?
Republican Convention will be held in May in
Hartford; 1,250 delegates expected, one of the five candidates
gets inside track heading into
the August primary. Democrats have contest, too
that's the Weston Town Hall Meeting Room (2009)
The Sec'y of
the State comes to swearing-in of Weston Board of Selectmen.
Bysiewicz stays in the fray
Ken Dixon, CT POST
Updated 06:28 p.m., Saturday, May 12, 2012
NEW BRITAIN -- Susan Bysiewicz got what she wanted on Saturday, in a
Democratic State Convention that was low on suspense, controversy or
even nasty words.
Bysiewicz's 444 delegates equaled 24 percent of the total vote, 10
percent more than what she needed to avoid a promised petition campaign
to force an Aug. 14 primary.
The four-term secretary of the state's supporters remained generally
solid amid attempts to get them to flip for U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy
during a morning-long gathering of party insiders in Kaiser Hall at
Central Connecticut State University.
During recounts of the delegates, only a handful changed to Murphy, who
ended up with 76 percent of the 1,842 delegates.
Bysiewicz, 50, of Middletown, said the primary will be a good process
for Democrats to keep their issues alive this summer. Republicans
appear headed for their own primary, too, as Linda McMahon, of
Greenwich, and former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, of Bridgeport,
compete for their party's endorsement.
"We thought we would have more than enough to get on the ballot, and
clearly we did, so we're very proud to have that and very appreciative
of all the delegate support," said Bysiewicz, who the state Supreme
Court ruled two years ago could not run for state attorney general
because she had not been actively practicing law.
"I'm looking forward to having a very productive conversation about job
creation, about bringing our young people back from Afghanistan, about
holding Wall Street accountable for the financial mess that they've
made and about closing the tax loopholes that let people like Mitt
Romney pay only 15 percent," she said.
Bysiewicz's delegates said that they honored their commitments to her
because of help she offered them in the past.
Rose Lodice, of Trumbull, the former town clerk, said Bysiewicz was
"I found her to be very effective in modernizing the secretary of the
state's office and putting many functions on computer," Lodice said. "I
feel that she would bring that same dedication and experience and work
ethic to the Senate."
Hector Diaz, a former state representative from Bridgeport, said he
cast his vote for Bysiewicz because they've been longtime friends.
"At every political event I have ever attended in Bridgeport, as far
back as I can remember, Susan's been there with us," Diaz said. "She's
been a voice on this side of the state for the issue of Bridgeport and
I would hope that she will carry that on to Washington and when she's
there, she'll help Bridgeport again."
Diaz said he believes primaries are healthy for the party.
But Nancy DiNardo, of Trumbull, the Democratic State Central Committee
chairwoman, said a primary is a threat to the party's ability to wage a
successful fall campaign against either Shays, or McMahon, who spent
$50 million of her own in 2010 in a losing attempt against now-U.S.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
"Primaries always end up costing more money and a candidate has to
raise more money, so if it is at all possible, it would be nice if we
could just focus on the general election and get Chris Murphy out
there," DiNardo said. "But Susan got 24 percent of the vote and it's
certainly her right to primary if she so chooses."
GOP RULES CHANGES POSSIBLE
"About Town" interviewed Rob Simmons in early 2010; second try
for Senate for McMahon (c) and uphill climb back and Primary for former
GOP endorses McMahon over Shays by nearly 2-1 margin
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
May 18, 2012
Hartford -- Linda McMahon won the Republican endorsement for U.S.
Senate on Friday night for the second time in two years, setting the
stage for another August primary with another former congressman, Chris
Shays. McMahon, a World Wrestling Entertainment co-founder who
$50 million on a losing Senate race in 2010, is vying with Shays for
the rarest of political opportunities: a second shot at an open Senate
Delegates gave 60 percent of the vote to McMahon and 32
percent to Shays. The rest of the field -- Brian K. Hill, Peter Lumaj
and Kie Westby -- fell well short of the 15 percent threshold to
automatically qualify for a primary before vote switching began.
The night ended with overtones of a reality TV show or, perhaps, a WWE
drama. Denied the stage while party officials struggled to get a
vote after last-minute vote switching, McMahon grabbed a live
microphone on the convention floor and began addressing the delegates
and media in the fast-emptying exhibition hall of the Connecticut
"In this hand is the speech I was going to give tonight, but you have
waited way too long, and I just wanted to have a chance to thank you
and to tell you what a good race this was, that all of the candidates
tonight are excellent leaders who love their state, and they love their
country," McMahon said. "But now is the time for us to unite and push
McMahon made an appeal for Shays, who served in Congress from 1987 to
2009, to drop out of the race, a theme her campaign began sounding as
the votes still were being tallied.
"This is a decisive victory and a clear signal Republicans want a jobs
creator, not a career politician," said Corry Bliss, her campaign
manager. "Congressman Shays should reflect on tonight's results."
Shays says he is committed to the primary on Aug. 14, when both parties
will select nominees for open Senate and 5th Congressional seats.
years ago, McMahon staged a narrow convention victory over another
former congressman, Rob Simmons. He ran a passive-aggressive primary,
staying on the ballot but ceasing to actively campaign in the face of
McMahon's heavy spending. Simmons, who was at the convention
supporting Shays, said he made a mistake in 2010 with a make-or-break
effort to win the convention.
"Shays needs a nice number to primary. He has it," Simmons said. "Now,
maybe the voters will favor a candidate who can win."
The winner of the GOP primary this year will try to become the first
Republican to win a U.S. Senate race in Connecticut since Lowell P.
Weicker Jr. of Greenwich was elected in 1982 to his third and final
term. The seat is now held by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who
Weicker in 1988 and is retiring after 24 years in the Senate. In
McMahon and Shays, GOP voters have to choose between two candidates
with obvious strengths and weaknesses, each of whom were rejected by
Connecticut voters in the past four years.
Shays, 66, who represented Stamford in the General Assembly and the 4th
District in Congress, has built a campaign around one issue:
electability. He points to a record of winning elections and polling
that shows him best matching up with the endorsed Democrat, U.S. Rep.
"This time, we're going to be working as hard as we can to convince
Republican voters that if you want someone who can win, and you don't
want Chris Murphy, I think I'm your guy," Shays said.
Shays was elected to the General Assembly in 1974, swimming against a
post-Watergate Democratic tide. He won a special election to Congress
in 1987 after the death of U.S. Rep. Stewart McKinney, whose son, state
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, nominated Shays on Friday.
lost in 2008 to Democrat Jim Himes, who benefitted from the turnout
Barack Obama generated in the district's largest city, Bridgeport.
Shays said he can win elections, while McMahon lost in a Republican
year to Democrat Richard Blumenthal, a popular attorney general damaged
by misstatements over his Vietnam-era service record. McMahon,
Greenwich, the former chief executive officer of the Stamford-based
WWE, touts her record as a "jobs creator," echoing the pitch made at
the top of the Republican ticket by Mitt Romney. Unlike Shays,
raised only $1 million since last fall, McMahon faces no doubts about
her resources. She already has spent $3.8 million, with all but about
$500,000 coming from her personal funds. The $50 million she spent in
2010 was five times greater than a typical winning statewide campaign
Her challenge is to convince voters that her 43 percent share of the
vote in 2010 was a base on which to build, not a ceiling. She lost by
12 percentage points Blumenthal. McMahon was nominated Friday by
women, a target audience in her second run. Exit polling showed her
suffering from a gender gap in 2010, and McMahon has made an effort to
win over female voters. Her nominators included Kathy McShane,
head of "Women for Linda," and Maureen Gagnon, who leads "Job Creators
for McMahon." Another was Jayme Stevenson, the first selectwoman of
Darien, where Shays grew up.
McMahon made an appeal to women in her truncated acceptance speech,
noting it was 100 years ago that the first woman was elected to the
U.S. Senate. If elected, she would be the first from Connecticut.
With a broad smile, she said, "Connecticut, we're tired of waiting."
It was an odd ending to a convention that otherwise had gone
McMahon toured the floor after it was clear she would win, trailed by
her husband, Vince McMahon, their children, Shane and Stephanie, their
son-in-law, Paul Levesque, and her mother, Evelyn Carson. Delegates
posed for photos with her husband, Vince, WWE's chairman and sometimes
villain, and Levesque, a tall, ponytailed wrestler known to WWE fans as
Triple-H. As she did two years ago, McMahon eventually found
down front on the convention floor, penned in by reporters and
photographers, waiting to be called on stage. But the call never came.
Paul LaCivita, her national campaign consultant, approached her and
said, "I have an idea."
LaCivita had realized that the microphones used by delegates to
announce their votes were still live. McMahon, who was an occasional
performer at WWE arena shows, grabbed a microphone and began addressing
the hall, startling the party officials on stage.
At one point, she turned away from the delegates and toward the stage.
She smiled and asked, "Still working up there, guys?"
CT GOP looks to curb
influence-buying at convention
Neil Vigdor, Greenwich TIME
Updated 08:52 p.m., Saturday, February 18, 2012
From candidates doing business with conventioneers to wining and dining
them, the Connecticut Republican Party is considering rules changes
that could require delegates to the party conclave this spring to
disclose such relationships, including any political donations that
come their way.
The Republican leadership is said by those familiar with the process to
be wrestling with the idea of making delegates sign forms or perhaps
even wear badges on the convention floor disclosing that they have a
financial interest, be it direct or indirect, with a candidate.
The call for greater transparency within the party apparatus can be
traced back to the 2010 state GOP convention, where Linda McMahon edged
former Congressman Rob Simmons for the Republican endorsement for U.S.
Senate after a number of delegates flipped.
McMahon, $50 million lighter in the pocket from her unsuccessful
campaign, is reprising her candidacy for the Senate this year against
fellow Republicans Christopher Shays, Brian K. Hill, Kie Westby and
Peter Lumaj. The convention will be held in May in Hartford, with
1,250 delegates expected to take part in the proceedings that will give
one of the five candidates the inside track heading into the August
"Given the shenanigans that went on in 2010, there's not going to be a
level playing field," Hill told Greenwich Time in a recent interview.
"I can't say with 100 percent certainty, but, from what I'm told, the
fix was on from the time the light switch was turned on."
Hill's comments coincide with an ongoing review of the party's
convention rules by a subgroup of the State Republican Central
Committee, which is expected to report back to Connecticut GOP Chairman
Jerry Labriola Jr. with recommendations by March.
"I have pledged to our party to run a healthy nominating process, to be
open and transparent, and there will be no questions regarding the
integrity of the process under my watch," Labriola said.
Labriola tasked the group with reviewing the process after a faction of
the State Central Committee raised concerns about financial conflicts
existing among convention delegates, prompting it to develop its own
recommendations in December.
"These are important issues that are worthy of thoughtful deliberation
and, consequently, I thought it would be best to have these issues
studied more thoroughly by a subcommittee," Labriola said.
McMahon took no issue with the initiative in a statement from her
campaign spokeswoman Erin Isaac.
"Our campaign is supportive of any efforts made by the State Central
Committee to ensure a fair convention," Isaac said.
Among the delegates who switched their allegiances to McMahon at the
last convention was Mark Pappa, a State Central Committee member from
Rocky Hill who is on the special panel.
"I do think that we need better disclosure," Pappa said.
Pappa characterized the issue of delegates being financially beholden
to a candidate as both real and perceived.
"I think the perception that the problem is very widespread is hurting
the party," Pappa said.
Party rules limit the number of campaign workers actually allowed on
the convention floor and require them to wear badges. But that
wouldn't stop third-party vendors who make campaign signs for a
candidate or work as political or fundraising consultants from being a
delegate and from exerting their influence over fellow conventioneers.
"They were working for Linda and were compensated," Pappa said. "So
there was definitely a slight conflict of interest there."
Pappa emphasized that he wasn't singling out McMahon, and that all
delegates, regardless of who they are supporting, should be up front
about any relationships they have with the candidates.
"If you work for a candidate and you want to be a delegate, fine,"
Republicans are often quick to point out that Suzan Bibisi, the wife of
then-state GOP Chairman Christopher Healy, landed a public relations
job with the McMahon campaign in 2010.
"There was no secret about it," Healy said. "It was all done very much
on the up and up."
Healy said Republicans would be better served spending their time
promoting the party and its candidates, not to mention fundraising,
rather than trying to police conventioneers.
"First of all, I think it's unconstitutional," Healy said. "What
someone does for a living should have no impact on whether they are
deemed suitable to serve as a delegate or whether they are given a
scarlet letter to wear at a convention. I don't know how you enforce
Healy bristled at accusations of some of his fellow Republicans that
votes are for sale at the convention.
"I think it's insulting to a rank-and-file Republicans to think that
they can be bought because someone bought a couple of tickets to a
fundraiser or made a donation to a town committee," Healy said.
But Simmons, who went on to lose the 2010 GOP primary to McMahon and is
supporting Shays this time, said it was difficult to compete with the
money of his opponent at the last convention.
"People who went to the convention, some of them had financial
interests in that campaign," Simmons said. "Members of their family
were on the payroll."
Simmons declined to provide specific examples.
"The members of the state party must feel that way or they wouldn't be
doing what they're doing," Simmons said. "If, in fact, you're on the
payroll or your children or spouse are on the payroll of one of the
candidates, that should be public knowledge and that could be grounds
for not voting for one candidate or another."
Delegates are chosen by the town committees.
"We're not trying to prevent town committees from selecting who they
want," said Michael Vitali, the Wallingford Republican in charge of the
special panel. "The crux of what we're going for is disclosure of any
pecuniary interest or paid positions with any campaign, whether inside
of your district or not."
Vitali, who was a super delegate at the 2010 convention, said he did
not witness any funny business.
"I didn't see any town chairmen really extorting or beating up or
bullying fellow town committee members to vote for any particular
member," Vitali said.
Efforts to reform the convention rules could be hindered by the fact
that delegates are recognized as duly elected officials under state
law, Vitali said.
"You've got to be careful that you don't run afoul of the governing law
of the state," Vitali said.
If the party adopts new rules governing the convention, among those
delegates who would presumably have to make a public disclosure would
be Bob Zappi, the Republican Town Committee chairman of Westport. Shays
is a client of Zappi's fundraising consulting firm. In an
interview earlier this month, Zappi told Greenwich Time that he prides
himself on being open and transparent. Amanda Bergen, a
spokeswoman for Shays, echoed that in a statement to the newspaper
"As Christopher Shays has said many times before, this process needs to
be transparent," Bergen said. "It needs to be open and transparent
because that's the American way."
Hill, who ran for Senate as a write-in candidate in 2010, said he takes
Labriola at his word that the history won't repeat itself.
"This is 101 Ethics," Hill said. "We're not following basic 101 Ethics
in the Republican Party."
Hearst exclusive: Former U.S.
Chris Shays to enter 2012 Senate race
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Updated 12:40 p.m., Monday, August 22, 2011
Former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., is looking to disprove the
adage: you can't go home again.
Shays, on sabbatical from Connecticut's political scene since his 2008
election loss, told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers on Monday that he
will enter the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.),
who is retiring when his term expires in 2012. The former
congressman, unseated in 2008 by Democrat Jim Himes, sold his
Bridgeport home shortly after the election and moved to Maryland. He
was reinstated Friday as a voter in Bridgeport, where he and his wife,
Betsi, bought a condominium last year when he was considering a run for
"Betsi and I excited to be back in Connecticut," Shays said. "These are
all the steps that I am taking so that I can have the opportunity to
run for Senate. I hope to be on the ballot next November."
Shays, 65, is expected to face former wrestling executive Linda
McMahon, who spent $50 million on an unsuccessful Senate bid in 2010,
in next year's Republican primary. A fixture in the House of
Representatives from 1987 to 2008, Shays is a co-chairman of a special
commission created by Congress to look into military contracting in
Iraq and Afghanistan. The commission is scheduled to release its
final report at the end of August and dissolve in September, leaving
Shays with the ability to become a full-time candidate for the seat.
Shays said Monday he'll file papers to enter the race on Oct. 3.
Election officials in Bridgeport confirmed that Shays and his wife
appeared at the registrars of voters' office at 4 p.m. Friday to be
reinstated to the city's voter rolls.
"They're fully registered voters," said Cisco Borres, the city's deputy
Republican registrar. "All their rights as voters have been restored.
They're good to go."
Shays lost his seat of 21 years in 2008 to Himes, who is serving his
second term. During Shays' final term he was the lone New England
Republican in the House. Even though Shays and his wife moved to
and registered to vote in St. Michaels, Md. after that race, Borres
said they were listed as inactive voters in Bridgeport.
"He was never fully removed," Borres said.
Shays, who was born and raised in Connecticut but has been
characterized by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as a
carpetbagger, said he once again holds a Connecticut driver's license.
"We're in the process of moving our legal address back into
Connecticut," said Shays, who plans to keep his home in Maryland.
Shays declined to respond further to criticism from the DSCC. A
July poll by Frank Luntz showed Shays in a statistical dead-heat with
U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., in a hypothetical matchup for Senate.
The survey of 500 registered Connecticut voters had Murphy, who entered
the race in January after Lieberman announced his retirement, leading
Shays 42 to 40 percent. The same poll had Murphy leading McMahon,
the former chief executive of WWE who lost to longtime Democratic
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in 2010, 52 to 36 percent.
McMahon is on the cusp of jumping into the race, which is also drawing
interest from former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele and David Walker, a former
U.S. comptroller general who coincidentally bought Shays' former home
in Bridgeport. The same poll showed Shays leading former
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, a Democrat, 48 to 37 percent.
In addition to Murphy and Bysiewicz, the Democratic field includes
state Rep. William Tong, of Stamford.
Will Newton's return hurt Bridgeport?
Brian Lockhart, CT POST
Updated 08:50 a.m., Wednesday, May 23, 2012
State Sen. Ed Meyer favors second chances. But Meyer, D-Guilford,
said felon and former colleague Ernest E. Newton II would not receive a
warm welcome if elected to the seat he resigned from in 2005 amid a
federal corruption probe.
"He lied to us," Meyer said Tuesday.
As news spread that Bridgeport Democrats on Monday night had endorsed
Newton to run for his former 23rd District seat, one-time colleagues
and political observers agreed on two things: It will be difficult for
the candidate to effectively represent constituents if elected, and a
Newton victory could prove a setback for a city trying to overcome a
"The press his nomination has gotten around the state is clear evidence
people are having a hard time taking this seriously," said lobbyist Joe
Grabarz, elected with Newton to represent Bridgeport in the General
Assembly in the 1980s. "I've had several prominent people in Capitol
life comment in a derogatory and joking manner about the nomination."
State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said Monday's
endorsement proves Democrats' one-party dominance of Bridgeport
politics must end.
"How many times can Bridgeport take these hits to its reputation?"
McKinney said. "Fair or unfair, the city will, I think, be viewed
negatively to some degree by a lot of people outside of Bridgeport
because of what's happening."
Newton, 56, insisted Tuesday he is reformed, will "bring home the
bacon" for constituents and make them proud.
"I'm not worried," he said. "If I was, I would have come home, ducked
my head down and said, `Hell with it.' "
Newton ended his 17-year legislative career in September 2005. He was
convicted of taking a $5,000 bribe related to a state grant, diverting
campaign contributions for personal use and filing false tax
returns. Newton was sentenced in early 2006 and completed his
prison term in August 2010. Meyer recalled discussing some of the
allegations with Newton when the latter was still a member of the
"He said, `I didn't take a bribe ... It's a frame-up because I'm
black,' " Meyer said. "If he came back to the Senate, we'd honor ...
the decision of voters in Bridgeport. But I think he would have a hard
time getting along with his colleagues."
Newton faces a primary with his successor, incumbent state Sen. Ed
Gomes, and challenger Rep. Andres Ayala. Mayor Bill Finch, in a
statement Monday night, indicated he was worried about the
ramifications of Newton's candidacy.
"When Ernie and I spoke recently, I told him I do not think this is the
best decision for him or the city," Finch said.
Duby McDowell, a Hartford-based Democratic political analyst and public
relations consultant, agreed.
"I don't think having Ernie Newton as a member of the city's
legislative delegation would ... prevent a business from investing in
Bridgeport. But it doesn't help a city that is trying to move forward,"
she said. "Would fellow lawmakers be less likely to work with him and
collaborate? I would think that might be the case."
Paul Timpanelli, president of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council,
did not want to discuss Newton, but acknowledged, "It always gives you
pause when someone ejected in the manner Ernie was ejected comes back."
Timpanelli added the BRBC has a tradition of not endorsing candidates,
but "that could change."
Newton referred to comments Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made
Tuesday to reporters about Newton's endorsement.
According to the Associated Press, Malloy said, "I've long been an
advocate of a second-chance society. As a prosecutor, as a governor, as
a mayor, I've advocated for second chances. But ultimately, in the
political arena, that's a decision for the public to make."
Newton, paraphrasing Malloy, said, "The governor said, `It's the
people's decision.' "
Asked if his conviction will undermine his effectiveness in the Senate,
Newton said, "I don't expect it to be a cakewalk."
"But they know I know the (legislative) process. I'm a team player. I
know how to get things done," Newton said.
Newton said he has already received a lot of congratulatory phone calls
from unspecified individuals in Hartford.
"Listen, I still got friends in Hartford," Newton said.
Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group,
which in the past endorsed Gomes, said Newton's decision to challenge
his successor could damage what relationships he has left at the
"Senator Gomes has done an excellent job fighting for the city and made
a lot of allies in the building," Swan said. "Running a negative
campaign against him ... I can't believe would help you if you were to
be sworn in."
Grabarz agreed, saying, "The supposition is this seat has been held in
abeyance for his (Newton's) return."
Rep. Terry Backer, D-Stratford, collaborated with Newton, whose former
district included a piece of Stratford. Although some former
colleagues in the General Assembly may be angry with Newton, Backer
said, "I don't think they'd practice collective punishment on the city
Newton added there is another incentive for at least Democrats in
Hartford to work with him: Bridgeport's important role in statewide
elections. The city helped Malloy, Stamford's former mayor, win a slim
victory in 2010.
"The governor needs to get re-elected, and he's going to need my help
to do it," Newton said.
Districts map and street list for Weston
Sec'y of the State Merrill guest on "About Town"
Court rules Republicans will go on top of
ballots in Nov. 6 election
By Kimberly Donnelly on September 27, 2012
In the race for Connecticut’s open state and Congressional seats,
the Republicans will be on top — at least on top of the ballot.
The state Supreme Court issued a decision on Wednesday, Sept. 26, that
requires the Republican Party’s candidates for office in the Nov. 6
election be placed on the first line of the ballots.
State law gives the top line of the ballot to the party of the winner
of the most recent gubernatorial race. Because that winner was Democrat
Dannel Malloy, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill had planned to
list Democrats first on the ballots.
However, the Republican Party of Connecticut challenged that decision,
based on the fact Mr. Malloy received fewer votes on the Democratic
line than his Republican opponent Tom Foley had on the Republican line.
Mr. Malloy had been cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party, and
it was these votes that gave him the victory in the governor’s race.
“While I am surprised at the outcome today, I am confident that my
office interpreted the statute in good faith and with due diligence,”
Ms. Merrill said in a press release issued Sept. 26. “My staff
interpreted the law back in 2011, for the municipal election ballot
that year, relying on recent precedent, thorough research and a careful
analysis of the statute. The Supreme Court disagrees with our view, and
I respect the court’s final decision in this matter. The Republican
Party will be on the top line of the ballot in accordance with the
Although ballot information from municipalities across the state was
due by Sept. 15, the Secretary of the State’s office had been holding
off on printing ballots until the Supreme Court made its decision. Ms.
Merrill said she is pleased the court made its decision in time for
ballots to be printed accurately.
“With the timing of this decision, we now feel confident that absentee
ballots should be available for distribution by town clerks by the Oct.
5 statutory deadline,” she said in her release.
Merrill Will Use Media Coverage To Pick
GOP Presidential Candidates
by Hugh McQuaid | Jan 6, 2012 12:42pm
It seems strange that a Democrat would get to decide which Republicans
are placed on the ballot, but Connecticut statutes give the secretary
of the state the power to do just that.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, will get to decide
which candidates end up on the presidential primary ballot, Av Harris,
Merrill’s spokesman, said Friday.
The decision is made by monitoring state and national news coverage of
the primary, Harris said. Candidates who are “generally and seriously
advocated and recognized” by the media are added to the ballot. Those
who don’t receive coverage won’t appear on the list that Merrill is
scheduled to release on Feb. 10.
Harris said the process is fairly simple.
“The universe of candidates are well known for president. We’ve been
gathering information and monitoring press coverage for more than a
year,” he said.
Should a candidate who isn’t picked by the secretary of the state want
to be included in the primary, Harris said there is a petition process
to be added.
