Monday, May 23, 2016

Not Guilty in Baltimore - Let the SJW Riots Begin!

from the Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams on Monday acquitted Officer Edward Nero of all counts for his role in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

The judgment, following a five-day bench trial, is the first in the closely-watched case. Nero, 30, faced four misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.

Prosecutors had argued that Nero committed an assault by detaining Gray without justification, while the reckless endangerment charge related to Nero's role in putting Gray into an arrest wagon without buckling a seat belt. In closing arguments Thursday, Williams had skeptically questioned prosecutors about their theory of assault, which legal experts said was unprecedented.

Nero leaned forward after the verdict was read, and wiped his eyes. He hugged his attorneys.

Nero was the second of six city police officers charged in the case to stand trial. The first trial, of Officer William Porter, ended in a hung jury and mistrial last December.

Nero, a former New Jersey volunteer firefighter who joined the Baltimore Police Department in 2012, is one of three officers who were on bike patrol when they chased and arrested Gray in West Baltimore.

Gray, 25, suffered severe spinal cord injuries while in the back of a Baltimore police van, prosecutors say. He died a week later, touching off citywide protests. On the day of his funeral on April 27, rioting, looting and arson broke out, leading the mayor to institute a weeklong nightly curfew and the governor to call in the National Guard.

Nero's trial lasted six days, with the prosecution calling 14 witnesses and the defense calling seven before closing statements last Thursday.

Nero's attorneys had sought to minimize his role in the arrest, saying that he had limited contact with Gray. They also argued that Nero followed his training.

The next trial in the case will be that of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr, the driver of the van used to transport Gray. His trial is scheduled to begin June 6. His trial is to be followed by those of Lt. Brian Rice (July 5), Officer Garrett Miller (July 27), Officer William Porter (Sept. 6) and Sgt. Alicia White (Oct. 13).
The Baltimore prosecutor is wasting everyone's time and money with these political show trials.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Why the American Middle Class Keeps Shrinking....

from USA Today
The rising cash holdings of U.S. corporations is increasingly in the hands of a few U.S. companies, with just five tech firms having grabbed a third of it. And nearly three-quarters of cash held by non-financial U.S. companies is stashed overseas outside the long arm of Uncle Sam.

Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL), Cisco System (CSCO) and Oracle (ORCL) are sitting on $504 billion, or 30%, of the $1.7 trillion in cash and cash equivalents held by U.S. non-financial companies in 2015, according to an analysis released Friday by ratings agency Moody's Investors Service. That's even more cash concentration in previous years, as these five companies held 27% of cash in 2014 and 25% in 2013. Apple alone is holding more cash and investments than eight of the 10 entire industry sectors.

Corporate America's rising pile of cash is becoming increasingly important to investors as profit growth and the stock market stalls. The amount of cash held by U.S. companies rose 1.8% in 2015. Unfortunately for U.S. investors, 72% of total cash held by all non-financial U.S. companies is stockpiled outside the U.S., up from 64% in 2014 and 58% in 2013 as companies try to avoid paying U.S. tax rates.

Investors are eyeing companies' growing cash piles as potential sources of dividend increases to maintain fat returns even if stock prices continue to go nowhere. Dividends rose 4% last year to a record high of $404 billion, while companies cut back on capital spending by 3% to $885 billion. Capital spending is the cash companies put into new plants and equipment with the hopes of driving higher profits in the future.

Companies have also been pulling back from using cash to buy back their own stock. That is a maneuver that can reduce a company's number of shares outstanding and in theory should make each share more valuable. Stock buybacks, net of new stock issuance, fell 7% to $269 billion in 2015.

Apple shows the strong disconnect between big cash balances and stock returns. The company is sitting on more cash than any other, yet investors have lost $240 billion in paper profits since the stock peaked.

There's only so much companies can do with their giant wads of cash since a vast majority isn't in the U.S. U.S. non-financial companies have $1.2 trillion in cash outside the U.S., up from $1.1 trillion in 2014 and $947 billion in 2013. Moody's thinks the cash stored overseas will only grow. Some of the biggest holders of cash are also the same companies with much of their cash outside the U.S. Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Alphabet and Oracle have $441 billion saved overseas, or 87% of their total cash.


