Sunday, August 28, 2016

Anti-Trump Republicans to Launch Swing-States Ad Buy

Anti-Trump Republicans are preparing to launch a broadcast TV ad in a handful of swing-state suburbs urging Donald Trump to quit the Presidential race so the Party can replace him with a more electable nominee.

The ad, titled "Keep Your Word," features footage of Trump during the Republican Primary in which he suggested he'd drop out if he saw his poll numbers decline.

The 30-second spot is marked for a limited run on broadcast networks in suburban Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Michigan, according to Regina Thomson, a Colorado Republican activist and leader of Free the Delegates, the organization that failed to stop Trump's nomination at last month's National Convention. All four states are central to Trump's path to the White House, though he's trailing in most polls of those states.

The ad is backed by a five-figure buy, according to Thomson, but the group hopes to eventually expand its run to Fox News Channel. It's initially set to air on broadcast news channels beginning Tuesday. It's marked for the four states' suburban media markets, according to Free the Delegates, because they're areas that typically lean Republican but appear to be tilting in Hillary Clinton's favor this year.

The spot was produced by NOVA Digital Films, a Virginia-based firm that lists a slew of conservative candidates and organizations as clients, including Americans for Prosperity, the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List and former Gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

The firm also lists the Republican Party of Virginia as a client, but Chairman John Whitbeck told POLITICO Sunday that he has no record of the Party doing business with the firm and has requested that it be removed from NOVA Digital's website. NOVA Digital's Greg Letiecq said he'd done work with the Party for years, though not as much since Bob McDonnell's 2009 Gubernatorial run, and suggested the Party's records may have him listed under the name Beehive Sites or under his personal name, rather than under NOVA.

The Trump campaign dismissed the effort as the last remnants of a dying NeverTrump movement.

“The 'Never Trump’ movement died at the Republican Convention after it was revealed that they were nothing more than press releases and Facebook posts. The reality is, Republicans and non-Republican voters alike are rapidly uniting behind Donald Trump’s candidacy as people look for a real change agent who isn’t afraid to break up the rigged system," said Trump Campaign spokesman Jason Miller.

Replacing Trump as the Republican nominee has largely been considered a fever dream of Conservative and GOP establishment holdouts bitter over Trump's takeover of the Party in the spring. Trump has given no indication that he's considering leaving the race, and Party leaders have rallied behind him since he forced his last remaining rivals out of the race in May.

But Trump is also facing significant headwinds on his way to November. Polls show him trailing in virtually every swing state, sometimes by yawning margins, to Clinton. He's also in close contests to win traditionally red states like Arizona and Georgia. But Trump's backers are hopeful that increasing scrutiny of Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, especially any access she granted to donors to the Clinton Foundation, will help pull him back into contention.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Saturday, August 27, 2016

George W. Bush Email Scandal Conveniently Forgotten

Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush’s sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to Congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. Attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.

The emails had been run through Private Accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee (RNC) and were only supposed to be used for dealing with non-administration political campaign work to avoid violating ethics laws. Yet Congressional investigators already had evidence private emails had been used for Government business, including to discuss the firing of one of the U.S. Attorneys. The RNC accounts were used by 22 White House staffers, including then Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who reportedly used his RNC email for 95% of his communications.

As the Washington Post reported, “Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision making and deliberations.” But suddenly millions of the private RNC emails had gone missing; emails that were seen as potentially crucial evidence by Congressional investigators.

The White House email story broke on a Wednesday. Yet on that Sunday’s Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and Fox News Sunday, the topic of millions of missing White House emails did not come up. At all. The story did get covered on ABC’s This Week.

By comparison, not only did every network Sunday news show this week cover the story about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emails, but they were drowning in commentary. Between Meet the Press, Face The Nation, This Week, and Fox News Sunday, Clinton’s “email” or “emails” were referenced more than 100 times on the programs, according to Nexis transcripts. Talk about saturation coverage.

Indeed, the commentary for the last week truly has been relentless, with the Beltway press barely pausing to catch its breath before unloading yet another round of “analysis,” most of which provides little insight but does allow journalists to vent about the Clintons.