After the list is released in February, candidates who didn’t make the
cut have until March 2 to file a petition with 7,500 names with
registrars of voters, he said. They could also file a petition with
enough names to make up 2 percent of the enrolled Republican party
members, he said.
Though unusual, Harris said in practice the method of choosing
candidates doesn’t tend to exclude candidates. He pointed to Republican
candidate Newt Gingrich’s lawsuit in Virginia where Gingrich failed to
collect the necessary 10,000 signatures in that state to gain access to
the ballot. By comparison, it’s actually easier to get on the ballot in
Connecticut, he said.
“Our trend is to be more inclusive than exclusive,” he said.
Though not quite as inclusive as New Hampshire, where all you have to
do is “pay the secretary of state $1,000 and you’re on the ballot.
We’re not that permissive,” he said.
However, Connecticut Republicans are unlikely to see-little known
candidates like Fred Karger or Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer on
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola said he is fine
“I really don’t see the purpose of fringe candidates or someone looking
to gain publicity. I don’t see how that helps the process,” he said.
Labriola said he didn’t envision any controversy over Merrill’s
selection of Republican candidates.
“I would assume she would default to the candidates who are still
actively contesting the nomination,” he said.
It probably would not make sense to include Herman Cain on that list,
he said. Cain has not officially withdrawn from the race, he has
suspended his campaign.
Harris said Cain is an interesting case because he has gotten wide news
coverage but seems unlikely to start actively campaigning again.
“I don’t think you could really argue that Herman Cain is still
recognized as running for president,” he said.
Harris wouldn’t speculate on whether Merrill would decide to include
the candidate, but said it will likely depend on what action, if any,
he takes between now and Feb. 10.
On March 20 Merrill will hold a ceremony announcing the order the
candidates will appear on the ballot. The Connecticut presidential
primary will take place on April 24.
Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs
By JASON DePARLE, NYTIMES
January 4, 2012
WASHINGTON — Benjamin Franklin did it. Henry Ford did it. And American
life is built on the faith that others can do it, too: rise from humble
origins to economic heights. “Movin’ on up,” George Jefferson-style, is
not only a sitcom song but a civil religion.
But many researchers have reached a conclusion that turns conventional
wisdom on its head: Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their
peers in Canada and much of Western Europe. The mobility gap has been
widely discussed in academic circles, but a sour season of mass
unemployment and street protests has moved the discussion toward center
Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Republican candidate
for president, warned this fall that movement “up into the middle
income is actually greater, the mobility in Europe, than it is in
America.” National Review, a conservative thought leader, wrote that
“most Western European and English-speaking nations have higher rates
of mobility.” Even Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican
who argues that overall mobility remains high, recently wrote that
“mobility from the very bottom up” is “where the United States lags
Liberal commentators have long emphasized class, but the attention on
the right is largely new.
“It’s becoming conventional wisdom that the U.S. does not have as much
mobility as most other advanced countries,” said Isabel V. Sawhill, an
economist at the Brookings Institution. “I don’t think you’ll find too
many people who will argue with that.”
One reason for the mobility gap may be the depth of American poverty,
which leaves poor children starting especially far behind. Another may
be the unusually large premiums that American employers pay for college
degrees. Since children generally follow their parents’ educational
trajectory, that premium increases the importance of family background
and stymies people with less schooling.
At least five large studies in recent years have found the United
States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by
Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42
percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay
there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much
higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a
country famous for its class constraints.
Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top
fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of
Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless
society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the
top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research
by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom
By emphasizing the influence of family background, the studies not only
challenge American identity but speak to the debate about inequality.
While liberals often complain that the United States has unusually
large income gaps, many conservatives have argued that the system is
fair because mobility is especially high, too: everyone can climb the
ladder. Now the evidence suggests that America is not only less equal,
but also less mobile.
John Bridgeland, a former aide to President George W. Bush who helped
start Opportunity Nation, an effort to seek policy solutions, said he
was “shocked” by the international comparisons. “Republicans will not
feel compelled to talk about income inequality,” Mr. Bridgeland said.
“But they will feel a need to talk about a lack of mobility — a lack of
access to the American Dream.”
While Europe differs from the United States in culture and
demographics, a more telling comparison may be with Canada, a neighbor
with significant ethnic diversity. Miles Corak, an economist at the
University of Ottawa, found that just 16 percent of Canadian men raised
in the bottom tenth of incomes stayed there as adults, compared with 22
percent of Americans. Similarly, 26 percent of American men raised at
the top tenth stayed there, but just 18 percent of Canadians.
“Family background plays more of a role in the U.S. than in most
comparable countries,” Professor Corak said in an interview.
Skeptics caution that the studies measure “relative mobility” — how
likely children are to move from their parents’ place in the income
distribution. That is different from asking whether they have more
money. Most Americans have higher incomes than their parents because
the country has grown richer.
Some conservatives say this measure, called absolute mobility, is a
better gauge of opportunity. A Pew study found that 81 percent of
Americans have higher incomes than their parents (after accounting for
family size). There is no comparable data on other countries.
Since they require two generations of data, the studies also omit
immigrants, whose upward movement has long been considered an American
strength. “If America is so poor in economic mobility, maybe someone
should tell all these people who still want to come to the U.S.,” said
Stuart M. Butler, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation.
The income compression in rival countries may also make them seem more
mobile. Reihan Salam, a writer for The Daily and National Review
Online, has calculated that a Danish family can move from the 10th
percentile to the 90th percentile with $45,000 of additional earnings,
while an American family would need an additional $93,000.
Even by measures of relative mobility, Middle America remains fluid.
About 36 percent of Americans raised in the middle fifth move up as
adults, while 23 percent stay on the same rung and 41 percent move
down, according to Pew research. The “stickiness” appears at the top
and bottom, as affluent families transmit their advantages and poor
families stay trapped.
While Americans have boasted of casting off class since Poor Richard’s
Almanac, until recently there has been little data.
Pioneering work in the early 1980s by Gary S. Becker, a Nobel laureate
in economics, found only a mild relationship between fathers’ earnings
and those of their sons. But when better data became available a decade
later, another prominent economist, Gary Solon, found the bond twice as
strong. Most researchers now estimate the “elasticity” of father-son
earnings at 0.5, which means if one man earns $100,000 more than
another, his sons would earn $50,000 more on average than the sons of
the poorer man.
In 2006 Professor Corak reviewed more than 50 studies of nine
countries. He ranked Canada, Norway, Finland and Denmark as the most
mobile, with the United States and Britain roughly tied at the other
extreme. Sweden, Germany, and France were scattered across the middle.
The causes of America’s mobility problem are a topic of dispute —
starting with the debates over poverty. The United States maintains a
thinner safety net than other rich countries, leaving more children
vulnerable to debilitating hardships.
Poor Americans are also more likely than foreign peers to grow up with
single mothers. That places them at an elevated risk of experiencing
poverty and related problems, a point frequently made by Mr. Santorum,
who surged into contention in the Iowa caucuses. The United States also
has uniquely high incarceration rates, and a longer history of racial
stratification than its peers.
“The bottom fifth in the U.S. looks very different from the bottom
fifth in other countries,” said Scott Winship, a researcher at the
Brookings Institution, who wrote the article for National Review. “Poor
Americans have to work their way up from a lower floor.”
A second distinguishing American trait is the pay tilt toward educated
workers. While in theory that could help poor children rise — good
learners can become high earners — more often it favors the children of
the educated and affluent, who have access to better schools and arrive
in them more prepared to learn.
“Upper-income families can invest more in their children’s education
and they may have a better understanding of what it takes to get a good
education,” said Eric Wanner, president of the Russell Sage Foundation,
which gives grants to social scientists.
The United States is also less unionized than many of its peers, which
may lower wages among the least skilled, and has public health
problems, like obesity and diabetes, which can limit education and
Perhaps another brake on American mobility is the sheer magnitude of
the gaps between rich and the rest — the theme of the Occupy Wall
Street protests, which emphasize the power of the privileged to protect
their interests. Countries with less equality generally have less
Mr. Salam recently wrote that relative mobility “is overrated as a
social policy goal” compared with raising incomes across the board.
Parents naturally try to help their children, and a completely mobile
society would mean complete insecurity: anyone could tumble any time.
But he finds the stagnation at the bottom alarming and warns that it
will worsen. Most of the studies end with people born before 1970,
while wage gaps, single motherhood and incarceration increased later.
Until more recent data arrives, he said, “we don’t know the half of it.”
The slogan that just quit working
By FRANK J. FLEMING
Last Updated: 12:13 AM, December 28, 2011
Posted: 10:48 PM, December 27, 2011
The new year will be a time for President Obama to focus on the
activity at which he’s been most effective: campaigning. As president,
he’s been, well, he’s tried really hard, but pretty much everyone
agrees he’s an expert campaigner. In 2008, he easily cruised to
election on his theme of Hope & Change. Perhaps his campaign was so
effective that even today people are filled with hope and a desire for
change. If so, he needs to put an end to that immediately.
Obama will have to run pretty much the opposite campaign from what he
did in 2008, as “hope and change” are now his enemies.
It’s easy to see why “change” is a bad thing for people to fixate on
now that Obama’s the incumbent. “Know what would be a big change for
this country? A new president.” It also works against his policy ideas.
His “stimulus” consisted of lots of spending. And his “jobs bills” were
. . . more spending. The last thing he’ll need is for people to ask,
“Should we try something different — you know, a change?” To which
he’ll have to respond, “No, that’s crazy. Where did you get this
‘change’ idea from? That doesn’t sound like something I’d say; it
sounds more like something from one of those Koch brothers.”
Hope is even worse for Obama. Obama recognizes this, as he recently
told 60 Minutes that it will probably take more than one more term and
more than one president to fix the economy. Basically his message is:
“Things are going to be miserable no matter who you elect, so stick
with what you know.”
Because crushing hope is the only economic strategy that’s worked for
him so far. It turns out that Obama and his experts understand how jobs
are created at about the same level that a four-year-old understands
where babies come from, so causing despair is a lot easier and perhaps
even more effective in the short term than trying to create jobs. When
unemployed people give up hope, they stop even looking for jobs and
thus no longer count in the unemployment statistics. Boom! Unemployment
drops — thanks to the abandonment of hope!
Also, the only way for Obama to survive a challenger is to eliminate
all hope that any of his competitors would be a better president.
Obama’s strategy will be to paint the GOP candidate as a stupid,
right-wing crazy who hates poor people, but that’s still a far cry from
saying the Republican will do a worse job as president than Obama.
Because when people are hopeful, they’ll bypass all their reservations
about a new candidate (that’s how Obama got elected).
A potato could run against Obama, and people would say, “Well, a potato
won’t increase spending or raise taxes. In fact, a potato could be the
next Calvin Coolidge!” That’s why Obama has to crush all hope and make
people believe that, as bad as things are, this is as good as it gets
no matter who is president. Plus, a potato is a racist.
One thing Obama can salvage from his 2008 campaign is his slogan “Yes
We Can!” because it’s vague enough to be used for almost anything
(campaign slogan, high-school prom theme, tagline for a detergent,
etc.). However, people might now respond to “Yes We Can!” with “But you
didn’t.” So it will be best for Obama to now emphasize the future
tense. “Yes We Can . . . But Not Necessarily Anytime Soon.” See, he
just has to tailor it a bit for his new “Despair & More of the
Because if Obama can look out over the American people and see nothing
but crushed spirits and those who fear any change, he can pop the
champagne corks now; he’ll have the election in the bag.
Political satirist Frank J. Fleming’s
e-book, “Obama: The Greatest President in the History of Everything,”
is out from HarperCollins.
OBSCENITY, YOU WILL KNOW
IT WHEN YOU SEE IT.
Scandals — and Scandal Deniers
December 28, 2011 12:00 A.M.
For every outrageous misuse
of power, there’s a sycophant to downplay it.
With 2011 drawing to a close, it is time to take account. As an
early-and-often chronicler of Chicago-on-the-Potomac, I am amazed at
the stubborn and clingy persistence of Pres. Barack Obama’s snowblowers
in the media. See no scandal, hear no scandal, speak no scandal.
Dartmouth College professor Brendan Nyhan asserted in May — while
Operation Fast and Furious subpoenas were flying on Capitol Hill — that
“one of the least remarked upon aspects of the Obama presidency has
been the lack of scandals.” Conveniently, he defines scandal as a
“widespread elite perception of wrongdoing.”
So as long as left-wing Ivy League scribes refuse to perceive something
to be a scandal — never mind the actual suffering endured by the family
of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, whose death came at the
hands of a Mexican cartel thug wielding a Fast and Furious gun walked
across the southern border under Attorney General Eric Holder’s watch —
there is no scandal!
Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum likewise proclaimed: “Obama’s presidency has
so far been almost completely free of scandal.”
This after the year kicked off in January with the departure of lying
eco-radical czar Carol Browner. In backroom negotiations, she
infamously bullied auto execs to “put nothing in writing, ever.” The
previous fall, the White House’s own oil-spill panel had singled out
Browner for misleading the public about the scientific evidence for the
administration’s draconian drilling moratorium and “contributing to the
perception that the government’s findings were more exact than they
The Interior Department inspector general and federal judges likewise
blasted drilling-ban book-cooking by Browner and Interior Secretary Ken
Salazar, who falsely rewrote the White House drilling-ban report to
doctor the Obama-appointed panel’s own overwhelming scientific
objections to the job-killing edict.
In February, federal judge Martin Feldman in Louisiana excoriated the
Obama Interior Department for defying his May 2010 order to lift its
fraudulent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf. He called
out the administration’s culture of contempt and “determined disregard”
for the law.
This spring saw rising public anger over the preferential Obamacare
waiver process (which I first reported on in September 2010). Some
2,000 lucky golden-ticket winners were freed from the costly federal
mandates — including a handful of fancy restaurants in Aloha Nancy
Pelosi’s San Francisco district, the entire state of Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid’s Nevada, and scores of local, state, and national
Big Labor organizations, from the Service Employees International Union
and Teamsters on down. Meanwhile, as The Hill reported last month,
other not-so-lucky Republican-led states seeking waivers, such as
Indiana and Louisiana, were rejected.
But it wasn’t just Republicans objecting to the president’s arbitrary
Obamacare fiats. In July, congressional Democrats turned on the
monstrous federal health bureaucracy known as the Independent Payment
Advisory Board. The constitutionally suspect panel — freed from normal
public-notice, public-comment, and public-review rules — would have
unprecedented authority over health-care spending and an expanding
jurisdiction of private health-care payment rates.
Obama’s health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, faced
separate legal questions over her overseer role in a hair-raising
document-shredding case when she served as governor of Kansas. In
October, a district judge in the Sunflower State suspended court
proceedings in a high-profile criminal case against the abortion
racketeers of Planned Parenthood. Bombshell court filings showed that
Kansas health officials “shredded documents related to felony charges
the abortion giant faces” and failed to disclose it for six years.
That same month, Bloomberg News columnist Jonathan Alter gushed: “There
is zero evidence . . . of corruption. Where is it?”
Alter’s declaration of the “Obama Miracle” came just weeks after the
politically driven half-billion-dollar Solyndra stimulus “investment”
went bankrupt, prompting an FBI raid and ongoing criminal and
congressional probes of the solar company funded by top White House
bundler and visitor George Kaiser.
As Solyndra and an avalanche of other ongoing green-subsidy scams
erupted, so did the LightSquared debacle — a federal broadband
boondoggle involving billionaire hedge-fund managers and Obama donors
Philip Falcone and George Soros. In September, two high-ranking
witnesses — William Shelton, the four-star general who heads the Air
Force Space Command, and Anthony Russo, director of the National
Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing
— exposed how the White House had pressured them to alter their
congressional testimony and play down concerns about LightSquared’s
interference threat to military communications.
The White House continues to block efforts to gain information about
the Federal Communications Commission’s approval of a special waiver
for the company, even as new government tests this month showed that
the company’s “signals caused harmful interference to the majority of .
. . general purpose GPS receivers.”
The Obama White House closed out the year with Democratic senator
Claire McCaskill of Missouri demanding a probe of the smelly $443
million no-bid smallpox-antiviral-pill contract with Siga Technologies
— controlled by big lefty donor Ron Perelman. Then there was the small
matter of massive voter fraud in Indiana, where a Democratic official
resigned amid allegations that “dozens, if not hundreds,” of signatures
were faked to get Obama on the state primary ballot in 2008. And while
Americans busied themselves with the holidays, White House and
Democratic campaign officials were dumping more than $70,000 in
contributions from another deep-pocketed contributor — scandal-plagued
pal and former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, who oversaw the
collapse of MF Global.
All this — and so much more — yet erstwhile “conservative” journalist
Andrew Sullivan of Newsweek/The Daily Beast scoffed, “Where are all the
scandals promised by Michelle Malkin?”
There’s none so blind as those who will not see.
Old-style light bulbs will keep burning,
By DOUG ALDEN, New Hampshire Union Leader
Published Dec 17, 2011 at 3:00 am (Updated Dec 16, 2011)
The light bulb is back — or at least not going away as previously
A federal mandate expected to phase out 100-watt incandescent light
bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient devices was switched off in
Washington as members of Congress tussled over a spending deal.
the so-called “bulb-ban” will remain on the books as of Jan. 1, the
spending plan does not provide the Department of Energy with funds to
enforce it. U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., said the move is a
albeit temporary, victory for consumers.
“We Americans are perfectly capable of deciding for ourselves what type
of bulb is best for lighting our homes and offices,” Guinta said Friday
in a statement to the New Hampshire Union Leader. “We don’t need a
nanny government in Washington mandating which type we can use and
which we can’t.”
Shopping at Home Depot on Friday, Arthur Hebert couldn’t agree more.
“I don’t like the new bulb; they don’t seem as bright,” said Hebert, a
public works employee with the town of Bedford. He prefers incandescent
bulbs, but said his choices are already limited. This past summer, he
was forced to purchase a compact fluorescent when he bought a bug lamp.
Hebert said he plans to stock up on the incandescent bulbs before Jan.
1. He was at the right place. Inside the main entrance, Home Depot has
a display filled with incandescents. According to the Department
Energy, the new law doesn’t actually ban — as many believe — any
particular bulbs. It just requires them to use about 25 percent less
energy. Although compact fluorescent lights are more efficient,
opponents note they have their own drawbacks, namely in disposal
because the bulbs contain mercury. Fluorescent bulbs also cost more to
“I know the price is going crazy,” said Shaun Mulholland, a New Boston
resident who is a price analyst for the electronics industry. He
questioned what effect the phase-out will have on his household. Most
of the bulbs inside his house are 75 watt or less. And he said
phase-out of the incandescent bulbs will probably help consumers.
“Once people start shifting (to compact fluorescent) it drives prices
down,” he said.
But to Guinta, the idea of being told what to buy — regardless of the
product — does not go over well.
“Get the government out of the way and let the free market determine
the right light bulb for our needs,” Guinta said.
The delay in Congress affects consumers much more than state
government. New Hampshire state facilities have been replacing
incandescent lights for years, according to Mike Connor, director of
plant and property management for the state Department of
Administrative Services. Even the chandelier bulbs that light the
Capitol building in Concord are fluorescent, Connor said Friday
READ ABOUT THE GOP FIELD; English Mormon
roots - long story, very detailed.
From across the pond, the Republican field click here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15969776
In the long I-BBC story is the news
that famous British portrait artist George
Romney is related.
Newt the geek rises
By AMITY SHLAES
Last Updated: 10:25 PM, November 26, 2011
Posted: 10:17 PM, November 26, 2011
Whether his recent rise in the polls will last, Newt Gingrich has
already shifted Campaign 2012 for the better. The feisty former speaker
of the House has reminded us through his debate performances that
knowledge is an important part of a president’s work.
That a president must know something seems obvious. But our nation’s
opinion writers (myself included) have often ranked knowledge behind a
candidate’s character, electability or even, simply, novelty. And in
the past voters have often done the same.
Gingrich doesn’t project electability or character in the sense we
usually mean. “Character” is what you want your daughter to marry. You
don’t want your daughter to marry Newt. Nor does he have the purity of
inexperience. Gingrich isn’t like Palin or Herman Cain. He’s an
insider’s insider, with all the dirt and baggage that connotes.
But Gingrich does project a terrifying authority of policy knowledge.
Voters have been warming to him because he’s right — about the budget,
about Social Security reform, about plenty of other substantive themes.
In a recent debate in Texas, Gingrich and Cain each showed some fluency
in talking about Medicare. But when Cain was asked whether he preferred
a defined-benefit plan or premium supports for Medicare, he smiled and
passed the ball. Gingrich clarified what a defined benefit was — a
mandate for government to pay for health care — and then highlighted
the kind of triage that happens when government gets involved in the
In debate after debate, Gingrich has displayed commensurate expertise.
And voters value that so much that Gingrich now stands, with 22%
support, on the top of the Gallup poll among registered Republicans,
even above Mitt Romney.
Not long ago, everyone was sure that Gingrich’s geekiness and personal
baggage were fatal. Voters’ support of Gingrich is their way of talking
back to the opinion makers. If the pundits insist that geeks are
unelectable and continue to drive them from the race, voters should
start asking: Who elected the pundits?
McMahon, Murphy Differ Sharply
During First Senate Debate
The Hartford Courant
By DANIELA ALTIMARI, email@example.com
5:56 PM EDT, October 7, 2012
ROCKY HILL — In a campaign that's been heavy on personal attacks and
light on substance, the candidates for U.S. Senate got serious Sunday
morning, tackling important issues such as federal spending, tax policy
and Medicare. But the first debate between Linda McMahon and
Murphy also featured plenty of the acrimony that's marked the race so
far. During the feisty, hourlong forum, hosted by WFSB-Channel 3
broadcast live, McMahon questioned Murphy's honesty and accused him of
accepting a "sweetheart" loan while Murphy painted McMahon as an
ideologically empty captive of an increasingly right-wing Republican
Both candidates are vying for the seat held by Sen. Joseph Lieberman,
who is not seeking re-election. Public opinion polls indicate that the
race is deadlocked.
For Murphy, the stakes going into Sunday's debate were especially high.
He is a Democrat in a state in which his party holds an overwhelming
voter registration advantage, yet he has been unable to capitalize on
that built-in edge. In McMahon, the multimillionaire former chairwoman
of WWE, he faces an opponent with a seemingly limitless campaign war
chest. She has used her millions to run a relentless stream of attack
ads against Murphy.
On Sunday, the three-term congressman came out swinging, waging a crisp
and spirited defense of his record and going after McMahon on several
issues. His performance likely did much to quell the worries of some
Democratic insiders, who have been whispering for weeks about what they
perceived as Team Murphy's lackluster campaign. When McMahon
to name specific programs she would cut to reign in federal spending,
"Another 90 seconds and no answers,'' he said, "not a single specific
cut that Linda McMahon would support, and another example of fealty to
a supply-side trickle down economics that just hasn't worked."
The two candidates tangled repeatedly over McMahon's economic proposal,
which is the centerpiece of her campaign. Murphy said he supports
continuing the portion of the so-called Bush tax cuts for middle-income
taxpayers but not those benefiting the richest Americans. He dismissed
McMahon's plan as nothing more than "a bunch of tax cuts for the very
Murphy also alleged that the document was cobbled from various
conservative Republican sources, without proper attribution.
"Shame on you!" McMahon responded when confronted with the plagiarism
allegation. She said she had consulted economic experts when drafting
the plan and buttressed their work with her own ideas, gleaned during
her long career running a successful business. She said the document
had the proper footnotes.
The debate also revealed another big difference between the two:
McMahon would vote to repeal President Barack Obama's health care
overhaul, and Murphy would not.
There was common ground as well. Both candidates promised to oppose
cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Both favor a 1 percent cut in
spending, although McMahon pledged not to touch the defense budget,
while Murphy said he would support some cuts in defense spending. Both
candidates said they would oppose cuts in federal food stamp programs.
And neither candidate completely answered a question about how they
personally have been affected by the current economic downturn.
The debate gave each candidate the chance to return to well-worn
themes. The forum was moderated by Dennis House, host of the Channel 3
political program "Face the State," and held in the station's Rocky
Hill studio before an audience of Connecticut reporters and a
smattering of campaign aides.
McMahon sought to portray Murphy as a career politician who doesn't
understand the needs of business and has no plan to get the U.S.
economy rolling again. She repeatedly accused him of ethical lapses
connected to a home loan that he received after he was sued for missing
an undisclosed number of mortgage payments in a foreclosure case in
"You absolutely need to be honest with the people of Connecticut," she
said in the opening moments of the debate. "Those are issues that are
important to the voters of Connecticut. ... They want to know, 'Can
they trust ... the senator they're sending to Washington to represent
Both Murphy and Webster Bank deny that there were any improprieties
with his loan, which was not out of line with similar loans at the
time. McMahon said that Murphy acted as if he was entitled to the
Senate seat. "You thought this campaign was going to be a coronation,"
she said. "And now you're in a serious race with a serious woman and
you are desperate."
