Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: The Wealth of Presidential Candidates

Poor voters:

"Plight of poor gains ground as topic in 2016 campaign; Candidates face dilemma on how to reach voters" by Julie Pace Associated Press  May 03, 2015

WASHINGTON — In a presidential campaign where candidates are maneuvering to be champions of the middle class and asking wealthy people for money, the problems facing the poor are inching into the debate.

Because the middle class is now poor and no longer middle. This is all phony baloney $how.

Tensions in places such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., have prompted candidates to explore the complicated relationship between poor communities and the police and the deep-seated issues that have trapped many of the 45 million people who live in poverty in the United States.

Yeah, I notice it's about every two years around election time. When they need you to go vote (never mind what is going on with those machines or scanners).

But addressing the long-running economic, education, and security troubles in underprivileged neighborhoods is a challenge with few easily agreed upon solutions.

And after the election, the political cla$$ will agree to disagree -- and then march down and cash the lobbyist campaign check.

President Obama challenged the nation to do ‘‘some soul-searching’’ after riots in Baltimore followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody. There have been other deadly altercations between police and black men or boys in Ferguson, New York’s Staten Island, Cleveland, and North Charleston, S.C.

I am, sir. 

‘‘I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities,’’ Obama said. ‘‘But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could.’’

Nope. I mean, he's pushing the TPP here. 

To some of the Republicans running to replace Obama, his call for spending more money in poor areas underscores the problem with many current antipoverty programs.

Why did he wait until the twilight of his presidency?

The GOP largely opposes new domestic spending and party officials often say federally run programs are bloated and inefficient.

Yeah, that last part is true; the whole thing, if one really $teps back and looks, is a ma$$ive tran$fer of wealth upwards. The money is poured into ever-increasing bureaucracy so the structure can party and then the money is gone and neglect is rampant.

‘‘At what point do you have to conclude that the top-down government poverty programs have failed?’’ said Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and expected presidential candidate. ‘‘I think we need to be engaged in this debate as conservatives and say that there’s a bottom-up approach.’’

Oh, $hut up, Jeb.

Republicans have struggled in recent years to overcome the perception that the party has little interest in the plight of the poor.

Oh, I think they have a great interest in the poor. Their policies have made so many of them!

Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee in 2012, was criticized for saying he was ‘‘not concerned about the very poor’’ and that it was not his job to worry about the 47 percent of Americans who he said ‘‘believe that government has a responsibility to care for them.’’

Who? He would have been the perfect president for our times (other than Ralph Nader) because he was the embodiment of a corporate suite, 'er, suit and thus the ma$k would have come off and the AmeriKan government would have been headed by a person that epitomized corporate control. Obummer has $erved them just as well.

More than 60 percent of voters who made less than $30,000 per year backed Obama over Romney in that campaign, according to exit polls.

According to the Census, about 27 percent of blacks and 25 percent of Hispanics were poor in 2012, compared with 12.7 percent of whites. The two minority groups overwhelmingly backed Obama in the past two presidential elections.

There they go again with the race divide when it's a mini$cule percentage thing; propaganda pre$$ protects cla$$ because they own it. Globe is of and for.

Bush has been among the most vocal Republicans discussing the need to lift the poor out of poverty and reduce income inequality, though he has yet to flesh out many of his policy proposals. He has been most specific about the need for greater educational choices and opportunities.

Bush frequently cites his work in Florida, where he expanded charter schools, backed voucher programs, and promoted high testing standards.


Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul has long called for overhauling criminal sentencing procedures that he says disproportionately imprison low-income black men. He has promoted ‘‘economic freedom zones’’ where taxes would be lowered in areas with high long-term unemployment in order to stimulate growth and development.

Paul, who has made a point of reaching out to black communities, has drawn criticism for comments he made during the Baltimore unrest. In a radio interview, Paul said he had been on a train that went through the city and was ‘‘glad the train didn’t stop.’’

Yeah, I knew that was going to hurt him, although what percent is the black Republican primary vote? 


Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has also talked frequently about the poor. His antipoverty proposals include consolidating many federal programs to help the poor into a ‘‘flex fund’’ that states would then manage.

Democrats, too, are trying to incorporate plans for tackling poverty into economic campaign messages that otherwise center on the middle class.

