The Other Incumbent Rule   

LA CROSSE, Wis.—The past six years have not been kind to political rules of thumb. During the primary season, a candidate who leads in both the polls and in fund raising on Jan. 1 is supposed to be guaranteed the nomination. Ask Howard Dean about that one. In the general election, the national popular vote is supposed to coincide with the vote in the Electoral College. Ask Al Gore how that went. And during midterm congressional elections, the president's party is supposed to lose seats in the House. About that one, ask Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The next political axiom to be tested will be polling's "incumbent rule," which dictates that undecided voters break overwhelmingly for the challenger on Election Day. (Another way to put it is that an incumbent president's polling number typically equals or exceeds the percentage share of the vote he'll receive.) Because most final state polls show President Bush polling below 50 percent in nearly every swing state, history is on John Kerry's side Tuesday. But recent elections have shown that past performance is no guarantee of future results.

What's more, if the election turns out to be close, there's another way incumbency could be the determining factor in the election, as Randy Broz, a Democratic strategist and fund-raiser for House candidates, pointed out to me last week. This rule, call it the "other incumbent rule," favors President Bush. In the unlikely scenario of "another Florida"—litigation or just a long recount in a decisive state—the president, by virtue of his incumbency, will hold a decisive public-relations advantage. During the 2000 recount, Republicans cried that Al Gore was trying to "steal the election" from Bush based on nothing more than the fact that the TV networks had declared Bush the winner on Election Night. Had Bush been a sitting president, the outcry would have been more persuasive. Trying to oust a wartime incumbent through litigation would be nearly impossible.

Kerry will need to win clearly and convincingly at the ballot box in order to unseat Bush, and for what it's worth, most reporters seem to think that he's going to do it. The Kerry campaign staff is confident, and it appears to be genuine, rather than bluster. "I never told anyone in 2000 that Al Gore was going to win by 6 points," Bob Shrum—taking a shot at Karl Rove's record in election forecasting—told reporters on the campaign plane. For the past week or two, the campaign has spoken confidently of winning "big states"—presumably Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—that would assure Kerry the presidency.

By Monday evening, reporters from news organizations that have colleagues traveling with Bush started saying that the Bush folks have clammed up, or that they seem unusually tight. Kerry's final events had a giddy air. The traveling press credentials for the night's last "major rally" in Cleveland featured a head shot of longtime Kerry spokesman David Wade, who gladly autographed a few. To the New York Daily News reporter, he wrote, "At least you're not the Post." And to the New York Post, he tweaked the paper's veep "scoop" by writing, "Go Kerry-Gephardt!" I heard rumors of, but did not witness, a dancing Mike McCurry. I even read it as a sign of confidence that traveling press secretary Allison Dobson was eager to join a proposed Electoral College betting pool. Teresa Heinz Kerry's slightly unusual political talk in Cleveland—about an America that is "young" and "imperfect" but "growing," and how Kerry knows America's "thorny parts" as well its idealism—came across as charming rather than ludicrous.

In Toledo, at a midnight rally that Kerry dubbed "the first stop of Election Day," Gen. Tony McPeak criticized the Bush administration for wrapping itself in the flag to hide its "incompetence." "You wanna shoot 'em, you gotta put a hole in the flag," McPeak said. "We got a guy in John Kerry who stands in front the flag. He says, you gonna hurt that flag, you're gonna have to run through me."

When Kerry arrived here in La Crosse for a photo op at 1:25 a.m. Central time, a man in the crowd held aloft a scrawled sign reading, "Tomorrow Is Here, President Kerry." Kerry leapt into the crowd of a couple hundred people, clutching and grabbing and high-fiving hands. He seemed to realize that this was it, his last full day as a presidential campaigner. Just a couple weeks ago in Des Moines during a joint appearance with John Edwards, Kerry had walked down a catwalk next to his running mate, who was reaching down into the crowd enthusiastically with both hands. Kerry, by comparison, touched a voter's hand only occasionally, and only at the end of the walk did he extend both arms to clasp hands with anyone. This time, Kerry eagerly embraced the throng for 20 minutes, perhaps not ready for this day to end.

Predictions are dangerous, but I'll make one: Tuesday night, the incumbent rule holds, and on Jan. 20, we'll have a new incumbent.


          The Bush Victory Party   

George W. Bush's last victory party, which took place four years ago in Austin, Texas, never quite got underway. There was some annoying business about a withdrawn concession phone call and a steady downpour of rain. This year's party, held inside the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., was in one respect an improvement. There was no rain.

The evening began in the Reagan Building's giant, sloping atrium. The GOP herded its youngish volunteers into a mosh pit, jammed between the stage and the TV cameras. Vodka tonics were consumed, and the twentysomethings seemed poised for giddy celebration. Just after 12:30 a.m., Fox News awarded Ohio to Bush, bringing the president's electoral tally, by the network's count, to 266. Four more years! Alaska followed 20 minutes later, nudging Bush to 269. Four more years! At that point, a portly man wearing a blue suit and pin-striped shirt removed his "W Is Still President" lapel pin, held it aloft like a cigarette lighter, and began to lurch toward the stage.

But as soon as the crowd began to rock, Bush's glorious night ground to a halt. More than three hours passed without Fox awarding Bush a single electoral vote. Some of the other networks refused to give him Ohio. It wasn't that the remaining states were breaking for Kerry; they simply weren't breaking at all. The country band playing at the victory celebration exhausted its playlist and began glancing up nervously at the TV monitors. A producer with a ponytail and "W" hat waddled onstage and told them to keep playing. Reporters in the press row reached for their cell phones: The news from Boston was that John Edwards would take the stage and extend the election.

Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, dashed to the podium and, in a speech that lasted for the exact duration of Edwards', declared that Kerry couldn't possibly unearth 100,000 more votes in Ohio. The crowd whooped, but malaise was setting in. Wouldn't the president just get over here and declare victory already? Better yet, wouldn't Kerry just give up?

The heavy eyes were a marked shift from the evening's start, which was brimming with cautious optimism. As Bush swept the early states, Jeremy Bouma, a member of something called the Center for Christian Statesmanship, told me the expected surge in Democratic turnout would be offset by new evangelical voters. "My prayer going into this was that the evangelical vote was the X Factor," he said. Rosario Marin, a former U.S. treasurer, thought that Bush had succeeded in increasing his support among Hispanic voters. She was telling me why Latinos did not, in fact, oppose to the Iraq war when Gillespie announced that ABC had called Florida for Bush.

Aaaaaaaaah! she screamed, into my right ear."Oh, sorry." Then: Aaaaaaaaaah! "Oh, sorry." Aaaaaaaaaaaah! I told her she should go ahead and scream. After she caught her breath, Marin said: "I'm so happy. I'm so excited. My heart is pumping. I've got to call my husband." And then she was gone.

Bush never appeared at his 2000 victory party. Around 3 a.m. Wednesday, a question arose as to whether, in fact, he would appear at this one. CNN's John King reported that Bush had stormed into Karl Rove's office and asked the guru to let him declare victory. The reporters in the press room that weren't asleep let out a whoop. King later reported that Rove told the networks that if they would just call New Mexico for Bush, the president would make his way to the Reagan Building. The message was clear: I know you're tired. So give me the damn state.

At 5:05 a.m., an end—sort of. CNN reported that Bush wouldn't appear in person Wednesday morning; Andy Card, his chief of staff, would speak in his place. Card arrived in a room with a few dozen listless Republicans and said nothing memorable. Mario H. Lopez, one of the listless, declared, "I don't know how I cannot describe this night as historic." Then he glanced at someone's watch and said, "I think we're gonna get some breakfast and then get ready to go to work."  ... 3:17 a.m.

Party Monster: Welcome to George W. Bush's "victory" party in Washington, D.C. Sorta. Us news reporters have been herded into a giant white tent, yards away from the actual party, and contact with revelers looks unlikely. This is what the mob outside Studio 54 must have looked like, if only you upped the dweeb factor.

As the Washington Post's "Reliable Source" column notedthis morning: "Reporters wishing to cover the president's election night party will have to pay $300 for the privilege of a 3-by-2-foot work space and a padded seat in a tent nearby to watch the proceedings on television. … Small groups of media will be escorted into the atrium of the Ronald Reagan Building to look around—but they won't be allowed to talk to participants." For a White House that hates the press, handcuffing reporters on Victory Night seems appropriate.

Last-minute indicators of victory: The handful of people I saw shuffling out of the White House grounds looked grim. Someone who identified himself as a Homeland Security apparatchik looked ebullient. On Fox News, Bill Kristol and Mort Kondracke are wearing prepared smiles. ... 4:05 p.m.

Recriminations Watch—Hispanic-Vote Edition: In the category of what my friend Noam Scheiber calls "possibly meaningless anecdotal evidence," my relatives in Northern New Mexico report an inordinate number of Bush signs in the poor Hispanic colonias—communities that figured to go overwhelmingly to Kerry. The same relatives report that Hispanic men profess to have a cultural affinity with Bush, who they see as a tough, macho sort of guy. Again, meaningless, but it underscores a point: That's about the only thing Bush has going for him with the Hispanic community. The Bushies, who heralded their leader's minority-outreach miracles as Texas governor, have done a shoddy job of courting Hispanics since entering the White House.

A few months back, Antonio Gonzalez of the William C. Velasquez Institute told me that Kerry staffers had whiffed at the Democratic Convention. They featured too few Hispanic speakers; and the preoccupation with Iraq drew attention away from domestic issues affecting the poor. All Karl Rove had to do, Gonzalez said, was goad his keynote speakers into mumbling a few "qué pasas" and the Hispanic vote might tilt slightly to Bush. Well, it didn't happen and it hasn't happened. Most surveys show Bush polling around 30 percent to 35 percent of the Hispanic vote, about what he did in 2000. Even GOP apparatchiks, wishing for miracles, don't put Bush much above 40 percent.

If Bush loses tight races in Florida and New Mexico (and, God forbid, Nevada and Colorado), an early recrimination theory might be that Bush spent too little time chasing Hispanic voters. Then again, perhaps he didn't have a chance. The sour economy disproportionately affects Hispanic and black communities; so does the Iraq War, which draws foot soldiers from the poorest segments of the population. Though both candidates ran Spanish-language ads in the Southwest, the campaigns seemed, at times, to forget about Hispanic voters entirely. Remember the fixation on the gringo Spanish spoken (haltingly) by Al Gore and Bush in 2000? Did Bush and Kerry ignore Hispanic voters, or has the media processed them as stable members of the electorate?

Even if Bush should lose, the GOP would be wise to thank him for ratcheting up their Hispanic numbers to Ronald Reagan levels—and up from depths plumbed by the Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush campaigns. But for a man who wonEl Paso County in his 1998 gubernatorial race, 35 percent doesn't seem like much of a miracle. ... 1:11 p.m.

Tom DeLay's Poetic Justice: Tom DeLay's push to rejigger Texas' congressional districts, an effort that caused such a kerfuffle last year, has faded under the onslaught of Swift Boat Veterans, the Osama tape, and Al Qaqaa. But DeLay's gambit has been no less effective. Five Texas Democrats face re-election Tuesday in GOP-friendly districts, and even the most optimistic Dems predict that only one or two of them (probably Martin Frost or Chet Edwards) can survive. There's a better-than-even shot that allfive Democrats will lose, giving the House GOP majority an enormous boost.

But it's not all sad news. With an influx of new Republicans comes an infusion of unwitting comic genius. Most of this can be seen in the personage of Ted Poe. Poe, a former Houston felony court judge, kicked off his national political career in August by boldly proclaiming, "Now is not the time to be a French Republican."

On the bench in Houston, Poe styled himself as a remorseless, Wild West, hangin' judge in the tradition of Roy Bean. His brainchild was something he called "Poetic Justice." With "Poetic Justice," Poe sentenced criminals to public humiliations to teach them a lesson. Shoplifters who found themselves in front of Poe, for instance, had to stand outside the stores they pinched from carrying signs identifying themselves as criminals.

When a man robbed legendary Lone Ranger star Clayton Moore, Poe made the perp shovel manure 20 hours a month at the Houston police department's horse pens. The sentence was to last for 10 years.

The Club for Growth's Stephen Moore reports that Poe made convicted car thieves hand over their own cars to their victims. Convicted murderers were forced to visit their victims' grave sites; others felons had to hang their victims' pictures in their cells and, upon release, carry them in their wallets. According to the Houston Press, Poe slapped one homicidal drunken driver with the following the rap:

… boot camp; erecting and maintaining a cross and Star of David at the accident site; carrying pictures of the victims in his wallet for ten years; observing the autopsy of a drunk-driving victim; placing flowers on the graves of the two victims on their birthdays for the next ten years; and carrying a sign outside a bar that reads, "I killed two people while driving drunk."

This article describes the ambiance of Poe's Houston office: "a poster of Alcatraz, a painting of a scene from the battle of Gettysburg and a sign proclaiming, 'I really don't care how you did it up north.' "

As the Houston Chronicle reports, victims' relatives have charged that Poe would often fail to follow through on the harsh sentences—a revelation which comes as something of a relief. Slate eagerly awaits the punishments Poe metes out on congressional Democrats. ... 11:12 a.m.

A Snowball's Chance: If the election drifts into Mountain Time Tuesday, will John Kerry regret stiffing New Mexico? That's one theory being floated on Joe Monahan's superb New Mexico political blog tonight. George W. Bush visited the state Monday, Dick Cheney over the weekend. So, New Mexicans will wake up Tuesday to read triumphant Bush headlines like this and this, while they'll see news pictures of Kerry overnighting in Wisconsin.

Bill Richardson pulls all the puppet-strings in New Mexico, but there's mounting evidence that Kerry may be in trouble. The polls have looked limp. And there's a theory that Al Gore's slim margin in 2000—366 votes, all found days after the election—may be attributable to one thing: snow.

On Election Day 2000, a freak snowstorm blanketed "Little Texas," the swath of southeastern New Mexico known for its cultural and political kinship with its neighbor. Conservative voters in three counties stayed home in droves. With Gore running strong in northern New Mexico and narrowly winning Albuquerque, the snowed-in voters may have cost Bush the state.

Tuesday's weather report: This site says "rain and snow showers will linger" near the region. Kerry may need every flake and drop.  … 12:01 a.m.

Monday, Nov. 1 2004

The ESPN Primary: "Mr. President, I am wondering how you feel about taxpayers having to have a financial burden placed on them for building new stadiums and new facilities for existing teams?" So went The Candidates: Election 2004,ESPN's special last night that valiantly tried to make Tuesday's contest into a referendum on professional sports. Jim Gray, the thinking man's Ahmad Rashad, the guy who hones his interview technique on coaches trying to sneak off the court before halftime ("So, uh, how do you prepare for the second half?"), landed interviews with both candidates. With its modus operandi inching ever closer to that of Sabado Gigante, it's groovy to see ESPN put on its serious face once in a while—for the shtick to give way to grave pronouncements about THE WORLD BEYOND SPORTS. Except that Gray never acknowledged that such a thing existed.

In response to a question about ticket prices, Bush replied, "I was always concerned when I was with the Rangers that our ticket prices would become so high that the family would be priced out of baseball." Perhaps this is why Bush helped build the Ballpark at Arlington, one of the most expensive venues in baseball and one of its most soulless. For his part, Kerry repeated his I-stand-with-the-working-man pabulum, suggesting that fathers were looting their children's college funds to sit at club level.

Asked to name his favorite athlete, Kerry, of course, straddled, ticking off a fair slice of the Boston Bruins' first line and, for swing-state mojo, a handful of Detroit Red Wings. Bush got another chance to coo about his clutch performance during the 2001 World Series. And that's about as deep as our man Gray got. There are some reasonably interesting questions to ask about sports, such as why it remains one of the viciously anti-gay segments of public life, a black mark that is ignored when it isn't celebrated.

But why get huffy when you can ask both candidates, as Gray did, what should be done about Pete Rose, who after his selfless act of contrition last winter finds himself no closer to baseball's Hall of Fame? This is the kind of spitball that will get you hooted off most respectable sports radio shows, but the candidates tried their level best. Bush said Rose had never really apologized to baseball. Kerry straddled, then agreed. You could see the nervous flicker in both men's eyes—Bush: Christian values!; Kerry: Cincinnati values!—as they tried outflank one another on Charlie Hustle's quagmire.  ... 10:02 p.m.


          Florida's Absent Ballots   

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—Everyone knew that both parties would go on the attack during the final days of a close election, but we didn't think they would take it literally. In Sarasota on Tuesday, a 46-year-old man in a Cadillac decided to play chicken with former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who is now running for re-election to Congress. Amazingly, given that she was a pedestrian standing with some of her supporters, rather than driving a car, Harris won. The Cadillac "swerved onto the sidewalk" at the last minute, according to the Associated Press. "I was exercising my political expression," the man, Barry Seltzer, told police. "I did not run them down. I scared them a little." Perhaps the Supreme Court will weigh in on this election after all, if only to decide whether motor-vehicle "flybys" are protected under the First Amendment.

Not to be outdone, an 18-year-old high-school student and aspiring Marine in West Palm Beach ensured that the state's meltdown would be bipartisan. After his girlfriend—now ex-girlfriend—told him she was going to vote for John Kerry, Steven Soper allegedly "beat her and held her hostage with a screwdriver," according to the Palm Beach Post report, which is worth reading in full. In the city of Vero Beach, another Bush supporter, 52-year-old Michael Garone, is accused of pointing a gun at the head of a Kerry supporter. And they say Republicans are trying to suppress turnout.

Because of the journalistic rule that three makes a trend, the local TV news after the World Series broadcast a story on "political rage." The conclusion from the reporter: "Bottom line, psychiatrists say: Vote, then calm down. Stop watching the 24-hour cable news." But the problem most Palm Beach County voters seem to be worrying about is a much more mundane one: Will our votes be counted?

Because of the county's disastrous 2000 election, when elderly Jews accidentally voted for Pat Buchanan and when 19,000 "overvotes"—most of which were intended for Al Gore—were tossed because the confusing butterfly ballot led voters to think they should punch holes for both the president and the vice president, voters here are particularly knowledgeable about the ins and outs of voting systems and voting machines. Many voters are fearful of the new electronic touch-screen machines that will be used for this election, particularly because the machines lack a paper trail that could be used in a recount. As a result, a huge number of Palm Beach County voters have requested absentee ballots. Wednesday's Palm Beach Post reported that the county's Supervisor of Elections, Theresa LePore (yes, she's still around for one last election), said 128,000 absentee ballots had been mailed out through Monday. That's 17 percent of the more than 735,000 registered voters in the county, and it's 10,000 more absentee ballot requests so far than Miami-Dade County, which has 300,000 more voters. LePore told the paper her office expected to mail another 7,000 each day this week.

The absentee ballots are paper-and-pencil ballots that will be read by optical scan machines, which are the most accurate voting machines available. They're also the only way for voters in the county to cast a physical, paper ballot that can be recounted. The problem was highlighted for area voters after a special election in January for State House District 91. The race was decided by 12 votes, which meant that Florida's automatic recount law kicked in. Except there was nothing to recount, despite 134 blank "undervotes" recorded by the machines. Perhaps voters intentionally didn't cast a ballot in the race, but without a physical ballot, there was no way to inspect the undervotes to be sure.

The local Democratic Party has urged voters who are concerned about the machines' accuracy or who want a paper trail of their ballot to vote absentee. So has the state Republican Party, which earlier this year published a flyer in Miami that read, "Make sure your vote counts. Order your absentee ballot today."

But now voters claim they haven't received their absentee ballots in the mail, even though the ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day in order for them to be counted. Nothing like Broward County's 50,000 missing ballots has occurred, and LePore blamed the post office for the problem. She told the Palm Beach Post, "We take them to the post office and then it's out of my hands." Voters who don't receive their ballots can still vote at the polls, but at the early-voting sites, the lines have been long: The wait was at least an hour each time I stopped by West Palm Beach's polling place on Wednesday.

Before the county's Democrats get hysterical and start aiming their cars at LePore, they should know that their party has at least two reasons for optimism. The first was noted earlier this month by Howard Goodman, a columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. According to Goodman, "Between August 2000 and August 2004, the Democratic voter rolls in Palm Beach County increased by 30,582. Almost 26,000 other people registered without declaring a political party. But Republicans added only 326 people."

The second is that Palm Beach County uses Sequoia touch-screen machines, which were adapted in Nevada to include a paper trail. In that state, the Washington Post reported this week, "They were used for the fall primary, and tests afterward showed that the paper totals and electronic totals matched perfectly." So, Florida voters, by all means, vote absentee if it makes you feel better. But Nevada's primary provides a good reason to trust the machines.


          Kerry Isn't Al Gore   

MILWAUKEE—Here's a complaint you won't hear very often: Some Democrats wish John Kerry's campaign was just a tiny bit more like Al Gore's. They may be happy to do without the sighing, the man-tan, the public displays of affection, the ill-fitting populist message, Joe Lieberman, Mark Fabiani, and the weird New Yorker interview. But there's one thing they do miss: Gore's post-convention riverboat trip down the Mississippi River.

Karl Rove has attributed the narrow Democratic victory in Iowa four years ago to the riverboat trip, which allowed Gore to reach rural river counties that Bush couldn't reach by plane (for want of a suitable runway). The congressional newspaper The Hill noted earlier this month that Gore won nine of the 10 Iowa counties along the Mississippi River. That feat is even more impressive in light of Gore's miserable performance nationally in rural areas.

Kerry is doing all he can to appeal to rural voters, particularly in Ohio. In addition to Thursday's hunting trip, he attended Mass on a Saturday afternoon during his bus trip this past weekend, and he accepted a shotgun as a gift during a political rally at the end of that trip. (That was the second time I've seen Kerry receive a gun at a rally. He was also given one during a September rally in West Virginia's coal country. He refrained this time, however, from mourning the fact that he could not use it to shoot the president.) But if Kerry wins Ohio and ends up losing Iowa and Wisconsin (and thereby the presidency), some fingers will immediately point at Kerry's failure to imitate Gore's successful, and nearly decisive, boat ride.

Would President Gore Have Prevented 9/11? In Reason's poll  of notables from the "reason universe," Camille Paglia explains that she's voting for John Kerry this time and that she voted for Ralph Nader four years ago because she detests "the arrogant, corrupt superstructure of the Democratic Party." But even though Paglia thought Gore would be such a bad president that she was driven to vote for Nader, she also claims that if he had become president he would have prevented 9/11.

Paglia doesn't put it that way, but the logic is inescapable from her explanation of her "most embarrassing vote": "Bill Clinton the second time around. Because he did not honorably resign when the Lewinsky scandal broke and instead tied up the country and paralyzed the government for two years, leading directly to our blindsiding by 9/11."

Campaign Reporters for Truth: I wasn't one of the members of the traveling press that went on the hunting trip with Kerry. I am, however, a member of the traveling press. And I can tell you that the goose that Kerry shot was a mere gosling, wearing only a loincloth, fleeing the scene, and that Kerry chased it down and shot it in the back.


          Kerry vs. His Script   

WATERLOO, Iowa—Since the final presidential debate, John Kerry has traveled around the country delivering a series of speeches that his campaign calls his "closing argument." The topics vary, but the theme is always the same, the "Fresh Start for America": Friday in Milwaukee, a "fresh start" for jobs; Monday in Tampa, a "fresh start" for health care; Tuesday in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., a "fresh start" for fiscal responsibility and Social Security. The speeches are supposed to convince Americans of Kerry's fitness for the presidency, but a side effect has been to demonstrate how inept he is at delivering prepared remarks.

The campaign gives reporters the text of each of Kerry's speeches "as prepared for delivery," apparently to show how much Kerry diverges from them. During his stump speeches and town halls, Kerry makes the occasional Bush-style error, such as the time I saw him tell a blind man in St. Louis that he would "look you in the eye." Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, Kerry tried to thank teachers for spending money out of their own pockets on students, but instead it came out as a thank-you to Mary Kay Letourneau as he said, "And they're putting out for our kids." His pronunciation of "idear" grates on my ears far more than Bush's "nucular." But the authentic Kerryism emerges only when he gives a formal address.

Kerry proves incapable of reading simple declarative sentences. He inserts dependent clauses and prepositional phrases until every sentence is a watery mess. Kerry couldn't read a Dick and Jane book to schoolchildren without transforming its sentences into complex run-ons worthy of David Foster Wallace. Kerry's speechwriters routinely insert the line "We can bring back that mighty dream," near the conclusion of his speeches, presumably as an echo of Ted Kennedy's Shrum-penned "the dream will never die" speech from the 1980 Democratic convention. Kerry saps the line of its power. Here's his version from Monday's speech in Tampa: "We can bring back the mighty dream of this country, that's what's at stake in these next two weeks."

Kerry flubs his punch lines, sprinkles in irrelevant anecdotes, and talks himself into holes that he has trouble improvising his way out of. He steps on his applause lines by uttering them prematurely, and then when they roll up on his TelePrompTer later, he's forced to pirouette and throat-clear until he figures out how not to repeat himself. He piles adjective upon adjective until it's like listening to a speech delivered by Roget.

Kerry's health-care speech Monday in Tampa was a classic of the form. The written text contained a little more than 2,500 words. By the time he was finished, Kerry had spoken nearly 5,300 words—not including his introductory remarks and thank-yous to local politicians—more than doubling the verbiage. Pity his speechwriters when you read the highlights below. It's not their fault.

Kerry's Script: Most of all, I will always level with the American people. 

Actual Kerry: Most of all, my fellow Americans, I pledge to you that I will always level with the American people, because it's only by leveling and telling the truth that you build the legitimacy and gain the consent of the people who ultimately we are accountable to. I will level with the American people.

Kerry's Script: I will work with Republicans and Democrats on this health care plan, and we will pass it.

Actual Kerry: I will work with Republicans and Democrats across the aisle, openly, not with an ideological, driven, fixed, rigid concept, but much like Franklin Roosevelt said, I don't care whether a good idea is a Republican idea or a Democrat idea. I just care whether or not it's gonna work for Americans and help make our country stronger. And we will pass this bill. I'll tell you a little bit about it in a minute, and I'll tell you why we'll pass it, because it's different from anything we've ever done before, despite what the Republicans want to try to tell you.

Kerry's Script: These worries are real, and they're happening all across America.

Actual Kerry: These worries are real. They're not made up. These stories aren't something that's part of a Democrat plan or a Republican plan. These are American stories. These are the stories of American citizens. And it's not just individual citizens who are feeling the pressure of health care costs. It's businesses across America. It's CEOs all across America. This is an American problem.

Kerry's Script: That's wrong, and we have to change it.

Actual Kerry: Well, that's wrong, my friends. We shouldn't be just hoping and praying. We need leadership that acts and responds and leads and makes things happen.     

Kerry's Script: That's wrong, and we have to change it.

Actual Kerry: Well, that's wrong. We had a chance to change it in the Congress of the United States. They chose otherwise. And I'll talk about that in a minute.

Kerry's Script: It's wrong to make it illegal for Medicare to negotiate with the drug companies for lower prices.

Actual Kerry: But not satisfied to hold onto the drug company's profit there, they went further. Medicare belongs to you. Medicare is paid by the taxpayer. Medicare is a taxpayer-funded program to keep seniors out of poverty. And we want to lower the cost to seniors, right? It's common sense. But when given the opportunity to do that, this president made it illegal for Medicare to do what the VA does, which is go out and bulk purchase drugs so we could lower the taxpayers' bill and lower the cost to seniors. It is wrong to make it illegal to lower the cost of tax and lower the cost to seniors. 

Kerry's Script: And if there was any doubt before, his response to the shortage of flu vaccines put it to rest.

Actual Kerry: Now, if you had any doubts at all about anything that I've just said to you, anybody who's listening can go to johnkerry.com or you can go to other independent sources and you can track down the truth of what I've just said. But if you had any doubts about it at all, his response to the shortage of the flu vaccine ought to put them all to rest.

Kerry's Script: I believe we need a fresh start on health care in America. I believe we need a President who will fight for the great middle class and those struggling to join it. And with your help, I will be that kind of President.

Actual Kerry: I believe so deeply—and as I go around, Bob and Bill and I were talking about this coming over here from other places—that the hope that we're seeing in the eyes of our fellow Americans, folks like you who have come here today who know what's at stake in this race. This isn't about Democrat and Republican or ideology. This is about solving problems, real problems that make our country strong and help build community and take care of other human beings. I believe we need a fresh start on health care in America. I believe we need a President who's going to fight for the great middle class and those who really are struggling, even below minimum wage now. And they won't even raise it. With your help, ladies and gentlemen, I intend to be that kind of President who stands up and fights for the people who need the help.

Kerry's Script: Families will be able to choose from dozens of different private insurance plans.

Actual Kerry: Now George Bush is trying to scare America. And he's running around telling everybody—I saw this ad the other night. I said, "What is that about? That's not my plan. That may be some 20 years ago they pulled out of the old thing." But here's what they do, they are trying to tell you that there is some big government deal. Ladies and gentlemen, we choose. I happen to choose Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I could choose Kaiser. I could choose Pilgrim. I could choose Phelan. I could choose any number of different choices. That's what we get. And we look through all the different choices and make our choice. You ought to have that same choice. The government doesn't tell what you to do. The government doesn't run it. It gives you the choice.

Kerry's Script: Ladies and Gentlemen, here's the Bush Health Care Plan: Don't get a flu shot, don't import less-expensive drugs, don't negotiate for lower prices, and most of all, don't get sick.

Actual Kerry: So, Ladies and Gentlemen, if you had doubts about it at all, here's the Bush Health Care Plan: Don't get a flu shot, don't import less-expensive drugs from Canada, don't negotiate for lower prices on prescription drugs. And don't get sick. Just pray, stand up and hope, wait—whatever. We are all left wondering and hoping. That's it.


          Bush's Big Mistake   

TEMPE, Ariz.—"The president is an alien. There's your quote of the day," Ken Mehlman said before the final presidential debate to reporters who were peppering him with questions about the rectangular shape underneath the president's jacket during the first debate. "He's been getting information from Mars," said Bush's campaign manager, and at the debate, "his alien past will be exposed."

Well, at least it wasn't that bad. Indisputably, this was the president's best debate. Just as it took Al Gore three debates to settle on the right tone during the 2000 campaign, President Bush figured out in his third face-off with John Kerry how to be neither too hot nor too cold. But Kerry was as good as he can be, too, and more important, what good the president did with his performance will be overshadowed Thursday when the TV networks spend the entire day running video clips of him saying of Osama Bin Laden on March 13, 2002, "I truly am not that concerned about him."

By denying that he had ever minimized the threat posed by Bin Laden, Bush handed Kerry, during the very first question, the victory in the post-debate spin. The Kerry campaign's critique of the president is that he doesn't tell the truth, that he won't admit mistakes, and that he refuses to acknowledge reality. Bush's answer played into all three claims. Within minutes, the Kerry-Edwards campaign e-mailed reporters the first of its "Bush vs. Reality" e-mails, complete with a link to the official White House transcript. A half-hour later, the Democratic National Committee circulated the video.

If the president had ignored Kerry's charge, everyone would have forgotten about it. By contesting it, Bush handed Kerry two gifts: As delighted as the Kerry people must be by yet another untruthful statement from the president, the substance of this particular statement is even more important. Dick Cheney's false declaration that he had never met John Edwards didn't help the Bush campaign, but this error will be orders of magnitude more damaging. Video of the vice president standing next to Edwards at a prayer breakfast is embarrassing. Video of the president saying he isn't concerned about the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks is devastating.

The president's blunder also provided at least a glimpse of the foreign-policy debate I hoped to see. Here's a more complete version of the president's 2002 comment: "I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban." The president's philosophy toward the war on terror could not be clearer: It is a war against nation-states, not against "nonstate actors" like al-Qaida. Bin Laden was dangerous because he controlled a state, not because he controls a terrorist network. When the Bush campaign talks about "going on the offense," this is what they mean. Kerry, after all, talks about hunting down the terrorists where they live. To Bush, that's not good enough. The subtext of the initial exchange between Bush and Kerry was more illuminating than the entire first debate.

The Bush counteroffensive to the president's mistake was to try to find a Kerry misstatement to fill in the "on the other hand" section in fact-checking news stories. During the debate, Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt sent out an "Urgent Alert" to reporters that read, complete with weird capitalization: "John Kerry's statement that he passed 56 bills during his 20 years in the senate is a complete and utter falsehood. Kerry passed five bills and Four resolutions." In Spin Alley after the debate was over, Bush campaign communications director Nicolle Devenish called Kerry's comment about the number of bills he authored his "Al Gore moment." But when Schmidt asserts that Kerry passed only five bills and four resolutions, he means bills that passed both houses of Congress and were signed into law. The Bush campaign's own "Breaking Debate Fact" e-mailed during the debate says that Kerry was the lead sponsor of 31 bills, 122 amendments, and 28 resolutions that passed the Senate.

Kerry did make some misstatements of his own, of course. He repeatedly said his health-care plan covers all Americans, which isn't true, and his assertion that the Bush campaign hasn't met with the Congressional Black Caucus isn't true, either. After the debate, Joe Lockhart admitted that Bush had a "ceremonial" meeting with the black caucus. But Kerry's minor inaccuracies will be overshadowed by the video of Bush saying, "I truly am not that concerned about him."

The most telling pre-debate quote came from Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster who told the New York Times that the first debate "was a chance for the president to lay [Kerry] out and just lock it. In the past two weeks, that's been turned on its head." That was my sense going into this debate: The situation was precisely the reverse of where the campaign stood before the first debate. Another decisive win for Kerry could have ended the race, as the campaign dominoes would have begun to fall his way. That didn't happen, and the debate was much closer than Kerry would have liked.

But as with previous debates, Kerry won the post-debate instant polls. After the last two, Kerry's margin of victory grew substantially beyond the margins in the snap polls. Bush's Bin Laden goof will give Kerry his best opportunity to score a post-debate knockout.


          Cheney Drops the Ball   

CLEVELAND—Does Dick Cheney know that he told voters watching the vice presidential debate to go to GeorgeSoros.com? In response to a series of attacks from John Edwards on Cheney's tenure as CEO of Halliburton, the vice president said that Kerry and Edwards "know the charges are false. They know that if you go, for example, to factcheck.com, an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton." One problem with Cheney's rebuttal: He misspoke. He meant to say "factcheck.org," rather than ".com." According to the Wall Street Journal, the company that owns factcheck.com, Name Administration Inc., took advantage of Cheney's error to redirect traffic to a page titled, "Why we must not re-elect President Bush: a personal message from George Soros."*

But maybe Cheney was lucky to have misspoken, because there was a larger problem with his response: It isn't true. Well, it is true that factcheck.org provides "specific details with respect to Halliburton," but those details have nothing to do with the charges Edwards made. The Democratic running mate said that Halliburton, while Cheney was CEO, "did business with sworn enemies of the United States, paid millions of dollars in fines for providing false financial information, it's under investigation for bribing foreign officials." All factcheck.org rebuts is a different charge, that Cheney collected $2 million from Halliburton "as vice president." It turns out that Cheney collected a good chunk of that money as vice president-elect, including nearly $1.5 million on Jan. 18, 2001, two days before his inauguration.

After the debate, Bush campaign communications director Nicole Devenish repeats Cheney's statement and directs reporters to factcheck.org for the details. I've already been to factcheck.org, I tell her, and it says nothing about what Edwards said, about trading with the enemy, about bribing foreign officials, about providing false financial information. She tells me to go to debatefacts.com, the Bush-Cheney rapid-response Web site. The answers are all there.

Except they're not. "The Facts" page at the Bush-Cheney debate site doesn't get Edwards' claims correctly either: "Edwards' Claim: The Department Of Defense's Contracting Process In Iraq Is Rife With Cronyism And Secrecy," it says. Did Edwards claim that? I thought he said Cheney traded with the enemy, bribed foreign officials, and provided false financial information. On those charges, the Bush-Cheney campaign has no answers, at least not tonight.

The exchange on "factcheck.com" was the debate writ small in many ways: Edwards would make a charge, and Cheney would have no answer for it. In debate, that's called a "dropped argument." Cheney left arguments all over the floor. Three times, when offered a chance to respond to something Edwards had said, Cheney declined, leaving Edwards' critique to stand on its own. Edwards went through a long list of votes that Cheney made as a congressman: against Head Start, against banning plastic weapons that can pass through metal detectors, against Meals on Wheels, against the Department of Education, against Martin Luther King Day, against the release of Nelson Mandela. What else was he against, longer recess? Cheney declined to defend or explain a single one of his votes. On gay marriage, Edwards said the constitutional amendment proposed by the president was unnecessary, divisive, and an attempt to distract the country from important issues such as health care, jobs, and Iraq. Cheney declined to refute any of Edwards' points, and instead thanked him for his kind words about his family. On homeland security, Edwards said the administration has failed to create a unified terrorist watch list, and it foolishly screens the passengers on airplanes but not their cargo. We need to be not just "strong and aggressive" but also "smart," he said. Cheney's response: to decline a chance to respond, which is the same as ceding the point.

When Cheney did have an answer, it was often a misleading one, just like factcheck.com. On one occasion, Cheney said the Kerry-Edwards tax plan would raise taxes on 900,000 small businesses, and he said that was a bad idea because small businesses create 7 out of 10 jobs in America. But the two statements have nothing to do with each other. Those 900,000 small businesses—double the real number that would be affected, according to CNN—don't create 70 percent of the nation's jobs. On another occasion, Cheney criticized Kerry for supporting defense cuts that Cheney supported as secretary of defense during the first Bush administration. Other statements were simply false, rather than merely deceptive or misleading. For example, Cheney said he had never asserted a connection between 9/11 and Iraq. That's not true. Cheney said he had never met Edwards before. That's not true.

Edwards didn't have a perfect debate. Cheney defended himself and the administration capably during the opening questions about Iraq and the war on terror, and I was disappointed when Edwards failed to give an answer to Cheney's criticism that he and Kerry have no plan to deal with state sponsors of terror. And Edwards got mauled when Cheney said Edwards, by saying that 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq were American, was saying that the deaths of Iraqi soldiers fighting with the U.S. "shouldn't count."

We're halfway through the debates, and I think that each side still has one big question that it hasn't answered. Kerry and Edwards haven't given an adequate explanation of how they would approach states that sponsor terrorism and harbor terrorism. If Iraq was the wrong country to focus on, what was the right country? Just Afghanistan? Or do they support a broader Bob Graham-style war against Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations? If regime change isn't the right policy for dealing with state sponsors of terror, what is? Would a Kerry-Edwards administration wage a "war on terror," or just a war on al-Qaida?

The question for Bush and Cheney is the same, but from the opposite side. Where does their war stop? When does it end? How do we measure victory? Most important, what is their answer to a question that Edwards posed and Cheney ignored: "There are 60 countries who have members of al-Qaida in them. How many of those countries are we going to invade?"

Correction, Oct. 7, 2004: The article originally claimed that George Soros bought the factcheck.com URL after Cheney referred to it and redirected its traffic to GeorgeSoros.com. In fact, the company that already owned the URL, Name Administration Inc., redirected the traffic to the Soros page. (Return to corrected sentence.)


          Kerry Answers Questions!   

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—John Kerry emitted an exasperated sigh. The last time he held a press conference, on Aug. 9, he confused everyone by saying he would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq even if he had known that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction. Now, six weeks later, the press still doesn't understand his position on the war. At least, they keep asking about it.

Kerry took 11 questions Tuesday. Ten were about Iraq, and eight of those 10 were requests for Kerry to clarify his position. Question No. 1: President Bush says you think the world would be better off if Saddam Hussein were still in power. Is that right? No. 3: Are you responsible for the fact that many people are confused about your position on the war? No. 4: Can you explain your support for the congressional resolution on the use of force? No. 5: How do you square the fact that you believe the world is better off with Saddam out of power with your statement to David Letterman that you wouldn't have gone to war with Iraq? No. 6: You didn't answer the earlier question. Are you responsible for the fact that people can't figure out your position? No. 8, the one that led to the frustrated noise: The president appealed to the United Nations today. How is what you're suggesting any different from what the president is doing? No. 9: If presidents deserve to be able to go to the United Nations with the leverage of congressional authority to use force, why did you vote against the 1991 war with Iraq?

Maybe Kerry wished he was back on Live with Regis & Kelly that morning, when the questions had been easier: You're very handsome, Senator. How do you stay in shape? Do you have a routine? Don't you think that Tom Cruise could play John Edwards in the movie? Who would play you? (Kerry's answer: "I don't have any idea." Kelly Ripa interjected, "Harrison Ford.")

But this time during the press conference, unlike the one in August, Kerry's doesn't let himself get sucked into the Green Eggs & Iraq (Do you like it on a train? Would you like it on a plane?) discussion that the Bush campaign loves to goad him into. Instead, he sticks to his change vs. more-of-the-same script: "The president wants to shift the topic, and I'm not going to let him shift the topic," Kerry says. "This is about President Bush, and his decisions, and his choices, and his unwillingness as I said in my speech yesterday to live in a world of reality." Kerry uses that phrase, "world of reality," four times. In all, he uses the world "reality" or "realities" (as in, the "realities on the ground") 10 times. "The president keeps wanting to debate fiction, or hypotheticals, rather than debate the reality of what's on the ground," Kerry says. "The president has not denied one of the facts that I laid out yesterday" in a speech in New York.

The reason so many people are confused about his position, Kerry says, is because they interpret his vote, incorrectly, as "a vote to go to war." "It wasn't a vote to go that day. It was a vote to go through a process," to give the president leverage at the United Nations and to get the inspectors back into Iraq. Kerry emphasizes on several occasions that he's been consistent on this point. "I said so all along," he says, sounding irritated. "Every one of you throughout this knows I have said there's a right way to do this and a wrong way to do this, and the president every step of the way has chosen the wrong way."

Kerry's right on this one. From the beginning, he's been consistent, if complicated, on the meaning of his 2002 vote. The Boston Globe's Kerry book quotes his mouthful from the Senate floor: "The vote that I will give to the president is for one reason and one reason only, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint conference with our allies." Kerry added of President Bush, "I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days—to work with the United Nations Security Council ... and to 'act with our allies at our side' if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force.' " Four days later, Kerry said, "What's happened is every single member of the United States Senate moved to take it to the U.N. with a willingness to enforce through the United Nations if that is the will of the international community. ... There is no justification whatsoever for sending Americans for the first time in American history as the belligerent, as the initiator of it, as a matter of first instance, without a showing of an imminent threat to our country." Walter Shapiro's chronicle of the early stages of the 2004 campaign, One-Car Caravan, confirms this point. Shapiro hears Kerry say in October 2002, "My vote was cast in a way that made it very clear, Mr. President, I'm voting for you to do what you said you're going to do, which is to go through the U.N. and do this through an international process. If you go unilaterally, without having exhausted these remedies, I'm not supporting you. And if you decide that this is just a matter of straight pre-emptive doctrine for regime-change purposes without regard to the imminence of the threat, I'm not going to support you."

Disagree with Kerry's reasoning if you want, call him ambivalent or even unclear, but you can't say that he's been inconsistent or that he flip-flopped. Kerry is wrong, however, that his 2002 vote doesn't contradict his 1991 vote. The first time around, Kerry expressly criticized the justification he would use 12 years later, calling it "dangerous" and "flawed." In 1991, Kerry said, taking the quote again from the Globe book, "This is not a vote about sending a message. It is a vote about war." Kerry could explain his change of heart fairly easily (for example, 9/11 changed everything, didn't it?), but instead he takes the Bushian stance of denying the "world of reality." During a long, confusing, and unconvincing explanation of how the rationale for his 1991 vote is consistent with the rationale for his 2002 vote, Kerry eventually stops himself and remembers his script: "That's not the debate. That's the debate the president wants to have now. The debate now is whether or not you have a plan to win, and whether or not you are facing the realities on the ground in Iraq." Back on message.

Kerry has emerged with a message that makes sense before. His problem is his inability to just pick one and stick with it. If he can hang on to this one for nine days, he might get out of the first debate alive.


          The Foreign Wives Club   

WASHINGTON—Teresa Heinz Kerry acknowledged Monday that she understands at least one of the reasons that many Americans aren't comfortable with the idea of her as first lady, or at least she came very close to acknowledging it: Many Americans are wary of her because they suspect she's not quite American—not un-American, just not exactly American either—and certainly not American enough to be first lady. In front of a luncheon sponsored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Heinz Kerry said that some critics—she called them "my husband's critics"—have challenged her for talking about her experience as an immigrant who came to America from Africa "via Europe, where I studied." Critics say "my immigrant experience isn't representative," Heinz Kerry said. "That is such a revealing comment, because what it suggests is that they should get to decide who shares in the American dream and who doesn't. What it suggests is that the American dream doesn't belong to all of us, but only to some of us."

Heinz Kerry ought to repeat that message everywhere she goes. She's one-fourth of what may be the most heavily accented ticket in American history (though Kennedy-Johnson could give them a run for their money), and fair or not, accents matter, especially in the mass-media age. George W. Bush speaks Spanish like an American, like Peggy Hill in King of the Hill. Teresa Heinz Kerry speaks English like a foreigner. Even her admirers are influenced by her accent. In the New York Observer last week, a Manhattan writer said Heinz Kerry was "a bit Zsa Zsa—you could see her slapping a cop." More important, you could hear her doing it, dahling.

I've always thought that John Edwards' thick Southern accent was one reason he did so poorly in New Hampshire. Northeastern liberals are predisposed to believe that anyone with a drawl is an uneducated rube, and some will even confess their prejudice. Sure, Bill Clinton was Southern, too, but he was also familiar with Northern culture. He attended Georgetown and went to Oxford. Clinton could navigate between the two worlds, and he spoke differently below the Mason-Dixon line than he did above it (or on television). Edwards sounds the same way all the time.

Heinz Kerry's accent isn't likely to put off Northern liberals, and even the ones that don't like it are likely to vote for her husband anyway. The problem could come in the rural areas of Ohio and Florida that are likely to determine the outcome of the election. President Bush slaughtered Al Gore in rural areas across the country four years ago. Kerry hopes to narrow that margin, which is why he rarely mentions abortion rights, emphasizes his status as a veteran, and distributes photos of himself hunting.

Those attributes may help Kerry some, but are they enough to offset a funny-talking wife? Even the pronunciation of her name—ter-AY-za—seems strange to people from certain parts of the country (not goofier than young John Kerry's pronunciation of "Genghis Khan," though). That's why it was so foolish of her to open her speech at the Democratic convention by speaking all five of her languages: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and English. To a certain brand of American, the stunt seemed either show-offy or vaguely seditious.

Everywhere he goes, President Bush says that "perhaps the most important reason to give us four more years is so that Laura will be first lady for four more years." In most presidential races, the remark would be interpreted as the self-deprecating affection of a doting husband. But in 2004, it comes across as a subtle shot at Teresa Heinz Kerry's fitness for (unofficial) office. Bill Clinton likes to say that people have to be able to imagine a candidate as the president before they can cast a ballot for him (or someday her). Right now, a lot of Americans have trouble imagining a world in which Teresa Heinz Kerry is first lady. It's not because she's opinionated, or a loose cannon, or perceived as an ice queen. It's because they haven't been convinced she's authentically American.

Outrageous? Nativist? Fine. That doesn't make it false. The best way for Teresa Heinz Kerry to overcome the prejudice against her is to recognize the doubts about her and confront them persuasively, like she did today. Her husband has already learned that ignoring something unfair, or pretending that it doesn't exist, doesn't make it go away.


          Their Kind of Town   

NEW YORK—Zell Miller will be the most notable apostate at the Republican National Convention, but Ed Koch gets to be the first. At the first GOP convention ever held in New York City, the first speaker after the opening remarks by Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and RNC Co-Chair Ann Wagner is the former mayor, a Democrat. "Why am I here?" the jovial Koch asks the smattering of assembled delegates at the sparsely attended Monday morning session. "I'm here to convert you. But that's for the next election. This year, I'm voting for the re-election of President George W. Bush." The small crowd gives Koch a huge cheer.

Koch is followed by another New York mayor, the current one. At the first GOP convention ever held in New York City, Republican Michael Bloomberg declares, "Welcome to America's New York." It's a strange choice of words, one that makes it sound as if the Republican delegates suspect they somehow landed in Russia's New York. (Perhaps that was the New York that Koch presided over.) But Bloomberg's choice of words is telling. The picture of New York painted during the convention's morning session is a city in tune with the rest of the country, the South, Middle, and West that most Republicans hail from. Maybe Bloomberg should have said, "Welcome to Red America's New York."

After Bloomberg speaks, a video produced by the History Channel tells the political history of the capital of Blue America, but it's really the history of the Republican Party in New York. We hear about the birth of Teddy Roosevelt, for example, but not, say, the Stonewall riots. (The video also contains the first bit of disinformation at the convention: It calls TR "our second-youngest president" when in fact he was the youngest president, taking office as a 42-year-old after the assassination of President McKinley. JFK, at 43, was the youngest man elected to the presidency.) "America's New York" is where the Bill of Rights was written, not where the gay rights movement began. It's where Abraham Lincoln, the most beloved Republican, denounced the spread of slavery at Cooper Union. It's also home to the machinery of global capitalism: the New York Stock Exchange and the headquarters of more major corporations than any other city.

Long before we get to Rudy Giuliani, New York Mayor No. 3 of the day, the message of Day 1 couldn't be clearer: Don't worry, nervous visitors. Despite what you may have heard from your friends (or seen from the protestors), this is your town!

But the Big Apple love-in doesn't last all that long. No one denounces the city, of course, but the disconnect between the majority of New Yorkers and the majority of Republicans comes across during the succession of speeches by GOP congressional candidates. In the most Jewish city in America, Mississippi congressional candidate Clinton LeSueur strays from President Bush's carefully inclusive religious rhetoric. Instead of making the nonsectarian statement in his prepared text—"The very foundation of this country is faith"—LeSueur says, "The very foundation of this country is Christianity and faith in Jesus Christ."

Ted Poe, a congressional candidate from Texas, goes even further. He compares Upper West Side liberals, at least implicitly, to the nation's enemies in the war on terror. The country is currently fighting for freedom abroad in Iraq, Poe says. But it's also fighting for "basic American principles" at home. "This threat is real," he continues. Don't "complain and criticize as the French did in the war in Iraq." No, this dangerous "threat" must be stopped with a fierce barrage of smaller government and lower taxes. "Sitting on the sidelines is not an option," says Poe, sticking with his hilariously inappropriate analogy. "Now is not the time to be a French Republican" (or, as the official transcript of his piece has it, an all-caps "FRENCH REPUBLICAN").

Who screened Poe's speech? Sure, it's not prime time, but certainly someone pointed out (or someone should have pointed out) that it wasn't a good idea to compare Democrats, by far the majority in New York, to Baathists.

Maybe Poe was more shocked by the scale of the anti-Bush protests in the streets than he should have been. He expected the Republicans to be greeted in Manhattan as liberators.


          John Edwards' To-Do List   

OKLAHOMA CITY—Does John Edwards talk about stuff besides the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads? As he says to the people who ask him a question at his town-hall meetings, "The answer is yes." But once you've been following a candidate for a few days, his stump speech starts to get a little tedious. OK, more than a little tedious. The press corps (and the campaign staff and the Secret Service) entertains itself by playing "Wheel-o," a betting game where we guess which of the 16 numbers scrawled in chalk on the back wheel of the plane will rest on the ground after landing. Or we roll Jack Edwards' toy ball up the aisle of the plane during takeoff and cheer if it gets into the front cabin. Or we take pictures of ourselves in front of the "world's largest six-pack," six brewing tanks painted like beer cans in front of the brewery in La Crosse, Wis. Or we dream of driving to Juarez, Mexico, during tonight's stay in Las Cruces, N.M.

Reporters listen when the candidate speaks, but we don't hear him. My ears perk up only when Edwards says something new or different, and after a while, I start to hear nuances that aren't there. On Monday in La Crosse, Edwards dropped his exaggerated claim that Kerry volunteered for dangerous combat duty in Vietnam. Aha! I thought. The campaign is finally abandoning its mild, needless puffery about Kerry's war record to head off nitpicking from the Swift Boat Veterans and others. Well, nope, actually. The next day Edwards made the claim again.

So, instead of reporting on whatever contrived bit of newness I heard in Edwards' speech today, here's a list of the things he's said over and over again during the past two and a half days. I've stripped out the bromides—"hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism"—and focused solely on policy proposals. These aren't all the promises or proposals Edwards has made this week, just the ones he makes most often. For best results, crank up Tina Turner's "Simply the Best," Van Hagar's "Right Now," or anything by Bruce Springsteen or John Cougar Mellencamp while reading:

  • raise the minimum wage;
  • spend more money on: early education, public schools, child care, afterschool programs, and salaries for teachers in the communities where they're needed;
  • raise taxes on: companies that take jobs overseas; individuals who make more than $200,000 a year;
  • reduce taxes for: small businesses that create jobs in communities with high unemployment; individuals through a $1,000 tax credit for health care and a $4,000 tax credit for college tuition (in addition to promising four years of tuition to individuals who perform two years of public service);
  • improve health care by: making the congressional health-care plan available for purchase by all Americans; covering all children; allowing prescription drugs to be imported from Canada; and allowing the government to use its bulk-purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices from pharmaceutical companies;
  • reform labor laws by: swiftly and severely punishing employers that violate labor laws; banning the hiring of permanent replacements for strikers; "make card-check neutrality the law of the land";
  • fight the war on terror by: strengthening alliances to help "get terrorists before they get us";
  • improve the situation in Iraq by: improving our relations with allies so that NATO will agree to get involved; keeping Iran and Syria from interfering; and getting "others involved in reconstruction besides Halliburton."

Though the real message is the one-point plan of getting a new president.

Refer to this list often. Read it three or four times each day while grooving to Van Halen. Pretty soon, when John Edwards asks, "Are we going to have a president and a vice president who actually understands what's going on in your lives? Who presents an optimistic, positive, hopeful, uplifting vision of America? Or are we going to have a campaign based on fear and lies?" you'll be praying for more fear and lies, too.


          Looking Backward   

MANKATO, Minn.—After watching President Bush speak for only a couple of hours on the 2004 stump, it's easy to see the main tenets of his re-election campaign: My opponent is un-American, or at least less American than me and you. My opponent, much like Al Gore, doesn't know who he is. My opponent is a tax-hiking, big-government liberal. Worse, he wants to ask other countries for permission for America to defend itself against its enemies. Last, and most important, my wife is better than his wife.

What you don't hear from President Bush's stump speech, or from his surrogates, is what he plans to do were he given another four years as president. The problem is particularly glaring on matters of foreign policy. There are glimmers of a domestic agenda in the president's two campaign events Wednesday: He wants to reform America's high schools, increase math and science education, and increase the use of the Internet in schools. He wants more ethanol subsidies. He wants to make health care more available and affordable. He wants less regulation. He likes community colleges. He wants workers to be able to acquire flex time and comp time in lieu of overtime pay.

Bush also gives his audiences a rehash of the greatest hits from his 2000 campaign mantras. He likes tort reform and dislikes "frivolous lawsuits." (A favorite line of Bush crowds: "You cannot be pro-patient and pro-doctor and pro-trial lawyer at the same time. You have to choose. My opponent made his choice, and he put him on the ticket.") He wants private Social Security accounts for younger workers. He likes marriage and the family, which always gets him a big cheer, because what it really means is he's against gay marriage. He's for a "culture of life," "judges who faithfully interpret the law instead of legislating from the bench," and a "culture of responsibility." Not to mention the responsibility society and the ownership society. He's still against the soft bigotry of low expectations. And of course, he wants everyone to love their neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.

Bush doesn't talk much about the future. He talks about the past. The biggest portions of Bush's speech are spent mounting a vigorous defense of his presidency. When Bush's campaign foundered in New Hampshire four years ago, he retooled his strategy in response to John McCain and began billing himself as a "reformer with results." He's not using that slogan yet, but the rhetoric is similar. "It's not enough to advocate reform," he says. "You have to be able to get it done." The closing section of his speech ends with the mantra, "Results matter." On education, health care, the economy, farms, and security, Bush concludes by saying, "Results matter." Of his Medicare prescription drug benefit, Bush says, "Leaders in both political parties had promised prescription drug coverage for years. We got the job done."

Bush spends the longest amount of time defending his policies after Sept. 11. He takes credit for the creation of the Homeland Security Department (one of those things that Bush voted against before he voted for it), and he takes pride in the Patriot Act. Afghanistan has gone from being the "home base of al-Qaida" to being a "rising democracy." Pakistan, once a "safe transit point for terrorists," is now an ally. Saudi Arabia, he says, "is taking the fight to al-Qaida." Libya has given up its quest for weapons of mass destruction.

Most of all, Bush defends the war in Iraq. He repeats the litany of reasons for going to war: Saddam was defying the will of the United Nations, he harbored terrorists, he funded suicide bombers, he used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. "In other words, we saw a threat," Bush says. "Members of the United States Congress from both political parties, including my opponent, looked at the intelligence and came to the same conclusion."

What Bush doesn't acknowledge is what went wrong: The WMD were never found. We weren't welcomed as liberators. Oil revenues haven't paid for the war. It wasn't a cakewalk. What went wrong? Why? Given four more years, what does Bush plan to do about it? He hasn't told us yet, other than suggesting "more of the same."

"Every incumbent who asks for your vote has got to answer one central question, and that's 'Why?'" Bush says. "Why should the American people give me the high privilege of serving as your president for four more years?" The answer Bush gives to that question is his record. He says he deserves re-election because of what he has already done. At Wednesday's first event, in Davenport, Iowa, U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle embodies this attitude when he introduces Bush to the crowd. "There is no one I would have wanted to be at the helm of this country these last four years than you," Nussle says.

Bush and Nussle are asking the wrong question. The real question an incumbent faces is, what now? What's next? So far, Bush isn't telling. A president's record matters, but the reason it matters is because it has predictive value. Bush's defenders say he is a transformational figure, that he's willing to take on big problems and challenges. Wouldn't you like to know what Bush believes those big problems and challenges would be in foreign policy over the next four years? Are there gathering threats that, like Iraq, he thinks need to be tackled "before they materialize"? The president says that is the lesson of Sept. 11, that the nation must confront its security problems pre-emptively. Where else does he plan to apply that lesson? Does he plan to tell us?

After the 2002 midterm elections, when Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill objected to another round of tax cuts for the rich, Vice President Cheney told O'Neill to discard his worries. We won the midterm elections, Cheney said. "This is our due." As much as liberals dislike President Bush's record over the past four years, it's the prospect of another four years that terrifies them. What they want to know—what keeps them awake at night—is what President Bush hasn't answered yet: What are you going to do next? This time, what will be your due?


          Trading Places   

LOS ANGELES—John Kerry did something I thought was impossible tonight. He turned himself into John Edwards. This may be the secret of Kerry's success in the Democratic primaries: What Bill Clinton did to infuriate the Republican Congress during his presidency, Kerry does to his fellow candidates. He co-opts their issues, their message, even their language. When Howard Dean was the obstacle in Kerry's path, the Massachusetts senator talked about throwing the special interests out of Washington and putting the people back in charge. Now that Edwards is the lone serious contender, Kerry pitches himself as the positive, optimistic candidate with "real solutions."

"I've offered a positive vision of what we ought to be doing in America," Kerry declared in the opening moments of Thursday's debate. "Once we have a nominee, this country will have an opportunity to hear a positive vision of how we can offer hope to Americans, optimism about the possibilities of the future, not divide America but bring it together to find real solutions. And that's what I'm offering: real solutions." Edwards must have felt like a sitcom character, the candidate for student council president watching his classmate deliver a stolen version of his speech. The "Real Solutions Express" is the name of Edwards' campaign bus. "Real Solutions for America" is the name of Edwards' 60-page policy booklet. It's also the phrase plastered across the top of Edwards' campaign Web site.

But unlike the sitcom character, who takes the podium and falls flat on his face, Edwards dominated the early portion of the debate. He throttled Kerry—with an assist from an aggressive Ron Brownstein—after Kerry couldn't explain why he thought the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional in 1996 but that a constitutional amendment isn't needed now to ensure that states are not forced to recognize gay marriages from other states. After Kerry's long-winded and unsatisfactory answer to whether he would vote for the Defense of Marriage Act today, Edwards jabbed, "I'm not sure what he said about that. But I would not vote for it." Then Edwards deftly moved to Kerry's left on the issue, saying he believes the federal government ought to be required to recognize gay marriages if they are recognized by a state. Edwards also looked strong when he confronted Al Sharpton to defend his support of the death penalty.

Despite the inclusion of Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, they weren't much of a factor. They sat on the far end of the table away from the TV camera, and they were confined mostly to interjecting asides to the main debate between Kerry and Edwards. They seemed like the political debate version of the two grumpy old men who issue catcalls from the balcony during The Muppet Show.

But despite Edwards' strong start, by the end of the debate a second impossible transformation had occurred. John Edwards turned into John Kerry. Kerry answered a difficult question from Larry King about his opposition to the death penalty—"A person who kills a 5-year-old should live?"—clearly and directly. "Larry, my instinct is to want to strangle that person with my own hands," he said. But the system is flawed, it's applied unjustly, and as a matter of principle, "the state should not engage in killing." That's the best answer you can give to that unpopular position. Edwards, by contrast, sounded like the Kerry of old when he tried to explain why he supports a system that King said "nearly executed over 100 people who didn't do it." He talked about how "serious" the issue was, and how "serious steps" need to be taken, such as "making the court system work." Finally, King bailed him out: But why do you favor capital punishment? Oh yeah, Edwards seemed to think, that's what I should be talking about, and he brought up some liberal red meat: "Those men who dragged James Byrd behind that truck in Texas, they deserve the death penalty."

On another occasion, Brownstein had to repeatedly query Edwards to get him to explain whether there were any substantive differences between him and Kerry on the issue of reforming the way Washington works. "Do you view Sen. Kerry as part of the solution or part of the problem?" Brownstein asked. Edwards dodged the question. "Is there a difference in your commitment to this cause and what you see from Sen. Kerry?" Brownstein tried again. "Yes," Edwards said, because I'm an outsider. But that's not substantive, Brownstein objected. "He is saying many of the same things. Are you saying that he is less committed?" Edwards demurred.

Then Kerry swooped in to damn Edwards with praise. "I don't think there fundamentally is a difference," he said. "I mean, John has raised almost 50 percent of his money from one group of people in the United States"—"Is that the trial lawyers?" King interrupted—"That's correct. And I don't ever suggest that he is beholden to them," Kerry continued magnanimously. "Because I know he stood up on the patients' bill of rights."

The real Kerry returned a few moments later, with a preposterously unclear statement on his first executive order: "Reverse the Mexico City policy on the gag rule so that we take a responsible position globally on family planning." But then Edwards picked up the Kerry torch when Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Janet Clayton asked him how he can criticize the president for a war that he voted for. Edwards tried to appear thoughtful and serious, saying he gave "an awful lot of thought and study to it." Not only that, "I was worried about it. All of us were. I took this responsibility seriously." But why did you vote for it? "What we did is we voted on a resolution," Edwards stammered. And Bush didn't conduct the war properly. "So are you saying you were suckered?" Clayton asked.

King asked Edwards if he regrets his vote for the war. "I did what I believed was right at the time," Edwards said. "Do you regret it?" King asked again. "I did what I believed was right at the time," Edwards repeated. "Do you regret it?" King asked again, this time to laughter. "We don't get to go back, Larry," Edwards insisted. "Well, you can regret something," King said.

Kerry pounced on his chance to play Edwards to Edwards' Kerry. "Let me return a favor from the last debate to John," he said. "You asked a yes-or-no answer: 'Do you regret your vote?' The answer is: No. I do not regret my vote. I regret that we have a president of the United States who misled America and broke every promise he made the United States Congress." Substantively, this is the same answer Edwards gave, but it was clear instead of evasive and concise instead of tortuous.

It couldn't have been clearer: Edwards had become Kerry and Kerry had become Edwards. Kerry's critics will likely see this as more evidence of flip-flopping opportunism. Kerry will likely see it as victory.


          The Final Days   

MILWAUKEE—We're at the point in the movie where you know how it's going to end, but you stay up late to watch anyway, no matter how painful it gets. The only reason we're here is to watch the beheading of Howard Dean, one reporter declares in the press room after Sunday night's debate. But didn't we see that part already? The end of Dean's quest for the Democratic presidential nomination is winding up with the leisurely pace of the interminable conclusion of The Return of the King. After New Hampshire, there's been nothing but denouement.

Wisconsin was supposed to be Dean's dramatic last stand. Instead, it has all the excitement of the Missouri primary, but at least Missouri had the excuse that there weren't any candidates there. Members of the Dean campaign staff used Saturday to tour the Miller brewery—some are now sporting Miller High Life lapel pins—and I mentioned that I thought that was a pretty smart use of their free day, since Dean was in Vermont that night watching his son's final high-school hockey game. "They're pretty much all free days now," a campaign staffer replied.

But Dean isn't the only candidate facing a death watch. I hear rumors before the debate that both John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich are dropping out. I don't believe either rumor, but I can't decide whether it's more shocking that people believe Edwards is leaving or that Kucinich is.

Kucinich will never drop out. He's said so several times, and he's the one candidate who I believe means everything that comes out of his mouth. He really means it when he talks about the "militarization of thought," about being a "peace president," and about wanting to "change the metaphor of our society from war to peace." He was serious when he said in the spin room after Sunday's debate that unless we pull out of Iraq, "we're going to have a draft." Irony is not the long suit of the man who extended his wingspan Saturday night in front of a few hundred Democrats and helicoptered silently for several long seconds before shouting "No strings! No strings! No strings! No strings! I'll take you to the White House with no strings attached!" (Mean joke: Sure, he's got no strings to hold him down, but he still needs to be turned into a real candidate.) I feel bad about that joke—not bad enough not to print it—because, as Christopher Hitchens wrote last week, "Dennis Kucinich is the sort of guy who we need in politics." My wife thinks Kucinich is great, except for his crazy positions. I think that's about right.

As for Edwards, what's the point of winning the battle to be the last man standing against Kerry if you're not going to follow through on your long-shot strategy? Edwards did better than expected in Iowa after being endorsed by the state's largest newspaper, followed by a superior performance in the state's final debate. Well, Edwards did pretty well Sunday night—it's fairer to say that Kerry did poorly—and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel just endorsed him.

How bad was Kerry's night? It wasn't disastrous, but it's as bad as I've seen him. He sounded like the meandering, orotund Kerry of last summer. His answers to questions about diversity and gay marriage were muddled incoherence, and he claimed that it wasn't his fault that the Bush administration has abused the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the congressional Iraq war resolution. But if you vote for broadly written laws that are abused by the administration in power when you passed them, aren't you at least partly to blame for the consequences? You wouldn't let your 6-year-old drive the family car and then blame him for the accident. And you can be certain that if the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, and the war were popular with Democratic voters, Kerry would be taking credit for them.

Edwards fired off the night's best line in response to Kerry's tortuous answer to a question about whether he feels "any degree of responsibility for the war and its costs and casualties": "That's the longest answer I ever heard to a yes or no question. The answer to your question is: of course; we all accept responsibility for what we did." (The Dean campaign followed up with a press release stating only, "Memo to John Edwards: You are so right.")

But I don't think that moment offsets the fact that Edwards is torching his centrist reputation with his antitrade rhetoric. Granted, it's not only him. Alleged liberal Howard Dean was the only candidate on stage willing to unabashedly defend the passage of free trade agreements such as NAFTA ("I think the free trade agreements were justified"), though he does want to change them now. Kerry seemed evasive when he defended his votes for NAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with China by citing side agreements that dealt with labor and environmental standards.

But Edwards goes much further than Dean and Kerry. His campaign issued a press release trumpeting his votes against "fast track" and against trade agreements with Chile, Singapore, Africa, and the Caribbean. And on stage, he criticized Dean and Kerry for supporting "free trade, as they always have." The anti-NAFTA consensus was the most striking thing to me about Sunday's debate. Was it really more than 10 years ago that Al Gore handed that picture of Reed Smoot and Willis Hawley to Ross Perot on CNN?

Later in the debate, Edwards toned down his rhetoric. "The truth is, some of these jobs are gone," he said. "We're not going to get them back." And I was grateful that no candidate elected to bash Greg Mankiw, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (as Kerry did in a speech Saturday night), for suggesting that the outsourcing of some jobs is good for the American economy in the long run. Bush administration economists have told enough lies—Mankiw's predecessor asserted that there was no connection between the deficit and interest rates, despite writing about the connection in his own textbook—that they deserve some applause when they tell an unpopular truth.