Murphy, meanwhile, pressed McMahon on Social Security, bringing up a
snippet of videotape made before a tea party gathering last spring,
when McMahon appeared to indicate that she would consider "sunsetting"
"I have never said I am for privatizing Social Security or Medicare. I
will support continuing reform," McMahon responded.
In discussing Medicare, McMahon, echoing Republican presidential
nominee Mitt Romney, criticized Murphy and the Democrats for cutting
$700 billion from Medicare as part of the health care law known as
Murphy accused McMahon of distorting the facts, noting that the cut
does not affect direct services to Medicare recipients. "President
Obama let Mitt Romney get away with the $700 billion lie and I'm not
going to let Linda McMahon get away with it," he said. "That money was
taken out of the budgets of health insurers who were being massively
subsidized. ... It was being taken out the pockets of drug companies
who were making billions off of care for seniors."
Another fault line of the campaign, access to contraception and
legalized abortion, also came up during the debate. Murphy
his attack against McMahon for supporting a failed amendment that would
have permitted employers to deny coverage for birth control if doing so
violated their religious beliefs. To McMahon, the issue is one of
religious freedom and "government overreach," not access to
contraception, and because of that, she said she would have backed the
"I'm an independent thinker," she said. "I would differ from my party.
... I am certainly a pro-choice candidate, I believe in equal rights
for all." By contrast, she added, Murphy votes with Democratic leaders
more than 95 percent of the time.
Same-sex marriage is one of those issues on which McMahon parts with
the right flank of her party.
"I live in Connecticut and I absolutely support America's law for
same-sex marriage," McMahon said.
But Murphy viewed her response as a gaffe and jumped on it. "America
doesn't have a law protecting same-sex marriage,'' he said. "In fact,
it has the exact opposite.''
Later, McMahon said she would back repeal of the Defense of Marriage
Act, which is a new position for her. As recently as this summer, she
expressed support for the law, which defines marriage as between a man
and a woman.
"My opinion has just been evolving," she said. "I clearly want there to
be fairness and there just isn't fairness with DOMA."
After the debate, McMahon sent an email to supporters saying that the
exchange showed a sharp contrast between the two candidates. "We don't
need another career politician in Washington. We need someone who will
fight for you — who believes America's best days are ahead and not
behind,'' she said.
Murphy, meanwhile, claimed victory. "Linda McMahon wrestled with the
issues this morning and the issues won," he told reporters afterward.
"Linda McMahon couldn't answer basic questions on her positions on
Social Security and Medicare and women's health, and I think voters saw
a really clear difference."
The two candidates will face one another again Thursday in a debate at
the University of Connecticut hosted by FOX CT and The Courant. The 7
p.m. forum will be televised live on FOX CT.
Copyright © 2012, The Hartford
Republicans believe in
recycling: Of course they SAVED
all of Linda's mailings from 2010!
Meet Deadline; Malloy Urges Completion
by Hugh McQuaid | Nov 23, 2011 5:30am
Posted to: Election 2012, Election Policy, Legal
With little more than a week before its deadline, the legislative panel
convened to redraw Connecticut’s political districts continues to work
daily on coming to agreements on the state’s House and Senate districts
but has yet to tackle the five congressional districts.
The bipartisan Reapportionment Commission has until Nov. 30 to agree on
maps in all three areas. If the committee is unable to reach consensus
by that time the maps will go to a judge who will decide how the
districts are redrawn. So far, the committee’s four House members
have largely focused on negotiating an agreement for the state’s 151
House districts. Meanwhile, its four senators have been exchanging
proposals for maps of the 36 senate districts.
Initially the eight-person committee had a Sept. 15 deadline to
complete its work. When that date came and went the committee was
reformed as a nine-person commission, adding Kevin Johnston, a former
Democratic state lawmaker and auditor, as its ninth member.
Ten years ago, the last time the state underwent redistricting
following a census tally, the committee came to an agreement on the
state’s House and Senate districts just before its deadline, Senate
Majority Leader Martin Looney, D- New Haven, said. For its
congressional districts the committee asked for and received an
extension from a judge to finish working on those maps after the
deadline, he said. Looney, a member of the committee, wouldn’t
speculate this week whether the same thing would happen this year. He
said the committee has been meeting every day for weeks and is making
“It’s incremental but it’s progress. I’m hopeful we’re moving to an
agreement,” he said Monday.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R- Fairfield, said everyone
working on the Senate district maps was keenly aware of the
fast-approaching deadline but couldn’t say whether they would meet it.
“We’re all very cognizant of how late in the day it is and time is
running short,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to make a commitment. I guess
that’s a sign that we’re not as close as we need to be but not as far
as we could be.”
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R- Norwalk, seemed optimistic
Tuesday that House members would reach an agreement within 48 hours. He
said by comparison, reaching consensus on congressional districts
should be easier.
“Let’s face it, with regards to the House, we’re talking about 151
districts. With regards to Congress, we’re dealing with five. One would
assume it would be quicker,” he said.
Still, Cafero wasn’t willing to make predictions about where
negotiations will conclude before the deadline. The committee is making
progress but it comes in fits and starts, he said.
“It’s been civil but we’ve had our sticking points. You hit a wall and
you try to work around it in a way that works for both sides,” he said.
Cafero said staff members from both sides have been communicating with
each other well, trading maps and ideas back and forth. At an
unrelated event Tuesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that if the
commission failed to meet their deadline it would be a “gigantic
mistake.” There is a process to make the decision and members of the
panel should do their jobs, he said.
“They should get their act together and get reapportionment done. It’s
an odd number of people—have a vote and get it done and stop playing
around. We know how bad Washington looks, we don’t need that replicated
in our own state. The ayes have it, have a vote.”
Committee to miss deadline, add 9th member
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
September 9, 2011
The legislature's Reapportionment Committee acknowledged Friday it will
be unable to devise new legislative maps by its deadline of Sept. 15,
requiring the eight-member, bipartisan panel to now find a ninth
neutral member to join them.
The four Democratic and four Republican legislators on the committee
are not deadlocked over new districts; they still are working on
drawing 151 state House, 36 state Senate and five congressional
districts to reflect population changes.
"We're making progress, but we're just not ready," said House Speaker
Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, a committee member.
But Connecticut's rules for redistricting require that if unable to
meet the deadline of Sept. 15, the committee of eight legislators must
pick a ninth member and reform itself as a Reapportionment Commission,
with a new deadline of Nov. 30.
Previously reapportionment efforts failed to finish on time in 2001 and
1991. In each of those decades, the committees chose the same man as
the neutral member, former House Speaker Nelson Brown, who died this
week at 89.
Senate. President Pro Tempore Donald E. Williams, D-Brooklyn, the
co-chairman of the committee, said the panel members have yet to begin
exchanging names of a new neutral member.
"Now, and in coming weeks, the rubber meets the road," Williams said.
The committee is now evenly divided: four Democrats and four
Republicans, with two of each from the House and Senate.
By tradition, the panel functions as two committees, as the House
members draw the House map and the Senate members draw the Senate map.
When finished, they work together on the congressional map.
Unlike a decade ago, when Connecticut lost one of its five seats in the
U.S. House of Representatives, drawing new congressional districts is
not expected to be difficult, though moving lines can mean political
life or death.
In the crowded race for the open seat in the 5th Congressional
District, for example, five candidates live in communities on the
border of two or even three districts: Cheshire, Farmington, Meriden,
Plainville and Simsbury.
One of them is Donovan. One of his rivals, Elizabeth Esty, lives in
According to the 2010 census, each congressional district should have a
population of 714,819 this year, up from 681,113 a decade ago. The 5th
With 729,771 people, only the 2nd District of eastern Connecticut needs
to shrink, but changes in the 2nd will ripple across the state.
Population for the other districts: 1st, 710,951; 3rd, 712,339; and
Liberals believe the darnedest things.
Jeff Bergner, Weekly Standard
September 12, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 48
Sometimes talking with liberals is perplexing. You never know what
claim they will make next or what name they will call you. Take David
Axelrod’s response to Standard & Poor’s recent credit action: He
calls it the “Tea Party downgrade.” Amazingly, he blames the United
States’ loss of its AAA bond rating on the one group that has sounded
the alarm about our fiscal crisis. How did the president’s leading
adviser come up with a label so detached from reality?
Comforting as it would be to dismiss this as a one-off comment,
Axelrod’s words spring from the mental universe of liberalism. It is a
vast sphere of assumptions that are found nowhere else. In an effort to
promote the civility of debate that is so much in demand these days,
here is a compendium of the myths underlying some of the strange things
Myth #1: Conservatives are outside the American mainstream.
Conser-vatives can’t be mainstream because it is liberals who speak for
the American people. The fact that 41 percent of Americans identify
themselves as conservative and only 21 percent as liberal doesn’t
matter—liberals are the guardians of the genuine interests of the
American people. In the liberal imagination, the political spectrum
consists of left, center, right, and far right. The most conservative
senators—the Jim DeMints and Rand Pauls—are far right. But notice the
absence of far left. In 2007, the most liberal of all 100 senators was
Barack Obama, yet you will comb the mainstream media in vain to find a
single reference to him or anyone else in American politics as far
left. Liberals simply define the center as somewhere near where they
are and consign vast swaths of the electorate to a place outside polite
society called the far right.
Myth #2: Conservatives represent special interests. If liberals
represent the American people, whom do conservatives represent? They
are in bed with “special interests.” Listening to liberals, you would
never guess that the titans of Wall Street regularly fill the coffers
of Democratic candidates, or that the pharmaceutical industry couldn’t
wait to cut a special deal on Obamacare, or that well-paid
public-sector union leaders regularly extract generous salaries and
benefits from their Democratic allies, or that the education unions put
their own interests ahead of American youth, or that Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac bask in the protection of Democrats in Congress, or that
many so-called leaders of minority communities actually have few real
followers but rely on liberal policies and laws for the status they
claim. In fact, liberalism is one nonstop orgy of special pleading and
Myth #3: The Republican party is moving to the right. When things go
wrong for liberals, as they did in last November’s elections, and
politics seems especially divisive, it is never because liberals have
moved out of the mainstream. There’s only one possible explanation:
Republicans must be moving to the right. But in 1980, when Ronald
Reagan was elected, Republicans stood for lower taxes, less federal
spending, smaller deficits, less government regulation, a strong
defense, free trade, limits on abortion, and First and Second Amendment
rights. Sound familiar? This is the platform of today’s Republicans.
The Democratic party, however, has careened far to the left. Who in
1980 could have imagined today’s federal budget of $3.6 trillion, 25
percent of GDP? Or today’s deficit of $1.3 trillion, up from just $161
billion in 2007? Or today’s national debt of $15 trillion? Or today’s
defense spending below 4 percent of GDP? Or government control of
health care and automobile companies and banks? Or marriage itself
redefined? Who’s kidding whom here?
Myth #4: The Tea Party is dangerous and extreme. How then to account
for the erroneous belief that Republicans have moved to the right? Why,
the Tea Party! It would be hard to conjure up a more ridiculous
candidate for a sinister force than this generally well-mannered and
pacific political movement. Indeed, there’s a good argument that by
focusing on the fiscal catastrophe staring America in the face rather
than on social issues, the Tea Party has actually dampened political
divisiveness. One more thing. Against baseless charges of racism, Tea
Party defenders have done themselves no favor by responding, “Well,
yes, there are fringe elements in all groups.” At the Tea Party rallies
I have witnessed, there were not a few racists in evidence, but no
racists. The relatively few minorities who spoke or attended were more
than welcome; they were very much appreciated. Tea Party members wish
there were more.
Myth #5: Ethnic minorities must be liberals. Why then must liberals
detect nonexistent racism in the Tea Party? Because they speak for the
people.They assume that, as groups which have suffered historical
oppression, African Americans and other ethnic minorities simply must
be liberals. Otherwise, the entire liberal narrative would be at risk.
That’s why it is completely acceptable for liberals to vilify
conservative blacks, whom they see as traitors to their group. Liberals
feel free to attack these “Uncle Toms” personally, viciously, with the
zeal of one rooting out apostasy. By the same token, liberals don’t
actually have to do anything to merit the allegiance of minorities.
Take a look at minority joblessness, inner city schools, and social
breakdown (72 percent of African-American babies born out of wedlock):
These are the fruits of many decades of liberal kindness at the
federal, state, and local levels. But if more minorities succeeded,
liberals would lose their reason for being.
Myth #6: Women are naturally liberals. Having suffered inequality,
women too must be liberals, and conservative women must be traitors to
their group. It’s quite all right to call them the ugliest names. Let’s
be frank: In 2010 Republicans ran some pretty rough and ready,
nontraditional candidates, both men and women. Who was singled out for
special derision and condescension? Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell,
Michele Bachmann, and of course Sarah Palin, who was not even running
Myth #7: Liberals take the country forward and conservatives take it
backward. Behind all these illusions lies a deeper notion: History is
moving “forward,” and liberals are on the “right side of history.” But
there is no intrinsic forward and backward in the historical process;
there are only competing visions of America, none of which is
guaranteed to succeed. If history is marching somewhere, we don’t know
where. And at any given moment, the cold night of tyranny is just as
possible as the clear day of enlightenment. Every step has to be won
and defended on the basis of what best serves the interests of the
American people. That’s why earlier generations believed that eternal
vigilance is the price of liberty. And, by the way, wouldn’t it be
interesting to know where liberals find the metaphysical foundations on
which to rest their notions of “forward” and “backward”? Liberal
orthodoxy denies a God-given moral order to the universe. Its secular
“progress” is nothing but the fantasy of long-dead German philosophers.
Myth #8: Liberals have moved beyond old-fashioned religion. Speaking of
religion, those who cling to it are going backwards. They do not
operate in what Barack Obama has called the world of “facts and science
and argument.” Liberals have resolved once and for all—in their own
minds—the irresolvable claims of reason and revelation, and reason has
won. Never-theless, in the real world, religion remains vital. That
erstwhile paragon of the hard left, the former Soviet Union, failed to
stamp out Christianity. The church is growing vigorously in China,
despite Beijing’s every effort to repress and control it. The
progressive liberal democracies of Europe are once again confronting
the force of religious claims, this time of Islam. Liberals have not
transcended religion; they are simply tone deaf to it. That’s why they
fundamentally misunderstand Islam, closing their eyes to its teaching
and practice in areas like marriage and women’s rights and freedom of
conscience. This will not have good consequences.
Myth #9: Good intentions are enough for liberals. But accurately
judging consequences is less important to liberals than moving forward.
Liberal programs do not represent testable social-policy experiments to
be judged by their results. They represent compassion, so their critics
are heartless. Money spent on these programs cannot be wasted because
they are investments in people. Liberals are to be judged by the purity
of their intentions.
Myth #10: No logical arguments need be made against conservatives. For
liberals there are never two legitimate sides in a debate. There are
only forward and backward, good intentions and bad intentions. It is
not necessary to argue the merits of an issue with someone who is
pointing backward; it is enough to locate that person as pointing
backward. To do so is to make the case and prove the case. The result
is predictable: The essence of liberal argument is ad hominem attack.
Liberals do not confront arguments directly, any more than they
confront religious claims directly; they go behind conservative
arguments to vilify the messenger. If you disagree with liberal policy
you are a xenophobe, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, a racist, an
extremist, or lately a “terrorist.” As the president has said, you are
too scared to think straight. Instead of answering your arguments,
liberals aim to shut you up with snarky TV entertainment shows.
A hundred years ago, the philosopher George Santayana cut to the core
of this mentality. In his commentary on Goethe’s Faust, Santayana wrote
of the modern liberal that “his ultimate satisfaction in his work is
not founded on any good done, but on a passionate willfulness. He calls
the thing he wants for others good, because he wants to bestow it on
them, not because they naturally want it for themselves. Incapable of
sympathy, he has a momentary pleasure in policy.” Just perfect. What
this willful liberal does not admit is that decent, intelligent people
who understand their own interests and understand liberal policies can
still reject them.
Bowles-Simpson? A statement by Bowles in 2011 below (he adds that
Ryan back-loaded it so it is really $2.5 trillion)...
“Have any of you all met Paul Ryan? We should get him to come to the
university. I’m telling you this guy is amazing. ... He is honest, he
is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget that he came forward
with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, serious
budget and it cut the budget deficit just like we did, by $4 trillion.
… The president as you remember, came out with a budget and I don’t
think anybody took that budget very seriously. The Senate voted against
it 97 to nothing." Comments from a speech in North Carolina in
Dems’ big ‘battle of ideas’ is off to a lying start
By RICH LOWRY
Last Updated: 12:48 AM, August 14, 2012
Posted: 12:48 AM, August 14, 2012
Democrats believe fervently in the folly of Paul Ryan’s ideas, yet
somehow can’t speak about them truthfully.
They are confident they can destroy Ryan — not because they think they
can win the debate over his proposals on the merits, but because they
are certain they can distort those proposals with impunity.
Mitt Romney’s inspiring (and inspired) choice of the Wisconsin budget
maven as his running mate had commentators on both sides welcoming a
clear choice for the country. Romney had done us a favor, they said, in
ensuring such a stark clash of visions. The League of Women Voters
This Hallmark sentiment is nice, though naive. The battle of ideas will
be as unsightly and dishonest as the battle over Bain Capital. If
Democrats will lie about Mitt Romney killing a woman, it’s only a
matter of scale to lie about him unloosing a near-genocidal assault on
Immediately upon Ryan’s selection, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina
released a statement that recalled author Mary McCarthy’s put-down of
left-wing playwright Lillian Hellman: “Every word she writes is a lie,
including ‘and’ and ‘the.’ ”
Messina scored Ryan for his “budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy”
(except that there aren’t tax cuts, budget-busting or otherwise), for
bringing to an “end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher
system” (except there’s no voucher, and Medicare benefits would stay
exactly the same), and for “shifting thousands of dollars in
health-care costs to seniors” (except the Ryan plan doesn’t apply to
today’s seniors, nor will it shift costs onto the seniors of the
The Democrats never want to admit three things about Ryan’s Medicare
plan. First, that it doesn’t affect anyone over age 55 and won’t kick
in for another 10 years. Conceding this makes the job of frightening
elderly voters trickier, so it is best ignored.
Second, that the current version of the Ryan plan gives future
beneficiaries the option to keep traditional Medicare. They will choose
among a menu of insurance plans, including a fee-for-service federal
option, all of which will be required to offer at least the same level
of benefits as Medicare now. The federal government will pay everyone’s
premiums up to a level matching the second-lowest-priced plan in a
given area. There’s no reason a beneficiary will have to pay more
(although he can choose a pricier plan and pay the difference).
Third, that Ryan and President Barack Obama cap overall Medicare
spending at the same level. The president is adamant that the growth of
Medicare is unsustainable — and rightly so. Everyone acknowledges the
program is the foremost driver of our long-term debt. Both Ryan and the
president use the same formula of roughly GDP growth plus inflation for
setting Medicare’s global budget. The difference is that the president
wants a bureaucratic board to get the savings through arbitrary limits
on prices that ultimately will limit access to care, while Ryan wants
to get the savings through competition and choice.
The Democrats’ demagoguery should be further crimped by the fact that
they voted $700 billion in cuts in Medicare to fund ObamaCare, not in
the far-off future, but right now. Ryan preserved the cuts in his
budget but set them aside for the Medicare trust fund. Mitt Romney
wants to repeal ObamaCare in its entirety, including the Medicare cuts.
What the Ryan plan offers, most fundamentally, is a vision of a
reformed entitlement state that won’t require massive new tax increases
or debt to fund. For all the talk of the “radicalism” of his budget, it
keeps taxes at a slightly higher level of GDP than they have averaged
over the past several decades. Ten years from now, federal spending
still would be at a higher level of GDP than it was at the end of the
This vision — now at the center of the campaign — deserves a serious,
honest debate, and will assuredly not get it.
Lee Smith, Weekly Standard
June 8, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 38
The Justice Department has launched an investigation into the White
House’s handling of classified information. The spur seems to have been
the June 1 New York Times article by David Sanger, sourced to current
and former U.S. officials, revealing sensitive details about the
Stuxnet and Flame computer worms and other parts of the Obama
administration’s cyber campaign to disrupt and spy on Iran’s nuclear
weapons program. By the way, none of the officials, according to
Sanger, “would allow their names to be used because the effort remains
highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.”
Last week, legislators on both sides of the aisle deplored the
administration’s inability, or unwillingness, to keep national security
secrets. Leaders of the Senate and House intelligence
committees—Senators Saxby Chambliss and Dianne Feinstein and
Representatives Mike Rogers and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger—released a
statement noting, “We have become increasingly concerned at the
continued leaks regarding sensitive intelligence programs and
activities, including specific details of sources and methods.”
In his June 8 press conference Obama tried to push back against the
gathering storm. “The notion that my White House would purposely
release classified national security information is offensive,” he
said. “It’s wrong.”
The president and the New York Times can’t both be right. If the
president is correct, then the paper of record, which has so far seemed
to be a willing receptacle for the administration’s leaks, must be
printing fabrications. Last month the same newspaper detailed how the
president directs U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen based on a
classified “kill list” of terror suspects, a story based on information
from “three dozen” of the president’s “current and former advisers.” So
the latest Times article on Iran, revealing what the administration has
now tacitly acknowledged as a joint U.S.-Israeli program, looks to be
merely the most recent installment in a campaign of intentional leaks
damaging to our national security.
The administration, needless to say, sees things differently. From the
perspective of Obama’s handlers, and perhaps of their friends in the
press, these leaks are spellbinding episodes in a Hollywood-worthy
narrative of the president as ever-vigilant superhero, with his finger
on the button, ready at a moment’s notice to bring the full weight of
American power to bear on our adversaries, so that we may all sleep
safely at night. It’s epic, all right. But it’s spin.
All White Houses engage in political stagecraft, but this is something
else. The Obama administration can rightly claim the crown of laurels
for killing Osama bin Laden—even if the program and personnel that
brought down the al Qaeda chief were in place long before Obama came to
office. But due credit was not enough for the Obama team. To craft a
story about a heroic president and his leading part in American
history, the administration rolled out the red carpet for moviemakers
like Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow, and gorged the working press
with details. It was this information that disclosed the role of a
local doctor whose efforts on behalf of an American clandestine
operation earned him a 33-year sentence in a Pakistani prison.
That physician is not the only casualty of the White House’s vanity.
The administration boasted of a mole who had infiltrated Al Qaeda in
the Arabian Peninsula and helped thwart an attack against the United
States. The man was working for British and Saudi intelligence and
details of his role not only damaged the ongoing operations of allied
intelligence services, but also put the lives of the agent and others
Who knows how the information disclosed in the Times’s recent Stuxnet
story may come back to harm our citizens and interests, or our ally
Israel’s? But the message broadcast to friends, and potential friends,
is clear enough. If you fail in your dangerous mission, you may die. If
you succeed, you may earn a supporting role in the Obama reelection
“Why else would they want to do this, except to enhance the image of
the president six months before the election?” Sen. John McCain said in
an interview with The Weekly Standard last week. “Why else reveal the
name of this Pakistani doctor? You can only draw one conclusion. The
purpose of all these leaks is to tell a story about a brave, lonely
warrior with all this awesome responsibility.”
McCain, who has called for a special prosecutor, has been the
administration’s most vocal critic. The White House, says McCain, “got
mad when I said these leaks were all meant to make the president look
good.” But that’s the simplest explanation for the leaks: The White
House has run an information operation that has put us and our allies
at risk with no obvious benefit except to the prospects of Obama’s
McCain says he is cheered by the “widespread bipartisan anger at the
leaks,” but Feinstein and other Democrats, such as John Kerry, say that
the leaks are just a function of lax discipline and the
administration’s poor housekeeping. However, there is evidence that the
White House knows quite well what it’s doing.
In an excerpt from his just published book, Confront and Conceal:
Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, from which
the cyber war story was adapted for the Times, Sanger recounts how
Pentagon officials “fumed” when White House counterterrorism czar John
Brennan apparently gave away “operational secrets never shared outside
the tribe.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates confronted the senior
administration official he perhaps believed in the best position to
enact, or at least forward, his recommendation for a “new strategic
communications approach.” And what was that strategic approach? asked
White House national security adviser Thomas Donilon. “Shut the f— up,”
In other words, Defense Secretary Robert Gates thought President
Obama’s national security adviser was responsible, directly or
indirectly, for the leaks. And if Donilon is responsible, the buck
stops with President Obama.
