Department of Veterans Affairs News Clips



Department of Veterans Affairs News Clips
The Secretary In The News
Homeless Veterans: Whose Responsibility? (NYT) ..................... 4
Congressman Spencer Bachus Calls On VA Secretary Eric
Shinseki To Speed Up Veterans Claims Processing
(BIRMING) ............................................................................ 5
News Briefs: Oct. 8, 2012 (FEDTIMES) ........................................ 5
Letters To The Editor - 10/8/2012 (SCRANTO) ........................... 7
Delegation Requests Hot Springs Meeting With VA Secretary
(HOTSPR) ............................................................................ 9
"Save The VA" Committee Vows To Continue Its Fight (KOTA) 10
Shinseki Honored During Patriot Award Dinner .......................... 11
Iraq/Afghanistan Vets
Powered Up: Bionic Foot "Natural" For Iraq Amputee (MEMCA)11
Women Veterans
VA Medical Center Invites Female Veterans To Open House
(MIDDANE) ......................................................................... 12
Mental Health
As Military Suicides Rise, Focus Is On Private Weapons (NYT) 12
Study Will Probe Vet Suicide Risk, Omega-3s (AP) ................... 14
Study To Examine If Fatty Acids Lower Veterans' Suicide Risk
(REU) .................................................................................. 14
Military Suicides: Defense Officials Spending $10 Million To
Learn If Fish Oil Can Help (NBCN) .................................... 15
MUSC Researchers: Dietary Supplement Could Combat Military
Suicide (WCIV) ................................................................... 16
Can Fish Oil Prevent Military Veteran Suicide? (KPBS) ............. 16
Learn Signs Of Crisis, How To React (DANVILL) ....................... 16
Vets In Illinois Happy That Crisis Line Is Available To Them ..... 17
Veteran's Crisis Hotline (WICD) .................................................. 18
Support Available For Vets In Crisis (DANVILL) ......................... 18
Healthcare (National)
Winners Named In Blue Button Contests (MODHLT)................. 18
Improved Routine Access To Health Data Ensures Disaster
Preparedness (FGIT).......................................................... 19
Healthcare (Local)
Homeless Can Get Help At One-Stop "VA Stand Down"
Wednesday (LCJ) ............................................................... 20
Veterans Memorial Car Show Lures 7,000 To Loma Linda
(SANSUN)........................................................................... 20
VA Clinic In Adirondacks Hires New Doctor (AP) ....................... 21
VA Clinic Hires Doctor After A Year Without (ADIRON) ............. 21
Baptist-Memphis, VA Named Among Top-Performing Facilities
(MEMBIZ) ........................................................................... 22
Internist Dawn Wolfgram Joins Medical College Of Wisconsin
Faculty, Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center Staff
(WAUWATO) ...................................................................... 22
$26.8M For VA Hospital Parking Lot (CARRIBBUS) .................. 22
Veterans Clinic In Roane County To Close (WATE)................... 23
Veterans Group Campaigns For Regional VA Hospital (WYMT) 23
VA News
Beau Biden Says Father Studying Hard For Debate (MKEJRNL)24
Paul Ryan Courts Veterans In Ohio (FOX) ................................. 25
Vice President's Son Campaigns For Joseph Kennedy
(FOXPATCH) ...................................................................... 25
VA Hosts Outreach For Veterans (RGJ) ..................................... 26
1 In 8 Feds Witnessed Workplace Violence (FEDTIMES) ......... 26
VA's Overspending At Conferences Linked To Poor Contract
Execution (WASHBIZ) ........................................................ 27
Veteran's Corner (WEATHERD).................................................. 27
"Stand Down" Event Planned For Homeless Veterans (KLKN) . 28
Columbus Man Gets Half A Billion Dollar Check By Mistake
(WTVM)............................................................................... 29
State VA News
Paramus Veterans' Memorial Home Receives Federal Funding
(BERGR) ............................................................................. 29
Funeral Detail Keeps Honor Foremost, But Funding Has Fallen
(TULSAWLD) ...................................................................... 29
Marshfield Town Hall With State Veterans Affairs Secretary
Socos (MARSHNH) ............................................................ 31
Veterans Sought For Future Habitat Housing (KHTS) ............... 31
WSU Prof Gets NSF Grant To Lay Scientific Foundation Of
"Patient Centered Medical Home" (WWJ) ......................... 32
Congressional VA News
Organizers Getting Ready For This Year's "Stand Down" Event
For Local Veterans (WLFI) ................................................. 56
Professor: Survey Of WV Veterans Off To A Good Start
(WOWK) ............................................................................. 57
Professor: Survey Of WV Veterans Off To A Good Start
(WVNS) ............................................................................... 57
VA Home Remains On Schedule To Close In Early November
(KARK) ................................................................................ 57
Legislators Question Funding Source Of Second Veterans
Nursing Facility (WOWK) ................................................... 57
Veteran Creates Service To Help Soldiers With PTSD (KSAZ) . 58
Keeping Mobile Data Secure (GOVINSEC) ............................... 59
Murray, Levin Call For Better Evaluation System For Veterans
With Disabilities (HILL) ....................................................... 33
Editorial Roundup
The Doctor’s Bag For The New Millennium (NYT)...................... 34
Republican Senator, Vietnam Veteran Endorses President
Obama (HUFFPOST) ......................................................... 35
For Our Veterans: Respite Resources Can Help Caregivers
(PPG) .................................................................................. 36
Superb, Compassionate Care At Veterans Hospital
(INDYSTAR) ....................................................................... 37
Oklahoma Veterans Centers Warrant More Focus (OK) ............ 37
Uncle Sam AWOL In New Vietnam Memorial Effort (WASHEX) 37
Letter: Bono Mack Came Through For A Disabled Veteran
(DESSUN)........................................................................... 38
Horton Improvements Have Great Value (SUFFOLK)................ 38
National News
Obama, On Way To SF, Announces Cesar Chavez Monument
(MERCN) ............................................................................ 62
Obama In Valley To Honor Chavez (FRSBEE) .......................... 62
Obama Dedicates Cesar Chavez National Monument (LAT)..... 63
President Establishes César Chávez Monument (USAT) .......... 65
In Dedicating César Chávez Monument, Obama Reaches Out
To Latino Voters (CSM)...................................................... 65
Obama Pays Homage To Hispanic Leader Cesar Chavez (AFP)66
Obama Dedicates Cesar Chavez Monument, Courts Latino
Voters (REU) ...................................................................... 66
Obama Reaches Out To Latino Voters With Chavez Monument
(WT) .................................................................................... 66
Obama Designates La Paz As A National Monument (AP)........ 67
President Barack Obama Honors Cesar Chavez, Thousands
Uninvited From Ceremony (HUFFPOST) .......................... 68
Obama Rakes In $9.5 Million On California Swing (POLITCO) . 69
Obama Is Urged To Get Tough (WSJ)........................................ 69
Battleground Tracking Poll: Dems Less Enthusiastic (POLITCO)69
Round Of Polls Shows Tight Race After Obama-Romney
Debate (WT) ....................................................................... 70
Mitt Romney Surges In Some Polls, Lags In Others, As Manic
Monday Messages Mix (HUFFPOST) ............................... 71
Can Mitt Romney Sustain The Momentum He Gained From The
Debate? (CSM)................................................................... 71
Debate Performance Helps Romney; Improved Jobs Report
Fuels Obama (USAT) ......................................................... 72
8 Takeaways From The New Pew Poll (WP) .............................. 73
Romney Leaps Past Obama In Pew Poll (WSJ) ......................... 74
Polls Indicate Post-debate Bounce For Romney (AFP).............. 74
Poll: Romney Takes Narrow Lead After Dominating Debate
(NATJO) .............................................................................. 74
Pew Poll Shows Romney Advancing (NYT)................................ 75
Pew: Romney 49, Obama 45 (POLITCO)................................... 76
Post-debate Polling Shows Substantial Romney Bounce (LAT) 77
Key To Victory? Who Has Best Ground Game (WSJ)................ 77
Romney Leads Obama In Pew Likely Voter Poll After Debate
(BSWK) ............................................................................... 77
Romney Now Leading Obama By Four Percent Among Likely
Voters In Post-debate Pew Poll (CALLER) ........................ 79
Briefly Noted
Redefining Medicine With Apps And iPads (NYT) ...................... 39
Apps That Can Alert The Doctor When Trouble Looms (NYT) .. 41
Pentagon's Plans For 3-D Printers: Mobile Labs, Bomb Sniffers
And Prototype Limbs (WIRD) ............................................. 42
Military Wives Strip Down To Support Spouses In "Battling
Bare" Campaign (NYDN).................................................... 43
Thomas J. Sullivan, WWII Veteran, Butcher, Dies At 95 (NSDY)44
Oregon Guard's Veterans Assistance Program Gets Another
Year (OREG) ...................................................................... 44
Veterans Cemetery In NLR Filling Up, Slowly Showing Age
(ARDEM)............................................................................. 45
Bill Advances To Help War Veterans Get Housing Preference
(PRESSAC) ........................................................................ 45
Riders Take To Bikes To Fight Cancer, Aid Homeless Vets
(LAFJCO)............................................................................ 46
Veterans Organization Wants More Of A Voice In Fort Ord
Future (SNTCRZSEN) ........................................................ 47
Vietnam Vets Look To Help Homeless Colleagues (BATTLEIN) 48
Vet Receives Balloon Ride Through Operation Never Forget
(BATTLEIN) ........................................................................ 49
Southern Utah Veterans Home Almost Halfway Completed
(STGEOR) .......................................................................... 50
Service Dogs Help Veterans Heal From PTSD (MARJO) .......... 50
Wounded Warriors Enjoy Skeet Shooting, Dove Hunting
(AIKSTD)............................................................................. 52
VA Clinic Aiming To Open Next September (MARMAIL) ........... 52
Revenue Crunch Threatens W.Va. Veterans Facility (AP) ......... 52
Medal Of Honor Recipients Are The Rock Stars In Hawaii
(STARS).............................................................................. 53
Foxborough Resident, USMC Veteran Takes First Steps
Toward Paralympic Competition (FOXPATCH) ................. 54
Workshop Opens PTSD Discussion For Vets (AZTEC) ............. 55
Juan Garcia: No Greater Honor Then Serving Veterans
(FATHERCH) ...................................................................... 55
Pew Finds Romney With 4-point Post-debate Lead Over
Obama (HILL) ..................................................................... 80
Obama Loses Lead On Key Voter Issues (WT) ......................... 80
Romney Seeks Gains Among Early Voters (WT/AP) ................. 81
Battleground Tracking Poll: Dems Less Enthusiastic (POLITCO)82
Military Times Poll: Romney Bests Obama, 2-1 (MILTIMES)..... 82
Romney's Strong Debate Helps Him Close Gap With Obama In
Michigan, Poll Shows (FREEP).......................................... 84
Across The Electoral Map, A Mixed Picture For Candidates
Down The Ballot (WP) ........................................................ 85
Obama, Romney Offer Different Paths On Medicare, Social
Security (MCT).................................................................... 87
Study: Costs Will Rise On Mid-size Firms From New Healthcare
Law (HILL) .......................................................................... 88
Car Bomb Kills 2 Afghan Intelligence Officers (AP) .................... 89
Biden’s Bin Laden Hypocrisy (WP) ............................................. 89
Iraq Sends Crucial Fuel Oil To Syria (FT) ................................... 90
Gallup: Mitt Romney Debate Win Biggest Ever (POLITCO)....... 90
McGurn: Never Mind The Snark, Lehrer Got It Right (WSJ) ...... 91
Goldman Turns Tables On Obama Campaign (WSJ) ................ 91
Claim: Obama Campaign Illegally Solicited Foreign Donors Via
Social Media Website (CALLER) ....................................... 91
Mitchell Shames Obama Camp Over Footage (POLITCO) ....... 93
Experts: Sebelius Can Visit Ryan’s District (POLITCO) ............. 93
With New Vigor, Romney Resets Ohio Campaign (NYT) ........... 93
Source: Romney To Pull Resources Out Of Pennsylvania,
Focus On Ohio (CALLER) .................................................. 95
Kid Rock, Crowd Of 4,000 Cheer VP Candidate Ryan At
Oakland University (FREEP).............................................. 95
Vice Presidential Hopeful Ryan: 'We Can And Will Win
Michigan' (DETN) ............................................................... 96
GOP’s Move To Downplay Paul Ryan’s Debate Skills Isn’t
Sticking In Ohio (WP) ......................................................... 98
Paul Ryan's Supply-side Roots Run Deep In Washington (LAT) 99
Romney Reworks ‘8 Percent’ Speech (POLITCO) ................... 100
Mitt Romney Embraces Retail Politics As Town Hall Debate
Approaches (HUFFPOST) ............................................... 101
How It Costs Taxpayers $1.4 Billion A Year To Fund The White
House (CALLER) .............................................................. 101
Michelle Obama: 'I Rarely Step Foot In The West Wing'
(POLITCO)........................................................................ 102
In Congress, A Shrinking Pool Of Moderates (NYT)................. 103
New ‘Super PACs’ Alter Landscape For House Races (NYT) . 104
Bill Clinton To Hit Stump For House, Senate Democrats
(ROLLCALL) ..................................................................... 106
Bill Clinton Now Appearing ... Everywhere (POLITCO) ............ 106
Senate Hopefuls Allen, Kaine Debate In Richmond (VAPILOT)107
Virginia Senate Debate: George Allen, Tim Kaine Face Off In
Richmond (WP) ................................................................ 108
Allen, Kaine Take Off Gloves In Va. Senate Debate (WT) ....... 109
Allen Struggles On Abortion Questions (POLITCO) ................. 110
Allen, Kaine Attack In Debate; Charges Begin At Outset
(RICHTD) .......................................................................... 111
Allen, Kaine Clash In Second Senate Debate (WASHEX) ....... 112
Allen, Kaine Get Under Each Other's Skin (HILL)..................... 113
Kaine Won't Say If He'll Support Reid For Majority Leader
(WEEKSTAN) ................................................................... 114
Rehberg, Tester Exchange Barbs Over Health Care, Business,
Taxes (AP) ........................................................................ 114
Tester, Rehberg Trade Jabs In Debate At MSUB (BILLGAZ) .. 115
Tester, Rehberg Get Personal In Montana Debate For Senate
Seat (HILL)........................................................................ 117
Rehberg Has Big Fundraising Quarter (POLITCO) .................. 118
DSCC Targets Rehberg On Lawsuit, Heller On Women's Issues
With New Ads (HILL) ........................................................ 118
Richard Carmona’s Covert Campaign To Seize GOP Senate
Seat (POLITCO) ............................................................... 119
In Missouri, Clergy In The Fray Of Akin Race, Seeing It As Start
Of A ‘battle For The Soul’ Of GOP (WP).......................... 119
Home Prices Build To New Peaks In Dozens Of U.S. Markets
(USAT) .............................................................................. 121
California Gas Prices Should Fall Soon, Analysts Say (LAT) ... 122
U.S. Stocks Close Lower (WSJ) ................................................ 123
Sandra Fluke Isn’t Finished Testifying (WP) ............................. 123
Unions Make A Stand For Fixed Rights In Michigan (WT) ....... 125
Race And College Admissions, Facing A New Test By Justices
(NYT) ................................................................................ 126
Supreme Court Wades Once More Into Racial Preferences
(USAT) .............................................................................. 128
Will The GOP Again Compromise On Affirmative Action? (WP)131
High-profile Vote For Iowa Supreme Court (WP) ...................... 132
At Long Last, Dignity? (NYT) ..................................................... 133
Judges To Hear Appeal Of DeLay's Conviction (WSJ)............. 134
Protestants Lose Majority Status In U.S. (USAT) ..................... 134
Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie To Lead RGA (POLITCO) ........... 135
Desperately Seeking The Real Obama (WP) ........................... 135
Buying The Election? (NYT) ...................................................... 136
Romney Needs To Shake 'Rich Guy' Image (USAT) ............... 137
Jay Greene: The Imaginary Teacher Shortage (WSJ) ............. 138
How To Restore Confidence In The Financial Markets (WSJ) . 138
The Best And Worst Governors On Growth (WSJ) .................. 138
Consumer Protection Agency Proves Its Worth (USAT) .......... 138
CFPB Is Hurting Customers, Not Helping (USAT) .................... 139
Reform For Congo, Not Wall Street (WSJ) ............................... 139
Misleading Advice For Student Borrowers (NYT) ..................... 139
Our Endorsements In Northern Virginia’s Congressional Races
(WP) .................................................................................. 140
Romney Foreign-policy Speech Takes Tough Tone But
Proposes Few Changes (MCT)........................................ 141
'Hope Is Not A Strategy' In Middle East (USAT) ....................... 142
Romney Says White House Botched Response To Benghazi
Attack (NYT) ..................................................................... 143
Romney Criticizes Obama's Foreign Policy Approach (WSJ) .. 144
Romney Foreign Policy Speech Called Vague (POLITCO) ..... 144
Romney On Foreign Policy: ‘No Flexibility With Vladimir Putin’
(CALLER).......................................................................... 145
Mitt Romney On Obama Foreign Policy: Hope Is Not A Strategy
(ROLLCALL) ..................................................................... 146
Romney Foreign Policy: How Different From Obama's? (CSM)147
Romney Lays Out Vision For Mideast (WT) ............................. 148
A Scrubbing On Foreign Policy (WP) ........................................ 149
Romney Looks To Drive Home Argument That Obama Is Weak
(HILL) ................................................................................ 150
Romney Hits At Obama Policies On Middle East (FT) ............. 151
Talking Tough — Without Specifics — On The Middle East
(WP) .................................................................................. 151
In Search Of Answers From Mr. Romney (NYT) ...................... 152
Romney's World (WSJ) ............................................................. 153
Romney Channels Obama On Foreign Policy (WP)................. 153
Romney Relies On Narrow Distinction To Score Obama On
Trade Deal (BLOOM) ....................................................... 154
Embassy In Libya Sought, And Received, Extension Of Security
Team Beyond Scheduled Deployment (AP) .................... 155
Mitt Romney: Obama Has Made U.S. Less Safe (POLITCO) .. 156
Mitt Romney Foreign Policy Speech Seeks Momentum On New
Front (HUFFPOST) .......................................................... 157
Romney Says Obama's 'Passivity' Has Made Middle East Less
Secure (LAT) .................................................................... 158
Attack On US Mission In Libya Presents Legal, Policy Dilemma
For Obama Administration (WP) ...................................... 159
Libya's Bani Walid Is Shelled In Standoff Over Rebel's Death
(REU) ................................................................................ 160
Libya Militias Lay Siege To Pro-Gadhafi City In Another Sign Of
Chaos (MCT) .................................................................... 161
Syria Rebukes Turkey As Artillery Fight Continues (NYT) ....... 161
Syria Blasts Turkish 'Gaffe' On Assad-Shara Switch (AFP) ..... 163
Turkey Retaliates For 6th Day Of Syrian Shelling (AP) ............ 163
Syrian Cross-border Salvos Send Message To Turkey (AP) ... 164
Syria Opposition May Accept Role For Assad's Party (AP)...... 166
Westerners With Roots In Syria Trickle In To Help Rebels (NYT)
.......................................................................................... 167
Think Tank: Path To Iran Nuke Warhead 2-4 Months (AP) ...... 168
Iran Raises Rhetoric Against Israel (WSJ) ................................ 169
Iran Says It Blocks Cyberattack On Oil Platforms (AP) ............ 169
Strict New Procedures For Iran Currency Trading After Protest
(NYT) ................................................................................ 170
Israel Launches Airstrikes After Attacks From Gaza (NYT)...... 171
Israeli Forces And Gaza Militants Exchange Fire (AP)............. 171
Egypt President Decrees Pardon For Protesters (AP).............. 172
NKorea Says SKorea US Are Within Its Missile Range (AP) ... 173
N.Korea Says Missiles Can Strike US Mainland (AFP) ............ 173
Europe Tells Greece To Speed Up Economic Reform (NYT) .. 174
Eurogroup Chief: Lenders, Greece Should Agree Soon (AP) .. 175
Merkel Bears No Gifts On Greek Visit (FT) ............................... 176
I.M.F. Lowers Its Forecast For Global Growth (NYT) ............... 176
Global Recession Risk Grows (WSJ)........................................ 177
IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecasts (FT) ................................... 177
Global Engines Of Growth Slow As China, India And Other
Emerging Economies Cool (WP) ..................................... 177
U.S. Panel Cites Risks In Chinese Equipment (NYT) ............... 179
US Panel: China Tech Giants Pose Security Threat (AP) ........ 180
Report Threatens Huawei's Growth Plans (WSJ) ..................... 182
Victory Tightens Chavez Grip On Power (WSJ) ....................... 182
U.S. 'Congratulates' Venezuela On Election (WEEKSTAN) ..... 182
The Misery Of Venezuela (WSJ) ............................................... 182
Panetta To Latin American Nations: Use Police, Not Military,
For Enforcement (AP)....................................................... 182
Online Version
Visit for searchable archive,
interactive story index, and links to complete stories where
Homeless Veterans: Whose Responsibility? (NYT)
New York Times, October 9, 2012
Veterans and their advocates in southern California, the epicenter of veterans’ homelessness, are angry that President
Obama and the Veterans Affairs Department have not built a single bed for homeless disabled veterans on the 400 acres the
government owns in West Los Angeles, property that was deeded to the federal government for that very purpose in 1888.
They are right that Mr. Obama and the Veterans Affairs secretary, Eric Shinseki, have nothing to show for their promises to
tackle the problem. But then neither did presidents named Reagan, Bush and Clinton, nor the long string of Veterans Affairs
secretaries who served under them.
The campus has a hospital and outpatient services, but no long-term supportive housing for the desperately ill men and
women who live and die on the streets, abandoned by the government they served. The circle of blame is wider than the
executive branch.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the veterans department of
dereliction of duty. Some of the department’s defenders, however, see things differently. Jim Nicholson, the department’s
secretary under George W. Bush, is pointing a finger at Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat of California, in whose
district the campus lies. Mr. Nicholson said last week, “Waxman’s been a congressman there for nearly 40 years” but has done
nothing about the problem.
Mr. Waxman says he helped win $20 million to renovate a building on the site as homeless housing. He says he pushed to
improve health services there and fought to prevent parts of it from being sold to private developers. Commercial interests still
use it anyway, through lease deals for uses like rental-car lots and hotel laundries.
Unlike Mr. Nicholson, Mr. Waxman is in a position in Washington to prod the Veterans Affairs Department to swifter action.
While there are plans for a renovated building, no construction contract has been awarded yet. Some advocates, citing the
desperate need, want the department to open a tent city there; it’s not an ideal solution but a quick one, and better than tents
under a highway overpass. The latest government estimate says the building will be dedicated in August 2014. At this rate, the
country will be well on its way out of Afghanistan before it will have built a single housing unit for homeless veterans in Los
Angeles. The building, by the way, will have 65 beds. Tonight, an estimated 8,000 veterans will be sleeping on the streets of the
Congressman Spencer Bachus Calls On VA Secretary Eric Shinseki To Speed Up Veterans
Claims Processing (BIRMING)
By Jeremy Gray
Birmingham (AL) News, October 9, 2012
Veterans in Alabama sometimes have to wait more than two years to have benefit appeals resolved by the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Bachus wrote that the benefit claims backlog facing veterans nationwide is causing veterans to face growing debt or
postpone plans to pursue college education.
Click here to read the letter.
In that letter, Bachus wrote that his office had been contacted by a veteran awaiting review of an appeal certified Aug. 16.
2010 and that the appeals backlog in Alabama can last as long as 893 days. Bachus asked that the department outline what
steps are being taken to reduce that backlog.
"Our veterans made a commitment to us, and we must keep our commitment to them," Bachus wrote.
"In my district and across the country, these delays are forcing veterans into credit card debt, student loans at higher
interest rates, and even choosing between going to school or meeting their daily living expenses. The uncertainty of this situation
has also affected colleges and universities, many of whom have tried to accommodate veterans by accepting them for classes
without the customary advance payment," the letter continued.
Shinseki has said the department is committed to ending that backlog by 2015.
"Let it grow. We'll work on it, we'll get it down. But let's keep our priorities straight here - it is about taking care of veterans,"
Shinseki said in a speech before the American Legion's annual convention in August.
In that speech, Shinseki said the backlog growth was predictable, noting that 12 conditions for disability benefits had been
added to VA's benefit list since 2009 and post-traumatic stress disorder has been made verifiable for all combat veterans, not
only those who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"We will have processed nearly 4 million claims (since 2009) by the end of this year," Shinseki added. "So when people talk
about the 580,000 compensation claims which are backlogged today, they're not talking about claims that were here three and a
half years ago .... The backlog is real, but no one is standing at parade rest."
Testifying before a joint session of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs last week, American Legion
National Commander James E. Koutz said the only way to reduce that backlog is for the VA to hire more people and handle
claims more accurately.
"The only way you're going to get that backlog taken care of is to hire more people," Koutz said. "And they've got to do the
claims more accurately. When they come back (from VA), the first thing we see is mistakes, and then that claim goes back to the
regional office, and we're starting all over again from Step 1. Eric Shinseki said he'd like to see a 98-percent accuracy. If we get
to that number, I think you'll see the backlog of claims reduced."
News Briefs: Oct. 8, 2012 (FEDTIMES)
Federal Times, October 8, 2012
Retirements spike in September
Federal retirements spiked in September to nearly 12,000 — the highest number since January.
The 11,952 retirement claims received by the Office of Personnel Management represent a 33 percent increase over
The steadily increasing numbers of retirement claims suggests the long-predicted retirement wave arrived in 2011 and is
In the first nine months of 2012, 86,676 federal employees have applied for retirement — a nearly 8 percent increase over
the same time last year.
Retirements have been driven up in recent years by repeated rounds of buyouts and early retirements. But despite the
spike in retirements in September, OPM was able to whittle its backlog of unprocessed retirement claims down 1 percent to
41,176 in September. OPM processed 12,563 claims last month, the most so far this year.
Report: $1.4B DHS fusion centers ‘useless’
Federally funded centers created to improve terrorism-related information-sharing with state and local governments often
produce “irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting,” congressional investigators concluded in a review released
last week.
Most fusion center reporting didn’t involve terrorists or potential plots, but instead focused on arrest information related to
drug, cash or human smuggling, according to the review by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
investigations subcommittee. Some reports drew on news releases or media accounts; others appeared to duplicate information
provided by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the subcommittee found. Of 610 reports reviewed by the panel for a 13-month
period in 2009-10, none uncovered a terrorist threat or aided in disrupting an active plot, the review said.
Staff for the subcommittee’s top Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, carried out the investigation, but the findings
were endorsed by the panel’s chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.
DHS officials said federal spending on fusion centers could be as much as $1.4 billion between 2003 and 2011, the
subcommittee said. DHS spokesman Matt Chandler did not respond to a Federal Times query seeking the 2012 budget for the
The review’s key finding was disavowed by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn, the chairman of the full committee. The record
shows that fusion centers “have played a significant role in many recent terrorism cases and have helped generate hundreds of
tips and leads that have led to current FBI investigations,” Lieberman said in a statement.
DHS urged to hire more cybersecurity experts The Department of Homeland Security needs to hire about 600
cybersecurity experts and ensure current and future employees have the skills needed to defend against sophisticated attacks,
according to new recommendations.
In June, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano directed a newly formed CyberSkills task force to develop recommendations for
growing DHS’s cyber workforce and expanding the pipeline of cyber talent nationwide.
DHS has not properly identified the skills needed to defend against threats, making it difficult to hire people with those skills,
the report said. To keep pace with the growing threat, DHS has relied heavily on contractors, “leaving fewer of these sought-after
positions open to federal employees.”
FLRA: Whistle-blowers improperly fired
The Federal Labor Relations Authority last month upheld a ruling that found the Broadcasting Board of Governors
improperly fired 16 employees who criticized the agency to investigators.
Arbitrator Suzanne Butler ruled last November that the Office of Cuba Broadcasting employees — who had spoken to the
Government Accountability Office about alleged fraud and abuse at the agency — were illegally targeted for layoffs because they
blew the whistle.
BBG said the reductions in force were necessary because of budget shortfalls and a lack of work, but Butler concluded that
BBG did not prove the layoffs were for legitimate reasons and that BBG laid off the employees because they spoke critically
about the agency.
FLRA upheld Butler’s ruling Sept. 25.
The American Federation of Government Employees said in an Oct. 3 release that unless BBG files an appeal, FLRA’s
decision clears the way for the 16 employees to be rehired without loss of seniority or benefits.
Whistle-blower bill on Senate agenda The Senate could give final approval next month to a bill strengthening safeguards
for federal workers who report waste, fraud and abuse.
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which won unanimous House approval last month, would extend whistleblower protections to Transportation Security Administration employees and expand the authority of the Office of Special
Counsel, which investigates complaints of retaliation against employees who report wrongdoing.
GAO denies protest of $4.6 billion DISA contract
The Government Accountability Office last week denied a protest against Lockheed Martin’s $4.6 billion contract to support
the Pentagon’s global data network.
Incumbent contractor Science Applications International Corp. in its June protest faulted the Defense Information Systems
Agency’s evaluation of Lockheed’s technical risks and costs, according to GAO. SAIC also said that DISA failed to meaningfully
investigate whether Lockheed had unequal access to information pertaining to the contract, which would have been an
organizational conflict of interest (OCI).
DISA’s evaluation of Lockheed’s proposal was “reasonable and consistent with [the] solicitation’s evaluation criteria,” Ralph
White, GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law, said in a statement. “GAO also concluded that the
agency reasonably investigated Lockheed’s alleged OCI.”
White House is victim of cyber attack The White House confirmed an attempted cyber attack on its computer system but
said it thwarted the effort.
The Obama administration is not identifying the source of the attack, but a Washington Free Beacon report accuses China.
“This was a spear phishing attack against an unclassified network,” a White House official said via email. “The attack was
identified, the system was isolated, and there is no indication whatsoever that any exfiltration of data took place.”
Index: Foreign aid agencies lack transparency
Six federal agencies that provide foreign aid have improved how they report their spending but lag behind other
organizations, a report shows.
Efforts to coordinate foreign aid and ensure that assistance is effective cannot be achieved without greater transparency,
Publish What You Fund, a group that monitors the transparency of aid organizations, said in its 2012 Aid Transparency Index.
The index, released Oct. 1, scored transparency based on information that 72 organizations worldwide publish about their
foreign aid recipients and budgets.
Of the six U.S. agencies, the Millennium Challenge Corp. was ranked highest, at No. 9; and the Defense Department
lowest, at No. 56. Other rankings:
• U.S. Agency for International Development, No. 27.
• President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, No. 29.
• Treasury Department, No. 34.
• State Department, No. 46.
VA goal: 4.7M claims in 3 years
For the Veterans Affairs Department to meet its goal of eliminating its benefits claims backlog by 2015, it will have to
process 4.7 million claims in the next three years.
That’s a significant hurdle, considering VA has been processing about 1 million claims a year and is receiving new claims
faster than it can complete those already in the pile.
Deputy VA Secretary Scott Gould, testifying last month before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, stuck with the stated
2015 goal for eliminating the backlog, which VA defines as claims that have been pending longer than 125 days.
Gould described himself as “daunted but confident” that a combination of better people, technology and processes will not
only achieve the goal, but do it with 98 percent accuracy.
Key lawmakers are skeptical. “Many of us, myself included, are worried as to whether this goal remains realistic,” said Rep.
Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the committee chairman.
GSA plans Southwest D.C. redevelopment
The General Services Administration plans to redevelop 22 acres of federal office space in Southwest Washington.
The agency published a “notice of intent” Sept. 28, asking industry to generate ideas on how to refresh Washington’s
Federal Center section, which includes buildings constructed from the 1940s to 1960s, such as the Energy Department
headquarters, the empty Cotton Annex, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Homeland Security and GSA. Many of
the buildings have high operating costs and a backlog of maintenance and repair projects.
The agency said it plans to release a request for information by Dec. 27.
Agencies launch public FOIA website
Several agencies have partnered to launch an online system for streamlining Freedom of Information Act requests.
The website, Foiaonline., allows the public to submit FOIA requests, file appeals and search requests from
others, the National Archives and Records Administration announced last week.
Letters To The Editor - 10/8/2012 (SCRANTO)
Scranton (PA) Times Tribune, October 8, 2012
Refocus at VA
Editor: Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki should order a stand-down for all employees of the Wilkes-Barre VA
Medical Center to remind them that the VA exists for veterans and not for the employees. Persistent recitation of the mantra
"patient-centric" will not change their behavior.
The Times-Tribune's accounts of the lawsuit Sgt. Stanley Laskowski filed against the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center and
the letter to the editor by Eugene W. Long (Oct. 3) clearly demonstrate the need.
At the day-long stand-down veterans should be granted the opportunity to testify about the indifferent and often callous
treatment they receive.
Sgt. Laskowski had the guts to stand up to the VA bureaucracy and according to Mr. Long's letter he was blamed for what
happened to him by a team of VA lawyers at the trial. What message does that send to the rest of us veterans, especially the
ones who are now old and forgotten?
Compassionate cut
Editor: David B. Taylor (Your Opinion, Sept. 30) is absolutely wrong to blame the unions by saying they are forcing the city
into bankruptcy and asking why they battled with the city for 10 years.
In fact, the unions were willing to negotiate for 10 years. It was Mayor Chris Doherty who wouldn't negotiate. It was the
mayor who lost arbitration after arbitration leading to a landmark Supreme Court decision awarding $30 million to the unions.
To prove the unions' love for the city, they negotiated with the city to cut the award in half to $15 million, saving the
taxpayers a lot of money. They didn't have to do that.
Disturbing pattern
Editor: The road to perdition is paved with good intentions. This can be an apt description of the recent history of the
American government.
The government got involved in the health care business (Medicare) and the cost of health care soared to the present
The government got involved in the student loan business and the cost of higher education ballooned.
The government got involved in the home mortgage industry and the housing business collapsed.
The government declared war on poverty more than four decades ago and now 47 percent of Americans can be
considered poor and many are being supported by government entitlement programs.
Our government now owes more than $16 trillion. Since 2009, the deficit has been over a trillion dollars every year. And the
unemployment rate has just dipped below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years despite hundreds of billions of dollars
injected into the economy.
We desperately need to look to sound economic principles that encourage business and real economic growth to turn this
country around.
We desperately need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that envy of the rich adds to the progress of this country.
We desperately need to recognize that the strength of this country depends on the strength of the citizenry and more than
ever remind ourselves that we should ask not what the country can do for us but ask what we can do for our country.
We desperately need to bring the economy back to a healthy state because a strong economy benefits all, especially 47
Job-killing strategy
Editor: Paul Ryan has been traveling around the country on his campaign trail complaining about the high unemployment.
What he does not say is that since the employment low point America has had private-sector growth of almost 5 million
jobs. It's the government sector which has lost almost 600,000 jobs. State and local governments have been forced to lay off
firemen, police officers, school teachers and others because of low tax revenues due to the financial crisis.
In 2011 these layoffs prompted President Obama to propose the American Jobs Act, which combined tax cuts and
spending increases to aid state and local governments so they could hire more workers. Independent analysis estimated the jobs
act would add over 1 million jobs by 2012.
Republicans, including Paul Ryan, blocked the bill in Congress. And now these same Republicans complain because
unemployment is too high. These people wanted President Obama to fail from day one and they have done everything to make
the economy look bad and then complain because it's bad. They have no shame.
Gone with jobs
Editor: Harry (Skip) Hillier of Honesdale wrote in his Sept. 21 letter that the American public has become more dependent
on the government to provide them with aid for basic living. He categorized it as evolving from assistance to entitlement.
His last paragraph states "what has happened to American pride, ambition and our sense of self-determination and
It was included with every job that was shipped to China and Mexico.
Path of doom
Editor: If we continue, as a nation, to confront our creator with our own ideas on who should live and who should die, then
we stand in grave danger of being deprived of the great gift of life ourselves.
We are on a path of self-destruction. How long do we believe that our present practice of limiting God's generous and lavish
gifts of tiny human beings will somehow result in God blessing America?
We may disagree with political views on the economy or on foreign policy. However, we must agree with and support
policies that promise to protect all human life from "conception to natural death." To do otherwise is to place our country in peril of
being alienated from God.
We may not judge anyone ourselves but we may and should judge actions and policies that are anti-life.
Look closely at a newborn baby. What a glorious witness that God is love. Please vote for life in November.
Delegation Requests Hot Springs Meeting With VA Secretary (HOTSPR)
By Curt Nettinga
Hot Springs (SD) Star, October 9, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. – South Dakota’s Congressional delegation - Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune, with
Representative Kristi Noem - fired a strongly worded letter off to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, last Tuesday,
expressing disappointment at the recent break down in discussions between the Save the VA Committee and officials from the
Black Hills Health Care System and requesting a face-to-face meeting with Shinseki.
And the letter requests that the meeting take place in Hot Springs.
The delegation was joined by Senators Mike Enzi, Representative Cynthia Lummis and Senator John Barrasso of
Wyoming as well as Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns and Representative Adrian Smith.
The Senators and Representatives expressed “frustration and disappointment” in how proposed changes to the BHHCS
have progressed. The BHHCS gave its word that the process would be open, transparent, and inclusive. However, a Sept. 10
meeting between BHHCS officials and the Save the VA Committee broke down when the BHHCS said it was not in a position to
negotiate on its proposal.
The letter continues that since that time, many stakeholders have lost trust in the process and fear that the actions of the
BHHCS over the past ten months were all for show.
The Senators and Representatives wrote: “We remain committed to ensuring that our veterans receive the highest quality
of care and believe that their voices and concerns need to be a part of any proposed changes. … Given the recent developments
as to how this process is moving forward, we are requesting a meeting with you, the tri-state congressional delegation and
members of the Save the VA Committee in Hot Springs, SD. We believe that it is important you hear directly from the members
of the community, our veterans, and other stakeholders directly affected.”
The full text of the letter can be found at
The next day Pat Russell, member of the Executive Committe of the Save the Va Campaign, issued a press release on
behalf of the group, thanking the Representatives and Senators for their action.
“On behalf of the Committee, I would like to thank the Congressional delegations....for submitting the letter to Secretary
Shinseki asking for a meeting in Hot Springs,” Russell states in the press release.
“The Save the VA Committee has worked with the veterans from these states to craft solutions which incorporate access to
care, quality of care and cost of care to meet the needs of our nation’s heroes; past, present and future. We look forward to
having an open and honest discussion with the Congressional delegations and Secretary Shinseki to arrive at decisions that are
in the best interests of all of our veterans; urban and rural.”
BHHCS Director Stephen DiStasio stated via e-mail that “It’s good to see the delegation requesting a meeting with
Secretary Shinseki; it’s an expected request and in concert with the community’s desire.”
Hot Springs veteran Don Ackerman, who has been one of the leaders of the Save the VA Committee noted, “We have ,
from the start last September, operated openly and honestly to show and express our concerns with the BHHCS proposal to
close Hot Springs.
“Stephen DiStasio has pushed a plan that does nothing to improve or enhance the health care of veterans in the Southern
Black Hills. When we disproved every public statement he made, he finally just walked away (from the negotiations).”
No response had been issed by Shinseki’s office and no meeting in Hot Springs had been scheduled as the Hot Springs
Star went to press on Monday morning.
In anticipation of a visit by the delegation and Sec. Shinsecki, a poster-making event is set for Oct. 13 at the American
Legion, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"Save The VA" Committee Vows To Continue Its Fight (KOTA)
By Kristen Tripodi
KOTA-TV Rapid City (SD), October 9, 2012
Back in December The VA proposed closing the Hot Springs clinic to downsize the hospital; a move they say is in the best
interest of patient quality and safety.
In response the ‘Save the VA Committee' was quickly formed and began to fight the closure.
After a set back at a September meeting, ‘Save the VA' members lost trust in the process, but they continue to fight.
"We're not going to roll over, we're not going to go away," said Patrick Russell, with ‘Save the VA' Committee.
For Russell, a veteran himself, the fight to save the Hot Springs VA is far from over.
"We all want to do what's best for the veterans," said Russell.
Russell says the meeting in September between Black Hills Health Care officials and the ‘Save the VA Committee broke
down when the BHHCS said it was not in a position to negotiate.
"We felt like we were betrayed and what I would term as surface bargaining or bargaining in bad faith. they led us on to
think that we were making progress, and they pulled the rug out from under us and said our proposals would not be given due
consideration," said Russell.
The proposals the committee believes will not only save tax payers money, but create better care for veterans.
"We believe we have outlined a plan that's not only good for the community for veterans here, but we believe it's a model
for veterans and rural communities nationwide," said Rich Gross, with the ‘Save the VA' committee.
In response to the meeting, state leaders from South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of
Veterans affairs Eric Shinseki, to request a meeting in Hot Springs.
A meeting 'Save the VA' members hope will open the lines of communication they say they were denied.
"We want to start that dialogue and we want it to start with Secretary Shinseki when he's here," said Gross.
"We hope Secretary Shinseki will get here, see what's going on and see the passion that we have and really analyze what
we think we have here as a model project, to make it better for veterans in the whole nation," said Don DeVries, Mayor of Hot
Regardless of if or when that meeting happens, the ‘Save the VA' committee will be ready.
"The ball is in the VA's court. But we're not waiting, we're moving forward, we're going to be getting people organized and
the day that Secretary Shinseki shows up he's going to see more than 1,000 people lining up to show their support for our VA,"
said Russell.
A call to Secretary Shinseki's office on Monday was not returned by news time.
'Save the VA' committee members are not sure when they'll receive a response and a possible meeting date with the
Shinseki Honored During Patriot Award Dinner. KGMB-TV Honolulu (10/8, 7:55 a.m. HT) broadcast that
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki was given an award on Saturday, during a ceremony held aboard the USS Missouri.
Shinseki was honored during the Patriot Award Dinner.
Powered Up: Bionic Foot "Natural" For Iraq Amputee (MEMCA)
By Kristina Goetz
Memphis (TN) Commercial Appeal, October 7, 2012
Sometimes Greg Mirdo tells people he's one-quarter Terminator. Probably because of the little green light and battery pack
attached to his bionic foot.
For five years, the Collierville native who lives in Hot Springs, Ark. has tested several new technologies in prosthetics and is
the second amputee in Tennessee — and among only 300 worldwide — to be fitted with the first fully microprocessor-controlled
or "bionic" foot.
It's called the BIOM. And it uses robotics to replicate the lost function of calf muscles and the Achilles tendon. It's the only
prosthesis in the world that doesn't require the amputee's energy. Instead, it propels the person forward.
"They powered it on, and it felt like my foot was back," said Mirdo, 41, who lost his left leg below the knee to a roadside
bomb in Iraq.
"It almost felt natural. It was the most natural I'd felt since I got injured."
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to a greater population of young amputees who were otherwise healthy and
active at a time when research in robotics, biomechanics and other computer technologies were rapidly advancing. The federal
government spent millions of dollars on new developments in these areas to help spur the creation of better prostheses for
veterans. There have been advances in prosthetic knees, arms and hands as well as feet.
On Jan. 10, 2007, the same day former President George W. Bush announced he was sending 21,500 additional U.S.
troops to Iraq, Mirdo was working as a convoy commander with private defense contractor KBR. He'd been there roughly two
years delivering everything from fuel to ammunition to troops.
A mile before he got to what was one of the most dangerous roads in Iraq, an alternate supply route called Sword,
superheated copper from a roadside bomb blew a hole the size of a soda can in the passenger side door of his armored vehicle.
He never heard the bomb but felt his legs lift in the air. He reached down and felt his right leg. It was sticky. When he tried
to move his left, the sensation was like bone scraping the bottom of the cab. He used the mic cord of his radio to tie his own
tourniquet but didn't look at the wound.
An ambulance took him to a military hospital where doctors stabilized him before he was flown to the Green Zone. A
surgeon there suggested amputation.
"My grandfather was an iron worker during the depression, and he shattered his shin bone," Mirdo said. "They put a rod in
his leg, and he was miserable his whole life. That kind of gauged my thinking in the one or two minutes I had to decide yes or no.
So I told them to go ahead and take it, and I don't regret it."
That decision — and plenty of physical therapy — led Mirdo to half a dozen different types of prostheses. He started with
the most basic, a pipe with a rigid foot that's akin to walking on a board with a little bow in it. Then came one with a spring in the
foot and then others with simple pivots at the ankle and finally more complicated ones. Each was more sophisticated than they
last, but Mirdo still had to lift the dead weight, which drained his energy.
Then he tried on a BIOM, a $55,000 to $60,000 prosthetic foot that's the most sophisticated ever made. The difference was
so pronounced he was willing to lose 30 pounds to meet the weight requirement to qualify for it. It looks like something out of a
sci-fi movie.
Mirdo's residual limb fits inside a sophisticated socket made of plastic and carbon fiber material, which attaches to his body
through suction. Aluminum and titanium connectors join the upper part of the prosthesis to the BIOM ankle/foot system, which is
a combination of steel magnesium and other alloys.
Inside the small, four-and-a-half pound BIOM are four microprocessors and an inertia measurement system that knows its
position in space. As Mirdo walks, it senses his movement — backward, forwards, up, down — how much pressure he puts on
the device and how quickly he's moving.
To start, it's programmed with basic thresholds that mimic the movement of a normal human leg. Mirdo's prosthetic heel
hits the hardwood floor and starts to roll forward. As it gets closer to the toe, a motor that can spin at up to 6,000 RPM. kicks in
and propels him forward. When he lifts the prosthesis, the motor powers down, and the process begins again.
The key is to find the sweet spot, which takes some fine tuning. If it's too slow, Mirdo can feel the weight of the prosthesis.
"If it's too fast it feels like it wants to take off and leave me," Mirdo said. "But when it's right, what happens is you forget it's
there. The only time I notice that power is when the battery dies and I don't have it."
Dr. Hugh Herr, director and principal investigator of the biomechatronics group of MIT's Media Laboratory, invented the
BIOM. He is also founder and chief technology officer of the company called iWalk, which manufactures the prosthesis.
Unlike other bionic technology, which is sales driven, iWalk has limited the number of clinics that are certified to offer the
BIOM because the company wants to have control over clinical outcomes. The prosthesis isn't for everyone.
CFI Prosthetics and Orthotics is the only company in Memphis to offer the BIOM. Ted Snell, a certified prosthetist and
owner of CFI, has been working with Mirdo to fit the prosthesis since late August.
Snell's family has been manufacturing prosthetics and orthotics in the area for more than 100 years. The technology has
come a long way since he started in the business more than three decades ago.
"When we used to adjust the alignment on a leg — I mean I started when they were wooden legs — it was a matter of
going to the band saw and cutting it in two, changing angles and gluing things back together," he said.
Now, Snell uses Allen wrenches to pivot the artificial joints but also connects the BIOM to a computer and interprets
streams of data that tell him how well it's working. Snell will meet with Mirdo several more times before it's just right.
For Mirdo, whose insurance covered the cost of the prosthesis, the technology has improved his life. His gait looks so
natural that if he's wearing long pants people don't know he lost his leg. He's faster, more mobile and doesn't limp, he said. His
back hurts less because he isn't overcompensating. And he doesn't get as tired. He has started hiking again.
"I've always been their guinea pig, hoping that anything they learn from this can help somebody else get this foot because
it's a great foot," he said.
"It's Terminator technology, I'm tellin' ya."
VA Medical Center Invites Female Veterans To Open House (MIDDANE)
Midland (MI) Daily News, October 9, 2012
The Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center will host an open house event for female veterans entitled “Sisters in Military
Service,” with presentations, information on VA care and benefits and a light luncheon.
The event is planned Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the medical center’s auditorium, located at 1500 Weiss St.,
Although the event is free for female veterans, pre-registration is requested by Oct. 15 by calling Women Veteran’s Health
Coordinator Marie Johansen at (989) 497-2500, ext. 11468.
The center’s goal is to reach female veterans who have not had an opportunity to visit the VA or learn about the care and
benefits they are eligible to receive.
The Aleda E. Lutz VAMC operates an 81-bed skilled nursing and rehabilitation community living center, with an additional
19-bed acute medicine wing. It provides care to more than 30,000 veterans in a 35 county geographic area, from Mid-Michigan to
the Mackinaw Bridge.
As Military Suicides Rise, Focus Is On Private Weapons (NYT)
By James Dao
New York Times, October 8, 2012
With nearly half of all suicides in the military having been committed with privately owned firearms, the Pentagon and
Congress are moving to establish policies intended to separate at-risk service members from their personal weapons.
The issue is a thorny one for the Pentagon, with gun-rights advocates and many service members fiercely opposing any
policies that could be construed as limiting the private ownership of firearms.
But with suicides continuing to rise this year, senior Defense Department officials are developing a suicide prevention
campaign that will encourage friends and families of potentially suicidal service members to safely store or voluntarily remove
personal firearms from their homes.
“This is not about authoritarian regulation,” Dr. Jonathan Woodson, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said
in an interview. “It is about the spouse understanding warning signs and, if there are firearms in the home, responsibly separating
the individual at risk from the firearm.”
Dr. Woodson, who declined to provide details, said the campaign would be introduced over the coming months. He said
that it would also include measures to encourage service members, their friends and relatives to remove possibly dangerous
prescription drugs from the home of potentially suicidal troops.
In another step considered significant by suicide-prevention advocates, Congress appears poised to enact legislation that
would allow military mental health counselors and commanders to talk to troops about their private firearms. The measure, which
is promoted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, would amend a law enacted in 2011 that prohibited the Defense
Department from collecting information from service members about lawfully owned firearms kept at home.
The 2011 measure, part of the Defense Authorization Act and passed at the urging of the National Rifle Association, was
viewed by many military officials as preventing commanders and counselors from discussing gun safety with potentially suicidal
troops. But the N.R.A. said that the provision was a response to efforts by Army commanders to maintain records of all the
firearms owned by their soldiers.
The new amendment, part of the defense authorization bill for 2013 that has passed in the House of Representatives but
not in the Senate, would allow mental health professionals and commanders to ask service members about their personal
firearms if they have “reasonable grounds” to believe the person is at “high risk” of committing suicide or harming others.
“We’re O.K. with the commanding officer being able to inquire,” said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the N.R.A.,
“but they can’t confiscate.”
Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma who sponsored the original 2011 restrictions, said he would support
the new amendment “if it clears up any confusion.”
“This is a national tragedy that Congress, all branches of D.O.D., and numerous outside organizations have been working
together to solve,” the senator said in a statement. The Senate is not expected to take the bill until after Election Day.
Suicides in the military rose sharply from 2005 to 2009, reaching 285 active duty service members and 24 reservists in
2009. As the services expanded suicide prevention programs, the numbers leveled off somewhat in 2010 and 2011.
But this year, the numbers are on track to outpace the 2009 figures, with about 270 active duty service members, half of
them from the Army, having killed themselves as of last month.
According to Defense Department statistics, more than 6 of 10 military suicides are by firearms, with nearly half involving
privately owned guns. In the civilian population, guns are also the most common method of suicide among young males, though
at a somewhat lower rate.
When active duty troops who live on bases or are deployed are identified as potentially suicidal, commanders typically take
away their military firearms. But commanders do not have that authority with private firearms kept off base. Instead, they would
often urge potentially suicidal troops to give their guns to friends or relatives, or have them stored on base.
Military health care professionals said that the 2011 law inhibited those kinds of conversations. “It ties the hand of clinicians
and the command,” said Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired brigadier general who recommends amending the 2011
Because suicide is often an impulsive act, separating high-risk people from their firearms is considered an effective first line
of defense against suicide, many researchers say. Some military mental health specialists say the government should do much
more than just amend the 2011 law.
For instance, Dr. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, a psychiatrist, retired colonel and former mental health adviser to the Army
surgeon general, said the Pentagon should aggressively promote gun safety as well as consider making it harder for at-risk
troops to buy ammunition and weapons at on-base gun stores.
“At our base stores, they are increasingly having very lovely gun shops where they sell all different types of ammunition and
weapons,” Dr. Ritchie said. “I am troubled that on the one hand we are saying we are doing all we can to decrease suicide and
on the other making it so easy for service members to buy weapons.”
Many military officials say the Pentagon is not prepared to go that far. But some suicide experts do see a greater
willingness on the part of senior Pentagon officials to discuss the links between firearms and suicide.
They note that several prominent retired officers, including Peter W. Chiarelli, a former Army vice chief of staff, have begun
speaking publicly about the issue. And they note that the military has begun taking small steps to encourage gun safety, including
giving away trigger locks at a recent Pentagon health fair.
“You’ve got to realize the cultural change when trigger locks are given out in the Pentagon,” said Bruce Shahbaz, an Army
suicide prevention expert. “That’s huge.”
In the Department of Veterans Affairs, mental health counselors and suicide hot line agents routinely encourage suicidal
veterans to store their guns or give them to relatives. But the issue remains difficult, with concerns that some veterans avoid
mental health care because they fear their firearms will be confiscated.
“It is sensitive,” said Jan Kemp, the department’s national suicide prevention coordinator. “We don’t in any way want to
imply that we would want to take people’s right to bear firearms away.”
Dr. Woodson, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said the Pentagon’s broader suicide prevention program
would include measures to discourage alcohol consumption by at-risk service members and remove potentially deadly
prescription drugs from their homes.
Though he declined to provide details, a recent Institute of Medicine report on substance abuse in the military suggested
several measures, including raising alcohol prices at base liquor stores and cracking down on underage drinking.
There is also discussion in Congress about enacting legislation that would authorize military medical centers to collect and
dispose of prescription drugs turned in by service members — a move the Drug Enforcement Administration has opposed.
Study Will Probe Vet Suicide Risk, Omega-3s (AP)
By Bruce Smith
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A $10 million study will investigate if a substance found in fish oil can reduce the risk of suicide
among military veterans, where the rate is higher than in the population as a whole.
The three-year study of omega-3 fatty acids was announced Monday by the Medical University of South Carolina, the
Veterans Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
In the controlled study being conducted for the Army, veterans already receiving mental health services will be given
smoothies high in omega-3s for a six-month period. Others will be given a placebo.
Omega-3s are the main fats in the brain and essential for neural function and normal brain development, said Bernadette
Marriott, a professor in the Institute of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina and the principal investigator in the
“Through other studies it’s been found that they can help improve depression significantly,” she said.
The Veterans Administration estimates that 20 percent of the suicides in the nation are committed by veterans and that the
rate among vets is almost twice as high as in the general population.
“One of the questions this study hopes to address is do we see a clinical effect that is strong enough that the military would
then consider providing supplements to all military personnel, not just those who are already experiencing depression?” she said.
“This study will inform whether or not that is something we should think about doing or studying,” agreed Ron Acierno, a coinvestigator at MUSC and the nearby Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center. He said the study will help
researchers decide if this is an avenue they should be investigating.
“If the intervention shows effects with people who are at risk, we then back it out a step and say here we have a minimal
side-effect, inexpensive intervention that helps people with risk factors. Does it work for everybody?”
Acierno noted that suicide rates among veterans are high both for those who have been deployed to war zones as well as
those who have not.
He said it’s not really clear why, although the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs devote a lot of resources to
help those who may have been scarred by combat. But there is also stress for those who don’t get into combat.
“The military as an occupation is not a low-stress job,” he said. “They interact with dangerous equipment and in dangerous
conditions under training conditions of extreme stress. If you combine that with the stresses of daily life it may exacerbate what
may have already been a depression or a suicidality.”
Study To Examine If Fatty Acids Lower Veterans' Suicide Risk (REU)
By Harriet McLeod
Reuters, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from Reuters currently cannot be included in this document. You may, however, click the link above to
access the story.
Military Suicides: Defense Officials Spending $10 Million To Learn If Fish Oil Can Help (NBCN)
By Bill Briggs
NBC News, October 9, 2012
The Department of Defense is hoping that two new weapons – big money and little oil – can curb the rising military suicide
A three-year, $10 million study, to be funded by the Department of Defense and conducted at the Medical University of
South Carolina, will test whether omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils can relieve the anxieties and quiet the suicidal thoughts
plaguing many combat veterans, one of the lead researchers said Monday.
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have long maintained that a diet heavy in omega-3 – common in salmon,
anchovies and other oily fish – can elevate happiness.
“The problem is coming to a head with the recognition that in the military, you’re more likely to die by suicide than by enemy
combatant – and that’s not acceptable,” said Dr. Ron Acierno, a co-investigator on the project and a professor in the department
of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C.
“Omega-3s are among the primary fatty acids in the brain. They cannot be synthesized by the body – which means they
have to be eaten (via food, drink or pill form). They’re responsible for neural generation and neural repair – for new neurons to be
made and for broken ones to be fixed,” added Acierno, who also serves as the director of the PTSD clinical team at the Ralph H.
Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston.
The participants are veterans or service members who have been referred to a VA mental health treatment program
because they are having suicidal thoughts. If the patients agree to join the study, they will be secretly placed in one of two
groups. One segment will drink juice-box-sized smoothies high in omega-3. The second will drink placebos.
“Anybody who is showing suicidal ideation is going to be referred for the standard mental health treatment at the VA here in
Charleston, which is a best practices site, so the standard treatment here is pretty good,” Acierno said. That means, he added,
that military folks in the placebo group will not receive inadequate care.
Watch the most-viewed videos on
For those former and current service members who receive the omega-3-laced smoothies, they’ll be asked to gulp one in
the morning and another at night. All of the study participants then will be tracked over time as researchers interview them and
measure, via a scoring system, their suicidal thoughts and intentions – whether they have formed a plan to take their own lives –
along with their anxiety levels and cognitive-processing abilities, Acierno said. Any actual attempts by the participants to harm
themselves will be immediately treated but that bahavior will become part of the study’s data.
In addition to medical literature accounts that show omega-3 can buoy mental health, the study team is “excited” about the
prospects of fish oil serving as something of a solution, Acierno said, because the product carries an “extremely low risk” for side
effects. It's also relatively cheap – costing between $12 and $35 retail.
At Target, for example, a bottle of Nature Made Ultra Omega-3 Fish Oil, priced at $11.89, holds 45 softgel pills each
containing 1,400 milligrams. Target also sells $44.99 boxes of Coromega orange-flavored squeeze packets that each contain
650 milligrams of omega-3, derived from pharmaceutical-grade fish oil.
“The potential good versus the potential extraordinarily low risk and low cost make this a type of intervention that can be – if
findings are warranted – rolled out extremely fast and on a large scale,” Acierno said.
Bonnie Carroll, a leading expert in military suicides and founder and president of the Tragedy Assistance Program for
Survivors (TAPS), said she has not read or heard about omega-3 as a possible medicinal tool in treating depression or posttraumatic stress.