After the Baltimore turmoil, Hillary Rodham Clinton made a plea for criminal justice changes that could aid urban communities. Among her ideas: equipping every police department with body cameras for officers. She said the unrest was a ‘‘symptom, not a cause’’ of what ails poor communities and called for a broader discussion of the issues.

Not that I'm opposed, per se, but they are already weakening those requirements and it ups the total $urveillance $y$tem yet again. Maybe the cops should just stop killing people.

Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor who is expected to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination, has been at the center of the discussions about Baltimore’s issues. He was mayor from 1999 to 2007 and enacted tough-on-crime policies.

There goes his candidacy (and possible VP pick). Ouch!

While O’Malley is not backing away from those practices, he is trying to put criminal justice issues in a larger context. He wrote in an op-ed that the problem in Baltimore and elsewhere is as much about policing and race as it has about ‘‘declining wages and the lack of opportunity in our country today.’’ 

That's called the MARYLAND MOONWALK!

In some places that have dealt with recent unrest, residents say they welcome the campaign discussions on poverty and policing but hope the issues will not fade away when the next big campaign focus arises.

You mean like they always do in this $tatu$ quo $y$tem?

‘‘Hopefully these protests are something they’ll wrap themselves around, and we can make sure these issues get addressed,’’ said Thavy Bullis, a Baltimore college student.

A savvy Bully?


Okay, what do they have in their wallets?

"Baggage of wealth burdens presidential candidates" by Matt Viser Globe Staff  April 24, 2015

WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush is a scion of a wealthy family that has its own oceanside compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. Hillary Rodham Clinton gobbled up $200,000 speaking fees over the past year and then announced she was running to become the president for “everyday Americans.”

Ted Cruz is worth $3.2 million and Rand Paul is worth $1.3 million. Businesswoman Carly Fiorina, one of the wealthiest potential White House candidates, is worth an estimated $71 million.

Now I'm married to her candidacy.

Welcome to the campaign for the hearts and minds of the middle class.

In an election season expected to be dominated by appeals to blue-collar Americans, the ability of candidates to credibly connect with average voters will be a major challenge. Wealth defines the lives and backgrounds of most of the presidential hopefuls, potentially clouding their ability to project empathy for the plights of those struggling with rent payments, college loans, or child care.

Recent surveys show that Americans feel left behind by the economic recovery. Growing majorities of voters — in both parties — say the gap between rich and poor has exploded.

And it widens every second, minute, hour, day, week, month....

Pocketbook anxiety is rampant. About 55 percent of Americans said they are falling behind economically, according to a Pew Research survey released in January. Only 6 percent said their income is rising faster than their cost of living.


How rich candidates wear their wealth often leaves a deeper impression on the minds of voters than their policy proposals.

In the 2004 campaign, Democrat John Kerry — who owns a Beacon Hill townhouse and who vacations at a family home in Nantucket — asked for Swiss cheese on his Philly cheese steak, making him seem out of step with the working-class Philadelphia lunch crowd, which prefers Cheez Whiz. Romney was skewered for planning to build a car elevator at his oceanfront home in La Jolla, Calif., and for off-handed remarks during an event in Detroit about how his wife drives “a couple of Cadillacs.”

Maybe Kerry can cook you up a little something now?

In the early phase of the 2016 presidential campaign, candidates from both parties have been anchoring their stump speeches with promises to address the growing wage disparity between rich and poor.

Their messages emphasize upward mobility, offering competing promises to help Americans move up the economic ladder.

It's the same $tatu$ quo me$$age we've been getting.

“Both parties realize their economic messages haven’t connected very well. And mobility is a way to do that,” said Yuval Levin, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank. “The question is whether they can turn it into policy . . . and they just haven’t offered much policy yet. But the language makes a difference.” 

Frank Luntz sure thought so. Politicians need to find words to trick you as they take your money and live lavishly while doling out the loot.

Voters from the respective parties disagree on what should be done about financial inequality.

And thus they can blame the other guy while the $tatu$ quo $y$tem rolls on and enriches them al$o.

Seventy percent of Democrats said the government needed to do more to shrink the gap between rich and poor, according to a Bloomberg News poll last week, while 75 percent of Republicans said the government should step aside and let the free market operate freely — even if it means a bigger gap.

Jeb Bush, whose slogan has been to offer voters a “right to rise,” often talks about the poor on the campaign trail. He launched a political fund-raising committee by highlighting the pitch.

