OOOHHH, Travelin Man

By: Toby Harnden

Barack Obama has already held more re-election fundraising events than every elected president since Richard Nixon combined, according to figures to be published in a new book.

Obama is also the only president in the past 35 years to visit every electoral battleground state in his first year of office.

The figures, contained a in a new book called The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign by Brendan J. Doherty, due to be published by University Press of Kansas in July, give statistical backing to the notion that Obama is more preoccupied with being re-elected than any other commander-in-chief of modern times.

Doherty, who has compiled statistics about presidential travel and fundraising going back to President Jimmy Carter in 1977, found that Obama had held 104 fundraisers by March 6th this year, compared to 94 held by Presidents Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.

Since then, Obama has held another 20 fundraisers, bringing his total to 124. Carter held four re-election fundraisers in the 1980 campaign, Reagan zero in 1984, Bush Snr 19 in 1992, Clinton 14 in 1996 and Bush Jnr 57 in 2004.

Doherty, a political science professor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, has also analyzed presidential travel to battleground or swing states, which change and fluctuate in number with each election cycle.

In their first years in office, Carter visited eight out of 18 battleground states and Reagan seven out of 17. Bush Snr, Clinton and Bush Jnr all visited around three-quarters of battleground states while Obama went to all 15 within his first 12 months.

While the Obama’s campaign activities in office have been largely in line with historical trends, he is especially vulnerable to criticism because in 2008 he promised to change how politics works and to curb links with special interests.

Vowing in 2008 to ‘launch the most sweeping ethics reform in US history’ Obama said that if elected he would ‘make government more open, more accountable and more responsive to the problems of the American people’.

In his State of the Union speech in January, Obama bemoaned the ‘corrosive influence of money in politics’. The following month, he reversed course and announced he was allowing cabinet members and top advisors to speak at big money events for so-called super PACs – unaccountable outside groups raising money for his re-election.

During the 2008 election, Obama abandoned a pledge to opt for public funding of his campaign, instead opting to raise an unlimited amount privately. He then raised and spent approximately $730million, almost double the campaign funds of Senator John McCain, his Republican opponent.

Up to the end of March, Obama had raised $191.6million for his re-election bid, compared to $86.6million raised by his Republican challenger Mitt Romney. His frenetic fundraising activities are in part because he is lagging behind campaign expectations. Early last year, some advisers spoke privately of raising $1billion.

In his book, Doherty writes that in his first full month in office Obama visited Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Arizona and North Carolina – all battleground states – in 2012. ‘Clearly, the White House made a point of the president travelling to key electoral states early in his term in office.’

This week, the Republican National Committee (RNC) lodged a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about alleged misuse of taxpayer money by Obama.

The Obama campaign dismissed the complaint as a ‘stunt’ and the White House said that it would follow the same rules as previous administrations and refund the appropriate amounts.

In the complaint, Reince Priebus, RNC chairman, wrote: ‘Throughout his administration, but particularly in recent weeks, President Obama has been passing off campaign travel as “official events,” thereby allowing taxpayers, rather than his campaign, to pay for his re-election efforts.’

Doherty, however, said that although the tactic of labelling Obama’s activities as fraud was ‘novel’ in reality the opposing party always complained about a president facing re-election dressing up political events as official ones.

‘This is not new. The Republican complaint is more of a situational complaint than a principled complaint because they certainly weren’t complaining when George W. Bush did this eight years ago.’

He added: ‘In 2004, President George W. Bush broke all records for presidential fundraising in terms of time devoted to fundraising and in terms of money raised and at the time Democrats hit him hard for that.

‘Obama has already surpassed Bush [Jnr] in numbers of re-election fundraisers, but not yet in money raised.’

The rising costs of campaigns, lower contribution limits, the breakdown of the public financing system, the 24/7 media environment and the professionalisation of campaigns had all led to successive presidents having to devote more and more time and energy to raising money.

He added that the ‘big picture’ was incumbent presidents fearing defeat. ‘Until 1976 [when Carter beat President Gerald Ford] no sitting president had been defeated for re-election since 1932. It had been 44 years.

‘And then three of the next four presidents who tried [Ford, Carter and Bush Snr] lost. Of all the presidents re-elected since Ford lost to Carter, only Reagan has won in a landslide. George W. Bush’s re-election [in 2004] was close, Clinton got less than 50 percent [in 1996]. There is a very keen sense among presidents that they really might lose.’