"We are very open-minded on any techniques that might be useful," said Carroll, whose organization provides peer-based
emotional support for families affected by the death of a loved one serving in the U.S. military. She also was co-chair of the DOD
Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide in the Armed Forces.
Omega-3 has been on under the microscope for more than a year as experts have tried to dissect the high number of
military suicides. In August 2011, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry suggested that certain fish oil
components had potent psychiatric benefits and suggested that taking an omega-3 supplement might help service members.
That research, performed in part by the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, scanned through the medical records
of 800 U.S. service members who took their own lives between 2002 and 2008, comparing those against the health files of 800
active-duty personnel who had not attempted suicide. The scientists found that service members with higher blood amounts of
docosahexaenoic acid - an omega-3 fatty acid - were less likely to take their own lives.
Should veterans who have considered suicide begin swallowing omega-3 pills on their own now?
“Buying the omega-3s and taking them is not going to be a problem,” Acierno said. “However, if they do have these types of
thoughts or feelings, remember that even the people in this study – even those who are on the placebo – are getting mental
health care.
“So we never want to say this is a replacement for evidence-based mental health care," he added. “This is a supplement
and one that is easily added. It’s also important that you get the care you need.”
MUSC Researchers: Dietary Supplement Could Combat Military Suicide (WCIV)
WCIV-TV Charleston (SC), October 9, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina are testing whether a common
dietary supplement could be used to fight suicides among veterans.
Doctors said Monday that the supplement, omega-3, could reduce the risk of mental illness and suicide among veterans
who are determined to be at increased risk for suicidal behaviors.
To test that proposal, more than 300 veterans will be given smoothies daily that contain the supplement.
"This study represents a novel intervention that could reduce the risk for suicide," said Hugh Myrick, a co-principal
investigator working on the study. "If the results are positive, the impact on our veterans, our current military personnel and
society would be immeasurable."
The study is funded by the Military Operational Medicine Joint Program Committee, according to a news release from
MUSC and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Researchers from MUSC will work with other researchers to complete the
$10 million study over three years.
"Research conducted in our lab during the last 20 years points to a fundamental role for omega-3 fatty acids in protecting
against major depression, substance abuse and other problems," said Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse
and Alcoholism's Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics. "Here, we hope to be successful in understanding if
omega-3 may play a role in reducing risk of severe suicidal behaviors among U.S. military veterans."
Can Fish Oil Prevent Military Veteran Suicide? (KPBS)
By Beth Ford Roth
KPBS-TV San Diego, October 9, 2012
Soldiers who commit suicide are more likely to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their brains, according to a 2011
study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Now the Veterans Administration wants to know if increasing
omega-3 levels with fish oil in veterans could reduce their chances of committing suicide.
The VA is teaming up with the Medical University of South Carolina and the National Institutes of Health to conduct a $10
million study on the matter, according to the Associated Press.
Dr. Bernadette Marriott of the MUSC tells the A.P. that some studies have already shown raising omega-3 levels can
reduce symptoms of depression:
"One of the questions this study hopes to address is do we see a clinical effect that is strong enough that the military would
then consider providing supplements to all military personnel, not just those who are already experiencing depression?"
According to statistics provided by the VA, the suicide rate among veterans is twice as high as that of the general public.
Learn Signs Of Crisis, How To React (DANVILL)
Danville (IL) Commercial News, October 7, 2012
DANVILLE — All new employees at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System go through training to recognize the
signs of suicidal thoughts in veterans, and to learn how to respond.
Although many at-risk veterans may not show any signs of intent to harm themselves, there are behaviors that could
indicate a veteran needs support.
The following information is provided during new employee orientation at the local VA and its outpatient clinics.
Veteran-specific risks
--Frequent deployments
--Deployments to hostile environments
--Exposure to extreme stress
--Physical/sexual assault while in the service (not limited to women)
--Length of deployments
--Service-related injury
Acute warning signs
--Threatening to hurt or kill self
-- Depression and hopelessness
--Looking for ways to kill self
--Seeking access to pills, weapons or other means
--Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
Suicidal thinking
--Rage, anger, seeking revenge
--Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities
--Feeling trapped
--Increasing drug or alcohol abuse
--Withdrawing from friends, family and society
--Anxiety, agitation
--Dramatic changes in mood
--Feeling there is no reason for living, no sense of purpose in life
--Difficulty sleeping or sleeping all the time
--Giving away possessions
To learn about additional signs that someone may be at risk, go to
To help
Anyone coming into contact with a person who might be at risk should:
--Remain calm
--Listen more than you speak
--Do not argue or judge
--Use supportive and encouraging comments
--Notice hesitancy and body language
--Validate the person’s experience (acknowledge a person’s feelings)
--Recognize that the situation is serious
--Don’t pass judgment
--Reassure the person that you are there and willing to help.
--Reassure the person that treatment is available
Decreased risk
These protective factors may decrease risk:
--Family support and reason to live
--Spiritual support
--Mental health support
--Friendship support
--Social support/uses leisure time well
Other numbers
Besides the national crisis number, veterans and family members can find help at the Illiana System:
--General number, 554-3000
--Mental Health Intensive Case Management, 554-4153
--PTSD Clinic, 554-4257
--Substance Abuse Treatment Program, 554-4175
--Homeless Team, 554-5679
--OEF/OIF/OND Recovery Services, 554-4810.
Vets In Illinois Happy That Crisis Line Is Available To Them. Danville VA Reminding Vets About Crisis
Line. WICD-TV Champaign, IL (10/8, 5:01 p.m. CT) broadcast that the US VA is “encouraging those who served to take
advantage of their local resources. In Danville, the VA is actively reaching out and reminding veterans of the 24-hour crisis hotline.” WICD added, “Local vets say they’re happy to have this option.”
Veteran's Crisis Hotline (WICD)
WICD-TV Champaign (IL), October 9, 2012
The US Department of Veterans Affairs is encouraging those who served to take advantage of their local resources. In
Danville, the V.A. is actively reaching out reminding veterans of the 24-hour crisis hotline.
The veterans crisis hot line based in New York, started with 50 responders and now there are more than 100 on the team.
When a vet calls the national line the responder contacts local crisis workers. And if appropriate set up outpatient care at the VA.
Support Available For Vets In Crisis (DANVILL)
Danville (IL) Commercial News, October 7, 2012
DANVILLE — In the Department of Veterans Affairs, suicide is no longer a hush-hush subject.
A veteran who admits that he or she is having trouble coping — and maybe even thinking about ending his or her own life
— can find help, not judgment, at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System.
Its Suicide Prevention Office, which is just five years old, is dedicated to making sure an at-risk veteran gets the help he or
she needs, and then employees follow up as many times as necessary.
But it’s not just VA employees who are charged with this responsibility.
Families, friends and community members can make a difference in the life of a veteran (or any person, for that matter) —
simply by listening and being aware of the warning signs. Then, people can let veterans know there’s a free, confidential support
system available from the Veterans Crisis Line. The number is (800) 273-8255 (press 1).
Or younger veterans who prefer to chat online can go to www.Veterans, or text to 838255. The support is there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Veterans who are struggling to cope need to talk about what’s troubling them — not bury negative feelings deeper inside. If
you avoid talking about suicidal thoughts, the veteran may experience a greater sense of feeling alone, according to the VA.
Some say it’s a relief to talk openly about their feelings.
A suicidal person must be taken seriously and referred to a professional.
Let’s make sure veterans know that confidential support is only a call, click, or text away.
Winners Named In Blue Button Contests (MODHLT)
By Joseph Conn
Modern Healthcare, October 9, 2012
Two software developers from opposite ends of the country have been named winners of a pair of mobile healthcare
applications challenges to leverage the use of the federal government's investment in the Blue Button technology to popularize
the interoperability of patient medical records.
The winners were announced today at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Both software development challenges
evolved from ideas shared at a Patient Access Summit (PDF) hosted in June by the White House, the Office of the National
Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS and the Veterans Affairs Department., McLean, Va., a developer of a Web portal for care coordination used by clinicians and family members,
was named the $25,000 first-prize winner of the Patient Engagement Blue Button Challenge, a competition sponsored by The
Advisory Board Co. The company had already won $5,000 as a finalist in the contest.
“What we do, really, is we're focused on letting patients interact with the healthcare system to save them time and money,”
said Gail Embt, company CEO and founder. “The Blue Button is a wonderful capability because we think the patient needs to
know what information is out there about them and have the ability to control it.”
Humetrix, a San Diego-based developer of various mobile information applications, was the winner of the $45,000 first
prize for the competition sponsored by HHS called the Blue Button Mash Up i2 Challenge.
The Humetrix Blue Button application “provides an intuitive, patient-centered, secure two-way mobile 'consumer mediated
exchange' solution, where patients become the 'mobile connectors' to their Blue Button and other health records anytime and
anywhere. The app includes new features such as patient-optimized and physician-optimized displays and dashboards,
medication look-up and new export functions,” HHS said.
A Humetrix official was unavailable for comment at deadline.
Aneesh Chopra, former White House chief technology officer, now a senior adviser for technology strategy at the Advisory
Board, said Blue Button was evolving beyond its original capability when it was launched by the VA in fall 2010. Initially, Blue
Button was created as a way to afford patients machine- and human-readable copies of their medical records in the plain text
ASCII format.
Since then, the technology has been adopted by the Defense Department, Social Security Administration and private
health insurers Aetna and UnitedHealth Group. By the end of this year, 60 million Americans will be able to access and copy their
records via Blue Button technology, Chopra said.
As its users grow, the Blue Button concept will expand beyond its original ASCII format and come to mean multiple formats
and forms of record sharing in which the patient has control, with the potential for becoming the dominant method for health
information exchange, Chopra said. “It's not clear to me that the patient-mediated or consumer-mediated model might not be the
best model going forward,” he said.
Also at the Health 2.0 conference, HHS announced Pinaxis, a developer of several mobile healthcare applications, was the
$60,000 first-prize winner of the EHR Accessibility Module Challenge, which aimed to foster development of an application that
would make it easier for people with disabilities to access and interact with the health data stored in their EHRs.
Improved Routine Access To Health Data Ensures Disaster Preparedness (FGIT)
By Molly Bernhart Walker
FierceGovernmentIT, October 9, 2012
State health information exchanges can best prepare for emergencies by ensuring that health information is readily
accessible during routine care, concludes a report (.pdf) from the Southeast Regional HIT-HIE Collaboration published in July.
But the report finds day-to-day health information sharing is a challenge, as individual state's efforts and HIE implementation
timelines vary considerably.
The consortium behind the report--formed by the Health and Human Services Departments' office of the national
coordinator for health information technology in November 2010--was tasked with developing a strategic plan for sharing health
data among Southeast and Gulf States in the event of a natural disaster.
Some of the primary challenges to health information exchange during a disaster are not unique to emergency situations,
say report authors. For example, the report cites the inability to communicate, share and transmit health information; the
credentialing of healthcare providers; and the destruction of medical records as obstacles to cooperation across jurisdictions.
Health information sharing success in disaster response corresponds with sharing success during non-emergencies. The
Veterans Affairs Department fared exceptionally well during Hurricane Katrina because its use of the Veterans Health Information
Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA, ensured a mature health record system was already in place, say report authors.
Legal issues, some of which are unique to emergency situations, are one barrier to cooperation, finds the report.
Consortium states are considering concrete steps for avoiding the legal pitfalls of health information exchange, it adds.
They are considering how a state will identify and authenticate authorized users in disaster transmissions, crafting policies
that facilitate direct secure messaging and making changes to state HIE and participant agreements to address disaster
situations. Report authors also say states are addressing emergency "break the glass" scenarios in policies, and with HIE
vendors, considering disaster recovery plans and disaster contingency policies.
Beyond legal hurdles, report authors uncovered technical issues that challenge cross-state exchange. The report
recommends states use federal standards to ensure their HIE implementations are consistent and compatible for cross-state
deployments. States should take inventory of and enable access to health data sets, even from personal health records and
claims data where possible, say report authors.
The report says states should focus initially on five legal, technical and governance recommendations to improve
exchange. The report recommends states:
Understand the state disaster response policies and ensure they align with public health and medical services;
develop standard procedures for electronic health information sharing across state lines;
consider enacting a mutual aid memorandum of understanding to establish a waiver of liability for the release of records
when an emergency is declared and default state privacy and security laws to existing HIPAA rules in a disaster;
assess public and private health information sources to enhance electronic data; and
consider a phased approach to establishing interstate electronic health information-sharing capabilities.
"These recommendations offer a path forward for other states that wish to integrate disaster planning and health
information exchange efforts," wrote Lee Stevens, policy director of HHS's state health information exchange program, in a Sept.
24 blog post
Homeless Can Get Help At One-Stop "VA Stand Down" Wednesday (LCJ)
Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal, October 9, 2012
Louisville’s homeless population will have access to services, information and assistance in an, all-day one-stop
environment at the 2012 Project Homeless Connect/VA Stand Down Wednesday.
They will be able to get food, clothing, medical evaluations, help with employment, education and benefit services, and
many other forms of assistance..
The event will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Salvation Army (Old Male High School) campus at 911. S. Brook St. in
Louisville. TARC buses will provide access throughout the day from emergency shelters to the event site. The event is being
coordinated by the Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Louisville Metro Community Services and Revitalization, the
Coalition for the Homeless, the Salvation Army and other community partners.
The project has become an annual one-day community outreach project at which representatives from community service
organizations come together to address the needs of the homeless during a single visit. This event is made possible by
volunteers and resources, including funding, from the United States Veteran Association, Kentucky Department of Veterans
Affairs, Louisville Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Council.
The 2011 Homeless Census found that more than 8,100 individuals were homeless at some point in Louisville last year -either on the streets, in homeless shelters, or accessing services through Louisville’s homeless service providers. Many of them
were victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, veterans, or senior citizens.
Last year more than 530 persons were served at the 2011 Project Homeless Connect/VA Stand Down event.
Veterans Memorial Car Show Lures 7,000 To Loma Linda (SANSUN)
By Michel Nolan
San Bernardino (CA) Sun, October 8, 2012
LOMA LINDA - Veterans and cars were the stars Sunday at the 22nd annual Veterans Memorial Car Show at the Jerry L.
Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center.
Gleaming chrome and shiny paint jobs and a variety of vendors transformed the front of the VA hospital throughout the day.
The 2012 show attracted 1,188 pre-1980 vehicles and more than 7,000 spectators.
The event, which raises money to go directly to veterans and active military, has raised more than $1.5million over the
years, according to Maureen Schultz, a board member of Volunteers for the Veterans' Foundation.
"The foundation helps veterans take care of their needs - whatever they are," Schultz said. "Veterans can slip through the
Mario Montecino, a Vietnam Veteran from San Bernardino, left, talks with friend next to his 1953 Willy Jeep. (James
Al Aldaco agreed.
"Veterans don't get enough attention," said Aldaco, an Air Force veteran who served between 1962 and 1966.
The Grand Terrace resident, who had his shiny 1955 Chevy on display, said the Veterans' Car Show is the best car show
in the area because it's all centralized and easy to get to everything."
Earl Wolleson, a Navy veteran from Hesperia, had his black 1953 Kurtis Kraft, KK33, on display.
The showy, futuristic convertible evoked images of the Batmobile or James Bond's Aston Martin.
"It's a one-of-a-kind, with a wildfire body - it's pretty nasty," Wolleson said.
His wife, MaryAnn, said, "This is the first time we're had it where so many people can look at it and it seems to be attracting
a lot of attention."
Another of the unique cars was a 1967 Mustang in a camouflage wrap, owned by John Solis, who served in 1970 as a
helicopter gunner in the the central highlands of Vietnam.
"This is my first time at this show and I'm having a good time with my friends," Solis said.
Adolfo Bustamante of Colton, a Spec. 4 Army veteran who served from 1958 to 1961, says he comes to the car show
every year - just to be around his buddies.
Amid all the cars and festivities, a simple sign in the parking lot said, " All gave some; Some gave all." Reach Michel via
email, call her at 909-386-3859.
VA Clinic In Adirondacks Hires New Doctor (AP)
Associated Press, October 8, 2012
SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. (AP) - A Veterans Administration outpatient clinic in the Adirondacks is getting a new doctor after
going nearly a year without a full-time physician on staff.
The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reports ( ) that the VA has hired Dr. Thomas Socash to serve as the
primary care physician for the Saranac Lake clinic. He'll also see patients at the VA clinic in Westport, on Lake Champlain.
Socash has more than 20 years of private practice experience in the Old Forge area of the Adirondacks.
The hiring was announced last week in a letter sent to local veterans by administrators at the Stratton VA Medical Center in
Albany, which oversees the clinics in the region.
Information from: Adirondack Daily Enterprise,
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
VA Clinic Hires Doctor After A Year Without (ADIRON)
By Chris Knight
Adirondack (NY) Daily Enterprise, October 6, 2012
SARANAC LAKE - After nearly a year without a full-time physician on staff, the Veterans Administration outpatient health
clinic on Depot Street has a new doctor.
It's also expanded its hours.
The VA has hired Dr. Thomas Socash, who has more than 20 years of private practice experience in the Old Forge area, to
serve as the primary care physician for both the Westport and Saranac Lake clinics. Linda Weiss, director of the Stratton VA
Medical Center in Albany, which oversees the region's clinics, announced the news in a letter sent last week to local veterans.
Weiss also said the two clinics will now each be open five days a week, Monday through Friday. Previously, they had
operated on alternating split schedules, with one clinic open two days a week and the other open the remaining three days.
However, the expanded schedule doesn't mean each site will have its own doctor five days a week. Stratton VA
spokesman Peter Potter told the Enterprise Friday that the clinics' hours are being expanded through the enhanced use of
telemedicine programs that allow patients to consult with VA physicians and medical staff in Albany via secure video
"Whether it's a doctor here or a doctor there, it's open," Potter said. "It will be open hours five days a week, and based on
patient need, there will be regular scheduling of doctor's appointments, access to primary care and the use of telehealth."
Weiss praised the telemedicine technology but added, "It is important to note that telemedicine will not replace face-to-face
appointment accessibility. It only serves to enhance provider availability while utilizing staff in the most effective, efficient and
beneficial way possible."
The local clinics had been without a full-time doctor since late November 2011, when the physician hired by the VA, Dr.
David Cohn, left to take care of an ailing family member in Florida. In the months that followed, one of the nurses at the Saranac
Lake clinic retired while another resigned.
The lack of staffing sparked concern and frustration among some of the local veterans who fought for three years to get the
VA to locate a clinic here. There were rumors that the Depot Street clinic, which opened in August 2011, was going to close.
Potter said the clinics have been operating with staff from Albany and a locum tenens, or temporary doctor, while the
search for a full-time physician took place.
"We had a couple candidates we were looking at, and this one happens to be from the Old Forge area," he said. "He's got
roots in the area, is familiar with the North Country and is a fine person to fill the position. The process has been a little long for
contracting, but the benefit of that is you make sure you get the right person."
Potter said other vacancies at the clinics have also been filled. Each site will have a medical support assistant, a registered
nurse and two licensed practical nurses.
"Please join us in welcoming Dr. Socash to our staff as we look forward to continuing to serve your needs, and the needs of
veterans of the North Country through services provided five days a week and the use of telehealth," Weiss said in her letter.
Baptist-Memphis, VA Named Among Top-Performing Facilities (MEMBIZ)
By Cole Epley
Memphis (TN) Business Journal, October 9, 2012
Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis and the Memphis VA Medical Center have been designated among the safest and
highest-quality hospitals in the country, according to The Joint Commission’s “Improving America’s Hospitals: The Joint
Commission’s Annual Report on Quality and Safety 2012.”
Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City, located in the northwestern corner of the state, was also included in the list.
While it received commendation for its accountability measures for care of pneumonia for the second year in a row,
Baptist’s flagship hospital in East Memphis and the Memphis VA were each recognized for excellence in caring for heart attacks,
heart failure and pneumonia.
Mark Chassin, president of The Joint Commission, commended the efforts of the qualifiers, stating in a letter that “These
hospitals are leading the way in quality improvement ... (They) have achieved an exemplary level of performance.”
The Joint Commission, a nonprofit certification and accreditation organization, designates annually the top facilities in the
country based on 45 separate accountability measures. Each measure “represents an evidence-based practice, for example,
giving aspirin at arrival for heart-attack patients, giving antibiotics one hour before surgery and providing a home management
plan for children with asthma,” the report read.
The Joint Commission recognized 620 hospitals in its annual list. More than 3,300 eligible facilities submitted data for
consideration in the Top Performers survey.
Internist Dawn Wolfgram Joins Medical College Of Wisconsin Faculty, Clement J. Zablocki VA
Medical Center Staff (WAUWATO)
By Rachel Mosey
Wauwatosa (WI) Now, October 9, 2012
Dawn F. Wolfgram, M.D., has been appointed assistant professor of medicine (nephrology) at the Medical College of
Wisconsin. She sees patients at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.
Board-certified in internal medicine, Dr. Wolfgram’s clinical interests include geriatric nephrology, home dialysis, and
electrolyte disorders. Her previous research has included the effects of diuretics on kidney stone prevention and renal recovery in
cases of acute kidney injury. Currently she is focusing on outcomes in geriatric patients with end-stage renal disease and
expanding access to home dialysis for patients.
Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Wolfgram completed a fellowship in nephrology at University of Wisconsin Hospitals and
After earning her M.D. from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in 2007, Dr. Wolfgram
completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Mich. She earned her
Bachelor of Science degree in molecular and cellular biology and psychology from the University of Wisconsin in 2002.
$26.8M For VA Hospital Parking Lot (CARRIBBUS)
Carribbean Business, October 9, 2012
The US Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a $26.8 million contract to design and construct a parking garage at
the Veterans’ Hospital in San Juan, as well as a pedestrian bridge linking the new garage and the hospital.
The garage will have seven floors and contain about 1,500 parking spaces. Construction is expected to be completed
within a year and four months.
“In nearly every meeting I’ve held with Puerto Rico veterans, and during veterans’ forums that my office has organized, I
have heard about the lack of parking at the hospital,” Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi said.
The Veterans Hospital in San Juan is one of the most heavily-utilized hospitals in the VA system. Annually, the hospital has
over 10,000 inpatient admissions and about 500,000 outpatient visits.
The construction of this parking garage and pedestrian bridge is part of a nearly $300 million multi-phase renovation and
expansion of the VA Hospital, which began in 2009 and is slated to be completed around 2015.
The exact amount appropriated by the federal government to improve the VA Hospital in the last three fiscal years is $277
million — $42 million in fiscal 2010, $134.28 million in fiscal 2011, and $100.72 million in fiscal 2012.
“This was a team effort, and much credit is due to Gov. Luis Fortuño, who advocated for additional funding for our VA
Hospital when he was resident commissioner from 2005 to 2008. Likewise, I want to congratulate the veterans service
organizations on the Island, who placed unyielding pressure on the VA not to overlook Puerto Rico in its funding decisions,”
Pierluisi said.
Besides funding to improve the VA hospital, tens of millions of dollars have been appropriated to build and open new VA
outpatient clinics in Ceiba, Utuado, Comerío, and Vieques to serve veterans in these and neighboring municipalities.
In the coming years, a new $6.3 million, 86,000 square foot community-based outpatient clinic will be opened in Mayagüez,
a new $1.5 million rural clinic will be opened in Guanica, and a new $1.5 million rural clinic will be opened in Orocovis.
In addition, Pierluisi secured $130,000 to enable the State Veteran’s Home in Juana Díaz (La Casa del Veterano) to
purchase two handicapped-accessible vehicles to transport veterans to and from doctors’ appointments, family visits, and other
Moreover, Congress will also allocate nearly $200 million over 20 years — including over $15 million in fiscal 2013 — to
build and operate a 114,300 square foot Multi-Specialty Health Care Center (HCC) in Ponce. This HCC, the VA’s second-largest
category of facility behind a full hospital, will replace the existing outpatient clinic in 2016. The new HCC will be more than double
the size of the current facility, will provide state-of-the-art services that go well beyond those that are presently offered, and will
reduce the need for veterans in the southern and western part of the island to travel to the VA Hospital in San Juan for many
types of care.
Veterans Clinic In Roane County To Close (WATE)
By Mike Krafcik
WATE-TV Knoxville (TN), October 9, 2012
ROCKWOOD (WATE) - Veterans in Roane County received notices Monday that their local VA clinic will soon be closing.
The outpatient clinic serves hundreds of patients in Roane and surrounding counties. Now, those people will have to travel
much further for health care.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs told 6 News the contract of the company that provides services will
expire at the end of October.
Ray Collett, a U.S. Navy veteran and a former Rockwood City Council member, and around 800 other veterans that use
the clinic received a letter letting them know about the closure.
Collett has relied on the clinic for his prescriptions. He requires five shots of insulin each day for his diabetes.
"If your prescription is running out, they tell you to get in touch with your VA provider and have them renew the
prescription," said Collett. "If the clinic is closed, there's no way you can get in touch with them."
Christopher Alexander with the Department of Veterans Affairs said the current contractor, the Washington-Harris Group,
had challenges meeting and keeping staff at the clinic.
The clinic even temporarily closed in July because of staffing issues.
"We felt that in order to provide the high quality of care that our veterans need and deserve, we thought the best way to do
that is move forward with a new contract in the future," Alexander told 6 News.
State Sen. Ken Yager, a former Roane County executive, was a driving force to get the outpatient clinic into the county
back in 2010.
Yager said the Department of Veterans Affairs has been inadequate in overseeing the current contractor and believes it all
could have been avoided.
"To say I'm distressed is quite an understatement because I think it's so unnecessary that this has happened," said Sen.
In the meantime, department officials said they are doing whatever they can to ensure veterans receive the care they need.
Getting that care will be harder for many, considering the nearest veteran outpatients clinics are in Cookeville and Knoxville.
"This is just a lose-lose situation for the veterans in the area," said Sen. Yager.
The Department of Veterans Affairs hopes the clinic will reopen under a new contractor.
But it could still take another nine months to a year before the clinic would reopen.
State Rep. Julia Hurley said Monday she plans to meet with VA officials in Nashville next week to discuss possible options
for the clinic.
Veterans Group Campaigns For Regional VA Hospital (WYMT)
WYMT-TV Hazard (KY), October 9, 2012
PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Many veterans rely on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for medical
care, but officials with a local veterans group say service men and women in Eastern Kentucky have to travel too far to receive
that care.
They are circulating a petition to get the VA to open a hospital inside the fifth congressional district.
The petition is being pushed by a group called "Citizens for Veterans' Healthcare."
The group's chairwoman says they've received more than 53,000 signatures so far.
"The people we've talked to are very much in support of it. They realize the sacrifices our veterans have made, and the cost
it has come, and they certainly feel that they deserve a hospital close to home," said chairwoman Khrys Varney.
Group members say veterans have to travel to Huntington or Lexington to receive treatment at VA hospitals.
For some, they say, that's just too far away.
"You know when you have to drive three hours, an 85, 90 year old, it's just hard on you. It's hard on the body. It's hard on
me and I'm only 65," said Paul Edwards, Commander of V.F.W. Post 5839 in Prestonsburg.
Organization officials say more than 43,000 veterans live in the fifth congressional district.
They claim the vets are being under-served in the region.
"I realize that they can go to Huntington, they can go to Lexington, but the hardship on them to do that is so extraordinary
that, you know I've even heard stories of veterans not going for healthcare, it's so hard," said Varney.
Spokesmen for the group say several county and city officials have passed resolutions in support of a new VA hospital.
State lawmakers, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo, have also voiced their support, but ultimately, the decision rests
with the Veterans Health Administration.
Citizens for Veterans' Healthcare is still collecting signatures for its petition at
Beau Biden Says Father Studying Hard For Debate (MKEJRNL)
By Don Walker
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 9, 2012
Beau Biden, the oldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, said Monday that his father was studying hard and preparing for
Thursday's vice presidential debate with Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee.
Biden, who is Delaware's attorney general, said he was with his father over the weekend preparing for Thursday's debate.
The debate will be held at Centre College in Danville, Ky.
"He's studying hard, he's methodically preparing for the debate," Beau Biden said. "He is going to prepare as hard as he
has for any debate, including his debate with Sarah Palin."
Beau Biden added that his father was "doing his homework" on Ryan and making sure he understands the nuances of
Ryan's House budget, as well as the congressman's stand on Medicare. Foreign policy touted
Beau Biden said that his father, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was well-versed on foreign
policy issues. But he said his father also understood that Ryan, whom he called a skilled debater, knows foreign policy and
domestic issues well.
"They are both very informed guys," Beau Biden said. "Paul Ryan is a very good debater."
Asked if the vice president felt additional pressure to perform well given Barack Obama's subpar performance last week
against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Beau Biden said his father had prepared "just as he would any debate."
"He will do it methodically. He will do his homework and understand who his opponent is, understand his positions and
deliver his own message," Beau Biden said.
Beau Biden, an Iraq War veteran, was in Milwaukee to tout the Obama's administration's support for veterans.
Obama has kept his commitment to the nation's 22 million veterans and their families, Beau Biden said. The president has
increased the Veterans Affairs' budget by 10%, and more claims processors have been hired to handle veterans' claims.
In contrast, Beau Biden said, the Romney-Ryan ticket wants to cut the VA budget by $11 billion. At the same time, the
Republican plan calls for adding $2 trillion to the military budget, even though the Pentagon didn't ask for the increase, according
to Beau Biden.
In response, Ryan provided this statement while campaigning in Ohio:
"Because President Obama does not have a good record to run on, he has resorted to trying to distort ours. Lately, he talks
about what Bob Latta and I did in the House. He is mischaracterizing our support for veterans. Let me make one thing very clear,
in the House budget that we drafted and that we passed, we fully met and exceeded the president's request for veterans funding
by $270 million. That means we saw a commitment, a promise that our government has made to our veterans."
Paul Ryan Courts Veterans In Ohio (FOX)
By Joy Lin
FOX News, October 9, 2012
SWANTON, Ohio -- With just 29 days to go until election day, Paul Ryan is trying to shore up every possible military vote,
taking the opportunity in the Toledo area Monday to rebut efforts by President Obama's campaign to undermine support among
The Obama campaign accuses the GOP ticket of policies that "could cut" funding of Veterans' Affairs by $11 billion, citing
the House-passed Ryan Budget, which resolved to slice funding for non-defense spending by 19 percent in 2014. Democrats say
the Ryan budget didn't specify which categories would be cut so it's fair to assume they would be distributed equally across the
Ryan's budget for fiscal year 2013 actually matches the president's discretionary request for veterans at $61.3 billion and in
Ohio, Ryan blasted his opponent for "mischaracterizing" his budget.
"Let me make one thing very clear, in the House budget that we drafted and that we passed, we fully met and exceeded
the president's request for veterans 270 million dollars," Ryan said Monday. "That means, we saw a commitment, a
promise that our government has made to our veterans. We didn't think the president's went far enough and we expanded it
because we know this is a promise that must be kept."
Ryan campaign spokesman Michael Steel explained in a statement that, "over the ten-year window, the House-passed
budget is actually above the president's request on both the mandatory and discretionary side of the ledger," with $270 million
more in mandatory spending and $16.4 billion more in discretionary spending for "services and benefits earned by veterans."
The competition to show whether President Obama or House Republicans allotted more more funding for veterans is
realistically moot, however, when viewed through the lens that a 2013 budget was never agreed upon and that, since Oct. 1, the
federal government has been funded by a temporary measure to extend 2012 spending levels for six months.
Military voters could turn this year's presidential race, which both sides anticipate will be close. In recent general elections,
veterans have gravitated towards Republican candidates. Fox News exit polls of veterans showed that they favored the
Republican ticket 57 percent to 41 percent in 2004, 54 percent to 44 percent in 2008. This cycle is shaping up to be no different;
a Gallup poll of veterans conducted in the spring showed that veterans favored Romney over Obama by an overwhelming
percentage -- 58 percent to 34 percent.
In Swanton where Paul Ryan gave his speech in an airplane hanger, veterans played a prominent role at the campaign
stop: a Purple Heart veteran of the Afghanistan War introduced the vice presidential hopeful, folks wearing American Legion
uniform caps sat behind the candidate on stage, and the congressman gave a shout-out to the owner of the venue who he said
is a Marine Corp veteran.
The Obama campaign, too, has actively tried to spotlight the president's job initiatives for veterans and first lady Michelle
Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched a national initiative in 2011 to champion them and their families.
Vice President's Son Campaigns For Joseph Kennedy (FOXPATCH)
By Michael Ryan
Foxborough (MA) Patch, October 9, 2012
ATTLEBORO – Republican congressional candidate Sean Bielat has military experience, but the son of U.S. Vice
President Joe Biden told an audience in South Attleboro last week that Bielat's Democratic opponent Joe Kennedy III was the
best person to represent veterans in Washington.
After spending the day in New Hampshire campaiging for his father and President Barack Obama, Delaware Attorney
General Beau Biden came to the American Legion Post 312 in South Attleboro last Thursday for the nighttime event called
"Veterans for Joe Kennedy." Kennedy is running against Bielat for the seat in the U.S. House representing Massachusett's 4th
District, which includes Foxborough.
Biden, who served in Iraq from 2008 to 2009 as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard's Judge Advocate
General's Corps, said the Republicans running for the White House and the 4th Congressional District seat are "patriotic" and
"honorable, decent men," who have "a different set of values" from the Democrats in those contests.
He claimed a federal budget proposed earlier this year by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan would cut the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs' annual budget by $11 billion, 85 percent of which goes to medical care.
"We have a very, very stark choice to make in this election, in this congressional district … and nationally with Joe Kennedy
and Barack Obama," Biden said.
Kennedy, who was celebrating his 32nd birthday, made various promises on what he would do for veterans if elected.
"I will fight to make sure that those returning vets have the employment they have fought for and deserve when they come
home, that when they return home, those veterans will not have to wait months or even years to get the benefits they have
earned and deserved, that our ... country makes the investments we need in order to address the wounds of war—both physical
and unseen," the candidate said.
Kennedy said he would also make sure female veterans "get equal levels of benefits, care and respect as well."
Biden and Kennedy were introduced by state Sen. James Vallee (D-Franklin), who is a lieutenant colonel in the Army
National Guard. Vallee said there would be no better friend for veterans in Washington than Kennedy.
"Joe has been an incredibly thoughtful and hard-working candidate," Vallee said. "He has earned the right to be our
congressman. Not only has Joe been right on the issues, Joe has shown that he understands this district … and he'll be a great
advocate for us in D.C., particularly on veterans issues."
VA Hosts Outreach For Veterans (RGJ)
Reno (NV) Gazette-Journal, October 9, 2012
The Veterans Administration will host an outreach event and barbecue for local veterans and their families from 2-6:30
p.m., Wednesday at the Western Nevada College Carson City campus, 2201 West College Parkway. The VA’s Mobile Vet
Center will be on site for the event, which will focus on the VA’s education assistance and benefits consultation. Details: Adam
Cress at 745-5727 or [email protected]
1 In 8 Feds Witnessed Workplace Violence (FEDTIMES)
By Andy Medici
Federal Times, October 8, 2012
On March 4, 2011, a patient with a history of mental illness locked herself and a nurse inside the emergency room at the
Veterans Affairs Department’s White River Junction Medical Center in Vermont. She held a scalpel to the nurse’s neck before
being disarmed by VA police, according to court documents.
On Jan. 12, Jennifer Beidler pled guilty to felony assault and was sentenced to two years of supervised release, according
to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont.
VA leads all agencies in workplace violence, with 23 percent of employees saying they witnessed at least one act of
violence at work over a two-year period, according to the newly released results of a Merit Systems Protection Board survey.
Governmentwide, roughly 13 percent of employees say they have witnessed workplace violence in the two years between
2008 and 2010, according to the survey.
The survey was conducted in 2010 and generated responses from 42,000 federal employees at 30 agencies. But MSPB
only released the results last week as part of a study on federal workplace violence.
The latest national survey on workplace violence was done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2005. In that, 5 percent of
private-sector employees said they witnessed at least one violent incident in their workplace in the last 12 months. For state
government employees, the figure was 32 percent, and for local government employees, 15 percent.
The MSPB study is significant because so few are done on federal workplace violence in particular, but also because the
findings may surprise many that workplace violence is as prevalent as it is in the federal government.
One of the more surprising findings was the source of the violence — about 54 percent of incidents witnessed
governmentwide were caused by current or former co-workers.
“The results of our survey of federal employees indicate that when an incident of physical assault, threat of assault,
harassment, intimidation or bullying occurs in a federal workplace, it is most likely caused by current or former Federal employees
rather than customers, criminals or those who have a personal relationship with an employee,” MSPB Chairman Susan
Grundmann said in a letter to Congress and the administration that accompanied the new report.
She said agencies should make sure their violence-prevention programs address violence caused by co-workers.
In this respect, VA bucks the governmentwide trend: 54 percent of violent incidents witnessed were committed by
customers and visitors, while 33 percent were by employees, according to MSPB. Governmentwide, the percentage of violent
incidents committed by customers and visitors is far less, about 34 percent.
The remaining 12 percent of workplace violence incidents were committed by relatives of federal employees or by
criminals, according to the report.
The report estimates that a quarter of all incidents cited resulted in either injury or property damage, although it did not
attempt to tally individual incidents.
According to federal employees and organizations, federal workplace policies and procedures are not up to the task of
addressing violence committed by co-workers.
One Interior Department employee, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, said a co-worker yelled at him
and has treated others abusively, but management has made no effort to discipline him. He said his managers thought the
burden of proof was too high to initiate the disciplinary process, and he was told to just keep his distance.
“I have felt uncomfortable in my workplace ever since and now work behind a closed and locked door,” he said.
With the stress of budget cuts, the threat of furloughs, frozen pay scales and increased workloads, “we are left with a lot of
tension which could ultimately create violent incidents in the workplace,” said Jon Adler, national president of the Federal Law
Enforcement Officers Association.
“We may be seeing an epidemic of short fuses created by Congress’ inability to properly fund agencies and protect pay for
federal law enforcement,” he said.
Law enforcement officers lack programs to help them cope with increased stress and workplace violence, Adler said. Law
enforcement agencies should create peer groups where officers can talk out their problems and share their frustrations within a
safe environment, he said.
Charletta McNeil, president of American Federation of Government Employees Union Local 32 at the Office of Personnel
Management, agreed that agencies need to address workplace violence.
“I don’t think there are a lot of federal agencies with policies in place with real teeth,” she said.
OPM takes swift action to make sure employees feel safe, she said, but all agencies should revisit their policies to make
sure violent or bullying employees are properly disciplined.
Georgia Thomas, vice president of diversity for Federally Employed Women, said employees and not just managers should
be trained in conflict resolution to learn to defuse tense situations that could result in violence.
Employees have the expectation that they will be safe in the workplace and agencies need to do a better job of educating
employees about workplace harassment and violence policies, she said.
VA spokeswoman Josephine Schuda said the department will not tolerate any kind of aggression. Its facilities are required
to have procedures in place to prevent and respond to workplace violence.
“VA leaders consider all employee concerns as legitimate and take action to investigate the report and intercede to resolve
the issue,” Schuda said.
The report recommends that agencies:
• Establish programs that outline responsibilities to prevent or respond to workplace violence and ensure that agency
components can work together if violence occurs.
• Collect data on the prevalence and nature of violence in their organizations in order to develop more effective prevention
programs. The data should include the type of violence as well as demographic information.
• Bring together managers, supervisors and human resources officers to help foster a culture of openness and tolerance of
people and ideas in order to reduce violence.
VA's Overspending At Conferences Linked To Poor Contract Execution (WASHBIZ)
Washington Business Journal, October 9, 2012
A Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general's report found that one of the many problems with two lavish training
conferences in Orlando, Fla., in 2011 was a failure to adhere to contracting procedures, reports.
The report on the $6.1 million pair of employee gatherings, which led to the resignation of VA Chief Human Capital Officer
John Sepulveda, focused mostly on overspending, wrongful acceptance of gifts by employees and unnecessary advance trips to
plan the conferences.
Veteran's Corner (WEATHERD)
By Jim Vines
Weatherford (TX) Democrat, October 9, 2012
Investigators looking into lavish spending for a pair of Veterans Affairs training conferences in 2011 found evidence that
department employees improperly accepted gifts, wasted hundreds of thousands on unneeded expenses and exhibited serious
management weaknesses in handling taxpayer dollars.
About 1,800 VA employees attended the two professional development conferences held in July and August 2011.
Investigators said the conferences appeared to be legitimate training opportunities, but noted that senior leaders accepted little
responsibility for financial stewardship in spending more than $6 million for two events. Among the more flagrant expenses were
$50,000 for a conference video of the movie “Patton,” $98,000 for promotional items such as tote bags and thumb drives,
$37,000 for travel expenses for VA employees and $43,000 in extra pay for staff running the events. The investigators also found
more than $480,000 in excessive spending for hotel catering, hotel audiovisual services and contractor travel.
The investigation report released Monday by the VA Inspector General’s office also says that the department’s top human
resources official, John Sepulveda, failed to provide proper guidance and oversight to his senior executives and lied to
investigators about details of the conference. Investigators said Sepulveda told them under oath that he had no prior knowledge
of some of the expenses, including the costly “Patton” video produced by an outside contractor. Other employees said Sepulveda
not only viewed the video but even suggested changes. Sepulveda resigned on Sunday.
VA officials released a statement saying, “misuse of taxpayer dollars is completely unacceptable” and calling the actions
cited in the report, “serious lapses in oversight, judgement and stewardship.” Two other employees cited by investigators in the
report, were placed on administrative leave pending a review of their involvement. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced he will
appoint a panel of senior officials to review the case and recommend appropriate action.
The report says VA employees planning the conferences accepted free massages, hotel rooms, limousine rides and
helicopter tours, all against well known policies forbidding government employees from receiving gifts.
In a statement, VA Inspector General George Opfer said, “Beyond the individual ethical lapses, which cast all federal
employees in a bad light, the management failures resulted in unnecessary costs and unauthorized commitments that diminished
these legitimate training events.” Continuing investigations into the conferences were promised by House Veterans Affairs
Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla. and Senate Veterans Affairs Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.
AMVETS is hosting a car, truck and bike cruise Friday, Oct. 12, and a car, truck and bike show Saturday, Oct. 13, at the
33rd annual Crazy Water Festival. For more inforamtion, visit
"Stand Down" Event Planned For Homeless Veterans (KLKN)
KLKN-TV Lincoln (NE), October 9, 2012
The event at the Pershing Center will provide services, health care for homeless military veterans.
Homeless Veterans and people facing the threat of homelessness will have the chance to find help Oct. 11 at the annual
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Stand Down and Project Connect event in Lincoln, Neb.
The event is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pershing Center, 226 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln.
Stand Down is a military term that means troops are brought in from the battlefield for rest and recuperation.
The Stand Down is designed to eliminate obstacles Veterans face in overcoming homelessness. The event coordinates
community efforts to contact Veterans who are missed by routine outreach methods. It also fosters unique partnerships between
business, government, non-profits and community members dedicated to addressing homelessness.
Veterans will have the chance to speak with employees from the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System,
Veterans Benefit Administration, Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs, Vet Centers and community agencies to receive
information on housing, employment, mental health, and education benefits. Other services that will be offered include lunch,
haircuts, flu shots and the distribution of personal services.
Veterans are encouraged to enroll for VA health care benefits prior to the event at the Lincoln VA Community-Based
Outpatient Clinic, 600 S. 70th Street before attending the event.
Veterans should bring a copy of their DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, to enroll at the
VA or at the Stand Down as a proof of service verification and VA eligibility.
Project Connect is for anyone in the Lincoln area who is experiencing a housing crisis. The event allows multiple agencies
to provide services on-site, as well as a chance for community members to volunteer.
Project Connect and the VA Stand Down bring the full community together to address the root causes of homelessness by
providing tools and supports to individuals and families seeking to stabilize their housing. Now, more than ever before, the
community is recognizing that collaborative problem solving is the only way to truly face the crisis of homelessness in our
The VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System's mission is to honor America's Veterans by providing exceptional
health care that improves their health and well-being. VA NWIHCS employees serve more than 161,000 Veterans in Nebraska,
western Iowa and portions of Kansas and Missouri. The system includes a tertiary medical center in Omaha and a Community
Living Center in Grand Island, Neb. Community-based outpatient clinics are located in Lincoln, Grand Island, North Platte,
Norfolk, and Bellevue, Neb., and Shenandoah, Iowa; and a contract outreach clinic in O'Neill, Neb. For more information, visit
Columbus Man Gets Half A Billion Dollar Check By Mistake (WTVM)
WTVM-TV Columbus (GA), October 9, 2012
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM)- Patricia Smith couldn't believe the words that were coming out of her son's mouth. The VA
dependency that 22-year-old Allen gets each month for college expenses had come in from the U.S. Treasury Department as
normal. However, this time its wasn't the usual $650, it was more than $690,000,000.
"He immediately, immediately went to the VA officer at Fort Benning not the local person for the State of Georgia
immediately went there and turned in the check," Patricia Attwood Smith said.
Patricia says Allen gets dependency checks each month because of his father who was a Veteran of the U.S. Air force.
She says she is proud of her son for turning the check in and knows his father is smiling down on him.
"I'm proud of him for what he did because if it were me and I was in his shoes I probably would have done the same thing
and self sacrificed."
While his mother and sister both are singing young Allen's praises he declined to speak with us on camera today. His
mother says he is a very proud young man.
"He's very humble, and very shy and he really doesn't want to be teased a lot about this," Smith said.
We left several messages Friday for the regional VA office in Atlanta but got no calls back. We spoke with several people at
the VA office on post. They declined to comment on the matter but did say that Atlanta was handling the issue.
"I have talked to the general inspector VA. He is going to make sure that check gets back to where it belongs."
Smith says inspectors don't know what happened and told her that it could have been a misprint or they could have been
Paramus Veterans' Memorial Home Receives Federal Funding (BERGR)
Bergen (NJ) Record, October 9, 2012
The Paramus Veterans' Memorial Home has received more than $1.1 million in federal funding, which will be used for
repairs on both of the facility's two buildings, Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez announced on Oct. 1.
The money comes from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a release from the two senators. The money
follows a $2.2 million grant awarded in 2010, which was used for facility renovations and an upgrade to the air ventilation system.
The 2010 grant was paid for through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
"This federal funding will help to ensure the Paramus Veterans' Home continues to provide our vets with quality housing
and support services," Lautenberg said. "New Jersey's veterans' homes serve the men and women who fought bravely for our
nation, and we will continue working to maintain and update these facilities."
The Paramus Veterans' Memorial Home is one of three long-term care nursing homes operated by the New Jersey Division
of Veterans Healthcare Services. It was opened in 1986 to provide eligible veterans and their families with medical and nursing
care, and is inspected and licensed annually by the state and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The facility is
capable of accommodating 336 residents.
"We have an obligation to take care of the men and women who have so proudly served our country, especially as they
enter their twilight years," Menendez said. "I'm pleased that this funding will help ensure that the long-term care for our veterans
is provided in a safe and secure environment."
Funeral Detail Keeps Honor Foremost, But Funding Has Fallen (TULSAWLD)
By Jerry Wofford
Tulsa (OK) World, October 7, 2012
FORT GIBSON - As Spc. Jason Shorter and his colleague make each of the 13 folds in the American flag and his fellow
soldier plays taps, he knows the family of a deceased soldier or veteran is watching and listening.
Presenting that folded triangle of blue with white stars to the family to honor their loved one is one last show of appreciation
for their service and sacrifice, one that family won't forget.
"It's a feeling that's indescribable, that this family knows why I'm there and what we're going to do," said Shorter,
coordinator for the Eastern Office of the Oklahoma Army National Guard's Military Funeral Honors Program. The job involves "a
lot of honor and a lot of pride."
Federal budget cuts are straining honor guard programs across the nation, reducing the number of full-time soldiers in
Oklahoma who perform the service, coordinate the funeral details and maintain the skills of soldiers to the highest standards.
The funding for full-time soldiers to perform those services has been cut nearly in half in the last two years, while the
number of services the Guard works has increased consistently, said Staff Sgt. Marvin Barbee, state coordinator for the Guard's
Military Funeral Honors Program.
With the start of the current federal fiscal year on Oct. 1, the Oklahoma National Guard's budget for full-time staff to perform
funeral details was about $287,000, Barbee said. The initial allocation in the last fiscal year was about $383,000, although an
additional allocation in March added $169,000. In fiscal year 2010, the state was allocated nearly $550,000 for the function.
In the last fiscal year, the Oklahoma Army National Guard provided services for 1,464 funerals. In 2008, the Guard served
at about 770 funerals, Barbee said.
While he could send more soldiers to services in the past, a typical funeral detail now consists of two soldiers, the minimum
required to fold the flag and play taps.
"You can always do more; we just have to do the minimum," Barbee said.
For a funeral with full honors, which includes a 21-gun salute and pallbearer service, the typical detail now would include
nine soldiers, when 21 might have performed those duties in the past, Barbee said. Full honors are always used when a soldier is
killed in action, Barbee said.
When the cuts for the current fiscal year went into effect, Barbee said his full-time staff was cut from 19 to six, with those
soldiers who were cut moving to part time. There are 27 soldiers who are currently on part-time orders, he said.
If the National Guard is stretched too thin, the U.S. Army or Army Reserve can help pick up the slack, but the Oklahoma
National Guard performs about 90 percent of the military services in the state, Barbee said. He said he or the full Army detail
doesn't expect to have to turn away any families who request the service.
"They made it a big deal to take the burden off the active duty and to make it a more specialized program," Barbee said.
"They wanted it done well."
Barbee said he expects that additional funds could come through later in the fiscal year, as they did in the spring, but it's not
something he can count on. He has to budget as if the money they have now is all they'll have for full-time soldiers.
The funding for part-time soldiers and supplies is also thin, but the state has sometimes helped with vehicles and supplies
in the past, Barbee said.
Despite the cuts, Oklahoma National Guard soldiers say the service they provide to grieving families is important, a show of
support from a grateful nation.
"The feeling you get when you drive away knowing the impact you had on that family - for the rest of their lives that'll be
something that family will never forget," Shorter said. "We take a lot of honor and a lot of pride in what we do."
Shorter helped fold the flag Thursday for a family at Fort Gibson National Cemetery, where he also had been the previous
two days for funeral details.
All of the Guard members who are on the detail volunteer for the service. They go to Arkansas to be trained by former
instructors at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C. That makes the service consistent and precise within
"When a lot of soldiers finally get a job, finally get to go on their first service, it really, really hits them," Shorter said. "Our
whole thing is silent. Every soldier is trained to know exactly what's going to happen."
Cliff Garrett, a funeral director at Green Country Funeral Home in Tahlequah, which arranged the services the honor guard
worked Thursday, said having the soldiers at a veteran's burial provides a memorable service for a grateful family.
"When the service members walk up and fold the flag, the manner they do it is so professional," Garrett said. "It's just
amazing to watch. When that flag is presented, it's a moving experience."
It's that impact and show of appreciation that Barbee said will keep his soldiers volunteering and driving for hours to these
"It's most likely the last impression the family will have of the military," Barbee said. "We don't want the last thing a family
thinks is we didn't take care of their family member. It's all about honoring that veteran for their service."
Military honors
Oklahoma Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Marvin Barbee said every soldier deserves the military honors, but it is often up
to the family to notify the funeral home to request the service. Anyone with questions about the program is asked to call Barbee
at 405-228-5089 or ask their funeral home.
Marshfield Town Hall With State Veterans Affairs Secretary Socos (MARSHNH)
Marshfield (WI) News Herald, October 9, 2012
Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos will speak at a town hall style meeting from 2 p.m. to
3:15 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 700 S. Central Ave. The event will feature issues
related to veterans and a question and answer session. It is sponsored by state Representative Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, and
Senator Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls.
Veterans Sought For Future Habitat Housing (KHTS)
By Carol Rock
KHTS-AM San Diego, October 9, 2012
The ribbon has been cut and the speeches made – and now, veterans can apply to get one of the 87 homes planned for
the first-ever Habitat for Heroes veteran village in Santa Clarita and a smaller village of 13 homes in Sylmar.
On Monday, officials from Washington, Sacramento and City Hall gathered at an open field on Centre Pointe Parkway
where the village will be built to laud the work of volunteers in coming up with the plan to build the community and support local
service members.
In an unprecedented collaboration, the California Department of Veteran Affairs announced that it has set aside more than
$21 million for this project, part of Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valley’s efforts to help local veterans.
With the support of CalVet, in concert with Southern California Gas Company in partnership with KHTS AM 1220, the
California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and local nonprofit agencies, the Santa Clarita village is
expected to come to fruition in the near future, with groundbreaking in late spring or early summer 2013 and the first home ready
in early 2014.
The village will be comprised of three- and four-bedroom homes which can be purchased using a CalVet Home Loan, a
Habitat SF/SCV second loan and, in the case of an additional 13 homes being built in Sylmar, a deferred silent third loan from
HCD. Veterans will be required to provide sweat equity to reduce the costs and help build these green energy-efficient, affordable
War veteran Lt. Renard Thomas, who will be one of the village’s first residents, was anxious to get the program started.
“I’m really fired up and excited about this opportunity. There are over 10,000 veterans in the SCV. I also work at the College
of the Canyons as a director of the veterans program where we serve over 600 veterans. And this is such a tremendous
opportunity,” Thomas said. “If your objective was to serve the veterans, you guys have achieved your objective. There is no better
to say thank you than to offer a veteran the opportunity to have a home.”
Secretary Peter J. Gravett, Major General (Ret.) of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, expressed his gratitude
for the multi-agency cooperation and support.
“Thank you all for what you’ve done, this is a great project for the state, this community and for veterans,” Gravett said.
“This is the first project of this kind; it took all of you to make this event happen today and it will take all of you to turn the first
shovel of dirt, which I hope is soon, to the ribbon cutting on the first home.
“California is the most popular state in the nation,” he continued. “It stands to reason that we’d have more veterans. Of the
over two million veterans in the state, this community, per capita, has more veterans than any other part of the state. We are very
excited about this collaboration with Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valley and Housing and Community
Development because it will allow veterans in the Sylmar and Santa Clarita areas to acquire a piece of the American Dream,” he
CalVet Sec. Peter J. Gravett (Major General, Ret.) greets Lt. Renard Thomas, who will be the first resident of the new
veterans’ village.
“These planned veteran communities will not only bring veterans together but will also offer them a neighborhood that
promotes self-sufficiency. Innovative programs like this one are a great example of government, at all levels working in
collaboration with the private sector, to meet a serious need,” he continued. “The Governor initiated the ICV (Interagency Council
on Veterans) to identify programs like this and highlight them and if possible, replicate them throughout California.”
Representative Howard P. “Buck” McKeon stepped up to the microphone and added his thanks to those who worked to
make the village project come to fruition. McKeon, who serves as the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, then asked
all veterans in attendance to stand.
As the applause died down, he addressed the veterans directly.
“Thank you all very much for your service. Some of you served in Vietnam and you didn’t get this kind of treatment when
you came home. I apologize for that, we all apologize for all that.”
He made note of the difference between that time and the current national support of the military.
“It’s like night and day, I see people thanking veterans when they walk by in the airport and how they are showing their
appreciation, which is the way a country should react. But it’s a lot because of what happened after Vietnam and the Vietnam
veterans vowed that would never happen again. Thank you for that.”
McKeon shared with the group some of the work he’s done in Washington on behalf of veterans.
“You know, you wouldn’t think this was possible, but in Washington, we have an Armed Services Committee and we have a
Veterans Affairs Committee and they had never met together until about a month ago,” he explained. “The chair of the Veterans
Affairs Committee also serves on the Armed Services Committee and we said this is crazy, so we had a joint hearing….to ask
them why it’s taking so long to get medical records together and solve problems, because all of the soldiers, sailors, Marines that
we’re concerned about on the Armed Services Committee eventually become veterans. We should be working hand in hand, and
that was the first step to make sure that happens.
“TAP (Transition Assistance Program), the program that helps our military people before they leave the service to get
oriented, we’ve really improved that program, we’ve stepped up the time to help orient these people before they leave by 70
percent. So we’re making some good gains there,” he said.
“Our veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan now – (are coming home to) 24 percent unemployment, 40 percent
among the wounded. And this sequestration that you’ve probably heard about that I’ve been fighting for the last year, because it’s
going to cut so deeply into the military. It’s going to take 200,000 Army and Marines out of uniform and instead of bringing them
home to victory parades, we’re putting them on the unemployment lines. That’s crazy.”
McKeon also took a moment to thank Habitat For Humanity board member Jack Shine, a developer who built several
neighborhoods in the early days of the city and has now turned his focus to Habitat and helping with the veteran’s village.
Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kellar, a veteran himself, promised the city’s support of the program.
“It is such a pleasure to be part of the City of Santa Clarita that stands so solid behind our veterans,” he said. “The city is
going to roll up its sleeves and do everything to facilitate and make this project possible. Nothing happens in this city without a
team effort and we see it time and time again, where we all come together and work hard and we get things done. Thank you so
much, we’re just honored to be here.”
Donna Deutchman, CEO of Habitat For Humanity SF/SCV, acknowledged the government’s cooperation in this project.
“It is very rare that a government agency like the City of Santa Clarita or like the California Veterans Administration under
Secretary Gravett’s leadership, we had to create new programs, we had to create new ways of doing mortgages, we had to do
many, many things to make more houses available for more veterans in better ways and to do enriched programming for the
veterans to get the services they need,” she said. “California’s veterans are uniquely gifted by having a leader like Secretary
Gravett and have an agency that follows him and is willing to go the extra mile and not be bogged down by bureaucratic
conditions that say we will not try new things, but rather we will try new things and we will find a way to do them with excellence.”
Veterans wishing to participate in this program must first apply to Habitat for Humanity SF/SCV by visiting their website
( Once they are approved by Habitat SF/SCV, they will then undergo the approval process for a CalVet
Home Loan.
WSU Prof Gets NSF Grant To Lay Scientific Foundation Of "Patient Centered Medical Home"
By Matt Roush
WWJ-TV Detroit, October 8, 2012
DETROIT — The patient-centered medical home model is an emerging team-based approach for primary health care.
PCMH is aimed at improving timely access to care, providing continuity of care by a health care team and lowering health care
costs. PCMH aims to alleviate future health problems through tailored health care that focuses on patient wellness and
Kai Yang, Ph.D., professor of industrial and systems engineering in the College of Engineering at Wayne State University,
has received a collaborative research grant from the National Science Foundation for the project, “An Allocation Model with
Dynamic Updates for Balanced Workload Distribution on Patient-Centered Medical Homes.”
The project, funded collectively at $552,009 of which $220,009 has been allocated to Wayne State, is a collaboration with
researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Georgia. Yang is leading the project, which will focus on the
Veterans Health Administration, the largest health care system in the United States.
