Today is primary day and 3.5 million Flori

Friday, March 30, 2012

Trayvon Martin and Staff Sgt. Bales: Can't America Even Just Say We Were Wrong?

I was dreaming/thinking the other day that the President spoke out about Trayvon Martin

The right question is "how could this happen, why, who really did what? etc.

The wrong question might be WTF? Can't we do better than this in America in 2012? This is a terrible thing. Can't we even just say that?

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Third Party Longings, Independent Candidates, and Political Reform

Buddy Roemer Eyes Presidency - NPR interview on his main focus - campaign finance and the corrupting power of money in politics. Roemer is seeking the Americans Elect line.

The Atlantic: America has not seen a long-lasting national third-party movement in its history, and it won't be seeing one now. [Hey guys, what about the Republican Party?]

Rapid City MI: She said people she encountered on the campaign trail told her they were “sick of party politics,” leading her to switch to an independent run.

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher announced today that he is dropping his Republican party preference and running as an independent for Mayor in San Diego.

The Proposition 14 experiment in political engineering is debuting this election season. The constitutional amendment, approved by voters in 2010, transforms June primaries, traditionally partisan affairs of the heart, into brainy contests that tap the top two contestants, regardless of party, to square off in November.

"You MUST Declare a Party! You MUST Delcare a Party!"

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Dill has launched an online petition aimed at pressuring Independent candidate Angus King to declare whether he would caucus with Democrats or Republicans if elected in November.

From a Letter to the Naples News: Thus, the unwillingness of Independents to register with a political party would seem to result from an indecision regarding the support of socialism for the benefit of some or capitalism for the benefit of the many.

Currently, neither the Oklahoma Democratic Party nor the Oklahoma Republican Party allows Independent voters to participate in primary elections. 

Linda Killian: The Swing Vote and the Rise of Independent Voters

Killian is an intelligent writer who makes her points cogently and concisely. The Swing Vote is recommended reading for anyone interested in politics, and the role of centrists and independents in changing the political dynamic.

Independents are a the largest bloc of voters and they're growing. In her new book, journalist Linda Killian seeks to paint a portrait of this exceedingly important group in four swing states including New Hampshire. She talks about the frustrations these voters have with their elected officials, what they want to see from the political system, and what they can do to fix it.

"I like my independent status. I think voting for just one party is a betrayal of my civic duty." [But NPR doesn't believe in independents...]

New York Redistricting Mess Changes Little

New York will have two different primary dates for state legislative and congressional primaries. A judge has moved the congressional primary to June 26. While the Democrat-controlled Assembly favors moving the legislative primary to June 26 as well, the Republican-controlled Senate prefers to keep the primary on September 11, so as not to disrupt the legislative calendar.

And P.S. - check out the Atlantic's article on Mayor Mike Bloomberg's health agenda...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hankster First Read: Colorado Open Records Act Goes to Senate

CORA [Colorado Open Records Act] black-out bill goes to senate (Center Post Dispatch) Despite concerns voiced by election activists, a Senate committee passed a bi-partisan bill last Wednesday that will black out Colorado elections, preventing reporters and concerned citizens from viewing voted ballots and election records during the two-month election cycle... Election integrity activists Marilyn Marks of Pitkin County, Harvie Branscomb of Eagle County, Joe Richey and Mary Eberle of Boulder County, Kathleen Curry of Gunnison County and others also testified against the bill.  


Keep open primaries in S.C. (Post and Courier - SC) The hard-core party faithful might approve of legislation to require party registration in primary elections, since eliminating open primaries could strenghten their influence over the outcome. But it would remove a moderating influence that South Carolina needs as it elects its leaders.


Have "outside" interested PR men hijacked the Republican Party? Kevin Baker explores the outsourcing of the body and soul of the Repubs...