What has become clear over the last eight days however is that the Clinton email story isn’t about lawbreaking. “Experts have said it doesn’t appear Clinton violated Federal laws,” CNN conceded. “But that hasn’t stemmed the issue that has become more about bad optics and politics than any actual wrongdoing.” The National Law Journal agreed, noting that while the story has created a political furor, “any legal consequences are likely to prove negligible.”

Still, the scandal machine churns on determined to treat the story as a political blockbuster, even though early polling indicates the kerfuffle will not damage Clinton’s standing.

Instead, the millions of missing Bush White House emails were treated as a 24-hour or 48-hour story. It was a subject that was dutifully noted, and then the media pack quickly moved on.

How did the Washington Post and New York Times commentators deal with the Bush email scandal in the week following the confirmation of the missing messages? In his April 17, 2007 column, Post columnist Eugene Robinson hit the White House hard. But he was the only Post columnist to do so. On the editorial page, the Post cautioned that the story of millions of missing White House emails might not really be a “scandal.” Instead, it was possible, the Post suggested, that Rove and others simply received “sloppy guidance” regarding email protocol.

There’s been no such Post inclination to give Clinton any sort of benefit of the doubt regarding email use as the paper piles up endless attacks on her. Dana Milbank: “Clinton made a whopper of an error.” Ruth Marcus: “This has the distinct odor of hogwash.”

As for The New York Times, here’s the entirety of the newspaper’s commentary on the Bush White House email story in the week following the revelation, according to Nexis:

Last week, the Republican National Committee threw up another roadblock, claiming it had lost four years’ worth of e-mail messages by Karl Rove that were sent on a Republican Party account. Those messages, officials admitted, could include some about the United States attorneys. It is virtually impossible to erase e-mail messages fully, and the claims that they are gone are not credible.

Three sentences from a single, unsigned editorial. That’s it. No Times columnists addressed the topic. By comparison, in the week since the Clinton story broke, the Times has published one editorial dedicated solely to the subject, and no less than five opinion columns addressing the controversy.

Just to repeat: In 2007, the story was about millions of missing White House emails that were sought in connection to a Congressional investigation. Yet somehow the archiving of Clinton’s emails today requires exponentially more coverage, and exceedingly more critical coverage.

Of course, back in 2007 Fox News seemed utterly uninterested in the Bush email story days after the news broke. A search of Fox archives locates only one panel discussion about the story and it featured two guests accusing Democrats of engineering a “fishing expedition.”

From then-Fox co-host, Fred Barnes: “I mean, deleted e-mails, who cares?”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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SD Vote Yes on V Campaign

The Vote Yes on V campaign is a diverse group of leaders: Democrats, Republicans, and independents, responding to the National anger over an election system rigged against the voters. Nearly 40,000 South Dakota voters put Amendment V, Non-Partisan Elections on the November 2016 ballot so that the voters own our Government, not the political Parties and special interests. Amendment V ensures that all South Dakota voters can participate and vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of Party.

How It Works: Amendment V – Non-Partisan Elections

It’s extremely simple, just like South Dakota's Local elections for Mayor or City Council. Voters choose the best person, not the Party, to represent them.

- Every voter gets the same ballot with the names of all the candidates. This levels the playing field for candidates. Everyone has the same requirements to get on the ballot.

- No more taxpayer funding for Private Political Party activities.

- No more Party labels.

- Voters vote for their favorite candidate.

- The two candidates with the most votes go on to a runoff style election in November.

CLICK HERE for more information on Amendment V – Non-Partisan Elections.

I would prefer something like Top-Four Non-Partisan Elections. This version would keep the Top-Two but add up to two more candidates with a vote of 20%.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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WI Gets to Enforce Restrictive Voter ID Law With One Big Twist

A Federal Appeals Court on Friday seemed to reach a limited compromise in the controversy over Wisconsin’s Voter Identification law, which has been in the crosshairs of multiple lawsuits and appeals for years.

