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Posted on on July 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

She also will propose: “Other areas of focus will be improving the efficiency of buildings and ensuring that fossil fuel production is ‘safe and responsible,’ and protecting financial markets from climate-related risks.” Will this satisfy the Stop Climate Change advocates?

Hillary Clinton Unveils Far-Reaching Climate Change Plan

Hillary Rodham Clinton at a campaign event at Iowa State University in Ames on Sunday July 26, 2015 as reported by the NYT.

DES MOINES, July 26, 2015 — Promising more than a half-billion solar panels by the end of a first term and an ambitious target of clean energy for every home in America in a decade, Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled goals on Sunday evening to reduce the threat of climate change.

She said she would continue President Obama’s sweeping plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants, and announced targets that even push beyond current goal’s for greenhouse gases.

Mr. Obama’s proposed regulations are expected to be finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency in August, and the real work of making the changes — shutting down coal plans and increasing the number of renewable electricity sources — would fall to the next administration.

The Clinton campaign said the goals, set out on its website in a video, were the first of a six-plank plan to address climate change that Mrs. Clinton would continue to unveil in coming weeks and months.

Other areas of focus will be improving the efficiency of buildings, ensuring that fossil fuel production is “safe and responsible,’’ and protecting financial markets from climate-related risks.

In the video and at an earlier event, Mrs. Clinton said that critics of taking strong action, who include most of the Republican presidential candidates, were ignoring the seriousness of the threat.

“Those people on the other side, they will answer any question about climate change by saying, ‘I’m not a scientist,’’’ Mrs. Clinton said in Ames, Iowa on Sunday. “Well I’m not a scientist either. I’m just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain.’’

Mrs. Clinton also promised to help any workers who lose their jobs as coal plants respond to Mr. Obama’s plan to limit carbon emissions. Appalachia, once a bastion of Democratic support, has been hostile to Mr. Obama for what officials like Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, call a “war on coal.”

“I will be very clear, I want to do more to help in coal country,’’ Mrs. Clinton said at the event. She expressed gratitude to men “who mined the coal that created industrial revolution that turned on the lights that fueled the factories, who lost their lives, who were grievously injured, who developed black lung disease.’’

Mrs. Clinton’s pledge to produce “enough renewable energy to power every American home within 10 years of taking office’’ — that is, by 2027 — is even more ambitious than Mr. Obama’s plan.

The president has pledged to get the United States to produce 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 — essentially tripling renewable power from today.

Mrs. Clinton’s plan would arrive at 33 percent, said Heather Zichal, who served as Mr. Obama’s senior climate change adviser until last year.

“I think this initial statement from her is a strong signal that she’s committed to a thoughtful policy that pushes the envelope,’’ she said.

Mrs. Clinton’s rollout of a climate plan, the latest in a series of policy agendas, was in part intended to counter the threat on her left from Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who draws thunderous cheers at rallies when he calls for the immediate action on the warming climate. And unlike Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Clinton has not clearly stated whether she opposes building the Keystone XL pipeline, which has become the leading rallying cry of grass-roots environmentalists.

On Friday, Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate activist, said that in order to receive his backing and financial support, a candidate would have to pledge to enact an energy policy that would lead to the generation of half the nation’s electricity from renewable or zero-carbon sources by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.

Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, has already put forth such a plan.

In a statment, Mr. Steyer praised Mrs. Clinton’s proposal without offering explicit financial support. “Today, Hillary Clinton emerged as a strong leader in solving the climate crisis and ensuring our country’s economic security,” he said.

On the other side – “Strong showing for Donald Trump in Iowa and New Hampshire.”
The other contenders in the lead are Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and GW Bush’s brother Jeff Bush. No climate related proposals from any of them yet. Moving up fast is Ohio Governor John Kasich who in just 10 days moved in New Hampshire from unknown to 7%.

On the Democrats side Mrs. Clinton leads Senator Bernie Sanders in Iowa by 55 to 26; in New Hampshire by 47 to 34.


Posted on on December 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

From the U.S. Section of The New York Times:

Even Before Long Winter Begins, Energy Bills Send Shivers in New England – we add to this – just think of their opposition to ocean-located wind-power. Oh well – it is easy to blame others!

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE – Weekend December 13, 2014

Starts with Photo of Patricia Richardson, 78, a retiree in Salem, N.H., who has taken energy-saving measures and said she could not understand why her bills had still increased. Credit Charlie Mahoney for The New York Times.

Then reporting from SALEM, N.H. — John York, who owns a small printing business here, nearly fell out of his chair the other day when he opened his electric bill.

For October, he had paid $376. For November, with virtually no change in his volume of work and without having turned up the thermostat in his two-room shop, his bill came to $788, a staggering increase of 110 percent. “This is insane,” he said, shaking his head. “We can’t go on like this.”

For months, utility companies across New England have been warning customers to expect sharp price increases, for which the companies blame the continuing shortage of pipeline capacity to bring natural gas to the region.

Now that the higher bills are starting to arrive, many stunned customers are finding the sticker shock much worse than they imagined. Mr. York said he would have to reduce his hours, avoid hiring any new employees, cut other expenses and ultimately pass the cost on to his customers.

Like turning back the clocks and putting on snow tires, bracing for high energy bills has become an annual rite of the season in New England. Because the region’s six states — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont — have an integrated electrical grid, they all share the misery.

These latest increases are salt in the wound. New England already pays the highest electricity rates of any region in the 48 contiguous states because it has no fossil fuels of its own and has to import all of its oil, gas and coal. In September, residential customers in New England paid an average retail price of 17.67 cents per kilowatt-hour; the national average was 12.94 cents.

Beyond that, the increases confound common sense, given that global oil prices have dropped to their lowest levels in years, and natural gas is cheap and plentiful from the vast underground shale reserves in nearby Pennsylvania.

But the benefits are not being felt here. Connecticut’s rate of 19.74 cents per kilowatt-hour for September was the highest in the continental United States and twice that of energy-rich states like West Virginia and Louisiana. The lowest rate, 8.95 cents, was in Washington State, where the Columbia River is the nation’s largest producer of hydropower.

For the coming winter, National Grid, the largest utility in Massachusetts, expects prices to rise to 24.24 cents, a record high. The average customer will pay $121.20 a month, a 37 percent increase from $88.25 last winter.
John York, a small-business owner in Salem, paid 110 percent more for electricity in November than he had in October. Credit Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times

The utilities argue that they are hamstrung unless they can increase the pipeline capacity for natural gas, which powers more than half of New England. That would not only lower costs for consumers, they say, but also create thousands of construction jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue.

The region has five pipeline systems now. Seven new projects have been proposed. But several of them — including a major gas pipeline through western Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, and a transmission line in New Hampshire carrying hydropower from Quebec — have stalled because of ferocious opposition.

The concerns go beyond fears about blighting the countryside and losing property to eminent domain. Environmentalists say it makes no sense to perpetuate the region’s dependence on fossil fuels while it is trying to mitigate the effects of climate change, and many do not want to support the gas-extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that has made the cheap gas from Pennsylvania available.

Consumers have been left in the middle, as baffled as they are angry. Utilities across the region are holding workshops and town meetings to try to address their concerns and offer tips on energy conservation. About 100 people showed up this month for a meeting at Salem High School here that included a presentation by Liberty Utilities, the largest natural gas distributor in New Hampshire.

John Shore, a company spokesman, told the audience that in times of peak demand, the available natural gas went first to residential and business customers. Some power plants that normally rely on gas then turn to more expensive fuels like oil, although not all plants have the ability to switch fuels. In some cases, electric generating plants go offline, and more expensive generators are used to make up the capacity.

Prices are also up this winter because they are based in part on last winter’s high prices. Arctic blasts from the polar vortex drove up the cost of wholesale power in New England to $5.05 billion for the three months from December 2013 through February 2014 alone — almost the same as the cost for the entire year of 2012.

Patricia Richardson, 78, a Salem retiree in the audience, said she had already had an energy audit on her 100-year-old house, installed triple-pane thermal windows, bought a new boiler, had insulation blown in and put weather stripping around leaks. She could not understand why her bill had still increased, even after pressing Mr. Shore.

Ms. Richardson said after the meeting that his explanation had been confusing. “I wanted to know in my heart that he was giving it to me square,” she said. “But I didn’t get that feeling.”
Marie Morris at a meeting at Salem High School held by Liberty Utilities, the largest natural gas distributor in New Hampshire. Credit Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times

Many utilities provide rebates when customers buy high-efficiency appliances, and offer free energy audits, savings plans and guidance on limiting energy use. Government programs and nonprofit organizations are stretching to help those who cannot pay the utility bills necessary to make it through this cold, dark season.

But even if these stopgap measures help some households in the short term, the outlook for the long term appears gloomy.

A year ago, the governors of the six New England states agreed to pursue a coordinated regional strategy, including more pipelines and at least one major transmission line for hydropower. The plan called for electricity customers in all six states to subsidize the projects, on the theory that they would make up that money in lower utility bills.

But in August, the Massachusetts Legislature rejected the plan, saying in part that cheap energy would flood the market and thwart attempts to advance wind and solar projects. That halted the whole effort.

“The impasse just kicks the can down the road, and I see no reason why this dynamic isn’t going to be repeated during the heating season for years to come,” said John Howat, a senior policy analyst at the National Consumer Law Center, a Boston-based nonprofit advocacy group for low-income residents.

“I think we need to be more aggressive in pursuing renewables and energy efficiency,” Mr. Howat said. “But I doubt we can implement those solutions quickly enough and at a sufficient scale to relieve the economic burden in the short term on those 30 percent of households that don’t have sufficient income to pay these bills.”

The problem may be getting worse, not only because of pipeline constraints but because old coal and oil power plants are being retired. The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, which supplies nearly one-third of Vermont’s electricity, is also scheduled to go offline this month.

ISO New England, the independent system operator that oversees the region’s energy market, said it expected there to be “sufficient resources” this winter to meet demand. But in a November assessment, it called the pipeline constraints severe and said the reliability of the system would “continue to be threatened” until the region expanded its pipeline capacity or invested in other energy sources.

Figuring out how much new pipeline might be enough is not an easy calculation. Massachusetts, for one, is analyzing its needs now for a report due at the end of the month. It is a complex process, said Mark Sylvia, the state’s undersecretary for energy, because it must take into account the state’s desires to avoid dependence on one type of fuel, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure reliability “so the lights stay on.”

A version of this article appears in print on December 14, 2014, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: Even Before Long Winter Begins, Energy Bills Send Shivers in New England.


Posted on on January 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Republicans, including even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, allow themselves be led by the  Pied Pipers for the upper 1% – of the so fake Americans for Prosperity – the Koch Brothers fighting any notion of American progress, that are even more extreme then the Romney vision was, will dismantle whatever already got initiated on the front of Climate Change. Even this can be viewed as a political fight.


Op-Ed Contributors

Northeast Faces Stark Choice on Climate Pollution.

Published The New York Times on-line: January 24, 2013


EIGHT years ago, a bipartisan coalition of Northeast and mid-Atlantic governors joined forces to reduce pollution from electric power plants. They agreed to cap overall emissions of carbon dioxide, the major pollutant driving global warming, and require the more than 200 power plants in the region to buy permits to emit the greenhouse gas.

The governors reasoned that plant operators would have an incentive to clean up their emissions if they had to pay for the carbon dioxide they discharged. Over the first three years of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, average annual emissions were indeed 23 percent less than in the previous three years, and auctions of allowances — or permits to pollute — raised $952 million, much of which has been invested in clean energy programs.

But the future effectiveness of this market-based cap-and-trade system, the first but not the only one of its kind in the nation, is now in question. The nine states in the initiative are preparing to reset the emissions cap — or the total amount of carbon dioxide that power plants can emit — and some of the proposals would allow power plants to increase the amount of carbon dioxide they dump into the atmosphere.

Cap-and-trade programs are designed to lower emissions gradually by reducing the cap and the allowances that are available. Polluters get flexibility in cutting emissions by being able to trade allowances among themselves. The idea is to achieve the reductions at the lowest cost through market forces rather than through direct regulation.

But of the four cap-adjustment proposals under consideration, three would reset the cap above current emissions and allow pollution to rise through 2020. Only a fourth option would continue to drive down pollution by resetting the cap at 91 million tons, the current emissions level, and then reducing it by another 2.5 percent a year through 2020.

Opponents of the initiative, known as R.G.G.I., argue that lower-cost natural gas has eliminated the need for the program by reducing the use of dirtier coal and oil. Growing investments in energy efficiency and renewable electricity have also helped to reduce emissions by cutting demand for electricity from power plants that burn fossil fuels.

But those developments don’t argue against R.G.G.I., which determines what electricity generators may not do — namely, discharge unlimited quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If market forces deliver emissions reductions cheaper and faster than anticipated, then states should lock in that progress with a binding cap to ensure that emissions don’t rise and that incentives for reducing pollution remain.

The proposals that would allow emissions to increase reflect the success of opponents of efforts to slow climate change, who have fought against initiatives like R.G.G.I.

Americans for Prosperity, an organization backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, has been at the forefront of this effort. The group sought unsuccessfully to repeal R.G.G.I. in Maine and New Hampshire, and A.F.P. members sued but failed to extricate New York from the initiative. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey did pull his state out of the initiative last year, arguing that low-cost natural gas made the program unnecessary.

R.G.G.I.’s economic performance tells a different story. Auctions of allowances pay for energy efficiency programs that curb power plant emissions, bring down energy prices and save consumers money. These savings flow back into the economy, increasing growth and employment in the region. An independent report published in 2011 by the Analysis Group, a consulting firm, said that electric customers would save $1.1 billion on their bills over 10 years from energy efficiency measures paid for by the sale of allowances. These savings would generate an additional $1.6 billion in economic growth, as money that otherwise would be spent on electricity generated with imported fossil fuels is instead spent in the local economy.

This initiative carries broad significance. President Obama’s reaffirmed commitment to address climate change will move forward in part through regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, and R.G.G.I. could serve as a template for other states seeking to comply with new federal requirements.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York recently committed to ensuring the program’s continuing effectiveness, and we encourage all of the participating states to make the program as strong as possible and put the public good over interests vested in the dangerous status quo of unchecked pollution.

Peter Shattuck is director of market initiatives and Daniel L. Sosland is president at ENE an environmental research and advocacy group focused on the Northeast.


Posted on on October 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Op-Ed Columnist

The Company Romney Keeps

Published in The New York Times October 26, 2012

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Charles M. Blow

Campaign Stops

Campaign Stops

Read more from Charles M. Blow on the 2012 election.

Related in Opinion:  Frank Bruni’s Blog: Sayonara, Sununu (October 26, 2012)

Readers’ Comments:  Read All Comments (52) »

The saying goes: A man is known by the company he keeps.If that is true, what does the company Mitt Romney keeps say about him?

This week Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama again, as he did in 2008. That apparently set John Sununu, a co-chairman of the Romney campaign, on edge. Powell’s endorsement couldn’t possibly be the product of purposeful deliberation over the candidates’ policies. In Sununu’s world of racial reductionism, Powell’s endorsement had a more base explanation: it was a black thing.

On Thursday, Sununu said on CNN:“When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama.” He continued: “I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”

Talk about damning with faint praise. In other words, Sununu was basically saying that he was applauding Powell’s inability to see past the color of his own eyelids.

Sununu is the same man who said that the president performed poorly in the first debate because “he’s lazy and disengaged.” He is also the same man who said of the president in July, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.”

Could Sununu be unaware that many would register such comments as coded racism? Or was that the intent?

To understand Sununu, it is important to understand his political history.

For starters, he is no stranger to racism controversies. When George H.W. Bush selected him as chief of staff in 1988, The New York Times reported:

“Mr. Sununu’s selection was shadowed by concern among some key Jewish leaders. The 49-year-old New Hampshire Governor, whose father is Lebanese and who takes pride in his Arab ancestry, was the only governor to refuse to sign a June 1987 statement denouncing a 1975 United Nations resolution that equated Zionism with racism.”

But that wasn’t his undoing. It was his actions. In 1991, Sununu became enmeshed in a scandal over using government planes for personal trips.