          That '70s Campaign   

NASHVILLE—The Democratic Party's estimates of its chances of defeating President Bush in November have rebounded in concert with John Kerry's campaign. A little more than a month ago, most Democrats were overly pessimistic about the 2004 election. Now they're overly optimistic. Sunday afternoon, during a press conference prior to a Democratic Party rally at the downtown Hilton here, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., declared not only that "Bush 43 looks very beatable at this point," but also that 2004 could be a congressional "tidal wave year" for the Democrats, akin to 1994 for the Republicans.

And if 2004 isn't a Democratic 1994, maybe it's 1976. That was former Vice President Al Gore's message to the Tennessee Democrats Sunday night. In an angry, sweaty shout, sounding like the second coming of Huey Long, Gore drew an extended comparison between the post-Watergate election of 1976, the year of his first election to Congress, and the post-Iraq election of 2004. John Kerry's two main rivals in Tennessee, Wesley Clark and John Edwards, spoke to the party, too, but Gore was clearly the main event. And if he wasn't before he spoke, he was by the time he was finished.

"You know, there was a mood in '76, a spirit of unity, a feeling of determination that we were going to win that race that year," said Gore, clearly linking that feeling to the resolve of 2004 Democrats to win back the presidency. Gore, however, wasn't referring only to the feelings of national Democrats in 1976. He was referring to the feelings of Tennessee Democrats, who were bitter over a Senate race that had been lost six years earlier.

Gore's father, Albert Gore Sr., was defeated in his 1970 campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Gore made a number of comparisons between 1970 and 1976 in Tennessee and 2000, 2002, and 2004 in America. "President George W. Bush reminds me more of former President Richard Nixon than any of his other predecessors," he said, implying, it seemed, that Nixon smeared his father in the midterm elections of 1970 just as President Bush smeared Georgia Senator Max Cleland in 2002. "They tried to make out like my dad was an atheist because he didn't want a constitutional amendment putting the government in charge of telling children how they ought to worship God in the public schools," Gore said. "They came out with accusations that he was unpatriotic because he was opposed to the Vietnam War and the mistaken policy that got us into that war." Gore recalled his father's concession speech on Election Night: "He took the old Confederate slogan about 'The South shall rise again,' and he stood it on its head. And he proudly proclaimed, 'The truth shall rise again!'"

Gore was also drawing an analogy between his father and himself. He was expressing the hope that just as his father's loss was redeemed by the election of a Democrat, Jim Sasser, to his U.S. Senate seat six years later, so too could Gore be redeemed after his loss to George W. Bush, if the Democrats reclaim the White House in 2004. As Gore stood on stage before his remarks, I wondered, what must it be like to be Samuel Tilden? What's it like to be haunted by the fact that you're a historical footnote? Gore's speech provided some answers.

"We have seen an administration which in my view more closely resembles the Nixon-Agnew administration than any other previous administration," he said. "There's a reason I say that. I don't offer that as simply a casual slur." The crowd laughed. "I'm not above a casual slur," Gore added, in a "mind you" tone, to more laughter. "But I'm biased, I didn't vote for the guy." A man calls out, "Neither did America!" To which Gore responds, "Well, there is that."

He continued: "But here's the reason I say that President George W. Bush reminds me more of former President Richard Nixon than any of his other predecessors. Nixon was no more committed to principle than the man in the moon. He, as a conservative Republican, imposed wage and price controls. Hard to believe in this day and time. But he did. And he cared as little about what it meant to be really conservative as George W. Bush has cared in imposing $550 billion budget deficits and trillions in additions to the national debt. That has nothing to do with conservatism and everything to do with his effort to get re-elected!"

Gore then explained how he planned to travel to Iowa in September 2001 to deliver "a real ripsnorter of a speech" that would have harshly critiqued President Bush's first nine months in office and broken Gore's political silence. He abandoned his plan after the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, and instead swallowed his pride and told the Iowa Democrats of the man he clearly feels stole the presidency from him, "George W. Bush is my commander-in-chief."

"I think there were millions just like me, who genuinely, in spite of whatever partisanship they may have felt prior to that time, genuinely felt like they wanted George W. Bush to lead all of us in America wisely and well," he shouted.

"And the reason I'm recalling those feelings now is because those are the feelings that were betrayed by this president! He betrayed this country! He played on our fears! He took America, he took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure that was preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place!" Gore closed with his father's line from 1970: "And so I say to you in closing my friends, in the year of 2004, the truth shall rise again!"

The crowded erupted in a frenzy that recalled a Howard Dean audience circa August 2003. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much where Gore still is. Many Democrats took the 2000 election personally, and they saw the Dean campaign as the outlet for their anger and frustration. But no Democrat could have taken it more personally than Al Gore. To those who speculate that Gore's endorsement of Dean was a crude and ill-timed political calculation, this speech was a repudiation.

Not only does he believe that he should rightfully be president, he also thinks he performed his patriotic duty in the aftermath of 9/11, and Bush screwed him for it. To Gore, it seems that beating Bush wouldn't suffice. He wants to convince the world that Bush is one of history's worst presidents.

Gore is still popular with the Democratic base, but after this speech, the question for the party's nominee has to be, do you want this man to speak at the convention in Boston? Even if you like the sentiment behind this speech, if Gore delivers an address like this one in July, the historical analogy won't be to the Democrats of 1976 or to the Republicans of 1994. Instead, the comparison will be to the disastrous Republican convention of 1992. The angry white male is back. Do the Democrats really want him?


          Republican Campaign Preview   

ST. LOUIS—Dick Gephardt's congressional district is Busch country, if not Bush country, so if you're going to hold a Republican presidential campaign rally in a Democratic stronghold, this one's as appropriate as any. Mary Matalin, who's on board the Bush-Cheney '04 team as a campaign adviser, is in town with a phalanx of Missouri Republicans. I'd say she's in town to distract media attention from the Democratic primary in the largest of the Feb. 3 states, except there's pretty much no Democratic campaign to speak of in Missouri. As a result, Missourians appear more interested in the Democratic primary for governor, between incumbent Gov. Bob Holden and State Auditor Claire McCaskill, than in presidential politics.

The Bush rally does, however, provide some insight into the general-election campaign message that the Bush-Cheney campaign is trying out. If the Democratic primaries and caucuses over the next four or five weeks are a referendum on John Kerry's electability, it's worth knowing what he's expected to be electable against. Monday's rally is the second Republican event I've attended this campaign—the other was in Nashua, N.H., where John McCain stumped for the president—and the president's re-election argument, as advanced by his surrogates, couldn't be clearer. The Republicans want the threshold question of this election to be: On Sept. 11 and Sept. 12, 2001, would you rather have had George W. Bush as president or his Democratic opponent?

Both Bush rallies that I've attended emphasize the idea that the president merits re-election as a reward for past performance, as much as—or even more than—any promise of future results. "On Sept. 11, when this nation faced in many respects the greatest threat to our security, President Bush stood forward, led this nation with clarity and with strength, which has earned him the admiration and appreciation of the overwhelming majority of Americans, and I believe has earned him another term as president of the United States of America," McCain said in Nashua. The speakers at Monday's event strike similar notes. "This is a man who has restored peace to the American homeland, after we suffered the worst attack we have suffered here since Pearl Harbor," U.S. Sen. Jim Talent says. U.S. Sen. Kit Bond puts it this way: "I'm most concerned about the war on terror. When Sept. 11, 2001, hit us, George Bush knew what to do."

Al Gore tried to run on the Clinton record of peace and prosperity. The Bush campaign looks like it will run on arguable prosperity and war. Kerry's line that the war on terrorism is as much a law-enforcement and intelligence-gathering operation as it is a military one is derided. "There's only one person gonna be running for president in November of this year who believes that the war against terrorism is a war, against a transnational army that attacked and every day threatens the people of the United States, not a law enforcement action against a few stray criminals," Talent says. Matalin concurs. "This is not a law enforcement effort, as has been said. This is a war. This is a global war. This is a war between barbarism and civilization."

Local boy John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act receive a heaping of praise. "John Ashcroft and the Bush administration have been successful," Bond says. "According to the FBI director, at least 100 planned terrorist attacks, underway for the United States, were disrupted because they used the Patriot Act. Thanks heavens we have the Patriot Act and we have somebody like John Ashcroft ..." I think Bond's concluding phrase is "who's going to use it," but I can't hear him over the crowd's applause. This is Bizarro World when compared to the Democratic campaign trail, where Ashcroft is deemed a supervillain second only to Karl Rove.

"The polls show that one of our colleagues in the United States Senate is leading in the Democratic primary here," continues Bond, referring to Kerry. "He wants to get rid of the Patriot Act. He voted for it, now he doesn't like it." The effectiveness of that line is undercut by Bond's demagogic follow-up: "Personally, I like being free of terrorist attacks." The crowd laughs appreciatively. Later, Matalin says that John Ashcroft is more than a mere terrorist-fighting, cell-breaking, plot-disrupting attorney general. "John Ashcroft is a hero."

Argument No. 3 is that the missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq are irrelevant. Partly, because as McCain said back in New Hampshire, "Saddam Hussein acquired weapons of mass destruction, he used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and his enemies, and there is no expert that I know that doesn't believe that if Saddam Hussein was still in power he would be attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction."

But the humanitarian benefits of the Iraq war are emphasized more than the threat posed by Saddam. In Nashua, McCain cited a mass grave of 3,000 "men, women, and children," and added, "My friends, when those 8- and 9-year-old boys were let out of prison in Baghdad, our effort and our sacrifice was justified." Matalin compares Bush's hope for a democratic Iraq to the hopes of Islamic radicals. "There are forces that want to go backwards, that are for oppression, repressing women, there is no freedom, versus going forward into the modern world," she says.

After the event is over, I tell Matalin that the Republican pitch sounds backward-looking. OK, people liked President Bush after 9/11. But that's not an agenda. What's the president's plan going forward? "This is a generational commitment to get this job done," she says. "It took 60 years of a policy of hypocrisy, turning the other way when there was oppression and tyranny in that region, to create this kind of terrorism against America. So, getting a whole region to bring in the hallmarks of a modern state, private property, human rights, rights for women, a judicial system, market principles, it takes more than a campaign cycle. So, he reversed a 60-year policy that wasn't working in the region, and he is putting in place, which is going to take more than one term or two terms, collective security arrangements for the 21st century."

That's a mouthful. And it sets up what I think will be the most intriguing question of the general election. Which candidate will succeed in portraying himself as the internationalist in the race? The Democratic contenders push cooperation, alliances, and multilateral institutions, but they also use nationalist rhetoric to tar Bush for spending money abroad rather than spending it at home (say, "opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them in the United States," a Kerry line). Taking off on some of that nationalist rhetoric, the Bush surrogates describe Democrats as isolationists who want the United States to abandon its leadership role in the world. The Democrats respond by describing President Bush as a unilateralist who abandoned the nation's role as a global leader. Who will succeed in defining himself as a broad-minded internationalist and his opponent as a narrow-minded nationalist? Our next president.


          Closing Arguments   

NASHUA, N.H.—I'm feeling sorry for Dennis Kucinich. And the feeling just makes me feel even sorrier, because pity isn't the emotion he's trying to evoke. Kucinich is standing in front of more than 1,000 Democrats at a fund-raiser Saturday night for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, at which every candidate in the New Hampshire primary except Al Sharpton is scheduled to speak. Kucinich must know that he's not going to win Tuesday night, but at the same time he surely fantasizes that this is his moment, this is his chance to make a winning, last-ditch appeal for his unlikely candidacy.

I am the only candidate who voted against the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, Kucinich proclaims to fervent applause. I am the only candidate "who insists on an immediate end to the occupation." Imagine a presidential debate between President Bush and my opponents (other than Al Sharpton), he says. They supported the war, they voted for the invasion, or they support the occupation. "Where's the debate with President Bush?" he asks.

And it's not just the war. Kucinich wants not-for-profit single-payer health care, and his opponents don't. "This is the time," Kucinich is saying, but I can't hear the rest. He's being drowned out, at least in the back of the room where I stand, by cries of "How-ard! How-ard! How-ard! How-ard!" coming from the hallway, where Howard Dean must have just arrived. Nearly a year of campaigning by the Ohio congressman for the highest office in the land is summed up in this moment. What must it be like to imagine yourself as the leader of an incipient movement for progressivism and then to have that movement led by another man, one that you view as a charlatan?

The night's other tragic figure is Joe Lieberman. He's begging for scraps of support by appealing to state pride, the last refuge of a second-tier candidate. "Hey, let me tell you this, I love New Hampshire," he says. "Did you see me at the debate the other day? I swore to God to fight to the death to protect the first-in-the-nation status of the New Hampshire Democratic primary." Lieberman knows he's not popular, but he's hoping against hope, too. "Looking around this room, I see there are some people supporting some other candidates for president, and I respect that diversity," he says.

See, Lieberman's not a conservative Democrat. He's diverse! "I have never wavered for a moment" on the need to remove Saddam Hussein, he says, and it sounds like three people clap. I'm more electable than the others, he says, because there are "a surprising number of Republicans who are disappointed with George W. Bush and ready to go for an acceptable alternative." There's a winning Democratic primary message: The candidate whom Republicans kinda like!

Lieberman can't get it right even when he's shoring up his liberal bona fides by talking about his plan to fight poverty. "Is it right for George W. Bush to have turned his back on 35 Americans in poverty?" he asks, omitting the crucial word, "million." But he's not discouraged. "I feel something happening in this campaign for me," he says. "My staff says that in New Hampshire today, there is an outbreak of 'Joe-mentum,' and I hope so." That's only the latest painful "Joe" pun in a Lieberman campaign list that includes the "Joe-vember to remember" and the campaign vehicle, the "WinnebaJoe."

As he's wrapping up, thanking "the people of New Hampshire for the warmth and respect" they have given him, Lieberman's speech has the feeling of a farewell, very much like a speech I saw Dick Gephardt give the night before the Iowa caucuses. Miracles do happen, and the Lieberman campaign is circulating a poll that shows him in a fight for third place (most polls show him mired in fifth), but inside this room it feels as if Lieberman, like Kucinich, is clinging to a fantasy.

Of the other candidates, Wesley Clark comes across the worst. "I haven't been a member of this party for very long," he says, and the crowd grumbles. "I know," shouts one man, while another calls out, "No shit!" Now that Dean has turned down his volume, Clark is the race's screamer, and he sounds a little unhinged. "We Democrats have got to take out that president," he says, in an unfortunate turn of phrase for one of the two candidates that has actually killed people. The crowd's applause is polite but tepid, and the race feels like it's slipping away from Clark, too.

The chair of the Democratic Party, Kathy Sullivan, introduces Dean as if he's a figure from the distant past, praising him for energizing the party "at a time when we were tired and unsure of ourselves." Dean draws big cheers, but they mostly come from the people in the back rows and in standing-room-only. A woman calls out to him, "Howard, don't ever give up." A man yells, "Give 'em hope, Howard!" Dean's eyebrows rise as he smiles his wicked grin. "I'm going to resist the temptation," he says.

Nearly a year ago, Dean appeared before the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting and declared, "What I want to know is why in the world the Democratic Party leadership is supporting the president's unilateral attack on Iraq." He pricked the post-9/11 bubble surrounding Bush and in the process transformed himself from a curiosity into a contender. But his speech Saturday barely touches on Iraq. He also says something I don't think I've ever heard him say before: "I ask for your vote."

John Edwards captivates the crowd. Edwards doesn't transfix me the way he does other members of the press. His way of merely describing his message as "positive" and "optimistic" and "uplifting" rather than, you know, actually having a message that embodies those qualities grates on me. What's the difference between Edwards' rhetoric and the awkward "Message: I care" rhetoric of George H.W. Bush? Edwards also has this new gesture he's using, where he puts a finger to his lips to appear thoughtful, that makes him look like Austin Powers.

But his message undoubtedly connects. He enters to enthusiastic applause, though it's not Dean-level. His speech about two Americas, about the importance of fighting poverty, and the borrowed Deanisms about restoring American democracy and taking it away from "that crowd of insiders in Washington, D.C.," and the "I believe in you" conclusion wins nearly everyone over. Edwards has become Howard Dean in the body of a good-looking, smooth-talking Southerner, and as he did in Iowa, he feels hot, hot, hot.

Of course, they're all Dean now. (Or, as The Nation'sDavid Corn put it, they're "the Angry Populist, the Calm Populist, the Polite Populist, the Executive Populist, and the Radical Populist.") John Kerry, who I think has the support of the majority of the crowd, says he wants to "break the grip of the powerful interests in this country and put the people in charge."

If Kerry, or whoever is the party's nominee, becomes president in 2005, he'll have Howard Dean to thank. Dean won. That's why he's losing.


          Is He Still Here?   

MANCHESTER, N.H.—I knew John Kerry was the man of the hour, but what made the feeling more than an abstraction was the Baltimore-Washington airport bookstore. It stocked a display of Kerry's campaign book, A Call to Service, above the latest books by Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter. Yes, it's the Washington area, but still—it's an airport bookstore.

Kerry continued his winning streak at tonight's debate, the final one among the seven remaining Democrats before the New Hampshire primary. Debates have been Kerry's best format during this campaign. He's a TV candidate, cool and authoritative, and the time-cramped medium comes to his aid by forcibly restricting his long-winded oratorical perambulations. But until tonight's context, Kerry's debate performances seemed as irrelevant as Al Sharpton's zingers.

The moment when Kerry won the debate, I thought, was when he answered Manchester Union-Leader reporter John DiStaso's question about his decision to throw his medals (or was it his ribbons?) away in protest during the Vietnam War. "I could not be more proud of the fact that when I came back from that war, having learned what I learned, that I led thousands of veterans to Washington, we camped on the Mall underneath the Congress, underneath Richard Nixon's visibility," Kerry said. "He tried to kick us off. And we stood our ground and said to him, 'Mr. President, you sent us 8,000 miles away to fight, die and sleep in the jungles of Vietnam. We've earned the right to sleep on this Mall and talk to our senators and congressmen.'" Kerry used the occasion to cast himself as both pro-veteran and antiwar, surely the sweet spot he hoped to squeeze his candidacy into before he got bogged down over the meaning of his vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution.

I'm beginning to suspect that Kerry's lack of clarity on the Iraq war actually benefits his candidacy. One, because voters from a wide spectrum can find ways to square his position with theirs, and two, because his muddled ambivalence best captures the way I suspect the great majority of Democrats feel. (Kerry may have best explained his stance in October 2002 when he said, "My vote was cast in a way that made it very clear, Mr. President, I'm voting for you to do what you said you're going to do, which is to go through the U.N. and do this through an international process. If you go unilaterally, without having exhausted these remedies, I'm not supporting you. And if you decide that this is just a matter of straight pre-emptive doctrine for regime-change purposes without regard to the imminence of the threat, I'm not going to support you." The quote is taken from Walter Shapiro's One-Car Caravan.)

But wouldn't Kerry know it? Even during his rosy post-caucus glow, he can't escape the man he once exasperatedly referred to as "Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean." Whether the Vermont governor is riding high in the polls or flaming out, he's the candidate the media fixate on. The local ABC affiliate in Manchester trumpeted its Nightline broadcast of the debate by mentioning only one candidate, Dean, by name. And if Dean's last-ditch effort to save his candidacy wasn't already the story of the day, his campaign ensured that it would be by sending their candidate on a televised triple play: the debate, his (and his wife's) interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC's Primetime Live, and his appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman. I watched all three from the comfort of my hotel room.

There are advantages to watching political events on television rather than attending them in person. For one, you get to see them as the viewers do. I was on the scene in Iowa during this campaign's defining moment, the Dean Scream, and I didn't even notice it. The crowd was so noisy during what appeared to be typical Dean behavior during a stump speech, not unlike his listing off of the industrialized countries with universal health care ("the British and the French and the Germans," on and on to "the Danes, the Swedes, the Japanese, even the Costa Ricans have health care!"), that no one in the room seemed to hear the "part growl, part yodel," as the Boston Globe put it. Second, when you attend a political debate, all you really do is watch it on TV anyway, except you watch it in on TV in a room filled with other journalists. Third, I had no idea that Ernie Hudson, aka "the fourth Ghostbuster," had his own show on ABC.

A couple things struck me from the Primetime interview. Dean said he was "speaking to 3,500 kids" on caucus night. I didn't formally survey the demographics of Dean's volunteers in Iowa, obviously, but his reference to the "under-30 generation" during his post-caucus speech elicited mild boos from the crowd. When I followed three Dean volunteers as they canvassed for votes in Des Moines, one was 33, one was 55, and one was 58. They weren't atypical. From my experience, nothing tweaks Dean supporters more than the idea that they are angry children, and they're right that the widespread belief that Dean is the kiddie candidate gives voters a reason not to take him seriously.

The second thing that occurred to me was something from Howard Dean: A Citizen's Guide to the Man Who Would Be President, the book by a team of Vermont reporters. In it, one journalist notes that as Vermont governor, Dean never quite grasped that he was something other than an ordinary person, and that his words had unusual power. Sure, he had an uncommon job, but other than that, Dean thought he was just a regular guy. To a great extent, Dean has behaved on the campaign trail as if he still feels the same way.

Dean's regular-guy status is one of the most appealing things about his candidacy, and it's one of the most fun things about covering him. He's willing to let himself be a normal person to a reporter in a way that most politicians won't. But in another way, a presidential candidate, and especially a president, isn't a regular guy. Presidents can't do or say the things that even senators and governors can. Neither can first ladies. That may not be fair, but that's the way it is.

It looks as if Howard and Judy Dean have decided that if they can't remain "just ordinary folks," they don't want to be president and first lady. That's admirable. But I also suspect that that decision, and not some pirate yell, is the biggest obstacle that would keep them from the White House.


          General Electric   

PETERBOROUGH, N.H.—The metaphorical moment of my first 24 hours on the Clark trail took place late Tuesday, when a college student handed her résumé to a Clark aide and asked for a job. The objective emblazoned across the top of the page stated that she wanted a position with the Kerry campaign, except the word "Kerry" was scratched out and "Clark" was hand-written below it in ink. If that's not proof of Clark's newfound No. 2 status in New Hampshire, Howard Dean's campaign produced still more evidence when it authorized volunteers to distribute anti-Clark flyers at a Clark town-hall meeting Wednesday here in Peterborough.

On one side, the flyer reads "WESLEY CLARK: PRO-WAR," followed by a list of the general's much-discussed statements in support of the congressional Iraq war resolution. It's the stuff that gave Clark grief when he entered the race in the fall: He advised Katrina Swett, campaigning at the time *, to vote for the resolution, and he told reporters this past September that "on balance, I probably would have voted for it." On the other side, the flyer reads "WESLEY CLARK: REAL DEMOCRAT?" followed by Clark's much-discussed statements in praise of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the Bush Cabinet, plus evidence of his pro-Republican voting record in presidential elections (until 1992).

Clark strategist Chris Lehane paints this as hypocrisy on Dean's part. After calling on Terry McAuliffe to put a stop to intra-party bickering, the former Vermont governor aims his guns at his fellow Democrats when the tactic serves his interests. Fair enough, but who cares? More important is Clark campaign's sense of pride that it has arrived as a serious Dean rival. No campaign has ever been happier to have a target on its back.

Just as a press release at the Oct. 9 Phoenix debate showed that the Dean campaign considered Dick Gephardt its main obstacle of the moment, these flyers, however mild, demonstrate that Clark has become a big enough irritant to merit a swat of his own. "The Howard Dean campaign is starting to get a little nervous," Mo Elleithee, the campaign's New Hampshire communications director, crows at a conference call slapped together to gleefully respond to Dean's "negative attack flyers." "They're hearing our footsteps."

The Clark campaign insists that it was never engaged in any negative campaigning, and it's true that Clark has refrained from explicitly attacking Dean or any of his opponents at the three events I've attended so far. But there's no disputing that a healthy anti-Dean undercurrent runs through Clark's events. "You want to find the candidate you like, and you want to find the candidate who can win," says the man who introduces Clark in Peterborough. President Bush will run for re-election on national security and tax cuts, and Wesley Clark, he says, unlike Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean, can win on both.

Clark himself is even vaguer, but it's clear to whom he is referring when he opens each stump speech with a declaration that the party must rise above its anger in this election. "I'm not running to bash Bush," he says. "I'm running to replace him." The rest of the speech focuses on his patriotism, his faith, and his policies, but I wonder if this is another quiet shot at Dean. During Vietnam, "Every man in America understood that he had a military obligation," so it's no big deal that Clark served his country, Clark insists. (Did Dean understand his obligation?) And then, at a quick press conference after the town hall, a reporter asks Clark to respond directly to the flyers. Sounding more than ever like the man who just attacked him, Clark replies, "I guess that's what professional politicians do."

Correction, Jan. 9, 2004: In the original version of this article Chris Suellentrop referred to Katrina Swett as "Representative," when in fact she was merely campaigning for Congress at the time. Return to the corrected sentence.


          The Second-Place Candidate   

BEDFORD, N.H.—When I last saw Wesley Clark, I called him "Howard Dean with flags." Since then, he's reinvented his candidacy and made himself an even bigger threat to the former Vermont governor. He's now Howard Dean with flags and tax cuts.

Clark seems pretty close to emerging as the consensus pick for the only realistic non-Dean candidate. By sitting on the sidelines during the various Dean-Kerry, Dean-Gephardt, Dean-Lieberman, and Dean-"Insert Democratic candidate here" scraps, it appears that Clark's benefited from the "Dean vs. the Washington Democrats" infighting. He's in a statistical tie with Dean in a national poll. And by camping out in New Hampshire while everyone else makes a two-week sprint toward Iowa, Clark hopes to rise even further in the Granite State polls, too. (To be fair, not everyone is in Iowa. Joe Lieberman is spending a good deal of time in New Hampshire. But Clark strategist Chris Lehane rightly says that Lieberman is like "Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense: He's dead and doesn't know it yet.")

For Dean, Clark poses a slight problem because the general can't be painted with the same brush as Edwards, Gephardt, Kerry, and Lieberman. He's not a "Washington Democrat." He didn't vote for No Child Left Behind. He didn't vote for the Iraq resolution. The question for Clark is whether he will emulate Bill Clinton as the Comeback Kid, turning a potential second-place New Hampshire finish into an expectations victory, or whether he's just the voters' Fallback Guy. After all, the usual sad lot of the first runner-up is to sit around and vainly hope that the reigning Miss America won't be able to fulfill her duties. (Of course, there is always that chance that Howard Dean posed naked somewhere … never mind.)

As a candidate, Clark has improved his skills dramatically since I watched him speak in September. He's smoother, more coherent, and more concise. He's also willing to give voters at least mildly unpopular answers. At a "house party" on Tuesday (the first of several days that I'm going to be following Clark in New Hampshire), Clark tells a man concerned about job losses, "We'll probably never bring back the specific manufacturing jobs that have left." He doesn't rule out means-testing Medicare, though he does say that he's predisposed against it. (My favorite fudge on the subject: "I'm against means-testing as a matter of principle, insofar as it's at all practical.") The house is filled with physicians worried about medical malpractice suits, but Clark states his opposition to "arbitrary caps" on legal damages. "The court system really is important for ordinary Americans," he says. "The truth is if you're a poor person in this country or a person of modest means, the only way you can get legal advice is on a contingent-fee basis."

Despite the widely held belief that Clark is the candidate of Clintonian moderates while Dean is the candidate of the so-called "angry left," I don't see much evidence that voters at Clark events are more centrist or less liberal than voters I've seen elsewhere. (Exhibit A: A reporter walks up to a man in scrubs at the house party. "You're a doctor?" he asks. "An abortion provider!" is the cheery response.) At a town-hall meeting Tuesday night, one of Clark's biggest applause lines is his pledge to raise taxes on people who make more than $200,000 a year: "We're gonna ask them to be patriotic. We're gonna take back the Bush tax cuts."

But what really endears him to the crowd is his indictment of President Bush during the run-up to war. After outlining the Clark plan for Iraq—1) withdraw Paul Bremer; 2) put a non-American in charge; 3) place U.S. forces under NATO; 4) allow a rapid turnover of the country to Iraqis, "long before this July 1 date"; 5) don't let the Kurds keep their weapons, and don't give them an autonomous region—Clark mentions his Monday night appearance on MSNBC's Hardball. Chris Matthews was obsessed with Clinton's impeachment, Clark says. It's all he would ask him about. "We wasted millions of dollars and years in this country trying to find something that Bill and Hillary Clinton did wrong. And it was a waste of money and effort," Clark says. "I'd like to know why the United States Congress and this party is not demanding, every single day, an investigation into why the president of the United States misused the intelligence community, took us to a war we didn't have to fight, and still won't tell the American people the truth! That's what should be investigated! That's the truth!"

The candidate is angry, his voice rises, and the crowd leaps to its feet. It's Clark's best moment of a pretty good day. He's got them, I think, as the crowd presses around him for autographs and picture-taking. But I also can't help but think that Howard Dean would have had them on their feet from the start.


          A Browser's Guide to Campaign 2004   

Here's a quick guide to the good parts of Winning Back America, Howard Dean's campaign book to be published Dec. 3 (complete with a cover picture of the candidate trying his damnedest to look sunny):

Chapter 1: "I'm a Regular Guy." Dean touches on his family's roots and his childhood in New York City, and he makes passing mention of his Rhode Island prep school, but he says he "really grew up in East Hampton on eastern Long Island." His "idyllic childhood" involved being outdoors, riding bikes, a duck pond, fishing, sailing, and baseball. His dad wouldn't buy him a uniform for his baseball team because he thought it was a waste of money. The chapter concludes, "At heart, I'm a country person."

Chapter 2: Howard Dean, Farmer. Devoted to Dean's summer jobs as a teenager. Dean writes two sentences about working as a sailing-camp counselor but an entire page about his work on a cattle ranch in Florida. There he earned "agricultural minimum wage," cleared land, dusted crops, and in a yearning-macho voice worthy of Apocalypse Now's Col. Kilgore, he remembers "feeling the cool mist of the herbicide on my bare chest as the plane went over."

Chapter 3: "Unlike George W. Bush, I Had Black Roommates at Yale." Bush went to Yale, too, but his senior year was Dean's freshman year, 1968. "The gulf between our experiences was much larger, though; it was as if we were a generation apart," Dean writes, referring to the changes wreaked both by "the phenomenon of the sixties" and the increasing diversity of the Yale student body, including more Jews, more public school students, and in 1969, women.

Chapter 4: Howard Dean, Ski Bum. Dean's post-college years before medical school. He skis in Colorado (living in a cabin "in a little place called Ashcroft"), where he pours concrete and washes dishes to pay the bills. He becomes a teacher by virtue of a strange snap judgment after missing a plane to Bogotá, Colombia: "I've taken many hundreds of flights in my life, and this is the only time that's ever happened. I realized that there was a reason I missed the plane. I cut short my intended trip, went home, and decided to get to work." After teaching for a year, he takes a job on Wall Street. He decides he's too careful with other people's money to be a good broker, and that he doesn't really like New York City.

Chapter 5: Med School and Judy. Contains one of the more intriguing sentences in the book: "I didn't really get to be a happy person until I went to medical school." Dean's explanation for this is that he didn't work hard enough at Yale, and "If I'm directionless and coasting, I'm not happy." He meets his future wife, Judy Steinberg. He doesn't get into any of his top three choices for his medical residency. The University of Vermont was choice No. 4, and he moves to Burlington in May 1978.

Chapter 6: Dean Enters Politics. Is Dean a moderate Republican in disguise? He compares himself to his Republican father, a "fiscal conservative" who was "not particularly liberal on social issues, but he wasn't particularly conservative either. Today he would be considered a moderate, business-oriented Republican; he wanted the budget run properly. In that way, I am very much my father's son." Dean on why he's a "pragmatic Democrat": "I was friendly with the younger, more liberal Democrats because they were my age, but I didn't vote with them. I didn't relate to their political sensibilities."

Chapter 7: The Vermont Statehouse. A woman tells him, "You're going to do really well here, but you've got to get over this chip on your shoulder that tells you to fix somebody's wagon if they cross you."

Chapter 8: Governor. "Our telephone number remained in the book." Dean cuts marginal tax rates to improve Vermont's economy, but he insists he didn't engage in the "outrageous tax cutting that went on in some of the states." He also cuts spending programs over the objections of liberal Democrats. On one occasion, he visits Congress to talk about health care: "Bob Michel, the House minority leader, was there. He was a wonderful person. Newt Gingrich was there. He's not a wonderful person."

Chapter 9: More of the Vermont Miracle. Here's Dean's illustration of the "striking difference" between Republicans and Democrats: "When the Democrats controlled the National Governors Association (I was chair of the NGA from 1994 to 1995), we used to fight against our own party when it passed legislation that harmed the states. When the Republicans took over, however, they took orders from the G.O.P. in Washington, with few standing up for the people they represented. … Most Republican governors caved to the right-wing Republican White House because they were fearful; the folks in the White House are more than willing to threaten them."

Chapter 10: Pre-President Dean. He defends the Bush daughters: "I know that several thousand kids every year get caught with fake IDs." And he defends his wife's decision not to participate in his presidential campaign: "The notion that the wife is going to be dragged along in the wake of her husband's career is something that should have been left behind decades ago." Six sentences on religion, including "I'm a fairly religious person though I don't regularly attend church or temple," "I pray just about every day," and "I also believe that good and evil exist in the world, and I thoroughly disapprove of people who use religion to inflict pain on others."

Dean's favorite books: All the King's Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion; also Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and David McCullough's Truman ("It is one of the books that has had the most impact on me in the last ten years").

Dean ranks the presidents: 1) Washington; 2) Lincoln; 3) FDR; 4) a four-way tie between Jefferson, Truman, TR, and LBJ, despite Vietnam. We also learn Dean's weight, about 167 pounds. And don't tell Arianna, but he drives a Ford Explorer.

Chapter 11: The Chapter Most Worth Reading. Dean on the execution of his brother Charlie by communists in Laos in 1975 and on the death of his father in 2001. His parents thought Charlie was CIA: "There was speculation that Charlie was in Laos because he was working for the CIA and I think my parents believed that to be the case. Personally, I don't think he was employed by the U.S. government in any capacity, but we'll probably never know the answer to that question." Dean admits that he has spoken to counselors about his brother's death, and the chapter ends, "I'm sure that, had he lived, he'd be the one running for president and not me."

The second half of the book is campaign boilerplate: True believers will nod in approval, but you've heard this stuff before.


          See Dick Run   

SIOUX CITY, Iowa—Dean season! Gephardt season! Dean season! Gephardt season! If any lingering debate remained over which presidential candidate is currently enjoying his media moment, my two days with Dick Gephardt settled it. The 20 national reporters who follow Gephardt for all or part of his campaign swing from Des Moines to Sioux City are the latest sign that not only have the leaves turned in late October, but so have the media.

I came along to witness firsthand the evidence for something I wrote earlier this month after the Phoenix debate, that Gephardt's hard-nosed and well-organized Iowa campaign presents, at the moment, the biggest obstacle to President Dean (or, to be fairer, Democratic Nominee Dean). But I missed the media conspiracy memo that told everyone else to show up, too. During Gephardt's weekend swing in Iowa two days before, only three national reporters trailed the candidate. But now, David Brooks is here. So are Mara Liasson of NPR and Carl Cameron of Fox News. Throw in reporters from ABC, MSNBC, Knight Ridder, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, and the New York Times. (Counting Brooks, on Wednesday there are two New York Times writers following Gephardt.) Just for the sake of overkill, there are reporters from the British press and from Japanese television along for the ride. At one event in Pocahontas, Iowa—a town with an absolutely gigantic statue of the Indian princess outside her teepee welcoming visitors from the highway—the number of journalists nearly matches the number of prospective caucus-goers.

The Gephardt campaign pushes its slow-and-steady-wins-the-race angle (or is it a plea for votes from Maryland Terrapins alums?) by emblazoning "Fear the Turtle!" on the front of the press itinerary, complete with a little clip-art turtle on every page. The packet includes the latest Iowa poll results, which show Gephardt and Dean in a statistical tie for the lead, with Kerry and Edwards lagging behind. For good measure, the campaign throws in last week's favorable press clippings, including Des Moines Register wise man David Yepsen's assertion that Gephardt is the Iowa front-runner and that Dean has "plateaued" in the state. Also enclosed is a much-discussed Washington Post report—distributed, in truncated form, to voters at campaign events—that Gephardt is the candidate "many prominent Republicans fear the most." Not included is a delicious metaphor for Gephardt supporters to latch onto: While hurtling from campaign stop to campaign stop in Iowa over the past few months, the Dean van has been pulled over multiple times for speeding.

At his first stop, a senior center in Des Moines (the first of three consecutive senior centers visited by the campaign), Gephardt is supposed to deliver a "health policy address," but it turns out to be a rehash of old Howard Dean quotes about Medicare. (Later, while being ribbed by reporters about the false advertising, Gephardt's Iowa press secretary, Bill Burton, protests that he never called it a "major" policy address.) The newest wrinkle: Gephardt wants to paint the 1997 balanced budget accord—generally thought to be one of President Clinton's major accomplishments, and one supported by Dean—as a "deep, devastating cut" in Medicare.

While Gephardt speaks in front of a sign that reads "Protect Social Security" and "Protect Medicare" over and over, like computer-desktop wallpaper, I wonder: Does he really want to play this game? Dredging up old quotes and votes about Gephardt's onetime conservatism is what helped to derail his '88 campaign. He voted against the establishment of the Department of Education. He voted for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. He voted to means-test Social Security and to eliminate cost-of-living adjustments from the program. He voted for Reagan's 1981 tax cuts. He opposed an increase in the minimum wage. Does a man with a legislative record this long and varied really want to ostentatiously declare, "There are life-and-death consequences to every position taken and every vote cast"? If that's so, how many times was Dick Gephardt on the side of death?

For now, however, it's a more recent House vote that's preventing Gephardt from running away with the Iowa race. At nearly every campaign event I attend, Gephardt is forced to deliver, in effect, two separate stump speeches. The first is the one he would like the campaign to be about: universal health care, jobs, and the immorality of rapacious multinational corporations. Gephardt's not anticapitalist: "Capitalism is the best system," he says in Pocahontas. "But capitalism has to have rules, so the capitalists don't destroy the very system" they benefit from.

He describes his visits to Mexico, China, and India, where workers live in the cardboard boxes used to ship the products they make. "I smelled where they live," he says. They live without electricity, without running water, with raw sewage running down the streets and next to "drainage ditches filled with human waste." "They live in worse conditions than farm animals in Iowa," he continues. "This is nothing short of human exploitation, that's what it is, for the profit of some special interests in the world." I'm not sure I agree with Gephardt's proposed solutions—though I'm intrigued by his notion of a variable international minimum wage—but there's no denying that he's a powerful critic of global capitalism's excesses.

Then, once Gephardt has finished and the applause has subsided, almost invariably a voter raises his hand to ask: What about Iraq? Was this war about oil? How can we recover the world's respect? How can we pay for all your programs with a war on?

At this point, Gephardt is forced to unveil stump speech No. 2. Sept. 11 changed everything, he says. Government's highest obligation is to protect American lives. In a Gephardt administration, the highest priority would be to prevent a nuclear device—"dirty or clean"—from going off in New York, Los Angeles, or Des Moines. That's why he decided Saddam Hussein needed to be removed. He supported the war because he believed the estimates of the CIA and the warnings of former Clinton administration officials, not because he listened to President Bush ("I would never do that").

Slowly, Gephardt's defense of his vote for the congressional war resolution transitions into a critique of the president. Though in an interview he insisted that the president was smart, on the stump he's not shy about insinuating that the president (whom he often refers to as "Dubya") is stupid. "He's incompetent," "He frightens me," "He's hard to help," I told him America founded the United Nations because "I wasn't sure he knew the history," and "If you'd been meeting with him every week since 9/11, you'd be running for president," too. Because Bush refused to negotiate with Kim Jong Il, North Korea is now "weeks away" from producing nuclear bombs. Bush abandoned the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, saying, "It's not our problem." He's arrogant. He doesn't play well with others. By the end, people are satisfied enough with Gephardt's explanation, and maybe even a little terrified, but you get the sense that they're not enthused by it.

But Gephardt isn't counting on enthusiasm. He has a couple edges on Dean, in addition to his obvious union support. For one, a surprising number of Iowa Democrats just don't like the former Vermont governor. The opposition to Gephardt tends to be substantive, based on his support for the war or his failure as Democratic leader to enact a more Democratic agenda. But the opposition to Dean is stylistic, or maybe even cultural. In socially conservative Iowa, sometimes you hear it whispered: Where's Dean's wife? Before Gephardt arrives at an event in the town of Ida Grove, I overhear a woman grumble about Judith Steinberg's refusal to campaign for her husband. "I can't get used to that," she tells her companion. "It's supposed to be a family thing."

By the same token, Gephardt never fails to mention the "church loans" and "church scholarships" that allowed him to attend Northwestern and then Michigan law school. He also refers to his son, Matt, who survived prostate cancer as an infant, as a "gift of God." I don't think I've ever heard Howard Dean say the word "God" in reference to anything.

Just before the last stop in Sioux City, I'm granted a 10-minute ride-along interview with Gephardt. I've got a number of questions, but the one I really want an answer to is this: If balanced budgets and free trade—two things that don't get a lot of emphasis in the Gephardt platform—weren't the secrets of the Clinton economy, what were? Higher taxes for the rich? Gephardt explains that the '97 budget accord wasn't needed to balance the budget, and then he tries to explain why Bush's steel tariffs—which Gephardt supported, and which made the United States lose manufacturing jobs—aren't analogous to the retaliatory tariffs Gephardt wants to be able to impose on foreign products or factories that don't comply with minimal labor and environmental standards. Soon enough, we're so sidetracked that I've forgotten entirely what we were talking about.

But afterward, when I'm once again following Gephardt in my rental car, I'm left with my question: Clinton balanced the budget and promoted free trade, and the economy boomed. President Bush ran up enormous deficits and put new restrictions on trade, and the economy sputtered. Isn't Dick Gephardt's plan closer to President Bush's?


          Outgoing Rep. Jason Chaffetz will join Fox News as a contributor   

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) will join Fox News as a contributor after he steps down from Congress, the cable news network announced Wednesday.

Chaffetz, who has represented Utah’s 3rd Congressional District since 2008, has said he will leave office June 30. Starting July 1, he will be paid...


          Avraham Duvdevani Newly Elected Chairman of World Zionist Organisation -- Elected at 36th Zionist Congress in Jerusalem   
News
          India and the Balance of Power   

India is arriving on the world stage as the first large, economically powerful, culturally vibrant, multiethnic, multireligious democracy outside of the geographic West. As it rises, India has the potential to become a leading member of the "political West" and to play a key role in the great political struggles of the next decades. Whether it will, and how soon, depends above all on the readiness of the Western powers to engage India on its own terms.

THREE STRATEGIC CIRCLES

India's grand strategy divides the world into three concentric circles. In the first, which encompasses the immediate neighborhood, India has sought primacy and a veto over the actions of outside powers. In the second, which encompasses the so-called extended neighborhood stretching across Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral, India has sought to balance the influence of other powers and prevent them from undercutting its interests. In the third, which includes the entire global stage, India has tried to take its place as one of the great powers, a key player in international peace and security.

Three things have historically prevented India from realizing these grand strategic goals. First, the partition of the South Asian subcontinent along religious lines (first into India and Pakistan, in 1947, then into India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, in 1971) left India with a persistent conflict with Pakistan and an internal Hindu-Muslim divide. It also physically separated India from historically linked states such as Afghanistan, Iran, and the nations of Southeast Asia. The creation of an avowedly Islamic state in Pakistan caused especially profound problems for India's engagement with the Middle East. Such tensions intertwined with regional and global great-power rivalries to severely constrict India's room for maneuver in all three concentric circles.

The second obstacle was the Indian socialist system, which caused a steady relative economic decline and a consequent loss of influence in the years after independence. The state-socialist model led India to shun commercial engagement with the outside world. As a result, India was disconnected from its natural markets and culturally akin areas in the extended neighborhood.

Finally, the Cold War, the onset of which quickly followed India's independence, pushed India into the arms of the Soviet Union in response to Washington's support for Pakistan and China -- and thus put the country on the losing side of the great political contest of the second half of the twentieth century. Despite being the largest democracy in the world, India ended up siding with the opposite camp on most global issues.

The last decade of the twentieth century liberated India from at least two of these constraints; state socialism gave way to economic liberalization and openness to globalization, and the Cold War ended. Suddenly, New Delhi was free to reinvent its foreign policy -- positioning itself to face the rise of China, shifting its strategic approach to its other neighbors, and beginning to work closely with the world's existing great powers.

VARIETIES OF INFLUENCE

India's recent embrace of openness and globalization has had an especially dramatic effect on the country's role in the region. As the nations of the subcontinent jettison their old socialist agendas, India is well positioned to promote economic integration. Although the pace has been relatively slow, the process has begun to gain traction. The planned implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement this summer signals the coming reintegration of the subcontinent's markets, which constituted a single economic space until 1947.

At the same time, optimism on the economic front must be tempered by an awareness of the problematic political developments in India's smaller neighbors. The struggle for democracy and social justice in Nepal, interminable political violence and the rise of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh, and the simmering civil war in Sri Lanka underscore the potential dangers of failing states on the subcontinent. There are also the uncertain futures of Pakistan and Afghanistan: defeating religious extremism and creating modern and moderate states in both countries is of paramount importance to India. A successful Indian strategy for promoting peace and prosperity within the region would require preventing internal conflicts from undermining regional security, as well as resolving India's own conflicts with its neighbors.

In the past, great-power rivalries, as well as India's own tensions with Pakistan and China, have complicated New Delhi's effort to maintain order in the region. Today, all of the great powers, including the United States and China, support the Indian objective of promoting regional economic integration. The Bush administration has also started to defer to Indian leadership on regional security issues. Given the new convergence of U.S. and Indian interests in promoting democracy and countering extremism and terrorism, New Delhi no longer suspects Washington of trying to undercut its influence in the region. As a result, it is more prepared than ever to work with the United States and other Western powers to pursue regional goals.

Meanwhile, the external environment has never been as conducive as it is today to the resolution of the Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir. The conflict has become less and less relevant to India's relations with the great powers, which has meant a corresponding willingness on New Delhi's part to work toward a solution. Of particular importance has been the steady evolution of the U.S. position on Kashmir since the late 1990s. The support extended by President Bill Clinton to India in its limited war with Pakistan in 1999 removed the perception that Washington would inevitably align with Islamabad in regional conflicts. But India remained distrustful of the Clinton administration's hyperactive, prescriptive approach to Kashmir. It has been more comfortable with the low-key methods of the Bush administration, which has avoided injecting itself directly into the conflict. The Bush administration has also publicly held Pakistan responsible for cross-border terrorism and has extracted the first-ever assurances from Pakistan to put an end to the attacks. New Delhi does not entirely believe these promises, but it has nonetheless come to trust Washington as a source of positive of influence on Islamabad.

These developments have opened the way for a peace process between the two governments. With the growing awareness that the normalization of relations with Pakistan would end a debilitating conflict and help India's regional and global standing, New Delhi has begun to negotiate seriously for the first time in decades. Although the pace of talks has not satisfied Pakistan, the two sides have agreed on a range of confidence-building measures. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rejected the idea of giving up territory, but he has often called for innovative solutions that would improve living conditions and for common institutions that would connect Kashmiris across the Line of Control. Singh has made clear that the Indian leadership is ready to risk political capital on finding a diplomatic solution to Kashmir.

India's recent effort to resolve its long-standing border dispute with China has been just as bold. New Delhi decided in 2003 to seek a settlement with Beijing on a political basis, rather than on the basis of legal or historical claims. As a result, during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi in April 2005, India and China agreed on a set of principles to guide the final settlement. The two governments are now exploring the contours of mutually satisfactory territorial compromises.

India's search for practical solutions to the disputes over Kashmir and its border with China suggests that the country has finally begun to overcome the obsession with territoriality that has consumed it since its formation. Ironically, the nuclearization of India and Pakistan in 1998 may have helped in this regard: although nuclearization initially sharpened New Delhi's conflicts with both Islamabad and Beijing, it also allowed India to approach its territorial problems with greater self-assurance and pragmatism.

INDIA UNBOUND

Progress on the resolution of either of these conflicts, especially the one over Kashmir, would liberate India's political and diplomatic energies so that the country could play a larger role in the world. It would also finally release India's armed forces from the constraining mission of territorial defense, allowing them to get more involved in peace and stability operations around the Indian Ocean. Even with all the tensions on the subcontinent, the armies of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have been among the biggest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. The normalization of Indo-Pakistani relations would further free up some of the best armed forces in the world for the promotion of the collective good in the greater Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Even as the Kashmir and China questions have remained unsettled, India's profile in its extended neighborhood has grown considerably since the early 1990s. India's outward economic orientation has allowed it to reestablish trade and investment linkages with much of its near abroad. New Delhi is negotiating a slew of free- and preferential-trade agreements with individual countries as well as multilateral bodies including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the Southern African Development Community. Just as China has become the motor of economic growth in East Asia, a rising India could become the engine of economic integration in the Indian Ocean region.

After decades of being marginalized from regional institutions in different parts of Asia, India is also now a preferred political partner for ASEAN, the East Asian Summit, the GCC, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the African Union. Moreover, it has emerged as a major aid donor; having been an aid recipient for so long, India is now actively leveraging its own external assistance to promote trade as well as political objectives. For example, India has given $650 million in aid to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. Meanwhile, the search for oil has encouraged Indian energy companies to tail their Western and Chinese counterparts throughout the world, from Central Asia and Siberia and to western Africa and Venezuela.

On the security side, India has been actively engaged in defense diplomacy. Thanks to the strength of its armed forces, India is well positioned to assist in stabilizing the Indian Ocean region. It helps that there has been a convergence of U.S. and Indian political interests: countering terrorism, pacifying Islamic radicalism, promoting democracy, and ensuring the security of sea-lanes, to name a few. The Indian navy in particular has been at the cutting edge of India's engagement with the region -- as was evident from its ability to deploy quickly to areas hit by the tsunami at the end of 2004. The Indian navy today is also ready to participate in multinational military operations.

AXES AND ALLIES

The end of the Cold War freed India to pursue engagement with all the great powers -- but especially the United States. At the start of the 1990s, finding that its relations with the United States, China, Japan, and Europe were all underdeveloped, India moved quickly to repair the situation. Discarding old socialist shibboleths, it began to search for markets for its products and capital to fuel its long-constrained domestic growth. Economic partnerships were easy to construct, and increasing trade flows provided a new basis for stability in India's relations with other major powers. India's emergence as an outsourcing destination and its new prowess in information technology also give it a niche in the world economy -- along with the confidence that it can benefit from economic globalization.

Barely 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, India's omnidirectional engagement with the great powers has paid off handsomely. Never before has India had such expansive relations with all the major powers at the same time -- a result not only of India's increasing weight in the global economy and its growing power potential, but also of New Delhi's savvy and persistent diplomacy.

The evolution of Sino-Indian ties since the 1990s has been especially important and intriguing. Many see violent conflict between the two rising Asian powers as inevitable. But thanks to New Delhi's policy of actively engaging China since the late 1980s, the tensions that characterized relations between them from the late 1950s through the 1970s have become receding memories. Bilateral trade has boomed, growing from less than $200 million in the early 1990s to nearly $20 billion in 2005. In fact, China is set to overtake the European Union and the United States as India's largest trading partner within a few years. The 3,500-kilometer Sino-Indian border, over which the two countries fought a war in 1962, is now tranquil. And during Wen's visit to India in April 2005, India and China announced a "strategic partnership" -- even though just seven years earlier New Delhi had cited concerns over China as a reason for performing nuclear tests, prompting a vicious reaction from Beijing.

India has also cooperated with China in order to neutralize it in conflicts with Pakistan and other smaller neighbors. In the past, China tended to be a free rider on regional security issues, proclaiming noninterference in the internal affairs of other nations while opportunistically befriending regimes in pursuit of its long-term strategic interests. This allowed India's subcontinental neighbors to play the China card against New Delhi when they wanted to resist India's attempts to nudge them toward conflict resolution. But now, Beijing has increasingly avoided taking sides in India's disputes, even as its economic and security profile in the region has grown.

China is not the only Asian power that India is aiming to engage and befriend. Japan has also emerged as an important partner for India, especially since Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has transformed Japanese politics in the last few years. During a visit to New Delhi just a couple of weeks after Wen's in April 2005, Koizumi announced Japan's own "strategic partnership" with India. (This came despite Japan's harsh reaction to India's nuclear test in 1998, which prompted Japanese sanctions and an effort by Tokyo to censure India in the United Nations and other multilateral forums.) Amid growing fears of a rising China and the incipient U.S.-Indian alliance, Japan has elevated India to a key player in its long-term plans for Asian security.

Recognizing the need to diversify its Asian economic portfolio, Tokyo has also, for political reasons, begun to direct some of its foreign investment to India (which has overtaken China as the largest recipient of Japanese development assistance). Since the start of the Bush administration, Japan has also shown increasing interest in expanding military cooperation with India, especially in the maritime domain. India, too, has recognized that it shares with Japan an interest in energy security and in maintaining a stable balance of power in Asia. Japan actively supported India's participation in the inaugural East Asian Summit, in December 2005, despite China's reluctance to include New Delhi. Neither India nor Japan wants to base their political relationship exclusively on a potential threat from China, but both know that deepening their own security cooperation will open up new strategic options and that greater coordination between Asian democracies could limit China's impact.

India's relations with Europe have been limited by the fact that New Delhi is fairly unimpressed with Europe's role in global politics. It senses that Europe and India have traded places in terms of their attitudes toward the United States: while Europe seethes with resentment of U.S. policies, India is giving up on habitually being the first, and most trenchant, critic of Washington. As pessimism overtakes Europe, growing Indian optimism allows New Delhi to support unpopular U.S. policies. Indians consistently give both the United States and the Bush administration very favorable marks; according to a recent Pew Global Attitudes poll, for example, the percentage of Indians with a positive view of the United States rose from 54 percent in 2002 to 71 percent in 2005. And whereas a declining Europe has tended to be skeptical of India's rise, the Bush administration has been fully sympathetic to India's great-power aspirations.

Still, India does have growing economic and political ties with some European powers. Although many smaller European countries have been critical of the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal, the continent's two nuclear powers, France and the United Kingdom, have been supportive. Paris, in particular, bet long ago (well before Washington did, in fact) that a rising India would provide a good market for high-tech goods; with this in mind, it shielded New Delhi from the ire of the G-8 (the group of eight highly industrialized nations) after India tested nuclear weapons in May 1998. In the last several years, the United Kingdom has also started to seize economic opportunities in India and has been generally accommodating of New Delhi's regional and global aspirations.

In the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, India also worked to maintain a relationship with Russia. The two states resolved residual issues relating to their old semi-barter rupee-ruble trading arrangements, recast their 1971 peace and friendship treaty, and maintained military cooperation. When President Vladimir Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin, in 2000, India's waiting game paid off. A newly assertive Moscow was determined to revive and expand its strategic cooperation with India. New Delhi's only problems with Moscow today are the weakening bilateral trade relationship and the risk of Russia's doing too much to strengthen China's military capabilities.

CHARM OFFENSIVE

At the end of the Cold War, the prospect of India's building a new political relationship with the United States seemed remote. Washington had long favored Pakistan and China in the region, India had in turn aligned itself with the Soviet Union, and a number of global issues seemed to pit the two countries against each other. Yet after the Cold War, India set about wooing the United States. For most of the Clinton administration, this sweet-talking fell on deaf ears, in part because Clinton officials were so focused on the Kashmir dispute and nonproliferation. Clinton, driven by the unshakable assumption that Kashmir was one of the world's most dangerous "nuclear flashpoints" and so needed to be defused, emphasized "preventive diplomacy" and was determined to "cap, roll back, and eventually eliminate" India's nuclear capabilities. Of course, Clinton's approach ran headlong into India's core national security concerns -- territorial integrity and preserving its nuclear option. Pressed by Washington to circumscribe its strategic capabilities, New Delhi reacted by testing nuclear weapons.

But even as it faced U.S. sanctions, New Delhi also began to proclaim that India was a natural ally of the United States. Although the Clinton administration was not interested in an alliance, the nuclear tests forced the United States to engage India seriously for the first time in five decades. That engagement did not resolve the nuclear differences, but it did bring Clinton to India in March 2000 -- the first American presidential visit to India in 22 years. Clinton's personal charm, his genuine empathy for India, and his unexpected support of India in the 1999 war with Pakistan succeeded in improving the atmospherics of the relations and in putting New Delhi on Washington's radar screen in a new way.

It took Bush, however, to transform the strategic context of U.S.-Indian relations. Convinced that India's influence will stretch far beyond its immediate neighborhood, Bush has reconceived the framework of U.S. engagement with New Delhi. He has removed many of the sanctions, opened the door for high-tech cooperation, lent political support to India's own war on terrorism, ended the historical U.S. tilt toward Pakistan on Kashmir, and repositioned the United States in the Sino-Indian equation by drawing closer to New Delhi.

India has responded to these sweeping changes by backing the Bush administration on missile defense, the International Criminal Court, and finding alternative approaches to confronting global warming. It lent active support to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan by protecting U.S. assets in transit through the Strait of Malacca in 2002, agreed to work with the United States on multinational military operations outside of the UN framework, and, in 2005 and 2006, voted twice with Washington against Iran -- an erstwhile Indian ally -- at the International Atomic Energy Agency. India also came close to sending a division of troops to Iraq in the summer of 2003 before pulling back at the last moment. Every one of these actions marked a big departure in Indian foreign policy. And although disappointed by India's decision to stay out of Iraq, the Bush administration recognized that India was in the midst of a historic transformation of its foreign policy -- and kept faith that India's own strategic interests would continue to lead it toward deeper political cooperation with Washington. New Delhi's persistence in reaching out to Washington since 1991 has been driven by the belief that only by fundamentally changing its relationship with the world's sole superpower could it achieve its larger strategic objectives: improving its global position and gaining leverage in its relations with other great powers.

But India's ability to engage everyone at the same time might soon come to an end. As U.S.-Chinese tensions grow and Washington looks for ways to manage China's influence, questions about India's attitude toward the new power politics will arise: Can India choose to remain "nonaligned" between the United States and China, or does India's current grand strategy show a clear bias toward the United States?

The nuclear pact unveiled by Bush and Singh in July 2005 -- and consolidated when Bush went to New Delhi in March 2006 -- was an effort by Washington to influence the ultimate answer to that question. Bush offered to modify U.S. nonproliferation laws (subject to approval by Congress, of course) and revise the global nuclear order to facilitate full cooperation with India on civilian nuclear energy. New Delhi, in return, has promised to separate its civilian and military nuclear programs, place its civilian nuclear plants under international safeguards, and abide by a range of nonproliferation obligations. India's interest in such a deal has been apparent for a long time. Having failed to test weapons before the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was drafted, in 1968, India was trapped in an uncomfortable position vis-à-vis the nuclear order: it was not willing to give up the nuclear option, but it could not be formally accommodated by the nonproliferation regime as a nuclear weapons state.

India's motives for wanting a change in the nuclear regime are thus obvious. But for the Bush administration, the deal is less about nuclear issues than it is about creating the basis for a true alliance between the United States and India -- about encouraging India to work in the United States' favor as the global balance of power shifts. Ironically, it was the lack of a history of mutual trust and cooperation -- stemming in part from past nuclear disputes -- that convinced the Bush administration that a nuclear deal was necessary.

AN IMPOSSIBLE ALLY?

Many critics argue that the Bush administration's hopes for an alliance are misplaced. They insist that the traditionally nonaligned India will never be a true ally of the United States. But such critics misunderstand India's nonalignment, as well as the nature of its realpolitik over the past 60 years. Contrary to a belief that is especially pervasive in India itself, New Delhi has not had difficulty entering into alliances when its interests so demanded. Its relationship with the Soviet Union, built around a 1971 peace and friendship treaty, had many features of an alliance (notwithstanding India's claim that such ties were consistent with nonalignment); the compact was in many ways a classic response to the alignment of Washington, Beijing, and Islamabad. India has also had treaty-based security relationships with two of its smaller neighbors, Bhutan and Nepal, that date back to 1949-50 -- protectorate arrangements that were a reaction to China's entry into Tibet.

In fact, there is no contradiction between India's alleged preference for "moralpolitik" (in opposition to pure power politics, or Machtpolitik) and the Bush administration's expectation of an alliance with India. New Delhi is increasingly replacing the idea of "autonomy," so dear to Indian traditionalists, with the notion of India's becoming a "responsible power." (Autonomy is thought appropriate for weak states trying to protect themselves from great-power competition but not for a rising force such as India.) As India starts to recognize that its political choices have global consequences, it will become less averse to choosing sides on specific issues. Alliance formation and balancing are tools in the kits of all great powers -- and so they are likely to be in India's as well.

That India is capable of forming alliances does not, however, mean that it will necessarily form a long-term one with the United States. Whether it does will depend on the extent of the countries' shared interests and their political capacity to act on them together. The Bush administration expects that such shared interests -- for example, in balancing China and countering radical Islam in the Middle East -- will provide the basis for long-term strategic cooperation. This outcome is broadly credible, but it is by no means inevitable, especially given the United States' seeming inability to build partnerships based on equality.

When it comes to facing a rising China, India's tendency to engage in regional balancing with Beijing has not come to an end with the proclamation of a strategic partnership between the two nations. Indeed, preventing China from gaining excessive influence in India's immediate neighborhood and competing with Beijing in Southeast Asia are still among the more enduring elements of India's foreign policy. Despite Western concerns about the military regime in Myanmar, New Delhi has vigorously worked to prevent Yangon from falling completely under Beijing's influence, and India's military ties with the Southeast Asian nations are expanding rapidly. In 2005, when Pakistan pushed for giving China observer status in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, India acted quickly to bring Japan, South Korea, and the United States in as well. Given India's deep-seated reluctance to play second fiddle to China in Asia and the Indian Ocean region -- and the relative comfort of working with a distant superpower -- there is a structural reason for New Delhi to favor greater security cooperation with Washington.

In the Middle East, too, India has a common interest with the United States in preventing the rise of radical Islam, which poses an existential threat to India. Given its large Muslim population -- at nearly 150 million, the third largest in the world -- and the ongoing tensions stemming from the subcontinent's partition, India has in the past acted on its own to avert the spread of radical Islam. When Washington aligned with conservative Islamic forces in the Middle East during the Cold War, India's preference was for secular nationalist forces in the region. When the United States acted ambivalently toward the Taliban in the mid-1990s, India worked with Russia, Iran, and the Central Asian states to counter the Taliban by supporting the Northern Alliance. Now, although some in India are concerned that alignment with the United States might make India a prime target for Islamist extremists, there is no way India can compromise with radical Islam, which threatens its very unity.

But shared interests do not automatically produce alliances. The inequality of power between the two countries, the absence of a habit of political cooperation between them, and the remaining bureaucratic resistance to deeper engagement in both capitals will continue to limit the pace and the scope of strategic cooperation between India and the United States. Still, there is no denying that India will have more in common with the United States than with the other great powers for the foreseeable future.

While New Delhi has acknowledged that U.S. support is necessary for India's rise to be successful, Washington has recognized India's potentially critical role in managing emerging challenges to global order and security. As a major beneficiary of accelerating globalization, India could play a crucial role in ensuring that other developing countries manage their transitions as successfully as it has, that is, by taking advantage of opportunities while working to reduce the pain of disruption. Given the pace of its expansion and the scale of its economy, India will also become an important force in ensuring that the unfolding global redistribution of economic power occurs in an orderly fashion. Meanwhile, India could become a key player in the effort to modernize the politics of the Middle East. If nothing else, India's success in ensuring the rights and the integration of its own Muslim minority and in reaching peace with Pakistan would have a powerful demonstration effect.

To secure a long-term partnership with India, Washington must build on the argument of "Indian exceptionalism" that it has advanced in defense of the recent nuclear pact, devising a range of India-specific policies to deepen cooperation. India is unlikely, however, to become a mere subsidiary partner of the United States, ready to sign on to every U.S. adventure and misadventure around the world. It will never become another U.S. ally in the mold of the United Kingdom or Japan. But nor will it be an Asian France, seeking tactical independence within the framework of a formal alliance.

Given the magnitude of the global security challenges today, the United States needs more than meek allies. It should instead be looking to win capable and compatible partners. A rising India may be difficult at times, but it will act broadly to defend and promote the many interests it shares with Washington. Assisting India's rise, then, is in the United States' own long-term interest.


          China may target slower economic growth: media   
This file photo shows a woman riding her tricycle, loaded with polystyrene boxes, in Shanghai. China might set an annual economic growth target below 8.0 percent for this year, state media said, as the leaders of the world's second largest economy acknowledge it is slowing.

03 March 2012
AFP News

China might set an annual economic growth target below 8.0 percent for this year, state media said, as the leaders of the world's second largest economy acknowledge it is slowing.

The report in the official Shanghai Securities News came before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivers an annual policy address to lawmakers on Monday, when he is due to announce economic goals for the year.

China's economy expanded by 9.2 percent last year, slowing from 10.4 percent in 2010, as global turbulence and efforts to tame high inflation put the brakes on growth.

"An economic growth rate adjusted down to around 7.5 percent will not have any impact on economic development," the newspaper quoted Li Guozhang, an academic at Lanzhou University and member of an advisory body to the National People's Congress, or legislature, as saying.


China typically exceeds the annual growth target unveiled every March at the parliament session, and most economists are predicting GDP growth of 8.0-8.5 percent for China this year.

The 2011 increase in gross domestic product was well above the government's 8.0 percent target.

In a bid to counter slowing exports, the government has cut reserve requirements for banks twice in the last three months to increase lending and give the economy a boost.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs has forecast China will set a lower GDP growth target of 7.5 percent at the legislative meeting, but said that implied the government was willing to accept slower growth.

"A slightly lower GDP growth target rate is sensible given the fall in the level of potential GDP growth," Goldman said Friday in a research report.

"It can also be viewed as a gesture from the central government that local governments should not focus solely on the pace of GDP growth."

China has sought to prod local governments to focus on the quality of growth instead of its speed, while also seeking to shift away from dependence on exports to other engines such as domestic consumption.

China could target containing inflation to less than 4.0 percent this year at the upcoming congress, the Shanghai Securities News said, amid worries surging prices could spark social unrest.

For all of 2011, China's consumer price inflation was 5.4 percent, official figures showed, well above the government's full-year target of 4.0 percent and higher than the 2010 rate of 3.3 percent.

          Politics Aside, Counting Crowds Is Tricky   
Updated at 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 27 There has been a lot of arguing about the size of crowds in the past few days. Estimates for President Trump's inauguration and the Women's March a day later vary widely. And for crowd scientists, that's pretty normal. "I think this is expected," says Mubarak Shah , director of the Center for Research in Computer Vision at the University of Central Florida. Shah says he encountered something similar during mass protests in Barcelona, Spain a couple of years ago. "The government was claiming smaller number than the opposition was claiming," he says. Counting quarrels have popped up during previous events in the U.S. as well. During the Million Man March in 1995, the National Park Service estimated the crowd to be far smaller than the organizers claimed. The controversy led Congress to bar the Park Service from doing head counts on the National Mall. The reason that disagreements frequently arise is that there's no foolproof way to get an accurate head
          Modi's reaction just a drama, reacts Congress   
Congress on Saturday dismissed as 'drama' Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's attack on the Centre over Central Bureau of Investigation's plea for ...
          The Senate plan means 22 million uninsured? Let’s take a honest look at that number   
Senate Republicans have announced that they are delaying a vote on their health care plan by at least a week. The news comes after several Senators had second thoughts because a report from the Congressional Budget Office suggested that under the GOP plan 22 million people would not have health insurance. The U.S. Bishops cited the [...]
          Dogington Post Urges Readers to Support New Legislation that will Protect Dogs   

Lawmakers introduced an act to Congress that, they hope, will close current loopholes that exempt online puppy sellers from adhering to USDA licensing and regulation. Dogington Post urged it’s dog-loving readers to support the PUPS Act.

(PRWeb March 08, 2013)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/PUPS-Act/dogington-post/prweb10510240.htm


          Nice Was Very Nice Indeed! ESOMAR Congress Review   
The ESOMAR Congress had the advantages of good weather, the friendliness of the people in Nice, great restaurants in the town, a good agenda, a great exhibition, and over 1000 delegates from over 70 countries.
          6-28-17 Chad Hartman Show 2p: Rep. Keith Ellison   

In this hour Chad talked to Congressman Keith Ellison about health care and more...