To paraphrase the president, that his White House would purposely
release classified national security information is offensive. And it’s
White House Opens Door to Big Donors, and Lobbyists Slip In
By MIKE McINTIRE and MICHAEL LUO
April 14, 2012
Last May, as a battle was heating up between
Internet companies and Hollywood over how to stop online piracy, a top
entertainment industry lobbyist landed a meeting at the White House
with one of President Obama’s technology advisers.
The lobbyist did not get there by himself.
He was accompanied by Antoinette C. Bush, a well-connected Washington
lawyer who has represented companies like Viacom, Sony and News
Corporation for 30 years. A friend of the president and a cousin of his
close aide Valerie B. Jarrett, Ms. Bush has been to the White House at
least nine times during his term, taking lobbyists along on a few
occasions, joining an invitation-only forum about intellectual
property, and making social visits with influential friends.
At the same time, she and her husband, Dwight, have donated heavily to
the president’s re-election effort: Mr. Bush gave $35,800 on the day of
his wife’s White House meeting last year, and Ms. Bush contributed the
same amount a month later. In November, they hosted a $17,900-a-plate
fund-raiser at their home, where Mr. Obama complained that the nation’s
capital should be more “responsive to the needs of people, not the
needs of special interests.”
“That is probably the biggest piece of business that remains
unfinished,” the president said, as about 45 guests dined under a
Although Mr. Obama has made a point of not accepting contributions from
registered lobbyists, a review of campaign donations and White House
visitor logs shows that special interests have had little trouble
making themselves heard. Many of the president’s biggest donors, while
not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while
others performed essentially the same function on their visits.
More broadly, the review showed that those who donated the most to Mr.
Obama and the Democratic Party since he started running for president
were far more likely to visit the White House than others. Among donors
who gave $30,000 or less, about 20 percent visited the White House,
according to a New York Times analysis that matched names in the
visitor logs with donor records. But among those who donated $100,000
or more, the figure rises to about 75 percent. Approximately two-thirds
of the president’s top fund-raisers in the 2008 campaign visited the
White House at least once, some of them numerous times.
The reasons someone might have gained access to the White House and
made a donation are wide-ranging, and it is clear that in some cases
the administration came down against the policies being sought by the
visitors. But the regular appearance of big donors inside the White
House underscores how political contributions continue to lubricate
many of the interactions between officials and their guests, if for no
other reason than that donors view the money as useful for getting a
foot in the door.
Timing of Donations
Some of the donors had no previous record of
giving to the president or his party, or of making donations of such
magnitude, so their gifts, sometimes given in close proximity to
meetings, raise questions about whether they came with expectations of
access or were expressions of gratitude.
Dr. William C. Mohlenbrock, chairman of a health care data analysis
firm, Verras Ltd., gave occasionally to political candidates over the
years, mostly small amounts to Republicans. But last May he contributed
the maximum allowable gift, $35,800, to the Obama Victory Fund, which
benefits the president’s campaign and the Democratic Party. Later in
the year, with help from a Democratic consultant, he landed a meeting
with a top White House aide involved in the health care overhaul, but
failed to persuade Medicare officials to require more health data
collection as part of the new regulations.
Joe E. Kiani, who heads a medical device company, Masimo Corporation,
stepped up his giving to Democrats last year as medical device makers
campaigned unsuccessfully for the repeal of an excise tax imposed on
the industry. Mr. Kiani had several meetings with White House officials
last year, including two with lobbyists from his company and another
with representatives from his industry’s trade association. In the
midst of these gatherings, he donated $35,800 to the victory fund.
Administration officials insisted that donations do not factor into
White House visits, and they cited steps taken to curb the influence of
money in politics, including a ban on executive branch employees’
accepting gifts from lobbyists and on appointees’ lobbying the White
House after they leave. Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, pointed
out that Mr. Obama was the first president to release the visitor logs
regularly, and added that “being a supporter of the president does not
secure you a visit to the White House, nor does it preclude you from
“The people selected for this article are contributors to the
president,” Mr. Schultz said, “but this article excludes the thousands
of people who visit the White House every week for meetings and events
who did not contribute to the president, many of whom may not have even
supported the president.”
‘How This Business Works’
Most donors, including Dr. Mohlenbrock and
Mr. Kiani, declined to talk about their motivations for giving. But
Patrick J. Kennedy, the former representative from Rhode Island, who
donated $35,800 to an Obama re-election fund last fall while seeking
administration support for a nonprofit venture, said contributions were
simply a part of “how this business works.”
“If you want to call it ‘quid pro quo,’ fine,” he said. “At the end of
the day, I want to make sure I do my part.”
Mr. Kennedy visited the White House several times to win support for
One Mind for Research, his initiative to help develop new treatments
for brain disorders. While his family name and connections are clearly
influential, he said, he knows White House officials are busy. And as a
former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he
said he was keenly aware of the political realities they face.
“I know that they look at the reports,” he said, referring to records
of campaign donations. “They’re my friends anyway, but it won’t hurt
when I ask them for a favor if they don’t see me as a slouch.”
Others, like Ms. Bush, rejected the notion that their donations were
tied to access. Her husband said it was a coincidence that his
contribution last May — made at a Democratic fund-raiser — came on the
same day his wife was at the White House. And Ms. Bush noted that most
of her meetings occurred before she made her donation in June. She
added that as a longtime lawyer with the firm Skadden Arps, it should
not be surprising that her work would occasionally take her to the
“Communications law is what I do for a living,” Ms. Bush said. “Yes,
I’m an Obama supporter, but in the end I’m a communications law expert.
I had the same clients in the Bush administration as well as the Obama
Although those in office invariably deny it, the notion that access is
available at a price is a well-founded reality of Washington.
Memorably, President Nixon was caught on tape remarking that $250,000
should be the minimum donation for an ambassadorship. The Clinton White
House offered major donors coffees with the president or sleepovers in
the Lincoln Bedroom. More recently, Republicans in Congress have raised
questions about whether Democratic donors who invested in the solar
energy company Solyndra and other troubled firms influenced the
administration’s support of those businesses, pointing to White House
visits and other official contacts. The administration denies there was
At a minimum, it is standard for administrations to recognize generous
supporters with sought-after invitations to special events. The Obama
White House logs are filled with the names of donors welcomed for St.
Patrick’s Day receptions, Super Bowl parties and concerts. Last year,
several major Democratic donors rounded out the guest list for a film
screening with the first lady.
But in addition to social events, business is also carried out in the
White House and its executive offices. The logs suggest some Obama
fund-raisers and donors have been trafficking in ties they forged to
the administration, helping clients get a seat at the table.
When Los Angeles officials wanted White House backing for a program
that would speed up local transit projects, they turned last spring to
a California political operative, Kerman Maddox, a top Obama
fund-raiser and party donor. “We thought he could help our outreach in
Washington,” said Richard Leahy, chief executive of the Los Angeles
County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
In an internal memo justifying Mr. Maddox’s hiring, the authority wrote
that he had “direct access to the Executive Oval Office” and cited his
position on the Obama campaign’s National Finance Committee. Mr.
Maddox’s company Web site prominently features photographs of him with
One day after the authority signed off on his contract, Mr. Maddox made
a $10,000 donation to the Obama re-election effort; he donated an
additional $6,000 in June. In August, Mr. Maddox landed a meeting for
himself and the authority officials with Melody Barnes, then director
of the White House Domestic Policy Council, one of several meetings the
officials were able to get.
The administration had previously been supportive of Los Angeles
County’s efforts to accelerate its transit projects, but the following
month, Mr. Obama also announced, as part of his jobs package, a
proposal to significantly expand a Transportation Department loan
program. The plan, which has drawn bipartisan support, is something Mr.
Maddox’s clients had sought. Mr. Maddox, soon donated an additional
$11,250 to the victory fund. He said in an e-mail that his donations
were tied to fund-raising events and had nothing to do with visiting
the White House.
Noah Mamet, another veteran Democratic
fund-raiser and consultant, emphasizes on his firm’s Web site that he
and his partners “are not lobbyists.” Instead, they help their clients
“strategically navigate the worlds of politics, philanthropy and
business.” Mr. Mamet, who donated $35,800 last year, and his partners
have visited the Obama White House more than a dozen times, including
at least four occasions on which they accompanied clients to meetings
with administration officials. Mr. Mamet declined to comment.
Lamell McMorris, a Chicago native and longtime Obama supporter who
appears in White House visitor logs 20 times, runs a Washington
consulting firm that, as recently as last year, was registered to
lobby. He also operates a sports management company, and has taken
clients like the football player Cam Newton and the New Jersey Nets
guard Anthony Morrow to the White House for private tours. Mr. McMorris
did not reply to requests for comment.
With many of these meetings, it is often difficult to discern what
exactly was being discussed. Clues can sometimes be gleaned by looking
at the positions and interests of other attendees — who often include
David Beier, who oversees government affairs at the pharmaceutical
company Amgen, has had nearly a dozen meetings at the White House,
according to the visitor logs. On a single day in February last year,
Mr. Beier, Amgen’s chief executive, Kevin W. Sharer, and lobbyists from
the Podesta Group, the firm led by the Democratic fund-raiser Tony
Podesta, had four meetings with top White House officials, including
Ms. Jarrett, Pete Rouse and Austan Goolsbee. Mr. Beier — who was
registered to lobby for Amgen for 10 years until last year — donated
$35,800 in January, his largest such contribution. The donation came
two weeks after he and Mr. Podesta visited the White House for another
meeting with an economic official.
Amgen declined to comment, but lobbying disclosure reports show that
the company hired the Podesta Group to press the White House and
Congress on Medicare coverage and reimbursement for drugs for end-stage
renal disease, among other issues.
As for Ms. Bush, a former Senate staff member whose stepfather is the
Democratic power broker Vernon E. Jordan Jr., she declined to comment
on the nature of her visits. But the purpose of some of them can be
inferred from the more detailed records of meetings she had around the
same time with officials at the Federal Communications Commission.
Those agency meetings — some of which included the same Sony and Viacom
lobbyists whom she accompanied to the White House — were mostly about
shaping regulations to discourage piracy of digital media.
She also helped Viacom fight an F.C.C. complaint that one of its
Nickelodeon shows, Zevo-3, was little more than a vehicle for the
show’s marketing partner, Skechers. Writing to the agency for Viacom,
Ms. Bush argued that the cartoon show, which features characters with
special powers who previously appeared in Skechers commercials,
intentionally distances itself from the footwear Skechers sells.
“In particular,” she wrote, “the characters in Zevo-3 do not derive any
powers from their shoes, do not go out of their way to refer to their
shoes and do not indicate that their shoes bear any relation to their
roles on the program.”
Kevin Quealy contributed reporting.
Practicing whilst on a recent South American junket, trying extra hard
to get that steely-eyed look that sold refrigerators to the Eskimos...
Court decides on Obamacare (187pp or more); 5-4 decision
. The Blog we
were following on the Internet; decision summary below:
"In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual
mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is
constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground
that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the
states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five
Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to
buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its
taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives,
the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were
constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply
with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their
funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is
constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they
didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their
PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS AT RISK (R)
In our democracy, unions are most successful when they organize skilled
What Wisconsin Means
By Charles Krauthammer
June 7, 2012 8:00 P.M.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012, will be remembered as the beginning of the long
decline of the public-sector union. It will follow, and parallel, the
shrinking of private-sector unions, now down to less than 7 percent of
American workers. The abject failure of the unions to recall Wisconsin
governor Scott Walker — the first such failure in U.S. history — marks
the Icarus moment of government-union power. Wax wings melted, there’s
nowhere to go but down.
The ultimate significance of Walker’s union reforms has been largely
misunderstood. At first, the issue was curtailing outrageous union
benefits, far beyond those of the ordinary Wisconsin taxpayer. That
became a nonissue when the unions quickly realized that trying to
defend the indefensible would render them toxic for the real fight to
So they made the fight about the “right” to collective bargaining,
which the reforms severely curtailed. In a state as historically
progressive as Wisconsin — in 1959, it was the first to legalize the
government-worker union — they thought they could win as a matter of
But as the recall campaign progressed, the Democrats stopped talking
about bargaining rights. It was a losing issue. Walker was able to make
the case that years of corrupt union-politician back-scratching had
been bankrupting the state. And he had just enough time to demonstrate
the beneficial effects of overturning that arrangement: a huge budget
deficit closed without raising taxes, significant school-district
savings from ending cozy insider health-insurance contracts, and a
modest growth in jobs.
But the real threat behind all this was that the new law ended
automatic government collection of union dues. That was the unexpressed
and politically inexpressible issue. Without the thumb of the state
tilting the scale by coerced collection, union membership became truly
voluntary. Result? Newly freed members rushed for the exits. In less
than one year, AFSCME, the second largest public-sector union in
Wisconsin, has lost more than 50 percent of its membership in the state.
It was predictable. In Indiana, where Governor Mitch Daniels instituted
by executive order a similar reform seven years ago, government-worker
unions have since lost 91 percent of their dues-paying membership. In
Wisconsin, Democratic and union bosses (a redundancy) understood what
was at stake if Walker prevailed: not benefits, not “rights,” but the
very existence of the unions.
So they fought and they lost. Repeatedly. Tuesday was their third and
last shot at reversing Walker’s reforms. In April 2011, they ran a
candidate for chief justice of the state supreme court who was widely
expected to strike down the law. She lost.
In July and August 2011, they ran recall elections of state senators,
needing three to reclaim Democratic — i.e., union — control. They
failed. (The likely flipping of one Senate seat to the Democrats on
June 5 is insignificant. The senate is not in session and won’t be
until after yet another round of elections in November.)
And then, Tuesday, their Waterloo. Walker defeated their gubernatorial
candidate by a wider margin than he had two years ago.
The unions’ defeat marks a historical inflection point. They set out to
make an example of Walker. He succeeded in making an example of them as
a classic case of reactionary liberalism. An institution founded to
protect its members grew in size, wealth, power, and arrogance. A
half-century later these unions were exercising essential control of
everything from wages to work rules in the running of government —
something that, in a system of republican governance, is properly the
sovereign province of the citizenry.
Why did the unions lose? Because Norma Rae nostalgia is not enough, and
it hardly applied to government workers living better than the average
taxpayer who supports them.
And because of the rise of a new constitutional conservatism —
committed to limited government and a more robust civil society — of
the kind that swept away Democrats in the 2010 midterm shellacking.
Most important, however, because in the end reality prevails. As
economist Herb Stein once put it: Something that can’t go on, won’t.
These public-sector unions, acting, as FDR had feared, with an inherent
conflict of interest regarding their own duties, were devouring the
institution they were supposed to serve, rendering state government as
economically unsustainable as the collapsing entitlement states of
It couldn’t go on. Now it won’t. All that was missing was a political
leader willing to risk his career to make it stop. Because, time being
infinite, even the inevitable doesn’t happen on its own.
Obama’s Problem? His Record
By Jonah Goldberg, National Review
April 18, 2012 12:00 A.M.
‘The choice in this election is between an economy that produces a
growing middle class and that gives people a chance to get ahead and
their kids a chance to get ahead, and an economy that continues down
the road we are on, where a fewer and fewer number of people do very
well and everybody else is running faster and faster just to keep pace.”
That’s Obama adviser David Axelrod on Fox News Sunday, explaining why
people should vote for . . . Barack Obama.
Odds are this was simply poor phrasing. But it might not have been,
given how desperately the Obama campaign wants to turn back the clock
to 2008, when the choice was between hope and change or continuing
“down the road we are on.”
Regardless of the spin, the simple fact is that Obama is the
stay-the-course candidate stuck with a team, a record, and an economy
ill-suited for a stay-the-course strategy.
That’s what gives poignancy to Obama’s recently renewed love affair
with Ronald Reagan, whom Obama invokes these days as a model of
reasonableness and bipartisanship. He even wants to rename the “Buffett
rule” the “Reagan rule.”
Even before he got the nomination in 2008, Obama said he wanted to be a
“transformative” president like Reagan had been.
And last year, Time magazine featured a cover story, “Why Obama
[Hearts] Reagan,” which in Time’s words gave the true story behind
“Obama’s Reagan Bromance.”
There were two key elements to Obama’s man-crush. The first was the
simple hope that history — or at least the business cycle — would
The White House’s plan was to run for reelection in 2012 with a soaring
economy at its back. After an absolutely bruising recession (that was
in some ways worse than the one Obama inherited), Reagan got to ride a
surging economy to reelection. America enjoyed 6 percent annual growth
in 1984: In three of the four quarters before Election Day, GDP
quarterly growth was more than 7 percent, while inflation and
At Obama’s back is a dismayingly anemic recovery, constantly
threatening to get worse. He wants credit for “creating” 3 million jobs
but insists he be held blameless for millions more workers who’ve left
the job market entirely.
The other reason the White House admired the Reagan White House?
According to Time: “Both relied heavily on the power of oratory.” Then–
press secretary Robert Gibbs added, “Our hope is the story ends the
And there’s the problem for Obama. He’s sticking to his rhetorical guns
on the assumption that he’s the great orator his fans have always
claimed. It’s admirably Gipperesque, I suppose, but the problem is that
Obama has never once significantly moved public opinion on domestic
issues with his arguments. If he had that power, not only would
“Obamacare” be popular today, it would have been popular when he gave
more than 50 addresses and speeches on it during his first year.
Obama’s out on the stump embracing Obamacare, and also doubling down on
green energy, on the need for “investments” in government programs, and
for the whole hodgepodge of rationalizations for hiking taxes and
“spreading the wealth around.”
Asking whether Obama is as good a communicator as Reagan is like
comparing boxers from different generations; there’s plenty of evidence
to form opinions but no way to settle the matter.
But what must be very troubling for Obama is the mounting evidence that
presidential persuasion is vastly overrated. Political scientist
Brendan Nyhan has noted that Reagan’s rhetoric had little effect on the
polls or his media coverage. Liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra
Klein, surveying the academic literature in a recent issue of the New
Yorker, found that there’s little evidence that any president has
really moved the country with his rhetoric.
My hunch is that such findings are overdone and leave out some aspects
of presidential persuasion.
Still, what’s undoubtedly true is that results matter far more than
words. And despite Axelrod’s assertions, the fact is that Obama has
been leading us down the road we are on for more than three years, and
that’s what voters will have in mind come Election Day.
defends missile defense comments on hot mic
The Washington Times
By Dave Boyer
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
SEOUL — A defensive President Obama said Tuesday he wasn’t guilty of
“hiding the ball” when an open microphone caught him pleading with the
president of Russia to delay missile shield talks until after this
“The only way I get this stuff done is If I’m consulting with the
Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly,
the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful
consultations,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a nuclear security summit
here. “This is not a matter of hiding the ball.”
A day earlier, Mr. Obama was caught on tape telling Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev that he needed “space” this year to put his re-election
campaign behind him before taking up missile defense negotiations with
“After my election, I have more flexibility,” he told Mr. Medvedev,
unaware that their conversation was being recorded by a journalist.
Republicans in Washington reacted angrily, accusing Mr. Obama of hiding
his true intentions and fearing he might be willing to give the
Russians access to sensitive security information after the elections.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Mr. Obama’s
comments “alarming and troubling...”
From an earlier story...
“This is my last election,” Mr. Obama said. “After my election, I have
The Russian leader responded, “I understand. I transmit this
information to Vladimir.”
The exchange was picked up by microphone of a Russian reporter as
journalists were allowed into the meeting room for remarks by the two
leaders. It was first reported by ABC News, which said it verified the
conversation. A Washington Times reporter heard a portion of the tape
that begins with Mr. Obama saying, “This is my last election.”
Obama Sends Apology as Afghan Koran Protests Rage
By ALISSA J. RUBIN and GRAHAM BOWLEY, NYTIMES
February 23, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Obama apologized on Thursday for the
burning of Korans at the largest American base in Afghanistan earlier
this week as furious protests raged for a third day and a man wearing
Afghan Army uniform turned his weapon on coalition soldiers, killing
two of them.
“I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident,” Mr. Obama
said in a letter to President Hamid Karzai. “I extend to you and the
Afghan people my sincere apologies.”
The letter was handed to Mr. Karzai by the American ambassador to
Afghanistan, Ryan C. Crocker, on Thursday afternoon in Kabul.
The acting spokesman for the American Embassy in Kabul, Mark Thornburg,
confirmed that the letter had been hand delivered by Mr. Crocker to Mr.
“The error was inadvertent,” Mr. Obama said. “I assure you that we will
take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding
accountable those responsible.”
The letter, an apparent attempt to quell the ferocity of the protests,
followed a third day of angry demonstrations across Afghanistan in
which another six Afghans were killed and at least 55 wounded,
according to Afghan officials.
As the protests raged, the international coalition said two NATO
service members were killed in eastern Afghanistan when a man wearing
the uniform of the Afghan national army turned his gun on NATO soldiers.
The NATO commanding general in Afghanistan, John R. Allen, had already
offered his apology for the burning of the Korans, ordered an
investigation, and issued an order for every coalition soldier in
Afghanistan to complete training in "the proper handling of religious
By Thursday morning, demonstrations had begun to widen, officials and
witnesses said, though some crowds were small and relatively peaceful.
But one, in Laghman Province, drew as many as 1,000 protesters and
turned violent as demonstrators marched to a NATO-run base for
In Baghlan Province there was a confrontation between the police and
protesters and one protester was killed, officials said.In a late-night
statement sent to the media on Wednesday, President Hamid Karzai urged
demonstrators not to resort to violence. Mr. Karzai scheduled a hastily
arranged meeting with members of both houses of Parliament on Thursday
morning at the presidential palace and some 300 lawmakers arrived to
participate, said a presidential spokesman, Aimal Faizi.
The fury does not appear likely to abate soon. Some members of
Parliament called on Afghans to take up arms against the American
military, and Western officials said they feared that conservative
mullahs might incite more violence at the weekly Friday Prayer, when a
large number of people worship at mosques.
“Americans are invaders, and jihad against Americans is an obligation,”
said Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a member of Parliament from the Ghorband
District in Parwan Province, where at least four demonstrators were
killed in confrontations with the police on Wednesday.
Standing with about 20 other members of Parliament, Mr. Khawasi called
on mullahs and religious leaders “to urge the people from the pulpit to
wage jihad against Americans.”
The Taliban also called on people to take up arms against the foreign
troops here and the Afghan security forces.
In a message to the media and posted on Taliban Web sites, the
insurgent group gave specific instructions including to “attack the
occupiers’ military bases, their military convoys and other occupying
The goal, according to the Taliban statement was to attack American
installations and property but not Afghans’ “public property.”
The message also urged attacks on those “who still close their eyes to
this unforgivable act of the infidels” and those who defend American
property, an allusion to the Afghan security forces.
With the mood tense across the capital, where roads were closed and the
American Embassy and most other diplomatic missions were locked down,
Mr. Karzai made his first public statement on the episode on Wednesday,
strongly condemning the Koran burnings and setting up a panel of
mullahs and other senior religious figures to investigate it.
He said that a preliminary investigation showed that “American soldiers
had burned four copies of the Holy Koran.” It was not clear if other
copies were damaged but not actually burned. Earlier reports from
elders who visited Bagram Air Base on Tuesday and saw some of the
Korans indicated that 10 to 15 had been damaged to varying degrees.
The White House said Mr. Obama had also used the letter to Mr. Karzai
to discuss other issues concerning America’s long-term relationship
with Afghanistan. The two leaders had spoken by telephone on Monday, a
day before the Koran burning incident, when they discussed among other
things Mr. Karzai’s recent visit to Pakistan and the prospects for
peace talks with the Taliban.
“Following up on their February 20 phone call, the President sent a
letter to President Karzai to continue their discussion on a range of
issues related to our long-term partnership,” Tommy Vietor, the
spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement. “In
the letter, delivered by Ambassador Crocker this afternoon in Kabul,
the President also expressed our regret and apologies over the incident
in which religious materials were unintentionally mishandled at Bagram
The Koran-burning episode offered support for Mr. Karzai’s argument
that the Afghan government should take over the American-run detention
center in Parwan, where more than 3,000 suspected insurgents are
housed, as he demanded in December. The United States has declined,
citing legal reasons and saying that the Afghans are not prepared to
run the maximum-security site.
Mr. Faizi, the presidential spokesman, said Mr. Karzai had now renewed
his demand to the Americans. “The sooner you turn over the Bagram
prison to Afghan authorities the sooner we will avoid such incidents,”
The American efforts here are at a crucial stage, as the United States
tries to negotiate a strategic partnership agreement with the Afghans
and to pave the way for peace talks. Aware of the damage the Koran
burnings can cause, American diplomats and military officials met with
Mr. Karzai and spoke to senior Afghan government and religious figures
in an attempt to tamp down their anger, said Mark Thornburg, the acting
spokesman for the American Embassy.