Kirsten Kukowski, an RNC spokesperson, said: ‘It’s no surprise that the Campaigner-In-Chief has taken raising money for his re-election to a whole new level. The worst part is the American taxpayer has been footing the bill.’ The Obama campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Forward Ho!

By: The Common Constitutionalist

Yes, the new Obama campaign slogan, “Forward”. It’s new, it’s innovative, it’s hip. Or is it? It appears quite similar to the MSNBC slogan “Lean Forward”. Funny coincidence, isn’t it.

It evokes movement in a positive direction. Don’t go back. Push on to better times ahead. One has to move”Forward” to make progress. Could that be where the term “Progressive” came from?  Absolutely! The early progressives knew we had to move forward. Cast off the shackles of that stifling old Constitution.

The slogan “Forward” is new and innovative, if you don’t know history. For those who do know their history, the slogan “Forward” is even more foreboding than that of “Progress”.

Wikipedia: The name Forward carries a special meaning in socialist political terminology. It has been frequently used as a name for socialist, communist and other leftwing newspapers and publications. For example, Vpered (Russian language for ‘Forward’) was the name of the publication that Lenin started after having resigned from the Iskra editorial board in 1905 after a clash with Georgi Plekhanov and the Mensheviks.

Now it’s time for some irony, travelling back in time to find the origins of the slogan, “Forward”.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words (or so they say), we’ll see what history has to offer.

Lenin, Forward for the Motherland, for our victory!

Under the leadership of the great Stalin - forward to Communism!

Young builders of communism! Forward, to the new successes in work and study!

Mao, Strike the battle drum of the Great Leap Forward ever louder

Sing revolutionary war songs with fervor, and move forward in victory.

Notice A common theme, maybe a word that stands out?

Give Me Some Water

I am not a big fan (pardon the pun) of wind turbines but this is pretty cool.

Wind turbines can now provide drinking water in humid climates following a breakthrough by a French engineering firm.

Eole Water modified  typical electricity-generating turbines to allow them to distill drinking water out of the air in a bid to help developing countries solve their water needs.

A prototype in Abu Dhabi already creates 62 liters (16.5 gallons) of water an hour, and Eole hopes to sell turbines generating a thousand liters a day later this year.

Thibault Janin, director of marketing at Eole Water, said: ‘This technology could enable rural areas to become self-sufficient in terms of water supply.
‘As the design and capabilities develop, the next step will be to create turbines that can provide water for small cities or areas with denser populations.’

The turbine works in the same way as the turbines currently seen dotting horizons around the world – and the electricity produced also helps power the water manufacturing process.

Air gets sucked into the nose of the turbine and is directed to a cooling compressor. The humidity is then extracted from the air and condensed and collected.

The water then travels down stainless steel pipes under the forces of gravity into a storage tank, where – with some filtering and purification – it is then ready to drink, wash, or cultivate with.

Mr Janin told CNN that one generator producing 1,000 liters a day is ‘enough to provide water for a village or town of 2,000 to 3,000 people’.

He said communities in Africa and South America, and remote islands in Asia with little access to safe drinking water, would be the types of communities who stood to benefit the most from the technology.

He added: ‘If you think of Indonesia, it has (thousands of) islands and they cannot centralize their water supply … the geographic makeup of the country makes it impossible.

‘This technique could enable them to overcome these problems and make the islands self-sufficient in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.’
But anyone ready to get their checkbook out should note the cost – around $650,000 per turbine. However Janin noted that prices would fall as economies of scale came into play.

He added: ‘We have just started the commercial aspect of this product but the price is not that expensive when you compare it with the long term solution that it gives.’

Eole Water said their priorities in the design were maximum water production, energy independence, low maintenance, logistical flexibility and no environmental impact.

The turbines have a life expectancy of 20 years.

Attribution: Eddie Wrenn

Homey Don’t Wash That

A company behind a new range of Afro style dish washing sponges has been slammed for being racist. I personally think they’re hilarious, but then I’m a racist, apparently.

Campaigners have attacked British makers Paladone for its latest range of dish cleaning products which caricatures black soul legend Diana Ross as having a brillo pad for a hairstyle.

The offending items, which have just gone on sale across the UK, have been lambasted for reinforcing negative stereotypes.

The Unite Against Fascism general secretary Weyman Bennett said: ‘What are we going to have next, toilet brushes like that? This is not appropriate for the 21st century to show images like that. It reinforces negative stereotypes and ideas.”