          President Trump Calls on Congress to Pass Bills Aimed at Undocumented Immigrants   
President Trump hosted the families of victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants at the White House on Wednesday as a part of an effort to put pressure on Republicans in the House to pass legislation targeting so-called sanctuary cities. “You lost the people that you love because our government refused to enforce our nation’s…
          Join us in Athens   
ETUC Congress: the ETUI welcomes you to its stand. On the occasion of the Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation, the ETUI invites you to visit its stand in Athens from 16 to 19 May. Here you will not only find a selection of our most recent publications but also have the opportunity to discuss our trade union research and training programmes with members of our team. You are also invited to take part in the various activities being organised on our stand and on the fringe of the Congress.
          The Cold War Kabuki   



Well, you all know what the big story was this past week. I wasn't going to post on it but enough people have asked and it seems germane to the ongoing Reality Show we're all unwitting (and unwilling) extras in. In case you've been on media blackout or a vision quest, here's a brief thumbnail sketch:
The United States launched a military strike Thursday on a Syrian government airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians earlier in the week. 
On President Donald Trump's orders, US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase that was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks, US officials said.
As it happens, the airstrikes apparently didn't even seem to have the desired deterrent effect. The air base was up and running soon after the strikes:
Syrian warplanes took off from the air base hit by US cruise missiles yesterday to carry out bombing raids on rebel-held areas, in a defiant show of strength. 
Just hours after the al-Shayrat airfield was bombed with 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from warships in the Mediterranean, aircraft struck targets in the eastern Homs countryside, according to a monitoring group. 
The airstrikes were carried out on Khan Sheikhoun - the same town Bashar al-Assad’s regime is accused of attacking with chemicals - and seven other towns around eastern Homs, some of which controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
This rebound seemed to catch the War Party off guard, since CNN reported on the same story but appeared to ascribe the airstrikes to phantom warplanes. I mean, it couldn't be the Syrians or the Russians, right?:
(CNN) New airstrikes targeted a town in Syria that was hit by a chemical attack earlier this week, activists said, less than a day after the US bombarded a Syrian air base to "send a message" to the Assad regime. 
It wasn't immediately clear who conducted the strikes on Khan Sheikhoun, which was hit on Friday and Saturday, though only Russian and Syrian regime aircraft have been bombing that area of rebel-held Idlib province.
CNN, who've been hammering Trump around the clock since he humiliated their network head in a post-election tantrum, suddenly changed their tune when he started raining bombs on Syria. Sam Kriss reports:
The media was kind to Trump’s attack on Syria. Every pompous outlet that has spent the last five months screaming incessantly about the threat to democracy, the inevitable deaths and the terror of wars, had nothing but applause as soon as the wars and the deaths actually got going. 
 A fleshy and dangerous idiot, a vulgarian, an imbecile – until those first perfect screaming shots of Tomahawk missiles being fired were broadcast – that’s our guy, you show them Donny! This is when, as Fareed Zakaria put it on CNN, Trump ‘became the president.’
The same mainstream media, which has become a hornet's hive of conspiracy theorizing since the election, was quick to shoot down any conspiracy theories about the Syria Bombshow.
A volley of US cruise missiles had barely been launched into Syria before the internet filled up with fact-free theories about the real reason for the international crisis.
A popular one on the right-most fringes: the US government actually carried out the chemical weapons massacre in Syria last week - a "false flag" to trick President Donald Trump into retaliating, thus entangling himself in a foreign war. 
A slightly more convoluted strain on the left: Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the chemical weapons massacre to help Trump - distracting Americans from an investigation into Trump's campaign ties to Russia by provoking the missile strike.
Alt-left conspiracy theorists prefer the idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the chemical weapons massacre to help Trump - distracting Americans from an investigation into Trump's campaign ties to Russia.
Ron Paul, whose son Rand is now a rising star in the Senate, was perhaps the most prominent public figure to cast shade on the Syria op:
“Before this episode of possible gas exposure and who did what, things were going along reasonably well for the conditions,” the former Texas congressman stated. “Trump said let the Syrians decide who should run their country, and peace talks were making out, and Al Qaeda and ISIS were on the run.” 
“It looks like, maybe, somebody didn’t like that so there had to be an episode, and the blame now is we can’t let that happen because it looks like it might benefit Assad.”
For his part, Doctor Bones speculates that the real mark for a possible elaborate sting wasn't Assad or Putin, but in fact another player altogether. The timing seems hard to argue with:
A gas attack launched by the fleeing Syrian rebels, a side quickly losing it’s CIA-sponsorship and well aware it’s continued health depends on American funds, sure has a shit-ton more to gain from wide swathes of civilians dying on camera. Even better if they die particularly gruesomely and in a way the rebels claim they couldn’t be responsible for despite being photographed with all the tech to do so. 
How does Trump’s seemingly pointless explosion-show play into this? The answer: perfectly...
Consider also that the Chinese President was in Mar-a-Largo when the strike was underway, that Trump not only told him it was going to happen but actually ate dinner with him as it went on and the event spirals into even greater significance. A show of force full of technical prowess in a contested warzone while the Russians stood back and watched sends a powerful message to a foreign leader currently dining in enemy territory.
Is this just swivel-eyed speculation? Is there any reason to believe this wasn't all some improbable coincidence, that Xi Jinping was indeed dining with Trump while the Bombshow began? Because if it's not a coincidence then it's one hell of a psyop; running a mindfuck on your most dangerous frenemy during a state visit. What's this all about then? Joseph Farrell reports:
While there have been a spate of articles recently about growing Russo-Chinese defense and security ties, matching their growing financial and economic ties, this one left me stunned, for there was a statement within it that caught my eye, and Mr. B's as well, and I'm sure the reader saw it as well. As one can imagine, this one fueled my "high octane speculation" mode to the nth degree. Here's the statement, and a bit of surrounding context:
Russia and China are tired of Washington's "defensive" military installations in their backyards — and they're already taking action. 
According to the Atlantic Council and other responsible thinkers, the Untied States reserves the right to park its missile shields anywhere it wants, whether it be in Europe, East Asia, or the dark side of the Moon.  
I guess we should have seen all this coming, no? Shortly before the Bombshow, Trump's top Praetorian removed Trump's assumed consigliere from the NSC:
President Trump on Wednesday removed controversial White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon from the National Security Council, part of a sweeping staff reshuffling that elevated military, intelligence and Cabinet officials to greater roles on the council and left Bannon less directly involved in shaping the administration’s day-to-day national security policy. 
The restructuring reflects the growing influence of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army three-star general who took over the post after retired general Michael Flynn was ousted in February and who is increasingly asserting himself over the flow of national security information in the White House. 
Do yourself a favor and set a news alert for "McMaster." That's a name you're going to be hearing more of in the days ahead. Or you won't. Which is probably the more troubling scenario.

And with Bannon off the NSC there's apparently an effort to shuffle him off to some fat-salaried thinktank glue factory.  The not-news of Bannon's interest in The Fourth Coming was dragged out yet again, this time by The New York Times. But the article planted a helpful hint of why Bannon is on the elbow list and might be giving us a grim preview of the year ahead:
Bannon’s Views Can Be Traced to a Book That Warns, ‘Winter Is Coming’

WASHINGTON — Stephen K. Bannon has read the book three times. He still keeps a copy of it — one that’s creased and copiously underlined — in a library with the rest of his favorites at his father’s house in Richmond, Va. 
The book, “The Fourth Turning,” a 1997 work by two amateur historians, Neil Howe and William Strauss, lays out a theory that American history unfurls in predictable, 80-year cycles of prosperity and catastrophe. And it foresees catastrophe right around the corner. 
It also leads to unavoidable questions about war and whether Mr. Bannon, who has recommended the book to countless friends and made a film about it in 2010, is resigned to catastrophic global conflict. He says he is not. 
And he remains unconvinced that the United States can effectively intervene in overseas conflicts like the one unfolding in Syria. As one of the voices in the administration who expressed skepticism about a military strike in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attack on its own citizens, Mr. Bannon insists he is no warmonger.
Well, there you have it.

Is the Syria proxy war threatening to heat up again, or is this all just another dance in the Cold War Kabuki? Have actions like the Bombshow  become like sacrificial actions in ongoing magical actions? Or is the real war is for your mind and is playing out in thousands of manufactured headlines, blizzards of 30 second videos with deceptive text crawls and the endless babbling of overpaid talking heads?

I feel stupid even asking the question.

Just in case you're worried that this is all leading to nukes raining down on American cities,  the cognitive warriors seem to be trying to defuse any expectations of impending Armageddon: 
White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster says that while the U.S. would push for regime change in Syria, “We’re not the ones who are going to effect that change.” 
“What we’re saying is, other countries have to ask themselves some hard questions,” McMaster said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." “Russia should ask themselves, ‘What are we doing here?’ Why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available?’”
Translation: No way in Hell we have the readiness needed for a hot war with a military superpower.

And since the mindfuck is the mother's milk of Cog-War, the careful inoculation of mixed messages into the mediafeed becomes just as vital a weapon as a cruise missile. Scratch that- much, much more so.
Trump Administration Is Contradicting Itself On Regime Change In Syria 
The Trump administration appears divided on whether the U.S. is pursuing a policy of regime change in Syria, days after the first direct American military attack against the Syrian government. 
Thursday’s strike “was related solely to the most recent horrific use of chemical weapons,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. The goal of the attack was to send a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad and its ally Russia that the U.S. wouldn’t tolerate the use of chemical weapons, he continued. “Other than that, there is no change to our military posture.”
But United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said there can be no peace in Syria with Assad in power. “There’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria.​”​
Though Haley stopped short of indicating the U.S. would take military action to overthrow the Syrian dictator, her comments reflect a sharp change from the administration’s previous position.
The difference here, of course, is that Tillerson sets and executes policy and Haley sits in a glorified debating society and blows smoke and fairy dust for a bunch of bored bureaucrats wishing they had their real government jobs back, the ones they enjoyed before being pushed upstairs to their present posts. The media only pays attention when bombs are falling.

It's all black magic, make no mistake about it. There are different terms and epithets for it all now,  but when you strip all the twenty-dollar words and the credentials and the technology away the intent and the effect is no different than a witch doctor's curse. 

William S. Burroughs understood this, since his uncle Ivy Lee was the creator of one of these modern strains of black magic, so-called "public relations." Burroughs considered his uncle a bonafide "evil genius." And Lee was a piker compared to the algorithm-fired masters of the dark arts striding the globe today.

Here's a story that probably won't pop up on your Facebook feed. Anyone paying attention to the Russia hacking story probably knows how incredibly weak the hacking evidence actually is,* but now Wikileaks is teasing out the Seth Rich mystery again.
‘Guccifer 2.0’ Chat With Nude Model Sparks New Conspiracy Theories About Murder of DNC’s Seth Rich 
New chat logs between alleged Democratic National Committee hacker Guccifer 2.0 and a Playboy centerfold model surfaced today via Wikileaks on Twitter, throwing more fuel on the conspiracy theories surrounding murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. The Twitter conversation, conducted via direct messages, purports to reveal Rich as the primary leaker of the DNC e-mails that proved highly disruptive during the 2016 presidential election. 
In direct messages dated August 25, 2016, Guccifer 2.0 mentioned having a whistleblower at the DNC, and said he was looking for a “person of trust who can be a guarantee in case anything happens.”
When Young suggested trusting Julian Assange, Guccifer 2.0 called him “unsafe” and that he “may be connected with Russians” despite being his hero. 
“I’d like to find a journalist who can do an investigation and teel [sic] the real story of his life and death,” he said, and revealed that the whistleblower he was referring to was none other than a person named “Seth.” 
“I suppose u know who I’m talking about,” he said, adding that he felt sorry about the murdered DNC staffer’s parents and that he wished for journalists to uncover the truth of his murder.
  
Seth Rich, a 27-year-old mid-level DNC staffer, was shot and killed in the early morning of July 2016 in Washington DC, while he was walking home from a bar and talking with his girlfriend on his mobile phone. Rich’s killers left his watch and wallet untouched on his body. 
This wasn't floated by Alex Jones or David Icke, it popped up on Heat Street, which is owned by the Dow Jones Company and Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp. This story looks like it's going to grow some legs yet.

So are you sick of the Cog-War and the Cold War Kabuki yet? Tired of your social media hijacked by proxy warriors fighting battles for cliques within the Intelligence community? Burnt out on the whole Reality Show Presidency and its discontents altogether?

Start looking into ashrams in Sri Lanka, then. This machine is just getting warmed up. 




*Maybe some bright young spark should see if maybe the hacking an inside job by intel people who correctly judged a Trump White House would be easier to dominate than a bloated, top-heavy Clinton one. Just throwing that out there for giggles and grins.


          Lucille Ball: Only One Place to Go   
Lucille Ball’s step-grandparents once sent her to bed without dinner for looking at herself in a mirror. Think about that.
Apparently because he ate the wrong dish of ice cream, Lucy’s father died of typhoid fever in 1915, when she was 3 years old — an event that shuffled her from relative to relative for years and forever marked her psyche.
“There was a touch of Cinderella in all this, except that there was no handsome prince to ride up and rescue the waif,” wrote Stefan Kanfer in Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball. “All the ingredients for misery were now in place: self-doubt, obsessive-compulsive behavior, insecurity — the sort of psychological afflictions that attend a deprived childhood. As we will see, one way or another she carried these difficulties intact, from her early years to her old age. Yet in her nervous accommodations with the past she came to regard this as the Making of Lucille Ball.”
Lucy concluded that followers had happy young lives, while leaders suffered early trauma.
---
At 13, Lucy went to New York and landed a chorus line job in the Schubert musical Stepping Stones, only to be sent back home when the producers discovered her age. At 15, she was dating a 21-year-old armed bootlegger, and to get her away from him, her mother DeDe scraped together the money to send Lucy to the prestigious Minton-Anderson School of Drama in New York for a semester’s humiliation.
“In another period, the school might have carried her for a second term, until she acquired some polish and timing,” Kanfer wrote. “But it was Lucille’s misfortune to be there at the same moment another young actress was making her mark. Bette Davis arrived as a powerhouse with more gifts than the rest of the pupils combined.”
The bitterness of that rejection remained with Lucy. “All I learned in drama school was how to be frightened,” she said.
---
After her grandfather was bankrupted and lost everything because of a shooting accident, Lucy tackled New York again, working in musicals, never for long.
“She began to patrol short-order joints, seeking a ‘one-doughnut man’ — an individual who sat at a counter, ordered doughnuts and coffee, downed the cup, and left a nickel tip after eating only one doughnut,” Kanfer noted. “ ‘I’d do a fast slide onto his stool,’ she said, yell for a cup of coffee, pay for it with his nickel and eat the other doughnut.’ Her finances hit rock bottom the day she reached into her purse and found four cents, one short of the subway fare. ‘So I panhandled for a penny. One well-dressed older gentleman stopped to listen, then offered me a $10 bill. ‘Listen, mister,’ I told him with a withering look, ‘all I want is one penny.’
“Thoughts of suicide entered her head. ‘I thought, ‘I’ll get killed faster in central Park because cars go faster there. But I want to get hit by a big car — with a handsome man in it.’ Then I had a flash of sanity. I said to myself, ‘If I’m thinking this way, maybe I don’t want to die.’ So I regrouped my forces.’”
And found work as a model, posing for, among other things, a topless photograph that would dog her for decades.
---
Around the time Lucy was shooting the MGM film Du Barry Was a Lady with Red Skelton in the fall of 1942, she had some dental work done.
“A few days after a dentist put in some temporary fillings she heard music inside her convertible,” Kanfer wrote. “She swiveled the dial on the car radio, then realized that the sound was not issuing from the loudspeaker. It was coming from inside her mouth: the fillings were picking up a broadcast from a local station.’
“I even recognized the tune,” Lucy recalled. “My mouth was humming and thumping with the drumbeat, and I thought I was losing my mind. I thought, ‘What the hell is this?’ Then it started to subside.”
“Some days later, an odd rhythm sounded in her molars again,” Kanfer noted. “No music this time — it seemed to be Morse code.” She said the signal was strongest near a particular house. She reported the incident to MGM security officers, who told the authorities, who reportedly discovered an underground radio station run by a Japanese gardener.
“Lucy dined out on the story for months,” Kanfer noted. “She related the incident to Ethel Merman — the stage Du Barry — and Merman passed it along to Cole Porter. It became part of the plot for his next Broadway show, Something for the Boys.”
But was the fantastic story true? The debunker site Snopes says that remains undetermined.
“It would be odd for Lucy to have invented a story about picking up radio signals via her fillings; she was too honest and had plenty of genuine anecdotes of her own to tell,” Snopes said. “Still, the tale is pretty implausible, and documentation about the discovery and arrest of Japanese spies in California in 1942 is curiously lacking. (It’s also unlikely that ‘Japanese spies’ would have been transmitting in Morse code, that the signals would have been received through dental work, or that Lucy could have recognized whatever she was picking up on her fillings as such if they were).”
---
“During the last months of 1948, as the (radio) scripts (for My Favorite Husband) went in for revisions, Lucy began working on a new film with Bob Hope, Sorrowful Jones, based on yet another Damon Runyon tale,” Kanfer wrote. “Filming during the day and rehearsing at night frazzled her nerves and upset her judgment. As one deadline approached, the story line was still in trouble. ‘(writers) Bob (Carroll) and Madelyn (Pugh) and I worked practically all night,’ (Jess) Oppenheimer wrote. ‘We were confident that we had saved the script. We weren’t too proud of the very last line, but the rest of it was good, and we had all day to work on that one last line.’
“At daybreak Lucy and Don Sharpe arrived. She sank into an overstuffed chair and went through the script, laughing at regular intervals as she turned the pages. According to Oppenheimer, ‘I thought we were home free, until she came to that last line. Well, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were identical twins compared to the transformation Lucy served up.’ She rose, threw the script across the room and yelled, ‘I won’t do this shit!’
“Oppenheimer waited for her to finish. Then he responded: ‘I thought we had a team effort going here. We’re happy to stay up all night or all week, and break our butts to make the script right for you. But not if you’re going to ignore a major rewrite which you loved, and crucify us over one little line, which can easily be fixed. We need quite a bit more respect than that. He took Lucy’s hand and shook it. ‘I can’t say it’s been a pleasant experience working for you, but at least it’s over.’”
Oppenheimer left the building and got halfway down the block before agent and show packager Don Sharpe caught up with him and told him that Lucy was crying and hysterical, and wanted to apologize.
---
Lucy and Desi created I Love Lucy as a means of keeping their marriage intact, and that’s the one area in which the hit sitcom finally failed.
Desi’s skirt-chasing had been an issue from the first, and the problem was particularly acute when, before the TV show, he’d been on the road with his band.
“One evening Lucy spent an entire phone call accusing her husband of disloyalty, and he yelled at her for being over-suspicious,” Kanfer wrote. “She slammed down the phone. It rang in her room and she picked up the receiver, ready to resume her argument. The voice was not Desi’s; it was the operator’s. She had eavesdropped on the conversation. ‘Why haven’t you called him back?’ she demanded. ‘I know he’s in his room feeling miserable, waiting for you to call him. He didn’t mean any of the things he said and I’m sure you didn’t either, so why don’t you just call him back and make up with him? He’s just a baby.’ Lucy laughed, and did as asked. For that evening, at least, the conversation was filled with apologies and pledges of commitment.”
---
When I Love Lucy began, the wealthiest person on the set was the cameraman.
Well, the director of photography, anyway. German native Karl Freund had filmed Dracula and Murders in the Rue Morgue, and won an Oscar for The Good Earth. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz knew him from Du Barry Was a Lady, and knew he’d invented a popular light meter, and that he certainly didn’t need to do a sitcom. Yet that’s what Desi wanted him to do.
Kanfer noted that Desi wanted to stage the show as a play, filmed in front of a live audience of 300 with three cameras that were to be synchronized on one sound track. The film could therefore be easily edited from master shot to medium shot to close-up.
That couldn’t be done, Freund told him. Those shots would all have to be lit differently for decent quality.
“Well, I know that nobody has done it up to now, but I figured that if there was anybody in the world who could do it, it would be Karl Freund,” Desi replied.
Intrigued by the project, “Papa” Freund ultimately signed on for union scale. “Papa was loaded anyway,” Desi said. “He could buy and sell Lucy and me three or four times. The money he had made out of the light meter alone, plus a lot of acreage in orange trees he owned in the San Fernando Valley, made him a man of considerable means. The challenge was what got him, and that’s what I was counting on.”
---
At 24, Lucille Ball had signed a Communist Party membership card to please her socialist grandfather, Fred Hunt. Unknowingly, she had also signed on for a nightmare.
The I Love Lucy show aired during the McCarthy era, and in 1953 ruthless right wingers were determined to use the “scandal” to destroy the show and its star. It took all of Desi Arnaz’s PR wiles to quell the storm. He joked that “The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that isn’t legitimate.”
Kanfer wrote, “Lucy and Desi made no more public statements, going about their business as if nothing had happened, resentful of fair-weather friends and acquaintances who made themselves scarce, and grateful to the handful who went out of their way to express their support. First to pay a call was comedian Lou Costello. Lucy thought of him as an acquaintance more than a pal; she had only been on his radio show a few times. But there he was sitting in the garden, and when Lucy asked him why he was in evidence, Costello replied: ‘You just go about your business. I’m just hanging out here for the day. I thought you might need a friend about now.’ Jack Oakie, Lucy’s costar in the old days, showed up; so did Lionel Barrymore, crippled by arthritis, who visited in a wheelchair.”
A force more powerful than even the House Un-American Activities Committee finally vaporized the storm clouds entirely, and that was the Nielsen and Trendex overnight ratings. I Love Lucy was still the number one show, and a Los Angeles Times headline cheered: “Everybody Still Loves Lucy.” President Eisenhower invited the couple to the White House, and all was well.
But not with Lucy, not entirely. “She could never quite relax after her experience with the congressmen and the fallout that came from their investigation,” Kanfer wrote. “A signature on an old piece of paper had been enough to justify her most pathological fears: one’s livelihood and social position could indeed vanish overnight, and in the end (not) money nor love nor public relations would be powerful enough to keep the jackals away.”
---
Vivian Vance played sidekick to Lucille Ball all through I Love Lucyand partway through The Lucy Show, then departed, demanding a salary increase she knew would be rejected.
“I was sure she felt I was deserting her,” Vance wrote. “She had a tremendous fear of rejection, and unless she thought it through, it could seem that I was rejecting her, giving her up after 14 years of closeness and clowning, for a husband and a home I wanted to share with him.”
Lucy had other priorities. “Marriage, motherhood, leisure — all were subordinated to the main concern of putting on a good show and turning a profit for the Desilu stockholders,” wrote Kanfer. “Though she determined to get along without her feminine foil, Vivian’s departure did make an enormous difference, not only in the scripts but in Lucy’s outlook. In her view, she had been dropped twice, by her husband and by her closest professional friend.”
“’On the set, she could be a holy terror,’ said one of the technicians who watched Lucy in action. She summarily fired a New York Method actor who mumbled his lines; intimidated directors and cameramen; and sought confrontations, even when the star was as big as she was.
“When she gave Danny Kaye instructions on how to do humor, he snapped, ‘Just who the hell do you think you are?’ Lucy shot back, ‘You’re full of shit, that’s who I am.’ She was not smiling.
“Joan Blondell, who had known Lucy since their starlet days in the 1930s, had become a first-class film and stage comedienne in middle age. Lucy booked her on the show, then expressed dissatisfaction with the way Blondell read her lines. After one take, her friend Herb Kenwith reported, the director yelled ‘Cut!’ and “Lucille pulled an imaginary chain … as if flushing an old-fashioned toilet.’ Blondell turned away but caught the tail end of the gesture. ‘What does that mean?’ she demanded. Lucille said, ‘It means that stunk!’ Joan looked her right in the eye and said, ‘Fuck you, Lucille Ball!’ The studio audience was stunned. You didn’t hear words like that in those days.’ Kaye and Lucy were to make up their differences. Blondell never came back.”
In 1970, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, then the world’s most famous couple, appeared on Lucy’s CBS sitcom Here’s Lucy. Lucy and Liz exchanged increasingly large bunches of roses, but all was not so rosy after Lucy insisted on giving the famous Welsh actor line readings.
Amused, Burton noted that Lucy referred to Liz as “…for the most part as Mrs. Burton or Miss Taylor and occasionally Elizabeth but (she) corrects it to the more formal immediately.” Liz, meanwhile, formally referred to Lucy as “Miss Cunt.”
Lucy overheard her mother warning a director that her daughter was in fact the bitch everyone said she was. Lucy replied, “I am not! Only when I’m working.” Her mother replied, “But that is when people see you.”
Lucy’s state of mind may be deduced from this line, which she was fond of repeating: “When you’re Number One, there’s only one place you can go.”
---
Here’s a fact I found fascinating, in part because it has been buried beneath the lavish and well-deserved praise Lucy earned for her genius as a comic actor. As president of Desilu, Lucy personally green-lighted both the Mission: Impossible and Star Trek TV series. Without her, those two mini-media empires would likely never have existed.

          Helen Gahagan Douglas: She Who Must Be Waylaid   
“Helen Gahagan Douglas … had not the slightest interest in politics until the late 1930s. Her conversion was as dramatic as a first-act curtain in the theater.”
  Eleanor Roosevelt

Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas, a former movie star and opera singer, was a principled beacon of liberal light following the death of FDR.
She had once played She Who Must Be Obeyed, and when she ran for Senate in California, Congressman Richard Nixon regarded her as She Who Must Be Waylaid.
---
Helen Gahagan Douglas
“While sitting in a Viennese coffeehouse with an English music critic who was a friend of several colleagues, the two discussed her new contract,” wrote Sally Denton in The Pink Lady: The Many Lives of Helen Gahagan Douglas. “Suddenly, the man leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, ‘Of course, Miss Gahagan, you are pure Aryan?’
“Helen felt sick to her stomach as the man attempted to recruit her to the Nazi cause. ‘Aryans such as we,’ he told her, ‘(have) a duty to defend the superior race against Jews.’ At first she couldn’t speak. Until that moment the perspective of Jews in the world was a purely abstract notion. Now, as the Englishman spouted the familiar rantings of Hitler and Goebbels while asking her to enlist the support of fellow Nazi sympathizers in America, she felt forever changed. Her ‘Irish blood at the boiling point,’ she tore up the contract and left for home.”
It didn’t help the English critic’s case that her husband, the film actor Melvyn Douglas, was a Jew.
---
But it was the Dust Bowl that really blew Helen Gahagan Douglas into politics.
Once upon a time, specifically in California during the Dust Bowl 1930s, those much-despised “illegal aliens” were American citizens who’d fled West.
“Confined to filthy camps, thousands of starving families were ‘herded about like animals,’ living without toilet or showers, while local officials and growers fought to keep the federal government from supplying the migrants with food and medical supplies, fearing that they would form permanent communities, join unions and, most significant, interfere with the cheap Mexican laborers they were shuttling across the border and paying slave wages,” wrote Denton.
 “Importing labor was far cheaper than establishing schools and health-care clinics for American migrant workers, so the growers used every method possible, including force, to get the migrants to move on.
“Helen and Melvyn had attended dinner parties at which the subject of the ‘Okies’ was raised and they were frequently appalled at the lack of compassion shown by many of their peers. They ‘listened with astonishment to people making comfortable statements about how the situation was exaggerated or that the migrants should stop being so lazy and dirty.’”
---
Guided by Eleanor Roosevelt, she became more involved in politics even as she became less involved in her marriage. After Melvyn started a serious affair with a co-star, they separated, but would never divorce.
“I suppose it is commonplace that most long-time couples divide areas of emotional response, even as they share responsibilities and material goods,” Melvyn said years later. “Certainly our friends, the Roosevelts, had done something like that.”
Rising in politics, Helen had few illusions about it. “I was raised in a household of dominating men, and I learned early that men guard their authority over women jealously,” Helen said. “As for politics, they sincerely believe public life to be a male bailiwick. They reason that men have been running the country for the past two hundred years and are meant to do so for centuries to come. In short, men would never share power with women willingly. If we wanted it, we would have to take it.”
---
Fighting a conservative tide to keep the liberal Henry Wallace vice president in 1944, Douglas gave an eloquent speech at the Democratic National Convention.
“The Democratic party is the true conservative party,” she said. “We have conserved hope and ambition in the hearts of our people. We are the conservative party. We have conserved the skills of their hands. We have husbanded our natural resources. We have saved millions of homes and farms from foreclosure and conserved the family stake in democracy.
“We have rescued banks and trust companies, insured crops and people's savings. We have built schools. We have checked the flooding rivers and turned them into power.
“We have begun a program to free men and women from the constant nagging fear of unemployment, sickness, accident—and the dread of insecure old age. We have turned a once isolated, flood-ravished, poverty-stricken valley, the home of four and a half million people, into what is now a productive, happy place to live—the Tennessee River Valley. We have replanted the forest, re-fertilized the soil. Ours is the conservative party.
“We have guarded children, protected them by labor laws, planned school-lunch programs, provided clinics. Ours is the conservative party. Ours is the party that has created laws which have given dignity and protection to the working men and women of this country. Ours is the party that has made the individual aware of the need for his participation in a true democracy. We are the conservative party.
“We have conserved the people's faith in a people's government—democracy.”
---
Elected to Congress in 1944, Douglas was often compared to her glamorous right-wing counterpart there, Clare Booth Luce, the playwright and wife of Time Inc. founder Henry Luce.
“Driving cross-country with her secretary Evie Chavoor, and a friend, Jarmila Marton, having decided to make the move to Washington by automobile, the women tuned the radio to a morning news broadcast,” Denton wrote. “They listened with amusement to the announcement that Helen had defeated Luce as one of the 10 best-dressed women in public life.
“The rookie congresswoman had broken a cap on her front tooth, leaving a gap and stump when she opened her mouth to smile. Evie ‘turned around and looked at Helen, and there she was in the back seat with her terrible sloppy pants on … huddled in a blanket, her hair all streaming down.’ The women howled with laughter, wishing a photographer could see her in such a state.”
Douglas understood, though, that the trivial focus on women’s looks was a means of undermining their power. “Congresswomen’s ideas should rate above their clothes and looks,” she said. “Why this emphasis on the sexes anyway, in a serious thing like government?”
“I never felt I left the stage,” Douglas said, and her clipped, powerful, theatrically trained voice was a great asset in politics.
But there was nothing phony about her, nothing fake. She was a proponent of what philosophers call “virtue ethics,” giving a fair summary of it in this quote: “Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.”
---
The liberal and idealistic Douglas was waylaid by the rising, conniving and unprincipled Nixon, sounding an ugly theme that has echoed in American politics right into the 21stcentury.
Nixon’s dirty tactics — among them smearing Douglas as a Communist and sponsoring calls to ask voters if they were aware that her movie star husband was “a Jew” — earned him the apt, lifelong nickname Tricky Dick. But Douglas was also hampered by her own lofty idealism and California’s Chinatown-like civic corruption. And the times were against her, the 1950 election coinciding with both the rise of McCarthyism and the height of the Korean war.
“There was the United States fighting communism and I was the person who said we should limit the power of the military and try to disarm the world and get along with Russia,” Douglas said.
“The worst moment, a sight I couldn’t shake, was when children picked up rocks and threw them at my car, at me. I knew that in order to survive I would have to accept the rocks and the Nixon campaign, shrug them off and move on. I wondered if I would be able to do it.”
She was, finding herself exhausted but strangely calm after Nixon’s huge victory. “I was so pleased that I had escaped the terrible burden of hating Richard Nixon that I was almost elated,” she said.
Nixon, in later years, at least feigned regret over his behavior in the campaign. “Years later, asked by British publisher David Astor to explain his campaign tactics, Nixon reportedly ‘cast down his eyes with a look of modest contrition’ and explained, ‘I want you to remember that I was a very young man,’” wrote Anthony Summers in The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon. “In 1950, (Nixon) was 37 and a veteran of four years in the House of Representatives.”
Douglas summed it up simply: “There’s not much to say about the 1950 campaign, except that a man ran for Senate who wanted to get there, and didn’t care how he did it.”
After Nixon revealed his true character to the world in Watergate, and was driven from office in shame, Douglas had the last laugh. But she didn’t laugh. She mourned.
“If the national security is involved, anything goes,” she said in 1973. “There are no rules. There are people so lacking in roots about what is proper and improper that they don’t know there’s anything wrong in breaking into the headquarters of the opposition party.”
After Nixon’s resignation, a bumper sticker started appearing on vehicles throughout California: “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Helen Gahagan Douglas.”
Her secretary Nan Stevens said, “People rather expected that she would be gloating over Richard Nixon finally being found out, but she was only said. She thought it terrible for the country and for America’s reputation abroad. I know that makes her sound almost too good to be true, but she was good. I’m not saying Helen didn’t have feet of clay. But you had to look awfully hard to find her tiny clay feet.”
---
Douglas and her husband often led separate lives. She had an affair with, among others, Lyndon Baines Johnson, but became estranged from with him during his presidency over her support for disarmament and opposition to the escalating Vietnam War.
But Douglas and Melvyn were always good friends, and he made an impassioned radio speech for her during her doomed Senate campaign. “It is easier — as a matter of fact it is the easiest thing in the world — to call people of good will dirty names, to call them Communists,” he said.

Melvyn was at her side when she died of cancer in 1980, and he wrote, “She was entranced always by the light. In every house we ever occupied, she wanted the windows to be wider. She always thought no room could have too many windows … She was always saying, ‘Look at the light! Isn’t it beautiful? Shewas the light. And she was beautiful.’”

          William S. Paley: The Limits of Power   
In 1965, the new Eero Saarinen-designed building on 52nd Street at Sixth Avenue — swiftly dubbed “Black Rock” — was CBS President Frank Stanton’s baby.
“Consistent with his own taste in art, the furnishings and fixtures reflected a sleek, modern look,” wrote Lewis J. Paper in his book Empire: William S. Paley and the Making of CBS. “Glass, chrome and modern paintings dominated the interior space. Even the location and quantity of plants received careful consideration.
“The only exception to the master plan was (CBS Chairman of the Board Bill) Paley’s office. It continued to reflect his own (and very different) tastes. The French gaming table remained as his desk, rich paneling still adorned the walls, comfortable couches were placed strategically, exquisite paintings hung on the walls, and various artifacts — an old CBS microphone, the cigar-store Indian and later a photograph of Edward R. Murrow — all helped to provide a warmth that seemed even more pronounced because of its stark contrast with the rest of the building.”
But the urbane and sophisticated gourmet Paley had his own baby —a haute cuisine restaurant on the ground floor, eventually to be called The Ground Floor.
“The notion of owning a restaurant had always appealed to Paley, especially as the years went by,” Paper said. “Decades of culinary experience had only added to his knowledge and heightened his interest in planning a restaurant. It would, of course, have to feature the best in everything — from its design to the food to the service. Friends noticed the considerable energy he put into the restaurant — picking a name, shaping the décor and planning the menu.”
The interior design reflected the exterior of Black Rock, but the restaurant’s manager, Jerry Brody, thought that was a mistake. “He felt the building was too cold and stark for a restaurant,” Paper said. “Then there was the cost of the fixtures. Bill Paley wanted the best, but the cost made it that much more difficult for the restaurant to show a profit. All of which might have been overcome if the restaurant became popular, but Bill Paley’s zest for food was not matched by his success as a restaurateur.”
Brody suggested a northern European steakhouse, but Paley said no. It must be French cuisine.
“He went to France almost every year, knew the food and it would draw the right kind of customers — sophisticated people, those who appreciated the finer things. But all these plans and hopes and expectations could not guarantee results. No matter how much time Paley spent in the kitchen tasting the soups and other fare (which he did almost every day), The Ground Floor did not produce the business that Bill Paley wanted, that he felt he deserved.”
In 1968, restaurant critic Gael Greene described the chilly ambience. “The Ground Floor is a perfect room to end an affair in,” she wrote. “The tables are far enough apart to announce the break in a firm voice, and the ambiance is stern enough to discourage sloppy emotionalism.”
“But Boss Paley mingles with everyday folk in the dining room. Leonard Lyons moves through the grill, antennae clicking off the celebrities du jour – Donald Pleasence, Sloan Simpson, an author or two drinking breakfast. And good grief! Bob Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman tieless, unjacketed, grizzled gray locks to the shoulder, Ben Franklin specs … the oldest hippie in the world. Mostly, though, the grill is lined with youngish executives expense-accounting each other. Restrained, subdued: That is not a bar to get sloppy drunk in … not a room to unlax in.”
“It was a never-ending source of frustration,” Paper wrote. “He knew food, he knew New York City and yet he could not make the kind of mystical connection to customers that he had made with his programming. And those who confronted him with the obvious truth proceeded at their peril.
“There was the time, for example, when Stanton, Fred Friendly and Bill Leonard met with Paley one afternoon shortly after The Ground Floor had opened. Paley asked the three executives if they had eaten at the restaurant. In fact, they had all just eaten there — and thought it was terrible. Neither Stanton nor Friendly dared to speak the truth, though. They mumbled that it was fine, just fine. But Bill Leonard loved food as much as Paley, and the two of them had spent many occasions passing away hours discussing food. Leonard could not compromise the truth on so important a matter, and he blurted out, ‘It was awful. The food was terrible. Fred had a fish dish and got sick. The service was bad and the prices were way out of line.’
“As Leonard continued, on and on, the color started to drain from Stanton’s face, and the effect on Paley was obvious.
“‘It was as though I had said his mother had been caught with a young man,’ said Leonard. The meeting ended more quickly than anyone had anticipated, and the phone was ringing for Friendly almost as soon as he and Leonard returned to the news offices on West Fifty-seventh Street. Friendly reported that it was Stanton with a message for the deputy news chief.
“‘Tell Leonard,’ said Stanton, ‘that he has just set the News Division back 10 years. He’s wrecked everything. All Paley can talk about now is the restaurant.’”
“All he wanted, he told friends in 1965, was a simple place where a secretary could go downstairs and have lunch for seven or eight dollars,” David Halberstam wrote in the Atlantic. “His pleasure was enormous when the restaurant finally opened, and his disappointment equal when it was not a wild success. At one point Paley, puzzled by the lack of its success, turned to the restaurateur running it for him, Jerry Brody, and suggested that they might try a supper club for those who eat around 11 p.m., something that Paley liked to do after an evening of concerts or theater.
“ ‘Bill,’ said Brody, ‘there ain’t no supper business in this town.’
“ ‘No?’ answered Paley, puzzled. ‘Why not?’
“ ‘Because everyone’s home watching the tube.’”
Paley’s restaurant evolved into the Ground Floor Café, the American Charcuterie and then the sixth incarnation of the venerable Rose Restaurant. Today the location offers the haute Asian fusion of the China Grill.
---
Who was Paley? The son of an Eastern European Jewish immigrant to Chicago who’d started a successful cigar company, William S. Paley was, by 1928, a young man looking to make a mark in a young industry, broadcasting.
He’d received a million dollars worth of stock in the Congress Cigar Company, and wanted to use part of it to buy a controlling interest in New York-based UIB, the United Independent Broadcasters, a rival to the industry leader, NBC. But he couldn’t do that without his father’s approval.
“After thinking it over, Sam told his son that he approved of the UIB purchase, that Bill should use $400,000 of his stock funds to buy (Jerome) Louchheim’s interest, and that the family would contribute another $100,000,” wrote Paper. “Paley was delighted and surprised, but most of all surprised. He had convinced himself that Sam would never release him from the cigar business, and he could not resist asking his father why he had yielded. Sam replied that it was all a matter of good business sense. ‘Well,’ he told Bill, ‘if you succeed, it’ll be a bigger business than what you’re in now; and if you don’t succeed,’ his father added, ‘you will have had a lot of experience which might be very useful in the cigar business and to me, and so, on balance, I think you ought to try it.’”
After some hard bargaining, Paley succeeded in securing 50.3 percent of UIB’s stock for $503,000, the day before his 27th birthday.
“Paley was no doubt excited when he arrived at UIB’s office on an upper floor in the tower of the Paramount Building in midtown Manhattan. But the reception was something less than he had hoped for. A stocky office boy refused to admit the boyish-looking president, demanding to see credentials and to know the purpose of his visit.”
The purpose of his visit was to run the company for several decades, as soon as he changed its name to CBS.
---
Programming was always Paley’s first love at CBS, and his desire for both quality and profits wasn’t easy to satisfy. In Paper’s book, programming chief Mike Dann recalled that day in the 1960s when he entered Paley’s office to deliver the good news that CBS now had nine of the top 10 daytime programs. Paley’s response was, “That damn NBC always hangs in there for one.”
Paley’s programming instincts may have been strong, but they weren’t infallible. In the late 1950s, Paley “…rejected any suggestion that the network make use of Ian Fleming’s stories about James Bond, believing that the American public would have no interest in the escapades of a British spy,” Paper wrote.
---
Shaken by CBS’s extremely costly debacle in experimental color television, Paley seemingly lost his nerve. The sure, instinctive executive touch was gradually replaced by indecision. His confidence about programming also suffered.
“Paley was too far removed from his audience,” wrote Sally Bedell Smith in her Paley biography In All His Glory. “For decades, he led a rarified life. He did not carry cash, never stood in line, and each morning his faithful valet Dean knotted his tie. Early in 1977, after CBS acquired Woman’s Day magazine as part of its Fawcett Publications purchase, Paley asked Jack Purcell, president of CBS Publishing, ‘Who would buy this? It’s nothing but recipes.’ Purcell told him that eight million women bought the magazine every three weeks. Paley was amazed. ‘Where do they go to buy it?’ he said. ‘Supermarkets,’ said Purcell, who could tell by Paley’s quizzical look that the CBS chairman had never been in that kind of store. Purcell subsequently took Paley to a supermarket on the West Side. After walking all around the store to inspect the displays, Paley stood transfixes as women moved through the check-out lines buying Woman’s Day or Family Circle.”
But while he may never have been a man of the people, Paley’s principled and fairly consistent support for the independence of CBS News set a journalistic standard that ultimately benefited the American public at large.
---
Whatever his private misgivings, if any, Paley backed Edward R. Murrows nation-rattling broadcast expose of the fascist Sen. Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts in 1954, in a show that risked reprisals against his own network. Murrow biographer A.M. Sperber noted that, “In the morning there had been a  call from Paley: He’d be with Ed tonight and tomorrow as well — a personal gesture for which Murrow was understandably grateful.  Paley also urged Murrow to offer McCarthy reply time on the air: Beat him to the punch,he said.”
---
The charming and aloof Paley’s central position at CBS during decades when CBS was central to American society seemed to make him something more than self-centered. After decades of such power, Paley finally seemed to regard even mortality as just another problem to be solved by an executive decision.
In 1974, his wife Babe was diagnosed with lung cancer. “Bill Paley … now faced the prospect that his 58-year-old wife could die, leaving him, alone in his old age,” wrote Smith. “His perfectly constructed world threatened to unravel. Paley, so accustomed to controlling virtually every aspect of his existence, worked furiously to conquer Babe’s illness. ‘He was motivated by concern for her,’ recalled Kidder Meade. ‘But he also was confronted by something he couldn’t control. He had an extreme impatience of any failure.’”
“The idea of Babe dying was a terrible shock to me,” Paley said. “I had such faith in myself and believed that, somehow, I was going to beat the rap.”

He didn’t. When his wife died in 1978, Paley sank into two years of depression and disorientation, once complaining to a friend, “My memory is so poor now. I can’t even remember whom I sat next to at dinner last night.”

          Energy Stocks Face Their Own Fiscal Cliff   

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- While the battle between Democrats and Republicans for the White House and Congress is very much up in the air, investors in the energy sector should prepare to fall off a fiscal cliff, regardless of how the vote unfolds in November.

Energy investors should prepare for integrated oil and gas giants -- and independent drillers -- to be constrained by high debts and spending levels, that may force CEO's to rein in exploration budgets sharply in 2013, impacting earnings across the sector.

Notably, as drillers try to extract what's been deemed a hundred year shale oil and gas resource, Chesapeake Energy has spent much of 2012 selling assets to meet a $14 billion cash crunch, in last-ditch financial moves that may speak to wider industry pressures as firms try to balance drilling budgets with earnings and debt levels. ...

Click to view a price quote on CHK.

Click to research the Energy industry.


          Peace in the Center   
Last week, Democrat Jon Ossoff lost his bid to become a congressman in a race for the seat that was once occupied by Republican Newt Gingrich during his rise to the speakership of the House of Representatives. In the 1990s, Gingrich’s attention-grabbing tactics, political disruptions and personal peccadillos were viewed as edgy. By today’s standards,... Read More
          Bos Google: Smartphone itu Mengekang   

TEMPO.CO, California- Raksasa internet Google telah merambah dunia teknologi yang berpengaruh pada kehidupan banyak orang. Setelah merambah dan dominan dalam sistem operasi mobile, dengan Android OS, Google mulai merambah ke dalam sektor baru, wearble gadget alias perangkat yang bisa dipakai. Produknya adalah kaca mata Google Glass.



Dengan Google Glass, orang bisa bertelepon, sms, chat, browsing dan melakukan segala fungsi yang dimiliki smartphone. Dalam konferensi TED di California, Jumat kemarin, pendiri dan bos Google Sergey Brin mengenakan kacamata ini. Dengan kaca mata ini, menurut Brin smartphone itu mengekang aktivitas manusia.



"Ketika kami memulai Google 15 tahun lalu, kami membayangkan informasi yang datang pada kita saat dibutuhkan, tanpa perlu dicari," ujarnya. Namun dengan adanya smartphone, yang berbentuk kotak, membuat perhatian orang malah tersedot ke dalam smartphone. Membungkuk menatap smartohone "Ini mengekang kita. Ini bukanlah cara kita berinteraksi dengan orang lain dan tak membebaskan pandangan anda," ujarnya.



Tentu omongan Brin ini adalah trik jualan. Dia menyodorkan Google Glass. Menurutnya, gagdget ini tak mengekang dan membebaskan pandangannya walau tetap mengonsumsi informasi dari dunia maya. Gadget yang bisa dipakai ini di kepala ini bentuknya seperti kaca mata. Dalam dua tahun terakhir pengembangan, produk ini telah mengalamai banyak perkembangan. ?Saat pertama dibuat, bentuknya seperti ponsel dan kaca mata menyatu, dan menempel di kepala,? ujarya. Fungsinya laiknya ponsel, hanya bentuknya seperti kaca mata dan diperintah melalui suara.



Ini seperti bayangan Brin dan Larry Page, rekannya pendiri Google, 15 tahun lalu. Bahwa informasi datang saat dibutuhkan. Dengan teknologi Augmented Reality, maka segala informasi yang diperlukan bisa tampil dalam kaca mata. Google Glass juga bisa menelpon, bikin janji, menampilkan peta, memotret/merekam dan melakukan fungsi smartphone.



Perangkat ini masih terbatas jumlahnya. Harganya juga cukup mahal, US $ 1.500, atauu hampir Rp 15 juta. Simak berita teknologi lainnya di sini.



GUARDIAN | NUR ROCHMI



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          Aneka Gadget Unik di Mobile World Congress   

TEMPO.CO, Spanyol - Inovasi perangkat bergerak terus bermunculan. Kini semakin kabur batas antara telepon seluler dan komputer tablet. Lantaran perbedaannya kian tipis, muncullah tren menyatukan keduanya dalam satu perangkat.



Pada Mobile World Congress 2013 di Gedung Fira Gran Via, Barcelona, sejumlah vendor menunjukkan kreativitas mereka dalam memadukan ponsel dengan tablet. Berikut ini beberapa gadget pilihan berdesain unik.



PADFONE INFINITY


Inilah ponsel berdesain paling unik. Selain berfungsi sebagai ponsel, Padfone bisa dipasangkan pada docking berbentuk tablet yang disebut Padfone Infinity Station. Tampilan ponsel akan muncul pada layar tablet dan bisa digunakan layaknya sebuah tablet biasa.



Ponsel dengan bentang layar 5 inci ini memakai sistem operasi Android Jelly Bean. Prosesor Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 berkecepatan 1,7 gigahertz quad-core dipadukan dengan prosesor grafik Adreno 320 GPU.



Layar dengan teknologi super in-plane switching menghasilkan tampilan yang cerah dengan kerapatan 441 piksel per inci dan resolusi 1920 x 1080 piksel. Kamera utama berkapasitas 13 megapiksel serta dilengkapi dengan lampu flash dan kamera depan 2 megapiksel.



Padfone Infinity sudah dilengkapi dengan konektivitas 4G LTE, dengan kecepatan hingga 100 megabita per detik. Hanya, untuk memilikinya, kita perlu merogoh kantong cukup dalam. Sebab, harganya sekitar Rp 12,6 juta.





ASCEND P2


Ponsel ini merupakan besutan perusahaan pengembang jaringan telekomunikasi Ascend P2. Kecepatan merupakan andalan utamanya. Ini merupakan lanjutan dari produk Ascend P1, yang juga telah memiliki teknologi 4G LTE versi awal.



P2 diklaim memiliki kemampuan mengunduh 150 megabita per detik serta mengunggah 520 kilobita per detik. Ponsel ini memiliki ketebalan 8,4 milimeter dan berjalan dengan sistem operasi Android Jelly Bean.



Prosesornya berkecepatan 1,5 gigahertz quad-core, dengan kapasitas simpan 16 gigabita dan memori internal 1 gigabita. Layarnya memiliki rentang diagonal 4,7 inci, dengan resolusi 1280 x 720 piksel atau 315 piksel per inci.



Resolusi kamera depan ponsel ini 1,3 megapiksel, sedangkan kamera utama 13 megapiksel. Berbeda dengan Padfone Infinity, yang memiliki cangkang alumunium, Ascend P2 dibalut dengan plastik mengkilap dan dibanderol sekitar Rp 5 juta.





GALAXY NOTE 8.0


Inilah tablet andalan Samsung untuk memperkuat jajaran tabletnya. Setelah Galaxy Note I dan II serta Galaxy Note 10.1, perusahaan asal Korea Selatan itu meluncurkan produk yang semakin mengaburkan batas antara tablet dan ponsel.



Galaxy Note 8.0 termasuk dalam kategori phablet atau phone plus tablet, yang merupakan kelanjutan dari tablet Galaxy Tab 7—yang memiliki luas layar 7 inci dan diluncurkan tiga tahun lalu.



Salah satu kelebihan Galaxy Note 8.0 adalah pena Stylus S. Phablet berotak empat inti 1,6 gigahertz ini memakai platform Android Jelly Bean. Layarnya memiliki resolusi 1280 x 800 piksel atau 189 piksel per inci.



Samsung menyediakan memori internal sebesar 2 gigabita, dengan pilihan kapasitas penyimpanan 32 dan 64 gigabita. Untuk menambah kapasitas simpan, ada slot microSD. Untuk konektivitas, ada dua pilihan, yakni Wi-Fi dan LTE.





ZTE GRAND MEMO


Dengan rentang layar 5,7 inci, ZTE mencoba mengikuti jejak seri Galaxy Note. Yang menarik, tebal ponsel ini hanya 8,5 milimeter. Ini lebih tipis dari Galaxy Note II dan LG Optimus G Pro.



Grand Memo bisa dibilang termasuk kelas phablet. Sedangkan prosesor yang dicangkokkan adalah Qualcomm 1,7 gigahertz, dengan sistem operasi Android Jelly Bean. Untuk kenyamanan audio, ZTE memasang teknologi Dolby Digital.



ZTE mencoba bersaing dengan perangkat kelas atas lainnya dengan memasang resolusi kamera utama hingga 13 megapiksel yang disertai lampu flash. Sedangkan kamera depannya hanya beresolusi 1 megapiksel.



BUDI RIZA



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          On Democracy.io: …I don’t get it.   
Alex Howard reported yesterday on the release of Democracy.io, a sleek new tool for emailing members of Congress.  It’s a nice tool, built with the support of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, based on open datasets created by the Sunlight Foundation. I … Continue reading
          Temer entra na História pela porta dos fundos   

Não que o advogado Michel Temer, vice de Dilma Rousseff — chapa nascida da aliança entre PMDB e PT, negociada em bases nada republicanas —, fosse de absoluta confiança. Mas, político rodado, presidente da Câmara dos Deputados três vezes e do próprio partido, Michel Temer assumiu no impeachment de Dilma com o trunfo de, com base em toda esta expertise de transitar com facilidade pelo Congresso, poder aprovar, em pouco menos de dois anos, as principais reformas de que o Brasil necessita para voltar a crescer. Conquistaria lugar de destaque na República.

Temer conseguiria, de fato, lugar na História, mas como o primeiro presidente em exercício a ser denunciado por corrupção. O passado e as práticas do PMDB — em especial, do grupo do presidente na Câmara, em conexão com o encarcerado Eduardo Cunha — foram mais fortes que possíveis intenções de Temer de abrilhantar a biografia. Por isso, manteve os esquemas do fisiologismo do toma lá dá cá, e, como se vê, não obstruiu o fluxo de dinheiro de propina pelos subterrâneos do partido. Ao contrário, transferiu o propinoduto para o porão do Palácio do Jaburu, já na condição de presidente da República.

Encaminhada na segunda à noite ao Supremo Tribunal pelo procurador-geral da República, Rodrigo Janot, a denúncia de corrupção passiva se baseia em depoimento e gravação de conversa com o presidente feitos pelo empresário Joesley Batista, do grupo JBS. Mas não só. Joesley, segundo acordo de delação premiada assinado com a PGR, colaborou, ainda, em uma “operação controlada”, nos termos da legislação, em que, além de gravações, foi feito vídeo da entrega de mala com R$ 500 mil ao deputado Rodrigo Loures (PMDB-PR), indicado por Temer ao empresário para tratar de “tudo”, de qualquer assunto de interesse de Joesley.

Somadas, as provas sustentam uma denúncia sólida contra Temer: gravação do presidente indicando Loures para Joesley abordar temas subterrâneos, na falta do ex-ministro Geddel Vieira, sob investigação; Loures, também em gravação, dispondo-se a defender interesses de Joesley no Cade e na CVM; e o acerto de uma generosa mesada a Loures, em troca da ajuda na solução de uma pendência com a Petrobras sobre o preço do gás cobrado a uma termelétrica da JBS.

O quadro se fecha com um depoimento do executivo do JBS Ricardo Saud comprovando ser correta a evidência de que Loures recebia o dinheiro em nome de Temer. Os dois, como disse o executivo, teriam bela “aposentadoria” . Pois, paga ao longo de 25 a 30 anos, a propina chegaria a centenas de milhões.

O presidente decidiu rebater a acusação da PGR em pronunciamento, ontem à tarde, no Planalto, diante de uma plateia de aliados, com os quais espera contar na votação da denúncia, a ser enviada à Câmara pelo Supremo. Mas, em vez de responder a questões objetivas da acusação, partiu para o ataque a Janot. Para Temer, a PGR “reinventou o Código Penal”, ao instituir a “denúncia por ilação”. Mais: a delação de Joesley Batista foi negociada por um ex-procurador que trabalhara com o procurador-geral e, por este trabalho, teria ganhado muito dinheiro. Aproveitou para insinuar que Janot teria recebido parte do pagamento, mas disse que não faria a denúncia, porque, assim, repetiria a acusação da PGR contra ele.

É muito difícil que a aplicação do velho chavão — a melhor defesa é o ataque — funcione diante de tantos indícios e provas em sentido contrário. Para descredenciar a gravação feita por Joesley da conversa noturna no porão do Jaburu, Temer insistiu com o laudo feito por perito contratado por sua defesa, quando a Polícia Federal acabara de atestar como verdadeiro o áudio. As 294 paralisações da gravação, segundo a PF, não são intervenções fraudulentas, mas característica do gravador, que para quando ninguém está falando.

Ainda há mais acusações a caminho contra Temer. A de obstrução da Justiça foi reforçada com a elucidação, pela PF, de trechos que eram inaudíveis. A criação de obstáculos para a ação do Estado na repressão ao crime ficou configurada quando Joesley e Temer trataram da ajuda financeira a Eduardo Cunha e a Lúcio Funaro, operador financeiro de Cunha e de outros do PMDB.

Joesley fazia pagamentos periódicos a Cunha e Funaro, em troca do silêncio dos dois. Houve grande controvérsia em torno de algumas palavras, mas o trabalho feito nos laboratórios da PF reforça a acusação do procurador-geral de que Temer, naquela noite, estimulou o empresário a continuar com os pagamentos aos dois. Esta é uma passagem tóxica para Michel Temer.

Na segunda-feira, o presidente aproveitou solenidade no Planalto para dar um grito de guerra: “Nada nos destruirá, nem a mim, nem aos ministros” . Resta saber como. À noite, depois de formalizada a acusação, Temer se reuniu em Palácio com o ministro Moreira Franco, da Secretaria-Geral da Presidência; a advogada-geral da União, Grace Mendonça, e advogados que o defendem no STF. As tropas de Temer, porém, são mais numerosas.

Elas já devem estar fazendo intenso trabalho junto aos membros da Comissão de Constituição e Justiça, para onde a presidente do Supremo, Cármen Lúcia, enviará a denúncia. Conseguir que a CCJ rejeite o pedido — mesmo que ele siga de qualquer forma ao plenário — é importante para Temer. Deverá ser feito “o diabo”, nos termos usados por Dilma Rousseff, na obtenção de votos na comissão. Caberá vigilância estreita sobre as transações que inevitavelmente transcorrerão na Câmara.

São conhecidas as manobras para trocas de deputados com assento na CCJ, para se garantirem resultados nas votações. Nesta hora, pesam os vínculos e compadrios construídos por Temer e seu grupo durante muito tempo de convívio no Congresso. A não ser que conte a impopularidade recorde do presidente. Mas ele jogará tudo para fazer morrer na Câmara a acusação, evitando que chegue aos 11 ministros do Supremo, Corte muito diferente do TSE.

O resto é zelar pelos trâmites constitucionais, sem manobras protelatórias, para se desatar o nó político-institucional, pelas regras legais. A economia ainda emite sinais positivos decorrentes do que pôde ser feito até o porão do Jaburu ser iluminado pela delação de Joesley. Mas seria um milagre o PIB se desconectar de uma crise que tem nome: Michel Miguel Elias Temer Lulia. Porém, importa agora é que as instituições decidam, essencial para manter a segurança jurídica, independentemente de qual será o desfecho.


          A Valentine's Treat   

Ask any race organizer and he will most likely agree with me. While a runner’s day starts a few hours prior to a race, a race organizer’s starts on the day he said yes. 

How long does it take to get a race organized? The difference between this race and my first (hospital activity) and second (school activity) race directing duties was on the level of participation. This was an open run on a provincial scale.


My day started about 2 weeks prior when my proposal last year for a quarterly run was approved by the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur.

Dubbed Valentine’s 8k and 5k Fun Run, my proposed race was unique in itself. Agusan del Sur divided into 2 Congressional districts since the latest elections will have 2 starting points but one finish line, the Governor’s residence.





This race will also usher in the 80th birthday celebration of the province's matriarch considered "Ang Inahan sa Agusan del Sur", former Governor Valentina Galido Plaza.

District 1 will have a hilly 8k from Prosperidad Municipal Hall with the gun being fired by none other than former Governor now Congresswoman Tina Plaza. Running the 8 on this one with its unforgiving elevations will feel like 10.  


Newly formed District 2 will have a flat 5k from neighboring San Francisco town, its gun start fired by Congresswoman Bebs Mellana. 

All runners will converge at Governor Eddie Bong Plaza’s residence in Patin-ay where Certificates and snacks await the finishers, as well as, prizes for the Top 3 finishers.





With the support of the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur, anchored by the Regional Trial Court Branch 6, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Agusan del Sur Chapter and the D.O.  Plaza Memorial Hospital Medics, the race started amidst foggy and cloudy conditions, perfect climate for runners.

And with over 300 registrants for the 5k division and more than 50 runners for the 8k, the race saw running enthusiasts as young as 10 to as old as 67, this despite the lack of full information dissemination through radio, print and broadcast media as the organizers were keeping the numbers down for safety reasons.

Special thanks to the following:

   -Former Governor Valentina Galido Plaza
   -Office of the Provincial Governor, Hon. Adolph Edward G. Plaza
   -Office of the Provincial Administrator
   -Office of the Provincial Sports Coordinator
   -Regional Trial Court Branch 6
   -IBP Agusan del Sur
   -Philippine National Police and Highway Patrol Group
   -Search and Rescue Agusan del Sur (SARAS)
   -Medical First Responders (MFR) 
   -Patin-ay National High School
   -Office of the Vice Mayor Frederick Mark Mellana, Prosperidad
   -Office of the Mayor of San Francisco
   -Office of House Representative Hon. Valentina "Tina" G. Plaza
   -Office of House Respresentative Hon. Evelyn "Bebs" Mellana
   -Edward P. Mellana

 
  -and the D.O. Plaza Memorial Hospital Medics composed of our tireless doctors (Lor, Marge, Erryll, Elmore, Susan, Mama Bau, Viern, Richard, Rhadz, Alain and the rest) and nurses (Kat, Alvin, Ed, Luchie, Bepven, Daryl and the rest) for making this event a success.

Mandated by the Governor himself who is an active outdoorsman, a planned 10 miler to a half marathon distance (21k) is in the works to herald the celebration of the Naliyagan Festival in June. The race will involve neighboring towns and NGOs so the number of registrants will be higher. 

This is probably one of those times when I want 3 of me, 1 to run the race, 1 to take photos, and the other to supervise.

Watch out for it!

Until then, see you on the road runners!

Photos at our fan page. Facebook: DOPMH Medics

          Harvesting Liberty   

Harvesting Liberty is a short film that documents visionaries Michael Lewis (of Growing Warriors) and Rebecca Burgess (of Fibershed) as they collaborate to reintroduce industrial hemp to the American landscape.

Growing Warriors is a Kentucky-based farming program designed to train, assist, and equip military veterans with the skills, tools and supplies needed to grow organic produce for their families and communities. growingwarriors.org

Fibershed develops regenerative textile systems that are based on carbon farming, regional manufacturing, and public education. fibershed.com

Sign the petition to legalize industrial hemp: hemp4everyone.org. Industrial hemp is a crop that has the potential to lower the environmental impacts of textile production, empower small-scale farmers and create jobs in a wide variety of industries. Two non-profit groups, Fibershed and Growing Warriors, are working to reintroduce industrial hemp into Kentucky—and eventually U.S. agriculture. On July 4, 2016, a petition will be delivered urging Congress to pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015/2016 (S.134 and H.R. 525) legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States. We invite you to learn more about industrial hemp and sign the petition here: hemp4everyone.org

Patagonia, through our membership in 1% For The Planet®, provides cash grants and in-kind services to thousands of community-based groups working to create positive change for the planet in their own backyards. patagonia.com/grants

Cast: Patagonia

Tags: Dan Malloy, Hemp and Patagonia


          Mark L. Hopkins: Here we go again on health care    
The Republican Health Care Plan is now before Congress. We have been told since the passage of The Affordable Healthcare Act back in 2009 that the Republicans intended to replace that legislation with something much better. All of us, Republicans and Democrats, would appreciate having a comprehensive health care plan that meets the needs of our citizens. The experts tell us that the current plan has not solved the two big health care issues which are access to services and containing costs. The [...]
          Aliens Attack And Congress Goes Extreme In CBS' Political Satire 'BrainDead'   
Remember that meteorite that smashed into Russia a few years ago, with enough people filming it as it came to Earth to cause a brief Internet sensation? Robert and Michelle King certainly do. The creators of The Good Wife use some of those images in the opening moments of their new CBS series, BrainDead, to set up a bizarre but very enjoyable hypothetical scenario. Here's the weird what-if: What if a meteorite like that one is recovered by Russians and forwarded to the United States for further study and eventual display in the Smithsonian? And what if that happens right at the start of a government shutdown, allowing the outer-space rock to burst open undetected, spilling out a veritable army of ant-like space bugs? And what if those bugs have the power, and the inclination, to creep around inside the Beltway and into the ears of politicians and their staffers, eating and mutating their brains? And what if those brain mutations result in politicians who are partisan in the extreme —
          Democrats realize they have a problem: Part 2 – Washington Examiner   

Washington Examiner Democrats realize they have a problem: Part 2Washington ExaminerTo that end, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced this week the creation of an office whose head has been tasked with the singular objective of training Democratic candidates on how to connect with voters in the Midwest. and more » Source link

link: Democrats realize they have a problem: Part 2 – Washington Examiner


          Business Groups Want Congress to Step Up Pace on Tax Overhaul   

Four of Washington’s largest business groups have a renewed message for Congress: Get moving on a tax plan already. Source link

link: Business Groups Want Congress to Step Up Pace on Tax Overhaul


          A Housing Stipend for Congress? There’s a Better Way – Bloomberg   

Bloomberg A Housing Stipend for Congress? There’s a Better WayBloombergThanks to Washington’s unique constitutional status, Congress has more power over its operations than over any other city. The city has “home rule,” to be sure, but that home rule was a gift from Congress, and Congress can take back that gift any time … and…

link: A Housing Stipend for Congress? There’s a Better Way – Bloomberg


          Governo vai pedir crédito extra de R$ 102 mi para retomar emissão do passaporte   
O governo federal informou que enviará hoje (28) ao Congresso Nacional projeto de lei propondo abertura de crédito suplementar acima de R$ 102 milhões para o Ministério da Justiça regularizar os pagamentos para emissão de passaportes. A Polícia Federal (PF) suspendeu a confecção de novos passaportes a partir das 22h dessa terça-feira (27). De acordo com nota da PF, a suspensão ocorre por causa da "insuficiência de orçamento destinado às atividades de controle migratório e emissão de documentos de viagem". Conforme nota divulgada hoje pelo Ministério do Planejamento, como a abertura do crédito é urgente, a Comissão Mista de Orçamento pode votar o projeto ainda nesta semana e o Congresso Nacional, na próxima semana. "A abertura de crédito suplementar no orçamento só pode ser feita via projeto de lei e não medida provisória", diz a nota do ministério. A abertura do crédito suplementar não descumpre as normas do ajuste fiscal, de acordo com o ministério. Agendamentos Segundo o ministério, "os agendamentos e requisições para passaportes estão mantidos assim como os pedidos de agendamentos já realizados serão atendidos normalmente pela Polícia Federal". O governo afirma que a entrega dos passaportes será regularizada nos próximos dias.  
          Quinnipiac Poll: 58 Percent Oppose GOP Healthcare Plan   
Fifty-eight percent of Americans oppose the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, with 71 percent against Congress making aid cuts to Medicaid, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
          Report: When Drawing District Lines, Single-Party Control Produces 'Extreme Maps'   
Using data from the 2012, 2014, and 2016 election cycles, a new report examines how states draw congressional maps and focuses in on the manipulation of district lines.
          Levi Tillemann, Obama administration alum, set to join crowded race to unseat Mike Coffman   
The Aurora Democrat had been publicly flirting with a run for Congress since mid-May, when he called President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders "a unique and terrible threat to American democracy."
          Today in History: Liberia   

Today in History–July 26–the Library of Congress features Liberia, declared an independent republic on this day in 1847. Formerly a colony of the American Colonization Society—organized in 1817 to resettle free black Americans in West Africa—Joseph Jenkins Roberts was elected the first president of the republic in 1848. Find out more by visiting the Today in History section, then click the links below to […]

The post Today in History: Liberia appeared first on TPS-Barat Primary Source Nexus.


          Today in History: Amistad Mutiny Survivors Released   

Today in History–March 9–the Library of Congress features the Amistad mutiny survivors, released on this day in 1841 by the Supreme Court. Former president John Quincy Adams successfully argued the case and the former captives  eventually returned to Africa. Learn more by visiting the Today in History section, then clicking the links below to read Adams argument and access more […]

The post Today in History: Amistad Mutiny Survivors Released appeared first on TPS-Barat Primary Source Nexus.


          Cirurgia de estapedectomia do ouvido direito (Otosclerose)   


Olá!! Vocês acreditam que eu já operei do ouvido direito? Como falei no último post a cirurgia seria dia 15 de julho, mas o médico adiou para dia 01 de agosto devido a um congresso que ele teve que participar. Isso foi bom, porque me restabeleci da sinusite e me preparei melhor para o grande dia.

A internação foi ao meio-dia, engraçado que mesmo já tendo passado pela cirurgia de estapedectomia do ouvido esquerdo há 4 anos, dessa vez eu estava mais ansiosa e receosa. Eu confio muito em Deus, e acredito que ele tem formas de nos prevenir de certas coisas que poderiam acontecer conosco. A cirurgia estava marcada para dia 15 de julho e a secretária do médico ligou para cancelar, fiquei chateada no dia porque estava tudo programado certinho, férias de escola da minha filha e do meu marido, e tivemos que mudar tudo de uma hora para outra.