Among those who met with Mr. Karzai were Ryan C. Crocker, the American
ambassador; Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of NATO forces in
Afghanistan; and Ashton B. Carter, the deputy defense secretary. They
apologized and offered to cooperate fully with the Afghan government in
its investigation into what led to the burning of the Korans.
Extremist groups, including the Taliban, were quick to exploit the
episode, rallying mobs of mostly young men to confront the Americans
and the Afghan security forces.
Outside Parliament, a crowd of madrasa students wielding sticks said
they were prompted to protest by their teachers.
Throughout the morning the highway between Jalalabad and central Kabul
was closed by a crowd of at least several hundred people. They set
tires on fire and burned checkpoints and a government minibus as they
surged toward Camp Phoenix, the NATO military base that faces the road.
Many threw rocks at passing S.U.V.’s — symbols of the foreign presence
— as well as Afghan police and American military vehicles.
Protesters in Kabul interviewed on the road and in front of Parliament
said that this was not the first time that Americans had violated
Afghan cultural and religious traditions and that an apology was not
“This is not just about dishonoring the Koran, it is about
disrespecting our dead and killing our children,” said Maruf Hotak, 60,
a man who joined the crowd on the outskirts of Kabul, referring to an
episode in Helmand Province when American Marines urinated on the dead
bodies of men they described as insurgents and to a recent erroneous
airstrike on civilians in Kapisa Province that killed eight young
“They always admit their mistakes,” he said. “They burn our Koran, and
then they apologize. You can’t just disrespect our holy book and kill
our innocent children and make a small apology.”
Most of the protesters’ injuries occurred in confrontations with Afghan
police officers and soldiers who were trying to contain the violence
and in some cases prevent assaults on NATO bases by angry mobs.
In the eastern city of Jalalabad, where one person was killed and 10
wounded on Wednesday, protesters said that Afghan soldiers and NATO
troops fired on the crowd. Six NATO fuel trucks parked near the base
were also set on fire, said Ahmadzia Abdul Zai, the spokesman for the
The day was hardest in many respects for the police, who said they
sympathized with the protesters but said understood it was their job to
try to enforce order. While some witnesses said the police officers
seemed reluctant to intervene, at other times confrontations resulted
“I do not blame people for throwing rocks at us,” Gen. Mohammed Ayoub
Salangi, the Kabul police chief, said after he was pelted when he went
out to visit his forces on the Jalalabad road, “because this is their
right to protest their anger about dishonoring our Holy Koran, and the
police are their sons and their servants.”
PERMITS BE REQUIRED? NYC have a policy like the Weston BD of ED?
Pay to use the schools (fill out permit, pay fee, hire police and pay
for 4 hours of a custodian)?
From anti-Bush sentiment at 2004 Republican Convention in NYC to G20 in
Pittsburgh and Toronto; Do anonymous protesters ("Occupying Wall
Street") pay rent? A "user fee" for right-of-way? President Obama waves to people gathered outside
in the rain as he shops for Christmas gifts Wednesday in Alexandria.
The president’s spokesman said Mr. Obama’s assertion that he ranked
among the greatest presidents was taken out of context (r.) -
MILLER: Obama blows off
President says he
won’t abide by spending bill he signed
By Emily Miller
Monday, December 26, 2011
When the president of the United States signs a bill into law, it’s
expected that he will abide by it. That’s not the case with President
Obama, who has a sudden interest in novel legalistic interpretations
getting him off the hook from laws he doesn’t like.
On Friday, the president signed the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill,
which funds the government for the remaining nine months of the fiscal
year. Afterward, he released a statement saying he won’t abide by the
law because the Justice Department had advised that certain provisions
are “subject to well-founded constitutional objections.”
House Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman Kevin Smith told The
Washington Times, “This president used to condemn the type of signing
statements he is now embracing to ignore the will of Congress and the
One of the presidential pet peeves is that Capitol Hill put the kibosh
on his czars. Those high-level White House appointments aren’t
confirmed by the Senate but are central to implementing Mr. Obama’s
liberal agenda. Lawmakers specifically blocked funding for salaries and
offices for four of his nine czars: health care (who coordinates
Obamacare), automobile industry (“car czar”), urban affairs and climate
The president protested that defunding those positions “could prevent
me from fulfilling my constitutional responsibilities, by denying me
the assistance of senior advisers and by obstructing my supervision of
executive branch officials.” Thus, he’s going to interpret the law as
he sees fit.
The commander in chief is opposed to new restrictions on foreign
relations and national security, especially a new requirement that the
defense secretary notify congressional appropriations committees in
advance of military exercises that cost more than $100,000 for
Also at issue is a restriction on funding United Nations peacekeeping
missions that put U.S. armed forces under the command or operational
control of foreign nationals. Mr. Obama said he’s only going to apply
those provisions he deems constitutional. The same flexibility with the
law apparently will be enjoyed in relation to 14 separate provisions
that limit foreign aid to certain governments.
The president protested that “once again” he has been stopped from
transferring terrorist detainees from the U.S. facility at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, onto the U.S. mainland. He claimed this law could “violate
constitutional separation of powers principles.” He vowed to interpret
it to keep executive powers supreme and work to repeal the ban on
bringing these dangerous outlaws stateside.
On top of all this, Mr. Obama took umbrage at unnamed but “numerous”
omnibus provisions that limit the executive branch from spending money
without the approval of congressional committees. He wrote, “These are
constitutionally impermissible forms of congressional aggrandizement in
the execution of the laws.” The chief executive warned that his
administration will notify the relevant committees in advance and
listen to their recommendations, but “our spending decisions shall not
be treated as dependent on the approval of congressional committees.”
The American system of government is based on a separation of powers,
not presidential fiat. Mr. Obama should abide by every word of the
1,200-page bill passed by Congress and signed by his own hand.
© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint
we haven't heard this from other
Obama seeks debt collector
By DAVID ESPO - AP Special Correspondent
4 October 2011
WASHINGTON (AP) — To the dismay of consumer groups and the discomfort
of Democrats, President Barack Obama wants Congress to make it easier
for private debt collectors to call the cellphones of consumers
delinquent on student loans and other billions owed the federal
The change "is expected to provide substantial increases in
collections, particularly as an increasing share of households no
longer have landlines and rely instead on cellphones," the
administration wrote recently. The little-noticed recommendation would
apply only to cases in which money is owed the government, and is
tucked into the mammoth $3 trillion deficit-reduction plan the
president submitted to Congress.
Despite the claim, the administration has not yet developed an estimate
of how much the government would collect, and critics reject the logic
behind the recommendation.
"Enabling robo-calls (to cellphones) is just going to lead to more
harassment and abuse, and it's not going to help the government collect
more money," said Lauren Saunders of the Boston-based National Consumer
Law Center. "People aren't paying their student loans because they
can't find a job."
Whatever the impact on the budget deficit, the proposal has aligned the
White House with the private debt collection industry — frequently the
subject of consumer complaints — at a time when the economy is weak,
unemployment is high and Obama is embarking on his campaign for
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters the proposal is
"just an acknowledgement of the fact that a lot of people have
abandoned landlines and only have cell phones. As a matter of
practicality, if they need to be contacted with regard to their debt,
there has to be a way to contact them."
While Carney didn't say so, debt collection agencies are already
permitted to call cell phones. The administration wants the law changed
so the firms can use robo-calling.
Democrats in Congress who frequently support the president, including
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Democratic leader
Nancy Pelosi of California, declined through aides to say whether they
favor or oppose the plan.
Nor was there any reaction from two other members of the party's
leadership in the Senate, Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck
Schumer of New York. Both men frequently take the side of consumers in
Several aides, speaking on condition of anonymity so they could talk
freely, said Democrats do not want to oppose the president but are
unable to support the request.
Mark Schiffman, a spokesman for ACA International, an industry trade
association, said the administration "basically has come to the same
solution we have" at a time when an increasing number of Americans have
no landline phone to receive calls.
The change "is something we have been advocating for," he said,
although he added his organization did not have direct discussions with
administration officials in advance.
Schiffman noted that debt collectors have long been allowed to make
robo-calls to landline phones. He said automatic dialing is a more
efficient way to contact consumers who are overdue in their payments,
and the industry wants it allowed in all cases, not solely those
involving debts owed to the government, as Obama has proposed.
Legislation along those lines was introduced in the House last week.
Federal law currently permits private debt collectors to use automatic
dialing in trying to contact consumers on their landline phones. They
also are permitted to make individually dialed calls to some cellphones.
The request comes at a time when the government is looking for ways to
collect tens of billions of dollars.
According to a report by the Treasury Department's Financial Management
Service, the Education and the Health and Human Services departments as
well as FMS itself referred debts totaling $35.9 billion to private
debt collectors in the 2010 fiscal year.
The Education Department accounted for the largest share by far — $28.8
billion referred to 22 private debt collection companies. The firms
collected $685 million outright, and another $1.7 billion was recast
into agreements that are designed to be paid monthly, according to the
Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for Education Secretary Arne Duncan,
defended the proposal as an attempt to help individuals who fall behind
on loans from the government. "It's a reality of the 21st century that
a growing number of those who are delinquent "are using only a cell
phone. If we can't reach them, we can't help them. And that's not good
for students or for taxpayers," he said in an email.
According to written responses the department provided to questions, it
hires private collection agencies in part so the government can gain
"the benefits of greater collections" through the use of new technology
that is developed by private industry.
Collection agencies can receive a fee of as much as 17.5 percent of the
amount they recover.
A different federal agency, the Federal Trade Commission, collects
extensive records about the private debt collection industry in general.
"The FTC receives more complaints about the debt collection industry
than any other specific industry," according to an annual report to
Congress, more than 100,000 in 2010.
The complaints fall into several categories, citing alleged harassment,
demands for impermissibly large payments, failure to provide required
consumer notice and threatening dire consequences such as jail time.
Street Demonstrations Test Police Trained for Bigger Threats
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN
September 26, 2011
When members of the loose protest movement
known as Occupy Wall Street began a march from the financial district
to Union Square on Saturday, the participants seemed relatively
harmless, even as they were breaking the law by marching in the street
without a permit.
But to the New York Police Department, the protesters represented
something else: a visible example of lawlessness akin to that which had
resulted in destruction and violence at other anticapitalist
demonstrations, like the Group of 20 economic summit meeting in London
in 2009 and the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999.
The Police Department’s concerns came up against a perhaps milder
reality on Saturday, when their efforts to maintain crowd control
suddenly escalated: protesters were corralled by police officers who
put up orange mesh netting; the police forcibly arrested some
participants; and a deputy inspector used pepper spray on four women
who were on the sidewalk, behind the orange netting.
The police’s actions suggested the flip side of a force trained to
fight terrorism, in a city whose police commissioner acknowledges the
ownership of a gun big enough to take down a plane, but that may appear
less nimble in dealing with the likes of the Wall Street protesters. So
even as the members of Occupy Wall Street seem unorganized and, at
times, uninformed, their continued presence creates a vexing problem
for the Police Department.
In recent weeks, police commanders have been discussing the riots in
London this summer, and strategizing how they would stop a similar
situation in New York, said Roy Richter, the president of the union in
New York that represents officers of captain and higher rank. And since
August, investigators with the Police Department and the Federal Bureau
of Investigation have monitored the online efforts of activists to
bring demonstrations to Wall Street, people briefed on the matter said.
The Police Department conducts an internal review of its response to
every large-scale demonstration, and the protest on Saturday appeared
to have resulted in the largest number of arrests since the
demonstrations surrounding the Republican National Convention in 2004.
The events of Saturday are certain to be examined, especially since so
many protesters were recording the events with cameras; videos of the
pepper spray episode, for example, offered views from several angles.
Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, defended the
use of pepper spray as appropriate and added that it was “used
But Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr., chairman of the City Council’s
Public Safety Committee, said that in the video clips he had seen, the
use of pepper spray “didn’t look good,” although Mr. Vallone cautioned
that he wanted to know if any interactions had occurred between the
officers and the women in the minutes before pepper spray was used.
“If no prior verbal command was given and disobeyed, then the use of
spray in that instance is completely inappropriate,” Mr. Vallone said.
On Monday, several Web sites identified the supervising officer who
used the pepper spray as Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, a longtime
commander in Manhattan. Like a number of other officers, Inspector
Bologna is a defendant in lawsuits claiming wrongful arrests at
protests staged during the Republican National Convention in 2004..
A police official who had spoken to Inspector Bologna following the
incident confirmed that the inspector had used the spray. “He did his
job and now he’s concerned for the safety of his family,” said the
official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized
to confirm the inspector’s name.
According to the Police Department’s patrol guide, officers may use
pepper spray under certain conditions, including “when a member
reasonably believes it is necessary to effect an arrest of a resisting
suspect.” The guide also advises that the spray should “not be used in
situations that do not require the use of physical force.”
The Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that
investigates allegations of police misconduct, received 328 complaints
in 2010 relating to the use of pepper spray, accounting for about 5.5
percent of the total number of complaints citing improper use of force.
In the past week, the review board has received more than a dozen
complaints relating to officers’ interactions with protesters, said a
spokeswoman for the board, Linda Sachs.
Although the Police Department has closely monitored the encampment of
protesters in the Financial District and stationed officers there,
there appears to have been little discussion between the police and the
Mr. Browne, the police spokesman said that the protesters never sought
a permit for Saturday’s march.
The lack of communication between the two sides may have set the stage
for the confrontation on Saturday near Union Square.
When groups have permits, “the department is pretty accommodating when
it comes to street marches,” said Christopher T. Dunn, associate legal
director for the New York Civil Liberties Union. He added that some
groups had perfectly good reasons for not wanting to engage with the
police, and “that’s certainly their prerogative.”
In interviews, police officials described the lack of a permit and the
fact that protesters were obstructing traffic as key factors in the
arrests and the department’s decision to end the march.
“If you have a permit, the police will accommodate for things like
diverting traffic,” Mr. Browne said. “If you take a street for a parade
or protest without a permit, you are subject to arrest.”
Mr. Richter, of the police union, said that from the perspective of the
protesters, the Police Department’s decision to suddenly end the
demonstration might have appeared arbitrary.
“I can see it from a demonstrator’s view, asking, ‘What changed?’ ” Mr.
Richter said. “But there comes a point when the command staff makes a
decision that the crowd is too big, and we’re at a breaking point, and
we have to take back the street.”
Double-dip learning curve
Obama about-face on tax hikes
flummoxes both left and right
The Washington Times
By Tony Blankley
Monday, September 19, 2011
In one of the least-needed reassurances in modern political history,
President Obama’s top political man, David Plouffe, “told Democrats
late last week that the White House would not suffer from
overconfidence. ‘What I don’t want to suggest is that we’re sitting
around and thinking everything is great,’ he said.”
With the White House’s own economists predicting 9 percent or worse
unemployment on Election Day, the president at about 39 percent job
approval, college graduates unable to find jobs, a quarter of American
homes under water, no credible White House policy or strategy for
changing things - and with most non-institutionalized Americans
convinced we are in a recession that is going to get much worse - it is
surpassingly odd that Mr. Plouffe, as The Washington Post said, was
worried that his fellow Democrats might think the president and his men
think everything to be hunky-dory.
And yet, if overconfidence is not driving White House strategy, what
is? If it weren’t overconfident, wouldn’t the administration be
changing its policies, staff and strategies, as James Carville screamed
it ought to do? Mr. Carville says to the White House: “Panic!” And the
White House responds: “What - me worry? No, we’re not overconfident.”
After the November 2010 election rout, many observers (not me) thought
they observed a rising learning curve in the White House. The president
agreed to sign into law the extension of the George W. Bush tax cuts -
with the White House even conceding that one shouldn’t raise taxes
during a recession or, from its rhetorical posture, one shouldn’t raise
taxes during the early stages of a recovery that is not yet
Yet in the president’s recent new “jobs” policy announcement, he called
for more than $400 billion in new taxes to “pay for” more than $400
billion of Keynesian growth injection (not to be confused with the
banned word - stimulus).
Given that this administration believes in the Keynesian principle of
replacing a slumped private-sector aggregate demand with public-sector
moneys, why would the president now be calling for higher taxes during
an “insufficiently robust early stage of recovery?”
According to the actual John Keynes, when an economy experiences
contraction of private-sector aggregate demand, the government should
both: 1) Spend more government money - borrowed, if necessary - and 2)
Thus, the White House decision to raise spending and raise taxes is
neither Keynesian nor rational. It is, however, similar to its decision
in 2009 to stimulate the economy with $825 billion almost entirely
focused on government spending. At the time, I (and some others)
publicly argued that if the president was following Keynesian policy,
the logic of that policy required that the stimulus should be in the
vicinity of $2 trillion - not less than $1 trillion - to replace more
than $2 trillion in lost private-sector aggregate demand.
Since then, while most of the public (and most of us conservatives)
have argued that the stimulus did not work, the White House has made
the argument that things would have been much worse if the stimulus
plan had not been enacted - thus implicitly conceding that if it had
stimulated more in 2009, the economy would be even less bad than it is
So what can one deduce has been the White House policy reasoning these
past 2 1/2 years? First, in early 2009, provide Keynesian stimulus to
the economy, but not enough to gain robust growth. Second, in late
2010, don’t raise taxes for fear of inducing further insufficiently
robust growth. Third, in middle 2011, raise taxes even though there
remains insufficiently robust growth. No wonder the left is as baffled,
flummoxed and frustrated as is - for different reasons - the right.
It would appear that the White House’s learning curve is paralleling
the economy: flat-lining, with the risk of a double dip.
Despite all reason to the contrary, it may be that Mr. Plouffe really
was defensive, that he and his team really are overconfident. Perhaps,
despite everything, they feel no need to experiment or change an iota
in their flat-lining policy prescriptions.
Perhaps, rather than trying to change the economy or the world, they
are confidently guided by the expectation that the Republicans simply
will choose an unelectable nominee and solve all the White House’s
problems. Blanche Dubois, in the Tennessee Williams play “Streetcar
Named Desire,” expressed that strategy in an other way: “I have always
depended on the kindness of strangers.”
By ROSS DOUTHAT
September 11, 2011
A week after President Obama took the oath of office, Alice Rivlin,
budget chief to President Bill Clinton, testified before a Congress
that was about to consider sweeping stimulus legislation. In her
remarks, Rivlin voiced her support for a swift and substantial federal
intervention to prop up the sagging economy. But she offered lawmakers
three warnings as well.
The first warning was about the design of the stimulus. The ideal
anti-recession package, Rivlin told Congress, would include aid to
state governments, extended unemployment benefits, money for genuinely
“shovel ready” projects and a payroll tax holiday. But she urged
Congress to resist the temptation to combine these kinds of short-term
recession-fighting measures with a larger and more costly investment in
energy, education and infrastructure. Trying to rush a long-term
spending package through in an atmosphere of crisis, she cautioned,
would only guarantee that its contents would be poorly designed, and
much of its spending wasted.
The second warning was about setting expectations. Given the nature of
the financial crisis and the nasty overhang of debt it left behind, any
recovery would probably be slow even with a stimulus bill. Policy
makers “should be skeptical of all forecasts,” she told Congress, “and
especially conscious of the risk that things may continue to go worse
The third warning was about how to handle the problem of deficits,
which already shadowed the stimulus debate. “We do not have the luxury
of waiting until the economy recovers before taking actions to bring
down projected future deficits,” Rivlin said. Instead, she urged
Congress to take action “this year” on entitlement spending, and to
prioritize Medicare reforms over a more comprehensive health care
With these three warnings, Rivlin anticipated everything that the Obama
White House and the Democratic Congress would do wrong over the next
First, instead of passing a targeted antirecession package,
Congressional Democrats crammed the stimulus bill with spending on
everything from Head Start and Pell Grants to high-speed rail and
renewable-energy projects. The hope was that the legislation would do
more than just kickstart a recovery: It would lay a new foundation for
the economy, with an electric car in every garage and a Solyndra solar
panel on every roof. The result, predictably, was a bill that looked
less like a temporary exercise in crisis management and more like the
Democratic Party’s permanent wish list.
Second, instead of emphasizing the severity of the recession, the White
House offered sunny — and, as it turned out, wildly mistaken —
projections about how swiftly the stimulus would bring down the
unemployment rate. Even once it became clear that the recovery wasn’t
happening nearly as quickly as promised, the administration stuck to
its Pollyannaish script, sending the president and the vice president
out on an embarrassing “recovery summer” tour in 2010 and repeatedly
projecting economic growth that failed to materialize.
Finally, instead of pivoting from the Recovery Act to deficits and
entitlement reform, the Democratic majority spent all of its
post-stimulus political capital trying to push both a costly new health
care entitlement and a cap-and-trade bill through Congress. Both
policies were advertised, intermittently, as deficit reduction, but
neither came close to addressing the real long-term drivers of the
nation’s debt. And they left Congressional Democrats to campaign for
re-election in 2010 as the custodians of record deficits as well as
Now, nearly three years after Rivlin’s warnings went unheeded,
President Obama has groped his way to an agenda that looks more like
what she originally recommended. His speech to Congress last week
suggested that he intends to campaign for re-election on what should
have been the blueprint for his first four years in office: a
short-term stimulus highlighted by a payroll tax cut, a medium-term
push to overhaul the tax code and a plan for long-term entitlement
To Republicans, this agenda holds out the possibility that a second
Obama term might feature more opportunities for compromise and common
ground. But to voters pondering whether to make that second term
happen, it amounts to a request for a presidential do-over — a tacit
admission that the White House’s first-term agenda has been less than
successful, and a plea for a second chance to get things right.
If the answer to that plea turns out to be “no,” then President Obama’s
political epitaph should be taken from the Victorian verse of Dante
“Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been; I am also called No-more,
By MAUREEN DOWD
September 3, 2011
ONE day during the 2008 campaign, as Barack Obama read the foreboding
news of the mounting economic and military catastrophes that W. was
bequeathing his successor, he dryly remarked to aides: “Maybe I should
throw the game.”
On the razor’s edge of another recession; blocked at every turn by
Republicans determined to slice him up at any cost; starting an
unexpectedly daunting re-election bid; and puzzling over how to make a
prime-time speech about infrastructure and payroll taxes soar, maybe
President Obama is wishing that he had thrown the game.
The leader who was once a luminescent, inspirational force is now just
a guy in a really bad spot.
His Republican rivals for 2012 have gone to town on the Labor Day
weekend news of zero job growth, using the same line of attack Hillary
used in 2008: Enough with the big speeches! What about some action?
Polls show that most Americans still like and trust the president; but
they may no longer have faith that he’s a smarty-pants who can fix the
Just as Obama miscalculated in 2009 when Democrats had total control of
Congress, holding out hope that G.O.P. lawmakers would come around on
health care after all but three senators had refused to vote for the
stimulus bill; just as he misread John Boehner this summer, clinging
like a scorned lover to a dream that the speaker would drop his
demanding new inamorata, the Tea Party, to strike a “grand” budget
bargain, so the president once more set a trap for himself and gave
Boehner the opportunity to dis him on the timing of his jobs speech
Obama’s re-election chances depend on painting the Republicans as
disrespectful. So why would the White House act disrespectful by
scheduling a speech to a joint session of Congress at the exact time
when the Republicans already had a debate planned?
And why is the White House so cocky about Obama as a TV draw against
quick-draw Rick Perry? As James Carville acerbically noted, given a
choice between watching an Obama speech and a G.O.P. debate, “I’d watch
the debate, and I’m not even a Republican.”
The White House caved, of course, and moved to Thursday, because
there’s nothing the Republicans say that he won’t eagerly meet halfway.
No. 2 on David Letterman’s Top Ten List of the president’s plans for
Labor Day: “Pretty much whatever the Republicans tell him he can do.”
On MSNBC, the anchors were wistfully listening to old F.D.R. speeches,
wishing that this president had some of that fight. But Obama can’t
turn into F.D.R. for the campaign because he aspires to the class that
F.D.R. was a traitor to; and he can’t turn into Harry Truman because he
lacks the common touch. He has an acquired elitism.
MSNBC’s Matt Miller offered “a public service” to journalists talking
about Obama — a list of synonyms for cave: “Buckle, fold, concede,
bend, defer, submit, give in, knuckle under, kowtow, surrender, yield,
And it wasn’t exactly Morning in America when Obama sent out a mass
e-mail to supporters Wednesday under the heading “Frustrated.”
It unfortunately echoed a November 2010 parody in The Onion with the
headline, “Frustrated Obama Sends Nation Rambling 75,000-Word E-Mail.”
