Sandy: The Ultimate October Surprise

It’s time to Break It Down!

For weeks, analysts, pundits, as well as regular Joes and Janes speculated about the prospects of anOctober Surprise prior to this year’sPresidential Election.  Since early October there had been a great deal of reckoning that the unanticipated landslide smackdown Willard Romney gave President Obama in the firstof three Presidential Debates was the leading candidate to fill that role.

All that began to change last week when meteorologists unveiled what they called for a time, Frankenstorm.  The weather system that would eventually becomeHurricane Sandy transitioned into a full-fledged monster of a storm over the weekend.  On Monday evening its center struck near Atlantic City, New Jerseyand expanded the process of having its way. It delivered mayhem and destruction over a stretch of coastline extending from North Carolina to Vermont, and stretching from New Jersey, westward, as far as Michigan.  The storm in its various iterations caused wind, rain, ice, snow, flooding, downed power lines, public transportation shutdowns, school and business closures, property loss, and multiple deaths…and it’s not over!

A couple of weeks ago, the Denver Debate results notwithstanding, curious folks were still wondering out loud if Governor Romneyhad some super secret Obama Kryptoniteup his sleeve, or if President Obamamight create and execute an exotic and all-encompassingpolicy initiative, or whether a totally unexpected development would insinuate itself into the political process.  I’ll take Category C, Totally Unexpected Developments,for a $1000, Alex!

In the Northern Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Season runs from June 1st to November 30th.  As a rule, the greatest numbers of storms occur from late August through September, reaching the climatological peak around September 10th each year.  On average, 10.1 storms (hurricanes, tropical storms, and tropical depressions) occur each season, with 5.9 of them becoming hurricanes, and 2.5 of those becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or above).

By generally accepted standards, Sandy was not amajor hurricane.  It was “only”a Category 1 storm.  Yet its effects threaten up to 60 million Americans, and as of yesterday, an estimated 7.5 million people, just in the State of New York, experienced power outages. The broad territorial swath covered by the storm and the attendant natural consequences were brought about by a confluence of circumstances. First, there was a relatively strong Caribbean based Hurricane which then interspersed with a moderately strong but not unusual continental weather system, known as a trough or dip in the jet stream.

There are a couple of additional dynamics that make Hurricane Sandyvery unusual, possibly even a “super storm.”  The initial element is its trajectory.  Most storms race directly out to sea; alternately, Sandy quickly made a hard left turn and headed toward landfall at nearly a right angle which means virtually every piece of coastline from the Jersey Shore to Cape Cod would likely take a hit. The other factor is that Sandy’s core, the part of the storm that looked and felt like a hurricane, remained in tact, even as cooler and drier air from the Continental United States wrapped around it.  Thecataclysmic result of this meteorological olio is that Sandy retained the worst features of both kinds of storm: a small core of hurricane-force winds around its center, and a broad expanse of gale-force winds extending hundreds of miles outward that will batter the shorelines for several days.

Hence, given the varying temperatures across many states we experienced a range of elemental forces that included wind, rain, and snow.  So just how BIG is this storm?  Well, I already cited the geographic dimensions; North Carolina to Vermont; New Jersey to Michigan; covered.  Talked about the forms of violent weather; check.  Mentioned the education and economic stoppage; the transportation shut down; yep. Noted the human and property devastation; done.

Those things, in their own right, place this storm alone at the top of the chart as the signature storm of this season in the United States.  However, all that notwithstanding, the feature that may yet set this storm apart as unique in the history of hurricanes is its potential to affect the outcome of the 2012 National Election.  In fact, good, bad, or indifferent, it is fair to say, it has already done so.

Governor Romney and President Obama have been engaged in one of the more intense campaign battles in recent memory.  The last 10 days would typically be a time when the candidates busily make their closing appeals, arguments, and requests for voters’ support, while completing a round-robinseries of visits to swing states.  Instead, on Monday, a mere eightworking days before the Election, both candidates withdrew from the campaign trail.