According to Yang, the project aims to develop a comprehensive health information technology data preparation strategy
that will provide health care demand and supply portfolio data. In addition, the team will develop an adaptive discrete clusterbased statistical estimation model that can predict health care workload based on key patient attributes, such as diagnosis and
treatment. The project will also create stochastic optimization models to aid in managing patient panels — the set of all patients
assigned to a primary care physician — and staffing levels for PCMH teams.
“These models will provide dynamic updating rules for patient and staffing allocation with a random and migrating patient
population in medical facilities,” said Yang. “We also aim to provide a real-time appointment scheduling system to improve daily
operations through optimal patient allocation and staffing under random and changing patient demands for service.”
By developing a health care workload portfolio estimation model, a patient allocation model and a dynamic scheduling
strategy, the research team will improve PCMH practices by assigning patients to provider team members so that providers’ time
can be fully utilized and patients receive prompt, adequate and economical health care.
“We expect the results of this research will be implemented in hundreds of medical facilities across the U.S.,” Yang said. “In
addition, the research will give undergraduate and graduate students, particularly underrepresented groups, the chance to
participate in the research and various conferences stemming from this project. This additional learning opportunity for our
students gives them real-world experience that will ultimately benefit their future careers.”
Murray, Levin Call For Better Evaluation System For Veterans With Disabilities (HILL)
By Ramsey Cox
The Hill, October 9, 2012
Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) asked the Veterans Affairs’ Department and Defense Department
to work together to improve the “broken” disability evaluation process.
In a letter the lawmakers sent late last week, they also called on the departments to establish a timeline for completing a
review of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). The request came after the Government Accountability Office
released a report in which it found problems with the system.
The GAO report found that some service members are not being diagnosed with disabilities they have, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, at VA hospitals. Service members with disabilities continue to receive health benefits, among others,
after service.
"I am not convinced the Departments have implemented a disability evaluation process that is truly transparent, consistent
or expeditious,” said Murray, the chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “Getting this right is a big challenge —
but it’s one that we must overcome.”
“I’ve seen the impacts of a broken system — whether it’s from a wrong diagnosis, an improper decision or never-ending
wait times. When the system doesn’t work accurately and quickly, or when service members can’t get a proper mental health
evaluation or diagnosis, it means they are not getting the care they need and they are not moving on to civilian life.”
Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he believes if the two departments work together, a
solution to help veterans is possible.
"I am convinced that the DoD/VA Integrated Disability Evaluation System can be improved to better address the needs of
our wounded, ill and injured service members,” Levin said in a statement Friday. “This system is too complex, takes far too long,
and still has an adversarial aspect that our service members should not have to endure.”
The Doctor’s Bag For The New Millennium (NYT)
By Abraham Verghese
New York Times, October 9, 2012
When I was a medical student in Madras, India, in the late 1970s, my uncle, a retired physician, still made occasional house
calls. In his early years he delivered babies in dimly lighted huts, often resorting to high forceps on the head — something that is
rarely done now. His compounder — the man who would compound his prescription of mistura carminativa and dispense it in
corked glass bottles — carried my uncle’s medical bag. It was almost like a trunk — a mobile office. The compounder became so
experienced from watching my uncle that he secretly began a practice of his own, delivering babies and even applying forceps.
The Digital Doctor
In this special issue of Science Times, we look at some of the many ways that technology is changing the world of
My uncle’s doctor’s bag from his halcyon days was long gone by the time I was a medical student staying in his house; it
had been replaced by a newish model, a small tan suitcase with square corners and latches on the top. When it was opened, two
shelves magically unfolded. The medicinal odor that emanated was so powerful it could deliver a buzz.
One shelf held the sterilized syringes, needles, cotton swabs and alcohol that were the bread and butter of a doctor’s trade
in India — every patient wanted an injection, and doctors were destined to disappoint if they didn’t oblige. The other shelf held
ampules of adrenaline, Coramine, theophylline and other emergency medications as well as rows of bright orange vitamin B12
ampules — a dramatic injectable placebo.
The bottom of the bag was stuffed with bottled medications, a blood pressure cuff and instruments that my uncle rarely
used: Foley catheters, hemostats and the like. I had carried that bag for him more than once and been there when he jabbed
adrenaline into a desperately wheezing patient and produced immense relief.
A few years later, when I was an intern in Tennessee, my attending physician and mentor, Steven Berk, carried a leather
doctor’s bag, one he had toted around since his medical school days. His bag, unlike my uncle’s, was small — the size of a loaf
of bread, or perhaps a bit bigger — just enough to carry his ophthalmoscope, blood pressure cuff, reflex hammer and a few other
things. It was well worn.
The bag became a fetish for me. It embodied all the qualities I admired about the man: He was a careful listener, and he
examined patients thoroughly and well. In the Mountain Home Veterans Hospital in Tennessee, which had a large domiciliary
and nursing home population, he made original observations about pneumonia in the elderly and became a pioneer in the field.
When I became Dr. Berk’s chief resident, three years later, I bought a similar bag even though it was prohibitively
expensive on a resident’s salary. Mine was stiff, and despite lots of rubbing with neatsfoot oil it remained hard and unyielding.
A year later, in 1983, I was a fellow in infectious diseases at Dr. Berk’s alma mater, Boston University and Boston City
Hospital. I noticed that in Boston the doctors who carried bags were a shrinking minority — often older, and often the best
physicians. Neurologists favored them — more tools to carry, I presumed. Medical students were no longer routinely buying
doctor’s bags. I stopped carrying mine; my white coat held most of what I needed, and now that ophthalmoscopes came in
penlight size, or were mounted on walls, I had eliminated the bulkiest item I needed to carry.
I never got rid of my doctor’s bag. Inventorying its contents recently, it was as if I were gazing into a diorama from the early
’80s: eye drops to dilate the pupil, prescription pads, a pocket EKG book and EKG calipers, pens, measuring tape, penlights,
laminated cards with algorithms on them for various conditions — and everything, of course, with a pharmaceutical company logo
on it; no one felt compromised by that sort of stuff.
As the years have passed, I now find myself in a minority of physicians who wear white coats. For those who do, the coat is
not a repository of instruments, but a ceremonial robe.
Not so for me; my coat bulges with what I carry: a Queen Square reflex hammer with a bamboo stem (given to me by the
widow of my medical school professor who read something I wrote in Granta about her late husband and the way he brandished
that hammer; she arranged to meet in a London train station to present it to me), a stethoscope (a bulky, three-headed monster
made by Tycos that I love), a tuning fork (frequency of 128 to test vibration), a magnifying glass (to study nail fold capillaries), an
Optyse pocket ophthalmoscope, a penlight, a pocket Snellen eye chart, tongue depressors, hand gel, triplicate prescriptions,
laminated billing and coding guides, packets of chewing gum….
The coat must weigh at least five pounds. But as a believer, I must walk the talk, carry the tools. I believe that a good
bedside examination of a hospitalized patient has a high diagnostic yield: It can reveal the more obvious diagnoses and can
guide judicious use of subsequent blood and imaging tests. But the exam also is a ritual, an important one, which when done well
validates the patient’s complaints and places its locus on the body, and not on a computer screen.
Recently, two of my colleagues at Stanford, John Kugler and Errol Ozdalga, who work with me in what we call the “bedside
medicine group,” persuaded me to add three tools to my armamentarium.
Dr. Kugler taught me to use a Vscan: a pocket ultrasound machine, which allows a great view of the heart, and adds
volumes to what the stethoscope can discern. Dr. Ozdalga taught me to use the PanOptic ophthalmoscope, an instrument that
looks a bit like a large revolver; it allows a beautiful view of the retina, and especially its blood vessels, far better than my
conventional ophthalmoscope. One look in an eye and I have a sense of the status of the arteries in the kidney, the heart. The
PanOptic can also be hooked up to an iPhone to take great pictures.
The third tool I carry around is an iPad: It is a great way to demonstrate anatomy to patients, to take pictures and to pull up
videos on a Web site that Dr. Ozdalga has developed, which teaches and reinforces for residents and students specific
techniques for examining patients:
Carrying these three new additions can cramp my fingers, and it is not always easy to find a place to set these down when
examining a patient.
Dr. Kugler showed me his modified messenger bag in which he carries his instruments. I’ve seen similar models made by
Chrome, Vega and Eagle Creek — and I’ve just placed my order. I will soon be able to unburden my coat pockets.
As technology advances and gets more portable, I see us bringing more tools to the bedside, and therefore spending more
time with patients, instead of sending them hither and thither to diagnostic suites. The more time with the patient, the better.
This is how you will know us, the doctors of the next millennium: by the things we carry.
Republican Senator, Vietnam Veteran Endorses President Obama (HUFFPOST)
By Larry Pressler
Huffington Post, October 9, 2012
As a combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam with twenty-two years of service as a Republican member of the U.S. House
and Senate, I endorse President Barack Obama for a second term as our Commander-in-Chief. Candidates publicly praise our
service members, veterans and their families, but President Obama supports them in word and deed, anywhere and every time.
As a Vietnam vet, one of the reasons I support President Obama is because he has consistently shown he understands
that our commitment to our servicemen and women may begin when they put on their uniform, but that it must never end.
This decision is not easy for any lifelong Republican. In 2008 I voted for Barack Obama, the first time I ever voted for a
Democrat, because the Republican Party was drifting toward a dangerous path that put extreme party ideology above national
interest. Mitt Romney heads a party remaining on that dangerous path, proving the emptiness of their praise as they abandon our
service members, veterans and military families along the way.
What really set me off was Romney's reference to 47% of Americans to be written off -- including any veteran collecting
disability like myself, as a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) veteran.
Behind closed doors with his donors, Romney made clear he'd write off half of America -- including service members and
veterans -- because, as he said "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility for their lives." But there's no
greater personal responsibility than to wear your country's uniform and defend the rights we all enjoy as Americans. We don't
sow division between "us" versus "them." The Commander-in-Chief sets the bar for all to follow and fight for the entire country.
Mitt Romney fails that test. As a veteran I feel written off.
Just as revealing is what Romney actually says publicly. As a former Foreign Service Officer, I find it offensive that
Romney, Congressman Paul Ryan and their Republican Party are politicizing the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three
other brave Americans who lost their lives in Libya. Being Commander-in-Chief requires a resolve and steadiness that's immune
to politics and fear mongering. Mitt Romney fails that test.
And along with high-profile Republican surrogates, Romney and Ryan are pandering to election-year politics rather than
focusing on pending cuts to military spending. Strategy should drive our military priorities, not party purity.
We are a nation at war -- the longest war in our nation's history -- and we must remember the sacrifice that so many have
given for the protection of our country and our values. That's why it's so surprising that Republican nominee Mitt Romney has
given five speeches on foreign policy -- and will be giving another one today -- and has yet to outline any plan to end the war in
Afghanistan or bring our troops home. That's unacceptable for anyone running to be Commander-in-Chief.
President Obama ended one war, is ending another and meeting our national security needs with support of our military
leaders. He's laid out a clear plan that would reduce the deficit and prevent the mandatory military spending cuts that no one
wants. But today's Republican Party, including Ryan who voted for the deal that would trigger the cuts, is willing to bring our
country's defenses to the fiscal cliff -- just so a multimillionaire doesn't have to pay a single extra penny in taxes. And the real lack
of leadership? Failing to own up to your role in racking up a record debt from two unpaid wars and two massive unpaid for tax
cuts. Mitt Romney leads the party that fails this leadership test.
And as former member of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman of the then
Commerce Committee, I came to know the federal budget in detail. I'm disappointed that just as our troops are returning home
after a decade of war, Romney and Ryan might gut by up to 20 percent investments in the Department of Veterans Affairs -- and
even suggest privatizing the veterans' health care. Again, they would short change our national security and the education, health
care and employment benefits our veterans have earned and deserve just to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.
Let's be clear, Romney and Ryan would be disastrous for America's service members, veterans and military families. Public
praise rings hollow when you fail to mention an ongoing war in accepting your party's nomination to be president, or veterans in a
speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a so-called jobs plan or in a budget that should be a blue print of our nation's values.
Meanwhile President Obama recognizes our sacred trust with those who serve starts when they take their oath and never
ends. He's enacted tax credits to spur businesses to hire unemployed veterans and wounded warriors. He implemented and
improved the post-9/11 GI Bill, the largest investment in veterans education since the original GI Bill over sixty years ago. He's
proposing a Veterans Jobs Corps that would put returning service members to work as police officers, firefighters and first
responders. As part of his achievable plan to keep moving our country forward, the President would use half the savings from
ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to help pay down our debt and invest in nation building here at home, putting Americans
back to work -- including our veterans -- fixing our roadways and runways, bridges and schools.
And something that hits close to home, President Obama also secured the largest increase in VA investments in decades
so our veterans get the care and benefits they earned, like treatment for PTSD and traumatic brain injury. As someone with
service-related PTSD, I meet with younger veterans weekly to help them through the treatment and transition to a productive
civilian life. It makes a difference for them knowing their President has their back.
That's the difference in this election. In word and deed anywhere and every time, President Obama never forgets that
standing by those who serve is the heart, soul and core value of this country. As a life-long Republican, I stand by him as he
stands by all of us, putting national allegiance ahead of party affiliation. I endorse President Obama for reelection in 2012.
Larry Pressler is a former US senator from South Dakota.
For Our Veterans: Respite Resources Can Help Caregivers (PPG)
By Terry Gerigk Wolf
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 8, 2012
In this new column that will run occasionally, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System director and CEO Terry Gerigk Wolf
answers readers' questions about care and benefits for VA-enrolled veterans.
Q. My family member is a veteran who is suffering from dementia. As the only caregiver, I often feel overwhelmed. Where
can I get help?
A. Caring for a loved one with dementia is no easy task, but we know that your well-being is central to keeping our heroes
healthy and happy. As a result, we've launched a telephone-based Dementia Caregiver Support Program, which is run by a
psychologist, social worker and registered nurse. This team holds individual and monthly group sessions for qualified caregivers.
The focus is on you -- reducing your stress, arming you with useful tips and enhancing your quality of life. Contact Jennifer
Husted at 412-328-5991 for details.
Q. My family member is a veteran who is homebound, which makes it difficult to get to primary care appointments. Can the
VA help?
A. Yes, we can come to you. In our Home Based Primary Care Program, our caregivers hit the road to treat homebound
veterans who are dealing with chronic and medically complex issues. As part of this program, we provide medical and psychiatric
care plus services in the areas of clinical social work, pharmacy, rehabilitation and more. Contact Deb Sykes at 412-954-5444 for
Q. I am a veteran, and I want to stay in my home, but daily tasks are becoming increasingly challenging for me. Can VA
Pittsburgh help?
A. We are committed to helping veterans maintain their independence at home. Our Homemaker/Home Health Aide
Program connects qualified veterans with nonmedical services such as assistance with bathing, meals, laundry, medications,
caregiver relief and more. Contact James Martorella at 412-954-5427 for details.
Q. I was not injured during service and I did not serve during wartime. However, I still served my country and I'm a veteran.
I wish I could receive VA care.
A. Every case is different, but if you served in the military -- even during peacetime -- the great news is that you may be
eligible for VA health care. To learn if you qualify, visit any VA Pittsburgh facility (we have two main campuses: University Drive in
Oakland and H.J. Heinz in O'Hara) or go online to to apply for VA benefits.
Q. I heard that if I make too much money, VA health care isn't an option for me. Is this true?
A. Not necessarily. Many factors determine your eligibility for VA health care. To see if you qualify based on your income,
use VA's financial calculator at
Q. I am a veteran and I have private health insurance. Does this mean I can't use VA health care?
A. Let's set the story straight here once and for all: VA health care is not health insurance. Assuming that you are eligible
for VA care, keeping your private insurance is usually a great idea because it can give you more options and flexibility for your
future health care needs.
Superb, Compassionate Care At Veterans Hospital (INDYSTAR)
Indianapolis Star, October 9, 2012
I am compelled to write this letter in praise of the men and women at Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
My husband, a Vietnam-era veteran, was admitted twice in the past five months. He was treated with such respect and
kindness, not to mention the superb medical care he received. From doctors, nurses and aides on the floor to the pharmacy, food
service and custodial staff, these folks routinely thank the veterans for their service. They truly have a passion for taking care of
the men and women who have fought for our freedom.
Our country pays a high price for war, not only in lives lost but in these lives seen every day at the veterans hospital that are
forever broken.
To all of you at Roudebush — you know who you are — you greeted us at the door, you gave us directions, changed our
bandages, brought us food and cleaned our rooms. Thank you for your service. You are amazing.
Susie Stafford
Oklahoma Veterans Centers Warrant More Focus (OK)
Oklahoman, October 8, 2012
Some residents at Oklahoma veterans centers say they're being abused or neglected. They fear retaliation if they file a
Mike Simmons, who lives at the Norman veterans' center, told lawmakers that he's filed complaints with little result.
Allegedly, he's been injured repeatedly. Simmons also told lawmakers he faced retaliation for talking to the media about those
Mike Callahan, a Tulsa veteran, made similar allegations about a Claremore veterans center. That facility is also the site
where a man died in May after being scalded in a whirlpool bath.
Simmons blamed the problem, in part, on chronic understaffing. John McReynolds, interim director of the Oklahoma
Department of Veterans Affairs, seemed to tacitly confirm that allegation when he told legislators that personnel issues have long
been a challenge. The lawmakers who requested the study plan to introduce legislation requiring that inspections of the state's
seven veterans center be handled by a separate state agency. They also want to increase the pay for entry-level nurses and to
install cameras in common areas.
The inspection and security recommendations seem sensible. Increased pay may be warranted, but we question if that
alone would prevent abuse. A low-wage worker who mistreats an elderly veteran won't be a better person just because of a
raise. Basic human decency isn't tied to pay scale. Better vetting of veterans' center employees is crucial.
Voices Photo Galleriesview all
Simmons and Callahan have leveled serious charges that must be thoroughly investigated. Dramatic improvements are
clearly indicated.
McReynolds is in the process of reorganizing his agency. He's saying the right things about improving oversight and service
at veterans centers. That's good, but policymakers need to remain vigilant.
If the state is going to operate these facilities, it should make sure they're well-run and provide veterans the respect and
dignity they deserve.
Uncle Sam AWOL In New Vietnam Memorial Effort (WASHEX)
By Paul Bedard, Washington Secrets
Washington Examiner, October 9, 2012
Despite receiving the cold shoulder from Uncle Sam, the $85 million Vietnam War Memorial Education Center has crossed
the 55 percent funding mark thanks to foreign government and U.S. corporate donations and is set for a spectacular, postelection groundbreaking.
In what is planned as a remarkable unity scene, organizers told Secrets that the event will feature political foes like House
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and conservative Texas Gov Rick Perry, three retired generals who served in Vietnam and
commanded forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a Vietnam and Iraq-Afghan vet from all 50 states participating in the November
28 groundbreaking.
"The point is to show that the country can come together," said Jan Scruggs, the brains behind the "Education Center at
the Wall,"
and the founder of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Fund
that built the war memorial. He added that with the Afghan war set to end in 2014, when the Education Center will open
near the Wall, "this will be a great time to welcome our heroes home."
Legislation allowing the education center to be built on the memorial- and museum-crowded mall near the Wall did not
include federal funding. Several corporations including Time Warner, and the governments of Australia and Singapore have
stepped in to help Scruggs raise $47 million, $38 million short of what he needs.
In Maui
, $1,000 contributions are being raised by the Maui County Rotary Club to honor the 42 soldiers from the Hawaiian county
killed in Vietnam.
Well known politicians, newsmakers and celebrities have been adding their name to the official Groundbreaking
Committee, including former President George H.W. Bush, retired Generals Richard Myers, James Jones and Wesley Clark,
former White House spokesman Michael McCurry, celebrated Vietnam War journalist Joe Galloway and singer Jimmy Buffett.
The education center is a natural extension of the black granite Wall that lists the thousands of names of Americans killed
in Vietnam. It will include the stories of soldiers in all American wars and show the thousands of personal trinkets and mementoes
left at the Wall by friends and family of the fallen.
It will also feature the pictures and stories of the somber and often controversial homecoming of American troops from
Vietnam. The goal of that display, said Scruggs, will be to make sure America is never again embarrassed by returning war
Relating Vietnam to Iraq and Afghan war veterans of today, Scruggs said, "Nobody has to sacrifice for the wars. There are
no gas lines, no war taxes. There is no pain other than for those who go and their families. For those, this is to show that we do
remember and honor them."
Separately, there's talk of Washington hosting a major parade for the last soldiers returning from Afghanistan in 2014. "It's
time to get ready for a welcome to the Afghan Vets of 2014," said Scruggs.
Letter: Bono Mack Came Through For A Disabled Veteran (DESSUN)
Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun, October 8, 2012
In May 2011, I went to Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s office for help with a pending VA disability claim for my father, a Korean
War veteran who was suffering from lymphoma and could no longer support himself and my disabled mother.
Dad needed the VA disability funds to keep the two of them safe in assisted living and had filed the claim with the VA 18
months previously without a decision. Meanwhile, my family and I had been covering my parents’ expenses and were running out
of money and were panicking about what to do. I was given immediate reassurance that the congresswoman’s office would look
into his claim and within a couple days they got back to me with status and within a month Dad’s claim had final approval.
Thank you, Mary Bono Mack! Our whole family supports your re-election. We know you care about every member in your
Gayle Huntling, Indio
Horton Improvements Have Great Value (SUFFOLK)
Suffolk (VA) News Herald, October 9, 2012
Many of Suffolk’s attractions and amenities are judged by the amount of interest they draw for the community. Do they
bring people to the city who are eager to spend money at restaurants and retail shops while they’re visiting? Are they compelling
enough to cause people to stay in hotels overnight?
Attractions like Riddick’s Folly, the Great Dismal Swamp, the lakes and the city’s historic homes, buildings and other sites,
along with various events such as Peanut Festival and others, all help bring people to Suffolk, where they spend money and
contribute to the city’s tax base.
But at least one of the city’s attractions rises above such distinctions. The Albert G. Horton Memorial Veterans Cemetery is
one of those rare features whose importance is entirely unconnected to any thought of economic return on investment. The
simple honor of hosting the cemetery is its own reward.
The cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of veterans from the various branches of the United States military,
and more are buried in that hallowed ground nearly every day. Living veterans, family members of the deceased and others who
wish to honor the deceased veterans resting there come to the cemetery several times a year for events steeped in ceremonial
ritual. The healing such rituals help to bring is, perhaps, only surpassed by the lessons they teach to younger generations about
respect and sacrifice.
The federal government’s Veterans Cemetery Grants Program, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has helped
assure the important healing and teaching work that takes place at Horton Memorial Veterans Cemetery will be even more
effective in the future. A $3.3-million grant will support roadway expansions, irrigation improvements and new signs at the
cemetery, according to Senator Mark Warner.
The improvements at Horton are vital to helping administrators there continue to provide the most respectful and enriching
experience possible for the thousands of family, friends and supporters of the military who visit the cemetery each year. The work
is worth every penny set aside for it, regardless of any perceived economic benefits. The nation already has benefited from the
lives of those who rest there.
Redefining Medicine With Apps And iPads (NYT)
By Katie Hafner
New York Times, October 9, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO — Dr. Alvin Rajkomar was doing rounds with his team at the University of California, San Francisco
Medical Center when he came upon a puzzling case: a frail, elderly patient with a dangerously low sodium level.
As a third-year resident in internal medicine, Dr. Rajkomar was the senior member of the team, and the others looked to
him for guidance. An infusion of saline was the answer, but the tricky part lay in the details. Concentration? Volume? Improper
treatment could lead to brain swelling, seizures or even death.
Dr. Rajkomar had been on call for 24 hours and was exhausted, but the clinical uncertainty was “like a shot of adrenaline,”
he said. He reached into a deep pocket of his white coat and produced not a well-thumbed handbook but his iPhone.
With a tap on an app called MedCalc, he had enough answers within a minute to start the saline at precisely the right rate.
The history of medicine is defined by advances born of bioscience. But never before has it been driven to this degree by
digital technology.
The proliferation of gadgets, apps and Web-based information has given clinicians — especially young ones like Dr.
Rajkomar, who is 28 — a black bag of new tools: new ways to diagnose symptoms and treat patients, to obtain and share
information, to think about what it means to be both a doctor and a patient.
And it has created something of a generational divide. Older doctors admire, even envy, their young colleagues’ ease with
new technology. But they worry that the human connections that lie at the core of medical practice are at risk of being lost.
“Just adding an app won’t necessarily make people better doctors or more caring clinicians,” said Dr. Paul C. Tang, chief
innovation and technology officer at Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Palo Alto, Calif. “What we need to learn is how to use
technology to be better, more humane professionals.”
Dr. Paul A. Heineken, 66, a primary care physician, is a revered figure at the San Francisco V.A. Medical Center. He is part
of a generation that shared longstanding assumptions about the way medicine is practiced: Physicians are the unambiguous
source of medical knowledge; notes and orders are written in paper records while standing at the nurses’ station; and X-rays are
film placed on light boxes and viewed over a radiologist’s shoulder.
One recent morning, while leading trainees through the hospital’s wards, Dr. Heineken faced the delicate task of every
teacher of medicine — using the gravely ill to impart knowledge.
The team arrived at the room of a 90-year-old World War II veteran who was dying — a ghost of a man, his face etched
with pain, the veins in his neck protruding from the pressure of his failing heart.
Dr. Heineken apologized for the intrusion, and the patient forced a smile. The doctor knelt at the bedside to perform the
time-honored tradition of percussing the heart. “Do it like this,” he said, placing his left hand over the man’s heart, and tapping its
middle finger with the middle finger of his right.
One by one, each trainee took a turn. An X-ray or echocardiogram would do the job more accurately. But Dr. Heineken
wanted the students to experience discovering an enlarged heart in a physical exam.
Dr. Heineken fills his teaching days with similar lessons, which can mean struggling upstream against a current of
technology. Through his career, he has seen the advent of CT scans, ultrasounds, M.R.I.’s and countless new lab tests. He has
watched peers turn their backs on patients while struggling with a new computer system, or rush patients through their
appointments while forgetting the most fundamental tools — their eyes and ears.
For these reasons, he makes a point of requiring something old-fashioned of his trainees.
“I tell them that their first reflex should be to look at the patient, not the computer,” Dr. Heineken said. And he tells the team
to return to each patient’s bedside at day’s end. “I say, ‘Don’t go to a computer; go back to the room, sit down and listen to them.
And don’t look like you’re in a hurry.’ ”
One reason for this, Dr. Heineken said, is to adjust treatment recommendations based on the patient’s own priorities. “Any
difficult clinical decision is made easier after discussing it with the patient,” he said.
It is not that he opposes digital technology; Dr. Heineken has been using the Department of Veterans Affairs’ computerized
patient record system since it was introduced 15 years ago. Still, his cellphone is an old flip model, and his experience with text
messaging is limited.
His first appointment one recent day was with Eric Conrad, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran with severe emphysema. First
came a conversation. Dr. Heineken had his patient sit on a chair next to his desk. Despondent, the patient looked down at his
battered Reeboks, his breaths shallow and labored.
Dr. Heineken has been seeing Mr. Conrad since 1993, and since then, he said, “we’ve been fighting a saw-tooth battle with
his weight.”
In an instant, the computer generated a chart showing the jagged history of weight successfully gained, then lost. Dr.
Heineken pivoted the computer screen so the patient could see a steady gain in recent months. “It’s looking a lot better than it
has,” he said. Mr. Conrad’s face brightened slightly.
Then Dr. Heineken turned his back to the computer and sat so close to the patient that they were knee to knee. Mr. Conrad
drilled his gaze into his physician’s eyes, looking for answers.
It was not until Dr. Heineken was ready to listen to Mr. Conrad’s lungs that he asked him to move to the examining table.
“I love him to death,” Mr. Conrad said about Dr. Heineken. “He’s right to the point, good news or bad news.”
Thirty-eight years and a technological revolution separate Dr. Heineken from Dr. Rajkomar.
The son of an electrical engineer from Mauritius, Alvin Rajkomar grew up in Silicon Valley and taught himself to program at
age 12. As an undergraduate at Harvard, he started out in physics but became hooked on medicine in Mauritius, where he spent
a few days one summer shadowing his uncle, a physician at a community clinic.
“There were no fancy medications or procedures,” he said. “Just the art of doctoring.”
In 2009, in his third year of medical school at Columbia, he was among the first in the hospital to use an iPhone as a clinical
tool. “Every time you looked something up you’d get scolded,” he said. “At that point, people believed that if you had your phone
out you weren’t working.”
Among the new crop of device-happy physicians, Dr. Rajkomar is now an elder statesman of sorts, showing trainees his
favorite apps, along with shortcuts through the electronic medical record and computerized prescribing system.
He stores every clinical nugget he finds on an application called Evernote, an electronic filing cabinet. “I use Evernote as a
second brain,” he said. “I now have a small textbook of personalized, auto-indexed clinical pearls that I carry with me at all times
on my iPhone.”
Along with MedCalc, the clinical calculator, Dr. Rajkomar’s phone has ePocrates, an app for looking up drug dosages and
interactions; and Qx Calculate, which he uses to create risk profiles for his patients. His favorite technology is his electronic
stethoscope, which amplifies heart sounds while canceling out ambient noise.
Not that he is indiscriminate in his use of technology. When he decided the electronic health record was taking too long to
load on his iPad, he went back to taking notes by hand, on paper. But he is experimenting with writing by hand on a Samsung
He is aware of the pitfalls of computerized records, particularly the “if the problem is X, then do Y” templates, which
encourage a cut-and-paste approach to daily progress notes. While efficient, they can give rise to robotic bookkeeping without
regard to how the patient is faring.
Tablet computers that are linked to electronic health records are making their way into the hands of medical trainees
around the country. All internal-medicine residents at the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins are given iPads; entering
medical students at Stanford are given vouchers they can use to buy one.
A University of Chicago study this year in Archives of Internal Medicine found that residents with iPads were able to enter
orders in a more timely manner, and a majority of residents perceived that the iPads improved their work efficiency. At the
U.C.S.F. Medical Center, some physicians use iPads, and many use one of the hospital’s computers on wheels.
Dr. Rajkomar’s outpatient clinic is four miles west of the U.C.S.F. hospital, at the San Francisco V.A., where he works down
the hall from Dr. Heineken.
Where Dr. Heineken is competent with the V.A.’s electronic health record system, Dr. Rajkomar is a virtuoso, a Vladimir
Horowitz of the computer keyboard. He can keep his eyes fixed so steadily on the patient that the typing goes all but unnoticed.
As the conversation with the patient goes, so goes Dr. Rajkomar’s interaction with the computer. Lab results? On the
screen in a flash. A list of past and current medications and dosages? Voilà!
Yet he also knows when the computer needs to be set aside. During a visit, when a patient confided that his wife was
taking his pain medication, Dr. Rajkomar excused himself and walked down the hall to consult with the pharmacist about a plan
to keep that from happening.
Dr. Rajkomar knows he has a great deal to learn about being a physician, especially patients’ social and psychological
“One patient fired me,” he said, smiling as he added, “Dr. Heineken gets those patients.”
Apps That Can Alert The Doctor When Trouble Looms (NYT)
By Matt Richtel
New York Times, October 9, 2012
For many patients with chronic medical conditions like depression, pain or diabetes, the pattern is predictable: The more
they suffer, the more they draw inward. Doctors may not see them until they are in crisis and show up in an emergency room.
Now a digital-era solution is emerging. When patients withdraw, their cellphones may reach out for them. The phones use
an app that tracks how often they send text messages and place calls, and how often they move and where they go. If their
habits and patterns deviate in a way that suggests they’ve become withdrawn, the app alerts a doctor or other caregiver to check
A handful of hospitals and medical centers have recently begun testing and using the technology, with financial backing for
these digital flares coming from medical chains, the United States military and insurance companies.
The novel approach relies on technology that is increasingly standard on smartphones: global positioning systems and
accelerometers that can track location and movement.
“It’s a potential human early-warning system, the body’s check-engine light,” said Michael Seid, a professor of pediatrics at
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Since last year, 15 patients with chronic gastrointestinal trouble have carried the
phones to test the software’s effectiveness. The results so far indicate that some patients clearly change their communication and
movement patterns in the days before the onset of severe symptoms.
“When your pain increases, you’re less likely to be at the park or the mall. It could be early indicators of a flare-up or
worsening of the disease,” Dr. Seid said. The technology, he added, “measures social behavior at a scale and depth you just
didn’t have before.”
The software is still being tested and studied for its effectiveness. But mental health experts and researchers say it shows
great promise — not just for spotting worsening conditions, but also for picking up on behavior changes that suggest someone
has stopped taking medication or needs a dosage change.
“It could provide an important new tool in a fairly empty toolbox,” said Dr. Adam I. Kaplin, a professor of psychology and
neurology at Johns Hopkins. “I have concerns, but can say, emphatically, they’ve put their finger on the need to catch these
people before they go down the rabbit hole.”
Dr. Kaplin’s concerns include whether such systems might send alerts that people may be sick when they’re not, such as
people who aren’t depressed or in pain but simply have downtime, or perhaps the flu. If so, will that add costs, rather than
alleviating them? And, he said, patients might fear they are being overly monitored. “When does big data become Big Brother?”
he said.
The companies and researchers behind the technology say they are aware of the privacy concerns. But they note that the
patients must consent, and that the information goes only to health professionals or to designated family members. They also say
it’s too early to gauge what effect it will have on doctors and how they work with patients.
The technology is part of a field often referred to as “big data” that captures and sifts through enormous amounts of data to
better understand and predict behavior, like buying patterns, stock-market movements and conditions that can lead to military
In the health field, researchers in labs across the country are pursuing a host of big-data technologies, including ways to
better assess patient behaviors and measure drug effectiveness.
One of the leading research centers in the field has been the M.I.T. Media Lab, where Alex Pentland, a professor of human
dynamics, oversees the entrepreneurship program. He says the idea of collecting patient movements and communications could
give doctors more accurate evidence of behavior than relying on patients’ memory or efforts to describe their problems.
“Humans are not just bad at it, they’re terrible at it, and they’re biased in so many ways,” he said of patient self-assessment.
The data from the phones “is a true God’s-eye view of what we’re doing.”
But Dr. Pentland added that the data must also be refined and understood so that, when someone appears to be
withdrawing, the information is not misleading. “Maybe the guy is going to kill himself, or maybe he’s going to write the classic
American novel,” he said.
One of the companies with roots in the Media Lab is, which is providing the technology at Cincinnati Children’s
Hospital, along with larger deployments set to start this month at hospitals in North Carolina that are part of Novant Health, one of
the nation’s largest health care companies.
Dr. Matthew Gymer, the director of innovation at Novant, said he wanted to see how well the technology performed in
alerting caregivers to potential behavior changes in thousands of patients with different conditions, including diabetes, chronic
pain and heart disease.
“The reality is that as we march through life, there’s a fairly predictable pattern to where we go and what we do,” he said. “If
that pattern is broken in an unannounced way, something could be wrong.”
Cogito, another company with ties to the media lab, has begun a large-scale trial of the technology with the V.A. Boston
Health Care System, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, backed by the Defense Department and Raytheon, a military
contractor. The test tries to measure whether a soldier might be headed for post-traumatic stress disorder by identifying periods
of withdrawal or mania, said Joshua Feast, the founder of Cogito.
Mr. Feast said a big focus of the research was to identify which measures were most effective at identifying and predicting
illnesses like depression.
Deborah Estrin, a computer science professor at U.C.L.A., is working on a small trial with chronic pain patients at the
University of California, Davis, to see whether data drawn from patients’ cellphones can show whether they are suddenly
sedentary, a possible indication of intensifying pain, or even that someone is not taking their medication.
Ms. Estrin said the promising early research points to possibilities like increasingly personalized treatments based on
assessments of individual patterns of behavior. Doctors could better understand how a particular treatment, medication or
dosage affects a patient.
“I’m very excited, but there is work to be done,” she said, adding: “If health was easy, we wouldn’t be so sick.”
Pentagon's Plans For 3-D Printers: Mobile Labs, Bomb Sniffers And Prototype Limbs (WIRD)
By Robert Beckhusen
Wired, October 9, 2012
The 3-D printer craze has taken off with everyone from hobbyists and amateur gunsmiths to giant corporations. Less
known is how the U.S. military has caught the desktop manufacturing bug too, and is designing printable components for bomb
detectors and prototype limbs. Even more radical: The Army has even gone so far to deploy a helicopter-borne 3D-printing
laboratory to Afghanistan.
All of these experiments are a realization by the Pentagon that the direct digital manufacturing is developing rapidly. For the
Army, work with additive manufacturing work been taken up by the Research, Development and Engineering Command and the
Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), the Army’s center for research on defending against a toxic attack. At
Edgewood, researchers work in a lab with a number of high-end printers, and are designing printable holders for the military’s
Minehound bomb detectors. The Army also recently revealed the center is preparing to produce thousands of the holders —
which are designed to take weight off soldiers’ backs — and do so relatively quickly.
“The fact that we could do this many designs and print them out and have them in their hands in one week gave [the Army]
the option to choose between what works best for their application,” Rick Moore, chief of the ECBC’s Rapid Technologies
Branch, said in a recent press release. “This is a good example of how we use the technology every day.”
Aside from building bomb detectors, the Army also touted the idea of using the printers to scan soldiers into a 3-D model
before they deploy to a battlefield. “This would ensure all physical features are on file,” the Army release unnervingly stated. The
plan is to make it easier for the Army to build a prosthesis for a missing limb that’s “exactly how the soldier used to look — instead
of sculpting it and scanning it,” Moore said.
Moving into even more radical territory, the Navy has fielded interest in developing swarms of micro-robots to print and
assemble objects on their own. Last year, the U.S. Special Operations Command sought a 3-D printer to do who knows what. 3D printers are used at Sheppard Air Force base to make training mock-ups of drones. Boeing’s Phantom Works defense geeks
are also using the printers (seen above) to build prototypes for aircraft components. And in July, the Army deployed its first
mobile 3-D printing laboratory to Afghanistan inside a shipping container capable of being carried by helicopter. The Army plans
to deploy another lab to Afghanistan this fall while a third lab stays stateside.
In September, the U.S. Army Medical Command announced a solicitation that sought to buy a 3-D printer for the Walter
Reed National Military Medical Center. The purpose was to use a printer to “fabricate pre-surgical physical models” as well as
“guides, templates, custom implants, rehabilitation devices, anatomical models with segmented anatomical features,” among
other uses. Another recent solicitation sought a printer to be used for Army dentistry. The Army didn’t go into details, but the
printers are likely to be used for making dental prosthetics, an already common practice in medical offices.
It’s not hard to see why the Army wants them. On the low-end, the machines can be bought for a several hundred — or
thousand — dollars depending on the capabilities. But give it a few more years and the machines will likely become a lot
cheaper. 3-D printers have been used to build objects ranging from silverware and LEGO-like toy kits to Warhammer miniatures.
But to print professional-grade materials, a printer could set you back several tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Those printers have been used to make portable oxygen generators, helicopter parts, concept cars and exoskeletons.
Hobbyists in the civilian world have been in an arms race to develop the first weapon made entirely of 3-D printed materials.
But these have been attempted with relatively low-cost machines. At Edgewood, the Army’s researchers are working with higherend machines like the Object Connex 500 and new stereolithography (SLA) printers like the SLA Viper 7000.
The older printers — and the kind most frequently used by hobbyists — use heat to harden layers of printed liquid plastic
into a complete model. But that also means that a finished object can appear a little melted and smudgy. The SLA machines are
much better, print at much higher resolutions and use UV light instead of heat. The machines can also use a wider variety of
materials and print at higher speeds. The problem is that these machines and their ultra-thin light-sensitive plastic are
prohibitively expensive for most consumers — for now.
Besides the more far-out ideas from the military, the wider adoption of the machines is driven mainly by practicality. Time is
money in manufacturing, and being able to build a prototype within hours as opposed to days — or a piece of equipment in days
as opposed to weeks — saves on both. But if the Army is now printing components for bomb detectors, which could conceivably
be printed in battlefield laboratories as well, it may only a matter of time before the military’s forward bases start resembling minifactories.
On the other hand, lowering costs for military hardware could benefit an insurgent force as much as the Pentagon given a
long enough timeline. Printing bomb detectors could give soldiers an advantage. Not so much is the other side is using the
machines to mass-produce the bombs.
Military Wives Strip Down To Support Spouses In "Battling Bare" Campaign (NYDN)
By Meena Hart Duerson
New York Daily News, October 9, 2012
Military wives are stripping down to support their spouses in a striking photo campaign to call attention to the silent wounds
of war.
Under the slogan “Battling Bare,” hundreds of women have taken off their shirts and inked themselves with a “pledge” to
stand by their husbands as they heal, and spread word that these veterans need help coping with mental health issues that can’t
be seen.
The movement was started in April by Ashley Wise, who had been going through a frustrating ordeal trying to get help for
her husband, a former Marine and Army veteran who has served three tours in Iraq.
“My husband battles daily with his demons of war,” Wise, 29, wrote on the Facebook page she created for Battling Bare. “I,
and wives like me, have tried everything we know to try to help.”
Ed Duerr Photography via Battling Bare Over 600 people have submitted their own 'Battling Bare' photos.
Wise said her husband, who returned home from his final deployment in 2010, has been showing signs of PTSD for years,
and his condition began to deterioriate last year until he finally disappeared to a hotel room with “two cases of beer and all the
guns in the house.” When she finally located him, he told her, “Life is just really hard.”
Battling BARE Facebook
“He wasn’t sure if he could go on,” Wise told the Daily News. As he continued to spiral downwards, she went to the military
for help, but felt angry and ignored when they charged him with domestic assault for an outburst she’d told them about instead of
helping him with his emotional problems.
“That’s when I said, ‘I feel like streaking the general’s lawn,’” she said. “Maybe a naked woman would get the attention.”
That night she came up with the “Battling Bare pledge” and took the first picture for the project, stripping off her shirt and
having her friend write the words on her back.
“Broken by battle...Wounded by war...My love is FOREVER – to you this I SWORE,” the pledge reads. “I WILL: Quiet your
silent heal your shattered soul...Until once again, my love ... YOU ARE WHOLE!”
The movement quickly spread, and over 600 people have now submitted photos of themselves marked with the pledge.
Lending support isn’t limited to military spouses – anyone who wants to add their picture to the project can do so, and Wise has
even adapted the pledge for parents, widows, children, and anyone who wants to support the troops. (Younger supporters are
asked to take a more modest approach – kids can write the pledge on their feet, while teens can display it on their bare arms).
Battling BARE Facebook Users can also write the pledge on their arms.
Wise hopes they can rally enough momentum to change the military’s approach to service members like her husband, so
they can be honest about their struggles and still get help.
“Getting these guys a safe place to go is one of our primary goals,” she said. The site also offers support group-style online
forums for people to share their experiences, and she hopes to also offer support for kids like her three children, who see their
parents suffering but may not understand why they are angrier, more irritable, anxious, or prone to violent episodes than before
their injuries.
Battling BARE Facebook Children can also take the pledge on their feet.
She says the response has been so overwhelmingly positive that they decided to start an official organization to help
veterans through referrals, advocacy and financial assistance, and are currently seeking nonprofit status. Wise hopes to partner
with the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs to help military families get the help they need.
"It's been very surreal," she said of the reaction she’s gotten to the project, including women who have tattooed her words
on their bodies. "It's blown my mind that something as simple as that would touch the hearts and souls of so many other families
that are out there."
Thomas J. Sullivan, WWII Veteran, Butcher, Dies At 95 (NSDY)
By Nelson Oliveira
Newsday, October 8, 2012
Thomas J. Sullivan, a World War II veteran from East Meadow described as a caring community leader, died at home Oct.
1, after an eight-year battle with cancer. He was 95.
Sullivan was a founder of the Oklahoma-based 57th Bomb Wing Association, which has held annual veterans reunions
since 1969.
Sullivan ran a butcher shop for 25 years in Queens, where he was raised. He had close relationships...
Content Preview This content is exclusive for Newsday digital access and 7-day home delivery subscribers and Optimum
Online® customers.
Oregon Guard's Veterans Assistance Program Gets Another Year (OREG)
By Mike Francis
The Oregonian, October 9, 2012
Silver-haired Navy veteran David Elan of Tigard looks and sounds like a healthy, confident, 75-year-old man. But his vigor,
he says, is "literally almost a miracle."
A few years ago, he weighed 267 pounds, couldn't walk to the mailbox and was doped up from medications intended to
help him recover from heart bypass surgery. An acquaintance took advantage of him in a car repair deal and he was left isolated,
untrusting and despondent. He had no friends and felt, he said, as if he was on his way out.
He found encouragement from the brotherhood of veterans. In the hospital, he made friends with a veteran named Ernie
Doyle, another Navy veteran and a member of VFW Post 2666 in Hillsboro. After Elan was sent home and felt himself
withdrawing from the world, he called Doyle and asked if he would be welcome at the post.
Of course, Doyle told him.
So Elan lugged his oxygen tank and walker aboard a TriMet bus and made his way to Hillsboro for a meeting. He was
reunited with Doyle and met another member named Pete Pringle, who said he wouldn't let Elan get back on the bus; instead, he
would drive him home.
From that evening, friendships blossomed. Elan started going for walks. And he began to plug into the community of
veterans -- something he had never done after getting out of the Navy in the 1950s. Pringle has continued to work with him in his
role as reintegration specialist with Oregon’s Joint Transition Assistance Program.
"It's been a life-changing experience," marvels Elan. "Just a godsend."
Elan is a success story for Oregon's Joint Transition Assistance Program, an initiative funded by the National Guard Bureau
and designed to provide help for veterans of all ages and all branches of service. The program in Oregon is entering its second
year, surviving on reduced funding after officials feared it would be starved to extinction, as described in a May 12 story in The
The program creates "lifelong relationships," said Oregon Guard Master Sgt. Phillip V. Jacques, who manages the team of
13 veterans, including Pringle. "It's not just a year."
The veterans on Jacques' team roam the state meeting with veterans, potential employers, non-profits, schools, counselors
and others who make up Oregon's fragmented network of veterans supporters. They take an active interest in the lives of
veterans, from helping them collect benefits to intervening when one threatens to commit suicide.
For example, members of the transition team reported they had made referrals over the last 12 months that resulted in the
hiring of 317 veterans -- many of whom would have collected unemployment instead of a paycheck. They also sent vets to
schools, veterans service officers, the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, the Returning Veterans Project and other
Oregon's program was funded last year by a $1.63 million grant from the Guard Bureau, enough to employ 16 outreach
veterans. After Jacques and others lobbied the Guard Bureau and members of Oregon's Congressional delegation, the Guard
Bureau extended a smaller grant for the new fiscal year, enough to employ the team of 13.
For Pringle, it means another year of working with vets like David Elan. "I love this job," Pringle said. "It's so fulfilling."
For Elan, it's more than that. For decades, he didn't reflect on his service at sea during the Korean War. Now that he's
plugged into a community of veterans, he says he regards it as a treasured memory. And he walks up to three miles a day.
"I'm feeling better," he said. "I've gotten my spirit back a little bit."
Veterans Cemetery In NLR Filling Up, Slowly Showing Age (ARDEM)
By Amy Schlesing
Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from this source currently cannot be included in this document. You may, however, click the link above to
access the story.
Bill Advances To Help War Veterans Get Housing Preference (PRESSAC)
By Wallace McKelvey
Press Of Atlantic City (NJ), October 9, 2012
Veterans in need of affordable housing may get help this year in the form of a bill making its way through the state
Legislature that would give them preference in housing choices.
Advocates say the measure is a step forward, but it doesn’t address larger problems, including a shortage of affordable
housing and the difficulties inherent in launching new veterans-only projects.
Assembly Bill 1744, which has been introduced twice before, would give preference to veterans who qualify for affordable
housing assistance. It also allows municipalities to sign agreements with developers in which as many as 50 percent of the units
they build would be set aside for low-income veterans.
For the first time, the bill has passed the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee after being combined with
similar legislation last month. The bill has five sponsors, including Assemblymen Chris Brown and co-sponsor John Amodeo,
both R-Atlantic.
A state Senate committee approved its version of the bill Sept. 24. The bills now await votes by the full Senate and
“We should provide our veterans every opportunity to live with dignity in the community they so willingly protected with their
service,” said Brown, an Army veteran who served during Operation Desert Storm. “Veterans without housing aren’t able to fully
integrate and participate in their communities.”
“This is something that needs to be tackled coast to coast, border to border,” said Bob McNulty, vice chairman of the
Atlantic County Veterans Advisory Board and a member of the New Jersey VFW’s legislative committee.
Between shortages of housing vouchers through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and affordable housing
statewide, McNulty said veterans don’t have many options. And if they do qualify for assistance, he said, it can still be difficult to
improve their situation.
Many returning veterans find it hard to get by on government assistance, but if they find a better-paying job, they could
make too much money to qualify for the scant available resources.
“They may no longer qualify for a voucher, but that’s still not enough income for housing,” McNulty said. “They make too
much to qualify and too little to get by with the vouchers.”
Bill Butler, commander of American Legion Post 352 in Somers Point, said there should be some mechanism to ensure
veterans are placed in quality housing, particularly after the failed veterans housing project at The Gates at Somers Point
apartment complex.
A number of veterans were left living amid crime and squalor at the complex after the Egg Harbor Township nonprofit
Community Quest — which had envisioned 202 units of affordable housing exclusively for veterans — pulled out of the project
last year.
“There should be much more investigation into where they’re going to be placed,” he said. “Make sure the property is
adequate, livable and there’s no crime.”
Otherwise, Butler said, he supports any help the state can provide veterans.
A number of municipalities have already looked into veterans-only housing complexes that would satisfy their state
affordable housing quotas. In addition to Somers Point, Tuckerton approved a project that would bring 24 units of new
construction. That project, also spearheaded by Community Quest, has faced permitting delays and became mired in debt.
Egg Harbor Township Administrator Peter Miller said the township has been in discussions with a builder who would set
aside 50 percent of its units for veterans, but the necessary funding hasn’t materialized because of the recession.
“They’re in a holding pattern,” he said. “They told us that they would get back to us later this year to talk to us again.”
Amodeo, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the funding just isn’t available to supplement new affordable-housing projects, many
of which are undertaken by nonprofits.
However, he said, the bill would at least give veterans assistance in securing housing.
“That piece of legislation is not going to solve the problem in the big picture,” he said. “But it’s going to send a message to
veterans we're looking to give them preference in housing for the sacrifices they've made.”
Brown said he hopes the bill will ease the difficult transition facing veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I was fortunate,” he said. “I had a strong support group and returned to school and assimilated back into civilian life. There
are friends of mine who were not as fortunate, who still carry with them the trauma of being in a combat environment.”
Something as simple as stable housing, Brown said, can go a long way toward assisting veterans in that process.
McNulty said A-1744’s progress is promising, but it’s also telling that the bill has taken four years to get this far. Whether it
gets any farther will depend on support from both chambers and Gov. Chris Christie, he said, which aren’t assured given recent
legal battles over Council on Affordable Housing mandates.
“It shouldn’t take bills four years to get through the Legislature,” he said. “It’s frustrating and disappointing, but most things
don’t move fast through Trenton.”
Riders Take To Bikes To Fight Cancer, Aid Homeless Vets (LAFJCO)
By Justin L. Mack
Lafayette (IN) Journal And Courier, October 8, 2012
Brisk October winds couldn’t keep more than 100 motorcyclists from Greater Lafayette and beyond from hitting the road to
help others.
Around noon Sunday, a pair of benefit rides got rolling to support two causes.
ABATE of Indiana, Region 4, held its six annual Think Pink Ride, attracting between 80 to 90 registered participants
comprised of members of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education in Indiana and supporters.
Over at American Legion Post 11, about 30 riders braved the cold for the Stand Down ride to benefit homeless veterans
and their families. The ride ended back at the post for an evening of food, games and plenty of NFL football on television.
Despite the conditions, all of the riders were happy to do so for the greater good.
“I ride for the cause. That’s what I’m here for,” said Doug Edging after finishing up the American Legion ride. “I don’t care if I
ride by myself or in a group. It’s always the cause that I ride for.”
“Yeah, it’s about the event and what we’re here to support,” added Paul Zink. “That’s why we care.”
The Think Pink ride took the group from Eagle Harley-Davidson Buell in Lafayette to American Legion Post 492 for the
event, which benefits the YWCA Women's Cancer Program. In addition to registration, money was also generated through T-shirt
“This is our region charity for ABATE … the money goes to pay for mammograms for women who can’t afford them,” said
Lynn Brown, assistant regional director of ABATE of Indiana, Region 4. “We usually raise about $3,000 to $5,000, which really
comes in handy for them.”
Longtime rider Lanny Knox made the trip from Boone County to participate in the Think Pink ride.
While many people were people were bundled by in pink scarves, bandanas and hoodies to block out the 40-degree air,
Knox embraced the cold.
“We’re here from another ABATE region. I tried to get everyone else to come, but they’re lightweights,” Knox said. “We go
on as many benefit rides as we can, usually cancer rides or for someone’s personal benefit. This is nicer (than summer) it could
be about five to 10 degrees warmer and it would be perfect, but fall time is the best time to ride.”
Mark Posey, director of American Legion Riders Post 11 and one of the organizers of the ride for homeless veterans, said
Sunday’s ride was the final benefit ride season for the Legion Riders.
He added that the cause is something that all of the riders are passionate about.
“One of the things that we feel very strongly about is that the terms homeless and veterans should never go to together,
and that’s our focus on this,” Posey said. “It’s estimated that the Stand Down ride will assist as many as 600 people in the
Lafayette area this year … and that’s just wrong. We don’t want to see anybody homeless, especially our veterans.
“The bikers in our community are very much behind our veterans. They show up and they are always willing to make
contributions to the cause.”
Veterans Organization Wants More Of A Voice In Fort Ord Future (SNTCRZSEN)
By Virginia Hennessey
Santa Cruz (CA) Sentinel, October 9, 2012
Eighteen years after the Army stopped training soldiers at Fort Ord, local veterans are asking for a seat at the table where
the future of the base is being decided.
Speaking as the "voice of the local chapters of the legitimate service organizations in Monterey County," James Bogan,
president of the United Veterans Council, has asked the Fort Ord Reuse Authority Board of Directors to open a non-voting seat
for a veterans representative.
The request comes as Bogan and numerous veterans groups are fighting for formal designation of the Parker Flats land
long targeted for the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery. The skirmish has pitted open-space advocates, some of whom
think the cemetery could be located in a less environmentally sensitive location, against veterans who have been fighting for a
cemetery for nearly 20 years.
Complicating the issue is the veterans' hope to win seed money from the purchase and development of a portion of the
land, the "endowment parcel," as part of the proposed Monterey Downs equestrian-themed residential, sports and commercial
The city of Seaside will hold a scoping meeting from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at Oldemeyer Center to accept the public's input on
issues that should be considered in the environmental impact review for that project.
At its meeting Friday, the FORA board will take up a request to consistently designate the cemetery parcels, including
Monterey Downs' targeted location, in its planning documents and
maps. That meeting is at 3 p.m. at the Carpenter's Union Hall, 910 2nd Ave., Marina,
Among the open-space groups initially opposed to the cemetery's location is Veterans Wild Fort Ord. Bogan said Monday
he's not saying the group isn't "legitimate," but said it only surfaced about six months ago and seems to have different priorities
than the groups he represents.
Gordon Smith, spokesman for Veterans Wild Fort Ord, has since offered to raise the necessary money for the veterans
cemetery to save the endowment parcel from development.
There was a day when veterans were well-represented on the FORA board simply because many elected officials were
either veterans or their spouses were, Bogan said. That has changed and now CSU Monterey Bay and Monterey Peninsula
College have a voice where the vets do not, he added.
"Now it seems the interests of veterans are being challenged on many fronts but there is no one specifically designated to
speak on our behalf to remind the board of our place in the past, present and future of the former Fort Ord," Bogan said in his
letter to the board. "Given the current climate, timely action is critical."
The FORA board will be returning to two other hot-button topics at its meeting Friday. The board is set to receive the final
scoping report on the reassessment of its base reuse plan.
It also will consider for a third time a proposal to switch to a "formulaic approach" to impact fees that would have the effect
of lowering developer fees a year after the board reduced them by 27 percent.
The board passed the measure 10-2 Aug. 29, after being told legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown could impede the proposed
extension of FORA's authority if it wasn't done.
Seaside Mayor Felix Bachofner then asked it be reconsidered, saying some members wanted time to further study the
issue. That discussion is set for Friday.
FORA's extended sunset to 2020 has since been signed into law without any apparent hesitation.
Virginia Hennessey can be reached at 753-6751 or [email protected]
If you go
·What:Seaside scoping meeting on environmental impact review for proposed Monterey Downs and Central Coast
Veterans Cemetery
·When:6-8 p.m., Tuesday
·Where:Oldemeyer Center, Hilby Ave., Seaside
·What:FORA board meeting to consider consistent identification of Central Coast Veterans Cemetery parcels
·When:3 p.m., Friday
·Where:Carpenter Unions Hall, 910 2nd Ave., Marina
Vietnam Vets Look To Help Homeless Colleagues (BATTLEIN)
By Holly Deal
Battle Creek (MI) Enquirer, October 3, 2012
They spend a year in active service thinking they're defending a home worth coming back to. Their friends and family all
wait anxiously to hear that they're still alive, and dread hearing that they aren't.
When they do come home, it's to a warm welcome from the community in a local high school gym.
But a homecoming for a soldier isn't always a happy occasion. They don't always get their old lives back.
Many come home with no job prospects and no more paychecks coming from the military, so they end up living on the
“(Businesses) can't afford to keep paying him, (they) can't afford to keep his job open ... because (the veteran will) turn
around and they're gone, and then they come back, and they're back for nine months and they're gone again,” said Larry Bales,
a Vietnam veteran and retired First Sergeant in the U.S. Army, describing the life of a military reservist.
Bales, of Battle Creek, and Paul Arquette, another Vietnam veteran, from Marshall, are helping to ease the burden a little
by taking furniture donations to give to the veterans who can get housing through HUD-VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive
Housing), which acts like a Section 8 program for veterans. The veterans pay what they can afford on their housing, but all they
get is a place to stay.
“To actually take it from a building and to actually make it a home, they don't have those things and that's where Paul and I
come in,” Bales said of helping the veterans furnish their HUD-VASH living spaces.
Bales and Arquette have been working through their church, First Wesleyan in Battle Creek, to get these donations and
help veterans in other ways, such as sending boxes of snack foods and treats to troops overseas.
The program began in March and, although it was supposed to be only for that month, donations kept coming in and the
two veterans realized how great the need was for their service.
The duo has been able to help 50 veterans and their families through the donations since March, Bales said.