“Throughout,” The Onion teased, “the president expressed his
aggravation on subjects as disparate as the war in Afghanistan, the
sluggish economic recovery, his live-in mother-in-law, China’s
undervalued currency, Boston’s Logan Airport, and tort reform.”
You know you’re in trouble when Harry Reid says you should be more
If the languid Obama had not done his usual irritating fourth-quarter
play, if he had presented a jobs plan a year ago and fought for it, he
wouldn’t have needed to elevate the setting. How will he up the ante
next time? A speech from the space station?
Republicans who are worried about being political props have a point.
The president is using the power of the incumbency and a sacred
occasion for a political speech.
Obama is still suffering from the Speech Illusion, the idea that he can
come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic
spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry
around and do what he proclaimed.
The days of spinning illusions in a Greek temple in a football stadium
are done. The One is dancing on the edge of one term.
The White House team is flailing — reacting, regrouping, retrenching.
After pushing and shoving and caving to get on TV, the president’s
advisers immediately began warning that the long-yearned-for jobs
speech wasn’t going to be that awe-inspiring.
“The issue isn’t the size or the newness of the ideas,” one said. “It’s
less the substance than how he says it, whether he seizes the moment.”
The arc of justice is stuck at the top of a mountain. Maybe Obama was
not even the person he was waiting for.
Bush was flayed for Enron. Where does
that put Obama and his green-energy pet?
September 2, 2011 12:00 A.M.
We have seen the future, and it went bankrupt.
If the praises of high-ranking Obama-administration officials were a
viable business plan, the solar-panel maker Solyndra would be an
industrial juggernaut. Vice President Biden insisted that the jobs
created by the California-based firm would “allow America to compete
and to lead like we did in the 20th century.”
In a visit to Solyndra in May 2010, President Obama called it “a
testament to American ingenuity and dynamism.” He all but redefined the
traditional statement of Americanness to encompass motherhood, apple
pie, and the conversion of sunlight into electricity through
cylindrical thin-film solar cells, the specialty of Solyndra.
Obama and Biden were literally invested in Solyndra’s success. The
company got a half-billion-dollar federal loan guarantee, the first in
a highly vaunted Department of Energy green-jobs program, as part of
the stimulus. This was supposed to be the new economic model:
government and its favored industries cooperating to lead the country
into a green, politically approved recovery.
The showcase firm is now filing for Chapter 11 in an embarrassing blow
to the premises of Obamanomics. At least the Obama administration can’t
be accused of practicing industrial policy the old-fashioned way and
picking winners. It is evidently quite ready to pick losers, too.
A Department of Energy spokesman explained wanly, “The company was
considered extraordinarily innovative as recently as 2010.” Innovative,
maybe; profitable, no. It had never turned a profit since its founding
in 2005. In the still “extraordinarily innovative” year of 2010, it
canceled an attempted IPO and axed its CEO.
Plenty of venture capitalists made foolish bets on Solyndra, but the
federal government was the most reckless. The Obama administration
wanted to throw money at the likes of Solyndra without due diligence,
or much diligence at all. In 2008, the Government Accountability Office
warned that the Energy Department loan program — created in a 2005
energy bill — had inadequate safeguards.
Nonetheless, within 60 days of becoming energy secretary, Steven Chu
put Uncle Sam on the hook for Solyndra. According to the Wall Street
Journal, $527 million of the $535 million federal loan has been drawn
down, with a bankruptcy court set to determine how much the feds will
recover. Chu is fortunate that taxpayers can’t bring shareholder
lawsuits against the federal government.
President Bush was flayed for the Enron bankruptcy, based on his
tenuous ties to the firm. If the same media rules applied, Solyndra
would be Obama’s Enron, given his active promotion of the company and
his lavish funding of it. A prodigious Obama-Biden fundraiser is a
major backer of the failed concern.
Solyndra’s crash comes during a wave of solar bankruptcies. The
government’s enthusiasm for solar power far outstripped that of
consumers. Spain provided something of a precursor. It massively
subsidized a solar-power industry that collapsed when the government
realized its generosity was unsustainable and cut back. One Spanish
newspaper had a headline, “Spain admits that the green economy sold to
Obama is a ruin.”
China is picking up the pieces. Not only does China coddle solar firms,
it inherently is a lower-cost manufacturing environment. Its cheap,
simple solar panels are more marketable than the more sophisticated
version attempted by Solyndra. Our subsidies for the purchase of solar
panels are often used to buy Chinese products. Inevitably, the U.S.
solar industry will seek to score the trifecta of government support
already achieved by the boondoggle fuel ethanol — subsidizing its
production, mandating its use, and barring its foreign competitors.
The stakes in the battle to manufacture solar panels are exceedingly
small. Solar power accounts for less than 1 percent of the electricity
generated in the United States. The Obama administration’s fervency for
it has more to do with the romance of its clean, postindustrial image
than with economics. Obama said last year, “The true engine of economic
growth will always be companies like Solyndra.” If that were so, it
never would have needed half a billion of our dollars in the first
It Is a Ponzi Scheme
In fact, Social Security is a bit
worse than that.
Michael Tanner, National
August 31, 2011 12:00 A.M.
Texas governor Rick Perry is being criticized for calling Social
Security a “Ponzi scheme.” Even Mitt Romney is reportedly
preparing to attack him for holding such a radical view. But if
anything, Perry was being too kind.
The original Ponzi scheme was the brainchild of Charles Ponzi. Starting
in 1916, the poor but enterprising Italian immigrant convinced people
to allow him to invest their money. However, Ponzi never actually made
any investments. He simply took the money he was given by later
investors and gave it to his early investors, providing those early
investors with a handsome profit. He then used these satisfied early
investors as advertisements to get more investors. Unfortunately, in
order to keep paying previous investors, Ponzi had to continue finding
more and more new investors. Eventually, he couldn’t expand the number
of new investors fast enough, and the scheme collapsed. Ponzi was
convicted of fraud and sent to prison.
Social Security, on the other hand, forces people to invest in it
through a mandatory payroll tax. A small portion of that money is used
to buy special-issue Treasury bonds that the government will eventually
have to repay, but the vast majority of the money you pay in Social
Security taxes is not invested in anything. Instead, the money you pay
into the system is used to pay benefits to those “early investors” who
are retired today. When you retire, you will have to rely on the next
generation of workers behind you to pay the taxes that will finance
As with Ponzi’s scheme, this turns out to be a very good deal for those
who got in early. The very first Social Security recipient, Ida Mae
Fuller of Vermont, paid just $44 in Social Security taxes, but the
long-lived Mrs. Fuller collected $20,993 in benefits. Such high returns
were possible because there were many workers paying into the system
and only a few retirees taking benefits out of it. In 1950, for
instance, there were 16 workers supporting every retiree. Today, there
are just over three. By around 2030, we will be down to just two.
As with Ponzi’s scheme, when the number of new contributors dries up,
it will become impossible to continue to pay the promised benefits.
Those early windfall returns are long gone. When today’s young workers
retire, they will receive returns far below what private investments
could provide. Many will be lucky to break even.
Eventually the pyramid crumbles.
Of course, Social Security and Ponzi schemes are not perfectly
analogous. Ponzi, after all, had to rely on what people were willing to
voluntarily invest with him. Once he couldn’t convince enough new
investors to join his scheme, it collapsed. Social Security, on the
other hand, can rely on the power of the government to tax. As the
shrinking number of workers paying into the system makes it harder to
continue to sustain benefits, the government can just force young
people to pay even more into the system.
In fact, Social Security taxes have been raised some 40 times since the
program began. The initial Social Security tax was 2 percent (split
between the employer and employee), capped at $3,000 of earnings. That
made for a maximum tax of $60. Today, the tax is 12.4 percent, capped
at $106,800, for a maximum tax of $13,234. Even adjusting for
inflation, that represents more than an 800 percent increase.
In addition, at least until the final collapse of his scheme, Ponzi was
more or less obligated to pay his early investors what he promised
them. With Social Security, on the other hand, Congress is always able
to change or cut those benefits in order to keep the scheme going.
Social Security is facing more than $20 trillion in unfunded future
liabilities. Raising taxes and cutting benefits enough to keep the
program limping along will obviously mean an ever-worsening deal for
younger workers. They will be forced to pay more and get less.
Rick Perry got this one right.
Meet the mainstream media.
September 5, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 47
As a rule, the press is the scourge of presidents. They’re expected to
endure unending scrutiny, mistrust, and badgering—plus hostility if
they’re Republicans—by a hectoring herd of reporters and commentators
in the mainstream media. But there’s an exception to the rule:
It’s counterintuitive, but Obama has been hurt by the media’s leniency.
Both his presidency and reelection prospects have suffered. He’s grown
lazy and complacent. The media have encouraged him to believe his
speeches are irresistible political catnip, though they aren’t. His
overreliance on words hasn’t helped.
The kind of media pressure that can cause a president to sharpen his
game, act with urgency, or take bolder steps—that has never been
applied to Obama. If it had, I suspect he’d be a more effective,
disciplined, energetic, and popular president today. Ronald Reagan is a
good role model in this regard. When the media attacked him over gaffes
in the 1980 campaign, “Reagan responded like all competitive men by
working to improve himself,” says Reagan historian Craig Shirley.
“Experience taught him to be better and try harder.” He took this
lesson into the White House.
I don’t want to exaggerate the media’s baneful influence on Obama. It’s
hardly the main reason for his decline. It’s a secondary reason, and it
continues to have an impact.
Absent pushing and prodding by the press, the Obama presidency has
atrophied. His speeches are defensive and repetitive and filled with
excuses. He passes the buck. With persistently high unemployment and a
weak economy, Obama recently declared, in effect, “I have a plan. See
you after my vacation.” The press doesn’t goad him to lead.
On the contrary, the media have condoned Obama’s avoidance of
leadership. It started when he let Nancy Pelosi draft the $800 billion
stimulus and continued when congressional Democrats put together the
health care, cap and trade, and financial industry reform bills. Few
media eyebrows were raised. True, the press attacked his 2012 budget as
inadequate. But when he replaced it with a partisan speech, the media’s
criticism of this bizarre and unprecedented behavior was mild.
The White House disputes suggestions Obama isn’t leading. Following a
nationally televised speech by the president in July, Ed Henry of Fox
News asked about the nonexistence of an “Obama plan” for solving the
spending and debt problem. “Republican talking point,” press secretary
Jay Carney said dismissively.
A few days later, Carney acted surprised at a Wall Street Journal
reporter’s failure to understand how extending unemployment benefits
once more would create jobs. “I would expect a reporter from the Wall
Street Journal would know this as part of the entrance exam,” he said.
In Washington, the plight of the jobless has been underplayed, and not
only by the media. The White House has promised for two years to
“pivot” to an agenda stressing job creation, but still hasn’t made the
turn. On his three-day bus tour in the Midwest, Obama seemed oblivious
to the depth of the unemployment trauma.
“Private sector job growth is good,” he said in Alpha, Illinois. In
reality, it’s bad and getting worse. “The economy is now growing
again,” he said. Barely. Obama said trade deals and patent reform would
promote hiring, if only Congress would approve them. But it’s the
president who has delayed the trade treaties, and both houses of
Congress have passed patent reform measures.
The media routinely give Obama a pass on such stuff. On the tour, Obama
insisted, as he has many times before, that he saved the nation from a
“Great Depression.” So far as I know, the press has never challenged
this dubious claim. But it is belied by the fact the recession came to
an official end in June 2009, months before Obama’s policies could have
played more than a minimal role.
Ask yourself this: If unemployment were treated by the media today as
the top national issue, as it was in 1982 and 1983 when Reagan was
president, would Obama be dawdling? Not likely. The jobless rate then
was only slightly higher than it is now. But in those days, the press
focused relentlessly on the jobless.
“If Washington policymakers were reminded night after night of the real
unemployment heartache in America now, they would forge a bipartisan
jobs plan immediately,” says Washington consultant David Smick. “Here
we have a real crisis and nobody’s talking about it.” At least not
A saying of a friend of mine touches on why the media disserve Obama by
tolerating his habit of offering excuses for every failure or
shortcoming of his presidency. The saying goes, winners accept
responsibility, losers make excuses.
When the negotiations over a $4-billion “grand bargain” on spending
cuts and deficit reduction broke down in July, the White House blamed
House speaker John Boehner for walking out rather than acceding to a
hefty tax hike. Who did the media blame? Boehner, naturally.
But is the public mollified by excuses? I don’t think so. Had Obama
summoned Boehner back to the White House, eased his demand for higher
taxes, and wrapped up a deal, the public would have been impressed.
Obama would have gotten credit, just as he did last December when a
bipartisan compromise was reached on spending and taxes. This time, the
notion that Obama, as president, might have a responsibility to forge
an agreement was lost on the media.
Interviewed by Anthony Mason of CBS News last week, Obama offered a
fresh excuse for failing to get his way with Congress. People “want me
to be able to wrangle Congress and get them moving,” he said. “And you
know, we’ve got this thing, separation of powers. . . . It means that
there are times where Congress is gonna do things” he opposes.
Separation of powers? He might as well have blamed Hamilton and Madison.
His interviewer didn’t follow up on that unique alibi. He asked Obama,
were he a middle-class voter, if he would vote for him for a second
term. “Well,” Obama said, “I actually would.”
Perry officially declares 2012
By Holly Bailey, Blog THE TICKET
13 August 2011
Rick Perry officially kicked off his long-expected bid for the 2012 GOP
nomination Saturday, insisting the country's standing in the world is
"in peril" because of President Obama's "rudderless leadership."
Speaking at a conservative gathering in South Carolina, the Texas
governor delivered a harsh critique of Obama, slamming his handling of
foreign policy and accusing the president of leading the country off a
cliff when it comes to federal spending.
"How can a country fail so miserably to pay its bills?" Perry demanded,
citing the nation's recent credit downgrade. "We cannot afford four
more years of this rudderless leadership . . . A great country
demands a better direction. A renewed nation needs a new president.
It's time to get America working again."
Perry, who was in the news last weekend for headlining a prayer rally
in Houston, has previously cast himself as a strong social conservative
in the race. But his announcement largely focused on the economy, as he
touted as a record of job growth in Texas as a leading reason why he
should replace Obama.
In a line that received wild applause, Perry vowed that one of his
first steps if elected would be to repeal Obama's controversial health
care law and said, as president, he would work to shift more power back
to individuals and the states.
"I will work every day to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in
your lives as I can," Perry declared.
Perry jumps into what is already a crowded GOP primary. Indeed, as
Perry was declaring his 2012 intentions, many of his Republican rivals
were on stage halfway across the country at Iowa's closely watched
presidential straw poll. Even though Perry isn't on the ballot, his
supporters have been out in force in the Ames event, encouraging
attendees to submit the governor's name as a write-in candidate.
In South Carolina, the Texas governor did not mention any of his GOP
rivals. Instead, Perry played up his record against Obama's, casting
the president as someone who has "alienated" our foreign allies and
"jeopardized" the nation's future by running up the federal deficit.
He talked up his own "unwavering belief" in America—hinting at a
frequent conservative slam against Obama that implies the president
lacks patriotism. It was a theme echoed in a message posted on Perry's
new presidential website.
"What I learned in my 20's traveling the globe as an Air Force pilot,
our current president has yet to acknowledge in his 50's--that we are
the most exceptional nation on the face of the earth," Perry said.
"With God's help, and your courage, we will take our country back. "
The Obama campaign, which has been largely quiet during the GOP
primary, issued a statement within minutes of Perry's announcement,
describing the Texas governor as a "carbon copy" of Republicans in
history: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, John F. Kennedy
A Test for Obama’s View of a One-Term
By HELENE COOPER
August 9, 2011
WASHINGTON — It was a year and a half ago when President Obama told
Diane Sawyer of ABC News in an interview that he would rather be a good
one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.
Now, coming off one of his worst weeks since taking office, Mr. Obama
is nearing a decision on whether he really meant that. Is he willing to
try to administer the disagreeable medicine that could help the economy
mend over the long term, even if that means damaging his chances for
The Federal Reserve’s finding on Tuesday that there is little prospect
for rapid economic growth over the next two years was the latest in a
summer of bad economic news. One administration official called the
atmosphere around the president’s economic team “angry and morose.”
There was no word on the mood of the president’s political team, but it
was unlikely to be buoyed by the Fed’s assertion that the economy would
still be faltering well past Mr. Obama’s second inauguration, should he
win another term.
“The problem for Obama is that right now, the United States is either
at a precipice or has fallen off it,” said David Rothkopf, a Commerce
Department official in the Clinton administration. “If he is true to
his commitment to rather be a good one-term president, then this is the
character test. In some respects, this is the 3 a.m. phone call.”
Mr. Obama, Mr. Rothkopf argues, has to focus in the next 18 months on
getting the economy back on track for the long haul, even if that means
pushing for politically unpalatable budget cuts, including real — but
hugely unpopular — reductions in Social Security, other entitlement
programs and the military.
A longtime Republican strategist echoed Mr. Rothkopf. Charlie Black, a
senior adviser to Senator John McCain when he ran for president, said
Mr. Obama “has got two big problems” — the unemployment rate and the
“Frankly, there’s not a whole lot he can do about jobs now,” Mr. Black
said. “But it would help if we got the deficit under control, and to do
that, you’ve got to reform entitlements.”
For instance, he argued, Mr. Obama should tackle Social Security,
leaving the system in place for those 55 and older but establishing
means tests to determine benefits for those under 55. If Mr. Obama did
that, Mr. Black said, “he could be a hero like Bill Clinton was when he
negotiated with Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich” on the 1997 budget.
If Mr. Black’s take is correct and there is little the president can do
about jobs, that is more bad news. In a New York Times/CBS News poll
released last week, 62 percent of those responding said that creating
jobs was the No. 1 priority, while only 29 percent said cutting the
deficit should be the top goal.
But whether Mr. Obama focuses on a short-term stimulus like job
creation or long-range steps like deficit reduction, he will still have
to beg, exhort and threaten Congress to take action in a meaningful way.
“No matter what we do, it still takes two to tango,” said Dan Pfeiffer,
White House director of communications. “And the Republican Party to
date has been entirely unwilling to compromise in any way, shape or
form to actually do the things it takes to tackle the big problems.”
According to a traditional story line, Mr. Obama’s hopes for a second
term could be undercut as he is forced to defend politically unpopular
proposals in an election year — and end up stonewalled by Republicans
in the end.
Some of Mr. Obama’s political allies try to spin the story the other
way, criticizing him for not coming out yet with public plans to both
cut the deficit and stimulate the economy. They argue that the boldness
of such steps could actually help him win a second term — or at least
burnish his place in history. One Democratic adviser to the president,
speaking on the ground of anonymity because he did not want to
criticize Mr. Obama publicly, said, “He’s got to be willing to let the
chips fall where they may.”
So far, White House officials said Tuesday, Mr. Obama has repeatedly
been putting country over campaign, including canceling several
Democratic fund-raisers in July when the debt ceiling negotiations were
dragging on. And, they say, he is not shying from politically
unpalatable choices, demonstrating his willingness during the debt
ceiling negotiations to make cuts in entitlements and programs dear to
the hearts of Democrats.
On Monday night, he did attend two fund-raisers in Washington (casting
his re-election as an “unfinished project” at one) while on Thursday he
will head to Michigan to make the case that his bailout program helped
save the auto industry.
On Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that Mr. Obama would be
taking an “economic bus tour” in the Midwest next week, with stops in
Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. “The president knows we must do
everything we can to promote economic growth, restore confidence in our
nation’s future and restore the sense of optimism for future
generations,” the statement said.
Though the trip is not a campaign event, it could help shape voters’
perceptions of whether Mr. Obama is more concerned about being
remembered for that one good term or whether he wants another four
years in the Oval Office no matter what.
Court Rejects Judge-Drawn Texas Election Maps
January 20, 2012
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Friday ruled in a Texas
political dispute, rejecting judge-drawn election maps favoring
minority candidates and Democrats in the 2012 congressional and state
In its first ruling on political boundary-drawing based on the 2010
U.S. Census, the high court unanimously set aside the interim maps
created by federal district court judges in San Antonio.
The high court said it was unclear whether the judges in Texas followed
the appropriate standards and sent the cases back for further
At issue were the maps that Texas will use in its primary contests set
for April 3 that will decide party candidates for congressional and
state legislature elections in November.
The dispute had been closely watched because it could help decide
whether Republicans or Democrats gain as many as four seats in the U.S.
House of Representatives in November.
Texas Republican officials appealed to the Supreme Court, said the
lower-court overstepped its authority and argued the judges should have
deferred to the maps drawn by the elected lawmakers. Those maps favor
The officials won at least a partial victory, though the court stopped
short of adopting the maps drawn by the Republican-dominated
The Supreme Court ruled that the judges appeared to have unnecessarily
ignored the state's plans in drawing certain districts and those maps
can at least be used as a starting point.
"Some aspects of the district court's plans seem to pay adequate
attention to the state's policies, others do not and the propriety of
still others is unclear," the court held in its opinion.
Redrawing the Texas districts has been a major political and legal
battle. The state's population went up by more than 20 percent, or 4.2
million people, over the past decade, with Hispanics accounting for 2.8
million of the increase.
After the 2010 Census, Texas got four new congressional seats, giving
it 36. The legislature's plan, signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who
dropped out of the Republican presidential race on Thursday, created
only one new heavily Hispanic district.
The interim maps drawn by the judges in Texas were designed to remain
in place until different court in Washington decided whether the Texas
state plan should be approved or rejected under the federal voting
A trial in that case is underway. That case ultimately is expected to
determine the final maps to be used in Texas in future years.
The Obama administration, the state Democratic Party and minority
groups have challenged parts or all of the state's redistricting plan
for violating the voting rights law, and said the judicially drawn one
should be used on an interim basis.
The Supreme Court cases are Perry v. Perez, No 11-713; Perry v. Davis,
No. 11-714, and Perry v. Perez, No. 11-715.
JUST A THOUGHT - EXTRA EDGE TO PRESIDENT TO OBAMA AS A RESULT OF NEWS
News Corp. Braces for Legal Trouble in the U.S.
By PETER J. HENNING
July 18, 2011, 3:02 pm
Paul J. Richards/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesThe Wall
Street Journal defended its parent company, the News Corporation, in an
editorial on Monday.
The burgeoning scandal at the News Corporation has crossed over to the
United States as federal investigations of the company’s conduct have
started. There is no clearer sign of the seriousness of the company’s
potential exposure to criminal prosecution than its hiring of Brendan
V. Sullivan Jr. of Williams & Connolly, one of the most aggressive
criminal defense lawyers in the country.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation of
suspected efforts to obtain voice mails and telephone records of
victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and their families. Attorney
General Eric S. Holder Jr., responding to requests by four Democratic
senators — Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, both of New Jersey,
Barbara Boxer of California and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia —
confirmed that the Justice Department will also look into possible
violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act related to payments to
Scotland Yard officers in Britain as part of the phone-hacking efforts
by the News Corporation’s British newspapers, in particular the
now-closed News of the World.
The revelations of how reporters gathered information and paid bribes
raise serious questions about the News Corporation’s internal
governance and journalistic ethics. Even Larry Flynt, the publisher of
Hustler, called out Rupert Murdoch, the company’s chief executive and
controlling shareholder, arguing in an op-ed article in The Washington
Post that “if the News Corporation’s reported wrongdoings are true,
what Murdoch’s company has been up to does not just brush against
boundaries — it blows right past them.”
Whether any American laws were violated, however, is a very different
question. Here is a look at the statutes that are likely to be the
focus of federal investigations on this side of the Atlantic and that
potential problems that prosecutors would face if they want to pursue
criminal charges against the News Corporation and any of its executives.
The F.B.I. is looking into a claim that a former New York City police
officer was offered money for information about Sept. 11 victims, and
that reporters for The News of the World may have illicitly obtained
their telephone records and voice mail recordings. At this point, the
allegations are quite sketchy, particularly regarding the time frame
for any alleged efforts to gather the information.
If telephone records were accessed, that could be a violation of the
Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1039,
which prohibits making false or fraudulent statements to obtain another
person’s telephone records. Congress enacted the statute in December
2006 in response to negative publicity about a private investigation
authorized by board members at Hewlett-Packard that sought to track
down leaks of corporate information by obtaining the telephone records
If reporters for The News of the World obtained records of Sept. 11
victims and their families, the key initial question is when did that
take place. The statute went into effect on Dec. 27, 2006, so any
conduct before that date could not be prosecuted because of the
constitutional protection against ex post facto application of criminal
If voice mails were obtained, then that could be a violation of the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2511, which
makes it a crime to intercept “any wire, oral, or electronic
communication.” Whether hacking into a voice mail account constitutes
interception has not been addressed in any cases yet.