Many states in the area hit by the storm are engaged in Early Voting.  Some of those states have had to suspend Early Voting due to power outages, property devastation, and/or safety concerns.  Some states have extended days to register, or hours of registration.  Both the Governor and the President were officially offlineMonday when they took in the devastation and issued formal statements on the situation.  In addition, the President met with his Emergency Management Team to survey the scope of the storm and begin the process of storm damage remediation.

Governor Romney made an appearance in Ohio Tuesday, but framed the visit as an opportunity to encourage his supporters to participate in relief efforts for victims of the storm.  President Obama spent the day conducting a conference call with 20 Mayors and Governors of cities and states affectedby the storm, and visiting the Disaster Operation Center of the Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, DCto discuss the storm.

Governor Romney has scheduled to begin gearing his campaign back up today with a visit to Florida, where he will be joined by former Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio.  For his part, President Obama announced he will be visiting New Jerseytoday to accompany Republican Governor Chris Christie in viewing the storm damage. After that, it is probably “back on.”  There will be 5 days left to wrap up the respective campaigns before Election Day.

Lest one suffer from the illusion that the campaigns ceased operations, just because the candidates were temporarily AWOL, they did not. Governor Romney intensified his efforts to snatch Ohio from President Obama’s apparent grasp by unleashing a spate of ads designed to suggest the President’s vauntedAuto Bailout” is slatedto benefit China, rather than U.S. workers.  President Obama, Chrysler, GM, and all agree this is yet another Etch-A-Sketch moment for the Governor.  Of course, if you have enormous sums of money, and ad space is available, it would be a shame and a waste not to buy some, right?

Here is where we find ourselves, collectively.  There is less than a week left before Election DayEarly Voting in North Carolina ends Saturday.  It may be extended to as late as Sunday in some states.  Regardless, voting time is now.  Patriots on all sides of the political spectrum argue the United Statesoccupies a uniquely special place in the History of the world.  Many even content that we are an Exceptional nation.

One of, if not the primary reason for those glowing self-assessmentsis our grand experiment with participatory democracy.  Combined with Free Enterprise, our system of government, one man/woman-one vote, is the foundation of our political belief system.  If you haven’t exercised your franchise, I urge you, regardless of your political affiliation, or candidate of choice, to do so by voting; do not procrastinate!

It may be a fair characterization…”Sandy: The Ultimate October Surprise!”  However, you owe it to yourself, your family, your ancestors, and your descendents not to allow the storm to become the ultimate October excuse.  If you are too busy, too lazy, or too apathetic to vote, P-L-E-A-S-E, don’t bother to complain about the result.

I’m done;holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.comor A new post is published each Wednesday.

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The Great Debate: Act III

It’s time to Break It Down!

The four-debate series between this year’s Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates has ended.  Monday evening President Obama and Governor Romney met for the third and final debate between the two Presidential candidates; Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan held center stage a couple of weeks ago.

Foreign Policy was Mondaynight’s theme; Bob Schieffer of CBS’s Face the Nation was the moderator. The candidates, having each won one of the previous debates, faced off for the rubber match at Lynn Universityin Boca  Raton, Florida. Boca Raton was the location of the meeting where Romney made the now infamous 47% comments; interesting irony.  It was quite a show.

Not being a political operative, I am occasionally perplexed by the advice given to candidates, and the subsequent strategic initiatives they ensue. Remember the first debate in Denver?  How could you forget?  Even if you didn’t see it (I’m sure it lives on YouTube), at least one of the countless renditions surely found you. In the unlikely event you forgot…or missed it, the CliffsNotes summary is President Obama, presumably upon the advice of handlers who believed the campaign held a comfortable lead, opted to play it conservatively and “sit on his lead

The result was he delivered a dreadful performance that, should he manage to win onNovember 6th, will likely go down the personal low point of his first term in office.  That is in part because in this ultra-partisan environment, the Right managed to seize the post debate narrative, and have controlled it since then.  They characterized Willard Romney’s debate performance as transcendently brilliant, and conversely painted the President as uninterested, disengaged, somnambulant and at the same time arrogant.