“We've got roughly 250 homeless veterans here in the Battle Creek area,” Bales said, quoting from a conversation he'd had
with a representative of the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek.
Recently, about 120 other veterans who had been homeless in Battle Creek were able to receive vouchers to find a place
to live through the HUD-VASH program.
And the numbers aren't going down, Bales and Arquette agreed. With military involvement winding down in Afghanistan
and troops coming home, more homeless veterans can be expected, they said.
“We've got to help our veterans because if we don't help (them), there's no one else that will,” Bales said. “And we're just
trying to pay it forward.”
First Wesleyan is one of the only churches or programs set on helping the homeless veterans, he said.
“I haven't seen any other churches, the DVA, American Legion, VFW, Veterans of Vietnam Association; nobody else has
been stepping up and saying, 'What can we do to help?' The whole community has got to step up and help,” Bales said.
But the two men, both in their 60s, work three or four days a week to pick up and drop off donations to the veterans.
Earlier this week Habitat for Humanity became involved in the project.
Bales said people can call the Calhoun County Habitat for Humanity to donate furniture to the homeless veterans. All they
have to do is let Habitat know it's for the veterans and they'll get a form to fill out, they'll get a thank you card in the mail and they
can write it off in their taxes.
“All we can do is help as much as we can,” Arquette said.
Vet Receives Balloon Ride Through Operation Never Forget (BATTLEIN)
By Trace Christenson
Battle Creek (MI) Enquirer, October 8, 2012
Daniel Izasa said he will remember the Midwest colors from the air and the friendly people on the ground.
A wounded Marine from Los Angeles, Ca., Izasa, 32, returned to his home after a four-day stay in Battle Creek and a 45minute hot air balloon ride over the changing fall colors north of the city.
“It was great. The colors were amazing and the people are so nice,” he said Sunday morning. “I feel like we were spoiled.”
Izasa and his mother, Elizabeth, came to Battle Creek after winning a balloon ride donated by another veteran, Deven
Cook of Battle Creek, through an organization, Operation Never Forgotten.
It was the first hot air balloon ride for both Izasa and his nervous mother, Elizabeth, originally from El Salvador.
“My knees were shaking a little bit,” Daniel Izasa said. “I was trying to hide it. But it was so nice. We could see everything.”
He said he brought his mother because of her support after his injury and through his rehabilitation
“She saw me go through it all,” he said.
Despite thick clouds at about 4,000 feet, Cook flew as high as 1,200 feet and said they could see Lansing to the north and
Lake Michigan to the west.
An active duty Marine from January 1999 to October 2005, Izasa suffered a head injury in an explosion in 2003 while
fighting in Iraq.
He didn’t experience immediate symptoms but spent about eight months at the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration
Medical Center and continues rehabilitation for the injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His balance is better but he still
has memory problems.
Izasa struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for a time and caused a serious traffic accident before he learned about and
began receiving services from the VA.
Part of his rehabilitation has been exercise and he has completed four marathons and is preparing for the Marine Corps
Marathon in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 28. He plans to run with another wounded Marine he met while in the hospital.
“The Marines come out and they cheer you on,” he said. “I know I will be overcome with emotion.”
Izasa said he will continue his rehabilitation and schooling and wants to work with other wounded veterans through the
Veterans Administration system.
“I want to help them get involved with sports,” he said.
Cook said efforts to inform and help veterans is why he donated the ride.
An Air Force disabled veteran of the Gulf War, Cook, 42, is an information security officer at the Battle Creek VA.
He said veterans often have trouble learning about services from the VA and its something Cook would like to combat with
a hot air balloon, he plans to name Veterans Pride.
Cook hopes to raise enough money to buy a balloon and use it and a web site to inform veterans about the services
available to them.
He said he donated the ride on Sunday through the Montana based Operation Never Forgotten as part of that effort.
The group works to recognize the sacrifices of the military, including public service announcements and billboards, and,
working with other organizations, provide them with services.
The vice president of the group, John Kinzinger of Saline, accompanied Izasa to Battle Creek.
Others in the community including Comfort Inn, Firekeepers Casino, the Griffin Grill and Pub and American Legion Post No.
298 helped with meals and lodging for Izasa and his mother.
Cook, through his company, Winds of Freedom Hot Air Ballooning, said he hopes to help other veterans with information
about where they can obtain services.
“Sometimes they don’t know what to do,” he said. “If I can help veterans, that is what I am trying to do.”
And Cook said he was proud to take Izasa and his mother for a flight.
“It was an honor being able to talk to him and have a conversation with a fellow brother in service.”
Southern Utah Veterans Home Almost Halfway Completed (STGEOR)
By Samantha Sadlier
St. George (UT) Spectrum, October 8, 2012
ST. GEORGE — Construction on the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins is reaching the halfway point of completion,
with a finish date of late May or early June still within reach.
Dennis McFall, deputy director for the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs and project director for the construction of the
home, said the hardest part of the project, such as the infrastructure, is completed.
“Everything is running on schedule,” he said. “The project is at about 43 percent completion and now that they have the
infrastructure completed, the rest of the project is going to move quite rapidly.”
To help the construction of the home stay on schedule as well as provide funding to keep the veterans home running and
maintained once it opens, several community-based fundraising projects are in the works for October, he said.
“We are very pleased with the amount of support we’ve received to get this project completed,” he said.
Through the Gannett Corporation’s initiative of Make a Difference Day, The Spectrum is supporting the construction project
throughout October with various fundraisers and ways for the community to get involved.
Donnie Welch, president and publisher of Spectrum Media, said the idea behind Make a Difference Day is to support a
community project or cause.
“As our continued effort to support our local community, we joined with the rest of our company to make a bigger effort to
get more of our employees involved for Make a Difference Day on Oct. 27,” he said. “We felt the VA home was a perfect example
of a project all of us could get involved with and support.”
Residents can get involved in supporting the construction of the veterans home by checking out the Make a Difference Day
events, including a Veterans Mercantile Sale on Saturday followed by a hamburger cookout on Oct. 19 and an auction and VA
gala at the Dixie Center on Oct. 27, Welch said.
“We are having a few different events to help raise funds for the VA home,” he said. “We would love members of the
community to support the parking lot sale, the auction of items businesses and individuals are donating and the gala on the night
of Oct. 27.”
McFall said the new home will serve residents in the entire Southern Utah community and already has a waiting list of at
least 40 interested people with more likely to come as the project nears completion.
“We anticipate that we will fill up rapidly,” he said. “We want to make sure that everyone in the Southern Utah community
knows that it is for all of the vets in the area.”
Those interested in being on the waiting list for the home can send McFall the name of the proposed resident, a contact
number and the branch of the military that was served.
McFall can be reached via email at [email protected] or mail the information to 550 Foothill Drive No. 202, Salt Lake City,
UT, 84113.
Once completed, the facility will be operated by a private contractor that has yet to be chosen, but could be a company out
of Southern Utah, McFall said.
The addition of the home to the community will create about 150 to 160 employment opportunities with a $4 million total
payroll for those employees, he said.
Those interested in applying to work at the facility can contact McFall with a resume or other employment information and
he said he will pass it along to the company that will be hired to run the facility upon completion.
After completing all of the inspections and finalizing the project, McFall said he expects new residents can move into the
home during the first week or two of June.
Service Dogs Help Veterans Heal From PTSD (MARJO)
By Rachel Molenda
Martinsburg (WV) Journal, October 9, 2012
WINCHESTER, Va. - Man's best friend is an understatement when it comes describing Fallon, a golden retriever full of
personality who also happens to be trained in post-traumatic stress disorder therapy. Fallon and Michael Branck, a retired U.S.
Air Force major from Winchester, united in the spring after Branck applied for a therapy dog through the organization Paws4Vets
last year.
"You don't pick the dog. The dog picks you," said Branck of his pairing with Fallon. "It was probably the most rewarding
experience I ever went through other than the birth of my kids or getting married to my wife."
Branck explained that dogs like Fallon help veterans with PTSD recover much quicker than with traditional therapy and
medication. Citing statistics provided by the organization, he said a veteran who is given a dog can be on the road to recovery in
five to 12 months, whereas it could be several years otherwise.
Article Photos
Journal photo by Rachel Molenda
Maj. Michael Branck stands with Fallon, his PTSD therapy dog. Branck was diagnosed with PTSD in 2008 and has been
working on his recovery through veterans advocacy and companionship with Fallon.
"The proof is in the pudding as far as what these dogs can do about individuals not focusing on their surroundings and the
threats that they perceive," Branck said.
Veterans suffering from PTSD often feel isolated and threatened within their realm of existence. Branck said his PTSD
would not allow him to feel comfortable in public places or close with his family.
"I haven't been able to go out to restaurants without being concerned with where to sit. Because I need my back against
the wall. I need to be near an exit. I don't want to be confined," he said.
Branck explained that Fallon's purpose is to act as a kind of bridge between him and his family or his surroundings. She
allows him to focus on her as well as the task at hand.
"I am able to focus and concentrate on her. She is able to distract the negative interferences," Branck said.
"I still feel a level of anxiety, sure. I don't go from zero to 60 and stay there."
Branck served in the military for 23 years, including planning covert and overt operations in Saudi Arabia and Operation
Desert Shield/Desert Storm. It was during this time that Branck began having triggers of his PTSD.
"I had a lot of young kids under my belt even though I was a young captain at the time, 27 years old, 28 years old," Branck
said. "I had to serve as their mentor, their counselor, their father. I had nobody to turn to."
Branck said he and his fellow soldiers were exposed to toxic chemicals while overseas, which resulted in poor skin
conditions that still flare up today. He said contractors sprayed unlabeled pesticides multiple times a day, which entered tents and
covered all surfaces.
With an environmental health and safety background, this was concerning for Branck.
"We didn't really have an idea of what they were spraying," he said.
Though Branck was not diagnosed with PTSD until 2008, he has made great strides in his recovery. He can not only
develop his relationship with his family, but he is connecting with other veterans as a peer specialist. By sharing his story,
challenges and successes included, Branck becomes an advocate.
"This promotes trust between the veterans, especially a veteran who has been seeking help ... doesn't want to open up to
someone," Branck said.
Branck said this is especially important when dealing with the services offered to veterans. Many do not know what they are
entitled to or what avenues to go down to get it. He said he works with veterans to help them learn to advocate for themselves.
"We come in as part of that and we have helped other veterans," he said. "You've got to take advantage of what's out
there. You've got to fight for your benefits."
Branck said based on his experiences with the system of care currently in place, it allows veterans to fall susceptible to
complacency. He said he believes in care that requires veterans to put to use the tools they learn at health care facilities.
"The VA's not giving the tools or bringing these guys and gals through this process to give them some ownership on their
recovery," he said. "And this is part of the reason why these folks are stuck in the system for so long. They shouldn't be."
"You've got to take ownership of your recovery," he said. "There's no sense in being the system or the system allowing you
to be in the system four, five, six, seven years."
While Branck has come a long way in his recovery, he said he readily admits he is not to the finish line yet and must
continue to use the tools he has learned from both VA programs and Fallon.
"If I can get away from the trauma, focus on those things and understand what's real and what's not, then I can identify and
have identified what things can trigger me," he said.
As he continues in what he calls his commitment to recovery, Fallon works to guide him in the right direction by handing
Branck her paw when she senses stress level rise. Branck responds by reaching out-a reminder to reach out in other aspects of
his life as well.
"I couldn't imagine not having her as a tool to do that, because the therapeutic power of these dogs is incredible," Branck
Wounded Warriors Enjoy Skeet Shooting, Dove Hunting (AIKSTD)
Aiken (SC) Standard, October 7, 2012
MONETTA — On Saturday, participants from the Augusta Warrior Project as well as the Veterans Administration from Fort
Gordon, who, through the Augusta Warrior project and the National Wildlife Turkey Federation's Wheelin' Sportsmen Hope For
The Warriors and Wounded Veteran Projects, participated in a skeet shoot and dove hunt on Saturday on Jack and Sarah
Schwarz's property.
It's an event for us to have fun, said Crystal Davis, one of 10 participants.
“We received an email to come out to the event; both myself and my husband were wounded in Iraq,” said Davis. “It's a
great experience to be able to come out and hunt with fellow veterans. I got one, target and a tip out one of 12 targets. I think the
birds are safe from me.”
David Bradbury works with the veterans administration and has the opportunity to work with veterans everyday.
“The skeet shoot and dove hunt is an opportunity to come out and try some skills you haven't been able to in a long time,”
said Bradbury. “This will be my first time dove hunting. I've done a lot of skeet shooting along the way. If you don't use it, you lose
it. As long as they have rounds, and I have the shoulder to hold up, I'll continue shooting. That's the only way you get better.”
The Augusta Warrior Project and the NWTF are becoming more involved with the community, and that's allowing veterans
to go out and become more active, said Bradbury.
“These programs are supported by the community, and that makes a big difference,” said Bradbury.
Amos Casillas, Davis' husband, didn't have much luck his first go around skeet shooting but did manage to hit several
targets the second time and saw the event as a way to spend some time with fellow soldiers.
“We might get some birds later on,” said Casillas. “We're looking forward to it. We're pretty excited about it. We just like
being around friends.”
The day included a lunch, and the group went dove hunting later in the afternoon as temperatures dropped.
Bradbury used a borrowed Remington 1100 during the skeet shooting phase of the event.
“It's probably one of the more popular skeet shooting guns,” said Bradbury. “I took a 90-pound hog with it last year at SRS,
so I've been eating off of that for a while.”
Editor's note: We are having issues with the commenting. The issue is currently being addressed and we hope to have it
resolved as soon as possible. The Aiken Standard appreciates your patience until this issue is fixed.
VA Clinic Aiming To Open Next September (MARMAIL)
By Mike Cullinan
Marshfield (MO) Mail, October 9, 2012
The target opening date for a new outpatient clinic in Marshfield has been established, although a location is still to be
Revenue Crunch Threatens W.Va. Veterans Facility (AP)
By Lawrence Messina
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia needs another veterans' nursing home, but faces trouble paying off the
construction bonds for the one it already has, state Veterans' Assistance Secretary Keith Gwinn told lawmakers Monday.
Veterans are now waiting more than a year for a bed at the Clarksburg nursing home, which opened in 2008 and is already
full with 114 patients, Gwinn told a House-Senate committee assigned to oversee veterans' issues. Around 100 veterans are on
the waiting list, including 30 for the Clarksburg facility's unit for those with Alzheimer's disease, Gwinn said.
"Do we need one? Yes, absolutely," Gwinn told the lawmakers.
Close to 170,000 West Virginians are veterans, more than one in 10 adults, according to the latest estimate from the U.S.
Census Bureau. Just 11 states have a larger segment of veterans among their residents. More than two-thirds of West Virginia's
veterans are 55 or older.
The Clarksburg home now costs $12 million annually in salaries and expenses, but patient fees cover only about $5.6
million of that, Gwinn said. State general tax revenues are providing the home with $6.8 million during the ongoing budget year.
Gwinn said his department envisions another, 120-bed home toward the opposite end of the state in Beckley. Like the
Clarksburg facility, this one would be built alongside a U.S. Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Gwinn said. He estimated the
project's entire price tag at between $40 million and $44 million.
Aided by a federal grant, West Virginia built the Clarksburg home with proceeds from 30-year bonds backed by a lottery
scratch-off ticket dedicated to veterans' needs. Scratch-off proceeds began paying off the bonds in 2004, but revenues have
since begun to falter, Gwinn said.
While the bonds need $774,000 annually, the lottery proceeds have fallen from $1.2 million several years ago to $820,000
for the most recent payment, Gwinn said. Citing lottery estimates, he said revenues are expected to start falling short in three
"We're barely covering our bond payment," Gwinn warned.
Gwinn noted that the Legislature dedicated the scratch-off proceeds toward the state's new veterans' cemetery in 2008. So
far, the cemetery has 40 graves and doesn't need the lottery revenues, Gwinn said. He said lottery officials are also looking at
revenue options.
Randall Bare of the West Virginia Veterans Council, which helps to develop state policy, attended Monday's meeting and
suggested an income tax return check-off box allowing West Virginians to donate $1 or so toward veterans' needs. Other states
provide that choice on their returns, Bare said.
House Veterans' Affairs Chair Richard Iaquinta, who co-chairs the joint interim study panel, quizzed Gwinn on the nursing
home funding situation.
"Well, then how can we expand to another facility?" asked Iaquinta, a Harrison County Democrat and a veteran, citing the
lottery estimate.
"That's why we're here today, sir, to discuss this," Gwinn replied.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Medal Of Honor Recipients Are The Rock Stars In Hawaii (STARS)
By Erik Slavin
Stars And Stripes, October 9, 2012
HONOLULU — The men decked out in matching polo shirts and tropical flower leis looked a lot like the scores of other
visitors whose organizations hold conventions amid the sun and sand of Hawaii.
Most of the men are in their sixties, or older. They remained largely anonymous and unassuming, until the moment that
these Clark Kents wrapped the nation’s highest military honors around their necks and walked up a rock ‘n roll stage saturated
with multi-colored lights and surrounded by concert speakers.
Hundreds of onlookers — most of whom weren’t alive during WWII or the Korean War, some of whom were children during
Vietnam — swarmed below them in a cacophony of cheers and flashing smartphone cameras.
The largest group of Medal of Honor recipients ever thought to be in the same place wrapped up their weeklong convention
with two public events — a block party featuring Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band on Friday, and a sold-out book signing on Saturday.
“The outpouring of appreciation for what we have done is fantastic,” said Medal of Honor recipient James Taylor, who
earned his award following a daring rescue in Vietnam. “I’ve had people walk up and just say thank you, thank you.”
Medal recipients and their families attended social events earlier in the week, including a luau, a governor’s reception and
tours of Pearl Harbor. They also paid tribute to fallen medal recipients at the Cemetery of the Pacific, and dined aboard the USS
To many of the recipients, the most fulfilling moments were spent inside Oahu classrooms, where they spoke to students
promoting values like service, patriotism and commitment. They told stories about servicemembers who undertook dangerous
missions with little chance of success, just so their comrades might make it back home.
“It’s giving them another type of hero to look at, besides basketball players,” said Don ‘Doc’ Ballard, a former Navy
corpsmen and Army officer, who threw himself on an ultimately defective grenade while treating wounded Marines in Vietnam.
Ballard and several other recipients saved some of their highest praise for today’s servicemembers.
“The kids going into war today know they’re going into combat for (multiple deployments),” Ballard added. “I did one tour in
Vietnam. They’ve got more stamina than we had.”
Tech Sgt. Steve Dracup, an Afghanistan veteran, said he volunteered to provide security at the book signing, just for the
opportunity to do something for the recipients.
He described them as superheroes in one moment, but also gained some added perspective after shaking a few hands
and collecting several autographs.
“It’s weird, because what they’ve done is extraordinary,” said Dracup, of Philadelphia. “But when I meet them, they seem
just like me.”
Foxborough Resident, USMC Veteran Takes First Steps Toward Paralympic Competition
By Jeremie Smith
Foxborough Patch, October 9, 2012
Nearly 16 months ago, Foxborough resident and United States Marine Corps veteran, Andres Burgos, was in a hospital
healing and beginning his rehabilitation process from a devastating hit-and-run accident that took his lower right leg.
“I was coming back from visiting my friends in Springfield,” Burgos recalled. “I was on my motorcycle – the roads were wet it had just finished raining. I was enjoying a nice, beautiful ride home [to Marlboro].”
On June 29, 2011, Burgos was knocked off his motorcycle by a hit-and-run driver while on his way to his Marlboro home
from visiting friends in Springfield. The driver who initially knocked Burgos off of his motorcycle was never found nor identified, but
it was what happened after the initial accident that changed his life forever.
“I was trying to crawl off the road,” Burgos said. “There was nothing wrong with me except for the initial shock and blunt
trauma from falling off the bike.”
But as Burgos was trying to get off the road, a mini-van ran him over, causing serious injuries to his right leg.
Just over a year later, Burgos is living life as an above-knee amputee and while those who know him will describe him as
positive and outgoing, the eight-year military veteran says his injury can be “a slap in the face” at times.
“When you go from eight years in the Marine Corps as an infantry guy that’s SWAT trained and an urban sharpshooter …
been to 12 different countries and led a very active and exciting lifestyle … when you get injured or disabled, it’s almost more of a
slap in the face more than anything.”
During his military service, Burgos saw combat in 2004 during a deployment to Haiti as part of the peacekeeping mission,
“Operation Secure Tomorrow.”
“All of that time, all of that travel and all of the dangerous situations I’ve been in and things that I’ve done … nothing
happens to me until after I get out of the [service],” Burgos said.
This, however, doesn’t stop him from trying to keep living. Every morning he gets up and goes to work at Motorcycles of
Manchester South in Foxborough. Over the past year, he has attended various events hosted by Veteran Affairs in an attempt to
reclaim his life and not allow the disability to dictate what he can or cannot do.
Burgos visited Fenway Park in August to take part in a CVS Caremark event that invited 12 disabled military veterans to
take part in batting practice, tour the ballpark and attend that night's Red Sox game.
"It was a really good time,” Burgos said. "Those types of events allow disabled veterans to get out and get away from the
negative aspects of dealing with life and the disability and life after the disability and focus more on the positive aspect."
Since Burgos' accident, the Mill Street resident has been trying his various activities to test his prosthetic sports leg and
regain his outgoing lifestyle.
“Been able to try skiing, water skiing, hand cycling,” Burgos said. … “I’ve been walking pretty much nonstop [since March]. I
can use [the sports leg] to start trying to get back to the gym and work out as well as try different things like wakeboarding and
stuff like that.”
Most recently, the VA medical staff out of Boston invited Burgos to participate in the 2012 fifth Annual National Summer
Sports Clinic and the Foxborough resident didn’t even hesitate to get involved.
Burgos traveled with his mother, who was acting as his caretaker for the events, to San Diego, Calif. from Sept. 16-22 to
participate in the NVSSC.
While in San Diego, Burgos learned to surf, climbed a rock wall, and went sailing for the first time ever.
“My favorite part was getting to meet USA Olympic Archery Coach Kisik Lee,” Burgos said.
While visiting the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista Calif., Burgos discovered the javelin, shot put, rowing, and
“I have been looking for ways to stay active, and Archery was a sport that I have recently been learning more about,"
Burgos said. "I would love to get good enough to compete at a Paralympic level.”
In addition, Burgos set a personal record by completing a distance of over 19 miles on a hand cycle, did a 200m Paracanoe Sprint of 1:20 going up wind, and re-learned some important kayaking skills.
Burgos, who is now back at Foxborough, said he plans to continue with the momentum that the VA adaptive sports
programs have given him and would like to begin training to become a Paralympic athlete.
The Foxborough resident has begun doing research into schools which may, through scholarships and sports programs,
provide the platform he needs.
“I feel I was strongest at archery, and it’s something I enjoy," Burgos said. "But I would also like to train in javelin, shot put,
rowing, and para-canoeing. I feel I have potential to do great in all of them.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the leader in rehabilitation therapies available to the nation’s injured Veterans.
The VA believes that healing the entire person is the most effective way to bring about positive change. Rehabilitation events
specifically designed for healing the entire person allow eligible Veterans to gain motivation to reach their full potential, improve
their independence, achieve a healthier lifestyle and enjoy a higher quality of life. Participating in activities that are exciting and
fun reinforces to our nation’s heroes that they can successfully adapt to their new lives after an injury, discover new interests and
continue to participate in many activities they enjoyed in the past. These are the goals of the National Veterans Summer Sports
The Summer Sports Clinic offers adventure sports and recreational activities such as sailing, surfing, track and field events,
kayaking and cycling (hand and tandem), to those who were recently injured. Complementing the therapy provided in daily
rehabilitation programs, the Clinic shares a glimpse of the many exciting recreational opportunities awaiting those Veterans who
accept the challenge.
With the variety of water and summer sports available at the Clinic, this week-long journey hosts Veterans from all over the
country who have a variety of injuries, ranging from traumatic brain injury and polytrauma, to spinal cord injury or loss of limb. Its
fundamental purpose is to provide early intervention for Veterans battling back from injury, not only strengthening their bodies but
overcoming and improving their overall being and self-worth.
Workshop Opens PTSD Discussion For Vets (AZTEC)
By Paige Nelson,
San Diego State University Daily Aztec, October 9, 2012
Many combat veterans returning from war suffer from physical injuries, but a greater number suffer from injuries invisible to
the eye, according to former psychiatrist at the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston Dr. Jonathan Shay.
Shay, who has worked with veterans for more than 20 years in his former position, is also the author of two books closely
examining the psychological damage of war, “Achilles in Vietnam” and “Odysseus in America.”
Shay visited San Diego State on Oct. 4 to talk to professionals who work closely with veterans in a workshop held in the
Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
During the workshop, “PTSD and Moral Injury: What’s the Difference and Does it Matter?” Shay discussed the concept of
“moral injury” as a consequence of war and the treatments necessary to heal this type of wound.
“We should be looking at psychological injury in much the same way that a trauma surgeon would look at it,” Shay said.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after experiencing
a traumatic event such as combat exposure, a serious accident or a terrorist attack.
Shay said referring to PTSD as an illness rather than an injury is stigmatizing and terminology should be changed to help
those who are afflicted.
Toward the end of the lecture, Shay urged the professionals in the room to work hard to create a communal and functioning
environment in the mental health workplace.
“Self-care is not just something that’s nice to have, it’s an essential success factor,” Shay said. “If the clinicians do not have
a trusting clinical team, the work becomes impossibly difficult and almost always will fail.”
Juan Garcia: No Greater Honor Then Serving Veterans (FATHERCH)
Fatherhood Channel, October 9, 2012
During Resiliency Training for homeless and at-risk Veterans in Miami, Family Support Specialist Juan Garcia helps
Veteran realize impact on communication when you can’t see the other person.
Operation Sacred Trust, “OST,” funded through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran
Families program, helps provide housing stability for homeless and at-risk Veteran families in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
OST is a collaborative effort of Carrfour Supportive Housing, PAIRS Foundation, Henderson Behavioral Health, and
Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida. The program served more than 1,000 Veterans and their family members in
South Florida since starting-up in September 2011, including ending homelessness for hundreds. is
pleased to profile some of the OST professionals on the frontline of ending homelessness for America’s Veterans. Juan Garcia
Family Support Specialist
Operation Sacred Trust
Juan Garcia meets with homeless Veteran during program orientation.
What inspires you to serve Veterans?
Serving our veterans is my way to express gratitude for the immense sacrifice this person and his or her family have made
for our country and freedom. There is no higher honor then serving those who have served.
What is a story/experience serving a Veteran family that stands out for you?
I was impressed by Mrs. “W”, a mother of four, college student, young soldier who did not want to be a burden to OST or
anyone. We were able to find a great three bedroom apartment for her family, she still in school, and so excited with her new
What’s your hope for the impact your work at Operation Sacred Trust has on the lives of the Veterans you serve?
I hope they value this opportunity, are able to improve their lifestyle, and get back on their feet, giving them the chance to
gain greater income from the foundation of a safer, stable living environment. Many moved in to a brand new apartments. What a
privilege which they totally deserve.
Beyond your work serving Veterans, what personal connections do you have with the military/VA community?
I was raised by a Koren War Veteran. I lived through my mother’s struggles being by herself while my father was in the
service. Thanks to his sacrifice, I was able to to to college and get a degree. Dad returned home from his service emotionally and
physically sick, but was a great father.
What’s one of the lessons you’ve learned from your work helping end homelessness for Veterans?
I have learned that to serve is Divine. It is a privilege, joy and responsibility to serve with honor and the best of my ability.
Serving those who have given so much is even a greater honor.
Organizers Getting Ready For This Year's "Stand Down" Event For Local Veterans (WLFI)
By Holly Campbell
WLFI-TV Indianapolis, October 8, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - "It's not like they're coming here and saying,"help me, help me." They've got to be
prodded a little bit and sometimes when they come they're in a desperate mode," National Homeless Vet Coordinator for the
Military Order of the Purple Heart and Director of the Mary T. Klinker Vet Center in Lafayette Jim Logsdon said.
Logsdon said veterans don't always ask for help and that's why he's helping organize the second Stand Down for homeless
veterans in November.
The term Stand Down is one he used when he was in combat in Vietnam.
"You come out of the field and you go to Stand Down and Stand Down is where you get your medical, you get your food,
you get to kick back, you get to relax, you don't have any important duties or anything. You just kick back and relax," Logsdon
The event, which helped more than 250 veterans and their families last year, provides dental, medical, and occupational
help to all veterans in the community who are homeless or at risk. Assistant Director of the Military Family Research Institute
Marina Sternberg said only one percent of the population are veterans, but many of those veterans make up our homeless
"About 20 percent of the people who are homeless are veterans and it's more of a risk for women veterans. Women
veterans are four times more likely to be homeless than male veterans," Sternberg said.
Sternberg pointed out at the public forum held Sunday, it's not just retired veterans who are homeless she said last year 25
active soldiers requested emergency help from local veteran organizations so they could keep their homes. She said veterans
and active duty soldiers are homeless or face homelessness for various reasons.
"There's also Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, TBI, and those are wounds you don't see. So
you would see somebody who lost a limb and knew that they were impacted by war but there are a lot of invisible wounds that
you don't see, but those people are just as impacted," Sternberg said.
American Legion Post 11 hosted a bike rally Sunday to raise money for the upcoming Stand Down event. Director of
Legion Riders Mark Posey said he organized the ride to protect local veterans.
"The term homeless and veteran should never go together and that's what we're supporting today to make sure our
veterans in our community are well taken care of," Posey said.
Jim Logsdon, who lost both legs while serving in Vietnam, said when it comes to helping local veterans it's just something
he has to do.
"You've served in the military, you just keep on serving. That's just the way it is," Logsdon said.
And the way, Logsdon said, it will stay.
The Stand Down event will take place November 10th at the Tippecanoe Fairgrounds.
Professor: Survey Of WV Veterans Off To A Good Start (WOWK)
By Whitney Burdette
WOWK-TV Charleston (WV), October 9, 2012
More than 8,000 post cards have been mailed to veterans encouraging them to take part in the 2012 West Virginia Military
Joseph Scotti, a professor of psychology at West Virginia University, told the Legislature's interim Veterans Affairs
committee that the postcards were mailed during the first week of October. In addition, the website
has seen more than 500 unique visitors. As of Oct. 8, more than 200 surveys had been completed, and the majority of those who
started the hour-long survey completed it.
Scotti said the survey includes 10 sections, including demographics and background, healthy behaviors, physical and
mental health concerns, family relationships, health benefits and military experience. The survey is anonymous and voluntary.
Although some questions deal with dark topics such as post traumatic stress disorder and suicide, Scotti said he has
received mostly favorable feedback from survey participants. Scotti said thousands of additional postcards will be mailed in the
coming weeks, and he and Keith Gwinn, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance, have been in touch
with colleges and universities across the state to encourage participation
Professor: Survey Of WV Veterans Off To A Good Start (WVNS)
WVNS-TV Bluefield (WV), October 9, 2012
MORGANTOWN More than 8,000 post cards have been mailed to veterans encouraging them to take part in the 2012 West Virginia Military
Joseph Scotti, a professor of psychology at West Virginia University, told the Legislature's interim Veterans Affairs
committee that the postcards were mailed during the first week of October. In addition, the website
has seen more than 500 unique visitors. As of Oct. 8, more than 200 surveys had been completed, and the majority of those who
started the hour-long survey completed it.
Scotti said the survey includes 10 sections, including demographics and background, healthy behaviors, physical and
mental health concerns, family relationships, health benefits and military experience. The survey is anonymous and voluntary.
Although some questions deal with dark topics such as post traumatic stress disorder and suicide, Scotti said he has
received mostly favorable feedback from survey participants. Scotti said thousands of additional postcards will be mailed in the
coming weeks, and he and Keith Gwinn, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance, have been in touch
with colleges and universities across the state to encourage participation.
VA Home Remains On Schedule To Close In Early November (KARK)
KARK-TV Little Rock (AR), October 9, 2012
Almost all of the veterans who have been living at the state-run VA home in Little Rock have moved out.
Only five are still living there as of Monday, which means the VA is most likely going to shut the facility down in early
November, as planned.
VA Director Cissy Rucker in July made the decision to close the home, which has been plagued with problems ranging
from inefficient air conditioning to sewer backups.
As it stands, the VA does not have the money to build a new home or restore the old one.
The agency expects it will find new homes for the remaining veterans soon.
Legislators Question Funding Source Of Second Veterans Nursing Facility (WOWK)
By Whitney Burdette
WOWK-TV Charleston (WV), October 9, 2012
With the veterans nursing facility in Clarksburg at capacity, it may soon be time to construct a new one. But who would pay
for construction?
That was a question brought up in the Oct. 8 meeting of the Legislature's Veterans Affairs interim committee. Keith Gwinn,
secretary of the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance, told the committee a second nursing facility could cost $34.5
million for 120 beds or $20.3 million for 60 beds. Those figures include the cost of purchasing the site, construction and furniture
and fixtures. But the state may face trouble in paying off the 30-year bond obtained to help pay for the Clarksburg facility.
The state's veterans programs receive about $820,000 from scratch-off lottery ticket revenues. However, the sale of
scratch-offs is decreasing. The Department of Veterans Assistance pays about $774,000 annually toward the bond.
"Three years down the road, we may not have enough scratch-off (revenues)," Gwinn said.
Delegate Richard Iaquinta, D-Harrison, questioned the reasoning behind planning for a new facility when the first one is not
yet paid for. Gwinn said money is available and can be shifted around to cover the cost of the new construction.
"The lottery is looking at that," he said of the department's revenue source. "We may have money from the (new state
veterans) cemetery to make that up. We're not using money from assets from the bond payment. We're starting to build up what
we have in the budget. Leftovers from the bond payment are about $80,000. We have about $600,000 in that account right now."
The cemetery, located in Institute, opened in May. Gwinn said cemetery operations are fully funded at $120,000 a year. So
far, about 40 veterans have been buried there.
Funding for construction of the Clarksburg facility was split, with the federal government covering 65 percent of the cost. At
the time, the Department of Veterans Assistance hoped to build four new veterans nursing facilities in West Virginia – one each in
Clarksburg, Beckley, Huntington and Martinsburg in that order. Jack Tincher, chairman of the West Virginia Veterans Coalition,
told the committee the Beckley facility was at one point a top priority for the federal government. He said the last time he
checked, construction of the facility was at No. 34 on the priority list.
"The probability is that you're not going to get (funding) from Washington," Tincher said.
The Beckley VA was part of the 2010 omnibus bill, but that portion died.
Veteran Creates Service To Help Soldiers With PTSD (KSAZ)
By John Hook
KSAZ-TV Phoenix, October 9, 2012
PHOENIX The war in Afghanistan is into its 12th year and during the week of Oct. 1, the total casualty figures from the war has topped
2,000 Americans dead.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq cost our country dearly in both lives and money and a lot of people just want to forget
about it and move on.
Easier said than done, especially for those who served when our nation needed them most.
"A lot of us made that choice to stand up for our country and do what obviously needed to be done," said Christopher
Bennett, a former U.S. marine.
October 7, 2001, less than a month after the 9-11 attacks, the first U.S. warplanes struck Al Qaeda and Taliban targets
inside Afghanistan.
CIA teams and U.S. ground troops soon followed.
So did marines like Christopher Bennett, who signed up on September 12, 2001.
"I joined the day after September 11th...September 12th I went down to the recruiting office and signed up," said Bennett.
But now, 11 years to the day, U.S. and NATO troops are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan.
80,000 U.S. troops remain in harms way.
"I deployed in 2005," said Bennett.
Bennett, like thousands of others who signed up after 9-11, ended up not in Afghanistan, but in Iraq to oust Saddam
Hussein and seize his weapons of mass destruction.
They got Saddam but the weapons were never found. Still, the fighting was fierce.
Bennett found himself in one of the war's deadliest places for American GI's and marines, Ramadi.
Deep inside the Sunni triangle, marines deployed to Ramadi didn't have long to acclimate themselves.
"I think my first experience was 30 minutes in country," said Bennett.
He wasn't hurt, even after two tours.
"I lost some good friends over there," said Bennett.
The scars were more emotional.
"My scars are obviously internally, other people suffered more than me," said Bennett.
But Christopher Bennett returned years later a changed man.
"Obviously going through that, seeing that--experiences shake anybody up," said Bennett.
The number of vets returning to the United States with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is skyrocketing.
Chris is one of them.
"When I got back from my last tour I ran into some issues. I was very self destructive," said Bennett. "I was having
difficulties with anxiety, sleeping, restlessness, anger; I didn't know what was going on with me."
Chris returned to his home in Michigan, to a wife and two children who didn't know him, and a military that no longer
wanted him.
"I got diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and almost immediately after that I was released from the military," said
No one in his family could understand what was happening to Chris.
The result was a family which could no longer support him and a divorce.
"I literally destroyed almost everything I worked for," said Bennett.
Chris moved to Arizona to attempt a fresh start.
Now a single parent, he sought out treatment and he met his new wife.
"You start finding that cure and to me, that cure was my family," said Bennett. "My relationship with my wife is clear, my
relationship with my kids has skyrocketed."
"Many of these individuals who return come back with tremendous anxiety and PTSD," said Dr. John Mather, a
Eventually, Chris met Dr. John Mather, who is not Chris's doctor, but a friend who has helped many PTSD victims.
"These individuals, our soldiers, our heroes, are returning different people than when they left," said Mather.
Dr. Mather is aiding Chris another way, by helping the former marine reach out to other vets with PTSD.
"I am founding a non-profit organization--calling it Families and Soldiers Together, FAST," said Bennett.
"His taking up this cause has been incredibly therapeutic for him," said Mather.
They have a plan: to help vets in need discover how important family can be.
"You are going to have bad days and are they ready to have those bad days with you, because they have to, or you are
going to be having those bad days alone," said Bennett.
But the fight goes on and more and more vets will return to a country that's tired of war.
"I think people are so exhausted with the negativity of the war," said Bennett.
But to stop the epidemic of post-traumatic stress, it will take more vets like Chris to step out of the shadows, because no
one is going to step out for them.
"The war has touched everybody so it really is a community based effort to help get these veterans out there to help them,"
said Bennett. "Say 'Hey, let's do this together'; this is a way for spouses and the children to say 'Dad, Mom, please, we'll go
through it with you."
Bennett hopes to launch his service for vets in November with counseling and legal services, and a full slate of family
Keeping Mobile Data Secure (GOVINSEC)
By Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, October 8, 2012
Breaches involving lost or stolen unencrypted mobile devices, especially laptops, continue to grab headlines. Of the 498
major breaches tracked by federal officials since September 2009, about 54 percent have involved lost or stolen unencrypted
computers or storage media (see: Stolen Devices a Persistent Problem.)
Given all the publicity about these breaches - and the fact that the loss or theft of an encrypted device doesn't have to be
reported as a breach - why isn't the encryption of mobile devices more widespread?
For starters, identifying and wrangling all corporate and personally owned mobile devices used in a healthcare setting that
are candidates for encryption isn't simple.
And then there's the challenge of addressing misperceptions about encryption. That includes concerns about high costs
(the price has come down substantially in recent years), difficult implementation (sometimes it's as easy as turning on a factoryinstalled setting), and adverse impact on device performance (which some experts say is no longer a major issue).
"I've found that there is much misinformation and misunderstanding about encryption throughout the populations of doctors,
nurses and other healthcare providers," says security consultant Rebecca Herold, who heads Rebecca Herold & Associates.
Some organizations, such as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, have determined that to energize efforts to
encrypt mobile devices, they must launch a high-profile campaign. And a growing number of other organizations, including Henry
Ford Health System and the Department of Veterans Affairs, are turning to mobile device management systems to help prevent
breaches involving mobile devices.
In addition, minimizing the data that gets stored on mobile devices also can help prevent breaches. Encryption Strategy
When it comes to new devices that come equipped with encryption capabilities, making sure those settings are turned on
before allowing network access should be made a matter of policy, Herold says.
"Current encryption solutions exist for mobile computers, such as laptops, and for storage devices, like USB drives, that are
transparent to the user, don't noticeably impact response time and are very easy to use, in addition to being comparatively
inexpensive," Herold says.
Encryption costs are small when compared with the cost of a breach, which "could ultimately cost an organization over $1
million" just for federal penalties for HIPAA non-compliance, she notes.
Putting encryption into practice soon will become easier, thanks to a rule for Stage 2 of the HITECH Act electronic health
record incentive program, says Mac McMillan, CEO of CynergisTek, a data security and privacy services firm. The software
certification rule requires that EHR software be designed to encrypt, by default, electronic health information stored on end-user
"This forces encryption; you'd have to consciously turn it off," McMillan says. A High-Profile Effort
For many healthcare organizations, especially larger ones, identifying devices that lack encryption and then making sure
they're actually encrypted is proving to be a tall order. To help with the effort, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is taking
extraordinary steps to call attention to its encryption effort.
After an unencrypted laptop was stolen this spring from a physician office at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in
Boston, the organization put into place a mandatory encryption program for institutionally owned and personally owned mobile
devices (see: Laptop Theft Spurs Encryption Ramp Up). In recent months, the medical center has set up several encryption
depots on its Boston campus so that employees can bring their mobile devices in to ensure the gear is encrypted and up-to-date
with anti-viral software and patches.
The medical center expects to complete encryption of all institution-owned mobile devices used to access patient
information by the middle of this month, says John Halamka, CIO.
"In the next few weeks, we will be sending out a list of institutionally owned devices that have been encrypted to each
manager and asking the manager to attest these are the only institutionally owned mobile devices in use within their area of
responsibility," he says.
Making the Most of Encryption, Other Precautions
Breaches involving lost or stolen unencrypted mobile devices, especially laptops, continue to grab headlines. Of the 498
major breaches tracked by federal officials since September 2009, about 54 percent have involved lost or stolen unencrypted
computers or storage media (see: Stolen Devices a Persistent Problem.)
Given all the publicity about these breaches - and the fact that the loss or theft of an encrypted device doesn't have to be
reported as a breach - why isn't the encryption of mobile devices more widespread?
For starters, identifying and wrangling all corporate and personally owned mobile devices used in a healthcare setting that
are candidates for encryption isn't simple.
And then there's the challenge of addressing misperceptions about encryption. That includes concerns about high costs
(the price has come down substantially in recent years), difficult implementation (sometimes it's as easy as turning on a factoryinstalled setting), and adverse impact on device performance (which some experts say is no longer a major issue).
"I've found that there is much misinformation and misunderstanding about encryption throughout the populations of doctors,
nurses and other healthcare providers," says security consultant Rebecca Herold, who heads Rebecca Herold & Associates.
Some organizations, such as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, have determined that to energize efforts to
encrypt mobile devices, they must launch a high-profile campaign. And a growing number of other organizations, including Henry
Ford Health System and the Department of Veterans Affairs, are turning to mobile device management systems to help prevent
breaches involving mobile devices.
In addition, minimizing the data that gets stored on mobile devices also can help prevent breaches. Encryption Strategy
When it comes to new devices that come equipped with encryption capabilities, making sure those settings are turned on
before allowing network access should be made a matter of policy, Herold says.
"Current encryption solutions exist for mobile computers, such as laptops, and for storage devices, like USB drives, that are
transparent to the user, don't noticeably impact response time and are very easy to use, in addition to being comparatively
inexpensive," Herold says.
Encryption costs are small when compared with the cost of a breach, which "could ultimately cost an organization over $1
million" just for federal penalties for HIPAA non-compliance, she notes.
Putting encryption into practice soon will become easier, thanks to a rule for Stage 2 of the HITECH Act electronic health
record incentive program, says Mac McMillan, CEO of CynergisTek, a data security and privacy services firm. The software
certification rule requires that EHR software be designed to encrypt, by default, electronic health information stored on end-user
"This forces encryption; you'd have to consciously turn it off," McMillan says. A High-Profile Effort
For many healthcare organizations, especially larger ones, identifying devices that lack encryption and then making sure
they're actually encrypted is proving to be a tall order. To help with the effort, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is taking
extraordinary steps to call attention to its encryption effort.
After an unencrypted laptop was stolen this spring from a physician office at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in
Boston, the organization put into place a mandatory encryption program for institutionally owned and personally owned mobile
devices (see: Laptop Theft Spurs Encryption Ramp Up). In recent months, the medical center has set up several encryption
depots on its Boston campus so that employees can bring their mobile devices in to ensure the gear is encrypted and up-to-date
with anti-viral software and patches.
The medical center expects to complete encryption of all institution-owned mobile devices used to access patient
information by the middle of this month, says John Halamka, CIO.
"In the next few weeks, we will be sending out a list of institutionally owned devices that have been encrypted to each
manager and asking the manager to attest these are the only institutionally owned mobile devices in use within their area of
responsibility," he says.
For personally owned mobile devices being used for medical center business, Beth Israel Deaconess will provide advice
and assistance on initial encryption, Halamka says. "For the most part, the encryption solution of choice will be whatever is native
to the device's operation system, for example Filevault or Bitlocker. If nothing native is available, we'll suggest Truecrypt, an open
source product," he says. "We will require attestation of mobile device encryption when passwords are renewed." Mobile Device
Besides encryption, some organizations are also turning to mobile device management systems to help prevent breaches
involving portable devices.
For the last year, Henry Ford Health System, which operates five hospitals, a medical group and health plan in Michigan,
has been using a mobile device management system from AirWatch. The MDM requires all mobile devices that access the
organization's e-mail systems to have a screen lock with password protection that is triggered after a few minutes of inactivity,
says Michael Starosciak, manager of client technical services.
Also, if a mobile device is lost, it's "unenrolled" from AirWatch, preventing further access to the organization's e-mail system
and automatically erasing e-mail data from the device, Starosciak explains.
In addition, the health system requires employees to report a lost device immediately, so carrier service to the device can
be stopped. The MDM system then remotely wipes all sensitive data from the device. If a personal device, such as a smart
phone used on the job, is lost, the same policy holds.
For mobile devices that are shared among users, such as clinicians on different shifts, users can unenroll from AirWatch
after their shift ends so that data is erased from the device before it's used by someone else.
Among the other organizations that are turning to mobile device management systems is the Department of Veterans
Affairs. The VA this month awarded a $4.4 million contract to FirstView Federal Technology Solutions LLC, for an MDM system
that will eventually support 100,000 VA-owned and personal devices (see: Details on VA's Mobile Device Mgt. Plan). Additional
Beyond adopting encryption and implementation of an MDM system, other steps organizations can take to help prevent
breaches involving laptops and other mobile devices, Herold says, are:
Storing as little protected health information on mobile computers as possible;
Having well-written policies and supporting procedures for keeping mobile data secure;
Using GPS or some other type of tracking mechanism to help locate a device if it's lost or stolen;
Installing remote wiping software;
Conducting regular security training and ongoing awareness communications;
Performing spot audits of laptops to make sure they are up-to-date with software patches and anti-viral software;
Updating a complete inventory of all laptops and other mobile devices.
Obama, On Way To SF, Announces Cesar Chavez Monument (MERCN)
By Josh Richman
San Jose Mercury News, October 9, 2012
With new polls showing the damage accumulating from last week's debate, President Obama took refuge in California
Monday, stopping by for a late rally in San Francisco and a significant gesture toward the Latino voters he needs to win reelection.
While placing a single red rose on Cesar Chavez's grave, Obama announced a new national monument to the civil rights
and United Farm Workers leader whose motto "Si se puede," -- or "Yes we can" -- was the unifying slogan of Obama's first
"Cesar worked for 25 years without a major victory, but he never gave up," Obama told gatherers -- including Chavez'
widow, Helen, and son, Paul -- at the property in Keene, near Bakersfield, known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, that
served as the UFW's national headquarters and the iconic leader's home and workplace. "Our world is a better place because
Cesar Chavez chose to change it."
Afterward, he flew to San Francisco International Airport, on his way to three Bay Area fundraisers scheduled for Monday
afternoon and evening: two exclusive and expensive ones, and then a big concert-rally at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. He'll
stay in San Francisco overnight before departing Tuesday morning for the crucial battleground state of Ohio.
The president's declaration to Chavez comes at a vital time during his re-election campaign, with Obama's edge over
Republican nominee Mitt Romney eroding since what many believed to be a lackluster-at-best performance in the candidates'
first debate last Wednesday. Real Clear Politics' average of seven national polls conducted in the past two weeks show him
leading Romney by only half a percentage point; the latest of those seven polls, conducted Thursday through Sunday by Pew
Research, shows him trailing Romney by four points.
Latinos are considered a vital voting bloc in several states -- including Nevada, Colorado and Florida -- that could decide
whether Obama gets four more years.
Obama's use of the UFW's motto underscores the populist parallels he's tried to draw between his candidacies and Latinos'
struggles for labor, civil and immigration rights. Service Employees International Union secretary-treasurer Eliseo Medina, who
worked with Chavez as a UFW board member from 1973 to 1978, said Obama's announcement of the Chavez monument "is a
recognition of the fact that we are becoming a critical part of the electorate."
Medina on Monday was helping to launch a weeklong drive with the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund to register Latino
voters, with events from Stockton to Los Angeles. The Chavez event will resonate with many of those potential voters, he said.
"To court the support of this demographic, you need to be aware of the history and show respect to this community,"
Medina said. "The president is doing that, and I hope it leads to many, many more public officials understanding that the way to
win our support and our hearts and our votes is through recognition and respect rather than attacks and ignoring us."
The president has two exclusive fundraisers and one bigger event scheduled this afternoon and evening in San Francisco.
The first is entirely closed to the press; the second, a $20,000-per-person dinner with food prepared by celebrity chefs Alice
Waters and Tyler Florence, will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium before the big rally and concert featuring musicians
Michael Franti and John Legend.
Staff writer Joshua Melvin and White House media pool reports contributed to this report. Josh Richman covers politics.
Contact him at 510-208-6428. Follow him at Read the Political Blotter at
Obama In Valley To Honor Chavez (FRSBEE)
By John Ellis
Fresno (CA) Bee, October 9, 2012
KEENE -- President Barack Obama on Monday dedicated the nation's newest addition to the National Park system, a 187acre site where labor leader Cesar Chavez lived the last 22 years of his life and where he is now buried.
A crowd estimated at 7,000 came from all across California as well as other parts of the nation to witness Obama's first visit
to the San Joaquin Valley on a day he called "a long time coming."
Though Chavez's home is located in the Tehachapi Mountain foothills, Air Force One landed in nearby Bakersfield, and
much of the farm-labor rights movement has its roots in the Valley.
"To the members of the Chavez family and those who knew and loved Cesar; to the men and women who've worked so
hard for so long to preserve this place, I want to say to all of you, thank you," Obama said.
Farmworkers were bused in from as far away as Imperial Valley to the south and Santa Rosa to the north. Children from
Kern County schools were bused in. Thousands more from the Los Angeles area, the state's High Desert country, and the San
Joaquin Valley - Fresno included - made the trek to La Paz, Chavez's home in this tiny hamlet.
They crowded together on one of the property's few flat areas. Based on a sustained chant of "four more years" long before
Obama took the stage to speak, their political leanings were evident as well.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Chavez's son Paul
and United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez all spoke before Obama, with Rodriguez introducing the president to
raucous applause and more chants of "four more years."
Obama in turn wasted no time in using the UFW's rallying cry: "Buenos dias," he said. "Si, se puede."
The president went on to tell the story of farmworkers and the union that rose up to fight for things such as fair pay and no
pesticides sprayed in fields while they were being worked.
But Obama then said "the truth is, we would not be here if it weren't for Cesar."
He then talked of Chavez's life story and his efforts on behalf of not only farmworker rights, but basic human rights for all.
Every time someone's son or daughter comes here and learns the history of the farmworker labor movement, Obama said,
they will see the road is never hopeless and the work is never done.
"Our world is a better place because Cesar Chavez decided to change it," he said.
Obama turned to Chavez's widow, Helen.
"To Helen, this will always be home. It's where she fought alongside the man she loved," Obama said. "This is the place
she will live out her days."
Obama then joked, "You are our host today. Feel free to kick us out whenever you want."
Chavez's son, Paul, who heads the Cesar Chavez Foundation, preceded Obama at the podium.
"He found the place where he could plan and strategize," Chavez said of his father. "But it was more than that for my
father. La Paz became a spiritual harbor for him."
The 187-acre site in the foothills east of Bakersfield is known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of
Peace), or simply La Paz. It served as the planning and coordination center of the United Farm Workers of America starting in
1971. It's where Chavez and many organizers lived, trained and strategized.
Earlier, Obama visited the grave of Cesar Chavez at La Paz. He placed a single red rose -- a variety named after the labor
leader -- on Chavez's resting place.
The gravesite sits amid a lush garden surrounded by low, white adobe walls and arbors of dark wood beams covered in
climbing vines. The grave is marked by an unpainted wooden cross and low stone marker that sits alone in the midst of a plot of
well tended grass.
Obama was joined by Helen Chavez and Paul Chavez, along with UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta and UFW President
Arturo Rodriguez.
Obama left the gravesite with his arms around Huerta and Helen Chavez.
The Associated Press and White House pool account contributed to this report. The reporter can be reached at (559) 4416320, [email protected] or @johnellis24 on Twitter.
Obama Dedicates Cesar Chavez National Monument (LAT)
By Michael A. Memoli, This Post Has Been Corrected, As Indicated Below.
Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2012
KEENE, Calif. – President Obama’s stop in this remote and sparsely populated San Joaquin Valley town was about as far
off the campaign trail as a candidate could be so close to an election. But his message as he dedicated the Cesar E. Chavez
National Monument was not without political significance, as he honored the legacy of a civil rights and labor leader whose “si se
puede” credo was an inspiration for his own historic campaign four years ago.
Speaking on the 187-acre property that served as both home and operational headquarters for Chavez and his United
Farm Workers movement, Obama said Chavez’s tenacity on behalf of a new generation of workers was part of “the story of who
we are as Americans,” meriting such a tribute alongside other national monuments like the Statue of Liberty and the Grand
“It's a story of natural wonders and modern marvels, of fierce battles and quiet progress. But it's also a story of people, of
determined, fearless, hopeful people who have always been willing to devote their lives to making this country a little more just
and a little more free,” Obama said.
PHOTOS: Obama on the campaign trail
Monday’s event was the sole official stop on a three-day, campaign-heavy trip, sandwiched between fundraising stops in
Los Angeles and San Francisco. The designation means that taxpayers fund a portion of the president’s travel, while his
campaign pays costs associated with his political travel.
Even without the banners reading “Forward,” his 2012 reelection slogan, and Marine band anthems replacing the usual
campaign soundtrack, the electoral significance was clear.
Arturo S. Rodriguez, the president of the United Farm Workers, noted in his introduction of the president that Obama
adopted Chavez’s “belief in ‘Si se puede.’ ”
“And when he was elected, he used his power to say yes,” Rodriguez said, before listing the appointment of Latino Cabinet
secretaries (both of whom attended Monday’s event), a first Latina Supreme Court justice, and his support for a deferred action
program that allows young undocumented workers to remain in the United States.
With time an increasingly precious commodity in a race that has shown new volatility after a long period of stasis, Obama is
leaning on all the levers available to him for an advantage, including perhaps his biggest weapon: incumbency.
The dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument came not through legislative action but executive authority under
the Antiquities Act. Though White House officials said it was a process long in the making, the formal dedication came as
Obama’s campaign shifts toward a more intensive get-out-the-vote phase of its operation, one that includes a major focus on the
Latino vote and will be augmented by labor muscle.
PHOTOS: Memorable presidential debate moments
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who attended the dedication and is also a national campaign co-chairman for the
president’s reelection effort, said it was a fitting moment because of how Obama fits into Chavez’s legacy.
“I think that the president, a former organizer, was inspired by Cesar Chavez much as I’ve been inspired by Martin Luther
King. And I truly believe that the president understands how important Cesar Chavez has been to giving him the opportunity to be
president of the United States and help America to be a more open, more equal and more equal country,” he said.
Obama, who acknowledged Sunday that his performance in last week’s debate was lacking, said Monday that the nation
could draw inspiration from one particular facet of Chavez’s decades of advocacy for farmworkers.
Chavez “worked for 20 years as an organizer without a single major victory,” the president said. “But he refused to give up.
He refused to scale back his dreams. He just kept fasting and marching and speaking out, confident that his day would come.”
The nation today continues to work to fulfill his promise, the president said, noting the toll the recent economic downturn
had taken on the Latino community specifically.
“Even with the strides we've made, too many workers are still being denied basic rights and simple respect. But thanks to
the strength and character of the American people, we are making progress,” Obama said. “And even though we have a difficult
road ahead, I know we can keep moving forward together.”
On the monument grounds, the excitement was almost palpable moments before Obama was to take the stage in a shady
courtyard surrounded by thousands of people wearing shirts and hats bearing the UFW eagle logo, said Emily Schrepf, Central
Valley program manager for the National Parks Conservation Assn.“It took years of hard work to get to this moment in history,”
Schrepf said. “There’s amazing energy in the air here today. And it’s official: The area is marked with pretty new green Cesar E.
Chavez National Monument signs.”
A week ago, National Park Service officials figured about 4,000 people would attend the dedication. The official attendance
Monday was 6,600, even after about 1,000 people saw their invitations rescinded by the UFW and Chavez foundation amid
concerns about overbooking.
Among those turned down was Maricela Mares-Alatorre, a community activist from Kettleman City, an impoverished
farming community north of Bakersfield where locals suspect a local toxic waste dump is the cause of severe birth defects.
“We were uninvited Sunday night,” said Mares-Alatorre, who had planned to accompany 13 other Kettleman City residents
including her father, a farmworker who marched in Chavez’s funeral procession in 1993. “They said they were overbooked. We’re
Obama quickly departed Keene to travel to the Bay Area for three fundraisers Monday evening. He closes the trip Tuesday
with a rally at Ohio State University timed to coincide with the state’s voter registration deadline.[For the record, 2:40 p.m., Oct. 8:
An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the National Parks Conservation Assn. as the National Park Foundation.]
President Establishes César Chávez Monument (USAT)
By Aamer Madhani, Usa Today,
USA Today, October 9, 2012
President Obama traveled to Southern California Monday to announce the establishment of a national monument to
Mexican-American union organizer César Chávez, while giving Hispanic voters a subtle nudge less than a month before Election
The trip to Keene, Calif., to pay tribute to the founder of the United Farm Workers was technically official White House
business, but it also helped magnify Obama's outreach efforts to the Hispanic community. It is an important voting bloc whose
turnout could be crucial to his chances in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina and
Obama noted Chávez led a historic 300-mile farmworkers' march from Delano to the California state Capitol in Sacramento
and remembered Chávez's role in organizing a 1966 boycott of table grapes, which eventually drew 17 million supporters across
the country and led to growers agreeing to among the first farmworker contracts in history.