After the embarrassment of the incident, Bush ordered Sununu to clear all future flights in advance. What happened later you must read for yourself, and it is best stated by Time Magazine in a July 1, 1991, article:

“If Sununu hadn’t exactly been grounded, he had certainly been sent to his room. But Bush underestimated the depth of Sununu’s ethical obtuseness and his zeal at finding a way around the rules. Like a rebellious adolescent, Sununu sneaked down the stairs, grabbed the car keys and slipped out of the White House. After all, the old man had only said, ‘Don’t take the plane.’ He didn’t say anything about the car.”

The piece continued:

“Overcome by a sudden urge two weeks ago to buy rare stamps, Sununu ordered the driver of his government-paid limousine to drive him 225 miles to New York City. He spent the day — and nearly $5,000 — at an auction room at Christie’s. Then he dismissed the driver, who motored back to Washington with no passengers. Sununu returned on a private jet owned by Beneficial Corp.”

By the end of 1991, amid sagging poll numbers, Bush began to see Sununu as a drag and unceremoniously relieved him of his post. As The Times reported then, Sununu was made to plead for his job before he was pushed out anyway:

“Mr. Sununu and the White House portrayed the departure as voluntary. But it followed meetings in which Mr. Bush listened to Mr. Sununu’s arguments that he should stay on and then decided to follow the advice of top-level Republicans who urged the removal of his chief of staff.”

R. W. Apple Jr. wrote in The Times after the move that Bush’s “indirectly soliciting and then promptly accepting” Sununu’s resignation had made it abundantly clear what actually happened.

Sununu has apologized, somewhat, for his racial attack on Powell’s motives. But what should we make of all this?

We have a very racially divided electorate. As The Washington Post reported Thursday, “Obama has a deficit of 23 percentage points, trailing Republican Mitt Romney 60 percent to 37 percent among whites, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News national tracking poll.”

The report pointed out that nearly 80 percent of nonwhites support Obama, while 91 percent of Romney’s supporters are white.

I worry that Sununu’s statements intentionally go beyond recognizing racial disparities and seek to exploit them.

What does that say about Romney, and what does it say about his campaign’s tactics?

Remember: A man is known by the company he keeps.


Posted on on October 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Sen. Bernie Sanders gestures as he speaks at the California Democrats State Convention in Sacramento, Calif., April 30. (photo: AP)

Massachusetts Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren. (photo: Getty Images)

Reader Supported News


Sen. Bernie Sanders: Tax Dodgers on Wall Street Have No Shame.

By Sen. Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

25 October 12

en. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today said corporate leaders should look in the mirror before lecturing the American people on ways to tackle the deficit.

The senator’s comments came after the heads of more than 80 big companies issued a statement on deficit reduction. Sanders released a report detailing how many of the companies headed by the same CEOs have avoided taxes, sent American jobs overseas and took taxpayer bailouts. Click here for the full report.

“There really is no shame,” Sanders said. “The Wall Street leaders whose recklessness and illegal behavior caused this terrible recession are now lecturing the American people on the need for courage to deal with the nation’s finances and deficit crisis. Before telling us why we should cut Social Security, Medicare and other vitally important programs, these CEOs might want to take a hard look at their responsibility for causing the deficit and this terrible recession.

“Our Wall Street friends might also want to show some courage of their own by suggesting that the wealthiest people in this country, like them, start paying their fair share of taxes. They might work to end the outrageous corporate loopholes, tax havens and outsourcing provisions that their lobbyists have littered throughout the tax code – contributing greatly to our deficit,” Sanders added.

Many of the CEOs who signed the deficit-reduction letter run corporations that evaded, in total, at least $34.5 billion in taxes by setting up more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens since 2008. As a result, at least a dozen of the companies avoided paying any federal income taxes in recent years, and even received more than $6.4 billion in tax refunds from the IRS since 2008.

Several of the companies received a total taxpayer bailout of more than $2.5 trillion from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department.

Many of the companies also have outsourced hundreds of thousands of American jobs to China and other low wage countries, forcing their workers to rely on unemployment insurance and other federal benefits.

“In other words,” Sanders said, “these are some of the same people who have significantly caused the deficit to explode over the last four years.”

Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said the $16 trillion national debt is a serious issue. He has proposed specific ways to lower deficits. For details, click here.

A Progressive Deficit Reduction Plan

  1. Repeal all of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax breaks for the top two percent.  Repealing the 2001 and 2003 tax breaks for the top two percent would reduce the deficit by about $1 trillion over the next decade.  After President Clinton increased taxes on the top two percent, the economy added over 22 million jobs.  After President Bush reduced taxes for the rich, the economy lost over 600,000 private sector jobs.
  2. Create an emergency deficit-reduction surtax on millionaires. Enacting a 5.4 percent surtax on adjusted gross income of more than $1 million would raise over $383 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Tax Committee.  According to a February 2011 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 81 percent of the American people support the creation of a millionaires surtax to reduce the deficit.
  3. End tax breaks and subsidies for big oil, gas and coal companies. If we ended tax breaks and subsidies for big oil, gas, and coal companies, we could reduce the deficit by more than $113 billion over the next ten years.  The five largest oil companies in the United States have earned about $1 trillion in profits over the past decade.
  4. Establish a Wall Street speculation fee of 0.03 percent on the sale of credit default swaps, derivatives, stocks, options, and futures. Both the economic crisis and the deficit crisis are a direct result of the greed and recklessness on Wall Street.  Establishing a speculation fee would reduce gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the productive economy, and reduce the deficit by $350 billion over 10 years without harming average Americans.
  5. Eliminate tax breaks for companies shipping American jobs overseas. Today, the U.S. government is actually rewarding companies that move U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas through loopholes in the tax code known as deferral and foreign source income.  During the last decade, the U.S. lost about 30% of its manufacturing jobs and over 56,000 factories have been shut down.  If we eliminated these tax loopholes, the Joint Tax Committee has estimated that we could raise more than $582 billion in revenue over the next ten years.
  6. Prohibit abusive and illegal offshore tax shelters. Each and every year, the United States loses an estimated $100 billion in tax revenues due to offshore tax abuses by the wealthy and large corporations.  The situation has become so absurd that one five-story office building in the Cayman Islands is now the “home” to more than 18,000 corporations.  The wealthy and large corporations should not be allowed to avoid paying taxes by setting up tax shelters in Panama, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas or other tax haven countries.  Cracking down on offshore tax shelters could reduce the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next decade.
  7. Establish a currency manipulation fee on China and other countries. As almost everyone knows, China is manipulating its currency, giving it an unfair trade advantage over the United States and destroying decent paying manufacturing jobs in the process.  If we imposed a currency manipulation fee on China and other currency manipulators, the Economic Policy Institute has estimated that we could raise $500 billion over 10 years and create 1 million jobs in the process.
  8. Tax capital gains and dividends the same as work. Taxing capital gains and dividends the same way that we tax work would raise more than $730 billion over the next decade.  Warren Buffet has often said that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary.  The reason for this is that the wealthy obtain most of their income from capital gains and dividends, which is taxed at a much lower rate than work.  Right now, the top marginal income tax for working is 35%, but the tax rate on corporate dividends and capital gains is only 15%.
  9. Establish a Progressive Estate Tax. If we established a progressive estate tax on inherited wealth of more than $3.5 million, we could raise more than $300 billion over 10 years.  Sen. Sanders introduced the Responsible Estate Tax Act that would reduce the deficit in a fair way while ensuring that 99.7 percent of Americans who lose a loved one would never see a dime of their loved one’s estate paid in federal estate taxes.
  10. Reduce unnecessary and wasteful spending at the Pentagon, which now consumes over half of our discretionary budget. Much of the huge spending at the Pentagon is devoted to spending money on Cold War weapons programs to fight a Soviet Union that no longer exists.  Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Lawrence Korb, an Assistant Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan, have estimated that we could achieve significant savings of around $100 billion a year at the Pentagon while still ensuring that the United States has the strongest and most powerful military in the world.
  11. Require Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry. Requiring Medicare to negotiate drug prices, similarly to what the VA currently does, would save more than $157 billion over 10 years.
  12. Eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse within every federal government agency. Virtually everyone agrees that there is waste, fraud, and abuse in every agency of the federal government.  Rooting out this waste, fraud, and abuse could save between $150 billion and $200 billion over the next 10 years.


Elizabeth Warren on the Man Made Financial Crisis

By Charles Pierce, Esquire Magazine

25 October 12

ast weekend was a good one for Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate here in Massachusetts. She’d managed to crack open a slim, but noticable, lead over incumbent Scott Brown, who seemed bound and determined to demolish his own personal favorability rating and, as a result, had slipped some three to five points behind Warren, depending on which poll you read. Senator Al Franken came to a labor event in Worcester last Thursday to stump for Warren, and then she appeared with a number of other Democratic candidates, including congressional candidate Joe Kennedy, at the Laborer’s Hall in Hopkinton, which sits in the middle of a complex of playing fields and meeting halls that various unions tucked together behind the pines years ago as kind of a general headquarters.

In fact, it is the active involvement of organized labor, which was not there in 2010 when Brown upset Martha Coakley to take over the seat held for five decades by Edward Kennedy, that has,as we’ve seen in the course of following the race on The Politics Blog, energized Warren’s campaign in the last weeks before the election. Boston mayor Thomas Menino has swung a particularly heavy bat, both with his influence within the labor community, and with this own personal political operation as well. As we rode between the Laborer’s Hall and the next event on her campaign schedule Saturday afternoon, Warren talked about the events that first brought her to public prominence – the financial collapse of 2008, the Wall Street chicanery behind it, and the ongoing repercussions that are so much a part of her basic campaign message. Oh, and the former governor up here.

CHARLES P. PIERCE: How did we get back again to too big to fail? How did that happen?

ELIZABETH WARREN: I think it happened a couple of different ways. One of them was – and I think there was a miscalculation back in 2008, 2009 – a lot of people, at least I subscribed to it, a lot of people thought, Okay, we have 30 years of trying deregulation and to cut taxes and it has brought us to the biggest financial crisis since the great depression. So I thought what would happen over the next 50 years, we’d spend one year rewriting the financial rules and we’d be tough on the banks – as a country, we would be. And then the next 50 years, we’d concentrate on rebuilding America’s working families, creating opportunity and a better middle class, creating these opportunities for kids to rise out of poverty for all of our children to be included, because that’s what we do. I just truly believe that. I looked at that in 2008, 2009 and said, We tried the experiment…. Well, it just seemed so obvious to me! We had tried it, right? Coming out of the Great Depression to basically late ’70s, early 1980s, just almost every piece of legislation that passed through Congress was through the filter of: Does it strengthen the middle class? Does it create more opportunities for working families? And that was the litmus test. That switches in the early ’80s, when the Republican party says the role of government is to protect those who’ve already made it, let them keep more of the money, let them keep more power. And so we tried that for 30 years and ended up with an economy that almost ran over a cliff and crashed into the stone age.

So the deregulation starts. We start pulling the threads out of the regulatory fabric and we actually do it in two ways: one is to repeal certain regulation, Glass-Steagall is amended multiple times before it is finally repealed completely in 1999. As new financial products, as new innovations come along, there’s no regulation. So the regulatory fabric, you know, they just pull one thread out after another. And what happens? So there’s the savings and loan crisis at the end of the ’80s. They keep pulling the regulatory threads out, at the end of the ’90s, there’s long-term capital management, remember? Showed us that the whole world is stitched together economically. They keep pulling the regulatory threads out and then the next big crash is 2008.

This was not a natural disaster. The crash of 2008 was manmade. And that’s important because it has both halves in it. If we’re not careful, we create more problems,and it also means though it’s within our capacity to prevent this from happening. There were no financial crashes between the 1930s and the late 1980s until the deregulation started again. The relevance of this is what I think is so interesting about this: you know, there was a financial panic. They used to call it “panic,” roughly about every 15 years from the 1790s forward, and it was the insight in the 1930s that we can do better than this. We can put some basic rules of the market: transparency, a level playing field, which were the SEC rules; the FDIC, you know, to make it safe to put money in banks. And we bought 50 years of economic peace. But it’s always the case that the financial institutions, they’re always looking for the chink in the wall. They want everyone else to follow the rules, but, you know: Can they get one little advantage? Can they get one little exception?

(Warren became a national celebrity when she was called in to assess the damage, and to conduct oversight of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, aka TARP, aka The Really Big Bank Bailout. It was in that capacity that she first ran up against the nexus of financial and political power that had camouflaged the ongoing structural thievery of the financial-services economy.)

CPP: I just remember watching this thing on NBC’s evening news one night and the guy saying the entire United States financial system is on the brink, and I say, What?

EW: Yeah. Exactly.

CPP: But if what you’re saying is true, the crisis just exploded on the general public and then it was explained in gobbledygook.

EW: And then it was explained in gobbledygook, which is a way of saying: Be helpless. Leave it to a handful of insiders to solve the problem. We’ll take care of this, you know, and the rest of you relax. Just give us seven hundred billion dollars. But that was the point – that was the battle of whether it’s gonna be all about the experts and they’re going to go behind closed doors. I mean that metaphorically, but that’s really what was happening. How much crazy language and it makes no sense and it’s gobbledygook – that’s a way of telling everybody else: Be helpless.. And that means no accountability. Nobody’s accountable, you know? And then the metaphors, you know: This is like a big hurricane.

I was in Washington about 12 minutes before I figured out, Wait a minute, the financial rules will be rewritten following this crisis, so this is a chance, you know? The door is gonna open. I don’t know how wide or how long, but let’s get in. So, everybody’s talking about, in Washington, the top of the heap, the top of the pyramid, the top of the mountain, capital-reserve requirements for the nine largest financial institutions of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and I’m waiving my hands saying, But the market is broken at the family level, at the household level. Remember, this crisis started one lousy mortgage at a time. So if the so-called experts just go off and fix the top and don’t do anything about what’s happening in the consumer credit market, which had changed from a market where they looked at you and said, Well, you have a credit history, you’ve lived somewhere, I can afford to lend you this much money, you’re probably going to pay it back, to a market that was based – think about this, several of the largest financial institutions in this country had a profit model based on tricking their customers.

CPP: Would you have voted for the bailout if you were in the Senate?

EW: You know, without restrictions, no. So I’m going to put it this way: It was clear something had to be done. The part that I was just beside myself over was the lack of accountability. I mean accountability in every meaning of that word: how the money would be given out, whether or not the banks would be accountable for it. Go back and look at that first report, because that’s what that first report is about. I could not believe that, that the treasurer of the United States government was shoveling money out the door to the nine largest financial institutions on a no-questions-asked basis…. And in some ways it was worse than that, because it not only had no restrictions to speak of, it had no restrictions in the statute – it was a bait-and-switch. Do you remember what TARP stood for? It was to buy up mortgages – bad mortgages – and stabilize the system by buying those mortgages and riding them down. Remember how much of that happened? Pretty much nothing…. Not much was the answer, and it was much slower and much later. Instead, Paulson started pushing that money out the door to the financial institutions. So, first report, I would describe as: What’s going on here? The second report, I would describe as Paulson – as calling Paulson out for not making that clear. And then, third report: We had brought in our own economic team to look at this – the third report was showing how, by using the same terms for all nine of the big financial institutions, what they were really doing was bailing out the four in the most trouble, the one that was in the most trouble and then the next three or four and using the rest of them for camouflage for how bad the financial system was.

Now think about this. They all got it on the same terms. Why do you do that? It was to provide a bigger subsidy for the financial institutions that were in the most trouble and to provide camouflage so no one noticed. And that was our third report, and we raised holy hell.

(Not long before this particular afternoon, Warren had received the endorsement of Sheila Bair, the Republican who’d been chairman of the FDIC through the entire financial crisis. At one point, Bair, Warren, and Mary Schapiro, the chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission at the time, shared the cover of Time. Bair also had come to Massachusetts to campaign for Warren.)

