History > 2011 > USA > Politics (II)
Protesters affiliated with the
Occupy Wall Street protest wear Guy Fawkes masks
in Zuccotti Park in New York on
The growing protest over class
and wealth is entering its fourth week.
Andrew Burton/Associated Press
Boston Globe > Big Picture > The
Occupy Wall Street movement spreads
October 12, 2011
Protesters Regroup After Mass Arrests
The New York Times
By KIRK JOHNSON
Protesters in Denver and Nashville regrouped on Sunday, a day after dozens of
arrests at demonstrations inspired by Occupy Wall Street in both cities.
The demonstrators in Denver held a peace vigil in the evening. It followed a
melee on Saturday night that was one of the most intense clashes with the police
since the protest groups began gathering in a downtown park more than a month
On Saturday, officers used pepper spray on the protesters, some of whom surged
toward police lines. Two people were charged with assaulting an officer.
In Nashville, where state law enforcement officials arrested 29 people on
Saturday, the issue was a curfew imposed last week that barred protesters from
inhabiting a downtown plaza near the State Capitol.
The legality of the curfew has been questioned, and a magistrate judge
immediately released the protesters, who had been charged with trespassing,
saying that the state had no authority to create such a restriction.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol, the law enforcement agency that made the arrests,
issued a statement on Sunday saying that “the curfew remains in effect.”
The highway patrol said the restriction was intended to help ensure the safety
of the protesters, and it urged the protesters to “adhere to the conditions of
“The goal remains the same,” the statement said, “and that is to provide for the
safety and security of everyone on the plaza.”
The A.C.L.U. of Tennessee said it planned to file a lawsuit challenging the
curfew at the downtown plaza, The Tennessean newspaper reported.
On Saturday, for the third consecutive night, dozens of demonstrators defied the
curfew and inhabited the site, chanting and waving signs and huddling for warmth
in the 40-degree weather. The police made no new arrests overnight.
In Denver, most of the arrests on Saturday were over a police rule prohibiting
structures, including tents, from being erected in public parks. Some accounts
said that tensions escalated when the protesters climbed the State Capitol’s
steps during a march by as many as 2,000 people. No public demonstrations are
allowed on the steps without a permit.
But a media liaison with Occupy Denver, Jeannie Hartley, said on Sunday that the
protesters had never made it to the steps, which were blocked off.
Most of the 20 arrests, a police spokesman said, were made when officers moved
to keep people from erecting tents across the street from the Capitol at Civic
Center Park. Several videos showed the police using pepper spray. Two protesters
were arrested and charged with felony assault on a police officer after
officials said he was knocked off his motorcycle, and other officers were
kicked, said the spokesman, Lt. Matt Murray.
Lieutenant Murray said that the police requested reinforcements after the
officer was knocked off his motorcycle and that the enlarged force then moved
into the park where most of the arrests were made.
One video posted on the Occupy Denver Facebook page also clearly showed tension
and conflict within the protesters’ ranks. At one point, a man, shouting in
anger, is seen being pushed from the crowd to confront the officers, who are
lined up with shields and batons.
“I will fight back!” he screamed as other protesters pulled him back. One
demonstrator, who had pushed to the front, confronted the man: “We are
nonviolent — do not instigate that!”
“They hit me!” the first man shouted.
“Yeah, and they’re going to keep hitting you!” the other said.
“They don’t have a right!”
In Portland, Ore., about 30 demonstrators were arrested early Sunday after they
refused to leave a park after a midnight curfew, according to The Associated
The police pulled vans up to a group of demonstrators sitting in a circle at the
park, Jamison Square, and began arresting them one by one. An Associated Press
photographer said most of the protesters went limp, and police carried or
dragged them away. No violence was reported during the 90 minutes of arrests.
The protesters — all of whom appeared to be in their 20s and 30s — were
handcuffed before they were driven off. One continued to chant, “We are the 99
The crowd thinned out about 3:30 a.m. as the last arrests were made.
contributed reporting from Atlanta.
Occupy Protesters Regroup After Mass Arrests, NYT,
Movement, After Legal Victories, Faces Weather
The New York Times
By JESS BIDGOOD and ELIZABETH A. HARRIS
a week of crackdowns across the country, 26 Occupy Nashville protesters were
arrested early Saturday, the second such roundup, for trespassing. And for the
second night running, a judge dismissed the protesters’ arrest warrants,
according to an official for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Magistrate Tom Nelson said he could “find no authority anywhere for anyone to
authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza,” according to The Tennessean.
The protesters had been under a 10 p.m. curfew.
But a different set of challenges to the movement began to emerge on Saturday,
In the Northeast, a storm bearing strong winds and wet snow rolled up north.
This early storm promised to be a test that the protesters’ camps have vowed to
Just before noon, snow began falling in Zuccotti Park in New York, mixing with
rain. Hundreds of protesters inside the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New
York crowded under two long tarps suspended above a kitchen area where food is
Near the center of the camp, Christopher Guerra sat at the information desk, a
plastic table stacked high with pamphlets. Mr. Guerra was covered by a green
umbrella and a yellow rain poncho. In addition, he said, he was wearing a
leather jacket, a sweatshirt, wool pants, two pairs of long underwear and two
pairs of wool gloves.
“All I need now is a blanket and I’ll be O.K.,” he said.
Behind him, the park was a sea of tents, tarps, plastic sheeting and beach
umbrellas. Rain coursed over the granite surface of the park, soaking into
bedding and sending a chill into the bones of those sleeping there. Some
protesters turned black plastic garbage bags into raincoats.
In Boston on Friday night, campers strung up extra tarps and tried on donated
gloves, as organizers talked of coming workshops on staying warm in the cold,
and of bigger plans, still in the works: Hot water “caravans,” and
greenhouselike structures made out of PVC piping. Organizers at Occupy Portland,
Me., said they had built a large room, with heaters, to weather the storm, and
are asking the city for permission to stack hay bales to break the wind.
There is concern in the movement that the effort needed to stay warm — for this
storm and those to follow — could eventually be a drain on the movement’s
intellectual energies; and, of course, on its numbers.
“As the weather turns, we’re thinning down slightly,” sad Rene Perez, a
25-year-old piano technician at Occupy Boston. There is a growing consensus, he
said, that, at some point, the occupation would need space indoors. “Some of our
functioning is going to have to be off site,” Mr. Perez said. “It’s too cold.”
But lessons could be learned from Denver, where a snowstorm that hit last week —
which organizers said sent five protesters to the hospital — became another tool
of protest. Online postings urged followers and supporters to bring supplies,
and then to call the governor and mayor to express outrage for allowing
conditions to persist that protesters said were dangerous.
In Albany, organizers said their most urgent task was to move tents away from
tree branches. They said they were prepared for cold, with lots of blankets and
a patio heater (though it broke for a time Friday, spurring a plea on Twitter
for anyone with experience repairing valves or thermocouples).
In spite of the looming storm, Occupy Albany planned a busy day on Saturday,
inviting protesters from around the state to visit for events that were to
include a history-themed walking tour of the capital and a poetry slam.
For those planning to stay overnight, organizers planned lessons about
cold-weather safety. Among those gathered in the park were several camping
enthusiasts used to dealing with frigid conditions, who were ready to offer
“We have plenty of blankets to go around,” said Robert Magee, 27, a lawyer who
brought to the park a sleeping bag that was rated at 0 degrees. He added, “In
Albany, we’re pretty used to cold temperatures. I think of it as a good thing.
It’s a good test run for what’s going to come later.”
contributed by Jess Bidgood from Boston, Robbie Brown from Atlanta, Kirk Johnson
from Denver and Thomas Kaplan and Colin Moynihan from New York.
Occupy Movement, After Legal Victories, Faces Weather,
Occupy Wall Street March to Support Those in Oakland
The New York Times
By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS and COLIN MOYNIHAN
protesters in New York City marched on Wednesday night to show solidarity with
protesters in Oakland, Calif., where the police used tear gas to disperse crowds
a night earlier. About a dozen demonstrators were arrested in New York, the
Just after 9 p.m., about 500 people left the Occupy Wall Street base in Zuccotti
Park and went on a winding march around the financial district and City Hall,
accompanied by drummers and a man playing the bagpipes as a helicopter followed
Less than an hour later, a smaller group of protesters poured into the streets,
ignoring orders from police officers to stay on the sidewalk, and began a
frantic cat-and-mouse game. More than 250 protesters walked quickly and
sometimes ran through the streets of SoHo and the West Village, at one point
storming through a movie set on Macdougal Street as groups of police vehicles
with lights and sirens pursued them closely. People emerged from bars along the
way asking what was going on and offering encouragement.
At one point, a group of protesters carried an orange net, the kind the police
have used in similar episodes to block protesters’ movement before arrests.
Chants of “We are the 99 percent!” and “Oakland!” could be heard through the
“This march is happening because the riot police attacked people in Oakland,”
said a young woman who refused to give her name. “It’s something that could have
happened to all of us.”
In Oakland on Tuesday, about 100 people were arrested when the police tried to
clear protesters from a plaza across from City Hall. One protester there, an
Iraq war veteran named Scott Olsen, was struck in the head by a projectile. He
was listed in critical condition on Wednesday. The police are investigating.
Around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, the marchers in New York returned to Zuccotti Park,
greeted by the shouts and cheers of those who had stayed behind.
“It was successful because we got our point across,” said Shamar Thomas, 25.
“That march was for the people in Oakland.”
An Occupy Wall Street March to Support Those in Oakland,
Cities Begin Cracking Down on ‘Occupy’ Protests
The New York Times
By JESSE McKINLEY and ABBY GOODNOUGH
Calif. — After weeks of cautiously accepting the teeming round-the-clock
protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street, several cities have come to the end of
their patience and others appear to be not far behind.
Here in Oakland, in a scene reminiscent of the antiwar protests of the 1960s,
the police filled downtown streets with tear gas late Tuesday to stop throngs of
protesters from re-entering a City Hall plaza that had been cleared of their
encampment earlier in the day. And those protests, which resulted in more than
100 arrests and at least one life-threatening injury, appeared ready to ignite
again on Wednesday night as supporters of the Occupy movement promised to retake
the square. Early Wednesday evening, city officials were trying to defuse the
situation, opening streets around City Hall, though the encampment site was
still fenced off.
But after about an hour of speeches, the crowd removed the fences. The number of
protesters swelled to about 3,000 people, but the demonstration remained
peaceful. Leaders led a series of call-and-response chants. “Now the whole world
is watching Oakland,” was one phrase that was repeated as passing cars honked in
approval. That police had gone, compared with a heavy presence the night before.
The official protest broke up around 10 p.m. local time, peacefully, with
protesters dancing, carrying American flags and generally celebrating what
seemed to be a well-attended demonstration of some 3,000 people.
Shortly after the end of that protest, however, hundreds of demonstrators began
to wander down Broadway, Oakland’s central thoroughfare, in an unplanned march.
The Oakland police, who had been noticeably absent during the protests at City
Hall, began donning protective riot gear as demonstrators upped their rhetoric
and attempted to board San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit trains. Several
entrances to the BART system were closed, agitating protesters and adding to an
increasingly tense atmosphere in Oakland, which had exploded in violence a mere
24 hours before.
The impromptu march continued west toward Oakland’s waterfront as it became more
apparent that there was little central organizing structure as the night grew
About 10:25 p.m., a crowd of a thousand protesters arrived at Oakland’s police
headquarters and began milling about in front. Some attempted to put garbage
cans in the street, while others beseeched the crowd to remain peaceful. The
Oakland police manned the front door of their headquarters and maintained a
Across the bay, meanwhile, in the usually liberal environs of San Francisco,
city officials there had also seemingly hit their breaking point, warning
several hundred protesters that they were in violation of the law by camping at
a downtown site after voicing concerns about unhealthy and often squalid
conditions in the camp, including garbage, vermin and human waste.
In Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed ordered the police to arrest more than 50
protesters early Wednesday and remove their tents from a downtown park after
deciding that the situation had become unsafe, despite originally issuing
executive orders to let them camp there overnight.
And like many of his mayoral colleagues nationwide, Mr. Reed openly expressed
frustration with the protesters’ methods.
“The attitude I have seen here is not consistent with any civil rights protests
I have seen in Atlanta,” Mr. Reed said in an interview, “and certainly not
consistent with the most respected forms of civil disobedience.”
Similar confrontations could soon come to pass in other cities, including
Providence, R.I., where Mayor Angel Taveras has vowed to seek a court order to
remove protesters from Burnside Park, which they have occupied since Oct. 15.
And while other, bigger cities, including New York, Boston and Philadelphia,
have taken a more tolerant view of the protests — for now — officials are still
grappling with growing concerns about crime, sanitation and homelessness at the
encampments. Even in Los Angeles, where the City Council passed a resolution in
support of the protesters, Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa warned Wednesday that
they would not be allowed to remain outside City Hall indefinitely.
Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, echoed that.
“It’s a daily assessment for us,” she said.
More and more, mayors across the country say they have found themselves walking
a complex and politically delicate line: simultaneously wanting to respect the
right to free speech and assembly, but increasingly concerned that the protests
cannot stay orderly and safe.
“We can do lots of different things to help them on our end,” said Mr. Taveras,
who estimates that roughly 200 people have camped out in Providence despite a
city rule forbidding such behavior. “But we cannot allow an indefinite stay
there, and we can’t allow them to continue to violate the law.”
The protests showed little sign of slacking. In Chicago, for example,
demonstrators gathered Wednesday outside the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel
requesting 24-hour access to Grant Park and demanding that charges be dropped
against the more than 300 protesters arrested there in the past weeks.
“He’s denying us our constitutional right to not only free speech, but peaceful
continual assembly,” said Andy Manos, 32, one of the protesters.
Even in Democratic Chicago, officials seemed to straining to allow for dissent,
while maintaining order. “We’ve been working hard to strike a balance,” said
Chris Mather, a spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel. Ms. Mather added that the mayor’s
office had tried to set up meetings with protesters, who themselves said they
were trying to find a permanent home for their demonstrations.
Indeed, some city officials said the tensions surrounding the Occupy protests
have been increased by the fact that many of the groups involved have few
“It’s a significant challenge to deal with their decision-making process,” said
Richard Negrin, the managing director of Philadelphia, where tents form a
protest village outside City Hall.
In Oakland, where one protester — Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran — was in
critical condition at a local hospital after being struck in the head with a
projectile during the chaotic street battle on Tuesday, city officials defended
their actions, saying the police used tear gas after being pelted with rocks.
The police are investigating what happened to Mr. Olsen.
As the protests continued, worries about possible violence percolated.
In Atlanta, Mr. Reed said the last straw came Tuesday, when he said a man with
an AK-47 assault rifle joined the protesters in Woodruff Park. On Wednesday,
after all protesters who had been arrested were released on bond, some said the
man with the assault rifle — who was carrying it legally under Georgia law — was
not part of their group and should not have been a factor in shutting them down.
“We don’t even know that guy,” said Candi Cunard, 26.
Protest organizers said many of the troublemakers in Oakland and elsewhere were
not part of the Occupy movement, but rather were anarchists or others with
simply with a taste for mayhem.
“The people throwing things at police and being violent are not part of our ‘99
Percent’ occupation,” said Momo Aleamotua, 19, a student from Oakland. “They’re
not us, and they’re not welcome.”
Still, the scenes of tear gas in the streets and provocative graffiti —
including one spray-painted message reading “Kill Pigs” in Oakland — have been
seized on by some Republicans to try to make the protests a political liability
On Tuesday, for example, the National Republican Senatorial Committee circulated
a report that two people living in the Occupy Boston tent with a young child had
been arrested for selling heroin, and paired it with comments from Elizabeth
Warren, a Democratic contender for Senate from Massachusetts, in which she said
that her work as a consumer advocate had helped inspire the Occupy movement.
“She’s not only standing with those breaking the law and being arrested,” the
committee’s release read, “She’s actually taking credit for them.”
The fear that the group’s political message was being lost also resonated with
Maria Gastelumendi, who runs a sandwich shop in downtown Oakland.
As a small-business owner, Ms. Gastelumendi said she supported the protests —
“There’s been no bailout for us” — but worried that things might end badly. “The
occupiers were very organized and very committed,” she said. “But there’s other
people who are just opportunists.”
reported from Oakland, and Abby Goodnough from Providence, R.I. Reporting was
contributed by Malia Wollan from Oakland, Ian Lovett from Los Angeles, Jess
Bidgood from Boston, Robbie Brown from Atlanta, Kate Zernike from New York, and
Steven Yaccino from Chicago.
Some Cities Begin Cracking Down on ‘Occupy’ Protests, NYT,
A Fierce Clash for Romney and Perry
as Republican Candidates Debate
October 18, 2011
The New York Times
By JIM RUTENBERG and JEFF ZELENY
LAS VEGAS — Mitt Romney came under intensive attack from his rivals for the
Republican presidential nomination at a debate here Tuesday night, with a newly
assertive Rick Perry leading a sometimes personal barrage against him on
conservative consistency, health care policy and even the immigration status of
yard workers at his home.
It was the most acrimonious debate so far this year. Marked by raised voices,
accusations of lying and acerbic and personal asides, it signaled the start of a
tough new phase of the primary campaign a little more than two months before the
first votes are cast.
Mr. Romney responded aggressively to the attacks and sometimes testily. Once,
after Mr. Perry spoke over him, he turned to the debate moderator, Anderson
Cooper of CNN, to plead, “Anderson?”
President Obama came in for some criticism, but it was almost entirely
overshadowed as the seven Republicans on stage spent most of their time
challenging one another. Most of the candidates faced questions on some of their
biggest vulnerabilities, including Herman Cain, who spent the debate’s opening
moments defending his 9-9-9 tax plan against nearly unanimous criticism from his
But more than any other debate, this one was about Mr. Romney, a former
Massachusetts governor. Previously, he had managed to parlay attacks relatively
easily. But he had yet to face a barrage like the one he walked into on Tuesday.
It came at a time when the Romney campaign was seeking to present an air of
inevitability that he will be the nominee, while his rivals were seeking to
exploit the sense that his support is soft and that Republican primary voters
continue to seek an alternative.
The most striking difference from the last several debates was the performance
of Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, whose candidacy has floundered after a
series of unsteady debate appearances. He displayed a much more combative style,
if at times appearing too heated and occasionally drawing jeers from some in the
Striding onto the stage with an air of confidence, Mr. Perry seemed to relish
challenging Mr. Romney from his opening statement. He called himself “an
authentic conservative — not a conservative of convenience,” a swipe at Mr.
Romney, who has been criticized by some conservatives for changing positions on
issues like abortion.
It was the fifth time since Labor Day that the Republican candidates appeared
together on stage. The only one of the leading candidates not to participate was
former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah, who opted out in solidarity with New Hampshire
Republicans who are angry that Nevada moved its caucuses up in the voting
schedule, to Jan. 14.
There was plenty of acrimony to go around. Representative Ron Paul of Texas
attacked Mr. Cain, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota joined in, and
former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania — seeking a chance to be a
conservative alternative to Mr. Romney and Mr. Perry — mixed it up with all of
In the debate’s final seconds, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, said
“maximizing bickering” was probably not the best way to win the White House.
But bicker they did, and sometimes more. In one heated moment, Mr. Romney turned
to Mr. Perry, who was standing beside him, and put his hand on Mr. Perry’s arm
as they spoke across one another.
Mr. Perry did not hesitate to make it personal, accusing Mr. Romney of having
hired illegal immigrants to work on the lawn of his Massachusetts home.
“Mitt, you lose all of your standing from my perspective because you hired
illegals in your home,” Mr. Perry said. “And you knew for — about it for a
He went on, “And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that
you’re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy.”
Mr. Romney at first sought to deflect Mr. Perry’s attack by giving a stage laugh
and saying: “Rick, I don’t think that I’ve ever hired an illegal in my life. And
so I’m — I’m looking forward to finding your facts on that.” Mr. Perry snapped
back, “It’s time for you to tell the truth.”
As the two continued to speak over each other and Mr. Perry kept pressing his
attack, Mr. Romney turned to his opponent and said sharply, “This has been a
tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that, and so you’re going to
get — you’re going to get testy.”
Mr. Perry’s eyes narrowed and he licked his lips, before yielding the floor to
The exchange drew from a Boston Globe report in 2006 that found that illegal
immigrants were among the members of a crew hired by a company working on Mr.
Romney’s lawn. A year later, the newspaper found that the yard workers still
included illegal immigrants. At the debate, Mr. Romney said the company had
hired the workers and that he had eventually stopped using it because of the
Mr. Romney said he would seek to push an “e-verify” program to check the status
of workers if he became president, tartly noting that Mr. Perry had opposed such
a plan. As the subject continued to dominate the discussion, Mr. Romney said
Republicans should be welcoming of legal immigrants, a message likely to
resonate in Nevada, whose population is 27 percent Hispanic, according to census
As Mr. Romney’s agitation grew, he admonished his rival. “I suggest that if you
want to become president of the United States,” he said, “you have got to let
both people speak.”