The president also celebrated Chávez as a leader who strove to improve the lives of the next generation, a goal that
Obama acknowledged the nation is currently struggling to achieve.
"Today, we have more work to do to fulfill that promise," Obama said. "The recession we're fighting our way back from is
still taking a toll, especially in Latino communities, which already faced higher unemployment and poverty rates."
Before addressing thousands at the site of the national monument, Obama toured the grounds of La Paz, where Chávez is
buried, and met privately with the late leader's wife, Helen Chávez, and his son, Paul.
And while Obama didn't expressly ask for votes, others who spoke at the ceremony reminded voters that Obama has
appointed two Latinos to Cabinet positions -- Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar -- as well as the first
Latina Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor. And they brought up the president's decision to defer deportation of young
illegal immigrants who join the military or attend college.
The president was greeted with chants of "Four more years" by the crowd. He derived his iconic 2008 slogan "Yes we can"
from Chávez, who coined the phrase "Sí, se puede" during his organizing efforts.
Obama, who won the Latino vote by a better than 2-to-1 margin in 2008, is ahead of Romney nationally among that group
72%-to-21%, according to impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll published Monday.
Matt Barreto, a pollster with Latino Decisions, said what remains to be seen is whether Obama can turn out Hispanic voters
at levels that could help him over the hump in critical swing states. Honoring Chávez is a smart move toward reminding voters of
his record on issues important to the Hispanic community, he added.
Results of polling in three battleground states -- Florida, New Mexico and Virginia -- show Obama and Romney are closer
in the race for the Latino voters. They are knotted at 47%-47% among Hispanics in Florida, while Obama holds a 58-26% edge in
New Mexico and a 57%-42% lead in Virginia, according to polls conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the left-leaning
Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund and published Monday. Obama holds a 71%-20% lead among Hispanic voters
in Nevada, another important state both candidates are vying for.
In Dedicating César Chávez Monument, Obama Reaches Out To Latino Voters (CSM)
By Amanda Paulson
Christian Science Monitor, October 8, 2012
While Mitt Romney touted his foreign policy agenda in Virginia on Columbus Day, President Obama courted a key
demographic in California: Hispanic voters. Skip to next paragraph
Mr. Obama designated the César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, Calif., honoring the labor leader and reaching
out to Latinos and union workers at the same time.
He toured the site at Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, where Mr. Chávez lived and where he helped the United Farm
Workers union strategize for better pay and working conditions.
In his remarks, Obama evoked recent history, when no one seemed to care about the plight of America's farm workers.
"César cared," the president said. "In his own peaceful and eloquent way, he made other people care, too."
The site includes Chávez's grave, his office, and the small home where his widow still lives.
The decision to designate a monument here is historic – it will be the first parcel in the National Park Service system
honoring a modern-day Latino – but it also clearly has political motivations.
Currently, polls show that Obama has the support of about 70 percent of Latino voters – a wide lead that could help propel
him to victory. Hispanics are a growing demographic that both Obama and Mr. Romney have eagerly sought. But while the
numbers for Obama are encouraging, it's unclear how enthusiastically many of those voters support him or whether they'll get to
the polls on Election Day.
Already, in a move his opponents have criticized as politically motivated, Obama has gained some support from Latino
voters with his decision to allow work permits to some young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, via the
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – a program similar to the DREAM Act.
Given that focus on immigration – and the importance of immigration reform to many Hispanic voters – it's notable what a
controversial figure Chávez was, even among Latinos.
As co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association (which later became the UFW), he was a tireless advocate for
laborers' rights and helped make the plight of thousands of fieldworkers a moral cause. He also coined the famous phrase "Si, se
puede" – the Spanish phrase that was reflected in Obama's "Yes we can" slogan in 2008.
But Chávez was not a fan of expanding immigration. He believed that undocumented immigrants undercut the pay and
negotiating power of unionized workers, and he protested farms' use of migrant and undocumented workers as "strikebreakers."
In some instances, he and the UFW even reported some undocumented immigrants to the Immigration and Naturalization
Service for deportation.
In the 1970s, under Chávez, the UFW set up a "wet line" along the US-Mexico border to stop immigrants from entering the
US illegally.
Almost certainly, it was the pro-worker, civil rights activist Chávez, and not the anti-immigrant Chávez, that Obama sought
to honor in dedicating the monument on Monday.
Chávez, he noted in his remarks, believed "when someone who works 12 hours a day in the fields can earn enough to put
food on the table – maybe save up enough to buy a home – that lifts up our entire economy."
Obama Pays Homage To Hispanic Leader Cesar Chavez (AFP)
AFP, October 9, 2012
KEENE, California — President Barack Obama Monday declared a national monument honoring Hispanic civil rights
activist Cesar Chavez, praising his perseverance and steadfastness as a labor organizer for struggling farm workers.
Obama, campaigning to win re-election in a November 6 vote that could hinge in large part on Latino support, recalled that
Chavez had "worked for 20 years as an organizer without a single major victory" for his movement.
"But he refused to give up, he refused to scale back his dreams. He just kept fasting and marching, speaking out, confident
that his day would come," Obama said at a campaign event at Chavez's former headquarters in Keene California.
"Our world is a better place because Cesar Chavez decided to change it," Obama said Monday.
This hillside village in agricultural southeastern California is the location of "La Paz" -- headquarters of Chavez's United
Farm Workers union, as well as his former home and final resting place.
Following Monday's presidential decree, the spot some 110 miles (180 kilometers) north of Los Angeles will now be called
the "National Cesar Chavez Monument."
It is among about 400 natural sanctuaries and historic sites on the national registry, and will be managed by the US
National Park Service.
Chavez -- born in the United States in 1927 to a family of Mexican origin and who died in 1993 -- gave a voice to
agricultural workers and, as a lawyer, championed in particular the rights of Mexican American or "Chicano" workers.
He is revered by the Latino community, whose votes are becoming increasing important in US elections.
In 2008, Obama was brought to power by a strong mobilization of minorities, including 66 percent of Hispanic voters, and
polls show the community continues to support Obama.
Since he took office, the US president has created three other national monuments: Fort Monroe, in Virginia, and Chimney
Rock, in Colorado, both states potentially crucial for victory in the presidential vote.
Obama Dedicates Cesar Chavez Monument, Courts Latino Voters (REU)
By Jeff Mason
Reuters, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from Reuters currently cannot be included in this document. You may, however, click the link above to
access the story.
Obama Reaches Out To Latino Voters With Chavez Monument (WT)
By Susan Crabtree, The Washington Times
Washington Times, October 8, 2012
President Obama designated the home of Latino labor leader Cesar Chavez as a national monument Monday, a move
Republicans denounced as a desperate attempt to shore up Latino support as the race tightens in its final weeks.
Opening his remarks with Mr. Chavez' famous slogan — "Si Se Puede," or "Yes, We Can," Mr. Obama said the California
monument would serve as a tribute to "a great man and a great movement" devoted to helping improve the plight of farm workers
and making this country "a little more just and a little more free."
"Our world is a better place because Cesar Chavez decided to change it," Mr. Obama said during the ceremony in Keene,
Calif., near Bakersfield.
With polls showing the presidential contest narrowing to less than the margin of error — a Washington Times/Zogby poll
released Monday has Republican Mitt Romney slightly ahead of Mr. Obama, 45 percent to 44.5 percent — Republicans criticized
the president's decision to spend taxpayer dollars designating the Chavez monument, calling it a desperate political ploy to reach
out to Latino voters.
Republicans quickly condemned the way the Obama administration acquired the Chavez property, accusing the president
of circumventing Congress and acting unilaterally at a time when there are millions of dollars in backlogged maintenance for
existing parks.
"Additions to the National Park system should result from careful public review and a vote by Congress, not secret electionyear deals cut behind closed doors at the White House," said Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican from Washington state who
chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. "This national monument designation is an unnecessary use of presidential
power and appears to be based more on politics than sound policy."
Mr. Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906, which was signed into law by President Theodore
Roosevelt, to designate Mr. Chavez's home as a national monument. The act gives presidents the ability to restrict the use of
public land owned by the government and was originally intended to protect mostly prehistoric Indian ruins on federal lands in the
West from excavation by collectors.
The act provides presidents a much swifter way of designating a monument than going through the congressional process
of creating a National Park. Even Mr. Roosevelt used the act for broader purposes, creating the Devils Tower National Monument
and the Grand Canyon National Monument under the authority.
But in tough budget times, Republicans say Mr. Obama should have sought approval for the project. Mr. Hastings says the
costs and any liability associated with running and maintaining the site are unknown and inappropriate at a time when Congress
and the White House are struggling to find $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years to avoid across-the-board cuts to domestic
and defense spending.
The 187-acre site, known as La Paz, was the planning and coordination center of the United Farm Workers of America,
which began in 1971. It was where Mr. Chavez and Dolores Huerta, who was on hand for Mr. Obama's remarks, formed the farm
workers union and where the organizers lived, trained and strategized.
Mr. Obama said Americans could learn from the example of Mr. Chavez, who helped farm workers fight for higher wages,
safe drinking water, workman's compensation and pensions.
Mr. Chavez's vision, a "belief in the power of opportunity" and a better life for future generations drove his work as a union
organizer, Mr. Obama said.
"It's the promise that has attracted generations of immigrants to our shores from every corner of the globe, sometimes at
great risk, drawn by the idea that no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you come from, this is the place where
you can make it if you try," he said.
Despite the monument's obvious appeal to Latinos and Hispanics, a growing bloc of voters who could determine the
outcome of the election, Mr. Obama only alluded to the tightening president contest between himself and Republican Mitt
The economy is recovering, Mr. Obama said during his remarks, but too many people remain out of work, particularly in
Hispanic communities.
"The recession we're fighting our way back from is still taking a toll, especially in Latino communities, which already faced
higher unemployment and poverty rates," he said. "Even with the strides we've made, too many workers are still being denied
basic rights and simple respect."
Mr. Obama spoke after taking a tour of the gardens and the former home and headquarters of the United Farm Workers of
America. With widow Helen Chavez at his side, the president laid a single red rose on Mr. Chavez's grave, located in the garden.
Obama Designates La Paz As A National Monument (AP)
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
KEENE, Calif. (AP) — During a campaign swing through California, President Barack Obama established a national
monument on the property that was home to Latino labor leader Cesar Chavez and his farmworker movement.
On Monday, Obama designated 105 acres in Keene, Calif., as the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument.
The property is known as La Paz, short for Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, or Our Lady Queen of Peace.
La Paz served and continues to serve as the national headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America. It was also
Chavez's home from the early 1970s until his death in 1993.
The monument includes a visitor center, Chavez's grave site and memorial garden, and Chavez's house where his widow
Helen Chavez still lives.
Creation of a national monument at La Paz follows designation of the site in the San Joaquin Valley near Bakersfield as a
national historic site. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the site's designation on the National Register of Historic Places
last year.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Chavez's founding of the National Farm Workers Association, which later became
the UFW.
The Chavez monument will be the fourth national monument designated by Obama using the Antiquities Act. He previously
designated Virginia's Fort Monroe, California's Fort Ord and Colorado's Chimney Rock as national monuments.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
President Barack Obama Honors Cesar Chavez, Thousands Uninvited From Ceremony
Huffington Post, October 9, 2012
As many as 3,000 people were uninvited at the last minute from Monday's ceremony with President Barack Obama
honoring Latino labor activist Cesar Chavez in Keene, Calif.
The number of people who wanted to attend the event, in which Obama designated Chavez's former office and home as a
national monument, overwhelmed organizers at the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the United Farm Workers union.
"We've never had this problem before," Cesar Chavez Foundation spokesman Marc Grossman told The Huffington Post.
"Usually we have to encourage people to attend our events."
Event organizers from the Cesar Chavez Foundation and UFW realized they had a problem Friday morning, less than 48
hours after posting the signup form on their websites.
"The response was so overwhelming and quick that we realized it was far beyond our capacity," explained Grossman.
Signups on both websites were stopped before 9 a.m. Friday, but not before an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people more than
the event's 7,000 capacity had registered.
Both organizations decided to confront the problem indirectly at first, with two email blasts Friday and Saturday asking
everyone who had already registered to re-register. The organizers also described the difficulties associated with travel, waiting
times and Secret Service screenings, figuring 20 percent to 30 percent wouldn't re-register.
But Grossman said the emails resulted in "almost no drop-offs." At that point, event organizers began telling people they
were uninvited.
From late Saturday to Sunday, the organizations sent emails to thousands who had re-registered for the event. They then
followed up with dozens of volunteers calling late into the night Sunday to speak with the disinvited.
"There were those who were upset and understandably so," said Grossman. "All we could do was explain and apologize."
The disappointed spoke out angrily on Twitter.
Maricela Mares-Alatorre, a community activist from nearby Kettleman City, told the Los Angeles Times that she was
"heartbroken" over the disappointing turn of events.
"We were uninvited Sunday night," said Mares-Alatorre to the Times. "They said they were overbooked. We’re
The three-acre Cesar Chavez national monument site includes a visitor's center, Chavez's preserved office, a memorial
garden, and Chavez's gravesite. The grounds also include the house where Chavez lived for the last 22 years of his life. His wife,
Helen Chavez, still lives there.
Beyond any memorial site or statue or street name, said Grossman, the greatest monument to Chavez's legacy is the
ongoing fight for farmworkers' rights.
"Cesar said many times that if the union and the movement did not survive his death, then he would have felt his work was
in vain," said Grossman, who was Chavez's former press secretary and personal aide. "The greatest monument to Cesar Chavez
is to continue this movement," he added.
Related on HuffPost:
Obama Rakes In $9.5 Million On California Swing (POLITCO)
By Donovan Slack
Politico, October 8, 2012
President Obama is making six stops in two days, hopscotching through California on a trip expected to net his campaign
nearly $9.5 million.
On Monday in San Francisco, he begins with a $40,000 per head closed-door roundtable discussion with 25 expected
guests, according to a campaign official. Then he heads to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, where he'll deliver remarks at a
$20,000 per head dinner followed by a concert featuring performances by John Legend and Michael Franti. Total haul for the
day: at least $4.2 million.
On Sunday, he hit a similar slate of events in Los Angeles with a total haul expected to top $5.25 million. A star-studded
concert at the Nokia Theater for 6,000 people featured Stevie Wonder, Jon Bov Jovi, Katy Perry, Jennifer Hudson and Earth,
Wind & Fire. That followed an intimate $25,000 per head dinner attended by George Clooney, Seth Macfarlane and Harvey
The Obama campaign and DNC reported raising a record $181 million in September, and they don't appear to be slowing
the pace. Although, as Maggie Haberman reported last week, the president may be winding down on fundraisers to concentrate
on rallying voters in crucial battleground states. She reported his final finance event will be in Florida later this week.
Obama Is Urged To Get Tough (WSJ)
Supporters Disagree Over Debate Approach as Poll Finds Romney Taking the Lead
By Peter Nicholas And Carol E. Lee
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Battleground Tracking Poll: Dems Less Enthusiastic (POLITCO)
By James Hohmann
Politico, October 9, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. — President Barack Obama has a worsening enthusiasm problem.
A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Tracking Poll of likely voters shows Obama ahead of Mitt
Romney 49 percent to 48 percent nationally, a statistical tie and a percentage point closer than a week ago.
The head-to-head numbers have held remarkably steady through the past three weeks, but there’s been a notable shift of
intensity from the Democrats to the Republicans since the party conventions over a month ago. Most of the poll’s calls were
made before Romney’s strong performance at the first presidential debate in Denver.
Only 73 percent who support Obama say they are “extremely likely” to vote, compared to 86 percent who back Romney.
Likewise, 84 percent of Republicans say they are extremely likely to vote, compared to 76 percent of Democrats.
Among those extremely likely to vote, Romney actually leads Obama 52 percent to 46 percent. That’s up from a 2-point
lead last week. Obama led 50 percent to 47 percent among this group three weeks ago.
The Battleground tracking poll will be performed each week and the results released each Monday through Election Day.
This poll was in the field last Monday through Thursday, but about 85 percent of the calls were made before the debate on
Wednesday night. The final night of tracking was good for Romney, but it’s not a big enough sample to report. So this does not
reflect any momentum Romney might get from his performance in Denver.
The percentages among key Democratic constituencies who say they are extremely likely to vote should cause concern in
Chicago: While 82 percent of whites (who break for Romney by a 15-point margin) say they’re “extremely likely” to vote, only 71
percent of African-Americans and 70 percent of Latinos do. And just 68 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds, another key Obama
constituency, put themselves in the “extremely likely” to vote category.
The electorate is deeply divided and polarized, which makes 2012 look increasingly like a base election. Whoever runs up
their vote count among their core supporters is likely to prevail, which is why these numbers are so significant.
A more energized base frees up Romney to focus more of his energy on wooing independents and others unhappy with
the president but not currently supporting him.
The trend lines suggest that Obama will be forced to devote more time than he’d like in the final weeks toward motivating
African-Americans, Latinos and college kids.
Round Of Polls Shows Tight Race After Obama-Romney Debate (WT)
Independents favor challenger
By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times
Washington Times, October 9, 2012
Powered by his widely-acclaimed debate performance last week, Mitt Romney has closed a 9 percentage-point gap and is
once again tied with President Obama in the latest The Washington Times/Zogby Poll conducted by Zogby Analytics, released
Likely voters who watched Wednesday's debate overwhelmingly scored it a win for Mr. Romney, 65 percent to 14 percent
for Mr. Obama, and among independents it was even worse for the president — only 8 percent said he triumphed.
The poll showed Mr. Romney turning the gender gap in his favor, recapturing an overall lead among independent voters
and taking the lead when voters were asked who they thought would do a better at handling jobs and the economy.
"Don't ever ask again if debates matter," said John Zogby, the pollster who conducted the survey.
The poll was taken Friday through Sunday, meaning voters also had time to digest Friday's monthly jobs report, which
signaled the unemployment rate has dropped below 8 percent for the first time since Mr. Obama took office.
Mr. Romney led in the poll 45.1 percent to 44.5 percent when he was stacked up against Mr. Obama alone. Adding in thirdparty candidates such as Libertarian nominee Gary E. Johnson gave Mr. Obama a slight edge, 45.5 percent to 45 percent.
Both numbers, though, represent a major change from a week earlier, before the debate, when Mr. Obama was flirting with
50 percent — a 9 percentage-point lead over Mr. Romney.
"Obama lost as many points as Romney gained. And Romney has now pulled ahead among independents and
consolidated a few of his own groups," Mr. Zogby said.
Curiously, voters disagreed with some of Mr. Romney's answers to the most notable exchanges in the debate, even as
they scored him the winner.
A strong majority said the federal government should continue to send taxpayers' money to PBS, contradicting Mr.
Romney's vow to end funding for public television and some related programs such as "Sesame Street."
And voters also seemed to prefer Mr. Obama's plan to cut tax subsidies to oil companies and corporate jet manufacturers
over Mr. Romney's plan to cut subsidies to green energy companies.
But on the key question of Mr. Romney's tax plan, which he says can lower rates and still balance the books, voters were
split down the middle: 350 voters said the math adds up, 350 voters agreed with Mr. Obama that it was impossible, and the other
100 were unsure who was right.
Debates have a way of elevating challengers to the level of incumbent presidents in voters' eyes, and Mr. Romney appears
to be benefitting both from that and from a sense among voters that many of them would be comfortable with him.
Just as important, Mr. Romney's own backers are once again enthusiastically behind him, and have regained some
confidence that he can win the election.
That shows in the polls, but also shows up at the rallies and in the rush on Romney campaign buttons and yard signs that
local GOP offices reported in the wake of the debate.
On Monday, supporters sporting ponchos, raincoats and umbrellas braved chilly temperatures, heavy rain and sloppy
grounds to see Mr. Romney speak at a rally in Newport News, Virginia.
"People wonder why is it I'm so confident we're going to win. I'm confident because I see you here on a day like this. This is
unbelievable. Thank you so much," Mr. Romney told the audience, which by the campaign's count was upward of 500 people.
Democrats, meanwhile, are getting nervous over the direction of the race.
"We could hardly sleep last night," the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a fundraising plea to
supporters Monday that pointed to Gallup's latest tracking survey that, like The Times/Zogby Poll, showed a tied race.
Yet another poll, by the Pew Research Center, showed Mr. Romney with a 4 percentage-point lead among likely voters.
The Pew poll also credited Mr. Romney's debate performance for the jump, which reversed an 8-point lead for Mr. Obama last
With little to do but acknowledge he botched the debate, Mr. Obama on Sunday joked about it, telling the audience at a
fundraiser in Los Angeles on Sunday he couldn't compare with the performances the donors had just heard: Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie
Wonder, Katy Perry and Earth, Wind and Fire.
"They're such great friends, and they just perform flawlessly night after night. I can't always say the same," he quipped.
Still his party has not abandoned him. Indeed, Democrats are as enthusiastic about Mr. Obama as ever, and still expect
him to triumph on Nov. 6.
Republicans have challenged many polls this year, arguing they oversample Democrats, who are overwhelmingly proObama.
Like most polls, the Times/Zogby Poll is weighted for demographics. The poll sample included 38 percent Democrats, 35
percent Republicans and 27 percent independents. The breakdown for ideology was 21 percent liberal, 36 percent moderate and
43 percent self-identified conservatives.
The poll was conducted by live interview, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
• Seth McLaughlin, traveling with the Romney campaign in Newport News, Va., contributed to this article.
Mitt Romney Surges In Some Polls, Lags In Others, As Manic Monday Messages Mix (HUFFPOST)
Huffington Post, October 8, 2012
WASHINGTON -- Call it Manic Monday. In one day, Gallup published results of a new national poll of registered voters
showing both an even presidential race and a lead of five percentage points by President Barack Obama. Then came the Pew
Research Center with new results showing Republican nominee Mitt Romney leading among likely voters by four percentage
points, 49 percent to 45 percent.
The apparent discrepancy in the Gallup results, which we explore in more detail in a separate article, boils down to
differences in when the surveys were conducted. Over the last seven days, Gallup found Obama leading Romney among
registered voters by five percentage points (50 percent to 45 percent). For the three days immediately following Wednesday's
debate, however, Gallup showed Romney and Obama tied among registered voters.
That last result provides one element of consistency between the Gallup and Pew Research surveys. Both found an even
race between Obama and Romney in interviews conducted primarily over the three days following Wednesday's debate.
According to Pew Research, 1,046 of its 1,201 interviews were conducted on Thursday through Saturday. Just 155 interviews
were conducted on Sunday. The full sample had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points, with a 3.4 percentage point margin of
error among likely voters.
Harder to reconcile is that until this survey, Pew Research had produced results among registered voters that were typically
better for Obama than those produced by other pollsters, particularly Gallup.
Unlike Gallup, Pew Research also reported results for the voters most likely to vote, a subgroup that has grown more
favorable for Romney since September due to growing Republican enthusiasm. Pew Research showed Romney leading among
the most likely voters by a margin of 49 percent to 46 percent.
Whether Romney's gains have been large or small, the Pew Research survey brings to a crazy Monday a detailed
assessment of the complex opinions behind them.
Take that rise in enthusiasm for Romney. Pew found that 82 percent of Romney's backers said they'd given a lot of thought
to the election, compared with 67 percent of Obama's supporters. In September, the two camps were only four percentage points
apart on that measure.
Romney also caught up to the president on a key personal metric, emerging from the debate with newly strengthened
favorability numbers. Romney, who for much of the campaign has been underwater on favorability, hit a 50 percent approval
rating for the first time in a Pew survey, boosted by rising approval from women and voters younger than 50. Forty-six percent still
disapproved of Romney. Obama had a 49 percent favorable rating, and a 48 percent unfavorable rating.
Romney had some success in combatting the view that he's out of touch. Although Obama still leads him by 29 points as
better able to connect with ordinary Americans, the gap has narrowed by 14 percentage points since mid-September. Voters
gave Romney and Obama equal marks on the ability to be a strong leader and to work across the aisle, measures where Obama
previously led by double digits. And while most voters continue to say Romney's economic policies would benefit the wealthy,
he's effectively closed the gap with the president on his ability to help the middle class as well.
In less positive news for Romney, six in 10 voters agreed with the criticism that he was promising more than he could
deliver and more than half said it was difficult to know what he stood for.
Can Mitt Romney Sustain The Momentum He Gained From The Debate? (CSM)
Christian Science Monitor, October 8, 2012
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and wife Ann campaign at Tradition Town
Square in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 7. Charles Dharapak/AP Enlarge
The polls keep coming, and the news is consistent: Thursday night was a good night for Mitt Romney.
However, it's unclear how permanent that bounce is and whether the race has truly been reshaped.
Perhaps the best news for Mr. Romney came with Monday's Gallup tracking-poll release. While the poll still shows
President Obama having an edge of three percentage points among registered voters, the result is dramatically different when
Gallup isolates the pre- and post-debate interviews. (The tracking poll gives seven-day rolling averages.)
In the interviews conducted before the debate, Mr. Obama had a five-point lead over Romney. In the three days of
interviews conducted after the debate, the two candidates were tied, each with 47 percent of registered voters.
"The first presidential debate went decidedly in Romney's favor," Gallup wrote in its poll analysis. "The debate appears to
have affected voters to some degree, given the narrowing of the race in the three days after the debate compared with the three
days prior."
Then the analysis notes, "Still, the impact was not so strong that it changed the race to the point where Romney emerged
as the leader among registered voters. Rather, at least in the first three days of Gallup tracking after the debate, the race is tied."
With last week's debate, Gallup registered the most decisive debate win ever, with those who watched the debate
overwhelmingly judging Romney the winner, 72 percent to 20 percent. Prior to this 52-point win, the largest margin that Gallup
had ever measured in gauging viewers' debate reaction was a 42-point win for Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush in a 1992
town-hall debate.
A Politico/George Washington University battleground tracking poll of likely voters that was released Monday also indicates
potential problems for Obama – particularly with voters' enthusiasm levels.
The poll shows Obama with a one-point lead over Romney (a statistical tie) – one point closer than a week ago. But more
of those who back Romney say they are "extremely likely" to vote (86 percent) compared with those who support Obama (73
Beyond that, more Republicans than Democrats say they are extremely likely to vote – a potential problem for Obama
given the consistent tightness of the race. Among voters who rate themselves as "extremely likely," Romney beats Obama, 52
percent to 46 percent. Three weeks ago, Obama led with that group of voters, 50 percent to 47 percent.
So, where's the good news for Obama in all this?
For starters, the surprisingly good jobs numbers this past Friday seem to have muted the effect of the debate at least
Also, the fact that the various tracking polls – all of which keep replacing one day of pre-debate polls with another day of
post-debate ones – haven't continued to get markedly better each day "can be read as mildly disappointing for [Romney]," notes
polling maven Nate Silver of The New York Times in his FiveThirtyEight blog.
Mr. Silver acknowledges Romney's very strong performance – and says his own forecasting model, which now gives
Romney just over a 21 percent chance of winning the electoral vote, may be underestimating his chances and the effect of the
debate. But he also says that bounces like the one Romney received are sometimes ephemeral.
"[S]ome changes may be real, but short-lived," Silver writes. "It seems quite possible that Mr. Romney would have had at
least an even-money chance of winning an election conducted on Thursday exactly, when his polling was very strong – but there
was apparently less strength in his numbers on Saturday."
Romney clearly gained some much-needed momentum from his performance Wednesday night. Now the question for pollwatchers is whether he can sustain it over the coming weeks.
Debate Performance Helps Romney; Improved Jobs Report Fuels Obama (USAT)
By Martha T. Moore, @usatmoore, Usa Today
USA Today, October 9, 2012
Mitt Romney's strong debate performance pulled him ahead of President Obama in a Pew Research Center poll released
Monday. Other polling indicates Romney's boost may be temporary after Friday's jobs report.
The Pew poll shows Romney leads Obama 49% to 45% among likely voters, a turnaround from September's Pew poll that
showed him trailing by 8 percentage points. He is tied with Obama among registered voters in the poll, which was taken
Thursday through Sunday and has a margin of error of +/-2.9 percentage points. Their first debate was held on Wednesday.
Monday afternoon, Gallup reported that Obama continued to lead Romney, 50%-45%, in its latest daily tracking poll, a
seven-day rolling average Oct. 1-7.
Earlier Monday, Gallup released a separate analysis that looked at three days of polling after the debate. In that, Romney
pulled even with Obama, 47%-47% among registered voters.
In Friday's jobs report, the unemployment rate fell to 7.8% from 8.1%. That helps Obama: In 2009, his administration
projected that federal stimulus spending, if passed, would drive unemployment below 8%. Romney regularly says Obama
promised to reduce unemployment below the 8% bar.
"The debate appears to have affected voters to some degree, given the narrowing of the race in the three days after the
debate," says Jeffrey Jones of Gallup. But Obama made up ground after the jobs news came out Friday morning, he says.
"Romney definitely improved in Friday and Saturday polling among registered voters, but Obama did better Saturday and Sunday
nights," Jones says.
Polls show that viewers say Romney won the debate: 66% to 20% in the Pew survey (the remaining respondents said
neither, both or didn't know). Romney's debate-win margin in the Gallup Poll, 72% to 20%, is the largest Gallup has recorded.
Even Obama agreed, making a joke Monday on the campaign trail that singers appearing with him performed "flawlessly,
night after night," but "I can't always say the same."
The debate was widely watched: Two-thirds of respondents in the Gallup Poll said they had seen it, and Nielsen reported
that 67 million Americans watched, 15 million more than watched the first presidential debate of the 2008 election.
In the Pew poll, Romney has made up a lot of ground with female voters: He trailed Obama by 18 percentage points in
September but is now even, 47%-47%. He also is tied with Obama in voters' view of who would help the middle class: 49% say
Romney, compared with 50% for Obama.
"Romney is seen as the candidate who has new ideas and is viewed as better able than Obama to improve the jobs
situation and reduce the budget deficit," said Andy Kohut, Pew Research Center president.
Even if it doesn't last, Romney's catch-up after the debate is "significant, given the competitiveness of the race," Jones
says. "And the fact that debates rarely transform presidential races."
8 Takeaways From The New Pew Poll (WP)
By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post, October 8, 2012
The latest Pew poll showing former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney ahead of President Obama among likely voters
has the potential to rapidly re-orient conventional wisdom about the challenger’s chances of winning.
Of course, this is a single poll — although Gallup’s latest tracking also shows movement toward Romney since last
Wednesday’s debate — and, as such, should be taken cum grano salis. Still, it’s a major shot in the arm for a Romney campaign
that 10 days ago was fighting off “Is it all over?” stories.
While the topline numbers in the Pew survey are sexy — politically speaking, of course — and will draw lots (and lots) of
headlines, there’s lots of other interesting data contained within the guts of the survey. We dug through it and pulled out eight
takeaways. They are below — and in no particular order other than the order we noticed them.
* Romney won the debate. Big time….: It was clear in watching the first presidential debate in Denver last week that
Romney was delivering a tour de force performance while Obama, well, wasn’t. But the Pew poll suggests two thirds of all
registered voters in their sample said Romney won the debate while just 20 percent said Obama had; those numbers were even
more striking among independents — 72 percent of whom said Romney won. Among independents who watched the debate, 78
percent (!) said Romney won. Everything else in the poll, which suggests movement across the board to the Republican, is born
of the fact that people don’t think Romney just won the debate but that he absolutely swamped Obama.
* …But will it matter in the long run: In 2004, nearly six in ten registered voters who watched the presidential debate said
they thought Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry had won. And in 2000, 41 percent said Al Gore won as compared to 32 percent
who opted for then Texas governor George W. Bush. So, the “winner” of the first debate wound up losing in each case. Which is
either a trend or totally irrelevant depending on your partisan perspective.
* Surging GOP enthusiasm: Prior to the debate, Republicans seemed to be for Romney mostly because they were against
Obama. But now, at least according to Pew, there is a clear surge in enthusiasm and engagement on the Republican side that is
born of genuine excitement among the base for their candidate. Sixty-seven percent of Romney supporters in the poll say they
support him strongly, a major increase from the 56 percent who said the same in the September Pew poll. And, more than eight
in ten Romney supporters say they have given “a lot of thought” to the election while 67 percent of Obama backers said the
* People are (starting) to like Romney: In mid July, one in three (34 percent) of voters in Pew polling said they had a
favorable opinion of Romney. Now, 45 percent do — a five-point bump in his favorable rating even since the September Pew
poll. Forty seven percent still view Romney unfavorably so it’s not all roses for the Republican nominee but his image does seem
to be moving in the right direction.
* Romney, the ideas guy: Asked which candidate “has new ideas”, 47 percent of registered voters named Romney while 40
percent chose Obama. Romney spent much of the debate trying to offer (some) detail on his plan if elected — remember that he
started off the debate with an opening statement focused on his 5-point plan to grow the economy — and it appears to have
done him some good.
* Romney’s biggest weakness: More than six in ten voters (62 percent) agreed with the statement that “Romney is
promising more than he can deliver” — a finding that should provide some strategic guidance for Obama as he seeks to get back
on his feet in the second debate next week. Obama tried to press this line of argument — $5 trillion tax cut and so on and so forth
— during the opening moments of last week’s debate but abandoned the “it doesn’t add up” hit after the first 20 minutes or so.
* Obama’s biggest weakness: A majority of those polled (54 percent) agreed that “President Obama doesn’t know how to
turn the economy around” while 44 percent disagreed with that statement. Expect Romney to keep up the “he’s a nice man but
he doesn’t know what he’s doing” attack in the next debate — it appears the most solid hit he has on President Obama in the
race’s final days.
* That pesky party ID question: The Pew sample for this poll was 36 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 30
percent independent. That’s a major shift from the organization’s September poll which was 29 percent Republican, 39 percent
Democratic and 30 percent independent. In the 2010 election, the electorate was 36 percent Republican, 36 percent Democratic
and 27 percent independent, according to exit polling. In 2008, 39 percent of the electorate identified as Democrats while 32
percent said they were Republicans and 29 percent said they were independents.
Romney Leaps Past Obama In Pew Poll (WSJ)
By Colleen Mccain Nelson
Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Polls Indicate Post-debate Bounce For Romney (AFP)
AFP, October 9, 2012
WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney got a poll boost from his strong debate performance against President Barack Obama but
it is too early to know how significant or lasting the bounce for the Republican challenger will be.
Gallup's September 30-October 6 poll of registered voters across the nation showed Obama had a five-point lead over
Romney in the three days before last Wednesday's presidential debate.
But in the three days after the debate, that lead had melted away and the two candidates were tied at 47 percent apiece.
Obama still had a three-point edge, 49 to 46 percent, in Gallup's seven-day rolling average ending Saturday, which
included polls before and after the debate.
"Even on this basis, the race has become somewhat more competitive compared with before the first debate," Gallup said.
"Obama held four- to six-point leads in Gallup's seven-day tracking results in the eight days prior to the Oct 3 debate."
A separate national poll by the Pew Research Center conducted in the days after the debate showed Romney backed by
49 percent of likely voters and Obama with the support of 45 percent.
This represented a stunning reversal from a Pew poll conducted between September 12 and September 16 that gave
Obama an eight-point lead among likely voters, but again it was unclear how quickly the Romney surge might evaporate.
The volatile national polls will only affect the result on November 6 if they translate to breakthroughs in key states like
Virginia, Florida and Ohio, where Romney must win to have any chance of taking the White House.
Obama currently leads in nine of the 10 swing states.
The latest national polls are however an early measure of the damage done by Obama's lackluster performance against a
more aggressive and energetic Romney in Denver.
Two more presidential debates await on October 16 and October 22. The vice presidential candidates, Democrat Joe Biden
and Republican Paul Ryan, will go head-to-head in a one-off encounter on Thursday.
Poll: Romney Takes Narrow Lead After Dominating Debate (NATJO)
By Steven Shepard
National Journal, October 9, 2012
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has surged following his strong debate performance last week, and he now
holds a slight lead over President Obama among likely voters, according to a new poll released Monday by the Pew Research
Romney is more highly regarded on most personal traits and issues than he was prior to the debate, and his supporters are
now more enthusiastic and engaged in the campaign than they were last month. The poll also shows significant increases in the
number of voters who identify as Republicans and the number of Republicans who report that they are likely to vote.
Romney leads Obama among likely voters, 49 percent to 45 percent, with 6 percent undecided or choosing another
candidate. That is a significant turnaround from the previous poll, conducted in mid-September, when Obama led, 51 percent to
43 percent.
Among the broader universe of registered voters surveyed from Oct. 4-7, the two candidates are tied at 46 percent apiece,
with 8 percent undecided. That is similar to interviews conducted by Gallup Oct. 4-6, which also found Obama and Romney tied
among registered voters.
The catalyst for Romney's bounce appears to be his performance at last week's debate. Asked who did the better job, 66
percent of voters say Romney did, compared to just 20 percent for Obama.
For the first time in Pew's polling, a majority of Romney supporters say they "strongly support" him. Obama had held a
significant advantage on this measure all year. Romney's supporters are more engaged in the campaign than Obama's, the poll
also shows. Fully 82 percent of Romney backers say they have given "a lot of thought" to the election , compared to just twothirds of Obama voters. The two candidates were roughly even on this measure last month.
As a result, more Republicans are making it through the likely-voter screen, giving the GOP a 5-point advantage on party
identification, a significant change from last month, when Democrats held a 10-point advantage. Republicans now make up 36
percent of likely voters, up from 29 percent last month. Democratic identification among likely voters declined from 39 percent last
month, to 31 percent now.
Meanwhile, the poll also shows significant jumps for Romney on important personal attributes following the debate.
Romney now matches Obama in favorability among registered voters. Half view Romney favorably, while 46 percent have an
unfavorable opinion of him. Obama's numbers are similar: 49 percent favorable, and 48 percent unfavorable.
Both Obama and Romney are now equally seen as a "strong leader" by registered voters, compared to a 13-point Obama
advantage on this measure last month. Romney has also closed the gap on the question of which candidate is "honest and
truthful," trimming his deficit from 14 points in September to 5 points in the new survey.
Romney has seen similar increases on the issues. He now holds a significant advantage on improving the jobs outlook, 49
percent to 41 percent, despite the fact that most of the poll was conducted after the release of September's unemployment
numbers on Friday. Last month, Obama held a 1-point advantage on this measure. Romney now leads by 4 points on the issue
of taxes, which was a 6-point advantage for Obama last month. On the issues of Medicare, health care and foreign policy, which
showed double-digit margins for Obama last month are now slim, single-digit edges.
On the ballot test, Romney's most significant improvements have come among women, white voters and younger voters.
While Obama held an 18-point lead among likely female voters last month, the race is now tied, with each candidate capturing 47
percent of the female vote. Romney leads among men, 51 percent to 43 percent, a slight increase from his 2-point edge among
male voters last month.
Romney's lead among whites has more than doubled. He now leads, 58 percent to 37 percent; last month, he was winning
whites, 51 percent to 44 percent. In particular, he has improved his standing significantly among white women, who now favor
him, 57 percent to 38 percent. Last month, Obama was actually winning white women by an insignificant, 3-point margin.
Romney also claims a 3-point lead among voters aged 18 to 49 years, 49 percent to 46 percent. Last month, these voters
swung to Obama, 56 percent to 39 percent. Romney also leads among those 50 and older by the same, 3-point margin; Obama
led among this bloc by 3 points last month.
The poll surveyed 1,201 registered voters, for a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.3 percentage points. There were also
1,112 likely voters; these results carry a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.4 percentage points.
Pew Poll Shows Romney Advancing (NYT)
By Marjorie Connelly
New York Times, October 8, 2012
Mitt Romney’s strong performance at the debate last week has wiped out President Obama’s lead in the latest national poll
conducted by the Pew Research Center.
Two-thirds of voters said Mr. Romney did a better job than Mr. Obama, including 39 percent of Democrats and 72 percent
of independents. And Mr. Romney has improved his standing on most issues and personal characteristics.
Mr. Romney is backed by 49 percent of likely voters and Mr. Obama has the support of 45 percent. Six percent remain
undecided. The four-point difference between the candidates is within the poll’s margin of sampling error of three percentage
points for each candidate.
Mr. Obama had an eight-point lead among likely voters in the Pew Research Center poll conducted Sept. 12 to 16.
In the wake of last week’s debate, Mr. Romney’s supporters are newly energized: 82 percent said they had given a lot of
thought to the election, up from 73 percent last month. In comparison, 67 percent of Mr. Obama’s supporters have given a lot of
thought to the election. Sixty-seven percent of voters who prefer Mr. Romney said they strongly supported him, up from 56
percent in September. The number of Mr. Obama’s backers who strongly support him has stayed steady at 68 percent.
Mr. Romney’s favorable rating among registered voters reached 50 percent for the first time in a Pew poll, up five points
since September. On the other hand, Mr. Obama’s favorability rating dropped to 49 percent from 55 percent.
In addition to overall favorability, Mr. Romney has gained ground against Mr. Obama in virtually all measures. They are now
just about even on which candidate is a better described as strong leader and which is more willing to work with leaders from the
opposition. Mr. Obama continues to be seen by more voters as the candidate who connects with ordinary people and who is
consistent on the issues. Mr. Obama’s 14-point advantage as the candidate who is more honest and truthful candidate narrowed
to five points.
In the latest poll, voters are closely divided on whether Mr. Romney or Mr. Obama would do a better job of dealing with
taxes, health care, foreign policy and Medicare. Although most of the interviewing was completed after the improved jobs report
was released last week, the voters give Mr. Romney an eight-point edge on improving the job situation.
The latest national poll was conducted Oct. 4 to 7 using landlines and cellphones among 1,201 registered voters, of whom
1,112 are considered likely voters.
The latest numbers from the Gallup tracking poll also shows a close race, but Mr. Obama with the advantage. Based on
interviews conducted Oct. 1 to 7, Mr. Obama is the choice of 50 percent of the registered voters surveyed and Mr. Romney is
backed by 45 percent.
In a separate poll conducted by Gallup, about two-thirds of those surveyed said they watched the debate, a level similar to
Gallup’s findings regarding the 2008 debates. Among those who watched the debate, 72 percent said Mr. Romney did a better
job, including 70 percent of independents and 49 percent of Democrats. The telephone poll was conducted Oct. 4 to 6 with 1,013
adults, of whom 749 said they watched the debate. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.
Pew: Romney 49, Obama 45 (POLITCO)
By Alexander Burns
Politico, October 9, 2012
After showing President Barack Obama with an 8-point lead in September, the Pew Research Center now finds a
deadlocked presidential race among registered voters — and a 4-point Romney lead among those most likely to vote:
Coming out of the debate, Mitt Romney’s personal image has improved. His favorable rating has hit 50% among registered
voters for the first time in Pew Research Center surveys and has risen five points since September. At the same time, Obama’s
personal favorability rating has fallen from 55% to 49%.
In the presidential horserace, Romney has made sizable gains over the past month among women voters, white nonHispanics and those younger than 50. Currently, women are evenly divided (47% Obama, 47% Romney). Last month, Obama
led Romney by 18 points (56% to 38%) among women likely voters. …
Romney now ties Obama in being regarded as a strong leader and runs virtually even with the president in willingness to
work with leaders of the other party. And by a 47% to 40% margin, voters pick Romney as the candidate who has new ideas.
Conversely, Obama continues hold leads as the candidate who connects well with ordinary people and takes consistent
positions on issues. And Obama leads by 10 points (49% to 39%) as the candidate who takes more moderate positions on
We've warned on a number of occasions against putting too much stock in surveys showing huge swings in a 2012 race
that's been mostly stable. The Pew poll falls into that category: Obama led by 19 points last month among registered female
voters, and there's been a 12-point swing among likely voters in the space of a few weeks.
(Also on POLITICO: 6 keys to a Romney revival)
But a national, prime-time debate is also one of the few occasions when you could plausibly see a major shift in the
fundamentals of the campaign, and even if you're inclined to take the magnitude of change here with a grain of salt, the trend in
the scattered national polling since the debate has tended to show real improvement for Romney.
Read more about: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Pew Research Center, 2012 Elections
Post-debate Polling Shows Substantial Romney Bounce (LAT)
By Paul West
Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2012
Mitt Romney’s commanding performance on the debate stage last week has generated a significant bounce for his
presidential candidacy, according to national polls released Monday.
The Republican nominee opened up a 4-point lead over President Obama, 49% to 45% among likely voters, in the latest
national opinion survey by the independent Pew Research Center. In mid-September, Obama led by 8 points, 51% to 43%, in a
survey by Pew, which has tended to show the president with a bigger advantage over Romney than have other major national
Post-debate interviews with 1,201 voters found that the debate had lifted Romney’s standing among a wide range of voter
groups. His overall personal image improved, with the percentage of voters holding a favorable opinion of the Republican
nominee up 5 points since last month.
Romney also made major gains among two key elements of Obama’s coalition — women and younger voters. The GOP
candidate wiped out Obama’s advantage among women voters. Last month, Obama led by 18 points among women, 56% to
38%; now they are even, 47% to 47%. And Romney’s image improvement among voters under 30 (he now is viewed favorably
by 42% of that group, compared with 32% in September) was his biggest improvement of any age demographic.
Obama, meantime, suffered broad declines. On jobs, by a margin of 49% to 41%, voters now say Romney would be better
able to improve the nation’s employment situation. That gain for the Republican came even though most of the interviewing for
the poll was conducted after Friday’s release of monthly job figures that showed the unemployment rate falling below 8%.
Perhaps most worrisome for Obama, an enthusiasm gap that appeared to have closed after the two national party
conventions has opened again — in Romney’s favor. His backers are far more engaged than Obama’s in the campaign; Romney
holds a 15-point advantage over Obama when voters were asked if they had given a lot of thought to the election.
By better than 3 to 1, voters said they thought that Romney had done a better job than Obama in the first presidential
debate, according to Pew, whose survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
That figure is similar to one by the Gallup organization, which also rated Romney the big winner in the debate. A Gallup
survey, conducted in the three days following the debate, showed a 47-47 deadlock between Obama and Romney among
registered voters.
TRANSCRIPT: Read Obama, Romney’s arguments
The Pew poll, conducted for four days after the debate, found a virtually identical 46-46 tie among registered voters
(Romney’s 4-point edge among likely voters reflects the greater likelihood that his supporters will actually cast ballots).
Gallup cautioned in its analysis that the recent drop in the jobless rate could “blunt some of Romney’s post-debate
momentum.” Gallup’s seven-day tracking poll, a less volatile measure that averaged thousands of interviews between Oct. 1 and
Oct. 7, showed Obama with a 5-point lead among registered voters, 50%-45%, suggesting that the debate bounce could be
Still to come: the first post-debate polls from battleground states that will decide what is shaping up to be one of the closest
presidential reelection votes in decades.
At times, swing-state surveys have diverged from national polls. The differences almost certainly reflect the lopsided
attention that voters in those states are receiving, in contrast to the rest of the country, including California, New York, Texas and
Illinois, where the outcome of the vote isn’t really in doubt.
Follow Politics Now on Twitter and Facebook
[email protected]
Twitter: @paulwestdc
Key To Victory? Who Has Best Ground Game (WSJ)
By Gerald F. Seib
Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Romney Leads Obama In Pew Likely Voter Poll After Debate (BSWK)
By Jonathan D. Salant And Julie Bykowicz
Bloomberg BusinessWeek, October 9, 2012
Republican nominee Mitt Romney leads President Barack Obama by 4 percentage points among likely voters in a Pew
Research Center poll that shows the Republican challenger getting a bounce from last week’s debate.
The survey taken Oct. 4-7, following the Oct. 3 presidential debate in Denver, gave the former Massachusetts governor 49
percent among likely voters and Obama 45 percent. Among registered voters, 66 percent said Romney won the debate and 20
percent said Obama did.
A Pew poll of likely voters taken Sept. 12-16 gave Obama a 51 percent to 43 percent lead, the widest margin of any
nominee since Bill Clinton in 1996.
The latest Pew poll showed Romney even with Obama among women likely voters at 47 percent apiece, while leading
among men, 51 percent to 43 percent. Last month, Obama held an 18- point edge among women, 56 percent to 38 percent, and
trailed by 2 points among men, with 48 percent backing Romney and 46 supporting the president. Independent likely voters
backed Romney, 46 percent to 42 percent; they split 45 percent to 44 percent for Obama in September. Better on Jobs
Registered voters said Romney would do better on improving the job situation, 49 percent to 41 percent. Last month, they
said Obama would be better, 46 percent to 45 percent.
The poll of 1,112 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Among 1,201 registered voters,
the margin of error was 3.3 percentage points.
Among the likely voters, 36 percent identified as Republican, 31 percent as Democratic and 30 percent as independent.
The September poll was 39 percent Democratic and 29 percent Republican.
Party identification is fluid and can change from poll to poll, depending on voter attitudes about the candidates, said Frank
Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup poll.
“Your age doesn’t fluctuate except once a year,” Newport said. Pollsters, though, “can call people back and you’ll see
significant shifting” in whether they identify with a party or consider themselves independent, he said. Tracking Poll
Obama retained an advantage over Romney in the daily Gallup tracking polling after the survey showing the two tied
following the debate.
The seven-day poll spanning a period through yesterday showed a 5-percentage-point edge for Obama among registered
In polling Oct. 4-6 -- the three days after Obama and Romney debated in Denver -- Gallup found 47 percent of registered
voters supporting the president and 47 percent his Republican rival. In the three days before the debate, Obama led Romney, 50
percent to 45 percent, the polling found.
The results of Gallup’s latest seven-day survey, Oct. 1-7, show Obama again favored among 50 percent, Romney 45
percent. This included weekend polling following the release of the Labor Department’s report on Oct. 5 showing a 7.8 percent
unemployment rate, the lowest since Obama took office.
The rolling average of seven days of interviews by Gallup with 3,050 registered voters carries a possible margin of error of
plus or minus 2 percentage points. Debate Viewership
An Oct. 4-5 Gallup poll found “roughly 2 in 3 Americans reporting that they watched the Oct. 3 debate, similar to what
Gallup measured for each of the three 2008 presidential debates,” the polling organization’s Jeffrey Jones said today.
“Those who viewed the debate overwhelmingly believe Romney did a better job than Obama, 72 percent to 20 percent,”
Jones said. “Republicans were nearly unanimous in judging Romney the winner. But even Democrats rated Romney as doing a
better job than Obama, 49 percent to 39 percent.”
Obama, at a fundraising concert last night in Los Angeles, poked fun at his lackluster debate showing and vowed to do
Thanking rock musicians Jon Bon Jovi, Katy Perry and others who “perform flawlessly night after night,” Obama told the
6,000 guests: “I can’t always say the same.”
And at a separate event with 150 guests Obama said, “I’m a big believer in closing the deal. You will see me working as
hard as I’ve ever worked” through Election Day, Nov. 6. ‘Harshest Critic’
Earlier yesterday, two of Obama’s campaign aides said the president was disappointed with the debate outcome.
“The president understood that he hadn’t performed up to his own expectations pretty quickly into -- after he got off the
stage that night,” Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Obama “is his harshest critic,” David Axelrod, an Obama campaign strategist, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“He’ll look at that tape and make the adjustments he thinks are necessary,” Axelrod said.
The Obama campaign and Democratic strategists used the Sunday talk shows to try to change the perception that the
president lost to an aggressive and lively Romney at the debate at the University of Denver by portraying the former
Massachusetts governor as willing to say anything.
Romney was “completely dishonest” and “distorting” and “ignoring” facts, Axelrod said. ‘Taken Aback’
Asked why Obama didn’t make those arguments during the debate, Axelrod said, “he was a little taken aback at the
brazenness with which Governor Romney walked away from so many of the positions on which he’s run, walked away from his
Democrats have pointed to Romney’s tax-cut plan and his views on teacher hiring as departures from previous campaign
statements. Also at the debate, Romney said pre-existing conditions are covered in his health-care proposal; after the debate, his
own campaign aides said the plan doesn’t guarantee coverage.
A new Obama campaign online ad highlights those issues. In the minute-long spot, a narrator says of Romney, “when the
cameras rolled, a performance began.”
Gibbs, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said Obama would be “engaged” at the next debate, a town-hall style event
Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Obama is “ready and willing to call out whichever Mitt Romney shows up,”
Gibbs said.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Romney, who defeated him in this year’s Republican presidential
primaries, trounced Obama. ‘Walked Over Him’
“Mitt Romney walked over him,” Gingrich said on “Meet the Press.”
“The job of the president is supposed to be, to be competent, and to be able to stand up for what he believes in, and to be
able to articulate what’s wrong,” Gingrich said.
Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist not working for Romney, said on “Meet the Press” that the estimated 67 million
people who watched the debate saw Romney as “a guy brimming with new ideas and energy” while Obama appeared to be
Gallup’s survey of 1,387 registered voters over the three days after the debate had an error margin of plus or minus 3
percentage points.
To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at [email protected]’ Julie Bykowicz in
Washington at [email protected]
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at [email protected]
Romney Now Leading Obama By Four Percent Among Likely Voters In Post-debate Pew Poll
Daily Caller, October 8, 2012
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s Denver debate performance has boosted him ahead of President Barack
Obama, according to a stunning new poll by the Pew Research Center released Monday.
“Among likely voters, Romney holds a slight 49% to 45% edge over Obama. … [Romney] has drawn even with Obama in
the presidential race among registered voters (46% to 46%) after trailing by nine points (42% to 51%) in September,” Pew’s
analysis stated.
Romney jumped from 32 percent to 42 percent among votes younger than 30, gained 11 points among people with some
college education and lost 2 points among people with no college education.
His support among whites jumped from 51 percent to 59 percent, while his support among African-Americans slid from 11
percent to 7 percent.
The percentage of people who say Romney’s policies would aid the middle class jumped from 41 percent to 49 percent.
And 39 percent said his policies would aid the working class, up from 33 percent in September.
However, Pew’s sample of 1,201 registered voters included 403 Republicans, 396 Democrats and 364 independents.
That’s a higher share of GOP supporters than pollsters usually assume, which may have slanted the results in Romney’s favor.
And other polls released following the Wednesday night debate showed Romney with smaller gains from the debate and
still have Obama in the lead overall, especially in the crucial swing states of Ohio and Florida.
A Gallup poll of 1,387 registered voters released Oct. 8 showed Romney gaining five points, creating a 47-47 percent split
between the two candidates.
In the week prior to the debate, Obama had reached 50 percent in the Gallup poll, while Romney was at 45 percent. A
whopping 72 percent of Gallup’s respondents said Romney had won the debate, while only 20 percent declared Obama the
“Across all of the various debate-reaction polls Gallup has conducted, Romney’s 52-point win is the largest Gallup has
measured,” Gallup said in a release. “The prior largest margin was 42 points for Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush in the 1992
town hall debate.”
Follow Neil on Twitter
URL to article:
Pew Finds Romney With 4-point Post-debate Lead Over Obama (HILL)
By Daniel Strauss
The Hill, October 9, 2012
Mitt Romney has taken the lead over President Obama in a new Pew Research poll released Monday.
The poll was conducted last week after the candidates' first presidential debate, which observers widely agreed Romney
The Republican nominee leads Obama 49 percent to 45 percent among likely voters who were asked who they would pick
if the election were held today, the poll found. In September, the poll found Obama leading Romney among likely voters 51
percent to 43 percent.
Among registered voters that Pew surveyed, the two presidential candidates are tied. The poll found Romney and Obama
each with 46 percent, a gain of 9 points for Romney. In September, Pew found Romney trailing Obama 51 percent to 42 percent
among registered voters.
Sixty-six percent of registered voters said Romney did a better job than Obama at the debate, according to Pew, while 20
percent said Obama had the upper had during the debate.
On deficit reduction, Romney also gained. The poll found 51 percent said Romney would do better than Obama on
reducing the deficit, while 36 percent said Obama would be better than Romney on that front. By comparison, in September, 46
percent said Romney would do better on the issue, while 43 percent said Obama would.
Similarly, Romney also saw gains on job creation. Forty-nine percent said Romney would be better at improving the
country's "job situation," while 41 percent said Obama would do better. In September, Obama had the advantage, albeit a slight
one, with 46 percent saying Obama would do better and 45 percent saying Romney would.
When Obama opened up a lead in polls ahead of the debate, some conservatives argued that mainstream surveys skewed
in Obama’s favor because of sample sizes that base 2012 turnout projections on the 2008 election, when Democrats — and
Hispanics, blacks and young voters in particular — turned out in record numbers.
The previous Pew survey, which showed Obama with an 8 percentage-point lead, sampled 38 percent Democratic and 28
percent Republicans among registered voters, for a margin of 10 percentage points in favor of Democrats.
The current Pew survey sampled Democrats and Republicans equally.
The new poll also shows Romney nearly pulling even with Obama among female voters, with 51 percent support for
Obama against 48 percent for Romney. Obama led by 18 percentage points among female voters in the previous Pew survey,
60 to 42 over Romney.
The poll was conducted Oct. 4-7 among 1,511 adults; 1,201 of those surveyed were registered voters.
—Jonathan Easley contributed reporting; this post has been updated.
Obama Loses Lead On Key Voter Issues (WT)
By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times
Washington Times, October 9, 2012
Voters now give Mitt Romney the nod when it comes to handling national security, and he has recaptured a lead over
President Obama when voters are asked who will do a better job on the economy — findings that spell bad news for the
Little more than a week ago, heading into the first debate of the campaign season, Mr. Obama led on the economy and
national security, as well as handling of energy, immigration and foreign affairs. In each of those categories he either topped or
was just below the magic number of 50 percent support.
But that changed in the latest The Washington Times/Zogby Poll conducted by Zogby Analytics, released Monday, which
gave Mr. Romney a 48 percent to 45 percent advantage on national security and a 50 percent to 44 percent advantage on jobs
and the economy.
John Zogby, the pollster for the survey, said those two are "unarguably the two most significant issues" facing voters in this
election, which helped propel Mr. Romney back into a tie with Mr. Obama in a head-to-head matchup.
Mr. Romney also made up ground on all three of the other issues surveyed, though Mr. Obama maintained a 50 percent to
44 percent lead on foreign affairs and a 48 percent to 41 percent lead on immigration policy.
The two men were virtually tied, however, on energy policy, 46 percent to 46 percent — a huge change from before the
debate, when the president led 51 percent to 40 percent.
In the debate, Mr. Romney accused Mr. Obama of wasting taxpayer money on green energy projects such as Solyndra,
the solar panel manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy after taking more than a half-billion dollars in government loan guarantees.
"I had a friend who said, you don't just pick the winners and losers; you pick the losers," Mr. Romney said. "This is not the
kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy-secure."
Mr. Romney said Mr. Obama earmarked $90 billion in one year for green-energy subsidies.
But Mr. Obama countered that Mr. Romney wanted to continue siphoning tax subsidies to oil-drilling companies, and said
the time has come to cut those kinds of fossil-fuel companies off.