Company, symbol, Cash ($ billions*)
Apple, AAPL, $215.7
Microsoft, MSFT, $102.6
Alphabet, GOOGL, $73.1
Cisco Systems, $60.4
Oracle, ORCL, $52.3
Pfizer, PFE, $39.3
Johnson & Johnson, JNJ, $38.4
Amgen, AMGN, $31.4
Intel, INTC, $31.3
Qualcomm, QCOM, $30.6

Source: Moody's Investors Service

* as of end of 2015

Don't expect that cash to come home anytime soon, Moody's says.

"We expect that overseas cash balances will continue to grow unless tax laws are changed to encourage companies to repatriate money," the Moody's report says. "There has been little progress toward corporate tax reform that would incentivize U.S. companies to permanently repatriate funds held overseas."


Company, 2014 % cash offshore, 2015 % cash offshore
Apple, 88%, 93%
Microsoft, 91%, 94%
Cisco, 94%, 94%
Alphabet, 60%, 59%
Oracle, 90%, 87%

Source: Moody's Investors Service

* as of 2015

Sunday, May 15, 2016

#NeverTrump becomes #Irrelevant

from Politico
Republican activists chose party unity over “never Trump” resistance Saturday, with party leaders in one state after another pressuring their members to fall in line behind the presumptive nominee — and even punishing those who refused.

Eleven states held annual Republican conventions or party leadership meetings Saturday, offering a platform for those who still object to Donald Trump as their party’s standard-bearer a prime opportunity to make mischief. But at almost every turn, they slammed into state leaders who closed ranks around a candidate who many once said they’d never support.

In Nebraska, that meant overwhelming passage of a resolution that indirectly scolded conservative Sen. Ben Sasse for leading the #NeverTrump movement and scuttling a countermeasure to condemn “degrading remarks toward women, minorities and other individuals” by presidential candidates.

In Maryland, it meant the ouster of a veteran Republican committeeman — Louis Pope — by Citizens United chief David Bossie, a conservative activist who is close to Trump and closely associated with the rise of super PACs in American politics. Bossie has been a longtime ally of Trump and represents an early look at how Trump’s takeover of the party could reshape it for years.

In Arkansas, it meant packing the state’s national delegation with Trump allies and granting them influential leadership positions to shape Republican Party rules and policy doctrines at the convention.

Across the country, party leaders encouraged, coaxed and even browbeat their rank and file into a message of unity. And they did it by way of a consistent message: Trump is flawed, but Hillary Clinton would be far, far worse.

Oklahoma and Montana conventions shared a common mantra: "United We Stand." In Montana, walls of posters interspersing Trump's "Make America Great Again" signs with campaign posters for Congressman Ryan Zinke and gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte reinforced the theme. In Wisconsin, local reports indicated that even former Trump critics were nudging their allies into backing the mogul.

That message carried over into the selection of delegates to the national convention. In all, nearly 400 were picked on Saturday at these 11 party meetings — about one in every six that will fill seats in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena in July.

Sources in Ted Cruz’s orbit had suggested the Texas senator would still be a factor in delegate battles over the weekend, flexing his muscle among conservative activists to try and retain a position of influence at the national convention. But that plan appeared to fizzle. In Nevada, at least 13 of 15 statewide delegates were pro-Trump.

In Kansas, a state Cruz won easily, Secretary of State Kris Kobach — a prominent Trump supporter — was selected to be a delegate. In Florida, where former Gov. Jeb Bush helped build today's GOP leadership, most of the 14 delegates selected Saturday were supportive of Trump. And in Nebraska, where Cruz backers indicated they'd attempt to overtake the delegation, 21 of the 36 members picked Saturday had endorsed Trump. Only two opposed him, and the rest were undeclared.

Even in Texas, where Cruz allies appeared poised to make a home-state stand, the statewide delegation tilted toward party insiders rather than anti-Trump leaders. Gov. Greg Abbott, former Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — who pleaded for party unity at the convention on Friday -- were picked to go to Cleveland.

There were, of course, lingering indications of discontent. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan skipped the Maryland GOP convention and hasn't backed Trump, according to The Baltimore Sun. In Texas, Cruz's father Rafael earned a delegate slot. In Nebraska, former GOP chair Mark Fahleson — a top ally of Sasse — was selected as well.