It was Mr. Santorum who started the assault on Mr. Romney, turning the subject
to Mr. Romney’s health care plan. “Governor Romney,” Mr. Santorum said, “you
don’t have credibility when it comes to Obamacare.” The Massachusetts plan
shares several similarities with the new national health care overhaul,
including mandates that people buy insurance.
“Your plan was the basis for Obamacare,” Mr. Santorum told Mr. Romney. “To say
you’re going to repeal it — you have no track record on that that we can trust
you that you’re going to do that.”
When Mr. Romney began to answer by repeating his contention that he never said
he had recommended the Massachusetts plan for the entire country, Mr. Santorum
showed his disagreement.
“You’re, you’re shaking, you’re shaking your head,” Mr. Romney said.
“Governor, no, that’s not what you said,” Mr. Santorum replied as the two talked
over each other and Mr. Romney finally said in exasperation: “I’ll tell you
what? Why don’t you let me speak?”
The debate also provided the first opportunity for the candidates to engage one
another directly on the controversy over religion that flared two weeks ago when
a Texas pastor and supporter of Mr. Perry suggested that Mr. Romney’s religion —
he is Mormon — is a cult. Mr. Perry was asked if he would repudiate the remarks.
“I didn’t agree with it, Mitt, and I said so,” Mr. Perry said.
Mr. Romney said he was not troubled by the attacks on his faith. “I’ve heard
worse,” he said. But he said he was most troubled by the suggestion that people
should be chosen for office based on their religious faith.
“The founders of our country went to great lengths, and even put it in our
Constitution, that we would not choose people for public office based on their
religion,” he said, turning to Mr. Perry. “It was that principle that I wanted
you, governor, to say is wrong.”
The nearly two-hour debate offered a rolling and combative night of exchanges,
which highlighted the diverging views among Republicans over the Wall Street
bailout, military spending and aid to Israel.
Adam Nagourney contributed reporting.
A Fierce Clash for
Romney and Perry as Republican Candidates Debate, NYT, 18.10.2011,
The Effort to Disenfranchise Voters
October 16, 2011
The New York Times
To the Editor:
Re “The Myth of Voter Fraud” (editorial,
What a sad commentary on the state of affairs today that the Republican Party,
which trumpets its adherence to the Constitution and to voter rights in so many
other avenues, is doing all it can to cut off the hard-fought right to vote
under the guise of protecting the rest of us.
Since actual instances of voter fraud are so infrequent, the real reason for
these efforts is to cement the Republicans’ power for generations to come.
Shouldn’t they (and all of us) be doing everything possible to help legitimate
voters vote rather than suppressing them? What exactly are Republicans afraid
of? I think that their real fear is that their ideas do not truly represent the
majority of the people, and the only way to keep power is to disenfranchise the
poor and the powerless.
Malden, Mass., Oct. 10, 2011
To the Editor:
I grew up a Republican — I remain a conservative — and I abhor attempts to keep
eligible people from voting. But when your editorial claims that “there is
almost no voting fraud in America,” that’s begging the question. In an
environment that stigmatizes efforts to detect voter fraud, let alone prevent or
punish it, how can we even know?
It’s telling that you hold up “a parent trying to vote for a student away at
college” as an innocuous example. We can use each other’s franchise now? And if
our system allows “a confused non-citizen” at the motor vehicles bureau to
stumble into breaking the law, doesn’t that argue for more control, not less?
I’d like to see an expression like this begin with an acknowledgment that
citizenship means something — that illegal voting is actually a bad thing.
Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 10, 2011
To the Editor:
Your editorial is spot on. Our politicians tout America’s democracy as the gold
standard. But we have evolved into a sham democracy if millions of us are
systemically excluded from voting for those who “represent” us.
Recently, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that a 96-year-old woman who
had voted in almost every election since the 1930s was blocked from registering
under a new Tennessee law. Millions more around the country are in the same
I suggest a simple low-tech solution to the voter-fraud bogyman: Enact stiff
penalties for committing voter fraud. Then make it easy to register and vote. If
you show up at the polls without an “acceptable” ID, no problem. When you sign
in, you affirm under penalty that you are who you say you are, and then affix a
thumbprint next to your signature.
New York, Oct. 10, 2011
To the Editor:
People may not understand why requiring an ID to vote is unethical. Many have
questioned why requiring an ID to vote is wrong when we are required to have one
to, say, get into a bar, or to buy a beer, or to drive a car.
The answer is that getting into a bar, buying a beer or driving a car — none of
these things are inalienable rights guaranteed by the Constitution. An ID for
those living in the United States is not legally required by law; therefore,
many people, like the disabled and the elderly, many of whom do not drive, and
the very poor do not have them.
Requiring a household utility bill is an effective and fair way of guaranteeing
that voters are voting in their correct districts.
Marina, Calif., Oct. 10, 2011
The Effort to Disenfranchise Voters, NYT,
Protesters Debate What Demands, if Any, to Make
October 16, 2011
The New York Times
By MEREDITH HOFFMAN
In a quiet corner across the street from Zuccotti Park, a cluster
of 25 solemn-faced protesters struggled one night to give Occupy Wall Street
what critics have found to be most lacking.
“We absolutely need demands,” said Shawn Redden, 35, an earnest history teacher
in the group. “Like Frederick Douglass said, ‘Power concedes nothing without a
The influence and staying power of Occupy Wall Street are undeniable: similar
movements have sprouted around the world, as the original group enters its fifth
week in the financial district. Yet a frequent criticism of the protesters has
been the absence of specific policy demands.
Mr. Redden and other demonstrators formed the Demands Working Group about a week
and a half ago, hoping to identify specific actions they would formally ask
local and federal governments to adopt. But the very nature of Occupy Wall
Street has made that task difficult, in New York and elsewhere.
Although Occupy Seattle has a running tally of votes on its Web site — 395 votes
to “nationalize the Federal Reserve,” 138 for “universal education” and 245 to
“end corporate personhood,” for example — Mike Hines, a member of the group,
said the list would soon be removed because the provisions had not been clearly
explained and because some people were not capable of voting online.
“It feels like we’re all in a similar boat,” Mr. Hines said of other Occupy
movements. “We all want to include as many voices as possible.”
In New York, the demands committee held a two-hour open forum last Monday,
coming up with two major categories: jobs for all and civil rights. The team
will continue to meet twice a week to develop a list of specific proposals,
which it will then discuss with protesters and eventually take to the General
Assembly, a nightly gathering of the hundreds of protesters in the park.
A two-thirds majority would have to approve each proposal, and any passionate
opponent could call for the entire vote to be delayed.
The General Assembly has already adopted a “Declaration of the Occupation of New
York City,” which includes a list of grievances against corporations and a call
for others to join the group in peaceful assembly. To many protesters, that
general statement is enough, and the open democracy of Zuccotti Park is the
point of the movement.
“Demands are disempowering since they require someone else to respond,” said
Gabriel Willow, a protester strolling past a sleeping-bag pod of young adults in
the park last Monday. “It’s not like we couldn’t come up with any, but I don’t
think people would vote for them.”
Although Monday’s open forum was meagerly attended, politically active members
like Cecily McMillan and David Haack, who first proposed formulating demands in
a pre-campout planning meeting in August, said they were ready to take action.
Mr. Haack, who in 2009 tried to run for the White Plains City Council, admitted
feeling disillusioned after the group struck down their proposal in August, but
now he feels inspired by the movement’s “true democratic process,” even if it
means slower progress going forward.
“Let’s give ourselves two weeks,” Ms. McMillan said about presenting provisions
to the General Assembly. Ms. McMillan, 23, a New School graduate student, feels
such dedication to the cause that she has contemplated taking a sabbatical from
her studies — but she has begun to worry that the movement could become “a joke”
without specific goals. Still, with the right demands, she said, more union
members and diverse contingencies could join.
In Austin, Tex., participants agreed on four demands, including an end to
corporate personhood and tax reform. One Austin activist, Lauren Walker, linked
the movement’s goals directly to government officials.
“This is our time because we’re coming up to the 2012 elections,” she said,
suggesting that protesters saw the presidential election as a “deadline” to
draft revolutionary policy suggestions.
Elsewhere, Occupy Boston, Occupy D.C. and Occupy Philadelphia were among the
many groups in the movement slowly formulating demands, though in each city,
opposition has arisen from skeptical demonstrators.
In Boston, Meghann Sheridan wrote on the group’s Facebook page, “The process is
the message.” In Baltimore, Cullen Nawalkowsky, a protester, said by phone that
the point was a “public sphere not moderated by commodities or mainstream
political discourse.” An Occupy Cleveland participant, Harrison Kalodimos, is
even writing a statement about why demands are not the answer.
Joseph Schwartz, a political science professor and an Occupy Philadelphia
participant, said he thought the movement’s “anarchist strain” discouraged a
Whatever it is, New York’s small group of focused activists said they would not
“If we don’t make demands, the political parties will make them for us,” a
longtime protester, Eric Lerner, 64, said from his spot in the cluster last
Monday. “We have to get it right this time.”
Protesters Debate What
Demands, if Any, to Make, NYT, 16.10.2011,
Losing Their Immunity
The New York Times
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow, the response from the movement’s
targets has gradually changed: contemptuous dismissal has been replaced by
whining. (A reader of my blog suggests that we start calling our ruling class
the “kvetchocracy.”) The modern lords of finance look at the protesters and ask,
Don’t they understand what we’ve done for the U.S. economy?
The answer is: yes, many of the protesters do understand what Wall Street and
more generally the nation’s economic elite have done for us. And that’s why
On Saturday The Times reported what people in the financial industry are saying
privately about the protests. My favorite quote came from an unnamed money
manager who declared, “Financial services are one of the last things we do in
this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it.”
This is deeply unfair to American workers, who are good at lots of things, and
could be even better if we made adequate investments in education and
infrastructure. But to the extent that America has lagged in everything except
financial services, shouldn’t the question be why, and whether it’s a trend we
want to continue?
For the financialization of America wasn’t dictated by the invisible hand of the
market. What caused the financial industry to grow much faster than the rest of
the economy starting around 1980 was a series of deliberate policy choices, in
particular a process of deregulation that continued right up to the eve of the
Not coincidentally, the era of an ever-growing financial industry was also an
era of ever-growing inequality of income and wealth. Wall Street made a large
direct contribution to economic polarization, because soaring incomes in finance
accounted for a significant fraction of the rising share of the top 1 percent
(and the top 0.1 percent, which accounts for most of the top 1 percent’s gains)
in the nation’s income. More broadly, the same political forces that promoted
financial deregulation fostered overall inequality in a variety of ways,
undermining organized labor, doing away with the “outrage constraint” that used
to limit executive paychecks, and more.
Oh, and taxes on the wealthy were, of course, sharply reduced.
All of this was supposed to be justified by results: the paychecks of the
wizards of Wall Street were appropriate, we were told, because of the wonderful
things they did. Somehow, however, that wonderfulness failed to trickle down to
the rest of the nation — and that was true even before the crisis. Median family
income, adjusted for inflation, grew only about a fifth as much between 1980 and
2007 as it did in the generation following World War II, even though the postwar
economy was marked both by strict financial regulation and by much higher tax
rates on the wealthy than anything currently under political discussion.
Then came the crisis, which proved that all those claims about how modern
finance had reduced risk and made the system more stable were utter nonsense.
Government bailouts were all that saved us from a financial meltdown as bad as
or worse than the one that caused the Great Depression.
And what about the current situation? Wall Street pay has rebounded even as
ordinary workers continue to suffer from high unemployment and falling real
wages. Yet it’s harder than ever to see what, if anything, financiers are doing
to earn that money.
Why, then, does Wall Street expect anyone to take its whining seriously? That
money manager claiming that finance is the only thing America does well also
complained that New York’s two Democratic senators aren’t on his side, declaring
that “They need to understand who their constituency is.” Actually, they surely
know very well who their constituency is — and even in New York, 16 out of 17
workers are employed by nonfinancial industries.
But he wasn’t really talking about voters, of course. He was talking about the
one thing Wall Street still has plenty of thanks to those bailouts, despite its
total loss of credibility: money.
Money talks in American politics, and what the financial industry’s money has
been saying lately is that it will punish any politician who dares to criticize
that industry’s behavior, no matter how gently — as evidenced by the way Wall
Street money has now abandoned President Obama in favor of Mitt Romney. And this
explains the industry’s shock over recent events.
You see, until a few weeks ago it seemed as if Wall Street had effectively
bribed and bullied our political system into forgetting about that whole drawing
lavish paychecks while destroying the world economy thing. Then, all of a
sudden, some people insisted on bringing the subject up again.
And their outrage has found resonance with millions of Americans. No wonder Wall
Street is whining.
Losing Their Immunity, NYT, 16.10.2011,
Sunday Dialogue: The Wall Street Protest
October 15, 2011
The New York Times
Is the perceived lack of a clear leader and agenda a shortcoming, or a key to
the movement’s appeal? Readers are divided.
To the Editor:
As a student of political science, I find that the Occupy Wall Street protests
are missing a political window of opportunity. The absence of clear leaders
prevents coordination with people who could actually help bring about political
change. Having a large mass of unidentified people discussing their concerns is
a great blog or Tumblr technique, but in the practical political arena it just
lends itself to confusion and the lack of a clear message.
Occupy Wall Street needs to turn a social and Internet phenomenon into a
tangible political movement that would benefit the “99 percent” it says it is
representing. The Declaration of the Occupation of New York, issued on Sept. 29,
lists many grievances against corporations, including illegal foreclosures,
exorbitant bonuses, workplace discrimination, job outsourcing, anti-union
tactics and campaign contributions.
The protest needs leaders who will put forth concrete policy solutions to these
problems. Their agenda should include these reforms:
¶Campaign finance reform, including a constitutional amendment in response to
the Citizens United decision.
¶Tougher financial legislation than Dodd-Frank, whose most salient reform
components, like size limits on financial institutions, never made it into the
¶Assistance for students who are unable to pay back their college loans.
¶Stronger protection of the rights of unions and minorities in the workplace.
I am afraid that without a clear agenda, leaders or policy goals, Occupy Wall
Street will be a fruitless exercise with only a sense of nostalgia (or
annoyance) for those involved.
Boston, Oct. 11, 2011
The writer is studying toward a Ph.D. in political theory at Boston University.
If Occupy Wall Street were an isolated phenomenon, I might agree with Ms.
Bohanan that it “will be a fruitless exercise.” But the protests have struck a
deep vein of dissent in America, as the many new occupations prove.
It is a classic defense of the status quo to complain that a movement does not
have a cohesive “agenda.” It is not the Occupy movement’s job to advance a
specific agenda. Its job is to make people wake up to the inequities in American
society today. And its job is to inspire us to do something about it. I would
say the participants are doing a heck of a job.
Damariscotta, Me., Oct. 12, 2011
It’s amazing that so many people, like Ms. Bohanan, have transposed their
agendas onto the protesters at Occupy Wall Street. The protesters have become
ciphers for liberals, conservatives and everything in between. Perhaps their
anonymity is their real power.
If leaders eventually emerge, they will come under intensive scrutiny by the
media and the chattering classes. The same holds true for any sort of policy
solutions that Occupy Wall Street may put forth. Right now, everyone is talking
about the protesters, and their very presence is speaking quite loudly.
Look at their signs that say the 99 percent versus the 1 percent. Most of us in
the 99 percent are saying, “Thank you for representing us and just being there
in person.” The 1 percent is unnerved by the protesters, and that is quite
Fleming Island, Fla., Oct. 12, 2011
As a recent college graduate who has spent the last two years fighting to
find work, I’m every bit as mad as the folks down at Zuccotti Park. But my anger
deserves substance, and that is where the Occupy Wall Street movement has fallen
flat. The demonstrations are a vague and listless attack on a hollow symbol.
What are the protesters for? What are they against? What are their goals? Being
“anti-Wall Street” is hardly a platform. Their lack of message is an
embarrassment to those of us who yearn for tangible reform in this country.
Ms. Bohanan is spot on with her suggestions, but I question whether the
political will exists in this country to enact them. At the end of the day, that
is what we should all be protesting — the utter cowardice shown by our political
class as the American dream rapidly recedes into a faint memory.
Chappaqua, N.Y., Oct. 12, 2011
The Occupy Wall Street protest is far from lacking a “clear message.” I have
found that we participants are quite unified in our message — that the financial
system is predatory, the economic inequality in our nation is too extreme and
the corporate influence over our government must be removed.
I would urge Ms. Bohanan to engage with these demonstrations directly, if she
hasn’t done so already, and not to rely on impressions given by the media. What
she will find will no doubt surprise her, and millions of other Americans,
should they dare to look.
Astoria, Queens, Oct. 12, 2011
Ms. Bohanan’s proposed list of demands seems to be a rehash of the standard
left-wing issues, with the addition of debt forgiveness for students.
Some of us, myself included, support real change in America, but her list leaves
most Americans out of the equation. Why should only the rights of union workers
and minorities be more strongly protected? Shouldn’t every worker’s rights be
protected more strongly?
How come only students should receive assistance for debt? Why not everyone with
Any change that Occupy Wall Street hopes to achieve has to embrace the needs of
every American; otherwise it is just one more self-centered special interest
Tuckahoe, N.Y., Oct. 12, 2011
As a fellow political scientist, I applaud Ms. Bohanan’s effort to critically
engage with Occupy Wall Street. But her focus on admonishing the protesters to
designate a leader and agree on a platform has led her to miss the most
potentially transformative elements of the movement.
The General Assembly at Zuccotti Park is structured to allow participants to
arrive at decisions through consensus. A central aim of this arrangement is to
avoid the subtle processes of domination by small factions and dogmatic leaders
that have undermined many emerging social movements.
As a result, Ms. Bohanan’s suggestion that Occupy Wall Street transform itself
into a “tangible political movement” has the potential to undermine the
protesters’ aim of using direct democracy to radically change how citizens
engage in the political process.
Boston, Oct. 12, 2011
The writer is an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School
Let’s give the Occupy Wall Street protesters a break and stop demanding that
they come up with a more “focused” and “coherent” agenda. Vietnam War protesters
did just fine with stop the war and get out of Vietnam. Occupy Wall Street is
doing just fine with stop the greed and get out of our pockets.
The day President Obama stands up — preferably among the protesters on Wall
Street — and states unequivocally that he counts himself among the 99 percenters
will be the day he ensures his re-election.
LUCIAN K. TRUSCOTT IV
Franklin, Tenn., Oct. 12, 2011
The Writer Responds
Mr. Quintana says there are three unifying messages of the protesters, but as we
have seen and heard, if you were to ask another person you might receive a
different answer. Having a unified message is a first step; proposing a feasible
political solution is the next.
I assure Mr. Cicero that the agenda I put forth was not meant to be exhaustive,
but more of a guideline.
Professor Sheely makes an excellent point: the protesters may hope to use direct
democracy to radically change how citizens engage in the political process. In
Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison warns of the dangers of pure or direct
democracy because of the inability to protect individual liberties from majority
In response to Mr. Truscott, the agenda of the Vietnam War protesters was to
stop the war and remove the troops — clearly defined and obtainable objectives.
“Stop the greed” and “get out of our pockets” are euphemisms for vague
Without leaders, an agenda or goals, the protesters are not students of the Arab
Spring they were inspired by; they are merely imitators of something they do not
Boston, Oct. 13, 2011
Sunday Dialogue: The Wall Street Protest, NYT,
Romney Beating Obama in a Fight for Wall St. Cash
October 15, 2011
The New York Times
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and GRIFF PALMER
It is no secret that the relationship between President Obama and Wall Street
has chilled. A striking measure of that is the latest campaign finance reports.
Mitt Romney has raised far more money than Mr. Obama this year from the firms
that have been among Wall Street’s top sources of donations for the two
That gap underscores the growing alienation from Mr. Obama among many
rank-and-file financial professionals and Mr. Romney’s aggressive and successful
efforts to woo them.
The imbalance exists at large investment banks and hedge funds, private equity
firms and commercial banks, according to a New York Times analysis of the firms
that accounted for the most campaign contributions from the industry to Mr.
Romney and Mr. Obama in 2008, based on data from the Federal Election Commission
and the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
It could widen as Mr. Obama, seeking to harness anger over growing income
inequality, escalates his criticism of the industry, after a year spent trying
to smooth ties bruised by efforts to impose tougher regulations.
Since this spring, Mr. Romney has raised $1.5 million from employees of firms
like Morgan Stanley; Highbridge Capital Management, a hedge fund; and
Blackstone, a private equity firm. Mr. Obama has raised just over $270,000 from
firms that were among his leading sources of campaign cash in 2008.