Eva Moskowitz expands Success Charter Schools network into middle-class Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Charles E. Rogers, Amsterdam News, sez: Trust me you, your family and friends don’t want to miss the Castillo Theater’s fantastic “Sally and Tom (The American Way).”
   Full disclosure: The Hankster is a very big BIG fan of the Castillo Theatre and I could not agree more with Charles Rogers -- trust us, you do NOT want to miss this show -- and the run has been extended, so you get another chance. Watch for new dates in April/May

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ruy May Rue the Day He Dismissed Independent Voters - And Their Bond With African Americans

  • Ruy the Day! A Review of Ruy Teixeira's Review of The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents by Linda Killian (by Jacqueline Salit, Huffington Post) Wow! For a man (actually, make that a MAN) who has devoted his political career to resuscitating a Democratic Party governing majority (he co-wrote The Emerging Democratic Majority in 2002), you would think he'd be a little more cautious about denouncing independents. Otherwise, his hoped for majority may get another slam, as it did in 2010 when independents expressed their disappointment and frustration with President Obama's inability to conquer the partisanship in Washington, including the partisanship of his own party. Ruy might rue the day he tried to tear down Killian and the volatile movement-in-the-making she writes about.
  • LINDA KILLIAN OUTBREAK: The Uses of Polarization (By THOMAS B. EDSALL, NY Times/ The Opinion Pages/ Campaign Stops) At the same time, the percentage of the electorate that can accurately be described as independent — without partisan allegiance — has shrunk to about 7 percent, according to Ruy Teixeira of the Brookings Institution. While the importance of such voters has diminished, in a closely balanced contest these relatively uninvolved men and women have the power to determine the outcome: in the 12 presidential elections from 1964 to 2008, four – 1968, 1976, 2000 and 2004 – have been decided by 2.5 percentage points or less.
  • Historic Bond Ties African-Americans and Independents Together (LETTER The Hankster, by Bob Friedman, PHOTOS online) Last week I joined Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network on the march from Selma to Montgomery. I am one of the 40% of Americans who are independent of both of the major parties. Back in the days of Ross Perot, the media called guys like me "angry white men." Along the route, I spoke with many people and brought greetings from Dr. Lenora Fulani, the country’s leading African American independent with whom I’ve worked closely and from, the country’s largest organization of independent voters of which I’m a part.
  • YOUR VIEW: Independent voters disfranchised in many states because of parties (Bob Friedman, Letters from our readers By Letters from our readers, I want to respond to and applaud the Your Views letter "Alabama's closed primary infringes on voters' rights" in the March 10 Birmingham News by sharing the following. I couldn't agree more that since we pay for the primaries, they should be nonpartisan, more like "top two" as they have in California.
  • The black vote: 5 states where Obama needs a big African-American turnout (By Perry Bacon Jr.,The Grio) President Obama's campaign will likely need the kind of strong black turnout he received in 2008 to win re-election, particularly if some of the white independent voters who backed him four years ago opt for the Republican candidate because of frustration over the president's tenure.

Independents, Swing Voters, and Open Primaries

  • Swing voters: Diverse, misunderstood and crucial in 2012 - Far from a uniform band of centrists, swing voters include anti-corporate pacifists, tea party activists and many shades of political gray in between. (By David Lauter, Washington Bureau, LA Times)
  • Kill the American Primary to Save American Politics: Ezra Klein (By Ezra Klein,
  • Independents Will Decide the 2012 Election - Here are three ways Obama and Romney can woo them. (Nick Gillespie, If independent voters are the key to the presidency, what are the keys to independent voters? In its summary of 2011 attitudes toward government and political parties, Gallup concluded that the surge in independents stems from the “sluggish economy, record levels of distrust in government, and unfavorable views of both parties.” Indeed, a “historic” 81 percent of Americans overall are “dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed” and 53 percent of us have negative views of the Republican Party and 55 percent of us have negative views of the Democratic Party. NOTE:  LOTS OF LINKS HERE