Still, it was a far cry from scenes a month ago, when state conventions were tense affairs driven by Cruz’s bid to secure enough loyal delegates to wrest the nomination from Trump at a contested convention.

This weekend, according to sources on the ground in a handful of states holding conventions, delegate selection affairs largely lacked that tension.

Instead, what clashes there were appeared to be over personal disputes — from tension between Sasse and senior Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer to jockeying between different factions of Trump supporters in Nevada to a squabble over a gay marriage plank in the Texas platform. The meetings were far more akin to the delegate battles in elections past, when delegate selection competitions had little to do with picking the party’s nominee and were driven largely by local power struggles.

Nothing "Provisional" in a Provisional Vote in Baltimore

from the Baltimore Sun
Criticism of Baltimore's election process mounted Friday as state officials closed in on an explanation of why the number of voters who checked in at the polls in last month's primary was less than the number of ballots counted.

Leaders across the city said they had serious concerns about problems that led the Maryland State Board of Elections to order city election officials to decertify the results of the primary Thursday so it could conduct a precinct-by-precinct review.

Longtime City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who has worked for decades on elections in Baltimore, called the problems with the primary a tragedy.

"We emphasize the importance of a vote," she said. "And the minute we shortchange it, we shortchange everything we establish to keep this a democratic society."

The discrepancy between the number of voters and number of ballots appears to have occurred because voters or election judges scanned provisional ballots at polling places, rather than setting them aside to be reviewed later, Maryland Election Administrator Linda H. Lamone said.

That review is important because anyone who asks for a provisional ballot is given one, whether or not they are eligible to vote. Officials are not supposed to include provisional ballots in the vote count until eligibility is confirmed.

State officials, with help from election workers from other counties, will go through the city's paper records to try to determine how many provisional ballots were counted improperly.

Lamone said the process will involve tallying the number of receipts for voters who checked in at each precinct and the number of provisional ballot applications filled out. Those figures will then be compared with the number of ballots counted on Election Day and the number of provisional ballots reviewed the week after the primary.

But because there's nothing on a provisional ballot paper that identifies it as such, Lamone said, it will not be possible to go back and filter them out or determine whether they represent legitimate votes.

"It's the problem with the secret ballot," she said.

Lamone said that if the number of potentially improper votes in Baltimore turns out to be large enough to call the result of any contest into question, it would not be the responsibility of the state board to order a new election. But a judge could do so if someone challenged the outcome in court.

Other jurisdictions in Maryland also had problems on Election Day, but officials said they were on a smaller scale.

In a memo obtained by The Baltimore Sun, state election officials wrote to local election directors saying provisional ballots scanned on Election Day should be recorded as having been accepted, and the voters' records should reflect that they voted.

The state board "is looking into new ways to prevent these from occurring in future elections," the memo reads.

Lamone said five other counties had problems similar to those in Baltimore but that they involved many fewer ballots. She declined to name the counties.

"The problem was bigger in the city than anywhere else," Lamone said.

Lawmakers called for a detailed review of the problems to make sure that they are not repeated.

"This was the first time for this system, but Baltimore was the only jurisdiction to have its results decertified," said state Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat. "I'm deeply troubled by what has happened."

State Sen. Joan Carter Conway said responsibility for the problems ultimately lies with the city Board of Elections and election director Armstead B.C. Jones Sr. But any steps to hold them accountable, she said, should be taken only after an investigation is complete.

"They bear the blame and responsibility," the Baltimore Democrat said. "Do I think it's so severe that [Jones] should be terminated? No, it's a new system."

Del. Jill Carter agreed that any action against Jones should take place only after a hearing is held to determine why there were so many problems during the election.

"The Board of Elections failed," the Baltimore Democrat said. "They weren't prepared for this election. But at the end of the day, the outcome is going to be the same. There is no doubt that he should at least be questioned and held accountable for what has happened."

The city election board consists of three Republicans and two Democrats appointed by the governor, with the consent of the Senate, to four-year terms. The board is responsible for hiring the election director.

Jones, who makes $97,000 a year, according to state records, took the job in 2007 after his predecessor quit in frustration over widespread problems during the 2006 primaries.