EW: You’re gonna laugh. Adam was driving us, and, what was it you described it as, Adam? We were dishing on the other – we sat in the back seat, Shelia and I did, dishing on the other people in the financial system. But the thing is, it’s not just like we’re sitting around like a bunch of old people saying, Back in the day…. This is still going on. The financial system is still at risk and here’s what’s interesting: The ball hasn’t stopped rolling on financial reform. Watch what you wish for, right? So Dodd-Frank is this big complex bill, but, as you know, part of the goal is to bring these large financial institutions to heel, and the financial-services industry tries to roll that out, tries to create as many loopholes as it can. The Volcker rule as been much delayed and complicated and so on, but what it means it is it has kept open the question of what the new regulation’s look like.

Then, Dan Tarullo stepped out last week. Dan Tarullo is one of the governors of the Federal Reserve, and Turullo stepped out and said maybe we should consider capping the size of financial institutions, and he had a new way to do it, rather than doing it on deposits, which was the old way of doing it. He wanted to do it on liabilities, but Tarullo put back in play the idea of the break up of the big banks. That’s gonna cause a few hearts to skip a beat on Wall Street.

(Which is pretty much how she became a candidate, to try and control the uncontrollable and unaccountable forces of financial power. And, thus, she became a politician, and, by now, she’s a pretty good one. “Six weeks ago,” said an old political strategist at her Worcester event, “I wouldn’t have given her a chance. Now, I’d say she’s probably the favorite.” She’s also running so that nobody forgets how close we really came to losing it all.)

EW: I cannot believe that. The first time I saw the videotape of Mitt Romney saying, On the first day of his presidency…, I’m not kidding you, my mouth fell open. I thought, Wait a minute, this guy, four years after the greatest crash since the Great Depression, this guy is running for office? On embracing the rule that lead to the biggest financial crash since the Great Depression! Hello?

And that’s the thing that makes it so remarkable about what the Republicans are saying. They say they want to cut taxes and reduce regulation, right? Mitt Romney says on the very first day, what will he do? He will get rid of all the Dodd-Frank regulations, and that’s a way of saying that the Republican plan is to let the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful and somehow – that that will be America’s future and that’s their vision for America’s future. I just… I don’t know how we do anything other than get up and fight.

Charlie has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently “Idiot America.” He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.


Posted on on October 24th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The four debates between the two large US parties are over but then there are four parties that together could walk away with 5% of the vote and mess up the tables for the two big ones – to the point that they influence the results in some swing States. These little four have their own debate tonight in Chicago and the moderator is Larry King.

Previewing the third-party presidential candidates debate.

Posted by Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post, October 23, 2012 before the debate.


Third-party presidential candidates rail against Obama and Romney at debate (VIDEO)

Posted by Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post (THE FIX) on October 23, 2012after the debate.…

CHICAGO — Away from the bright lights and fanfare of the just-completed presidential debates, four third-party White House hopefuls debated Tuesday night, coming from starkly different political perspectives, but uniting in agreement that neither Mitt Romney nor President Obama can solve the nation’s biggest problems.

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A day after Obama and Romney debated for the final time, the long-shots took a turn. Here in a hotel ballroom just a block from Grant Park — where Obama delivered his victory speech in 2008 – they addressed many of the same issues the major party candidates have wrangled over — the economy, foreign policy, education — but also addressed matters, such as drugs, that have not been a focal points in the race between Obama and Romney.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, earned the loudest applause during the debate’s opening moments. He railed against the domestic and foreign policy proposals both major party candidates have put forth, and called for the legalization of marijuana.

“In no category is marijuana more dangerous than alcohol,” said Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico who also wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and do away with income and corporate taxes in favor of an expenditure tax.

Johnson also railed against the length of the war in Afghanistan. “I thought initially that was totally warranted,” he said, before adding that we should “have gotten out of Afghanistan 11 years ago.”

The former governor saved perhaps his most memorable line of the night for the end of the debate, when he declared, “Wasting your vote is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in. That’s wasting your vote. I’m asking everybody here, I’m asking everybody watching this nationwide to waste your vote on me.”

Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, a former Virginia congressman and hard-line anti-immigration candidate, proposed a moratorium on green card admissions into the United States until unemployment falls below five percent nationally. He earned only a smattering of cheers when he pitched his plan.

Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson rounded out the lineup on stage. Stein, who ran for governor of Massachusetts against Romney in 2002, called for free public higher education. “Let’s bail out the students,” she declared.

The candidates largely kept things cordial with each other during the debate, but there were disagreements from time to time. Goode was at odds with Johnson’s call to legalize marijuana. Stein and Anderson disagreed with Johnson and Goode on education spending.

The debate was moderated by former CNN host Larry King and presented by the nonpartisan Free and Equal Elections Foundation. Individuals submitted the questions via social media. The issues ranged from drugs, to the economy, foreign policy, and civil rights.

Absent here were the pre-game formalities that colored the much higher-profile debates between the president and his Republican challenger. There were no cable network countdown shows and no well-known pols reporting for surrogate duty. While the debate was streamed live online, the TV networks didn’t air it.

Time and again, the candidates expressed their dissatisfaction with both Romney and Obama. Goode blasted both Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget plan and Obama’s. Stein said neither candidate offered an acceptable way forward on the issues that matter.

“Things are not working and there is not a single exit strategy on the table being offered by Mitt Romney or Barack Obama,” Stein said in an interview before the debate.

At best, the four candidates who appeared together Tuesday are each expected to compete for single-digit percentage shares of the vote in the states where they will appear on the ballot. Not one has made a dent on the national radar akin to the success Texas billionaire Ross Perot found in 1992, when he carried nearly 20 percent of the popular vote. Goode, Johnson, and Stein each claimed one percent support in an early September Gallup poll of national adults.

But even if they only attract nominal enthusiasm, these longest of long-shots could become entangled in the race between Romney and Obama. Johnson will appear on the ballot in 48 states, including some key battlegrounds with independent streaks, where his blend of fiscal conservatism and distinctly libertarian social views could make him a compelling alternative for conservative voters not wedded to voting for Romney.

In Colorado, New Hampshire, and Nevada, in particular, Johnson could be a thorn in Romney’s side if the election is close. Johnson received just two percent support in a recent Suffolk University/News 7 survey of those likeliest to vote in New Hampshire. But the poll also showed Johnson hurt Romney more than Obama.

“Politics is full of ironies. Gary Johnson voters are predisposed to voting against the incumbent president, but Johnson’s presence on the New Hampshire presidential ballot is actually helping Obama,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

If Virginia is exceptionally close, Goode, despite attracting just two percent support in a mid-September Washington Post poll of Virginia voters, could be an also-ran to remember, causing some discomfort for Romney supporters. The state Republican Party tried to keep Goode out of the mix altogether earlier this year, alleging issues with the signatures he submitted to the state Board of Elections to get on the ballot.

Goode survived the scrutiny. Now, the former Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent congressman — who could benefit from residual name identification in the southern part of the state — threatens to steal support from Romney at the margins, potentially costing the Republican big in a tight race.

When asked before the debate about the possibility that he might play the role of spoiler, Goode said he was focused on policy matters. “I am focusing on issues. I want to balance the budget now. Romney and Obama do not,” he said.

The biggest question at the end of Tuesday night’s debate may have been who won. A spokesperson with the Free and Equal Elections Foundation said that viewers will have a chance to vote for their favorite candidate during the next 24 hours, and the top two vote-getters will debate once more this election season in Washington next Tuesday.



CHICAGO — President Obama squared off against Mitt Romney for the final time Monday night, but debate season in the presidential campaign isn’t quite over.

Four third-party candidates will take their turn here Tuesday night in a debate that should be filled with policy and political positions as different as can be from one another.

Constitution Party nominee US Congressman Virgil Goode – now Independent – previously Democrat then Republican – (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson will participate in a session moderated by former CNN host Larry King will moderate and hosted by the nonpartisan Free and Equal Elections Foundation.

None of the four candidates are strangers to politics. Johnson served two terms as governor of New Mexico and pursued the Republican presidential nomination in 2011 before opting for the Libertarian nod. Goode represented a central Virginia district in Congress as a Democrat, independent, and Republican. Anderson was the mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, while Stein ran against Romney in the 2002 Massachusetts governor’s race.

While each candidate has his or her share of loyal followers, polling shows they have barely registered a blip on the national radar. Goode, Johnson, and Stein each claimed one percent support in an early September Gallup poll of national adults. Johnson registered three percent support in an early September CNN/ORC survey of those likeliest to vote.

If the race between Obama and Romney is very close in some key swing states that have independent and libertarian streaks, Johnson’s presence on the ballot could affect the Obama-Romney matchup. In particular, Colorado, New Hampshire and Nevada are the battlegrounds where Johnson could prove a nuisance to his major party competition.

A survey of the Colorado race conducted last week by Democratic automated pollster Public Policy Polling showed Johnson pulling four percent support, while a recent Suffolk University survey showed the former New Mexico governor pulling 2 percent support in New Hampshire.

We’ll have a complete wrap of the debate — which begins at 9 p.m. ET – later tonight right here on The Fix.

You can also follow the debate in real time on Election 2012, where we’ll live blog it. We’ll also aim to bring you short dispatches throughout the day on Election 2012 and Twitter.


Posted on on August 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Obama-Ryan Battle Intensifies Over Medicare Savings – The partisan brawl over the program continued on Tuesday and threatened to become the focus of the presidential race.




Obama Rejoins Campaign Trail in Iowa and Finds a Brand-New Rival ThereRepresentative Paul D. Ryan spoke from a political soapbox as President Obama began a three-day bus tour through a swing state.


Ryan Has Kept Close Ties to Donors on the Right – In his running mate, Mitt Romney has found a link to major conservative and libertarian activists with deep pockets.


Ryan Meets Casino Mogul and Major G.O.P. Donor – Representative Paul D. Ryan traveled to Las Vegas to meet with Sheldon Adelson in what Mitt Romney’s camp called a “finance event.”



For Ryan and Obama, More Than the Usual Rivalry – While it is not uncommon for a presidential candidate to know his opponent’s No. 2 better, the history between President Obama and Paul Ryan sets up an especially intriguing showdown.


As Ryan Looks to Focus on Economy, Spotlight Shines on His Other Views – Many Democrats assailed Representative Paul D. Ryan’s stances on issues like abortion, gun control and women’s health.


Both Sides Focus on the Republican Ticket’s New FaceMitt Romney sought to capitalize on conservative enthusiasm for his vice-presidential choice without having to defend all of Representative Paul D. Ryan’s positions.




The Bold to Mitt’s Bland – What Paul Ryan can give Mitt Romney is a tutorial in political myth-making.




Let the Real Debate Begin – With Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket, Americans can have a much needed discussion about the size and role of the federal government.




Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan – Paul D. Ryan’s talk of shrinking Big Government and giving tax cuts to “job creators” will do nothing to reverse the nation’s economic decline and arrest its fiscal collapse.



Paul Ryan’s budget plan is very nice to Big Oil

By Richard W. Caperton and Daniel J. Weiss

Cross-posted from Climate Progress,  ———–


Posted on on May 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

One of the two last side events on the last Friday of  the second Informal-Informal reading of the draft to Rio 2012 (RIO+20) was about the place of Mother Nature as seen by indigenous cultures that still respect the holiness of the Earth and by intellectuals that are ready to stop a minute and contemplate about the superiority of earth oriented cultures.

Moderated by Lisinka Ulatowska, Coordinator, Major Group Cluster on the Commons, this side event discussed a number of initiatives to create commons-based economies, and how these can be expanded and built upon.

Mario Ruales, Advisor to the Ecuadorian Minister of Coordination of Heritage, highlighted the adoption of a new constitution in 2008, which recognized the rights of Mother Earth. He emphasized the role of natural and indigenous peoples to respect and protect the ecosystem, saying that the constitution has a lot of processes that would allow this to be pursued. He noted Ecuador’s call for a new development architecture, saying that this has been proposed for Rio+20.

Leon Siu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hawaiian Kingdom, outlined his work for reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i, saying that should this occur, many of the traditional practices for land management, agriculture and conservation of natural resources will return. He lamented the marginalization of the indigenous peoples, saying that reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i would rectify this problem.

Rob Wheeler, Global Ecovillage Network, outlined that the commons-based approach is one where the land and its resources are cooperatively owned, managed and shared among those living on the commons. He noted that ecovillages, which are based on such a model, are among the most sustainable communities in existence. He noted that many lessons on sustainability can be learnt from ecovillages, underscoring their ability to minimize waste, promote clean, renewable energy and ensure the sustainable consumption of natural resources.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates addressed the different financing systems that could be used for implementing a commons-based model. They also discussed referencing the rights of nature in the Rio+20 outcome document.

Ecuador is a member of the ALBA group of Latin and Caribbean Nations like Bolivia. Both countries were left with strong lodes of indigenous people and the governments attempt to speak for them. The Kingdom of Hawaii does still exist even though Hawaii has become a US State and thus does not recognize a King. Nevertheless, You can still see a functioning royal House on the main Hawaii Island.


As it happened, on the following day, Saturday May 5th, 2012, I had to be in Washington DC and made it also my business to go to visit the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian at 4th Street & Independence Avenue S,W. At the door I saw the announcement that the next weekend Saturday, May 12 – Sunday May 13, 2012, 10 am – 5:30 pm they will celebrate the BOLIVIAN SUMA QAMANA FESTIVAL – sponsored by the Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

“Discover Bolivia’s Magic, culture, Heritage, Joy of Living Well.”

The Museum doors are etched with sun symbols and open to the east to greet the rising sun as do many traditional Native houses. Native people honor the sun as a life-giver and calendar – instructing when to plant, harvest, conduct ceremonies. The American Indian is responding to Environmental Challenges and the Museum has established a special website for this –

At present the museum has two special exhibits. One is very appropriate to present American Indian culture as it evolved in the last 250 years – the interaction with horses and the way they viewed these large and friendly animals. The show is dedicated to “A SONG FOR THE HORSE NATION” and here this Nation are the horses themselves taken as if they were like humans.

The other show includes just one item and I stood there in state of shock. The title is HUICHOL ART ON WHEELS.” Its exhibition is planned from March 20 to May 6th 2012 – so let me say without any hesitation – good ridance before the Bolivian event next week.

Why am I quite angry at this exhibit covered with Huichol Art? Let me make sure that there should be no misunderstanding – it is not because of the Huichols. These are people from the West-Central Mexico who are known for their beadwork. Sometimes they take an object and cover it with colorful beads. The Huichol call themselves in their own language the Wixaritari people and I bought items from them years ago in a store they managed in Porto Vallarta, Jalisco.

The problem with this exhibition of one single item is that it is what they call – a VOCHOL – now that is a common Beetle Volkswagen that was completely covered in beads. Again – not that this car is bad looking – but why in this world in which the indigenous people do every possible effort to tell us that they understand the environment and suffer from climate change, and then bring into this interesting museum a common motor-vehicle that when operated uses gasoline?

WHY BEAD A BUG? asks the museum brochure and proceeds to answer:
The Vochol demonstrates the complex intersections of traditional and modern cultures. It serves as opportunity to bring attention to contemporary indigenous art while also highlighting Wixaritari culture and talent. The project is a collaboration between the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular, the Museo de Arte Popular, and the state governments of Nayarit and Jalisco, home to the Wixatari people. And let me add here that it must be also home of the assembly plants of Volkswagen Beetle in Mexico. Further – it must be friends of the US Oil industry and the US Auto Manufacturers that convinced that this big piece of art covering the auto-monster vehicle got into the American Indian Museum in order to soften our resistance to fossil fuels transportation – albeit by a reasonably small vehicle.

The Wixatari artist Francisco Bautista used 2,277,000 glass seed beads to cover this beetle, and he finished the work in 2010 according to the license plate attached to the car. Then, let me never forget what my friend Professor Jad Neeman from the Tel Aviv University told me when we went to see a particular exhibition of what looked to me as unused canvases – the main role of modern art is to make us angry so we are moved from our position of not caring. If that is what the exhibitors had in mind – so this was very great art, because it made me care very much – when I concluded that this did not belong into this particular museum.

In above context let me also write here what I found in the permanent exhibit on the 4-th floor – a stoty about another beetle:

This comes from the Cherokee Nation. They tell that “Long ago – all things existed above the sky, from horizon to horizon. The bird and animal people (you remember the horse people I mentioned earlier?) wondered about the water-covered world below and sent Water-Beetle to explore. He descended and returned with a small piece of mud that spread over the water.”