Employees of Goldman Sachs, who in the 2008 campaign gave Mr. Obama over $1
million — more than donors from any other private employer in the country — have
given him about $45,000 this year. Mr. Romney has raised about $350,000 from the
Those figures do not account for all Wall Street giving, nor for the full force
of each candidate’s robust network of Wall Street “bundlers,” wealthy
individuals who raise money from friends, family members and business
associates. And Mr. Obama continues to dominate Mr. Romney — and the rest of the
Republican field — in overall fund-raising. He has raised close to $100 million
so far this year for his campaign, three times more than Mr. Romney, as well as
$65 million for the Democratic National Committee.
The gap in Wall Street giving to Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney underscores
disenchantment with Mr. Obama in the industry and the challenges both candidates
will face in grappling with public anger about the financial world.
For much of the last year, aides to Mr. Obama have sought to mollify Wall Street
executives still bristling over the president’s criticisms of their profits and
bonuses, while defending the administration’s program of tougher oversight and
regulation as both necessary and beneficial to the industry in the long term.
But with Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who once ran the private
equity firm Bain Capital, the most likely Republican nominee, Mr. Obama’s
campaign appears to sense an opportunity to harness public resentment over an
industry that has largely thrived while the rest of the economy has not.
“There’s no doubt that Governor Romney has raised money off of his belief that
Wall Street should be allowed to write its own rules again by repealing Wall
Street reform,” said Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman. “The president put
in place protections to ensure that the financial crisis is not repeated and
that unacceptable risks aren’t taken with Americans’ life savings.”
For his part, Mr. Romney is now pitching himself as the turnaround expert for an
ailing national economy. He has personally wooed major Wall Street donors,
successfully recruiting several senior financial executives poised to back Gov.
Chris Christie of New Jersey had he opted for a White House bid.
But anger at big banks — manifested by the growing Occupy Wall Street protests
in New York City and elsewhere — is palpable enough that Mr. Romney must avoid
being seen as a friend of an industry that many Americans blame for onerous bank
fees and underwater mortgages.
“To the extent anyone is supporting Mitt Romney over President Obama,” said
Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, “it is because of the state of the economy
and the president’s failures to create jobs.”
On Friday, Mr. Obama also voluntarily released an updated list of his bundlers
for the campaign — a practice none of the Republican candidates has adopted.
Mr. Obama recruited about 100 bundlers during the three months ending Sept. 30,
according to an analysis by The Times, some veterans of his 2008 effort, and
some new to the ranks.
Among the new recruits are Harvey Weinstein, the movie mogul, who has raised
more than half a million dollars for Mr. Obama; Roger C. Altman, a prominent
investment banker who backed Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008 but has raised more
than $200,000 for Mr. Obama this year; and John E. Frank, a Microsoft executive,
who has raised more than $500,000 for the president.
Mr. Obama also recruited Amy Friedkin, a San Francisco philanthropist of Jewish
causes and a former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee,
who raised more than $200,000 for Mr. Obama.
All the presidential candidates were required to disclose by midnight on
Saturday their fund-raising and spending during the three months ending Sept.
Those filings suggest that Mr. Romney is facing a tough fund-raising challenge
from Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. Mr. Perry raised $17 million during the quarter
ending on Sept. 30, roughly 60 percent from a loyal network of Texas donors.
Mr. Romney raised a little over $14 million, with the largest portion coming
from California, where he raised $1.6 million, and New York, where he raised
$1.5 million. Mr. Romney raised $637,000 in Texas — his fifth-biggest
And while both candidates enter the fall with about the same amount of cash on
hand, Mr. Romney’s campaign more than doubled its rate of spending over the
spring months, spending about $12 million during the quarter, including close to
$600,000 in travel, $2.8 million on direct mail and $3.6 million on consultants.
Mr. Perry, who entered the race in mid-August, halfway through the quarter, has
spent just $2 million. That included about $460,000 on travel, $46,320 on direct
mail and printing and $103,000 on consultants. Because he is a sitting governor,
some costs, such as his security detail, are borne by taxpayers. And the
fiilings do not reflect salary for some of his top aides, David Carney, and his
communications director, Ray Sullivan. A press officer for the campaign said the
two aides were first paid in October.
Representative Ron Paul, the Texas Republican whose libertarian views have won
him a loyal grass-roots following, showed $8.3 million in contributions, half in
amounts of less than $200 each. Herman Cain, the former pizza chain executive
who has shot up in some recent polls, reported raising $2.8 million and having
$1.3 million on hand, while Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota raised
almost $4 million in the third quarter and spent nearly $6 million, ending with
about $1.3 million in cash.
The other Republican candidates appeared to be lagging far behind. Rick
Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, reported raising $704,000 during the
three months ending Sept. 30 and had just $229,114 on hand.
Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor, has $327,000 left in his campaign
account and more than twice that in debt, his campaign said on Friday.
Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, raised $808,000 during the quarter
ending Sept. 30 with just $353,417 in cash on hand.
Richard A. Oppel Jr., Susan Saulny and Derek Willis contributed reporting.
Romney Beating Obama in
a Fight for Wall St. Cash, NYT, 15.10.2011,
October 13, 2011
The New York Times
By PAUL KRUGMAN
transcript of Tuesday’s Republican debate on the economy is, for anyone who has
actually been following economic events these past few years, like falling down
a rabbit hole. Suddenly, you find yourself in a fantasy world where nothing
looks or behaves the way it does in real life.
And since economic policy has to deal with the world we live in, not the fantasy
world of the G.O.P.’s imagination, the prospect that one of these people may
well be our next president is, frankly, terrifying.
In the real world, recent events were a devastating refutation of the
free-market orthodoxy that has ruled American politics these past three decades.
Above all, the long crusade against financial regulation, the successful effort
to unravel the prudential rules established after the Great Depression on the
grounds that they were unnecessary, ended up demonstrating — at immense cost to
the nation — that those rules were necessary, after all.
But down the rabbit hole, none of that happened. We didn’t find ourselves in a
crisis because of runaway private lenders like Countrywide Financial. We didn’t
find ourselves in a crisis because Wall Street pretended that slicing, dicing
and rearranging bad loans could somehow create AAA assets — and private rating
agencies played along. We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because “shadow
banks” like Lehman Brothers exploited gaps in financial regulation to create
bank-type threats to the financial system without being subject to bank-type
limits on risk-taking.
No, in the universe of the Republican Party we found ourselves in a crisis
because Representative Barney Frank forced helpless bankers to lend money to the
O.K., I’m exaggerating a bit — but not much. Mr. Frank’s name did come up
repeatedly as a villain in the crisis, and not just in the context of the
Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which Republicans want to repeal. You have to
marvel at his alleged influence given the fact that he’s a Democrat and the vast
bulk of the bad loans now afflicting our economy were made while George W. Bush
was president and Republicans controlled the House with an iron grip. But he’s
their preferred villain all the same.
The demonization of Mr. Frank aside, it’s now obviously orthodoxy on the
Republican side that government caused the whole problem. So what you need to
know is that this orthodoxy has hardened even as the supposed evidence for
government as a major villain in the crisis has been discredited. The fact is
that government rules didn’t force banks to make bad loans, and that
government-sponsored lenders, while they behaved badly in many ways, accounted
for few of the truly high-risk loans that fueled the housing bubble.
But that’s history. What do the Republicans want to do now? In particular, what
do they want to do about unemployment?
Well, they want to fire Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve — not
for doing too little, which is a case one can make, but for doing too much. So
they’re obviously not proposing any job-creation action via monetary policy.
Incidentally, during Tuesday’s debate, Mitt Romney named Harvard’s N. Gregory
Mankiw as one of his advisers. How many Republicans know that Mr. Mankiw at
least used to advocate — correctly, in my view — deliberate inflation by the Fed
to solve our economic woes?
So, no monetary relief. What else? Well, the Cheshire Cat-like Rick Perry — he
seems to be fading out, bit by bit, until only the hair remains — claimed,
implausibly, that he could create 1.2 million jobs in the energy sector. Mr.
Romney, meanwhile, called for permanent tax cuts — basically, let’s replay the
Bush years! And Herman Cain? Oh, never mind.
By the way, has anyone else noticed the disappearance of budget deficits as a
major concern for Republicans once they start talking about tax cuts for
corporations and the wealthy?
It’s all pretty funny. But it’s also, as I said, terrifying.
The Great Recession should have been a huge wake-up call. Nothing like this was
supposed to be possible in the modern world. Everyone, and I mean everyone,
should be engaged in serious soul-searching, asking how much of what he or she
thought was true actually isn’t.
But the G.O.P. has responded to the crisis not by rethinking its dogma but by
adopting an even cruder version of that dogma, becoming a caricature of itself.
During the debate, the hosts played a clip of Ronald Reagan calling for
increased revenue; today, no politician hoping to get anywhere in Reagan’s party
would dare say such a thing.
It’s a terrible thing when an individual loses his or her grip on reality. But
it’s much worse when the same thing happens to a whole political party, one that
already has the power to block anything the president proposes — and which may
soon control the whole government.
Rabbit-Hole Economics, NYT, 13.10.2011,
Obama Raises More Than $42 Million for Campaign
October 13, 2011
The New York Times
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
9:47 a.m. | Updated President Obama’s campaign raised more than $42 million
in the third quarter of the year, once again outpacing his Republican rivals
despite the country’s economic woes and his low poll numbers.
In addition to the money raised directly for his campaign, Mr. Obama helped the
Democratic National Committee raise $27.3 million for a combined total of nearly
$70 million during July, August and September.
Jim Messina, the campaign manager, announced in an e-mail to the president’s
supporters that 606,207 people donated to BarackObama.com, including more than
250,000 who had never contributed to the president before. While the Republican
candidates remain focused on the early primary and caucus states, the Obama
campaign, Mr. Messina said, was using its early fund-raising to set up campaign
offices and build a ground infrastructure for next year’s election.
“That support translates directly to what we can do on the ground,” Mr. Messina
said. “In the past three months we’ve grown our organizing staff by 50 percent,
and opened up three new field offices every week.”
Mr. Obama and his aides have said they plan to raise hundreds of millions of
dollars for his re-election campaign in anticipation of a flood of corporate
money into groups that are raising money on behalf of his Republican opponents.
“We’re up against a Republican Party and special interest-funded groups that
will spend hundreds of millions of dollars spreading any message that they
believe will defeat the president and roll back our efforts to build a fairer
economy that rewards hard work and responsibility, not large corporations,” Mr.
Messina said in the email Thursday morning.
The campaign is also determined to overcome any disaffection among the
president’s grassroots supporters, who are a source of small-dollar donations
and volunteers for the campaign. In the days before the third quarter deadline,
Mr. Obama’s campaign inundated his four-million-strong e-mail list with appeals
from the president, the first lady, Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph R.
Biden Jr., and others, seeking small donations and even informing his supporters
how many of their neighbors had already sent in checks.
The campaign is hoping to surpass the million-donor mark in the coming days, and
on Thursday pressed for additional donations.
“Getting to a million grassroots donors isn’t just a huge accomplishment this
early in the campaign,” Mr. Messina wrote. “It’s our answer to our opponents,
the press, and anyone who wants to know whether the president’s supporters have
The Obama campaign said on Thursday that of about 766,000 donations the campaign
received during the third quarter, about 98 percent came in increments of $250
or less. The campaign did not disclose what proportion of the $70 million joint
haul came from such checks, however.
The fund-raising numbers represent a slight decline for Mr. Obama’s campaign
from what he raised in the second quarter and a larger drop for the Democratic
National Committee. But it is far more than any of the Republican candidates for
president appear to have raised over the same period. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas,
in his first weeks in the race, will report about $17 million for the quarter,
his campaign has said, while aides to Mitt Romney, the former governor of
Massachusetts, have suggest he will report a few million dollars less than that.
Representative Ron Paul of Texas will report over $8 million, and the remaining
candidates far less.
But Republican independent groups, many of them established during the 2010
election and gearing up to take a major role, are likely to fill the breach in
the coming months. Some, like American Crossroads, which has plans to raise $240
million during the 2012 cycle, are already hammering Mr. Obama with millions of
dollars in television ads.
Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party raised a total of $86 million during the
second quarter of the year. The drop is in part a reflection of the difficulty
that politicians have raising money during the summer months.
But it is also an indication of the political struggles that Mr. Obama has had
over the last several months. Administration officials have said that Mr. Obama
had to cancel several fund-raisers during the standoff over the debt ceiling.
And polls show that large majorities of the country believe the country is
headed in the wrong direction. And many have soured on Mr. Obama’s handling of
Obama Raises More Than
$42 Million for Campaign, NYT, 13.10.2011,
of the Wall St. Demonstration
The New York Times
In “The Milquetoast Radicals” (column, Oct. 11), David Brooks suggests that by
focusing on the 1 percent of wealthiest Americans, Occupy Wall Street fails to
credibly address our key challenges. In doing so, he ignores a central thesis of
the demonstrators: Our political system is neither responsive to the middle
class nor capable of rational action because it serves — almost exclusively —
the interests of those who finance political campaigns.
This influence, by the so-called 1 percent, is not only unjust, but also
distorts our free market and rewards those with access to power rather than
those who create jobs and wealth. The near collapse of our banking system is
only the most visible example of how such influence threatens our economic
security and our democracy.
Occupy Wall Street’s first purpose, then, must be to ensure that our government
can hear our voices and promote our interests. That would be sufficiently
Brookline, Mass., Oct. 11, 2011
David Brooks’s get-off-my-lawn dismissal of Occupy Wall Street misses the point.
Wall Street tycoons made a civilization-jeopardizing mess requiring extensive
government bailouts and were never brought to justice. Incredibly, most did not
miss a bonus payment, while millions of middle-class folks face stagnating wages
at best and unemployment at worst.
This travesty follows decades of ill-conceived policies and court decisions
concentrating wealth and power in the hands of the few at the expense of the
many. If Mr. Brooks cannot hear these sentiments from Occupy Wall Street, he’s
Locust Valley, N.Y., Oct. 11, 2011
In the angry worldview of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, there are no gray
areas, no such thing as multiple causes for difficult conditions or any
possibility that actions may be well intended and then fail. It is the
uncomplicated view of a child. There is one category of bad guy and everything
is his fault.
Donors to their cause should send them a selection of the excellent books
written on the subject of the 2008 collapse so they can read up on the perfect
storm that left us where we find ourselves today.
Policy makers, legislators, civil servants, bankers, consumers — all these
groups shared responsibility for how things have turned out. The vast majority
were going about their business and intended no harm.
But that story won’t keep the anger alive, and the message doesn’t fit on a
sign. The truth rarely does.
Greenwich, Conn., Oct. 11, 2011
I think that David Brooks misunderstands the message being sent by the Occupy
Wall Street protesters. It is not that the top 1 percent are villainous while
the bottom 99 percent are virtuous. Rather, their message is that the system
that creates and sustains our extraordinary degree of income inequality is
damaging to the country as a whole and must be dramatically reformed.
Katonah, N.Y., Oct. 11, 2011
Re “Confronting the Malefactors” (column, Oct. 7):
Paul Krugman says of Occupy Wall Street, “A better critique of the protests is
the absence of specific policy demands.” Though initially the absence of
specific demands caused many to write off this movement, the vagueness of their
goals has actually helped the protesters.
Occupy Wall Street has absorbed the causes of hippies, unions and frustrated
Americans alike. The bigger the tent, the greater the number of people who can
Ossining, N.Y., Oct. 7, 2011
Messages of the Wall St. Demonstration, NYT, 11.10.2011,
Something’s Happening Here
October 11, 2011
The New York Times
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
When you see spontaneous social protests erupting from Tunisia to Tel Aviv to
Wall Street, it’s clear that something is happening globally that needs
defining. There are two unified theories out there that intrigue me. One says
this is the start of “The Great Disruption.” The other says that this is all
part of “The Big Shift.” You decide.
Paul Gilding, the Australian environmentalist and author of the book “The Great
Disruption,” argues that these demonstrations are a sign that the current
growth-obsessed capitalist system is reaching its financial and ecological
limits. “I look at the world as an integrated system, so I don’t see these
protests, or the debt crisis, or inequality, or the economy, or the climate
going weird, in isolation — I see our system in the painful process of breaking
down,” which is what he means by the Great Disruption, said Gilding. “Our system
of economic growth, of ineffective democracy, of overloading planet earth — our
system — is eating itself alive. Occupy Wall Street is like the kid in the fairy
story saying what everyone knows but is afraid to say: the emperor has no
clothes. The system is broken. Think about the promise of global market
capitalism. If we let the system work, if we let the rich get richer, if we let
corporations focus on profit, if we let pollution go unpriced and unchecked,
then we will all be better off. It may not be equally distributed, but the poor
will get less poor, those who work hard will get jobs, those who study hard will
get better jobs and we’ll have enough wealth to fix the environment.
“What we now have — most extremely in the U.S. but pretty much everywhere — is
the mother of all broken promises,” Gilding adds. “Yes, the rich are getting
richer and the corporations are making profits — with their executives richly
rewarded. But, meanwhile, the people are getting worse off — drowning in housing
debt and/or tuition debt — many who worked hard are unemployed; many who studied
hard are unable to get good work; the environment is getting more and more
damaged; and people are realizing their kids will be even worse off than they
are. This particular round of protests may build or may not, but what will not
go away is the broad coalition of those to whom the system lied and who have now
woken up. It’s not just the environmentalists, or the poor, or the unemployed.
It’s most people, including the highly educated middle class, who are feeling
the results of a system that saw all the growth of the last three decades go to
the top 1 percent.”
Not so fast, says John Hagel III, who is the co-chairman of the Center for the
Edge at Deloitte, along with John Seely Brown. In their recent book, “The Power
of Pull,” they suggest that we’re in the early stages of a “Big Shift,”
precipitated by the merging of globalization and the Information Technology
Revolution. In the early stages, we experience this Big Shift as mounting
pressure, deteriorating performance and growing stress because we continue to
operate with institutions and practices that are increasingly dysfunctional — so
the eruption of protest movements is no surprise.
Yet, the Big Shift also unleashes a huge global flow of ideas, innovations, new
collaborative possibilities and new market opportunities. This flow is
constantly getting richer and faster. Today, they argue, tapping the global flow
becomes the key to productivity, growth and prosperity. But to tap this flow
effectively, every country, company and individual needs to be constantly
growing their talents.
“We are living in a world where flow will prevail and topple any obstacles in
its way,” says Hagel. “As flow gains momentum, it undermines the precious
knowledge stocks that in the past gave us security and wealth. It calls on us to
learn faster by working together and to pull out of ourselves more of our true
potential, both individually and collectively. It excites us with the
possibilities that can only be realized by participating in a broader range of
flows. That is the essence of the Big Shift.”
Yes, corporations now have access to more cheap software, robots, automation,
labor and genius than ever. So holding a job takes more talent. But the flip
side is that individuals — individuals — anywhere can now access the flow to
take online courses at Stanford from a village in Africa, to start a new company
with customers everywhere or to collaborate with people anywhere. We have more
big problems than ever and more problem-solvers than ever.
So there you have it: Two master narratives — one threat-based, one
opportunity-based, but both involving seismic changes. Gilding is actually an
optimist at heart. He believes that while the Great Disruption is inevitable,
humanity is best in a crisis, and, once it all hits, we will rise to the
occasion and produce transformational economic and social change (using tools of
the Big Shift). Hagel is also an optimist. He knows the Great Disruption may be
barreling down on us, but he believes that the Big Shift has also created a
world where more people than ever have the tools, talents and potential to head
it off. My heart is with Hagel, but my head says that you ignore Gilding at your
Here, NYT, 11.10.2011,
Response of the Police Is Expanding With Protests
October 11, 2011
The New York Times
By KIRK JOHNSON
DENVER — Whatever the original impulse behind “Occupy Wall Street,” or the
speculation of what the movement might become, this much is true: The groups of
protesters, now camping or hanging out in many American cities, and the police
agencies that have responsibility for public safety and order, are both shifting
into new postures of action and response.
Whether that evolving chemistry will push things toward more confrontation
remains unclear. But the combination — new participants, new police tactics — is
clearly opening an uncertain chapter in a story that from its inception has
embraced the notion of unplanned, unscripted civil action.
People like Darrel Egemo, 75, a former money manager, are part of this new
ferment. Mr. Egemo came to the protests, now in their third week, on the grounds
of the State Capitol here for the first time on Tuesday.
“I decided they needed one person in a necktie and sport coat,” Mr. Egemo said,
looking dapper as he waved a sign to motorists, reading, “Integrity sold short
Larger numbers are pushing protesters into new areas as well, raising tensions.
In Boston early Tuesday morning, about 100 protesters were arrested when the
group expanded from its previous area in the center of Dewey Square in the
financial district to a nearby part of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, part of the
necklace of open park space through downtown.
By Tuesday morning, protesters were in sharp disagreement at their general
assembly meeting whether the group should have expanded its turf, and whether it
had been a collective decision.