“Too many of the poor have lost hope that a path to a better life is within their grasp,” he wrote. “While the last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners, they’ve been a lost decade for the rest of America.”

Another guy $elling hope.

Bush has come from privilege, growing up as the son of a congressman and attending the prestigious boarding school Phillips Academy, before he headed for the University of Texas Austin.

Yeah, where he was something of a pot-smoking bully from what the Globe reported a while back.

When he became Florida governor in 1999, he had a net worth of about $2 million. By the time he left eight years later, that had dropped to $1.3 million. But since then, Bush has accumulated millions through advising corporations, taking speaking fees, and joining corporate boards. He has not filed a financial disclosure required of a public official since 2007.

“He doesn’t have a governor’s mansion with a chef in it. He doesn’t travel by private plane or have a security detail. He hasn’t had a political staff,” said Ana Navarro, a Florida-based Republican who says some donors have complained to her that Bush’s suits look cheap and not presidential.

Yeah, he's a regular guy like W!

Hillary Clinton came from a middle-class suburban Chicago family, enrolling in public schools and occasionally helping her father run his small drapery business. But it has been decades since she lived a middle-class life.

Her efforts to connect have been clear. Last week, she stopped by a Chipotle in Maumee, Ohio, ordering a fruit juice and a chicken bowl with guacamole. She dropped into coffee shops in rural Iowa. And she was driven around in a van upon which she bestowed the distinctly lowbrow nickname “Scooby,” after a television cartoon dog.

It was all designed to put her into contact with what her campaign calls “everyday Americans.” 

I'm going to be getting off the wagon soon, in more ways than one. Key word there is DESIGNED (literally).

But Clinton also acknowledged last year that she hadn’t driven a car since 1996. She mulled whether to run for president while vacationing at the oceanfront home of Oscar de la Renta in the Dominican Republic.

Going to have to get some lessons then.

She was reported to have received a $14 million advance for the book she released last year.

And $ales were still lou$y!

Over the past year, she continued speaking before groups large and small for a fee of at least $200,000 a speech — earning more in about an hour than an average American makes in about four years.

Anyone want to hear me talk?

“She has not driven a car in this century,” said Republican political consultant Kevin Madden, a former Romney adviser. “How do you relate to people if you haven’t driven a car? That’s an everyday American experience. Driving to work, sitting in traffic, picking up the kids. Getting your license renewed, paying taxes is an everyday American concern.

Less than 63% anyway. That's a pretty high true unemployment rate.

“She hasn’t even had the simplest everyday occurrence to credibly, genuinely identify with the average voter,’’ Madden said. “And that is a huge challenge for her.”

She need a driver?

Clinton has been obliquely referencing her wealth, telling voters in Iowa that everyone should be afforded the same opportunities as her 7-month-old granddaughter.

Oh, gee, wave the grandkid at us. I assume all the drone and airstrike orders will be cancelled upon her assuming of the presidency?

Aside from former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee — whose wife comes from a wealthy family — the rest of the potential Democratic field have net worths more line with average Americans.

I'll go through the Chaffee later.

O’Malley is paying off student loans for two of his daughters who recently graduated from college. Sanders drives a Chevrolet Aveo. And Vice President Joe Biden has bragged he was once “the poorest man in Congress.”

There is also broad economic diversity in the GOP field.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has at least two credit cards — one of which is a Sears MasterCard — and he reported owing at least $10,000, and as much as $100,000, on them, according to state financial disclosure documents filed in January. A spokeswoman declined to say why his bills were so high and whether he was carrying credit card debt. He also has a car loan of $5,000 to $50,000.

Here, use mine.

Walker has talked about how his mother grew up on a farm and didn’t have indoor plumbing when she was in high school.

I can smell the manure!

Part of his stump speech is about shopping at Kohl’s, and during remarks in New Hampshire last month he noted how on the previous day he had bought a $1 sweater from the store (he didn’t note that a few hours later he got on a chartered plane, donned a tuxedo, and attended the exclusive Gridiron Club dinner in Washington).

Walker, man of the people.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida describes how his father, a bartender, and his mother, a maid, achieved the American dream. “But now, too many Americans are starting to doubt whether achieving that dream is still possible,” he said last week in announcing his campaign.

It's turned into a nightmare and it is going to get wor$e.