"Governor Romney and I, we both agree that we've got to boost American energy production," Mr. Obama said. "And oil
and natural gas production are higher than they've been in years. But I also believe that we've got to look at the energy source of
the future, like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those investments."
Indeed, voters seemed to side with Mr. Obama on that specific question.
The Times/Zogby Poll found 29 percent of likely voters wanted to cancel tax breaks for corporate jets and oil companies —
the targets of Mr. Obama's tax-raising plan — while 21 percent agreed with Mr. Romney that the green-energy tax breaks should
be done away with.
Another 20 percent wanted to see both oil and green energy tax breaks canceled, and 17 percent — about evenly split
between Democrats, Republicans and independents — said taxpayers should continue to subsidize both.
Romney Seeks Gains Among Early Voters (WT/AP)
By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press
Washington Times, October 9, 2012
Mitt Romney's campaign is working hard to chip away at President Obama's advantage among early voters, and there are
signs the effort is paying off in North Carolina and Florida, two states the Republican nominee can ill afford to lose.
For his part, Mr. Obama, who dominated early voting in key states four years ago, is doing better in Iowa, another
battleground state important to both candidates.
In 2008, Mr. Obama built up such big leads among early voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina that he won
each state despite losing the Election Day vote, according to voting data compiled by The Associated Press.
Mr. Romney's campaign won't predict victory among early voters this year. But a top campaign official is adamant that Mr.
Romney will not let Mr. Obama build insurmountable leads among early voters in key states.
"They're not going to run up the same margins as they did four years ago," said Rich Beeson, political director for the
Romney campaign. "It just isn't going to happen."
Early voting for the presidential election has started in more than 30 states — much of it by mail, though some in person —
and some important numbers are starting to dribble in. No votes will be counted until Nov. 6. However, North Carolina, Florida
and Iowa report the party affiliation of people who have cast ballots. Other states will follow.
Among the 29,400 voters who have cast absentee ballots in North Carolina, 54 percent are registered Republicans and 28
percent are Democrats, according to the United States Elections Project at George Mason University.
It's a small sample — more than 2.6 million people voted before Election Day in North Carolina in 2008. And these are all
mail ballots, which have historically favored Republicans; in-person voting starts Oct. 18 in North Carolina. Nevertheless,
Republicans are encouraged because Sen. John McCain lost the state's early vote by 11 percentage points.
"North Carolina was a place that they totally caught us flat-footed in 2008," Mr. Beeson said. "They jumped out to a lead
and never looked back. You don't see that happening this time — Republicans have the lead."
Florida's sample is even smaller — only 14,500 votes so far — but it too favors Republicans over Democrats, 53 percent to
32 percent. In 2008, nearly 4.6 million voters in Florida cast ballots before Election Day.
Democrats have a big lead in Iowa — as they did in the past two presidential elections. About 60 percent of the 127,100
voters who have cast absentee ballots so far were registered Democrats. Twenty-two percent were Republicans and 18 percent
were unaffiliated, according to the United States Elections Project.
In Ohio, a perennial battleground state, Democrats have an edge over Republicans among people who have requested
absentee ballots, though relatively few completed ballots have been submitted. Among the 691,000 people who have requested
absentee ballots in 49 of the state's 88 counties, 30 percent are Democrats and 24 percent are Republicans. Forty-six percent
are unaffiliated voters, according to data collected by the AP.
Asked about Mr. Romney's operation, Jeremy Bird, the Obama campaign's field director, said: "Are they better than John
McCain? Sure." But he added: "Are we better than Barack Obama in 2008? Absolutely."
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Battleground Tracking Poll: Dems Less Enthusiastic (POLITCO)
By James Hohmann
Politico, October 9, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. — President Barack Obama has a worsening enthusiasm problem.
A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Tracking Poll of likely voters shows Obama ahead of Mitt
Romney 49 percent to 48 percent nationally, a statistical tie and a percentage point closer than a week ago.
The head-to-head numbers have held remarkably steady through the past three weeks, but there’s been a notable shift of
intensity from the Democrats to the Republicans since the party conventions over a month ago. Most of the poll’s calls were
made before Romney’s strong performance at the first presidential debate in Denver.
Only 73 percent who support Obama say they are “extremely likely” to vote, compared to 86 percent who back Romney.
Likewise, 84 percent of Republicans say they are extremely likely to vote, compared to 76 percent of Democrats.
Among those extremely likely to vote, Romney actually leads Obama 52 percent to 46 percent. That’s up from a 2-point
lead last week. Obama led 50 percent to 47 percent among this group three weeks ago.
The Battleground tracking poll will be performed each week and the results released each Monday through Election Day.
This poll was in the field last Monday through Thursday, but about 85 percent of the calls were made before the debate on
Wednesday night. The final night of tracking was good for Romney, but it’s not a big enough sample to report. So this does not
reflect any momentum Romney might get from his performance in Denver.
The percentages among key Democratic constituencies who say they are extremely likely to vote should cause concern in
Chicago: While 82 percent of whites (who break for Romney by a 15-point margin) say they’re “extremely likely” to vote, only 71
percent of African-Americans and 70 percent of Latinos do. And just 68 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds, another key Obama
constituency, put themselves in the “extremely likely” to vote category.
The electorate is deeply divided and polarized, which makes 2012 look increasingly like a base election. Whoever runs up
their vote count among their core supporters is likely to prevail, which is why these numbers are so significant.
A more energized base frees up Romney to focus more of his energy on wooing independents and others unhappy with
the president but not currently supporting him.
The trend lines suggest that Obama will be forced to devote more time than he’d like in the final weeks toward motivating
African-Americans, Latinos and college kids.
Military Times Poll: Romney Bests Obama, 2-1 (MILTIMES)
By Andrew Tilghman
Military Times, October 9, 2012
The professional core of the U.S. military overwhelmingly favors Mitt Romney over President Obama in the upcoming
election — but not because of any particular military issues, according to a new poll of more than 3,100 active and reserve
Respondents rated the economy and the candidates’ character as their most important considerations and all but ignored
the war in Afghanistan as an issue of concern.
The Military Times Poll is a secure email survey of active-duty, National Guard and reserve members who are subscribers
to the Military Times newspapers (see How We Did It, below).
This population is older and more senior than the military population at large, but it is representative of the professional core
of the all-volunteer force.
The 3,100 respondents — roughly two-thirds active-duty and one-third reserve component members — are about 80
percent white and 91 percent male. Forty percent are in paygrades E-5 through E-8, while more than 35 percent are in
paygrades O-3 through O-5.
Almost 80 percent of respondents have a college degree — including 27 percent with a graduate degree and more than 11
percent with a post-graduate degree — while an additional 18.5 percent have some college under their belts.
And they are battle-hardened; almost 29 percent have spent more than two cumulative years deployed since 9/11, while a
similar percentage has spent one to two cumulative years deployed.
The Military Times poll shows that Republicans continue to enjoy overwhelming support among the military’s professional
“There is really an affinity for Republican candidates, even though [troops] say that what counts is character and handling
the economy,” said Richard Kohn, who teaches military history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Poll results indicate that about 66 percent of those surveyed support Romney, compared with about 26 percent who say
they will vote to re-elect President Obama.
When asked about the most important issue guiding their vote this year, about 66 percent of respondents cited either “the
economy” or “the character of the candidate.” Less than 16 percent of troops surveyed cited “national security.”
And the war in Afghanistan is barely a blip on the radar: Just more than 1 percent put that conflict at the top of their list of
concerns. That’s in stark contrast to troops’ feelings about the war in Iraq in the Military Times 2008 election poll, when 16
percent cited that conflict as their top concern.Pocketbook issues
“When I talk to my soldiers, it’s not social issues. It’s almost not even military issues. What it comes down to is pocketbook
issues,” said one 28-year-old Army captain who took the survey in late September. “They currently see Mitt Romney as being
stronger for their pocketbook.
“It comes down to taxes — how much are they going to have to pay — and are they going to be able to find jobs if they
leave the military,” said the captain, who, like most troops interviewed by Military Times, requested anonymity before discussing
personal political views.
But some Obama supporters said they don’t believe a vote for him will necessarily hit them in the wallet.
A Navy fire controlman first class noted that Obama proposed to increase taxes on upper-income earners, specifically
those making more than $200,000 a year, or $250,000 for a family.
“How many people in the military make more than $200,000 a year?” the sailor said.
Although service members have their health care needs covered by the military, the state of national health care is
important to an Air Force technical sergeant at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
“I grew up in a low-income family that never had health care,” the airman said. “You waited until you were extremely sick,
and then my mother would take us to an emergency room.
“I’m in favor of everyone having health care,” he said, adding that the Obama administration’s health care plan may not be
“the best one out there, but it’s better than nothing.”
The airman also is disappointed in Romney’s continued lack of details on his plans.
“He seems to tell you what you want to hear but doesn’t back it up with specifics,” he said.
Many Romney supporters cite their candidate’s business experience as an asset, especially in times of national fiscal
Capt. John Bowe, a Marine military policeman stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., said he’s voting for Romney because
it’s clear Obama is doing a poor job with the nation’s finances.
“You cannot add $6 trillion to the [national] debt in 3½ years and not expect massive repercussions,” he said.
Yet some in the Obama camp say Romney’s career as a chief executive for an investment company does not necessarily
prepare him well for the White House.
“The guy is all about making money, which is great, but government doesn’t work like a business,” the sailor said. “It just
doesn’t work that way. It’s not a for-profit industry.”
A Navy commander and helicopter pilot who is a registered Republican said he plans to vote for Romney, but added, “I
don’t have much faith in either” candidate.
Obama “has proven that he can’t fulfill his campaign promises. And I don’t have much faith in Romney to be able to fulfill
his,” the commander said.
UNC Chapel Hill’s Kohn, who reviewed the poll results at the request of Military Times, said this year’s responses “really
track with traditional views of the military, regardless of President Obama’s reaching out to military families.”Obama edges
While Obama supporters in uniform are clearly a minority, the president’s standing among Military Times readers has
improved 3 percentage points since the 2008 poll, when he was a first-term senator facing off against Republican Sen. John
McCain of Arizona. In 2008, 23 percent of respondents supported Obama, while 68 percent backed McCain.
That may suggest that the GOP’s dominance on military issues is ebbing, if very slowly, said Peter Feaver, an expert on
civil-military relations who teaches at Duke University.
“[For] several decades, the Republicans had what is known as ‘issue ownership’ on national security,” said Feaver, who
served as a special adviser to the National Security Council under President George W. Bush. “The last five to six years has
produced a little bit of a swing of the pendulum.”
He cited several reasons for the potential shift, including a perception that the Bush administration mishandled the Iraq
The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. special operations troops also was a boost to Obama’s national
security image, and Democrats have courted military voters by emphasizing veterans’ benefits and trying to recast the traditional
view of which party supports the military.
“If the national security issue can be re-imagined as an entitlement program, then that fits the Democratic narrative pretty
well,” Feaver said. “It’s clearly the way Obama most naturally feels comfortable talking about the military. He’s quite eloquent
when he talks about honoring the commitments made to those who serve.”
Still, most respondents to the Military Times poll were highly critical of Obama’s performance as commander in chief,
especially his handling of the defense budget and national security strategy.
Sixty-two percent rated his handling of the defense budget as only fair or poor, while 57 percent applied the same rating to
his handling of the war in Afghanistan.
But troops were less critical of Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq last year, with 47 percent giving him a
fair or poor rating on that issue.
Kohn said the troops’ views on Iraq are driven by firsthand experience.
“They are the ones on the ground. They are pretty well-informed people, and they see that there was not a great deal more
they could do [in Iraq] … with a reasonable amount of time and a reasonable amount of resources,” Kohn said.
Bowe, the Marine military police captain, added that the Obama administration’s handling of Libya after Moammar Gadhafi
was deposed amounted to “colossal mismanagement” and ultimately cost the life of a U.S. ambassador.
“If you’re not an effective manager … you can’t run anything else,” Bowe said.
The strong views expressed by Bowe and the other poll respondents were not uncommon in this year’s election survey.
Although the military strives to stay apolitical as an institution, it’s clear that many troops are highly engaged in what some experts
have called the most potentially significant presidential election in years.
“You kind of expect your soldiers to go home at night and play Xbox and drink beer — which they do — but I’ve heard them
talk about [the election] quite a bit,” the Army captain said. “They’re more dialed in than some might think.”
Staff writer George Altman contributed to this story.
Videos You May Be Interested In
Romney's Strong Debate Helps Him Close Gap With Obama In Michigan, Poll Shows (FREEP)
By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau
Detroit Free Press, October 9, 2012
LANSING — Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s strong performance in his first debate with President Barack Obama
helped him trim Obama’s lead in Michigan to three percentage points, a poll released today to the Free Press shows.
Obama’s 10 percentage point lead (47%-37%) in a poll conducted last month by EPIC-MRA of Lansing dropped to 3 points
(48% to 45%), according to the poll of 600 likely voters conducted by EPIC-MRA of Lansing. The gap between Romney and
Obama was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Undecided voters shrank from the September survey’s 16% to just 7%.
EPIC’s September poll and others last month appeared to put Michigan out of reach for Romney, a native son.
“Romney has come back like gangbusters,” said EPIC-MRA President Bernie Porn. “Whether or not it’s long-lasting, only
time will tell, but probably the remaining debates will be key.”
Conducted in the three days following the Wednesday debate, the poll showed more than five times as many Michiganders
interviewed named Romney, not Obama, as the debate’s winner. Romney’s numbers improved most dramatically among
independent and undecided voters. In the debate, Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts and the son of former Michigan
Gov. George Romney, used a rapid fire attack and kept a more deliberate Obama, the Democrat, on the defensive.
The results mirror other newly released national polls which show the race tightening both nationally and in critical swing
Of those polled in Michigan, 61% said they watched all or most of the debate, and 77% said they saw at least some of it.
Romney was declared the winner by 66%, compared to 12% who gave the edge to Obama and 8% who declared the
debate — the first of three between Obama and Romney — a draw.
Even 45% of Democrats said Romney won the debate, compared to 24% who picked Obama.
“I don’t think Obama was on his game — it just seemed like he didn’t want to be there,” said Daniel Fulkerson, 62, a retired
autoworker who worked 34 years for General Motors in Lansing. He now lives in White Cloud in Newaygo County and said
Obama still gets his vote.
Gene Brauninger, a retired quality assurance manager from Commerce Township, said he was considering voting for an
independent or third-party presidential candidate but is likely to vote for Romney after watching the debate.
“I thought Obama fell on his face,” while Romney “stayed on point,” said Brauninger, 68.
“To be honest with you, I never thought Obama would look that bad or Romney would look that good.”
Further evidence the debate was the key factor in moving Romney’s numbers is the fact U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, DLansing, extended her lead over her Republican challenger, former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland, since EPIC-MRA’s
September poll.
The new poll showed Stabenow leading Hoekstra 55% to 35%, with 10% undecided or refusing to say.
In September, Stabenow led Hoekstra 49%-38%, with 13% undecided.
Stabenow was on the air in Michigan with TV ads before the poll. Hoekstra’s TV ads are just starting.
Porn said Obama can take comfort from the fact his support is still above the percentage of the electorate who identify
themselves as Democrats.
Of those polled, 43% described themselves as Democrats and 38% as Republicans. That partisan breakdown is the same
as it was for the September poll.
The remaining two presidential debates before the Nov. 6 election are Oct. 16 and Oct. 22. On Thursday, the vicepresidential candidates debate in Kentucky.
Kelsey Knight, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign in Michigan, said Romney demonstrated in the debate that he’s
a leader who can work across the aisle to solve problems and improve the economy.
“Michiganders saw a clear choice in Denver last week and the drastic change in polling numbers proves that they don’t
want the next four years to look like the last four,” Knight said.
Matt McGrath, a spokesman for the Obama campaign in Michigan, downplayed the poll’s significance.
“Polls go up and down, and in Michigan we are focused on building the strongest grassroots campaign ever seen in the
state, improving economic security for the middle class, and telling the story of how the Romney/Ryan ticket will hurt middle-class
Michiganders,” McGrath said.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or [email protected]
Across The Electoral Map, A Mixed Picture For Candidates Down The Ballot (WP)
By Karen Tumulty
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
In the past six years, there have been three national elections, each of them producing a wave, in which races up and
down the ballot moved in generally the same direction. Democrats won big in 2006 and 2008, only to see those gains reversed in
the mid-term election of 2010.
This year, however, the better analogy in many states may be a breeze. The presidential contest will ripple the waters but
not necessarily determine which way they flow.
That’s partly because the presidential race is so close, and its battlefield is so narrow. Just four weeks before Election Day,
fewer than 10 states are in play for the presidential contest, which allows for separate dynamics to take hold in House, Senate
and gubernatorial races elsewhere.
There is also a paradox at work. While the amount of territory being contested in the presidential race is relatively small,
“this is the largest Senate map that I can remember, certainly in a decade,” said Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic
Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The same is true among House races, said Mike Podhorzer, political director of the AFL-CIO, though he said that could be
because so many of them have been under the radar in this presidential election year.
“It looks like suddenly a lot more races are in play,” he said. “But I think a lot of them have been in play all along, just people
didn’t know about it.”
Many of the most competitive House races are taking place in what Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) calls “orphan
districts,” places that the presidential campaigns are all but ignoring, and where there is not even a hotly contested Senate race.
And even in some of the battleground states, candidates say they are all but ignoring what is happening at the top of the
Former House member Charlie Wilson, one of a handful of ex-lawmakers seeking to return to Congress, said he cannot
count on President Obama’s performance in Ohio to carry him over the top in his conservative southeastern district.
“I run my race, and he runs his, and I can’t mix the two,” Wilson said.
Once-a-decade redistricting also has changed the equation. In some of the battleground states, such as Ohio and Virginia,
it has strengthened the hold that Republican incumbents have on their districts and made them less vulnerable to the outcome at
the top of the ticket.
But in California, where only one House seat changed parties over the past decade, the newly drawn lines have created
something the state usually doesn’t see in congressional elections: suspense.
This year, the district lines have been so altered by a new nonpartisan reapportionment process that at least four of
California’s 53 congressional races — all of them in seats currently held by Republicans — are rated as tossups by the
authoritative Cook Political Report.
In recent weeks, the political tide has turned ever so slightly in House Democrats’ favor, particularly in late September as
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney stumbled.
Still, to gain the 25 seats they need to return to the majority in the House, Democrats probably need to defeat at least 35
Republican incumbents. That appears unlikely, although Republicans concede privately that their ranks are likely to be reduced
“There’s going to be a lot of money moving around in coming weeks. We’re going to have to spend a lot,” said Paul
Lindsay, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “At the end of the day, [Democrats] are
not going to be anywhere near the number of seats they need.”
Meanwhile, in some Senate contests, candidates are actually defying the gravitational pull from the top of the ticket.
“They are affected by, but not determined by, the presidential race,” Cecil said.
Romney is expected to trounce Obama in North Dakota, for instance. But in that state’s Senate contest, former attorney
general Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic nominee, is running a close race against Rep. Rick Berg (R).
The opposite dynamic is taking place in Connecticut, a deeply Democratic state that Obama will win in a landslide.
The Republican Senate candidate, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, lost her first race in 2010,
which was a good year for Republicans. But McMahon put the lessons she learned from that defeat to good use — along with
more than $13 million of her personal fortune. This year, she is in a surprisingly tight battle against Rep. Chris Murphy, the
Democratic nominee.
But where Republicans were thought at one point to stand a good chance of regaining the Senate majority they lost in
2006, most handicappers now expect them to fall short.
In the governors’ races, Democrats are playing defense nationally. Eight of the governorships they hold are on the ballot
this year, compared with only three for the Republicans. But only two of those races — in New Hampshire and North Carolina —
are in states that are also competitive in the presidential contest.
Democrats also say they are confident that some of their candidates — particularly incumbents Earl Ray Tomblin in West
Virginia and Jay Nixon in Missouri — are strong enough to withstand the Republican tide at the top of the ticket in those states.
Still another factor is at play in many states: 2012 is an unusually busy year for ballot questions, which can create a
dynamic of their own.
Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state will decide whether to approve same-sex marriage. In Minnesota, by
contrast, a ballot question would allow voters to explicitly bar same-sex marriage by declaring that marriage consists only of a
union between one man and one woman.
Maryland also has two other landmark measures on the ballot. One would expand gambling in the state, allowing “table
games” such as blackjack and roulette at the state’s existing casinos (now limited to electronic games), and permitting an
additional casino in Prince George’s County.
The other measure would allow voters to decide the fate of legislation that would give in-state tuition discounts to young
immigrants in the country illegally. The immigrants would have to prove they had attended a Maryland high school, that their
parents have filed tax returns and that they intend to become citizens. They would also have to start their higher education at a
community college.
In Colorado and Washington, voters could choose to legalize the possession of a small amount of marijuana. Oregon
voters could approve a more expansive law, which would allow more pot to be sold, but only through state-run stores.
Also, a ballot measure in Arkansas could make that state the first in the South to legalize medical marijuana use.
David Fahrenthold and Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.
Obama, Romney Offer Different Paths On Medicare, Social Security (MCT)
By By Tony Pugh, Mcclatchy Newspapers
McClatchy, October 9, 2012
They are two of the largest parts of the federal government. They’re growing. And they’re heading toward financial
problems that will touch tens of millions of Americans unless something changes.
Medicare is the nation’s biggest buyer of health care, spending $550 billion last year to provide care for 48.7 million
Americans. The problem is that the taxes paid by workers and employers to finance the program aren’t covering the full cost, and
the government since 2008 has been drawing off its trust fund to make up the difference. Barring changes, the trust fund runs out
in 12 years – 2024 – and the government would have to raise taxes or cut services.
Social Security, which provides benefits for 55 million people, is in better financial shape, but the funds that support it are
projected to run out in 2033 – three years earlier than was predicted just last year.
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney offer vastly different approaches to putting
both popular programs on sound financial footing. Both offer more details for Medicare than Social Security.
Obama relies on the already enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – to fix the problem.
Romney wants to repeal that act, and instead change the system starting in 2023 to give people a check to use to buy their
insurance – either the existing Medicare coverage from the government or other coverage from a private insurer. If the insurance
cost more, they’d have to make up the difference. If it cost less, they could keep the difference in a health care account.
Here’s what each candidates would do:
Obama would:
– Use the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to transform, trim and sustain Medicare.
– Reduce projected annual payments to health care providers and Medicare Advantage plans.
– Impose new fees on drug companies, medical device makers and insurers.
– Improve prescription drug coverage and pay for free preventative care.
Obama’s plan to restructure Medicare centers on the health care overhaul he signed into law in 2010, much of which has
not yet been implemented.
First, his plan cuts projected Medicare spending by $716 billion from 2013 to 2022. The savings would come mainly from
lower annual payment increases for hospitals and other care providers, higher premiums for affluent beneficiaries and lower
payments to Medicare Advantage plans, the private plans that provide Medicare benefits, according to the Kaiser Family
While services for Medicare beneficiaries would not be directly affected, some experts, including Medicare’s chief actuary,
Richard S. Foster, have questioned whether the spending reductions could end up limiting services for beneficiaries in future
In the 2012 Medicare trustees report, Foster expressed concern that lower payments to health care providers would not
cover the cost of medical services in later years and could lead to a shortage of care providers similar to what the Medicaid
program is experiencing now. If that occurred, Foster said, Congress might have to increase payments, which could lead to
higher Medicare costs than are currently projected under the law.
Second, the law adds new revenue to Medicare from a 2014 payroll tax on high-income workers and new fees on drug
companies, medical device makers and insurers – all industries that will see substantial new revenue when the law mandates
millions of uninsured Americans to start buying insurance in 2014.
Third, the law uses the new revenue plus savings from the provider payment reductions to help finance a range of free
preventative services such as flu shots, colon and breast cancer screenings, mammograms and blood pressure checks already
being offered. Last year, nearly 26 million people in traditional Medicare took advantage of the coverage.
It also provides partial prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries who otherwise have no coverage when their
drug costs reached the so-called “doughnut hole” – between $2,800 and $4,550. That partial “doughnut hole” coverage saved 3.6
million people an average of $583 in 2011, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2020, the Affordable
Care Act would close the “doughnut hole” altogether by providing full coverage.
Romney would:
– Repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
– Replace the current Medicare system, starting in 2023, with a “voucher” or “premium support” payment plan.
– Let people use the voucher to purchase private coverage or traditional Medicare coverage.
Romney’s proposed overhaul wouldn’t affect current Medicare beneficiaries or those nearing retirement, only those who
enter Medicare beginning in 2023.
Starting in 2023, he’d give government vouchers to people to but their own insurance. The idea is that private insurance
companies would compete for that business, providing more value and better quality while driving down prices.
If their medical costs exceed the amount of their voucher, seniors would have to pay the difference regardless of whether
they’ve chosen private insurance or traditional Medicare. The amount of the voucher would be equal to the cost of traditional
Medicare in that area or the second least expensive private plan that offers benefits equivalent to Medicare – whichever is less.
The voucher amount and the cost of coverage would differ depending on the region of the country.
A similar Medicare plan by Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, would cap inflationary increases in the amount of the
premium support payment at half a percentage point more than the annual increase in the gross domestic product. But Romney’s
proposal features no such cap. Instead, the amount of the premium support payment would grow – or decline – as necessary to
keep pace with either the second least expensive private plan or traditional Medicare – again, whichever is cheapest.
If the cost of coverage is less than the amount of the voucher, the balance would be available in an account similar to a
health savings account to pay for other out-of-pocket health expenses, according to the Romney campaign.
Romney says the voucher system provides enrollees a better choice. Critics say insurers would end up recruiting younger,
healthier seniors under the new system, leaving traditional Medicare with older, sicker people who are more costly to care for.
The Kaiser foundation expects that beneficiary co-pays and premiums would rise under the voucher plan.
Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund also would become insolvent eight years earlier – in 2016 instead of 2024 – if the
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were repealed, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That’s
because the added revenue from fees would be lost and the $716 billion in spending increases to health care providers would
Repealing the law would bring about some Medicare savings, most notably by eliminating the law’s “doughnut hole”
prescription drug coverage and by eliminating a range of free preventative care and screenings.
Also, repealing the law could increase the federal budget deficit. The Congressional Budget Office and the House-Senate
Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that repealing the entire law would increase the deficit by $119 billion from 2012 to 2019.
Said last week that Social Security was “structurally sound” but needed to be “tweaked.”
Obama has not proposed any changes in Social Security. But he has said he’s open to raising taxes by taxing some
amount of income above $110,100, the annual level at which Social Security taxes now stop.
Would increase Social Security’s eligibility age by one month per year beginning in 2022 and index future program eligibility
to life expectancy. He also wants to slow the rate of benefit growth for high-income recipients.
While Social Security has received scant attention during the campaign, Medicare has emerged as a dominant issue.
A September poll by Kaiser found that Obama leads Romney by 20 points – 52 percent to 32 percent – on the question of
who “do you trust to do a better job determining the future of the Medicare program.” Among those age 65 and over, Romney
closes the gap but still trails Obama 44 percent to 42 percent.
On the question of who’s more trustworthy “to reduce Medicare spending wisely,” Obama leads Romney 54 percent to 40
percent. But among seniors, 38 percent feel Medicare will be “worse off” under Obamacare compared to 31 percent who say it
will be “better off.”
Study: Costs Will Rise On Mid-size Firms From New Healthcare Law (HILL)
By Sam Baker
The Hill, October 9, 2012
President Obama's healthcare law won't erode employer-based health insurance — but it will raise some companies' costs
by nearly 10 percent, according to a new analysis from the Urban Institute.
Although the law's critics usually focus on small businesses, the new paper says medium-sized firms will see the biggest
cost increase.
Mid-sized businesses — firms that have between 101 and 1,000 employees — would have seen a 9.5 percent jump in their
total healthcare costs if the Affordable Care Act had been fully in place this year, the paper says. (Many of the law's key
provisions don't take effect until 2014.)
Small businesses would have seen their costs fall by 1.4 percent. Firms with more than 1,000 workers would have seen a
4.3 percent increase.
The report confirms one central criticism of the healthcare law — that it will increase employers' costs — while also
undercutting charges that the law will lead employers to quit offering healthcare coverage. Overall, about 4 million more
employees would have had healthcare coverage if the ACA had been in place this year, the Urban Institute found.
Higher costs stem largely from expanded coverage, the report says.
"Overall, the evidence simply does not support critics’ arguments that the ACA will burden employers and undermine
employer-sponsored health insurance," the paper says. "On the contrary, except for a cost increase to mid-size employers due
largely to enrollment increases, the ACA benefits rather than burdens small employers who want to provide health insurance."
Small businesses are central to many criticisms of the new law. The National Federation of Independent Business was part
of the lawsuit decided by the Supreme Court this summer, and Republican lawmakers argue that the law's new mandates will
crush small employers.
But according to the Urban Institute analysis, tax credits and purchasing efficiencies will help small businesses. New
mandates, though, will make coverage more expensive for mid-size and large employers.
Medium-sized companies are less likely to offer health benefits than their larger counterparts, the paper says, and would
therefore have to pay more in penalties. The healthcare law charges employers a fine for each worker who receives a
government subsidy to buy insurance on his or her own.
Car Bomb Kills 2 Afghan Intelligence Officers (AP)
By Mirwais Khan, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — A bomb hidden in a parked minibus exploded outside a government building in southern
Afghanistan on Monday, killing two Afghan intelligence officers, authorities said.
The bomb targeted a field office of the Afghan intelligence agency, known as the National Directorate of Security, in the city
of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, said Ahmed Zarak, a spokesman for the provincial government. The two officers who were
killed were guarding the compound, which the NDS uses as a base for operations inside Laskgar Gah, the provincial capital, he
At least 15 people were wounded in the blast, most of them civilians who lived in a house next door, according to Zarak.
It was not clear whether the explosives were remotely detonated or fixed to a timer, he added.
The number of casualties among Afghan security forces has been on the rise as Afghan troops have shifted into a more
frontline role in the war against the Taliban and other insurgent groups as international forces draw down in number. Civilians
have also continued to suffer heavy casualties from bombings and targeted killings.
The outgoing head of the International Red Cross mission in Afghanistan told reporters Monday that civilians are in greater
danger with less hope for peace than when he took up his post seven years ago.
"As the armed conflict in Afghanistan rages on, life for ordinary Afghans has taken a turn for the worse," said Reto Stocker
as he prepared to leave the job he has held since 2005. He said the proliferation of armed groups in the country has continued to
make it difficult for the Red Cross to operate and for civilians to seek medical attention when they are caught up in the violence.
Associated Press writer Heidi Vogt contributed from Kabul.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Biden’s Bin Laden Hypocrisy (WP)
By Marc A.thiessen
Washington Post, October 8, 2012
In the 2012 campaign, Vice President Biden has become cheerleader in chief for the operation that killed Osama bin
Laden, while claiming that Mitt Romney would not have ordered the mission — which, in Biden’s telling, disqualifies Romney for
the presidency.
One problem with that: Joe Biden opposed the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
During his speech at the Democratic National Convention, Biden lavished praise on President Obama for the bin Laden
raid: “Barack understood that the search for bin Laden was about a lot more than taking a monstrous leader off the battlefield; it
was about righting an unspeakable wrong, healing a nearly unbearable wound in America’s heart.”He described firsthand how
“[w]e sat for days in the Situation Room. He listened to the risks and reservations about the raid. And he asked the tough
questions. But when Admiral William McRaven looked him in the eye and said, ‘Sir, we can get this done,’ I knew at that moment
Barack had made his decision. His response was decisive. He said do it. And justice was done.”
Then, using an old, out of context Romney quote from 2007, Biden alleged that the GOP nominee would not have done the
same. “He was wrong. If you understood that America’s heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the President
It turns out, Biden left one important detail out of his account of the Situation Room deliberations — Biden counseled
Obama not to do what he did. Alone among the president’s advisers, Biden opposed every option under consideration for killing
of Osama bin Laden.
In the new issue of Vanity Fair, Mark Bowden — author of a new book “The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden” —
writes: “It was widely reported in the weeks and months after the raid that most, or at least many, of the president’s top advisors
opposed the raid. That is not true. Nearly everyone present favored it. The only major dissenters were Biden and [then-Defense
Secretary Robert] Gates, and before the raid Gates would change his mind.”
According to Bowden, there were two options on the table for killing bin Laden: a drone strike and the special operations
raid. Gates, National Counterterrorism Center director Michael Leiter, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James
Cartwright argued for a drone strike. Everyone else favored the special operations raid (including Biden’s own national security
adviser, Tony Blinken). But when it was Biden’s chance to speak, he turned to Obama and said: “Mr. President, my suggestion
is: don’t go.”
Biden’s reasons were based not on national security, but on electoral politics. “The vice president was never shy about
political calculations,” Bowden writes, citing exclusive interviews with Obama and other top officials. “Biden believed that if the
president decided to choose either the air or the ground option, and if the effort failed, Obama could say goodbye to a second
After the Situation Room meeting, Gates called the White House to tell the president he had changed his mind and
supported the raid. “So in the end,” Bowden writes, “every one of the president’s top advisors except Biden was in favor of
immediate action.”
Yet today it is Biden — the lone opponent of immediate action to kill bin Laden — who is painting Romney as unfit for office
because he allegedly would have opposed it. There is, of course, no evidence that Romney would not have ordered the bin
Laden raid. But we now know for certain that, were it up to Biden, the raid would not have gone forward.
Of course, Biden’s opposition to the bin Laden operation is not surprising. The fact is Biden has a near-perfect record of
being wrong about almost every major foreign policy question that the United States has faced in the past three decades. He
supported the nuclear freeze in the 1980s, opposed ballistic missile defense and warned of a new arms race if the United States
withdrew from theAnti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (we did, and no arms race ensued). He opposed aiding the Nicaraguan democratic
resistance that helped roll back communism in our hemisphere, the Reagan defense buildup that bankrupted the Soviet Union,
the first Gulf War that liberated Kuwait, and the 2007 surge that turned back the insurgency and defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq. With
this record, it is no shock that Biden opposed the killing of bin Laden as well. But it takes chutzpah for Biden to publicly castigate
Romney for his imaginary opposition to the bin Laden operation, when Biden actually opposed the bin Laden operation.
Biden is fond of pointing out Romney and Paul Ryan’s lack of foreign policy experience. And it’s true, Biden does have a lot
more experience than the GOP nominees — experience at being wrong. Let’s see if in Thursday’s vice presidential debate,
Biden dares to repeat his now famous line, “GM is alive, and Bin Laden is dead.” If he does, Ryan can simply answer, “Bin Laden
wouldn’t be dead if you had your way, Joe.”
Marc A. Thiessen, a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, writes a weekly online column for The Post.
Iraq Sends Crucial Fuel Oil To Syria (FT)
By Lina Saigol And Michael Peel
Financial Times, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Financial Times are available to FT subscribers by clicking the link.
Gallup: Mitt Romney Debate Win Biggest Ever (POLITCO)
By Kevin Robillard
Politico, October 9, 2012
Almost three-quarters of Americans who watched the debate believe Mitt Romney won, a record high in Gallup’s polling,
driving the GOP nominee into a tie with President Barack Obama.
Only 20 percent of Americans who watched think Obama won, compared to 72 percent for Romney. Among independents,
71 percent believe Romney won. A near-majority of Democrats who saw the faceoff — 49 percent — also said that the
Republican nominee bested Obama.
Romney’s 52-point win is the largest Gallup has measured, the polling firm said. The prior largest margin was 42 points for
Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush in their 1992 town hall debate.
In the three days prior to the debate, Obama held a 5-point edge, 50 percent to 45 percent, in Gallup’s daily tracking polls.
In the three days after, Romney and Obama pulled into a tie, each drawing 47 percent.
The survey was conducted October 4 through October 6, and polled 1,387 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or
minus three percent.
McGurn: Never Mind The Snark, Lehrer Got It Right (WSJ)
'The moderator should be seen little and heard even less,' he says. Are you listening, Ms. Raddatz?
By William Mcgurn
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Goldman Turns Tables On Obama Campaign (WSJ)
By Liz Rappaport And Brody Mullins
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Claim: Obama Campaign Illegally Solicited Foreign Donors Via Social Media Website (CALLER)
Daily Caller, October 8, 2012
President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has been soliciting foreigners for donations, an explosive report from the
conservative Government Accountability Institute (GAI) shows.
Those foreign donors are allegedly visiting the Obama campaign’s donation solicitation Web pages through a social media
website the campaign controls, and through an outside website that serves mostly Internet users from outside the United States.
About 20 percent of visitors to the “” social media website “originated from foreign locations,” the
report found. That Web address is owned and controlled by the Obama re-election campaign.
“At no point during the [website's] subscription process is a visitor asked whether he or she can legally donate to a U.S.
election,” GAI notes.
“Once a visitor signs up, he or she immediately begins receiving solicitations for donations. In fact, numerous foreign
nationals report receiving solicitation letters and thank you emails from the campaign for their support. Some of these emails
have been reposted on blog sites to encourage friends to click on the donate link or get their names on the email list.”
The “primary purpose of is to create a highly personalized vehicle for individuals to ‘get involved’ and
to invite others to do the same,” GAI explains. But Obama’s campaign “employs various techniques to gather email and other
data on the friends and associations of [the site's] members to further the campaign’s fundraising efforts.”
Washington Examiner writer Paul Bedard reported last week that a fundraising scandal would soon hit the Obama
campaign, and may have been one reason why the president bumbled his way to failure during Wednesday’s debate against Mitt
Federal law prohibits ”a foreign national, directly or indirectly,” from making “a contribution or donation of money or other
thing of value … in connection with a Federal, State, or local election. The same section of law makes it a federal crime to “solicit,
accept, or receive” such campaign contributions.
GAI’s report explores fundraising practices that directly contradict the president’s 2010 insistence that American elections
shouldn’t be funded by foreign powers.
“I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities,”
Obama said then.
GAI cites examples comprising what it calls “but a sample” of a large trend of Obama’s campaign soliciting foreign nationals
for campaign donations. Those examples focus on foreign bloggers posting fundraising-request emails from the Obama
The group identified such Obama fundraising solicitations sent to Chinese, Azerbaijani, Vietnamese, Dutch, Italian,
Japanese, Norwegian and Egyptian bloggers.
In a report accompanying the GAI report’s release, former U.S. Attorney Ken Sukhia concluded that the Obama campaign
is clearly soliciting donations from foreign nationals. Sukhia served as counsel to President George W. Bush and Vice President
Dick Cheney on military and overseas ballot cases during the 2000 election.
“The GAI Report has shown that the Obama Campaign actively solicits campaign contributions from non-U.S. residents
throughout the world,” Sukhia wrote. “[S]uch solicitations could be explainable if they were received solely by U.S. citizens
abroad. They clearly are not.”
In addition to soliciting foreigners for donations, the Obama campaign has chosen not to employ industry-standard
safeguards against collecting unlawful foreign donations via its social media and online process, the GAI report says.
Obama for America does not require online credit card donors to input Card Verification Value data to confirm that a
political donor is legally authorized to charge contributions to a given credit card. GAI said CVV data consists of “a three or four
digit number generally imprinted on the back of the card” in order “to verify that the person executing the purchase physically
possesses the card.”
GAI notes that the Obama campaign’s failure to use such security measures in its online donation system likely costs it
“millions of dollars in additional fees” because “card processors charge higher transaction fees for campaigns that fail to use the
The group estimates that Obama’s 2008 campaign, which raised over $500 million, likely “paid at least an additional $7.25
million in fees to the banks that it could have avoided if it were to have used the CVV,” assuming the campaign paid typical rates
for processing credit card transactions.
The Obama campaign claims it has its own methods of confirming the legitimacy of credit card transactions. But it does
require CVV data from credit card purchasers of hats, t-shirts and other campaign merchandise.
GAI also determined that the Obama re-election campaign has selected a particularly weak Address Verification System
(AVS), a computerized means of comparing house numbers and ZIP codes provided by a donor with the corresponding numbers
on file with a credit card issuer.
Different AVS systems “can be set to accept multiple degrees of error,” according to GAI’s report.
“[D]epending on the degree of error the Webmaster allows for the AVS, a transaction might not be flagged as potentially
fraudulent if the purchaser mistyped the address associated with the card,” GAI reported. “While all major U.S. credit card issuers
are AVS compliant, many foreign card issuers are not.”
Sukhia said that “the AVS error settings the [Obama] campaign appears to have chosen would not provide meaningful
protection against fraudulent or foreign contributions.”
These “vulnerabilities” in the Oama campaign’s online credit card processing system, GAI contends, “are not difficult to fix.”
“In addition to the CVV and a strong AVS system, the campaign could make use of geo-location on the campaign websites
so that if a visitor comes from a foreign IP [Internet Protocol] address, he or she would be alerted of the relevant federal laws and
asked for a passport number or military ID in order to proceed to the donation page,” GAI said.
In addition to fundraising practices employed at “,” another website — “” — directs Web
traffic to pages where the president’s campaign fills its coffers, GAI concluded.
Neither President Obama nor his campaign owns Sukhia said data show that 68 percent of traffic to that
website comes from foreign users, all of whom are redirected to Obama fundraising Web pages. was registered in September 2008 to Robert Roche, an Obama campaign bundler living in Shanghai, China,
according to GAI.
“Roche is an American citizen (originally from Chicago) who has spent the bulk of his time since the late 1990s developing
business interests in Shanghai,” the group wrote. Roche “has considerable business interests in Chinese state-run television and
ties to several state-owned Chinese companies.”
“By October 2, 2008, began redirecting all visitors to specific content on,” GAI wrote.
“Upon arrival to, visitors were asked for their name, email, and zip code and presumably were sent
solicitation letters, like every other visitor who provides that information to the campaign.”
“Following President Obama’s campaign victory in November 2008, redirected visitors to a page selling
inauguration merchandise and taking donations for the inauguration celebration,” GAI added. “Throughout 2009, the website
redirected to pages on the campaign website advocating various presidential initiatives.”
“Starting in late January 2010, redirected to a page gathering email addresses and continued to do so through
2011. Sometime during 2012, the webpage began sending visitors to a donation page on the Obama campaign’s website. The
campaign’s donation page loads an affiliate number to track the traffic and donations coming via the website. It continues to do
so today.”
According to GAI’s report, Roche’s name was removed from the domain registration of on Oct. 4, 2010, and
replaced with “an anonymous registration” provided by an affiliate of was subsequently moved to a
server company based in Utah and its administration was transferred to Wicked Global, “a small company with only four
employees listed on its website,” and led by a 25-year-old Harvard dropout.
“Who arranged for Wicked Global to oversee, and why that was done is unknown,” GAI reported, adding that it
“remains unclear whether or not Roche himself continues to own Nevertheless, the site continues to aid the Obama
campaign, regardless of ownership.”
The Obama campaign has not responded to The Daily Caller’s request for comment regarding this report.
Mitchell Shames Obama Camp Over Footage (POLITCO)
By Dylan Byers
Politico, October 9, 2012
NBC's Andrea Mitchell publicly shamed the Obama campaign today for using NBC News footage to attack Mitt Romney.
As POLITICO reported Saturday, NBC News sent a letter to Obama campaign manager Jim Messina last week asking the
campaign to stop using network footage in a new 30-second spot, released shortly after Wednesday’s debate, in which Andrea
Mitchell is shown on air citing an independent analysis that Mitt Romney’s tax plan would cost $4.8 trillion over 10 years.
Mitchell addressed that complaint on her MSNBC program today, but added that the Obama campaign omitted portions of
the clip in which she "pointed out exaggerations and/or misstatements" made by President Barack Obama.
"Some viewers might be understandably confused by the fact that the Obama campaign is airing a commercial right now
including a video clip of me fact-checking Gov. Romney after last week's debate," Mitchell said. "You should know that NBC
News has not granted either campaign permission to use our news material and immediately requested that the campaign refrain
from using NBC News material in this and future advertisements."
"In this case, the Obama campaign uses only a short clip from a Truth Squad report that in fact pointed out exaggerations
and/or misstatements that both candidates had made during the debate," she said. "Just wanted to make that clear."
Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt told POLITICO earlier today that the campaign had received the complaint
and was reviewing NBC's concerns. He referred POLITICO to the same statement when asked for a response to Mitchell's
Experts: Sebelius Can Visit Ryan’s District (POLITCO)
By David Nather And Kyle Cheney
Politico, October 9, 2012
When HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Paul Ryan’s district Sunday on behalf of President Barack Obama’s
reelection bid, she was careful to follow the rules: The campaign paid for the trip, not the government, and campaign officials said
she was just there as a supporter, not as HHS secretary.
So is that enough to make it OK? Legally, yes, experts on government ethics rules say. It doesn’t look great, according to
some ethics lawyers — but they insist that’s the system we have.
Sebelius, of course, got in trouble just last month for violating the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from
participating in partisan political activities. In a February speech, she stepped over the line by making a pitch for a North Carolina
gubernatorial candidate during an official speech, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.
That ruling was bound to bring greater scrutiny to any other political speeches she gave. So this time, when Sebelius visited
Janesville, Wis., Obama campaign officials made it clear that it was an unofficial visit and no government funds were used to pay
for it. A campaign official said Sebelius “is here today on her personal time as a supporter of the president, not as the nation’s top
health official.”
So it was Citizen Sebelius who visited the Rock County Democratic Party headquarters, not Secretary Sebelius. It may
have been hard for the political volunteers to tell the difference, but legal experts say the Hatch Act is so specific that as long as
she didn’t use government funds and didn’t bill it as an official trip, she should be fine.
“It gets very specific very quickly,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. “It doesn’t
violate the Hatch Act to engage in partisan politics if no federal funds were used in those activities.”
Stan Brand, a government ethics lawyer and former House general counsel, said the use of government funds is the most
important test of whether there’s been a Hatch Act violation. “As long as they stay away from that, they’re OK,” he said.
With New Vigor, Romney Resets Ohio Campaign (NYT)
By Jeff Zeleny And Jim Rutenberg
New York Times, October 9, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If one place is emerging as a test of Mitt Romney’s ability to capitalize on a new dynamic in the
presidential race, it is Ohio, where he is intensifying his advertising, deploying more troops and spending four of the next five
Ohio, whose 18 electoral votes are critical to Mr. Romney’s candidacy, has bedeviled him like no other battleground state.
His prospects were so shaky two weeks ago that his advisers openly discussed the narrow path to winning the necessary 270
electoral votes without Ohio, which every Republican president in the nation’s history has carried.
But as the race for the White House takes on a new air of volatility after President Obama’s off-kilter debate performance
last week — a poll from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center on Monday suggested that Mr. Romney had wiped out the
president’s lead among voters nationally — Mr. Romney is displaying new vigor in his fight for Ohio. The state, along with Florida,
Iowa and Virginia, is now at the heart of his strategy for the remaining 28 days of the campaign.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney are both visiting Ohio on Tuesday, the final day of voter registration here, but Mr. Romney is
sticking around for one of his most intensive bursts of campaigning yet. His increased presence is a response to pleas from state
Republican leaders to invest more time and attention in the regions where he needs to turn out voters.
“Republicans who were concerned about some of the poll numbers now have a higher degree of enthusiasm,” said Senator
Rob Portman, the chairman of Mr. Romney’s campaign here. “We’ve got a great opportunity to keep the momentum going.”
For the first time, Mr. Romney is personally making his case in a new television ad, saying, “Ohio families can’t afford four
more years like the last four.” The message, while hardly novel, is welcome among Republicans who have watched with
frustration as Mr. Obama’s campaign has dominated airwaves for weeks with a tailor-made operation in Ohio.
Mr. Romney’s problems here have included the Obama campaign’s success at defining him to many voters over the
summer as an out-of-touch corporate raider, as well as a state economy that has been more vibrant than the country’s over all.
With both the state and national unemployment rates now below 8 percent, Mr. Romney may have less opportunity than he did
earlier this year to convince voters when he asks them in his new ad, “The question Ohio families are asking is ‘Who can bring
back the jobs?’ ”
Several Republican officials, asked why Mr. Romney has been lagging well behind Mr. Obama, responded it was not
because Mr. Romney was not selling here, but rather that his campaign had not been selling him well.
The president’s campaign has overwhelmed Mr. Romney until now in television advertising. In Youngstown, Mr. Romney
and his allied groups ran virtually no advertisements through much of September, as Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies
showed their ads more than 1,100 times, according to data compiled by the media monitoring firm Kantar Media/CMAG.
Mr. Romney has now increased his advertising in smaller markets across the state, including Youngstown, Zanesville and
Lima. He is scheduled to travel the state on Tuesday and Wednesday with Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey at his side, hoping
to keep enthusiasm high among Republicans who have been showing up in greater numbers at volunteer centers across the
state this week.
If the Romney campaign is to have a lasting resurgence in the four weeks until Election Day, his advisers say it must come
in states like Ohio. But the presidential debate in Denver last week, where Mr. Romney commanded the stage, has provided him
an opportunity to reset the contest.
The president’s advisers acknowledged in interviews that Mr. Romney was almost certain to get a “second look” from some
Republican-leaning independent voters who had not yet embraced him despite misgivings about Mr. Obama, including in reliably
Republican rural areas where Mr. Romney needs a large turnout.
A Republican-leaning voter in the Cincinnati area who was ambivalent about Mr. Romney before the debate said on
Monday that she was now solidly on board.
“I was never really sure where he stood or who he was,” said the voter, Sara Campbell, 36, a mother of three. “To me, you
have to be a strong leader in not only what you’re deciding, but also the way you come across.”
She added: “When he was right up against Obama, it really showed that he was strong, that he stands behind his
convictions. And that was something that was important for me to see.”
Cathy Appel, 53, an independent voter from suburban Columbus, said she believed that Mr. Romney did a better job in the
debate. But she said she was still leaning toward Mr. Obama because of Mr. Romney’s positions on women’s issues. “Mitt
Romney came across much more confidently than I would have thought,” said Ms. Appel, a retired government worker. “But I
can’t imagine selling myself down the river.”
Republican strategists in Ohio said Mr. Romney needed to increase his support among women, particularly in suburban
areas. Requests from state Republicans for a television commercial featuring Ann Romney have not yet been approved by the
campaign headquarters in Boston.
But Mr. Romney is now trying to focus his appeal to specific voters in each corner of Ohio, with a focus on coal production
in the southeast, conservative values in the southwest and a bipartisan pitch in the suburbs of Cleveland. In that area, George V.
Voinovich, a former senator and governor, declares in a new radio ad, “Mitt Romney will bring us together and end the
divisiveness we have seen in Washington.”
The first polls since the debate last week suggest that enthusiasm and optimism are increasing among Republicans even
as they send mixed signals about voter preferences in what has become a more fluid campaign.
The Pew Research poll on Monday found that Mr. Romney is backed by 49 percent of likely voters nationwide and that Mr.
Obama is supported by 45 percent, which is within the poll’s margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for
each candidate. But a Gallup survey of registered voters showed Monday that Mr. Obama is the choice of 50 percent and Mr.
Romney of 45 percent.
Advisers to both campaigns said they needed to wait for more focus groups and polls to determine the state of the race.
The president’s aides argued that, at best, Mr. Obama’s uneven debate performance hastened a tightening in polls that they said
was going to happen this fall.
“We’ve always prepared for a close and competitive election, and we continue to,” Jim Messina, the president’s campaign
manager, said in an interview.
The president continues to have more paths to reaching 270 electoral votes.
To win, Mr. Romney needs what some aides to Mr. Obama have been calling “an inside straight,” including winning Florida,
Ohio, Virginia and either Colorado, Iowa or Nevada. But it is not a prospect that Democrats rule out, which is why Mr. Obama is
scheduled to visit Ohio State University on Tuesday.
The president has spent considerable time on college campuses this fall, which was the subject of frustration on a recent
morning in a conversation among party activists at a Republican Victory Center in Delaware County, just north of Columbus.
Three volunteers, who were upbeat over last week’s debate, asked a reporter if Mr. Romney ever visited college campuses.
“He needs to campaign much harder,” said Jeff Edmister, 51, a Republican from nearby Westerville. “But thank goodness
he’s starting to kick it up.”
Jeff Zeleny reported from Columbus, and Jim Rutenberg from New York.
Source: Romney To Pull Resources Out Of Pennsylvania, Focus On Ohio (CALLER)
Daily Caller, October 9, 2012
Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is diverting substantial resources from Pennsylvania to Ohio,
according to a knowledgeable campaign source who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Field staff for the campaign were told about the decision during a conference call late Monday, the source said. Instructions
were not sent via email to avoid leaks to the media.
A Romney official denied to The Daily Caller that the campaign was moving out of Pennsylvania entirely, but confirmed that
some of the state’s staff were headed to Ohio — a state every Republican president has won on the road to the White House.
John Gibson, Romney’s Pennsylvania campaign manager, would not comment when reached by phone and asked about
the situation. He referred TheDC to the Romney campaign’s press office.
A Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in late September showed Romney trailing Obama by 12
percentage points in Pennsylvania and 10 in Ohio.
But following his strong performance in last week’s presidential debate, Romney appeared resurgent, both nationally and in
Pennsylvania. A Susquehanna Polling and Research poll conducted immediately after the debate found Obama holding on to a
narrow two-point lead. (RELATED: Romney now leading Obama by four points among likely voters in post-debate Pew poll)
Romney had assured reporters on Friday that he would compete for Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.
“I’ve got a little secret here and that is that the Obama campaign thinks Pennsylvania is in their pocket — they don’t need to
worry about it.” Romney told a crowd in Pennsylvania on Friday. “And you’re right and they’re wrong: We’re going to win
Reached late Monday, the Romney campaign’s national headquarters reiterated that the campaign still believes the state is
within reach.
Follow Gregg on Twitter
URL to article:
Kid Rock, Crowd Of 4,000 Cheer VP Candidate Ryan At Oakland University (FREEP)
By By Kathleen Gray And Ann Zaniewski, Free Press Staff Writers
Detroit Free Press, October 9, 2012
With a new poll showing the Republican presidential ticket closing the gap in Michigan, Republican vice presidential
candidate Paul Ryan came to Michigan on Monday to raise money and GOP hopes of a victory.
He played to a hometown crowd at a big-ticket fund-raiser in Pontiac by trumpeting a healthy auto industry. Later, Ryan
received a rock star’s welcome at Oakland University, where he was introduced by Kid Rock, and supporters cheered his
messages of job growth and strengthened national security.
Kid Rock introduced Ryan as “a fellow hunter, a fellow fan of rock n’ roll, a great Midwesterner who shares a vision not only
with Mitt Romney, but also with myself, of what would be the best for our state and our country.”
Ryan touted his and Romney’s economic policies, saying the pair would focus on restoring lost manufacturing jobs and
helping unemployed people gain the skills they need to find work.
“China just beat us as the No.1 nation in manufacturing just two years ago ... We’re going to get it back,” Romney told the
crowd at OU, estimated at more than 4,000 people. “We’re going to get manufacturing moving again.”
Cheers erupted when Ryan said he and Romney would strengthen Medicare and Social Security by getting rid of
Obamacare. He also said energy will play a key role in the economic recovery.
Cindi Roehm, 44, of Rochester Hills wore a floppy, red, white and blue Uncle Sam-style hat to the event.
“I have two boys, and I’m concerned about where we’re headed,” she said before Ryan spoke, citing the debt and national
security as her top concerns. “We need a change, and we need it soon.”
Earlier in the day, Ryan spoke to about 290 people who attended a fund-raiser where tickets ranged from $1,000 to
“We know a very healthy auto industry is healthy for the economy,” he said to the crowd. “We want a strong auto sector.”
Ryan voted for the federal auto bailout in 2008, but said it didn’t help plants in his state of Wisconsin, where Delphi and
engine plants closed.
President Barack Obama’s policies are wrong for the country, Ryan said.
“The president’s philosophy is that they can figure it out in Washington,” he said. “They’ll grant us all our rights, like religious
liberty. But we’ve seen that experimentation before. It doesn’t work very well.”
He said there have been decades worth of politicians who offer empty promises, “and those empty promises become
broken promises. That’s what happens if we have four more years like the last four years.”
U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, a Republican from Harrison Township; Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard; Romney’s brother
Scott Romney, and GOP 11th Congressional District candidate Kerry Bentivolio of Milford were among the Republicans who
attended the fund-raiser.
Ryan toured a Cornerstone School in Detroit before the event. The charter school was started by Republican U.S. Senate
candidate Clark Durant, who finished second to former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra. Hoekstra, a Republican from Holland, will face
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Lansing, on Nov. 6.
After visiting the school, Ryan said, “In pockets of despair, there are these great glimmers of hope.”
Ryan also is preparing for the one vice presidential debate, Thursday night in Kentucky.
“If Mitt told me I would have to spend three days with Joe Biden, I’d say, ‘No way,’.” Ryan said, referring to the three days of
“debate camp” he’s preparing to attend. “I think 90 minutes will be enough.”
Democrats held a news conference before Ryan’s visit in Detroit, saying they expected him to distort Obama’s record.
Vice Presidential Hopeful Ryan: 'We Can And Will Win Michigan' (DETN)
By David Shepardson And Marisa Schultz
Detroit News, October 9, 2012
Rochester — Hundreds of cheering Republicans at Oakland University's O'Rena welcomed vice presidential pick Paul
Ryan back to Michigan on Monday night in a rally to show the GOP hasn't given up on winning the state.
The push through Michigan comes as two new polls released on Monday showed Obama's double-digit lead in the state
had been cut to 3 percentage points. Coupled with a strong debate performance Wednesday, Republican leaders believe they
have momentum.
Republicans, who haven't won Michigan since 1988, haven't written off the state, Ryan told WXYZ (Channel 7) on Monday.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Detroit native, hasn't been to Michigan since Aug. 24 and the GOP has yet to air any
TV ads here.
"What do you think I'm here for? I'm here because we can and will win Michigan," Ryan said.
That was good news for several Romney supporters, who said they thought the campaign had given up on winning
Michigan, the state where Romney was born and his father served as governor.
"I couldn't even get a (Romney) yard sign until yesterday," said Juan Vazquez, 63, from Leonard. "I thought he was giving
up on us. … When I found out he's here, I said maybe I was wrong."
"We have such a good opportunity with the polls closing to turn the tide in Michigan and it all starts here in Oakland
County," said former state Sen. Mike Bishop, who is running for Oakland County prosecutor, before Ryan took the stage Monday
Bolstering the campaign's outreach to Michigan, Romney's wife Ann, who also grew up in southeast Michigan, will attend
an event in Grand Rapids on Friday.
"We have such a good opportunity with the polls closing to turn the tide in Michigan and it all starts here in Oakland
County," said former state Sen. Mike Bishop, who is running for Oakland County prosecutor, before Ryan took the stage Monday
The rally was part of a swing through Michigan that began early Monday at a faith-based school in Detroit and culminated
with Kid Rock hosting Ryan at OU's sports arena for the "Victory Rally."