This obviously was another beetle – the one we like for itself.

Further, in a story from the Campo Indians North of San Diego. They ended up being the address where the San Diego garbage was sent for landfill that gave them the Golden Acorn Casino not far from the Mexico border. The local Amerindians did not agree but got it anyway.

The Environmentalists tell them that they show  who they are with appropriate ways of viewing their land as one of their greatest assets.

Their lands are being decimated under them, but the indigenous people make serious attempts to survive.

The IOWA say – Our Songs and Our Ceremonies Enable Us To Survive.

The Nahua state – Our Laws and way of thinking shall continue.

The Cherokees state simply – WE ARE STILL HERE!


Posted on on March 14th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The third update is of March 14, 2012 – and the game of strip-poker is still on! And we still work on it.

As per the Voice of America:

“The three top Republican presidential candidates are locked in a tight race, as results trickle in following primaries Tuesday in two southern U.S. states.

Exit polls and early results in Alabama and Mississippi show Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are in races too close to call.  

The results of the races in those two predominantly conservative states are important to each of the candidates.  

Romney is hoping for victories to propel him forward and prove he can win over very conservative and evangelical Christian Republicans, who have been drawn to his main rival, former U.S. senator Santorum.

Santorum wants to knock Gingrich out of the race to stand as the sole conservative challenger to Romney. 

Gingrich, a former U.S. House speaker, has focused his efforts on the southern vote and is hoping victory on Tuesday will make him the comeback favorite for the nomination.  Otherwise, he could face increased calls to drop out.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is far ahead of the others in the delegate count, winning nearly 40 percent of the 1,144 needed to secure the party’s nomination.  

A new
Washington Post-ABC News poll shows he leads U.S. President Barack Obama in a hypothetical election match-up (49 to 47 percent), while Santorum would be in a competitive race, three points behind (46 to 49 percent) Mr. Obama, if the election were held now. 

The other Republican candidate, U.S. Representative Ron Paul, has not won a nominating contest.  He has single digit support in Alabama and Mississippi.”


At midnight March 13-14, 2012 – it seems that – Rick Santorum has won Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary elections in the states of Alabama and Mississippi, solidifying his status as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, the leading candidate in the race.

Santorum narrowly won both staunchly conservative states, with Newt Gingrich finishing second and Romney coming in third.  The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania told supporters that his campaign was “about ordinary folks doing extraordinary things” and that he was “defying the odds” with their help.

He said it was time for conservatives “to pull together” so they can take on Democratic President Barack Obama in the November general election.

Gingrich had hoped to win in at least one of the two states to keep his candidacy viable.  But the ex-U.S. House speaker told supporters at a late-night rally that he will ignore calls to drop out of the race, describing himself as a “visionary” leader who can restore the country.

The twin losses were another blow in Romney’s efforts to win support from very conservative and religious Republicans who have so far backed Santorum.



Early exit polls in Mississippi made it look like Romney was primed for a breakthrough. He held an early lead with blue collar voters, tea party supporters and even evangelicals — the one group that has beguiled him more than any other.

Problem was, it was too good to be true.

Indeed, by the end of the night, reality set in, the numbers in Mississippi shifted, and Romney lost all three groups in both states.

Romney again relied heavily on non-evangelical voters, more moderate voters, wealthy voters and voters who just want someone who can beat President Obama — just as he has in every other state. It’s been good enough in most states; in the South, it’s just not.

And his track record there speaks volumes.

How consistent is Romney? He has taken between 26 percent and 30 percent of the vote in every Southern state dominated by conservative voters — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The thing is, while that consistency cost him on Tuesday, it’s likely to benefit him going forward. While the voting is just halfway done, Romney is almost done with his most troubling region, the South, and his most troubling contests, Midwestern caucuses.

Even in the remaining Southern states, things may get better; both Texas and Louisiana feature more concentrated urban populations (a Romney strong suit) than other Southern states, which should help him perform better. (Romney also performed well in Western Mississippi, which is a good omen for his campaign in the state’s neighbor-to-the-west, Louisiana, on March 24.)

Romney’s problems outside the South have been almost completely relegated to Midwestern caucus states with low turnout. In fact, the only primary Romney has lost outside of the South was in Missouri, which was a beauty contest in which Romney didn’t compete.


A Bloomberg National Poll of Republicans shows Romney with the support of 37 percent, compared with 27 percent for Santorum. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s backing is 13 percent while U.S. Representative Ron Paul draws 11 percent.

“He’s a businessman and has a better idea of how to run something,” said a Republican poll participant, 68, a clerical worker from Maumee, Ohio. “So many things about our country should be run more like a business, instead of just throwing money at everything.”
There are warning signs in the poll for Romney, should the former Massachusetts governor become his party’s presidential nominee. The extended primary season has driven his unfavorability rating up 10 points, to 48 percent, since September.

His past private equity work cuts both ways: it’s a credential that appeals to Republicans, while a slim majority — 52 percent — of all Americans – view his business practice as harmful to the economy, and 68 percent object to the favored tax rate applied to profits generated by the industry.

We conclude. that in the electorate at large, there is no excitement of business practices of candidate like Romney.
But from the Obama – Biden campaign headquarters we got:

“If the general election were held today, President Obama would lose to Mitt Romney — according to the latest poll fromWashington Post-ABC News.

Now, many other polls put the President on top, but all point to the same reality: We’re looking at a race that will be tighter than you think. And the other side has groups ready to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to tear down President Obama.

We cannot underestimate someone like Romney who has shown he will spend and say anything to win.”


This is an update of the January 29, 2012 article – this after results from Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Minsesota, and Colorado are in.

Santorum solidly defeated Romney in Minnesota and Missouri, and he narrowly edged the former Massachusetts governor in Colorado, according to state GOP officials.

The victories mark a sharp turnaround for Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, whose candidacy had been sputtering after he failed to capi­tal­ize on his narrow win in Iowa last month. Santorum’s wins across the Midwest Tuesday could bestow new legitimacy on his insurgent efforts and boost his fundraising in the critical period before next month’s major contests.

Santorum now appears to pose a more serious threat not only to Romney, but also to Gingrich, who had been positioning himself as the logical alternative to Romney.

Santorum staked his own claim on Tuesday. “Conservatism is alive and well,” he told supporters at his election night party in Missouri. “I don’t stand here and claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.”

For Romney, his poor showing Tuesday raised anew the question that has dogged his candidacy all along: Can the relatively moderate, former Massachusetts governor become an acceptable standard-bearer of a party that is increasingly dominated by evangelical conservatives and tea party activists who have long been skeptical of Romney?

After big wins in Florida and Nevada, Romney had hoped to extend his winning streak as he moved to strengthen his claim to the mantle of presumptive nominee. But in recent days, he was clearly bracing for losses on Tuesday.

Romney enjoyed strong establishment backing in Minnesota, with the vocal support of former governor Tim Pawlenty, yet he trailed not just Santorum but also Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), finishing a distant third.

Addressing supporters in Denver, Romney congratulated Santorum and insisted that he still expects to eventually become the nominee eventually.  Thus – two weeks after Florida – nothing was resolved and the poker game is on in a spit party where one way or another – the minority will be turned into the majority.


UPDATE 2 comes after non binding caucuses in Maine and a straw poll of the Conservative leadership – finalized Saturday February 11, 2012. These show Mitt Romney in front by a breeze.

Mr. Romney scraped by Mr. Paul by just 194 votes. But fewer than 6,000 votes were cast — about 2 percent of registered Republicans.

Mr. Paul was unbowed, and gave no indication that he would drop out.

“We’re not going away,” he told his supporters.

Although the vote had no substantive meaning in terms of delegates, losing it could have created a political headache for Mr. Romney, the former governor of nearby Massachusetts, and extended a negative storyline that had been building since last week when he lost Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri to Mr. Santorum.

Those losses suddenly increased the symbolic importance of Maine’s all-but-ignored caucuses, and an additional loss on Saturday in his own backyard would have magnified concerns that he cannot seal the deal with voters.

As it was, Mr. Romney also won the annual straw poll of activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday. He took 38 percent of the 3,408 votes cast, compared with 31 percent for Mr. Santorum, 15 percent for Mr. Gingrich and 12 percent for Mr. Paul of Texas, who won the last two years but did not attend this time.

Mr. Romney was among those who had ignored Maine, assuming he had it sewn up, until he arrived Friday night. In the face of tough questioning at a town-hall-style meeting in Portland and the evidence of strong organization by Mr. Paul, Mr. Romney decided to stay over Saturday and campaigned at caucus sites. His campaign added a last-minute jolt of radio and television advertisements.

Mr. Paul made a foray to the state last month and also visited caucus sites on Saturday.

It was not clear how much the late activity helped either candidate because many people had already voted in the rolling caucuses, which began on Jan. 29.

“Romney’s win shows that the pragmatists in the Maine Republican Party really came out in force,” said Sandy Maisel, a political scientist at Colby College in Waterville, Me.

“Remember, this is a state party that has elected Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to the Senate, over and over,” he said.

“While the Tea Party element is strong,” Dr. Maisel added, “those whose principal goal is beating President Obama came to the fore.”

Mr. Romney easily won the low-turnout caucuses four years ago, with Mr. Paul coming in third.

But this time around, Maine offered a rare opportunity for Mr. Paul, a libertarian, to plant his flag.

Although New England Republicans are generally more moderate than the party’s supporters elsewhere, the Maine members are fiercely independent, and the state has become a cauldron of activity for Tea Party supporters, fiscal conservatives and libertarians.

The honestly insignificant numbers of Republicans of Maine, joined by the straw-poll of Conservatives that once backed Santorum then moved to Gingrich – show that the eventual time that it will be a pasodoble  rather then a Texas Waltz is being slowly set in motion.

Maine Caucus Results for the 6000 that showed up to vote as per percentage of the hands up – is »

Romney 39.2%
Paul 35.7
Santorum 17.7
Gingrich 6.2
Others 1.1



Buoyed by 3 Victories, Santorum Campaign Sets Ambitious New Goals


Rick Santorum is setting sights on home-state challenges to Newt Gingrich in Georgia and Mitt Romney in Michigan after a trifecta of wins on Tuesday.

In Santorum’s Sweep, Sign of G.O.P. Unease With Romney


Rick Santorum’s defeat of Mitt Romney in three states could scramble the dynamics of the race.


Romney Faces Rebels on the Right and Softness in the Middle


The persistent competition with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich is forcing Mitt Romney to guard his right flank instead of directing his attention to President Obama.


The winner in South Carolina is clear – not by 8 votes or 34 but by a stretch of a mile!
Is this a final blow in the rotating front-runner-and-out  game? No, nobody thinks so at the present time. We may be even more confused after Florida we say.

Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to House Democrats at a retreat on the eastern shore of Maryland, took a sharp tone toward the GOP and said Republicans had a “fundamentally different” menu of priorities that the American public is starting to reject.

“I really do think we’re going to win back the House,” Biden said during the House Democrats’ three-day retreat. “I think we will win based purely on the merits of our positions.”

And it’s not just the merits of Democratic positions, either, Biden noted, but the stubborn intransigence of their opponents:

The vice president portrayed congressional Republicans as a stubborn crew unwilling to cooperate with Democrats in Washington to solve the nation’s problems. He called out several by name, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

He said the GOP is solely intent on obstructing action in order to ensure Obama’s defeat this fall.


three days before the Florida primary,  at a moment when Gingrich is badly in need of something to rekindle the momentum he gained in the wake of his South Carolina primary victory, former contender Herman Cain has publicly endorsed Newt Gingrich.

Since then, polls have shown that he is losing ground against former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the State of Florida, even as Gingrich has gained a lead in national surveys.

“I had it in my heart and mind a long time,” Cain said of his endorsement, appearing with Gingrich at a Republican fundraiser. “Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas.”

Gingrich joked, “I had no idea it would be this interesting an evening,” he said last night.

Cain is the latest in a series of popular conservative figures to back the former House speaker, while much of the GOP establishment is marshaling against him.
Among Gingrich’s other recent supporters are former Alaska governor Sarah Palin; his onetime presidential rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry; and former senator Fred Thompson (Tenn.)


Candy Crowley of CNN decided to interview this Sunday Ron Paul who just returned to his home in Clute Texas from two days of campaigning in Maine. He was a no show in Florida and preferred to have his organization handle this State for him. Ron Paul concentrates on Caucus States where he can fire up easier his local troops. He knows that in the Republican primary in Florida with Romney and Gingrich pitted against each other it will be the the upward mobile Latinos, that are impressed by success and steady family life, will go for Romney rather then Gingrich, but in the real elections in November it can be expected that the Latino vote will go for Obama – this because of issues like the Dream Act that Obama supports in order to help legalize the status of Latino immigrants that served in the army and served well their host country in which they are not allowed to become citizens. Ron Paul talks to the Occupy Wall Street crowd and hopes that some of this reaches also to the future voters in the primaries, and in the eventual election – the strategy seems to be about the long haul – not really about the immediate skirmish.


Mitt Romney may be the favorite of the Republican establishment, the Republican politicians, the great majority of the “1%” that funds the campaign, the media that belongs to that 1%, but when adding up the the votes that Newt + Rick + Ron get – Mitt is in the minority. The fact that the Conservatives and the remnants of he Tea alliance flock now to Newt, we think that there is a chance Florida will push out Rick and that after Florida, with only Ron Paul still in the running besides Mitt and Newt, the field will have narrowed to a battle that will then drag on so that the show on the road will last at least to April.

Carlos Gutierez who was the G.W. Bush Secretary of Commerce is campaigning for Mr. Romney among the Latinos of Florida, and Governor Rick Scott is worried that the skirmish among the Republicans may eventually weaken the party in the general elections.

Ron Paul says the Tea Party is an agglomeration of different people with different issues of discontent. He knows he has there a wedge that will stay with him.

Master gambler Sheldon Gary Adelson provided Newt Gingrich with $5 Million for South Carolina and wife Dr. Miriam with another $5 Million for Florida, so entering the post-Florida long haul there must be now a consolidation of the two major camps, with the only cloud hovering on the side – Ron Paul and his Libertarian friends. President Obama’s State of the Union speech was intended to make sure that the disenchanted young people that backed him in 2008 do not look sidewise to Ron Paul as the alternative for change.


Looking at the results so far Mr. Romney has obtained 25% in Iowa of those that bothered to vote in the Republican primaries, 39% in New Hampshire and 27% in South Carolina. That means that even in the most favorable State to his candidacy stil it was a total of 43% – thus more then his 39% – went to the other three members of the present quartet – with Ron Paul getting 23% and the other two 10% each. Assuming that Ron Paul manages to hang on to a 20% of the vote – what is left is a very heated contest between Messrs. Romney and Gingrich and the possibility that none of the above will reach a clear majority before going to the convention.


Posted on on February 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Gingrich Patron Could Have a Plan B: Romney.

By  and 
Published THE NEW YORK TIMES ONLINE: February 4, 2012.

LAS VEGAS — Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino executive keeping Newt Gingrich’s presidential hopes alive, has relayed assurances to Mitt Romney that he will provide even more generous support to his candidacy if he becomes the Republican nominee, several associates said in interviews here.

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have given $10 million to a “super PAC” that supports Newt Gingrich.

Party Contributions: A Balance Sheet


Romney Scores Nevada Victory With Broad G.O.P. Support(February 5, 2012)

In Las Vegas, Making Sure the Caucuses Accommodate (February 4, 2012)

The Man Behind Gingrich’s Money (January 29, 2012)


The signals from Mr. Adelson, whose politics are shaped in large part by his support for Israel, reflect what the associates said was his deep investment in defeating  President Obama and his willingness to play a more prominent role in the Republican Party and conservative causes.

The assurances have been conveyed in response to a highly delicate campaign by Mr. Romney and his top Jewish financial supporters to dissuade Mr. Adelson from adding to the $10 million that he and his wife have given to a pro-Gingrich “super PAC,” Winning Our Future, that has been tearing into Mr. Romney through television advertising.