“More people are coming, we’re not shrinking,” said Philip Anderson, an
unemployed recent college graduate who has been acting as a spokesman. “If we
grow into a place they don’t want us, it may come to another standoff like last
night. We hope they don’t make the decision to use violence against us, but
we’ll have to deal with whatever happens as it comes up.”
In Los Angeles, where protesters as recently as last week were dominated by
young people in what seemed a tie-dye and guitar-circle subculture, a second
wave of older protesters and homeless people has gravitated toward the
encampment at City Hall, demonstrators said.
Elise Whitaker, 21, a freelance script editor and assistant film director, said
she thought it was about technology — older protesters took longer to tune in to
the gatherings, she said, which had been organized largely through Internet
“It is the youth who spend the majority of our time on Facebook and Twitter,”
she said. “That’s why we knew about it first.”
In Seattle, officials began on Monday pressuring protesters to relocate to City
Hall from Westlake Park, in the busy downtown shopping district, after what had
been a mostly peaceful, if statutorily illegal standoff.
The police showed up at 10 p.m. Monday and announced that the park was closed
for the night, said Gabriel Bell, a volunteer legal adviser for Occupy Seattle.
Anyone who stayed was at risk of being arrested, they were warned. After a
fourth announcement at 11 p.m., Mr. Bell said, the protesters went across the
street to avoid arrest. Many slept in doorways of nearby businesses, but the
police kept their flashing lights going all night, making it difficult to sleep,
Shifting coalitions and alliances are also complicating the internal politics of
the protest movement.
In Chicago, for example, protesters from Occupy Chicago joined forces on Tuesday
with members of Action Now, a group concerned with vacant lots in the city’s
South and West Side neighborhoods.
The combined groups piled at least a dozen garbage bags on the sidewalk in front
of the Bank of America building in the Chicago Loop, along with couches and
other trash that they said had been pulled from a foreclosed property. Five
women, ranging in age from 56 to 80, were arrested there after they went inside
the bank lobby and scattered trash.
In Washington, where disparate groups of protesters with overlapping agendas
from pacifism to poverty have been demonstrating in recent days, members of a
group called Veterans for Peace joined in on Tuesday, crowding the atrium of the
Hart Senate Office Building, which they entered a few at a time before unfurling
colorful banners and an upside-down American flag.
“We want to stop the financial influence on our government and we want our
people to be taken care of,” said Leah Bolger, national vice president of
Veterans for Peace.
In some places, the new alliances are making for some fine-point factional
clarification. A spokesman for Occupy Chicago, Micah Philbrook, emphasized that
his group had voted to join a week of protests organized by a coalition called
Stand Up Chicago, but had not become members of that coalition in participating
in Tuesday’s activities, including the one at the Bank of America.
“We don’t want people to think that we are being co-opted by other movements,”
Mr. Philbrook said. “Occupy Chicago, like all the Occupy movements, stands apart
from any political parties, stands apart from any existing movement.”
A sometimes tentative police response is adding its own element to the mix. In
Atlanta, protesters were warned by the police on Tuesday that if, at 11 p.m.,
they were still in Woodruff Park, a small oasis in the heart of downtown, they
would be arrested. Anyone who does not want to be arrested can simply leave the
park, the police said. But protesters said they were told the same thing on
Monday. Instead, dozens of police officers showed up but made no arrests.
The protesters also seem to have significant numbers of uncounted allies, silent
or on the sidelines, at least for now.
Daniel Eavenson, an engineer in Chicago, said he had only been “witnessing.”
“There are millions of us watching online and sending out our hope,” he said.
In New York, a “Millionaire’s March” of about 400 people affiliated with Occupy
Wall Street wound its way through Upper East Side on Tuesday afternoon, with
participants protesting outside the homes of financial titans, including
JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, the media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the
industrialist David H. Koch.
The march was peaceful, if noisy, with protesters chanting, trumpeting and
drumming their way along Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue under the watchful gaze of
dozens of police officers and doormen like John Tima, who stood at the entry to
791 Park Avenue.
“What are they going to accomplish out of this? What’s going to happen, higher
taxes for rich people? O.K.,” he shrugged.
Reporting was contributed by Jess Bidgood from Boston, Ian Lovett from Los
Angeles, Jada F. Smith from Washington, Stacey Solie from Seattle, Dan Frosch
from Denver, Steven Yaccino from Chicago, Robbie Brown from Atlanta, and Rob
Harris and Cara Buckley from New York.
Response of the Police
Is Expanding With Protests, NYT, 11.10.2011,
The New York Times
By DAVID BROOKS
economy is probably going to stink for a few more years. It is beset by
short-term problems (low consumer demand, uncertain housing prices, too much
debt) and long-term problems (wage stagnation, rising health care costs, eroding
Realistically, not much is going to be done to address the short-term problems,
but we can at least use this winter of recuperation to address the country’s
underlying structural ones. Do tax reform, fiscal reform, education reform and
political reform so that when the economy finally does recover the prosperity is
deep, broad and strong.
Unfortunately, the country has been wasting this winter of recuperation. Nothing
of consequence has been achieved over the past two years. Instead, there have
been a series of trivial sideshows. It’s as if people can’t keep their minds
focused on the big things. They get diverted by scuffles that are small,
contentious and symbolic.
Take the Occupy Wall Street movement. This uprising was sparked by the magazine
Adbusters, previously best known for the 2004 essay, “Why Won’t Anyone Say They
Are Jewish?” — an investigative report that identified some of the most
influential Jews in America and their nefarious grip on policy.
If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the
virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1
This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of
themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite.
Unfortunately, almost no problem can be productively conceived in this way. A
group that divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent
will have nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform,
wage stagnation or polarization. They will have nothing to say about the way
Americans have overconsumed and overborrowed. These are problems that implicate
a much broader swath of society than the top 1 percent.
They will have no realistic proposal to reduce the debt or sustain the welfare
state. Even if you tax away 50 percent of the income of those making between $1
million and $10 million, you only reduce the national debt by 1 percent,
according to the Tax Foundation. If you confiscate all the income of those
making more than $10 million, you reduce the debt by 2 percent. You would still
be nibbling only meekly around the edges.
The 99-versus-1 frame is also extremely self-limiting. If you think all problems
flow from a small sliver of American society, then all your solutions are going
to be small, too. The policy proposals that have been floating around the Occupy
Wall Street movement — a financial transfer tax, forgiveness for student loans —
The Occupy Wall Street movement may look radical, but its members’ ideas are
less radical than those you might hear at your average Rotary Club. Its members
may hate capitalism. A third believe the U.S. is no better than Al Qaeda,
according to a New York magazine survey, but since the left no longer believes
in the nationalization of industry, these “radicals” really have no systemic
reforms to fall back on.
They are not the only small thinkers. President Obama promises not to raise
taxes on the bottom 98 percent. The Occupy-types celebrate the bottom 99
percent. Republicans promise not to raise taxes on the bottom 100 percent.
Through these and other pledges, leaders of all three movements are hedging
themselves in. They are severely limiting the scope of their proposed solutions.
The thing about the current moment is that the moderates in suits are much more
radical than the pierced anarchists camping out on Wall Street or the Tea
Look, for example, at a piece Matt Miller wrote for The Washington Post called
“The Third Party Stump Speech We Need.” Miller is a former McKinsey consultant
and Clinton staffer. But his ideas are much bigger than anything you hear from
the protesters: slash corporate taxes and raise energy taxes, aggressively use
market forces and public provisions to bring down health care costs; raise
capital requirements for banks; require national service; balance the budget by
Other economists, for example, have revived the USA Tax, first introduced in
1995 by Senators Sam Nunn and Pete Domenici. This would replace the personal
income and business tax regime with a code that allows unlimited deduction for
personal savings and business investment. It’s a consumption tax through the
back door, which would clean out loopholes and weaken lobbyists.
Don’t be fooled by the clichés of protest movements past. The most radical
people today are the ones that look the most boring. It’s not about declaring
war on some nefarious elite. It’s about changing behavior from top to bottom.
Let’s occupy ourselves.
The Milquetoast Radicals, NYT, 10.10.2011,
For Romney, Social Issues Pose New Test
October 8, 2011
The New York Times
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR, ERIK ECKHOLM and ASHLEY PARKER
This article was reported by Michael D. Shear, Erik Eckholm
and Ashley Parker and written by Mr. Shear.
WASHINGTON — After years of trying to tamp down concerns about his stance on
social issues and his Mormon faith, Mitt Romney is now being forced to fend off
revived questions from rivals and evangelical leaders about the consistency and
depth of his conservatism.
Mr. Romney has tried at every stage of the race for the Republican presidential
nomination to focus on the economy, and he did so again on Saturday, when he
appeared here at the Values Voter Summit, a gathering of social conservative
But he also felt compelled to reiterate that he was in sync with social
conservatives as he ran through his positions on abortion, marriage, judicial
appointments and religious values. And as other speakers condemned homosexuality
and raised questions about whether a Mormon is a true Christian, Mr. Romney
emphasized that tolerance and civility were conservative values.
“The task before us is to focus on the conservative beliefs and the values that
unite us,” he said. “Let no agenda narrow our vision or drive us apart.”
The questions he faces about his rightward shift over the years on the topics of
most concern to social conservatives have become entangled in Mr. Romney’s
broader challenge: establishing himself as authentic and principled, and
battling the perception that he has reshaped himself for the politics of the
With Mr. Romney having regained the perceived status of front-runner, his
opponents have signaled that they will go after him hard from the right,
questioning his conservative credentials and trying to force him off his
economic message. He now has to parry those intensifying attacks without giving
up the opportunity to win over independent voters should he become his party’s
nominee and face President Obama next year.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas urged Republican voters in Iowa on Saturday to study
the records of the candidates to find an “authentic and conservative leader.”
There was little question that Mr. Romney was the subject of his remarks.
“You measure a leader by how they walk, not how they talk,” Mr. Perry said.
“I’ve got a conservative record. I’m proud of that conservative record.”
Beyond Mr. Romney’s substantive positions, his faith is re-emerging as a concern
among some evangelicals. On Saturday, a conservative activist speaking after Mr.
Romney, Bryan Fischer, said without naming Mr. Romney that the next president
had to be a man of “genuine” Christian faith. On Friday, a backer of Mr. Perry
described Mr. Romney’s faith as a cult.
Mr. Perry later said he disagreed with that characterization, and some
evangelical leaders said they were less concerned about Mr. Romney’s being a
Mormon than about his stand on the issues.
Mr. Romney’s address on Saturday got a positive reception from many in the
“Now the foundation needed for a strong economy and a strong military is a
people of strong values,” Mr. Romney said, going on to promise that he would
eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood and appoint judges who would
vote to roll back Roe v. Wade.
In his 2008 race, Mr. Romney and his team reached out regularly to social
conservatives. He once even sent evangelical leaders expensive wooden chairs
with brass plaques promising a seat at “our table.”
Advisers said the campaign’s approach in 2012 was based on a belief that
conservative voters and religious leaders know far more about Mr. Romney’s views
than they did four years ago. They noted that Mr. Romney had attended the Values
Voter Summit conference every year. They said that there were no plans for him
to give another speech about his Mormon faith but that he would continue to
address social issues as they were raised.
Mr. Romney is also determined to keep his focus on the economic struggles of
voters, believing that is Mr. Obama’s biggest vulnerability. Some social
conservative leaders say evangelical voters will mobilize behind any Republican
nominee, including Mr. Romney, just because they are so united in their desire
to defeat Mr. Obama.
Still, Mr. Romney clearly has not quelled all the doubts about him among social
conservatives because of his positions over the years both on social issues and
the health care legislation he signed as governor of Massachusetts, which has
many similarities to the national legislation signed by Mr. Obama.
“He did a good job and hit all the issues,” Mathew D. Staver, the dean of the
Liberty University School of Law, said after Mr. Romney’s speech Saturday. “It
did not change my opinion, however. He needs to renounce RomneyCare and not
defend it or distinguish it from ObamaCare.”
Richard Land, the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the
Southern Baptist Convention, said before the speech that evangelicals felt “some
reluctance” about Mr. Romney. They wonder “how strongly he feels about their
But Mr. Land added that “most evangelicals and social conservatives don’t think
the country can survive four more years of Barack Obama.”
Ralph Reed, the director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, said Mr. Romney’s
strategy might work to his advantage.
“My sense is that his strategy this time is not to genuflect or pander,” Mr.
Reed said. “Romney has retooled to some extent and is running as someone who
knows how to turn around the economy and create jobs. That’s not necessarily a
Mr. Romney’s evolution on the issues has been well documented. On abortion, he
once called himself “pro-choice” and supported Planned Parenthood. But after
being elected governor of Massachusetts, he publicly switched his position,
declaring that the debate over stem cell research had convinced him of the
“sanctity of life.” Since then, Mr. Romney has called himself “pro-life.”
As a candidate for a Massachusetts seat in the Senate, Mr. Romney wrote a letter
in 1994 arguing that “we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream
concern.” The letter, to the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay advocacy group, said
he would do more for gay rights than Senator Edward M. Kennedy, his Democratic
Since then, however, Mr. Romney has fought against gay rights, championing an
amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage. As
a presidential candidate, he has opposed same-sex marriage and this summer
signed a pledge to support a federal constitutional amendment that would define
marriage as between one man and one woman.
On gun rights, Mr. Romney once defended the tough laws in Massachusetts,
promising not to “chip away” at them. But more recently, he has stuck to the
line favored by the National Rifle Association, proclaiming his unqualified
support for the Second Amendment and saying government needs to enforce existing
gun laws, not create new ones.
Now, when asked on the campaign trail if he has flip-flopped, Mr. Romney points
to his book “No Apology,” which lays out his positions on the issues, and
quickly moves on.
“It’s not that every single issue I looked at in my entire life I’ve never
changed my view on,” Mr. Romney said at a recent town-hall-style meeting in New
Hampshire. “In the private sector, if you don’t change your view when the facts
change, well, you’ll get fired — for being stubborn and stupid. So I’m very
happy with where I am and the things I believe.”
Kitty Bennett and Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting.
For Romney, Social
Issues Pose New Test, NYT, 8.10.2011,
Protests Offer Help, and Risk, for Democrats
October 10, 2011
The New York Times
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON — Leading Democratic figures, including party fund-raisers and a
top ally of President Obama, are embracing the spread of the anti-Wall Street
protests in a clear sign that members of the Democratic establishment see the
movement as a way to align disenchanted Americans with their party.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s powerful House
fund-raising arm, is circulating a petition seeking 100,000 party supporters to
declare that “I stand with the Occupy Wall Street protests.”
The Center for American Progress, a liberal organization run by John D. Podesta,
who helped lead Mr. Obama’s 2008 transition, credits the protests with tapping
into pent-up anger over a political system that it says rewards the rich over
the working class — a populist theme now being emphasized by the White House and
the party. The center has encouraged and sought to help coordinate protests in
Judd Legum, a spokesman for the center, said that its direct contacts with the
protests have been limited, but that “we’ve definitely been publicizing it and
He said Democrats are already looking for ways to mobilize protesters in
get-out-the-vote drives for 2012. “What attracts an organization like CAP to
this movement is the idea that our country’s economic policies have been focused
on the very top and not on the bulk of America,” Mr. Legum added. “That’s a
message we certainly agree with.”
But while some Democrats see the movement as providing a political boost, the
party’s alignment with the eclectic mix of protesters makes others nervous. They
see the prospect of the protesters’ pushing the party dangerously to the left —
just as the Tea Party has often pushed Republicans farther to the right and made
for intraparty run-ins.
Mr. Obama has spoken sympathetically of the Wall Street protests, saying they
reflect “the frustration” that many struggling Americans are feeling. Vice
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House
Democratic leader, have sounded similar themes.
The role of groups like the Democratic campaign committee and Mr. Podesta’s
group, sometimes working in recent weeks with labor unions, moves support from
talking points to the realm of organizational guidance.
It is not at all clear whether the leaders of the amorphous movement actually
want the support of the Democratic establishment, given that some of the
protesters’ complaints are directed at the Obama administration. Among their
grievances, the protesters say they want to see steps taken to ensure that the
rich pay a fairer share of their income in taxes, that banks are held
accountable for reckless practices and that more attention is paid to finding
jobs for the unemployed.
The movement has chosen not to have a spokesman and did not offer official
comment on the Democrats’ attentions. But whether sought or not, the blessing of
senior Democrats holds the potential to give the movement added heft in the same
way that the role of senior Republicans like the former House leader Dick Armey
did for the Tea Party as it grew from an offshoot movement to a much more
organized and potent force.
The protests also provide yet another bright dividing line between Democrats and
Republicans in Washington — one that seems likely to help shape the competing
themes of the 2012 presidential election.
Democrats and Republicans were already largely divided over the Dodd-Frank
legislation, which set out hundreds of new restrictions governing the way
financial institutions operate and are regulated. But while the regulations were
dense and difficult for many Americans to understand, much less seen as a
rallying point, the widespread images of the sprawling protests have offered
both parties a colorful and powerful symbol around which to frame their
Leading Republicans have grown increasingly critical of the protests. Eric
Cantor, the House majority leader, called the protesters “a growing mob,” and
Herman Cain, a Republican presidential candidate, said the protests are the work
of “jealous” anti-capitalists.
The Republican National Committee is also eager to use the protests against Mr.
“The protests began with anger aimed at Wall Street, but the anger is also
directed at the failure of leadership in Washington and that starts with the
president,” Kristen Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the committee, said Monday.
The protesters “realize that if they want change, the one person most
responsible for the status quo and for making change is President Obama,” she
While many Democrats have praised the protesters, some officials in the party
remain wary of their potential impact — especially if the protests were to turn
more disruptive or even violent.
“That’s the danger with something like this — that you go from peaceful protests
to throwing trash cans,” said a senior House Democratic official, who spoke on
condition of anonymity.
“Sure, there’s been some crazy anarchy stuff, but over all, the Democrats like
their message about Wall Street and accountability,” the official said. “It
overlaps with our own message.”
Matt Bennett, vice president for Third Way, a Democratic policy institute in
Washington that favors a more centrist approach, said he believes the angry and
sometimes radical tone of the protests may turn off moderate swing voters who
will be critical in the 2012 elections, just as many moderates are put off by
the rhetoric of the Tea Party on the right.
Embracing the protests may prove a mistake for Democrats, Mr. Bennett said.
“There’s not much upside,” he said, “and there’s a lot of downside.”
Robert Reich, the former labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, wrote in
a blog posting Friday that the protesters’ demands on taxes dovetail with
Democrats’ themes, but he said the protests should still make the party wary —
in part because Democrats rely on Wall Street for significant campaign
“If Occupy Wall Street coalesces into something like a real movement, the
Democratic Party may have more difficulty digesting it than the G.O.P. has had
with the Tea Party,” Mr. Reich wrote.
Some Tea Party leaders are already using the headlines generated by the Wall
Street protesters to try to appeal for financial help for a national advertising
campaign of their own.
In an e-mail sent over the weekend, Todd Cefaratti, representing TeaParty.net,
explained the goal of the first television advertisement would be to introduce
the face of the Tea Party movement as a “diverse group of everyday Americans who
are only special in that they are patriots who want to put our country back on
the right track!” He included a link to the ad that is posted on YouTube and
already had more than 37,000 views by Monday night.
Mr. Cefaratti dismissed comparisons that some people have been making about the
Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street group.
Jennifer Preston contributed reporting from New York.
Protests Offer Help, and
Risk, for Democrats, NYT, 10.10.2011,
The Myth of Voter Fraud
October 9, 2011
The New York Times
It has been a record year for new legislation designed to make it harder for
Democrats to vote — 19 laws and two executive actions in 14 states dominated by
Republicans, according to a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice. As a
result, more than five million eligible voters will have a harder time
participating in the 2012 election.
Of course the Republicans passing these laws never acknowledge their real
purpose, which is to turn away from the polls people who are more likely to vote
Democratic, particularly the young, the poor, the elderly and minorities. They
insist that laws requiring government identification cards to vote are only to
protect the sanctity of the ballot from unscrupulous voters. Cutting back on
early voting, which has been popular among working people who often cannot
afford to take off from their jobs on Election Day, will save money, they claim.
None of these explanations are true. There is almost no voting fraud in America.
And none of the lawmakers who claim there is have ever been able to document any
but the most isolated cases. The only reason Republicans are passing these laws
is to give themselves a political edge by suppressing Democratic votes.
The most widespread hurdle has been the demand for photo identification at the
polls, a departure from the longstanding practice of using voters’ signatures or
household identification like a utility bill. Seven states this year have passed
laws requiring strict photo ID to vote, and similar measures were introduced in
27 other states. More than 21 million citizens — 11 percent of the population —
do not have government ID cards. Many of them are poor, or elderly, or black and
Hispanic and could have a hard time navigating the bureaucracy to get a card.
In Kansas, the secretary of state, Kris Kobach (who also wrote Arizona’s
notorious anti-immigrant law), pushed for an ID law on the basis of a list of
221 reported instances of voter fraud in Kansas since 1997. Even if that were
true, it would be an infinitesimal percentage of the votes cast during that
period, but it is not true.