Passando 3 dias da ligação, meu marido estava indo trabalhar depois do almoço e eu estava na garagem onde temos uma rede, olhei para ela e pensei, quando eu operar vou ficar aqui na rede, ler e usar a internet, aqui é mais quentinho. Eu já pensava isso antes, então, resolvi sentar, e quando fiz isso a rede não estava presa direito e fui para o chão, um tombo feio, pois bati a minha cabeça fortemente na porta do carro, e doeu a tarde toda. Acredito que o cancelamento da cirurgia não foi em vão, imaginem se eu tivesse operado dia 15? No dia 18 já teria perdido tudo, agradeci muito a Deus por ter cuidado de mim.

Continuando, a cirurgia foi mais ou menos as 15h, acordei na sala de recuperação com a enfermeira insistindo para eu respirar e ainda bem porque eu me peguei várias vezes apagada e acordava com a insistência dela “respira...respira”. Logo fui para o quarto, onde tudo rodava, e me lembrei da primeira cirurgia que a enfermeira me orientou a ficar com os olhos fechado que logo passaria, fiz isso e logo passou. Mesmo já tendo o ouvido esquerdo já operado eu senti diferença na audição, sons estavam ainda mais claros, passei a noite no hospital e sai no dia seguinte logo cedo.

Estou há 8 dias em recuperação fazendo o repouso necessário. É muito importante seguir as recomendações médicas corretamente, evitar movimentos bruscos com a cabeça, não molhar o ouvido, não tomar café, chocolate e chá. Sentia o ouvido tapado e tive muito mais zumbidos, mas tudo dentro do normal porque o curativo seca e tem esses sintomas. No dia 8 de agosto fui no hospital tirar o curativo, o Dr Andy fez a limpeza aspirando o ouvido, A sensação na hora que tira o curativo e aspira é um pouco desconfortável e tive um pouco de tontura.

Logo após a retirada do curativo eu ouvi tudo muito alto, a voz do médico e o barulho do aparelhinho que ele colocava no ouvido. Posso dizer que ouvi muito mais do que quando operei o ouvido esquerdo, o médico disse que é normal, preciso usar algodão pra sair na rua, e em casa estão precisando tomar cuidado porque qualquer barulho me assusta...que felicidade gente!!!

Embora eu tenha achado que algumas coisas mudaram no hospital tenho que falar que a equipe médica e os enfermeiros são pessoas muito dedicadas e estão sempre a disposição, agradeço muito.  Agradeço também a Deus que cuidou de tudo, e a minha família que me ama muito e me cuidam com muito carinho, Amo vocês!!!  ♥ 




          Preparação para cirurgia de estapedotomia do ouvido direito (Otosclerose)    


Olá voltei está semana pra contar pra vocês como foi até aqui com os exames e o retorno ao médico no hospital CEMA. Fiz  todos exames e passei no cardiologista para avaliação cardiológica conforme ele me pediu. Mas como estou com uma crise de sinusite ele prescreveu um antibiótico e um antialérgico para eu já começar tomar antes da cirurgia, na verdade peguei uma gripe forte e não tratei direito e isso reverteu para sinusite que de vez em quando volta.

 Mas se Deus quiser até o dia da cirurgia estarei bem, com a sinusite os zumbidos aumentaram mais ainda, eu tenho esperança que operando eu possa ficar livres deles, tem hora que tenho impressão que tenho zumbidos no ouvido operado também, mas é tão intenso que me confundo, parece que tenho uma orquestra, fábrica e grilos dentro da cabeça, só dá um pouco de alívio de dia porque tem barulhos, e a noite com silêncio fica muito muito pior, o Dr. Andy me explicou que com a perda da audição acontece o aumento do zumbido mesmo.

Lembro que na primeira cirurgia eu talvez pagaria  o custo prótese de teflon, mas o convênio cobriu e não tive esse gasto, desta vez  foi pedido a prótese e caneta com conjunto de brocas, e graças a Deus tudo foi liberado.

Preciso contar para vocês como me sinto neste momento, estou um pouco apreensiva porque se acontecer algo errado posso perder a audição deste ouvido de vez, sendo que preciso para o resto da vida tomar cuidado com pancadas e esforços que possam deslocar a prótese do ouvido operado há 4 anos, mas li tantos depoimentos aqui no blog e em outros sites de pessoas que fizeram a cirurgia dos 2 ouvidos e estão super bem e confio muito em Deus e no Dr. Andy e sua equipe. Acredito que vai dar tudo certo. Faltam poucos dias e peço que orem e torçam para que dê tudo certo. Depois da cirurgia eu volto para contar tudo para vocês. Até lá!!

Obs: A cirurgia foi adiada pelo médico pra início do mês de agosto, o motivo é um congresso no qual  há a necessidade da presença dele, achei bom porque posso me recuperar melhor da sinusite até o dia.




          Comment on Bill to make Copyright Register a Presidential appointment “mystifying” by Colorado copyright conference turns five - District Dispatch   
[…] update on copyright issues currently of attention in Congress. Registrants were most interested in pending legislation regarding the appointment of the next Copyright Register, which would move that responsibility from […]
          Comment on Senate Dear Appropriator campaign by the numbers by Lisa Lindle   
Thanks for asking, Sue! There has been a little confusion about another IMLS letter addressing museum funding but NOT LSTA. Some Members of Congress appear to have thought both letters were related to same issue, though we tried repeatedly to make sure they understood the difference. It appears that this is the case here where the Senator thought he had all of IMLS covered. We are reaching out to offices that signed the Museums letter but not the LSTA letter and urge them to sign the LSTA letter next year. We made excellent progress this year and hope to build on that next year with more signatures.
          Boycott Lonely Planet for Burma?   
THE TRADE UNION CONGRESS has called for a boycott of all Lonely Planet travel guides until the publisher pulls their Burma edition from the shelves, saying that the country’s tourism trade only filters more money into the hands of a brutal regime. The TUC has posted an online petition, though the BBC, which now owns […]
          HVCRE: Busting Myths   
The Trump administration and Congress have lots on the agenda: tax reform, financial regulation reform, job creation (think infrastructure spending, maybe?) and more. While it seems unlikely that much of anything “real” is going to happen anytime...
By: Dechert LLP
          Three Reasons, Three Nos   
The following is the audio transcript from “Wall Street Automotive” – WTBQ - NY Radio 1110AM / 99.1 FM – show dated December 13, 2008.

Following a debate on loan guarantees for the big three:

VO: Robb

“As we all remember, in 1979-1980, Chrysler requested $1.5 billion in Federal loan guarantees. The structure of these Federal loan guarantees was underscored to provide "Chapter 11" type restructuring opportunities without its filling. [there was strings attached] Congress required Chrysler to obtain private financing for the $1.5 billion they were seeking (the government was co-signing the note, not printing the money) and Chrysler was also required to obtain another $2 billion in "commitments or concessions" for the financing of its operations. In essence most of Chrysler’s suppliers, union workers and contractors were forced to re-negotiate with Chrysler in order to assure their own viability. Some of Chrysler's suppliers accepted ten cents on each dollar rather than to loose Chrysler as a client.

Lee Iacocca stated openly "equality of sacrifice" and most Americans bought into his sales-man-ship, after all Mr. Iacocca spoke not of a pending doom, rather he talked to the opportunities to lead and how each and every American can participate in his turn-around. The loan was paid, the K-Car and the Mini-Van was created and Chrysler was on a roll again and Mr. Iacocca was an American hero.

Today (concerning) Chrysler

81% of Chrysler is owned by Cerberus Capital LLC, a privately owned company with over 100 billion dollars in assets. If you go to Cerberus' web page and read their mission statement its clear they are experts in turning under performing companies around, this is what they do, this is why they purchased Chrysler in the first place. It’s clear from Congressional hearings Chrysler's CEO Bob Nardelli has made no effort to tap into Cerberus capital quoting “loaning money to Chrysler would represent a conflict of interest with other Cerberus investments”.

Back in July 2008, when the price of oil started to escalate, Chrysler had over 71% of its production focused on trucks and SUV type vehicles, Chrysler's only objective was to make fast money, paying less attention to customer driven products, quality and its own future.

Giving Chrysler federal government money without the parent company participating, flat out no.

(concerning) General Motors:

This is easier, let’s just outline the following brands: Pontiac, Buick, Saturn, Hummer, and GMC. GM may be illustrating different brands representing different social milieus, however the truth is GM’s real reasons for its many brands was focused on the rewards of critical mass, shared platforms, common components - looking ahead only to increase its operating margins. GM’s critical mass approach became obvious to most consumers back in the mid 1970's and became chronic in the 1990's as overlapping carlines between its brands became more and more obvious.

Sometime during the early 2000's GM tried to turn this around, however most consumers simply got tired of waiting and found Honda's, Toyota's and other Asian brands most welcome to fill their automotive needs.

The loss of consumer brand loyalty between GM's divisions was rapid, and continues to this day.

Giving General Motors federal government money without a clean sheet business plan, flat out no.

(concerning) Ford Motor Company:

Without going into too much detail here, I have the most faith in Alan Mulally, an outsider to the auto industry. Ford has capital today only because it borrowed some money last year. Ford is a smaller "ocean liner" in the automotive sea and can maneuver faster even during these turbulent times.

Ford appears stronger; however their appearance is more about their financial condition rather than their products or consumer demand. So short term Ford looks like it has some viability, however the next 24 months future car launches will prove their real strength. The most successful, efficient and modern automotive assembly plant is owned by Ford in Brazil, look for this trend to continue.

Additionally, I anticipate Ford will sell Volvo within 60 days, this will raise $3 - $4 billion dollars to the balance sheet, at the same time anticipate a more robust common stock as well, as GM share holders flee to more stable ownerships.

Giving Ford federal government money when they haven't really asked for it, flat out no.

So there it is, three reasons, three nos.

Without loans anticipate Chrysler being the first to go Chapter 11, Cerberus shows least sincerity and care and Bob Nardelli (the same person that almost drove Home-depot to the ground) is (in my opinion) a terrible leader.

GM will survive - Chevy is GM's Honda if managed properly. GM will be smaller, leaner, more global than ever before, it may take some time and some relocation of assembly plants, but I'm confident GM will be around for another 100 years.

As discussed Ford appears to have already taken some measures on a turn around, suppliers and UAW negotiations will hang on Chrysler and GM's fate”.
          Automotive Hula-hoops   
The day before GM met with congress, GM provided the complete Congressional presentation to all its dealers.

Before I opened the file I froze and thought …

”This has to be the most powerful presentation ever created by man. Few can imagine the force of GM gathering the best and the brightest, all focused on a single mission, create the most compelling argument ever made in order to survive. High fives must have been flying across the room, “we will blow them away” cheers in its development.”

Then I opened the file…

Scrolled down,
Down,
Down further…
Something to the effect of “With / without loans”
“Dismal forecasts”, “Car that can go 40 miles”
Shure, shure, shure… keep reading, reading…
and then …

The End.

Ok, one more time maybe I missed something.

But it wasn’t there.

Then I thought of the movie Hudsucker Proxy, a young Tim Robbins pitch “you know for kids” as he tries to sell the hula-hoop to an aging board of directors.

I guess I was hoping for a hula-hoop in GM’s presentation (replace with Ford or Chrysler at any time) something that would attract younger buyers, those who care more about text messaging and global warming than horse power.

For younger car buyers, the big three’s pitch to congress must be like watching CBS, NBC and ABC defend itself from You-tube.

I know it’s not polite to ask, but we can conclude (by observations alone) that most automotive executives are over 45 years of age (congressional folks as well).

Experience is great, however without an injection of aspiration and enthusiasm from a diverse talent pool, automotive hula-hoops like the Model A, Cadillac V8 and Mini Van, would have never been created.

Detroit has tons of white paper ready to pen the next MB A-class, VW TDI, and Smart cars but unfortunately congress (and the public) see Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers.

Suggestion for the big three if there is a round three.

Do Work
          American Innocence   
The origins of oil production in the United States can be traced back to Titusville, Pennsylvania 1859. John D. Rockefeller turned oil into a “Standard” household name.

The origins of oil production in the Middle East can be traced back to Persia in 1908. King Ibn Saud, founder of modern Saudi Arabia was somewhat understated in his quest for oil.

Early Saudi oil production was similar to hosting a dinner party... foreign dignitaries came hungry and the Middle East was quick to learn how to entertain.

One Ford assembly plant and industrial revolution later, America's appetite for oil increased dramatically. World War I and II would prove to be the "coming out" parties for oil as a strategic tool - however it would take a Baby Boom to define oil as a real means to enjoy life.

The term "oil crisis" was founded in 1973 - members of OPEC announced, as a result of the Yom Kippur War, they would no longer ship oil to nations who had supported Israel in its conflict with Syria and Egypt.

Gas lines formed – American’s demanded answers!

Then, like a passing thunderstorm, the lines stopped and oil shined upon us once again.

The 1979 (or second) oil crisis began in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and the Ayatollah Khomeini taking control. The Ayatollah's immediate interest wasn’t oil, so he shut it down and unwittingly started a widespread panic among Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations. The immediate concern was Iran's stability and willingness as an oil partner. As Mid East oil production stalled - prices rose and shortages, either planned or accidential, were on the horizon.

Gas lines formed and once again American’s demanded answers!

Then, as before, the lines stopped and oil was everywhere.

Today, April fools day, Congress met with top executives of the country’s five biggest oil companies and pressed them to explain why they should continue to get billions of dollars in tax breaks when they made $123 billion last year and motorists are paying record gasoline prices at the pump.

Tomorrow we shall demand answers!

American innocence is applauded, the era of cheep oil is over.
          A child said, What is the grass?   

 

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,
And here you are the mother's laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and
children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
luckier.
 

          No Global Health without Human Resources For Health (HRH): The Nursing Lens   
Reprint from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.longwoods.com/content/24204" target="_blank">Nursing Leadership. 27(4) December 2014</a> Abstract ICN and WHO Collaborate on Emerging HRH Strategy This year on June 17, at the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Congress in Seoul Korea, ICN and the World Health Organization (WHO) will hold a joint consultation specifically focused on health human resources. WHO is in the process of developing a Health Human Resources for Health Strategy (HRH) to be tabled at the 2016 World Health Assembly (WHA), during the annual meeting of member states where policy issues are debated and decided upon. The development of the HRH Strategy is critical as it is fundamental to the achievement of all health goals in the post 2015 agenda. The role of nursing in such a strategy is of utmost importance to ICN and the 16,000,000 nurses practicing worldwide.&nbsp; In preparation for the meeting, the President of ICN, and some Canadian experts in the field of HRH with the support of the Canadian Nurses Association have developed this evidenced based HRH opinion piece to frame some of the central issues. In addition to the ICN consultation, WHO will be holding various regional and other consultations with national and other stakeholders. &nbsp; &nbsp;
          Nokia introduces Nokia Lumia 520 & Nokia 720 at MWC   
  It’s time for the Mobile World Congress 2013, and that means it’s time for phone companies all over the world to converge in Barcelona and show off their latest wares. One of the more interesting press events thus far has been Nokia’s; as well as showing off a raft of Nokia accessories they announced […]
          Pay element in the case of Loco Inspectors – 30% addition to 7th CPC pay matrix for retirement benefits   

Pay element in the case of Loco Inspectors – 30% addition to 7th CPC pay matrix for retirement benefits – reg.

NFIR representation to Railway Board regarding Pay element in the case of Loco Inspectors

NFIR

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDIAN RAILWAYMEN

3,CHELMSFORD ROAD, NEW DELHI – 110 055

Affiliated to:

Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)

International Transport Workers’ Federation (IFT)

No. IV/RSAC/Conf./Pt.VII

Dated: 08/02/2017

The Secretary (E),

Railway Board,

New Delhi

Dear Sir,

Sub: Pay element in the case of Loco Inspectors – 30% addition to 7th CPC pay matrix for retirement benefits – reg.

Ref: (i) NFIR’s demand in the Board PNM meeting held on 22nd & 23rd December, 2016 for continuance of 55% & 30% pay element on 7th CPC pay matrix levels.

(ii) Railway Board’s letter No. E(P&A)II-2015/RS-25 dated 24/01/2017.

Pursuant to NFIR’s references and discussions held in the Railway Board PNM meeting on 22nd 23rd December, 2016, the Railway Board vide letter dated 24/01/2017 has issued instructions to the GMs of Zonal Railways to reckon add-on pay element of 55% on 7th CPC pay matrix levels for calculation of emoluments for the purpose of retirement benefits and 30% for other purposes to the running staff as per IREM provisions and extant instructions.

In the above context, NFIR brings to the notice of the Railway Board that in terms of the extant instructions (Railway Board’s letter No.E(P&A)II/83/RS-10(IV) dated 25/11/1992) contained in para 5.5 of Board’s letter dated 25/11/1992, the running staff deployed as Loco Inspectors are entitled for 30% addition to their basic pay for the purpose of pensionary benefits. Those Loco Inspectors retired/retiring w.e.f. January 2016 are required to be granted retirement benefits with 30% add on to their pay in the 7th CPC pay matrix level, but, however in the absence of Railway Board’s instructions, some Zonal Railways are entertaining doubts and denying benefit of 30% on revised pay matrix.

NFIR, therefore, requests the Railway Board to issue suitable clarification to the Zonal Railways to ensure 30% addition to the 7th CPC pay matrix of Loco Inspectors for payment of retiral benefit similar to running staff for whom 55% addition is allowed. A copy of the instruction issued may be endorsed to the Federation.

Yours faithfully,

(Dr. M. Raghavaiah)

General Secretary

Source : NFIR


          NFIR demands Cash Payment of wages to Railway employees for the month of December   

Invalidation of currency notes of Rs.500 and 1000 denominations – Hardships faced by Railway employees – NFIR demands Cash Payment of wages to Railway employees for the month of December

 

National Federation of Indian Railwaymen writes to Railway Board requesting cash payment of wages to Railway employees.

NFIR

National Federation of Indian Railwaymen

3, Chemlmsford Road, New Delhi – 110 055

Affiliated to:

Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)

International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)

No.I/3/Part-I

Dated: 10/12/2016

The Member Staff,

Railway Board,

New Delhi

The Financial Commissioner

Railway Board,

New Delhi

Dear Sir,

Sub: Invalidation of currency notes of Rs.500 and 1000 denominations – Hardships faced by Railway employees – Cash Payment of wages to Railway employees for the month of December, 20l6-reg.

Ref:

(i) NFIR’s letter o. I/3 Part I dated 16/11/2016 addressed to Railway Board (MS).

(ii) Railway Board’s letter No.20I6/E(LL)APW/I dated I7/1/2016.

(iii) Railway Board’s Circular No.2016/Cash-III Pay Advance/Misc dated l8th November,2016.

(iv) NFIR’s letter No.I/3/Part I dated 18/11/2016 addressed to MS.

(v) Railway Board’s reply to GS/NFIR vide letter No.2008/AC-II/21/9 (pt) dated 30/11/2016.

Federation is in receipt of reply dated 30th November, 2016 from the Railway Board. In this connection, the hardships being faced by the Railway employees are reiterated once again as below. The Railway employees are facing lot of hardships due to restrictions on drawal of their legitimate wages from their Bank Account. For November 2016 salary, only Rs. 10,000/- cash were paid to each Railway staff. However, due to continued restrictions, the Railway employees are not able to draw their wages adequately from the Banks for meeting their requirements.

It is therefore requested that Cash Payment of Rupees not less than 25,000 may be ensured to each Railway employee from out of December, 20l6 salary.

Yours faithfully,

(Dr.M.Raghavaiah)

General Secretary

Source : NFIR


          U.S. Coal Miners Hit Congress to Rally for Pension Protection | Reuters   
About 10,000 retired coal miners and their families descended on the U.S. Congress on Thursday to pressure lawmakers to pass stalled legislation that would prevent 22,000 of them from losing their pension and health benefits as soon as early 2017. A bipartisan group of senator …
          McCain Will Push For Ground Troops In Iraq, Syria If GOP Wins The Senate   
- If Republicans gain the Senate majority in November, President Barack Obama could face pressure from Congress to send ground troops into Iraq and Syria. "Frankly, I know of no military expert who believes we are going to defeat ISIS with this present strategy," Sen. John McC …
          Canadian (and maybe Mexican) Trade Retaliation?   

I often think that retaliatory measures taken by aggrieved parties in the WTO dispute settlement process are among the most interesting aspects of trade politics.*  US industry/policymakers may have to deal with retaliation from Canada, after the WTO ruled against the US in a dispute over mandatory meat labeling requirements.  Canada (and Mexico too, see here) has suggested that the US has not complied with the WTO’s ruling, justifying authorized trade retaliation against US products.
This kind of policy response is far from arbitrary or scattershot.  Countries deliberately identify industries that are politically important, and then they target them for retaliation by threatening to impose higher tariffs on their products.  The idea, of course, is that these industries will complain to the offending government to convince their representatives to implement the WTO decision, thus preventing the imposition of the punitive tariffs.  Here, because the Canadian government has determined that the US failed to implement the WTO ruling, it released a list of potential commodities that it might select for trade retaliation, including beef, pork, cheese, corn, steel pipes, wood furniture, cherries, rice, potatoes, maple syrup, chocolate and others (see here and here and here).**  Absent steps by the US to implement the WTO decision, or otherwise come to a settlement with Canada, the new tariffs could (eventually) come into effect.  The value of this disrupted trade would be pretty substantial, as one estimate sugggests that Canadian livestock producers have "lost $640 million annually because of COOL [i.e., the US labeling regulation], with similar losses in pork- approximately $500 million per year." (Here).
This list contains a lot of products that probably sound familiar if you follow trade disputes between the US and other countries.  Many of the products have previously been the subject of various “trade remedies” such as antidumping orders.  That such sensitive industries are being targeted is not surprising . . . after all, that’s kind of the point.  But what is also pretty interesting is that trade representatives might even target specific legislators at particular times.  As the US Congress debates amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill, we might see legislators that are instrumental to this process targeted -- maybe in an effort to get them to add an amendment to the Bill modifying the current US labeling regime.  In any case, it’ll be fun to watch this play out the next 18+ months to see if/how tariffs end up getting imposed on these products. 


* A while back I noted that Antigua threatened to ignore copyright protection to the detriment of US firms in response to the US failure to abide by a WTO ruling.  
**  full list from Canadian Ministry of Int'l Trade: 

          A Bunch of Acronyms and Some Trade Politics   
Last February Sarah and I* speculated in a short National Interest article that a EU-US trade deal (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP) could put pressure on the recent prevalence of investor-state dispute clauses (ISDs):
While ISD clauses are widespread, they usually exist within the context of treaties between states characterized by economic asymmetries. For instance, of the more than 2000 bilateral investment treaties (BITs) worldwide, none exist between two advanced industrial countries. The United States generally embraces investor-state dispute clauses; both their model free-trade agreement (FTA) and BIT contain such language. However, it is far from certain that a US-EU treaty would include an ISD clause. Generally, advanced industrial countries have shown they are more interested in promoting legal regimes that protect "their" multinationals while they are less willing to cede jurisdiction over investment disputes in which they might be defendants.
Today, via Simon Lester, we see that the EU is not super-thrilled with the idea of having an ISD in TTIP that is typical of US ISDs, although it's tough to know from the formal language exactly what the EU is after. Or as Lester puts it: 

What are the authors saying here? Are they saying: 
1. Investment protection and investor-state will only be included if high EU standards for investment protection, as opposed to the weaker U.S./Canadian standards, are met? 
or are they saying: 
2. Investment protection and investor-state will only be included if the usual provisions are weakened so as to ensure that public policy objectives can be pursued? 

I don't know the answer (perhaps Sarah could chime in?), but it seems clear that any ISD in TTIP will have to be different than that in the model US bilateral investment treaty. So far our article is holding up pretty well.

Meanwhile, Eyes on Trade doesn't like Obama's secrecy on another potential trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)**. They also nail the reason for the secrecy:
So why keep it a secret? Because Mr. Obama wants the agreement to be given fast-track treatment on Capitol Hill. Under this extraordinary and rarely used procedure, he could sign the agreement before Congress voted on it. And Congress’s post-facto vote would be under rules limiting debate, banning all amendments and forcing a quick vote.
Eyes on Trade think all of this is severely crippling democracy. In a way it is, it by "democracy" you mean legislators favoring parochial interests over the good of the nation as a whole. The Congress has often given the President fast-track authority. Clinton had it for part of his terms. George W Bush had it for most of his. The reason for this is so that individual Congresspeople can't fiddle with the deal in order to privilege local constituencies after its been agreed to by the negotiators of both sides. It's basically a legal way to curtail rent-seeking exceptions and other Congressional shenanigans. These are generally questionable on welfare grounds when things like tax bills are being debated, but when negotiating a trade deal they can be deadly: each new Congressional exception has to be approved by the foreign party, which will likely demand further concessions in exchange, which would have to be approved by Congress in turn, etc. Each iteration of this lowers the chance of any deal being reached. Fast track authority cuts that process out. Interested groups can still lobby the US Trade Representative, and Congress still has to approve any deal, so it's not exactly undemocratic. But fast track makes the policy process more efficient.

Obama hasn't been given fast track authority. Democrats have typically been skeptical of trade deals -- remember that renegotiating NAFTA was a big issue during the 2008 Democratic primary -- and Republicans seem intent on blocking anything Obama chooses to do on grounds of principle. It doesn't seem to have been a major priority for Obama until now, as he's preferred to focus on health care, immigration, and other issues first. But without fast track trade deals are much more difficult to complete. So much so that foreign countries often prefer not to negotiate at all because they know that whatever agreement they reach will end up being altered by Congress. Given that, what's the point of negotiating in the first place?

Although they are fairly obscure these issues are quite important. I continue to think there's a decent chance that Obama gets fast track, and if he does that some deals will get done. The business community is very interested in seeing agreements made, so they will likely push the GOP to give in to Obama. Democrats are a bit less enthusiastic, but are more likely to give Obama authority than they would be to lengthen Romney's leash. And if Sarah and my article is correct, there are not many important interest groups that oppose a EU-US deal. The TPP makes sense in a number of ways as well.

All of this remains to be seen of course, but I'm still pretty optimistic that we'll see some movement on trade during Obama's second term.

*Really Sarah. She knows much more about ISDs than me and wrote that part of the article more or less on her own.

**Yes I know. TPP and TTIP and ISDs, oh my.
          I want to be president – Sylvester Mensah   
A former CEO of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Sylvester Mensah has revealed he hopes to “occupy the Flagstaff House” one day, but for now he is “considering” numerous calls on him to contest the flagbearer position of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) ahead of the 2020 elections.
          Georgia Special Election Portends What the "Trump Effect" Will Be on GOP-Leaning Congressional Districts in 2018   
Today voters in the northern Atlanta suburbs go to the polls to vote in a special election, the most expensive congressional race in history.  Democrat Jon Ossoff faces Republican Karen Handel in the battle to replace former congressman and current Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in Georgia House District #6.  Both parties, but especially Democrats, have poured money into the competition for a district that Price won by 23% in 2016, but President Trump only carried by 1%. The national media is focusing on the race as a referendum on Trump.  Republicans have won previous GOP-leaning special districts this year, but in every instance the Republican share of the vote has been substantially down over previous years.

The Real Clear Politics average of polls show Handel with a .2% lead.  Obviously a dead heat.


Karen Handel
Is too much made of this special election as a referendum on President Trump?  Certainly too much is based on who wins or loses.  If Handel, for example, wins by a handful of votes instead of losing by a handful of votes, there shouldn't be too much read into the result. However, the GOP is having to defend this heavily Republican seat is a significant development, apart from the actual result that rolls in tonight.  It should be noted that Georgia HD #6 has a highly education population.  Indeed it is in the top 10 in that measure.  The other nine congressional districts with the most educated populations are represented by Democrats.  There was a time when the more education one had, the more likely a person would be a Republican.  That appears to be changing.

While far from an inspiring candidate, Handel's moderately conservative views better fit the district than the bland Ossoff.  Politically, Ossoff, who is only 30 years old, is a traditional liberal who would be much better suited for a Democratic-leaning congressional district in Massachusetts or California, rather than a Republican-leaning district in Georgia.  Even more importantly than his age and liberal views being a handicap in the district, the biggest negative for Ossoff is that he doesn't actually in House District #6. While not a legal requirement, that issue has proven to be a deal-breaker for challengers who have attempted to convince voters they can properly represent a district in which they don't live. 

What I find most remarkable is that the Democrats, despite recruiting an extremely poor candidate for the district, have a real chance of winning tonight. That speaks volumes about the drag that President Trump will be on the Republicans going into the 2018 congressional elections.  Call it the "Trump Effect."
          Polls Show Georgia CD #6 Special Election a Toss-Up   
In what is considered the best barometer of politics post-Trump presidency,  the candidates in the special election run-off or Georgia's 6th Congressional District appear to be in a statistical dead heat. The latest poll conducted by WSB-TV/Landmark at the end of June shows Democrat Jon Ossoff leading Republican Karen Handel 49-48, well within the 4.4 margin of error. All other polls reported by Real Clear Politics, except one, show the margin as 2 points are less.  The outlier, a poll conducted by WXIA-TV/Survey USA, in mid-May, showed Ossoff leading by 7 points.

The district was formerly represented by Tom Price who was appointed Secretary of Health and
Human Services by President Donald Trump.  In the 2016 election, Price received 61.6% of the vote. While the Atlanta suburban district is normally reliably Republican, Trump performed poorly in the district barely edging out Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Despite the Republican-leaning nature of the district, Democrats have outspent Republicans in an effort to boost Ossoff.    Ossoff has been called an uninspiring candidate who has been criticized for residing outside the 6th district (Residency in a particular congressional district is not required to be a candidate for that district.)  Ossoff's strategy appears to make the special election, to be held on June 20th, a referendum on Trump who he has tied closely to Handel.
          Montana Special Election Shows What Is Wrong With Early Voting   
I have never been a fan of early voting, but after last night's debacle in Montana I am dead set against it.

For those who haven't been paying attention, on the eve of a special election Montana GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte, "body slammed" Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs who dared to try to ask the candidate about the CBO scoring of the Republican health care plan.  Then to compound matters Gianforte's campaign issued a press release blaming the incident on the reporter. NPR reports:
Gianforte's campaign spokesman claimed in a statement that Jacobs interrupted an interview "without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began
asking badgering questions.

"After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg's wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground," Gianforte spokesperson Shane Scanlon said. "It's unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ."
Unfortunately for Gianforte, Jacobs had an audio recording of the altercation and Fox News reporters were nearby waiting to interview Gianforte.  The recording and the Fox reporters contradicted Gianforte's "alternative facts" his campaign tried to spin, namely that Jacobs and not Gianforte instigated the incident.  Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault.

As a result of the attack, several Montana newspapers immediately revoked their endorsement of Gianforte.  But the wannabe thug will probably get elected to Congress despite widespread negative publicity the day before the election.  Why?  Because close to 70% of Montanans have already cast their ballot due to the state's liberal early voting laws.

I am not against making voting easier.  In fact, I am a strong supporter of vote centers, which would allow voters to cast ballots at any county voting location on Election Day.  As far as early voting, that reform has not been shown to increase participation, but only changes when people who are going to vote cast their ballots.  But the negative is that early voting results in people casting ballots long before the campaign narrative has played out  It is like allowing jurors to cast votes in a trial before all the evidence is in.  Well, in politics, all the evidence is not in until Election Day.  Sadly 70% of Montana voters are stuck with a choice many of them now regret.

Hopefully, the Gianforte experience will help put the brakes on early voting.
          Vice President Pence Damages His Reputation in Conveying False Narrative About Comey Firing   
Probably no one has done a better job of remaining unscathed by association with the administration of Donald Trump than Vice President Mike Pence.  In that capacity, Pence has acquitted himself quite well in the aftermath of a rocky term as Indiana Governor.

That all changed with the Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, Pence and other Trump spokespeople went out to spread the narrative that Trump had acted on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to fire Comey because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.    Pence's mission was to convey that message to
members of Congress.

The problem was the Trump-Comey talking points were not true.   Journalists began digging and found that the Comey firing was because of every increasing Trumpian furor over the continued Russian investigation led by Comey.  Indeed, Comey had just requested it be expanded, with additional financial and personnel resources devoted to the investigation. The Rosenstein memo turned out to be after-the-fact cover for the decision.

The problem for Pence is that he was in the meeting during which Trump announced his plan to fire Comey, a meeting at which Trump requested Rosenstein write a memo to offer a false motive for his action.  So when Pence was on Capitol Hill he was knowingly offering a lie about how President Trump arrived at his decision.  The White House has since admitted the original tale spun by the Trump spokespeople, including Pence, wasn't true.

Pence's loss of credibility is a most unfortunate development.  I would rate the odds better than 50-50 he will be President before the official end of Trump's term and that he will lead the Republican ticket in 2020. His being damaged by his actions as Vice President further hurt GOP efforts to keep control of the White House and the Senate.

As far as the U.S. House, that most likely be won by the Democrats in 2018.  A Quinnipiac poll released yesterday showed that Americans by a 54-38 margin Americans want Democrats to win control of the U.S. House in 2018.  That 16 point spread is by far the widest margin ever measured on that question.
          Trump Campaign May Have Coordinated with Russians on Release of Information Damaging to Clinton Campaign   
CNN reports:
The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials told CNN.   
This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, according to one source.   
The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel,
business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.   
In his statement on Monday Comey said the FBI began looking into possible coordination between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives because the bureau had gathered "a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power."  
... 
One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready." But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it's premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it's largely circumstantial. 
The FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place, but the information suggesting collusion is now a large focus of the investigation, the officials said.   
The FBI has already been investigating four former Trump campaign associates -- Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page -- for contacts with Russians known to US intelligence. All four have denied improper contacts and CNN has not confirmed any of them are the subjects of the information the FBI is reviewing.
Yesterday in a bizarre turn of events House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) briefed President Trump on intelligence he had seen in which names of the Trump transition team (of which Nunes himself was a member) had appeared in intelligence intercepts relating to foreign targets, intercepts he didn't bother to share with anyone else on the committee.   While this was in fact old news, Nunes held a press conference to claim that the information somewhat supported Trump's claim that Trump Tower phones were wiretapped by President Obama.  In the next breath, however, Nunes said that the information did not show Trump's claim was true.
The big development though may well be that Nunes has shown himself to be an agent of President Trump and, thus, unable to conduct a fair and impartial investigation of matters relating to the Trump campaign.  Nunes might lose his chairmanship as a result of the stunt he pulled yesterday. At the very least he made the appointment of a independent committee much more likely.

          Attorney General Jeff Sessions Met Twice With Russian Ambassador in 2016 While Member of Trump Campaign Team   
In what appears to be a direct contradiction to his confirmation testimony, it is now being reported that Attorney Genera Jeff Sessions twice met with a Russian ambassador in 2016, while a member of the Trump campaign. The Washington Post reports:
Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
general.
One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.
The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.   
When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, the senator was a senior member of the influential Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump on the stump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.
At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
...
In January, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Sessions for answers to written questions. “Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Leahy wrote. 
Sessions responded with one word:  "No."
It is difficult to conclude that Sessions' testimony was anything but untruthful.  To complicate matters, it appears Sessions' himself could be a focus of an investigation into Trump's Russian ties.   These developments will only increase the push for the appointment of a special prosecutor to probe the Trump campaigns' interaction with Russian officials leading up to the 2016 election.
          As wildfires rage out west, D.C. lawmakers fight over forest policy   
With wildfire season raging in western states, Congress is embroiled in a battle over how best to fight the fires. Many Republicans want to help prevent and fight wildfires by … Click to Continue »
          Almost 26 Hours Later, House Democrats End Gun Control Sit-In    
Updated at 1:15 p.m. House Democrats have ended their almost 26-hour-long sit-in to push for gun control legislation, pledging on Thursday afternoon to continue their fight once Congress returns from the July Fourth recess. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., ended the daylong protest surrounded by his Democratic colleagues. The civil rights leader proclaimed that this "is a struggle, but we're going to win this struggle." He pledged to come back on July 5 after the congressional recess "more determined than ever before" to push for reforms in the wake of yet another mass shooting last week at an Orlando gay nightclub. After they vacated the floor, Lewis and other Democratic leaders headed outside the Capitol to address supporters of their sit-in who had gathered throughout the push. The sit-in began before noon on Wednesday , when House Democrats took to the floor. Chanting "No Bill, No Break" and waving posters with the names of victims of gun violence, the Democrats vowed to allow no House
          Democrats Hold Senate Floor Until Early Thursday In A Push For Gun Control   
Updated 2:30 a.m. ET Thursday: Nearly 15 hours: The Associated Press reports that's how long Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy and his Democratic colleagues held the floor before yielding early Thursday, with a pledge that he would aggressively press for a legislative response to the Orlando, Fla., mass shooting. Murphy has been upset with congressional inaction on gun violence. Original Post: Senate Democrats say they are bringing Senate business to a halt in an effort to force some action on gun control. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said on Twitter that he was prepared to "talk about the need to prevent gun violence for as long as I can." "For those of us that represent Connecticut, the failure of this body to do anything, anything at all in the face of that continued slaughter isn't just painful to us, it's unconscionable," Murphy said, referencing the shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. "I can't tell you how hard it is to look into the eyes of the family of those
          Congresso PRC Bologna: riconfermato Gimona alla carica di segretario federale   
Nella serata di ieri, domenica 26 marzo, durante il congresso federale, Simone Gimona è stato riconfermato segretario della federazione bolognese di Rifondazione Comunista. Il congresso nei circoli della federazione ha visto prevalere la mozione “il Partito che vogliamo: comunista, femminista, libertario”, documento nazionale in dissenso con la linea politica fin qui espressa dal gruppo dirigente ...
          Republic Day 26th January   
Republic Day is one of the three national holidays of India and the greatest festival celebrated in the country. It is celebrated every year on January 26, in New Delhi with great pomp, fanfare and pageant. While in the capitals of the States and other headquarters, it is marked with patriotic fervor. The most spectacular celebrations are marked by the Republic Day Parade that takes place in the capital of New Delhi at Rajpath. It includes march past of the three armed forces, massive parades, folk dances by tribal folk from different states in picturesque costumes marking the cultural unity of India. Further, the streak of jet planes of Indian Air Force, leaving a trial of colored smoke, marks the end of the festival.

It was the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress at midnight of December 31, 1929 - January 1, 1930, that the Tri-Color Flag was unfurled by the nationalists and a pledge was taken that on January 26 every year, "Republic Day" would be celebrated and that the people would unceasingly strive for the establishment of a Sovereign Democratic Republic India. The professed pledge was successfully redeemed on January 26, 1950, when the Constitution of India framed by the Constituent Assembly of India came into force, although the Independence from the British rule was already achieved on August 15, 1947. It is because of this fact that August 15 is celebrated as Independence Day, while January 26 as Republic Day.

The Republic Day celebrations of India have rightly become world famous as one of the greatest shows on earth drawing thousands of eager sight-seers from all over the country and many parts of the world as well. No other country can draw on such a wealth of tribal traditions and cultures, with so many regional forms of dances and dress. And, no other country in the world can parade so many ethnically different people in splendid uniforms, all united in their proven loyalty to the Government elected by the people and in their proud traditions and legendary gallantry.

          Patagonia Salsa Congress 2017   

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          The 5th Columbus Salsa Weekend   

Welcome to the 5th Annual Columbus Salsa Weekend (CSW), Ohio’s premier dance event. The first Latin Dance Congress in Columbus. Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba dancers travel from across the country and all over Ohio to take workshops from world renowned artists! To really turn it up for our 5th year, we are bringing you more...

The post The 5th Columbus Salsa Weekend appeared first on Latin Dance Calendar.


          Orlando Salsa Congress 2017   

Twelfth annual Orlando Salsa Congress. The Ultimate Dance Vacation! Over 50 Dance Showcases — Workshops with some of the Biggest names in Salsa — Nightly Parties with Live Bands and the Top Salsa DJ’s — Pool Parties — and The World Salsa Summit competition.

The post Orlando Salsa Congress 2017 appeared first on Latin Dance Calendar.


          Railgate: Ex-railway minister Bansal appears as witness   

New Delhi: Former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Monday appeared in a Delhi court to depose as a prosecution witness in the Rs 10 crore cash-for-post railway bribery case in which his nephew is also an accused.

Prior to recording his statement, Special CBI Judge Swarana Kanta Sharma asked media persons present there to vacate the court room during the proceedings.

Bansal had appeared pursuant to the court's fresh summons issued on September 16, when it had made it clear that no exemption from personal appearance would be given to him on the next date.

On the last date of hearing, Bansal had sought exemption on medical grounds.

Bansal was summoned as a prosecution witness in the case in which his nephew Vijay Singla, suspended Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar and eight others are facing trial.

He had not appeared before the court on the last date of hearing and his counsel Puneet Ahluwalia had told the judge that the Congress leader was unwell as he was suffering from viral fever and he would appear on any date after September 19.

Bansal, who resigned in May last year as Railway Minister after the matter came to light, was named as a prosecution witness in the case.

The court had commenced the trial in the case on September 15 in which CBI had chargesheeted 10 accused last year.

The court had on March 11 this year framed charges against all the accused under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC read with provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

The court had framed charges against Singla, then Member (Staff) of Railway Board Mahesh Kumar, managing director of Bangalore-based G G Tronics India Pvt Limited NR Manjunath, alleged middlemen Ajay Garg and Sandeep Goyal and co-accused Rahul Yadav, Sameer Sandhir, Sushil Daga, CV Venugopal and MV Murali Krishan.
 

The CBI had alleged that Singla had demanded Rs 10 crore from Kumar for his appointment as Member (Electrical) and it was decided between the accused that Rs 5 crore will be paid before the appointment and the rest after the job was done.

It had claimed first tranche of around Rs 90 lakh was given to Singla who was apprehended while accepting the money. 

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          Railgate: Delhi court summons Pawan Bansal on Sep 22   

New Delhi: A Delhi court has summoned former Railway Minister Pawan Bansal to depose as a witness in the Rs 10 crore cash-for-post railway bribery case on September 22, as per news reports on Tuesday.

Bansal has sought exemption on the basis of health grounds from a special court from appearing in a hearing related to the case today.

His lawyer told the court that the Congress leader is suffering from viral fever and so could not appear before the court.

Bansal, who resigned as Railway Minister after the case came to light, was named as a prosecution witness in the case in which his nephew Vijay Singla is one of the accused along with suspended Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar and others.

CBI court had sent the summons to Bansal to appear before it today for recording of his statement as a prosecution witness.

The CBI had chargesheeted 10 accused, including Vijay Singla and Mahesh Kumar, in the case last year.

Paving the way for the trial, the court had on March 11 this year framed charges against all the accused under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC read with provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The probe agency had alleged that Singla had demanded Rs 10 crore from Kumar for his appointment to the post of Member (Electrical) and it was decided between the accused that Rs 5 crore will be paid before the appointment and the rest after the job was done.

It had claimed first tranche of around Rs 90 lakh was given to Singla who was apprehended while accepting the money.

(With PTI Inputs)

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          Unfair to call Bansal tainted, says Cong, hints at giving ticket   

New Delhi: Faced with a dilemma over handing tickets to leaders facing allegations of corruption, Congress on Wednesday gave indications that while former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal could be re-nominated from Chandigarh, Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi may not be fielded in the upcoming polls.

"It is unfair to call Bansal tainted. No charge sheet has been framed against him. BJP has been leading a diatribe against him, but the fact is that there are no charges against Bansal," party spokesperson Randip Surjewala told reporters.

The Congress spokesperson gave clear indications that the former Railway Minister will not be denied a ticket.

Party sources said that Congress`s Central Election Committee has already cleared Bansal`s name, but the candidature for Chandigarh was not announced in the first list to avoid a controversy when the party was making a big announcement of candidates for 194 seats.

The second list or a subsequent one will have Bansal`s name, sources added.

A Special CBI court yesterday framed charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption against Bansal`s nephew Vijay Singla and nine others who were arrested in the Rs 10-crore cash-for -post railway bribery case when the Congress leader was holding the railway portfolio.

With a row erupting over the case, Bansal resigned from the Union Cabinet.

Surjewala said that Bansal had resigned on moral grounds while indicating that Congress believes that no "convicted" leader, or those found involved in "heinous" crimes, should be fielded in the polls.

"Bansal has not been charge-sheeted. Nor is there any such allegation against him. As far as giving or not giving ticket is concerned, it is a decision taken by the Central Election Committee chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi.

"When that decision, which will be taken very soon, is announced, you can ask these questions," he said.
Surjewala, however, appeared to suggest that there was no similarity between the cases of Bansal and Suresh Kalmadi or former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who are facing allegations in connection with the Commonwealth Games and the Adarsh housing scams, respectively.

The duo are said to be campaigning to obtain Lok Sabha poll tickets for their wives.

"Till now, neither Kalmadi nor any family member of his has been either given or denied the ticket for Pune. So, the question is hypothetical," he said.

A senior party leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that no decision has been taken yet on giving a ticket to either Kalmadi or his wife.

The leader also refused to see a similarity between the cases of Bansal and Chavan.
"In every case, facts are always put (before CEC)," he said without elaborating further.

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          Railgate: Court frames charges against Pawan Kumar Bansal`s nephew, 9 others    

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi A Delhi court on Tuesday framed charges against former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal`s nephew Vijay Singla and nine others in the Rs 10-crore cash-for-post railway bribery case.

Singla and nine others were today put on trial by a special court on charges of conspiracy and corruption.
Special CBI Judge Swarana Kanta Sharma framed charges against all the 10 accused under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC read with provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The accused did not plead guilty to the offences and claimed trial in the case.

"We do not plead guilty and claim trial," the accused said after which the court posted the matter for August 25 for commencement of recording of prosecution evidence in the case.

Congress leader Bansal, who had to resign as Railway Minister in May last year after the case came to light, has been arrayed as a prosecution witness by the CBI.

Bansal, who had to resign from his post after the case had came into light, has been arrayed as a prosecution witness by the CBI.

During the last hearing, special CBI judge Swarana Kanta Sharma ordered framing of charges under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act against all the accused, including the then Member (Staff) of Railway Board Mahesh Kumar.

The court noted that CBI filed details regarding the trail of money that is the source of bribe amount as to how it was collected and the conspiracy within the conspiracy as to how accused Manjunath mobilised the bribe amount from various sources.

The probe agency has named as the accused Singla, Kumar, alleged middlemen Sandeep Goyal, Samir Sandhir, Sushil Daga, Ajay Garg, Rahul Yadav and businessman Manjunath and his aides MV Murli Krishan and Venugopal in its chargesheet filed July last year.

The court has found substantive evidence against Singla under section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (taking gratification, for exercise of personal influence with public servant).

The probe agency had alleged that Singla had demanded Rs 10 crore from Kumar for his appointment to the post of Member (Electrical) and it was decided between the accused that Rs 5 crore will be paid before the appointment and the rest will be paid after the job was done.
It had claimed that first tranche of around Rs 90 lakh was given to Singla who was apprehended while accepting the money.

With PTI/IANS inputs

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          Railgate a conspiracy to malign me: Bansal   

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Claiming innocence in the railgate scam, former Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said on Friday that he became a victim of a conspiracy hatched by the rail bureaucracy and the Opposition.

Speaking exclusively to Zee Media, Bansal said, “Neither me nor my family has anything to do with the controversy.”

“I have become a victim of a conspiracy hatched by the Opposition and the rail bureaucracy as I had detected several anomalies in procedures for railway appointments,” he added.

Defending self, the Congress MP from Chandigarh said, “I was linked to as many as 105 companies when my name figured in the scam. People have tendency to jump to conclusion without waiting for the judicial process or judgements.”

"There were several discrepancies in procedures relating to senior-level appointments in the railways, which I had set out to reform. However, I was myself sucked into the vortex of this conspiracy," Bansal said during the exclusive interview.

Bansal also countered claims made by former Railway board chairman Vinay Mittal to the CBI that he as minister had paid no need to suggestions to start the process for appointing a general manager for the Western Railways.

The CBI has named Bansal as a prosecution witness in the cash-for-promotion scam involving his nephew Vijay Singla and former railway board member Mahesh Kumar.

"The file relating to Kumar`s appointment as member (staff) was approved and signed by me on April 18 and forwarded for ACC (Appointments Committee of Cabinet) approval the same day,” he said.

“Following the receipt of the ACC approval on May 1, Kumar took charge on May 2. The next day, the CBI raids happened. So, where was the time for Mittal to repeatedly remind me about the need to fill the post of GM, Western Railways," Bansal said.
"Another officer could not have been appointed as GM before his (Kumar`s) appointment as member (staff)," the former minister pointed out, adding, "No specific orders had been issued by him to enable Kumar to `look after` the charge as GM, Western Railways."

Bansal stressed that baseless allegations were levelled against him including that he had invested crores of rupees in a company owned by his son.

“I have only invested Rs 15 lakhs in my son’s firm and that’s all,” he stated.

The Congress leader reiterated that he had full faith in the country’s judicial system and that he is confident that he will come out clean.

After his unceremonious exit from Rail Bhawan, Bansal is spending most his time in Chandigarh and has maintained a low profile.

The soft-spoken leader, however, said that he will continue the work assigned to him by his party and carry out his duties as MP from Chandigarh till his named is cleared.

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          Newswire: Jason “poor people shouldn’t have phones” Chaffetz is heading to Fox News   

If you’re already an established Republican politician, getting a gig on Fox News must be one of the easiest things in the world. Basically, all you have to do is make a name for yourself by saying or doing something completely outrageous that promotes conservative talking points in some way, and you might as well be an A-list celebrity. The latest lucky duck to figure that out is Representative Jason Chaffetz, who Politico says will be resigning from his job in Congress on July 1 so he can becoming a correspondent on Fox News.

For those who aren’t familiar with Chaffetz, he’s a particularly delightful brand of asshole who thinks he deserves everything while everyone else deserves nothing, which is a roundabout way of saying that he’s a Republican politician. He’s also the guy who said that people should buy healthcare instead of a new ...


          Brazil Supreme Court Justice Sends Charge Against President to Congress   
A Brazilian Supreme Court justice sent a corruption charge against President Michel Temer to Congress on Wednesday, advancing the process under which the center-right leader could be removed from office to face trial for graft. The justice, Edson Fachin, rejected an argument made by Brazil's top federal prosecutor that the Supreme Court should hear preliminary arguments on the charge and its merits for 15 days, before deciding whether to send it to the lower house of...
          Macron to Address French Lawmakers at 'Sun King' Palace   
French President Emmanuel Macron will address a parliamentary session for both houses next Monday, a rare event that opponents said signaled his intent to concentrate power in the presidency. Such a joint session of parliament is known as a Congress and takes place at Versailles, the sumptuous palace of France's former monarchy built outside Paris by Louis XIV — the "Sun King" — to symbolize absolute power. Macron's aides say he wants to set the tone and the direction...
          Autodefensas form in Quintana Roo   
Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Reforma article

Subject Matter: Autodefensas
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required


Reporter: Benito Jimenez
A group of businessmen of Quintana Roo integrated yesterday to auto-defensas to combat the insecurity and corruption in the state. "This venture of auto-defensas is very serious. The violations of the law on the part of the Government are repetitive, we have the proof of the corruption, and the authorities refuse to act."

"Not only are they not acting, they are attacking, intimidating and using death threats and executing people to stop the voices of Quintana Roo", businessman Carlos Mimenza, who heads the group said to Reforma.

Mimenza launched a video in which he figures with another 5 persons, all in black, to advertise that the auto-defensas will watch the functionaries of the state.

The initiative started with the participation of about 20 businessmen who said they felt betrayed by the new Governor, Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez, for new acts of corruption like those registered b in the last sexenio by Roberto Borge, detained in Panama.




"The formation of this group which includes 200 people is ready to act when there is an attack against us or those close to us", warned Mimenza.

This was after the execution of Hector Casique Fernandez, who was under the protection of The Executive Committee of Care for Victims, after having been declared a victim of the Mexican State.

Casique was a former Municipal Policeman of Cancun, arrested in March of 2013, and forced under torture, to pleading guilty to murder and organized crime. He spent more than three years in prison during the administration of former Governor Roberto Borge.

"The judiciary executed Hector", declares Hectors mother, because there are arrest warrant against 43 members of the court of Quintana Roo, and Prosecutor Miguel Angel Pech Cen has not legally proceeded to execute these arrest warrants, not only has he not arrested them but promoted them", claimed Mimenza.

" I have already received several calls where I received death threats because of publications of complaints I made on the Internet, we have complaints against Roberto Borge and more than 40 officials, we have political trials which are not followed through in Congress even with evidence", he lamented.

The employer denounced last March the current Secretary of Finance and Planning of Quintana Roo, Juan Melquiades Vergara Fernandez for embezzlement, money laundering, and illicit enrichment of money through the company Travel Channel.

He also promoted a political judgment in the Congress of the Union against Governor Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez for alleged embezzlement and assaults on activists.

"This is not a call to take up arms at this time, it is a call to organize and maintain a personal vigilance against the Governor, the officers of Public Prosecution and of the Court to stop them murdering and carrying out death threats, they are going to be monitored because we are going to defend ourselves, against any attack", warned Mimenza.

He ruled out the participation of Jose Manuel Mireles in the QR autodefensas, although he acknowledged that he was an inspiration for the movement.



Quintana Roo Government responds

The Government of Quintana Roo said that the former President Roberto Borge and his accomplices are under investigation and the administration of Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez will not give any room for impunity.

"In relation to the statements and insults in social media, the Government of QR says that real change is done within the law and people respecting it. With the fight against impunity, there will be partner ship for all, so that people can live better lives", said the Government in a statement.

"Based on the allegations, investigations have been launched against former Government officials and as a result Roberto Borge was arrested. His accomplices are also under investigation".



          Let's Pretend: A Civil Health Care Discussion   

I should probably accept that corporate and deeply entrenched political interests would not allow a comprehensive health care system to gain traction in the United States. Yet I can’t let go. One of the things that hurt me deeply is the lack of civil public discourse. It could have been different. Come with me to the set of the imaginary Vixen News Network as Becky Glenne shows us how it could have been possible for pundits to peacefully share differing opinions on health care reform.
Stethoscope on Indian banknotes of different denominations

Becky Glenne/VNN: Thank you H.C. Andersen for that follow-up report on the tragic situation the nation has come to know as “The Little Match Stick Girl.” Her identity is still unknown at this time. I have been joined by a panel of bloggers who have strong opinions and, at times, the facts to back them up.

Each of the panelists has been given the question “How does the death of The Little Match Stick Girl relate to the health care debate in the United States?" The order of the panelists has been selected by random draw to prevent accusations of favoritism.

VNN: Fulvia Tiberius, how does this tragic incident relate to the health care debate?

Fulvia: Well, Becky, as far as I can see it has nothing to do with it. It does speak to a higher natural law of survival of the fittest. It is indeed a shame a life has been lost, but I nor should anyone else feel that they have a so-called moral obligation to help, aid or assist another human being unless it is in that specific person’s vested interest to do so.

I reject the intervention of the government into private matters. I oppose the use of any federal state or local taxes to help or prolong the existence of vulnerable or unproductive members of the society. Let the market and environmental forces regulate the health care needs and wishes of the nation. Allow the forces of nature to adjust the population accordingly.

VNN: Germana Servius, your response to the relationship between The Little Match Stick Girl and health care reform, please.

Germana: When compassion is measured in dollars and cents terms, I am deeply saddened. It is not that we are incapable of designing a fair and equitable heath care system, it is that we are profoundly selfish and unwilling to provide the quality of services that members of Congress have currently enjoyed for years. I believe that no child or adult for that matter should be denied affordable health care.

If we seriously looked at waste and fraud within the federal budget, we could have the kind of coverage we could be proud to have as citizens. Stopping an illegal war would go a long way to providing health care funding.

VNN: I wish to remind the panel that the subject is health care, and to the extent possible please confine your responses to that topic. The next name to be drawn is Sabina Aculeo.

Sabina: Socialism! The victim mentality will destroy the nation. Give me my country back!

VNN: That is it? That is your entire response?

Sabina: Yes.

VNN: Moving on, up next is Claudia Laterensis.

Claudia: Glad to be here, Becky. Look,  there is a finite amount of money. We as a nation cannot fund every well meaning but financially unrealistic desire each citizen might want to have in terms of governmental services. Just as in our personal lives, we have to be fiscally prudent in our national spending.

However, there does need to be some form of a health support system. It would be unrealistic and in fact dangerous not to have a base level of health care resources as the incident with The Little Match Stick Girl illustrates.

Is this the time to implement a full-scale health delivery system? I don’t think so, but it might be a time of public/private option that does not require the full engagement of government support.

VNN: Finally we have Marcella Plauta to give her response to the topic.

Marcella: Thank you, Becky. It is the gift of passion and concern that has engaged the nation in this debate. Quite honestly, it has been a challenge to hear authentic and not politicized voices. I want no less than what the majority of industrialized nations have, an equable and accessible health care system.

It does not make me disloyal to my country to want to be able to obtain health treatment without losing my home, my stability or my piece of mind. It should not be a reflection of my character if I believe the interference for profit of the health insurance companies is not the best way to administer health treatment in this country.

I am profoundly disappointed that Congress and both political parties could not create a cohesive workable solution for the nation. There is only one approach at this time; a single-payer plan that does not involve the health insurance industry. This will happen, maybe not in my lifetime, but it will happen.

And so another dream of an engaged population rising above partisanship is once again deferred. Perhaps the next time.

Blogs to Consider If You Are Looking for Alternate Views:

Objectivists

Liberal/Progressive Blogs on Health Care

Conservative/Libertarian

Gena Haskett is a BlogHer CE. Blogs:Out On The Stoop and Create Video Notebook


          “My Soul Has Been Kissed” – The Power of the Pentatonic Scale   

A video has been traveling around since June 2009. It moves from ear to brain to eyes and then passed along to the next person. I’ve seen all kinds of words to describe it from “Wait, no you really should see this.” to “My soul has been kissed.” There are lessons in science, music, community, shared knowledge and perhaps just a little fun.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

If you made it to the end of the video you probably have sympathy for the gentleman sitting next to Bobby McFerrin. Professor Lawrence Parsons was asked the question "Larry, what the hell just happened here?" For his answer you can view video four on the session page.

Daniel Levitin was one of the participants of the panel. PRI’s The World Science talks with Daniel about the science cognitive aspect of music.

So is it really just a demonstration of auditory pattern recognition? Maybe. I know that when I watched it multiple thoughts were romping in my head.

When I first viewed the video I was a participant understanding what the next tone would be and I was pleased to find out that I'm not tone deaf. I loved that he demonstrated his point visually and physically.

Mr. McFerrin is a one of those undercover teachers who plants seeds of thought about how to express an idea. He is a conductor and performer so he also knows how to engaging a diverse audience.

I viewed the video a second time with the sound off. Yep, he is "conducting" or instructing the expectations of the audience. Bobby is also teaching what the pentatonic scale. And he conducts class in three minutes. Not to mention instant community building, uniting the group in a shared experience with a bit of pleasure and learning.

When all three come together there is a bit of magic. Music and the brain is one of those long term multifaceted discussion that are taking place in science, psychology and the arts. The Library of Congress hosted a hour long discussion with Michael Kubovy and Judith Shatin of the University of Virginia about the meaning of music beyond the sound properties.

It Takes Every Kind of People

To quote a lyric from a Robert Palmer song, it does take every kind of people. We all get different inspirations from patterns and music patterns are no exception.

Brenda Gael Smith from the Serendipity Patchwork used musical scales as an inspiration for a quilt and an audio composition.

Diana K. Gibson is a painter using DuMond color palette. She poses the question what if you looked at color patterns like a music scale.

In the past, many music lessons were culturally based on traditions. Some music instruction is faith based and others music patterns are a part of survival skills. Much of that environmental music training has been stripped away from us. It is really hard to compete with a generation of kids body linked to cell phones.

At Music Teacher Helper they look at the various ways music instruction can take place. One of those ways may be via video. There is an interview with Kathy Parsons who actually conducts piano classes via video.

So maybe there is hope. What lack of educational funding and the selling of process music stripped from us culturally might be replaced by easier accessibility to music instruction on our terms.

In the meantime, I think I need more observation of this pentatonic scale vibe so I'm going to study up with bit with a classic from Salt and Pepper's Expression. I also need the cognitive inspiration I get from hearing the lyrics.

Gena Haskett is a BlogHer CE. Blogs:Out On The Stoop and Create Video Notebook


          Why did PM not protest use of 'India-administered J&K' by US, asks Congress   
The Congress on Wednesday accused the government of compromising with national security and sovereignty by not objecting to the mention of 'Indian-ad...
          Congresscritters Aren't Like The Rest Of Us   
This last few weeks, we've heard a lot about research conducted by Ziobrowski et. al. (see here and here) on the possibility of informed trading by Senators and Congressmen. Based on abnormal returns earned on their portfolios, it appears that they do use their "inside information" in ways that would be illegal for those not in government service. In case you haven't seen it, here's the 60 Minutes story that brought Ziobrowski's research into the public eye:


Now here's another fun fact - Congresscritters not only get to profit from material nonpublic information, they also get to reveal it to select parties too. It seems like a number of hedge funds regularly meet with members of congress to get fast track access to this information. Here's a video from the Wall Street Journal for your viewing pleasure.




And here I though our elected officials were pure of heart and above approach (sorry - I think I shouldn't have changed my meds without doctor's orders).

          New Legislation Would Require Food Stamp Recipients to Show Proof of Job Searching   

A Louisiana congressman introduced legislation that would strengthen work requirements for recipients of food stamps. “By putting certain perimeters or requirements on the program where... Read More

The post New Legislation Would Require Food Stamp Recipients to Show Proof of Job Searching appeared first on The Daily Signal.


          Dem Rep Moulton: People Think Democrats Are ‘Really Out of Touch With Most of America’   

Tuesday on NPR, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) said Democrats are not winning elections because he said that it was seen as “out of touch with most of America.” Partial transcript as follows: SIEGEL: What was so big about the loss in Georgia that it shows the Democrats need a new message, a new vision? MOULTON: Well, now we’re 0-4 in these congressional special elections. And we’re at the worst electoral position that the Democratic Party has been in in decades. And so when you keep losing like that, you can’t keep doing the same old thing. SIEGEL: Well, first, as to message, I went to the website of Jon Ossoff, the Democrat who lost in Georgia last week. And there’s a list of priorities. Number one, it says, our economy. John’s a small business owner, executive, entrepreneur. He knows what it means to grow a company, meet a payroll, balance budgets. And it goes on to say that he has the experience to help Georgia develop into an economic powerhouse. And he also stands for raising the minimum wage to equal pay for equal work. What’s the matter with that message? What’s wrong with the priority there? MOULTON: Well, that’s actually
          Who Can Settle Questions About Donald Trump's Conflicts Of Interest?   
Since Donald Trump won the presidential election last month, his conflicts of interest have come into sharper focus. Ethics experts say that to clearly separate his role as president from his role as businessman, he must sell off his holdings. Trump has so far rejected that recommendation, saying via Twitter that he intends to have his two oldest sons run the Trump Organization. But those sons have been deeply engaged in the transition work of the incoming Trump administration. So now what? Ethicists say Trump must sell; Trump has shown no willingness to do so. For example, he had planned to hold a news conference to discuss conflicts of interests last week, but he has postponed it indefinitely. Can someone or something force Trump to comply with the ethics guidance that he has so far rejected? The best answer seems to be that only Congress can force Trump to make any changes. Let's walk through this messy, unprecedented situation one step at a time. The problem As the head of the
          Retiring Rep. Jason Chaffetz Calls for Extra $2,500 for Housing Congressmen   
Jason Chaffetz
Even as he serves his last days in Congress after announcing his retirement, Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz is calling for the government to give another $2,500 per month to each member of Congress to help them with housing costs.
          Trump Team Promises To 'Dismantle' Dodd-Frank Bank Regulations   
During his presidential campaign, Republican Donald Trump said he would "get rid of" Dodd-Frank — the sweeping legislation passed in 2010 to address problems underlying the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Many Republicans hate the 2,300-page law, saying it is layered with far too many regulations. But Democrats say it provides valuable oversight of an industry that they believe took too many risks on Wall Street and too much advantage of customers on Main Street. Now President-elect Trump's transition team is promising to "dismantle" the complex Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act . "Bureaucratic red tape and Washington mandates are not the answer" to improving the financial system, the team said Thursday on its website . Repealing the entire law probably would take more time and attention than Congress could muster in a 100-day rush. In fact, Dodd-Frank is such sprawling legislation that it has taken years to write and implement all of the detailed rules. But even if
          3 Ways President-Elect Trump May Shake Up Trade Policy   
During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump often was fuzzy on details of his economic plans. But he was clear about one goal: getting much tougher on trade relations with our most important partners, i.e., China, Canada and Mexico. Analysts say they don't doubt he will follow through. "We are definitely shifting to a world where the landscape is far less favorable to trade," said Eswar Prasad, professor of trade policy at Cornell University. These are the three most likely steps to be taken in this new environment: Step 1: Kill TPP. For years, the Obama administration has been negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact involving 12 Pacific Rim nations, including the United States, Japan and Australia. President Obama had hoped to get Congress to approve the pending deal after the election. But Trump has said TPP would benefit special interests that plan to "rape" this country. In coming weeks, Republican leaders wouldn't want to pass an agreement that would not get
          Annamaria Furlan: "Il lavoro è al centro della coesione sociale"    
"Nell'incontro con i nostri delegati il Santo Papa ha confermato la condivisione piena della centralità del rapporto tra persona e lavoro. Dobbiamo occuparci dei più deboli, dei giovani e dei migranti. Il lavoro è al centro della coesione sociale". Così la segretaria generale della Cisl, Annamaria Furlan, al XVIII Congresso confederale del sindacato a Roma.
          Fazer Palestra e Eventos para conquistar clientes   
Recentemente participamos do evento Afiliados Brasil, que no mercado de Marketing de Afiliados é o primeiro evento que foi realizado no país. Ele é basicamente um Congresso Brasileiro de Afiliados que visa reunir todo tipo de usuário que trabalhe com desenvolvimento de projetos comerciais na internet. O objetivo principal desse evento é proporcionar a grande oportunidade de aprendizado ao empreendedor. O tipo de aprendizado que você precisa para rentabilizar de forma eficaz seus projetos, conquistar clientes contábeis e muito mais. Você precisa disso também para que Continue lendo
          Ali Velshi destroys lying GOP Congressman as he schools him on Trumpcare (VIDEO)   
Ali Velshi destroys lying GOP Congressman as he schools him on healthcare (VIDEO)

Ali Velshi did not allow this Republican Congressman to misinform on the air. He schooled him not only on Trumpcare but healthcare in general.

The post Ali Velshi destroys lying GOP Congressman as he schools him on Trumpcare (VIDEO) appeared first on EgbertoWillies.com.


          Sex Congress   
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          89 National Congress of Ophthalmology   

The meeting, organized by the Spanish Society of Ophthalmology , 110 years since its creation . For the same , there have been more than seven hundred requests to participate in communications , of which four hundred and thirteen have been selected .

Among other issues , during the meeting , will present a study on infections in patients undergoing cataract , in which university hospitals participated Canary and Our Lady of La Candelaria and Clinics Visum Alicante and Madrid.

The text reveals that 90 % of public and private centers that perform these operations are following the guidelines set by their findings , with the use of an antibiotic that has reduced these infections in one case in ten thousand .

Additionally, this national conference , attendees will learn about the progress that during these four years , we have developed in the field of glaucoma, in the so-called SEO 2013 Official Lecture entitled : Diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.

Other activities include Oftalmocarrera Congress , which will take place on Thursday, September 26 , and whose registration fee ( 15 euros ) will go to the Spanish Association of Aniridia , nonprofit organization that seeks to contribute to the study and social knowledge , medical and scientific of this pathology.

Moreover, during this 89 Congress of the Spanish Society of Ophthalmology , will be held also meetings of various associations and working groups such as the Society of Contactología Spanish or Spanish for Pediatric Ophthalmology Group , who will announce important news for the Congress. Finally , fourteen different commercial houses organized symposia .


          Today is the World Day of hypertension   

In Europe, less than 50% of patients on antihypertensive treatment is able to reduce their blood pressure levels below 140/90 mmHg and it is estimated that more than half of untreated hypertensives. 3.4 "To meet this challenge, the European Society of Hypertension (ESH by the acronym) has set a target that 70% of hypertensive patients achieve control of their blood pressure levels by 2015", said Professor Josep Redon, President of the ESH, adding: "Some European countries, such as Italy and France, have already committed to this initiative and soon we will meet with hypertension companies from other European countries to ensure support for the time to realize this common goal. "

To help physicians and patients achieve blood pressure targets and, thus, reduce the risk of developing serious cardiovascular events, Daiichi Sankyo continues to investigate the benefits of fixed-dose combination of olmesartan and amlodipine and developing solutions that involving health professionals and patients as part of their initiative HypertensionCare.