Several people who have spoken with Mr. Adelson over the past two weeks said he would most likely continue to help the group as long as Mr. Gingrich remained in the race. But, they said, he is concerned that additional deep-pocketed donors have not joined him. And, they said, his affection for and loyalty to Mr. Gingrich, who met with him here on Friday, have not blinded him to the reality that the nominating contest is tilting in Mr. Romney’s favor.

“Sheldon is committed to keeping him in the race as long as he wants to stay in,” said Fred Zeidman, a top fund-raiser for Mr. Romney and a longtime friend of Mr. Adelson. “But any time that Newt decides to get out of the race, he would devote his energy and money to the overriding issue, which is beating Barack Obama.”

Underscoring Mr. Adelson’s devotion to that larger cause, he was among the conservative political financiers on hand last weekend for the twice-yearly gathering of the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch near Palm Springs, Calif., where the Kochs and their like-minded colleagues discussed their efforts to ensure Mr. Obama’s defeat.

Mr. Adelson, who has long been a behind-the-scenes financier to Republican candidates, is said to be comfortable with a more visible role in the 2012 election. His decision to back the pro-Gingrich group has significantly raised his profile, but friends say he does not want his aid to Mr. Gingrich to be interpreted as anti-Romney.

The Winning Our Future super PAC has mostly run vitriolic television commercials questioning Mr. Romney’s character.

“He saw a friend who needed and wanted help,” said an associate who talks to Mr. Adelson regularly, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid upsetting him. “I don’t think it’s likely that he’s going to fund Newt’s death march to Tampa,” the site of the Republican National Convention, “but if there is a realistic perception that he can help make his candidacy viable, he will.”

Mr. Adelson declined to be interviewed.

His role is especially pronounced in Las Vegas, where his opulent and highly successful Venetian and Palazzo casinos dot the busy skyline.

His connection with Mr. Gingrich goes back years, built on a shared passion for protecting Israel. But associates of Mr. Adelson said that he was concerned about the Obama agenda more broadly and that his support for Mr. Gingrich’s candidacy was rooted in a belief that his lofty ideas and forceful approach were right for the challenging times.

Mr. Gingrich, whose campaign treasury is severely depleted, is being advised by his inner circle to spend the weeks leading up to Super Tuesday on March 6 resting up, getting Mr. Romney’s attacks out of his head and recalibrating his campaign message to highlight his positive ideas.

But his aides acknowledge that Mr. Adelson’s support will be critical to his ability to seriously challenge Mr. Romney, who appeared to be in a strong position for contests in several states this month.

Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Adelson met on Friday afternoon in the Bellini Ballroom of the Venetian Hotel as part of a “Friends of Newt” meeting. Mr. Gingrich and his wife, Callista, stayed four nights at the hotel, which Mr. Adelson owns, but aides said the two men had met only once among a small group of donors and had not discussed the super PAC.

In a brief interview after the meeting, Mr. Gingrich said Mr. Adelson had been vital in giving Winning Our Future the wherewithal to counter the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, which had relentlessly attacked him in Iowa.

“He’s been a partial match for the Romney super PAC,” Mr. Gingrich said. “That’s important because, otherwise, the Romney super PAC would have driven us off the field.”

When asked if his candidacy could proceed without additional support from Mr. Adelson, Mr. Gingrich did not answer, crossing beneath the bright fresco ceilings into the private dining room of Postrio, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, where a small group of donors and friends awaited, along with servers pouring red wine.

Fully cognizant that Mr. Adelson is an important factor in determining when Mr. Romney can turn his focus away from Mr. Gingrich and more fully toward Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney and his top financial advisers have been pursuing a careful strategy of outreach to Mr. Adelson.

The effort included a telephone conversation, initiated by Mr. Romney, about two weeks ago, according to three people who were briefed about it and who would discuss it only on the condition of anonymity. They described it as cordial, with Mr. Adelson even sharing some advice about his campaign message.

It was the first time the two men had spoken to each other in about four months. Mr. Romney’s campaign had no formal comment, though a senior aide said they shared a “mutual respect for each other.”

There are significant links between the Romney campaign and Mr. Adelson, particularly through several top-level donors who raise money for Mr. Romney and sit with Mr. Adelson on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition, created in 1985 as a way to foster closer ties between the American Jewish community and Republican leaders.

The Romney donors have sought to convey a carefully balanced message to Mr. Adelson, people aware of the discussions said. They warned that continued support for Mr. Gingrich could help Mr. Obama by leaving Republicans wounded and divided but made it clear that Mr. Romney would welcome Mr. Adelson’s backing. They also avoided angering Mr. Adelson in a way that might lead him to give more money to Mr. Gingrich out of pique. He is cantankerous, his friends say, and inclined to make his own decisions without relying on conventional wisdom or guidance from political advisers.

Those who are said to have reached out are also described by fellow Republican financiers as being as loyal to Mr. Adelson as they are to Mr. Romney (if not in some cases even more so).

People involved in some of the discussions said Mr. Adelson generally expressed his affection for Mr. Gingrich in explaining his support. But it has been in some of those interactions that Mr. Adelson has made it clear that he will be generous to the broad presidential effort in the fall if Mr. Romney is the nominee. Associates say the message has been conveyed that for a man of Mr. Adelson’s wealth, $10 million is a relative pittance and that he is willing to budget much more.

Four years ago, Mr. Adelson supported Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presidential bid, but he and Mr. Romney have been friendly for years. Mr. Romney showed up here at Mr. Adelson’s side in one of his first 2011 campaign appearances, during a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

A friend of Mr. Romney’s, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Romney did not begrudge Mr. Adelson’s initial $5 million donation to the pro-Gingrich group, given Mr. Adelson’s known loyalty. But Mr. Romney was said to have been deeply stung by a second $5 million donation, from Mr. Adelson’s wife, Miriam. And the group’s harsh attacks against Mr. Romney were said to have upset Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, though his aides said she was inured to them.

Yet for all of the tension, people close to Mr. Adelson predicted that all would be forgotten if Mr. Romney was the nominee, given that, in the words of one close associate, “he will do whatever it takes to beat Obama in the fall.”


Romney Scores Nevada Victory With Broad G.O.P. Support.

Josh Haner/The New York Times

Mitt Romney celebrated his victory in Las Vegas on Saturday. More Photos »

By  and 
Published – THE NEW YORK TIMES ON LINE: February 4, 2012.
IN PRINT – February 5, 2012

LAS VEGAS — Mitt Romney handily won the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, solidifying his status as the front-runner and increasing his momentum as he seeks to use the month of February to ease doubts within the Republican Party about his candidacy and begin confronting President Obama.

Nevada Caucus Results »

Romney 42.6%
Gingrich 26.0
Paul 18.4
Santorum 13.0
Others 0.0
6:10 AM45% reporting

Caucusgoers lined up at Liberty High School in Henderson, Nev., as Republicans cast ballots in the first vote in the West. More Photos »

Mr. Romney ran well ahead of his three opponents on a night that delivered his second decisive first-place finish in four days, following his victory in the Florida primary on Tuesday.

He appeared elated as he took the stage at his election headquarters at the Red Rock Casino hotel here, kissing his wife, Ann, who reminded the crowd that Nevada would be important in the general election, and hugging his sons before delivering a speech geared toward the fall.

“This is not the first time you’ve given me your vote of confidence, and this time I’m going to take it to the White House,” he said as the crowd chanted his name. And he delivered a harsh critique of Mr. Obama: “This week he’s been trying to take a bow for 8.3 percent unemployment. Not so fast, Mr. President.”

Nevada offers only a sliver of the delegates needed to win the Republican nomination, making it more of a symbolic triumph than a practical one. But it gave Mr. Romney an important opportunity to make a more assertive case that the party is finally coming together behind him.

It also gave him an advantage in his attempt to dispatch his chief Republican rival, Newt Gingrich, through the contests this week in Colorado, Minnesota and Maine.

The Romney victory further deflated the once-vital challenge posed by Mr. Gingrich, girding for a rough few weeks of political weather during which Mr. Romney is expected to do well. But Mr. Gingrich, who remained defiant on Saturday, hopes to revive his chances with stronger showings in the 11 states that vote on March 6, “Super Tuesday.”

Far from competing with Mr. Romney here in Nevada on Saturday, results showed that Mr. Gingrich was vying to place a distant second to Mr. Romney against Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

Mr. Gingrich was once again in the position of vowing to carry on in the face of questions about his viability. He took his second straight defeat to Mr. Romney as an opportunity to hold a press briefing to outline his strategy for continuing on to the Republican convention in Tampa this summer.

The election night imagery was striking: Mr. Romney was surrounded by cheering supporters holding signs that said “Nevada Believes.” Mr. Gingrich used his first television appearance of the night to speak to a ballroom of reporters, without applause or signs, standing before a simple backdrop as he outlined his strategy.

“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” Mr. Gingrich said emphatically. “I will be a candidate of the president of the United States. I will go to Tampa.”

He went on to present an unusually detailed discussion of the campaign process that is rarely heard from a candidate on an election night.

He said he expected to catch up with Mr. Romney in the delegate race by the time of the Texas primary on April 3, promising that “the contrast between Governor Romney and me is going to get wider and wider and clearer and clearer.”

Aides said that he had spent the past four days hunkered down in the sprawling complex of the Venetian and Palazzo casinos — owned by his supporter Sheldon Adelson — planning his new way forward. He has settled on what one of them described as a “definitional campaign” to disqualify Mr. Romney in the eyes of Republican voters in the coming weeks.

The Nevada Republican Party disclosed the results slowly on Saturday, with a patchwork of votes coming in from across the state. But Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas and includes half of the electorate, did not disclose its results until after a handful of evening caucuses that were held to allow observant Jews to participate.

Nevada is considered almost home turf for Mr. Romney, who is Mormon. Roughly one-quarter of Republican caucusgoers were Mormon, according to entrance polls, and the state shares a border with Utah, where Mr. Romney won credit for saving the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics. But Nevada’s results may say little about the political terrain nationally, since far fewer caucusgoers appeared to have turned out than the number of Republicans who did so at the Iowa caucuses last month.

Mr. Romney was hoping that a strong victory in Nevada, four days after a commanding finish in the Florida primary, would strengthen his hand among Republicans who remain skeptical of his candidacy and his conservative foundation.

And there were some encouraging signs for him in polls of Nevadans entering caucus sites on Saturday, conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool of television networks and The Associated Press.

He won with a broad coalition of voters that included groups that he has struggled with in previous contests, including very conservative voters, strong Tea Partysupporters and evangelical Christians.

The state has the largest share of voters who call themselves strong Tea Party supporters of any of the states that have participated in the Republican nominating contest so far. These voters are considered a vital part of Mr. Gingrich’s coalition, yet Mr. Romney won a higher percentage of them than did Mr. Gingrich, according to the entrance poll.

More than 4 in 10 of the caucusgoers surveyed on Saturday said the quality that mattered most to them in a candidate was his ability to beat Mr. Obama in the fall; nearly three-quarters of those voters said they backed Mr. Romney.

The top issue on the minds of caucusgoers on Saturday was the economy, and 6 in 10 of those who listed it as their leading concern voted for Mr. Romney, potentially bolstering him in his argument that his experience as a businessman makes him the best candidate to improve the employment rate quickly. He was supported by almost half of those who said the federal deficit was their biggest concern. Mr. Paul was supported by a quarter of them. (Mr. Gingrich drew support from a fifth of those voters.)

Mr. Paul began building his organization in Nevada early. But he made it clear on Saturday that he was more focused on drawing attention to the issues of limited government, limited deficits and a restrained military than on winning.

Before there was any indication on Saturday of how he would fare in the race for second place, he addressed a boisterous crowd of supporters in Minnesota, which holds its contest on Tuesday, with a trademark speech. “Something pretty big is happening in this country,” he said, portraying the support he did win in Nevada as a vote for “less government, less war and a free market economy.”

Like Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Paul has said he intends to keep competing through the entire Republican nominating process in an effort to acquire delegates — awarded in more than half the states on a basis that is generally proportional to the share of the vote each candidate wins — and to have a voice at the convention.

Mr. Paul has largely shied away from directly criticizing Mr. Romney, and his aides have indicated that his continued campaign is far less bothersome to them than Mr. Gingrich’s.

With Mr. Romney heading into much friendlier political territory over the next month, a big question hanging over the campaigns is whether Mr. Gingrich will be able to revive his chances.

Mr. Gingrich was pinning his hopes on strong showings in the later contests, including in his home state of Georgia. But history has shown that it hard to recover from a series of losses.

Yet Mr. Romney, for all of his momentum, may be unable to swiftly lock down the nomination, given that he needs to win 1,144 delegates; even after Saturday he had yet to get one-tenth of the way there.

The next phase of the Republican nominating fight presents Mr. Romney an opportunity to test his message in several states that will be pivotal battlegrounds in the general election. He is poised to expand upon his economic proposals in the coming weeks, aides said, as the contest rolls through Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Arizona, all of which Mr. Obama is trying to win.

The most disappointing showing on Saturday went to former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who was in fourth place and has failed to show much electoral strength in recent weeks.


Reporting was contributed by Ashley Parker in Las Vegas, and Marjorie Connelly, David R. Jones, Allison Kopicki and Dalia Sussman in New York.


The Bottom Line: Gingrich + Santorum + Ron Paul hold the Majority. If Santorum decides to leave the fight in favor of Newt Gingrich the continuing fight is even between Gingrich and Romney with Ron Paul in the king-maker’s position by May 2012.


Posted on on February 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

THIS LAND – that means the USA.

In Fuel Oil Country, Cold That Cuts to the Heart.

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

A man’s plea to an oil dealer for help heating his home in Dixfield, Me., led to some agonizing. More Photos »

Published THE NEW YORK TIMES ONLINE: February 3, 2012
Struggling for Warmth
Follow@NYTNational for breaking news and headlines.

With the darkening approach of another ice-hard Saturday night in western Maine, the man on the telephone was pleading for help, again. His tank was nearly dry, and he and his disabled wife needed precious heating oil to keep warm. Could Ike help out? Again?

Ike Libby, the co-owner of a small oil company called Hometown Energy, ached for his customer, Robert Hartford. He knew what winter in Maine meant, especially for a retired couple living in a wood-frame house built in the 19th century. But he also knew that the Hartfords already owed him more than $700 for two earlier deliveries.

The oil man said he was very sorry. The customer said he understood. And each was left to grapple with a matter so mundane in Maine, and so vital: the need for heat. For the rest of the weekend, Mr. Libby agonized over his decision, while Mr. Hartford warmed his house with the heat from his electric stove’s four burners.

“You get off the phone thinking, ‘Are these people going to be found frozen?’ ” Mr. Libby said. No wonder, he said, that he is prescribed medication for stress and “happy pills” for equilibrium.

Two days later, Mr. Libby told his two office workers about his decision. Diane Carlton works the front desk while her daughter-in-law, Janis, handles accounts. But they share the job of worrying about Ike, whose heart, they say, is too big for his bantam size and, maybe, this business.

The Hartford case “ate him,” Janice Carlton recalled. “It just ate him.”

Mr. Libby drove off to make deliveries in his oil truck, a rolling receptacle of crumpled coffee cups and cigarette packs. Diane Carlton, the office’s mother hen, went home early. This meant that Janis Carlton was alone when their customer, Mr. Hartford, stepped in from the cold. He had something in his hand: the title to his 16-year-old Lincoln Town Car.

Would Hometown Energy take the title as collateral for some heating oil? Please?

Maine is in the midst of its Republican presidential caucus, the state’s wintry moment in the battle for the country’s future. But at this time of year, almost nothing matters here as much as basic heat.

While federal officials try to wean the country from messy and expensive heating oil, Maine remains addicted. The housing stock is old, most communities are rural, and many residents cannot afford to switch to a cleaner heat source. So the tankers pull into, say, the Portland port, the trucks load up, and the likes of Ike Libby sidle up to house after house to fill oil tanks.

This winter has been especially austere. As part of the drive to cut spending, the Obama administration and Congress have trimmed the energy-assistance program that helps the poor — 65,000 households in Maine alone — to pay their heating bills. Eligibility is harder now, and the average amount given here is $483, down from $804 last year, all at a time when the price of oil has risen more than 40 cents in a year, to $3.71 a gallon.