When The Wichita Eagle looked into the local cases on the list, the newspaper
found that almost all were honest mistakes: a parent trying to vote for a
student away at college, or signatures on mail-in ballots that didn’t precisely
match those on file. In one case of supposed “fraud,” a confused non-citizen was
asked at the motor vehicles bureau whether she wanted to fill out a voter
registration form, and did so not realizing she was ineligible to vote.
Some of the desperate Republican attempts to keep college students from voting
are almost comical in their transparent partisanship. No college ID card in
Wisconsin meets the state’s new stringent requirements (as lawmakers knew full
well), so the elections board proposed that colleges add stickers to the cards
with expiration dates and signatures. Republican lawmakers protested that the
stickers would lead to — yes, voter fraud.
Other states are beginning to require documentary proof of citizenship to vote,
or are finding other ways to make it harder to register. Some are cutting back
on programs allowing early voting, or imposing new restrictions on absentee
ballots, alarmed that early voting was popular among black voters supporting
Barack Obama in 2008. In all cases, they are abusing the trust placed in them by
twisting democracy’s machinery to partisan ends.
The Myth of Voter Fraud,
Spurs Online Dialogue on Inequity
The New York Times
By JENNIFER PRESTON
as a small group of protesters expressing their grievances about economic
inequities last month from a park in New York City has evolved into an online
conversation that is spreading across the country on social media platforms.
Inspired by the populist message of the group known as Occupy Wall Street, more
than 200 Facebook pages and Twitter accounts have sprung up in dozens of cities
during the past week, seeking volunteers for local protests and fostering
discussion about the group’s concerns.
Some 900 events have been set up on Meetup.com, and blog posts and photographs
from all over the country are popping up on the WeArethe99Percent blog on Tumblr
from people who see themselves as victims of not just a sagging economy but also
“I don’t want to be rich. I don’t want to live a lavish lifestyle,” wrote a
woman on Tumblr, describing herself as a college student worried about the
burden of student debt. “I’m worried. I’m scared, thinking about the future
shakes me. I hope this works. I really hope this works.”
The online conversation has grown at the same time that street protests have
taken place in several other cities last week, including Boston, Los Angeles,
Chicago and Washington. A Web site, Occupy Together, is trying to aggregate the
online conversations and the off-line activities.
“We are not coordinating anything,” said Justin Wedes, 26, a former high school
science teacher from Brooklyn who helps manage one of the movement’s main
Twitter accounts, @OccupyWallStNYC. “It is all grass roots. We are just trying
to use it to disseminate information, tell stories, ask for donations and to
give people a voice.”
To help get the word out about a rally at 3 p.m. Saturday in Washington Square
Park, the group turned to its Facebook and Twitter accounts. “If you are one of
the 99 percent, this is your meeting,” the Facebook invitation said. Nearly 700
people replied on Facebook saying that they would be there.
More than 1,000 demonstrators arrived at Washington Square Park for the rally,
many of them after marching from the encampment they had established three weeks
ago in Zuccotti Park, in Lower Manhattan.
During their march, protesters kept to the sidewalks and out of traffic in a
purposeful attempt to prevent arrests. Once at Washington Square Park, they held
meetings until the early evening, when the crowd dispersed and protesters made
their way back to Zuccotti Park, where they were welcomed with loud cheers.
While people in New York are still dominating the conversation on Twitter, an
analysis of Twitter data on Friday showed that almost half of the posts were
made in other parts of the country, primarily in Los Angeles and San Francisco,
Chicago and Washington, as well as Texas, Florida and Oregon, according to
Trendrr, a social media analytics firm.
Mark Ghuneim, founder and chief executive officer of Trendrr, said the Twitter
conversation was producing an average of 10,000 to 15,000 posts an hour on
Friday about Occupy Wall Street, with most people sharing links from news sites,
Tumblr, YouTube and Trendsmap.
Washington’s National Air and Space Museum was closed after demonstrators tried
to enter the building with signs.
“This is more of a growing conversation than something massive as we have seen
from hurricanes and with people passing away,” Mr. Ghuneim said. “The
conversation for this has a strong and steady heartbeat that is spreading. We’re
seeing the national dialogue morph into pockets of local and topic-based
In Egypt, the We Are All Khaled Said Facebook page was started 10 months before
the uprising last January to protest police brutality. The page had more than
400,000 members before it was used to help propel protesters into Tahrir Square.
Occupy Wall Street’s Facebook page began a few weeks ago and has 138,000
Yet it represents only a sliver of the conversation taking place on Facebook
about the group’s anticorporate message. Unlike in Egypt, where people found one
another on one Facebook page, geographically based Occupy Facebook pages have
cropped up, reflecting the loosely organized approach of the group.
These Occupy pages around the country are being used not only to echo the issues
being discussed in New York about jobs, corporate greed and budget cuts, but
also to talk about other problems closer to home.
In Tennessee, for example, there is an Occupy Tennessee Facebook page, as well
as pages for Occupy Memphis, Occupy Knoxville, Occupy Clarksville, Occupy
Chattanooga, Occupy Murfreesboro and Occupy Nashville, which helped get out the
word about a lunchtime protest in Nashville’s Legislative Plaza on Friday that
drew several hundred protesters with some bearing signs with the movement’s
motto: “We are the 99 percent.”
The center of the movement’s media operation is in Zuccotti Park, where several
hundred people have been camping since Sept. 17.
On Friday morning, operation central consisted of a few tables and chairs
clustered around a generator, with a few volunteers editing video, posting
updates for the group’s social media sites on laptops and staffing the live
video feed for a channel called Global Revolution on Livestream.com.
On YouTube, at least 10,000 videos tagged “occupy wall street” have been
uploaded in the past month. A video showing female protesters being fencing in
and sprayed with pepper spray by the police is the most viewed of the protest,
according to Matt McLernon, a spokesman for YouTube.
In addition to the videos posted from New York, Mr. McLernon said, videos have
also been uploaded from Boston, Seattle, San Antonio and St. Louis, as well as
from Oklahoma and Vermont.
Showing that YouTube can be used by both sides, the New York Police Department
has uploaded its own videos of the protests on YouTube, including of the massive
demonstration at the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1 that led to 700 arrests.
But the group is not relying exclusively on social media platforms or the
Internet to deliver its message. The second edition of The Occupied Wall Street
Journal, a four-page broadsheet, was published on Saturday.
Al Baker and
Anna M. Phillips contributed reporting.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: October 8, 2011
An earlier version of this article misstated the name of one of the movement’s
main Twitter accounts. It is @OccupyWallStNYC, not @OccupyWallStreetNYC.
Protest Spurs Online Dialogue on Inequity, NYT, 8.10.2011,
Protesters Against Wall Street
The New York Times
Occupy Wall Street protests spread from Lower Manhattan to Washington and other
cities, the chattering classes keep complaining that the marchers lack a clear
message and specific policy prescriptions. The message — and the solutions —
should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since the economy went
into a recession that continues to sock the middle class while the rich have
recovered and prospered. The problem is that no one in Washington has been
At this point, protest is the message: income inequality is grinding down that
middle class, increasing the ranks of the poor, and threatening to create a
permanent underclass of able, willing but jobless people. On one level, the
protesters, most of them young, are giving voice to a generation of lost
The jobless rate for college graduates under age 25 has averaged 9.6 percent
over the past year; for young high school graduates, the average is 21.6
percent. Those figures do not reflect graduates who are working but in
low-paying jobs that do not even require diplomas. Such poor prospects in the
early years of a career portend a lifetime of diminished prospects and lower
earnings — the very definition of downward mobility.
The protests, though, are more than a youth uprising. The protesters’ own
problems are only one illustration of the ways in which the economy is not
working for most Americans. They are exactly right when they say that the
financial sector, with regulators and elected officials in collusion, inflated
and profited from a credit bubble that burst, costing millions of Americans
their jobs, incomes, savings and home equity. As the bad times have endured,
Americans have also lost their belief in redress and recovery.
The initial outrage has been compounded by bailouts and by elected officials’
hunger for campaign cash from Wall Street, a toxic combination that has
reaffirmed the economic and political power of banks and bankers, while ordinary
Extreme inequality is the hallmark of a dysfunctional economy, dominated by a
financial sector that is driven as much by speculation, gouging and government
backing as by productive investment.
When the protesters say they represent 99 percent of Americans, they are
referring to the concentration of income in today’s deeply unequal society.
Before the recession, the share of income held by those in the top 1 percent of
households was 23.5 percent, the highest since 1928 and more than double the 10
percent level of the late 1970s.
That share declined slightly as financial markets tanked in 2008, and updated
data is not yet available, but inequality has almost certainly resurged. In the
last few years, for instance, corporate profits (which flow largely to the
wealthy) have reached their highest level as a share of the economy since 1950,
while worker pay as a share of the economy is at its lowest point since the
Income gains at the top would not be as worrisome as they are if the middle
class and the poor were also gaining. But working-age households saw their real
income decline in the first decade of this century. The recession and its
aftermath have only accelerated the decline.
Research shows that such extreme inequality correlates to a host of ills,
including lower levels of educational attainment, poorer health and less public
investment. It also skews political power, because policy almost invariably
reflects the views of upper-income Americans versus those of lower-income
No wonder then that Occupy Wall Street has become a magnet for discontent. There
are plenty of policy goals to address the grievances of the protesters —
including lasting foreclosure relief, a financial transactions tax, greater
legal protection for workers’ rights, and more progressive taxation. The country
needs a shift in the emphasis of public policy from protecting the banks to
fostering full employment, including public spending for job creation and
development of a strong, long-term strategy to increase domestic manufacturing.
It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation. That’s the job of the
nation’s leaders, and if they had been doing it all along there might not be a
need for these marches and rallies. Because they have not, the public airing of
grievances is a legitimate and important end in itself. It is also the first
line of defense against a return to the Wall Street ways that plunged the nation
into an economic crisis from which it has yet to emerge.
Protesters Against Wall Street, NYT, 8.10.2011,
The Political Pulpit
September 30, 2011
The New York Times
By STEPHANIE STROM
This weekend, hundreds of pastors, including some of the nation’s evangelical
leaders, will climb into their pulpits to preach about American politics,
flouting a decades-old law that prohibits tax-exempt churches and other
charities from campaigning on election issues.
The sermons, on what is called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, essentially represent a
form of biblical bait, an effort by some churches to goad the Internal Revenue
Service into court battles over the divide between religion and politics.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit legal defense group whose founders
include James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, sponsors the annual
event, which started with 33 pastors in 2008. This year, Glenn Beck has been
promoting it, calling for 1,000 religious leaders to sign on and generating
additional interest at the beginning of a presidential election cycle.
“There should be no government intrusion in the pulpit,” said the Rev. James
Garlow, senior pastor at Skyline Church in La Mesa, Calif., who led preachers in
the battle to pass California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.
“The freedom of speech and the freedom of religion promised under the First
Amendment means pastors have full authority to say what they want to say.”
Mr. Garlow said he planned to inveigh against same-sex marriage, abortion and
other touchstone issues that social conservatives oppose, and some ministers may
be ready to encourage parishioners to vote only for those candidates who adhere
to the same views or values.
“I tell them that as followers of Christ, you wouldn’t vote for someone who was
against what God said in his word,” Mr. Garlow said. “I will, in effect, oppose
several candidates and — de facto — endorse others.”
Two Republican candidates in particular, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and
Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, would presumably benefit from some
pulpit politics on Sunday, since they have been courting Christian conservatives
Participating ministers plan to send tapes of their sermons to the I.R.S.,
effectively providing the agency with evidence it could use to take them to
But if history is any indication, the I.R.S. may continue to steer clear of the
“It’s frustrating,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel at Alliance Defense.
“The law is on the books but they don’t enforce it, leaving churches in limbo.”
Supporters of the law are equally vexed by the tax agency’s perceived inaction.
“We have grave concerns over the current inability of the I.R.S. to enforce the
federal tax laws applicable to churches,” a group of 13 ministers in Ohio wrote
in a letter to the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, in July.
Marcus Owens, the lawyer representing the Ohio ministers, warned that the
I.R.S.’s failure to pursue churches for politicking violations would encourage
more donations to support their efforts, taking further advantage of the new
leeway given to advocacy groups under the Supreme Court’s decision last year in
the Citizens United case.
Lois G. Lerner, director of the agency’s Exempt Organizations Division, said in
an e-mail that “education has been and remains the first goal of the I.R.S.’s
program on political activity by tax-exempt organizations.” The agency has
posted “guidance” on what churches can and cannot do on its Web site.
The agency says it has continued to do audits of some churches, but those are
not disclosed. Mr. Stanley, Mr. Owens and other lawyers say they are virtually
certain it has no continuing audits of church political activity, an issue that
has been a source of contention in recent elections.
The alliance and many other advocates regard a 1954 law prohibiting churches and
their leaders from engaging in political campaigning as a violation of the First
Amendment and wish to see the issue played out in court. The organization points
to the rich tradition of political activism by churches in some of the nation’s
most controversial battles, including the pre-Revolutionary war opposition to
taxation by the British, slavery and child labor.
The legislation, sponsored by Lyndon Baines Johnson, then a senator, muzzled all
charities in regards to partisan politics, and its impact on churches may have
been an unintended consequence. At the time, he was locked in a battle with two
nonprofit groups that were loudly calling him a closet communist.
Thirty years later, a group of senators led by Charles E. Grassley, Republican
of Iowa, passed legislation to try to rein in the agency a bit in doing some
audits. While audits of churches continued over the years, they appeared to have
slowed down considerably after a judge rebuffed the agency’s actions in a case
involving the Living Word Christian Center and a supposed endorsement of Ms.
Bachmann in 2007. The I.R.S. had eliminated positions through a reorganization,
and therefore, according to the judge, had not followed the law when determining
who could authorize such audits.
Sarah Hall Ingram, the I.R.S. commissioner responsible for the division that
oversees nonprofit groups, said the agency was still investigating such cases.
“We have churches under audit,” Ms. Hall Ingram said. “Maybe they just aren’t
the clients of the people you’re talking to.”
None of the churches involved in previous pulpit Sunday events have received
anything beyond a form letter from the I.R.S. thanking them for the tapes, Mr.
Stanley said. “They haven’t done anything to clarify what the law is and what
pastors can and can’t say,“ he said.
Mr. Owens, the lawyer representing the Ohio churches, said that Ms. Lerner had
told a meeting of state charity regulators in late 2009 that the agency was no
longer doing such audits. “I have not heard of a single church audit since
then,” Mr. Owens said.
He said the agency could have churches under audit for civil fraud or criminal
investigation. “I know of at least one of those,” he said.
Ms. Lerner said she could not recall what she had said at the meeting. Grant
Williams, an I.R.S. spokesman, declined to describe the type of church audits
the agency was doing or their number.
Last year, the I.R.S. also quietly ceased its Political Activities Compliance
Initiative, under which it issued reports in 2004 and 2006 detailing its
findings of illegal political campaigning by charities, including churches.
Paul Streckfus, a former I.R.S. official who publishes a newsletter about legal
and tax developments in the tax-exempt world, said the reports had served as an
alert. “They also gave us some idea of how big the problem of noncompliance
actually was, and that the I.R.S. was actually doing something about it,” Mr.
Mr. Garlow said he planned to outline where the candidates stood on various
issues and then discuss what the Bible said about those issues, calling on
church members to stand by their religious principles.
“The Bible says render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,”
he said. “But Caesar is demanding more and more of what was once considered
God’s matter, and pastors have been bullied and intimidated enough.”
The Political Pulpit,
Small Donors Are Slow to Return to the Obama Fold
September 24, 2011
The New York Times
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
They were once among President Obama’s most loyal supporters and a potent
symbol of his political brand: voters of moderate means who dug deep for the
candidate and his message of hope and change, sending him $10 or $25 or $50
every few weeks or months.
But in recent months, the frustration and disillusionment that have dragged down
Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have crept into the ranks of his vaunted
small-donor army, underscoring the challenges he faces as he seeks to rekindle
grass-roots enthusiasm for his re-election bid.
In interviews with dozens of low-dollar contributors in the past two weeks, some
said they were unhappy with what they viewed as Mr. Obama’s overly conciliatory
approach to Congressional Republicans. Others cited what they saw as a lack of
passion in the president, or said the sour economy had drained both their
enthusiasm and their pocketbooks.
For still others, high hopes that Mr. Obama would deliver a new kind of politics
in his first term have been dashed by the emergence of something that, to them,
more resembles politics as usual.
“When I was pro-Obama in 2008, I was thinking of him as a leader who could face
the challenges that we were tackling,” said Adnan Alasadi, who works in
behavioral health in Mesa, Ariz. Mr. Alasadi contributed repeatedly to Mr. Obama
during his first campaign but says he will not give the president — or anyone
else — any more money.
“Now I am seeing him as just an opportunistic politician,” Mr. Alasadi said.
Such defections are not merely symbolic. About a quarter of Mr. Obama’s record
haul during the 2008 cycle came from donors giving $200 or less, supporters who
could be tapped again and again without hitting federal contribution limits.
Many of those same people were also volunteers in his campaign, knocking on
doors, calling friends and neighbors and helping turn out the voters that fall.
Nadine Kurland, 62, of Falling Waters, W.Va., made over a dozen contributions to
Mr. Obama during the 2008 election and also made phone calls on his behalf. But
when an e-mail arrived recently inviting her to an Obama-themed get-together,
she ignored it.
“I have been very disappointed in the president,” Ms. Kurland said. “He has not
stood up to the Republicans.”
Unhappiness with Mr. Obama can be found even among the supporters his team
recruited to appear in campaign materials.
When Mr. Obama formally announced his re-election bid in April, his campaign
released a video featuring supporters from swing states like Colorado and
Michigan. One of them was Edward Blair, a 65-year-old lawyer from North
Carolina, who sent a half-dozen checks to Mr. Obama during the last campaign and
knocked on doors in his hometown, Lenoir, but has not given him money this year.
“What I said in that video was I didn’t agree with Obama on everything, but I
respected him and trusted him,” Mr. Blair said in a recent interview. But Mr.
Obama’s decision this month to abandon stricter new smog regulations, Mr. Blair
said, had renewed his worries about the president’s ability to lead.
“I certainly respect him, and I trust him,” Mr. Blair said. “But I am
disappointed, and I’m bewildered.”
Compared with his Republican rivals, Mr. Obama remains in an enviable position.
No Republican candidate for president has built a grass-roots fund-raising
machine as formidable or sophisticated as his.
Through June 30, the close of the most recent campaign reporting period, more
than 552,000 people had contributed to Mr. Obama’s re-election effort, according
to campaign officials. Half of them were new donors, and nearly all of them gave
contributions of less than $250.
But those figures obscured another statistic: a vast majority of Mr. Obama’s
past donors, who number close to four million, have not yet given him any money
The campaign is still in its early stages, and the president is likely to show
far stronger numbers than any Republican when the candidates report their
third-quarter fund-raising early next month. But his recent political
difficulties — a protracted battle over raising the national debt limit, sagging
approval ratings — have raised questions about whether he will be able to
sustain his fund-raising momentum.
“He did not articulate either to the Republicans that he was negotiating with or
to the American people a strong stance for what we feel the Democrats believe
in,” Theodore Weiss, 77, a retired federal employee in Florida, said of the debt
While he was impressed with Mr. Obama’s recent jobs speech, Mr. Weiss said, he
will not send Mr. Obama any checks this year. Instead, he said, he will use that
money to help out his two sons, a teacher and a small-business owner, both of
whom are struggling in the economic downturn.
Aides to Mr. Obama said the campaign was well ahead of its 2008 benchmarks. That
year, Mr. Obama did not reach one million total donors until February, about a
month after he won the Iowa caucuses.
A campaign spokesman said that the number of people who had given more than once
to Mr. Obama this year and the number of people who had contributed for the
first time were both higher than his total number of donors at the same point in
Many of the donors interviewed said they were pleased with the president’s
performance, or blamed Republicans in Congress for his difficulties.
“I am happy with him,” said Christine Carvajal, 45, a teacher in Pittsburgh who
made several small contributions in 2008. “I just feel like the Congress is
completely obstructing him.”
Some said they would like to give Mr. Obama money but had not done so simply
because they could no longer afford to make political contributions.
“Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to contribute anything,” said Judyann
Allen, a retiree in Covington, Wash., who added that she and her husband were
living month to month. “I would if I could. But I can’t afford to give anything
This month, the Obama campaign is staging a “Grass-roots Fund-Raising
Challenge,” a contest for Obama supporters who have set up fund-raising Web
sites for him, with the goal of raising 20,000 contributions by the end of
Mr. Obama has also provided “grass-roots fund-raising tips” on his Twitter feed.