Jones said it was unfair to single out Baltimore.

"I'm just saying be fair say it's happening around the state," he wrote in an email Friday.

Eleanor Wang, the president of the city election board, asked voters for patience.

"I really am at this point in time wanting to wait until we get the proper numbers," said Wang, a Republican. "We want the public to feel confident about this, but we do need some more time."

Wang said she stands behind the work of Jones and the other staff at the board.

"He is knowledgeable, and he has been shown to be an excellent director and leader throughout this process," she said.
Democrats in major cities love to count every vote... problem is, they offer no means to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate votes. Notice how the State Board of Elections "go to" impulse was to just "count them all" and PRESUME that all the provisional votes cast were TOTALLY legitimate. If true, what do we need election officials/ judges for?

Maryland Board of Elections representatives are literally screaming, "Voter, Fraud, Come on Down!" I have no doubt that this November, the fraudsters will have again "heard them".

Who's Who in the MD GOP

from the Baltimore Sun
The president of the conservative political advocacy group Citizens United was elected Maryland's Republican national committeeman on Saturday, unseating a veteran incumbent who held the job for a dozen years -- and signaling a further shift away from establishment figures in the state GOP.

David N. Bossie, a Montgomery County resident, helped to orchestrate the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that allowed nonprofits to spend an unlimited amount of money on federal elections.

Bossie beat Louis Pope, a former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, who has held the position since 2004. Bossie's win comes four years after conservative Nicolee Ambrose beat longtime party stalwart Audrey E. Scott to become the state's national committeewoman.

The change comes at a compelling time for Republicans both in Maryland and nationally thanks to Donald Trump, the party's presumed presidential nominee. State committee members are voting members of the national Republican Party, and help to establish the party's platform and the rules for the nominating convention.

They are also state party leaders, part of the team that helps set the direction for the state GOP and raise money for its candidates.

Bossie, a former chief investigator for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led Republican investigations of President Bill Clinton's administration, including the Whitewater controversy and a scandal involving political donations from agents of the Chinese government.

Why the State is Growing...

How did Bill Gates become the richest man in America? His wealth has nothing to do with Microsoft producing good software at lower prices than its competitors, or ‘exploiting’ its workers more successfully (Microsoft pays its intellectual workers a relatively high salary). Millions of people still buy Microsoft software because Microsoft has imposed itself as an almost universal standard, practically monopolising the field, as one embodiment of what Marx called the ‘general intellect’, by which he meant collective knowledge in all its forms, from science to practical know how. Gates effectively privatised part of the general intellect and became rich by appropriating the rent that followed.

The possibility of the privatisation of the general intellect was something Marx never envisaged in his writings about capitalism (largely because he overlooked its social dimension). Yet this is at the core of today’s struggles over intellectual property: as the role of the general intellect – based on collective knowledge and social co-operation – increases in post-industrial capitalism, so wealth accumulates out of all proportion to the labour expended in its production. The result is not, as Marx seems to have expected, the self-dissolution of capitalism, but the gradual transformation of the profit generated by the exploitation of labour into rent appropriated through the privatisation of knowledge.
-Slavoj Zizek, "The Revolt of the Salaried Bourgeoisie"

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Poll: Ryan barely hanging onto a 64-point lead in his district

from HotAir
Later today, Paul Ryan will meet with Donald Trump, a summit brokered by the GOP in order to help unite Republicans against Hillary Clinton. Ryan, who as Speaker of the House would normally serve as convention chair, expressed reservations about supporting Trump — and immediately became the target of threats of getting primaried. So far, though, the “Cantoring” of Paul Ryan looks like a bust:
Paul Ryan has an overwhelming lead on GOP challenger Paul Nehlen, according to a new poll.

The Remington Research Group found 78 percent of likely Republicans in the 1st CD backed Ryan, while 14 supported Paul Nehlen. The firm’s director wrote in an email it was the first survey the Kansas City, Mo., firm has done in the Ryan-Nehlen match up.
The contretemps with Trump hasn’t done much damage to Ryan’s standing in his district, either. One reason is that Trump himself isn’t all that popular in WI-01. While Ryan gets a 75/15 favorability rating in the district, Trump only gets a 41/43. Sarah Palin, who threatened that Ryan would get “Cantored” by Nehlen and publicly endorsed the challenger, does even worse at 24/54.