Kid Rock, wearing a black fedora and brown leather, introduced Ryan, saying "it's a little difficult to put myself in this
position knowing that may alienate a few fans."
Ryan, who voted for an auto bailout in December 2008, has been critical of the Obama administration's handling of the
restructuring of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.
"We know a very healthy auto industry is healthy for the economy," Ryan said earlier at a fundraiser at the Marriott Pontiac
Hotel at Centerpoint with about 290 guests where tickets ranged from $1,000 to $50,000. "We want a strong auto sector."
President Obama was last in Michigan in April and his campaign has spent no money on TV advertising in the state; he
spent $12 million on ads in 2008.
Gloria Armstrong, a retiree from Clarkston, said Republicans were energized by the Romney's debate performance where
"he swept the floor with Obama." Ryan's visit signals to a Democratic-leaning state is "showing how important Michigan is to the
Jim Esdale, 67, of Sterling Heights, said he came out with his wife and friend because "it's not what I like (about the
Romney-Ryan ticket). It's what I don't like. I don't like Obama."
Ryan's stop at the public rally followed a fund-raiser at Marriott Pontiac Hotel at Centerpoint with about 290 guests where
tickets ranged from $1,000 to $50,000.
"We know a very healthy auto industry is healthy for the economy," Ryan said according to pool reports. "We want a strong
auto sector."
He played to the hometown crowd. "We share a lot, Michiganders and Wisconsin ... Even though you stopped us from
winning a national championship. We love the Big 10. We love Prince Fielder."
Hours before the fundraiser and rally, Ryan visited the nondenominational Cornerstone School. He toured the school,
which has 550 pre-kindergarten through 10th-grade students, with Clark Durant, its co-founder.
The Cornerstone school choir serenaded Ryan with Sammy Davis Jr.'s famous "Hello Detroit."
Ryan watched 13 students re-enact the debate over forming the U.S. Constitution in 1787 in Philadelphia, playing the part
of delegates, including George Washington. Some threatened to withdraw unless they created two houses of Congress. They
recited the preamble to the Constitution by memory.
Ryan appeared to get emotional as he watched the kids, wiping his eyes after they spoke.
"That's really special. What you are doing is you are learning and showing those principles that made us great," Ryan told
the children. "It's so important that we each learn this posterity — these ideas that were given to us. All those people who fought
and died for our country — they fought for those ideas."
Ryan noted that the Founding Fathers fled countries without freedom.
"It's important for every generation to pass these ideas on," Ryan said, saying the Detroit children make "me hopeful for our
Meantime, Democrats criticized the Wisconsin congressman for what they called his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher
system, cut funding for education and deliver tax cuts to the wealthy. Two of Ryan's colleagues in Congress, Democratic U.S.
Reps. John Dingell and Sander Levin, accused Ryan and Mitt Romney of being untruthful about tax plans.
"What he is bringing here today is worse than a fig leaf," said U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, at a news conference
Monday at Pontiac's UAW Local 653. "What it really is, is a windfall for the very wealthy, hurting the middle class of America. I'm
not sure what their next shift will be."
Levin serves on the same tax writing Ways and Means Committee as Ryan and said they've "never worked
"You know why?' he said. "It isn't because we don't like each other. We have offices right next door to each other. It's he's
so far to the right that he can't get it right. He's too far out to work effectively."
Democrats praised Obama for his support of the auto bailout to General Motors and Chrysler and said if Romney were
president the auto industry would have collapsed.
"From my point of view of it, the president doesn't have to come back to Michigan," said UAW Region 1 Director Chuck
Hall. "He's paid Michigan back in full."
On Thursday, Ryan meets up with Vice President Joe Biden in their first and only debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky.
[email protected]
(202) 662-8735
GOP’s Move To Downplay Paul Ryan’s Debate Skills Isn’t Sticking In Ohio (WP)
By Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post, October 8, 2012
SWANTON, Ohio — Political campaigns typically work to lower expectations for their candidates ahead of major debates,
and this week has been no exception as Vice President Biden and Republican rival Paul Ryan prepare to square off Thursday in
Danville, Ky.
But the strategy hasn’t quite filtered down to some rank-and-file Republicans in Ohio, whose expectations for the Wisconsin
congressman are sky-high.
“I think Ryan’s going to eat him alive,” said Darlene Johnson, 68, a retired teacher from Toledo who came to see Ryan
speak Monday in an airport hanger here.
“He’s dynamic, he knows his facts, he’s young. I think he’s going to be very aggressive. . . . I think it’s going to be good for
our team,” she said.
In interviews here, as Ryan closes out his schedule of public rallies before heading to Kentucky to meet Biden, Republican
voters said they expect Ryan to downright demolish the vice president Thursday.
Biden’s reputation as a gaffe machine has helped convince Republicans he’ll be easy to embarrass. Also, the Ryan
campaign has spent months selling its nominee as the party’s intellectual future, raising expectations about his abilities.
Hopes among the grass-roots campaigners were raised higher by presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s strong performance
against President Obama last week. Romney’s showing was interpreted by supporters not as an off-night for the president, but
as proof that the Democratic perspective is simply impossible to defend.
“I know Biden’s gonna get tore up,” said David Alcorn, 56, a bus mechanic from Fulton County, Ohio. “Biden doesn’t even
know what state he’s in half the time. Everything he says he gets wrong. He’s just a goof.”
Before Ryan spoke here, Romney’s remarks on foreign policy at a Virginia event were piped in live on a video screen. The
crowd of about 1,000 here gave Romney a standing ovation, then applauded again for Ryan as he offered a critique of Obama’s
domestic and foreign leadership that reiterated some of the same points.
“The president is not offering the kind of spirited and principled leadership we need to create jobs here at home or to keep
us safe,” Ryan said. He was sharp and focused in his remarks, and many here said they looked forward to seeing the same
Any misstep by Biden could prove especially costly for the Democrats, coming on the heels of Obama’s widely panned
debate performance. But there is danger in the cockiness many Romney supporters have about Ryan’s prospects. The
congressman, 42, has tangled with Democrats on the House floor, but he has never appeared in a nationally televised debate
watched by millions.
And he’ll be going up against a 36-year veteran of the Senate, who participated in multiple debates during his two runs for
the presidency. If Biden appears passionate and sure-footed, Democrats will surely use it to try to build a narrative of a
All of that has prompted top Republicans to try to tamp down the expectations for Ryan.
“Paul is a smart guy. He has committed his life to understanding the problems of our economy,” Republican National
Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I think Paul is going to do a great job, but I
think it’s important to understand [that Biden is] a gifted orator [and] very good at rhetoric.”
But don’t tell that to Tom Newcomb, 63, a retired General Motors engineer from Defiance, Ohio, who is a Ryan fan.
“I hope that Joe Biden is shown to be the idiot he is,” Newcomb said. “I think Paul Ryan’s the man to do it.”
Paul Ryan's Supply-side Roots Run Deep In Washington (LAT)
Paul Ryan's belief that lower taxes spur the economy dates to his early work with Reagan tax guru Jack Kemp and
other luminaries.
By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau
Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2012
OWENSVILLE, Ohio — Paul D. Ryan was plucked from Congress to be Mitt Romney's running mate largely on his
reputation as the wonkish and charismatic House Budget Committee chairman, but under the evening sun at the county
fairgrounds he was debating beer.
And ribs. And a regional favorite called Five Way, which is chili over spaghetti noodles topped with cheese, onions and
The architect of the Republican Party's tough-love economic platform has proved particularly adept on the campaign trail
with another aspect of political life: courting voters with an appealing enthusiasm, while sometimes skimming past thorny budget
Ryan deflected a pointed question during a recent "Fox News Sunday" interview about the potential cost of the RomneyRyan tax plan, saying it "would take me too long."
Days later at a town hall meeting in Iowa, a woman wearing a jacket from his beloved Green Bay Packers sought more
clarity after his five-slide PowerPoint presentation on federal spending and the debt. "Where are the answers? I mean, why aren't
you more specific?" she asked.
As Ryan heads into Thursday's debate with Vice President Joe Biden, this ideological heir to a generation of conservative
leaders will have an opportunity to counter an impression that he has evaded tough questions, and show off the knowledge and
skills that excited his party as adding gravitas to their presidential ticket.
"It's hard to maintain one's dignity as an intellectual heavyweight while campaigning," said Robert L. Bixby, a veteran
budget hawk who is executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog.
Ryan, who first worked in Congress as a college intern, has been cultivated over his 20-year career in Washington by some
of the city's most influential GOP figures. His approach to economics embodies a political genealogy that stretches from Ronald
Reagan to the tea party.
Among his most lasting influences was the supply-side economics guru Jack Kemp, who helped orchestrate Reagan's first
tax cuts — which prompted an enduring debate over whether it was lower taxes or increased military spending that boosted the
economy in those years.
Ryan became a speechwriter for Kemp shortly after interning on Capitol Hill in the early 1990s, and those who knew Kemp
see his easy optimism and tax policy prescriptions reflected in the 42-year-old congressman from Wisconsin.
"The power of the personal, that's something that Paul learned from Dad," said Jimmy Kemp, a director at the Patton
Boggs law firm, who recalled that his father kept in touch with Ryan until he died of cancer in 2009. "People don't care what you
know until they know you care."
The Romney-Ryan plan would cut tax rates, bolster defense and reduce the federal government's role in Medicare and
Medicaid. But protecting defense spending would require deep cuts in school lunches and other domestic mainstays. And some
analyses have suggested that to reduce the deficit, Romney and Ryan would have to eliminate tax breaks that help the middle
class, such as the home mortgage deduction.
But Ryan shares Kemp's unwavering belief that lower taxes would spur the economy, and the Packers fan who questioned
Ryan said later that she was satisfied with his lengthy response.
"Every time we've done this, we have created economic growth," Ryan said.
The candidate's team disputes the notion that the Ryan on the stump is a watered-down version of the congressional Ryan.
They point to many recent speeches — at one robust question-and-answer forum in Orlando, Fla., he broke out the PowerPoint
slides that are now a staple at such events — as evidence that he provides more detail than either President Obama or Biden.
Obama characterized the Romney-Ryan approach as "trickle-down fairy dust" that was tried a generation ago and doesn't
work. During the supply-side heyday of the Reagan years, the top marginal tax rate was slashed to 28% from 70%, but the
nation's debt, which had been decreasing, spiked.
At the fairgrounds, Ryan dismissed Obama as someone who "can give lots of great speeches."
Critics have slighted Ryan for some convenient omissions on the campaign trail, such as when he blamed Obama for the
nation's credit downgrade and the failure to adopt a bipartisan commission's plan to reduce the deficit. Ryan too had played a
significant role in both events.
Others, though, see a talented politician able to silence his inner policy geek in favor of the savvy campaigner. A squeakyvoiced Ross Perot with confounding charts he is not. Hard-rock anthems punctuate his campaign stops. Amid easy banter about
beer and chili, Ryan eagerly weaves in the economic theories he has pursued most of his adult life.
Since he was a 21-year-old intern in Washington, Ryan has refined his economics education. Dropping off the mail, he
would chat with a top Republican aide, Cesar Conda, who lent Ryan books, which the young man marked up in the margins.
"Paul at his core is a quintessential staffer," said Conda, now chief of staff to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a tea party
favorite. "Even though he's become a very good politician."
Ambitious young interns arrive each year in Washington with the intellectual curiosity and work ethic that Ryan brought from
Janesville, Wis. What set Ryan apart was his early tutelage by some of the party's intellectual luminaries.
He worked with Kemp at Empower America, the think tank cofounded by fellow George H.W. Bush administration alum
William Bennett, who also became a mentor. And as a Capitol Hill staffer after Republicans took over Congress in 1995, he was
assigned to the House Budget Committee, run by Rep. John Kasich, now Ohio's governor. Kasich introduced Ryan in
These political veterans imparted skills and bestowed clout in a way that resembles an Old Testament tale of families
begetting families.
When Ryan was elected to Congress in 1998, the House majority leader was Dick Armey, who would later become the
chairman of the tea party powerhouse FreedomWorks, which evolved out of Kemp's Empower America.
Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, worked alongside Ryan when both were Capitol Hill staffers in the "bunker" of
Kasich's budget panel. "I view him as the bridge between the old Reagan-Kemp supply-siders and the libertarian young guns that
came in with the tea party class in 2010," Kibbe said.
By the time Ryan leapfrogged more senior lawmakers to become the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, his
early drafts of what would become the "Path to Prosperity," the party's budget blueprint, articulated the ideology of the modern
conservative movement.
"Since the day that Paul was elected to Congress, we worked with him on a number of issues, a lot of what would become
the Path to Prosperity," Kibbe said. "He's what Dick Armey would call a legislative entrepreneur — he actually turned ideas into
legislation. That's what attracted us from Day 1."
Ryan's economic approach picks up where his predecessors left off, going beyond Kemp's supply-side tax cuts to a deficitslashing reduction in the scope of the federal government that the earlier generation may not have dared.
In Congress, Ryan has veered at times from this outlook, especially as he agreed to big-ticket budget items — the bank
bailout and new Medicare prescription drug benefit. But those deviations from tea party orthodoxy did little to disrupt his rise to
become the Republican Party's leading voice on fiscal issues.
"Kemp was always focused on marginal tax rates — he was like a one-hit wonder — he had one great song, but you were
always waiting for the album," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, which organizes the no-new-taxes
pledge that almost all GOP lawmakers in Congress have signed. "Ryan's the second act."
[email protected]
Romney Reworks ‘8 Percent’ Speech (POLITCO)
By James Hohmann
Politico, October 9, 2012
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Mitt Romney recalibrated his stump speech Monday to deal with the unemployment rate falling
below 8 percent.
“We’ve seen the slowest recovery from a recession in history,” the GOP nominee told a soaked crowd of 500 at a park
outside the shipyard here. “As a matter of fact, I just read that if you look back 60 years, and you look at all the months we had
with unemployment above 8 percent before President Obama, there were 39 months in all 60 years with unemployment above 8
percent. With this president, there’ve been 43 months under one president alone.”
Since he began running, Romney has counted up the number of “straight months with unemployment above 8 percent.”
But he dropped the line Friday after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the rate fell to 7.8 percent in September and
revised upward the number of jobs created in the two prior months.
The former Massachusetts governor’s critique of President Barack Obama’s handing of the economy is a central rationale
of his own candidacy, and some good jobs data will do nothing to change that. But Romney’s undeniably putting more emphasis
in this final month of the campaign on where he’d take the country – not just looking backward to attack the incumbent’s
“He does not understand what it takes to create a real recovery. I do,” Romney said here. “He was given the opportunity in
the debate to describe what he’d do to create jobs, and I didn’t hear anything new. It was very clear he plans on four more years
like the last four years. I don’t think we can afford four more years like the last four years. You know he wants another stimulus?
How’d that first one work out?”
Introducing Romney, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell repeated the 8 percent figure.
“We can’t take all these months of 8 percent unemployment,” he said. “We’ve got to have a leader who knows how to
create jobs in the private sector.”
Virginia’s unemployment rate in August, seasonally adjusted, was 5.9 percent.
Mitt Romney Embraces Retail Politics As Town Hall Debate Approaches (HUFFPOST)
Huffington Post, October 9, 2012
After weeks of confined and controlled campaign stops, Mitt Romney has suddenly become a candidate eager to mix it up
with voters in impromptu settings.
The transformation has been fueled by two factors, Republican sources say. The first is the momentum that the Romney
campaign feels coming off a strong debate performance on Wednesday night, resulting in the type of adoring crowds needed to
provide a soft landing for a candidate who is often stiff and awkward in such settings.
The second is a plan to get Romney better prepared for the next presidential debate, which will put him and President
Barack Obama in a town hall format.
In the days since the first debate, Romney has held town-hall style calls, visited local restaurants and stopped by an
elementary school. His schedule, as culled from the pool reports, has been as follows:
October 4
Romney made an impromptu stop at the Colorado CPAC meeting for a short talk with attendees. It hadn't been on his
schedule. After flying to the Shenandoah Valley, he mingled with about 20 "well-wishers," before holding a tele-town hall in Iowa.
October 5
Romney held a "closed-door roundtable with laid-off coal workers and their wives." Later, he did a tele-town hall meeting
with voters in Ohio. Late at night he made an unscheduled stop at a well-known Cuban restaurant in Tampa, Fla., where he went
table-to-table chatting up patrons and the waitstaff.
October 6
Romney held a tele-townhall with voters in Virginia.
October 7
Romney visited a local fish and chips restaurant in Port St. Lucie, Fla. with his wife, Ann, during which he humorously got a
piece of napkin stuck his face and allowed the staffer to wipe it off. He left to a cheering throng of supporters waiting in the street.
October 8
Romney participated in a roundtable discussion with retired generals following his latest foreign policy speech. After a short
motorcade ride he stopped at an elementary school, where he shook hands and played around with a bunch of the students.
The style and pace of Romney's recent schedule are a dramatic departure from what he had been doing in the weeks
leading up to the debate. During the first 20 days of September, for instance, Romney held just 13 campaign events and 13
fundraisers and made six impromptu campaign stops.
Democrats, in assessing the Republican nominee's calendar, suggested that he was using the campaign trail as a trial run
for his next showdown with the president.
"Don't you assume that [the retail politics] is debate prep in itself, given that next debate is interactive town hall format?"
asked one top Democratic official.
The Huffington Post posed that question to a well-connected Republican operative.
"I think that's true," the operative replied. "The other thing I'd note is that if you look at that last debate, the president did not
give an actual anecdote about a human until the debate was practically over. Doing these type of events provides you with those
anecdotes to use."
How It Costs Taxpayers $1.4 Billion A Year To Fund The White House (CALLER)
Daily Caller, October 8, 2012
A book about presidential perks recently revealed that taxpayers spend about $1.4 billion paying for the staffing, housing,
transportation and entertaining of President Barack Obama’s White House.
Now another author, John F. Groom, explains in “The 1.4 Billion Dollar Man: Costs of the Obama White House” exactly
how researchers came up with that $1.4 billion estimate.
“One of the most important things to note about the $1.4 billion figure is that it specifically does NOT include the cost of
running the White House’s policy operations – the $1.4 billion is money that is directly related to the president and his family,”
Groom writes in the book.
Here’s the breakdown, according to Groom:
• President’s salary and allowance: $450,000
• White House building operating expenses: $14,658,000
• White House Grounds: $6,057,000
• Vacations: $20,000,000
• Health care for the first family, including traveling medical staff and equipment: $7,000,000
• Campaign expenses not reimbursed to government: $311,000,000
• White House staff: $7,985,420
• Office of Administration budget: $14,481,000
• Special missions including White House Communications Agency: $161,252,000
• Military salary costs: $153,441,360
• Salary costs for presidential airlift squadron: $75,000,000
• Presidential plane fleet: $44,000,000
• Presidential helicopter fleet: $300,000,000
• Ground transportation: $2,200,000
• Transportation total: $346,200,000
• Secret Service: $259,152,884
“We need to return to the idea of the president as first citizen – a very important person, but not a deity,” Groom says in the
book. “He and his administration should run their lives as examples to the nation, with frugality and simplicity, at least until the
huge institution they run, the United States government, returns to some degree of solvency.”
Obama is hardly the first president to run up massive expenditures on the taxpayer’s dime. According to a government
analysis of the White House’s expenditures under George W. Bush, total spending on White House operations reached nearly
$1.6 billion in 2008.
Follow Alex on Twitter
URL to article:
Michelle Obama: 'I Rarely Step Foot In The West Wing' (POLITCO)
By Jennifer Epstein
Politico, October 9, 2012
First lady Michelle Obama says she stays out of the way of most of her husband's work, trusting the president's advisers to
counsel him on policy issues.
"I rarely step foot in the West Wing. In fact people are shocked when they see me there," she said in an interview with ABC
News's Cynthia McFadden set to air Monday.
"I rarely walk in that office because the truth is he's got so many wonderful advisers. He's got a phenomenal cabinet. He's
got people who are in the trenches on these issues every single day and I'm kind of stepping in and out and I've got my own set
of issues," she said. "So I don't even have the kind of expertise and the time in to be able to provide the kind of advice and
guidance that he's already getting."
Earlier on in her time in the White House, according to Jodi Kantor's "The Obamas," the first lady was less satisfied with her
husband's advisers who she thought were not doing a good job coordinating messaging and taking advantage of the president's
strengths. She pushed him to go for health care reform as a "moral imperative" -- in Kantor's words -- even as his political aides
urged him to back away from the issue.
In the interview airing Monday, Obama said she and the president strive to keep work out of their family life. "One of the
things that Barack and I try to do in our lives which I think is one of the reasons our family is so whole, is that we make sure family
is family -- it's not this sort of quasi-business relationship," she said. "We're two people who love each other and put a lot of our
energy into our kids and into our family unit."
And, yet again, Obama explained why, despite her reticence to be thrust into the political spotlight, she agreed to be part of
the 2008 campaign.
"In the end, Barack, our family is priority for him, and I knew that if I said no he wouldn't do this," she said. "And then I had
to think of whether I would want to be responsible for not having somebody like Barack you know, someone with his level of
intellect, his honesty, his compassion, his vision. Would I want to be the one who stood in the way of this person potentially
running this country? And I couldn't do that, because then I had to think beyond myself and my family and I had to think of sort of
the broader benefits that this country could gain from his leadership."
In Congress, A Shrinking Pool Of Moderates (NYT)
By Jennifer Steinhauer
New York Times, October 8, 2012
WASHINGTON — While the occupant of the White House and the composition of the next Congress are still to be decided,
one thing is clear: there will be many fewer moderate politicians here next year.
A potent combination of Congressional redistricting, retirements of fed-up lawmakers and campaign spending by special
interests is pushing out moderate members of both parties, leaving a shrinking corps of consensus builders.
Middle-of-the-road Democrats, known as Blue Dogs, have been all but eviscerated from the House over the last few
elections, and now three who have been in the Republicans’ cross hairs for years are fighting uphill battles for re-election.
Among Republicans, Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Representative Steven C. LaTourette of Ohio, weary of
partisan battles, chose to retire this year, and some, like Representative Charles Bass of New Hampshire, have found
themselves moving away from the center to survive, a technique employed by Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, who found it
was too little too late and lost his primary campaign.
“We don’t have a Congress anymore, we have a parliament,” said Representative Jim Cooper of Tennessee, one of the
last Blue Dogs. “We moderates are an endangered species, but we are also a necessary ingredient for any problem solving.”
The House is more polarized than at any time in the last century, according to models built by Keith Poole, professor
emeritus of political science at the University of Rochester, and Howard Rosenthal, professor emeritus of social sciences at
Princeton University. The last time the Senate was this divided, according to the joint research, was a century ago.
While Americans say they want an end to partisan bickering in Washington, Mr. Cooper said, they vote to maintain the
system that has created it. “It’s like Hollywood movies,” he said. “Most people say there is too much violence and sex, but those
are the only tickets that sell.”
Representatives Larry Kissell of North Carolina, John Barrow of Georgia and Jim Matheson of Utah, all Blue Dogs, appear
to be losing ground in their races for re-election. Because of redistricting, their constituencies have become less familiar with
them, making them easier targets for outside groups that have been spending heavily on ads to unseat them. Their poll numbers
have been dropping throughout this cycle.
Many other more moderate Democrats, including Representatives Dan Boren of Oklahoma and Mike Ross of Arkansas,
and Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, chose to hand over their member pins rather than seek
In theory, the dearth of moderates means it will be even harder next year for Congress — which failed to put together even
mundane measures like farm and highway legislation without a massive fight this session — to pass bills.
But Congress is facing so many potentially calamitous tax and budget issues that another theory is brewing: a combination
of Democrats, once adverse to changes to entitlements, and senior Republicans may form some sort of new deal-making
consensus through sheer necessity to avoid large tax increases and massive military cuts.
“If Republicans think by embracing the Tea Party it is a loser politically,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the
No. 3 Democrat. “it may strengthen the hands of the mainstream conservatives” to make deals with the 10 or so moderate
Democrats in the Senate who are interested in reforming the Medicare program and other entitlements.
Further, there is an emerging push on the Democratic side toward the center among many of their Senate candidates, like
Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Tim Kaine in Virginia and Richard Carmona in Arizona, who all are
running as pragmatic centrists willing to work with Republicans
For this to happen, according to moderates from both parties and several Congressional experts, the next president will
have to make conciliation a top priority.
“The next president has to channel Lyndon Johnson and seize the levels of power and make Congress work,” said former
Representative Jane Harman, a moderate Democrat from California who resigned last year to become the director of the
Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. “Obama talked about it and tried it briefly, but would sustained effort have helped with
this Congress? I think so.”
The erosion of moderation in Congress started decades ago. The decennial Congressional redistricting, which has been
done almost exclusively by state legislatures, has continued the creation of gerrymandered districts that keep competitive
elections anomalies.
“Some candidates don’t even have to wake up on Election Day to win,” Mr. LaTourette said. “I have not seen yet a
redistricting proposal that is anything other than trying to favor one side over the other.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California and a moderate Republican, devoted much of his political career
to beating back partisanship through a redistricting process that was removed from the hands of legislators, and pushing a
nonpartisan primary process in which the top two vote getters, regardless of parties, face off in general elections. This year, both
came together in his state, after years of impediments thrown up by both parties.
“These are important steps that no one wanted to take,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “They said, ‘You can’t touch that!’ It is
doable if you stay in there and work with good government groups, but you have to be aware that the parties will go after you.”
He added, “Partisanship is the No. 1 enemy. We can’t move forward on the most important things plaguing our country.”
Outside groups pour loads of money into targeting candidates, particularly incumbents who are seen as disloyal to party
positions, and members are pressured by groups to vote against bills that slide outside the window of party orthodoxy. “If you’re
not 100 percent pure with that group or party, you’re targeted,” Mr. Boren said.
Mr. Cooper and Mr. LaTourette each recounted their extreme disappointment when they joined forces to bring a budget bill
based on the recommendations of the deficit commission known as Bowles-Simpson to the House floor.
That day, both men said, they had at least 100 members of both parties with them; by the time of the evening vote, that
number had been whittled to a mere 38. “Tons of people said really great things about it,” Mr. Cooper said, “but when the interest
groups kicked in, they dramatically changed. One member told me his favorite lobbyist would be fired if he voted for it.”
President Obama’s decision early in his presidency to allow the Democrat-controlled Congress to craft legislation like the
health care law while he remained at arm’s length did not help, members on both sides said. Neither did his lack of engagement
with Republicans when they were in the minority, they said.
“Obama’s biggest failing has been not reaching out to Congress,” said former Representative Mike Castle, a moderate
Republican from Delaware who lost a Senate bid two years ago. “I remember being at a White House meeting with Rahm
Emanuel with other moderate Republicans,” he said, referring to the former White House chief of staff, “and the president came
out and spoke to us for about 30 minutes. It was a good conversation, mostly about Medicare. I don’t know if anyone in that
group ever heard from him again.”
Despite the increasing polarization, the “fiscal cliff” facing Congress at the end of the year, when a series of tax increases
and steep budget cuts are set to automatically begin, may force some departing members to move more to the middle, simply
because the implications are too grave.
The outcome of the presidential election will almost certainly have an impact on the political interplay of the next Congress.
Should Mr. Obama prevail, said members and officials from leadership offices of both parties, many Democrats may feel more
compelled to attack the problems with entitlement programs. Also, many senior Republicans, once considered among the most
conservative, may feel empowered to make deals to stave off large cuts to the military.
But then again, many, like Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, are facing re-election in 2014, and
already feel heat from the right. Mr. McConnell, who once favored the primary challenger to Senator Rand Paul, a Republican,
from his home state, recently hired one of Mr. Paul’s aides to run his campaign.
New ‘Super PACs’ Alter Landscape For House Races (NYT)
By Nicholas Confessore And Jo Craven Mcginty
New York Times, October 9, 2012
In the shadow of the supersize “super PACs” that have reshaped the battle for the White House and Senate, a new and
potentially potent kind of super PAC is proliferating in the closing weeks of the campaign and taking aim at House races.
With some of the groups backing Democrats and some supporting Republicans, they are picking a few Congressional
races in which advertising is cheaper or the airwaves less cluttered and transforming them with a barrage of outside money,
swamping incumbents and challengers alike.
In Utah and Georgia, a group known as Center Forward, headed by a retired Democratic lawmaker turned Beltway
lobbyist, has spent $1 million attacking two Republican candidates. In Florida, the Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition has spent
nearly $1 million against Patrick Murphy, a Democratic candidate, and supporting Representative Allen B. West, the Republican
Now or Never PAC, a Missouri-based group, has spent more than $900,000 to aid a Republican incumbent in neighboring
Illinois, Representative Joe Walsh, a Chicago-area lawmaker who had been outspent by his Democratic challenger until the
group entered the race.
“It doesn’t make any sense for us to spend the several million dollars that we expect to raise in the Connecticut Senate
race,” said Tyler Harber, a strategist for Now or Never. “We’ve focused on races where our involvement could have a positive
impact — and perhaps bring other groups in.”
The emergence of smaller super PACs helped fuel a surge in September advertising by outside groups in House races: Far
more money was being spent far earlier than for the 2010 elections, when Republicans won control of the House.
Through the beginning of October, super PACs and other outside groups reported at least $38.5 million in independent
spending to the Federal Election Commission, nearly seven times as much as they spent during the same period in 2010. Almost
all of that money was spent in September, according to a New York Times analysis, as outside groups reacted to swings in the
presidential race and exploited redistricting, which has left many incumbents with thousands of new constituents who are
unfamiliar with them.
And Democratic-leaning groups have narrowed the spending gap, with about $19.8 million of the total backing Republicans
and $18 million backing Democrats. Those totals do not include issue ads that groups are not required to disclose to the Federal
Election Commision, or the significant spending — of both disclosed and secret money — that big-spending groups like the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce have already planned.
The large disparity in outside spending that helped Republicans win the House in 2010 did not emerge until after
September, and a similar surge by major outside groups is likely in the coming weeks. But the early spending this year suggests
how much impact smaller outside groups believe they can have in House races in which the candidates themselves spend far
less money and the cost of influencing voters can be lower than in the presidential or Senate contests.
The donors and political consultants behind many of the groups began officially incorporating them over the summer, so
they have not yet had to file any disclosures that would reveal ties between the interests financing the attacks and the lawmakers
benefiting from them.
But other groups that have filed disclosures appear to be mimicking some of the big super PACs that played a pivotal role
in the Republican presidential primary this year, serving as vehicles for wealthy donors, friends and family members to pour
additional money into a race after they have already given the maximum allowed to the candidate’s own campaign.
American Sunrise, which is supporting Mr. Murphy in the Florida race, has raised $250,000, most of its reported funding,
from Mr. Murphy’s father. A few donors have also provided much of the money for Now or Never PAC: Of the $484,000 the
group has reported raising, $250,000 came from Stanley Herzog, a Missouri construction magnate.
In September, Center Forward, founded by Robert E. Cramer, a former Democratic Representative from Alabama, spent
$994,840 on ads opposing Mia Love and Lee Anderson, both Republicans. They are running against Representatives Jim
Matheson in Utah and John Barrow in Georgia, who were members with Mr. Cramer in the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of
centrist Democrats.
In New York’s First Congressional district, Prosperity First Inc. has spent close to $500,000 on advertising to support Randy
Altschuler, a Long Island businessman and Republican who is running for a second time against Representative Timothy H.
Bishop, a Democrat.
Most of the group’s money has come from Robert Mercer, a top executive at the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies
and donor to Mr. Altschuler, with whom he shares a fierce distaste for the Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Mr. Mercer has also
given $1 million to American Crossroads, which recently spent another $277,363 on the race through an affiliated group. (The
founder of Renaissance, James Simons, is the country’s leading donor to Democratic super PACs.)
Mr. Mercer declined to comment, as did a Washington-based election lawyer listed on filings as the group’s treasurer. But
Mr. Altschuler’s campaign said Prosperity First had helped transform the race, which one mid-September poll showed Mr. Bishop
leading by double digits.
“They’ve made it more competitive,” said Diana Weir, Mr. Altschuler’s campaign manager. “And I think as the race gets
more competitive and they see a tighter race, everyone’s going to want to come in.”
Unlike the largest groups, which operate with all the trappings of a presidential campaign — Web sites, spokesmen, news
releases announcing major advertising buys — the smaller groups often fly under the radar, rarely announcing themselves to the
world beyond their ads. In some cases, little is known about the groups save for the name of the person filing the incorporation
And while the major groups intervene in dozens of races and function as auxiliaries of each party, the smaller groups often
pursue narrower agendas, or are linked to specific candidates.
In California, for example, a San Francisco-based group called America Shining has focused on one race, spending
$150,000 to help Jay Chen, a Democrat, in a Republican-dominated district south of Los Angeles.
American Unity PAC, another new group, was founded by Republicans who support gay marriage, and is financed in part
by some of the same big donors, such as Paul Singer, a wealthy hedge fund investor, who have poured money into larger
groups. American Unity spent $517,850 in September to oppose Bill Foster, an Illinois Democrat challenging Representative
Judy Biggert, a pro-gay-marriage Republican.
Friends of Democracy, a group financed in part by Jonathan Soros, the son of billionaire financier George Soros, is
dedicated to campaign finance activism. The group’s co-founder is David Donnelly, the executive director of Public Campaign
Action Fund, which supports tighter campaign regulation, including overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision,
which paved the way for super PACs.
Since August, the group has spent $722,948 on ads opposing Republicans, much of it in races in New Hampshire,
California, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Mr. Donnelly said that the group was looking for races in which relatively few outside
groups were active and it could help candidates who would take a strong stand on tighter campaign regulation.
“We don’t have the kind of budget to go in with million-dollar TV buys,” Mr. Donnelly said. “We think that’s a blunt
instrument, where we can go in with a scalpel.”
Mr. Donnelly said that he was not blind to the irony of running a super PAC dedicated, in essence, to abolishing super
“I am hoping to work myself out of a job,” he said.
Derek Willis contributed reporting.
Bill Clinton To Hit Stump For House, Senate Democrats (ROLLCALL)
By Kyle Trygstad
Roll Call, October 9, 2012
President Barack Obama isn’t the only Democrat running this year that’s benefiting from appearances by Bill Clinton.
For the past month, since his well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention, the former president has hit the
campaign trail for Obama. He has said his top goal is returning Obama to the White House, but he’s also finding time in the final
push before Election Day for some downballot Democrats who also find themselves in close races and could use the boost
Clinton can provide.
On Tuesday morning, Clinton will endorse four Sacramento-area Congressional candidates on the campus of the
University of California, Davis. The candidates include Reps. John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney, as well as physician Ami
Bera and astronaut Jose Hernandez, who are challenging Republican incumbents.
“Middle class Americans need champions in Congress who will fight for good American jobs, and who will put people
before politics. I’m proud to endorse four people who will do just that,” Clinton said in a statement.
That afternoon Clinton will be in Las Vegas for an Obama rally. Appearing on stage with him will be Rep. Shelley Berkley
(D), who is challenging Sen. Dean Heller (R) in one of the closest Senate races in the country. Clinton will head next door
Wednesday evening for a rally at Arizona State University in Tempe with Senate candidate Richard Carmona (D). He’s running
against Rep. Jeff Flake (R) for the seat of retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R).
He will end the week on Friday in Sioux City, Iowa, for a rally with former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack (D), who is
challenging Rep. Steve King (R).
“His common-sense approach is why he was able to balance the budget and create jobs, without telling future generations
that they should forget the promise of Medicare or access to education,” Vilsack said in a statement. “This is the same kind of
leadership I’ll bring to Congress as I fight for the 4th District.”
Bill Clinton Now Appearing ... Everywhere (POLITCO)
By Alexander Burns
Politico, October 9, 2012
Don't look now, but the former president and star of the 2012 Democratic convention is mapping out a pretty intensive
general-election campaign schedule. In addition to his appearances for the Obama campaign, Bill Clinton will be at this event
President Bill Clinton will endorse four Northern California Democratic candidates at a UC Davis rally hosted by the Davis
College Democrats on Tuesday. The candidates, Congressman John Garamendi (CA-03), Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA09), Ami Bera (CA-07), and Jose Hernandez (CA-10), are all in races identified by the DCCC and NRCC as competitive.
And this one Wednesday for Arizona Senate candidate Richard Carmona:
Former President Bill Clinton will be the keynote speaker at a Get Out the Early Vote rally next Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the
ASU Sun Devil Performance lawn in Tempe. Gates open at 8:00PM and the program starts at 9:00PM.
And this one Friday in Indianapolis, home to the Joe Donnelly vs. Richard Mourdock Senate race:
President Bill Clinton will headline a "Hoosier Common Sense" rally on Friday morning to kick off the Indiana Democratic
Party's "get out the vote" efforts in the final weeks leading up to the election. Free tickets are available from the Indiana
Democratic Party.
Oh and also this one in Iowa, where Clinton-clan ally Christie Vilsack is in a competitive House race:
President Bill Clinton will headline the Value of Common Sense rally in support of Christie Vilsack this Friday in Sioux City.
“It’s a privilege to have President Clinton’s support in this election and I look forward to welcoming him to the 4th District,”
said Christie Vilsack. “President Clinton knows that creating a strong economy begins with rebuilding the middle class in this
country. His common-sense approach is why he was able to balance the budget and create jobs, without telling future
generations that they should forget the promise of Medicare or access to education. This is the same kind of leadership I’ll bring
to Congress as I fight for the 4th District.”
Draw your own conclusions ...
Read more about: Bill Clinton, 2012 Elections
Senate Hopefuls Allen, Kaine Debate In Richmond (VAPILOT)
Norfolk (VA) Virginian-Pilot, October 9, 2012
Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen drew sharper contrasts Monday between themselves in a televised
primetime U.S. Senate debate on the issues of entitlements seniors have paid all their lives, with Allen backing higher retirement
age and Kaine promising to protect Social Security "to my last breath."
The fourth of five debates between the former Virginia governors and the first before a statewide broadcast audience
ranged from abortion and contraception to looming military cuts to a Supreme Court case over racial diversity initiatives on
college campuses.
Though there were no game-changing moments, the debate provided a clearer window into the priorities and personalities
in a neck-and-neck race that could determine whether Republicans wrest a narrow Senate majority from the Democrats.
In a debate sponsored by AARP and the League of Women Voters, questions about Medicare and Social Security shared
center stage with related issues of taxation and women's issues of pay inequality and access to abortion services.
Allen said he supports preserving Social Security as-is for people 50 and older, but favors increasing the minimum eligibility
age and means testing for those 49 and younger.
"For millionaires, they don't need to have the same benefits as those of lower income," Allen said.
Kaine noted Allen's support during his previous Senate term, from 2001 to 2007, for unsuccessful legislation to privatize
Social Security. "That would have been a huge catastrophe prior to the (2008) collapse of Wall Street," Kaine said. "If I am in the
U.S. Senate, I will fight efforts to privatize Social Security to my last breath."
On taxes, Allen accused Kaine of proposing several tax increases during his term as governor from 2006 into 2010,
including a measure that would have increased taxes on people earning as little as $17,000 annually.
Kaine governed during the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression, when soaring unemployment and
withering investments and home prices forced Kaine and Virginia's Republican General Assembly to reconcile billions of dollars in
budget shortfalls. Two proposed transportation tax boosts and a general tax increase in his final budget never passed. Among
the cuts Kaine imposed were rebating part of his own salary and shuttering 19 of the state's interstate highway rest stops.
Virginia's estate tax was also repealed under Kaine's watch.
Kaine shot back that Allen was part of a Republican-ruled Senate in league with George W. Bush's Republican White
House that inherited budgets running a surplus from President Bill Clinton and turned it into record deficits.
"We have a balance sheet that is broken. When George Allen went into the Senate, it was fixed. We had a surplus. But he
broke both sides of the balance sheet. He dramatically slashed taxes and he jacked up spending $16,000 every second that he
served for six years," Kaine said.
Hold on, Allen said. In the six years since he left the Senate, four of them under Democratic President Barack Obama, that
spending figure has increased to $47,000 per second, he said.
Asked directly by debate moderator Bob Holsworth whether he would support the House-approved budget authored by
Budget Committee Chairman and GOP vice-presidential running mate Paul Ryan, Allen sidestepped into a rant against
Affordable Care Act, the health care plan Obama pushed through Congress in 2010.
Kaine noted Allen's support for a "personhood" bill that would outlaw virtually all abortions by extending the full legal
protections of living, breathing individuals to a fetus from the instant of conception.
Allen sought to narrow the focus of the federal personhood measure, saying his intent was to hold accountable criminals
who injure a woman and kill her fetus during a violent attack.
Asked where they stand on a pending U.S. Supreme Court that will decide whether tax-supported college diversity
programs, Kaine said he hopes the court will "affirm that it is OK for a public institution ... to try to make sure that the student body
looks like the state looks." But he said other factors besides race, such as household income, should also apply.
Allen wouldn't take his commitment as far as Kaine.
"While affirmative recruitment makes good sense, I don't want people who are qualified or better qualified being denied that
opportunity," Allen said.
Virginia Senate Debate: George Allen, Tim Kaine Face Off In Richmond (WP)
By Errin Haines
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
RICHMOND — In their second televised debate Monday night, former governors George Allen and Timothy M. Kaine
clashed over health care, women’s issues and Social Security as they sought to contrast how each would represent Virginia in
the U.S. Senate.
The two faced off for an hour-long exchange billed as “The People’s Debate,” focused on issues including Medicare taxes,
federal spending and immigration.
Kaine (D) and Allen (R) are fighting to succeed Sen. James Webb (D), who is retiring from the Democratic-controlled
chamber. Allen lost the seat to Webb six years ago.
The race in Virginia is among the most closely watched and hotly contested in the country, and the outcome could
determine which party controls the Senate. With less than a month to go until Election Day, several polls have suggested that
Kaine has opened a single-digit lead over Allen.
While the face-off did not cover much new ground and the candidates avoided any obvious gaffes, both men aimed to
present a clear choice to voters during the debate.
Allen attempted to portray Kaine as distracted during his tenure as governor, focused on his role as chairman of the
Democratic National Committee during his final year in office.
“How does a governor decide to take on a second job that sends him all over the country while over 100,000 jobs are being
lost in Virginia?” asked Allen, who left the governor’s mansion in 1998. “As governor, you only get four years to have a positive
impact on people’s lives. You could’ve told the president you needed to give all of your attention to the people of Virginia. You did
not give them 100 percent.”
Kaine, who left office in 2010, responded that he was governor during the terms of President George W. Bush and
President Obama and worked with two Republican state Houses. “I will always be a partner with the president of the United
States, whoever that president is,” Kaine said.
He told viewers that he is the candidate who can bring compromise to Washington and pledged to help end the gridlock in
Congress — something he said Allen did not do during his term in the Senate.
“We need folks who know how to compromise and work together,” he said, adding that during Allen’s time in the Senate,
spending and deficits increased.
He also sought to cast Allen as a bully, twice mentioning the Republican’s old vow to “knock Democrats’ soft teeth down
their whiny throats.”
The debate was hosted by the state’s AARP and the League of Women Voters, and their influence loomed large in the
conversation. Both candidates were asked about what they would do to preserve Medicare and Social Security. Allen said he
favored raising the eligibility age for people younger than 50 and reducing benefits for wealthier seniors.
Kaine said he opposed privatization of either program.
Women’s issues were also a focus. When the candidates were asked how they would address the gender gap in pay, Allen
said creating jobs is the best way to help women.
Kaine said there have been “efforts to block women’s progress” in 2012, especially regarding women’s health care.
“You can’t have a strong economy for women if you take their choices away,” Kaine said, adding that he supported
paycheck equity for women and opposed “personhood” state legislation and a bill that would have required women to get an
ultrasound before abortions.
Allen said his support of personhood legislation — which would define life as beginning at conception — is an accountability
issue: It would be a mechanism for punishing people who attack pregnant women and harm their unborn child.
Both candidates said they supported visa reform, but they split on the issue of allowing children of illegal immigrants to
remain in the country while pursuing an education.
“What the president did is he ignored the law, and rather than take cases on an individual basis, he’s put a whole class of
people exempt from the law,” Allen said. “That will make it more difficult to get real immigration reform. . . . If you reward illegal
behavior, you’ll only get more of it.”
Kaine said he backs the Dream Act and supports stiff financial penalties for illegal immigrants, who could work off their fines
and get in line for citizenship.
With the U.S. Supreme Court set to decide whether to allow affirmative action to factor into admission to public colleges
and universities, the candidates were asked where they stood on the issue in Virginia.
Allen said he favored “affirmative recruitment,” but not at the expense of denying qualified people an opportunity. Kaine said
he hoped the court “would affirm that it is okay for a public institution to try to make sure that their student body looks like the
state does.”
In his opening remarks, Kaine voiced his support for public broadcasting, which came under fire during last week’s
presidential debate when Republican nominee Mitt Romney signaled that he would support cutting federal funding of public
“I’m a huge public broadcasting fan,” Kaine said at the debate, held at WCVE Studios, one of two PBS stations in
Richmond. “I pledge tonight not to fire Big Bird or defund public broadcasting.”
The Senate candidates’ final debate is scheduled for Oct. 18 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Ben Pershing and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.
Allen, Kaine Take Off Gloves In Va. Senate Debate (WT)
Tax increases, job creation dominate
By David Sherfinski, The Washington Times
Washington Times, October 9, 2012
Republican George Allen on Monday escalated his portrayal of Democratic Senate rival Tim Kaine as a would-be serial tax
hiker and accused him of letting his attention drift away from Virginians during his final year as governor.
Firing back, Mr. Kaine repeatedly pressed Mr. Allen for more specifics on questions about women's health and looming
defense cuts in the candidates' latest debate in the campaign to replace retiring Sen. Jim Webb.
The wide-ranging debate in Richmond, hosted by the Virginia chapters of the AARP and the League of Women Voters,
also touched on Medicare and Social Security, the recent events in Libya, illegal immigration, the federal deficit and President
Obama's health care overhaul.
The race between the two former Virginia governors and political heavyweights could very well determine the balance of
power in the U.S. Senate this year. The two men have been running neck-and-neck for nearly two years, though Mr. Kaine
appears to be putting a bit of daylight between himself and Mr. Allen in the most recent polls. The latest Real Clear Politics
average shows the Democrat with a 4.7-point lead.
Mr. Allen — who headed the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the early 2000s — said in his opening statement
that Mr. Kaine's decision to serve as chairman of the Democratic National Committee during his final year as governor is "really
the great unanswered question in this campaign."
"How does a governor decide to take on a second job that sends him all over the country giving partisan speeches while
over 100,000 jobs are lost in Virginia?" Mr. Allen asked. "If Tim had been listening to the people of Virginia, who were really
facing tough times, he might not have proposed raising taxes on working people, working women, seniors and small-business
owners, as well as people earning as little as $17,000 a year."
Mr. Kaine, though, said that his final year might have been his best one in office, listing accomplishments such as banning
smoking in restaurants and preserving open space in the state. His campaign also pointed to positive statements from
Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and a staffer for former Gov. James S. Gilmore III, also a Republican, about Mr. Kaine's serving
as chairman.
Mr. Kaine, meanwhile, pushed back directly on multiple questions when he thought Mr. Allen was not being specific
"No one works harder than women," Mr. Allen said in response to a question about the gap in pay between men and
women, noting that there are 5.5 million women currently unemployed and many more who are underemployed or living in
poverty. "What we need to do is to make sure we are doing the right things to get this economy moving."
Mr. Kaine said he and Mr. Allen were far apart on the issue.
"I support paycheck equity for women in the Lilly Ledbetter [Fair] Pay Act. George Allen has refused to support them," he
said. "I support Family Medical Leave Act for women caring for their loved ones. George Allen repeatedly voted against it. And I
stand against ultrasound legislation, personhood legislation and efforts to take away women's rights to receive contraception at
their workplaces. George Allen and I are in very different places on this … you can't have a strong economy for women if you
take their choices away."
Later in the debate, Mr. Allen said he would never prohibit contraceptives, but added that affording employers religious
freedom and barring contraceptives mandates were not incompatible with that.
On Social Security, Mr. Allen said he would be open to phasing in an increase in the age eligibility for those currently under
50 and providing income adjustments for seniors who may not need the money as much as others. He also used the subject to
once again slam Mr. Kaine, who favored allowing the payroll-tax cap on Social Security to be adjusted upward.
"The one thing we shouldn't be doing, though, and that is what Tim Kaine tried to do as governor, and that is raise taxes on
seniors, working women and people earning as little as $17,000 a year," Mr. Allen said. "Those are the folks you're talking about
that are getting Social Security, and the last thing they need is more taxes imposed on them by the governor."
Mr. Kaine countered that as governor he got rid of the estate tax and took more than 100,000 low-income Virginians off of
income tax rolls.
"When George was in the United States Senate, he voted to privatize Social Security, and that would have been a huge
catastrophe," Mr. Kaine said. "I will fight efforts to privatize Social Security to my last breath."
The looming $500 billion in defense cuts that resulted after Congress reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling last summer
has fast emerged as a central campaign theme for Mr. Allen, who consistently points to Mr. Kaine's support for the deal.
But the so-called sequestration cuts were never intended to take effect: As part of the deal, about $1 trillion of additional
cuts over the next decade, to be divided equally between defense and domestic spending, would kick in next year if a
congressional supercommittee failed to reach a deal, as an impetus for the group to act. But there was no deal, and, absent
further congressional action, they will start to take effect next year. Both Mr. Allen and Mr. Kaine say they want to reverse the
"The way you pay for it, Tim, is with a vibrant economy, where people are working and businesses are prospering — not
higher taxes," said Mr. Allen, who cited the repeal of Obamacare, elimination of inefficiencies and redundancies in the
government, and using the country's energy resources to generate hundreds of thousands of jobs created and more than $1
trillion in government revenue.
"The question was about sequester, and I did not hear any specifics from George other than we should repeal the
Affordable Care Act, which the [Congressional Budget Office said] will increase the deficit, not reduce the deficit, and it would put
us right back into the mix of a partisan battle we've been having for the last three years," Mr. Kaine said.
Mr. Kaine reiterated his plan of allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for incomes of more than $500,000, taking away
subsidies for the country's largest oil companies, and allowing the federal government to negotiate with pharmaceutical
companies over prescription-drug prices for a seniors' entitlement program.
Both candidates touted bipartisan accomplishments during the debate — but in their closing statements, accused the other
of being too partisan to serve in Washington.
"If Tim's in, he'll be right in there for the same folks he's been campaigning for all these years when he was chairman of the
Democratic National Committee, ignoring the needs, the dire needs, of people in Virginia," Mr. Allen said, saying that he wanted
to see change in Washington and "positive, constructive ideas." "Anybody who pays taxes should be on our side, unless you
want to pay higher taxes."
Mr. Kaine described Congress as an "ankle weight" on the economy — and that electing Mr. Allen would only make it
"When he was governor, he famously said, his job was to enjoy knocking Democrats' soft teeth down their whiny throats,"
he said. "We need folks who know how to compromise and work together."
Allen Struggles On Abortion Questions (POLITCO)
By David Catanese
Politico, October 9, 2012
Republican George Allen is well aware he needs to close the gender gap with women in order to win the Virginia Senate
The severity of that challenge was on full display Monday night in his fourth debate with Democrat Tim Kaine.
When asked about proposals in the GOP-led General Assembly’s this year to require an ultrasound before women could
get an abortion and to codify that life begins at conception — so-called “personhood” legislation — Allen punted and pivoted.
“Some of those issues are state issues on informed consent,” Allen replied, before shifting to contraceptive access, which
was not brought up in the question. “I would never prohibit contraceptives. I think women ought to be able to have access and
should be able to have access to contraceptives.”
Allen then said a “personhood” bill would help punish a woman’s attacker who kills or injures an unborn child. But the
remainder of his time was devoted to slicing Kaine on the country’s unemployment and downgraded credit rating.
While the answer wasn’t a gaffe, it was a glaring moment during the hour-long Richmond face-off that encapsulated Allen’s
difficulty in making inroads with females.
Kaine dubbed the legislature’s attempts a “vivid and horrifying spectacle last year” and made clear Allen wasn’t comfortable
addressing the issue.
“When the legislature tried to force women to have an invasive ultrasound proceeding against their will, medically
unnecessary, at their own cost, I spoke out against it strongly. George Allen took no position on it,” Kaine charged.
He also hammered home that Allen touted support for a “personhood” amendment on his campaign website, warning that it
“could jeopardize FDA-approved birth control.”
“You can’t empower women in the economy if you take away their choices,” Kaine said.
The exchange was one of the starkest of the evening in a race that has recently tilted slightly towards Kaine over the last
two weeks.
Allen has crafted an ad campaign targeted at females, but recent polls in the race have actually shown the gender gap
A Public Policy Polling survey released Monday showing Kaine ahead had him holding a 12-point advantage among
women, 53 percent to 41 percent. His lead among men was pegged at just 2 points.
The two sparred on a host of other familiar issues, but there were no game-changing moments. Kaine consistently touted
his work across the aisle and Allen called out his rival’s support for President Obama.
At one point, Allen said Kaine should’ve rejected Obama’s overture to head the Democratic National Committee while he
was serving as governor.
“You could’ve said, ‘I appreciate the offer, but I have a job,’” Allen said.
Kaine used his opening statement to respond to Mitt Romney’s much-discussed answer during last week’s presidential
debate regarding funding to PBS.
“I pledge to not fire Big Bird … if I go to the United States Senate,” he said.
Their final debate is slated for Oct. 18 at Virginia Tech University.
Allen, Kaine Attack In Debate; Charges Begin At Outset (RICHTD)
By Wesley P. Hester
Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, October 9, 2012
In their most bare-knuckle and broad-ranging debate thus far, U.S. Senate hopefuls and former governors George Allen
and Timothy M. Kaine did battle for the fourth time Monday night in Chesterfield County.
Things got off to a confrontational start at “The People’s Debate,” sponsored by AARP Virginia and the League of Women
Voters of Virginia, with Kaine and Allen trading barbs in their opening statements and barely letting up.
Throughout the one-hour forum at WCVE, the local PBS affiliate, Kaine painted Allen as fiscally irresponsible and
uncompromising while Allen cast Kaine as a reflexive taxer and absentee governor.
The two clashed on a host of topics, most notably fiscal issues, with Kaine hitting early and often on Allen’s record in the
U.S. Senate.
“When George Allen went into the Senate…we actually had a surplus,” Kaine said. “But he broke both sides of the balance
sheet. He dramatically slashed taxes, and he jacked up spending $16,000 of debt every second that he served for six years.”
Kaine stressed the need for a “balanced approach” to get the nation’s finances in order, saying he favored $2 or $3 of cuts
for every dollar of new revenue, and allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for households earning more than $500,000 a year.
Allen countered by attacking Kaine’s support for Obama-administration policies that he suggested were the true cause for
the nation’s economic malaise, noting that when he left the Senate, the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent and the budget
deficit was $160 billion.
“Now it’s $1.1 trillion -- seven times higher,” Allen said. “You mentioned spending at $16,000 per second. Well, you know
what it is now? Forty seven thousand dollars per second.”
Allen repeatedly attacked Kaine for taking on the role as Democratic National Committee chairman his final year as
governor “rather than focusing on the dire economic crisis in Virginia,” suggesting it was also at odds with Kaine's efforts to
portray himself as bipartisan and willing to compromise.
“It’s really the great unanswered question of this campaign,” Allen said. “How does a governor decide to take on a second
job that sends him all over the country giving partisan speeches while over 100,000 jobs are lost here in Virginia.”
Allen added that “if Tim had given his governorship the full attention, he might have avoided some mistakes” like increased
college tuition, closed rest areas and proposed tax hikes.
Noting that Allen served as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the Senate, Kaine brushed off the
criticism, saying he felt his final year in office was his best, touting a ban on smoking in restaurants, new open space
requirements and business recruitment in the state during the recession.
Allen and Kaine also drew sharp contrasts on the topics of Medicare and Social Security.
To protect the solvency of both programs, Allen stressed the need for a gradual increase in the age of eligibility for those
currently under 50 and income adjustments.
“For those who are millionaires, they don’t need to have all the same benefits as those of lower income,” he said, accusing
Kaine of proposing tax hikes on the elderly and poor as governor.
Kaine countered by noting Allen’s vote in the U.S. Senate for a partial privatization of Social Security, saying “that would
have been a huge catastrophe prior to the collapse of Wall Street.”
Rather than increase the retirement age, Kaine said he would support raising the payroll tax cap over time to support the
solvency of Social Security. He said he would save Medicare costs by allowing the government to negotiate for lower prescription
drug prices, which he said would save $250 billion.
As expected, the issue of looming defense cuts made its way into the debate, with Allen continuing to assail Kaine for his
support of last year’s bipartisan debt deal, and Kaine accusing Allen of failing to offer specifics on how to avoid the cuts.
Due to the failure of the deal’s so-called “super committee” to identify alternate deficit reductions, $1.2 trillion in automatic
spending cuts to defense and domestic spending are due to take effect next year if Congress and the president cannot reach a
new deal.
Virginia stands to lose 207,571 jobs from federal spending cuts -- 136,191 resulting from Department of Defense cuts and
71,380 from non-Defense Department cuts – if the sequestration is not averted, according to an analysis released in July.
Kaine said the impact could be largely avoided by the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts for high earners and adjustments to
Medicare as well as the elimination of subsidies for big oil companies.
Asked for his plan, Allen said Congress and the president needed to “make cuts elsewhere,” find efficiencies and eliminate
redundancies in government and increase energy production to grow the economy.
Allen, Kaine Clash In Second Senate Debate (WASHEX)
Washington Examiner, October 9, 2012
RICHMOND -- Two political heavyweights fighting for Virginia's open U.S. Senate seat came out swinging Monday in their
only debate in front of a statewide television audience.
Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen, both former governors, presented two vastly different visions on health
care, taxes, abortion and a slew of other issues in a 60-minute sparring match that marked their harshest encounter in what has
otherwise been a rather wonkish race.
From their opening statements, Kaine portrayed his opponent as a Republican who would add to the partisan gridlock on
Capitol Hill. Allen charged that Kaine was an absentee governor who spent his final year in office serving as President Obama's
chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
"How does a governor decide to take on a second job that sends him all over the country giving partisan speeches" during
a recession? Allen asked.
Kaine noted that Allen, as a U.S. senator, ran the Senate Republicans' campaign arm.
The spirited exchange reflected the high stakes of a race that has become one of the most closely watched Senate
contests in the country, a race that has attracted millions of dollars' worth of negative advertising from outside groups.