“Make a hard ask,” one entry read. “Be clear about what you want and when you
And Mr. Obama’s campaign is deploying volunteers to contact all his past
supporters one by one, in part to ensure that they have a chance to voice any
concerns or criticisms they may have. The campaign also plans to roll out an
initiative that will provide donors with real-life examples of how the campaign
is spending their dollars to build a field operation in critical states.
But some of Mr. Obama’s supporters, echoing concerns expressed by many Democrats
in polls, said they were less interested in what he would do with their
contributions than in seeing him play tougher.
“There has been less passion than I might have hoped for,” said Andra Bohnet, a
musician and professor in Mobile, Ala., who sent Mr. Obama five checks in 2008.
“I think that in some ways, they have been too conciliatory.”
Asked whether she would give to him again, Ms. Bohnet paused.
“Now, I think I’ll wait and see,” she said.
Kitty Bennett and Griff Palmer contributed reporting.
Small Donors Are Slow to
Return to the Obama Fold, NYT, 24.9.2011,
Justin N. Feldman, 92, Dies; Opposed Tammany Hall
September 24, 2011
The New York Times
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Justin N. Feldman, a Manhattan lawyer who helped manage Robert F. Kennedy’s
1964 New York Senate campaign and whose deep involvement in city politics
extended from the 1940s through the 1980s, when he helped broker a $5.6 billion
rebuilding program for the city’s public transportation system, died on
Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 92.
The cause was congestive heart failure, according to his wife, Linda Fairstein,
the former sex-crimes prosecutor and crime novelist.
Mr. Feldman, a liberal Democrat who was later a campaign aide for John F.
Kennedy, entered reform politics in the late 1940s as a leader of the Fair Deal
Democratic Club. The group of reform Democrats was dedicated to breaking the
political influence of Tammany Hall, whose machinations Mr. Feldman analyzed
trenchantly in an influential article, “How Tammany Holds Power,” published in
the journal National Municipal Review in 1950.
He ran as a Fair Deal candidate for the post of Manhattan borough president in
1949 before withdrawing in favor of the eventual winner, the Liberal candidate
Robert F. Wagner Jr. In 1960, Mr. Feldman managed William F. Ryan to a stunning
upset over the Tammany-backed candidate for the Congressional seat for New
York’s 20th district, then on Manhattan’s West Side.
“Justin Feldman was a reformer before reform in Democratic politics became
popular,” former Mayor Edward I. Koch, an old comrade in arms of Mr. Feldman’s,
said in an e-mail on Friday.
As chairman of the law committee of the Manhattan Democratic Committee, Mr.
Feldman challenged the constitutionality of the 1961 statute that redrew
Manhattan’s four Congressional districts, arguing, in a case that reached the
United States Supreme Court, that the boundaries created racial enclaves.
Especially glaring were the 17th Congressional District on the East Side, known
as the Silk Stocking District, then represented by John V. Lindsay, and the 18th
District on the Upper East Side and East Harlem, represented by Adam Clayton
Powell Jr. The 17th District excluded 97 percent of Manhattan’s nonwhite
residents; the 18th District excluded 99.5 percent of its white residents.
Arguing before the Supreme Court in Yvette M. Wright et al. v. Nelson A.
Rockefeller (who was governor then), Mr. Feldman said of the redistricting, “It
hurts the Negroes because it puts all their influence in one district and denies
them the ability to influence Congressional elections in other districts.”
Asked by Justice John Marshall Harlan II, “If you started out to construct a
segregated Congressional district, could you do a better job than this?” Mr.
Feldman answered, “It would be absolutely impossible.”
On Feb. 17, 1964, the court ruled 7 to 2 that the plaintiffs had failed to prove
Mr. Feldman, a law partner of James M. Landis, the lawyer for Joseph P. Kennedy,
was an early supporter of John Kennedy’s presidential campaign. He served on
Kennedy’s staff at the Democratic National Convention in 1960 and, after the
election, helped draft proposals for reorganizing the federal regulatory
agencies. After Kennedy took office, Mr. Feldman was a consultant to Secretary
of Commerce Luther W. Hodges.
During Robert Kennedy’s successful Senate campaign, Mr. Feldman managed the
candidate’s schedule and supervised the advance teams that preceded him to each
Mr. Feldman, who helped persuade Kennedy to run, watched with some consternation
as the campaign unfolded and his candidate, distraught at the death of his older
brother in 1963 and shaken by the recent airplane crash that had left his
younger brother, Edward M. Kennedy, in the hospital, seemed to flounder.
“It was painful to watch him on the campaign trail — he was depressed, and the
crowds sensed it,” Mr. Feldman told David Talbot, the author of “Brothers: The
Hidden History of the Kennedy Years” (2007).
He awakened, Mr. Feldman recalled, after his Republican opponent, the incumbent,
Kenneth B. Keating, brought up Joseph P. Kennedy’s position on appeasement in
the 1930s and charged that Robert Kennedy, when he was attorney general, had
settled a case against a chemical company with Nazi ties to please his father.
“Bobby went nuts,” Mr. Feldman said. “He no longer thought Keating was this
benign force in politics. He denounced his charges as outrageous demagoguery.
After that, Bobby became a campaigner.”
In 1968, Mr. Feldman was a pallbearer at Senator Kennedy’s funeral.
Mr. Feldman was named to the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
in 1970. As a key negotiator for Richard Ravitch, the authority’s chairman, in
his dealings with the State Legislature in the early 1980s, Mr. Feldman helped
win passage of the bill that started the city’s transport system on a $5.6
billion rebuilding program.
Justin Newton Feldman was born on May 25, 1919, in Manhattan. After attending
DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, he earned a bachelor’s degree from
Columbia College in 1940 and a law degree from Columbia two years later.
During World War II, he served as a trial judge advocate at courts-martial in
the Army Air Corps. After leaving the military, he became director of veterans
affairs for the American Veterans Committee and helped set up a national legal
assistance clinic for returning soldiers.
During the Korean War, he was a senior lawyer for the National Production
Authority, working with Congressional committees to formulate defense
He was an administrative assistant to Representative Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr.
from 1952 to 1955. He was also a founding member of the firm Landis, Feldman,
Reilly & Akins, which merged into Poletti, Freidin, Prashker, Feldman & Gartner.
In 1982, he joined Kronish Lieb Weiner and Hellman as head of its litigation
In 1982, Mayor Koch appointed Mr. Feldman to serve on the Charter Revision
Commission. The panel was formed after a federal court ruled that the 10
at-large seats on the City Council, two from each borough, violated the
principle of one-man, one-vote because of the population differences in the five
boroughs. The following year, voters approved the commission’s proposals to
eliminate at-large seats, end the minimum population requirement for community
districts and overhaul the procedure for redrawing City Council districts.
Mr. Feldman’s first marriage ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, Linda,
he is survived by two daughters, Jane Feldman of Denver and Diane Feldman of
Washington; a son, Geoffrey, of Lowell, Mass.; and two grandsons.
Mr. Feldman, who continued to practice law until he was 90, kept his hand in
city politics virtually to the end of his life. Most recently, he advised Cyrus
R. Vance Jr. during his successful 2009 campaign for Manhattan district
Justin N. Feldman, 92,
Dies; Opposed Tammany Hall, NYT, 24.9.2011,
Candidates’ Stances on Health Care
Their Records as Governors
The New York Times
By KEVIN SACK
most prominent current or former governors running for president — Rick Perry,
Mitt Romney and Jon M. Huntsman Jr. — are firmly united in their commitment to
repealing President Obama’s health care law. But that unanimity masks a broad
divergence in their approaches to the issue while in office, spanning the
spectrum of Republican positioning.
The place of health care in the Republican primaries will necessarily be defined
by Mr. Romney’s skill at neutralizing criticism of his landmark Massachusetts
experiment and its paternity of “Obamacare,” as opponents have dubbed the law.
But each of the governors has vulnerabilities, and they have sought thus far to
credential themselves less by their own past records than by their current
opposition to what is officially known as the Affordable Care Act.
“They are more focused on expressing that view than showing how their health
care records as governor reveal what they would do as president,” said Alan
Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy.
The politics of the primaries have made toxic any consideration of
once-conservative concepts like health insurance mandates and marketplace
exchanges, because of their association with Mr. Obama’s plan. But in a
different day and environment, Mr. Romney in Massachusetts and Mr. Huntsman in
Utah embraced those very devices as state solutions, to differing degrees.
Mr. Perry, by contrast, eschewed direct efforts to expand coverage in Texas and
cemented its status as the state with the highest rate of people without
When Mr. Perry succeeded George W. Bush in December 2000, about 22 percent of
Texans had no insurance, second only to New Mexico. After Mr. Perry’s decade in
office, Texas now claims the highest uninsured rate, at 26 percent, as well as
other distinctions like the lowest rate of prenatal care.
Regardless, Mr. Perry has offered few initiatives to extend coverage. Instead,
under the banner of state sovereignty, he has waged a running battle against the
ballooning cost and structure of Medicaid, which covers more than a third of
Texas children. At various points, Mr. Perry and the Republican-controlled
Legislature have cut Medicaid benefits and provider reimbursement rates and made
enrollment more onerous.
“The governor believes that expanding government-sponsored insurance is not the
answer,” said a spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier. “Nor is requiring people to
purchase it. He looks to free-market solutions.”
Any failure to cover more Texans, Ms. Frazier said, is the federal government’s
for declining, under Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama, to grant Mr. Perry’s requests to
lift federal restrictions on Medicaid eligibility and benefits.
Rather than expanding public insurance, Mr. Perry sought to improve access by
revamping the medical liability system. In 2003, he backed a successful measure
that limited noneconomic damages against physicians and hospitals to a total of
Mr. Perry boasted in New Hampshire last month that the law resulted in “21,000
more physicians practicing medicine in Texas,” attracting specialists to
But three law professors — Bernard Black of Northwestern University, David A.
Hyman of the University of Illinois and Charles Silver of the University of
Texas — find deep flaws in Mr. Perry’s calculations and conclude that the supply
of practicing doctors actually increased at a slower rate after the 2003 changes
In working papers, the researchers assert that tort reform significantly reduced
the number and cost of liability claims. But they found no evidence that it
slowed the growth of health care costs.
Mr. Perry has railed against the 2010 federal health law as “socialism on
American soil” and strongly backs litigation challenging its requirement that
most Americans, starting in 2014, obtain insurance.
But his state agencies have accepted nearly $20 million in grants authorized by
the act, including $1 million to plan for the new insurance marketplaces known
as exchanges. Nonetheless, Mr. Perry this year persuaded the Legislature to
shelve a Republican bill to begin the planning process.
“He thought it would hurt our legal challenge to the law,” said State
Representative John Zerwas, the measure’s sponsor. “And whether we like it or
not, health insurance exchange has become synonymous with Obamacare, and there
are political consequences to that.”
Mr. Perry continues to pay a political price for one decision he made to impose
a health care mandate — an executive order in 2007 that made Texas the first
state to require young girls to be vaccinated against cervical cancer with
Gardasil. The order infuriated conservatives, and the Legislature quickly passed
a bill to overturn it, which Mr. Perry allowed to take effect without his
The governor, whose former chief of staff was a lobbyist for Merck, the maker of
Gardasil, defended his “pro-life decision” in a debate last year. But after
announcing his bid for president last month, he began describing it as a
One day before Mr. Romney signed his landmark 2006 health care bill amid pomp at
Faneuil Hall, he declared victory in a column in The Boston Globe: “Every
uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance
and the costs of health care will be reduced.”
Mr. Romney is batting .500.
For the 10 percent of residents who had been uninsured, the commonwealth’s
coverage mandate, coupled with government subsidies for the poor, has proved a
striking success. A study last year concluded that 98.1 percent of residents,
and 99.8 percent of children, had health insurance, leading the country. The
state also found, to the surprise of some, that the share of employers
contributing to their workers’ coverage (rather than accepting a modest penalty
for not doing so) had risen.
But the law was not intended to make a serious assault on the state’s
above-average health costs. A recent state report concluded that growth in
private insurance premiums since 2006 had outpaced the increase in national
heath care spending.
In pushing for the law, which features an exchange and requires insurers to
cover pre-existing conditions, Mr. Romney championed an insurance mandate as the
“ultimate conservative idea.” The targets of his “personal responsibility
principle” were the free-riders who gambled by not buying policies and then
relied on taxpayers, hospitals and the privately insured to cover the cost of
their uncompensated care.
Mr. Romney could not have known then that his legacy would become such a
bludgeon, with Mr. Perry, Mr. Huntsman and, impishly, Mr. Obama crediting him
for the blueprint of the federal overhaul.
Tax increases have been needed to keep the Massachusetts plan afloat. But they
have not been back-breaking, largely because the federal government underwrites
much of the subsidized coverage. Mr. Romney is quick to remind voters that the
Democratic-led Legislature overrode his veto of the requirement that employers
contribute to their workers’ coverage and of benefits he considered gold-plated.
As a national candidate, Mr. Romney has argued that the law was appropriate for
Massachusetts but is constitutionally prohibited as a federal solution. He does
not, however, disown it.
“I’m not going to back away from the fact that I signed that bill,” Mr. Romney
said recently in New Hampshire.
In Utah, Mr. Huntsman was clearly intrigued by what Mr. Romney had achieved, and
in 2007, his third year in office, he set a goal of cutting the number of
uninsured in half by 2010. With about 17 percent of residents uninsured, the
governor viewed expanded coverage as a way to lower costs for employers and
stoke his state’s competitiveness.
He had already lifted a spending cap on the state’s Children’s Health Insurance
Program, which allowed unlimited enrollment and contributed to declines in the
number of young uninsured.
In 2007, he hired John T. Nielsen, a former hospital system lawyer, to
investigate whether “we could replicate what Massachusetts had done,” Mr.
Nielsen said. He also lent his aides to a high-powered working group convened by
the United Way of Salt Lake that ultimately devised a plan that relied on an
exchange and an individual mandate.
In at least two interviews that year, Mr. Huntsman described a mandate as
necessary to achieving the kind of expansion he envisioned. “I think if you’re
going to get it done and get it done right, mandate has to be part of it in some
way, shape or form,” Mr. Huntsman told the public television station KUED.
But the governor’s top health advisers, including Mr. Nielsen and Dr. David N.
Sundwall, his health commissioner, said Mr. Huntsman never expressed a
preference for the mandate in their discussions. And once Greg Curtis, the House
speaker at the time, informed Huntsman aides that the mandate would be a
nonstarter in the Republican-controlled Legislature, Mr. Huntsman did not push
“He’s a pragmatic politician,” Mr. Sundwall said. “He said, ‘Then let’s go with
what we can get.’ ”
The resulting package, enacted in 2008, featured a scaled-down exchange,
available only to small businesses. It has attracted 165 employers covering
4,206 workers and dependents, one-fiftieth the number in the Massachusetts
As a presidential candidate, Mr. Huntsman gives little sense that he was ever
open to an insurance mandate. Asked on CNN last month how he differed from Mr.
Romney, he answered: “How about a free-market approach to health care reform
instead of a heavy handed Obama-like mandate?”
G.O.P. Candidates’ Stances on Health Care Mask Their
Records as Governors, NYT, 3.9.2011,
For Obama, a Moment to Savor, if Briefly
August 22, 2011
The New York Times
By MARK LANDLER
VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. — President Obama was a reluctant warrior in Libya,
drawn into the rebel uprising over the warnings of his Pentagon chief and his
own qualms about getting the United States entangled in yet another war in the
Now that the rebels have seized most of Tripoli and driven Col. Muammar
el-Qaddafi into hiding, Mr. Obama claimed a victory for his much-doubted
strategy. But that victory is tinged by the same uncertainties that made the
president so wary of getting involved in the first place.
With Colonel Qaddafi’s loyalists still fighting in pockets, the United States
and its allies are confronting a chaotic, potentially treacherous transition.
They must help Libya’s new rulers — people they did not know six months ago —
set up a functioning, credible government in a country divided by tribal
conflicts and a dearth of state institutions.
Mr. Obama acknowledged those hurdles, interrupting his vacation here to praise
the rebel advances, even as the fighting continued and the whereabouts of
Colonel Qaddafi remained a mystery.
“Your courage and character have been unbreakable in the face of a tyrant,” the
president said in a somber seven-minute address. He urged the Libyan
Transitional National Council, which the United States recently recognized as
the country’s legitimate government, to pursue a peaceful, inclusive transition
“True justice will not come from reprisals and violence,” Mr. Obama said. “It
will come from reconciliation and a Libya that allows its citizens to determine
their own destiny.”
“In that effort,” he added, “the United States will be a friend and a partner.”
That could be difficult long-term partnership, analysts said. Unlike Egypt or
Tunisia, which had established institutions to smooth the transition from
long-time dictators, Colonel Qaddafi’s “revolution” — essentially a
four-decade-long cult of personality — has left little for a new government to
“They are basically starting from scratch,” said Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow
for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Now will really
be the test for the United States, because there are a lot of centrifugal forces
that could pull this apart.”
Republicans who had criticized Mr. Obama’s handling of Libya, including the
presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., were more muted on
Monday, with Mr. Romney shifting attention from the military campaign to the
need to extradite those behind the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
While the president’s tone was determinedly not triumphal, his aides insisted
that the weekend’s events had vindicated his strategy — heading off mass
killings in the eastern city of Benghazi, marshaling a broad coalition to press
Colonel Qaddafi, giving the Libyan opposition time to take root and plan a
transition, and, above all, limiting American involvement.
“All of this was done without putting a single U.S. troop on the ground,” Mr.
Even now, though, he appeared less personally invested in Libya than he has in
other big issues. Though he spoke to his National Security Council and to Prime
Minister David Cameron of Britain before his remarks, he went right back to his
vacation, playing basketball with aides. (Mr. Cameron canceled his holiday to
hold meetings in London.)
At first, the president’s wary approach seemed to satisfy no one — hawks in
Congress who called for boots on the ground, doves who demanded a pullout and
foreign policy experts who warned of a quagmire. Those doubts only deepened as
the NATO military campaign that Mr. Obama had suggested would last weeks dragged
On Monday, administration officials argued that six months was not long in the
context of Colonel Qaddafi’s 42-year reign, and that the coalition was
critically important in sustaining pressure on him.
“This was a unique operation in that the U.S. wasn’t left to bear the bulk of
the burden itself,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser.
“The burden was spread effectively wide that we were more than able to sustain
the pressure for six months, and frankly, would have been able to for many more
months to come.”
For all that, Mr. Obama seems unlikely to get much political payoff from the
events in Libya. Part of the reason stems from his multilateral approach — very
different, for example, from the commando raid he ordered on Osama bin Laden.
That gave him a measurable bounce in the polls, though it, too, proved fleeting
as anxieties about the economy crept back.
Nor is it likely to improve his relations with Republicans in Congress. Many
still recall the rancorous dispute over Mr. Obama’s decision not to seek
Congressional authorization for the air campaign — a decision that some
administration advisers regret, and one that led the House to reject a measure
authorizing the mission.
Two Republican hawks — Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of
South Carolina — said Mr. Obama did not deserve credit because the operation had
taken too long. They attributed that “to the failure of the United States to
employ the full weight of our airpower.”
On Monday, those who supported the campaign — largely Democrats — offered
tempered encouragement, urging the United States to step up its involvement in
Libya. But several Democrats also called for the focus to turn to Pam Am Flight
“The release of al-Megrahi was a total miscarriage of justice,” said Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, referring to Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi, one of
the convicted masterminds of the bombing, who was released by Britain and
returned to Libya.
“Seeing him participate in good health at a pro-Qaddafi rally recently was
another slap in the face not just for the families of the Lockerbie victims, but
for all Americans,” she said.
Mr. Obama paid homage to those victims, as well as other Americans who had been
killed by Libyan-sponsored terrorism. That subtly reinforced another point: on
this president’s watch, another violent strongman who vexed Washington for many
years was gone.
While officials said they did not expect that to help the president in the polls
especially, it could help him counter a narrative that often dogs Democratic
presidents in elections.
“It helps lock in and solidify the idea that he’s the guy who keeps us safe,”
one senior official said. “Reagan targeted Qaddafi; George W. Bush targeted Bin
Laden; Obama has done both.”
Jennifer Steinhauer contributed reporting from Washington.
For Obama, a Moment to
Savor, if Briefly, NYT, 22.8.2011,
Tries to Reclaim Momentum With Midwest Bus Tour
The New York Times
By MARK LANDLER
FALLS, Minn. — For most of the summer, President Obama has been under siege in
the White House. On Monday, he became a road warrior, kicking off a three-day
bus tour of the Midwest that provided him campaign-style opportunities to strike
back at Republicans in a region vital to his re-election.
Traveling in a black bus with dark tinted windows and flashing red and blue
lights that looked like something out of a “Mad Max” movie, the president urged
audiences in Minnesota and Iowa to tell their elected officials they would no
longer tolerate the partisan gridlock on display in the recent debt-ceiling
“You’ve got to send a message to Washington that it is time for the games to
stop,” he told a crowd of 500 under a canopy of elm and black walnut trees here.