Not surprisingly, I disagree with those characterizations of the President.  At least to the extent that I do not believe he demonstrated any of those adjectives.  He was victimized by his own Team, which saddled him with bad advice, and a worse strategic design.  Still, as noted above, his performance was, dreadful; atrocious even. I submit that by itself, that one event fundamentally changed the trajectory of the Obama Campaign vis-à-visthe Romney Campaign in the 2012 Race for the Presidency.

In fact, Team Obama has yet to fully recover.  Moreover, if Governor Romney becomes the President-Electafter the November 6thelection, it is certainly my opinion that his victory can be traced back to October 3rd, and his resounding victory in the first of the debates.

But I digress.  The point here is that on Monday evening, Willard Romney boldly, or at least shrewdly, stole a page out of the Obamaplaybook.  The Governor has been widely panned, by Democrats and by many Republicansalike, for shifting positions for his convenience and perhaps more often for political expediency.  Many of the Governor’s GOP Primary opponents citied his unctuousness as theyassailed him in the Party’s 20 Primarydebates.  His performance in the first Presidential debate seemed to set the Gold Standard for deconstructing his previous positions, and reinventing himself on-the-fly.

Alas,Monday evening, based, presumably like President Obama in the first debate, upon the advice of handlers, the Governordecided to sit on his momentum, in the process hoping to persuade women and independent voters that he will not lead the Country into more wars…and by doing so, garner their votes.  I have no idea whether this stratagem will yield its desired result.

Alternately, what I am certain of is that the Governor Romney of the Republican Primaries, and pre-debate Presidential campaign was a bellicosesaber-rattler who described himself as severely conservative.  He chided President Obama for establishing a timetable for leaving Afghanistan, he bashed him for opting not to leave 10,000or more troops in Iraq, he suggested the United States should not take extraordinary measures to find Osama bin Laden, and he asserted that if bin Laden were found in Pakistan, we should seek permission from the Pakistanisbefore pursuing him there.

President Obama took actions employing the opposite of Governor Romney’s original and long-held positions on those issues.  On these, and a host of other matters, Governor Romney praised and/or agreed with President Obama Monday night, all, ostensibly, in a strategic effort to avoid attacking President Obama in this, if you ask those loyal to Mr. Romney, “unimportantForeign Policy Debate.  It is, of course, interesting that the debate became in full-throated unisonlabeled unimportant by Romney-ites, after the polls showed that President Obamawon.

Forthree weeks now, Republicans across the spectrum have been on a variety of news shows, brazenly looking directly into the camera and stoutly denying that the litany of “brand new” positions being spouted by Willard Romney represent any shift, change, or alteration of his previously held positions.  I understand the nature of politics is that circumstances and new information may result in one revising his or her positions.  Indeed, that is the nature of the political universe.  However, in most instances, when such arcs of change occur, the pivoter at least owns up to and explains the change(s) or deviation(s); especially upon direct questioning.  Not Governor Romney, nor his boosters!  What I find most alarming about these hocus-pocusantics is that the vaunted Fourth Estate are loathe to hold the Governor, or his handlers, or his operatives, or his supporters accountable for this outrageously rank disingenuousness.