In this sense, soon will present new clinical data from phase 4 Sevitension study, comparing fixed-dose combination of olmesartan and amlodipine versus perindopril and amlodipine in reducing central blood pressure aórtica.5

It is estimated that between 80 and 85% of hypertensive patients may achieve blood pressure control with combinations of several fármacos.6 fixed dose combinations, which are the preferred treatment option according to the European Guidelines for management clinical simplify antihypertensive treatment, improve patient adherence and outcomes clínicos.6

Optimizing the management of hypertension will also be the focus of the satellite symposium "Ten years of olmesartan" that Daiichi Sankyo and Menarini organized within the next 23 th Congress of the European Society of Hypertension (ESH by the acronym) and will take place Milan (Italy) on June 14 from 15.00 to 17.00 hours.

MyHypertensionCare

 "In addition to our ongoing research on olmesartan-based antihypertensive therapies, we are very proud of our program HypertensionCare that helps doctors and patients to more effectively control the blood pressure levels," says Joris Versteden, Senior Medical Director at Daiichi Sankyo Europe.

As part of this initiative, last year launched the interactive portal hypertensive patient support www.myhypertensioncare.eu, available in English for all of Europe (excluding the UK). Since then, the site has evolved and contains three distinct platforms: the original site dedicated to providing tools for healthcare professionals, one with hypertensive patient information and their families and a third that specifically promotes adherence of patients.

Adherence to treatment is a challenge for hypertensive patients. It is estimated that approximately 50% of patients discontinue treatment after a year.7 and lack of adherence has been identified as a major cause of failure to achieve blood pressure goals propuestas.8 support program myHypertensionCare patient aims to improve the understanding, commitment and compliance with treatment, accompanied by changes in lifestyle, all resulting in an improvement of the results clínicos.8, 9

About Daiichi Sankyo

The Daiichi Sankyo Group is dedicated to research and innovative drug delivery in both mature and emerging markets, with the goal of addressing unmet medical diverse decks. The company was formed in 2005 through the merger of two Japanese companies with a long tradition, Daiichi and Sankyo. With net sales of close to 8,500 million euros, Daiichi Sankyo is one of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world. In addition to a consolidated portfolio of drugs against hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and bacterial infections, Daiichi Sankyo seeks new therapies in cardiovascular and oncology. The Daiichi Sankyo Group has established the "Hybrid Business Model" that combines innovative and generic drugs in order to reach as many patients as possible.

The company's global headquarters is located in Tokyo. The Daiichi Sankyo's European headquarters is located in Munich and has subsidiaries in 12 European countries in addition to a global manufacturing facility located in Pfaffenhofen (Germany).

For more information, please visit www.daiichi-sankyo.es or www.daiichi-sankyo.eu

Contact

Roberto Sánchez Martín. Corporate Communications Manager

Tel +34 91 5399911 roberto.sanchez @ daiichi-sankyo.es

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements and information on the future development of the sector and on the legal and business conditions of Daiichi Sankyo Spain, SA Such statements are not final and are subject to change at any time, especially the common changes faced by a global pharmaceutical company, including the impact of the price of products and raw materials, medication safety, changes in exchange rates, regulations government, labor relations, taxes, political instability and terrorism as well as the results of independent demands and governmental inquiries that affect the affairs of the company. All statements included in this release are certain at the time of publication. Not represent any guarantee of future performance. Actual events and developments could differ materially from the forward-looking statements expressed or implied in these statements. Daiichi Sankyo Spain, SA not assume any responsibility for updating these statements about the future development of the sector or the legal or business of the company.

References

1.      OMS. World Hypertension Day Brochure, 2013.

2.      Lawes, CM, Vander Hoorn, S. & Rodgers, A. Global burden of blood-pressure-related disease, 2001. Lancet 2008; 371 (9623):1513-8

3.      Wang YR, Alexander GC, Stafford RS, Outpatient Hypertension Treatment. Treatment Intensification, and Control in Western Europe and the United States. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(2):141-147

4.      Wolf-Maier K et al. Hypertension Treatment and control in five European countries, Canada, and the United States.

5.      Comparison of Sevikar® and the Combination of Perindopril/Amlodipine on Central Blood Pressure. www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01101009. Accessed May 2013.

6.      Mancia G, Laurent S, Agabiti-Rosei E, et al. Reappraisal of European guidelines on hypertension management: a European Society of Hypertension Task Force document. Journal of Hypertension 2009, 27:000–000

7.      Vrijens B, Vincze G, Kristanto P, et al. Adherence to prescribed antihypertensive drug treatments: longitudinal study of electronically compiled dosing histories. BMJ. 2008; 336:1114–1117.

8.      World Health Organization Report 2003: Adherence to Long-Term Therapies. www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/adherence_full_report.pdf. Accessed May 2013.

9.      Corrao G, Parodi A, Nicotra F, et al. Better compliance to antihypertensive medications reduces cardiovascular risk. J Hypertens 2011; 29(3): 610–618.

10.    Scott, L. J. and McCormack, P. L. Olmesartan medoxomil: a review of its use in the management of hypertension. Drugs 2008; 68(9): 1239-1272.

11.    Fabia et al., Antihypertensive activity of angiotensin II AT 1 receptor antagonists: a systematic review of studies with 24h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. Journal of Hypertension 2007; 25(7): 1327-1336.

12.  Stumpe, K. O. Olmesartan compared with other angiotensin II receptor antagonists: head-to-head trials. Clin Ther 2004; 26 (Suppl A)A33-7

 

Photo By hugovillarroelabrego [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


          Congress of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics   

A total of 17 panels, six meetings of controversy, nine games with the expert eight interactive clinical cases, three plenary sessions ... make the busy schedule of the 62nd Congress of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), which begins today in Seville. "A reference meeting brings together nearly 2,000 pediatricians in Spain, which will analyze and far in our country pediatrics, medical advances, the specific medication for children, physical activity ... with an eye to their true protagonists, children and adolescents, or more specifically their health and wellbeing ", says Professor Joaquin Ortiz, president of the 62 Congress of the AEP.

The ASP held also during the Congress governing election of officers of the Association and the president of the Spanish Foundation of Pediatrics, so it makes a call to the professional participation in the elections for the new officers leaving of the polls have the endorsement of their votes.

"We also take this quote to introduce the new Group Physical Activity and online training platform of the ASP, CONTINUUM, whose imminent launch partners will allow the Association access ongoing training with the highest standards of quality and with the possibility of re-accreditation voluntarily, "says Dr. Antonio Jurado, president of the Scientific Committee of the ASP.

Inevitably, the crisis and the cuts will also have a presence in these three days of pediatric meeting. "The AEP, representing pediatricians nowadays assumes an active role in defending the quality and efficiency of care for children, so that they are always treated by pediatricians, both in primary care and in secondary care, providing each patient that needs regardless of their place of residence ", adds Professor Serafin Málaga, president of the ASP. Thus, from the AEP is intended that the children access to health resources, especially the living situations of poverty and marginalization, is not reduced in any case.

Last summer the EPA conducted a survey among its members which highlighted the impact it is having the loss of purchasing power of families as a result of the precarious socio-economic situation, on aspects such as feeding, vaccination and health mental health of their children. Just two months ago, another association survey showed almost unanimous collective agreement pediatric immunization schedule proposed by the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the EPA and its concern at the possibility that a vaccine is proven free recall limited sales and hospital prescriptions.

The cuts in health are also affecting the work of professionals. "In this sense, the ASP is concerned that the compulsory retirement measure, already being implemented by most of the CCAA, it will lead to a replacement of these places, which, in children, is seriously endanger the maintenance of the model Spanish pediatric care, "explains Professor Malaga.

THE AEP argues that not suppressed functions to professionals, or putting obstacles to proper professional work simply because of the work load increase them or diminish them resources for good practice that scientific evidence has proved beneficial to the health of child.


          Individualized glycemic control in diabetic elderly patient   

 Zaragoza, May 27, 2013 - The prevalence of type 2 diabetes increases with age and it is estimated that, worldwide, over the next two decades the epidemic of this disease will be particularly significant in the population over 65 years .

 
In Spain, according to Di @ betes1 study, the prevalence of diabetes in elderly patients over 75 years is about 30% of the population and is almost 40% older than 85 years.
 
Given this situation and the XX Congress of General and Family Medicine, held in Zaragoza, organized the meeting Novartis 'therapeutic targets in the elderly diabetic patient' in order to discuss the main challenges in addressing elderly patient with type 2 diabetes.
 
According to Dr. Carlos Miranda Fernandez-Santos, Family Medical Health Center Buenavista Toledo, coordinator of the Spanish Diabetes Society of General Practitioners and Family (SEMG) and moderator of the meeting: "The aim of This meeting focuses on addressing diabetes and other cardiovascular risk factors in the context of the elderly patient. "
 
The elderly diabetic patient has specific as the presence of comorbidities, a high clinical heterogeneity geriatric symptoms (cognitive impairment, depression or falls) and an increased risk of morbidity and mortality, among others, that necessitate a specific approach of the pathology. In this sense, says Dr. Miranda Fernandez-Santos "when treating a patient with these characteristics is necessary to individualize each case, since as stated Consensus Document on the treatment of elderly diabetic patient, which has participated and endorsed the SEMG, therapeutic goals in diabetic elderly patients vary with age and the patient's own situation. "
 
Among the topics covered in the panel discussion included the reflection on the importance of glycemic control targets to achieve a correct approach to the elderly diabetic patient. According to Dr. Francesc Formiga, program director of Geriatrics, Internal Medicine Hospital of Bellvitge in Barcelona, ​​"the goals of glycemic control of elderly patient should be individualized and always take into account the patient's opinion and involve you in the whole process . Although therapeutic options are the same as for the young, the elderly, these options will have to be adapted to various aspects such as kidney function, frailty, decreased visual acuity, the presence or absence of a qualified, among others, always depending on the patient's profile. "
 
The duration of diabetes and total life expectancy and active patient are of great importance to the planning of therapeutic goals. So says Dr. Formiga "in deciding the therapeutic goals should be considered two different scenarios: first, in the elderly with functional and cognitive capabilities preserved without major complications or comorbidities and good life expectancy, are recommends a target HbA1c of 7% -7.5%. Moreover, in the group of frail elderly with disabilities (physical and / or cognitive) and major complications and / or comorbidities, and a short life expectancy, the control objectives should be less stringent (HbA1c 7.6 % -8.5%). Clearly, the low life expectancy disappear from view very strict control objectives that provide benefits in the medium to long term. "
 
Another issue discussed at the meeting refers to the use of dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (IDPP4) compared with sulfonylurea-based treatments in the elderly with diabetes. In the words of Dr. Concepcion Vidal, Deputy Department of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Hospital Royo Villanova Zaragoza: "The drugs IDPP4 are easy to handle in a single daily dose or in two doses in combination with metformin, with similar reductions in HbA1c and little risk of hypoglycemia. Meta-analyzes with IDPP4 in large population samples seem to show that their use reduces the risk of cardiovascular events, particularly myocardial infarction and mortality from all causes in people with type 2 diabetes, this treatment caused positioned as the optimum in all phases of the disease. In this sense, his qualification is suited to situations of renal failure and its use is becoming widespread in both elderly and in patients debutantes more evolved ".
 
Finally, experts have debated the factors that limit the elderly diabetic patient management in primary care. According to Dr. Francisco Key, Medical Primary Care Service Hospital High Resolution The Toyo Almeria, "the elderly patient with type 2 diabetes has a number of characteristics and constraints that must be considered when using or most suitable drugs: on one hand, the quality of life, to be good or acceptable in some cases, while in others there will be a significant reduction in patients instrumental abilities and high comorbidity, and secondly, chronic complications, for some patients present micro and macrovascular complications, while in others, the newly diagnosed, it will be little or no ".
 
Dr. Francisco Key has also stated that neither "can forget the major geriatric syndromes that, by themselves, can condition treatment and reduce life expectancy, such as cognitive impairment, depression, accidental falls, polypharmacy, urinary incontinence or chronic pain, to name the most common. "
 
About Novartis
Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) provides solutions for health care consistent with the needs of patients and societies. Focused exclusively to the area of ​​healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio of products respoder these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, high quality generic drugs that help save cost, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, OTC; and Animal Health. Novartis is the only company that has achieved a leadership position in these areas. In 2012, the Group achieved net sales of 56,700 million USD and invested approximately U.S. $ 9,300 million (9,100 million excluding asset impairment depreciation and amortization) in R & D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, the Novartis Group companies employ approximately 129,000 associates and operate in more than 140 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com and http://www.novartis.es sites.
 
 
References:
 
1. Soriguer F, Goday A, Bosch-Comas A, Bordiú E, Calle-Pascual A, Carmena R, Casamitjana R, Brown L, Castell C, Catala M, Delgado E, Franch J, Gaztambide S, Girbés J, Gomis R, Gutiérrez G, López-Alba A, Martínez-Larrad M. T, Menéndez E, Mora-Peces I, Ortega E, Pascual-Mannich G, Rojo-Martínez G, Serrano-Rios M, Valdés S, Vázquez J. A Vendrell J. Prevalence of diabetes mellitus and impaired glucose regulation in Spain: the Di@bet.es Study. 2011

 


Image By IntDiabetesFed [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


          Today, May 10, marks the World Lupus Day   

Lupus Associations Worldwide have teamed up to claim the relevance of World Lupus Day next May 10. More than 5 million people worldwide have lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that mainly affects young women of childbearing age. More than 20,000 families in Spain are affected by this disease.

World Lupus Day focuses on the need to increase social awareness, improve health services for these patients, promote research into the causes and cure of Lupus, improve medical diagnosis and treatment and epidemiological studies of the overall impact of this disease.

Lupus affects not only the patient but transcends to his family, friends and coworkers. It is valued even as a global health problem by society, health professionals, or by governments, which determines the need to increase social awareness.

Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because many of its symptoms are confused with more common diseases, but early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help reduce the disabling effects of the disease. Increase awareness Lupus will save many lives.

The first World Lupus Day was held in 2004 and there were numerous events around the world, which highlighted their importance. From then annually Lupus associations organize activities throughout the planet to commemorate this day, in Spain is celebrated by a National Congress Lupus.


          Early antibiotic treatment of severe sepsis   

Infectious disease specialists have advocated the early use of highly active antibacterial antibiotics to reduce the number of deaths caused by severe sepsis in the scientific session entitled "Facing the dilemma of mortality and resistance in Gram-positive infections" organized by Novartis under XXIII European Congress of the European Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID). This disease, which is often confused with 'blood poisoning', is one of the leading causes of mortality in the world 4, which could be significantly reduced with the use of drugs active against Gram + from Time 0 in which active sepsis5 code.

Sepsis or sepsis is the body's response to infection, either extra-or hospital, more frequent due to the immune status of patients and increased invasive techniques, intravenous catheters, prostheses and implants intravasculares1, 6. It is a disease whose incidence increases 2% annually and that records 18 million cases per year worldwide. Only in Spain are detected daily one to two new cases of severe sepsis per 100,000 inhabitants. Has a mortality rate of 50% 2 in case of septic shock, being superior to that of prostate cancer, breast cancer and HIV / AIDS juntos3.

To reduce these numbers, Dr Alex Soriano, Infectious Diseases Unit of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, ​​argued in his paper "Saving your patient: the importance of early treatment" the importance of early antibiotic therapy in the treatment of serious infections "to reduce mortality, length of hospitalization and possible relapse."

Although this is an increasingly common protocol, the usual tendency is to start with a classic less potent antibiotic and increase it if necessary. The consumption of antibiotics has been linked to the selection of resistant organisms, but for Dr. Soriano "the problem is not that you use a strong antibiotic from the beginning, but that the patient take for many days as necessary. The initiation of treatment should not be delayed unnecessarily and discontinued or adjusted according to the results of the microbiology laboratory. "

In your opinion, was suspected severe sepsis is better not to take risks, as it is in the patient's life threatening. "It is true that following this protocol is possible that people who do not need treatment so strong end up getting it but it does not pose a risk to the patient," said the doctor.

Area Director Integrated Hospital Care at Novartis, Begoña Gómez, highlights the importance of efforts devoted to R & D to address issues such as sepsis. "The health and quality of life of patients is our top concern, so that our work is focused on the development of drugs that allow us to care for and heal people, not forgetting to publicize the progress made in this regard between the medical community. " Sample this commitment, Novartis has held in the Congress of the symposium on ESCMID positive infections.

This release contains certain forward-looking statements relating to the business of the Company. There are factors that could modify the current results.

About Novartis

Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) provides solutions for health care consistent with the needs of patients and societies. Focused exclusively to the area of ​​healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, high quality generic drugs that help save cost, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, OTC; and Animal Health. Novartis is the only company that has achieved a leadership position in these areas. In 2012, the Group achieved net sales of 56,700 million USD and invested approximately U.S. $ 9,300 million (9,100 million excluding asset impairment depreciation and amortization) in R & D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, the Novartis Group companies employ approximately 129,000 associates and operate in more than 140 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit the websites http://www.novartis.com y http://www.novartis.es.

 

Referencias
1 http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Sepsis-%28Spanish%29.aspx
2 http://www.intramed.net/sitios/librovirtual1/pdf/librovirtual1_52.pdf
3 http://www.cec.health.nsw.gov.au/__documents/programs/sepsis/world-sepsis-day/1_2_wsd_factsheet_english.pdf
4 http://www.biomerieux.com.mx/upload/SPANISH_Fact_Sheet_Sepsis-1.pdf
5 http://www.juntadeandalucia.es/salud/export/sites/csalud/galerias/documentos/p_3_p_3_procesos_asistenciales_integrados/sepsis_grave/sepsis_grave.pdf
6 http://www.intramed.net/sitios/librovirtual1/pdf/librovirtual1_52.pdf


Fotografía By Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


          35° International Congress on Law and Mental Health (IALMH)   
Saremo presenti a Praga dal 9 al 14 Luglio 2017 per la trentacimquesima edizione dello IALMH.
Faculty of Law, Charles University             http://ialmh.org

                      

          Putin Accuses "Foreign Spy Agencies" Of Supporting Terrorism To Destabilize Russia   
Putin Accuses Foreign Spy Agencies Of Supporting Terrorism To Destabilize Russia In the first public accusation that "foreign spy agencies" are seeking to destabilize Russia made in recent years, during a meeting with Russia's foreign intelligence agency President Vladimir Putin said that "some foreign special services" are directly supporting extremist and terrorist groups to destabilize the situation near Russia’s borders, President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Russia’s foreign intelligence agency.

“In general, the growing activity of foreign special services against us and our allies is obvious,” Putin said quoted by Bloomberg during the televised speech in Moscow on Wednesday, without specifying which nations he was referring to. *“There are operations to influence the domestic political and social processes in our country.*”

Tangentially, the AP reported that according to an unclassified report by the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, released on Wednesday, *Kremlin leaders are convinced America is intent on regime change in Russia, *"a fear that is feeding rising tension and military competition between the former Cold War foes."

"The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine," the report says, referencing the claims by President Vladimir Putin's government that the U.S. engineered the popular uprising that ousted Ukraine's Russia-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovich, in 2014. Russia responded by annexing Ukraine's Crimea region and supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.



Thursday's report, prepared long before Trump's election, reflects the Pentagon's view of the global security picture shifting after nearly two decades of heavy American focus on countering terrorism and fighting relatively small-scale wars across the Middle East. Russia, in particular, is now at the center of the national security debate in Congress, fed by political divisions over how to deal with Putin and whether his military buildup, perceived threats against NATO and alleged election interference call for a new U.S. approach.



According to the AP, the 116-page report portrays Russia as increasingly wary of the United States. It cites Moscow's "deep and abiding distrust of U.S. efforts to promote democracy around the world and what it perceives as a U.S. campaign to impose a single set of global values." One almost wonders why.



"Moscow worries that U.S. attempts to dictate a set of acceptable international norms threatens the foundations of Kremlin power by giving license for foreign meddling in Russia's internal affairs," the report says. Titled "Russia Military Power," it is the agency's first such unclassified assessment in more than two decades.



The report also discusses recent military developments, with a focus on the middle east.



It cites the example of Moscow's 2015 military intervention in Syria. The Kremlin cast the effort as designed to combat Islamic State fighters. Washington saw Moscow largely propping up Assad by providing air support for the Syrian army's offensive against opposition forces.

 

The report says the Syria intervention is intended also to eliminate jihadist elements that originated on the former Soviet Union's territory to prevent them from returning home and threatening Russia. In any case, the report credits the intervention for having "changed the entire dynamic of the conflict, bolstering the Assad regime and ensuring that no resolution to the conflict is possible without Moscow's agreement."

 

"Nevertheless, these actions also belie a deeply entrenched sense of insecurity regarding a United States that Moscow believes is intent on undermining Russia at home and abroad," the report says.



The report harkens to Cold War days when the intelligence agency published a series of "Soviet Military Power" studies that defined the contours of the superpower rivalry. Those reports ended with the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union. Now they return, DIA's director, Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, says, with an eye on the future of U.S.-Russian relations.

"*Within the next decade, an even more confident and capable Russia could emerge," *Stewart wrote in a preface to the report. No new, global ideological struggle akin to the Cold War is forecast, but the report cautions that Moscow "intends to use its military to promote stability on its own terms."

Which is why the "deep state", the Military-Industrial Complex. the neo-cons or whatever one wants to call the permanently bellicose wing in control, will *never *allow Trump to pursue a detente with Putin. To be sure, while Trump's campaign rhetoric was widely seen as sympathetic to Russia, ties have not improved in his first six months of his presidency. In April, *Trump said U.S.-Russian relations "may be at an all-time low." *Trump is expected to meet Putin for the first time at an international summit in Germany next week.

Meanwhile, to perpetuate the anti-Russia witch hunt, on Wednesday Rep. Adam Smith, the House Armed Services Committee's top Democrat, issued a "national security manifesto" on Russia. *He and a group of lawmakers writing in Time magazine cited the threat of "Putinism," which they termed "a philosophy of dictatorship" that seeks to extinguish democratic ideals such as government transparency by exploiting "discontented facets of democratic polities worldwide.*"

Which, of course, is not to be confused with CIA-ism, which is a philosophy of suberting any government around the globe with promises of globalist, credit-card driven expansion, and if that fails, with outright threats (and actions) to overthrow the existing regime by supporting its closest adversaries, both domestic and foreign.

Taking McCarthyism to the next level, at a Senate intelligence committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the panel's ranking Democrat, said Russia is becoming more brazen.

*"Russia's goal is to sow chaos and confusion - to fuel internal disagreements and to undermine democracies whenever possible, and to cast doubt on the democratic process wherever it exists," *Warner said.

In other words, Russia is becoming just like the US... One can see why the Deep State and Democrats are so terrified. Reported by Zero Hedge 16 minutes ago.
          Medieval Historians Taking Genomics into Account   
At the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo (Kzoo) last month, I couldn’t help feeling that we have reached a turning point. I went to four sessions that engaged in genomics, human and/or bacterial, in some way. Granted, these are a tiny proportion of the 500+ sessions offered, but I have learned that if you … Continue reading Medieval Historians Taking Genomics into Account
          Russia Isn’t on Radar for Haley at UN, She Tells Congress   

Jostled from her boast about preventing a chemical attack in Syria this week, United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley stunned members of Congress on Wednesday by saying she and President Trump have never discussed Russia’s 2016 election meddling.

The post Russia Isn’t on Radar for Haley at UN, She Tells Congress appeared first on .


          One debate not enough in Bera vs. Ose congressional contest?   
Democratic Rep. Ami Bera and Republican Doug Ose have finally agreed to square off in an Oct. 8 debate, but Ose says that’s not nearly enough in the suburban Sacramento congressional district that has become one of the hottest contests in the country. “One debate is not sufficient to talk about all the problems our
          Qualcomm annuncia Snapdragon 450 – la fascia bassa si fa grande!   

In occasione del Mobile World Congress di Shanghai l’ormai famosissima Qualcomm ha tolto il velo al suo nuovo System-on-a-chip (...

Leggi l'articolo completo sul nostro sito!


          CBO: Senate health bill would lead to 22 million fewer insured   
The Senate health care bill introduced last week would lead to 22 million fewer Americans having health insurance by 2026, while reducing the federal deficit by $321 billion, according to an analysis released Monday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Like the House bill, it would eliminate the requirement for individuals to buy insurance and repeal the taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans that paid for the expansion of coverage to millions of people since the law took effect in 2014. On Monday, GOP Senate leaders added a so-called “continuous coverage” provision that would require people who had gaps in insurance coverage of at least 63 days the previous year to wait six months, after signing up for insurance, before their new coverage kicks in. The Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would end the increased federal funding to state Medicaid programs that began under the ACA. [...] it would change the way Medicaid — called Medi-Cal in California — gets funded in the long run by capping the amount of money the federal government provides states each year, and tying that number to a growth rate that is slower than the growth rate of health care costs. The subsidies under the Senate proposal would be linked to a less generous insurance plan with a higher deductible — meaning even those who would continue to receive assistance would probably shoulder higher out-of-pocket costs. Older Americans, regardless of whether they receive subsidies, could pay much higher premiums under the GOP plan because both the House and Senate bills would allow insurance companies to charge older people up to five times more than what they charge younger people. Changes to the Senate bill are anticipated this week, as several GOP senators — from both the moderate and conservative wings of the party — have expressed reservations about the measure and could lobby for amendments.
          How Congress Could Fix JASTA: Give the President Waiver Authority   

Congress should amend the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act to give the president authority to waive the new international terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, says CFR's John Bellinger.


          Juízo sobre Temer cabe ao Judiciário, diz João Doria   
Em visita ao Congresso Nacional, o prefeito de São Paulo, João Doria (PSDB) declarou nesta quarta-feira (28) que somente o Judiciário deve decidir sobre a culpabilidade ou não do presidente Michel Temer, alvo de denúncia da Procuradoria-Geral da República por corrupção passiva.  "Não se pode estabelecer...
          Congressman Don Beyer to Introduce Groundbreaking Congressional Election Reform Bill, "The Fair Representation Act"   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2017

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:

David Daley, Senior Communications Fellow, at ddaley@fairvote.org

Austin Plier, Communications Manager, at aplier@fairvote.org

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08) today announced his introduction of The Fair Representation Act, groundbreaking legislation that would reform Congressional elections, defeat gerrymandering, combat political polarization, and most importantly, give voters real voice and choice when electing their representatives.

Under the Fair Representation Act, all U.S. House members will be elected by ranked-choice voting in new, larger multi-winner districts. This system would replace today’s map of safe red and blue seats that lock voters into uncompetitive districts, and elect members of Congress with little incentive to work together and solve problems.

"Polarization and partisanship, both among voters and in the Congress, have reached dangerous and scary heights," said Rep. Beyer. "The Fair Representation Act is the bold reform America needs to be sure every vote matters, to defeat the gerrymander, and ensure the House of Representatives remains the people's House."

“The Fair Representation Act is the most comprehensive approach to improving congressional elections in American history,” said Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote. “It creates an impartial, national standard that gets at the core of FairVote’s mission: Giving voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans.”

This legislation directly addresses the most crucial problem in our democracy: A system fundamentally broken by a dangerous new era of fierce partisan divisions. Upwards of 85 percent of Americans live in districts increasingly skewed toward one party. Too many votes simply don’t matter. The current system rewards partisans, destroys electoral accountability, and discourages innovation or crossing party lines.

The Fair Representation Act gives voters of all political stripes the power to elect House members who reflect their views and will work effectively with others. It increases voter choice and provides a fair reflection of voter preferences -- the majority elects the most seats  but everyone earns their fair share, including urban Republicans, rural Democrats and innovative thinkers of all kinds. Independents and third-party candidates could run without being spoilers.

Here’s how it works: Smaller states with five or fewer members will elect all representatives from one statewide, at-large district. States with more than six will draw multi-winner districts of three to five representatives each. Congress will remain the same size, but districts will be larger.

They will be elected through ranked-choice voting, an increasingly common electoral method used in many American cities, whereby voters rank candidates in order of choice, ensuring that as many voters as possible help elect a candidate they support. Under ranked-choice voting, if no candidate reaches the threshold needed to win, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. When a voter’s top choice loses, their vote instantly goes to their second choice. The process repeats until all seats are elected.

Using this approach, four in five voters would elect someone they support. The number of voters in position to swing a seat would immediately triple -- from less than 15 percent in 2016, to just under half.

The districts themselves will be drawn by state-created, independent commissions made up of ordinary citizens. These larger districts would be nearly impossible to gerrymander for political advantage – and would force politicians to seek out voters with different perspectives and remain accountable to them.

“Under the Fair Representation Act, every voter will live in a district that matters, and be able to cast a vote that makes a difference. We’ll open elections to more voices, wider debate and greater diversity. And fairer elections, in turn, will discourage deep polarization,” said Richie.

Cynthia Terrell, founder of Representation2020, added that “No single reform would create more opportunities for women and people of color from across the spectrum to compete in fair elections. It is central to our vision of how we achieve parity for women in congressional elections.”

The Act will transform our broken politics and, once again, create a government designed of, by, and for the people. House leadership will reliably shift with whichever party’s candidates won more votes in the election and members will be rewarded for working cooperatively with others.

“The Fair Representation Act is effective, constitutional and grounded in American traditions of remodeling our system to ensure every vote counts and all our voices are heard,” said Richie. “It is the transformative change we need to make democracy work for all Americans.” To learn more about the Fair Representation Act, read FairVote’s Monopoly Politics report, and explore resources associated with the proposed legislation.

 

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FairVote is a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans. Since its founding in 1992, FairVote has advocated for this comprehensive reform vision, and applauds the introduction of the Fair Representation Act as a monumental step forward for election reform.


          Maine Court's decision on ranked choice voting can't thwart the people's will   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 23, 2017

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Jill Ward, president of the Maine League of Women Voters, 207-317-6310
Kyle Bailey with The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting, 207-939-8600

 

Maine’s Supreme Court today issued an advisory opinion stating its belief that ranked choice voting (RCV) is in conflict with the Maine state constitution when applied to general elections for governor and state legislature.

The law, however, does remain fully in effect. This ruling has no binding impact and does not apply to use of RCV for all of Maine’s congressional and state primaries in 2018 and its U.S. Senate and U.S. House elections in November 2018.

“Maine voters embraced ranked choice voting because they wanted a stronger voice, more civil campaigns, and to reform our toxic politics. This opinion must not stand in the way of the will of the people. We call on the Maine legislature to uphold the will of the people and support a constitutional amendment to enact RCV for all statewide elections in Maine. Ranked choice voting is also still plainly constitutional for major offices in Maine, including elections for U.S. Senate and U.S. House. Those elections have been affected by split-votes in the past, and will benefit from the use of ranked choice voting going forward.”

“We look forward to working with the coalition on the ground in Maine on a successful implementation of ranked choice voting in 2018 -- and on building even more national momentum for this proven and constitutional reform to give voters more power.”

Ranked choice voting remains on the move nationally: This year 19 other states had legislation on ranked choice voting, and chambers supporting its use in federal offices included the Utah House of Representatives and Hawaii House of Representatives.

For comment on the response on the ground in Maine, please contact Jill Ward, president of the League of Women Voters of Maine at 207-317-6310 or Kyle Bailey with the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting at 207-939-8600.


          David Daley Joins FairVote as Senior Fellow   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 5, 2017

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:

David Daley, senior fellow, (347) 721-4576 or ddaley@fairvote.org
Austin Plier, manager of communications (301) 270-4616, aplier@fairvote.org

National best-selling author joins FairVote to report on and analyze democracy solutions

David Daley, the former editor-in-chief of Salon and author of a national best-seller on the strategy, technology and politics behind Republican redistricting successes during the 2010 cycle, has joined FairVote as a senior fellow.

In this new position, Daley will continue expand his writing, reporting and speaking on redistricting and democracy issues, while also guiding FairVote’s communication efforts and building a team to expand original journalism efforts and the organization’s social media presence.

“This is a pivotal time to cover redistricting and the democracy agenda, with new legal and political strategies and new awareness that elections in the next three years may define most people’s representation in the 2020’s. With so many people thinking seriously about the state of our democracy, it’s the ideal moment to build awareness around FairVote’s analysis and essential reforms,” said Daley. “Extreme partisan gerrymandering is dangerous for democracy – especially when powered by sophisticated map-making software and all-knowing data sets. FairVote’s nonpartisan reforms hold the solution.”

Daley led Salon’s resurgence as an essential voice on politics and culture, launched the careers of dozens of today’s most vital and diverse voices, and more than quadrupled the site’s readership during his three years as editor in chief. His book, “Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy” (W.W. Norton/Liveright) was hailed by the New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker, Vox and Vice as one of the most important political books of the year. Daley has spoken about the book on CNN, National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air,” “Here and Now,” “On the Media” and many other broadcasts, and before audiences in 20 states.

Daley’s work has appeared in New York magazine, the Boston Globe and many other publications, including in the Washington Post Outlook section on April 2nd. He has been a digital media fellow at the University of Georgia’s Wilson Center and Grady School of Journalism. He has also lectured at Duke University, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan University, Boston College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Schwarzenegger Institute at the University of Southern California, and many other leading universities. He is also a former reporter and editor at the Hartford Courantthe Louisville Courier-Journal and senior editor of Details magazine.

“We’re thrilled to add a journalist of David’s caliber to our team, and a high-profile national voice on gerrymandering and democracy,” said Rob Richie, FairVote’s executive director. “Everyone is thinking right now about ways to make our democracy more functional and representative, and David will be a great help in advancing our ideas into this vital national conversation – and have the space to create his own independent analysis as well.”

FairVote is a longtime proponent of ranked choice voting, as approved by Maine voters for all their major elections in 2018, and as central to the Fair Representation Act proposal to be introduced in Congress later this year. When evaluated by academics and political strategists, the fair representation form of ranked choice voting has been rated as likely to have the single most powerful positive impact on elections, such as at the April 2015 National Democracy Slam at the Washington College of Law and in an August 2015 report based on ratings by 14 leading political scientists and law professors.

To learn more about FairVote’s fair representation plan for Congress, read FairVote’s Monopoly Politics report, which highlights the winner-take-all problem facing U.S. House elections, and explore resources associated with the proposed Fair Representation Act. Highlights of Daley’s writings are available on his FairVote bio page.

For more information, contact Daley at DDaley[at]fairvote.org or manager of communications Austin Plier at aplier[at]fairvote.org


          Maryland Legislator Aims to End Congressional Gerrymandering through Interstate Compact with Virginia   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 1, 2017

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Michelle C. Whittaker, Communications Director, (301) 270-4616 or mwhittaker@fairvote.org

 

 Legislation Looks to Break Stalemate on Redistricting Reform

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND -- Delegate Al Carr of the Maryland House of Delegates on January 30th introduced HB 622, the Potomac Compact for Fair Representation. Delegate Carr’s ground-breaking legislation is aimed at breaking the national stalemate on reform of congressional redistricting through an innovative interstate compact first pioneered last year by Congressman Jamie Raskin. Delegate Carr was joined by six co-sponsors: Delegates Barnes, Fennell, Hixson, Luedtke, Moon, and Wilkins.

The Potomac Compact for Fair Representation focuses in particular on an opportunity for two notoriously gerrymandered states -- Virginia and Maryland -- to jointly establish congressional election plans that are fair and representative in both states. It is grounded in the constitutionally established power of states to enter into binding interstate compacts. HB 622 would enable Maryland to enter into a compact in which Virginia and other participating states would mutually agree to form an independent redistricting commission that could think outside the traditional gerrymandering box.

"We are creating an opportunity for Maryland and Virginia to lead the nation by ending an undemocratic process and giving power to the people,” stated Delegate Carr.

The commission would be encouraged to consider nonpartisan plans to create larger congressional districts where multiple candidates would be elected, like those used to elect the Maryland House of Delegates. If the commission adopts such multi-winner districts, it would then establish an election method that produces fair and proportional outcomes, such as ranked choice voting that allows like-minded voters to elect candidates in proportion to their voting strength.

Maryland and Virginia are natural partners for initiating the compact. The two states mirror each other in their partisan configuration. Both the Democratic and Republican governors in Virginia and Maryland, respectively, confront legislatures with a significant partisan advantage for the other major party. In addition, the redistricting process in Virginia and Maryland has resulted in legal challenges and national attention for the unfair and often odd-looking districts. Currently, there is no sponsor in the Virginia legislature, but advocates hope that changes in the coming year.

The Potomac Compact was first introduced in the 2016 legislative session by former Maryland state senator Jamie Raskin. “The compact is an excellent model that could be joined by other states to give voters a stronger voice on Election Day and fair representation,” said FairVote’s Rob Richie. “States can be laboratories of democracy to prevent political corruption and create fair representation by addressing winner-take-all systems that don’t give all voters a voice.”

FairVote is a longtime proponent of fair representation methods like ranked choice voting. When evaluated by academics and political strategists, ranked choice voting has been rated as likely to have the single most powerful positive impact on elections, such as at the April 2015 National Democracy Slam at the Washington College of Law and in an August 2015 report based on ratings by 14 leading political scientists and law professors.

To learn more about FairVote’s fair representation plan for Congress, read FairVote’s Monopoly Politics report, which highlights the winner-take-all problem facing U.S. House elections, and explore resources associated with the proposed Fair Representation Act.


          Maine Voters Adopt Ranked Choice Voting, Lead the Way for More Choice, More Voice   

Lead the Way for More Choice, More Voice

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ranked choice voting is a voting system that gives voters the freedom to rank candidates in order of choice on a ballot. It is used in a dozen cities across the U.S. including San Francisco (CA), Minneapolis (MN), and Portland (ME). For more information on how ranked choice voting works, go to fairvote.org/rcv.

Question 5 passed in Maine by a margin of 52% to 48%. Benton County adopted ranked choice voting by 54% to 46%.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 9, 2016

CONTACT:

Kyle Bailey, Campaign Manager, Yes On 5 | kyle@rcvmaine.com

Jill Ward, President, League of Women Voters of Maine | jmward23@gmail.com

Michelle Whittaker, Director of Communications, FairVote | (301) 270-1238 | mwhittaker@fairvote.org

 

PORTLAND, MAINE — On November 8, Maine voters passed Question 5 and became the first state in the nation to adopt Ranked Choice Voting for state and federal elections. The Yes On 5 campaign was led by the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting, a grassroots, Maine-based organization founded by former independent state senator Dick Woodbury of Yarmouth, and led by Kyle Bailey of Gorham.

“Passage of Question 5 is a historic victory for the people of Maine,” said campaign chair Dick Woodbury. “Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens, and Libertarians across Maine understand that the system is broken, and they have taken an important step to help fix it.”

“Maine people have exercised their right to change the way we elect our leaders,” said campaign manager Kyle Bailey. “Question 5 levels the playing field for candidates with the best ideas and gives more choice and more voice to voters, so you never have to vote for the lesser of two evils.”

Question 5 was endorsed by over 500 civic, business, labor, and faith leaders and organizations, and newspapers across Maine. The campaign was supported by a politically diverse campaign committee and county co-chairs. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Maine endorsed Ranked Choice Voting in 2011 and convened a working group that drafted the law on which the initiative was based.

“Maine has not elected a governor to a first term with majority support since 1966,” said Jill Ward, President of the League of Women Voters of Maine. “Ranked Choice Voting restores majority rule and puts more power in the hands of voters.”

FairVote, a national organization that advocates for Ranked Choice Voting and other proven solutions to give more voice to voters, supported a project in Maine to educate voters about this reform.

“The adoption of Ranked Choice Voting in Maine marks a dramatic step forward for American democracy,” said FairVote executive director Rob Richie, “Maine's groundbreaking victory promises to inspire other states to embrace this better system.”

Under the new law, Ranked Choice Voting will take effect in Maine in 2018 for primary and general elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate, and State Representative. “The voters of Maine have spoken,” said Ward. “We’re ready to get to work to ensure that this new law is implemented efficiently and effectively, and that the will of the people is upheld.”

 

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          Presumptive Nominees Represent Small Portion of Eligible Voters   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 10. 2016

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:  

Michelle C. Whittaker (301) 270-4616 or mwhittaker@fairvote.org

 

FairVote Analysis Reveals Presumptive Nominees Represent Small Portion of Eligible Voters

Wasted Votes Impact Military and Overseas Voters

 

Takoma, Park, MD — FairVote, the Center for Voting and Democracy, has compiled and posted an online Popular Vote 2016 spreadsheet with detailed state-by-state data on votes cast in the presidential primaries and caucuses to date. The data tracks vote totals for individual presidential candidates in each state that has held a primary or caucus. Additional information includes voter turnout, “wasted” votes cast for withdrawn candidates, and each candidate's share of the total voting population. Data analysis is available for voter turnout in primary elections only since caucus votes are not fully reported to the public.

View the data at PopularVote2016.com.

Frontrunners Garner Votes from Small Percentage of Eligible Voters

Overall, only 4.7% of eligible voters cast a ballot for Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee after both Ted Cruz and John Kasich suspended their campaigns following the Indiana primary. The Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, has received only 5.6% of eligible voters nationwide. “It’s telling that barely a tenth of eligible voters have voted for either of the two presumptive nominees,” remarks FairVote’s executive director Rob Richie, “even in a year of relatively high primary turnout.”

Trump has won 10,706,130 votes out of 26,590,345 counted in Republican contests so far, representing:

  • 40.2% of all Republican votes counted so far

  • 21.9% of all votes counted so far this year in 2016 presidential contests

  • 4.7% of all eligible voters in the United States

  • 4.3% of all adult residents in the United States

  • 3.3% of all people living in the United States

Hillary Clinton has won 12,575,576 votes out of 23,376,193 counted in Democratic contests, representing:

  • 56.2% of all Democratic votes counted so far

  • 25.7% of all votes counted so far this year in 2016 presidential contests

  • 5.6% of all eligible voters in the United States

  • 5.0% of all adult residents in the United States

  • 3.9% of all people living in the United States 

Richie notes, “we ultimately should explore ways of opening up our general elections in November to greater choice through reforms like ranked choice voting.”

Votes Cast for Candidates after Withdrawal

More than 700,000 votes were cast and counted for a candidate that has withdrawn from the race, with a significant portion (619,261) cast in the Republican primary. In Indiana, for example, 28,038 votes were cast for one of the six Republican candidates listed on the ballot but no longer in the race on Election Day (May 3). Other notable vote totals cast for withdrawn candidates came out of Florida (117,187), Arizona (99,306), and Pennsylvania (35,576). In New York, such wasted votes aren’t even reported &mdash including a significantly higher percentage of votes cast by overseas military personnel who received ballots in advance of the primary that often include many withdrawn candidates.

Such absentee and early voters are among those most obviously affected by candidates that drop out of the race between the time when they cast their vote and Election Day. Some voters chose on Election Day to cast a vote for a candidate that had already dropped out. “It’s time for states to uphold voting rights for our troops and all those voting early by using ranked choice voting ballots,” says Richie, “as done already in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina in congressional elections that might go to a runoff.”

The Horserace: Primaries vs. Caucuses

FairVote’s Popular Vote 2016 spreadsheet includes sheets with all results by party as well as ones with votes only cast in caucuses and only cast in primaries. One key finding shows that comparisons overstate similarities between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders supporters. In primaries only, Sanders’ share of the vote is 41.62% compared to 65.14% in caucuses. For Trump, however, he earns 40.73% of primary votes as compared to 27.24% of caucus votes.

FairVote will continue to update our Popular Vote 2016 spreadsheet (see www.PopularVote2016.com) following the release of official vote totals in every nomination contest, so it can continue to serve as an analysis tool for any journalist interest in voter turnout trends. We will also be releasing an in-depth analysis of presidential primary voter turnout trends.

FairVote is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to make elections fair, functional, and fully representative. The data provided in the spreadsheet has been collected from publicly available state election pages, state party pages & other sources as indicated.


          New Poll & Report: How Better Polling Tells Us What Republican Voters Really Think   

Download PDF Version of Release

WASHINGTON, DC -- The College of William of Mary and the nonpartisan electoral reform organization FairVote have released a report on a national survey offering new insights into voter preferences and views on electoral reform. In partnership with YouGov and scholars Alan Abramowitz (Emory University) and Walter Strone (UC-Davis), they conducted a national online survey of a representative sample of 1,000 Republican and independent voters, with half of the sample from January 21-25 (before the Iowa caucuses) and half from February 4-8 (before the New Hampshire primary).

Read Full Report

The new survey’s innovative methodology incorporated presidential candidate rankings (with more than nine in ten respondents ranking all 11 candidates who were surveyed), issue analyses, and opinions on electoral reforms. “Our survey provides journalists, pollsters, and campaigns with valuable insights into voter preferences that have been largely overlooked in national polling,” said FairVote executive director Rob Richie.

The full report, with analyses and appendices with all responses and crosstab information for questions involving electoral reform, is available at FairVote.org. The ranking data is also presented at http://www.GOP2016poll.com with an interactive data tool that allows users to see how candidates fare against each one-on-one, who is the second choice of backers of different candidates and which candidate would win under a ranked choice voting, “instant runoff” election system.

A panel discussion will be held today at 1 pm at the Zenger Room at the National Press Club. Featured panelists are:

  • Ronald Rapoport, John Marshall Professor at the College of William and Mary,
  • Rob Richie, Executive Director at FairVote – The Center for Voting and Democracy,
  • Emily Ekins, Research Fellow, Cato Institute, and
  • John Fortier, Democracy Project Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center

Key Findings

● Presidential Race - Trump’s high floor comes with relatively low ceiling as underscored by loss to Ted Cruz in instant runoff: The College of William and Mary/FairVote survey echoes most other national polls indicating that Donald Trump is far ahead in voter intentions, with 38.5%, compared to 17.8% for Ted Cruz, and 12.3% for Marco Rubio. However, when a ranked choice voting tally is run that results in a one-on-one “instant runoff” between Trump and Cruz, Trump trails 51% to 49% and loses ground to other candidates in every single round of the tally. Although Trump does defeat all other candidates one-on-one, including a 54% to 46% over Marco Rubio and 66% to 34% over Jeb Bush, he is the last choice of more than one in five respondents.

● Republican and independent voters are ready for electoral rule changes: Voters are generally ready to embrace changes in the nature of congressional elections and the composition of Congress, albeit some hesitation and uncertainty exists. As consistent with past surveys of right-of-center voters more than four in five respondents on an absolute scale support voter identification requirements (86.5%) and term limits for Congress (82.6%). Support was also high for a voter registration system that registers all eligible voters while blocking ineligible voters (78.6%), easier ballot access for third parties and independents (73.2%), limits of political donations, (72.7%) impartial redistricting (66%), and a national popular vote for president (66.4%). Ranked choice voting was backed most strongly for primary elections (51.8%) and local elections (49.3%), and had more support than opposition for its use at every level of election. When it comes to imagining changes by 2030, large majorities of those with an opinion support a Congress with more third parties, women, people of color and major party representatives from the opposition party’s strongholds – with no more than 18.9% opposing any of these changes.

 Voters ready for presidential nomination rules changes: Although respondents are not passionate about any single change to the nomination process, they have little support for the rules as they are. Strong majorities are ready to support ranked choice ballots in the nomination process ((57.1%), a national primary among the top candidates (57%), changing the schedule so Iowa and New Hampshire don’t always come first (55.8%), and delegates in all states being awarded proportionally rather than by winner take all (51.7%).

● Millennials most ready for electoral changes: Millennial voters (under 30) had the highest intensity of support for electoral changes when compared to other age groups. For example, 23% of millennials in the survey strongly favor having more third party and independents in Congress, as opposed to 13% of respondents over 60. Substantial, if slightly smaller gaps exist between those age groups for having more women and people of color in Congress. When it comes to reform, ranked choice voting had the backing of 61% of all respondents with an opinion about it, but a whopping 79% of millennials.

● The Tea Party remains influential: A majority of Republicans identify as Tea Party supporters (53%) to some extent, and in 2014, Tea Party supporters accounted for more than two-thirds of active Republicans (those Republicans who campaigned, donated to, advocated for, or voted for a Republican candidate). An overwhelming majority of Ted Cruz supporters are Tea Party supporters (84%), however, Donald Trump receives high support from both Tea Party and non-Tea Party supporters.

● A three-party race in November: Only about one-in-four Republicans are willing to support the Republican ticket both with Donald Trump as the nominee and with Marco Rubio as the Republican nominee against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and an independent candidate.

The data-rich report, with detailed questions about a wide range of issues and more information about how voters see the election, is available in full on-line. The interactive feature allowing users to see the impact of voter rankings of candidates is at http://www.GOP2016poll.com

For more information, contact FairVote communications director Michelle Whittaker at mwhittaker@fairvote.org or call its offices at (301) 270-4616.

FairVote is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to make elections fair, functional, and fully representative.

The College of William and Mary is the second-oldest college in the nation, known for cutting-edge research.  


          FairVote Reformer: Winner-Take-All Electoral System is a Loser for Democracy   

Spotlight: President Obama, Red & Blue America & and the Perils of Winner-Take-All 2011 State of the Union

In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, President Barack Obama put particular stress on the theme that launched him into national prominence in 2004 at the Democratic Party convention, declaring “that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America.” Later in the week, he visited two strongly Republican states, Idaho and Kansas, to explain his policy proposals.

The fact that it was the president’s first visit to Idaho of his presidency tells us how his vision of a “united states” clashes with the unforgiving logic of winner-take-all elections. The three, remaining unvisited states -- South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah, -- are also firmly “red,” underscoring how the White House political team has prioritized swing states in his first team. In 2008, for example, Obama won 49.7% of the vote in North Carolina and 44.7% in South Carolina. That may look a small difference, but he visited North Carolina 18 times in his first term and held the 2012 Democratic convention there; yet he hasn’t been back to South Carolina since his key primary win there in January 2008.

Why? There simply is no way his campaign could turn 44.7% into a win in 2012. Today, nearly all competition between the major parties only takes place within the 47% to 53% spectrum of partisanship. Outside that narrow range, you’re almost certainly wasting money, whether running for president with winner-take-all rules for allocating electors or running for U.S. Congress.

In presidential elections, winner-take-all voting means that the White House is effectively elected by the small - and ever shrinking - number of swing states, rather than by the voters in all 50 states. Citing FairVote’s research, The Los Angeles Times’ George Skelton in a new column favoring the National Popular Vote plan for president writes that: “Under a winner-take-all system, the vast majority of states are shunted to the sidelines, forced to watch from afar as the candidates fight it out in a few battleground states.” The Washington Post last week used FairVote data to show visually how partisan lines are dividing America.

The same is true of congressional elections. Winner-take-all is so decisive, in fact, that FairVote was able to project the outcomes for the 2014 congressional elections for 370 out of 435 races – missing only one. The same goes for the 2016 congressional election outcomes, which FairVote projected only two days after the 2014 elections in more than 85% of U.S. House Seats.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to winner-take-all. The National Popular Vote plan for president would make every vote in every state in every election count equally, creating new incentives for equitable campaigning. With fair representation voting for Congress, the left, right and center of every region of the country while ensuring that every voter can take part in a meaningfully contested election. This is something President Obama has a record of supporting: as a state senator, he introduced a billto bring fair representation voting to Illinois and another bill to establish ranked choice voting (“instant runoff”) for primaries.

That reform history is consistent with his call during the State of the Union speech to uphold voting rights, when he stated “surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred." Such statements are an encouraging sign that the president will once again address fair representation and voting rights, issues that he was generally a champion for during his early days as a politician in Illinois. Reaching across the aisle for support to change winner-take-all elections is the best say to end the political dead zones in red and blue states, which leave voters helpless and resulting in less fair representation. (See our summary of 2016 dead zones that underscores how much of the country is stuck in a false “red” or “blue” reality based on winner-take-all voting.)

News on our Feb. 5-6 conference, Ranked Choice Voting campaigns and more

•           Attend our Conference! FairVote is co-sponsoring the ninth annual Voting and Elections Summit, Feb. 5-6 at George Washington University. The first day will include a keynote address done by Congressman Keith Ellison and a FairVote plenary with a great lineup of 20-minute dialogues. The second day will include FairVote-run workshops on getting involved in our Promote our Vote project and our full reform agenda.

•           Right to vote amendment reintroduced: US Congressmen Mark Pocan and Keith Ellison introduced a Right to Vote constitutional amendment at a press conference on Thursday morning, and FairVote staffer Dania Korkor spoke in support. Watch the video here, and call for a constitutional Right to Vote here.

•           Ranked choice voting advocacy and news: Ranked choice voting (RCV, or “instant runoff”)- made headlines this month, with a new editorial endorsement from the Washington Post, in support of new RCV legislation in Washington, D.C and with ”don’t miss” comments from Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges in a prominent event in DC (see Hodges talk about RCV at the 29 minute mark). In Maine, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting has collected more than 60,000 signatures to put RCV on the November 2106 ballot and won support from Maine’s largest newspaper. The system will also be used to determine the winner for Best Picture category at the Oscars. Take the poll here to show us how you would rank the contenders.

•           FairVote analyses garners attention: FairVote’s work has been getting attention recently, with a piece from Aaron Blake in the Washington Post on the decline of swing states, a prominent citation from Dylan Matthews at Vox that stirred vigorous debate (to which our Nathan Nicholson responded in posts here and here.), and the George Skelton Los Angeles Times column on the National Popular Vote plan.

•           Thank you! Our thanks to all of our supporters and donors for their generous year end support. We surpassed our end-of-year goals, but it’s not too late to help make a difference in 2015 with a new donation!

 

Highlights from the FairVote Blog

 

See more from our blog at www.fairvoteblog.com, and also see longer form blog posts by clicking here.


          FairVote Reformer: Spotlight on Projections in 85% of 2016 Congressional Elections   

Minter despondent photo NYT Dec 10 updateOn November 6, 2014, more than two years before the 2016 congressional elections, FairVote projected the outcomes of the 2016 congressional elections in more than 85% of U.S. house seats. In other words, FairVote projects that 373 house districts are so deeply entrenched for one party that the incumbent can keep their seat just by seeking re-election, 
irrespective of who else runs or how much money is spent in the race.

Whole regions of the country are politically dead. We project winners in every seat for 27 states. In a group of 14 southern and border states, we project winners in 125 of 126 seats – and 123 seats even if every election were an open seat with equal financing. This means that literally hundreds of districts are beyond competition with real consequences for voters being part of meaningful debates. For a powerful example, see the New York Times “op-art” piece by Marco Ricci, following the candidacy of Mike Minter, a Democrat running in what may be the most Republican district in the nation.

A partisan skew that distorts accountability has also emerged. Of the 373 safe seats, Republicans hold 212. That means that Republicans only need to win six of 62 unprojected seats to win 218 seats and keep their majority. To retake the House, Democratic candidates would likely need to win some 55% of the vote.

Our method of projection is remarkably accurate. In 2013, FairVote projected 368 house seats and those projections matched the results in 367 contests without any analysis whatsoever of polling data or campaign spending. In 2012, FairVote projected 333 seats and those projections matched the results in all 333 contests: 100% accuracy.

Shortly after the election, our executive director Rob Richie authored a piece in The Nation highlighting just how unfair congressional elections have become. It echoed pre-election pieces making the case for fair representation voting by Krist Novoselic in the Open Standard and by Reihan Salam in Slate. These pieces demonstrate that broken congressional elections hurt everyone, and how there is an all-partisan solution on the table.

FairVote has consistently promoted the fair voting solution. By noting that the problem is not merely gerrymandering but actually inherent in districting itself, the way out becomes clear: replace the exclusive use of winner-take-all districts with fair representation voting. With fair representation voting, voters have the power to choose their representatives, irrespective of what district they happen to be drawn into, using American, candidate-based forms of proportional voting like ranked choice voting. This constitutional and historically-grounded way of conducting elections could be applied to Congress by using larger districts, each electing between three and five candidates. We are helping to craft model legislation that would enact these practices.

FairVote has drawn sample maps demonstrating how this solution would truly represent the left, right and center of every state while making every vote count. Those maps can be easily viewed along with detailed analysis at fairvoting.us. Look up your state, and see what fair voting could mean for you.


Other News

  • FairVote is co-sponsoring the ninth annual Voting and Elections Summit, Feb. 5-6 at George Washington University. We’ll have sessions with prominent speakers on the 5th, and two workshops on the 6th digging deep into how people can get involved in our core reform work.
  • The largest newspaper in Maine reports on signature drive for ranked choice voting, which they have endorsed already. A nearly all-volunteer effort has collected about two-thirds of the necessary signatures for a statewide vote to use RCV for all state and congressional elections in Maine.
  • FairVote’s staff frequently makes presentations. Our executive director Rob Richie presented in the past week on instant runoff voting in Newport News, the right to vote amendment at the Rainbow PUSH annual conference and on redistricting reform in Washington, D.C.
  • Friday, December 12, Rob Richie and policy analyst Andrew Douglas will present during a FairVote-sponsored session at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ winter meeting. FairVote staffers talked with hundreds of elected officials and civic leaders at booths recently at the annual meetings of the National League of Cities and National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • The Washington Post has editorialized on behalf of ranked choice voting in its instant runoff form twice in the past month, including this strong piece. See highlights of FairVote’s high profile news coverage throughout 2014.
  • FairVote submits testimony on Michigan Electoral College “reform” plan, providing criticism of both the current winner-take-all system and Michigan’s proposed alternative formula. FairVote’s Roll Call piece on November 7 was the first to flag this potential bill and why the National Popular Vote plan remains the best way for states to move forward.
  • Positive results in Oakland’s high profile RCV race for mayor demonstrate that Oakland voters understood and used it well there and in three other California cities. See our visual demonstration of the Oakland race, and stay tuned for results of a new telephone survey that will confirm the findings of a similar survey last year.

From the Blog

See more from our blog at www.fairvoteblog.com, and also see longer form blog posts by clicking here.


          The Reformer: Special Edition, FairVote's Reforms Featured in Washington Post and New York Times   

We'll be back next month with more detailed news from FairVote, but as summer comes to a close we wanted to share two
high-profile commentaries on our core reform proposals.

First, Katrina vanden Heuvel had a widely syndicated commentary published in the Washington Post, where she makes a powerful case for advancing our fair representation plan and builds upon her recent piece on the National Popular Vote plan. Vanden Heuvel extends the logic of her previous analysis to showcase how House elections can be reformed using multi-seat districts and a fair representation alternative, highlighting our interactive flash map (which shows such plans for every state in the country with more than one House district). Take a look -- and please sign this petition to ask your House Member to support a bill to make this change.

Second, Executive Director Rob Richie had a letter published in the New York Times, making the case for a right to vote in the Constitution. The letter dovetailed nicely with new advances for our Promote Our Vote resolutions and our new website, which highlights various efforts to secure a constitutional right to vote.

We've attached both pieces in full below. You also might enjoy Richie's Gainesville Sun commentary on how Florida could resolve its redistricting lawsuit with the 2014 elections, as well as John Burbank's piece on proportional representation, and Larry Bradley's commentary about Instant Runoff Voting. There are also several new pieces on FairVote's blog.

 


New York Times. August 17, 2014. By Robert Richie.

Trying to ensure the fundamental right to vote

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/opinion/trying-to-ensure-the-fundamental-right-to-vote.html 

To the Editor:

Your Aug. 12 editorial “Where Voting Is Now Easier,” about the divergent directions states are taking on the accessibility of voting, underscores an unsettling reality: Our 50 states and more than 10,000 local jurisdictions structure and administer elections that are all separate and unequal. Our nation is long overdue for an explicit right to vote in the Constitution.

In 1787, our founders were not ready to establish that right. Over time, the right to vote has advanced largely as a state right. Federal constitutional changes have expanded suffrage, but they have never established it as a fundamental right of American citizenship. Until we join most states and other nations in enshrining the right to vote in our Constitution, some states and localities will infringe on voting rights, whether by design or as a byproduct of running democracy on the cheap.

Congress is entertaining H.J. Res. 44 to put a right to vote in the Constitution, a measure backed by a growing number of local governments. Let’s end the voting wars and accept voting as the fundamental democratic right that it is.


Washington Post. August 19, 2014. By Katrina vanden Heuvel.

We need a fairer system for choosing House members

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katrina-vanden-heuvel-we-need-a-fairer-system-for-choosing-house-members/2014/08/19/bf93c84c-271c-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html

In the original conception of our Constitution, the House of Representatives was to be the branch of government that best reflected the will of the people. House members cannot serve without being elected — vacancies are not filled by appointees — and they must face the voters every two years. Notably, the House holds pride of place as the first branch of government to be described in the Constitution. The framers move directly from “We the People” to the House, underlining the notion that, for our Constitution (and our government) to function, representatives must be accountable to the people.

Unfortunately, as we near the 2014 midterm elections, the reality of House races today clashes with that goal.

Let’s start with the connection between votes and seats. In 2012, we faced a major choice between the major parties and a mandate on President Obama’s first term. In the presidential race, Obama defeated Mitt Romney in the national popular vote by almost three percentage points, and Republicans suffered the worst performance in Senate elections by any major party in a half-century.

In House races, Democratic nominees overcame incumbent advantages for Republicans and won the national popular vote by more than 1.1 million votes. By those numbers, Americans painted the Capitol royal blue. Shockingly, though, Republicans won 54 percent of the House seats,establishing for themselves a 33-seat majority. And looking ahead, analysts estimate that Democrats may need as much as 55 percent of the popular vote in November to secure a majority.

Such a disconnect between voters and those who are installed as their congressional leaders goes far beyond any distortion we’ve seen in the Electoral College in presidential elections. It’s absolutely unacceptable in House elections, and it deserves far more debate than it has received.

The most-discussed culprit for the abysmal nature of House elections is gerrymandering. Every decade, states redraw congressional districts. Given the sophistication of today’s technology, the growing partisan divide among voters and the relatively low-profile nature of the process, those in charge of mapping have the means, motive and opportunity to use redistricting to help their friends and hurt their enemies. Republicans in states such as Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia did just that. Barack Obama carried all those states in 2008, but today, Republicans hold a 68-31 edge in those states’ House seats.

But while gerrymandering matters, we must think more broadly. The core problem turns out to be districting, not redistricting. Congress’s 1967 law that mandates use of single-member districts for House elections has institutionalized the practice of shoehorning voters into boxes that restrict choices and distort representation. That is, districts are drawn in ways that lead to results predetermined by the powers that be. But today, there’s a growing call, from members of Congress including James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to institutions such as The Washington Post editorial board, to consider allowing voters to define their own representation in multi-seat district elections.

FairVote has created just such a fair-representation plan that Congress has full authority to establish. Every state would keep its same number of seats, but districts would be combined into larger districts drawn by independent commissions. Of critical importance: In each new “superdistrict,” like-minded voters could elect candidates of choice in proportion to their share of the vote. To illustrate: In this “open-ticket system,” a voter would cast a vote for one candidate. This vote counts for the candidate and, if that candidate is associated with a political party, also for that party. Seats are then allocated to parties in proportion to their share of the vote using a proportional-representation formula — like that used by Democrats to allocate convention delegates in their presidential primaries. Each party’s share of seats is filled by its candidates who won the most votes. An independent wins by exceeding the minimum share of votes necessary to win. (Watch FairVote’s excellent video for a primer on the system.)

In Massachusetts, for example, more than a third of the state’s voters consistently vote Republican, but the GOP has not won a House seat there in two decades. Yet by consolidating Massachusetts’s nine districts into three districts of three seats each, and by using a fair-representation system, that significant bloc of Republican votes would consistently win three — rather than zero — of Massachusetts’s nine seats, a direct translation of the voters’ will. Similarly, Democrats could end Republican monopolies and exaggerated majorities in states such as Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Although novel, fair representation has the potential to draw a strong coalition of support. Women, for example, are deeply underrepresented in House elections, with more than four in five seats still held by men, and women win about 10 percent more seats in multi-seat state-legislative and city-council elections than they do in congressional districts. Other supporters would be those in favor of 50-state parties, as we would engender two-party competition in every corner of the nation. Third parties would be able to field viable candidates, not mere spoilers, and our ideological polarization would be lessened with a new mix of representatives that better reflects the diversity of our thoughts and interests.

How we can move such a bold plan forward? To start, Democrats who are crafting a redistricting reform package should enable commissions to create such plans. State leaders should petition Congress for an exemption from the 1967 mandate. Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D) has proposed that two states that have done partisan gerrymanders — one for Democrats and one for Republicans — could even enter into an interstate compact in which they agree to utilize a fair-representation plan together.

We may have an opportunity this year. In July, Florida’s congressional gerrymander was tossed out by a state judge on the grounds that two districts did not comply with the state’s Fair District constitutional amendments, which had been approved by voters in 2010. A FairVote proposal has shown how, in a fair-representation system, the five Florida districts affected by the ruling could be combined into a single district, its representatives chosen by the open-ticket rule. It would make every voter count, provide fairer partisan representation and uphold the Voting Rights Act.

People are thinking creatively about how to re-energize American democracy. It is not acceptable to sit on our hands as we watch the value of a vote get more and more skewed. It’s time to launch a drive for a fair-representation system for Congress so that the House of “We the People” can finally live up to its name.

 

 

 

 


          The Reformer: Encouraging Examples of All-Partisan Support for Reform   

The Reformer, July 30, 2014: Encouraging Examples of All-Partisan Support for Reform

With political polarization at its highest point in more than a century, observers often assume opposition to reform is inevitable. Election reform is no exception; when one major party supports a proposal, the other often opposes it. But as Ciara Torres-Spelliscy explains on the Brennan Center blog, some reform efforts earn cooperation, as evidenced by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration Reform and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform. This ability to find across-the-aisle cooperation is reflective of recent developments for FairVote’s Reform 2020 agenda that we spotlight below.

Highlights

  • National Popular Vote’s big win in New York State 
  • Voter turnout task force in large county recommends ranked choice voting
  • Both Virginia Democrats and Utah Republicans use ranked choice voting in key state legislative nomination contests
  • Louisiana governor signs groundbreaking voter pre-registration bill
  • Major parties finally put forward nominees for Election Assistance Commission
  • Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) lead push to restore voting rights for people with felony convictions, and a Bipartisan Policy Center commission earns unanimous support for significant reforms
  • Both major parties back ranked choice voting ballots for overseas voters in congressional elections in five states
  • Rest of the News:
  •    Remembering Kathleen Barber 
  •    Primary turnout plummets
  •    FairVote in major media
  •    Norm Ornstein: Top 4 improves Top 2
  •    Hendrik Hertzberg’s Birthday

 

Win for National Popular Vote in New York State

In April, New York became the 11th jurisdiction to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, giving backers a total of 61% of the electoral votes needed to activate the compact and ensure that the candidate who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC is always elected president. With overwhelming support from both major parties in the legislature (including 27-2 among Republican state senators and 30-2 among Democratic state senators), this victory demonstrates emerging bipartisan support for a national popular vote. Read Rob Richie’s Reuters’ article here and his piece with Andrea Levien in Presidential Studies Quarterly here.

All-partisan task force in Maryland County backs ranked choice voting

Montgomery County (MD), with more residents than six states, has a history of national leadership. Last year it passed one of FairVote's Promote Our Vote resolutions, affirming support for a constitutional right to vote and a commitment to improve voter turnout. The resolution resulted in a 12-member voter turnout task force, composed of an all-partisan mix of Republicans, Democrats, minor party backers, and independents. Its impressive collection of recommendations includes FairVote ideas like moving toward 100% voter registration, a lower voting age, and independent redistricting. The task force supported adoption of ranked choice voting for all county elections 11-1 to ensure more representative outcomes and less mudslinging in campaigns. The task force proposed the instant runoff form of ranked choice voting for single member districts and fair representation version for at-large seats. The report was presented to the county council and will be the subject of hearings this fall.

Virginia Democrats and Utah Republicans use ranked choice voting in key party elections

Rip Sullivan became the Democratic nominee for Virginia's 48th state House of Delegates District - and the strong favorite to win the seat - after the Democrats used the instant runoff (IRV) form in their firehouse primary. The district includes part of Arlington County where Democrats used IRV twice this year for county nomination contests that each drew more than 3,000 voters. In Utah, Republicans have used IRV for many key nomination contests since 2002, including the nomination of Jon Huntsman for Governor and the selection of replacements for state legislators in at least five districts. Given Republicans’ fractured 2016 presidential field and the chance to implement IRV in early caucus states like Iowa, FairVote’s Drew Spencer suggests that Republicans use IRV in more of their presidential nomination contests.

Louisiana governor signs groundbreaking voter pre-registration bill

In Louisiana, voter pre-registration earned bipartisan support this year. Governor Bobby Jindal, a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, signed a youth pre-registration bill into law this May. The new legislation requires 16- and 17-year-old citizens to be automatically pre-registered to vote unless they choose not to register. It received strong bipartisan support, with a unanimous vote in the state senate, and features an innovative “opt-out” approach to registration, which will facilitate more complete and accurate voter rolls once young Louisianans reach voting age.