As a result, Community Concepts, a community-action program serving western Maine, receives dozens of calls a day from people seeking warmth. But Dana Stevens, its director of energy and housing, says that he has distributed so much of the money reserved for emergencies that he fears running out. This means that sometimes the agency’s hot line purposely goes unanswered.

So Mainers try to make do. They warm up in idling cars, then dash inside and dive under the covers. They pour a few gallons of kerosene into their oil tank and hope it lasts. And they count on others. Maybe their pastor. Maybe the delivery man. Maybe, even, a total stranger.

Hometown Energy has five trucks and seven employees, and is run out of an old house next to the Ellis variety store and diner. Oil perfumes the place, thanks to the petroleum-stained truckers and mechanics clomping through. Janis Carlton, 35, tracks accounts in the back, while Diane Carlton, 64, works in the front, where, every now and then, she finds herself comforting walk-ins who fear the cold so much that they cry.

Their boss, Mr. Libby, 53, has rough hands and oil-stained dungarees. He has been delivering oil for most of his adult life — throwing the heavy hose over his shoulder, shoving the silver nozzle into the tank and listening for the whistle that blows when oil replaces air.

Eight years ago, he and another Dixfield local, Gene Ellis, who owns that variety store next door, created Hometown Energy, a company whose logo features a painting of a church-and-hillside scene from just down the road. They thought that with Ike’s oil sense and Gene’s business sense, they’d make money. But Mr. Libby says now that he’d sell the company in a heartbeat.

“You know what my dream is?” Mr. Libby asked. “To be a greeter at Walmart.”

This is because he sells heat — not lumber, or paper, or pastries — and around here, more than a few come too close to not having enough. Sure, some abuse the heating-assistance program, he says, but many others live in dire need, including people he has known all his life.

So Mr. Libby does what he can. Unlike many oil companies, he makes small deliveries and waves off most service fees. He sets up elaborate payment plans, hoping that obligations don’t melt away with the spring thaw. He accepts postdated checks. And he takes his medication.

When the customer named Robert Hartford called on the after-hours line that Saturday afternoon, asking for another delivery, Mr. Libby struggled to do what was right. He cannot bear the thought of people wanting for warmth, but his tendency to cut people a break is one reason Hometown Energy isn’t making much money, as his understanding partner keeps gently pointing out.

“I do have a heart,” Mr. Libby said. But he was already “on the hook” for the two earlier deliveries he had made to the couple’s home. What’s more, he didn’t know even know the Hartfords.

Robert and Wilma Hartford settled into the porous old house, just outside of Dixfield, a few months ago, in what was the latest of many moves in their 37-year marriage. Mr. Hartford was once a stonemason who traveled from the Pacific Northwest to New England, plying his trade.

Those wandering days are gone. Mr. Hartford, 68, has a bad shoulder, Mrs. Hartford, 71, needs a wheelchair, and the two survive on $1,200 a month (“Poverty,” Mrs. Hartford says). So far this year they have received $360 in heating assistance, he said, about a quarter of last year’s allocation.

Mr. Hartford said he used what extra money they had to repair broken pipes, install a cellar door, and seal various cracks with Styrofoam spray that he bought at Walmart. That wasn’t enough to block the cold, of course, and the two oil deliveries carried them only into early January.

There was no oil to burn, so the cold took up residence, beside the dog and the four cats, under the velvet painting of Jesus. The couple had no choice but to run up their electric bill. They turned on the Whirlpool stove’s burners and circulated the heat with a small fan. They ran the dryer’s hose back into the basement to keep pipes from freezing, even when there were no clothes to dry.

And, just about every day, Mr. Hartford drove to a gas station and filled up a five-gallon plastic container with $20 of kerosene. “It was the only way we had,” he said. Finally, seeing no other option, Mr. Hartford made the hard telephone call to Hometown Energy. Panic lurked behind his every word, and every word wounded the oil man on the other end.

“I had a hard time saying no,” Mr. Libby said. “But I had to say no.”

When Mr. Hartford heard that no, he also heard regret. “You could tell in his voice,” he said.

Two days later, Mr. Hartford drove up to Hometown Energy’s small office in his weathered gray Lincoln, walked inside, and made his desperate offer: The title to his car for some oil.

His offer stunned Janis Carlton, the only employee present. But she remembered that someone had offered, quietly, to donate 50 gallons of heating oil if an emergency case walked through the door. She called that person and explained the situation.

Her mother-in-law and office mate, Diane Carlton, answered without hesitation. Deliver the oil and I’ll pay for it, she said, which is one of the ways that Mainers make do in winter.



Romney, the Rich and the Rest

Published – The New York Times online: February 3, 2012.

After all, Mitt Romney is the same multimillionaire who joked that he was “unemployed” while he was “earning” more in one day than most Americans earn in a year and paying a lower rate on those earnings than most Americans do.

This is the same man who bragged last month that he liked to fire people at a time when nearly 13 million people are out of work and who accepted the endorsement this week of Donald Trump, who has made “You’re Fired!” his television catchphrase.

This is the same man who in November claimed that federal employees are making “a lot more money than we are.” What?! We? What we? Please direct me to the federal employees with the $20 million paychecks. In fact, The Washington Post pointed out in November that federal employees on average “are underpaid by 26.3 percent when compared with similar nonfederal jobs, a ‘pay gap’ that increased by about 2 percentage points over the last year while federal salary rates were frozen.”

And who could forget his remark that “corporations are people.” Classic.

But this week when Romney said that he wasn’t concerned about the very poor in this country, he jumped in the pickle barrel and went over the waterfall.

First, his statement:

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich. They’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America — the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

Romney went on to say that his campaign was focused on “middle-income Americans” and that “we have a very ample safety net” for the poor.

He later tried to clarify, saying that his comments needed context. Then he said that the comments were a “misstatement” and that he had “misspoke.” Yeah, right.

Where to begin?

First, a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities last month pointed out that Romney’s budget proposals would take a chainsaw to that safety net. The report points out that cuts proposed by Romney would be even more draconian than a plan from Representative Paul Ryan: “Governor Romney’s budget proposals would require far deeper cuts in nondefense programs than the House-passed budget resolution authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan: $94 billion to $219 billion deeper in 2016 and $303 billion to $819 billion deeper in 2021.”

What does this mean for specific programs? Let’s take the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, since “food stamps” have been such a talking point in the Republican debates. The report says the Romney plan “would throw 10 million low-income people off the benefit rolls, cut benefits by thousands of dollars a year, or some combination of the two.  These cuts would primarily affect very-low-income families with children, seniors and people with disabilities.”

Does that sound like a man trying to “fix” our social safety nets? Absolutely not. Romney is so far up the beanstalk that he can no longer see the ground.

Then let’s take the fact that a report last month by the Tax Policy Center found that his tax plan would increase after-tax income for millionaires by 14.5 percent while increasing the after-tax income of those making less than $20,000 by less than 1 percent and of those making between $30,000 and $40,000 by less than 3 percent.

For a man who’s not worried about the rich, he sure seems to want them to rake in more cash.

This has nothing to do with context. This has everything to do with a caviar candidate’s inability to relate to a chicken-soup citizenry.

Then there is the “ample safety net” nonsense. No one who has ever been on the low end of the income spectrum believes this, not even Republicans. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October, even most Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who make less than $30,000 a year, which accounts for about a quarter of all Republicans, say that the government doesn’t do enough to help the poor. Only a man who has never felt the sting of poverty or seen its ravages would say such a thing.

But perhaps the most pernicious part of his statement was the underestimating of the rich and poor and the elasticized expansion of the term “middle income” or middle class. Romney suggests that 95 percent of Americans are in this group. Not true.

According to the Census Bureau, the official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent.

And that’s the income poor. It doesn’t even count the “asset poor.” A report issued this week by the Corporation for Enterprise Development found that 27 percent of U.S. households live in “asset poverty.” According to the report, “These families do not have the savings or other assets to cover basic expenses (equivalent to what could be purchased with a poverty level income) for three months if a layoff or other emergency leads to loss of income.”

On the other hand, the definition of “rich” is more nebulous. However, according to a December Gallup report, Americans set the rich threshold at $150,000 in annual income. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau 8.4 percent of households had an income of $150,000 are more in 2010.

So at the very least, nearly a fourth of all Americans are either poor or rich.

That would leave about three-fourths somewhere in the middle, but not all middle class. Tricking the poor to believe they’re in it, and allowing the wealthy to hide in it, is one of the great modern political deceptions and how we’ve arrived at our current predicament.

According to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last month, nearly a fifth of families making less than $15,000 said that they were middle class and nearly two-fifths of those making more than $100,000 said that they were middle class.

Romney is not only cold and clumsy, he’s disastrously out of touch, and when talking about real people, out of sorts. If only he had a heart, and if only that heart was connected to his brain.


Posted on on January 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

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GOP Ticket 2012: Romney-Rubio

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog

03 January 12

ince my New Year’s prediction that Obama would select Hillary Clinton for his running mate in 2012 (and Joe Biden would become Secretary of State), I’ve been swamped by requests for my GOP prediction. Here goes.

You can forget the caucuses and early primaries. Mitt Romney will be the nominee. Republicans may be stupid but the GOP isn’t about to commit suicide. The other candidates are all weighed down by enough baggage to keep a 747 on the tarmac indefinitely.

For his running mate, Romney will choose Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida. Why do I say this?

First, Romney will need a right-winger to calm and woo the Republican right. Tea Partiers are attracted to Rubio – an evangelical Christian committed to reducing taxes and shrinking government. Rubio’s meteoric rise in the Florida House before coming to Congress was based on a string of conservative stances on state issues.

Rubio is also a proven campaigner, handily winning four House elections starting in 2002, and then beating popular incumbent Republican governor Charlie Crist in the 2010 Republican primary – with the help of Tea Partiers.

Moreover, he’s only 40, thereby giving the GOP ticket some youthful vigor.

And he’s Hispanic – a Cuban-American – at a time when the GOP needs to court the Hispanic vote.

Rubio’s only baggage is the “son of exiles” controversy – his suggestion that his parents were refugees forced out of Cuba by Castro when in fact they moved to the United States before the Cuban revolution.

But this isn’t the sort of slip that would keep him off the ticket. In fact, Romney has defended Rubio, saying “I think the world of Marco Rubio, support him entirely and think that the effort to try to smear him was unfortunate and bogus.”

Finally, and most critically, Florida is a crucial swing state. Rubio would help deliver it.

So it will be Obama-Clinton versus Romney-Rubio.

And what’s my prediction for Election Day? Obama-Clinton hands down.

I warn you, though. Political predictions, economic forecasts, and astrology differ in only one respect. Astrology has a fairly good record of being correct.


Our added comment is that a Ron Paul run on the Libertarian line is not yet excluded and can not be analyzed as disaffected Obama-youth are not predictable. The placement of Rubio on the ticket will though placate the Tea-people and Clinton might bring back some Right of Center Democrats. In summary – the Robert Reich predictions seem to us best choices for the two parties. January 31 is the date for the Florida primaries with the possibility of an indication of the probability for the suggested ticket.

Further – at this time above R-R ticket is the best money can buy for the Republicans. Bringing in Hillary Clinton would be a sign of  conventional political maturity for an Obama II presidency and less risky then bringing in to the party a young new star for Democratic continuity. Hillary Clinton appeases some, and leaves open the door for her running for President in 2016.  On the other hand it is the kind of choice that might encourage Ron Paul even if he were rather pleased with the choice of Rubio on the Republican ticket.


Robert Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including “The Work of Nations,” “Locked in the Cabinet,” “Supercapitalism” and his latest book, “AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America’s Future.” His ‘Marketplace’ commentaries can be found on and iTunes.
Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul, 01/06/12. (photo: Jamie Turner/Guardian UK)
Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul, 01/06/12. (photo: Jamie Turner/Guardian UK)

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Ron Paul’s Useful Idiots on the Left

By Megan Carpentier, Guardian UK

07 January 2012

f you told a liberal in 2008 that progressives ought to give Republican Texas Congressman Ron Paula chance because he was the most anti-war candidate on the ballot, you would have been laughed out of the room – or, more likely, the bar. But in 2012, some prominent (and white, male) progressives arearguing exactly that. What’s changed? Not Ron Paul, that’s for certain.

He’s still the same guy who thinks the US should withdraw from the WTO and the United Nations, and who wants to eliminate foreign aid and the Department of Commerce and all its trade regulation and promotion activities. But, we are told, since he advocates for a complete, immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan (which military intervention, notably, he voted for), he’s a better foreign policy candidate than President Obama.

And, if his newest converts are to be believed, his support for the withdrawal from Afghanistan, his impassioned pleas for a return of Americans’ civil liberties from an overreaching government and his opposition to the drug war are reason enough to give the man a chance. After all, they say, President Obama has not delivered on his promises and supporters’ expectations in those areas, either. But to the women, minorities and LGBT people (and their supporters) who have paid attention to Paul’s record, it comes as little surprise that his most vociferous supporters on the left are pale and male … and their arguments stale.

This is the man who, to trumpet his pro-life agenda in Iowa to social conservatives, released an ad that questions whether repealing Roe v Wade would eliminate women’s abortion rights in enough states, since it would create “abortion tourism” (a situation with which the Irish and the British are already familiar). He opposed the Obama administration’s decision to declare birth control a preventative medicine, which pressures insurance companies to cover it without co-pays. He has said he would allow states to decide same-sex marriage rights for their citizens but keep the Defense of Marriage Act intact – which restricts federal rights, including immigration and social security survivor benefits (among others) to opposite-sex married couples.

He also opposes the US supreme court decision in Lawrence v Texas that decriminalised consensual sodomy in the United States. He opposes the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He wants to restrict birthright citizenship, denying the children of immigrants legal status in the United States if they are born here, voted to force doctors and hospitals to report undocumented immigrants who seek medical treatment, and sponsored bills to declare English the official language of the United States and restrict government communications to English. And that’s just for starters.

Nonetheless, there have been calls by progressives, most notably Glenn Greenwald, to ignore all of that and more, and focus instead on Obama’s policy failings to have “an actual debate on issues of America’s imperialism”. He went on to argue that there are no policy priorities more imperative than those – certainly not abortion, immigration rights, LGBT equality, racial justice or any other aspect of the US’s extensive foreign policy. (Greenwald, who is gay, was in the relatively privileged position of being able to travel to Brazil to circumvent Doma.) And so people whose lives, safety, livelihoods and health depend on them should accept that they are trading their concerns for, say, the lives of Muslim children killed by bombs in Afghanistan.

In fact, many of Ron Paul’s newest supporters on the left look strikingly like the majority of the ones on the right who have been following him for years: the kinds of people whose lives won’t be directly affected by all those pesky social conservative policies Paul would seek to enact as president, either due to their race, class, gender or sexual orientation.

And so, to the women who worry they’d be left without access to reproductive healthcare, immigrants who need to see a doctor or understand a government form (like an immigration form), African Americans who rightly wonder what this country would look like in the absence of a civil rights act, and LGBT people who would like to get married and get access to the rights straight Americans take for granted on a daily basis, all are told, again, to wait: there are more important issues to talk about, more important problems to be solved, more life-or-death situations that we’re simply ignoring out of selfishness.

Seems like there’s a lot of that going around.

• Guardian UK Editor’s Note: Glenn Greenwald has responded in this discussion thread to the specific criticism directed at him in this article


Gary Bauer to endorse GOP presidential candidate Santorum

Gary Bauer, a leader in the social conservative movement, will endorse Rick Santorum’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination Sunday in South Carolina, according to a person close to Bauer.

Bauer, who chairs the Campaign for Working Families, concluded that, of all the candidates, the former Pennsylvania senator comes closest to following the conservative principles of former President Ronald Reagan.

The Myth of New Hampshire’s Maverick Voters
Read the article at Mother Jones

The Myth of New Hampshire’s Maverick Voters

Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul hope to win the state’s much-hyped bloc of independents. Too bad it doesn’t exist.