Quickly, to summarize the snap poll results of Monday’s debate, CNN viewers, whichoversampled Republicans, said President Obama won the debate.  The spread was:

·        Winner 48% – 40%President Obama

·        Leadership 51% -46% President Obama

·        Likeability 48%- 47% President Obama

·        Attacked more68% – 21% President Obama

·        Can handleCommander-in-Chief 63% – 60% President Obama

·        Did better than expected 59% – 44% President Obama

In the CBS News Instant Poll of uncommitted voters, President Obama scored a more decisive victory.  The spread was:

  • Winner 53% – 23%President Obama
  • Better handle     terrorism and national security 64% – 36% President Obama
  • Trust to handle an     international crisis 71% – 49% President Obama
  • Better handle China 50% –     50%

In reviewing the overarching debate series, President Obama and Vice President Biden were deemed to have won three of the four contests.  With only 13 days remaining before Election Day, and with Early Voting already underway in a host of states, the race remains tight, and the outcome uncertain. A number of Republicans are engaging in psychological warfare, continuing to utilize the advantage gained after the first debate to attempt to shape the campaign narrative.  Almost as if planting a pre-hypnotic suggestion, they assert that their polling indicatesGovernor Romney has surpassed President Obama, and some add that by November 6th, the gap will be even greater.

Maybe; maybe not!  Regardless of whom you support, don’t get ahead of yourself.  Most important, exercise your franchiseand vote.  The Poll-of-Polls is the one that talliesthe post-election results, and ultimately, the only one that really matters..  We’ll know in due time; it is certainly not over yet.  If you follow the polls, learn to recognize the distinction between national polls, and those from swing states; appreciate the importance of the latter.  I think (hope) you get the point.

When then Governor Ronald Reagan ran, and succeeded at winning the Presidencyin 1980, an actor went on to occupy the White House.  In my view, nothing better highlights the “Etch-A-Sketch” character of Governor Romney than his comments duringMonday night’s encounter with President Obama.

AsVan Jones, a former Obama Administration official said on theCNN post-debate show, “If this debate had gone on for 30 more minutes, Romney was going to endorse Obama.”

The Governor clearly validated his thespian chops in “The Great Debate: Act III.”  I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.comor A new post is published each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Followin the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at;enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

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Send Him Back — To Kenya?

It’s time to Break It Down!

The really big story today is last night’s Presidential Debate.  The secondof three such tilts, last night’s contest was held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, and moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley in town hall format.  After a universally accepted unexpectedly effective performance by Governor Romneyin the first debate, two weeks ago, President Obama faced a great deal of pressure to stand and deliver in a manner to“stop the free fall” his campaign has experienced since the first encounter.  The narrative of the earlier debate was framed not just by the Governor’sbreakout performance, but by what one analyst referred to as the President’s somnambulant effort. 

While the debate is not the subject of this post, for those interested in the outcome…and I know most are.  Judging by the results of CNN’s snap polls (taken immediately after the debate) of registered voters, divided roughly into thirds (Democrats, Republicans, & Independents), President Obama won the debate by a margin of 46% to 39%.  The President also won among CNN’s in-studio audience of undecided voters.  The numbers do not reflect anywhere near the knock-out blow administered by Governor Romney in the first debate.  The format was different of course; but let there be no doubt, the President brought his A-game…and the results showed.  A note of caution, however.  Drilling down into the numbers found Governor Romney outpolled President Obama on several key metrics.  While that may be offset by the fact the number of Republicans polled was estimated to be oversampled by 8%, iti could also represent a critical gap Team Obama must address effectively in the next 20 days.

Today’s topic is one that probably would have received more coverage, were it not for the election, and more specifically, yesterday’s debate. From time to time I point out, to the chagrin of those who adhere to the Ann Coulter school of thought that racism has been abolished in America, that there are still Americans, many of them influential, who see the world through a racially tinged lensPivot to Jason Thompson and one of the most recent cases.

You may be familiar with Mr. Thompson, a scion of Tommy Thompson, 42nd Governor of Wisconsin, former Secretary of the U.S. Health & Human Services, 2008 candidate for President, and currently the Republican nominee for Senate in Wisconsin.  On Sunday, the younger Thompson, a Milwaukeeattorney was caught on tape saying, ‘We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago— or Kenya, We are taking donations for that Kenyatrip.”

