Category - USA: Campaign 2016

Scott Walker To Cut $300 Million From Universities, Spend $500 Million On A Pro Basketball Stadium

Think Progress, by Alice Ollstein, February 2

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) will unveil a budget Tuesday night that aims to slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s public universities over the next two years. Students, professors and state lawmakers are already blasting the plan — the deepest cut in state history — and tell ThinkProgress they’re organizing to block its passage.

Ahead of his presentation of the budget to the state legislature, Governor Walker told local right-wing radio host Charlie Sykes that his budget cuts over the past few years have created positive “efficiencies” at the university, and offered: “Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work.”

At the same time, Walker is calling for a nearly $500 million new basketball stadium in Milwaukee for the Bucks. Under his plan, the state would take out $200 million in bonds to pay for the arena, and the county and city of Milwaukee would have to chip in as well. The team’s owner has promised some private funding, and Walker claims the taxes the NBA players will pay will make up the difference.

Many university students and workers, including Eleni Schirmer with the Teaching Assistants Association, are outraged that the Governor would propose increasing sports funding while telling universities to shoulder cuts by developing “efficiencies.”

“It shows a fair amount of ignorance about what happens at a university,” she said. “He’s not telling the Bucks: ‘You should become an actually interesting team so people will watch your games.’”

Sen. Lindsey Graham mulls WH run, Trey Gowdy Supreme Court pick if elected

McClatchy Washington Bureau, By William Douglas, February 2

With former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney bowing out of the 2016 Republican presidential race even before officially getting in, talk on Sunday’s news shows shifted to other potential candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Arkansas Gove Mike Huckabee.

And Sen. Lindsey Graham?

The senior senator from South Carolina, who’s exploring the possibility of exploring a presidential run, received some face-time and chatter on the news shows Sunday. He received a full-throated endorsement from his good friend Sen. John McCain.

‘Obviously, Senator Lindsey Graham is the person I’m supporting,’ McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘I think Lindsey Graham will do very well in debates. In New Hampshire, he will shine in the town hall meetings.’


‘I’m very comfortable that I’m in the mainstream of conservatism,’ he said. ‘I have done well in a red state. And when it comes to national security and understanding the threats our nation faces, I believe I’m the best qualified on our side of the aisle to offer an alternative to a failed foreign policy of Barack Obama.’

Christian Post: Obama Says US Not in ‘Religious War’ Against Radical Islamists; Sen. Graham Asserts the Opposite

Romney, ahead of 2016 run, now calls Utah home, talks openly about Mormon influence

Washington Post, By Philip Rucker, January 27

Holladay, UT — After losing two straight presidential races, Mitt Romney packed up his home in Massachusetts and journeyed west to Utah, building a mansion here in the foothills of the Wasatch Range that has served as his sanctuary from defeat.

Here in the Salt Lake Valley, first settled by his Mormon ancestors, residents look past Romney’s electoral shortcomings and revere him as a savior for rescuing the 2002 Olympics. Romney won his highest 2012 vote margin in Utah — 73 percent to President Obama’s 25 percent. This is also where Romney has been pondering a potential third campaign, calling out to friends and past supporters and praying with his wife, Ann.

“He feels very at home here,” said John Miller, a close friend in Utah who has been talking with Romney throughout his recent deliberations. “This is a very prayerful thing. . . . In the end, it’s really a decision between he and Ann and their belief system, their God. That’s the authentic Mitt.”

If he runs again in 2016, Romney is determined to re-brand himself as authentic, warts and all, and central to that mission is making public what for so long he kept private. He rarely discussed his religious beliefs and practices in his failed 2008 and 2012 races, often confronting suspicion and bigotry with silence as his political consultants urged him to play down his Mormonism.

Now, Romney speaks openly about his service as a lay pastor in the Mormon church; recites Scripture to audiences; muses about salvation and the prophet; urges students to marry young and “have a quiver full of kids”; and even cracks jokes about Joseph Smith’s polygamy.


“I don’t think he sits there and says, ‘God wants me to part the Red Sea and, darn it, it hasn’t happened twice, but it’ll happen the third time,’ ” the former campaign official said. “Although Mitt would make a good Moses. Think about it.”

Mitt Romney expected to declare presidential run – or not – on Friday

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee says he will give supporters an ‘update’ on his potential 2016 plans in a conference call on Friday.

The Guardian, Tom McCarthy, January 30

New York – Will he [or won’t he] do it all over again?

All eyes in the world of American politics were on the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney on Friday, after he told supporters he would give them an “update” on his potential plans for 2016 in a conference call. [How Wall Street of Mr. Romney…]

The announcement about the announcement followed weeks of intensive work by the former candidate and his former advisers to gauge how many of the biggest Republican donors and party operatives would support him if he ran again.