“It’s time to put country first,” he said, recycling a line used by his
Republican opponent in the 2008 presidential race, Senator John McCain of
The tour did not quite match the jaunty charm of bus trips by would-be
presidents, including Mr. Obama himself. But in his appearance here, and later
at a more freewheeling one at an Iowa seed exchange, he struck themes intended
to appeal to moderate and independent voters, while drawing sharp contrasts with
“I’m here to enlist you in a fight,” said Mr. Obama, tieless and in
shirt-sleeves. He called on the crowd to demand leaders who choose “the next
generation over the next election.”
When Congress reconvenes next month, he said, he hoped it would move swiftly to
lift the nation’s fragile economy.
The three-state swing, which included impromptu stops at a school and a coffee
shop where Mr. Obama loaded up on apple and pumpkin pie, is an effort to reclaim
the initiative after a dismal summer in which the president was stymied on the
debt talks and then rebuked with a downgrade of the country’s credit rating.
At his first stop in Iowa, Mr. Obama said he would have work ready for Congress
when it returned from its recess.
“I’ll be putting forward when they come back in September a very specific plan
to boost the economy, to create jobs and to control our deficit,” he said. “And
my attitude is get it done.”
The Midwest trip is also putting Mr. Obama center stage in places where the
Republican campaign for the presidency is heating up, and at a time when the
president’s approval ratings are at an all-time low. Republicans held a straw
poll Saturday in Ames, Iowa, that was won by Representative Michelle Bachmann of
Minnesota, and on Monday Gov. Rick Perry of Texas stumped in Iowa.
The president took a few shots at the Republican field, noting with an
incredulous tone that none of the candidates, when asked at a debate, said they
would support a deficit-reduction plan that included one dollar of tax increases
for every $10 of spending cuts. “That’s just not common sense,” he said.
Mr. Obama also obliquely criticized Mitt Romney, noting that Republicans had
supported health-care plans that contained individual mandates — as Mr. Romney
did while governor of Massachusetts, and as Mr. Obama’s health-care plan does —
only to disavow them later in what he described as a case of “amnesia.”
The president’s itinerary is giving him a homespun backdrop for his hard-edged
message, taking him past family farms and through fly-speck towns like Peosta,
Iowa, (population 1,377) and Alpha, Ill. (pop. 671) .
Standing before a red barn bathed in a rosy evening sun in Decorah, Iowa, Mr.
Obama had a lively back-and-forth with a supportive, but often challenging,
crowd. One young woman asked whether his backers could be confident he would not
break their trust by cutting deals with Republicans on taxes and entitlements,
given what she said were his negotiating tactics on the debt ceiling that “cut
away at that trust.”
Mr. Obama replied that the collateral economic damage from a national default
would simply have been too great for him not to find a compromise with
Another woman quizzed him on how he planned to get his economic agenda through
Congress in September, given the lack of Republican cooperation. Mr. Obama said
he understood the public’s frustration with Washington because, he declared,
“the other side is unreasonable.”
Other people were more sympathetic. In Cannon Falls, David Hauge, 77, a farmer,
said, “People have got to remember how close we were to utter chaos” when Mr.
Obama took office. Mr. Hauge said he was baffled by the no-new-taxes pledge
taken by many Republicans, adding, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to negotiate
For a trip conceived as an economic tour, the choice of stops was curious.
Cannon Falls and the other towns visited by Mr. Obama are faring better than
much of the country, with lower unemployment rates.
White House officials said the point was to take the president to bucolic places
not easily reached by Air Force One. Last week, they noted, he visited Michigan,
a state that typifies the miseries of industrial America.
Certainly, this riverfront town hummed with excitement when Mr. Obama’s caravan
rumbled through. Crowds lined the streets and massed in front of the Old Market
Deli, where he had lunch with five military veterans. Smaller groups clustered
in lawn chairs in Decorah.
At the Coffee Mill in Zumbrota, Minn., Mr. Obama approached the pie case with a
finger pressed to his lips. His order included a coconut cream pie, which he
handed off to an aide. He stopped again at an elementary school and posed for
pictures with children in brightly colored shirts.
While the White House billed all this as a presidential visit, the line between
that and a campaign event is fine: loudspeakers blared standard Obama campaign
anthems by U2 and Brooks & Dunn. Mr. Obama also spent a lot of time promoting
his administration’s commitment to rural America, talking about plans to develop
alternative fuels, erect windmills and extend broadband networks to remote
Still, those visions took a back seat to the shadows over the economy. The
president pleaded for patience, saying that the United States had been dealt a
string of bad luck but that the job market would recover in time.
He offered mostly familiar remedies like extending the reduction in payroll
taxes and winning Congressional approval of free trade agreements. Officials
played down hopes for major announcements on this trip.
“I know you’re frustrated,” Mr. Obama said, “and I’m frustrated, too.”
Obama Tries to Reclaim Momentum With Midwest Bus Tour,
A Confident Perry Lingers to Make Friends at the Fair
August 15, 2011
The New York Times
By JEFF ZELENY
DES MOINES — Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was about to be overshadowed by yet
another heckler at the Iowa State Fair on Monday when he turned to an old
“Do we have any Aggies in the crowd?” asked Mr. Perry, summoning a voice from
his days back on the yell squad at Texas A&M as he looked over a swarm of people
who gathered to see his debut here as a Republican presidential candidate.
“We’ve got to have some Aggies in the crowd!”
With that, a cheer rose up and the audience burst into applause. The heckler,
similar to one who irritated Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann at the same spot a
few days earlier, was swiftly silenced. As a satisfying smile stretched across
his face, he quickly resumed telling voters why he believes he should be the
“I get a little bit passionate,” Mr. Perry said. “I think you want a president
who is passionate about America — that’s in love with America.”
The introduction of Mr. Perry as an aspiring presidential candidate unfolded in
bite-size pieces, with fresh details emerging as he sauntered across the
fairgrounds on the third day of his announcement tour. The path had already been
well worn by his Republican rivals who camped out in the state last week, but he
breezed in like a long-lost visitor, so confident that he blew kisses into a
camera when asked about Mr. Romney. “Give him my love,” Mr. Perry said.
The addition of Mr. Perry to the presidential campaign has changed the landscape
of the Republican field — particularly for Mr. Romney and Mrs. Bachmann — while
injecting a shot of vigor into the contest. Whether making up for lost time or
feeling an itch to engage while he had a ready audience, Mr. Perry held a
rolling conversation with reporters, interrupted again and again by people
rushing over to thank him for joining the race. It continued at an evening stop
in Cedar Rapids, when asked if Mr. Obama loved America, he said, “You’d have to
ask him.” He also said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would get “ugly”
treatment in Texas for his policies.
Asked about comparisons to George W. Bush, he said: “I’m Rick Perry. He’s George
Bush. Our records are quite different.” He added, “I went to Texas A&M; he went
to Yale. George Bush is not my opponent.”
Asked about Sarah Palin, he said: “Sarah is a dear friend. She’ll make the right
But it was the questions about Mr. Romney that seemed to most engage Mr. Perry.
“Take a look at his record when he was governor. Take a look at my record,” Mr.
Perry said. A few minutes later, he added: “I wasn’t on Wall Street. I wasn’t
working in Bain Capital,” forging directly at the critique that Mr. Romney has
made against him — that his credentials are limited to government service, not
deep experience in the private sector.
(At nearly the same time in New Hampshire on Monday, Mr. Romney said it was
critical to have experience from the “real economy,” but he refrained from
direct criticism of Mr. Perry. He added, “I’ve learned how the economy works,
and I believe that skill is what the nation is looking for.”)
The long-distance exchange, experience in the public sector versus the private
sector, highlights a central argument that will be debated until Republicans
choose a nominee next year to challenge President Obama. The bumper sticker
message of Mr. Perry’s candidacy, “Getting America Working Again,” is painted on
his campaign bus, which on Wednesday will come within a few miles of Mr. Obama’s
own bus tour.
“This president has been an abject failure when it comes to the economy,” Mr.
For his part, Mr. Perry seemed pleased to take as many questions on the subject
that came his way. He paused for a moment, as he reached a patch of shade on a
warm afternoon, and told how he would lower the nation’s unemployment rate.
“This is pretty simple stuff,” Mr. Perry said. “You don’t have to be a rocket
scientist. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in economics to understand that you
have to keep the taxes low, have a regulatory climate that’s fair and
predictable and you have a legal system that doesn’t allow for over-suing.”
The freewheeling atmosphere that surrounded Mr. Perry, whose smile broadened
every time a passer-by offered a wave or an encouraging word, stood in contrast
to Mr. Romney. Four days earlier, Mr. Romney was surrounded by admirers, too,
though he did not linger to absorb the compliments as Mr. Perry did.
Even in casual conservations, Mr. Perry inserted salient pieces of his message,
particularly how 40 percent of the jobs created in the United States over the
last two years have been in Texas. When a reporter asked how the same theory
could apply to the entire nation, given that many of the jobs came from
California and others were specific to the oil and gas industry, Mr. Perry
raised his hand to signal silence.
“Come on now, son,” he said. “You’ve got to get your economics hat on here.”
If a presidential campaign could be won simply by kissing babies, high-fiving
young boys and warmly embracing older women — all of which Mr. Perry did with an
enthusiasm and ease that only the most gifted politicians can muster — then the
transition from governor to candidate could be effortless.
But a morning visit to the state’s most influential conservative radio station,
WHO-AM, offered a view of the rigors ahead, with every detail from his
decade-long record as governor as fair game for a fresh dissection. Listeners
peppered Mr. Perry with a variety of questions, asking about an anti-cancer
vaccine he required for young girls and his Democrat-to-Republican conversion
after serving as Texas chairman for Al Gore’s 1988 presidential bid.
“This was Al Gore before he invented the Internet and got to be Mr. Global
Warming,” Mr. Perry said, explaining how he was surrounded by conservative
Democrats growing up in Paint Creek, Tex., before switching parties two decades
ago. “When you looked at the candidates, Al Gore was the most conservative
candidate out there.”
Five months before voters begin making their judgments in the Republican
contest, Mr. Perry is racing to introduce himself. He arrived 10 minutes early
to deliver a speech at the fair’s political soapbox, asking organizers: “Can I
just go up there and get after it?” He paused long enough to remind a boy to
study hard when school starts later this month.
Asked about his own academic record, which opponents have tried to use against
him in previous campaigns, he declared: “I’m going to be graded on how many jobs
A Confident Perry
Lingers to Make Friends at the Fair, NYT, 15.8.2011,
Jobs Boom, Crediting a Leader, or Luck
The New ork Times
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
Texas is home to at least one-third of the jobs created nationwide since the
recession ended. The state’s economy is growing about twice as fast as the
national rate. Home prices have remained stable even as much of the country has
seen sharp declines.
Is Texas lucky, or has the state benefited from exceptional leadership? As Gov.
Rick Perry campaigned Monday in Iowa for the Republican presidential nomination
— with the economy dominating the national political landscape — the answer to
that question is central to his candidacy.
Even before he formally entered the race over the weekend, Mr. Perry and his
allies set out to dictate an economic narrative on his terms. A radio spot last
week in Iowa told voters that the governor “has a proven record of controlling
spending and creating jobs” and suggested that he could replicate the success of
Texas on a national scale. In a budget speech a few months ago, Mr. Perry, who
declined through a spokesman to be interviewed for this article, boasted that
Texas stood “in stark contrast to states that choose to burden their residents
with higher taxes and onerous regulatory mandates.”
But some economists as well as Perry skeptics suggest that Mr. Perry stumbled
into the Texas miracle. They say that the governor has essentially put Texas on
autopilot for 11 years, and it was the state’s oil and gas boom — not his
political leadership — that kept the state afloat. They also doubt that the
Texas model, regardless of Mr. Perry’s role in shaping it, could be effectively
applied to the nation’s far more complex economic problems.
“Because the Texas economy has been prosperous during his tenure as governor, he
has not had to make the draconian choices that one would have to make in the
White House,” said Bryan W. Brown, chairman of the Rice University economics
department and a critic of Mr. Perry’s economic record.
And if Mr. Perry were to win the nomination, he would face critics, among them
Democrats, who have long complained that the state’s economic health came at a
steep price: a long-term hollowing out of its prospects because of deep cuts to
education spending, low rates of investment in research and development, and a
disparity in the job market that confines many blacks and Hispanics to
minimum-wage jobs without health insurance.
“The Texas model can’t be the blueprint for the United States to successfully
compete in the 21st-century economy, where you need a well-educated work force,”
said Dick Lavine, senior fiscal analyst at the Center for Public Policy
Priorities, an Austin-based liberal research group.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Perry is hearing none of it. In announcing his
candidacy in South Carolina on Saturday, he pointed to his policies of low
taxes, reduced government spending and regulatory easing as “a recipe to produce
the strongest economy in the nation” and one that Washington would do well to
Since Mr. Perry succeeded George W. Bush as governor in 2000, he has viewed his
role as mostly staying out of the way of the private sector. When he has stepped
in, he has tweaked the system, not remade it. For example, he pushed through
tort reform to limit lawsuits against doctors, which encouraged the continued
expansion of major medical centers. He also set up an enterprise fund that gave
businesses nearly a half a billion dollars in grants and financial incentives
over the last eight years to encourage their expansion.
For homeowners, he cut real estate taxes to make the state’s already cheap
housing a bit more affordable. And a few months ago, with the state facing a $27
billion deficit in its two-year budget, Mr. Perry called lawmakers into a
special session and insisted they not raise taxes. The Republican-dominated
Legislature complied, slashing billions of dollars in aid to public schools.
“He’s been a promoter of stability in regulatory policy and stability in
spending,” said Talmadge Heflin, director of the Texas Public Policy
Foundation’s Center for Fiscal Policy and a former Republican state
representative. “That gives him something to show for whatever he runs for.”
As the Republican race pits the Texas governor against a former Massachusetts
governor, Mitt Romney, the economies of the two states are bound to be
contrasted. Texas has far outstripped Massachusetts in the number of jobs
created over the last two years. But by other measures, the Massachusetts
economy has been stronger, with a lower unemployment rate in June and economic
growth of 4.2 percent last year, compared with 2.8 percent in Texas.
Few debate that Mr. Perry, 61, has been true to a “less government is better
government” philosophy in one of the few states without an income tax. The
question his detractors raise, however, is whether Mr. Perry has gotten a free
ride — and has gone untested — because of the state’s natural resources.
When Mr. Perry succeeded Mr. Bush, a barrel of oil was $25. Experts warned that
Texas’s natural gas and oil fields, which directly and indirectly support about
one-third of its jobs, were in steep decline. But during his first term, global
market forces began driving oil prices up. They peaked at $147 a barrel in 2008
and have largely remained above $80 over the last two years.
At the same time, a technological revolution in drilling — the combination of
hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling of shale rock — has opened up new
gas and oil fields throughout the state. In North Texas, companies are drilling
under schools, airports and parks. Tens of thousands of rig jobs have been
created and many residents have received thousands of dollars in lease sales and
The oil and gas industry now delivers roughly $325 billion a year to the state,
directly and indirectly. It brings in $13 billion in state tax receipts, or
roughly 40 percent of the total, financing up to 20 percent of the state budget.
“He’s been lucky,” said Bernard L. Weinstein, associate director of the Maguire
Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “Obviously, neither
the governor nor public policy in Texas has pushed oil prices up, and clearly
the technological innovation has created a whole new industry in Texas.”
Other external factors have also helped.
Trade between the United States and Mexico has grown by 60 percent since Mr.
Perry’s inauguration, and last year alone more than $100 billion worth of goods
passed through Texas border crossings and ports.
El Paso, the state’s largest border city, is straining to keep up. Manufacturers
have been running extra shifts to make parts for automobile and electronics
plants in nearby Juárez, Mexico.
The federal government has also helped support Texas. Federal spending in the
state, home of NASA and large Army bases, more than doubled over the last decade
to over $200 billion a year.
And well before Mr. Perry’s arrival in the Statehouse, Texas had digested the
lessons of the recession in the late 1980s, when oil prices plummeted, real
estate prices crashed, and savings and loan institutions failed and required a
Afterward, a succession of governors and mayors worked with business leaders to
diversify the economy, and the Legislature enacted tight restrictions on
mortgage lending, which helped Texas avoid the kind of real estate bubble that
devastated states like Florida and Arizona.
This time around, the state has not escaped the downturn. The unemployment rate
is 8.2 percent, a full percentage point below the national rate but still higher
than other boom states like North Dakota and Wyoming, and Texas has one of the
highest percentages of workers who are paid the minimum wage and receive no
And Mr. Perry could still be tested before next year’s election. Oil prices have
fallen almost 30 percent since April, and a broad economic slowdown could
depress prices further. Texas will also feel the pain as Washington cuts
spending on the military and space exploration, and the state trims spending.
Still, over all, Texas remains in an enviable position. The state has created
more than 260,000 jobs since June 2009, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of
Dallas, and the state’s economy is growing at an estimated annual rate of about
3 percent, compared with the national growth rate in the last quarter of 1.3
At a recent ceremony celebrating the expansion of a video game company,
Electronic Arts, that will bring 300 new jobs to Austin, Mr. Perry claimed
“Thanks to our low taxes, reasonable and predictable regulatory climate, fair
legal system and skilled work force, we continue to attract companies from
around the nation,” he said.
This article has
been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: August 15, 2011
An earlier version of this article rendered incorrectly part of the name of the
Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University.
In Texas Jobs Boom, Crediting a Leader, or Luck, NYT,
Leads Prayer Rally for ‘Nation in Crisis’
The New York Times
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
Standing on a stage surrounded by thousands of fellow Christians on Saturday
morning, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas called on Jesus to bless and guide the
nation’s military and political leaders and “those who cannot see the light in
the midst of all the darkness.”
“Lord, you are the source of every good thing,” Mr. Perry said, as he bowed his
head, closed his eyes and leaned into a microphone at Reliant Stadium here. “You
are our only hope, and we stand before you today in awe of your power and in
gratitude for your blessings, and humility for our sins. Father, our heart
breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We
see anger in the halls of government, and as a nation we have forgotten who made
us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that we cry out for your
In a 13-minute address, Mr. Perry read several passages from the Bible during a
prayer rally he sponsored. Thousands of people stood or kneeled in the aisles or
on the concrete floor in front of the stage, some wiping away tears and some
The rally was seen as one of the biggest tests of Mr. Perry’s political career,
coming as he nears a decision on whether to seek the Republican nomination for
president. While the event will be sure to help Mr. Perry if he tries to
establish himself as the religious right’s favored candidate, it also opens him
up to criticism for mixing religion and politics in such a grand and overtly
In many ways, the rally was unprecedented, even in Texas, where faith and
politics have long intersected without much controversy — the governor, as both
a private citizen and an elected leader, delivering a message to the Lord at a
Christian prayer rally he created, while using his office’s prestige,
letterhead, Web site and other resources to promote it. Mr. Perry said he wanted
people of all faiths to attend, but Christianity dominated the service and the
religious affiliations of the crowd. The prayers were given in Jesus Christ’s
name, and the many musical performers sang of Christian themes of repentance and
Mr. Perry, a lifelong Methodist who regularly attends an evangelical megachurch
near his home in West Austin, has been speaking and preaching in sanctuaries
throughout Texas since he was state agricultural commissioner in the 1990s.
Organizers for the event, called The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in
Crisis, estimated that more than 30,000 people were at Reliant Stadium when Mr.
Perry spoke. The seating capacity is 71,500, and tens of thousands of seats in
the upper decks were empty.
“I wish you could see what I see here,” announced Luis Cataldo, a leader of the
International House of Prayer, a Christian ministry in Kansas City, Mo., as the
event began at 10 a.m. “This is the body of Christ.”
While those on the stage avoided making overt political statements or
expressions of political support for Mr. Perry, many in the audience made it
clear in interviews that they would vote for the governor should he enter the
Liz Lara, 62, who lives in La Vernia, Tex., drove about 200 miles to Houston
with her daughter and two grandchildren to attend the rally. She said the family
came to support Mr. Perry and pray for God’s help in solving the nation’s
problems. “I believe that God has prepared Rick Perry for such a time as this,”
she said. “I believe he will be our next president.”
At one point, Mr. Perry asked those in the audience to pray for President Obama.
“Father, we pray for our president, that you impart your wisdom upon him, that
you would guard his family,” he said.
Mr. Perry addressed the crowd nine days after a federal judge dismissed a
lawsuit filed against him by a national group of atheists arguing that his
participation in the rally in his official capacity as governor violated the
First Amendment’s requirement of separation of church and state.
Members and supporters of that group, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion
Foundation, were among dozens of people protesting outside the stadium. Others
included gay activists who criticized Mr. Perry for supporting the American
Family Association, which organized and financed the rally. The association is a
conservative evangelical group based in Mississippi that is listed as an antigay
hate group by the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center.