One may be tempted to dismiss such a remark, as simply a cliché”Tell President Obama, he of African heritage, to return from whence he came.” The problem with ignoring a comment such as this, especially one emanating from a gentleman of so vast a political heritage, and presumably refined political sensibilities, is it’s no secret, the President came from Honolulu!  Remarks such as this have been standard fare from the political Right and Tea Party Movement for some time, where Birtherismis a confirmed right, and the Presidenthas been characterized as everything from a native Kenyan, to a Socialist, aMuslim, Hitleresque, and the Food Stamp President.

Mr. Thompson made the comments at a brunch hosted by the KenoshaCounty Republican Party.  The function was attended by Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, and Wisconsin Republican Party ChairmanBrad Courtney, both of whom also spoke. Mr. Priebus, Governor Thompson, local Party Chairman Nathan Conrad, and Michael Best & Friedrich, the younger Thompson’s law firm, have all issued statements indicating that Jason Thompson has apologized.  The law firm, made a point to distance itself from Mr. Thompson’s comments, and Priebus,Courtney, and Conrad all disavowed the remarks.

There are less than three weeks until the election.  While Mr. Thompson was ostensibly speaking at a GOP event in support of his father’s Senate campaign, he apparently felt compelled to weigh-in with his “sterling commentary” regarding the Presidential election, or perhaps, more pointedly, the President.  While it may seem counterintuitive, based on my writing, I really am not perpetually engaged in an endeavor to seek out and expose the people whom casually and constantly make racist remarks about President Obama. The sad fact is, it is such a common occurrence that I find it challenging to avoid reading or hearing about such comments (and related gestures, pictures, and other depictions).

With only 20 days left before the election, I don’t expect there to be a sudden hiatus on this kind of commentary. Nor do I believe people whom harborsuch notions are likely to reinvent themselves, or simply forego their deeply entrenched beliefs. Having stipulatedthat, what I would truly appreciate is for the masses to simply get real…and accept the unmitigated truth.  The truth of the matter is, until there is a hiatus on that type of commentary, and until the owners of such beliefs reinvent themselves and freely choose to forego this brand of “free speech”, we are still a society beset by issues of race, race consciousness, and yes Ms. Coulter, non-Liberal based racism.

In closing, just remember, when and if you ever want to “Send Him Back – To Kenya”he’s from Honolulu; really!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.comor A new post is published each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Followin the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at;enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:

Willard Channeled Captain Kirk; Changed the Kobayashi Maru!

It’s time to Break It Down!

OK, so I apologize for infusing the title with trendy esoteric cinamatic jargon, but I’m an avowed Trekkie, so humor me.  As a StarTrek fan, there are numerous episodes between the various TV shows and movies, which I find entertaining, and occasionally inspiring.  The Kobayashi Maru, featured in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, is a test, and is an element in at least two of the Star Trek franchise films, as well as in several novels.  The test is a euphemism for “a no-win situation.”

Having said that, it is worth noting that just a couple of weeks ago, the GOP put forth a conspiracy theory that suggested the pollsters had aligned against their candidate.Indeed, they argued, the polls were inaccurate.  Not surprisingly, at the time, a wide array of polling services showed Governor Romneytrailing; a number them, significantly.

Similarly, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly Jobs’ Report lastFriday and reported that unemployment fell below 8% (7.8%) for the first time in 43 months, a number of the worlds most famous and influential conservatives stated and echoed the notion that the President or his surrogates and/or operativeshad “cooked the books.”  That is a really interesting assertion, when one considers that for 43 consecutive months, the GOP has used that very report, produced by that same agency (almost universally agreed to be a stable of numbers geeks and policy wonks, not aligned with the White House, no matter the occupant) as the source of choice to demonstrate the President’s inability to whittleunemployment to any number below 8%.