—By Andy Kroll

| Fri Jan. 6, 2012
and for the Democrats a helpful suggestion from Bill Keller, Op-Ed Columnist for The New York Times/ IHT newspapers and internet.
: : : : : : : :

“A political scientist I know proposes the following choreography: In the late winter or early spring, Hillary steps down as secretary of state to rest and write that book. The president assigns Biden — the former chairman of Senate Foreign Relations — to add State to his portfolio, making him the most powerful vice president in history. Come the party convention in September, Obama swallows his considerable pride and invites a refreshed Hillary to join the ticket. Biden keeps State. The musicians play “Happy Days Are Here Again” as if they really mean it.”

“Of course, this is more exciting if it’s a surprise, and now I’ve spoiled it. Sorry. But not as sorry as I’ll be if — as I fear — it’s just a fantasy.”


Posted on on January 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

As Primary Looms in N.H., Donor Gives $5 Million Lift to Gingrich.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — As candidates spent the weekend trying to catch up to Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, with the primary just two days away, a longtime supporter of Newt Gingrich donated $5 million to a “super PAC” backing his presidential bid, providing a major boost to Mr. Gingrich’s ailing campaign.

The donation by Sheldon Adelson was reported Saturday night by The Washington Post. He has long been a generous patron of Mr. Gingrich’s political career. The super PAC, Winning Our Future, was formed last month by Becky Burkett, who served until earlier last year as chief development officer for American Solutions, a political action committee that Mr. Gingrich founded. The cash infusion from Mr. Adelson instantly catapults Winning Our Future into the top ranks of candidate super PACs, groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money from donors and spend it all on advertisements and other efforts to back a specific candidate, so long as they do not coordinate with the campaign.

Ms. Burkett declined to comment on the donation on Saturday.

{Sheldon Gary Adelson (born August 6, 1933 – born and grew up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts) is an American casino and hotel magnate. Adelson is Chairman andChief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited which operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Adelson vastly increased his net worth upon the initial public offering of Las Vegas Sands in December 2004. He is currently the 8th wealthiest American[2] and 16th wealthiest person in the world,[3] with a net worth of $21.5 billion.

Originally a Democrat, Adelson became a Republican as his wealth increased. “Why is it fair that I should be paying a higher percentage of taxes than anyone else?” he once asked. He began making major contributions to the Republican National Committee following clashes with labour unions at his Las Vegas properties.[5]

Adelson divorced his first wife Sandra in 1988 and met his current wife Miriam Ochsorn, an Israeli physician, on a blind date the following year. They were married in 1991.

The original source of Adelson’s wealth and current investments was the computer trade show COMDEX, which he and his partners developed for the computer industry; the first show was in 1979. It was the premier computer trade show through much of the 1980s and 1990s.[4]

In 1988, Adelson and his partners purchased the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, the former hangout of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, in order to bring Las Vegas to a new phase of business through the exhibition industry. The following year, Adelson and his partners constructed the Sands Expo and Convention Center, then the only privately owned and operated convention center in the United States.

In 1991, while honeymooning in Venice with his second wife, Miriam, Adelson said he found the inspiration for a mega-resort hotel. He razed (by implosion) the Sands and spent $1.5 billion to construct the The Venetian, a Venice-themed resort hotel and casino. The luxurious, all-suite Venetian revolutionized the Las Vegas hotel industry, and has been honored with architectural and other awards naming it as one the finest hotels in the world. In 2003, The Venetian added the 1,013-suite Venezia tower – giving The Venetian 4,049 suites, 18 leading-chef restaurants, a shopping mall with canals, gondolas and singing gondoliers.

In 1995, Adelson and his partners sold the Interface Group Show Division, including the COMDEX shows, to SoftBank Corporation of Japan for $862 million; Adelson’s share was over $500 million.[4]

Adelson spearheaded a major project to bring the Sands name to the Macao SARChina, the Chinese gambling city that was a Portuguese colony until December 1999. The one million-square-foot Sands Macau became the People’s Republic of China‘s first Las Vegas-style casino when it opened in May 2004. Adelson made back his initial 265 million dollar investment in one year and, because he owns 69% of the stock, he increased his wealth when he took the stock public in December 2004. Since the opening of the Sands Macao Adelson’s personal wealth has multiplied more than fourteen times.[5]

In May 2006, Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands was awarded a hotly contested license to construct a casino resort in Singapore’s Marina Bay. The new casino,Marina Bay Sands, opened in 2010 at a rumored cost of US$5.4 billion.

In August 2007, Adelson opened the $2.4 billion Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on Cotai and announced that he planned to create a massive, concentrated resort area he called the Cotai Strip, after its Las Vegas counterpart. Adelson said that he planned to open more hotels under brands such as Four SeasonsSheratonand St. Regis. His Las Vegas Sands plans to invest $12 billion and build 20,000 hotel rooms on the Cotai Strip by 2010.[7]

In September 2007, Adelson announced that the Sands would open its second hotel, the Sands Macao Hotel in Macau in October of that year.[8]

In 2007, Adelson made an unsuccessful bid to purchase the Israeli newspaper Maariv. When this failed, he proceeded with parallel plans to publish a free daily newspaper to compete with Israeli, a newspaper he had co-founded in 2006 but had left.[9] The first edition of the new newspaper, Israel HaYom, was published on July 30, 2007.

According to Target Group Index(TGI) survey published in July 2011, Israel Hayom, which in contrast to all other Israeli newspapers is distributed for free, surpassed all other newspapers, including Yedioth Ahronoth and became number one daily newspaper (for weekdays) four years after its inception.[10] This survey states that Israel Hayom has 39.3% weekdays readership exposure , Yedioth Ahronoth 37% , Maariv 12.1% and Haaretz 5.8%. But Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekend edition is still leading with 44.3% readership exposure compared to 31% of Israel Hayom weekend edition, 14.9% of Maariv and 6.8% of Haaretz. This trend was already observed by TGI survey in July 2010.[11]

Adelson and his wife contributed $250,000 each (thus the total contribution from the couple was $500,000) to the second inauguration of President George W. Bush.

In 2010, Adelson donated $1,000,000 to Newt Gingrich‘s organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future.[19]

In 2011, Adelson is expected to donate an additional $20,000,000 to pro-Gingrich organizations in an effort to bolster Gingrich’s bid for the U.S. Presidency.[20]

Along with his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, Sheldon Adelson was presented with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution on March 25, 2008.[31]}


Restore Our Future, a super PAC backing Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and run by his former aides, spent millions of dollars in Iowa on advertisements attacking Mr. Gingrich. The withering barrage was widely credited with torpedoing Mr. Gingrich’s standing in the state and opening the door for Mr. Romney to narrowly win last Tuesday’s caucuses.

The group is already running ads in Florida and South Carolina attacking Mr. Gingrich, and had spent roughly $3.7 million by the beginning of last week.

Rick Santorum, who has emerged as the leading rival to Mr. Romney, began the weekend looking past Tuesday’s primary to the 11-day battle in South Carolina that will follow.


Mr. Santorum, a former United States senator from Pennsylvania, picked up support from an important social conservative on Saturday, and his campaign completed the purchase of time for television commercials that will run in South Carolina from Tuesday through Jan. 17, according to Republicans who have been tracking the television market. He planned to head south to Greenville, S.C., as soon as Sunday morning’s debate was over.

“We feel great about South Carolina,” Mr. Santorum said.

The new commercials would be the Santorum campaign’s largest commitment yet in South Carolina, which will hold its primary on Jan. 21. Mr. Santorum was already getting support from his “super PAC,” the Red, White and Blue Fund. It began running a 30-second commercial titled “Pride” on Saturday, which emphasizes what his advisers believe is his best appeal to South Carolina voters who remain wary of supporting Mr. Romney: his deeply conservative record.

“He’s the principled conservative,” the announcer says. Then, taking an implicit shot at Mr. Romney, who has been attacked for reversing some of the more liberal positions he advocated as the governor of Massachusetts, the announcer adds, “Rick Santorum, the conservative we can trust.”

Mr. Santorum was set to receive the support of Gary Bauer, the chairman of the conservative group Campaign for Working Families, who said he planned to endorse Mr. Santorum officially when he arrives in South Carolina. Mr. Bauer, who declared in an interview last week that he would not take part in a concerted effort “to try and stop Mitt Romney,” said he had concluded that Mr. Santorum’s middle-class background made him a stronger general election candidate against President Obama.

“It’s going to be a particularly bitter, nasty general election. That’s what the White House is signaling with the class warfare rhetoric,” Mr. Bauer said in an interview on Saturday. “In an election like that, you want the base of your party to be on fire for the candidate.”

With just three days left before voting in the New Hampshire primary, Mr. Santorum made his closing argument the one that candidates have been leveling against Mr. Romney for months — that Mr. Romney is not conservative enough to be the party’s standard-bearer.

Standing on the bench of a picnic table here on a balmy afternoon outside a small delicatessen, Mr. Santorum used his sharpest language yet, saying that Mr. Romney was the candidate of the “establishment” and would only perpetuate “the status quo.”

“The leader in this race fashions himself as, ‘I’m a C.E.O., I’m a good manager,’ ” Mr. Santorum said in a near shout as he spoke without a microphone. But, he said, the country did not need a manager. “It needs someone with a bold vision to transform Washington to limit government, not to manage the problems that are in that city,” he said.


Mr. Gingrich and Ron Paul both echoed Mr. Santorum’s attack against Mr. Romney.

Mr. Gingrich released a flier called “Not Romney!” that hammers the message that “Romney is not a conservative” and “Romney is not electable.” Mr. Paul has said that Mr. Romney “won’t stand firm” for conservative principles.

Mr. Romney continued to largely ignore his rivals. Campaigning at a rally in Derry on Saturday morning, Mr. Romney hammered away at President Obama’s leadership.

“What frightens me today is we have a president I don’t think who understands the nature of America, the power of opportunity and freedom,” Mr. Romney said. “He said he was going to bring big things to America. Well, he did, but they came with great big price tags and they didn’t work out so well. Big things, bad things, expensive things.”

Polls show that Mr. Romney leads the field by a wide margin in New Hampshire. But he and his allies spent the day trying to lower expectations, even as they sought to keep his supporters motivated.

“Let me tell you: don’t get too confident with those poll numbers. I’ve watched polls come and go,” Mr. Romney said at a breakfast rally on Saturday. “Things change very quickly. It’s very fluid. I need to make sure you guys get your friends to go out and vote, and you vote as well.”

Also on Saturday, five former United States ambassadors to the Vatican endorsed Mr. Romney, choosing a Mormon over two Roman Catholic rivals in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

In a statement showcased by Mr. Romney’s campaign, the ambassadors said they “are united in our wholehearted support for the candidacy of Mitt Romney for the presidency of the United States because of his commitment to and support of the values that we feel are critical in a national leader.”


Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a former governor of Utah, continued to campaign across New Hampshire. At stops on Saturday morning, he beseeched voters to be serious about their choice.

“The pundits come into New Hampshire, as they are now, and say, ‘Here’s how it’s going to happen folks,’ ” Mr. Huntsman said at a town-hall-style meeting in North Haverhill, where about 100 people turned out. “Then the people of New Hampshire step in and it’s a different reality. You always, always upend conventional wisdom, and I think you’re going to do it again.”

Mr. Paul had said he planned to support his party’s eventual nominee, even though most of the other Republican candidates, he believed, would hew close to the status quo.

“I will support the Republican nominee, because I think they will be better” than President Obama, he said. “But I think it will be marginally better.”

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who is not competing in New Hampshire but will appear in the debates here, planned to go to South Carolina on Sunday for a last effort to save his candidacy.


Reporting was contributed by Katharine Q. Seelye from Amherst, N.H.; Trip Gabriel and Richard A. Oppel Jr. from Concord, N.H.; Abby Goodnough from North Haverhill, N.H.; and Jeff Zeleny from Manchester.


Posted on on January 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Caucus - The Politics and Government blog of The New York Times

January 5, 2012, 7:48 PM

Boston Globe Endorses Huntsman


NEWPORT, N.H. — The Boston Globe has endorsed Jon M. Huntsman Jr. for the Republican nomination, the candidate announced Thursday night at a rally at a high school here.

Though from a Democratic-leaning editorial board, the endorsement nonetheless provides a potentially major boost to Mr. Huntsman’s dark-horse candidacy before a primary in which independents can prove pivotal.

With little money left in his campaign bank account and relatively low ­if slowly rising ­ poll numbers, Mr. Huntsman has been hoping to be the latest candidate to catch fire as the leading alternative to the front-runner, Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, much as Senator Rick Santorum did just before the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday.

It is the second time the paper has snubbed its former home-state governor: In 2008 it endorsed Senator John McCain, the nominee that year, who endorsed Mr. Romney on Wednesday. In the Democratic primary, The Globe endorsed Barack Obama.

The major newspaper in New Hampshire, The Union Leader of Manchester, has endorsed Newt Gingrich, who has seen his candidacy slide in the polls in recent weeks.


Posted on on January 2nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 03/11/09. (photo: WDCpix)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 03/11/09. (photo: WDCpix)

go to original article

2012: Where Do We Go From Here?

By Bernie Sanders, Green Mountain Daily

30 December 11

want to take this opportunity to wish all Vermonters a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year.

The year 2011 has been a tough one for Vermont and our country. The recession caused by the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street continues. While Vermont is doing better economically than much of the country, too many of our friends and neighbors are unemployed or underemployed or are earning less than they need to adequately support their families.

Further, in Vermont we have had to deal with the devastation of Hurricane Irene, which caused so much hardship for individuals and businesses. We should all be grateful for the efforts of state and local officials, first responders, the many hundreds of volunteers, and members of the National Guard who all did such an extraordinary job in the cleanup and recovery effort.
It is no secret that the people of our country are angry and frustrated with Washington and their government. They correctly perceive that we face enormous problems: a collapsing middle class, increased poverty and a growing gap between the very rich and everyone else; sky-high unemployment; 50 million Americans without health insurance; a deteriorating infrastructure; the continued loss of our manufacturing capabilities; the ongoing mortgage and student loan crises, and the planetary challenge of global warming. And on top of all of that, we have a $15 trillion dollar national debt.

The American people want action. They want their government to start representing the 99 percent, not just the top 1 percent. With that goal in mind, let me say a few words about some of the issues that I will be working on when Congress reconvenes in January.

With more than 24 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, 15 percent of our workforce, we must be aggressive about creating the millions of new jobs we desperately need. It is simply not acceptable that high school or college graduates are not able to find work as they try to begin their careers. It is horrific that millions of older workers, who were looking forward to secure retirements, find themselves unemployed and facing the possibility that they may never again have a job.

One of the fastest ways to create jobs is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure – roads, bridges, railroads, airports, water systems, wastewater plants and aging schools. While we spend 2 percent of our GDP on infrastructure, China spends 9 percent and Europe spends 5 percent. We also need to make sure that Vermont and all of rural America gets the quality broadband and cell phone service that we deserve in order to be able to compete in the 21st century. When we rebuild and improve our infrastructure we not only create a significant number of jobs, we make our country more efficient and productive. I will continue to fight for a substantial federal investment in infrastructure.

Another important way to create jobs – while we protect our environment, address global warming and prevent new wars – is to transform our energy system away from foreign oil and fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. In Vermont, we already lead the country in energy efficiency, but much, much more can be done. We can create many new jobs weatherizing homes and buildings while, at the same time, we cut greenhouse gas emissions and save consumers money on their fuel bills. This is a win, win, win proposition. We must also be more aggressive in moving toward such job creating sustainable energy technologies as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.

When we talk about the economy and jobs, we cannot forget about the need for real Wall Street reform. After all, it was the outrageous behavior of Wall Street which caused this recession in the first place. Incredibly, after we bailed out the behemoth banks that were “too big to fail,” three out of the four are now even bigger than before the financial crisis. Within the next several months I will be introducing legislation which would bring fundamental change to the Federal Reserve as well as the way that largest financial institutions in this country are run.

While we focus on job creation and the economy, we cannot forget about some of the most vulnerable people in our country – the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. As chairman of the Defending Social Security Caucus, I intend to do all that I can to protect Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the needs of our veterans.

Last but not least, this country faces a major deficit as a result of two wars that were not paid for, tax breaks for the rich, and reduced revenue because of the recession. The deficit crisis must be resolved but in a way that is fair to the middle class. As part of any deficit-reduction package, the wealthiest people in this country, many of whom are doing phenomenally well, must be asked to pay their fair share of taxes. We must also do away with the hundreds of billions in corporate loopholes that currently exist, which enable many large and profitable corporations to pay little or nothing in federal taxes.