Romney’s camp was said to be encouraged by polling showing him ahead of potential opponents in the early primary and caucus states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Budget for Koch-backed network: almost $1 billion for 2016

AP, By Philip Elliot & Steve Peoples, January 27

Washington – Flexing its financial might, the political machine backed by billionaires Charles and David Koch on Monday told its allies that spending across its conservative network would approach $1 billion ahead of 2016’s elections.

The stunning sum from Freedom Partners would dwarf expected spending from official GOP committees and many of the hopefuls expected to seek the party’s presidential nomination in 2016. The $889 million budget is almost twice what 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney spent from his campaign accounts.

The hefty budget also suggests that the Koch-backed groups are prepared to spend heavily and early to weaken the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Koch-backed groups such as Americans for Prosperity aired tens of millions of dollars in negative ads against incumbent Democratic lawmakers in 2014 and helped Republicans win a majority in the Senate.

Inside Hillary Clinton’s 2016 plan

New campaign takes shape, with ‘big-tent mentality’ and ‘good cop’ for press.

Politico, By Mike Allen, January 26

Not only is she running, but we have a very good idea of what her campaign will look like.

Hillary Clinton is in the final stages of planning a presidential campaign that will most likely be launched in early April and has made decisions on most top posts, according to numerous Democrats in close contact with the Clintons and their aides.

Campaign advisers say the likelihood of a campaign, long at 98 percent (she never really hesitated, according to one person close to her), went to 100 percent right after Christmas, when Clinton approved a preliminary budget and several key hires.

Most of the top slots have been decided, with one notable exception: communications director, a job that is now the subject of intense lobbying and jockeying among some of the biggest names in Democratic politics. One top contender is White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri, who is close to likely campaign chairman John Podesta.

China’s Louisiana Purchase: Who’s building a methanol plant on the bayou?

Al Jazeera investigates ties between Louisiana and the Chinese government in a proposed $1.85 billion methanol plant.

Al Jazeera, By Massoud Hayoun, January 26

This article is part one of a three-part series on China’s role in redeveloping southern Louisiana called China’s Louisiana Purchase.

St. James Parish, LA — A prominent Chinese tycoon and politician — whose natural gas company has a dubious environmental and labor rights record that recently started coming under fire in the Chinese press — is parking assets in a multibillion dollar methanol plant in a Louisiana town. And he appears to be doing it with help from the administration of likely GOP 2016 presidential ticket contender Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Not many locals in a predominantly black neighborhood of St. James Parish — halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge — know that Wang Jinshu, the Communist Party Secretary for the northeastern Chinese village of Yuhuang and a former delegate to the National People’s Congress, is the man at the helm of a $1.85 billion methanol plant to be built in their town over the next two years with a $9.5 million incentive package from the state. The details of the project are unclear, residents say, largely because they were not told about the project until local officials, amid discussions with state officials and Chinese diplomats, decided to move forward with the project in July 2014.

“We never had a town hall meeting pretending to get our opinion prior to them doing it,” said Lawrence “Palo” Ambrose, a 74-year-old black Vietnam War veteran who works at a nearby church. “They didn’t make us part of the discussion.”

Jeb Bush sheds corporate commitments to help 2016 presidential run

The former Florida governor is quitting a host of boards mindful of the damage done to the Republican challenger Mitt Romney by his business interests in 2012.

The Guardian, By Dan Roberts, January 1

Washington – New Year resolutions often involve weight loss, but Jeb Bush, who has already shed an estimated 15lbs since starting his run for the White House, has instead opted to jettison some heavy financial baggage.

As the clock struck midnight on Thursday, and with Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 campaign still ringing in many Republican ears, the former Florida governor’s team quietly announced that their candidate was resigning from a slew of corporate boards and private equity interests that could cast a shadow over his presidential bid in 2016.

Technically, Jeb Bush – son of President George Bush Sr and younger brother of President George W Bush – is still only “exploring” whether to seek the Republican nomination. But severing his many business ties means forgoing millions of dollars in consultancy earnings and is likely to prove almost as indicative of his determination to follow in family footsteps as did his announcement of a fundraising committee last month.

Disentangling the extensive business interests that Bush has built up since standing down as governor in 2007 has not been a simple exercise. His first major resignation – as an adviser to Barclays following its purchase of Lehman Brothers – was confirmed by the British bank three weeks ago, after questions were raised about whether it and other controversial relationships could prove his achilles heel.

AP: Marco Rubio Moving Close To Decision On Presidential Run – …not a gut decision… … but certainly soon… … Tremendous respect [for Gov. Bush]…

Bernie Sanders Speaks Truth. Sort Of.