Suddenly after one report (on numbers that had been trending that way, even if slowly), neither the source nor the number, just as with the polls, is valid any longer.Speaking of polls, Willardreceived a significant (and expected) bounce after his debate performance.  Perhaps I just missed it, but I have heard very few Republicans question the accuracy or validity of these newly resurgent Romney numbers. 

Based on these examples, there appears to be an interesting relationship between the GOP and what President Clinton loosely referred to as arithmetic.  Did I hear someone say 47%?  Since candidate Romney, after 2 ½ weeks of doubling down, finally disavowed his infamous comments on that subject, I will let that go.

The scenario at that time of the debate was viewed in some circles as hypercritical; so dire in fact, it was widely rumored that were Romney to lose the debate, the enormous GOP funding streams, Super PACs included, were set to shift their focus from Governor Romney to the Senate, where Republicans hope to garner a majority in November.  It is not a stretch, with just less than 5 weeks left (last Wednesday) in the campaign and a plethora of negative news and polling, that Team Romney viewed the environment as close to “a no-win situation.”

What a difference the debate made.  Just so no one is confused, let me be clear, this is not an Obamaapology or excuse story.  Allow me to stipulate, without caveat, Willard Romneywon last week’s debate.  No amount ofspin can change, or even amelioratethat fact.  President Obama, strategy notwithstanding, underperformed.  In doing so, he missed a golden opportunity to put an inordinateamount of pressure on the Romney Camp, and instead, now faces tougher sledding than he would have, had he just held serve, to say nothing of the different dynamics that would have materialized had he actually won.

But this is a post about Willard.For months now, he as been characterized, based on statements by one of his own operatives, as an Etch-A-Sketch candidate (Remember that “Etch A Sketch” entered the campaign lexiconMarch 21, 2012, when Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom signaled on CNN that Romney could transform his primary campaign message for the general election by hitting a reset; “it’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch,” he said then.).

In the Great Debate, Part I, Governor Romney eschewed the Tea Partymagnet positions he successfully parrotedduring the GOP Primaries, and even up to this point in the general election campaign.  In effect, he looked a lot like the Massachusetts moderate that hard-right mavens, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum tried, diligently but fruitlessly, to warn true conservativesto shun.                                                               

Back to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, (USS) Starship Enterprise, then Admiral, James Tiberius Kirk, and the Kobayashi Maru.  The gist of this episode, as it relates to the test (Kobayashi Maru) is that it is revealed StarfleetCadet Kirk took the Kobayashi Maru3 times while he was at the Academy.Moreover, he is the only Starfleetcadet ever to “pass” the test.  However, the backstory is that he reprogrammedthe computer simulation so that the “no-win situation” became resolvable. Now in the real world, what Kirk did is known as cheating…but recall, Star Trek is science fiction (sci-fi); sort of a universe unto itself, where regular rules do not apply.We learn, in Star Trek II thatStarfleet Administration not only didn’t kick the mercurial Kirk out of the venerable institution; they gave him a commendation for original thinking.Perhaps sci-fi and politics have more in common that we are willing to concede.

That scenario mirrors Willard’s tactics in the first debate, and what the GOP appears to have done in response.  Faced with a situation where Governor Romney’s long-held, positions, complete with the Tea Party Stamp of Approval, were weighing him down like a proverbialmillstone around his neck, For all practical purposes, last Wednesdaynight, Willard reprogrammed the computer.He became a walking, or rather a standing (behind his podium)contradiction in relation to his previous policy statements.  In response, erstwhile dispirited conservatives have rallied to commend cadet…I mean, propelcandidate Romney back into contention in a race that a week ago appeared to be on the verge of slipping away.