Ryan’s numbers are only slightly lower than a separate poll of WI-01 conducted by Marquette Law School, considered the gold standard of Wisconsin pollsters in March, and repeated by USA Today yesterday:
Ryan was viewed favorably by 81% of Republican voters in his district and unfavorably by 12% in a late March poll by the Marquette University Law School.

By contrast, Trump was viewed favorably by 28% of those voters and unfavorably by 59%.

The survey was taken before Trump became the presumptive nominee and before last week’s dramatic announcement by Ryan, the party’s highest-ranking public official, that he isn’t ready yet to make an endorsement.
Assuming that the two polls have a similar relative accuracy, Ryan’s in no danger of getting “Cantored” by anyone. His reluctance to back Trump has done little to dim his popularity in his home district. RightWisconsin covers the breadth of Ryan’s support in the Remington poll:
Those numbers are certain to tighten as the campaign progresses, but Nehlen is unlikely to get much of a boost from his decision to go after the fact that Ryan is a Catholic who sends his children to a Catholic school. See here.

The poll found Ryan broadly popular across demographic lines and throughout the congressional district. Ryan has a 79% approval rating among women and a 76% approval rating among men. The speaker is rated favorably by 73% of voters aged 18-39, and by a stunning 89% of voters aged 40-49 .(His ratings for older voters are also astronomical,) He has a 75% approval rating in the Madison media market and an even more robust 78% approval rating in the talk radio heavy Milwaukee media market.

Nor does Ryan seem to have a problem with conservatives. The Remington poll found that 82% of self identified conservatives rate Ryan favorably; along with 68% of moderates and 59% of liberals.
There’s nothing wrong with primary challenges, especially to entrenched leaders who get lost in the DC landscape. That certainly was the case with Eric Cantor, who barely visited his district and was rumored to have subpar constituent services, and whose attention appeared entirely focused on his ambition to become Speaker until he got the electoral shock of his life. At least so far, that hasn’t applied to Paul Ryan, as his numbers in WI-01 show, and whose determination to remain part of his district is well known inside and outside of it. While Ryan may have erred in his vocal non-support while serving in his leadership role — there were better ways to express his reluctance — it actually demonstrates independence from the current GOP leadership class, and reflects the skepticism of his constituents. At the very least, this shows that the people promising a “Cantoring” of Ryan may be the ones out of touch with the temper of voters in Wisconsin.

Besides, after today, the question will almost certainly become entirely moot. Ryan made that clear enough in his press conference yesterday when he said that Republicans had to focus on beating Hillary Clinton … and Trump’s the only option the GOP has for that now.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Will Paul Ryan Get 'Cantored' on August 8?

from the Washington Times
Wisconsin businessman Paul Nehlen announced Tuesday that he is the tea party-allied candidate who is challenging House Speaker Paul D. Ryan in the Republican primary, saying he’s “had it” with the speaker betraying conservatives.

Sources first confirmed to The Washington Times earlier this week that a wealthy businessman was mounting a primary challenge to Mr. Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, but Mr. Nehlen did not reveal his identity until now.

“Paul Ryan’s embrace of big government spending, his continued support of illegal immigration and imported workers, and his championing of the job-killing trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership betrays me, this district, and this nation,” he said.

“He’s failed to put America’s security and American jobs first. I’ve had it. We’ve all had it,” said Mr. Nehlen, a successful executive, entrepreneur and inventor who previously donated to Mr. Ryan’s campaigns.

“Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have become front-runners in this presidential election cycle because they have dared to communicate an anti-establishment message. They won’t be alone,” he said. “I will bring the fight straight to one of the most powerful establishment players in Washington, taking him on right here in Wisconsin’s 1st District. Paul Ryan is a career politician. It’s time that career came to an end.”

The campaign said that Mr. Nehlen would file his candidacy papers Friday.

Mr. Nehlen serves as senior vice president of operations for a leading water filtration and disinfection technologies company, and helped relocated manufacturing jobs from Canada to the U.S., including moving several product lines to Wisconsin.