California Top Two Shaking Up Partisanship

  • Primary debuts changes that could give voters fits -  New top-two method gives voters choices. (By John Ellis - The Fresno Bee) Voters "may be a little shocked when they see how many people are running for U.S. Senate," said Gail Pellerin, the Santa Cruz County clerk and president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials. "It's definitely new and something different."
  • California candidates set to battle in new political landscape - The changed primary system and new legislative and congressional districts will probably yield intraparty fights and a lack of third-party hopefuls on the fall ballot. More contested seats are possible too. (By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times)
  • Viewpoints: 'Top two' primary: What will it really do? (By Peter Schrag, Special to The Bee) The redrawn 26th now has a narrow Democratic registration advantage, which raised the hopes of Democrats that they could capture a seat long held by the GOP. But now three Democrats are in the race against state Sen. Tony Strickland, a Republican, and a county supervisor named Linda Parks, who changed her registration from Republican to independent. If the Democrats, among them Assembly member Julia Brownley, the Democrats' anointed choice, all stay in the race, they could easily divide the Democratic majority's votes and put Parks and Strickland in the November runoff.
  • Final Brief Filed in 9th Circuit in Lawsuit on Two Particular Aspects of California Top-Two System (Ballot Access News) This reply brief, filed by opponents of Proposition 14, points out that when backers of Proposition 14 intended to place the idea on the ballot as an initiative in 2009, their draft did permit use of the ballot label “independent.”

Angus King Rides Again! Olympia Snowe's Seat Contended by Independent Run


Courts Step In On Stalled Partisan-Legislative-Driven New York Redistricting Process


  • Common Cause reacts to new congressional maps (Chris Morris, Adirondack Daily Enterprise) "The map is a stark departure from the Legislature's gerrymandered version to produce a far better result, demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is in fact no practical impediment to drawing fair maps, only a political one," Lerner said.
  • 2016 Frontrunners Diverge on Redistricting (By Joshua Miller, Roll Call) “There will be national electeds who remember that he, at the height of his power, had the ability to step in and get a map done [for Democrats] and didn’t,” one New York Democratic operative said with more than a touch of frustration.
  • Court Finalizes New York's Congressional Districts  (By Jill Colvin, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer) The judges' map rejected a proposal for a new majority Latino district in Upper Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens, meaning that State Sen. Adriano Espaillat will be likely pitted against long-time Harlem leader, Rep. Charles Rangel instead of running in a separate contest.
  • Congressman Grimm Praises New York's Redistricting Process (By: NY1 News Staten Island) The Brooklyn and Staten Island representative calls the process a home run for his district, saying the new lines make it slightly stronger on the Republican side.
  • Gov. Cuomo Succumbs (NY Times Editorial) Despite repeated promises that he would veto gerrymandered districts drawn by legislators, the governor broke that vow and quietly signed the law that will allow unfair legislative elections in New York for the next 10 years. By approving the Legislature's districts, he has now made it far more difficult for the courts to revise these defective maps. 
  • In 'The New York Times,' Cuomo's redistricting commission loses its independence (By Azi Paybarah, Capital NY) In a video message to New Yorkers that Cuomo posted online yesterday, the governor essentially claimed victory on five different fronts, including pensions, teacher evaluations, casino legalization and the expansion of a DNA database.
  • Cuomo on the sequel to the bad old redistricting movie (By Josh Benson, Capital NY) Cuomo: "And ultimately, the legislators drew their own lines once again. And it was all legal, provided for in our constitution. If I had vetoed the lines this year, as some suggested, a court would have passed them. And from past experience, I believe the lines would have been substantially the same."
  • Cuomo amendment ends Albany gerrymandering as we know it - Future districts to be drawn by commission, not lawmakers (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS) The same pols who downsized Gov. Cuomo’s pension reforms were even more incorrigible when it came to gerrymandering. Cuomo joined government watchdogs in rightly pushing for an independent panel to set district lines based on the 2010 census — to prevent legislative bosses from shamefully manipulating the mapmaking for partisan gain. But Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos turned deaf ears — conspiring behind closed doors to draw the ugliest, most gerrymandered and unequal districts Albany has ever seen, especially for the Senate. The saving grace is that Cuomo leveraged his veto threat to win a permanent, landmark fix for this badly broken process.
  • Dems & WFP For Gilly; Conservatives For Long (BY Celeste Katz, Daily News/ Daily Politics) Gillibrand will also appear on the WFP line -- Row D -- in the November contest, and previously picked up the endorsement of the Independence Party.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Historic Bond Ties African-Americans and Independents Together

The Historic Bond that Ties African-Americans and Independents Together
By Bob Friedman

Last week I joined Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network on the march from Selma to Montgomery. I am one of the 40% of Americans who are independent of both of the major parties. Back in the days of Ross Perot, the media called guys like me "angry white men."