Bipartisan recommendations on voting from Rand Paul, Ben Cardin, and Bipartisan Policy Center

We applaud two recent national calls for reform across the aisle. Two Senators, Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), are leading a drive to restore voting rights for citizens with felony convictions, as explained on the FairVote blog. Senator Cardin’s bill, S. 2235, and Senator Paul’s bill, S. 2550, would expand voting rights in federal elections to citizens with felony convictions and establish a system to notify them of this change. In addition, both bills grant the Attorney General, the Department of Justice, and private citizens a framework to sue for full and equitable application of the law.

Last month, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform took on a full range of issues, with a number of substantive calls for change that have unanimous backing from a commission that included former U.S. Senator Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Trent Lott. They called for redistricting reform, early voting, changes in campaign finance, and reform of Congressional procedures. One particularly promising reform is the establishment of a single election day for congressional primaries. This would allow for more focused media coverage and greater public awareness.

Promised revival of Election Assistance Commission: Major parties supply nominees

Created by the Help America Vote Act in 2002, the Election Assistance Commission provides a means to achieve more national coherence in our election administration through research, promotion of best practices, and certification of recommendations for voting equipment standards. As FairVote has reported, partisan bickering has left the commission without a quorum for nearly the entire Obama presidency. Finally, the major parties have both put forward two nominees to fill the long-time empty positions on the EAC board. We hope to see confirmation votes in September, and with it, the return of a fully functioning EAC.

Bipartisan support leads to five states using ranked choice ballots in congressional elections

FairVote has helped win ranked choice voting (RCV) for municipal elections in more than a dozen American cities and in dozens of major associations and universities. We expect more chances to win RCV reform in states and cities, and we are encouraged that both major parties are using RCV in various elections. This year, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and, South Carolina provided ranked choice voting ballots to all their overseas voters in runoffs, which ultimately boosted primary voters’ participation. Louisiana's overseas and out-of-state military voters will use ranked choice ballots for congressional elections in November. See FairVote’s recent blog post and congressional testimony on the proposal.

Electoral Roundup

Thank you, Kathleen Barber: We were saddened to hear about the death of Kathleen Barber, author of one of the most important books about changing winner-take-all elections to American forms of proportional representation. A former city councilor, professor at John Carroll University, and a FairVote founding advisory committee member who spoke at our founding meeting in 1992, Dr. Barber edited a collection about the use of ranked choice voting in five Ohio cities and then a stand-alone volume. She will be missed.

Plunging primary voter turnout draws Dan Balz’s welcome attention: The Committee for the Study of the American Electorate has given a mid-term report card for turnout in congressional and state primary elections this year – and we’re flunking! In the 25 states with statewide primaries for Senate and/or governor, turnout has declined from 18.3% of eligible voters in the 2010 midterm elections to just 14.8% this year. Turnout in 15 states was the lowest ever. The Washington Post’s senior political reporter Dan Balz highlighted the CSAE report, calling on candidates to say more about their plans to encourage participation. See our web resources on voter turnout and Promote Our Vote project to learn more.

FairVote in the media: Our executive director Rob Richie has recently been quoted in publications like the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and The Boston Globe. Richie and FairVote's research intern Duncan Hosie also published Huffington Post articles about low and unrepresentative turnout in California and reforms to boost turnout. Hosie also commemorated the 166th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention in a post on our Representation 2020 website. Our board chair Krist Novoselic talked about FairVote during an hour-long interview on Reason TV, and board member Michael Lind featured fair representation voting in Salon.

Norm Ornstein touts Top Four with ranked choice voting over Top Two: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for the nation to adopt California-style Top Two primaries in a New York Times commentary. While we congratulate Schumer for seeking to change our broken system, our recent California primary analysis shows how the Top Two system is problematic due to split votes and low turnout in primaries that reduce November choices to just two candidates. A better alternative is the Top Four system, which would advance four candidates and use ranked choice voting in November. We were pleased to see prominent scholar Norm Ornstein tout this idea in detail on the Diane Rehm show on National Public Radio.

Happy birthday, Hendrik Hertzberg: We toast our long-time board member Hendrik Hertzberg, who celebrated his birthday this month. Rick has written eloquently in The New Yorker and The New Republic about proportional representation, instant runoff voting, and the National Popular Vote plan; keep up with his latest on his New Yorker blog.


          Reformer: Is Your State Representative? See Where Your State Stands.    

A newsletter to keep you informed about all things election reform from FairVote. Visit this page to read the Reformer online. For more updates on FairVote’s work, visit our website and find us on Facebook and Twitter. Stay informed by signing up for more updates.


The Reformer: States of Reform Issue June 16, 2014

FairVote is an electoral reform leader with a strong vision of where we want to go and practical strategies for how to get there. We value research and analysis, regularly adding posts to our blog and website research section.

Highlights

  • Updated Monopoly Politics 2014 Report projects 371 House races and showcases a reform plan for your state
  • Washington Post editorial suggests time for fair representation voting
  • Report shows State of Women's Representation in your state
  • Massachusetts enacts voter pre-registration
  • Colorado reformer improves on Top Two primary model
  • New FairVote report shows the value of National Popular Vote
  • Second California jurisdiction adopts a fair representation system this year
  • Task force in county of 1 million recommends ranked choice voting
  • FairVote is hiring a new program director and welcomes new colleagues

 


Understanding House Elections: Monopoly Politics 2014 and the Fair Voting Solution

We urge you to visit the interactive map and comprehensive state-by-state profiles in Monopoly Politics 2014 and the Fair Voting Solution. Recently updated with analyses of open seats, the report allows you to know whether you live in one of the 371 districts already projected for one candidate in November and why. In 1997, we influenced a generation of political analysts by publicizing a way to categorize the partisan leans of House districts, and this latest update builds upon our 20-year history of reporting on House elections.The report also showcases state plans for achieving a better democracy through fair representation voting and details what our analysis means for issues like redistricting, campaign finance, and voting rights. Take a look tosee where your state stands, and come back on November 6 to see a list of projected winners in more than 380 of 435 districts for the 2016 House elections.

Washington Post editorial on June 15 suggests time for multi-member districts for Congress: The lead editorial in the Washington Post yesterday was entitled Blending Red and Blue, with a subheading "Americans want lawmakers to work together, which may require changing the political system." The author states: “Rebuilding the political center might require more radical measures such as the revival of at-large or multi-member congressional districts, which used to be common in many states." The editorial does not assume use of fair representation voting, but such systems are clearly the best way to achieve the goals of the editorial. In the past two years, the Post has published two commentaries by FairVote Executive Director Rob Richie that made the case for fair representation voting.

A note on Eric Cantor's defeat: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s June 10th primary loss was truly remarkable, but its shocking nature underscores how most primary elections are noncompetitive. Cantor is only the second House incumbent to lose this year, and 99% incumbent success in primaries is the norm. Most incumbents win easy primary victories and then easy general elections -- more than 97% of all House incumbents can be expected to return to Congress next year despite low ratings. We have more to say on our blog, but Cantor's defeat was not due to the “usual suspects” of closed primaries, redistricting and campaign spending.


 Representation of Women: The State of Women’s Representation 2013-2014

Our Representation 2020 project has produced a great resource, with extensive analysis and state-by-state profiles about representation of women in elected office and strategies for achieving parity: State of Women’s Representation 2013-2014.

Women seem poised this year for gains in Congress (currently 83% men) and potentially governorships (90% men), and many are winning nominations in certain House districts that are safe for their party. Women will be competitive in several statewide races, including Republican Senate candidates Joni Ernst (IA) and Terri Lynn Land (MI) and Democratic Senate candidates Alison Lundergan Grimes (KY) and Michelle Nunn (GA).One example of a likely U.S. House winner is Bonnie Watson Coleman, who won herprimary election for New Jersey’s 12th district on June 3rd. Running in a heavily Democratic district, she is expected to be New Jersey’s first African American woman elected to Congress. She almost certainly will be joined by Mia Love, an African American Republican in Utah. More women of all parties should be elected to Congress and represented in our government. To learn more, visit our Representation 2020 website.


FairVote Reforms Moving in the States

FairVote often works to pass legislation and ballot measures, but our greatest influence has come from developing policy ideas, introducing them to key players, and proposing strategies to win them. Here are recent examples:

Massachusetts adopts voter pre-registration for 16-year-olds: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has signed a strong election reform law that includes voter pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds. A decade ago, FairVote identified this policy as a way to achieve the goal of getting young voters registered as they reach voting age, and played a direct role in winning it in Maryland, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. We also play supportive role in Colorado, Delaware and Florida. We congratulate MassVote and Common Cause Massachusetts for their leadership in the multi-year campaign in Massachusetts.

 Fixing top two primary systems with ranked choice voting and the Colorado innovation: In a recent Innovative Analysis, we wrote about primary elections and how to fix them. Voter turnout is plunging in primaries, and is far less representative than the November electorate. One proposal, the “top two primary system,” addresses real problems by increasing voter choice in primaries. But it also has unfortunate, correctable problems, as we explain in a timely review of this month's Top Two primary in California.

The Coalition for a New Colorado Election System is circulating a ballot measure that largely corrects the downsides of the California Top Two system – the key innovation being advancing more candidates and relying on ranked choice voting (“instant runoff”) in November. See our team’s detailed analysis of the Colorado plan. We also like key elements of the proposal developed by Nevada's Doug Goodman, who is gaining support from legislators and publishing op-eds.

National Popular Vote looks forward after big New York win / Listen to new podcast: FairVote has played an important role backing the National Popular Vote plan and is thrilled with this spring's big win in New York State. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the National popular Vote, it is a state-based means of achieving a presidential election. The candidate who receives the most votes in all 50 states and DC will win the presidency. This plan is on target to be in place for the 2020 election. To learn more about the plan, listen to a great radio podcast with MoveOn.org’s Ben Wikler that features FairVote Board Member Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker magazine, and read this Presidential Studies Quarterly article by FairVote’s Rob Richie and Andrea Levien. Richie and Levien also coauthored a report last week that debunks one of the primary myths about the National Popular Vote: that candidates will only spend their time in major cities. 

California jurisdiction adopts fair representation voting system: California’s Santa Clarita Community College District has agreed to move elections to November of even years and to extend cumulative voting rights to resolve a California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) case. The District also volunteered to host informational sessions for potential candidates. Board president Michele Jenkins said, “This is a fair settlement that ... promotes greater participation.” Read FairVote’s news release about an agreement earlier this year to extend cumulative voting rights in city council elections in Santa Clarita (a growing city of 180,000) and our amicus brief submitted in a CVRA case in January.

Promote Our Vote success in Montgomery County leads to support for ranked choice voting: We’re thrilled with the work of the Voter Turnout Task Force in Montgomery County, the Maryland county of a million people where our office is located. The task force, which was Montgomery Countycreated after the county council unanimously passed its version of our Promote Our Vote resolutions,recommends a slew of great pro-suffrage ideas, including extending voting rights to more residents and adopting ranked choice voting for all county elections. Stay tuned on what the council does with these recommendations.

Voters in Takoma Park back FairVote-supported reforms like ranked choice voting: FairVote conducted a survey of voters during Takoma Park’s Ward 3 special election for city council. The survey focused on respondents’ opinions of Takoma Park’s suffrage laws and their views on the city's innovative voting policies. Our overview of the results tells the full story, but a few highlights: in the hotly contested race, 49% of voters said there were fewer examples of candidates criticizing one another while 2% said more, and of those with an opinion about city practices, 93% support ranked choice voting, 89% back Election Day registration, 80% back voting rights for noncitizens, 76% support voting rights for all citizen residents with felony convictions, 75% support guaranteed candidate access to apartment buildings and 72% support voting rights for 16 and 17-year-olds. And once again, more 16 and 17-year-olds voted than all 18 to 30-year-olds combined.

We also did an exit survey last month when more than 3,000 Arlington County (VA) Democrats voted in a firehouse primary with ranked choice voting. This contested race needed an instant runoff to determine the winner, and the system was widely praised. We will release our survey results later this year. We also have been tracking the growing use of ranked choice voting in elections on campuses (used in more than 50 American colleges and universities, as discussed in our recent pieces on RCV elections in UCLA and Oregon State) and organizations (including many major associations, and also the Academy Award Oscar for Best Picture).



Inside FairVote: We’re Hiring, Welcomes & Farewells, Marathon Success

 FairVote’s hiring a new program director: We are looking for a talented and experienced leader to help lead our growing team. See our job announcement for a program director to work in our Takoma Park office.

FairVote crosses the “marathon” finish line: Thanks to the many generous contributions we received from supporters like you, we were able to achieve our donation challenge of $26,200 for Executive Director Rob Richie’s First Marathon – with each dollar matched by FairVote board members. But we still have a long way to go to reach our First Million goal. To contribute or learn more, visit our donations page.

FairVote submits testimony and on the road: Our Executive Director Rob Richie submitted testimony about innovations for overseas voters to the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration in May and FairVote chair Krist Novoselic addressed the Libertarian Party of Washington. Rob also was a featured speaker at a May forum of the League of Women of Voters of DC, a Stanford conference on electoral reform, our Oakland ranked choice voting forum, and a New York City ranked choice voting briefing. 

FairVote bids farewell to staff members and welcomes new additions: We have hired a remarkable group of eight Democracy Fellows, who will join our team in September. We welcome Rebecca Hellmich, who has begun her fellowship, and a terrific crew of summer interns (pictured to the right) who are already making excellent contributions to our FairVote blog. We also wish the best to 2013-2014 fellow Amanda Gaynor, who has a great new job, and to departing research and policy staffers Devin McCarthy and Andrea Levien, who will be entering graduate school this fall. Their contributions have been innumerable, and they will be missed.

 

 

 

 


          Labrador's bill to limit refugee resettlement clears House Judiciary on party-line vote    

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador’s legislation to limit refugee resettlement cleared the House Judiciary Committee this morning on a 15-11 party-line vote, with all Republicans present supporting it and all Democrats opposing it. The bill was reported out to the full House with just one amendment, sponsored by Labrador, to delete one section that sought to limit when victims of violence in foreign countries could be considered refugees. Nearly a dozen other amendments proposed by Democrats on the panel were rejected along party lines. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Labrador said in a statement, “I am very pleased the committee approved my bill today. As Americans, we have a long tradition of helping refugees who, through no fault of their own, are fleeing war and persecution and wish to become contributing members of our society.  However, our first priority when it comes to America’s refugee program is ensuring the safety and security of the American people. There are already documented cases of terrorists infiltrating the program, and with ISIS vowing to exploit it further, the time for congressional action is now.”

The bill would reduce the maximum number of refugees resettled in the United States from 110,000 to 50,000 a year, a change sought by President Trump; give states and local governments veto power over any refugee resettlement within their borders; step up security monitoring of resettled refugees until they qualify as permanent residents; and require a review of all prospective refugees’ social media postings, among other provisions.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., called the bill “an un-American assault on our country’s bipartisan humanitarian record of welcoming those who are fleeing violence.” She said right now, one person is being displaced every 3 seconds in the world, and said, “We are going to meet the 50,000 cap next week, at a time when there is such turmoil in the world and such a need to welcome refugees.”

Labrador’s bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; it also has drawn eight other GOP co-sponsors. Labrador introduced a similar bill last year, setting the maximum number of refugees at 60,000 a year. It drew 25 co-sponsors, all Republicans, and passed the Judiciary Committee last March, but didn’t proceed beyond that.

Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee criticized the bill as mean-spirited and lacking in compassion, but none of their proposed amendments were approved. When Jayapal proposed an amendment she said would protect victims of sex trafficking and forced prostitution from being rejected for refugee status due to having committed crimes, Labrador told her he was willing to work with her on that issue, but not to accept her amendment, which he said would go beyond just those victims.

“I oppose the amendment, but I would invite the gentle lady to work with us to see if there’s some language that we can do what you said in your words, which is not what the amendment does,” Labrador told her. “What you said in your words is that you’re trying to protect victims of forced prostitution. And I think we can agree that maybe that’s something we can do. But if you read the language of your amendment, it is much broader than that. … It protects people from any crime they have committed, not just forced prostitution.”

At Goodlatte’s request, Jayapal withdrew her proposed amendment.

The one approved amendment deletes Section 13 of the bill, according to Labrador’s office, because Labrador decided that issue could be addressed in other legislation. Here is the deleted section:

SEC. 13. LIMITATION ON QUALIFICATION AS A REFUGEE.

Section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42)) is amended by inserting “For purposes of this paragraph, a person may not be considered a refugee solely or in part because the person is displaced due to, or is fleeing from, violence in the country of such person's nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, the country in which such person last habitually resided, if that violence is not specifically directed at the person, or, if it is directed specifically at the person, it is not directed at the person on account of that person’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” before “The term ‘refugee’ does not include”.

The bill now can proceed to a vote in the full House, at the discretion of House GOP leaders.


          Ted Poe compares Obama administration to a monarchy   
Rep. Ted Poe joined other Congressional Republicans in denouncing the Obama Administration's proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
          Houston area tweeters respond to Obama’s social media request   
President Obama encouraged citizens to utilize Twitter to reach out to Congress and encourage members to pass legislation extending tax breaks for the middle class. Houston area tweeters followed the president's instructions, but not all were supportive of Obama.
          2015 Midyear Update   

2015 Midyear Update  

Dear Friend,

This time each year I look forward to sharing with you the significant progress that’s being made around ending homelessness. As a supporter of the Alliance, you know that this is an issue that has the ability to touch many. Whether it’s that moment we pass someone on the street or hear from a neighbor about a family in need, the simple act of opening our eyes and ears to the community around us puts into sharp perspective that homelessness is a reality in the lives of people across America each and every day.

Your support is what helps us be a resource to those in your community who are working to solve this very solvable social issue. We are grateful. Let me share with you some of our highlights so far in 2015:

Never Another Homeless Veteran: It’s Really Happening!

The Alliance has helped lead the charge to end veteran homelessness by the start of 2016 through promoting strategies that work. We have worked closely with Administration and Congressional leaders to ensure communities have access to funding and with local providers to ensure they can successfully implement proven solutions.  Already four cities: Houston, TX, New Orleans, LA, Binghamton, NY and Las Cruces, NM have announced they have ended veteran homelessness and many more are close behind.  The successes in these cities prove that together, with effective programs, we can not only end veteran, but all homelessness!

Creating Change at the Federal Policy Level

Our Policy Team is working diligently to ensure that when Congress reauthorizes the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, this key program will be able to do even more to end youth homelessness. The Team also organized over 300 advocates to visit their Congressional offices, making sure that Members understand how homelessness affects their Districts and how to solve the problem.

Working on the Ground in Communities Across the Country

The Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building provided technical assistance to 74 communities across six states. The Center also wrapped up a state-wide, four year project working with Virginia to improve its programs for helping homeless families. By the end of this initiative, Virginia reduced family homelessness by 25 percent!

Bringing Together Federal and Community Partners: Convening the Brightest Minds and Improving Brainpower

It’s no surprise that when government agencies and local and national organizations work together, we can institute real change. This year, the Alliance brought together federal agencies, local homelessness providers, and other advocacy and research organizations to help communities by developing the following resources and opportunities:

  • Hosted 2,500 advocates and experts at two bi-annual conferences. These conferences offer a unique opportunity to convene key leaders from across the country who are fighting to end homelessness.
  • Joined forces with HUD’s office of Policy Development and Research to publish “Assessment Tools for Allocating Homelessness Assistance: State of the Evidence.”
  • Wrote and coordinated an interagency Common Vision on transitional housing.
  • Released “The State of Homelessness in America 2015,” by The Alliance’s Homelessness Research Institute, the fifth in a series of reports that chart progress on ending homelessness in the United States

This is just part of our 2015 story. Thanks to loyal donors like you, we will build on the work we have completed thus far. We hope you will continue to be engaged with this issue by following us on Facebook and Twitter, reading our Ending Homelessness blog on our website, and by signing the Never Another Homeless Veteran statement at www.neveranotherhomelessveteran.org.

Homelessness is decreasing and we will continue to work diligently until there is never another homeless person, family, or child on the streets.

Sincerely,

Nan Roman

President and CEO


          August 2015 Site Visit Campaign   

As part of the FY 2016 Homelessness Funding Campaign, the Alliance is launching an August 2015 Site Visit Campaign to encourage advocates across the country to engage with their Members of Congress while they are home for the August recess. The Campaign aims to:

  • Raise awareness among the public and Congress about the issue of and solutions to homelessness;
  • Educate Congress on the need for increased resources for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and Housing Choice Vouchers and to ensure that it provides enough funding for these programs; and    
  • Ask Members to lift budget caps to allow appropriators to increase resources for homeless assistance and affordable housing programs in the final FY 2016 spending bill. Specifically ask them to commit to communicate the messages that “providing $2.480 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in FY 2016, including $40 million for homeless youth initiatives, and sufficient funding to renew all existing Housing Choice Vouchers and an additional $512 million to restore vouchers lost to sequestration are high priorities” to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

The best ways advocates can achieve these goals are by taking the below actions:

1. Host A Member for a Site Visit

2. Conduct In-District Congressional Meetings

If your Members do not have time in their schedules to attend site visits, or if you do not have the capacity to plan one, the next best thing you can do to engage your Members this August is to conduct in-district (or state) congressional meetings. The Alliance has materials to help you plan and execute these meetings, including the following (that denoted with a * is specifically meant for use during the August 2015 Site Visit Campaign):

We are happy to work with you every step of the way to help you customize these materials, strategize about which Members of Congress to engage, and with anything else for which you may need assistance. Please contact Julie Klein or Jaime Colman to get involved!


          Trump calls on Congress to crack down on illegal immigration   
He asked the House to "honor grieving American families" by passing two bills dealing with undocumented immigrants

          God beats Congress in poll–is anyone surprised?   
By Kelsey Williams, SFGate.com A new poll found that most Americans think God is doing a pretty swell job running things. The same can’t be said for Congress. A Democratic polling company, Public Policy Polling, conducted a survey of 928 Americans, and found that 52 percent of voters approve of the deity with only nine
          What’s Actually in the Manafort FARA Filing?    

On June 27, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort retroactively filed disclosure forms under the Foreign Agents Registration Act detailing his business relationship to the pro-Russia Ukrainian Party of Regions. The forms describe $17.1 million in receipts to Manafort’s company, DMP International, LLC ("DMP"), all from the Party of Regions. They also describe $3.9 million in expenses, including $2.6 million in travel and living expenses. DMP earned a net total of $13.2 million from Party of Regions. Here’s the 87-page filing Manafort made yesterday:

 

What follows is a detailed summary of the material contained in the disclosure. While Lawfare does not normally summarize FARA disclosures, given the intense interest in this one in the press, we thought it would be useful to give some detail about what’s in it.

One notable thing that is not in this document: any reference to the often-reported $12.7 million in cash payments Manafort is alleged to have received from the party. According to The New York Times, these payments were recorded in a handwritten ledger that also showed evidence of payments to election officials. The filing makes no reference to anything of the kind, perhaps because yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Ukrainian prosecutors found no proof of illegal payments to Manafort.

The registration statement (Form NSD-1) lists the registered agent as DMP, a Delaware corporation formed on June 29, 2011 and wholly-owned by Manafort. Manafort and Richard W. Gates III are listed as the company’s principal and employee, respectively, that “render services to the registrant directly in furtherance of the interests” of the foreign principal. The foreign principal is listed as Ukrainian Party of Regions.

The registration statement notes that DMP received money from the party starting in 2011. A footnote to this section notes that “An agent must register within ten days of becoming an agent, and before acting as such.” DMP received nothing of value other than money during that period. The registration form is signed by Manafort, dated June 27, 2017.

Exhibit A (Form NSD-3) provides information about the foreign principal. Exhibit A describes the foreign principal as the Ukrainian Party of Regions, a foreign political party based in Kyiv. The “official with whom the registrant deals” is Vladimir Rybak, first deputy head of the party. Public records show that Rybak was previously Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine and served as chairman of the Ukrainian parliament for part of the period that DMP worked for the party. The principle aim of the party is described as: “decentralization of power with transfer of maximum authority to the regions, build a Western democratic political party, turn Ukraine into the most attractive state for investment in the region.”

Exhibit B (Form NSD-4) provides information about the terms and conditions of the agreement between the foreign principal and agent. It states that the agreement “is the result of neither a formal written contract nor an exchange of correspondence between the parties.” DMP performed the following services:

1. “Focused on electing Party of Regions’ candidates at the national and regional levels in the Ukraine by implementing pro-democratic campaign activities, engaging in party building activities, developing a party platform and political agenda, and implementing election planning, election integrity, and international election monitoring programs”

2.“Communicated with the U.S. Embassy regarding developing events in the Ukraine”

3.“Provided strategic counsel and advice to members of the Party of Regions regarding their interactions with U.S. government officials and other Western influential persons to advance the goal of greater political and economic integration between the Ukraine and the West”

4. “Provided advice to the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which was also working for the same purpose”

The form notes that the third listed activity constitutes “political activity” as defined in FARA.

Exhibit C is a copy of the operating agreement of DMP International, LLC. That document corroborates that the company is a Delaware-registered limited liability company. Pages 2 and 5 note that the only member, and the managing member, is Manafort, though Gates signed the operating agreement as well.

Two short form registration statements (Form NSD-6) provide information on each partner, officer, director, associate, employee, and agent of the registrant. The first provides information on Manafort. It describes Manafort  as an “Attorney and businessman,” who acts as a partner of DMP. Manafort provides the following services for the party:

1.“Focused on electing Party of Regions’ candidates at the national and regional levels in the Ukraine by implementing pro-democratic campaign activities, engaging in party building activities, developing a party platform and political agenda, and implementing election planning, election integrity, and international election monitoring programs”

2.“Provided strategic counsel and advice to members of the Party of Regions regarding their interactions with U.S. government officials and other Western influential persons to advance the goal of greater political and economic integration between the Ukraine and the West”

3.“Communicated with the U.S. Embassy regarding developing events in the Ukraine.”

The statement notes that the second service listed constitutes a political activity for the purposes of FARA. These services are rendered on a full time basis in exchange for compensation in the form of an undefined salary. The statement further notes that during the period between the date 60 days prior to Manafort’s obligation to register as a foreign agent to the time of the filing, Manafort did not “make any contributions of money or other things of value from [his] own funds or possessions and on [his] own behalf in connection with any election to political office or in connection with any primary election, convention, or caucus held to select candidates for any political office.” The supplemental documents also note a donation of $2,500 by Manafort to Vernon Parker, a candidate for state office in Arizona, and of $1,000 to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher on March 21, 2017. The document is signed by Manafort, June 27, 2017.

The second short form registration statement provides information about Gates. The form describes Gates as a “Political Consultant” and an employee of DMP. It describes the same services rendered for Party of Regions as described by Manafort, also on a full time basis and for an unspecified salary. The statement specifies no donations of the type previously described during the period beginning 60 days prior to Gates’ obligation to file as a foreign agent to the date of filing. The statement is signed by Rick Gates, dated June 27, 2017.

The documents include supplemental statements (Form NSD-2), which are normally filed every six months to provide information about monies received and disbursed by the foreign agent, for the six-month periods ending June 30, 2012, December 31, 2012, June 30, 2013, December 31, 2013, and June 30, 2014. The statements specify no changes to the name, ownership, location, management, or employment rolls of the company. They specify four instances that constitute political activities for the purposes of FARA.

●October 30, 2012: Sent an email to Ambassador John Tefft “regarding U.S. statement on Ukrainian elections.”

●March 19, 2013: Met with Paula Dobriansky from the Kennedy School of Government

●March 19, 2013: Met with Nadia Diuk of the National Endowment for Democracy

●March 19, 2013: Met with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

The supplemental forms include separate responses with a list of all monies received and disbursed by DMP, as well as money spent on travel, meals, and living expenses. Between January 2012 and January 2014, Party of Regions paid DMP $17,149,539.70 for services rendered. Party of Regions paid DMB once per month during that period, except that no payments were reported in July or December 2012. Payments ranged from $165,039.70 to $4,399,500.

DMP disbursed $1,268,539.70 to six contractors from May 2012 to January 2014. Over that period, DMP made the following payments:

●To Fabrizio Ward Associates LLC, seven payments totaling $278,500 for “Polling and surveys”

●To Rabin Strasburg LLC, five payments totaling $369,320 for “Media consulting services” and “Consulting services and expenses”

●To Steven J. Brown, five payments totaling $40,000 for “Political and media outreach”

●To Christopher Spence, one payment of $10,000 for “Election data analysis”

●To Clear Dialogue LLC, four payments totaling $39,935.44 for “Election integrity consulting services”

●To Konstantin Kilimnik, fourteen payments totaling $531,000 for “Professional services and administrative overhead for Kiev operations”

Except for a payment to Ward on August 8, 2013, all payments after April 2013 until the end of the principal-agent relationship were to Kilimnik. The last payment took place on January 28, 2014. DMB spent a total of $2,203,409.99 on travel and $428,352.44 on meals and living expenses from January 2012 until February 2014.

DMP earned a net total of $13,249,021.83 from Party of Regions after accounting for disbursements and other expenses.


          Today's Headlines and Commentary    

The ongoing ransomware attack across Europe, the United States, and Asia has raised concerns over the growing frequency of large-scale cyberattacks, The New York Times writes. The NotPetya attack is the second worldwide ransomware hacking since May, when the WannaCry virus disrupted the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. The Times runs through what we know and don’t yet know about the malware.

The Journal reports on Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s comments that the lack of a chemical weapons attack showed that the Trump administration’s warning to the Assad regime in Syria worked. Late on Monday, the U.S. threatened to use force against Syria in the case of another chemical attack after the Pentagon saw indications that an attempt may have been looming. Politico describes the process behind the drafting and release of the administration’s abrupt warning: while Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster were all involved, the statement left numerous top officials across the State and Defense Departments blindsided.

The White House may shift the State Department’s bureaus of Consular Affairs and Population, Refugees, and Migration to the Department of Homeland Security, CNN tells us. A White House official indicated that the proposal resulted from a “brainstorming session” dedicated to “improving efficiencies across government,” and is not yet a formal plan.

The Trump administration is considering taking a harsher stance on its relations with Pakistan in an effort to cut back Pakistani support for militant groups that have used the country as a base from which to conduct attacks in neighboring Afghanistan, Reuters reports. Options on the table include increased drone strikes, withholding of aid, and weakening Pakistan’s status as a U.S. ally. In a separate report released Tuesday, the Pentagon indicated that Pakistan was the most significant external factor affecting Afghan stability through governmental support of the Taliban and Haqqani Network. The Pakistani embassy in the United States warned the U.S. against using it as a “scapegoat” to explain challenges in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, the Qatari Foreign Minister met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a closed-door meeting in Foggy Bottom, the Post reports. The two discussed the ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, which has shown no signs of resolution following Qatar’s rejection of the list of demands presented to it by the Gulf Cooperation Council States that recently cut their ties with Qatar. The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister told the press yesterday that the demands were non-negotiable and were a prerequisite to re-engagement with Qatar. Later in the day, Tillerson also met with the Kuwaiti Minister of State, whose government has attempted to mediate the weeks-long dispute.

Oil companies have expressed concern over the Senate’s new package of Russian sanctions, which would prevent American participation in any oil production projects in which a Russian firm is involved anywhere in the globe, the Washington Post reports. But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), who is shepherding the bill through the approval process, has said the issues can be “easily addressed.” The bill has stalled in the House over procedural concerns, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) has called on the Senate to complete a fix prior to the July 4th recess.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has been under scrutiny amidst the various probes into Russian election interference, registered retroactively as an agent of a foreign government yesterday, reports The Wall Street Journal. The disclosure to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) unit marked an acknowledgement that a portion of Manafort’s lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych aimed to influence U.S. government officials and journalists. Manafort’s spokesman said Manafort began working with the FARA unit to navigate the registration process in September of 2016, prior to the election results and the investigation into Russian election interference.

The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that a Canadian court can grant an injunction anywhere in the world, if such a move is required to secure the injunction’s effectiveness, The Guardian reports. In the case, the Court forced Google to remove links to one company’s content from all versions of its search engine across the globe—not only the Canadian version—following an intellectual property dispute with a competitor. Critics fear that the decision could lead to corporations and governments increasing censorship requests that then eliminate permissible content from the entire internet, no matter the location. 

The trial of accused NSA leaker Reality Winner has been set for October, according to The Hill. Winner is charged with providing a top-secret NSA report on a 2016 Russian cyberattack on a voting software company to the news outlet The Intercept.

President Trump accepted French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to meet in Paris on July 14th in celebration of Bastille Day as well as the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entrance into World War I, CNN reports. The two are expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including coordination on counterterrorism efforts.

A helicopter attacked Venezuela’s Supreme Court yesterday, CNN reports. Prior to the attack, an ex-policeman posted a video online announcing that his group planned to launch an air and land assault to restore democracy to Venezuela. From the helicopter, attackers threw grenades and shot at the building, though no one was injured. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro activated the government security forces in response. The nation has been in the depths of a political and economic crisis which has seen many calls for a change in leadership. Some have claimed that the entire incident may have been staged by the government to generate legitimacy for a harsher crackdown on dissent.

 

 ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Charlie Savage described the changes in the new, paperback edition of his book Power Wars, which provides a history of national-security legal policymaking in the Obama era.

Paul Rosenzweig asked if the cyberattack in Ukraine yesterday was a precursor to war, but updated the post after news broke that the cause was an outbreak of the Petya ransomware.

Shane R. Reeves examined previous attempts at creating “safe zones” in Syria and argued that without serious commitment, newly proposed zones will be just as ineffective or dangerous.

J. Dana Stuster posted the Middle East Ticker, covering the recent Saudi succession shakeup, the Gulf States’ demands to Qatar, and U.S. policy in Eastern Syria.

William I. Hitchcock reviewed Melissa Feinberg’s Curtain of Lies: The Battle over Truth in Stalinist Eastern Europe (Oxford Univ. Press, 2017).

Matthew Kahn posted the video of yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Section 702 reauthorization.

Andrew Kent examined the Supreme Court’s decision in Hernandez v. Mesa.

Jack Goldsmith announced the supplement to the new edition of Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (6th Ed. 2017), the casebook he co-authored with Curtis Bradley.

Daniel Byman analyzed whether Al Qaeda is in decline.

Josh Blackman looked at the scope of the Supreme Court’s decision in IRAP v. Trump.

Benjamin Wittes posted a copy of his FOIA request for internal FBI communications surrounding the firing of James Comey. 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.


          Financial Sanctions and Penalties for Cybercrime    

As cybercrime spreads in its many mutations, governments and regulators across the globe continue to develop a variety of solutions. One regulatory method that has gained in popularity and sophistication in recent years is the financial response to cybercrime. The United States in particular has explored financial sanctions at the “front end,” to deprive cybercriminals of access to financial channels, and financial penalties at the “back end,” particularly asset forfeiture, to recover the proceeds of criminal activity. 

 

Financial Sanctions

On the “front end,” the U.S. government has sought to apply to cybercrime the financial sanctions that it has employed in the areas of terrorism finance and anti-nuclear proliferation. On April 1, 2015, then-President Obama issued Executive Order 13694 to block property in (or coming into) the U.S. that belongs to anyone designated by the government as being responsible for “cyber-enabled activities.” These activities cover significant compromises of a critical infrastructure sector, disruptions of computers or computer networks, or misappropriation of funds, trade secrets, or other information for commercial advantage. 

On December 28, 2016, President Obama amended the order with Executive Order 13757, which added another category of cyber-enabled activities for tampering with, altering, or misappropriating information to interfere with electoral processes. This amendment was added in light of allegations that Russia had interfered with the U.S. presidential election. Executive Order 13757 included an annex identifying Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate, Federal Security Service, and other entities and individuals. 

The next day, December 29, 2016, the Department of the Treasury designated two other Russian individuals for theft of financial information and personal identifying information. To date, these are the only entities and individuals so designated under the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN) under the “CYBER” program of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control. 

These designations send a strong message that large-scale cybercrime must be defeated by the same tools brought to bear on the war on terror.  This message was reiterated in the recent Senate bill amendment codifying these executive orders and imposing additional cybersecurity sanctions against Russia.  The broad scope of all these sanctions—which could apply to overseas organizations subject to U.S. jurisdiction—could have a crippling effect on a target that depends on the world financial system. 

 

Application to China?

Commentators have suggested that these sanctions could be applied to actors in China that perhaps might be associated with the government. For example, as described in a Congressional Research Service report, there have been suggestions that the breaches of Office of Personnel Management data could be attributable to China state actors.

A number of factors could explain why the list isn’t longer. The nature of cybercrime lends itself to anonymity and the proliferation of unending identities and vehicles for attack.  Recent transnational malware and ransomware attacks suggest the ease with which cybercriminals are able to conceal their identity and co-opt third parties to transmit their attacks. Difficulties regarding attribution may also create some reluctance to oblige the numerous financial institutions and other actors subject to sanctions compliance to block an individual or entity that is difficult to identify. 

Even if those actors can be identified, there may be foreign policy and political considerations before a state entity or state-affiliated organization can be placed on the SDN list. There may also be concerns that financial sanctions may have little effect on certain cybercriminals who commit their crimes without any sort of financial motive but for more murky “hacktivist” principles. 

In the case of suspected cyber-enabled activities from China, however, it may be more likely that the U.S. government believes there is value in pursuing bilateral or multilateral official discussions, such as the U.S.-China High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues (or its future iteration as the bilateral Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Dialogue), or individual criminal prosecutions, which perhaps are believed to send an adequate statement of U.S. dissatisfaction with state-sponsored activities. 

 

Financial Penalties

These criminal prosecutions, along with individual asset forfeiture actions, provide another means of addressing cybercrime: the financial penalties designed to deprive wrongdoers of the financial benefits of their crime. In one recent case, the U.S. Department of Justice brought an in rem asset forfeiture action against bank accounts overseas that contained proceeds of a business email compromise scheme, in which the fraudsters impersonated a vendor to defraud a U.S. victim company. In another case, the U.S. sought to forfeit assets in foreign bank accounts that it claimed were the proceeds of a large-scale online website that unlawfully distributed copyrighted movie and television programming, music, and software (the individual claimants of the property are seeking Supreme Court review of this decision). 

Unlike financial sanctions, this remedy requires proof that the assets represent the proceeds of unlawful activity or at least that these assets belong to the alleged cybercriminals. Moreover, if the assets are overseas, the country in which the assets are located must be willing to cooperate with the United States to seize or otherwise restrain those assets pending a U.S. court order. For countries such as China, even though there is a Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement that contemplates the freezing of assets, the use of that mechanism in this way remains for the most part untested. 

***

Even with these limits, financial sanctions and penalties have proven to be powerful tools.  The open nature of the U.S. economy and society provides the U.S. government with a unique lever to address cybercrime extraterritorially through international financial channels and its own international law enforcement-cooperative relationships. 


          In Praise of the Intelligence Oversight Process: Our New Anti-Populist Paper    

Years ago, when Lawfare was still in its infancy, the two of us made an entirely serious video (well, maybe not entirely serious) for YouTube about the emergent problem of abusive internet comments. Entitled "Comment or Vote," it proposed a constitutional amendment to deprive of the franchise anyone who left a comment on any website. For some time after we posted it, until it was finally removed, the first comment on the YouTube site read: "You guys are faggots." No, we're not making that up. 

The issue "Comment or Vote" spoofed was not a joke. Lawfare does not take comments, and it's always interesting to watch how offended some readers are by that. It's as though people think they have some inalienable right to participate, including in a website published by someone else. 

The broader issue of which this expectation is only a tiny slice—the populist cult of mass participation—is really not a joke. It is wreaking havoc on our political system. And it is the subject of a Brookings paper we released late last month, entitled, "More Professionalism, Less Populism: How Voting Makes Us Stupid and What to Do About It." The full paper is available below. An interview we did yesterday on the subject with the Brookings podcast, Intersections, is available here:

Most of this paper has little to do with the national security law and policy. But one section is a real exception, which we wanted to highlight here: A key case study of how anti-populist institutions function better than highly participatory ones focuses on the intelligence oversight system. We thought the thematic connections between Lawfare's subject matter and this discussion warranted excerpting it here. So what follows is the paper's introduction, along with the section on the intelligence oversight system:

“Americans—especially, but not exclusively Trump voters—believe crazy, wrong things,” runs a post-election Washington Post headline. The article, by columnist Catherine Rampell, worried about polls showing that more than a third of the public (and about half of Republicans) believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that Hillary Clinton was involved with a satanic pedophilia ring (“Pizzagate”)—among many other things. “To me, they’re terrifying,” Rampell wrote of the public’s misconceptions. “They result in misused resources, violence and harassment, health risks, bad policy, and, ultimately, the deterioration of democracy.”

Political scientists might be excused for emitting an exasperated yawn. The literature on voter ignorance is one of the oldest, best established, and most dismaying in all of political science. Every so often, journalists and commentators dip into it and emerged “terrified.” In recent years, however, a wave of research has shown ignorance and irrationality to be even bigger problems than previously believed, and has cast new doubt on standard remedies. Neither theory nor practice supports the idea that more participation will produce better policy outcomes, or will improve the public’s approbation of government, or is even attainable in an environment dominated by extreme partisans and narrow interest groups.

Such scholarship has not shaken the faith of many commentators and reformers that increasing popular involvement in politics and government is the remedy for the ills of our political culture—the chicken soup of political reforms. Unfortunately, the country and the political-reform community have come to expect far too much from increased political participation. Participation is effective only when supplemented by intermediation, the work done by institutions (such as political parties) and substantive professionals (such as career politicians and experts) to organize, interpret, and buffer popular sentiment. In this essay, we argue that restoring and strengthening political institutions and intermediation belong at the center of a modern political-reform agenda. More specifically, we advance the following contentions:

  • Always empirically questionable at best, the populist-progressive idea that more participation will reliably improve either the products or the popularity of governance has taken a pounding in recent years, to the point where it is basically untenable. The populist model assumes that voters are better informed, more rational, and more engaged than is the case—or ever will be.
  • Even implausibly well-informed and rational voters could not approach the level of knowledge and sophistication needed to make the kinds of decisions that routinely confront the government today. Professional and specialist decisionmaking is essential, and those who demonize it as elitist or anti-democratic can offer no plausible alternative to it.
  • Professional intermediaries make democracy more inclusive and more representative than direct participation can do by itself. In complex policy spaces, properly designed intermediary institutions can act more decisively and responsively on behalf of the public than an army of “the people” could do on its own behalf. Intermediated systems are also less likely to be paralyzed by factional disputes and distorted by special-interest manipulation than are systems designed to maximize voter participation and direct input.
  • Nonetheless, the predominant ethos of the political-reform community remains committed to enhancing individual political participation. This is a costly oversight. Some populist reform ideas are better than others, but, as a class, they have eclipsed a more promising reform target: strengthening intermediating actors such as political professionals and party organizations.

James Madison and the other Founders were right to reject both direct democracy and elite rule. Instead, they insisted on a hybrid of both, believing that the two together would achieve better representation and better governance than either could achieve on its own. We believe that the country can benefit from relearning what they knew.

. . . 

[M]odern anti-institutional populism, with its instinctive suspicion of anything or anyone deemed “elite,” often underestimates and unfairly denigrates how much intermediation has to offer—and how successful it has been.

Here it is worth distinguishing between two types of intermediaries, types that play very different roles in our democratic culture. The first is the political intermediary: people such as elected officials and political party professionals. These people’s job is to make political judgments on behalf of the electorate or to help candidates and politicians frame their—and the public’s—choices. A second type is the substantive intermediary: the technical expert or specialist whose job is actually to know things about the policy space in which the government acts. The lines between these two types are not bright ones; some people play both roles at once. But broadly speaking, the political intermediary stands in for the voter in deciding fundamental policy choices: Should Congress adopt the Affordable Care Act? Should it repeal and replace it? The substantive intermediary, by contrast, frames responsible policy choices and implements them in a fashion consistent with law and technical realities. Neither of these functions is one which voters can perform competently on their own.

To see vividly the successful interaction of voters, political intermediaries, and substantive intermediaries, let’s take a close look at the area in which our system functions at its least populist: intelligence oversight.

The intelligence oversight system has been largely immune to populist reform, but not because the area has lacked for reformist instincts. (It has actually seen a lot of reform over the years.) Rather, the very nature of intelligence makes it resistant to populism. The public has no access to the CIA and the NSA and their day-to-day work. In sharp contrast to the public’s regular interaction with law enforcement officers, members of the public don’t generally interact with intelligence professionals doing their jobs. And the oversight system for all of it is uniquely opaque. Intelligence oversight is technically dense across a number of different dimensions; some of the law at issue is arcane and unusually intricate, and much of the subject matter involves highly technical electronic surveillance taking place on complex computer networks. It also involves material that is nearly always classified at the highest levels. So while the activities of the intelligence community stoke all manner of public passions, the subject is simply not amenable to populist reform. There is just no way to involve the public in decisions that, by their very nature, have to be kept from the public.

The result is that reforms in intelligence oversight have empowered intermediary actors—politicians and experts—to stand in for the public. And these mechanisms have proven remarkably durable and effective.

The intelligence oversight system operates in all three branches of government. Within the executive branch, a series of compliance regimes, inspectors general, and Justice Department officials oversee operations, particularly those involving technical collection at the National Security Agency. Collectively, those actors investigate suggestions of misconduct, rigorously count more mundane compliance failures, and review activity for legal compliance—and they report errors both internally and to the other branches of government. They also build legal compliance into the very design of technical systems; to see certain data, for example, analysts often have to enter into computer systems the facts and analysis that would justify their access to the information they seek. 

In the judiciary, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court both reviews applications for national security surveillance of U.S. persons and, more broadly, reviews the legality of surveillance programs taking place domestically but targeting overseas actors. The FISA structure does not merely put a federal judge between the intelligence community and electronic surveillance targets. It also creates bureaucracies within intelligence agencies that are designed to speak to that federal judge—bureaucracies deeply invested in keeping their agencies within the law and maintaining credibility before the judiciary. Representing the agencies before the court are Justice Department lawyers, who likewise act to keep the agencies in line. The system of judicial intermediaries thus dramatically reinforces and empowers executive-branch intermediaries, who have ongoing reporting obligations to the judicial branch.

The executive and judicial branch intermediaries are, generally speaking, substantive experts. But the intelligence oversight system uses political intermediaries too, particularly in Congress. The congressional intelligence committees review intelligence programs, get briefed on covert actions, and investigate major matters within the intelligence agencies—everything from torture to Russian hacking of the 2016 election. Unlike other congressional committees, they are staffed with intelligence community professionals cleared at the highest levels, and they have access to the most sensitive programs the government runs. The public never sees the vast majority of the work these committees do, but anyone in the intelligence community will tell you that fear of upsetting congressional overseers is a major restraint on intelligence community behavior. Note that the members of these committees are not specialists; they are just regular members of Congress. Their job is to stand in for the members of the public who cannot know what the intelligence community is up to, and to make major political decisions in the public’s stead and on behalf of the rest of the legislature.

Most people who have engaged the congressional intelligence committees agree—notwithstanding the House committee’s recent flap over the behavior of its chairman, Devin Nunes—that they function on average dramatically better than other committees do. The reasons are all related to their intermediary, non-populist nature. The professional nature of the staff reduces partisanship, for example. And the secrecy with which they operate discourages political grandstanding on the part of the members. A hearing of a normal congressional committee, which takes place in public, is a show whose audience is the public. Witnesses are chosen for C-SPAN. Questions are asked because they offer opportunities for theatrics and gotchas. By contrast, most intelligence-committee hearings have no audience beyond the staff and members. They are actually designed to convey information from the executive branch to Congress. They are arguably the only part of Congress for which hearings still consistently serve that role.

While the intelligence oversight process is decidedly intermediary-based and non-populist, it has not proven itself remote from “the people” or incapable of responding to public concerns. To the contrary, it has proven over the years to be highly responsive to public sensibilities. In other words, if the populist anxiety is that relying on intermediaries makes government distant and unrepresentative, the experience of the intelligence oversight process suggests otherwise.

The most recent example of this responsiveness is the system’s response to the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA activity in 2013. The congressional oversight process was critical in helping the community weather the storm, as when the bipartisan intelligence committee leadership spoke up publicly in defense of the legality and propriety of NSA’s programs. But the system also adapted relatively swiftly in response to the revelations and generated serious change. Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, substantially altering one of the key programs that Snowden revealed and generating new transparency with respect to certain categories of NSA and FISA Court activity. It is currently considering reauthorization of a much larger program, and further reforms are certainly on the table as it does so.

These adaptions are only the latest in a long string of legislative updates to FISA and other authorities—major changes to which took place at least in 1994, 2001, 2007, 2008, and 2012. This flurry of loving attention to the statutory scheme over time—legislative attention to make sure the statutory architecture of intelligence remains up-to-date as technology and public attitudes change—stands in sharp contrast to the more general environment of legislative dysfunction. In what should be a sharp challenge to reformers who believe that increasing public participation makes the policy process more responsive to public concerns, the portion of Congress that is least populist is exceptionally capable of actually responding to public concerns.

The long-term success of this oversight system is actually hard to overstate. America is a country, after all, whose popular culture produces movies like “Minority Report” and “Enemy of the State,” and whose civil libertarian culture is predicated on a deep suspicion of intelligence operations and government power generally. It is also a country with a history of genuine intelligence community abuses. Yet, even within the context of this culture, the oversight system allows the intelligence community the political and legal latitude to wield extraordinary powers.

And, amazingly, it does so with relatively high confidence from the population in general. The Pew Research Center has for more than a decade been polling Americans on whether they believe the government has “gone too far restricting civil liberties” or whether they believe the government has “not gone far enough to protect the country.” With the exception of a brief blip around the time of the Snowden revelations, many more Americans believe the latter than the former. Although good data on public attitudes toward the intelligence community over time do not exist, this poll question—asked since 2004—suggests that majorities do not believe the intelligence community is out of control. At a time of rock-bottom confidence in public institutions, it is notable that the intelligence oversight system, a system with hardly a trace of populism in its design, actually works effectively at its core purpose: assuring the public that the intelligence community is doing its job within the law.

The system shows that when intermediation is designed and empowered carefully, it can accomplish in a durable and robust fashion many of the objectives that populist reformers purport to seek.

 


          A religious case for repealing the Affordable Care Act   

The proposed changes to America’s health care system advanced by the Republican Congress have been condemned by patient advocates like AARP, doctor advocates like the AMA, and hospital advocates like the American Hospitals Association. But there’s a religious case that has been made in its defense that is worth examining, even though it’s not a […]

The post A religious case for repealing the Affordable Care Act appeared first on The Blogs | The Times of Israel.


           Mathematical thinking of undergraduate students when using three types of software    
Hosein, Anesa ; Aczel, James ; Clow, Doug and Richardson, John T. E. (2008). Mathematical thinking of undergraduate students when using three types of software. In: The 11th International Congress on Mathematics Education, 06-13 Jul 2008, Monterrey, Mexico.
          22 Million Americans Could Lose Health Insurance Under Senate Bill   

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The Congressional Budget Office says the number of uninsured people in the United States would rise to 22 million within the next ten years under the Senate health care bill.

The Senate’s bill would replace the Affordable Care Act, a law that former President Barack Obama supported. The Affordable Care Act is often called Obamacare. Republicans have spent about seven years attempting to cancel Obamacare.

The CBO said in a study released Monday that the Senate bill would decrease the federal budget deficit by $321 billion by 2026.

This is the second health care bill to be considered in Congress. Both the House and the Senate have different health care bills. In order for a bill to become law, it needs to pass both the House and the Senate and be signed by the president.

Senate leaders plan to vote after the July 4th holiday on their version of the bill. Currently, Americans are required to buy health insurance or pay a fine if they do not. The Senate’s bill would end that requirement.

In addition, the bill would end subsidies meant to help lower-income people buy insurance. It would also decrease some taxes on higher-income people. And it would cut billions of dollars of government funding for the health care program for poor and disabled people over the next few years.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y. and his fellow Democratic Senators, hold photographs of constituents who would be adversely affected by the proposed Republican Senate healthcare bill Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y. and his fellow Democratic Senators, hold photographs of constituents who would be adversely affected by the proposed Republican Senate healthcare bill

Opposition to the bill

To pass a bill in the Senate, a majority of senators must vote for the bill. If there is a tie, the vice president can vote to break the tie. Currently Republicans hold 52 of the 100 seats in the Senate. All 46 Senate Democrats are expected to vote against the bill. In order for the bill to pass, Republicans can risk losing only two of their senators.

A group of Republican senators has already said they will not vote for the bill in its current form.

When Obamacare became law in 2010, it passed without any Republican votes. Since the 2016 elections, Republicans gained control of the presidency, the House and the Senate. A change to Obamacare could be possible now.

About 20 million people have received insurance with Obamacare. Many of those people are covered under the government’s Medicaid program for the poor and disabled.

The two bills to change Obamacare propose to cut about $800 billion in federal funds for Medicaid over the next few years. President Donald Trump had stated during his campaign for office that he would not cut Medicaid funding.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told ABC that he hopes that Republicans will talk with Democrats and work together on a solution to make Obamacare better.

I’m Mario Ritter.

And I’m Olivia Liu

Olivia Liu adapted this story for Learning English from VOA News and AP reporting. Mario Ritter was the editor.

Words in This Story

uninsured –adj. not having an agreement with a company or agency that helps pay for the cost of a service such as health care

subsidiesn. government payments to producers or individuals that reduce the cost of a good or service to make it easier to get

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          Charges Brought Against Brazil's President   

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Brazil’s President Michel Temer calls the corruption charges against him a “soap opera” and accuses the country’s top lawyer of seeking “revenge.”

On Monday, Attorney General Rodrigo Janot charged Temer with accepting at least $150,000 dollars in payments. The payments are said to have come from the head of Brazil’s huge meat producing company JBS earlier this year.

Temer took office last year after former president Dilma Rousseff was removed from office for breaking laws related to reporting the nation’s budget.

More charges possible

Reports say there is an audio recording of Temer reportedly plotting to pay money to a former house speaker and a Temer associate who was jailed for corruption. And Janot is considering other charges against Temer including obstruction of justice.

Brazil's Attorney General Rodrigo Janot might bring additional charges. Brazil's Attorney General Rodrigo Janot might bring additional charges.

After the attorney general’s charges, a complex process involving the nation’s highest court and congress could lead to a vote by the full lower house.

The lower house of Brazil’s Congress called the Chamber of Deputies could decide whether to suspend Temer or try him on charges of bribery.

Two-thirds of the 513-member group must agree to do so.

If Temer is found guilty, he faces a $3 million fine and two to 12 years in prison. But observers think Congress will not force him out.

Sonia Fleury is a political science professor at the Fundacao Getulio Vargas University in Rio de Janeiro. She says, 'Several senators and deputies are in the same boat as he is, being accused in the same way.” Fleury adds they are protecting each other “to avoid prosecution.”

The Brazil’s president has denied the charges and says that he will not step down. Public opinion studies show Temer has a very low rate of approval of seven percent.

Charges make reforms more difficult

South America’s largest economy is recovering from a deep recession. Unemployment and inflation remain high while economic growth has not been strong.

The government has proposed unpopular reforms to the country’s finances including cutting payments to retired workers and labor reforms.

Peter Hakim is the former president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a research group based in Washington. He says the charges against Temer make it difficult for lawmakers to vote on financial reforms and cuts to public spending.

“There may have been enough votes for him to secure the economic reforms necessary but now people have to vote for unpopular reforms and for a unpopular defense of Temer.”

I’m Mario Ritter.

Kenneth Schwartz, Victor Beattie reported this story for VOA News with additional materials from AP and Reuters. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Words in This Story

soap opera –n. a kind of dramatic television or radio program of continuing stories of the daily lives of a group of people

revenge –n. the act of hurting someone because they hurt you first

bribery –n. to receive an illegal payment in return for supporting a public law or policy

obstruction –n. to block something from going forward

in the same boat –idiom in the same situation

prosecution –n. the process of facing charges in a legal court

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          Another Republican for Cut and Run   

Lindsey Graham: "We're on the verge of chaos, and the current plan is not working."

Seems the Republicans are finally ditching Dubya.

I love what Nancy Pelosi said at the end of her 60 Minutes interview on Sunday, when asked if she would go for impeaching Bush after she becomes Speaker of the House.

"Wouldn't they just love it, if we came in and our record as Democrats coming forth in 12 years, is to talk about George Bush and Dick Cheney? This election is about them. This is a referendum on them. Making them lame ducks is good enough for me."
Those were the last words in the interview, and they reverberate.

No matter what, we've got the change we were looking for, even if the Republicans retain control of Congress. They can't recover in two years from the kind of internal warfare they're waging against each other now. No matter what, Bush is already the lamest of lame ducks.


          Police Shooting, Cosby Trials Show Workings of American Justice   

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In America, people accused of crimes can choose to have their case heard by a judge or jury.

Legal experts say most people choose a jury, usually made up of 12 people from the community where the crime took place.

Two recent criminal cases heard by juries were the subject of international news coverage and emotional disputes about their outcomes.

In Pennsylvania, a jury deadlocked on charges that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand in 2004. To deadlock, means all 12 jurors could not agree on a decision.

Cosby, now 79, was a beloved television and movie actor, writer and comedian. But his reputation suffered when many women came forward to charge him with sexual misconduct.

At the trial, the jury was asked to decide only about the charges from one woman, Constand. She said Cosby had drugged her, making her unable to resist his sexual attacks.

On Wednesday, a juror told ABC News that 10 of the jurors believed Cosby was guilty on two of the three criminal charges against him. Two of the jurors believed he was not guilty of those charges.

Like almost all criminal trials, Pennsylvania requires juries to reach a unanimous ruling. That means all 12 jurors must agree on guilt or innocence.

A new trial for Cosby is likely in four months.

Shooting by Minnesota police officer

The other case to draw major news coverage in recent weeks centered on the shooting death of Philando Castile by a police officer in Minnesota.

The 32-year-old Castile was a school lunchroom worker. He was driving with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter when they were pulled over by Officer Jeronimo Yanez. The officer said he shot Castile because he thought Castile was reaching for his gun.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, used her phone to livestream video on Facebook of her discussions with the police officer after the shooting. She said Castile had explained to the officer that he had a permit to carry a gun and was reaching into his pocket for identification, not a gun, when he was shot.

The 12-person jury unanimously decided that Yanez was not guilty of killing Castile.

Protesters gather outside the Minnesota State Capitol June 16, 2017, after police Officer Jeronimo Yanez was cleared in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile. Protesters gather outside the Minnesota State Capitol June 16, 2017, after police Officer Jeronimo Yanez was cleared in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile.

Barbara O’Brien teaches law students at Michigan State University. She explains why the federal government and most state and local governments require unanimous jury verdicts.

If only the agreement of 10 of 12 jurors were required, there would be little reason for the jury “to consider why two jurors believed the government’s case did not prove guilt,” O’Brien said.

She also said a unanimous decision carries “more legitimacy, particularly in a criminal trial,” where a lot is on the line. A guilty verdict in a case can bring a long prison sentence.

Police shooting and Cosby case watched closely

The public has shown intense interest in the Minnesota killing and the Bill Cosby case.

The Minnesota shooting and the jury decision caused large demonstrations from people who say police are too quick to shoot black people without justification.

‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’

The most watched case in recent history was the 1995 murder trial of former football and movie star, O.J. Simpson. He was charged with killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. The jury decided he was not guilty, despite evidence that included his wife’s blood found in his car and on a pair of his socks.

The moment most people remember from the eight-month trial came when defense attorney, Johnnie Cochran, asked Simpson to try on a glove. Police said the glove also contained blood from Brown Simpson. The glove appeared to be too small for his hands.

“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” Cochran famously told the jury.

The eight-month trial was televised live by Court TV.

Johnnie Cochran puts on a pair of gloves Sept. 27, 1995, to remind the jury in the O.J. Simpson murder trial that the gloves Simpson tried on did not fit. Johnnie Cochran puts on a pair of gloves Sept. 27, 1995, to remind the jury in the O.J. Simpson murder trial that the gloves Simpson tried on did not fit.

The live broadcasts brought the Simpson case more attention than either the Cosby case or the Minnesota killing. Television cameras were not permitted in the courtrooms for those trials.

But what all three cases have in common is that observers have raised a lot of questions about the juries’ findings.

Congressman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat, commented on the not guilty decision in the Minnesota case for the Congressional Black Caucus. He chairs the group of African-American lawmakers.

“This verdict tells African Americans across the country that they can be killed by police officers with impunity, even when they are following the law, and that it is reasonable for any person interacting with an African American in any way to fear for his or her life,” Richmond said.

Earl Gray, one of Yanez’ lawyers, said that the police officer had feared for his life and therefore was permitted to fire his gun.

The jury’s failure to reach a decision in the Bill Cosby case brought criticism from both those who believed Cosby was guilty and those who thought he was not guilty.

Cosby’s wife, Camille Cosby, commented on the social media service Twitter. She criticized her husband’s accusers and the news media for being unfair to her husband.

Actress and writer Lena Dunham wrote on Twitter that victims of sexual assault face unfair questions about their personal lives.

I’m Jill Robbins.

And I'm Bruce Alpert.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English based on reports by the Associated Press and other sources. Mario Ritter was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page.

Words in This Story

assault - v. the crime of trying or threatening to hurt someone physically

reputation - n. the common opinion that people have about a person

misconduct - n. bad behavior

verdict - n. a ruling in a court case

legitimacy - n. real, accepted, or believable

particularly - adv. more than usually

consequence - n. something that happens as a result of a particular action or set of conditions

justification - n. a good reason to do something

glove - n. a covering for the hand that has separate parts for each finger

acquit - v. find someone not guilty of a crime

impunity - n. without fear of penalty


          Apocalypse Averted   

It turns out that the doomsday predictors were wrong. Even the Mayans are probably wrong.
President Barack Obama was re-elected and the sky didn't fall. Hell did not freeze over. The dollar is still worth basically a dollar. The Dow did not go to zero. Hedge fund managers did not jump out of the windows of their boardrooms. People did not take to the streets en masse toting semi-automatic assault rifles.
President Barack Obama
The President won this election because his appeal was universal. Ironically, the only group that didn't support the President was composed of white men who for some reason still feel threatened by this President. The GOP shamelessly appealed to this group to the exclusion of everyone else and the results showed up on election night. The days when white men dominate this country are over and the GOP needs to recognize that it will not survive as a political force by only appealing to white males and white evangelicals. These two groups have a difficult time recognizing that they are now just two minority groups among so many other minority groups. Unfortunately for the GOP, there are still remnants of hostile, arrogant white males who feel entitled and resent that the rest of the country has a growing piece of the democratic pie. Most baffling of all, is the paranoia among the well-heeled, many of whom act as if they live in a banana republic where the ruler can just arbitrarily confiscate all their wealth.
Exemplifying this latter group is Donald Trump who still acts like the buffoon-in-chief. His antics ranging from his sham run for the presidency to his obsession with the president's birth certificate, college records, and other trivial matters not related to governance would be simply be fodder for comedians if it did not have serious resonance among swaths of the population. When George W. Bush was President, Trump couldn't have cared less about his college records. But he felt these issues were important when it came to the current President. Trump’s narcissism knows no bounds. Here are the comments he tweeted after the announcement of Obama's win:
“This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!”
Donald Trump
“More votes equals a loss...revolution!”
“Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us.”
“We can't let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”
“He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!”
“House of Representatives shouldn't give anything to Obama unless he terminates Obamacare.”
“The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”
“Hopefully the House of Representatives can hold our country together for four more years...stay strong and never give up!”
Donald Trump is an embarrassment to himself, to the Republican Party and to the nation. The bigger point, however, is that the Republican Party has lost credibility when it allow statements of this low caliber to reflect on themselves. If the GOP is to become a relevant political force in the future it has to figure out a way of weeding out this kind of anachronistic thinking. This is not a trivial point. In order for us to succeed as a country we need the adults to take over and work together.

This is a plea for people, all people, 
especially politicians, to behave as adults, 
and not as spoiled children. 


There is no time for infantile antics à la the Tea Party. We have already witnessed what happens when the Tea Party Congressmen stamped their feet during the debt ceiling debate with the unfortunate result of our bond rating getting downgraded. For the Nation to succeed we will need the cooperation of both parties. The President has repeatedly indicated that he is willing to work with the opposition. It is really up to the responsible people in the Republican Party to accept this challenge and work constructively with the newly re-elected President.
This is not a plea to muzzle any thoughts. People are free to think as they wish in America. We have a Constitution that guarantees that. This is a plea for people, all people, especially politicians, to behave as adults, and not as spoiled children. The GOP has some serious thinking to do. Do they continue to allow clowns like Trump. Limbaugh and Bachmann  to speak for the Party with impunity? At what point does the Republican leadership disavow their messengers of intransigence?
Mitt Romney made a good concession speech in which he exhorted his party to work with the President to solve problems. In Romney's own words, “The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work, and we citizens also have to rise to the occasion.” The GOP would be wise to follow Romney's advice, not only for their own survival as a Party, but for the sake of a nation that needs more solutions and less chest-thumping.
I predicted on October 31 on this blog [The Next Four Years] that President Obama's second term will be characterized by more bipartisanship and more consensus building now that the obsession with making the President a one-termer is past. I believe that the American people collectively harbor this hope and that is why they re-elected him. Let's hope we are all right.



I thought that was the logical next step




The book is published and available on Amazon and on Create Space.

For international readers it is available on Amazon Europe.

Specifically, it is available in Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

In Asia, the book is available in Japan.


          The Next Four Years   

One of the few things we can all agree with is that either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will be elected President next Tuesday. Either we will have a Republican or Democratic House of Representatives and we will have either a Democratic or Republican Senate.
What exactly will happen is anyone's guess as nobody has those kinds of powers of prognostication. But prognosticate we must – not only on the outcome of the election but what it will mean if either of the two principle candidates wins.
The Republicans have invested a lot of time and money telling the American voters that if the President is re-elected expect four years of gridlock and paralysis. Their version of “gloom and doom” is not so much that Barack Obama will do irreparable harm to the country – they also say that – but that the next four years will be wasted as bickering and partisanship will continue unabated, and the important business of the American people will just not get done.
I think they are wrong.
President Barack Obama
The first Obama term was characterized by a deliberate unwillingness on the part of the Republican leadership to cooperate with the President for the express purpose, in the immortal words of Senate leader Mitch McConnell, “my number one priority is making sure president Obama’s a one-term president.” The incurably petty will argue whether Mitch said this in 2009 or 2010 (he said it in 2010) but it matters little when he said it since it perfectly illustrates the Senate leader's attitude towards the President. If you examine the record you will see this strategy in action, especially in the Senate, where Mitch McConnell led a record number of filibusters which thwarted majority votes in both Chambers even when the Democrats had the majority in the House of Representatives. This was indeed government by hostage and the intent was clear. Make the President as weak and ineffectual as possible so that come election time the case could be made that he did not deliver on key pieces of legislation, especially important ones like the Jobs Bill. [see “What's Wrong with the Jobs Bill?” October 13, 2011, on this blog] Just the Jobs Bill alone would have made a big dent in our unemployment numbers, but the Republicans were not about to help the economy because that would have practically insured an Obama second term.
The History of the Filibuster
(Graph: Todd Lindeman; Data: Senate.gov)

If the president wins a second term all of that goes out the window.
Freed from the tyranny of the “one term Presidency” strategy, the Republican Senators could once again vote their conscience and do what they do best: horse-trading and seeking solutions, rather than obstruction for the sake of denying the President a second term. Not that it would spell the end of partisanship or argumentation. That was present during the founding of America and will stay with us as long as there is a Constitutional democracy in the United States. But because the overall obsession of denying Obama a second term will be gone, the Senate will return to a more “normal” state of collegiate belligerence, where both Parties understand the people expect results and cooperation, not continuous obstruction. An Obama second term will be, therefore, full of controversy, but with bipartisan solutions hammered out in vigorous debate. The American people will get a more functional government, spirited, divided, but anxious to find solutions.
President Mitt Romney?
So what can we expect from a Romney administration? Regardless of whether the Congress ends up in the hands of the Democrats or the Republicans – it looks like the Republicans will keep a smaller majority in the House, and the Democrats will retain a slim majority in the Senate – the final composition will not matter much. Especially in the Senate where Senator Harry Reid will either stay as a majority or minority leader. Either way will be lethal to a prospective Romney agenda. Senator Reid will become the second most powerful man in the country, second only to the new President himself. Does anybody have a doubt, that after all the humiliation heaped on Senator Reid for the last four years, he will not seek to turn the tables on the Republicans? It is hard to say if the good Senator from Nevada will be more dangerous as the majority or minority leader. There is no plausible scenario that the Republicans will achieve a 60+ majority in the Senate, thereby rendering the Senate filibuster proof. Even the most partisan Republican prognosticator does not contemplate such a dream scenario for the hypothetical President Romney.
So a President Romney would have in Reid an implacable foe who would not hesitate to return the favor of filibustering Republican legislation, if in the minority or just killing it outright if in the majority. In any case, Romney would reap what his party sowed with Obama these last four years and he would have Senator McConnell principally to thank for that. Four years of partisanship and gridlock would face the new President and the merry-go-round would keep turning. This is what happens when shortsighted political expediency is chosen over consensus building governance. And blaming the President for the lack of bi-partisanship is a new height of shamelessness, a new definition for chutzpah.
Romney's potential first term has disaster written all over it, and he only has his compadres in his own party to blame. On the other hand, if it were not for the high-handed conduct of Republican Senators, making the best of their minority status by denying the President a clear path to governing, Romney would not be neck to neck with the President at this late date. He would be hopelessly behind with no chance of capturing the White House.
So the McConnell strategy did work. Whether the Republicans succeeded at making the President a one term President or not we will find out soon enough.