Donald Trump, who has formed a presidential exploratory committee, has made ostentatious displays of wealth a calling card. Forbes pegs his net worth at $4.1 billion, but his aides argue that it should actually be listed at more than $10 billion.

Yet the man whose private jet has 24-carat gold seat belts says he, too, is trying to figure out how to connect to the middle class.

“Mr. Trump intends on making America the super power it once was and ensuring prosperity for all Americans,” said his chief political adviser Michael Cohen. “Just as he did with his own company, he will build it from startup to greatness.”

Had to call his bluff.


Monday Globe offered you a trio as well:

"Hillary Clinton keeps eye on party rivals; Campaign takes root in long shots’ states" by Annie Linskey Globe Staff  May 11, 2015

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton is leaving nothing to chance this time around.

The die has been cast and the rigged machines are in place.

The Clinton presidential operation may look like a juggernaut from the outside, but her attempts to marshal early support in the home states of long shots are evidence that she feels the need to protect every flank, no matter how weak the opposition appears.

She will be a good war president!

In Rhode Island, office space for a local Clinton campaign headquarters was identified early in the campaign; in Maryland, several lawmakers have already lent their names to Clinton for fund-raisers. And in Vermont, she moved quickly to sew up support.

These aren’t states that typically get much attention from presidential candidates. But all three are home to underdogs who have announced, or are considering, their own bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination. That makes the states turf Clinton can’t ignore.

“She knows there is going to be a media onslaught against her,” said Joe Paolino, a former Providence mayor who will be leasing her campaign office space in Providence. “She isn’t taking anything for granted. This is not a walk in the park for her.”

Eight years ago, Clinton also basked in the aura of inevitability only to be out-organized and out-campaigned by Barack Obama. Clinton’s campaign has pledged that it will avoid mistakes from that race, so this time around her campaign is leaner. The staff is smaller. The offices are less lavish.

Tyrone Gayle, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said the organization is making a concerted effort nationally. “Hillary Clinton is committed to earning every vote,” said Gayle in a statement.

Two of Clinton’s challengers are new to the Democratic Party, and therefore lack strong ties with the local party establishments. For Clinton, that made for easy endorsement pickings in Vermont, where Democratic Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger revealed his support for her the same day that Bernie Sanders, an independent and former Burlington mayor, said he would challenge her for the Democratic nomination.

The Clinton campaign reached out to line up the endorsement before Sanders’ announcement, according to a source familiar with the conversation, reflecting an attention to detail. Vermont’s other senator, Patrick Leahy, is also backing Clinton.

Sanders’ camp brushed off the endorsements. “Would you rather have politicians or the people backing you?” said Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs.

Sanders has gone on to raise more than $3 million since he got in the race on April 30; mostly from small donations, according to his campaign. And he’s getting a close look from Iowa caucus-goers, according to a survey out last week. His support rose to 15 percent from zero in February, according to a poll by Quinnipiac University.

Much of it came from people in the liberal wing of the party who hoped Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren would jump into the race. She polled at 19 percent three months ago but was dropped from the more recent survey because she’s not running for president.

Not warranted at this time, and I have no grimes about it.

Another Democratic newcomer challenging Clinton is former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee. On April 9, he said he’d consider a presidential bid. 

He's also a former Republican.

Within days, current Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, a longtime Clinton supporter, told the Associated Press she wouldn’t back the home state candidate, in part because it is “time to put a mom in the White House.”

You had a chance with Palin.

Then word leaked to the local press that Clinton was preparing to set up operations in the state — even open an office in Providence. Debbie Rich, a spokeswoman for Chafee, declined to comment on Clinton’s campaign activities, other than to point out that her campaign’s office address was publicized “right after” Chafee revealed he was considering running.

The Clinton campaign wouldn’t comment on the Rhode Island office and noted that the only official state headquarters to launch so far are in her home state of New York and in New Hampshire, where a Manchester operation opened last week.

Next month, Clinton will make an appearance in Rhode Island for fund-raiser at the home of loyalist Mark Weiner, said Paolino, who is helping to organize the event. He predicted the state’s “entire Democratic establishment” will be behind Clinton.

That’s not surprising, since Chafee was a Republican when he represented the state in the US Senate and an independent when he was elected governor in 2010.

Perhaps the bigger threat to Clinton’s nomination comes from Maryland, where the former governor, Martin O’Malley, has long been considering a presidential campaign. He, too, has seen Clinton incursions in his state.