Along the route, I spoke with many people and brought greetings from Dr. Lenora Fulani, the country’s leading African American independent with whom I’ve worked closely and from, the country’s largest organization of independent voters of which I’m a part.

I have been an independent activist concerned with voters’ rights for many years. In Birmingham, as chair of the Petitioners Alliance, I helped lead the first citywide Initiative & Referendum movement. With Senator Hank Sanders, one of the sponsors of this historic march, I wrote legislation to open access to the Alabama ballot. And with Rep. Demetrius Newton, I designed legislation for proportional democratic selection of presidential electors. As independents, we fight for reforms that not only protect the right to vote. They increase the power of the vote.

For this march, I was proud to have fellow independents Mark Bodenhausen and Lorna Lindsey join me for the historic bridge crossing in Selma. Lorna had never been to a major demonstration before. We added our voices to the call for an end to voter ID laws that suppress the full participation of all our citizens. Independents have experienced disenfranchisement ourselves. We know that when partisan interests wave a flag about so-called voter fraud in an election year, you can pretty much count on the fact that they’re doing it for partisan reasons, not to protect our democracy.

Partisanship is destroying our democracy and making our government incapable of moving our country forward. I far from alone in this concern. Right now, our Congress has a 97% disapproval rating. Most Americans look at Congress and see how partisan its behavior is and feel angry that our government is not working for them.

We need to broaden participation in our democracy, not narrow it. We need to make sure that no American is turned away from the polls because they don’t have the right ID. And that means photo ID, State ID and political ID. In 26 states, independents are prevented from voting in primaries, not because they don’t have an ID, but because they don’t belong to a party! That’s just wrong.

There is an historic bond that ties African Americans and independents together. That bond is based on our shared belief that our democracy must work for everyone, not just the powerful, not just the parties—but for the people!

Bob Friedman
Birmingham, AL 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

college of the city of new york

I'm An Independent - Can I Vote in Super Tuesday's Republican Primary?

Alaska - Open Primary: Parties select who may vote in their primaries. To vote in the GOP primary, a voter must be registered as a Republican 30 days before Election Day.

Georgia - Open: No party affiliation required at registration. However, on Election Day, voters must declare an oath of intent to affiliate with the particular party for whom they are voting on Election Day.

Idaho - Closed: Until 2011, all Idaho primaries were open. Independents intervened in a lawsuit brought by a faction of the Republican Party seeking to close their primaries. However, the GOP obtained a declaratory judgment that mandating open primaries violated freedom of association and was thus unconstitutional in Idaho Republican Party v. Ysura. Subsequently, the legislature passed a bill allowing parties to choose which type of primary they use. Democrats have chosen a semi-closed primary; unaffiliated voters may register a party at the polls on election day, but they are bound to that party affiliation at the next election.

Massachusetts - Semi-Closed: Affiliated voters must vote in the primary of their party; however, unaffiliated voters may vote in either primary.

North Dakota - Closed: The only state without voter registration. To vote in the Republican caucus you must have affiliated with the Republican Party in the last general election or intend to do so in the next election.

Ohio - Closed: Voters' right to vote in the primary may be challenged on the basis that they are not affiliated with the party for whom they are voting in the primary.

Oklahoma - Closed: Only voters affiliated with a particular party may vote in its primary.

Tennessee - Open: No party affiliation required at registration. 

Vermont - Open: No registration by party. For presidential primary, voters must declare which ballots they want.