As an inventor, he holds several patents for filtration and manufacturing technologies, including processes that are involved in 3D printing.

He lives in Delavan, Wisconsin, with his wife, Gabriela.

The emergence of a viable Republican challenger in the district is the culmination of a months-long recruitment effort by tea party activists who say they were double-crossed by Mr. Ryan when he passed a $2 trillion spending package late last year.

A political adviser close to Mr. Nehlen has acknowledged that it won’t be easy to defeat Mr. Ryan, who was the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, currently ranks as one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington and has more than $5 million in his campaign war chest.

The businessman is prepared to put a substantial amount of his personal fortune into the campaign, according to the adviser.

While it’s often an uphill run, there is precedent for a tea party challenger toppling a member of the House Republican leadership. Eric Cantor, while serving as majority leader, lost his seat in a Richmond, Virginia, suburb in a 2014 primary upset to tea-party-backed Dave Brat.

However, Mr. Ryan’s predecessor as speaker, John A. Boehner, easily defeated a tea-party-backed primary challenger the same year in Ohio. At the time, Mr. Boehner faced widespread opposition from conservatives and a revolt in the House Republican conference, which ultimately prompted him to resign in October.

Mr. Ryan did not seek the speakership, but was drafted by conservative and mainstream House Republicans who saw him as a unifying figure who could mend the divide in the conference.

Mr. Ryan’s campaign team did not immediately respond to questions about Mr. Nehlen entering the race.

Mr. Ryan came under fire from conservatives shortly after he took the job of speaker in October and almost immediately pushed through the $2 trillion spending bill, which renewed popular tax breaks and increased the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

The spending package avoided a government shutdown by striking a deal that surrendering on conservatives’ top priorities, including giving up the fights to defund Planned Parenthood and to block President Obama’s plan to bring at least 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S.

It also enraged advocates for a crackdown on illegal immigration by funding so-called sanctuary cities that provide safe harbor for illegal immigrants and failing to rein in Mr. Obama’s executive action to grant deportation amnesty.

Mr. Ryan defended the bill, saying House Republicans fought hard to get as much as they could and advanced some of their priorities.

H8ter Games...

from the Washington Examiner

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Bush Globalist Neocons Plot Third Way

from the Washington Post
In spite of his insistence that he will not run, Mitt Romney is being courted this week by a leading conservative commentator to reconsider and jump into the volatile 2016 presidential race as an independent candidate.
William Kristol, the longtime editor of the Weekly Standard magazine and a leading voice on the right, met privately with the 2012 nominee on Thursday afternoon to discuss the possibility of launching an independent bid, potentially with Romney as its standard-bearer.

“He came pretty close to being elected president, so I thought he may consider doing it, especially since he has been very forthright in explaining why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should not be president of the United States,” Kristol said in a phone interview Friday, during which he confirmed that he and Romney had a “little meeting in Washington.”

But knowing Romney’s reluctance, Kristol told Romney that if he remains unwilling to run, many top conservatives would appreciate having the former Massachusetts governor’s support for an independent candidate, should Kristol and other right-leaning figures enlist a willing contender.

“Obviously, if there were to be an independent candidacy, Romney’s support would be very important,” Kristol said. “I wanted to get his wisdom on whether it was more or less doable than I thought.”

“It was not like, ‘You should do it.’ I wouldn’t presume he’d do it. But I’m hoping that he begins to think about it a little more,” Kristol said. “His name is one of the names that is part of the discussion.”

The closed-door huddle was held at the J.W. Marriott hotel in Washington, which is just blocks from the White House. It was requested by Kristol, according to a person close to Romney who requested anonymity to discuss the session. Kristol said the conversation was held over glasses of water.

Kristol has been working informally for weeks to seek out a prominent political or military figure who could be drafted into the general-election contest, such as retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, who recently declined such overtures.

Later Thursday, both Kristol and Romney attended an awards gala for American Friends of The Hebrew University, an area group that supports the Jerusalem-based school.

At the dinner, when asked in front of the attendees about possibly running as an independent this year, Romney said he was not interested.

"No, I’m certainly going to be hoping that we find someone who I have my confidence in who becomes nominee. I don’t intend on supporting either of the major-party candidates at this point,” Romney said, according to the Washington Examiner.