Not after BALTIMORE.

Shortly after the November 2014 elections, in which O’Malley’s chosen successor lost to a Republican, the Ready for Hillary super PAC scheduled two fund-raisers in his home state sponsored by a raft of Maryland politicians. The organizers wanted a strong showing of local officials backing Clinton.

“They were bombarding us with calls,” said one Maryland lawmaker who was asked repeatedly to participate.

Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, tried to gin up support for a Clinton “grass-roots organizing meeting” held Saturday in Bethesda, O’Malley’s childhood town.

The former governor’s supporters say that the group backing Clinton represents “establishment” thinking. “It just points to the fact that O’Malley is new blood with new ideas and a ‘can-do attitude’ and the establishment doesn’t normally endorse that,” said Terry Lierman, a former Maryland Democratic Party chairman.

And the O’Malley camp is taking back some ground. Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, who supported a Ready for Hillary fund-raiser last year, plans to hold a house party for O’Malley this weekend, according to a copy of the invitation.

Clinton will be trying to vacuum up cash in the state at the same time. A fund-raiser for her candidacy is set for next month, said former Maryland attorney general Doug Gansler, who has signed on with her as a “Hillstarter.”

“She’s going to have to raise a lot of money,” he predicted.

Across the Potomac River, former Virginia senator Jim Webb is also considering a run for the White House and has been making stops in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The least mentioned, almost forgotten member of the field. What is, against the wars? Antiwar Webb?

Should he decide to take on Clinton, he, too, will have a formidable Clinton ally in his backyard: Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a man who has been close to the Clintons since the 1990s.

Who is tied into the Watergate with shady connections to Hillary at that time. Got thrown from a horse recently, I understand.


And on the other side?

"Carson urges study of high court’s review of congressional laws" by Charles Babington Associated Press  May 11, 2015

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says the United States should rethink the notion that a president must enforce laws the Supreme Court declares constitutional.

Carson has said a president is obliged to carry out laws passed by Congress but not what he called ‘‘judicial laws’’ that emanate from courts. He's the one black Republican running, and he's out there.

That, to me, looks like dictatorship. I call for a return to the system as it was meant to be: the legislative branch passes the laws, the executive branch administers the law (doesn't write executive orders circumventing it), and the judicial branch interprets on the laws.

On a different topic, Carson said he would not rule out military force against Russia, but it should be used only if the United States’ safety were clearly at risk.

Woa, woa, woa!

‘‘I would, obviously, do that in consultation with very competent generals and people who are more knowledgable in that area than I would be,’’ said Carson, who has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a bully. ‘‘But, clearly, if the interest and the existence and the safety of the people of the United States was at stake — and that was the only way to protect them — of course, I would do whatever was necessary.’’

Put your goddamn hand on that scanning screen or I'll hack it off and put it on for you!

Thankfully, John Kerry is working on the situation.

Carson is a former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. He has not held elected office.

He visited New Hampshire on Sunday, including a rally at Manchester Community College. He is scheduled to greet voters at Blake’s Family Restaurant in Manchester on Monday.

He is one of several Republican presidential hopefuls who visited the early-voting state over the last week.

Many Republican aspirants attended a Saturday forum in South Carolina hosted by the conservative group Citizens United.

The group’s president, David Bossie, dismissed fears that the large number of Republican candidates in the field would make it harder for the party to get its message across. But Bossie urged the candidates to focus their criticism on the Democratic contender, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as President Obama.

In a separate development Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on reaffirmed his stance that Social Security should be preserved, a viewpoint that sets him apart from some of his GOP rivals.

The former Arkansas governor included Social Security in his platform of priorities when he announced his candidacy on Tuesday in Hope, Ark.

When asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation’’ Sunday whether that made him sound like a Democrat, Huckabee said, “Well, I think I sounded more like an American.

“I sounded like an American who understands that people have been paying in — in my case since I was 14 years old when I got my first job — people pay into a system for 50 years,” he said.

Huckabee said that if the current Social Security system is unsustainable, an overhaul may be necessary, but he said that should affect only people who are new to the workforce.

He saw the court ruling, and I don't want a Christian fundamentalists advancing us to Armageddon in conduction with Israel.

Many of Huckabee’s competitors and potential competitors have already come out in support of changes to Social Security.


Well, I'm all done shopping for a candidate.

Ready for New Hampshire?