Virginia - Open: No party affiliation required at registration.

source: FairVote

A Twisted Tale of Partisan Politics

A Twisted Tale of Partisan Politics

by Harry Kresky

Huffington Post
Posted: 03/ 2/2012 5:34 pm

A strange case in Tennessee got my attention. Now it's before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, as the judges consider whether a political party has the right to overturn the results of a primary election conducted entirely in accordance with state law.

Here's the background. Rosalind Kurita ran for re-election to the State Senate in 2008 and beat her opponent Tim Barnes by 19 votes in the Democratic Party primary. Candidate Barnes challenged the result on the grounds that Kurita won because many Republicans and independents participated in the election. But Tennessee, along with some 17 other states, does not have partisan registration. There, voters are just voters, and all are allowed to choose the primary they wish to vote in. So, if they're were not registered into a party in the first place and cast their vote legally, on what grounds were those who voted for Candidate Kurita judged to be Republicans and independents? Shouldn't their votes count the same as those who voted for Candidate Barnes?

In Tennessee, disputed primary elections are referred to the political party whose nomination the candidates seek. Here the matter was "adjudicated" by the Executive Committee of the State Democratic Party under rules adopted after the challenge was filed by Barnes. The "rules" articulated no standard by which the issue was to be determined. The Committee made no specific findings, but voided the election on the grounds that the results were "incurably uncertain." The Party then gave the nomination to Barnes.

Kurita claimed that she was denied due process and unconstitutionally deprived of the election she had won. The trial court rejected her claim on the grounds that the Tennessee Democratic Party was a private organization that did not have to accord due process and, further, that she has had no legally protected interest in the results of the primary election she had won. The decision did not address the rights of the persons who voted for her, or their being deprived of their choice of candidates in a state run and state financed primary. (Apparently, the Tennessee Democratic Party was angry at Kurita because she had supported a Republican for election to the State Senate speaker office the year before she ran for re-election.)

Kurita, like Alice in Wonderland, has fallen into the rabbit's hole of partisan American politics. The parties run the government; they write the laws by which the citizens of their states must finance and conduct primary elections. And when the outcome of an election is not to the party's liking, it can overturn it on any grounds, or no grounds whatsoever, under a set of rules that are adopted for just that purpose.

To add to the madness, the Tennessee Democratic Party rested its right to ignore the will of the voters who participated in the primary election to choose its candidates, on the Party's (not the voters') First Amendment right of freedom of association. Is it any wonder that our elected officials place the rights of their party over the rights of the voters and the interests of the State or country? If they do otherwise, they jeopardize their chance for re-election, the wishes of their constituents voters notwithstanding?

This twisted tale sheds light on why so many Americans don't bother to vote and why a plurality of them have become independents.

Harry Kresky, a New York City attorney in private practice, is counsel to - a national association of independents with organization in 40 states. He is one of the country's leading election attorneys and has represented independent voters, candidates and parties for the past 30 years. He currently represents independent voters in a precedent-setting case in U.S. District Court defending open primaries in Idaho. Kresky recently teamed with attorneys from the law firm of Holland and Knight to prevent the destruction of historic St. Brigid’s Church in lower Manhattan. 

Independent Voters: Youth Turn Away From Party Identification (Rolling Stone)


  • Percentage of independent voters climbs in Mass. (Boston Globe) The latest figures released by Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s office shows the number of voters not enrolled in any party — so-called “independent voters’’ — has topped 52 percent. That’s up from 2004, when slightly less than half of all Massachusetts voters were independent.
  • Independent voters see beyond ideology (LETTER Syracuse NY Post Standard) The Independents are not likely to present a third-party candidate, so the decision will be between the Democrats and the Republicans. That is not to say independent voters are immune to right or left tendencies, but that they can see beyond the party ideologies to the rational arguments presented.
  • Letter: Non-Partisan System is Open and Fair, and it Works (Scarsdale Press) I write in response to numerous attacks on the Scarsdale Non-Partisan System by Harry Reynolds, an independent candidate for Trustee in the election on March 20… The fact is that, because of the time-tested and proven system of fair, honest, and responsive government under the Non-Partisan System, Scarsdale has been largely free of the partisan sniping and character assassination that is typical of most partisan electoral systems in this country.
  • Why Democrats Have a Problem with Young Voters (By Rick Perlstein, Rolling Stone/ Politics) The turn away from party identification has been a long-term American trend: According to Gallup, 40 percent of Americans don't consider themselves members of a political party, compared to 36 percent in 2002 and 33 percent in 1988. But that trend has been all the more accelerated among young people — and even more so among young progressives.