          Mitt's Pyrrhic Victory   

Most people agree: Mitt won the first debate against the President. The question, therefore is, how did he win it?
Governor Romney and President Obama
He was clearly the aggressor and people generally like their President to be aggressive. Romney correctly figured out that if he was to have a shot at the presidency, he would have to take the fight to the incumbent. Just like in boxing, the challenger has to clearly put the champ on the defensive.
But how did he do it?
In short, he did it by changing his positions one more time, by re-inventing himself. If one is keeping track of Romney's positions over his career you could be forgiven if you thought he had multiple personalities. Since Mr. Romney does not have the burden of leading the free world, he is free to change his positions on just about anything to suit his purpose. His hammering away at Obama may have consequences that may not be helpful to the challenger, however. For one, there will be increased scrutiny of Romney’s more outlandish claims.
Let's start with the opening of the debate. Romney and Ryan both have been talking about lowering taxes on the “job creators.” [for a discussion about job creators, read “The Real Job Creators” on this blog] It is practically Republican gospel that lowering taxes on wealthy people is the path to job creation. George W. did it with disastrous results and, while Obama wants to let the Bush tax cuts die, Romney has indicated that not only does he want to keep the Bush cuts to the very rich, but then lower them even more.

“I will not reduce the taxes paid by 
high income Americans.” - Mitt Romney

During the initial exchange of last night's debate, however, we learned that no, no, no, the Governor is not about to give any breaks to the rich. His exact words were “I'm not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high income people.” I did a double take so fast that I think I sprained my neck. Later on, in the same segment he said that he wants to bring tax rates down “both for corporations and for individuals.” Romney has raised flip-flopping to a new height -- he is now flip-flopping within the space of five minutes! He topped his thought when he boldly stated that he would not introduce any tax cut that would “add to the deficit.” He doubled down when he reiterated “I will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans.” Well, that clears it up then. I guess if you have this level of shamelessness, and you don't care about math, it is easier to score debate points.
This is not some small detail in an otherwise great plan. It is the core of Romney's plan, similar to Ronald Reagan's and both Presidents Bushes' plans which gave us astronomical deficits. The older Bush had to actually renege on his “no new taxes” pledge just to prevent the deficits from getting any steeper.
But the whoppers did not end there and we haven't even left the first segment yet. Romney has found a new love for the middle class and wants to lower taxes on them too because he knows that is what people want to hear. And to top it off, he wants to raise defense spending, a cute trick on the way towards his claim of balancing the budget.
In the next segment, when the President repeated his desire to end any tax incentives for companies to ship jobs abroad, Romney played dumb and said he never heard of such a thing in his years in business when his company, Bain Capital took full advantage of that loophole. After many attempts to eliminate the loophole failed in Congress due to Republican opposition it is the height of hypocrisy for Romney to pretend he never heard of this tax break. Again, when you don't have the responsibility of governance, you can make outrageous remarks like this.
On the hot topic of Medicare, after lambasting the President for finding savings in the program, he vaguely alludes to younger recipients that they will be taken care of without specifying how. He is telling young people to just trust him.
On healthcare, Romney elevated hypocrisy to a another level. He finally came across praising his own “Romneycare” which he had been ducking until now and had the gall to say how well it worked in Massachusetts and how “Obamacare,” which is based on the Massachusetts model was going to be a disaster for the Nation. He had previously avoided talking about his own healthcare success for fear of being compared to the President's reform. Last night, he threw caution to the wind and just boldly stated that what worked so well in Massachusetts could never serve as a model for the Nation.
When Obama made his case for the federal government having a role in helping education, Romney replied by assuring Americans that he too, supported education, not exactly in the same way as the President, but he too was a believer in teachers, in quality education even though his budget belies his allegations. Obama actually put resources and programs to work to help education, including taking away billions the banks were making at the expense of students seeking college loans. Romney would never have supported that, but claims he is a strong supporter of education. There was no end to the Romney double talk.
One of the truisms Romney uttered last night was that the private marketplace in order to work properly needs rules and regulations. The same applies to debates, one of the ultimate expressions of the free market of ideas. But unlike in boxing, in debates there is no referee. There is nobody taking away points for sucker punches. In boxing, the ref can even disqualify a fighter for fighting dirty. No such things happen in a political debate. There are no rules, no points taken away for low blows, or even for bringing a knife to the fight. Anything goes in politics.
There is an important difference between boxing and debates, however. In boxing the decision is made immediately after the fight and that's all she wrote. In politics winning a debate is more like winning one round. The people are the ones who will ultimately decide what the impact of this first round win will be. There will be at least two weeks of poll numbers to judge whether Romney moved the numbers significantly in his direction. Will the celebrated swing states swing in his direction or will they stay with the President, for example. The next debate between the two Presidential candidates will be round two and you can bet that it will go differently depending on where the two stand in the battleground states.
I think Romney may yet regret that he got what he wished for. Winning the first round can produce many unpredictable consequences.



Link to C-SPAN for debate archives and more.


          Why We're Voting for Obama   



Brenda A.

MELBOURNE, FL



I gained great inspiration from President Obama to take a chance on opening my wine shop, and hope and change have been very good to me.

We just hit the three-year mark on my business, and it's paid off! President Obama is making sure that small business owners like myself can succeed. I know the economy needs to continue improving, and he's doing everything he can for small businesses.

I remember when I saw Barack Obama speak in 2008 in Kissimmee, I knew then that he would be elected president. I've had his back ever since. I believe in Barack Obama.

Tom C.

WEST PALM BEACH, FL

I just graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the Warrington School of Business. But the four years of rigorous, demanding coursework and the sacrifice I made isn't the real story here. Nor is the fact that the school is ranked 11th overall nationally for its distinguished finance program, an industry I plan to work in. Neither is the story about how I worked full-time throughout the last four years while studying, exchanging vacations and socialization, nice dinners, time with friends and family, and so much more for life as a student.

No, the real story is this: that without the combination of low cost federal loans and federal Pell grants, as well as state grants, I wouldn't have my degree today. What an abomination and stunt to American ingenuity, cultural and socio-economic progress cutting these funds for future generations would be. Although I'm through college, I care deeply, perhaps now more so than before I started on my degree, about the importance of ensuring Pell grants and low-cost loans are widely available, and stay available to any and all who seek them.

I'm confident a vote for President Obama this year is a vote towards protecting our commitment to future students that depend on these social nets. I, for one, am happy to pay my taxes throughout my lifetime to do my part. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way. But my convictions simply come from my experience - nothing else.

Thank you, President Obama, and members of Congress, who champion, in the face of unadulterated and unrelenting populist pressure, that our long tradition of helping to fund higher education needs to continue to preserve opportunity for all, and investments in the next generation of ambitious innovators, thinkers, and doers are just too important to simply “give up”.

Susan R.

BONNIE DOONE, NC

My story isn't going to be about economics, or healthcare. It's not going to be about anything that catches the eyes of a news reader. My story is a simple, but my life depends on people like President Obama.

I am a military spouse. I am a proud Air Force wife. I am a mother, an advocate, a supporter, and I too take orders and try not to question those in charge. Though I don't actually own a uniform, I put one on every day.

In my lifetime, I have never witnessed and now been a part of an administration that focuses so much on the military and the military family.

I would like to thank President and Mrs. Obama, for caring about us. For putting into place initiatives like Joining Forces that really do help military families. I would like to thank the First Family for listening to us.

Not many have had to experience the military life and though this is a life that we choose, it is still one that is fraught with fear, anxiety, depression, and stress.

I truly believe that if our nation works hard and joins forces that good people like President Obama can continue making change!

Kim J.

ORANGE, CA

I wasn't a supporter of President Obama in 2008. I didn't go to any phone banks or attend any rallies, and there was one simple reason for that: I was a Republican.

Raised in Orange County in a staunchly Republican family, naturally I became very involved in GOP politics. By the end of my junior year in college, I had volunteered on a Republican campaign and interned twice for a Republican member of Congress. Those experiences were meant to be stepping stones toward my dream job: a political career in Washington, D.C., working for a GOP congressman. But after working so hard for Republicans for so long, I came to a very humbling realization – I had been fighting for the wrong side the entire time.

Last summer, it finally struck me how much this administration's policies helped me as a young woman in her college years. From student loan reform to the Affordable Care Act, I have benefited tremendously from the work of President Obama. I re-registered as a Democrat and soon after, jumped at the chance to work for Obama as an organizing fellow with the campaign. I have been volunteering ever since.

Four years ago, I never would have thought I would be a supporter of President Obama, much less a volunteer on his campaign, but I now understand how much the President has fought for me, even when I wasn't fighting for him.


Joyce B.

MC KINNEY, TX

Our adult son was born with the birth defect, Spina Bifida, 44 years ago, and in his 20's was diagnosed with leukemia. We were fortunate enough to have health insurance through an employer that covered the cost of 38 surgeries due to his birth defect, a bone marrow transplant to cure the leukemia, wheelchairs, leg braces, many doctor's vists, therapy sessions, etc. We know firsthand the tremendous expense parents have when faced with the birth of a child with birth defects. Our son was helped first by the government program, Supplemental Security Income, before he had worked enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Income. He has never been able to obtain a full time job because of his physical and learning disabilities, but has worked part-time for many years in minimum wage jobs. He now qualifies for Medicare which is life-saving for him, since he is uninsurable under current law due to his pre-existing conditions. The Affordable Health Care Law will now allow those with pre-existing conditions to obtain health insurance. Although we were fortunate to have healthcare coverage for these many surgeries, we know there are many families with children with disabilities who do not have adequate insurance. Those who oppose this law need to step into the shoes of those who aren't able to obtain health insurance due to pre-existing conditions. President Obama stood by his promise to pass the Affordable Health Care Law which will benefit many people, and we with many other families thank him. He has accomplished many things during his presidency even though he has had tremendous opposition from the Republican party membership. We believe he is leading our country in the right direction on all the major issues facing our country. We will support President Obama during this campaign by volunteering and by our financial contributions as we did in 2008.

David & Joyce B.

Jillian M.

DEER TRAIL, CO

My husband & I live in a VERY rural area in eastern Colorado. We're pretty much surrounded by people who support the republican point of view. We proudly drive our pick-up around with our Obama sticker on it, and do all we can to support "our" President. Things are tough out here...our daughter is a teacher & can't find a job. We believe in what Obama stands for...what our country needs to support for all of our futures. We donate whenever we can & you have all our support. Thanks for all you have done for us and for what you continue to do for Americans.


















Link to C-SPAN for debate archives and more.


          Bopp 'til you Drop   

James Bopp, is a rather obscure lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana. I say obscure, because he is not known by the general public, but to the anti-abortion crowd he is kind of a hero. He has served as the general counsel for National Right to Life since 1978 and as the special counsel for Focus on the Family since 2004. Bopp was the editor of Restoring the Right to Life: The Human Life Amendment. (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1984)
James Bopp
This story is not, however, about Bopp's abortion bona fides. He is better known as the guy who brought us rivers of money to political campaigns as he argued successfully for Citizens's United in front of the Supreme Court.
His success had a improbable start. He was literally laughed out of court when he had the temerity to state that the hit piece on Hillary Clinton, Hillary: The Movie, was legitimate news and should be allowed to air on TV as would any news piece. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) told Citizens United that it couldn't air the film during primary season, because it amounted to a 90-minute campaign ad. In court, Bopp argued that the movie wasn't so different from what you'd see on 60 Minutes, and its creators deserved First Amendment protections. At that point, US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth laughed out loud. "You can't compare this to 60 Minutes," he said. "Did you read this transcript?"
But funnier things happened on the way to the Supreme Court since the justices saw fit to overturn the FEC's decision, thereby ushering in a new age of unlimited campaign spending whereby billionaires could contribute unlimited cash – anonymously if they wish – to support the candidates of their choice, virtually annihilating the years of campaign reforms that had been painstakingly achieved on a bipartisan basis over many years. One stroke of the pen eliminated years of legislative work. President Obama famously predicted that the decision would go down in history as a terrible experiment much to the visible disapproval of justice Alito during a State of the Union address.
The assumption, of course, by both Democrats and Republicans, was that the Republicans, with their billionaire minions would have a huge advantage and that cash advantage does seem to have materialized in that candidate Mitt Romney, the self-confessed candidate of the plutocrats, has been awash in campaign cash, much of it of dubious origin and difficult to account for. He used his cash advantage to blow away his Republican primary competition which is certainly evidence of poetic justice since Republicans generally welcomed the Supreme Court decision with open arms, not to mention open wallets. The Romney rivals never had a fighting chance as they were severely outspent by the faux conservative Romney and, in an ironic twist worthy of an Agatha Christie novel, the more conservative candidates were pulverized by the very money they worshiped, allowing the moderate and more “flexible” Romney to win the nomination. Never was the saying, “Be careful what you wish for...” more true.


Never was the saying, “Be careful 
what you wish for...” more true.

Romney has demonstrated that the well-heeled are the ones in the best position to rake in the cash, not necessarily the ones with the most conservative ideas, which is why we have a Romney/Ryan ticket and not the converse. There is even loose talk among the conservative claque that Romney should step aside and allow for the ideologically more “pure” ticket of Ryan/Rubio.

But it is too late.

Romney, the poster child of unfettered capitalism, has won the money race fair and square under the new Bopp rules, and Bopp, as a modern Dr. Frankenstein, has joined his newly created monster who turns out to be exactly what the system created. He is an unfeeling money hound with no scruples or core principles aside from a strong desire to win at any cost, much like the mythical Gordon Gekko, that fictitious lizard of Wall Street fame.
The final irony is this. All that humongous horde of cash cannot hide the fact that Romney is a deeply flawed candidate and the instincts of the American people are proven correct once again. Romney is perceived as the phony he is by friend and foe alike. The only thing keeping his campaign even remotely competitive is that 1) there are people who genuinely dislike the President and would vote for Joe the Plumber before voting for Obama, and 2) the economy is in a sluggish recovery so therefore there is more pain out in the country than usual.
If it wasn't for these two factors, all the money in China wouldn't be enough to save Mitt's candidacy. What will be interesting to see is after the Bopp experiment has run its course, and the big money fails to win, what will the Congress do about campaign finance reform? To quote the great poet ee cummings,
“how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death”


Link to C-SPAN for debate archives and more.


          The Ugly American   
Most Americans only get interested in foreign policy when either a) someone bombs us or b) we bomb someone. I realize this is a bit of oversimplification but the average American is just not interested in world affairs or the fact that as the world's superpower, we have daily dealings with countries and people across the entire globe. Americans just don't think that our presence in the world is all that important.
Of course, that changes from time to time as when the Olympic Games roll around and all of a sudden our competitive juices get revved up. Suddenly it matters a lot that a small group of female gymnasts besting all the world's other gymnasts becomes all-consuming and all-important. There are other times, on smaller scales, when Americans care about what happens in the world, but on the whole, the average American is not terribly interested or informed about world events.
However, our presence in the world matters. A lot. America has commercial interests all over the world and not just limited to oil or iPod sales, to name two obvious concerns. America is a true world leader and whether we care or not, the whole world looks to America for leadership.
Governor Mitt Romney
Which is why Mitt Romney's uninspired tour of three of the most American-friendly nations, Great Britain, Israel, and Poland does not bode well for the Republican prospect. The press has had its fun with the many gaffes and missteps by both the presidential candidate himself and his closest aides, but the whole is more important than its parts. Sure, blaring headlines in the London papers announcing, “Mitt the Twit” are not helpful, but the image of a would be world leader incapable of navigating friendly waters should give Americans pause.
Headline in Rupert Murdoch's "The Sun" newspaper
More egregious, however, was Romney's blatant disregard of the delicate and tricky role America plays in the Middle East. In his zeal to contrast himself with President Obama, shore up support with Jewish voters back home, and assist his unquenchable thirst for campaign cash, he threw caution to the wind by adopting an uncompromising pro-Israeli government stand. I say Israeli government because his chummy relationship with Bibi Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister should not be confused with a pro-Israel position. Netanyahu represents a conservative government, which in a parliamentary democracy such as Israel could change in a blink of an eye.
Much more important is the delicate balance America has to achieve between being a supporter of Israel the country and its true interests, while maintaining a position as an honest broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Maybe posturing with his buddy Bibi will score him points back home with the yahoos and fool some Jewish voters into believing Romney has Israel's back, but Israel is not simply defined by its current government and its current policies. Israel is a complex democratic society similar to ours with many points of view and it is clearly in the country's interest to co-exist peacefully with its Arab neighbors. Putting down Palestinian “culture” as Romney did does not help Israel in any way.


If a handful of illegal immigrants voting in our elections 
is supposedly a travesty so terrible that we are willing 
to thwart thousands of American citizens from voting 
in order to prevent that possibility, how can we ignore millions 
in foreign cash finding its way to political candidates? 



Every American President, liberal or conservative, understands this delicate balancing act and none has ever lowered himself to being merely a blatant cheerleader for Israel. Most Israelis understand this simple fact. By ignoring the true interests of the Israeli people in order to score cheap campaign points, Romney is not only showing his lack of mastery of the complex art of diplomacy, but also putting his immediate personal needs ahead of Israel. Jewish voters should not be fooled.
So far, the most under-reported story of Romney's latest international tour is his shameless fund-raising on foreign soil yet the press reported his ability to raise millions from foreigners in the most nonchalant way. Is is not enough that the Citizen's United Supreme Court decision opened the floodgates of money pouring into our elections? The Supreme Court declared that corporations are equivalent to people and as citizens have the right to donate money to influence elections, in unlimited ways and in secret. That is a travesty that the Congress is trying to address, but since when is it OK for foreign interests – big foreign interests – to participate in our elections with cash? Where is the outrage from the people who are trying to make voting in elections as difficult as possible in order to prevent foreigners from voting? I think everybody agrees that foreigners voting in our elections is a no-no, but how about foreigners giving cash to presidential candidates? Are we so blasé and cynical that raising millions in foreign cash hardly raises an eyebrow? If a handful of illegal immigrants voting in our elections is supposedly a travesty so terrible that we are willing to thwart thousands of American citizens from voting in order to prevent that possibility, how can we ignore millions in foreign cash finding its way to political candidates? I am reasonably confidant that Romney broke no laws when he collected millions from foreigners. I don't believe Romney is careless enough to openly break such a law were it to exist. But, one might ask, how is it possible that foreigners can legally influence our elections with cash and what does this say about a candidate willing to take large sums from foreigners?
Romney supporters like to say that his trip abroad was a resounding success. I guess it all depends on what his goals were. Based on the results, we can be confident in assuming that foreign policy was not his main priority.



Link to C-SPAN for debate archives and more.


          Malicious Kook Power   

Definition of KOOK
: one whose ideas or actions are eccentric, fantastic, or insane :
Definition of MALICE
1: desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another
2: intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse
Merriam-Webster
Who would have thought that the likes of Michele Bachmann, Glen Beck, and Rush Limbaugh would have so much influence in the Middle East? These three and others like them continue to be national embarrassments and have little influence in their own country outside of their rabid group of fans, but in faraway Egypt, of all places, their antics have provoked otherwise levelheaded people to believe the preposterous lie that America had a secret agenda to support the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian elections.
And where did they unearth such an obvious lie?
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
It all started with Congresswoman (and ex-candidate for President) Michele Bachmann's allegation that the US Congress has been penetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Not content with this simple baseless allegation, Bachmann goes all in with this whopper: “It appears that there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood,” Bachmann told radio host Sandy Rios in June. “It appears that there are individuals who are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have positions, very sensitive positions, in our Department of Justice, our Department of Homeland Security, potentially even in the National Intelligence Agency." Words worthy of Senator Joe McCarthy himself.
Nobody in his right mind pays much attention to these obvious cries for attention as the media, generally speaking, does little to report on this nonsense, but these malicious kooky ideas do find their way into the blogosphere, particularly through the right-wing “ditto-heads” who are all too happy to promote the most preposterous lies about our President and his administration.

The spectacle of our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton 
being pelted by tomatoes and jeered in Egypt is 
not just a humiliation she does not deserve.

Not to be outdone, Glen Beck has been advancing some pretty paranoid scenarios of his own. The enclosed video clip tells the story in chilling detail, it tells a tale that should frighten us all. Beck manages to assemble a a group of “experts” who sound very rational, discussing the demise of the United States at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, even implicating the President of the United States in a ridiculous plot working with elements of the Muslim Brotherhood to obliterate our country as we know it. Gone is the bombast Beck exhibited at Fox News, the bombast he thrilled Rupert Murdoch with because it ginned up ratings, fattening both of their wallets in the process. (When Beck's over the top shtick stopped bringing in the big bucks, ol' Rupert, always the sentimental one, dropped Glen like a hot potato.) But here, the soft spoken Beck with his ever so calm guests weave a tale that is worthy of the Syfy channel except that gullible listeners in Egypt were apparently tuned in.

Finally, of course, there is the always reliable über-malicious kook himself, Rush Limbaugh who completes the puzzle with this gem:
Huma Abedin, Mrs. Anthony Weiner, Mrs. Huma Weiner, she is Hillary Clinton’s number one aide. And Huma’s mother is best friends with the new First Lady of Egypt, the wife of the new Muslim Brotherhood guy, Morsi. That’s really all you need to know. But there’s much more to know. That’s why Hillary is out celebrating the brotherhood. That’s why Hillary is joining Obama in telling the military to give it up for the Brotherhood guy. Because Huma’s mom, there’s actually a group, the Muslim Sisterhood, essentially, that is an offshoot of the Brotherhood. And Huma’s mom is best friends with the new so-called First Lady of Egypt, who is also a member of the Sisterhood. Folks, it’s Peyton place. It’s too much to keep up with.
As Limbaugh boldly states, there's more, much more (including the the omitted fact that Weiner is a Jew), but this modest article is not about detailing all the sordid particulars of the paranoid delusions of America's malicious kooks. That is more print than any of them deserve. Those of you who are fascinated with the ranting of the professional paranoids, feel free to investigate on your own. There’s plenty more.
However, there is a larger point to be made. The antics of those many of us regard as kooks, or entertainment as some will, are taken seriously abroad by too many people. The spectacle of our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton being pelted by tomatoes and jeered in Egypt is not just a humiliation she does not deserve. It is a humiliation of our President (who incidentally, in spite of vicious rumors to the contrary, does not deserve this either). Most importantly, it is a humiliation directed at the United States of America -- that is -- us American citizens. All due to the antics of our fellow kooky citizens who amuse themselves by slandering our country for fun and profit.
And where is the “never apologize for America” Mitt Romney in all this? Why is Mr. Romney not rising to defend his country? Or at least being so bold as to denounce the malicious kooks in his own party? It is not enough to dismiss the eminently dismissible Sarah Palin who is a bastion of reason compared with these three. Romney wants us to believe he will be a bold leader defending America abroad when he cannot even muster the courage to defend America from her enemies within.
At great risk of sounding anti-free enterprise, at what point does this type of behavior become seditious? Just asking.

PS Since this article was published Senator John McCain made an passionate defense of Huma Abedin on the Senate floor. Here is the link. If only Romney had half the courage of John McCain he might get half his votes.



Link to C-SPAN for debate archives and more.


          The Dysfunction Myth   

Democracy is not pretty to look at. It's messy. It was always messy from the very formation of the United States. The Founding Fathers argued about everything but ended up with great compromises like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
And now we have the Affordable Care Act, a badly needed beginning of healthcare reform almost one hundred years in the making.
Underscoring this historical moment is the myth of American dysfunctionality. Every major accomplishment has been fought tooth and nail and that is when statesmen step up to the plate. Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, JFK, and LBJ were among the many who moved the ball forward. Too early to say about Obama, but in the case of healthcare reform the statesman this time around is Chief Justice John Roberts.
Chief Justice John Roberts
Roberts confounded everybody. The Liberals thought he was a lost cause, a hopeless partisan in the same league as the most partisan Justice on the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia. But the Liberals were wrong. When Roberts famously said, “My job is to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat,” many Liberals did not really believe him. Since he was appointed by a Republican President, the nefarious George W., it was feared he was bound to be another partisan judge like Scalia, Alito, and Thomas. But something mysterious usually happens on the way to powerful positions. People become more realistic and more importantly, more responsible. It is one thing to be on the outside, throwing rocks; it is another thing to accept a position of great responsibility and have the fate of one's fellow citizens in one's hands.
Conservatives also got Roberts wrong, much like they did Earl Warren. Conservatives thought that Roberts was going to be a “team player” and play for their team regardless of what was in the interest of the Nation. But Roberts surprised the Conservatives too. We may never know what Roberts' personal view of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is, but that does not matter because he correctly understood that his job is to find a way to validate the will of Congress and the President.

America has much to celebrate. Not only has healthcare 
taken a big step forward, but the political system 
has been proven to work as the Founders intended.

Predictably, the right-wing noise machine is going to go into overdrive and badmouth Justice Roberts. They will call him traitor and worse. There will undoubtedly be calls for his impeachment from the Tea Party types and their sycophants. These extreme ideologues claim to be patriots but do not really understand how our country works, how democracy works, or even what the meaning of the Constitution is. Then there will be the inevitable conspiracy theories, casting Roberts as a stooge or an evil genius. There will be much cynicism spread because so many of us cannot believe that honorable men still exist.
America has much to celebrate. Not only has healthcare taken a big step forward, but the political system has been proven to work as the Founders intended. Justice Roberts showed us all that he has a deep understanding of American history, that he understands the great responsibility that comes with being Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, that it is not a trivial job for trivial people. That he, along with the President, does not have the luxury of letting his emotions get the better of him. That he is not part of some ideological “side” which if it doesn't get its way will stamp its feet like a three-year old. No, Roberts showed us that along with Obama, he was one of the few adults in the room and rose to the occasion.
This is the stuff of history! It is not the time to play a sleazy game to get a great headline in the Drudge Report or praise from the professional bloviators. This is America at its finest, when people from different backgrounds, different philosophies come together for the benefit of all of the American people. It is so rare these days that too many people will miss it, which is why it deserves a special mention.
And, to paraphrase the great Mark Twain, “Reports of the death of American democracy are greatly exaggerated.”



Link to C-SPAN for debate archives and more.


          The McConnell microcosm: why it’s hard to change the Beltway    

Kentucky's Republican senator Mitch McConnell has come out strongly against proposed climate change legislation at a time when real progress on the issue in Congress seems probable. In a piece written for The Hill he argues that:

Now is the time to be considering, and approving, legislation that would allow Americans to increase energy production within our own borders, and to accelerate the process of moving to clean nuclear energy. Now is the time to do something about $4.00 a gallon gasoline, not something that would cost us $6.00 a gallon gas down the road.

McConnell’s objections are interesting not only because they appeal to populist resentment about gas prices and job-losses, but because as an Appalachian Republican senator up for re-election, McConnell must grapple with the many new challenges facing American lawmakers as they seek to act on this issue.

Despite proclaiming himself the "godfather of green", McConnell has a lifetime score of 7% with the league of conservation voters. He favours building new coal gasification plants in Kentucky, in the face of the significant depletion of coal resources in the region and the severe carbon consequences of continuing to use coal-fired power. It also happens that there are some rather nasty environmental side-effects that come with "Mountaintop removal" - a technique often employed now for the discovery of remaining coal in Kentucky - namely the destruction of ancient hard-wood forests which also act as carbon sinks.

McConnell rightly fears the loss of coal industry jobs and the support of energy companies which have been major political financiers in the region. He is also struggling to outline a specifically conservative position on an issue which southern Republican senators have safely ignored in the past.

It will be interesting to see how successful he is in fostering populist resentment about climate legislation and whether this boosts his chances of re-election in the face of an incoming Democratic congressional tide. Climate change has seemingly come of age as a political issue and is likely to shape the 2008 election in unexpected ways.


          Bush continues US climate action crawl   

The world wakes today to exciting news: US President George W. Bush has set a new national climate target. While others seek to reduce emissions, the US will now look to at least stop increasing them. By 2025.

As the clock winds down on the Bush era, it is worth considering the consequences of his decision to stand still on climate change. America is now at least eight years behind the rest of the world. It will take a long time and a lot of work to catch up and there is, as yet, little evidence to suggest that the next president can do enough.

Bush's bad example has granted others leeway to avoid action. It is a sign of an emerging dynamic within global negotiations that Japan was one of the first to praise this ‘positive' move. Canada, whose new climate plan was derided by Al Gore as ‘a complete and total fraud', now also stands with the US. Developing countries like China and India continue to resist efforts to be brought into the fold, sighting inaction and lack of leadership from the developed world. Still, there is an expectation that America will lead on climate change. Yvo De Boer, who leads the UNFCCC, the organisation charged with spearheading ongoing international negotiations, recently suggested the world could wait for the US. New global targets, he said, could be ‘more sensibly discussed with a new administration'.

Unfortunately climate change has scarcely been mentioned on the campaign trail. The Iraq war and an incoming economic recession dominate debate. At the same time positive moves at the state and city level have faced serious political opposition. Last week a proposal to introduce a London-style congestion charge in New York was easily defeated, in Maryland political squabbling threatens to undermine the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and at the congressional level, any number of plans have been drafted and disregarded. The latest, spearheaded by Senators Joe Liebermann and John Warner, is expected to go the same way.

Still some positives can be taken from two terrible terms. A grassroots movement, led by the man initially charged with stopping Bush, has emerged and societal attitudes in America now run ahead of political action. Internationally, though these have been disastrous times, they have also been formative. The Kyoto Protocol itself is flawed, but countries have rallied round the UN standard in the face of Bush's belligerence. As his administration's long years come to an end, one can only hope that whatever follows can't be as bad.


          TONIGHT Who’s Running to Defeat Lance? Candidates Forum: New Jersey Seventh Congressional District   
Tonight Progressive Hunterdon Democrats is hosting a Candidates Forum for the CD7 Democrats running for the chance to oppose Leonard Lance in 2018. Consider yourselves invited. One thing we all can agree on —we don’t want Leonard Lance taking the oath...
Read more
          Top Stories: Attack At London Mosque; London Fire Death Toll Rises   
Good morning, here are our early stories: -- At Least 1 Dead After Vehicle Hits Pedestrians Near North London Mosque. -- 79 People Are Believed Dead In London's Grenfell Tower Apartment Fire. And here are more early headlines: Supreme Court To Hear Congressional Redistricting Case. ( Washington Post ) Senate Democrats To Protest GOP Action On Health Care. ( Politico ) Officials Say It Took An Hour To Report U.S. Destroyer Collision. ( Reuters ) Brexit Talks Open In Brussels. ( Guardian ) Potential Tropical Storms Forming In Atlantic Ocean, Gulf Of Mexico. ( NHC ) Closing Arguments Today In Murder Retrial Of Ex-University Of Cincinnati Officer. ( WLWT ) Turkey Sends Troops To Qatar For Military Exercise. ( Al Jazeera ) N.Y. Public Theater's "Julius Caesar" Interrupted Again. ( New York Post ) Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
          Healthcare debate highlights the split that threatens to paralyze Republicans   
Six months after taking control of the White House and both houses of Congress, Republicans who campaigned for years on repealing Obamacare still can’t agree on how to do it.

A chief reason that the struggle has been so hard is the growing importance in the party of populist blue-collar voters,... Reported by L.A. Times 5 minutes ago.
          Got visitors coming? Make sure they have REAL ID   
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Anyone bringing guests on base from Oregon, or 27 other states and territories, in the near future, should be sure their guests have a REAL ID. REAL ID doesn’t mean that their current driver’s licenses and IDs are fake; it’s a program designed to increase security and keep people safe. REAL ID refers to the REAL ID Act. Passed by Congress in 2005 after being recommended by the 9/11 Commission, the Act established minimum security standards for state-issued identification and driver’s licenses. The Act also prohibits Federal agencies from accepting non-compliant licenses and IDs for official purposes, such as access to a military base.
           Mother's Day as a Celebration for Peace   
I did as most people in the U.S. did, that is celebrate Mother's Day with my mother.  I traveled to my mother's home, brought her flowers and took her to dinner. Every time I visit with her, I learn something new about who she is, what she wants, and what she sees as her life moving forward. Though my father died last December, she is still a vibrant woman who loves life. At age 82 she still has that openness and agility to accept whatever life may bring her way. I must admit I admire that immensely.

Mothers Day as we know it today was founded in 1908 by Anna Jarvis who wished to commemorate the memory of her mother through small rituals performed in church and in towns. She later wanted to expand it across the U.S. What propelled the celebration forward was getting the financial backing of John Wanamaker, a wealthy Philadelphia department store owner. It took years of campaigning, until 1914 when Presidentt Woodrow Wilson finally signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Soon after Wilson's signing, commercialization of the holiday became the norm and, in later life, Anna Jarvis tried to get the day removed from the calendar because it had morphed into such commercialization that she no longer believed it served the purpose she had conceived.

Julia Ward Howe

However, I would like to talk about an earlier idea for the celebration which was initiated in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe, an abolitionist and suffragette. Her idea for an official celebration of Mother's Day in the U.S. was not as a day for exchanging cards, going out to dinner, or sending flowers--not even as a day of memory for mothers. But rather it was a day asking all women to exercise their moral and political responsibility and stand up for peace. She exhorted them to use their minds and will to find a way to stop war by convening an international congress of women to actively look for ways to bring peace.

Howe, also a poet, was the author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic used in The Civil War. She was devastated by all the death and destruction of the war and wrote a passionate appeal to women, popularly called the Mother's Day Proclamation.  She requested that June 2nd be the designated day of the international congress of women. Unfortunately, this day was celebrated most in Boston each year and did not ever have a chance to become an official holiday. As you can imagine, in 1870 women were still not allowed to vote and held little power. Yet, I marvel at her belief and consistent activism in trying to make a difference.

In reading her proclamation I can hear her voice bemoaning the carnage of war, and her belief that women had both the political and moral responsibility to stand up and find a way to stop it.


Here are her words:

Again, in the sight of the Christian world, have the skill and power of two great nations exhausted themselves in mutual murder. Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons. In this day of progress, in this century of light, the ambition of rulers has been allowed to barter the dear interests of domestic life for the bloody exchanges of the battle field. Thus men have done. Thus men will do. But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering. That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before.

Arise, then, Christian women of this day ! Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears ! Say firmly : We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace. 

—Julia Ward Howe
 Julia Ward Howe (September 1870), "Appeal to womanhood throughout the world.", An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera (Library of Congress)


Today many women still celebrate Mother's Day with a march for peace. As we continue to live in separateness from one another--to not understand or even try to understand other races, cultures, belief systems, then I fear we will continue to support violence.

I believe that woman around the world have more reason than ever to make a difference and have the unique ability to do so. I do pray that one day we do find a way to stop war.



          Preoccupied   
Am I the only one who has noticed how effeminate that pastor is - the one who said that Mormonism is a cult and then went on to throw his arms out toward Rick Perry in a gesture that must have been the envy of drag queens everywhere.  I am guessing we are just about one lacy ruffle from our next clergyman scandal; I only hope drugs are involved.  It's just more fun that way.
I listen less and less either to the news or to any of the talking heads, but there are a few things I have noticed lately from the little I have seen.  One is that those who are not raging against the Occupy Wall Street folks with small flecks of foam flying from their lips, are nonetheless baffled at what it is, exactly, that "those people" want.  I have also heard comments that ranged from gleeful gotcha-type snark to rueful bafflement as to why these folks who "can't be that poor" because they have iPhones or iPads (or both) seem to have so little resentment of Steve Jobs since they are "against the wealthy".  
It is clear to me that first of all, the idea that they are against not the wealthy per se, but rather against those wealthy people who have not earned their wealth, or those who use their wealth to unfair advantage.  Steve Jobs is eminently not among those.  Old Habakkuk said it well in his own little book of the bible: "Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain".  Looks like Habakkuk had more going for him than a cool name.
In general there is now, as there always has been in the USA, three things going on.  There is the legitimate disagreement about social issues - the place of religion, abortion, gay rights, marriage, parental rights and responsibilities, crime and punishment, gun issues, the role of schools and so forth.  Secondly, there is the issue of spending - how much and whence the money to pay for it, and on what to spend public money.  These are two separate issues - fiscal and social - which are constantly being conflated so that many people who have strong feelings about social or 'moral' issues find themselves willingly or otherwise, allying themselves with people who have a particular stance on the spending issue, and vice versa.  Anyone who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative or socially conservative but fiscally liberal is reviled as a moderate, a fraud, or what have you.  Many people who feel strongly about social issues but less so on fiscal issues, or those who feel the reverse, must actually become frauds to be heard or elected by espousing strong positions they do not actually care about as much, in areas they find secondary in their beliefs about how to 'fix things'.  
As I said there are three, not two, things going on all the time.  The third thing is the growing power of those who win either way and who make every effort to keep the public focussed on emotional issues and acrimonious debate: the gotcha commentary, the 'assault' upon 'our rights' or upon the poor or upon those who 'earn their money and don't go looking for a handout' or the decline of the middle class or whatever resonant phraseology is current.  If every single congressman and senator were replaced by his or her chief opponent in the coming election, the effect would be miniscule.  There is no difference, really, between George Soros' political spending and that of the Koch brothers.  
In the antebellum South a small group of landowners oppressed both the poorer whites and the enslaved black population.  After the Civil War, this group - with a few desertions by leaders who fell from power and a few additions from both Southern and Carpetbagging Northern opportunists - pivoted smoothly into the Jim Crow era, where the poor whites were kept in line by threats of what would happen if blacks got rights and the blacks, poor or otherwise, were kept in line by what they had to lose from the little they had if the 'poor white trash' gained control.  The degree to which the poor whites had some awareness of their lack of real commonality with the aristocracy is reflected by the number of poorer mountain folk from slave-holding states who chose to join the Union army - there were rather a lot of these.  In Virginia, the poor mountain people seceded from the Secession majority in the state and formed the state of West Virginia, which remained with the North.  The passionate hatred between the "white trash" and the blacks was subtly stoked by those few who profitted either way; these poorer folk found themselves consistently supporting the lesser of two evils, as indeed we all find ourselves doing today with almost every vote we cast.  The problem is that the lesser of two evils is increasingly not all that much different from having to decide whether you'd prefer to be murdered by a serial killer or by a guy who just lost his head that one time.  Hmm; still dead.
It matters who wins an election in regard to the outcome of social issues, in regard to fiscal issues it matters somewhat also, in terms of where the money will come from and where it will go - although things will be far more the same, no matter who wins - than the rhetoric implies. However, it makes much less difference - almost none - in terms of how much money will be at issue.  In order to support our social beliefs we are sadly forced to accept the status quo politically and fiscally.  People who vote Democratic lose, people who vote Republican lose, and people who proudly proclaim that they never vote because it makes no difference lose.  
There is only one thing that would make any difference. It is something that the wealthy government officials - which includes every Justice on the Supreme Court, all the decision makers in the White House and Cabinet and all of the Congress - (although a few of the newer Congressmen may not be wealthy yet, their future wealth is guaranteed by their ability to slide smoothly into lobbyist firms or to start charging four, five or even six figures for a single hour of speaking at various venues for the rest of their life).  And that one thing is to add an amendment to the constitution divorcing the idea of spending unlimited money from the right of free speech.  There is no seat in Congress that isn't beholden to some wealthy person(s) or other.  None.  We all know this.  These wealthy few may be disguise themselves as interest groups or PACs or charities or any number of things, but in the end the money comes from people who had money to spare.  It is obscene how much it costs to run for office, and how much time most office seekers and office holders must spend seeking funds.  So much time is spent thusly that even the most conscientious of men or women must leave their research or decision making to a staff that has been largely chosen on an ideological basis or to a friendly lobbyist who will help him or her out by writing the legislation which he or she is to present or vote on.  
There will always be crooks in government but increasingly everybody is forced, by the cost of running for office and of countering expensive misinformation campaigns, into compromising independence and integrity if not into flat out dishonesty.  Whether it is hope and change or 9-9-9, no candidate for President will ever deliver, because Presidents do not make law, Congress does; and Congress won't because no Congressman is entirely free of indebtedness to the wealthy, and by wealthy, I am not talking of those who have five or ten million socked away, I mean those few families wealthy enough to buy a state.  Term limits don't help because two crooks are not better than one.  Campaign reform laws are useless, even in the rare case where they are meaningful, because the wholly-owned Supreme Court routinely overturns any real reform.  The one hope is a Constitutional amendment, because (so far) even the Court cannot declare an amendment unconstitutional. Unfortunately no amendment can be passed because the legislatures which would have to ratify it consist of men and women who are also beholden to the same wealthy few.  
What the Occupy Wall Street people are reacting to is the complete powerlessness of most of us to get out of this awful bind.  One of the last times such an all-powerful establishment was truly reformed a guillotine was involved.  The longer reform is suppressed, the more cataclysmic the reform will eventually be.  That is the way it has always been. 
It is not envy of the wealthy that is fueling this latest protest.  As I said, I have heard of few who begrudge the wealth of Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, or any of the others who actually DID something to earn what they have.  It is the CEOs who get seven, eight or nine-figure bonuses and payouts when they ran their firms into the ground, or wealthy people who are using money they never earned to demonize poor people for using, or trying to use, wealth they never earned - i. e. welfare.  People who do nothing but live well off the money some ancestor made should not be so quick to castigate people who receive medical care they cannot actually afford.  It is disheartening that those who rob a bank of billions are all over the society pages while those who rob the same bank of a couple of hundred dollars are, if caught, doing hard time.  
Poor people are notorious for not bothering to vote, but for whom should they vote?  They should, perhaps, run themselves, but they'd only be spending money to do so that they don't have or can't spare - and if they raise the funds to run, they will be raising them from rich or at least richer people, and then here we are: back at square one.   
I don't expect any improvement; I think it quite possible that we have passed the point where real reform can occur.  But I shall be watching the protest movement with great interest.
By the way, the Blogger KING OF NEW YORK HACKS has talked to a lot of different folks in the Occupying crowd and has published some excellent pictures and commentary showing who's there.

          Stage: Stagiair(e) Digital Marketing in Ypenburg   
<p>Voor het hoofdkantoor zijn wij <strong>per september 2017</strong> voor minimaal 5 maanden op zoek naar een:</p> Stagiair(e) Digital Marketing <p>Wij zijn verantwoordelijk voor de branding en marketing van Nederland in binnen- en buitenland. Via het merk 'Holland' zetten wij Nederland op de kaart als aantrekkelijke bestemming voor vakanties, zakelijke bijeenkomsten en congressen.</p> <p>Voor de wereldwijde promotie van Nederland zijn wij actief in Europa, (Zuid-)Amerika en Azie. Op het hoofdkantoor in Den Haag (40 medewerkers) wordt de marketingstrategie voor Holland bepaald en worden campagnes ontwikkeld. De NBTC-vestigingen in de diverse landen zijn verantwoordelijk voor de lokale marktbewerking en uitvoering van de marketingcampagnes. </p>   <p>De afdeling Digitale Marketing is een eigenzinnige afdeling die de hele dag denkt vanuit de behoefte van de buitenlandse bezoekers op de Holland-kanalen. We proberen hun behoefte te identificeren en ze te verleiden om hun vakantie naar Nederland te boeken. We weten al veel van de buitenlandse bezoekers, zoals de gebruikte zoekwoorden. Daarnaast hebben we ook hun koopstijlen in kaart gebracht en segmenteren ze real time. Hierdoor kunnen we jaarlijks meer dan acht miljoen buitenlandse bezoekers heel specifiek van informatie voorzien en stimuleren we daarmee hun bezoek aan Nederland.</p> <p>Voor onze vijftien meertalige websites werken we met een content database van ongeveer 1250 bronartikelen die dynamisch in context tot elkaar getoond worden. Dit doen we door deze artikelen te taggen met termen uit de taxonomie. Dit laatste is voor het laatst in 2011 goed onder de loep genomen en hier willen we in 2017 weer eens goed naar kijken. Ook omdat we onze navigatiestructuur willen veranderen en hier weloverwogen beslissingen in willen nemen.</p> Stage-inhoud <p>Tijdens de stage werk je mee aan het verbeteren van de website op het gebied van:</p> <ul> <li><strong>SEO</strong></li> <li>Hoe worden we goed gevonden in Google?</li> <ul> <li>Over welke onderwerpen kunnen we nog meer en beter schrijven?</li> </ul> <li><strong>Boekingen</strong></li> <ul> <li>Hoe zorgen we dat ons boekbare aanbod nog beter wordt uitgelicht?</li> <li>Hoe krijgen we het conversiepercentage hiervan omhoog?</li> </ul> <li><strong>Inzichten </strong></li> <ul> <li>Wat zien we in Google Analytics gebeuren en wat voor actie kunnen we hierop ondernemen?</li> <li>Hoe richten we onze rapportages in?</li> </ul> <li><strong>Content </strong></li> <ul> <li>Welke pagina's moeten we verbeteren?</li> <li>Hoe zorgen we dat onze bezoekers meer pagina's bekijken en vaker terug komen?</li> </ul> <li><strong>Campagnes</strong></li> <li>Waar zie je optimalisatie mogelijkheden bij het inrichten van campagnes op holland.com?</li> <li>Welke inzichten halen we voorgaande campagnes en hoe vertalen we dat naar nieuw in te richten campagnes?</li> <li>Welke onsite segmentatie en targeting richten we in?</li> <li>Hoe kunnen we de campagne rapportage nog beter vormgeven en welke inzichten willen we hierin hebben staan?</li> </ul> Wij bieden jou: <ul> <li>Een uitdagende en leerzame stage</li> <li>Veel kansen om hier jouw eigen invulling aan te geven</li> <li>De kans om het leukste product van Nederland te vermarkten</li> <li>Onderdeel te worden van een leuk team waar de medewerkers vooroplopen in hun specialismen</li> </ul> ...
          Stage: Stagiair(e) Public Relations (PR) in Ypenburg   
<p>Voor ons hoofdkantoor zoeken wij <strong>per september 2017 </strong>voor een periode van minimaal 5 maanden een:</p> Stagiair(e) Public Relations (PR) <p>Wij zijn verantwoordelijk voor de branding en marketing van Nederland in binnen- en buitenland. Via het merk 'Holland' zetten wij Nederland op de kaart als aantrekkelijke bestemming voor vakanties, zakelijke bijeenkomsten en congressen.</p> <p>Voor de wereldwijde promotie van Nederland zijn wij actief in Europa, Amerika en Azie. Op het hoofdkantoor in Den Haag (40 medewerkers) wordt de marketingstrategie voor Hollandâ bepaald en worden campagnes ontwikkeld. De vestigingen in de diverse landen zijn verantwoordelijk voor de lokale marktbewerking en uitvoering van de marketingcampagnes.</p> <p>PR is onderdeel van de afdeling marketing en heeft als doelstelling zoveel mogelijk free publicity te genereren voor het merk Holland. Dit doet de PR Consultant op het hoofdkantoor samen met de tien PR managers. Vanuit het hoofdkantoor wordt PR centraal aangestuurd.</p>   Stage-inhoud <p>Het betreft een meewerkstage, waarbij je onder andere de volgende werkzaamheden zult verrichten:</p> <p>Ondersteuning persactiviteiten:</p> <ul> <li>Het beantwoorden van persaanvragen en mediaverzoeken</li> <li>Het schrijven van persteksten zoals persberichten en -nieuwsbrieven</li> <li>Het coordineren van persreizen</li> <li>Samenstellen van reports en persvoorstellen</li> <li>Verzamelen van content ter inspiratie van PR managers in buitenlandse vestigingen</li> <li>Verzamelen content en schrijven story ideas voor de perswebsites van Holland.com </li> <li>Begeleiding groepspersreizen buitenlandse journalisten in Nederland</li> <li>Up to date houden en aanvragen autoriseren van de Holland mediabank</li> </ul> <p>Je maakt onderdeel uit van het wereldwijde PR team.</p> ...
          The History of Land Prices in Kumasi   
Many are those who continue to ask me, 'is it good to invest in land in Kumasi?' I have several times tried to let such people see what i see in the land market. But most often i fail. I therefore took time to research into the history of land price in Kumasi. I hope you will get the answers you want in the land market in terms of land prices.
         In 1960, 100 feet by 100 feet land at Asaago, a town near Kumasi was worth less than ¢10. In 1974, the same land meant for residential building sold for GH¢3 at Asenua. At Esereso, at the time when land was first subdivided for residential purposes in 1985, whiles strangers paid around GH¢4, subjects of the village presented bottles of Schnapps. An acre of land at Adum, now the Central Business District and the most expensive location in Kumasi, in 1960 was worth around GH¢50. But by 1973, land prices in Adum had risen to over GH¢164. Probably, this was the highest price achieved in Kumasi during this time.
However, the period between 1990 and 1999 saw land prices rise far beyond expectations. This is due to several factors. During this period, constitutional rule had been regained. Rawlings’ military rule in Ghana had ended. The 1992 Constitution, firmly establishing the 2nd Republic of Ghana, had been promulgated and guaranteed private ownership of property (Article 18; 1). A democratic election had been successfully held. Most Ghanaians had begun to build confidence in the economy and had started investing in land to accumulate wealth. In January 1995, with inflation hovering around 59%, land prices, like all other commodities in Ghana, was rising fast. The young generation realised that capital gains made from land could be a quick path to wealth due to the rapid increases in land prices. These, among other factors, tickled demand for land. Suddenly, everybody was buying. Land speculation became a rewarding part-time business for many. With so many people looking for land to buy, estate agency gained ascendancy without control.
The price of land sold in just a few years quadrupled in value. By 1997, Alhaji Ibrahim Baryeh reported that a 100 by 100 feet building plot at Asenua exchanged for GH¢130, far higher than the GH¢3 in 1974. Within a space of 23 years, land at Asenua had gained capital value by 4,233%. At Kyerekrom, prices range from GH¢220 to GH¢350 depending on whether the buyer was a subject of the town or a stranger. In the case of Emena, land exchanged between GH¢85 and GH¢120. At Apire, prices were between GH¢120 and GH¢350. By February 1997, the same land which sold for ¢10 in 1960 at Asaago fetched between GH¢150 and GH¢200. At Santasi, prices started from GH¢300. The decade just before the year 2011 did not see land prices fall. In fact, they rose rapidly. With the year 2000 beginning another decade in the land market, political power had been peacefully transferred from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) through a fair, transparent, and democratic election. John Agyekum Kuffour had been sworn in as the President of Ghana and had declared a ‘golden age of business’.
Like several other markets, the land market responded positively. Confidence in the Ghanaian economy had deepened. Demand for land rose, and in tandem with prices. By 2004, land prices in Kumasi had risen from previous highs to higher levels. Prices ranged from GH¢3,000 to as high as GH¢50,000 for a standard 100 feet by 100 feet plot. A standard plot at neighbourhoods such as Asokwa, in 2003, was sold around GH¢60,000. By 2006, land prices in the city ranged from GH¢200,000 to GH¢300,000 per acre which were mainly leasehold interest A 100 feet by 100 feet land which exchanged at Asaago for GH¢150 in 1997, was now priced over GH¢5,500, representing about 3,567% capital gains over 13 years. Half of an acre building plot at Atasomanso which sold for GH¢3,000 per plot in 1997 rose to over GH¢90,000 by the end of 2010 (i.e. 2,233% in capital gains in 13 years). Between 2000 and 2010, like the decade before it, land prices seldom dropped. At Apire, a standard building plot from 1990 to 1993 was sold between GH¢300 and GH¢400. By 2003, prices had risen to nearly GH¢3,000. Land prices in the neighbourhood did not stop rising. It skyrocketed to over GH¢7,000 in 2010.
In recent times, price of undeveloped land has been rising fast. The picture below charts prices of selected locations in Kumasi. Analysis of land prices collected from the field presents interesting statistical results. The maximum land price per acre of GH¢1,869,200 was achieved at Adum, the Central Business District of Kumasi. This means that Adum is the most expensive location in Kumasi. The minimum price of Gh8,000 per acre was recorded at Zongo Extension. However, the most frequent price (mode) at which an acre of land was bought was Gh40,000. This translates into GH¢10,000 for a standard plot. And yet the mean price of land per acre recorded was around GH¢141,300. What this means is that with GH¢35,300, a standard plot at a good location can be acquired. In all, prices ranged from as low as GH8,000 to as high as GH¢1,869,200 per acre. 
            What the history and current land prices in Kumasi tell us is that an investment in land is by far the best option. Investment in land is seldom affected by inflation. Land prices seldom fall. Capital gains from land are astonishing. Even capital gains realised on the Ghana Stock market in a year on all the stocks listed on the GSE do not often come close. In other regions of Ghana where pressure of land is relatively low, one is still better of investing in land. for example, between 2008 and 2009, land prices increased by 66.7% in the Wa Municipality in the Upper West Region of Ghana. In the Eastern Region of Ghana, between 1992 and 2003, land prices recorded over 235% increase. 


          Congress To Force Citizens to Register Cash and Bitcoin - Violators Get 10 Years in Prison   
Congress To Force Citizens to Register Cash and Bitcoin - Violators Get 10 Years in Prison Congress submits bill making it illegal to hold cash, Bitcoin, or other assets outside of a bank without informing them in writing Just as the War on Drugs was never actually about slowing down or stopping the import and use of illegal narcotics, so too was the spurious War on Terror not about stopping individuals or groups from inciting violence for political means. In fact, we already know that U.S. agencies have funded, trained, and armed the very terror groups that are supposedly on the FBI’s Terror Watch List when they supported them in the taking over of Libya, and in the attempt to take over Syria. So the question then has to be asked… what are the purposes behind the ideological wars against drugs and terror really all about? Well, since the real victims going back to the 1970’s when the War on Drugs was instituted by President Richard Nixon have been the millions of Americans incarcerated for victimle...
          Retirement of Things   
The actual retirement, you know the part of not going to work anymore is awesome and hasn't worn off yet, but (and this is a big BUT) everything else seems to have hiccups or large stop signs.

I am medically retired and made it to about 246 months, give or take a day or two.  That should mean something in the veteran world, at least,!  don't you think?
I can't complain too much about Tricare that was a big winner for all that time in service, but they haven't lived up to there part of the deal either.
The DAV actually has helped me more while I was active duty than retired thus far and I'm a paid in full life member. There are 2 organizations that helped us out big time that first month, the Semper Fi Fund and  SALUTE, Inc.
Then there is the VA, if you've just got a glimpse of my handicap issues then you'd know I need the healthcare part.  Just a quick side note, where did all that money go that Congress gave them a few years ago?
We thought that at least the dental part would be helped, since I have TMD, grinding and  clenching, and tooth and gum problems.  The last time I had dental work I had to have it in the Operating Room at a hospital, just to make sure I didn't die during the dental work, and I still went info the ICU and was kept overnight.  So in short, I need massive dental "insurance".
I have slew of other issues that I haven't even been seen by an initial doctor.  Big one is orthopedics, if I could get a hip replacement, then maybe just maybe I could walk with a "walker".  But the longer VA waits the more my legs aprotree(sp.) and walking may never happen.
Really I could go on and on, but using this software I have to type for me is fucking difficult,  and the punctuation is a bitch.  Plus I slur my words alot after seizures and right after I get up in the morning.
I'll say this if care doesn't improve real soon my caregivers' and I will probably have depression as our or your main worry.
          FirstNet Tech Team Goes to 2017 Mobile World Congress   
MWC is the largest worldwide event of its kind and is invaluable for networking with industry, learning about innovations, and monitoring leading edge technology developments in the mobile wireless space.
          In 2010, Obama Defended His Health Care Plan Before The GOP On Live TV. Things Have Changed.   
  The very next month he spent two full days defending the ACA at Heritage House before congressional leadership, doctors, the health care lobby, and patients rights groups. He debated the minute budgetary facts extemporaneously while Paul Ryan relied on half foot thick bin …
          Why critics are quick to dismiss the CBO   
The Congressional Budget office is highly respected for its non-partisan analysis. So, why are some quick to dismiss its estimates? Ali Velshi explains.
          Mobile World Congress 2016: Checking Out Wireless Technology Advancements for Potential Use in the NPSBN   

By FirstNet CTO Devices Group
Earlier this year, staff from FirstNet’s technical headquarters traveled to Barcelona, Spain to attend the 2016 Mobile World Congress (MWC) to observe firsthand the latest developments in various wireless technologies.  The show is invaluable for gathering information related to innovative products and leading edge technology developments. Some interesting statistics about the MWC include:


          Samsung anuncia el sistema de doble cámara que incluiría el Galaxy Note8   
Durante el Mobile World Congress Shanghai que está teniendo lugar a lo extenso de esta semana, Samsung® ha decidido publicar la aparición de ISOCELL, una “nueva” marca propia, destinada al crecimiento de sensores fotográficos, destinados a competir son los sistemas ...
          Deploying a public safety broadband network — the US experience   

By Chief Jeff Johnson
With overwhelming support from the public safety community, the US Congress passed legislation in 2012 to establish the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). Signed into law by President Obama, the legislation tasked FirstNet with ensuring the building, deployment and operation of the first high-speed, nationwide wireless network dedicated to public safety. This was a huge win for first responders in the US and for the communities they serve.


          FirstNet Annual Report to Congress Documents Major Year of Progress Toward Deployment of Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network   

By Edward Parkinson, Director of Government Affairs
Last week marked the fourth anniversary of the passage of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act).  With this legislation, Congress entrusted FirstNet with the important mission of ensuring the building, deployment and operation of the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety.


          Equipping Volunteer Responders with Broadband Technologies    

This blog was written by Vicki Lee, FirstNet Association Manager and posted onto the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) website.
FirstNet has been charged by Congress to build, operate, and maintain the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. Knowing those that we serve at FirstNet is all too important.


          "Gas Industry Says 'Trust Us' On Tracking Cyberthreats"   

"At the end of a Senate hearing last month, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) challenged Dave McCurdy, president of the American Gas Association, to say how Congress and the public can be confident about the cybersecurity defenses of the nation's natural gas infrastructure when no one is keeping score."

Source: ,

          Trump Intel Agencies Tell Congress Climate Change Poses Security Threats   

Climate change was included in the list of national security threats which the intelligence community presented to Congress Thursday.

Source: ,

          FirstNet Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Report to Congress   

By Ed Parkinson, FirstNet Director of Government Affairs
FirstNet recently delivered its Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) (Annual Report) to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Annual Report provides a comprehensive summary of FirstNet’s operations, activities, financial developments, and accomplishments during the period between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014.


          NTIA Grant Program Ensuring States are Planning for FirstNet   

By Mike Dame, Program Director, State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP)
When Congress called for the creation of a nationwide broadband network for public safety in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, lawmakers knew it was important that states play a key role in ensuring that the network meets the needs of local first responders.


          The FirstNet Team: Opening the Lines of Communication   

FirstNet was established by Congress to deploy a nationwide broadband network to improve communications for the nation’s emergency responders. Therefore, it goes without saying that communication is essential to everything we do.


          FirstNet: Deploying a Resilient Broadband Network for the Nation’s First Responders   

By TJ Kennedy, FirstNet Acting General Manager
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent entity within the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, was established by Congress to develop a nationwide broadband network for the millions of first responders whose mission requires them to be resilient every time they are called to duty. Whether they are responding to day-to-day emergencies – such as traffic accidents – or large-scale disasters like wildfires and hurricanes, the nation’s firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and emergency medical services are critical to ensuring our safety and security during all types of hazards.


          Control is an illusion, except when it’s not   
I find it fascinating to watch people attempt to control what is often beyond control. If only a non-profit, non-government entity was in control of air traffic, the ills of airline travel would magically disappear. Or so Congress — and the airlines – would like us to believe. As if… According to the Bureau of Transportation […]
          Taking Back DOMA: Let the People Decide   
If Democrats don’t want gays and lesbians to stay home in 2010 and 2012 (they don’t), they will pass at least a partial repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) sometime next year. President Obama explicitly promised to repeal DOMA during the 2008 campaign, and the Democratic leadership in Congress has also expressed support […]
          CISPA-like Cyber Security Bill Coming to a Vote in U.S. Senate Soon   

Just when you thought the US congress was done trying to legislate our Internet with bills like SOPA and PIPA, they’re at it again. This time it’s Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). Will they not stop this madness until they have complete government control over the Internet?
          Blaming Obama   
A couple of months ago, on May 10, President Trump invited two Russian diplomats into the White House to celebrate his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

A couple of months ago, on May 10, President Trump invited two Russian diplomats into the White House to celebrate his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Having boasted on national TV that he'd removed Comey as a means of relieving pressure from the "fake news" investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Trump greeted Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak like old friends.

Although U.S. news media weren't allowed into the Oval Office, the Russian news agency TASS published photos of the three men smiling broadly, backslapping and shaking hands. That's how American reporters learned of the controversial Kislyak's presence. The White House neglected to mention it, presumably because his clandestine talks with fired National Security Director Michael Flynn lay at the heart of the FBI probe.

Lavrov even made heavy-handed jokes about Russian meddling, expressing mock surprise at Comey's firing and observing sarcastically that it must be "humiliating for the American people to realize the Russian Federation is controlling the situation in the United States."

The episode struck me at the time as an astonishing gesture of contempt, if completely in keeping with Trump's furious denials that Russian skullduggery had anything to do with his election. In her Salon column, Heather Digby Parton compiled a short list of the president's Twitter posts on the subject. According to Trump, the FBI investigation has been dismissed as a "Witch Hunt!", a "a total hoax," "an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election" and so on. We've all heard it 50 times.

If he's been consistent about nothing else, Trump's been consistent about that: Vladimir Putin's spies had no role whatsoever in his mighty victory.

That is, until last week.

Following The Washington Post's publication of a highly detailed blockbuster about what the Obama administration knew about "President Vladimir Putin's direct involvement" in the conspiracy to damage Hillary Clinton and make him president, Trump came up with a whole new story: Yes, Russian cyberhackers and spies interfered directly in an American presidential election — but it was all Barack Obama's fault.

"Just out," the president tweeted, "The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?"

Trump soon came up with an answer: "The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win ... and did not want to 'rock the boat.' He didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good."

It's almost hysterically false — the Obama administration made repeated attempts to inform the voting public about Russian interference, most explicitly, as bad luck would have it, on Oct. 8, 2016, the day Trump's boasts about grabbing women's genitals first aired — but there's a half-truth there, too.

President Obama did, indeed, "choke," as one anonymous administration official told Post reporters, and we're all paying the price.

As happened more than once during his presidency, Obama appears to have over-thought the situation to the point of paralysis — pursing the will-o'-the-wisp of patriotic bipartisanship long after it had become obvious that not only Trump, but key Republican leaders had long since put party above country.

Could anybody be surprised that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for example, would stonewall any effort to inform voters that a hostile foreign power was brazenly taking Trump's side in the election?

Obama was.

In effect, congressional Republicans had chosen Putin over Hillary Clinton. By August, let us recall, Trump himself was not only openly urging Russian hackers to search for Clinton's emails — barefaced collusion — but predicting that the election was going to be rigged against him.

Obama could have done in August what he did after the election in December: hit Russia with sanctions, expelled Russian diplomats. But he reportedly feared that without GOP support, any vigorous action could easily backfire.

"Obama's approach," sources told the Post, "often seemed reducible to a single imperative: Don't make things worse. As brazen as the Russian attacks on the election seemed, Obama and his top advisers feared that things could get far worse."

"They were concerned that any pre-election response could provoke an escalation from Putin. Moscow's meddling to that point was seen as ... unlikely to materially affect the outcome of the election. Far more worrisome to the Obama team was the prospect of a cyber-assault on voting systems before and on Election Day."

Supposedly, no vote rigging happened after Obama warned Putin to his face that dire consequences would follow.

Or at least so we're told.

Instead, Kislyak and Lavrov yukking it up in the Oval Office happened.

This happened, too: Obama presided over a political Pearl Harbor — an unprovoked assault on American democracy, and with no compelling reason to believe that it won't happen again.


          Gun politics   
"You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you." Despite that promise by President Trump at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in April, the days ahead are going to produce challenges for the gun rights lobby.

"You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you." Despite that promise by President Trump at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in April, the days ahead are going to produce challenges for the gun rights lobby. While no one should doubt the NRA's long-term health, the landscape of gun politics in the United States is changing in a direction that will force significant strategic shifts for the gun lobby. And, the organization's stumbled reaction to the verdict in the Philando Castile case June 16 shows that it is not fully prepared for this new era.

The Obama era was extraordinarily successful for the gun rights lobby. Despite overwhelming public support for modest reforms to control access to guns nationally, the GOP-controlled Congress resisted President Obama's calls to pass a bill that would have would have closed the gun-show and internet-sales loopholes in existing background check policy even after a series of mass shootings, including the late 2012 elementary school assault in Newtown, Conn. Moreover, in the 2010 McDonald decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an individual's right to bear arms found in the Second Amendment applied also to regulations passed by states and localities. But, the real success for the NRA and allied organizations came at the state level, where the organization succeeded in passing law upon law that expanded gun rights across the country.

In a piece I co-authored with Gary Reich published recently in Social Science Quarterly, fears that President Obama threatened gun rights drove those state-level dynamics. Specifically, gun and ammunition purchases popped up dramatically across the nation in sync with the 2008 and 2012 Obama victories. However, they did not increase evenly; in some states, including Arkansas, there were dramatic increases and in others new purchases stayed relatively flat. It was in those states where upticks in gun purchases occurred that gun liberalization efforts in states were most likely to succeed. Employing effective grassroots and social media networks and messaging that highlighted the threat to guns created by the Obama administration, the NRA was able to capitalize on concerns among gun enthusiasts of a new and onerous regime of firearms restrictions in those states as the rush of firearms and ammunitions sales provided fertile ground for the NRA to influence subsequent state legislation. In such friendly environs, the organization's state-level spending produced expanded gun rights.

The NRA was fully prepared for a Hillary Clinton presidency. If Clinton had won in November, the dynamic experienced during the Obama years would have continued to play out with Clinton easing into the Obama role of constant threat to gun rights. Like most, however, the gun rights movement was surprised by the Trump victory. The patterns surrounding the prior two presidential elections reversed and gun sales have dropped since the election of a man who said after his victory, "The gun rights community can breathe again." (In the first three months of 2017, sales dropped by 14 percent compared to a year earlier.) Interestingly, though, there is some evidence gun sales have popped up among another group: African-Americans. While demographic data is not regularly collected on gun purchasers, sales did increase in heavily black states and anecdotal evidence from gun storeowners notes a rise in African-American shoppers. Moreover, the National African American Gun Association, which formed in 2015, has more than doubled its membership since the election. (To be sure, with fewer than 20,000 members, the NAAGA remains tiny compared to the NRA's millions of members.)

Despite some clear efforts to reach out to persons of color starting in 2013 with targeted advertising, the NRA is challenged in turning these new gun owners into activists. Thus, the heightened success of NAAGA. The NRA's "non-reaction" (in the words of commentator Jelani Cobb) to the innocent verdict in the trial of the St. Paul policeman who shot Philando Castile, a concealed-carry permit holder, shows the difficulty the group has in fully embracing diverse gun owners. Colion Noir, the lead in the NRA's outreach to African-Americans, was sharply critical of the verdict, but the organization's official response — "it is important for the NRA not to comment while the investigation is ongoing," — was halfhearted at best.

Certainly, as the debate on guns on campus in the Arkansas legislature last year showed, the politics of guns has not gone away entirely in the states. Moreover, the NRA remains a potent force in stymying gun control efforts because of its institutional advantages in the political arena. Since the group became politicized in the late 1970s, it has also shown an impressive adaptability to changing dynamics and it will figure out how to play offense in this new landscape. But, in the short run, the demise of the Obama threat and the increasing diversity of new gun owners creates very real challenges for the NRA as it attempts to achieve its ultimate goals on expanding gun access across the country.