Posted on on October 12th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain on the attention his debate performance is attracting:

“You know you must be doing something right when you get a lot of arrows in your back.”


Preparing the News :   Did you watch Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate on the economy hosted by Bloomberg News and The Washington Post at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.? If you did, let us know who you think won in our unscientific online poll.
In your opinion, who won Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate on the economy at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.?
Michele Bachmann
Herman Cain
Newt Gingrich
Jon Huntsman
Ron Paul
Rick Perry
Mitt Romney
Rick Santorum
None of the above
HANOVER, New Hampshire – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney became a favorite target of his rivals but the surging Georgia businessman Herman Cain was in the cross hairs too during a two-hour televised debate at Dartmouth College on Tuesday night.
Romney had to defend against Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s assault for having signed a health care mandate law as governor of Massachusetts and his past stewardship of Bain Capital that helped leverage corporate buyouts that closed some businesses.
Ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich said Romney’s jobs plan would do little to spur investment because it would only cut capital gains for those making less than $200,000.
But Romney faced similar criticisms in his unsuccessful run for the White House in 2008.
Cain was in new, deeper waters as the first-time candidate and ex-CEO of Godfather Pizza.
Cain’s ‘’9-9-9’’ plan for national income, sales and capital gain taxes at the same rate came under withering attacks from opponents clearly envious that this candidate within the past month has gone from low single digits to second behind Romney in New Hampshire and some national polls.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann all said Cain’s plan would create a new sales tax engine the Congress would crank well above 9 percent.
Texas congressman Ron Paul said Cain’s past as a regional director of a Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City promotes what he called reckless monetary policy that made this recession the worst since the Great Depression.
Bloomberg News, the Washington Post and WBIN-TV sponsored this seventh debate, which was the first since the 2012 field became set and the first since Cain’s rise was equaled by Perry’s plummet back to single digits in the polls.
Early in the debate, Cain went on the defensive about his spending plan to stimulate jobs and said it must be followed by a commitment to opposing higher federal spending.
“It starts with throwing out the current tax code and putting in my 9-9-9 plan, and the second is getting serious about our national debt,” Cain said.
Huntsman mocked Cain’s plan and said he’d promote a “flatter” income tax and a cut in the capital gains tax to 25 percent and mocked Cain’s 9-9-9 plan.
“I think it’s a catchy phrase; in fact, I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard it,” Huntsman said. “Here’s what we need. We want something that is doable, doable, doable.”
Cain shot back that Santorum and Huntsman’s plans are too incremental.
“9-9-9 will pass. It is not the price of the pizza. It starts with – not like your proposals – throwing out the tax code,” Cain responded. “Continuing tinkering with the current tax code is not going to stimulate this economy.”
Santorum’s plan calls for eliminating the tax on capital gains for manufacturing. He said this would help bring back the $1.3 trillion that U.S. companies have invested overseas. This would make the U.S. more competitive, and unlike other plans such as Cain’s, it will win bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, Santorum claimed.
“It is not just proposing a plan that the Washington Post will smile about; it’s a plan that will pass and bring people together,” he said.
Bachmann, a professional tax lawyer prior to serving in Congress, also made light of Cain’s plan.
“I would have to say that the 9-9-9 plan isn’t a jobs plan; it is a tax plan,” Bachmann said. “The last thing you would do is give Congress another pipeline of a revenue stream and that is a sales tax. A sales tax could lead to a value-added tax.
“If you take the 9-9-9 plan and turn it upside down; the devil is in the details,” Bachmann quipped.
At one point in the night, Perry quoted one of Romney’s own economic advisers who had described Romney’s Massachusetts health care law as analogous to Obama’s universal health care law.
Romney said the law was focused on the 8 percent of people who lacked insurance in that state while the Obama solution upset the entire health care market.
Romney then tried to turn the tables on Perry.
“We have the lowest number of kids without insurance in America; you have the highest,” Romney said. “We have 1 percent of kids without insurance; you have 1 million kids without insurance in Texas.”
Huntsman accused Romney, as head of Bain Capital, of presiding over leveraged buyouts that caused job losses and hurt working class Americans.
Massachusetts had the 47th lowest job growth while Romney was governor while Utah at least one year led the nation, Huntsman said.
“How can you win that debate given your background?” Huntsman asked.
Romney said Bain Capital helped broker major job creators. “We started Staples; we started the Sports Authority. Heck, we even started a steel mill in a farm field in Indiana and that steel mill still functions,” Romney said. “… We created tens of thousands of jobs.”
Perry also defended not having put together an economic plan in contrast to the GOP front-runner, Romney, who has a 59-part proposal.
Perry said his plan will come out in the next three days and focus directly on reducing American dependence on foreign oil.
“Mitt has had six years to work on a plan; I’ve had six weeks,” Perry said.
Spending in Washington, especially in connection with the bailouts, also came under fire.
Romney defended his past support for the 2008 bailout of major banks under President George W. Bush and then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, but quarreled with some of the institutions chosen to be protected such as the major automakers.
“The action that President Bush and Secretary Paulson took … was to keep the entire currency worth something,” Romney said. “We were on the precipice and could have had an entire meltdown.”
Big financial institutions that make bad decisions should be allowed to fail, he said but added he would support federal policies that strengthen U.S. markets.
“You don’t want to bail out anybody; that’s a terrible idea and it shouldn’t happen,” Romney said. “We do want to make sure we don’t lose our country and we don’t lose our financial system.”
Gingrich called for the Fed to release every decision document from 2008-10 leading to the Wall Street bailout that contributed to the national recession.
“We are not any better prepared today for a crisis of that scale because the people who were there and who were wrong are still in charge,” he said.
Gingrich also said the fault of the economy lies not with Wall Street but with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner.
“If they want to change things, the first person is Bernanke who has been a disaster for the economy; the second one to fire is Geitner,” Gingrich said.
Paul, a strong opponent of the Federal Reserve, accused Cain, a former Kansas City regional Fed director, of being soft on routine audits of the Fed.
“You said you advised those of us who were concerned; we were belittled,” Paul said to Cain.
“Do you stick by this, that this is frivolous?” Paul asked.
Cain denied he mocked those who wanted to audit the Fed and said during the 1990s when he was a regional director, the Fed didn’t allow the federal debt to run up to record levels.
“I do not object to the Federal Reserve being audited; I simply said if somebody wants to initiate that action, go ahead, it doesn’t bother me,” Cain said.
Bachmann said younger Americans are going to face “75 percent tax rates” on income if the Congress and the president don’t rein in spending.
“Every year we are spending about 40 percent more than what we take in. Our answer has to be that we cut back on the spending so we can get into balance,” Bachmann said.
She also turned on Perry trying to sully his record as a fiscal conservative while Texas governor.
“As governor, you went on to increase spending in Texas by 50 percent, and you financed that spending by increasing bonded debt by 137 percent,” Bachmann said. “How can we trust you not to go the Obama way and pay for that spending with bonded debt?”
Perry claimed Texas’ debt position improved during his more than a decade in office.
“Texas had the sixth-lowest debt per capita when I started in 2000, and today, Texas has the second lowest debt per capita,” Perry answered. “I think that’s what America is looking for.”
The format of the debate called for the candidates to ask one rival a question. The debate aired locally on businessman Bill Binnie’s new TV station WBIN. However, the station experienced technical difficulties around 9:15 p.m., leaving local viewers in the dark for the last 15 minutes of the event.
Kevin Landrigan can be reached at  klandrigan at Also check out Landrigan (@KLandrigan) on Twitter and  The Telegraph’s new, interactive live feed at


Posted on on October 8th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

First it was Nevada that sat its date for Tuesday January 10th. That forces Iowa and New Hampshire to have their contests earlier then January 10th.

The ridiculous question mark hangs on New Hampshire that has its internal law that pushes it to have those primaries on a Tuesday and seven days before Nevada. This allows in 2012 just November 3rd and this date is contested already by Iowa – while the 10th is by Nevada.  New Hampshire has just to change its rules or to move to Christmas-time which would be dandy so far as we are concerned or the Christian Tea – but can a New England State afford this?

Then, the display of Republican candidates gets stretched out thin – as in:

a straw poll at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of more than 3,000 social conservatives in Washington gave  Ron Paul, who addressed the summit Saturday morning and whose supporters flooded the convention, – a  37 percent in the informal poll, or 732 votes among the 1,983 attendees who participated in the survey.

Businessman Herman Cain placed second with 23 percent, or 447 votes; former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) took third with 16 percent, or 323 votes; and Texas Gov. Rick Perry  placed fourth with eight percent, or 167 votes. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) took fifth with eight percent, or 157 votes. And former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R), who addressed the summit Saturday after Paul, placed sixth with four percent, garnering only 88 votes of the nearly 2,000 cast.

Romney and Perry have tangled over the past 24 hours while prominent evangelical leader Robert Jeffress called Romney’s Mormon religion  “a cult,” a –  charge with which Perry, the Texas governor does not agree.

It’s worth noting that Paul’s success in the straw poll is indicative of the enthusiasm of his young supporters rather than of his popularity among the social conservatives who typically attend the conference, most of whom in interviews Saturday pointed to Cain as their preferred candidate.

So, why did Nevada push forward, and why should one worry about Iowa or New Hampshire?

LET US SAY – the starting gate seems moving towards Cain with Bachman getting Iowa and Romney New Hampshire. Who would be a Nevada favorite to test the starting gate? Is there any place in this for Texans Ron Paul or Rick Perry?


Posted on on September 29th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Cain could deliver

By Dana Milbank

September 28, 2011 | In the Republican presidential race, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from farce.

In last weekend’s season-opener of “Saturday Night Live,” afictitious Herman Cain explained to a fictitious Shepard Smith in a fictitious Fox News debate why his experience in the pizza business qualified him to be president.

“There is no better motto for the federal government than that of a pizza place,” said Kenan Thompson, playing Cain, adding, “It’s 4 o’clock in the morning and you’re high as a kite and the stuff in your fridge is weirding you out — if you order it, pizza will come. Pizza will come! Oh, pizza will most definitely come. And if you vote for me, America, I promise you that I will deliver.”

The next morning, the real Herman Cain was on the real Fox News with a real host, discussing the phony debate. “I think it’s great!” he said of the pizza skit. “I’m going to use that in my next debate: If you vote for me, America, I will deliver.”

It was a cheesy pitch from the “Hermanator,” but it apparently won the pizza guy the business of “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Dennis Miller. The comedian and radio host announced Monday that he’s endorsing Cain for the nomination. Miller suggested that Cain adopt a new slogan, “Cain versus Not Able,” as an alternative to the candidate’s existing slogan, “Cain versus more of the same.”

(Come on, Dennis: You Cain do better.)

In all likelihood, Miller was driven less by his successors at “SNL” than by Cain’s stunning performance in Saturday’s Florida straw poll, in which he won 37 percent — more than runners up Rick Perry and Mitt Romney combined. That’s just about opposite the result of national polling; a new CNN survey finds Perry and Romney with a combined 49 percent and Cain with only 7 percent.

Analysts have been puzzling over Cain’s pizazz in Florida. The Post’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake asked if the results, following wins in other straw polls by Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, mean “the end of straw polls.” They wrote: “Only the most conservative portion of the Republican base shows up at these events, skewing the results to the most ideological candidate, not the most electable one.”

Cillizza and Blake are correct: The straw polls are tilted by a small and unrepresentative sample of voters choosing the most ideological candidates. But it seems to me that makes the straw polls a close approximation of the Republican primary electorate.

There are 3 million people in Iowa, for example, of whom just more than 600,000 are registered Republicans. But the 2008 Iowa Republican caucus had 120,000 participants. Of those, 60 percent were self-described evangelicals or born-again Christians.

Essentially, that means the Iowa caucus is a straw poll. In fact, Iowa’s Ames straw pollthis summer (the one Bachmann won) attracted 16,892 people — a decent chunk of the primary-day electorate.

The other early-voting states tend to have more primary voters, but that doesn’t change the possibility that the Republican presidential nominee could be determined by a few thousand Iowans who aren’t typical voters or even typical Republican voters.

Most political observers rely on national polls or, at best, statewide polls to gauge the sentiments of presidential primary voters. But because the number of people who participate in the primaries is so small, the true sentiments of that electorate (and the likelihood of people to vote) are often less predictable than polls can handle. And those sentiments tend to be volatile and fickle.

For that reason, it would be foolish to rule out any candidate — even the former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive, who makes no attempt to watch his mouth.

“Some people want to say I’m the none-of-the-above candidate,” he told the Daily Beast after his Florida win. “Some people want to say there’s still unhappiness with the field. That is bullfeathers!” The article noted that the candidate was drinking wine — in the morning. (In a different interview, Cain used another word that begins with “bull” but does not end with “feathers.”)

Cain’s wave may not last long, given the small and mercurial electorate (ask Bachmann about that), but he’s enjoying the accoutrements of a serious candidate while he has them.

On Monday, he’s scheduled to sit down with Donald Trump, following a pilgrimage taken by Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. He’ll then sit down Tuesday with former New York mayor Ed Koch. On Wednesday, his new book comes out. Later, comedian Miller will hold a fundraiser for Cain.

At this pace, Cain’s ultimate triumph — a guest-hosting gig on “SNL” — is just a matter of time.


Posted on on August 31st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Snakes on the wane: The eastern diamondback rattler has lost 97 percent of its habitat.
Report: Tea Party’s Favorite Snake Needs Government Aid.
—By Tim Murphy, Mother Jones, Thu Aug. 25, 2011
Since the tea party movement rose to prominence in early 2009, the yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag has been a ubiquitous presence at everything from health care protests to campaign stops. It features the Revolutionary War-era slogan, along with a coiled rattlesnake, because, as Benjamin Franklin explained, the rattler “never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders.”
But the flag doesn’t feature just any snake; it’s a eastern diamondback rattlesnake—and despite what the flag says, lots of people seem to be treading on its natural habitat. According to a new report from the Center for Biological Diversity, the species could be nearing extinction unless the federal government intervenes. Scientific American reports that the CBD, along with Protect All Living Species and the delightfully acronymed One More Generation, have petitioned the US Fish and Wildlife Service to classify the eastern diamondback rattlesnake as an endangered species. The rattler is down to 3 percent of its original habitat, and according to the CBD, its population has fallen from 3 million to 100,000.
From the report:
“The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is a wildlife icon of North America,” said biologist Bruce Means, president and executive director of the Coastal Plains Institute, in a prepared statement. Means was also one of the petitioners. “Africa has its lion, Asia its tiger, and we can boast of this marvelous ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ snake. Like so many others, it’s a wildlife treasure that we must not allow to go extinct. Remaining habitat for the snake must be preserved, and negative public attitudes toward these nonaggressive animals must be reversed.”
But how will this sit with tea partiers? As my colleague Kate Sheppard has reported, many tea partiers view the Endangered Species Act as a tool of an overreaching federal government—if not something even more nefarious.
In Florida, conservative activists are fighting to roll back manatee protection rules because they believe the regulations are part of a United Nations plan called “Agenda 21,” which they fear will force humans to live in designated areas and turn the rest of the planet into protected biosphere reserves.
Other pearls of tea wisdom:
Tea Party Congressman Protects US From Manatee Overlords.
Florida Tea Party Worries About Government’s Secret Manatee Conspiracy.
The manatees are coming! Slowly!
Light Bulbs, Agenda 21, and You.
“We Don’t Need None of That Smart-Growth Communism.”
Tea partiers’ latest fear: a secret UN plan to herd us all into urban “human habitation zones.”
Tea Party Leaders Write Book.
Tea Party Patriots leaders write their own version of tea party history.
Tim Murphy is a reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at


Posted on on June 14th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Seven months to when the first votes in the Republican US Presidential Primaries will be taken, seven contenders stood before the TV start-up line with another half dozen to join in later. For now no bright light shone on that screen. We say – watch out for Herman Cain of whom you never heard before but who grows in the light.

for the reporting of the New York Times please see:…

Cheryl Senter for The New York Times

Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain at the debate.