It is at least arguable that listening, or even recording, another
person’s voice mail message after it has been left is not a violation
because the conduct takes place after the communication. The language
of the statute focuses more on contemporaneous conduct, like listening
to conversations while they take place, and not accessing recordings
In addition, the timing of any misconduct would also be key to
determining whether a violation could be pursued if the law does apply
to voice mails. The federal statute of limitations period in which a
criminal prosecution can be instituted is five years from the
violation. Any conduct before July 2006 could not be pursued at this
point, although a conspiracy charge is possible for acts before that
date so long as one co-conspirator engaged in conduct that was part of
the conspiracy within the past five years.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Information has come out that the News Corporation paid officials at
Scotland Yard to obtain telephone numbers of various individuals as
part of the phone hacking program, including members of the royal
family. The payment of a bribe to a foreign official by an American
company — the News Corporation is incorporated in Delaware — can be a
violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act. Both the Justice
Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission can investigate
A violation requires proof that the payment was made “in order to
assist such issuer in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or
directing business to, any person.” The typical F.C.P.A. case involves
payments for the award of government contracts or to continue a
business relationship in the foreign country, such as getting approval
for a facility or transporting goods into a country.
It is questionable whether bribing police officials in the pursuit of
information for a newspaper article would assist the News Corporation
in “obtaining or retaining” business, unless selling more newspapers is
construed to come within the statute. Unlike the new Bribery Act that
just went into effect in Britain on July 1, which prohibits any type of
corrupt payment regardless of its connection to business operations,
the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is more limited and arguably does not
apply to the bribes paid.
Another provision of the act, however, does apply to the News
Corporation and may be the basis for a case. The law requires publicly
traded companies to maintain accurate books and records, so how the
News Corporation recorded payments to the police officials may have
resulted in false reports in the company’s accounts. This type of case
is usually handled by the S.E.C. and is rarely the basis for a criminal
prosecution of a corporation.
The investigations of the News Corporation are at a very early stage,
so it is not clear what information might emerge that could indicate
other potential violations. Investigators will no doubt look for
evidence that might support a charge against individuals or the company
involving broad federal criminal statutes, like mail and wire fraud,
false statements and incomplete disclosure to the company’s auditors
and the S.E.C.
And federal investigations may not be the only ones the company faces.
Many states have their own privacy laws, so do not be surprised if a
state attorney general announces an investigation into the News
Corporation’s conduct if a resident was involved.
There could be other collateral consequences from the investigation,
even if no criminal charges are filed. The News Corporation owns 27
television stations, and CourtTV’s founder, Steven Brill, noted that
challenges to their licenses could be mounted on the ground that the
company does not meet the “good character” requirement for station
Mr. Sullivan and his law firm certainly have their work cut out for
them. Mr. Murdoch may have thought the damage was contained, but it
appears this scandal will persist for quite a while.
4 States Join Connecticut In Picking April
24 For 2012 Presidential Primary
The Hartford Courant
8:55 AM EDT, July 8, 2011
Rhode Island is joining Connecticut and three other East Coast states
in designating April 24 as the date for its 2012 presidential primary.
New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware have already selected the date.
In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee has signed a Senate bill moving
the date from March 6 to April 24, a spokeswoman said Thursday. A House
version of the bill arrived at his desk Thursday afternoon and awaits
his signature, she said.
The more states — especially larger states — with primaries on that
date, the better, says Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise
"This is good news for Connecticut voters," Merrill said in a
statement. "New York and Pennsylvania are big states. Their sharing our
primary date will increase the importance of that day on the election
calendar and, most importantly, greatly improve the chances that
candidates will put Connecticut on their campaign schedules."
Merrill's office says the national Democratic and Republican parties
changed their rules to counter "recent front-loading of the
presidential primary calendar that resulted in primaries and caucuses
taking place in early January."
With the new rules, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada are
the only states permitted to hold their primaries or caucuses before
On its website, the National Council of State Legislatures says, "The
trend is toward making presidential primaries later than they were in
2008, and holding state primaries earlier in the year, often to
accommodate the ballot mailing guidelines imposed by the federal MOVE
Copyright © 2011, The Hartford
Obama’s Third-Party History
By Stanley Kurtz, National Review
June 7, 2012 4:00 A.M.
On the evening of January 11, 1996, while Mitt Romney was in the final
years of his run as the head of Bain Capital, Barack Obama formally
joined the New Party, which was deeply hostile to the mainstream of the
Democratic party and even to American capitalism. In 2008, candidate
Obama deceived the American public about his potentially damaging tie
to this third party. The issue remains as fresh as today’s headlines,
as Romney argues that Obama is trying to move the United States toward
European-style social democracy, which was precisely the New Party’s
In late October 2008, when I wrote here at National Review Online that
Obama had been a member of the New Party, his campaign sharply denied
it, calling my claim a “crackpot smear.” Fight the Smears, an official
Obama-campaign website, staunchly maintained that “Barack has been a
member of only one political party, the Democratic Party.” I rebutted
this, but the debate was never taken up by the mainstream press.
Recently obtained evidence from the updated records of Illinois ACORN
at the Wisconsin Historical Society now definitively establishes that
Obama was a member of the New Party. He also signed a “contract”
promising to publicly support and associate himself with the New Party
while in office.
Minutes of the meeting on January 11, 1996, of the New Party’s Chicago
chapter read as follows:
Barack Obama, candidate for State Senate in the 13th
Legislative District, gave a statement to the membership and answered
questions. He signed the New Party “Candidate Contract” and requested
an endorsement from the New Party. He also joined the New Party.
Consistent with this, a roster of the Chicago chapter of the New Party
from early 1997 lists Obama as a member, with January 11, 1996,
indicated as the date he joined.
Knowing that Obama disguised his New Party membership helps make sense
of his questionable handling of the 2008 controversy over his ties to
ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). During
his third debate with John McCain, Obama said that the “only”
involvement he’d had with ACORN was to represent the group in a lawsuit
seeking to compel Illinois to implement the National Voter Registration
Act, or motor-voter law. The records of Illinois ACORN and its
associated union clearly contradict that assertion, as I show in my
political biography of the president, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama
and the Untold Story of American Socialism.
Why did Obama deny his ties to ACORN? The group was notorious in 2008
for thug tactics, fraudulent voter registrations, and its role in
popularizing risky subprime lending. Admitting that he had helped to
fund ACORN’s voter-registration efforts and train some of their
organizers would doubtless have been an embarrassment but not likely a
crippling blow to his campaign. So why not simply confess the tie and
make light of it? The problem for Obama was ACORN’s political arm, the
The revelation in 2008 that Obama had joined an ACORN-controlled,
leftist third party could have been damaging indeed, and coming clean
about his broader work with ACORN might easily have exposed these New
Party ties. Because the work of ACORN and the New Party often
intersected with Obama’s other alliances, honesty about his ties to
either could have laid bare the entire network of his leftist political
Although Obama is ultimately responsible for deceiving the American
people in 2008 about his political background, he got help from his old
associates. Each of the two former political allies who helped him to
deny his New Party membership during campaign ’08 was in a position to
The Fight the Smears website quoted Carol Harwell, who managed Obama’s
1996 campaign for the Illinois senate: “Barack did not solicit or seek
the New Party endorsement for state senator in 1995.” Drawing on her
testimony, Fight the Smears conceded that the New Party did support
Obama in 1996 but denied that Obama had ever joined, adding that “he
was the only candidate on the ballot in his race and never solicited
We’ve seen that this is false. Obama formally requested New Party
endorsement, signed the candidate contract, and joined the party. Is it
conceivable that Obama’s own campaign manager could have been unaware
of this? The notion is implausible. And the documents make Harwell’s
assertion more remarkable still.
The New Party had a front group called Progressive Chicago, whose job
was to identify candidates that the New Party and its sympathizers
might support. Nearly four years before Obama was endorsed by the New
Party, both he and Harwell joined Progressive Chicago and began signing
public letters that regularly reported on the group’s meetings. By
prominently taking part in Progressive Chicago activities, Obama was
effectively soliciting New Party support for his future political
career (as was Harwell, on Obama’s behalf). So Harwell’s testimony is
When the New Party controversy broke out, just about the only
mainstream journalist to cover it was Politico’s Ben Smith, whose
evident purpose was to dismiss it out of hand. He contacted Obama’s
official spokesman Ben LaBolt, who claimed that his candidate “was
never a member” of the New Party. And New Party co-founder and leader
Joel Rogers told Smith, “We didn’t really have members.” But a line in
the New Party’s official newsletter explicitly identified Obama as a
party member. Rogers dismissed that as mere reference to “the fact that
the party had endorsed him.”
This is nonsense. I exposed the falsity of Rogers’s absurd claim, and
Smith’s credulity in accepting it, in 2008 (here and here). And in
Radical-in-Chief I took on Rogers’s continuing attempts to justify it.
The recently uncovered New Party records reveal how dramatically far
from the truth Rogers’s statement has been all along.
In a memo dated January 29, 1996, Rogers, writing as head of the New
Party Interim Executive Council, addressed “standing concerns regarding
existing chapter development and activity, the need for visibility as
well as new members.” So less than three weeks after Obama joined the
New Party, Rogers was fretting about the need for new members. How,
then, could Rogers assert in 2008 that his party “didn’t really have
members”? Internal documents show that the entire leadership of the New
Party, both nationally and in Chicago, was practically obsessed with
signing up new members, from its founding moments until it dissolved in
the late 1990s.
In 2008, after I called Rogers out on his ridiculous claim that his
party had no members, he explained to Ben Smith that “we did have
regular supporters whom many called ‘members,’ but it just meant
contributing regularly, not getting voting rights or other formal power
in NP governance.” This is also flatly contradicted by the newly
At just about the time Obama joined the New Party, the Chicago chapter
was embroiled in a bitter internal dispute. A party-membership list is
attached to a memo in which the leaders of one faction consider a
scheme to disqualify potential voting members from a competing faction,
on the grounds that those voters had not renewed their memberships. The
factional leaders worried that their opponents would legitimately
object to this tactic, since a mailing that called for members to renew
hadn’t been properly sent out. At any rate, the memo clearly
demonstrates that, contrary to Rogers’s explanation, membership in the
New Party entailed the right to vote on matters of party governance. In
fact, Obama’s own New Party endorsement, being controversial, was
thrown open to a members’ vote on the day he joined the party.
Were Harwell and Rogers deliberately lying in order to protect Obama
and deceive the public? Readers can decide for themselves. Yet it is
clear that Obama, through his official spokesman, Ben LaBolt, and the
Fight the Smears website, was bent on deceiving the American public
about a matter whose truth he well knew.
The documents reveal that the New Party’s central aim was to move the
United States steadily closer to European social democracy, a goal that
Mitt Romney has also attributed to Obama. New Party leaders disdained
mainstream Democrats, considering them tools of business, and promised
instead to create a partnership between elected officials and local
community organizations, with the goal of socializing the American
economy to an unprecedented degree.
The party’s official “statement of principles,” which candidates
seeking endorsement from the Chicago chapter were asked to support,
called for a “peaceful revolution” and included redistributive
proposals substantially to the left of the Democratic party.
To get a sense of the ideology at play, consider that the meeting at
which Obama joined the party opened with the announcement of a
forthcoming event featuring the prominent socialist activist Frances
Fox Piven. The Chicago New Party sponsored a luncheon with Michael
Moore that same year.
I have more to say on the New Party’s ideology and program, Obama’s
ties to the party, and the relevance of all this to the president’s
campaign for reelection. See the forthcoming issue of National Review.
In the meantime, let us see whether a press that let candidate Obama
off the hook in 2008 — and that in 2012 is obsessed with the
president’s youthful love letters — will now refuse to report
that President Obama once joined a leftist third party, and that he hid
that truth from the American people in order to win the presidency.
— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at
the Ethics and Public Policy Center. A longer version of this article
appears in the forthcoming June 25 issue of National Review.
The Little Red Book
Too Much Power for a President
May 30, 2012
It has been clear for years that the Obama administration believes the
shadow war on terrorism gives it the power to choose targets for
assassination, including Americans, without any oversight. On Tuesday,
The New York Times revealed who was actually making the final decision
on the biggest killings and drone strikes: President Obama himself. And
that is very troubling.
Mr. Obama has demonstrated that he can be thoughtful and farsighted,
but, like all occupants of the Oval Office, he is a politician, subject
to the pressures of re-election. No one in that position should be able
to unilaterally order the killing of American citizens or foreigners
located far from a battlefield — depriving Americans of their
due-process rights — without the consent of someone outside his
political inner circle.
How can the world know whether the targets chosen by this president or
his successors are truly dangerous terrorists and not just people with
the wrong associations? (It is clear, for instance, that many of those
rounded up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks weren’t terrorists.) How
can the world know whether this president or a successor truly pursued
all methods short of assassination, or instead — to avoid a political
charge of weakness — built up a tough-sounding list of kills?
It is too easy to say that this is a natural power of a commander in
chief. The United States cannot be in a perpetual war on terror that
allows lethal force against anyone, anywhere, for any perceived threat.
That power is too great, and too easily abused, as those who lived
through the George W. Bush administration will remember.
Mr. Obama, who campaigned against some of those abuses in 2008, should
remember. But the Times article, written by Jo Becker and Scott Shane,
depicts him as personally choosing every target, approving every major
drone strike in Yemen and Somalia and the riskiest ones in Pakistan,
assisted only by his own aides and a group of national security
operatives. Mr. Obama relies primarily on his counterterrorism adviser,
To his credit, Mr. Obama believes he should take moral responsibility
for these decisions, and he has read the just-war theories of Augustine
and Thomas Aquinas.
The Times article points out, however, that the Defense Department is
currently killing suspects in Yemen without knowing their names, using
criteria that have never been made public. The administration is
counting all military-age males killed by drone fire as combatants
without knowing that for certain, assuming they are up to no good if
they are in the area. That has allowed Mr. Brennan to claim an
extraordinarily low civilian death rate that smells more of expediency
In a recent speech, Mr. Brennan said the administration chooses only
those who pose a real threat, not simply because they are members of Al
Qaeda, and prefers to capture suspects alive. Those assurances are
hardly binding, and even under Mr. Obama, scores of suspects have been
killed but only one taken into American custody. The precedents now
being set will be carried on by successors who may have far lower
standards. Without written guidelines, they can be freely reinterpreted.
A unilateral campaign of death is untenable. To provide real assurance,
President Obama should publish clear guidelines for targeting to be
carried out by nonpoliticians, making assassination truly a last
resort, and allow an outside court to review the evidence before
placing Americans on a kill list. And it should release the legal
briefs upon which the targeted killing was based.
Obama: Not So Cool
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
By Michael Barone
April 30, 2012 12:00 A.M.
Last week, Barack Obama delivered speeches at universities in Chapel
Hill, N.C., Iowa City, Iowa, and Boulder, Colo. The trip was, press
secretary Jay Carney assured us, official government business, not
It’s part of a pattern. Neil Munro of the Daily Caller has counted 130
appearances by the president, vice president, their spouses, White
House officials, and cabinet secretaries at colleges and universities
since spring 2011.
Obviously, the Obama campaign strategists are worried that he cannot
duplicate his margin among young voters back in 2008, which was 66 to
Recent surveys of young people show inconsistent results. Gallup’s
tracking shows Obama leading Mitt Romney 64 to 29 percent, and a
Harvard Institute of Politics poll shows him leading Romney 43 to 26
percent among those who said they had an opinion.
But a March survey of 18- to 24-year-olds by the Public Religion
Research Institute showed Obama ahead of “a Republican” by only 48 to
41 percent. Only 52 percent had a favorable opinion of Obama, and 43
percent had an unfavorable opinion.
Where the surveys seem to be in accord is that young voters are less
engaged, less likely to vote, and less enthusiastic about Obama than in
the days when he was proclaiming, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting
for. We are the change that we seek.”
Gallup shows only 56 percent of Americans younger than 30 saying they
definitely will vote. Among older Americans, the figure is above 80
percent. The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed only 45
percent of young people taking a big interest in the election, down
from 63 percent in 2008.
Hispanics and blacks make up a larger share of the millennial
generation than of older Americans, and Obama’s support among them
seems to remain high. But the Harvard survey shows that only 41 percent
of white millennials approve of Obama’s job performance, significantly
lower than the 54 percent who voted for him in 2008.
Obama’s decision to campaign — er, conduct official business — on
university campuses last week was not surprising. According to exit
polls, there was no surge of young voters in 2008. They made up 18
percent of voters, compared with 17 percent in 2004.
But close inspection of the election returns shows that the Obama
campaign did a splendid job of ginning up turnout in university and
college towns and in singles’-apartment neighborhoods in central cities
and close-in suburbs, such as Arlington, Va., across the Potomac from
Consider the counties where Obama spoke last week. In Orange County,
N.C., Obama won 72 percent of the vote. He did better in only one of
the state’s 99 other counties: Durham, which has a large black
population as well as Duke University.
Obama carried Johnson County, Iowa, with 70 percent of the vote, more
than in any of Iowa’s other 98 counties. He carried Boulder County,
Colo., with 72 percent, a mark exceeded in that state only in Denver,
one rural Hispanic county, and two counties with fashionable ski
resorts (Aspen and Telluride).
What Obama doesn’t seem to have done in 2008 is mobilize more
economically marginal and educationally limited young people, except
perhaps among blacks.
His problem this year is that there are a lot more economically
marginal young people, including many who are not educationally limited.
Young people are notoriously transient, and it’s hard for political
organizers to track them down — harder perhaps this year, with many
recent college graduates unable to find jobs and a rising percentage of
young people moving in with their parents.
Few young Americans bothered to vote in Republican primaries, and young
people’s attitude toward Mitt Romney seems frosty. They still know
little about him.
That gives Romney a chance to argue that Obama’s economic policies have
failed and that his own policies can spark an economic revival that
will provide myriad opportunities for the iPod/Facebook generation to
find satisfying work where they can utilize their special talents.
In his campus speeches, Obama stumped for keeping low interest rates on
student loans. But young people may be figuring out that colleges and
universities are gobbling up the money that government pours in,
leaving them saddled with debt.
It’s a side issue. The Harvard survey showed 58 percent of millennials
saying the economy was a top issue and only 41 percent approving
Obama’s handling of it. Like Romney, they seem to be saying, “It’s the
economy, and we’re not stupid.”
Our Untransparent President
By GEOFFREY R. STONE
June 26, 2011
AS a longtime supporter and colleague of Barack Obama at the University
of Chicago, as well as an informal adviser to his 2008 campaign, I had
high hopes that he would restore the balance between government secrecy
and government transparency that had been lost under George W. Bush,
and that he would follow through on his promise, as a candidate, to
promote openness and public accountability in government policy making.
It has not quite worked out that way. While Mr. Obama has taken certain
steps, notably early in his administration, to scale back some of the
Bush-era excesses, in other respects he has shown a disappointing
willingness to continue in his predecessor’s footsteps.
In the years after 9/11, the Bush administration embraced a series of
policies, including torture, surveillance of private communications,
and restrictions on the writ of habeas corpus, that undermined the
fundamental American values of individual dignity, personal privacy and
due process of law. Its most dangerous policy, though, was its attempt
to hide its decisions from the American public.
In an effort to evade the constraints of separation of powers, judicial
review, checks and balances and democratic accountability, the Bush
administration systematically hid its actions from public view. It
promulgated its policies in secret, denied information to Congress,
abused the process for classifying information, narrowly interpreted
the Freedom of Information Act, punished government whistle-blowers,
jailed journalists for refusing to disclose confidential sources,
threatened to prosecute the press for revealing secret programs, and
broadly invoked the state secrets doctrine to prevent both Congress and
the courts from evaluating the lawfulness of its programs.
In doing so the Bush administration undermined the central premise of a
self-governing society: it is the citizens who must evaluate the
judgments, policies, and programs of their representatives. As James
Madison observed, “A popular government, without popular information,
or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a
tragedy; or, perhaps both.”
At least four obvious areas of concern regarding transparency
confronted President Obama when he entered the White House.
The first involves the problem of classification, and it is, to be
fair, a bright spot on the president’s record. Soon after taking
office, Mr. Obama repealed a directive, issued by Mr. Bush’s attorney
general, John D. Ashcroft, in October 2001, authorizing the government
to classify information whenever its disclosure might potentially harm
national security. This standard ignored the competing national
interest in preserving an open and responsible government. Prior
administrations had employed a more open approach, and President
Obama’s repeal was a significant step in the right direction.
But his record on whistle-blower protection, another key area of
concern, has been less laudable. In early 2009 members of Congress
enthusiastically introduced the Whistle-Blower Protection Enhancement
Act, which promised substantial protection to certain classes of
government employees who report matters of legitimate public concern to
lawmakers or the media. Although as a candidate Mr. Obama had expressed
support for such a law, his administration cooled to the idea and let
it die in the Senate in late 2010 (it was reintroduced in April 2011).
Sadly, as a number of high-profile criminal cases against
whistle-blowers show, the Obama administration has followed its
predecessor in aggressively cracking down on unauthorized leaks.
President Obama has also followed Mr. Bush in zealously applying the
state secrets doctrine, a common-law principle intended to enable the
government to protect national security information from disclosure in
litigation. Although legitimate in theory, the doctrine had been
invoked in an unprecedented manner by the Bush administration to block
judicial review of a broad range of questionable practices.
The dawn of the Obama administration brought hope that Congress would
enact the proposed State Secrets Protection Act of 2009, which would
have limited the scope of the doctrine. Indeed, shortly after President
Obama took office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. suggested that
the doctrine should be invoked “only when genuine and significant harm
to national defense or foreign relations is at stake and only to the
extent necessary to safeguard those interests.”
Since then, however, the Obama administration has aggressively asserted
the privilege in litigation involving such issues as the C.I.A.’s use
of extraordinary rendition and the National Security Agency’s practice
of wiretapping American citizens.
Finally, events during the Bush administration made clear that it was
long past time for Congress to create a federal journalist-source
privilege. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have
recognized such a privilege, and members of Congress proposed the Free
Flow of Information Act to recognize a similar privilege as a matter of
federal law. If enacted, the law would enable journalists to protect
the confidentiality of their sources, unless the government could prove
that disclosure of the information was necessary to prevent significant
harm to national security.
In what seems to be a recurring theme, Senator Obama supported the Free
Flow of Information Act, but President Obama does not. In 2007, he was
one of the sponsors of the original Senate bill, but in 2009 he
objected to the scope of the privilege envisioned by the bill and
requested that the Senate revise the bill to require judges to defer to
executive branch judgments. Although the bill passed in the House in
the last Congressional session, it stalled in the Senate and now has to
The record of the Obama administration on this fundamental issue of
American democracy has surely fallen short of expectations. This is a
lesson in “trust us.” Those in power are always certain that they
themselves will act reasonably, and they resist limits on their own
discretion. The problem is, “trust us” is no way to run a
Geoffrey R. Stone is a professor of
law at the University of Chicago and chairman of the board of the
American Constitution Society.
Speechworld vs. Realworld
The widening gulf
between Obama’s rhetoric and reality
June 25, 2011 7:00 A.M.
The Democrats seem to have given up on budgets. Hey, who
can blame them? They’ve got a ballpark figure: Let’s raise $2 trillion
in revenue every year, and then spend $4 trillion. That seems to work
pretty well, so why get hung up on a lot of fine print? Harry Reid says
the Senate has no plans to produce a budget, but in April the president
did give a speech about “a new budget framework” that he said would
save $4 trillion over the next twelve years.
That would be 2023, if you’re minded to take him seriously. Paul Ryan,
chairman of the House Budget Committee, did. Last week he asked Douglas
Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, if he’d
“estimated the budget impact of this framework.”
“No, Mr. Chairman,” replied Director Elmendorf, deadpan. “We don’t
estimate speeches. We need much more specificity than was provided in
“We don’t estimate speeches”: There’s an epitaph to chisel on the
tombstone of the republic. Unfortunately for those of us on the
receiving end, giving speeches is what Obama does. Indeed, having no
other accomplishments to his name (as Hillary Clinton pointed out),
giving speeches is what got the president his job. You remember — the
stuff about “hope” and “change.” Were the CBO in the business of
“estimating speeches,” they’d have run the numbers and concluded that
under the Obama plan, vague abstract nouns would be generating 87
percent of GDP by 2016.
For whatever reason, it didn’t work out quite like that. But that’s no
reason not to give another speech. So there he was the other night
expounding on Afghanistan. Unlike Douglas Elmendorf, the Taliban do
estimate speeches, and they correctly concluded from the president’s
2009 speech that all they need to do is run out the clock and all or
most of the country will be theirs once more. Last week’s update
confirmed their estimate. “Winning” is not in Obama’s vocabulary. Oh,
wait. That’s not true. In an earlier unestimated speech, he declared he
was committed to “winning the future,” “winning the future” at some
unspecified time in the future being a lot easier than winning the war.