With one judge recused, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit consolidated the disputes and issued an order that kept the law on the books, but appeared to give Voting Rights Advocates a small consolation prize ahead of the November election.

The court explicitly rejected a softening device, like one ordered by a Federal Judge this month in Texas, that would allow voters lacking the required Voter ID card to simply sign an affidavit attesting to their identity before they cast a ballot.

Instead, the Court accepted assurances from the State of Wisconsin that its Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) would “mail automatically a free Photo ID to anyone who comes to DMV one time and initiates the free ID process.” “No one must present documents, that, for some, have proved challenging to acquire; no one must show a birth certificate, proof of citizenship, and the like,” the Court noted, quoting the State from a prior legal filing.

The 7th Circuit stressed that mere “initiation” of this process, showing up at the DMV, regardless of what documentation the prospective voter has was enough for a voter to receive a Voting Credential at no cost.

But this also presupposes that affected voters, especially those of lesser means or without transportation, actually can make it to a DMV location. Or that the State will actually keep voters informed that this mechanism even exists.

Pointing to other rulings striking down similar Voter ID laws in other states, the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought one of the lawsuits against Wisconsin, didn’t seem to trust the State to deliver.

“Two trial courts have found that, over the last five years, Wisconsin has utterly failed to get IDs into the hands of voters who need them,” Sean Young, a Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “There’s no reason to believe that the state’s latest eleventh-hour ‘emergency’ procedures will work any better than its past failed policies.”

Young added that the ACLU would keep fighting the law in court, but didn’t say whether he would seek Supreme Court review.

Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in Election Law, wrote in a blog post that, given time constraints ahead of the November election, it’s unlikely that the Supreme Court would intervene.

“I think this is the end of the line for this election,” Hasen wrote.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Pastor Feeding Her Flock From Garden in the Sky

Behind the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Tiffany Triplett Henkel of New York City Metro Baptist tends to rooftop plots of vegetables and fruits.

On a rooftop in New York City Hell's Kitchen one sweltering Thursday in August, four teens were weeding, deadheading and watering plants arrayed in 52 shallow kiddie pools plus several deeper pots and planters. From June to November, this ingenious farm yields peas, kale, potatoes, tomatoes, bok choy, blueberries and other fruits and vegetables. The bounty is headed downstairs to the shelves of the food pantry run by the Metro Baptist Church.

"In 2008, when Hell's Kitchen was booming, affordable food options got pushed out," said Tiffany Triplett Henkel, Metro Baptist's Pastor and Executive Director of Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries. In the past decade, Ninth Avenue between West 35th and West 45th streets lost three produce markets, four greengrocers, a fish market, four butchers and two supermarkets, according to Community Board 4. "More people than ever were coming to our pantry, and these were working folks," she said. Henkel surveyed the patrons and found that fresh produce, in particular, had become inaccessible.

In 2011, after a year of planning with the nonprofit Clinton Housing Development Co. and the nearby Metropolitan Community Church, Henkel built the Hell's Kitchen Farm Project with $30,000 from the United Way of New York City's Seed Grant program. That grant purchased initial supplies, the kiddie pools were an inexpensive answer to the roof's weight-bearing limit, and paid for an engineer to review the plans. Volunteers did most of the setup work: More than 1,000 per year climb up the church's five flights to tend the crops. The farm now runs on about $10,000 annually from donations and grants to pay a part-time staff to run educational programs like a summer internship for local high school students. A partnership with New Jersey's Nolasco Farms gives residents access to food that the farm cannot grow: Those eligible for the City's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can pay $12.50 for a weekly farm share that feeds a family of four.

These programs play into Henkel's larger mission: to advocate for affordable fresh-food options for low and middle-class residents and make the gentrifying community aware of food insecurity in the neighborhood. "We don't grow a massive amount," said Henkel, who explained that the farm yields about 400 pounds of produce a season to help feed the 800 people who visit the pantry monthly.

"We're trying to address a real problem through something that's kind of cool," she said. "It's not just a fun, sunny place to be on a Thursday."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Friday, August 26, 2016

Is Trump Campaign Manager Steve Bannon a Fraudulent Voter?