A man on a mission, Governor Romneydistinguished himself by making a 180 degree turn and after firmly and repeatedly vowing to slash taxes for the wealthiest Americans and hurling the class warfare label at President Obama for saying he would raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires, the Governor quite simply reinvented himself on camera. In doing so, he went on to make at least 10 head-scratching assertions, including:

  • He will not reduce the taxes of high income Americans.
  • He will, after repealing Obamacare, advocate the implementation of his own   individual mandate plan — “And the best course for health care is to do what we did in my state” — but it would be state by state, along a federalist model.
  • He played the MediScare card – by most accounts, a discredited Democratic tactic against     entitlement reform, but apparently acceptable if it is done by a Republican trying to win Florida.
  • He obfuscated     around the question of whether he supports ending “too big to fail” — which might mean breaking up     the big banks, and/or restoring safeguards from the 1933 Glass-Steagall     banking reform act, repealed in 1999— or simply repealing the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which regulates Wall Street.
  • He declined to specify, or even clarify what     exactly it is he proposes to put in place of Obamacare or Dodd-Frank,     should he repeal them
  • He indicated he would end oil company subsidies     if corporate rates were lowered enough – that may be news to Exxon.
  • He said Obama     should have backed the Bowles-Simpson     Commission’s deficit reduction proposals, though he did not back the     recommendations of that panel himself.
  • He advocated a balanced deficit reduction plan but refused to raise any     revenue
  • He vowed he’d kill “Sesame Street”icon Big Bird; though his enthusiasm for budget cutting does not     square with his commitment to increasing military spending to 4% of GDP.
  • He chose not to specify the loophole closures     which would make his 20% tax     cuts revenue-neutral for top     income earners.

Governor Romney’s debate performance was impressive.  However, the most outstanding aspect of that outing may not have been his opposition to President Obama’s policy positions, but rather his disregard for his own policies and positions.  As a Star Trek fan, I know I will always remember the night Willard Channeled Captain Kirk; Changed the Kobayashi Maru!”  I’m done; holla back!  

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.comor A new post is published each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Followin the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at;enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:

Did Someone Say Voter Fraud? Oops, There It Is; Sort Of!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Occasionally, one has the sense of being in the right place at the right time, or having said or done the right thing at the most propitious of moments.  Perhaps kismet is the personificationor actualization of this sense.  In retrospect, last week’s post is tinged with irony, and filled with kismet.

Now I understand full well, the Presidential Debates begin tonight with the first of three debates, plus a tilt between the Vice Presidential candidates.  This evening’s event, focused on Domestic Policy, will convene at the University of Denver, located in Denver, Colorado.  Air time is 9:00 p.m. Eastern.  The coverage and the fully amplified aftermath (who won, who lost, etc.) will dominate the airways, at least for political news, for a day.  Friday will bring a fresh new topic; the release of the September Jobs Report.  In related news, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised job growth numbers for the year upward by more than 450,000 jobs.  The number is still not enough, though it does provide good news for the Obama Administration.  POTUS has now seen more jobs added than have been lost, during his term in office.  But that is then; this is now.        

Right now, my focus is on extending the conversation started in the previous blog post.  Last Wednesday, in a thorough fashion, Break It Down explored the notion, posited most aggressively by theGOP, that voter fraud is a serious and widespread problem.   Moreover, if you listen to the relentless drum beat on the Right, what you hear is that the insidious behavior is the singular purview of the poor, minorities, and that olio of humanity we have come to know, in the last 30days, as the 47%.  Hence, the brilliant and timely Republican rescue plan; a series of new voter fraud laws, aimed mainly, and ever so coincidentally, at political swingstates with GOP state legislatures.

Briefly, the predominance of data shows, as noted in last week’s post, it is a solution in search of a problem.  At least, it was!  Word has emerged from Florida that a consulting firm DBA(Doing Business As), Strategic AlliedConsulting, tasked by the RepublicanNational Committee (RNC) and the Florida GOP with leading voter registration activities in the state, has been terminated after having been accused of…drum roll please…fraudulentvoter registration activities (which while different from voter fraud, is as close as we’ve come).  Remember, actual voter fraud is quite rare.  Voter registration fraud, not so much; low wage workers are given taxing quotas, and frequently resort to questionable tactics.  They then, after a short time, usually before getting caught, move on to other jobs.