In fairness, it’s been two-thirds of a century since America has
unambiguously won a war, but throughout that period most presidents
were at least notionally committed to the possibility of victory. Obama
seems to regard the very concept as something boorish and vulgar that
would cause him embarrassment if it came up at dinner parties. So place
your bets on how long it will be before Mullah Omar’s back in town. And
then ask yourself if America will have anything to show for its decade
in Afghanistan that it wouldn’t have had if it had just quit two weeks
after toppling the Taliban in the fall of 2001 and left the mullahs,
warlords, poppy barons, and pederasts to have at each other without the
distraction of extravagant NATO reconstruction projects littering their
beautiful land of charmingly unspoilt rubble.
That’s not how the president put it, of course. But then the delightful
appeal of an Obama speech is the ever wider gulf between Speechworld
and Reality. So in this instance he framed our retreat from the Hindu
Kush as an excellent opportunity to stop wasting money overseas and
start wasting even more in Washington. Or in his words:
“America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.”
Gee, thanks. If America were a Kandahar wedding, that would be the cue
to fire your rifle in the air and grab the cutest nine-year-old boy.
Naturally, not everyone sees eye to eye. Like Afghanistan, ours is a
fractious land. But as Obama said:
“Our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is
strong, no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach.”
Climb ev’ry mountain. Ford ev’ry stream.
Are you sure we can afford ev’ry stream? Yes, it’s far less rugged than
it sounds. In compliance with EPA regulations, no real hills and dales
were harmed in the making of this glib rhetorical imagery.
“At his best,” wrote the New York Times of Obama’s speech, “the
president can be hugely persuasive.”
Er, if you say so. He’s mostly persuasive in persuading you there’s no
urgency about anything: All that stuff about Americans sweating and
straining for the most distant horizon is his way of saying you can go
back to sleep for another couple of decades.
If we hadn’t been assured by the New York Times that this man is the
Greatest Orator of All Time, there would be something offensive in the
leader of the Brokest Nation in History bragging that we’re not the
guys to shirk a challenge, however grueling and demanding it may be, no
sirree. The salient feature of America in the Age of Obama is a failed
government class institutionally committed to living beyond its means,
and a citizenry too many of whom are content to string along. Remember
Peggy Joseph of Sarasota, Fla.? “I never thought this day would ever
happen,” she gushed after an Obama rally in 2008. “I won’t have to
worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying
my mortgage.” Is Peggy really the gal you’d want to hike a steep hill
In Speechworld, nation-building can be done through flatulent rhetoric.
In Realworld, nations are built by people, and in America the
productive class is battered and reeling. Obama wasted a trillion
dollars on a phony stimulus that stimulated nothing but government, and
wants to try it one mo’ time. That’s what yokes “nation-building” near
and far. According to the World Bank, the Western military/aid presence
now accounts for 97 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP. The bit that’s left
doesn’t function, not least because it doesn’t need to. How can, say,
Helmand develop an economic base when everybody with a whit of sense is
making massively inflated salaries as a translator for the Yanks or a
security guard for some EU outreach project? When the 97 percent
revenue tide recedes with the American withdrawal, what’s left will be
the same old 3 percent ugly tribal dump Afghanistan was a decade ago.
It will leave as little trace as the Obama stimulus.
The sheer waste is appalling, immoral, and deeply destructive. In
Kandahar as in California, all that matters is excess: It’s not
working? Then you need to spend more. More more more. What does it
matter? You’re not spending anything real. America would have to find
$15 trillion just to get back to having nothing in its pocket. But who
cares? As long as we’re united in our commitment to excess, no CBO
debt-to-GDP ratio graph is too steep for us to take to the next level,
and no horizon — 2060, 2080, 2104 — is too distant to serve as a
plausible estimate for significant deficit reduction.
In Realworld, political speeches would be about closing down
unnecessary federal bureaucracies, dramatically downsizing or merging
others, and ending makework projects and mission creep. The culture of
excess that distinguishes the hyperpower at twilight would be reviled
at every turn. But instead the “hugely persuasive” orator declares that
there’s nothing to worry about that even more government can’t cure. In
Speechworld, “no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach.” In
Realworld, that’s mainly because we’re going downhill. And the horizon
is a cliff edge.
— Mark Steyn, a National Review
columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2011 Mark Steyn.
Come Home America (and Build
General MacArthur was
wrong; there is a substitute for victory.
June 24, 2011
As commander-in-chief, Barack Obama doesn’t just blow an uncertain
trumpet — he barely blows a trumpet at all. Judging from his speeches,
America gets into wars solely so it can “end them responsibly.”
Gen. Douglas MacArthur was wrong. There is a substitute for victory.
It’s “ending wars responsibly.” In his Afghanistan-drawdown speech,
President Obama struck his version of a Churchillian note when he
warned, “This is the beginning — but not the end — of our effort to
wind down this war.”
A cruder, more simplistic president from a bygone era might have
couched the war in terms of our effort to win. For Obama, the paramount
goal is ending, not winning. But ending “responsibly” — which in the
case of Afghanistan may mean ending with enough of an interval of
relative stability that our exit doesn’t seem an obvious defeat.
Obama’s antiwar supporters trotted out the old chestnut from the late
Sen. George Aiken during Vietnam and advised that in Afghanistan he
should “declare victory and get out.” As it happens, their counsel was
much too hawkish: Obama would never allow himself to declare victory,
even insincerely and opportunistically.
There’s a chance our military can stretch and improvise to keep the
enemy at bay even as 10,000 troops come out by the end of the year and
the 20,000 remaining surge troops leave by next summer. But Obama has
put the gains won at the cost of their blood, sweat, and tears at
greater risk for no reason other than his own ambiguity about their
Say this for the president: He has remained true to the spirit of his
deeply conflicted 2009 speech announcing the Afghan surge. In it, our
fearlessly ambivalent commander-in-chief portrayed the surge as a
temporary detour on the way to “a responsible transition of our forces
out of Afghanistan.”
He told West Point cadets in that speech that “America will have to
show our strength in the way we end wars and prevent conflict — not
just how we wage wars.” Of course, ending wars is only superficially in
our power. We are now on a faster path to ending our part in the Afghan
War, but the Taliban, the Haqqani network, al-Qaeda, and other
extremists have no intention of ending theirs. They lack the
sophistication to realize that winning is “out” and ending is “in.”
These groups also lack keen reelection-minded political advisers. The
end of the surge will — predictably — come right before the November
2012 elections. Obama isn’t even willing to see through the entire 2012
fighting season, which stretches into the fall, but wants all the surge
forces out by the summer. No military strategist would ever endorse
that timetable. General Axelrod trumps General Petraeus. Chairman
Plouffe outranks Chairman Mullen.
The point Obama’s speech built toward was his insipid exhortation,
“America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.” This
sentiment — as clichéd as it is jejune — represents Obama’s
deepest strategic impulse. It’s George McGovern’s call to “come home,
America,” wedded to subsidies for windmills and electric cars. It is
shot through with declinism about our role in the world and fantastical
beliefs about the powers of industrial policy at home.
Obama cited the cost of the war and the need to “live within our
means.” Only when it comes to the Afghan War is the president
interested in fiscal retrenchment. Whatever the incremental savings of
a swifter drawdown of the surge than our military commanders recommend,
it will be a blip compared with our $1.4 trillion annual deficit. The
path to national solvency does not run through the Hindu Kush.
There’s no denying that the Afghan War has been long, frustrating, and
costly in blood and treasure. Ending it without success, though, will
leave a dangerous caldron of disorder in the region. America can always
come home; she can never again be sure her enemies won’t follow.
— Rich Lowry is editor of National
Review. He can be reached via e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2011 by King Features
Section 527 works to seat
liberals as election overseers
No cap on gifts
from rich activists
Section 527 works to seat liberals as election overseers
By Chuck Neubauer, The Washington Times
9:00 p.m., Thursday, June 23, 2011
A small tax-exempt political group with ties to wealthy liberals like
billionaire financier George Soros has quietly helped elect 11
reform-minded progressive Democrats as secretaries of state to oversee
the election process in battleground states and keep Republican
“political operatives from deciding who can vote and how those votes
Known as the Secretary of State Project (SOSP), the organization was
formed by liberal activists in 2006 to put Democrats in charge of state
election offices, where key decisions often are made in close races on
which ballots are counted and which are not.
The group’s website said it wants to stop Republicans from
“manipulating” election results.
“Any serious commitment to wresting control of the country from the
Republican Party must include removing their political operatives from
deciding who can vote and whose votes will count,” the group said on
its website, accusing some Republican secretaries of state of making
SOSP has sought donations by describing the contributions as a “modest
political investment” to elect “clean candidates” to the secretary of
Named after Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, so-called 527
political groups — such as SOSP — have no upper limit on contributions
and no restrictions on who may contribute in seeking to influence the
selection, nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates to
federal, state or local public office. They generally are not regulated
by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), creating a soft-money
While FEC regulations limit individual donations to a maximum of $2,500
per candidate and $5,000 to a PAC, a number of 527 groups have poured
tens of millions of unregulated dollars into various political efforts.
SOSP has backed 11 winning candidates in 18 races, including such key
states as Ohio, Nevada, Iowa, New Mexico and Minnesota.
“Supporting secretary of state candidates with integrity is one of the
most cost-efficient ways progressives can ensure they have a fair
chance of winning elections,” SOSP said on its website, adding that “a
relatively small influx of money — often as little as $30,000 to
$50,000 — can change the outcome of a race.”
SOSP was formed in the wake of the ballot-counting confusion in Florida
during the 2000 presidential election and a repeat of that chaos in
Ohio in the 2004 presidential election. Democrats accused Florida
Secretary of State Katherine Harris and Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth
Blackwell, both Republicans, of manipulating the elections in favor of
GOP candidates — charges Mrs. Harris and Mr. Blackwell denied.
“Does anyone doubt that these two secretaries of state … made damaging
partisan decisions about purging voter rolls, registration of new
voters, voting machine security, the location of precincts, the
allocation of voting machines, and dozens of other critical matters?”
SOSP asked on its website.
SOSP said it raised more than $500,000 in 2006 to help elect five
Democratic secretaries of states in seven races.
The Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former
President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker
III, recommended in 2005 taking away the administration of elections
from secretaries of state and giving it to nonpartisan election
“Partisan officials should not be in charge of elections,” said Robert
Pastor, co-director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management
at American University. “Both Democrats and Republicans not only
compete for power, they try to manipulate the rules to get an advantage.
“We want to make sure that those counting votes don’t have a dog in
that game,” said Mr. Pastor, who served as executive director and a
member of the commission.
One of the SOSP’s financial backers is Mr. Soros, the billionaire
hedge-fund operator who spent $27 million in 2004 in an unsuccessful
effort to defeat President George W. Bush. Mr. Soros spent $5.1 million
in the 2008 election supporting Democratic candidates and causes. In
2008, he gave $10,000 to SOSP.
A spokesman for Mr. Soros downplayed the financier’s role in the
“He supports the organization,” said Michael Vachon, who manages Mr.
Soros‘ political donations. “He was in favor of electing Democrats
secretary of state. George was not a founder of the project, and he
never had an operational role or helped plan strategy.”
But many of SOSP’s founders and supporters have long-standing ties to
Mr. Soros and the organizations he founded or helped fund, including
Democracy Alliance, a liberal-leaning group whose membership includes
some of the country’s wealthiest Democrats. Created in 2005 with major
financial backing from Mr. Soros and millionaire Colorado businessmen
and gay-rights activist Tim Gill, Democracy Alliance has helped direct
nearly $150 million to progressive organizations.
SOSP’s founders include Michael Kieschnick, a Democracy Alliance member
who also is president of a telecommunications company that donates to
progressive nonprofit groups; James Rucker, former director of
Soros-supported MoveOn.org, a stridently anti-Bush group known for its
ads comparing Mr. Bush to Adolf Hitler; and Becky Bond, former director
at ActBlue, a political committee that bills itself as “the nation’s
largest source of funds for Democrats,” whose contributors include Mr.
Mr. Kieschnick, Mr. Rucker and Ms. Bond did not respond to emails and
telephone messages seeking comment.
Democracy Alliance members who gave to SOSP include furniture company
heir John R. Hunting; computer company executive Paul Rudd;
medical-supply firm heiress Pat Stryker; venture capitalist Nicholas
Hanauer; ex-Clinton administration official Rob Stein; Tides Foundation
founder Drummond Pike; real estate developer Robert Bowditch;
charitable foundation co-chairman Scott Wallace; clothing executive
Susie Tompkins Buell; real estate developer Albert Dwoskin; child
psychologist Gail Furman; and Taco Bell heir Rob McKay.
Ms. Furman also is president of the Furman Foundation, a major donor to
the Soros-backed Tides Center, which has provided more than $300
million to “progressive” causes.
Mr. Dwoskin also is chairman of Catalist, a Soros-funded political
consultancy in Virginia that, according to its website, “brings easy to
use web-based tools and a high quality voter database of all voting-age
individuals in the United States to progressive organizations and
Other SOSP donors include Daniel Berger, who helped create Citizens for
Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, whose donors include Democracy
Alliance and Mr. Soros‘ Open Society Institute; and Chris Findlater,
chairman of the Florida Watch Ballot Committee, whose funding comes
from America Votes, a Soros-supported get-out-the-vote group.
The SOSP also used ActBlue to help raise funds for itself and its
candidates from Democratic donors nationwide. ActBlue says it has
raised more than $190 million online for Democratic candidates since
Mr. Soros and several SOSP contributors also are part of a small group
of wealthy liberals who have been among the top donors to 527
organizations set up to mobilize Democratic voters in recent years.
In 2004, Mr. Soros was the largest individual donor to America Coming
Together (ACT), a 527 group he helped create along with Mr. McKay, the
Taco Bell boss, to defeat Mr. Bush. Mr. Soros gave $7.5 million. Mr.
McKay, now chairman of Democracy Alliance, gave $245,000 to ACT, and he
and his family foundation donated $35,000 to SOSP.
Alida Messinger, a Rockefeller heiress, gave $2.25 million to ACT and
$25,000 to SOSP, according to records compiled by the Center for
Responsive Politics, a watchdog group that monitors campaign finances.
She and other top SOSP donors also were major donors to America Votes
2006, another Soros-backed liberal group that sought to elect
Democratic candidates, records show.
Mr. Soros also gave $3.5 million and was the largest donor to a
short-lived political group called the Fund for America, set up in late
2007 to do voter outreach and finance attack ads for the 2008 election.
Four of the fund’s nine donors who gave $200,000 or more also
contributed to SOSP, including Mr. Soros, Mr. McKay, Mr. Hunting and
Lee Fikes of Bonanza Oil, who gave $600,000 to the Fund for America and
$22,500 to SOSP.
In addition to his SOSP donation, Mr. Soros in 2006 also supported the
project’s candidates in Ohio, Jennifer Brunner, to whom he gave $2,500,
and in Minnesota, Mark Ritchie, who got $250. Both won.
In 2006, SOSP helped elect Democratic secretaries of state in Ohio,
Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada and Iowa while its candidates lost in
Colorado and Michigan. In 2008, the group backed winning candidates in
Montana, West Virginia, Missouri and Oregon. SOSP raised $280,316 and
spent $278,224 in that two-year election period. It could not be
determined how much the project raised additionally in donations for
the candidate’s individual campaign funds.
In 2010, just two of the group’s seven candidates won in a Republican
year — in Minnesota and California. It lost in Ohio, Colorado, Iowa,
South Dakota and Michigan. The group said it raised $193,767 and spent
$243,112. It could not be determined how much it raised in additional
donations for individual candidates.
Minnesota is the prime example of the project’s success. Helping to
elect Mr. Ritchie in 2006 and 2010, Democrats had one of their own
making key decisions when the extremely close U.S. Senate race between
incumbent Norm Coleman, a Republican, and his challenger, former
comedian Al Franken, went to a recount in 2008.
Mr. Ritchie headed the canvassing board that conducted the recount. Mr.
Coleman initially had a lead of 206 votes out of 2.9 million cast, but
after the recount, the board decided Mr. Franken had won by 225 votes.
Republicans criticized Mr. Ritchie and the canvassing board, but the
Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously upheld the finding.
Republican Mary Kiffmeyer, who lost to Mr. Ritchie in 2006, said SOSP’s
involvement contributed to her defeat.
“They absolutely had an effect,” said Ms. Kiffmeyer, now a GOP state
representative. She said she was leading by 17 percentage points the
week before the election, when SOSP and its allies spent hundreds of
thousands of dollars on targeted television ads and mailings. She said
she had no time or money to respond to the last-minute attack ads,
which linked her to Mr. Bush.
Ms. Kiffmeyer said she was limited to raising no more than $500 from an
individual and spending just $250,000, but the SOSP had no such limits.
Mr. Soros, who lives in New York, did not donate directly to SOSP in
2006, but he was a serious donor to other important groups in Minnesota
during the 2006 campaign. He gave $200,000 to America Votes-Minnesota,
which led a get-out-the-vote drive just before the election — more than
half of what it raised in 2006. He also gave $10,000 to the Minnesota
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party on whose ticket Mr. Ritchie ran.
“I want to thank the Secretary of State Project and its thousands of
grass-roots donors for helping to push my campaign over the top,” Mr.
Ritchie wrote. “Your wonderful support — both directly to my campaign
and through generous expenditures by the strategic fund — helped me get
our election reform message to Minnesota voters. And the voters
overwhelming cast their ballot to protect our democracy on election
© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint
Strange candidate from a bygone era
DAVID BROOKS, NYTIMES
Article published Oct 15, 2012
So it was Honeymooners versus family ties, Ed Norton versus Alex
Keating. What we saw Thursday night in the vice-presidential debate
wasn't only an argument about policy, it was a look at two different
eras in American family life.
Biden of course could stand on Neptune and distract attention away from
the sun. He entered the Senate in 1973, back when the old Democratic
giants from the New Deal era still roamed the earth. Every sentimental
tone of voice, every ebullient and condescending grin brought you back
to the old kitchen tables in working class Catholic neighborhoods of
places like Scranton, Chicago, San Francisco, Providence and
That was a time, much more so than now, when there were still regional
manners, regional accents and greater distance from the homogenizing
influence of mass culture. That was a culture in which emotion was put
out there on display - screaming matches between family members who
could erupt in chest poking fury one second and then loyalty until
death affection the next.
Biden gave America the full opera Thursday night, and I suspect there
will be as many reactions as there are partisan flavors. Democrats will
obviously be cheered by his aggressive impassioned and offensive
It will be the crowning irony of the No Drama Obama campaign that it
took a man who exudes more drama than a decade of Latin American soap
operas to get Democrats out of their funk.
Biden clearly ended the psychic slide. He took it to Ryan on the
inexplicability of the Republican tax plan. He had his best moments on
those subjects Ryan is strongest, like budgets.
At the same time, my inbox was filled with a certain number of people
who would be happy if they could spend the next few weeks punching
Biden in the face, and not just Republicans. What do independents want
most? They want people who will practice a more respectful brand of
politics, who will behave the way most Americans try to behave in their
dealings - respectfully, maybe pausing to listen for a second. To them
Biden will seem like an off-putting caricature of the worst of
A lot of people will look at Biden's performance and see a style of
politics that makes complex tradeoffs impossible. The people who think
this way swing general elections.
Ryan hails from a different era, not the era of the 1950s' diner, but
the era of the workout gym. By Ryan's time, the national media culture
was pervasive. The tone was cool, not hot. Ryan emerges from this
culture in the same way Barack Obama does.
This is a generation armed with self-awareness. In this generation you
roll your eyes at anyone who is quite so flamboyantly demonstrative as
In addition, Ryan was nurtured by the conservative policy apparatus and
had a tendency Thursday night to talk about policy even when he was
asked about character. I would not say he defined a personality as
firmly as he might have, but he did an excellent job of demonstrating
policy professionalism. He was strong on Obama's economic failures,
strong on the Libya debacle, and he did have a few chances to highlight
the Obama campaigns crucial weakness - the relative absence of any
positive agenda, the relative absence of any large plans for the next
Substantively, it is the Romney-Ryan proposals that were the center of
attention. Some of those proposals are unpopular (Medicare, which was
woefully under-covered). Some are popular (Taxes). But most of the
discussion was on Romney plans because the other side just doesn't have
This was a battle of generations. The age difference was the
undercurrent of every exchange. The older man had the virility, but in
a way that will seem antique to many.
Dixon: Parties still hesitate to
let everyone in
Published 5:51 p.m., Friday, August 24, 2012
When it comes to politics, most voters in Connecticut don't want to
join a club that would allow them to be members.
That's a problem that Republicans and Democrats could easily rectify,
but it would entail loosening up and actually meaning it when they call
Yep, all either party -- or both -- would have to do is let the vast
unwashed strata of unaffiliated voters, all 818,703 of us, to vote in
their primaries. Plenty of states allow it, including New Hampshire,
the presidential kingmaker, with no apparent undue results.
Unaffiliated voters could be just the shot of new blood the Grand Old
Party needs to pump up its relatively moribund 412,509 Connecticut
members. It could also add more interest in politics and public policy
among the 723,035 registered Democrats.
Of course, more interest and more voices would be exactly what
supporters of the status quo, namely some powerful Democrats and
Republicans, might not want.
It would threaten the insider clubs that have done such things as raise
state taxes to new heights (Democrats). It would possibly widen a pool
of experienced candidates and threaten pols such as Republican Linda
McMahon, who after spending close to $67 million of her pro-wrestling
fortune, is still looking for her first elective office.
You have to hand it to the Democrats and Republicans. Here they have
their private primaries totally funded by state taxpayers, especially
those 818,703 excluded from the process, all under the rubric of
democracy, small "d."
They bar the state's largest group of voters from participating in
their primaries, but will spend the rest of the summer, into the fall,
right up to Nov. 6, seeking to woo the same group they shunned for the
I don't accept the claim that if they opened up, groups of unaffiliated
voters would get together, manipulate a vote and change the course of a
primary by supporting a candidate deemed to be weaker and more
vulnerable in November. If they were that interested in the process,
they'd have already registered with one party or the other.
Why state Republicans and Democrats are spared the cost of the day-long
primary voting is worthy of a court case. In fact, the peripheral issue
made it up to the U.S. Supreme Court back in 1986.
In 1984, the Republican Party of Connecticut, in an attempt to help
then-U.S. Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., who was looking ahead to his 1988
re-election, approved a rule permitting the unaffiliated to vote in
primaries for statewide and federal offices. Julia Tashjian, the
Democratic secretary of the state at the time, said it broke state law.
The U.S. Supreme Court overruled her, saying the state statute violated
the constitutional rights of association.
Alas, by 1991 -- Weicker lost the 1988 election to then-Democrat Joe
Lieberman -- the state GOP had swung back the other way and closed the
door on the unaffiliated, who never had the chance to vote in a GOP
This brings us to the anemic primary turnout of Aug. 14, with less than
28 percent of Republicans casting votes, while slightly more than 19
percent of Democrats showed up. About 250,000 voted in a state with
about 1.9 million registered voters.
"The difference between the Democrats and Republicans is that Linda
McMahon put millions of dollars into buying the Republican U.S. Senate
primary," said Nancy DiNardo of Trumbull, chairwoman of the Democratic
State Central Committee. "She has already spent $17 million on this
election, so it does not surprise me that the Republicans had a higher
"Clearly our people are much more energized," said Jerry Labriola,
chairman of the Republican State Central Committee. "The results are
consistent with many of the states. Tracking polls show our intensity
levels to be at 8, 9, 10 and Democrats 4, 5, 6," Labriola said.
"There's no compelling reason to reward the Democratic candidates,
considering the condition of our economy in Connecticut and the nation."
Labriola, in a phone interview from Tampa, where the GOP national
convention starts Monday, said he's working hard to convince national
leaders that Connecticut may be up for grabs this fall. "We're very
optimistic. We're looking to give the Romney-Ryan ticket a bump at this
convention and have it become a springboard going forward. Democrats
may come out and vote in November, but if there's a good episode of
`American Idol' on, they may miss it."
Current Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, the former Democratic
House majority leader, agreed last week that primaries are essentially
private elections paid for with public money. She also believes that if
unaffiliated voters were allowed into the mix, the overall turnout
percentages would probably drop because they're not as invested as the
Democrats and Republicans.
"There would have to be public pressure on the parties to open up their
primaries," Merrill said. Well, let it begin.