But, Romney added, “I am dismayed at where we are now, I wish we had better choices, and I keep hoping that somehow things will get better, and I just don’t see an easy answer from where we are.”

A Romney spokesperson was not available for comment Friday evening.

Neither Clinton Nor Trump

from Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard
I have always voted for the Republican presidential candidate. From Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford to Ronald Reagan (twice) and George H. W. Bush (twice) and Bob Dole, from George W. Bush (twice) to John McCain and Mitt Romney—I've checked the box next to those eight names on all 11 occasions I've had the chance. About half the time, I've voted for someone else in the primary. But even in those cases I never hesitated before supporting the Republican nominee in the general election.

I regret none of those votes. I believe in retrospect, as I believed at the time, that in every case these men would have pursued policies better for the country than their opponents would have, and I believe now, as I did then, that in almost every case the Republican nominee was also superior to his opponent in terms of character and temperament and judgment.

My GOP presidential voting streak will end at 11. I cannot vote for Donald Trump. It's not clear that his mixed bag of motley policies would be superior to those of his Democratic opponent. He could well pick better Supreme Court justices, which is important; but he could well pursue a less sound foreign policy, which is also important. But policy is not the issue. Character is. It is clear that Donald Trump does not have the character to be president of the United States.

And it is clear Hillary Clinton ought not to be our next president either.

What to do?

Find a better choice. Recruit and support an independent candidate.

I'm not prone to encouraging or supporting independent candidacies. I've never done so. I think the two-party system has served America well. I think, all in all, the Republican party has served the country well. I could even make a case that, of all the political parties in the world, the Republican party is one of the most impressive: It's been right more often about more consequential things than almost any other.

But it was wrong to nominate Donald Trump.

The good news is that it is not too late to give Republican voters, a majority of whom have not supported Donald Trump in the primaries, an alternative. An independent Republican candidate can help prevent the conflation of the Republican party with Trump and of conservatism with Trumpism. Such a candidate could also appeal to many independents and some Democrats. He or she could win.

Really? Yes. Getting an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states is less difficult than conventional wisdom has it. The only states whose ballot access deadlines are before the end of June are Texas and North Carolina, and those deadlines are susceptible to legal challenges that are being drawn up as I write. Those challenges will probably succeed—but if they fail, one would have to resort to a write-in campaign in those two states. A U.S. Senate candidate won a write-in campaign in 2010.

Of course, putting together a serious independent campaign is a formidable task—but plenty of operatives and aides and donors and lawyers stand ready. They are at present only loosely organized, if at all. But it is appropriate in this era of distributed intelligence that this independent campaign start as a distributed campaign, especially since the need for a far broader distribution of power and responsibility to citizens and for bottom-up policies is likely to be a theme of such an effort.

And the fact is that an articulate and independent-minded conservative, perhaps a generation younger than the two elderly plutocrats between whom the parties are asking us to choose, could make a real race of it. He or she could build enough momentum over the summer to get into the debates, and then .  .  . couldn't the debates be a moment when large numbers of our countrymen might awaken with relief and greet with excitement the possibility of liberation from the nightmare of Clinton or Trump? How exciting would it be to inaugurate an attractive candidate who's neither Clinton nor Trump on January 20, 2017?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How Green is my Harford?

from the Baltimore Sun
In an election year when political outsiders have disrupted both Republican and Democratic presidential races, a slate of longshot candidates in Baltimore is hoping to ride the wave of voter frustration and legitimize their long-discounted third party: the Greens.

Voters stepped from a light drizzle into the Baltimore Green Party headquarters on East 23rd Street to cast their ballots for candidates for mayor, City Council, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and president in the party's primary Sunday. Others voted by mail-in ballot.

All of the party's primary races in Maryland are uncontested, except for mayor of Baltimore, which featured three candidates, Joshua Harris, David Marriott and Emanual McCray. Harris won the mayoral nod with 85 percent of the vote to McCray's 7 percent and Marriott's 3 percent and The winner will face Democratic state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh and Republican Alan Walden in the general election.

"For too long in Baltimore, the general election has not been a place where voters actually have choices, so our first goal is to give them legitimate choices on the ballot," Baltimore Green Party co-chair Andy Ellis said.