Over the years, Trump Campaign Manager Steve Bannon's alt-right advocacy site,, has carried on a very energetic attack on vote fraud. So it is more than a little ironic to find out that Bannon, himself, appears to be an active participant in vote fraud:

Trump’s new Presidential Campaign Chief is registered to vote in a key swing State of Florida at an empty house where he does not live, in an apparent breach of Election laws. Bannon has an active voter registration at the house in Miami-Dade County, Florida, which is vacant and due to be demolished to make way for a new development.

“I have emptied the property,” Luis Guevara, the owner of the house, which is in the Coconut Grove section of the City, said in an interview. “Nobody lives there … we are going to make a construction there.” Neighbors said the property had been abandoned for several months.

Bannon, 62, formerly rented the house for use by his ex-wife, Diane Clohesy, but did not live there himself. Clohesy, a Tea Party activist, moved out of the house earlier this year and has her own irregular voting registration arrangement. According to public records, Bannon and Clohesy divorced seven years ago.

Bannon previously rented another house for Clohesy in Miami from 2013 to 2015 and assigned his voter registration to the property during that period. But a source with direct knowledge of the rental agreement for this house said Bannon did not live there either, and that Bannon and Clohesy were not in a relationship.

Bannon, Clohesy and Trump’s Campaign repeatedly declined to answer detailed questions about Bannon’s voting arrangements. Jason Miller, a Trump Campaign spokesman, eventually said in an email: “Mr Bannon moved to another location in Florida.” Miller declined to answer further questions.

Bannon's problem of vote fraud damages the perception that elections are free and fair. What is does mean is that increasingly we are seeing no daylight in the personal ethics of the Trump camp.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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DOJ Deciding Whether to Retry Former VA Gov. McDonnell

Federal Prosecutors (DOJ) have asked for three more weeks to decide whether they will pursue the public corruption case against former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife Maureen, saying in a court filing that Justice Department officials are still debating how to proceed.

The filing asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to keep both cases on hold until Sept. 19 and says it will be the last request for any type of delay. It offers no indication of how Prosecutors may be leaning.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this summer unanimously overturned the former Governor’s corruption convictions and laid out a higher bar for charging public officials with such corruption crimes, but it did so in a way that left open the possibility McDonnell could be re-tried. The high court ruled unanimously that the instructions given to jurors in McDonnell’s case about what constituted an “official act” were flawed and said a lower court should consider whether the former Governor’s case could be brought under the new definition it laid out.

Federal Prosecutors then asked for time to weigh on their own whether they would continue to press such charges.

In addition to considering whether Prosecutors could win at a new trial, Justice Department Officials are likely debating whether the case should be brought again given the resources another trial would consume.

Prosecutors had previously sought and won a month to review the Supreme Court decision. This new request is also likely to be granted within a few days, given that McDonnell’s defense team has agreed to the motion.

The McDonnells were convicted of taking more than $175,000 in loans and gifts, a Rolex watch, fancy clothing, vacations, partial payments for a daughter’s wedding reception among them, in exchange for helping Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. advance a dietary supplement his company had developed. The McDonnells arranged to connect Williams with State Officials, allowed him to throw a luncheon at the Governor’s mansion to help launch the product and shape the guest list at a mansion reception meant for health-care leaders, jurors found. But the Supreme Court ruled that such behavior was merely constituent service.

While all the gift-taking looked “tawdry,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “conscientious public officials arrange meetings for constituents, contact other officials on their behalf, and include them in events all the time.”

To bring a new case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia must convince the Federal Appeals Court that they can prove an illegal quid-pro-quo relationship between the McDonnells and Williams without that evidence.

Legal experts say Maureen McDonnell’s fate is tied to that of her husband. While the Supreme Court did not address her conviction, they were tried under the same jury instructions and her case is currently on hold. If he is tried again, she likely will be as well. If prosecutors drop the case against her husband, they will follow suit with her.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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