          Beyond repeal of Obamacare   
The proposed Medicaid cuts in the new U.S. Senate bill could impact coverage for 400,000 Arkansas children.

On June 22, Republicans in the U.S. Senate introduced a long-awaited bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, the health care law often referred to as Obamacare. The Better Care Reconciliation Act would rework the ACA's subsidies for individual insurance policies, cut taxes for higher-income households, end the mandate that individuals have insurance, and allow states to opt out of ACA requirements that insurance policies include benefits such as mental health and maternity coverage. It would also put an end to the enhanced funding rate that made it possible to expand Medicaid to cover some 14.4 million low-income adults nationwide.

But the Senate bill, like similar legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May, would also institute major cuts to the traditional Medicaid program, potentially affecting coverage for millions of children, elderly people and disabled adults nationwide. In Arkansas, 30 percent of the state's population — about 912,000 people — were enrolled in some form of Medicaid in March 2017, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That figure includes enrollment in the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which together with Medicaid pays for ARKids A and B.

Marquita Little, health policy director at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said the Senate bill "goes well beyond the political promise of repealing Obamacare. It restructures Medicaid funding. And so, it really is a U-turn on the promise that the federal government has always made to states — that Medicaid would be funded through a state-federal partnership." (Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has contributed funding to the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network.)

The Senate bill would reshape Medicaid in two ways. First, beginning in 2021, it would phase out the Medicaid expansion created by the ACA, which provides coverage to low-income adults. Approximately 300,000 Arkansans are now enrolled in Arkansas Works, the program funded by the Medicaid expansion. Second, the Senate bill would cap federal spending on the rest of Medicaid, which existed long before the ACA's expansion and which is composed of programs such as ARKids. Rather than Medicaid paying for patients' medical care on an open-ended basis, as is now the case, the federal government would disburse funds to states in lump sums, either on a per capita basis or through block grants. The Congressional Budget Office projects 22 million people would lose coverage if the Senate bill become law.

Parents like Julie Kauffman of Mountain Home are anxiously watching developments in Washington and wondering how the proposed cuts would translate to Arkansas. Kauffman's daughter, Olive, suffers from cerebral palsy that resulted from viral encephalitis that developed 12 days after she was born. After the infant was airlifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital, Kauffman and her husband were told their private Blue Cross policy would pay for less than half of the helicopter ride, leaving them on the hook for $7,000.

"That was kind of our first introduction to, 'Oh, our health insurance doesn't cover what our child needs,' " Kauffman said. The financial office at the hospital told the parents they should get Olive on Medicaid. "I thought, 'We have health insurance, this is ridiculous. We don't need Medicaid.' Two helicopter rides later, and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars later, we desperately need Medicaid."

Now 3 years old, Olive's condition requires periodic visits to specialists at the Cerebral Palsy Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital, plus regular speech, occupational and physical therapy sessions at a clinic in Mountain Home. She now spends nine hours in therapy per week. "What Blue Cross covers for her and therapy, she maxes out every year in February. That's when Medicaid picks up the rest of her tally," Kauffman said.

It's especially crucial that Olive receive intensive therapy at a young age, Kauffman explained, to maximize her chances of developing the skills necessary to lead a more independent life. "It's now or never. I mean, we have to do it now. She's 30 pounds. She doesn't have head control. She can't sit up and feed herself. She's nonverbal. She's, you know, total care, and unless we get as much bang for our buck now, what does her future look like?" On July 1, a new rule from the Arkansas Department of Human Services, which administers Medicaid in Arkansas, will limit the number of billable minutes of speech, occupational and physical therapy a beneficiary may receive each week without special authorization. The cap is 90 minutes for each category — about half what Olive receives right now. DHS said in a September legal notice that the change is estimated to save the Arkansas Medicaid budget $56.2 million annually. Kauffman said she will seek DHS approval to keep paying for the additional therapy hours, but she's concerned about the future.

"What's happening in the state alone, along with what's coming down from the federal level — it's just terrifying."

Kauffman said her biggest concerns about the Senate bill "are the cuts and the block grants. If it comes down to a block grant system where the federal government gives each state a set amount of dollars, how is that going to be disbursed from child to child? I don't know how they would even begin to figure that out. My kid is expensive, and that's not her fault. ... I understand the thought process that Medicaid cannot sustain at the rate that it's going. But there are also a lot of kids in my daughter's situation who didn't ask for this. They need as much help as they can possibly get, and in a perfect world her private insurance would cover what she needs — but it just doesn't."

Olive previously was on ARKids but now has Medicaid coverage through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Disability. "Because my husband and I are both self-employed and our income fluctuates, she qualifies for SSI at the moment — but that could change at any moment," Kauffman said. She is a subcontractor for a medical billing company; her husband owns a furniture company, where she also works part time. Although their daughter receives substantial government benefits, the couple also ends up devoting much of their household income to her care as well, from specialized equipment to travel costs to St. Louis to therapy that must be paid for out-of-pocket. For the self-employed, time away from home is time spent not working — an additional drain on family resources.

"We're fortunate to have grandparents who chip in when they can and relatives who help out as needed, but, for the most part, we're just doing the best we can do to get by," she said. "We could have $10 million and it still wouldn't be enough."

Approximately 400,000 kids in Arkansas are on Medicaid — about half the children in the state. Only a small percentage have medical needs as pronounced as Olive's. Nonetheless, Marquita Little said, reductions to federal Medicaid spending proposed by the Senate bill would be "devastating to our medical system in Arkansas.

"Our overall impression is that it's still a dangerous bill for kids, for our most vulnerable populations ... [including] seniors, people with disabilities. By capping funding on traditional Medicaid, we would basically be reducing funding that we have in place for those populations. ... So what that means for Arkansas is that we would be forced to make some tough decisions about how we absorb those cuts. You either have to reduce what you actually cover, or you have to reduce payments that we're making to providers."

Having a child who requires such specialized care has changed her perception of Medicaid and those who benefit from the program, Kauffman said. "The biggest thing is that Medicaid helps so many more people than just what everybody assumes... . You know, people who don't want to go out and find a job and take care of themselves. Medicaid is so much more than that. So I think it's just this misconception ... and I was guilty of that. But now I know how needed it is."

This reporting is courtesy of the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans.


          National Nurse Act of 2017 Introduced in Senate   

DURING NATIONAL NURSES WEEK, MERKLEY STANDS UP FOR NURSES WITH BIPARTISAN LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

Bills would update nursing workforce programs and create a National Nurse for Public Health

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This National Nurses Week, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley [merkley.senate.gov] is standing with nurses in Oregon and across America by introducing bipartisan legislation to support nurses and strengthen the nursing profession.

Merkley on Thursday introduced the National Nurse Act of 2017 and the Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2017, both with bipartisan support. The National Nurse Act is co-led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and the Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act is co-led by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Susan Collins (R-ME).

Merkley, whose wife works in Oregon as a registered nurse, also introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution with Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), officially honoring May 6-12 as National Nurses Week.

“As the husband of a nurse, I hear firsthand about the challenges and successes that come with working on the frontlines of our health care system,” Merkley said. “Every day, nurses take on difficult, essential, and often thankless tasks that keep our health care system running and that have a huge impact on the patient experience. Each of us has a story about the nurse who made all the difference at a frightening or difficult time for our families. I’ll keep fighting to improve federal policy to fully recognize and support the essential role of nurses in our health care system, and I invite all Oregonians to join me in recognizing the tremendous work of our Oregon nurses this National Nurses Week.”

The National Nurse Act of 2017 (S. 1106) The bipartisan National Nurse Act of 2017 would elevate the role of nurses in America’s public health by designating a National Nurse for Public Health.

The National Nurse position would be created by transforming and elevating an existing position within the U.S. Public Health Service, the Chief Nurse Officer. Similarly to the Surgeon General, the National Nurse for Public Health would help raise awareness among the American public about disease prevention and healthy living. The position would provide leadership by a publicly visible nurse who would collaborate with other health care leaders to address health disparities and set goals for improved public health. Nurses represent the largest single component of the health care profession with more than 3.3 million registered nurses. With a National Nurse for Public Health providing a uniting voice and national leadership, American nurses’ power to transform their patients’ lives and to improve public health outcomes would be even greater.

Chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and obesity pose the single greatest threat to the health of Americans and a serious threat to our nation's economy. Nurses provide key services for the prevention and management of these conditions. The National Nurse for Public Health will promote prevention; help improve outcomes; and guide national, state and local efforts in addressing the nation's health.

The National Nurse Act of 2017 is supported by the American Nurses Association, AFT Nurses and Healthcare Professionals, the Case Management Society of America and 105 other national and state nursing organizations and key stakeholders.


          Thank You Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Shelley Moore Capito   

Pictured: NNNO President Teri Mills MS, RN, CNE and NNNO VP Elizabeth McPhee RN with Senator Jeff Merkley (OR-D)

Pictured: Elizabeth Baldwin, PNP, BC Immediate Past WVNA President, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (WV-R) and Toni DiChiacchio, DNP- APRN,BC, WVNA President

Thank you to Senator Jeff Merkley (OR-D) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (WV-R) for introducing S. 1106 The National Nurse Act of 2017on May 11, 2017. Supporters of this legislation were particularly thrilled because the timing of introduction fell during National Nurses Week!

We are excited to begin making progress for this bill in the Senate. The NNNO Board and Advocacy Team looks forward to hearing from individuals who wish to request co-sponsorship from both of their U.S. Senators. Email the Board for information.


          Organization Support Grows for H.R. 1651   

Over 115 national and state organizations endorsed the National Nurse Act of 2015 and their support is expected to continue for H.R. 1651 National Nurse Act of 2017. The NNNO has contacted the Executive Director and/or President of each supporting organization, sending a copy of the new bill and the Section by Section explanation. A request was made to ask permission for the NNNO to add their organization to a new Signatory Letter addressed to Congress that reflects the current legislation.

Here are a few comments from responders who granted permission to continue support: “National Association of Directors of Nursing (NADONA) would be a proud co signer!!” Sherrie Dornberger, Executive Director and Amanda Kistler, President

Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association (ASTNA) would be proud to help support this.” Brian Solada RN, CFRN, CMTE, ASTNA President

American Association of Women in Community Colleges supports this important Act.” Beverly Walker-Griffea, Ph.D. AAWCC President

"Please add support for the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination (AANAC) and the American Association of Directors of Nursing Services (AADNS), our new organization. Thanks again for your work on this important issue.” Diane Carter, RN, MSN, FAAN President and CEO

"NANDA International, Inc. is proud to be a signatory on the letter supporting the National Nurse Act of 2017.” T. Heather Herdman PhD, RN, FNI CEO/Executive Director

“OCAP (Oregon Council of Associate Degree Nursing Programs) has voted unanimously in support of the National Nurse Act of 2017. I have attached a letter officially stating this. Thank you for your tireless efforts and leadership in this effort!” Doris Jepson MSN, RN President Oregon Council of Associate Degree Nursing Programs

Although there were some minor made to H.R. 1651, all parties involved believe these revisions strengthen the bill language and will help in assuring its passage. Organizations are urged to please email the NNNO Board to receive a copy of the signatory letter if you are interested in supporting The National Nurse Act of 2017. We find when organizations take the time to review and study the legislation they overwhelmingly decide to endorse it.

Here are some additional ways organizations are leading the way to promote the National Nurse Act of 2017:

The Case Management Society of America (CMSA) has retained this bill as one of their top issues to pass in the 115th Congress. Recently NNNO President Teri Mills MS, RN, CNE provided an update in a policy focused webinar that all members were invited to. Thank you to Pat Noonan, CMSA Public Policy Chair, who sent a take action email to all regional leaders urging them to reach out to chapter members asking them to call and write to U.S. Representatives urging them to co sponsor the National Nurse Act of 2017.

Also, thank you to the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses who put at an “all hands on deck” to their Illinois state group, also asking for calls and emails be sent to the Illinois Congressional Delegation.

Special gratitude to the Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing, another endorsing body, requested a synopsis of the National Nurse Act with a theme of legislative action. It is found on Page 13 of the ARIN March Newsletter.

Thank you also to Jeffery Smith, M.P.P. Vice President, Public Policy AMIA - Informatics Professionals for requesting a timeline for introduction of the National Nurse Act of 2017 so as not to miss an opportunity to make a splash with this in their press when the bill was dropped.

All of these actions help to make a tremendous difference in this grassroots, all volunteer campaign.


          H.R. 1651 National Nurse Act Making Progress in House of Representatives   

H.R. 1651 National Nurse Act of 2017 Moving Forward

H.R. 1651 was introduced on March 21, 2017 by Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30-D) and Pete King (NY-2-R).

Thank you to these original co sponsors who agreed to be listed in the actual text of the bill at the time of introduction, providing an extra boost of validation as to the importance of this legislation:

Congressman Kevin Cramer (ND-At Large-R)

Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-16-D)

Congressman Gregg Harper (MS-3-R)

Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA-3-R)

Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-7-R)

Congressman David McKinley (WV-1-R)

Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20-D)

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9-D)

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5-D)

Congressman Don Young (AK-At Large-R)

In addition we say thank you to the following members who are now co sponsoring H.R. 1651:

Congressman Tony Cardenas (CA-29-D

Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (VA-9-D)

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-6-D)

Congressman Bobby Rush (IL-1-D)

Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3-D)

The success of the National Nurse Act depends on supporters and key stakeholders including the readers of this newsletter. Several nurses have already had person-to-person visits with their own elected officials to encourage their co sponsorship for H.R.

Pictured: Jean Marie Osborne DNP ANP-C, Margaret O'Donnell DNP ANP-BC FNP FAANP, Rep. Pete King (NY-2-R), Mary Koslap-Petraco DNP PNP-BC CPNP FAANP

Rep. King was very touched when these nurse practitioner leaders thanked him for his support of the National Nurse Act. He told them this was something that we need to do!

Pictured: Rep. Pete King and Melody Butler, BSN, RN

Also stopping by to thank Rep. King last month was Melody Butler, the Executive Director and Founder of Nurses Who Vaccinate, a supporting organization for the National Nurse Act.

Pictured: Mary McKinley MSN, RN, CCRN (Nurse Leader and Wife of Rep. McKinley); Elizabeth Baldwin, PNP,BC (Past President WVNA Toni DiChiacchio, DNP- APRN, BC (Current President WVNA); and Representative David McKinley (WV-1-R)

Congressman McKinley signed on as an original co-sponsor to H.R. 1651. It is great to have his support!

Take Five!! Each of you can make a difference in helping to pass H.R. 1651 National Nurse Act of 2017. Take 5 minutes to call or write to your elected Representative this week.

You can do this very easily by visiting the Take Action link on the National Nurse website. There is a great deal of helpful information to ensure your success. Please urge your elected member of Congress to sign on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 1651. The more calls, letters, and emails the elected officials receive from their own constituents, the more likely they are to join the growing list of co-sponsors.

If you are interested in making a personal appointment at your U.S. Representative’s district office please contact the NNNO Board for handouts and advice.


          Please Support The National Nurse Act of 2017   

Please Support The National Nurse Act of 2017

Written By Kathy Quan BSN, RN, PHN (and posted with permission)

Nurses were once again voted the Most Trusted Professionals in the 2016 Gallup Poll. This marked the 15th year in a row that nurses have topped the list. It’s indeed an honor to call ourselves nurses and to be able to impart our knowledge on our patients to improve their quality of life and health status.

Today we face uncertainties with the new administration who promises to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act as soon as possible. We need to stand strong together in a bipartisan effort to ensure Americans continue to receive the very best health care. This starts with prevention and nurses are in a unique position to lead the way. With chronic conditions on the rise that continue to bankrupt our federal and personal healthcare dollars, educating patients about their life style, health issues, chronic illness conditions and how to PREVENT complications become even more important today.

Nurses Advance Wellness As nurses we have long been charged with the responsibility of patient education. Now more than ever before we need to advocate for our patients, ourselves and the health status of our country. The American Nurses Association too recognizes the important role nurses serve in advancing wellness and at the beginning of 2017 kicked off its “Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation” campaign. The vision is to create a healthier nation by maintaining the well being of America’s 3.6 million nurses.

Dream Becomes Grass Roots Effort In 2005, a nurse educator and patient advocate from Oregon named Teri Mills MS, RN, CNE had a dream and wrote an Op-ed in the New York Times calling for unification of the nursing profession in America with a National Nurse. In early 2015, the National Nurse Act (HR 379) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (a nurse) (D-TX) and Peter King (R-NY). The Senate companion bill (S 1205) was co-led by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The beauty of this non-controversial legislation is that it required NO additional funding for implementation.

The National Nurse Act of 2015 received strong bi-partisan co-sponsor support from 97 Representatives and 5 Senators in addition to 119 nursing organizations including the American Nurses Association, the National Federation of Nurses, and the Federation of Healthcare Professionals. Five state legislative bodies (MA, OR, NJ, NY and VT) overwhelmingly passed resolutions urging Congress to enact this bill.

H.R. 1651 The National Nurse Act of 2017 Introduced Twelve years later the legislation that grew from that grass roots effort known as H.R. 1651 The National Nurse Act of 2017 was reintroduced to the 2017 Congress. This legislation designates the Chief Nurse Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service as the National Nurse for Public Health to raise visibility and increase public and nursing support for health promotion and disease prevention.

The CNO/National Nurse for Public Health would:

1. Function alongside of the Surgeon General and focus on priorities of promoting health, improving health literacy, and decreasing health disparities

2. Serve as a visible national spokesperson for engaging nurses in Leadership, Policy and Prevention efforts

3. Encourage health professionals work and/or volunteer with community programs to improve health

4. Provide guidance and leadership for activities that will increase public safety and emergency preparedness

The National Nurse Act of 2015 came very close to passing. It is hoped 2017 will be year it passes so that the office of the Chief Nursing Officer/National Nurse for Public Health will be better able to guide the nursing profession in promoting, protecting and advancing the nation’s health.

YOU Can Help A small action on your part can go a long way in helping to bring the National Nurse Act to fruition. Please take a moment to contact your elected officials and request that they sign on NOW to support and co sponsor HR 1651. To create the change we want and need, it is imperative that nurses stand together to advocate for health promotion and prevention via a National Nurse for Public Health.


          National Nurse Act of 2017 Introduced!   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMarch 21, 2017

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson Releases Statement After Introducing National Nurse Act of 2017

Washington D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Johnson introduced the National Nurse Act of 2017, which would designate the Chief Nurse Officer position of the U.S. Public Health Service as “The National Nurse for Public Health.” Congresswoman Johnson released the following statement describing the importance of the bill:

“The National Nurse Act of 2017 is a common-sense, cost-effective way to improve the health and wellness of all Americans. As a registered non-practicing nurse whose political career began in nursing, I know firsthand how national policy can sometimes fail or inhibit nurses working in the field,” said Congresswoman Johnson. “Therefore, establishing a National Nurse, who would work alongside the Surgeon General, would help advocate for nurses and in turn advance health care for the many Americans who see nurses every day.”

“The National Nurse could focus on the important issues of health promotion, improving health literacy, and decreasing health disparities. Nurses play a critical role in the prevention and management of our nation’s deadliest conditions like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and opioid addiction. It is my firm belief that establishing a National Nurse for Public Health in America would save so many lives- it is a shame that we have not done so already.”

Key Responsibilities of the National Nurse:

  • Collaborate with the Office of the Surgeon General to identify and address national health priorities;
  • Serve as a visible national spokesperson for engaging nurses in leadership, policy, and prevention efforts;
  • Encourage health professionals to work with community programs to improve health;
  • Increase public safety and emergency preparedness and;
  • Prepare and submit biennial report to Congress on nurses serving in the U.S. Public Health Service.

#####

U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In addition to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, she is also a current member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She has served on this committee since being elected to Congress in 1992 making her the highest- ranking Texan on the committee. As a longtime advocate for improved psychiatric treatment, Congresswoman Johnson co-lead and co-authored H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015, provisions of which were included in the 21st Century Cures Act that was signed into law in December of 2016.

A link to the National Nurse Act of 2017 will be posted at http://nationalnurse.org as soon as this is available. If you would like to receive a copy of the final draft of The National Nurse Act of 2017, please email the NNNO Board.


          2017 Brings Change to the NNNO Board and Advocacy Team   

The National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO) would like to honor Alisa Schneider PhD, MS, RN, a founding member of the NNNO, for her leadership and vision. Alisa recently stepped down from her role as NNNO Vice President after greater than 12 years of visionary leadership. Alisa’s countless hours of work engaging in advocacy, education, lobbying and research have shaped the NNNO. Alisa helped to build the strong, grassroots organization that endures today.

Congratulations to Elizabeth (Liz) McPhee RN, who will transition from the Board to become Vice President of the NNNO. Liz has been actively involved with the NNNO and National Nurse campaign since her student days at Portland Community College (PCC) when she served as President of the PCC NSNA Chapter. Liz has presented the bill during two Congressional Briefings on Capitol Hill; she has been instrumental in the day-to-day operations of the NNNO; and she has authored multiple publications on the legislation.

The NNNO would also like to recognize the valuable contributions of Terri Polick RN, also a founding member of the organization who served on the Executive Board for 10 years before transitioning to the Advocacy Team. Terri has been a passionate advocate and formative member of NNNO. Terri’s skillful writing and persuasive community engagement helped to build and grow the organization. Many thanks to Terri for her leadership and support.

Sadly in 2016 we lost two of our beloved members of the Advocacy team. Sally Jean Cadman DNP from New Hampshire first wrote to us in February 2010. She had chosen the National Nurse Act as the topic for her health policy paper and just a few short months after initially contacting the NNNO, eagerly joined the team. She advocated strongly for the National Nurse Act until her death on May 30, 2016. Our sincere condolences go out to her family and friends.

Also, NNNO Advocacy team member State Representative Marcia Moody of New Hampshire passed away on May 25, 2016. Rep. Moody’s contributions were endless in her efforts to bring the National Nurse Act to fruition. She was a trusted confidante, with a great deal of experience in the political arena. Rep. Moody spoke at conferences and political gatherings about the bill and she traveled to Washington DC over a dozen times to meet with Congressional members. We all miss her presence tremendously.

The National Nursing Network Organization is excited to welcome Holly Herrera BSN, RN as a new executive board member. With a background in primary care and HIV nursing, Holly resides in Oregon and has a passion for public health, education and organizational leadership. She currently works as Lead RN at a large university-affiliated federally qualified health center. She has experienced the vital role that nurses play in helping to manage chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart failure, and is excited to support a National Nurse for Public Health to improve the well-being of our nation.

Also, joining the NNNO Advocacy Team is Joan Westgor MSN, RN, CCM from Texas. Joan serves on the Alamo Chapter Case Management Society of America (CMSA) Board Member and Public Policy Chair. She is a chapter liaison to CMSA National Public Policy Committee and also is on the Advisory Board of The Patient Institute in San Antonio, Texas.


          Now is the Time for a National Nurse   

With the myriad of health-related concerns our country is currently facing, you may be wondering if now is the time to advocate for the designation of a National Nurse for Public Health? The answer is emphatically YES! A National Nurse for Public Health, as proposed by the National Nurse Act, would capitalize on the expertise of nurses in health promotion and prevention of chronic illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and cancer to strengthen the health of the U.S. population.

Why is now the time for a National Nurse? The burden of chronic illness on our society continues to grow. According to the CDC website, chronic diseases account for the majority of healthcare costs in the US. Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths each year, and treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of our nation's health care costs (CDC, 2017). As we engage in a continued national dialogue about how to decrease healthcare costs and improved health outcomes, enhanced chronic illness management arises as a top priority. Nurses are experts in and champions of chronic disease management.

Yet, the appointment of a National Nurse would do more than improve health outcomes. In the words of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) in a recent interview , regarding the National Nurse Act of 2015, Johnson stated, "What we want to do is make sure that nurses have the proper labeling, so that they can influence at that level. The more we can upgrade nurses in decision-making capacities, the more they'll be respected for what they really are and they more utilization we can make of their talents."

The National Nurse Act's history of strong bipartisan backing offers another compelling reason to support a National Nurse at a time when political unity is increasingly rare. At the conclusion of the 114th Congress, The National Nurse Act boasted 5 Senate co-sponsors and 97 House co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, with representation of over 32 different states across the nation. These past accomplishments strongly position the National Nurse Act for passage in 2017 during the 115th Congress. The designation of a National Nurse is a relevant cause behind which we can rally in unison. Yes, the US currently faces many pressing health policy issues. Who better to navigate these healthcare challenges than a National Nurse for Public Health? Plans are already underway for the introduction of the National Nurse Act of 2017. Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement!


           Arizona Nurses Meet with Congresswoman Martha McSally (AZ-2-R)   

Thank you to NNNO Advocacy Team member Lisa Hoffman BSN, RN, MS for coordinating a meeting with Congresswoman Martha McSally (AZ-2). Many nurse constituents attended and all enthusiastically discussed merits of H.R. 379 The National Nurse Act and also answered questions. The meeting was a great success as Congresswoman McSally decided to join the list of co sponsors for the bill. We are all grateful for her support!


          Ten Co-Sponsors Join in Support of H.R. 379    

Thank you to the following members of the U.S. House of Representatives for joining the now 95 co sponsors for H.R. 379 The National Nurse Act of 2016. It's exciting to see the progress being made for this bill.

Representative Peter DeFazio (OR-4-D) is now the longest serving House member in Oregon’s history. Rep. DeFazio is committed to reining in the escalating costs of health care and ensuring access to quality health care for all Americans. He is a member of the House Nursing Caucus.

In June 2008, Representative Donna Edwards (MD-4-D) became the first African American woman elected to Congress. Rep. Edwards has enjoyed a diverse career as a nonprofit public interest advocate and in the private sector on NASA’s Spacelab project. In 1994, as co-founder and executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, she led the effort to pass the Violence Against Women Act that was signed into law by President Clinton.

Representative Scott Garrett (NJ-5-R) serves as a senior member of the House Budget Committee. Rep. Garrett believes we need meaningful health care reform that decreases costs, increases accessibility and improves on what is already the best health care system in the world.

In the House of Representatives, Representative Gregg Harper (MS-3-R) serves on the influential House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Mississippi’s senior House Republican also sits on the select Committee on House Administration, a special appointment made by former House Speaker John Boehner.

On April 29th, 2016 upon the urging of her constituents, Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-1-D) signed on as a co sponsor to H.R. 379. Representative Kirkpatrick serves on many health-related caucuses including the Healthcare Innovation Task Force, Youth Drug Prevention Caucus, the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, and the Mental Health Caucus.

The family of Representative Rick Larsen (WA-2-D) has been building a legacy in the Second Congressional District for more than a century. Throughout Representative Larsen’s tenure in Congress he has advocated for health care that fits Northwest Washington’s specific needs, including funding for critical access hospitals, better health services for veterans and Medicare beneficiaries, and health care that fits families’ budgets.

Representative David McKinley (WV-1-R)has represented the First District of West Virginia since January 3, 2011. As one of two professional engineers in Congress, he has a seat on the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Representative McKinley’s wife is a nurse and he is a member of the House Nursing Caucus.

Representative Martha McSally (AZ-2-R) proudly represents the people of Arizona’s Second Congressional District. Prior to serving in Congress, Representative McSally served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring in 2010 as a full Colonel. She is the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat and first to command a fighter squadron in combat in United States history.

Currently serving his third term in Congress, Representative Patrick Meehan (PA-7-R) serves on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, as well as the Committee on Ethics. Representative Meehan is the husband of a nurse practitioner and is well aware of the need for quality care and access to our health care system.

According to The Lowell Sun, Representative Niki Tsongas (MA-3-D) has convinced constituents of a core common goal: “As long as she is in Congress, the best interests of constituents will always come ahead of party politics. Since 2010, Tsongas has proven she is one of the more independent lawmakers in Massachusetts’ 9-member House delegation. She has shown a willingness to work with Republicans to advance the cause of a stronger economy and military defense system.”


          Addressing Opioid Addiction via a National Nurse for Public Health   

Thank you to Lisa Summers for recently highlighted the important issue of opioid addiction in her commentary, "ANA partners to address a challenging public health problem", published in February issue of The American Nurse. Nurses, regardless of their practice settings, encounter patients and families who have been deeply affected by the tragedy of addiction.

Summers noted that awareness campaigns and community action are important and must be included when addressing prescription drug and heroin abuse problems. We agree and want to take this one step further. There must be a visible national nurse leader recognized by nursing and the public to help lead this effort.

Many ANA members may not be aware of current legislation in Congress to designate the Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the U.S. Public Health Service as the National Nurse for Public Health. The National Nurse Act of 2015 (H.R. 379/S. 1205) incorporates an important duty for this nurse leader revealing a connection to what Summers proposes. The CNO/ National Nurse will conduct outreach and education, while providing guidance and leadership for activities to promote public health. Nurses and other health professionals will be encouraged to volunteer and develop projects that educate and engage the public in prevention practices.

As we continue to explore solutions to solve opioid addiction, Summers acknowledges that nurses are critical to the success of any program that is undertaken to address this growing problem. Nurses are poised to assist in this national movement to reduce opioid addiction. The National Nurse for Public Health would provide the uniting voice and leadership to do so. For more information and to find steps you can take to advance the National Nurse Act, please visit http://nationalnurse.org.


          Texas Nurses Association Joins 15 ANA State Affiliates in Endorsing National Nurse Act of 2015   

August 1, 2016

Dear Congresswoman Johnson:

The Texas Nurses Association (TNA) is pleased to support H.R. 379, the National Nurse Act of 2015. H.R. 379 would designate the same individual serving as the Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the Public Health Service as the National Nurse for Public Health.

The TNA is the only full-service professional organization representing the interests of Texas’ 290,000 registered nurses. Our members serve in a variety of capacities, providing general and specialty care as registered nurses and advanced practice nurses (APRNs), a group that includes certified nurse midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. These nurses practice in a wide range of settings such as private practices, hospitals, and home health settings around Texas.

Thank you for your leadership in raising the visibility of nurses. The TNA appreciates that H.R. 379 provides for elevation in rank for the CNO, includes a report to Congress on the Commissioned Corps Nursing Category, and achieves a stronger focus on the role of the CNO in advocating for programs that address the health care demands of our nation.

We applaud the intention of H.R. 379 and look forward to working with you on legislation that strengthens America's health care system.

Sincerely,

Jeff Watson, DNP, RN-BC, NEA-BC, NE-BC, CRRN President


           Faculty and Student Activists Unite Behind National Nurse Act    

Earlier this year Deans of Nursing from Northern Kentucky University, Frontier Nursing University, Murray State University, Morehead State University, and University of Kentucky met with Representative Brett Guthrie (KY-2-R) in his Washington DC office to advocate for H.R. 379, The National Nurse Act of 2015. Personal contact via a face-to-face meeting with an elected official is a very effective way to gain their support.

Meanwhile, students enrolled in the University of Texas Arlington graduate nursing program contacted the NNNO via the Contact Us form at http://nationalnurse.org. They are exploring current nursing legislation in their health policy and leadership course and decided to focus their group presentation on the National Nurse Act. Students plan an interactive class discussion and a letter writing campaign to many U.S. members of Congress representing districts in Texas.

Those wishing to communicate their support for S. 1205 and H.R. 379 are using the template letter and phone script available on the Take Action Link.

All of this activity is making a difference. If you are interested in meeting with your U.S. Representative or Senator to urge their co sponsorship for the National Nurse Act, please email the NNNO Board for materials and talking points. We are here to help make your request a success.


          Activists Continue to Push National Nurse Act Forward   

Pictured: Tammy Franqueiro, BSN, RN-BC

Advocates from every corner of the country continue to garner support for the National Nurse Act of 2015 (H.R. 379 and S. 1205). Here is a summary of actions taken during the past several months:

*Students at King University in Tennessee collected signatures on sign on letters that was delivered to four TN U.S. Representatives.

Indiana University at School of Nursing Campuses Unite Behind National Nurse Act

*Nursing faculty at all seven campuses of Indiana University NW wrote letters to U.S. Representatives from Indiana and Illinois urging their co sponsorship for H.R. 379. Letters to the editor of local newspapers and nursing journals are also being sent to engage nursing colleagues and the public in the campaign for a National Nurse for Public Health. Thank you to NNNO Advocacy Team member Evalyn Gossett MSN, RN for her time and dedication on behalf of this campaign.

*Students enrolled in Nursing and Health Care Policy: Issues and Analysis at the University of Texas – Arlington College of Nursing taught by Joy Don Baker, PhD, RN-BC, CNOR, CNE, NEA-BC have shared the National Nurse Campaign Facebook Page with over 4,000 friends. They wrote dozens of letters to members of Congress representing districts in Florida, Georgia, California, Hawaii, Kentucky and South Carolina. Students also sent letters to the editor to nursing websites and peer- reviewed journals. Special thanks to Catherine Huber BSN, RN, CEN and Tammy Franqueiro BSN, RN-BC for their guidance and leadership in promoting this legislation.

Please contact the NNNO if you are a nursing or graduate student and wish to promote the National Nurse Act in a class project.


          More Co Sponsors Added for H.R. 379   
Co-Sponor logo

Thank you to the following members of the House of Representatives who recently signed on in support to H.R. 379 The National Nurse Act of 2015.

Representative Don Beyer (VA-1-D)

Representative Don Beyer (VA-1-D) is serving his first term in Congress. He believes that all American families should have access to quality health care and is fighting for improvements in the U.S. healthcare system, especially for the neediest populations. Representative Beyer committee assignments include Science, Space, and Technology, Natural Resources, and the Joint Economic Committee.

Representative Gus Bilirakis (FL-12-R)

Representative Gus Bilirakis (FL-12-R) serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, additionally assigned to the Health Subcommittee. Working in a bipartisan manner, his main priorities include controlling government spending, creating jobs for middle class Americans, finding ways for government to operate smaller and smarter, and lowering taxes. He is also committed to strengthening homeland security, improving education, increasing access to quality health care, protecting veterans’ benefits, and ensuring the long-term viability of Social Security and Medicare.

Representative Tom MacArthur (NJ-3-R)

Earlier this month Representative Tom MacArthur (NJ-3-R) joined the growing list of co sponsors for H.R. 379 The National Nurse Act of 2015. Serving in his first term in Congress, Representative MacArthur serves on a number of committees including the House Armed Services Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. Last year, he introduced The Excellence in Medicare Act to motivate providers to better serve seniors through performance incentives that would also reduce premiums and copays for seniors. Representative MacArthur and his wife also run In God’s Hands Charitable Foundation in memory of their daughter Gracie. This charity funds a variety of programs from helping wounded veterans to caring for children affected by AIDS in Africa.

Representative Bill Pascrell (NJ-9-D)

Representative Bill Pascrell (NJ-9-D) has built a life of public service upon the principles he learned while growing up on the south side of the Silk City. As the co-Chairman and founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, Representative Pascrell has raised the nation’s awareness of the dangers of traumatic brain injury (TBI). He is a nationally recognized leader in Congress on the issue of fire safety, having proudly authored the F.I.R.E. (Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement) Act, which became law in 2001. Representative Pascrell also serves on the House Nursing Caucus.

Representative Adam Smith (WA-9-D)

The top priorities of Representative Adam Smith (WA-9-D) are to encourage broad-based economic opportunity by ensuring all Americans have access to a high-quality education and job-training opportunities, building a stronger transportation infrastructure, reforming our tax code, and supporting social programs that provide a bridge for struggling families to get back to work. Representative Smith is a long time supporter of the National Nurse Act. He also serves on the House Nursing Caucus.

Representative Rob Wittman (VA-1-R)

Representative Rob Wittman (VA-1-R) serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Natural Resources, where he is well-positioned to represent the needs of Virginia's First District. He has quickly earned a reputation for being an advocate for our men and women in uniform and for being a champion of the Chesapeake Bay. Representative Wittman is the Co Chair of the recently formed Commissioned Officers Association Public Health Service (COAPHS) Congressional Public Health Caucus.


          ANA-Michigan Endorses National Nurse Act   

May 23, 2016

To The Michigan Congressional Delegation:

On behalf of the American Nurses Association (ANA)-Michigan, representing 147,234 registered nurses in Michigan, we are writing to request your co sponsorship of the National Nurse Act of 2015 (H.R. 379) (S. 1205) and express our full support for this legislation.

Designating the Chief Nurse Officer position as the National Nurse for Public Health will help strengthen efforts by nurses in every community to assist in bolstering a nationwide shift to prevention to yield improved health outcomes. The National Nurse for Public Health’s support for the Surgeon General’s focus on prevention, developing nurses as community health advocates, and promoting professional nursing is key to the role nursing plays in our nation’s healthcare infrastructure.

The projected total coat of chronic disease from 2016-2030 in Michigan is $1.3 trillion. In 2015, 6.1 million people in Michigan had at least 1 chronic disease and 2.4 million had 2 or more chronic diseases. Most of these conditions are largely preventable. By promoting health awareness increasing health literacy, and reducing health disparities, the National Nurse for Public Health would play an important role in improving our nation’s health.

Now more than ever, nurses must continue to be proactive in the fight against illness and disease. We recognize the potential of having the National Nurse for Public Health as a representative who would meet with health care leaders to determine ways to address continued health disparities and access issues for the country’s most vulnerable.

As we continue to transform our health systems at the state and national level, it is important that we work to elevate the role of public health nursing to create community level systems, identify public health concerns, and achieve early intervention for identified needs. A philosophical and cultural shift to focus on wellness here in Michigan and on the national level that is reinforced by nurses in every community would go a long way in promoting health, reducing costs, and saving lives.

We request your co sponsorship for the National Nurse Act of 2015 and are ready to work with you to help move this legislation forward.

Respectfully,

MaryLee Pakieser
President
ANA-Michigan


          Healthcare debate highlights the split that threatens to paralyze Republicans   

Six months after taking control of the White House and both houses of Congress, Republicans who campaigned for years on repealing Obamacare still can’t agree on how to do it.

A chief reason that the struggle has been so hard is the growing importance in the party of populist blue-collar voters,...


          Born Without Kidneys, Miracle Baby of U.S. Congresswoman Defies Doctors' Death Diagnosis   
A baby without a kidney defied the odds when she survived in her mother's womb and even up to two years after she was born.
          A War Fighter's Budget   

The initial remedies were necessarily ad hoc, including mine-resistant vehicles and better intelligence. "In every case," Gates told me, "the problem had to be addressed by going outside the bureaucracy, creating something unique."

Gates' budget is a more systematic response -- his attempt to provide "a place at the table for the guys fighting the wars we are in." While downsizing or eliminating some expensive, high-tech programs, the budget would increase resources for health care, intelligence, reconnaissance, Special Forces, theater missile defenses, helicopters and UAVs. It is more of a shift than a revolution -- Gates estimates that only about 10 percent of the budget is devoted exclusively to irregular warfare -- but moving the balance in this direction is entirely necessary.

There are two broad objections to this budget. First, some argue that the total level of spending is insufficient. The success of the surge in Iraq has demonstrated that the size of our force matters when it comes to counterinsurgency operations. Also, the new budget does not expand the Army sufficiently to avoid the continued need for National Guard and reserve deployments.

In an interview in his Pentagon office, Gates gingerly calls this a "legitimate debate." But he counters that the size of the military has been increasing over the last several years. "Am I saying this is the right number? Maybe, or maybe not. Having increased by 100,000, we might take a pause and see if we can sustain it." Gates argues that the inclusion of more spending in the regular defense budget, instead of in emergency supplemental spending bills, is essential to sustainability -- "so it doesn't disappear when supplementals disappear."

Gates is unapologetic about cutting back on big-ticket items such as the Army's Future Combat Systems. The program's lightly armored vehicles, he notes, have 18-inch clearances and flat bottoms -- perfect targets for roadside explosives. On the other hand, Gates' missile defense cuts are relatively small, especially compared to the declared intention of some congressional Democrats to eliminate the Missile Defense Agency entirely.

The second objection concerns the rise of China, which some believe may lead to a conventional conflict. Gates is not dismissive of China, which is expanding its naval influence and focusing resources on space- and cyber-warfare. But he contends that the "Chinese are being selective in what they are doing. They learned from the Soviet Union, which we bankrupted in an arms race. ... They are looking at asymmetrical areas, so they don't get engaged in a full-scale arms race." And this allows America to be selective in our response. He argues that the proposed "mix" of F-22 and F-35 fighters, along with advanced UAVs, will be an effective counter, and that massive ground forces, in this case, are irrelevant. "Realistically, when would we have proposed to send a large ground army into Asia? In every case, that has been very painful."

Some Republicans want to polarize the budget debate. The Obama administration, according to Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., is "willing to sacrifice the lives of American military men and women for the sake of domestic programs favored by President Obama."

In this case, the charge rings with irresponsibility. While the total defense budget should be larger in a time of war, it focuses resources and attention precisely where they are most needed: on our war fighters in Iraq, in Afghanistan -- and at places like Walter Reed.

Correction: This week, I wrote that President Obama "has complained of inheriting a $1.3 trillion debt." I should have used the word "deficit."


          Obama Has Been a Divider, Not a Uniter   

The Pew report notes that this is the extension of a long-term trend. Decades ago, a majority of Democrats approved of Richard Nixon's job performance early in his first term. A majority of Republicans did the same for Jimmy Carter. But that has not been true for any president since.

Ron Brownstein, the author of "The Second Civil War," cites a variety of structural reasons for intensified division. There has been a "sorting-out" of the political parties, making each more ideologically uniform. Long, nasty presidential campaigns stoke our differences. Media outlets have become more partisan. Ideological interest groups have proliferated. Congressional leaders have changed the rules, making it easier to impose party discipline.

But Obama was supposed to be the antidote to the poison of partisanship. During the presidential campaign, chief strategist David Axelrod told Brownstein, "If there's an enhanced Democratic majority, I think that he's going ... to urge a special sense of responsibility to try and forge coalitions around these answers, not because we won't be able to force our will in many cases, but because, ultimately, effective governance requires it in the long term."

That makes last week's votes on the budget resolutions a landmark of ineffective governance. Not a single Republican in the House or Senate supported the bill, largely because the Democratic majority forced its will. Republicans were flattened, not consulted. Democratic leaders talk of enacting controversial elements of the budget through the reconciliation process -- which would require 51 Senate votes, not the normal 60, for passage. Only in Washington would the word "reconciliation" refer to a form of partisan warfare.

Without Republican input or influence, the budget is a tax-and-spend caricature. Obama has complained of inheriting a $1.3 trillion debt. According to economist Michael Boskin, Obama's proposals would add $6.5 trillion in debt over the next decade -- about $163,000 for every American taxpaying family.

I am not generally a deficit hawk. A government can run a responsible deficit in a growing economy -- and may have to run one to counteract an economic downturn. But Obama's proposed level of debt is irresponsible. It makes broad tax increases nearly inevitable. It expands our dependence on China, America's loan officer. And it creates pressure for the government to purchase or monetize debt, leading to inflation. No Republican, even of the moderate variety, could accept a budget that spends America into unsustainable debt by completely avoiding the setting of realistic priorities. And none in Congress did.

There is an argument in favor of political polarization. Franklin Roosevelt and Reagan, in their time, were polarizing presidents precisely because they were ambitious presidents. They believed that some national goals were worth the sacrifice of amity. A decisive leader is sometimes a divisive leader.

But Obama's polarizing approach challenges and changes the core of his political identity. His moderate manner and message appealed to a country weary of division and ambition -- a nation now asked to endure another round of both. But Obama's domestic agenda is also resoundingly typical -- as though he were some conventionally liberal backbench senator suddenly thrust into immense influence. Which, of course, he is.

It would have been relatively easy for President Obama to divide the Republican coalition, peeling off less-partisan Republicans with genuine outreach. Many Republicans were prepared to accept short-term deficits to stimulate the economy in exchange for long-term fiscal responsibility. Obama could have focused more narrowly on resolving the financial crisis -- the key to all economic recovery -- and delayed his ambitions on other issues to a more realistic time. In the process, he might have gotten some Republicans to share his political risks, instead of nursing grievances on the sidelines.

Polarization in American politics has its own disturbing momentum, aided by some strident Republican voices. But that does not require a president to make it worse. And it is a sad, unnecessary shame that Barack Obama, the candidate of unity, has so quickly become another source of division.


          Why Catholics Are Worried About Obama   

The office of the president has meaning and importance that transcend the views of its current occupant. Though elected by a part of America, the president becomes a symbol of its whole. The respect we accord him does not imply agreement or endorsement. It reflects our appreciation for constitutional processes. So a presidential visit is always an honor. The televised arrival of Air Force One, the motorcade, the playing of "Hail to the Chief," the audience standing as the president enters -- all these express a proper respect for democratic legitimacy.

If you cannot honor the man, then honor the office. If you cannot honor the office, then one more democratic bond has been severed.

But the controversy surrounding the Notre Dame invitation highlights growing strains in an important political relationship. In the last election, while evangelical Christians generally remained loyal to the Republican nominee, Catholics decisively shifted their votes toward Obama. In 2004, George W. Bush won the Catholic vote by five points. Obama carried it by nine points in 2008. A number of Catholic thinkers set out a "pro-life, pro-Obama" position -- disagreeing with Obama's pro-choice views but trusting in his moderate instincts and conciliatory temperament.

So far, Obama has done little to justify this faith. His initial actions on life issues -- funding overseas abortion providers, removing restrictions from federally funded medical experimentation on human embryos, revisiting conscience protections for pro-life health care professionals -- have ranged from conventional to radical. And this may be one reason why Obama's support among Catholics has eroded. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who disapprove of Obama's job performance increased by nine points from February to March. Among Catholics as a whole, his disapproval rating jumped 14 points. And among white, non-Hispanic Catholics, the figure doubled -- from 20 percent to 41 percent.

Catholics are having second thoughts, but it could get much worse. If the president and Congress are not careful on several issues, these concerns could open a major rift between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party.

First, Obama has raised deep concerns among Catholic leaders by signaling he will overturn Bush's executive order protecting health workers from firing and discrimination if they refuse to perform actions they consider morally objectionable. The administration claims the order was overbroad and unnecessary. But Catholic hospitals believe these protections are essential, because of pressure by states and private medical associations for Catholic health care providers to perform or refer for abortions. Catholic leaders want the president to be helpful, not neutral or hostile, in the protection of conscience.

Second, Catholic leaders fear that the Hyde Amendment -- which bans the use of Medicaid funds for abortion except in the rarest of cases -- could easily be reversed by the pro-choice congressional majority.

Third, health care reform will raise the largest debate -- whether abortion should be a covered service. As a candidate, Obama said his health proposal would include "reproductive health services." Planned Parenthood argues that "full reproductive health" must be covered. But any proposed federal entitlement to abortion-on-demand would be unprecedented, push Catholic leaders toward revolt, and possibly doom health care reform entirely.

Americans disagree strongly about the legality of abortion. But for decades there has been a rough consensus that no one should be compelled to participate in abortions or have their federal tax dollars used for abortion. These three changes would shatter that consensus, making the destruction of life an essential part of the medical and legal order while stigmatizing and marginalizing all who object. This would be an outrage and a scandal -- a troubling reinterpretation of religious liberty, which is not merely the freedom to believe, but the freedom to bring religiously informed moral beliefs to professional and political life.

Obama's Catholic supporters would feel betrayed and discredited -- and rightly so. The Catholic hierarchy and Catholic health professionals would feel assaulted by the president -- and they would be correct. And President Obama would not need to worry about future invitations from Notre Dame.


          Jason Chaffetz signs with Fox News (Hadas Gold/Politico)   

Hadas Gold / Politico:
Jason Chaffetz signs with Fox News  —  Rep. Jason Chaffetz is leaving Congress behind for a life in television, Fox News announced on Wednesday.  —  Chaffetz will be a contributor to the network starting July 1, the day after he will officially resign from Congress.


          Government Versus Confidence   

AIG executives were foolish to use this loophole to "retain" employees, some of whom nearly destroyed the American financial system. But the company did not act with deception or secrecy.

AIG's November SEC filing set out its intention to provide more than $469 million in "retention payments" to employees, eliciting a smattering of congressional protest. Concerns on the broader compensation issue were serious enough to ensure unanimous Senate passage of an amendment to the stimulus bill sponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe and Ron Wyden that penalized bailout bonuses in excess of $100,000.

But the Snowe-Wyden amendment disappeared into the misty bog of a House-Senate conference committee, only to be trumped by language that grandfathered AIG's retention bonuses. At first, this seemed to be an example of immaculate legislation -- miraculously fatherless. After explicitly denying responsibility, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd eventually admitted including the exception under pressure from the administration. But it doesn't sound like there was much of a fight. Administration input came from unnamed staffers at the Treasury Department, not high-level officials. Dodd said he viewed these as "innocent modifications."

The lack of focus, judgment and competence on the part of Congress and the administration has explanations -- for those dealing in trillions, millions must seem like dirty pennies on the street. But the hollow outrage and blame-shifting from Congress and the administration are inexcusable.

President Obama vowed to "pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses," when the proper "legal" avenue was to write a responsible law -- a process his own administration apparently undermined. "I'll take responsibility," says the president -- before, in the next few breaths, explaining, "We didn't grant these contracts." And, "We've got a lot on our plate." And, "It's my job to make sure that we fix these messes, even if I don't make them." So Obama seems to be saying: I'll take credit for taking the blame for something that is entirely the fault of others. Positively Clintonian.

"This is an example," thunders Rep. Barney Frank, "of people at the commanding heights of the economy misbehaving, abusing the system" -- which is completely true ... of the conference committee that reshaped the stimulus bill in secret. Sen. Charles Grassley urged AIG executives to contemplate suicide.

This combination of viciousness, shamelessness and cluelessness has consequences. It drains what little political will remains to confront the credit crisis -- an effort that may eventually require spending a trillion dollars or more to help purchase toxic debt. Thanks to AIG, Congress and the administration, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner may find his next round of necessary bailouts greeted by a revolt of left and right.

And congressional demagoguery is compromising Geithner's own approach to resolving the credit crisis. Since the direct government purchase of toxic debt would be massively expensive, Geithner has floated the idea of enticing private investors to help buy that debt. The government would give loans or subsidies to mutual funds and hedge funds if they will buy toxic securities. But few would make such a risky investment without the hope of large returns.

If those returns are realized, it is easy to imagine how hedge fund managers would be treated when hauled before Congress. "Perhaps the witness can explain to us how he justifies such windfall profits with the people's money? Have you no shame? Give us the names, addresses and phone numbers of every millionaire you enriched at public expense so we can leak them to the press."

What sane money manager would want to partner with a government that blames others for its mistakes, urges the violation of inconvenient contracts and threatens to tax benefits retroactively? One Wall Street expert told me, "Even if people trust the president, they don't trust Congress." This kind of trust and confidence is essential to the next stage of our economic recovery. It is also being actively undermined by the incompetence and hypocrisy of the government itself.


          Wrong Move: Obama's Liberal Agenda   

Following Obama during the New Hampshire primary, I saw a candidate who -- though I disagreed with him on many issues -- defended idealism and rhetoric against the supremely cynical Clinton machine, who brought a religious sensibility to matters of social justice, who took care to understand and accommodate the arguments of others, who provided a temperamental contrast to culture war politics.

After just weeks of governing, that image seems like a brittle, yellowed photograph, buried at the back of a drawer.

Obama's proposed budget shows all the vision, restraint and grace of a grasping committee chairman, using the cover of a still-unresolved banking crisis to push through a broad liberal wish list before anyone notices its costs and complications. The pledge of "responsibility" has become the massive expansion of debt, the constant allocation of blame to others and the childish cultivation of controversy with conservative media figures to favorably polarize the electorate. The pledge of "honesty" and "sacrifice" has become the deceptive guarantee of apparently limitless public benefits at the expense of a very few. The pledge of "bipartisan" cooperation has become an attempt to shove Republicans until their backs reach some wall of outrage and humiliation.

None of this is new or exceptional -- which is the point. It is exactly the way things have always been done.

Obama's stem cell decision was worse, because it is a thing that has never been done before. "Obama," explains Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, "is willfully ignoring the moral complexity of the subject. He says he understands the views of his opponents, but he never addresses or answers them. He seems to have adopted the premise that the stem cell debate presents a choice between science and ignorance, when in fact the debate requires the kind of weighing of competing goods which we elect presidents to contend with."

Obama's approach is ethically simplistic -- the kind of argument that gets nods at a fashionable cocktail party instead of engaging and respecting serious disagreement.

One tragedy of these polarizing moves is that they obscure elements of Obama's agenda that deserve praise and support. It makes perfect moral and economic sense to expand child nutrition programs, ensuring that low-income children get breakfast and lunch during a time of economic stress. Also, to expand rental assistance to low-income families. To fully fund the Second Chance Act, which helps ex-prisoners reintegrate into society. To increase funding for domestic AIDS treatment, especially in African-American and Latino communities. To make the child tax credit at least partially refundable. To limit farm subsidies that distort global food markets and hurt the poor. To provide additional support to strained food banks. To make the saver's credit refundable, encouraging low-income Americans to build assets. To maintain life-saving commitments promoting global health and development.

These should be common-ground issues in our politics -- safe havens on the ideological battlefield and sources of genuine consensus. But these issues have been roundly ignored during the ideological death match Obama has encouraged -- a partisan struggle that has made congressional Republicans less likely to support his best initiatives. Obama's overall budget is praised by economist Robert Reich as driving "a nail in the coffin of Reaganomics." Republicans attack the budget for the same reason. And both are correct in their analysis. It is not a sign of post-partisanship when liberals swoon and conservatives seethe for exactly the same reason. It is a sign that our differences have been exploited and deepened.

Some relish this kind of politics. But the false dawn of post-partisanship is no reason for celebration. Ideological war creates an atmosphere in which the angry predominate -- and it can cause anger to rise unbidden within all of us. While in government, I saw the persistent, moaning critics outside the window. Now I have dug my tunnel and joined them. It is not where I want to be -- or where American politics might have been.


          A Limited Dose of Reassurance   

But national morale was not economically decisive in defeating the Great Depression (though it came in handy defeating Hitler). Economic historian Amity Shlaes reminds us, "Roosevelt did famously well by one measure, the political poll. He flunked by two other meters that we today know are critically important: the unemployment rate and the Dow Jones industrial average."

And the incantation of confidence is not likely to be decisive in the current economy. Markets, investors, businessmen and entrepreneurs are generally immune to tone and charm. They seek reassurance on three issues of substance: the credibility of the credit system, the eventual return of economic growth and a serious approach to debt.

Obama was strongest when it came to rescuing the banking system, promising to "act with the full force of the federal government" and to do "whatever proves necessary" to assure the flow of lending. This was an assertion of executive power in a time of crisis that Roosevelt would have understood and appreciated. The bank bailout is radical, involving the socialization of private-sector losses and a government plan to "force the necessary adjustments," "clean up their balance sheets" and ensure "continuity." But the alternatives to executive power in this case seem dismal. As an economic pragmatist, I was reassured.

On the issue of economic growth, Obama was less compelling. He talked of the need to "jump-start job creation" through public spending, admitting that "there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work." He answered those concerns by saying that "wasteful spending" would be met with "unprecedented oversight." But this is the old debater's trick of responding to an opponent's weakest objection.

The source of skepticism for many Americans is not the prospect of government waste but Obama's theory of job creation. It sounds somehow passe to assert it, but most jobs are created by private capital in the private sector, often by small businesses. And they got little policy attention in Obama's speech. An example Obama used -- retaining police officers -- is a worthy cause, but hardly typical of American job-creation. A small-business owner heard nothing about his daily struggles with litigation or regulation.

There is an element of psychology -- of confidence -- in taking the risks of entrepreneurship and small-business expansion. It is difficult to imagine how that confidence is built by being ignored.

Obama was even less credible on the issue of debt. Most Americans seem to accept the need for the temporary deficit spike to provide a jolt to the economy. But Obama's pledges to go "line by line through the federal budget" and to remove "waste, fraud and abuse" were the most tired portions of his energetic speech -- and simply not credible with Speaker Nancy Pelosi in vivid green over his left shoulder.

On long-term debt -- the crisis of unsustainable entitlements in an aging society -- Obama was timid. These massive, future obligations raise the prospect of higher interest rates and inflation, and threaten to crowd out spending on a variety of national and humanitarian goals. Many would eagerly accept large short-term deficits in exchange for a grand bargain to get entitlement spending under control. There are innovative ideas being floated on Capitol Hill, such as the SAFE Commission, which would recommend entitlement reforms and present those proposals to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Obama did not choose to spend his political capital on confronting the entitlement crisis -- which is understandable, but hardly courageous.

Obama's rhetoric this week was reassuring. But on the economy, many of us are only partially reassured.


          L'uomo e il Mistero/18   

Remote viewing (visione a distanza),la Cabalà e gli angeli,

il magico mondo dei Sufi,l’esoterismo di Leonardo da Vinci,

Maria Montessori e i bambini,speranza per il futuro,

i misteri di Santa Maria di Collemaggio a L’Aquila,

il Cerchio Firenze 77,regressione a vite precedenti e progressione a vite future,

gli enigmi della creatività,gli anni segreti di Gesù in India,

i cerchi nel grano e le visite extraterrestri,

l’evoluzione della coscienza, i segreti dei sogni, terapia dell’anima attraverso i libri:

tutto questo, e altro ancora, figura in questo libro, che riunise gli Atti della diciottesima edizione del Congresso Internazionale di Riccione promosso dalle Edizioni Mediterranee e coordinato da Paola Giovetti.


          L'uomo e il Mistero /17   

Meditazione cristiana, biblioterapia, il mistero delle cattedrali e delle costruzioni sacre, lo sciamanesimo e l’antica sapienza dei nativi americani, il mistero dei teschi di cristallo, l’enigma della fine del mondo e della data fatidica – 21 dicembre 2012 – indicata dall’antichissimo calendario Maya; i cerchi nel grano, le sfere di luce, la storia della terra e i suoi ancora celati misteri, la terapia della reincarnazione, l’origine nordica dei poemi omerici – novità assoluta e intrigante –, il vegetarismo e la filosofia che ne è alla base, nonché tante tematiche legate al benessere psicofisico e spirituale dell’uomo. E altro ancora.

Tutto ciò è contenuto in questo libro, che raccoglie gli Atti del diciassettesimo congresso internazionale promosso a Riccione dalle Edizioni Mediterranee, teso ad indagare gli infiniti misteri dentro e fuori di noi e i grandi perché che da sempre l’uomo si è posto.


          CFTC Chief Asks Congress for More Money to Oversee Blockchain   
The CFTC has cited the advance of technologies like blockchain in a request to obtain additional funding for its oversight activities.

Source


          Judy Kadar   

Judy Kadar, the Hungarian born harpist and pioneer in the field of historical harp began her harp studies at the famous High School of Music and Art in New York City. Later she attended New York University, Mannes College of Music and Sarah Lawrence College where she earned a Masters Degree in the performance of medieval and renaissance music. Harp instruction with Lucile Lawrence was an inspiration both during and after her formal education.

In 1984, she conceived, initiated and for seven years directed the Annual Historical Harp Conference at the Amherst Early Music Festival. This travelling event is now under the auspices of the American Historical Harp Society.

She performed on stage in productions of reknown German theatre director Peter Zakek and dance theatre director Rheinhild Hoffman. She was music director and performed in various productions of the 14th century Roman de Fauvel under the direction of Andrea von Ramm, Ilse Scheer and Ellen Esser. This year there will be another performance for the 700th anniversary of the work.

Twenty six years ago, together with historical wind instrument specialist Klaus Sonnemann, she founded and has been co-directing the ensemble Collage-forum for early music berlin (www.collagefruehemusik.). The group performs music of the 13th through 17th centuries with singers and historical instruments in various combinations ranging from two to ten performers. They have a concert series in the 14th Century Gothic Hall of the Spandau Citadel. Last year, Historical music in a historical space celebrated its eleventh anniversary.

On January 12, 2011, on the 100th Anniversary of the death of the Berliner Harfenjule (Harp Julie: Luise Nordman, a famous street musician who sang and accompanied herself on the German hook harp), JK organized harp festivities with 15 harp players in the cemetery at her memorial monument (www.harfenjule.org). Later that year there was an academic conference and a harp concert in her memory.

Some of the festivals where she has performed and or taught are: Amherst Early Music Festival, Madison Early Music Festival, Gotisches Haus Festival, Kultursommer Rheinland-Pfalz, Straße der Musik, Juedische Kulturtage, 12th World Harp Congress Sydney. She has also taught masterclasses at: BUTI (Boston University), Tangelwood, and Longy School of Music.

She is featured in many radio and CD recordings


          L'Uomo e il Mistero/16   
Questo libro raccoglie agli Atti della sedicesima edizione del Congresso Internazionale “L’Uomo e il Mistero”, promosso ogni anno a Riccione dalle Edizioni Mediterranee; un programma particolarmente ricco di stimoli grazie a interventi di personalità di spicco nei campi di studio e di ricerca tipici del tradizionale e prestigioso appuntamento primaverile.

Grande spazio viene dato alla spiritualità – in particolar modo agli angeli e alla meditazione cristiana – alla Tradizione, allo sciamanesimo e alla Teosofia.

Come sempre c’è una particolare attenzione per le medicine complementari con le loro differenti risposte al problema della salute e del benessere: Ayurveda, Taiji, On Zon Su, Cinque Tibetani e approccio somato-emozionale.

Non mancano incursioni nel campo delle facoltà paranormali e del nuovissimo fenomeno degli “orbs”, le misteriose sfere luminose che compaiono inaspettatamente nelle fotografie.
          L'Uomo e il Mistero/14   
Questo volume, che raccoglie gli atti del XIV congresso internazionale promosso a Riccione dalle Edizioni Mediterranee, presenta un’ampia gamma di testi di carattere esoterico e spirituale. Gli argomenti trattati sono: i luoghi di forza, il pellegrinaggio a Santiago de Compostela, il simbolismo dei “cerchi di grano”, angeli e creature di luce, ritualità sciamaniche, benessere del corpo, della mente e dello spirito, meditazione, medianità, la Grande Tradizione e i suoi misteri, i Templari, il “Bambino interiore”, i grandi Maestri del nostro tempo (per es. Gurdjieff e Aïvanhov) e altro ancora. Un tuffo in un mondo affascinante e ancora tutto da scoprire.
          Pete Lopez Hasn't Decided On Run For Congress   
Is he or isn't he? Conflicting reports appeared this week concerning New York State Assemblyman Pete Lopez making a run for Congressman Chris Gibson's...
          IBM Is Trying to Convince Congress That Artificial Intelligence Isn't That Bad   
The makers of Watson are making a push with lawmakers.
          Alec Baldwin Is Mulling a Run For Mayor of New York   
Before questionable Internet habits exposed the world to all of Anthony Weiner, the Congressman was considered the frontrunner in the upcoming 2013 New York City Mayoral race. With Weiner's political future now very much in doubt, Alec Baldwin is letting it be known that he wouldn't mind running the nation's largest city... Continue reading…
          Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is leaving Congress for... you guessed it... Fox News [Obvious]   
Obvious [link] [85 comments]

          CT Sen. Murphy Condemns Legislation Allowing Mentally Ill To Purchase Firearms   
Congress has sent President Donald Trump legislation that reverses an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people.
          Sony DWZ-B70HL//CEK UK Power Supply Digital Presenter Pack   
Sony DWZ-B70HL//CEK UK Power Supply Digital Presenter Pack

Sony DWZ-B70HL//CEK UK Power Supply Digital Presenter Pack

Sony DWZ-B70HL//CEK (DWZB70HLCEK, DWZ B70HL CEK, DWZ/B70HL/CEK) UK power supply Digital Wireless headset and lavalier microphone presenter pack, 2,4GHz, 24Bit/50kHz linear PCM, includes ZRX-HR70 half rack receiver, ZTX-B02RC rechargeable Bodypack transmitter with lavalier mic and Head-Set mic, AES encryption, feedback  DWZ Series digital wireless microphone set for vocal/speech with lavalier / headset microphones Package features ZRX-HR70 digital wireless half-rack receiver, ZTX-B02RC digital wireless body-pack transmitter and uni-directional electret condenser lavalier and headset microphones The lavalier / headset set version of the DWZ digital wireless microphone system offers high quality 24-bit / 48KHz linear PCM digital transmission and is optimised for applications such as congress centres, universities, schools, community halls, hotels, board rooms and small theatres. The system is supplied with the ECM-LZ1UBMP digital wireless uni-directional electret condenser lavalier microphone and the ECM-HZ1UBMP digital wireless uni-directional electret condenser lightweight headset microphone. Superb digital sound with intelligent feedback reducer With 24-bit linear PCM digital, you get high sound quality with reliable RF transmission, utilising unique transmission technology developed by Sony.  Superb digital sound quality High-quality 24-bit linear PCM digital transmission offers pristine audio and a wide frequency range of 10 Hz to 22 kHz. Audio performance degradation that’s typical of conventional analogue wireless systems is avoided, as these packages are designed without the need for a compander. Wide Band Hopping mode This mode reduces interference to other wireless equipment used in the same environment such as WiFi. There’s no need for advanced technical knowledge about radio frequency. Wide Band Hopping mode also supports additional error correction for more secure transmission*1.    Intelligent Feedback Reducer function Up to 1024-band suppression filters are continuously tuned automatically in real time, eliminating feedback and avoiding deteriorating the original signal; this delivers the highest quality sound that can be enjoyed by presenters, vocalists and audiences. Interruptions in reception (signal dropout) can be a problem with wireless microphone transmission systems. With the DWZ Series, however, dropouts are reduced to a minimum. Utilizing a space diversity reception system, stable reception is achieved by using dual-antenna inputs / reception circuits. These receive signals over two different paths and automatically select the stronger RF signal for output. Highly secure transmission The ZTX-HR70 offers AES 128-bit standard encryption technology to secure transmitted signals and avoid being intercepted by others. Large colour LCD The ZRX-HR70 half-rack size receiver includes a large colour LCD display to provide detailed visual status of your selected channel, signal, and five-band digital equalizer, along with audio level, and transmitter battery life. Fast and easy setup With its Clear Channel Scan and Best Channel Selection features, the half-rack ZRX-HR70 detects unoccupied channels and selects the most appropriate channel automatically, for fast and easy system setup. Wired / wireless seamless operation The ZRX-HR70 is equipped with a Cable Tone Generator feature to simulate a wired tone when using wireless. There’s no need to adjust the equalizer setting on your amplifier when switching between wired and wireless. Five-band equaliser With the five-band digital equalizer in the half- rack ZRX-HR70 receiver, you’ll find it’s easy to adjust the sound character of your handheld microphone as desired. Tuner out interface Tuner output is available for tuning. The ZRX-HR70 also has a transmitter-muting selector, which provides a choice of connectors that can be muted. The ZRX-HR70 is mountable with optional RMM-HRD1 rack mount kit. Headset and lavalier microphones The DWZ-B70HL package includes two types of microphones. The ECM-HZ1UBMP is a uni-directional electret condenser lightweight headset that keeps you comfortable and stress-free even when wearing it for long periods of time. Its ear-clip-style design allows you to wear it on either your left or right ear. The ECM-LZ1UBMP is a uni-directional electret condenser lavalier microphone, ideal for commercial sound applications such as presentations, lectures and conferences. Robust metal body The ZTX-B02RCis made of strong durable metal construction that supports reliable use in rough operating conditions. Easy-to-use operation The ZTX-B02RC features a momentary switch for muting or talk-back application. The ZTX-B02RC is powered by AA batteries with a contactless rechargeable function (with optional BC-DWZ1 battery charger).  


          Sony DWZ-M70//CEK UK Power Supply Digital Presenter Pack   
Sony DWZ-M70//CEK UK Power Supply Digital Presenter Pack

Sony DWZ-M70//CEK UK Power Supply Digital Presenter Pack

Sony DWZ-M70//CEK (DWZM70CEK, DWZ M70 CEK, DWZ/M70/CEK) UK power Supply Digital Wireless microphone presenter pack, 2,4GHz, 24Bit/48kHz linear PCM, ZRX-HR70 half rack receiver, ZTX-M02RC rechargeable Handheld transmitter with uni-directional dynamic capsule (interchangeable head mechanism), AES encryption, 5-B  DWZ Series digital wireless microphone set for vocal/speech with handheld transmitter Package features ZRX-HR70 digital wireless half-rack receiver and ZTX-M02RC digital wireless handheld transmitter The vocal/speech set version of the DWZ digital wireless microphone system offers high quality 24-bit / 48KHz linear PCM digital transmission and is optimised for applications such as congress centres, universities, schools, community halls, hotels, board rooms and small theatres. The microphone’s interchangeable capsule design supports a choice of capsules, including Sony’s CU-C31, CU-F31 and CU-F32. The system also includes AES 128-bit encryption technology to ensure highly secure transmission. Superb digital sound with intelligent feedback reducer With 24-bit linear PCM digital, you get high so