I love Bernie Sanders. I want to have his babby.

However, I think he needs to step back from this. His agenda is too easily co-opted by moderates and conservatives. It’s a nice counterculture statement of values, to be sure, but in the current environment completely unworkable. 

I’ve been thinking about Ferguson and the rioting and protests across the country.  

And then I found this quote from MLK, Jr: 

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride towards freedom is not the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than justice

When people riot for politics, when people organize for politics, they inevitably have either been subdued (Occupy) or placated (the Rodney King outrage) by some sop tossed towards them to make it a little less painful to be subdued.  

And then I remember that the Boston Tea Party was not regarded highly by colonial Americans. Indeed, until we achieved independence, the entire Revolution dangled on a thread in terms of public support. But it succeeded because it was outrageous to think it would.  

I love Bernie Sanders. I don’t think he’s right on this, at least with this current nation.

Senate fails to pass NSA reform bill

IDG News Service, By Grant Gross, November 18

The U.S. Senate has voted against a bill that would rein in the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone records within the country, possibly killing any NSA reforms until next year.

Supporters of the USA Freedom Act, in a Senate vote late Tuesday, failed to get the 60 votes needed to end debate and move toward a final vote on the legislation. Fifty-eight senators voted to end debate, while 42 voted against it.

While supporters said the legislation is needed to restore public trust in U.S. intelligence services, opponents said the NSA’s widespread collection of U.S. phone records is needed to keep the country safe from terrorism.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, would have “gutted” the NSA phone records collection program at a time when the U.S. faces major threats from homegrown terrorists, said Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican. If the U.S. has another terrorist attack, “the first question we will be asked is, why didn’t we know about it, and why didn’t we prevent it?” he said.

Supporters “cannot cite a single example of this program ever being abused,” Rubio said. “We are dealing with a theoretical [privacy] threat.”

Why Dems Lose Midterms

The preliminary numbers are in, and voter turnout was at a record low nationwide.

Conventional wisdom says that each party, Republican and Democrat, can count on roughly 45% of the vote, no matter what. The last ten percent is what you need to win an election.

Read More

Let the Recriminations Begin!

These mid-term elections were never going to be easy for the Democrats.  They had way too many seats at stake in the Senate, many of them Democrats who won reliably Republican seats during the enthusiasm for Obama in 2008.  Their chances in the House were dismal to non-existent, since gerrymandering has carved up almost all of the 435 seats into a lock-proof majority for the Republicans.  Still, in cases where there was some hope for the Democrats, the Republicans pulled through, even handsomely, as with the reelection of Governor Sam Brownback, the man who broke the back of Kansas with his “experiment” in neoliberal, supply-side economics.

Does this mean Kansans are happy with the disaster that has befallen their state budget and resulted in cutbacks in education, police and fire services, healthcare, and pretty much anything else the government can provide?  Probably not.  But what are the voters to do?  Vote for the guy who is going to raise taxes, even if only on the wealthy?  Republicans in a die-hard Republican state like Kansas have been trained all their life to reject any candidate contemplating raising taxes.  It’s the Grover Norquist principle at stake.  And even if it weren’t a matter of principle, Republicans in Kansas are like Americans everywhere – poorer, and less able to absorb any further taxes. Read More

Jeb Bush ‘moving forward’ on 2016 presidential run, says son

AP, October 26

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is “moving forward” on a potential 2016 White House run and it appears more likely he will enter the Republican field, according to his son, who is himself running for office in Texas.

George P Bush, who is running for Texas land commissioner, told ABC on Sunday his father was “still assessing” a presidential bid, but suggested it was more likely that he would seek the White House this time. The ex-governor declined to run for president in 2012, despite encouragement from Republicans.

“I think it’s more than likely that he’s giving this a serious thought and moving …and moving forward,” said the younger Bush.

Ted Cruz finds a core of support among social conservatives frustrated with GOP

Washington Post, By Sebastian Payne & Robert Costa, September 30

While there is not yet a front-runner in the early race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is quickly becoming the favored contender of social conservatives, riding a recent wave of fiery speeches and standing ovations at right-wing conferences.

Cruz’s core supporters on the right are the activists and high-powered interest groups determined to keep faith-infused positions at the center of the Republican Party, regardless of a push by some in the GOP to seek distance from socially conservative stands on marriage and abortion.

Greg Mueller, a conservative strategist who has worked on three Republican presidential campaigns, said what’s fueling Cruz’s rise is a fierce determination by social conservatives not to be dictated to in 2016, as he believes they were in the past two elections and told to rally around more centrist nominees.