Strategic Allied Consultingwas formed and headed by Republican consultant,Nathan Sproul.  Mr. Sproul took on the assignment of conducting voter registration and turnout activities in several key contested states, including, voterregistration in:

1.      Florida

2.      Virginia

3.      North Carolina

4.      Colorado

5.      Nevada

And Get-Out-The-Vote activities in:

  1. Ohio
  2. Wisconsin

Sproul and the Republican National Committee (RNC) wanted to preempt push back stemming from similar controversy experienced by theLincoln Strategy Group, another of his companies.  He told the Tampa Bay Times he formed Strategic Allied Consulting at the request of the RNC, for publicity’s sake.  Previous negative media coverage had accrued to Lincoln stemming from past allegations going back to 2004, when employees in Nevadaand Oregon signed up Democrats but threw out their forms instead of turning them in.

In 2004, employees of Lincoln were accused of an assortment of infractions, including:

  • Destroying voter     registration forms of Democrats
  • Duping college students into registering as Republicans
  • Refusing to register Democrats or independents

At that time, several states, Nevada,Oregon, and Arizona, opened investigations.  In all fairness, it should be noted all three states closed their inquiries without filing charges.

Mr. Sproul has also been linked tosignature fraud this election cycle in his home state of Arizona where he was working on a ballot initiativethat would allow the state to nullifyany federal laws it finds to be unconstitutional.  The man gets around.

As it relates to the recent events, the RNC hired Sproul and his firm during the summer.  Strategic Allied Consulting was the only vendor hired by the National Republican Party to conduct voter registration and turnoutactivities in seven battleground states.  They were paid $3 million by the RNC for this exclusive privilege.That does not include the $1.3million paid by the state of Florida, or additional amounts by other states.

Florida remains famous, or infamous if you prefer, because of the notorious hanging chadsequence which transformed the 2000 Presidential Election into the stuff of movie-making legend.  But Floridais not the only player in this drama.  In addition to the Sunshine State, the RNC and state committees in North Carolina,Colorado, and Virginia, all fired the firm last week.  In addition, the Republican Party of Floridafiled an election fraud complaint that is now part of a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In Colorado, the Republican Party terminated its contract with Strategic Allied Consulting after a young woman was shown registering voters outside a Colorado Springs grocery store in a YouTube video, in which she admits to trying to only register voters who support Mitt Romney.  The woman, a contract employee of Sproul’s company, could be heard saying:

“I’m actually trying to register people for a particular party, because we’re out here in support of Romney, actually.”  The video has been viewed more than417,000 times.  The Colorado stateGOP has spent $466,643 — roughly half its total budget — with Strategic Allied Consulting.

In North Carolina, officials with the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections say they’re sending five voter registration forms to state election officials after concerns the documents could be fraudulent.

Those five forms were submitted by Strategic Allied Consulting. The firm was paid by Republicans to register new voters in battleground states.

Michael Dickerson, Mecklenburg County’s Elections Director noted the Board of Elections has also received one questionable voter registration from a group backing President Obama.

Perhaps the single most revealing indicator of how ensconced Sproul and his firm are in GOP political circles is that he has ties to Willard Romney and his campaign.  FederalElection Commission (FEC) reports show that Sproul’s other company, Lincoln Strategy Group, was paid more than $80,000 by the Romney campaign to help register voters between November 2011 and March 2012.  This period was part of the GOP Primaryseason.

All in all, I still do not expect voter fraud to play a huge role in Election 2012.  However, to the extent it does, if current events prove relevant, we should all beware of the potential for a healthy dose of GOP legerdemain.

“Did Someone Say Voter Fraud? Oops, There It Is; Sort Of!”  I’m done; holla back!

PS. Just in case you care about these kinds of things, today is President Obama and Michelle’s 20th wedding anniversary, so Happy Anniversary to POTUS and FLOTUS.

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