“Although it’s aimed at being humorous, sometimes it’s not funny”, he added.

“We’ve spent 40 years removing racist imagery out of general politics, removing golly wogs, removing black and white minstrels, and it would be a shame if it crept back in.”

Mr Bennett, who has been campaigning for almost thirty years, warned: “It opens the door for people to produce racial stereotypes and that’s not something we want to see in our society.”

“We’ve worked very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s can’t be a positive thing in the 21st centry that we are using images that were really invented in periods of slavery and discrimination.”

I wasn’t aware that slaves had afros or frequented discos, but that’s just me. I’m sure Mr. Bennett is better informed than I.

Mr. Bennett aimed a stinging attack directly at the company behind the products and called on them to be take off the supermarket shelves.

Mr Bennett said: “They need to think again. Is there no way they can come up with positive views of people without just using negative views of black people. Trying to compare black people to brillo pads is not a really positive image – it’s not appropriate.’

Paladone said the product had been a phenomenal success since hitting the shelves.
But its attempts to give the humble cleaning implement a funky 70s disco makeover have evidently offended some.

A company spokesman said: “Our range of four washing up sponges are designed to make an everyday chore like washing up more fun. The Disco, Beehive, Punk and Diva have sold hundreds of thousands of pieces. They have been a phenomenal success.”

The products success is, I’m sure, due to the average citizen having a sense of humor rather that sitting around waiting to be offended.

Maybe if they develop a Kurt Cobain Mop head, Mr. Bennett might feel better.

Attribution: Tom Gardner

Zimmerman, the Lead Up

Business Insider put together some chronological bullet points of George Zimmerman’s history:

  • Zimmerman grew up in a mixed-race household
  • He was an altar boy at his Caltholic church from age 7-17
  • He is bilingual
  • After he finished high school, he studied for and got an insurance license
  • In 2004, Zimmerman and a black friend opened an Allstate insurance office (which soon failed)
  • Zimmerman’s 2005 arrest for “resisting arrest, violence, and battery of an officer” occurred after he shoved an under-cover alcohol control agent at a bar when the agent was trying to arrest an underage friend of his
  • Zimmerman married his wife, Shellie, in 2007. They rented a house in Twin Lakes. Twin Lakes is about 50% white, 20% Hispanic, and 20% black.
  • In 2009, Zimmerman enrolled in Seminole State College
  • In the fall of 2009, a pit bull broke free twice and once cornered Shellie in the Zimmermans’ yard. George Zimmerman asked a police officer whether he should buy pepper spray. The cop told him pepper spray wasn’t fast enough and recommended that he get a gun.
  • By the summer of 2011, Twin Lakes “was experiencing a rash of burglaries and break-ins.” In several of the cases, witnesses said the robbers were young black men
  • In July 2011, a black teenager stole a bicycle off the Zimmermans’ porch
  • In August of 2011, a neighbor of the Zimmermans, Olivia Bertalan, was home during the day when two young black men entered her house. She hid in a room upstairs and called the police. When the police arrived, the two men, who had been trying to take a TV, fled. One of them ran through the Zimmermans’ yard.
  • After the break-in, George Zimmerman stopped by the Bertalans and gave Olivia a card with his name and number on it. He told her to visit his wife Shellie if she felt unsafe.
  • The police recommended that Bertalan get a dog. She moved away instead. Zimmerman got a second dog–a Rottweiler.
  • In September, several concerned residents of the neighborhood, including Zimmerman, asked the neighborhood association to create a neighborhood watch. Zimmerman was asked to run it.
  • In the next month, two more houses in the neighborhood were robbed.
  • A community newsletter reminded residents to report any crimes to the police and then call “George Zimmerman, our captain.”
  • On February 2, 2012, Zimmerman spotted a young black man looking into the windows of a neighbor’s empty house. He called the police and said “I don‘t know what he’s doing. I don’t want to approach him, personally.” The police sent a car, but by the time they arrived, the man was gone.
  • On February 6th, another house was burglarized. Witnesses said two of the robbers were black teenagers. One, who had prior burglary convictions, was soon caught with a laptop stolen from the house.
  • Two weeks later, Zimmerman spotted Travyon Martin and called the police. The last time he had done this, the suspect got away. This time, he disregarded police instructions and followed. A few minutes later, Martin was dead.

Is it possible that Zimmerman is an angry racist? It is. But as Business Insider wonders, “doesn’t it make you feel a bit differently about Zimmerman?”

Attribution: The Blaze