Mr. Perry had invited his fellow governors to join him, but only Gov. Sam
Brownback of Kansas, a Republican, attended. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida made a
video statement that was played in the stadium.
Perry Leads Prayer Rally for ‘Nation in Crisis’, NYT,
Signing Away the Right to Govern
July 18, 2011
The New York Times
It used to be that a sworn oath to preserve, protect and defend the
Constitution was the only promise required to become president. But that no
longer seems to be enough for a growing number of Republican interest groups,
who are demanding that presidential candidates sign pledges shackling them to
the corners of conservative ideology. Many candidates are going along, and each
pledge they sign undermines the basic principle of democratic government built
on compromise and negotiation.
Both parties have long had litmus tests on issues — abortion, taxation, the
environment, the social safety net. The hope was that the candidates would keep
their promises, and, when they didn’t, voters who cared deeply about those
issues could always pick someone else next time. Human beings, after all, do not
come with warranties.
But iron-clad promises were just what the most rigid Republican ideologues
wanted. They had seen too many presidents — specifically Ronald Reagan and
George H. W. Bush — bend when confronted by a complex national reality. Both
those presidents agreed to new taxes and some Republicans said they did not
fight hard enough to outlaw abortion or cut spending to the point where
government was unrecognizable. In other words, they compromised a bit, to keep
divided government from destroying itself. Washington, the ideologues decided,
corrupted true conservatives into moderates.
More was needed to keep them in line, which gave birth to the signed pledge — no
more enforceable than a spoken promise, but a politician’s actual signature was
seen as more binding. The oldest and most pernicious of these modern oaths was
dreamed up by Grover Norquist, the leader of Americans for Tax Reform, who has
managed to get 95 percent of all Republicans in Congress to pledge never to
raise taxes for any reason. If they end tax deductions, Mr. Norquist’s
pledge-takers say they will match the increase in revenue with further tax cuts.
That pledge is the single biggest reason the federal government is now on the
edge of default. Its signers will not allow revenues in a deal to raise the debt
Its success has now spawned dangerous offspring. There is the Susan B. Anthony
pledge, in which candidates promise to appoint antiabortion cabinet officers and
cut off federal financing to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. It
has been signed by Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and
Rick Santorum. There is the cut, cap and balance pledge to gut the federal
government by cutting and capping spending, and enacting a balanced-budget
amendment to the Constitution. It has been signed by all of the above
candidates, plus Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.
And there is the particularly bizarre Marriage Vow, in which candidates agree to
oppose same-sex marriage, reject Shariah law and pledge personal fidelity to
their spouse. Until it was changed after a public outcry, it also contained a
line saying that a black child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be
raised by a two-parent family than a similar child raised in the Obama era. It
was signed by Mr. Santorum and Mrs. Bachmann.
Only one candidate, Jon Huntsman Jr., has refused to sign any pledge, saying he
owes allegiance to his flag and his wife. It is refreshing in a field of
candidates who have forgotten the true source of political power in America.
Signing Away the Right
to Govern, NYT, 18.7.2011,
Obama Camp Says It Raised $47 Million for His Run
July 14, 2011
The New York Times
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
President Obama raised $47 million for his re-election campaign in the
three-month period that ended June 30, his aides said on Wednesday, far
outpacing the Republican candidates who hope to replace him.
Mr. Obama also raised about $38 million for the Democratic National Committee,
using a series of joint fund-raisers this spring to fill party coffers and begin
building a field operation for the general election. The total haul — about $86
million — broke the record for joint fund-raising between a president and his
national party committee in any quarter of a nonelection year, reflecting the
significant powers of an incumbent president to raise money and the progress Mr.
Obama’s campaign has made recently to rebuild the donor network that helped him
to victory in 2008.
“The first weeks of this campaign have been a test of our grass-roots strength,
and the results are in,” said Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, in a
conference call with reporters on Wednesday morning.
Mr. Messina said that 552,462 people had contributed to the president so far
this year, more than gave to Mr. Obama in all of 2007, and that the president
had raised money from more than 260,000 new donors.
The top fund-raiser in the Republican field so far, Mitt Romney, announced last
week that he had raised $18.25 million in the same period. That is more than
four times the amount any of his Republican rivals raised but far less than Mr.
Obama took in, reflecting the slow start to the Republican primary and the
unwillingness of many major donors to commit to a candidate this early in the
Combined, the five Republican candidates who have announced their fund-raising
totals for the quarter raised slightly more than $33 million. (Representative
Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a late entrant to the presidential field, does
not plan to announce her dollar total in advance of Friday’s deadline for filing
with the Federal Election Commission, an aide said.)
Unlike Mr. Romney and some other Republican candidates, who are currently
raising money only for the primary season, Mr. Obama includes money earmarked
for the general election in the total figure. The president’s joint fund-raising
effort with the Democratic committee also reflects another advantage he has over
his Republican rivals: while Mr. Obama’s donors can give only $5,000 to the
candidate himself for the entire election cycle, each can also give as much as
$30,800 to the party committee, knowing it will ultimately benefit Mr. Obama’s
The president’s top political aides have said that by the time the 2012 race is
over they expect to match, or possibly exceed, the $750 million that Mr. Obama
raised during the 2008 campaign.
“Our focus has been on building the best grass-roots organization possible to
compete on the widest playing field in 2012,” Mr. Messina said.
Republicans, playing off the country’s continued economic slump and the high
unemployment rate, contrasted Mr. Obama’s record of fund-raising with his
administration’s record of job creation.
“Creating twice as many donors as American jobs in the first quarter, we always
knew Obama was the best fund-raiser in history,” said Kirsten Kukowski, a
spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “Unfortunately for Americans,
it’s clear that despite his claims that he’s focused on creating jobs, his
priority is saving his own.”
The campaigns’ official disclosures reports to the Federal Election Commission —
reflecting what the candidates raised as well as what they spend and borrow,
among other details — are not due until Friday, leaving unclear some aspects of
Mr. Obama’s fund-raising.
Mr. Messina said that 98 percent of checks collected by the campaign were for
less than $250, a figure that he suggested “should end any Washington chatter
about whether our grass-roots base will be engaged.”
But the campaign declined to say Wednesday what was the actual proportion of the
$86 million it raised from such donors, during a period when the president
attended a significant number of fund-raisers for wealthy donors who typically
give thousands of dollars, along with small-donor events.
And while Mr. Obama’s aides boasted of more than 260,000 new donors during the
quarter, the number of previous donors who gave this quarter — about 292,000 —
represents a fraction of the nearly four million people who donated to Mr. Obama
during his first campaign, raising the possibility that some of the president’s
own donors are feeling the same fatigue that has dragged down the Republicans’
Michael D. Shear contributed reporting from Washington.
Obama Camp Says It
Raised $47 Million for His Run, NYT, 14.7.2011,
Amid lewd photo scandal, Weiner resigns
NEW YORK | Thu Jun 16, 2011
By Mark Egan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Representative Anthony Weiner, snared in a humiliating
flap for sending lewd photos of himself to women online, resigned on Thursday,
ending a weeks-long scandal that made his fellow Democrats cringe.
"I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district
had elected me to do -- to fight for the middle class and those struggling to
make it," Weiner told reporters in Brooklyn at the seniors' center where he
first announced plans to run for New York City Council 20 years ago.
"Unfortunately, the distraction that I have created has made that impossible, so
today I am announcing my resignation from Congress," he said looking composed in
contrast to 10 days ago when he tearfully admitted to having online dalliances.
Once seen as a rising star among Democrats and widely expected to run for New
York City mayor, Weiner made his announcement alone, his wife absent, at a
Just how big a distraction he had become was evident at his press conference
where he was heckled repeatedly.
Weiner said of his future, "I got into politics to help give voice to the many
who simply did not have one. Now I will be looking for other ways to contribute
The New York Democrat is the third member of Congress this year to step down
over a sex scandal.
Weiner's resignation marks a remarkable fall from grace for a politician who in
1992 became New York's youngest-ever City Council member at 27 and who has been
a leading liberal voice in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Weiner was known for his forceful debating and acerbic wit. He had friends in
high places too. Weiner, 46, was married to Huma Abedin, 35, an aide to
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a ceremony officiated by former President
His mentor was New York's powerful Senator Chuck Schumer, who he worked for
after graduating from college.
Ironically, for someone who had successfully used social media such as Twitter
and Facebook to boost his political brand, Weiner's fall was prompted when he
accidentally posted publicly via Twitter a close-up of his bulging underpants.
Weiner denied for more than a week that he sent a photo of himself in boxer
briefs to a woman in Seattle on May 28, claiming his Twitter account was hacked.
But on June 6, he tearfully admitted he had lied and had inappropriate exchanges
with six women, some after he was married.
Since then more and more lewd pictures of the lawmaker have surfaced, making him
daily fodder for tabloids and late-night comedians. Weiner's name, which also
doubles as American schoolboy slang for the word penis, only made matters worse.
In a bizarre twist on Wednesday, a porn star said he told her to lie about their
exchanges. The woman, who also strips, joined the chorus of those calling for
him to resign.
Under pressure from President Barack Obama and both major political parties,
Weiner had previously insisted he would seek treatment and take a "short leave"
of absence from the House.
"A LOST OPPORTUNITY"
Weiner decided to resign after speaking with his wife, who returned from an
overseas work trip with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, The New York Times reported.
At his news conference he apologized to his wife and thanked her for standing by
New York State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs said, "Anthony Weiner did the
right thing by resigning from an office that I know he loved."
Democrats feared that Weiner had become a political liability to their efforts
to win back the House from Republicans in next year's elections. Weiner also had
been seen as a strong contender for New York mayor in 2013.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Weiner's fall "a lost opportunity" which
Obama ramped up pressure on Weiner to resign on June 14, telling NBC News: "He's
embarrassed his wife and his family .... If it was me, I would resign."
Democrats are expected to retain Weiner's House seat, which would be filled in a
Weiner's abrupt political fall followed resignations from Congress earlier this
year from two Republicans, Chris Lee of New York and John Ensign of Nevada, both
of whom are married.
Lee resigned from the House on February 9 after it was revealed he sent a
shirtless and flirtatious photo of himself to a woman he had met on Craigslist.
Ensign of Nevada resigned over his extramarital affair with a former campaign
Polls show that less than one in four Americans approve of Congress, which is
often seen in partisan gridlock.
"To most Americans, sadly, this (latest scandal) is par for the course when it
comes to how members act," said Nathan Gonzales of the nonpartisan Rothenberg
Last November, Weiner easily won a seventh congressional term with 61 percent of
the vote, bolstering his mayoral aspirations. The scandal all but ended those
"Mayor? I don't think he should be dogcatcher," said Joe Mele, a blunt-talking
Weiner's wife was in the early stages of pregnancy with the couple's first
child, The New York Times reported on June 8.
(Writing by Mark Egan; Reporting by Michelle Nichols, Richard Cowan, Thomas
Ferraro, Daniel Trotta and Paula Rogo; Editing by Jackie Frank)
Amid lewd photo scandal,
Weiner resigns, R, 16.6.2011,
Democrats Shy From Weiner as G.O.P. Seizes on Scandal
June 7, 2011
The New York Times
By DAVID M. HALBFINGER and RAYMOND HERNANDEZ
Caught in a maelstrom of his own making, Representative Anthony
D. Weiner saw his support on Capitol Hill crumble after he admitted having
inappropriate online exchanges with women. A brash and talented New York
politician with many admirers on the left, but few close allies, he suddenly
finds himself alone on a hostile stage.
No sooner had Mr. Weiner delivered a startlingly abject admission and apology —
carried live on television Monday from a circuslike news conference in Manhattan
— than top Democrats on Capitol Hill began distancing themselves from him and
Several, including Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority
leader, called for an ethics inquiry into whether Mr. Weiner had violated House
rules or used official resources to carry on his salacious electronic
Representative Steve Israel of Nassau County, the leader of the party’s effort
to recapture a majority in Congress, said Mr. Weiner had “embarrassed himself,
his family and the House.”
Others said it would be impossible to support Mr. Weiner given the outrageous
things he had admitted, the likelihood that Republicans would make a target of
anyone who came to his defense, and the possibility that some of the women he
had contacted were minors.
Then there was the fact that his confession had occurred, in the words of one
top Democratic Congressional official, a week too late. “It’s hard to trust in
an individual who already lied,” said the official, who like others interviewed
insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivities surrounding the matter.
As Democratic leaders sought to apply a tourniquet to Mr. Weiner, Republicans
sought to use the spectacle he had created against Democrats in general, and in
particular against Ms. Pelosi, who once pledged to “drain the swamp” of
corruption involving Republicans in Congress.
The National Republican Congressional Committee distributed a memo to reporters
with a series of quotes from top Democrats in which they gave Mr. Weiner the
benefit of the doubt when the scandal first erupted a week ago.
A spokesman for the committee, Paul Lindsay, said, “It’s time for Democratic
leadership to explain why Congressman Weiner’s actions never aroused any
suspicion, and why they rushed to his defense while so many Americans were
shocked and confused by his bizarre and disturbing behavior.”
In the Senate, Republicans went after Mr. Weiner’s political mentor, Senator
Charles E. Schumer of New York, noting that Mr. Schumer had defended him in the
early days of the controversy.
“Given Senator Schumer’s firm defense of Mr. Weiner, we look forward to hearing
what the senator has to say now,” said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the
Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Does Senator Schumer believe no
ethics rules were broken?”
Mr. Schumer issued his own statement late Monday saying he was “deeply pained
and saddened” by the day’s news.
“By fully explaining himself, apologizing to all he hurt and taking full
responsibility for his wrongful actions, Anthony did the right thing,” Mr.
Schumer said. “He remains a talented and committed public servant, and I pray he
and his family can get through these difficult times.”
But it was the hushed silence of most Democrats on Monday — apart from those who
were stampeding away from him — that served as a poignant reminder of Mr.
Weiner’s relative solitude within the political spheres of Washington and New
Widely seen as enjoying Mr. Schumer’s press instincts but not his political
skills, Mr. Weiner has never been particularly popular with his colleagues, who
describe him as a lone wolf with a snide streak that can verge on nasty — as
when he screamed at a New York colleague, Representative Peter T. King, a
Republican, on the House floor during a debate on the 9/11 health bill.
Mr. Weiner has also been a frequent thorn in the side of Democratic leaders —
saying President Obama, for example, had failed to show leadership in the fight
with Republicans over health reform.
Those resentments were only magnified in the past week, as Democrats in New York
and Washington complained bitterly that the momentum they had won — with an
upset victory in a special House election in Buffalo, and renewed confidence
about pressing the attack against Republicans over Medicare — had been
squandered in the media frenzy over Mr. Weiner and his Twitter account.
Another factor likely coloring attitudes toward Mr. Weiner’s future among his
New York colleagues is that the loss of two seats in reapportionment may well
mean the elimination of a House district in the city or on Long Island. A
resignation by Mr. Weiner could thus be expected to be greeted by some audible
sighs of relief.
Yet the most immediate question for Mr. Weiner is how voters respond in his
district, which straddles Brooklyn and Queens.
“Anthony’s very popular, because he’s a very good fighter for the issues that
are important to the district, like health care, jobs and support for Israel,”
Assemblyman Rory I. Lancman, a Democrat and one of Mr. Weiner’s Queens
constituents, said. “I frankly don’t want to lose that, if all this amounts to
is a problem that he needs to resolve with his wife.”
Carl Hulse contributed reporting.
Democrats Shy From
Weiner as G.O.P. Seizes on Scandal, NYT, 7.6.2011,
Congressman Weiner admits online affairs
NEW YORK | Mon Jun 6, 2011
By Mark Egan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Representative Anthony Weiner on Monday tearfully
admitted having a number of inappropriate relationships with women over the
Internet, saying he was deeply ashamed but would not resign.
Weiner, a New York Democrat and leading liberal voice in the House of
Representatives who was expected to run for mayor of New York City in 2013,
admitted to inappropriate Internet and telephone conversations with six women
but said none of them developed into a physical relationship.
"I'm deeply regretting what I have done and I'm not resigning," Weiner, who had
been seen as a rising star among Democrats, told a news conference while wiping
away tears as he apologized for his actions and for lying in the cover-up.
"I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended as a direct message as part of
a joke to a woman in Seattle," he said of an image sent over Twitter of a man in
his underpants, which sparked the scandal more than a week ago.
"Once I realized I had posted it to Twitter, I panicked. I took it down and said
that I had been hacked. I then continued to stick to that story, which was a
hugely regrettable mistake," he said. "The picture was of me, and I sent it."
Calling his actions "very dumb" and "destructive," he stressed he did not have
sex with any of the women.
Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton. The couple was married in a ceremony officiated by former President
"I love my wife very much and we have no intention of splitting up over this,"
Last week, Weiner denied tweeting a photo of a man's bulging boxer briefs to a
21-year-old female student in Washington state, insisting his account had been
FORGET ABOUT MAYOR?
Weiner said his affairs were conducted over several years on Twitter, Facebook,
email and by phone with women he met online, primarily on Facebook. He said he
sent the women explicit pictures of himself but broke no law, mostly used his
home computer and never used his congressional mobile device.
"Certainly he can forget about mayor," said Doug Muzzio, a professor of public
affairs, at Baruch College in New York, adding that while Weiner might weather
the storm, he will likely face a tough challenge if he seeks re-election in
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an ethics probe "to determine
whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules
occurred." Weiner said in a statement, "I welcome and will fully cooperate with
an investigation by the House Ethics Committee."
New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox called for his resignation,
saying, "His actions are at best despicable and at worst illegal."
"To further a cover-up he stood by while encouraging others, including
Congressional employees, to lie, slander and discredit the professional
reputations of those who were telling the truth," Cox said. "His inappropriate
behavior has irreparably damaged his ability to serve."
Former Senate Republican aide John Ullyot, a communication consultant at Hill &
Knowlton in Washington, said Weiner, "lost a big chance to salvage some dignity
by resigning promptly."
"Weiner's handling of this situation is an absolute disaster -- a textbook
example of how not to act in a matter involving personal scandal," he said.
"By holding a news conference and answering 30 minutes worth of questions,
Weiner opened up many more lines of inquiry than he resolved: the possibility of
underage victims, use of office phones, questions of whether his wife was aware
Earlier this year, two other members of Congress, both Republicans, stepped down
amid scandal. John Ensign resigned from the Senate amid an ethics committee
probe into his extramarital affair with a campaign aide. And Representative
Chris Lee resigned after he posted a shirtless and flirty photo of himself
On Monday, more pictures of Weiner, this time of him from the waist up sitting
at his desk naked, surfaced online.
On Monday he characterized his relationships with the women as "a frivolous
thing" and admitted that the affairs were conducted both before and since he was
Weiner's denials and eventual admission was evocative of President Bill Clinton
who in 1998 admitted to an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky after
Unlike Clinton, who was accused of being evasive even after admitting his
dalliance, Weiner took many questions from the press on Monday, answering them
plainly as he choked back his emotions, pausing to sip water on several
Unusual revelations by politicians in the New York metro area are nothing new.
Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned after frequenting prostitutes
and former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, who was married, tearfully
resigned after it was revealed he had a homosexual affair with an aide.
Still Weiner being undone by his own actions while using social media tools such
as Twitter which he was successfully using to bolster his personal political
brand is certainly a modern twist.
(Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta and Richard Chang in New York and by
Thomas Ferraro and Donna Smith in Washington, Editing by Eric Walsh)
admits online affairs, R, 6.6.2011,
Factbox: A look at other political sex scandals
Mon Jun 6, 2011
(Reuters) - Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner on Monday admitted
having a number of online relations with women on the Internet, becoming the
latest American politician snared in a sex-related scandal.
Here is a look at some of the others:
* Republican Representative Chris Lee of New York resigned in February after
posting shirtless and flirtatious photos of himself on the Internet.
* Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada, once seen as a potential
presidential contender, stepped down amid an ethics committee probe into his
affair with a former aide and attempted cover-up.
* Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho rejected calls to resign, but did not
run for reelection in 2008 after he was arrested on charges of soliciting sex in
an airport men's room.
* Republican Representative Mark Foley resigned after it was disclosed that he
had sent sexually suggestive e-mails to former male pages.
* Former Democratic Senator John Edwards was indicted last week on charges of
using nearly $1 million in illegal campaign funds to help cover up an
extramarital affair during his 2008 run for the White House.
* Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, in a stunning comeback, won
reelection in 2010 -- despite having been earlier identified as a client of a
* Then-South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford likely ended his chances of ever
running for president in 2009 when he tearfully admitted that rather than hiking
the Appalachian trail as he had claimed, he was actually having an extra marital
affair with a woman in Argentina.
* Democratic President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998 on
charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from his affair with a
White House intern; but the Senate refused to remove him from office.
(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Eric Walsh)
Factbox: A look at other
political sex scandals, R, 6.6.2011,