Campaign Finance Reform - Not a Good Picture

Campaign finance reform as conceived by the 2 major parties won't reform American politics. It's partisan through and through and -- how would you take the money out of politics when we live in a capitalist society?


The New York Times' Disingenuous Campaign Against Citizens United (By Wendy Kaminer, The Atlantic) Like Fox News, The New York Times has a First Amendment right to spread misinformation about important public issues, and it is exercising that right in its campaign against the Citizens United ruling. In news stories, as well as columns, it has repeatedly mischaracterized Citizens United, explicitly or implicitly blaming it for allowing unlimited "super PAC" contributions from mega-rich individuals. In fact, Citizens United enabled corporations and unions to use general treasury funds for independent political expenditures; it did not expand or address the longstanding, individual rights of the rich to support independent groups. And, as recent reports have made clear, individual donors, not corporations, are the primary funders of super PACs.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Americans Elect Progress in North Carolina and Among Dems

  • 3rd party nearly on N.C. ballot - Americans Elect will pick its nonpartisan candidate online. (By Jim Morrill, Charlotte Observer) A state elections official says Americans Elect appears to have the required signatures to get on the November ballot alongside President Barack Obama and the Republican and Libertarian nominees. The state could certify them in early March.
  • Prominent Democrat Endorses Third-Party Group (By MICHAEL D. SHEAR, NY Times/ The Caucus) “The country is going to really be in deep trouble if we don’t act soon,” Mr. Boren, who is now president of the University of Oklahoma, said in an interview with The Caucus. “I think this is really a cry from many of us who are really concerned for the future of the country.”
  • Third-Party Group Wants Internet to Pick Presidential Candidate: Americans Elect, backed by $5 million from the head of a private investment firm, wants to shake up the two-party system (Rebekah Metzler U.S. News & World Report in Chicago Tribune) "There's really only been one successful third party, and that was the Republican party that came about in the wake and collapse of the old Whig party over the issue of slavery," Smith says. "Good government is not really the kind of an issue that is going to motivate people to drop long-standing ties to the party of their birth, so to speak, and take up with another party that isn't really a party."

Libertarians Looking for Tactics in 2012

  • Nick Gillespie Talking Election 2012, Independent Voters, with Jon Caldara of Independence Institute (Nick Gillespie, The awesome Independence Institute in Denver, Colorado invited me out west last week to debate Ann Coulter about whether libertarians and conservatives could and should work together to defeat liberals such as Barack Obama.
  • Gary Johnson and the possibilities of a third-party candidacy (Jim Galloway, Atlanta Journal Constitution/ Political Insider) Truth be told, the better third-party bet was in Athens this weekend, attending the state Libertarian party convention. Gary Johnson is yet another former governor – this time from New Mexico – who failed to scratch in the Republican contest. But when Libertarians have their national gathering in Las Vegas in May, Johnson is likely to emerge as the party’s candidate – just as Bob Barr did four years ago. Johnson left the GOP contest in December. Again, not that many noticed.

Political Theater: Sally & Tom (The American Way) Reviewed by Black Star News

Sally and Tom at the Castillo (By Deardra Shuler, Black Star News) Given Jefferson’s anti-slavery position he would be delighted to see a black man as President and perhaps disappointed to see although President Obama expressed “change,” little has changed, given the unbridled hatred, disrespect, hostility, and disgusting behavior demonstrated by many members of Jefferson’s own race toward the presidency of Barack Obama.