Democrats, who have long controlled Maryland politics, vastly outnumber the Green Party — more than 200 to 1 in Baltimore and 276 to 1 across the state.

The city has nearly 25 times as many registered Republicans as Greens; statewide, it's 100 to 1.

Those odds didn't dissuade Rebecca Feldberg from voting Green.

The 65-year-old arborist, who lives in Reservoir Hill, said she's watched, disappointed, as the Democratic Party has moved to the center on a variety of issues.

Feldberg said her liberal friends always find themselves voting for the lesser of two evils. One encourages her every four years to switch her affiliation to Democrat, she said, "just for the election."

"She doesn't really understand the importance of a third party," Feldberg said. "I think we have to keep fighting. ... If you have a strong candidate, there's potential for us to be noticed."

Victoria Pennacchia, 49, a grant manager who lives in Ednor-Gardens, said she convinced her father and stepmother to become Greens to vote for Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election.

The party gained national attention when Nader received 2.7 percent of the vote and Republican George W. Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore by a razor-thin margin.

Jill Stein, of Massachusetts faces William Kreml, of South Carolina in this year's Green Party presidential primary.

Pennacchia said she was excited to see three Green mayoral candidates on the 2016 ballot in Baltimore.

"The Green Party is important to me because it's the combination of enviromental, social justice, labor, minorities — it sort of hits all the things that are important to me," she said.

Chris Croke, 66, of Bolton Hill, said Baltimore suffers from a lack of social justice that can be remedied by elected officials who are more community-oriented. He said he has been voting Green since 2008.

The retired trade show industry worker said the environment and education, particularly a "school-to-prison pipeline" that criminalizes the city's poor black youth, are his top concerns.

"We need to change the way our politics are run, the way our government is run," Croke said. "I believe the best way to accomplish that is through the Green Party."

Outside of the mayor's race, nine Green Party candidates were on the ballot in Maryland Sunday.

Connor Meek, who wrote a widely discussed opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun about being mugged on his bicycle while a nearby police station was closed, is running for City Council president.

Five other Green candidates will vye for City Council seats in the general election: Andreas "Spilly" Spiliadis in District 3; Richard T. White in District 6; Jamie Frierson in District 9; Amanda Maminski in District 10 and Ian Schlakman in District 12.

To win a seat in Congress, the two Green candidates will have to beat strong Democratic incumbents. Nnabu Eze will run against Rep. John Sarbanes in a race for the state's 3rd congressional district, while Myles Hoenig will take on Rep. Elijah E. Cummings in the 7th.

Margaret Flowers will face Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Republican Kathy Szeliga in the general election to fill retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski's seat.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Kwanio che Keteru!

The Rev. Mr. Heckewelder, who is probably the best authority we have upon the Indians of this section of the country, states that Tamanend's memory was held in the highest esteem by his own people, but that he never heard them say much concerning him, as it was not their custom to talk of their dead except in a very general way, and that no white man that had any regard for their feelings ever broached the subject of their dead to them. The various traditions, both verbal and written, concerning Tamanend emanated from the whites and not from the Indians. We see that between the first record that we have of him in 1683 and the last in 1697 he must have impressed himself strongly upon not only the community but also upon the officials of the provincial government, for in the last account he is described in the deed, which of course was writ ten by the English, as the Great Sachem Tamaniens, and no other Indian is so described; so to have acquired the right to such a title he must have had at least a large part of the attributes ascribed to him. In further corroboration of the way in which his memory was held, we cite the old cannon presented by the Colony on Schuylkill to the Association Battery about 1747, on which appear the words "Kawania che Keekeru" (This is my right, I will defend it). By many writers this motto is ascribed to Tamanend, and justly so, we think, rather than to the Delaware Nation alone, for we would expect just such a sentiment to be chosen by a man endowed with such lofty ideas as these words express. (This was the motto of the Saint Tammany Society. See Independent, May 3, 1783.) Further, the records of this Society show that their principal day— May 1, or opening day— has been always spoken of by them as Tammany's day. Their tradition is that Tamanend himself made a treaty with the fathers of this Society giving them the right to fish in the waters of the Schuylkill and hunt game upon its banks.