Kaine, who has pulled ahead in recent polls following months of deadlock, clearly felt momentum coming off a jobs report
Friday that showed the nation's unemployment rate had fallen to the lowest point in four years. While Allen continued to blast the
economic recovery, Kaine found an opportunity to capitalize on it.
"I really believe that there are some signs that economy is starting to move forward," Kaine said. "But I think Congress is
the ankle weight."
With AARP as a debate host, Kaine and Allen were grilled on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Allen
called for an increase in the retirement age to ensure the solvency of both programs. Kaine said savings could be culled from
both programs and that the payroll tax could be raised beyond its current cap of $110,0000.
Allen hammered Kaine for initially supporting a deal to raise the nation's borrowing limit that now threatens to impose $500
billion in defense cuts that could devastate Virginia's economy.
Kaine said the cuts could be avoided if Congress ended subsidies to the oil industry and raised taxes on higher earners.
"I did not hear any specifics from George on how to deal with it other than repeal the Affordable Care Act," Kaine said.
It wasn't until one of the final questions, an upcoming Supreme Court case on affirmative action, that the two appeared to
find common ground.
"I'm in favor of affirmative recruitment," Allen said, agreeing with Kaine. "It makes good sense."
Monday's meeting, coming just a month before Election Day, was the second of three televised debates.
[email protected]
Allen, Kaine Get Under Each Other's Skin (HILL)
By Cameron Joseph
The Hill, October 9, 2012
Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) traded sharp barbs in their latest debate Monday
night in Richmond, showing signs of frustration and irritation with each other after more than a year of a closely fought campaign.
The two normally sunny politicians attacked each other as fiscally irresponsible, with Allen accusing Kaine of abandoning
the state during an economic crisis to chair the Democratic National Committee.
“How does a governor decide to take on a second job that sends him all over the country giving partisan speeches while
over 100,000 jobs are lost here in Virginia?” Allen asked during his opening statement.
Kaine fired back, accusing Allen of not knowing “basics of how to work together” across the aisle, pointing out that Allen
had also headed a political committee when he chaired the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and quoting Allen’s 1994
remark that he enjoyed knocking Democrats’ “soft teeth down their whiny throats.”
Both candidates hewed closely to scripts they’ve followed for more than a year of campaigning, and were clearly frustrated
time and again by the way each characterized the other’s record and views. Polls had shown the two running neck-and-neck
since the beginning of the campaign, though Kaine has pulled ahead of Allen in the past few public polls.
One of the few things they did agree on: That the moderator wasn’t following the debate format they’d both agreed to, and
was depriving them of rebuttals they were promised. Both candidates repeatedly began to respond heatedly to the other's
accusations before being frustrated by silent microphones.
Neither scored a clear knockout blow in a debate that is unlikely to change many voters’ minds. Kaine once again knocked
Allen for increasing spending during his time as governor and ballooning the federal deficit while in the Senate, saying he “broke
both sides of the balance sheet” while in Congress by cutting taxes and raising spending without paying for either. Allen blasted
Kaine for raising higher education costs in the state and supporting Democrats’ health insurance reform law, which he repeatedly
promised to repeal.
Kaine attacked Allen for voting to privatize Social Security while he was a senator, and Allen fired back by saying the health
insurance law Kaine backed raided Medicare — though was careful to not embrace Paul Ryan’s plan to partly voucherize
Medicare, which he has avoided saying if he'd vote for or not.
The two also fought over the looming sequestration cuts to military and other spending. Kaine laid out his plan to end the
Bush-era tax cuts for families earning $500,000, ending subsidies to large oil companies and allowing Medicare to negotiate for
lower prescription drug prices, saying that would leave just a quarter of the cuts left to be made.
Allen said the bipartisan debt ceiling compromise was “sloughing off responsibilities to yet another commission” and that to
avoid the looming cuts to the military, which studies show could cost Virginia 200,000 jobs, Congress should “repeal
Obamacare,” cut some overlapping government programs (he didn’t name which), increase energy production and simplify the
tax code, which he said would jump-start the economy.
The two will meet for one more debate before the election.
This post was updated at 10:20 p.m.
Kaine Won't Say If He'll Support Reid For Majority Leader (WEEKSTAN)
By Michael Warren
Weekly Standard, October 9, 2012
Speaking to reporters following his second televised debate against Republican George Allen Monday night, Democratic
Senate candidate Tim Kaine of Virginia was asked if he would vote for Harry Reid, currently the majority leader, for the
Democrats' top position in the U.S. Senate. Kaine refused to answer the question.
"It’s too early to talk about leadership questions," Kaine said. "That’s not the kind of thing you talk about when you’re a
candidate who still has to win a race. I’m not going to be thinking about things after the race. I still have a lot of hard work to do
over the next 28 days."
Kaine, who has a small lead over Allen in the polls, according to the Real Clear Politics average, spent much of the debate
arguing he would be a more bipartisan senator and more willing to compromise than his opponent.
"Congress is holding us back," Kaine said in his opening statement. "What we need to do is change Congress, especially in
two ways. We need people who are more fiscally responsible, and we need more people who know, frankly, the basics about
how to work together."
Kaine mentioned immigration as an issue he could see himself working with the GOP on, but when asked by THE
WEEKLY STANDARD about President Obama's failure to pass immigration reform in his first term as promised, Kaine blamed
Republicans in the Senate for "filibustering."
"If there had been even a handful of Republican votes, there could have been reform, but one hundred percent of
Republicans chose to filibuster," he said.
That's similar to the excuse Obama himself made at a recent forum on Univision, but the fact is that no serious bill on
immigration reform has been offered during the last four years. Pressed on this point, Kaine blamed the threat of a GOP filibuster.
"I think we need to change the filibuster rules," he said.
Compromise was the theme of the Kaine campaign's latest ad, released on Monday, which featured former Democratic
governor and current senator Mark Warner. "We'll make a great team in Washington," Kaine says as he stands with Warner. And
in the debate, Kaine argued Allen was anything but bipartisan.
"My opponent, when he was governor, said his job was to to 'knock Democrats' soft teeth down their whiny throats,'" Kaine
said in the debate.
Allen attempted to punch holes in Kaine's bipartisan narrative, however, by focusing on the fact that in 2009, the last year of
his term as governor, Kaine was also serving as chairman of the Democratic National Committee at the behest of President
Barack Obama.
"How does a governor decide to take on a second job that sends him all over the country, giving partisan speeches, while
over 100,000 jobs are lost here in Virginia?" Allen said. "If Tim had given his governorship the full attention, he might have
avoided some mistakes like increasing college tutition by over 30 percent or closing rest areas. If he had been listening to the
people of Virignia, who are really facing tough times, he might not have proposed raising taxes on working people, working
women, seniors, and small business owners, as well as people earning as low as 17 thousand dollars a year."
Kaine shot back against Allen's criticism, saying he thinks he had his "best year" as governor while he was also DNC chair.
Kaine also pointed out that when Allen was a U.S. senator, he served as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial
"There's a big difference between being chairman of the entire Democratic National Committee and other political jobs,"
Allen responded.
Rehberg, Tester Exchange Barbs Over Health Care, Business, Taxes (AP)
By Matt Gouras
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
BILLINGS — Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Denny Rehberg exchanged sharp words Monday in only their second head-tohead debate this campaign season, with each candidate directly dishing — and responding to — attacks that have been
dominating state airwaves.
Rehberg used every opportunity to tie Tester to President Barack Obama, who Rehberg argued has brought failed policies
on health care, business regulation, taxes and other issues. The Republican on several occasions brought up the pending
closure of a nearby coal-fired power plant that has been blamed on environment regulations.
“It also gave us, not so much an energy policy as an environmental policy. You don’t have to look very far down the street:
a closing Corrette plant,” Rehberg said in the opening minutes of the debate at Montana State University-Billings. “That’s the kind
of economics we have gotten from the failed policies of President Obama — and the failed policies of Sen. Tester.”
Tester, a Democrat, defended the government’s stimulus efforts as successful and the federal health care law as a
necessary start, but he also maintained his independence on many fronts.
“The point is, congressman, you are running against me. You aren’t running against President Obama. You could have
done that, but you chose not to,” Tester said at one point. “He can try to morph me into President Obama because that is who he
wants to run against.”
Tester said he has gotten the job done on such issues as delisting wolves, bringing needed money back to the state for
infrastructure projects, and in other areas. He argued he is best prepared to find needed compromise in Washington, D.C., to
break budget and tax stalemates.
Tester hammered Rehberg on several fronts as well. Given a chance to ask Rehberg a question, Tester quizzed him about
his 15 taxpayer-paid trips to luxury destinations from Europe to the South Pacific.
Rehberg says the trips were used to gather information, such as learning about Australia’s management of endangered
species and France’s handling of nuclear waste.
(Page 2 of 2)
“Every trip I have taken has been for the benefit of Montana,” Rehberg said.
Tester also brought up Rehberg’s past statements that he relies on lobbyists for information — but Rehberg quickly
countered that it is Tester who is raising more campaign money from lobbyists.
“The difference is, I accept their information. You accept their cash,” Rehberg said.
At nearly every instance, Rehberg sought to pivot to Tester’s support of many Obama administration policies.
In closing, Tester identified most in the capacity crowd of about 500 as residents of Billings as he brought up Rehberg’s
lawsuit against the city fire department for a wildfire on his land.
“Congressman Rehberg has sued each and every one of you,” Tester said. “(Firefighters) put their butt on the line. You
don’t turn around and respond by filing a lawsuit with monetary damages. That is what you did.”
Rehberg didn’t waste time getting back to his campaign’s primary theme.
“No one has brought up the fire lawsuit, except for you,” Rehberg said of his meetings around Montana with voters. “You
know what they talk about? The irresponsible decisions of supporting President Obama 95 percent of the time.”
Some clear tax policy distinctions were made. Rehberg said he wants to eradicate estate taxes altogether, while Tester
wants to keep them in place for assets over $10 million per couple. Rehberg said he would ultimately like a flat tax; Tester said he
supports changes to the current system that keep tax breaks used by the middle class in place.
The Montana Senate race is one of the most closely watched in the country. It’s one of a half dozen or so pure toss-ups
that will determine whether Democrats continue to control the Senate or Republicans take it over.
Millions of dollars have been spent by both sides, saturating the state’s small television markets with a steady stream of
advertising. Polls show few voters are undecided as Rehberg holds a slim lead.
With Obama almost certain to lose in the state, Tester is banking on the state’s ticket-splitting tradition in which voters often
pick Democrats for lower offices while endorsing the Republican presidential candidate.
Tester, Rehberg Trade Jabs In Debate At MSUB (BILLGAZ)
Billings (MT) Gazette, October 9, 2012
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester blasted Rep. Denny Rehberg at a debate Monday night as a do-nothing congressman, while
Rehberg attacked Tester as a clone of President Barack Obama.
The two candidates agreed on virtually no issues at the debate, sponsored by The Billings Gazette and Montana State
University Billings. A capacity crowd of 510 people — packed with supporters of each candidate — watched the debate at the
Petro Theater. The debate was televised and broadcast statewide.
It was the second of four debates for the Senate candidates this year and the first since June, shortly after the primary
election. The remaining debates will be Kalispell and Bozeman.
“It was rock 'em, sock 'em,” said David Parker, a Montana State University political scientist who is writing a book on the
race. “It was tough. They both stayed on their message.”
The two candidates greeted each other like old lost friends when they came onto the stage and shook hands, but were less
effusive in their handshakes when the debate ended.
Tester took repeated jabs at Rehberg and the Republican-controlled House.
“Quite frankly, you have not stepped forward with ideas,” Tester told Rehberg.
He criticized the House’s failure to pass a Farm Bill this year, although Rehberg said he went against his party to support
At one point, when candidates asked each other questions, Rehberg asked Tester why he thought Obama should be reelected.
“The point is, congressman, is you’re running against me. ... He can try to morph me into Barack Obama because that’s
who he wants to run against, but look at the record.”
Tester cited issues in which he had disagreed with Obama, such as the senator’s support of the Keystone XL pipeline and
legislation to remove wolves from the endangered species list. He said earlier that he puts Montana first in every decision he
Rehberg shot back at Tester, saying: “I don’t need to morph you into Barack Obama. You did it to yourself.”
When it was Tester’s turn to question Rehberg, he brought up Rehberg’s 15 expense-paid trips to foreign countries where
he had “eaten in castles” and boats and drunk in “gin bars.”
“What did the taxpayers of Montana get?” Tester asked.
Rehberg replied that he was honored to travel and give a keynote speech at Normandy in France. He said he learned
about nuclear waste in France and the system that Australia uses as opposed to the Endangered Species Act in this country.
He told Tester that he obtained information from lobbyists, while Tester accepted their cash.
“You were the one who was a lobbyist, a paid lobbyist,” Tester replied.
Rehberg said he traveled on these foreign and domestic trips to learn about issues “rather than going back to my farm
every weekend,” a shot at Tester, who returns to his farm to work every weekend.
Here were their stands on some other issues:
Taxes: Rehberg called for elimination of the federal estate tax, which he calls the “death tax,” while Tester advocated
making permanent the current estate tax in which the first $5 million of an individual’s estate or $10 million for a couple’s estate is
exempt from taxes, with a 35 percent tax rate on estates over those values.
Tester said the current exemptions would apply to nearly every farmer and rancher in Montana and should be permanent.
“The death tax should be zero, “ Rehberg said. “That gives certainty.”
Tester said he favored closing tax loopholes for big oil companies.
Rehberg said he opposes the kinds of tax changes advocated in the federal deficit reduction study, saying it would raise the
federal gas tax by 15 cents a gallon and eliminate the mortgage interest rate deduction that homeowners can claim on the federal
At another point in the debate, Rehberg said he supports the enactment of a flat federal income tax, in which every
taxpayer, regardless of income, pays the same tax rate.
Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare": Tester generally defended the 2010 federal health insurance reform act, while
Rehberg vowed to repeal it
Federal stimulus: Rehberg attacked Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill, while Tester supported it.
“The problem is it didn’t stimulate,” Rehberg said. “We could have lowered the corporate tax and lowered the payroll tax on
employees and employers.”
Tester said the stimulus provided $500 million in tax cuts for Montanans, kept law enforcement and firefighters on the job
and paid for construction of public works projects across the state that kept people employed.
“We were losing 800,000 jobs a month (nationally when Obama took over in 2009),” Tester said. “We were on the cusp of a
financial meltdown."
He said the job losses flattened out and jobs are now increasing nationally.
Rehberg said, “We have to grow and create jobs. You don’t do it by piling on more debts.”
Trade bills: Tester, a farmer, was asked why he had opposed a number of trade agreements with foreign countries.
“The trade agreements have to be fair, not free,” he said. “We cannot allow other countries to dump their products on us.”
Rehberg said he favored some and opposed others, adding: “I didn’t stand with my party. I stood with Montanans.”
Tester countered: “President Obama wanted those trade agreements. Congressman Rehberg, you stood with President
Role of government: Tester told Rehberg that it’s small businesses that create jobs, “not multimillionaires like yourself.”
“Bests are going to be tightened in a big way,” Tester said. “Folks making millions and millions of dollars ought to be
contributing (more) to the coffers.”
“Feed the beast,” Rehberg said. “That’s all they want to do.”
The third candidate, Libertarian Dan Cox of Hamilton, was not invited to participate in the debate. The Billings Gazette’s
longstanding ground rule is that it only invites candidates who obtain at least 5 percent in the Gazette State Poll.
Tester, Rehberg Get Personal In Montana Debate For Senate Seat (HILL)
By Cameron Joseph
The Hill, October 9, 2012
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) questioned Rep. Denny Rehberg’s (R-Mont.) morals in a testy Monday night debate, ripping the
congressman for suing the city of Billings's fire department and for being a lobbyist.
“Congressman Rehberg has sued each and every one of you,” Tester said after asking how many people in the crowd lived
in Billings. “And the first thing you do when firefighters come and you’ve got a grass fire and they put it out and they burn the
bushes and they put their butt on the line is you don’t respond and say thank you by filing a lawsuit with monetary damages,
which is exactly what he did. That’s not working together, that’s not building the state of Montana, that’s not moving your
community forward.”
Rehberg avoided saying why he had pushed the lawsuit, which he recently dropped after it became a political problem for
him. Instead, he pivoted to tying Tester to Obama, something he did throughout the night.
“Nobody has brought up the fire except for you,” he responded testily. “You know what they talk about? They talk about the
irresponsible decision-making that goes with voting with President Obama 95 percent of the time, on things like Obamacare, on
things like the failed stimulus,” before saying the “monetary loss” is a loss of jobs and money for local projects because of Tester’s
The exchange offered a microcosm of the race as a whole: Rehberg repeatedly attacked Tester for voting with national
Democrats on a range of issues in the GOP-leaning state and often referred to “Senator Tester and Barack Obama” in one
breath, while Tester defended his votes before pivoting to more personal attacks against the congressman.
The two are locked in a tight race, though Rehberg has led by a narrow margin in most polls. Tester has tried to define
Rehberg as a wealthy, out-of-touch Washington insider, while Rehberg has mostly attacked Tester on policy, though he’s also
gone after Tester’s own lobbyist contributions.
Tester came off as the smoother debater, making his points quickly and with biting humor, while Rehberg flailed his hands
wildly, rushed through responses and stuttered at times. But both landed punches throughout the night.
“If you want to talk about job creation and what cerates jobs you’re right, it is the small businesses, it isn’t the multimillionaires like yourself that create the jobs,” Tester said at one point during an exchange over whether tax increases should be
part of the discussion about how to shrink the national debt.
“Feed the beast, that’s all they want to do,” Rehberg fired back.
The two also attacked each other over lobbyist donations, which Tester started by ripping Rehberg for taking taxpayerfunded trips.
“You want to talk about lobbyists? You're the number one recipient of money from lobbyists,” Rehberg fired back. “The
difference is I accept their information. you accept their cash, $1.8 million in the last two years from lobbyists and Wall Street.”
“I think it’s rich that you would point this out,” Tester said. “You were the one who was a lobbyist, a paid lobbyist, you were
the one who said you depended on them to make your decisions, you’re the guy who said the revolving door is no big deal. Well,
it is a big deal. So it’s tough when you point a finger at somebody and three fingers are pointing right straight back at you.”
Tester complained time and again that Rehberg was ignoring him and trying to run against Obama, though he squirmed at
the top of the debate when asked why he was supporting the president, toying with a pen and discussing Obama’s foreign policy
successes before quickly moving on.
“You’re running against me,” Tester fired at Rehberg at one point, drawing laughs from a noisy crowd apparently filled more
with Tester supporters. “This is the race, okay? You’re not running against President Obama. You could have done that but you
chose not to.”
“I don't need to morph you into Barack Obama — you did it all by yourself,” Rehberg retorted. “You listened to what he
wanted and you voted for a failed stimulus, you voted for a president’s failed healthcare reform that did not reform healthcare,
and you voted for cap and trade that is nothing more than an energy tax.”
Tester said he hadn’t voted for cap and trade but for a motion to begin discussing energy policy.
Rehberg pointed out areas he’d disagreed with his party, including on Paul Ryan’s plan to partly privatize Medicare, a
number of trade bills and his support for passing the Farm Bill.
At another point, Tester ripped Rehberg for ads by the National Republican Senatorial Committee that edited Tester into a
photo with Obama, which was discovered because Tester is missing three fingers on his hand due to a farm accident. Last week,
the state GOP did the same thing, photoshopping Tester’s head onto Rick Santorum’s body in a mailer.
“There have been plenty of lies that have been said about me from the beginning to the end. For the last 18 months we’ve
had a continual immersion in them. I guess the most interesting one was the one that gave me five fingers on my left hand,” he
said, waving his two-fingered hand in the air to laiughs. “I thought I’d be able to play basketball, play wide receiver and all that
stuff again, didn’t happen.
“Hey, last week they sent out a flyer that had my face on the body of Rick Santorum. It didn’t take long to figure that out, if
you know what I mean,” he said, walking out past the podium and raising his arms to show off his large belly.
Rehberg fired back by saying he’d been misrepresented in ads as well. “Everybody’s playing that game,” he said.
Rehberg Has Big Fundraising Quarter (POLITCO)
By Seung Min Kim
Politico, October 9, 2012
Montana GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg collected $2.4 million in the third quarter of 2012 — slightly outraising Democratic Sen.
Jon Tester in one of the closest Senate battles this cycle.
With those numbers, Rehberg more than doubled his fundraising haul from the second quarter, when he raised $1.1
million. Rehberg has $1.7 million cash on hand, his campaign said Monday.
Tester’s campaign announced last week that the first-term Democratic senator raised $2.3 million in the third quarter and
has $1.3 million cash on hand, ensuring both sides have plenty of funds to flood the airwaves in the relatively cheap media
market in Big Sky country.
“While Tester and his liberal, out-of-state allies resort to petty, personal attacks to try and distract voters from his record of
95 percent support for President Obama’s job-killing policies, our strong fundraising will ensure that we’re able to reach Montana
voters with Denny’s message of creating jobs, getting our economy back on track and reining in the over-taxing, over-spending
and over-regulation we’ve seen under Obama and Tester,” Rehberg campaign manager Erik Iverson said in a statement
announcing the fundraising numbers.
Rehberg’s third-quarter fundraising numbers were his largest so far, his campaign said.
A Mason-Dixon poll conducted in September showed that Rehberg had a 3-point edge over Tester among likely voters, but
that figure was within the poll’s margin of error.
DSCC Targets Rehberg On Lawsuit, Heller On Women's Issues With New Ads (HILL)
By Alexandra Jaffe
The Hill, October 8, 2012
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is up with two new ads targeting Republicans running for Senate in
Montana and Nevada, two of the closest races in the nation.
The ad running against Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont.) features five Montana firefighters sharing with the camera
Rehberg's past history with the local fire department in Billings, Mont. Rehberg sued the city after a wildfire devastated his land,
and though he eventually lost the suit, it cost the city thousands. The firefighters explain that fires are dangerous and
"So I couldn't believe it when Congressman Dennis Rehberg blamed the fire department for damage to his property," says
firefighter Dan Cotrell.
It's an issue that's become central in one of the closest fights in the nation, and one that featured prominently in a scorching
ad from the DSCC last week. This new ad takes a somewhat softer approach in its use of local firefighters.
At the end, three firefighters charge that Rehberg is "just out for himself."
In Nevada, the DSCC targets Sen. Dean Heller (R ) on women's issues with an ad in the style of a children's cartoon.
"See Dean Heller. See Jane Nevada and her healthcare team," a narrator says over a stick-figure drawing of Heller and a
Heller "erases" her healthcare team -- the ad cites his votes to "reduce access to preventive medical services" -- and her
pocketbook, which symbolizes what the ad characterizes as his vote against equal pay legislation. She, in turn, enters a voting
booth to "erase" him.
Heller's been running slightly ahead of Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) in most recent polls, but the DSCC has been on the
offense against Heller for some time in hopes that it can boost Berkley to a win.
Richard Carmona’s Covert Campaign To Seize GOP Senate Seat (POLITCO)
By Scott Wong
Politico, October 9, 2012
TEMPE, Ariz. — At a gritty American Legion post, Army Special Forces veteran Richard Carmona confides to a room full of
voters that he’s been running a “covert operation” this year: his campaign for U.S. Senate.
Indeed, the Arizona Democrat, who served as George W. Bush’s surgeon general, has come out of nowhere to contend for
a seat that was practically etched in the GOP column.
Polls show him in a dead heat against Rep. Jeff Flake, a tea party-backed Republican best known for his crusade against
pork-barrel spending in Congress, and millions of dollars in outside money is suddenly flooding into the race.
As recently as the spring, President Barack Obama’s campaign talked about this being the year Obama could capitalize on
the surge in Hispanic voter registration and flip a state as red as a Sedona sunset. Arizona has seen 160,000 new Hispanics,
who lean Democratic, added to its voter rolls since 2008. But Obama never made a play.
Now Carmona, the Spanish-speaking son of Puerto Rican immigrants, is in contention to do what Obama could not in two
election cycles.
(Also on POLITICO: Heidi Heitkamp puts North Dakota in play)
He is harnessing his up-by-his-bootstraps biography: A poor kid from Harlem and high school dropout who became a
decorated Vietnam War veteran, SWAT team leader and the nation’s 17th U.S. surgeon general. He is capitalizing on Arizona’s
changing demographics and tapping into anger over the state’s anti-immigrant policies.
And Carmona, 62, is appealing to independents like Dick Anderson, who comprise a third of Arizona’s electorate and will
almost certainly swing the outcome of the Senate contest.
“I’m tired of the vitriol from the far right. They are going to ruin our country,” said Anderson, 66, who like Carmona is a
former Army medic who served in Vietnam. After hearing the candidate at the Tempe veterans hall, Anderson was certain he’d
vote for Carmona, and so would his wife, a registered Republican.
Carmona’s “open to ideas. He’s willing to listen. He’s willing to compromise. He doesn’t say ‘my way or the highway’ like
Yet Carmona is still the underdog in his race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Jon Kyl. Republicans have a 6-point voter
registration advantage over Democrats and control every statewide office and the Legislature. Carmona, who has lived in Tucson
for nearly three decades, isn’t well known in the Phoenix metro area, which includes Flake’s district and where 64 percent of
Arizona’s population resides.
“We’ve got a great ground game, we have good support and we’re right on the issues,” Flake said in a phone interview
from Salt Lake City, where he was attending a Mormon Church conference and raising money.
The last Democrat to win statewide office here was Janet Napolitano, who was narrowly elected governor in 2002 and won
reelection in 2006. But she hailed from Phoenix and had been the sitting state attorney general at the time.
“There will be a wave of folks who will walk in the door and vote in the presidential race who have never heard of
Carmona,” Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) said in an interview. “It hurts him a lot.”
Carmona’s clandestine campaign strategy was revealed during his weekend swing through Maricopa County, a sprawling
landscape of 12-lane freeways, strip malls and saguaro cactuses. Sporting a blue polo shirt and khakis, Carmona stopped at an
“Amigos por Carmona” rally and a community center in Phoenix, an elementary school in affluent north Scottsdale, and the
American Legion in Tempe, where on Wednesday night he’ll stump with Bill Clinton on the Arizona State University campus.
“What we really wanted to do here is stay below the radar as long as we can. Quietly, through psychological ops, infiltration,
and start taking away what [Flake] thinks is his,” Carmona told 75 people at the veterans hall, in a speech peppered with military
“We go in. We change the environment, and then your adversary wonders, ‘How did they do that? What happened?’”
In Missouri, Clergy In The Fray Of Akin Race, Seeing It As Start Of A ‘battle For The Soul’ Of GOP
By Tom Hamburger
Washington Post, October 8, 2012
ST. LOUIS — Nearly 400 Missouri pastors gathered at the podium of a hotel ballroom recently to pray over the kneeling
figure of Rep. Todd Akin, a Senate candidate whose campaign had been pronounced dead by national Republican leaders
weeks before.
Akin’s political revival has become a cause celebre for this group of clerics and other conservatives, who have launched a
carefully orchestrated effort to lift the GOP candidate back into contention for a seat that could help decide control of the Senate.
“People are drawn to Akin’s cause because they see it as the opening battle for the soul of the Republican Party,” said
strategist David Lane, who has spent months in the state organizing pastors to fight for Akin, at times bucking the wishes of GOP
leaders in Washington. Akin’s campaign, Lane said, represents the fight against establishment politicians, their consultants and
“a morally flawed approach to politics.”
Akin faces an uphill battle against incumbent Claire McCaskill (D), who remains far ahead in fundraising and has a steady
lead in the polls. But recent surveys show the race tightening, with Akin closing the 10-point advantage the senator held a month
“What we’re hearing, in county after county, is people saying: ‘We’re on board behind you. We like the idea that you stand
up. We want somebody who’s a stand-up guy,’” Akin said after the two-day meeting of clergy in a Renaissance Hotel here.
The revival spirit circling around Akin, who has served six terms in the House, contrasts sharply with the mood in August,
when protests erupted over his comment that pregnancies are rare in cases of “legitimate rape” because “the female body has
ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
Akin apologized, saying he had made “a very, very serious error.” But his poll numbers collapsed, and Republican
luminaries — including presidential nominee Mitt Romney and strategist Karl Rove — called for him to withdraw from the Senate
race. Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and other GOP operatives vowed to
starve Akin’s campaign of financial and other support.
Akin refused to quit and has gradually drawn the support of notable conservatives, including former House speaker Newt
Gingrich (Ga.), who has visited the state. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) are
expected this month, along with former congressman J.C. Watts (Okla.) and Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), whose Senate
Conservatives Fund pledged $300,000 to Akin’s campaign.
The candidate’s strategists include battle-tested veterans: Rick Tyler, a longtime aide to Gingrich; Santorum adviser
Andrew Boucher; and Alice Patterson and Lane, who in 2010 planned the campaign to remove three Iowa Supreme Court
judges for their decision to allow same-sex marriage in the state.
The national attention has helped Akin raise $1 million through the end of last week, his campaign said. McCaskill reported
raising $5.8 million in the last quarter, a record amount for Missouri candidates.
McCaskill campaign communications director Caitlin Legacki responded to questions about the Christian organizers
working for Akin by saying, “Claire is reaching out to all Missourians — including evangelicals and other people of faith —
because values like protecting Medicare and Social Security . . . are common-sense values that Missourians agree on.”
Akin has also been forced to defend other remarks, including statements about abortion providers and his recent quip that
McCaskill was more “ladylike” in her 2006 race.
With the national focus on those controversies, the clergy’s entry into the fray has drawn less attention. Akin stayed in the
background of the St. Louis meeting, organized by Lane as part of a “Renewal Project.” More than 800 preachers representing
14 Christian denominations have participated, some in a June event in Kansas City and others at the one in St. Louis, where an
announcer intoned, “Pastors, we are going to war.”
The gatherings were funded by the American Family Association, a conservative nonprofit group based in Tupelo, Miss.,
that owns 187 radio stations in 20 states and that has funded campaigns supporting traditional marriage and opposing “the
homosexual agenda.”
Speakers at the St. Louis event — including Texas Gov. Rick Perry — introduced political candidates and encouraged
evangelical “awakening” and political action, but they did not endorse or focus on Akin or other candidates by name. Much of the
program offered practical advice: how pastors can sometimes endorse candidates from the pulpit and invite them to speak at
church; ways to improve evangelical Christian voter participation; and promotions for revival rallies, registration events and
distribution of voter guides listing candidate positions on abortion, prayer and gay marriage.
Churches have been sponsoring some of those activities for years, but the St. Louis event, with so many clergy members
participating in statewide training and political events, is unprecedented.
“Missouri has never seen anything like this,” said John Hancock, a former executive director of the state Republican Party.
“Since evangelical Christians represent as much as one-third of voters in Missouri, it has great potential significance.”
Hancock, who backed a different candidate in the primary, sees an Akin victory as a long shot, especially as McCaskill’s
cash advantage allowed her to step up her advertising campaign last week.
But Hancock also noted that Akin’s appeal extends beyond Christian conservatives to tea-party-oriented voters who admire
his willingness to buck the party establishment. The alliance, he said, gives Akin a chance at victory that did not seem possible in
That sense of possibility was bolstered last week when Akin picked up support from established names. Sen. Roy Blunt
(Mo.), who had urged Akin to drop out of the race in August, endorsed his candidacy as the deadline passed for Akin to remove
his name from the ballot.
Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), who also had urged him to drop out, added his name to a fundraiser in Washington last week, as
did Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). The fundraiser was held at the Washington offices of Akin’s campaign consultant, Rex
Elsass, a veteran of conservative campaigns, including the presidential bid of Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.). Rove and Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) have not endorsed Akin. And former Missouri senator John Danforth repeated last week
that Akin “damages the Republican brand.”
Some Akin supporters see the criticism from top party leaders as a drawing card.
“Todd is independent of the Washington establishment,” Elsass said in an interview. “He is someone who has been willing
to say ‘no’ to the Republican White House and the Democrat White House,” references to his votes against President George W.
Bush’s expansion of Medicare drug benefits and President Obama’s health-care law.
Akin’s support among Christian conservatives includes Gary Bauer, president of the Campaign for Working Families, who
said his organization will spend “six figures” backing Akin. The Family Research Council, led by Tony Perkins, has announced a
week-long bus tour for Akin and other candidates. And several Christian broadcasters, including Huckabee, have taken up his
cause. The National Rifle Association is expected to endorse Akin on Monday, offering him grass-roots and advertising support.
Akin adviser Tyler says the campaign is on track to raise several million dollars before Election Day.
In the meantime, McCaskill has begun to air a hard-hitting wave of television ads against her opponent.
Akin has responded with attacks on McCaskill and the money her family has received from federal contracts, complaints
that McCaskill rejects. But Akin lacks the resources to get his message out widely in broadcast ads.
Still, Elsass contended that with a well-organized constituency trained in grass-roots communication and volunteerism, “you
don’t need to be the biggest spender to win. You need motivation.”
Home Prices Build To New Peaks In Dozens Of U.S. Markets (USAT)
By Julie Schmit, @julieschmit, Usa Today
USA Today, October 9, 2012
As U.S. home prices begin to edge up after largely falling for years, prices in a smattering of cities are already at all-time
highs, new data show.
More than 100 metropolitan areas hit their peak home prices in July and a few did in June, according to data through July
from mortgage tracker Lender Processing Services. Those areas include Pittsburgh and Anchorage. Another 50 areas are within
2% of their previous peaks, LPS' home price index shows. Examples: Austin; Denver and Boulder, Colo.; Indianapolis; and
Portland, Maine.
Many cities whose prices are at or near peaks never experienced the large swings in prices, up and down, that marked the
national market's boom and bust in the past decade, says Mark Zandi, Moody's Analytics chief economist. Those cities haven't
had as far to come back to hit highs.
Some of the markets have also risen in tandem with growing local economies, especially those built on strong energy and
agricultural business.
All told, the 150 areas account for about 7% of the nation's residential housing stock.
Their price trends are a stark contrast with prices in most of the country.
Nationally, July home prices were up 1.2% from a year ago. But they were still 30% below their 2006 peaks, according to
the closely watched Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index of 20 leading cities.
But a look at a wider group of cities illuminates what Realtors have long maintained. National housing prices don't always
reflect what's going on at a local level, where job growth, housing supply and other regional factors play big roles.
Most of the cities that are hitting highs now are smaller than the nation's leading cities. Almost half are in Texas, Oklahoma,
Colorado and North Dakota, the data show.
In Texas and Oklahoma, home prices didn't rise as fast or as much as the U.S. average leading up to the bursting of the
housing bubble, Moody's Analytics' research reports show.
"We're been pretty steady in good and bad times," says Ron Croushore, owner of Prudential Preferred Realty in Pittsburgh.
Average prices there have been rising since 2010 after dipping only slightly, Croushore says.
Some of the cities have also been standout job creators. Pittsburgh and Denver, for instance, posted faster job growth than
the average for 49 similar size cities from the first quarter of 2010 to the same quarter this year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
says. While LPS shows Denver 2% off its previous home price peak, Case-Shiller's latest data show prices 5% off their 2006
Las Vegas prices are still 56% off the 2006 peak, LPS says. Other cities with July home prices more than 45% off former
peaks include Cape Coral, Fla., and Riverside, Stockton and Bakersfield, Calif., LPS' data show.
California Gas Prices Should Fall Soon, Analysts Say (LAT)
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer call for federal investigations into the leap in prices.
By Ronald D. White
Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2012
California's average gasoline price set another record Monday, but there were signs that the run-up may come to an end
even before the cheaper winter blend of fuel reaches consumers.
Analysts said wholesale fuel prices plunged Monday, a decline that should be reflected at the pump this week.
But many Californians were still angry and bewildered about how state gasoline prices could have jumped 50 cents a gallon
in one week when demand is weak and there was little proof of a shortage in fuel stocks. Fuel experts have attributed the
increase to an oil pipeline problem and a slew of maintenance procedures and refinery mishaps, the latest of which occurred Oct.
1 when the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance lost power.
"This was just dreadful," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate
the leap in prices. Trade reports indicated that Tesoro Corp. was short of supply last week and that fuel sellers required the
company to pay near-record wholesale prices, which were passed on to consumers, she said.
"Was this a squeeze? We do not know," she said. "We are not in a position to know. We need to have oversight and, where
necessary, prudent regulation."
In a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, Feinstein expressed concern that the commission is "failing to take action to
protect California consumers from malicious trading schemes in the California gasoline market."
The latest state-tracked data show fuel supplies near normal, she said, which "appears to confirm that market
fundamentals are not to blame for rising gas prices in California," despite recent pipeline and refinery woes.
Separately, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) urged the Justice Department to look into the circumstances of the price leap,
saying: "Californians have too often been victimized as unscrupulous traders have created or taken advantage of supply
disruptions to drive up energy prices."
California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said her office "will vigilantly monitor our gas and oil markets to ferret out any
collusive or unlawful activity by oil and gas companies, refineries, traders and others." Harris also opened an investigation into
whether the proposed $2.5-billion purchase of the Arco brand and refinery by Tesoro Corp., announced in August, would harm
On Oct. 1, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in California was $4.168 a gallon, according to the AAA Fuel
Gauge Report. That was already an eyebrow raiser, the highest ever recorded for that day of the year.
Then, analysts said, anxious fuel buyers pushed the wholesale price of gasoline to an all-time high Thursday on sudden
concerns about supply. Many filling stations closed their pumps when they ran out of fuel, as owners worried that if they bought
more, they would be stuck selling that gas at a loss when prices fell.
Monday marked a third straight day of all-time high retail prices in California. The average of $4.668 for a gallon of regular
gasoline was up 1.3 cents from a day earlier.
On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown took the unusual step of calling on the state's Air Resources Board to grant an immediate
waiver that would let refineries make and sell winter-blend gasoline, aiming to ease supply concerns and reduce prices.
For air quality reasons, the state's refineries normally are not allowed to begin selling winter blend — which is cheaper to
make than summer-blend gas — until the end of October. That's because the winter formulation tends to evaporate more quickly
in warm weather.
Brown said the early changeover was necessary, and environmentalists largely did not object. The board agreed to grant
the waiver.
Retail gasoline prices should start to decline this week, analysts said, adding that the sale of cheaper winter blend should
accelerate that process.
"These nonsensical fuel prices should disappear by next week," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price
Information Service. "The spike should be over."
For Feinstein, the sudden rise in prices brought back reminders of the manipulation of California electricity markets for profit
by Enron Corp. and others in 2000-01.
"I feel very strongly that we need to look into this, and this is an appropriate role for the FTC," Feinstein said.
Consumer advocates agreed.
"I really question how the refineries shut down for things like repairs in ways that seem to have maximum impact on
consumers," said Ken McEldowney, executive director of Consumer Action, based in San Francisco. "I can only conclude that
they do it primarily in terms of increasing profits."
For other groups, the price surge provided a chance to promote their issues.
The California Advanced Energy Coalition urged the California Air Resources Board to adjust fuel regulations in a way that
would accommodate and encourage the use of more low-cost and cleaner-burning fuels, such as ethanol.
"We believe with focus and urgency, dictated by chronically high gasoline prices, California's regulations should be
immediately amended to allow for increased ethanol, in a manner that enhances air quality and lowers gasoline prices," said Eric
McAfee, chief executive of Aemetis Inc., an advanced biofuel producer in Cupertino, Calif., and a member of the coalition.
[email protected]
U.S. Stocks Close Lower (WSJ)
By Matt Jarzemsky
Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Sandra Fluke Isn’t Finished Testifying (WP)
By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Sandra Fluke watches her old speeches like game tape, studying her gestures and delivery. She
practices her sound bites on Twitter, sharpening arguments down to 140 characters.
Fluke has also learned to tell “slut” jokes. Given the rest of her material, audiences could use a laugh.
“Contrary to some recent rumors,” Fluke told a crowd in this beat-down beach town, where she is endorsing Patrick
Murphy, a local Democrat, for Congress, “I don’t actually support just any guy who comes up to me.”
This, she hopes, is how you excel as a culture warrior.
Fluke became an election-year celebrity seven months ago — a law student made famous by a snub in Congress and an
insult on the radio. Since then, Fluke has been a walking, talking symbol of the nation’s polarized politics, caricatured either as an
oversexed whiner or as a noble casualty of the “war on women.”
The latest proof of that came Saturday night, in a debate between Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and conservative Bill
O’Reilly. In his opening statement, O’Reilly used Fluke as the face of a “slacker” culture sapping the country’s vitality: “The poster
person for the entitlement society is Sandra Fluke,” O’Reilly said, joking that he’d left a pack of birth-control pills at will-call for her.
“Sandra! Buy. Your. Own.”
“A good portion of this country has created an alternate universe,” Stewart retorted. “In which the issues that we face
revolve around a woman from Georgetown,” where Fluke attended law school.
Now, Fluke is campaigning hard for Democrats. But she’s also applying her perfectionist’s tendencies to one of the hardest
tricks in politics: outlasting the political moment that created her political persona.
After nine months of talking about birth control, Fluke says now, “I want to talk about a lot of other things.”
Fluke, 31, graduated from Georgetown Law School in the spring and now lives in Los Angeles with her fiance, a comedy
writer. She’s had job offers from social-justice groups but has accepted none. Money comes from speaker’s fees, awards, opeds.
“I’m racking up some debt right now,” Fluke said recently, in the front seat of a car zipping down the Florida coast from one
Democratic event to the other. A Democratic staffer drove. A public relations adviser sat in back, working for Fluke pro bono.
This is what Fluke (whose name rhymes with “look”) does instead. Fluke joined a bus tour for President Obama in the
Midwest last week. Coming up: California, Upstate New York, Ohio.
There could be more, Fluke said, but she turned down some Democrats she doesn’t fully agree with. Fluke won’t say who.
“Oh, my God!” Fluke says, imitating campaign staffers. “You actually did research about the candidate?” This is a woman
who out-crammed other first year students in law school by not sleeping or changing clothes for days. She’s surprised that they’re
Sudden stardom
Every campaign season creates a few accidental, usually disposable stars. The 2008 version was Samuel “Joe the
Plumber” Wurzelbacher — now an underdog Republican candidate for Congress in Ohio.
This year, Fluke’s story has included more accidents than most. In February, she was a third-year law student at
Georgetown. Fluke wanted the school to offer health insurance that covers contraceptives, despite the Catholic Church’s
religious objections.
Democrats on Capitol Hill needed a witness to say that. They found Fluke in a Google search. But instead of simply
allowing other witnesses to rebut her, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)
barred Fluke from testifying at all.
His bungle made Fluke a Washington cause. Then Rush Limbaugh’s insult made her famous.
“She must be paid to have sex. What does that make her?” the conservative radio host said about Fluke on Feb. 29,
erroneously saying that she wanted taxpayers, and not a private school’s insurer, to pay for contraceptives. “It makes her a slut,
Limbaugh later apologized. But since then, Fluke has been living in a strange world that he created.
In it, the straight-arrow daughter of a Methodist minister — who had worked her way from small-town Pennsylvania to
Georgetown Law — became famous as a byword for entitlement and sex.
That hasn’t abated, even months later. “In the past, people would be ashamed of taking such a stand. But she continues to
be self-righteous about it . . . that’s what makes her funny,” said Oleg Atbashian, a Florida-based conservative whose Web site,, came up with popular caricatures of Fluke: She’s a slot machine, she’s a belly dancer, she’s got a
collection of condom wrappers.
Atbashian says he tries not to let the jokes get too sexual. But he hasn’t removed the commenter’s post that shows Fluke
facing a long line of male suitors, plus a horse. “I also don’t want to limit people too much,” he said.
After Limbaugh’s remarks, Fluke got a phone message from S.R. Sidarth, the Democratic campaign tracker who then-Sen.
George Allen (R-Va.) called “macaca.” Another came from Meghan McCain, the Republican senator’s daughter and a target of
Internet ridicule.
“It’s about them,” Fluke recalled Chelsea Clinton saying when they had tea. “It’s not about you.”
Using the spotlight
Fluke’s reaction was to try to use the spotlight while she had it. She has said that, at one point, she broke down and told her
fiance that she couldn’t handle an activist’s role while studying for the bar exam. Her answer to herself was: Push harder.
“You have to push through whatever that moment is that’s making you want to run and hide,” she told an audience in July.
“Keep pushing through it. Because you have a responsibility.”
Since then, there have been good moments: at the Democratic National Convention, her practice paid off. Fluke had
previously seemed rushed, unsmiling, joyless when she spoke in public. Now, she paused and smiled at the right times.
“Staying classy about it. She didn’t take it personally,” said Deborah Epstein, a mentor at Georgetown Law, who oversaw a
program where Fluke helped domestic-violence victims in the D.C. Superior Court. She’d taught her that emotions get in the way
of effective lawyering. “I hope that she learned some of that from someone at this law school.”
But it is not always easy to stay level-headed and even-tempered.
On Twitter, for instance, she doesn’t always ignore attacks: When a particularly vulgar insult (“when are you gonna shut that
[expletive expletive expletive expletive]?”) came in from @geotie2323, Fluke wrote back.
“The sooner u change, the sooner I can stop fighting,” Fluke wrote back.
But then her supporters swarmed. Called the man names. Called him at home. Called his work. Soon, Fluke found herself
urging respect for the troll. That Twitter account has since been removed from the web.
“When you have a big microphone,” she says now, “you have to be careful.”
On the campaign trail, also, Fluke is too much of a hard worker to simply tell and retell her own story. At a campaign event
in Boca Raton, she left out much of the saga of sex, sin, the Hill and the pill that had made her famous.
Instead, she had written a specially designed speech about something far less epic. The race for Florida’s 22nd
Congressional District.
“She has really presided over an economic revitalization in West Palm Beach,” Fluke said of former West Palm Beach
mayor Lois Frankel (D), who is running for the seat.
A voice for choices
Fluke’s goal is not just to disappear after the election but to stay on the national stage as an independent voice.
But a voice for what, exactly? In some recent speeches, she’s been an eloquent advocate for her own tribe: a generation of
high-achieving women who have plunged into consuming careers and delayed starting families.
For them, Fluke has argued, the pill is not just a choice. It is a necessity, therefore must be kept cheap and easily available.
“That is absolutely essential to our ability to follow our dreams, to pursue the education we hope to achieve and to navigate
a successful career path,” she said in a speech to the California delegation at the Democratic convention in Charlotte. “It is
essential that we have control over our own reproduction, to have equality of opportunity.”
That could be a powerful restatement of a feminist idea: Women’s careers deserve protection from sex, just as from
Of course, there are a lot of people who don’t agree.
“I really resist the argument that a woman can’t be free and equal without a pack of pills,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser,
president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. “If we want it, we can get it [ourselves]. . . . It seems very patriarchal that we
could be bought off as women voters” with contraceptives, she said.
Anyway, that’s just one fight Fluke is interested in. There are others. She also wants to help poor women who want
contraceptives but can’t afford them. Online, she has also opined about locked-out NFL referees, domestic violence, child labor
and the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“When you have the opportunity to do something important for what you believe in, you have a responsibility to do that,”
Fluke said.
But there are so many things she believes in. “What next? What are the big ideas I can put out there? . . . Sometimes, I put
a lot of pressure on myself” to figure that out, she said.
Unions Make A Stand For Fixed Rights In Michigan (WT)
By Andrea Billups, The Washington Times
Washington Times, October 9, 2012
LANSING, Mich. — They have been playing defense elsewhere across the Midwest, but labor unions in Michigan have
gone on the attack with a proposed first-in-the-nation amendment to the state constitution that would enshrine a right to collective
bargaining for public — and private-sector workers — and invalidate any past or future laws to the contrary.
Proposal 2, backed by Michigan's teachers and other public-employee unions, is being closely watched by labor and
management groups across the country after a string of setbacks for the union movement in states such as Wisconsin and
Indiana. Other states are likely to follow Michigan's lead if voters approve the measure Nov. 6, analysts here say.
But Gov. Rick Snyder, who has a business background, generally has shunned the more confrontational approach toward
labor adopted by fellow Republican governors such as Wisconsin's Scott Walker. Much of the state's business establishment also
strongly opposes the measure, saying it will hurt competitiveness and take a big bite out of the state's ability to control spending.
"It turns government unions into a superlegislature," said F. Vincent Vernuccio, labor policy director of the pro-market
Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Mich., which calls the measure costly and overreaching. "If passed, it will give
government unions an effective veto over legislation passed by elected representatives."
Dan Lijana, a spokesman for Protect Working Families, said the heart of Proposal 2 is about helping Michigan residents
whose interests have been overlooked, in a state that has long been a bastion of union strength.
"Working families and collective bargaining have been under attack from corporate special interests," he said. "This is about
Michigan and protecting jobs."
Language included in an appeals court ruling putting the measure on the state ballot ensured that "the amendment won't
repeal any laws," Mr. Lijana said.
Supporters of the measure, including the state Democratic Party, have raised about $8 million to muster the vote, outpacing
opponents, including the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, which have raised about $624,000,
according to most recent state campaign finance records. One analyst put the final price tag for spending for and against the
measure — including tens of millions of dollars of out-of-state money — at $40 million by the time voters head to the polls.
Union leaders acknowledge that the Snyder administration has not pursued the aggressive moves against public-sector
unions and bargaining rights in other states, but they say the state government has taken smaller steps to curb union rights and
privileges that make a constitutional amendment necessary.
As television ads blanket the airways and taped messages light up phones, Mr. Lijana says opponents, including Citizens
Protecting Michigan's Constitution and Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, are misleading voters, including with claims that the
measure could prohibit background checks on teachers and school personnel. He described "shadow" groups working against
Proposal 2 that have pumped as much as $14 million in media buys into the state, money not disclosed in campaign finance
Opponents argue that the real price tag for Proposal 2 could be an estimated loss of $1.6 billion or more in state savings,
according to one economic projection. They also say the ballot initiative could reverse the drive for renewed productivity and
economic reforms in a state that has fought mightily in the past couple of years to address its once-dismal fiscal course.
"I am a supporter of collective bargaining, but Proposal 2 would amend our constitution to change the way bargaining
would work in our state. It could lead to unlimited wage increases and early retirements with lavish pensions -- all at the
taxpayers' expense," Mr. Snyder said in announcing his opposition to the ballot measure last month.
"It rolls back Michigan labor laws made over the last 30 or 40 years," the governor said. "This proposal should be called 'the
Back in Time amendment.' It would seriously harm Michigan's ability to keep moving forward."
Legal land mines
Mr. Vernuccio, the labor analyst, said topics and issues formerly not subject to collective bargaining could be up for grabs
under a new amendment, putting all sorts of ideas for interpretation on the table and likely leading to many lawsuits.
"Things like last-in, first-out, teacher tenure reform that we passed in Michigan — those are no longer on the table," he said.
"If Proposal 2 passes, unions can bargain for them. It makes it so that the people's elected representatives have no say
legislatively over wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment. It's Civics 101. Constitution trumps legislation."
A poll of 600 likely voters conducted by the Lansing, Mich., firm EPIC-MRA from Sept. 8-11 found 48 percent supporting
Proposal 2 and 43 percent opposing it. Nine percent of state voters remained undecided, and the margin of error was 4
percentage points, making it a tight contest on a state ballot that also features a competitive presidential race and four other
Close to 18 percent of Michigan workers are members of unions. Among those who are employed in the private sector,
about 12 percent are unionized.
Wendy Block, the director of health policy and human resources at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, calls the proposal
"dangerous and unprecedented."
She noted that no other state has a similar provision. If passed, she said, Proposal 2 would undermine Michigan's
"The general impact of such a measure is that it will only protect 3 percent of the state's population, leaving 97 percent to
foot the bill," Ms. Block said. "Business leaders are extremely concerned, as should be local and state officials and citizens of this
state. Anything that is a subject of collective bargaining cannot be decided by the legislature, or local units of government, or
school districts moving forward."
Strained budgets
The law would add another burden to already-stressed state and local budgets, she said.
"The proposal doesn't enumerate one by one, so anything addressed in any collective-bargaining agreement across the
state could nullify state and local laws on the books," she said. "Even the proponents themselves say they don't know how many
laws this could impact; it may be 80, it may be more or less. The possibilities are virtually endless. It will ultimately be up to the
court to decide."
The governor's budget director, John Nixon, recently told the news service that Mr. Snyder is not opposed to
labor unions but fears the cost to the budget and the unforeseen fallout financially and legally if Proposal 2 passes.
"We like bargaining with our employee unions, but you've got to have the right balance," he told the news service. He cited
in particular Lansing's recent efforts to cap financial commitments made to retirees, caps that Proposal 2 could call into question.
While public unions are certain to gain with the measure's passage, private-sector unions may not be affected so broadly
as they are covered by federal law. Other states are watching closely as political battles over union power have been waged in
such places as Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana, which recently became a right-to-work state.
"If it passes in Michigan, watch out, because it's coming to a state near you and you could very likely see it coming to states
like California, for example, that have the constitutional amendment ballot-initiative process," Mr. Vernuccio said.
Race And College Admissions, Facing A New Test By Justices (NYT)
By Adam Liptak
New York Times, October 9, 2012
WASHINGTON — Abigail Fisher is a slight young woman with strawberry blond hair, a smile that needs little prompting, a
determined manner and a good academic record. She played soccer in high school, and she is an accomplished cellist.
But the university she had her heart set on, the one her father and sister had attended, rejected her. “I was devastated,”
she said, in her first news interview since she was turned down by the University of Texas at Austin four years ago.
Ms. Fisher, 22, who is white and recently graduated from Louisiana State University, says that her race was held against
her, and the Supreme Court is to hear her case on Wednesday, bringing new attention to the combustible issue of the
constitutionality of racial preferences in admissions decisions by public universities.
“I’m hoping,” she said, “that they’ll completely take race out of the issue in terms of admissions and that everyone will be
able to get into any school that they want no matter what race they are but solely based on their merit and if they work hard for it.”
The university said Ms. Fisher would not have been admitted even if race had played no role in the process, and it
questioned whether she has suffered the sort of injury that gives her standing to sue. But the university’s larger defense is that it
must be free to assemble a varied student body as part of its academic and societal mission. The Supreme Court endorsed that
view by a 5-to-4 vote in 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger.
University officials said that the school’s affirmative action program was needed to build a student body diverse enough to
include minority students with a broad range of backgrounds and for the campus to have a “critical mass” of minority students in
most classrooms. Interaction among students in class and around campus, said Kedra Ishop, the university’s director of
admissions, helps students overcome biases and make contributions to a diverse society. “The role of U.T. Austin,” Dr. Ishop
said, “is to provide leadership to the state.”
The majority opinion in the Grutter case, written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, rejected the use of racial quotas in
admissions decisions but said that race could be used as one factor among many, as part of a “holistic review.” Justice O’Connor
retired in 2006, and her replacement by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. may open the way for a ruling cutting back on such raceconscious admissions policies, or eliminating them.
Admissions officers at colleges and universities almost universally endorse the idea that students from diverse backgrounds
learn from each other, overcome stereotypes, and in so doing prepare themselves for leadership positions in society. Many critics
of affirmative action say that there is at best a weak correlation between race and having a range of views presented in the
Others say the Constitution does not permit the government to sort people by race, no matter how worthy its goal. “While
racial diversity on college campuses is beneficial, it cannot be attained by racial discrimination,” said Edward Blum, an adviser to
Ms. Fisher and a driving force behind the Fisher case.
The competing arguments are hard to test, but a recent visit to a freshman seminar at the University of Texas at Austin
suggested that the intellectual life of undergraduates there is varied and vibrant.
The course was called Debates on Democracy in America, and the topic that day was “The Known World,” Edward P.
Jones’s novel about a black slave owner.
It was only the third week of class, but the 18 students, of all sorts of ethnicities and backgrounds, talked easily and
earnestly about contemporary echoes of slavery. An Asian student mentioned cheap labor in China. A Hispanic one talked about
the ways employers in the United States take advantage of illegal immigrants.
Other comments ran counter to possible stereotypes.
D’wahn Kelley, a black student, said he hesitated to condemn the slave owner in the novel too harshly.
“You’re judged on what you know, not what you don’t know,” he said, referring to the limits of the character’s moral
imagination. “If you wanted to be successful, you had a right to own slaves.”
In response, Ashley Vasquez, a Hispanic student, said the she rejected “the whole idea that you have to learn right and
“It’s hard for me to think,” she said, “that you can go about your day thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to own a human being.’ ”
Three-quarters of applicants from Texas are admitted under a program that guarantees admission to the top students in
every high school in the state. (Almost everyone calls this the Top Ten program, though the percentage cutoff can vary. Ms.
Fisher barely missed the cutoff.) The remaining Texas students and those from elsewhere are considered under standards that
take account of academic achievement and other factors, including race and ethnicity.
The Top Ten program has produced substantial racial and ethnic diversity.
In the fall of last year, freshmen who enrolled under the program were 26 percent Hispanic and 6 percent black. Texas is
38 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black.
The practical question in Austin is what eliminating the additional race-conscious admissions program would mean for
seminars like the one on democracy, for lecture classes and for interactions in cafeterias and dormitories.
The university said the Top Ten program was a blunt instrument and that classes in many subjects have few or no minority
students. It adds that the diversity generated by the Top Ten program is “mostly a product of the fact that Texas high schools
remain highly segregated in regions of the state,” which “limits the diversity that can be achieved within racial groups.”
Among the kind of student excluded by the Top Ten program, the university said is “the African-American or Hispanic child
of successful professionals in Dallas who has strong SAT scores and has demonstrated leadership ability in extracurricular
activities but falls in the second decile of his or her high school class (or attends an elite private school that does not rank).”
Ms. Fisher’s lawyers called that “a newly minted interest in elitism dressed up as ‘intra-racial’ diversity.” They added that the
university is making the unseemly pitch for “its preferred kind of minorities” at the expense of white students like Ms. Fisher with
similar qualifications.
Talking in the hallway after the seminar, Joao Eloy, who was admitted outside the Top Ten program, said he had mixed
feelings about the university’s approach. “My only concern is if diversity becomes a priority above merit,” he said, adding that he
was wary of any system that “punishes Asians and poor whites, to name a few.”
But Mr. Eloy, who said his heritage was Brazilian (making him Latino but not Hispanic, he said), said classrooms were
enriched by a mix of voices. “The different perspectives help a lot,” he said. “It makes it really interesting.”
Nosa Aimuyo, whose parents are Nigerian immigrants and who was also admitted outside the Top Ten program, said raceconscious admissions were needed to address “disparities in opportunity between high schools, which disproportionately affect
In an interview in his office in Austin, William C. Powers Jr, the university’s president, said the attributes that the university
seeks have many dimensions. “We want diversity in terms of economic background, first generation, geography, inner city,
suburban middle class,” he said.
Asked what he would say to Ms. Fisher, whose own background is middle class, about her disappointment at being
rejected, Mr. Powers paused for a moment.
“We look at everyone’s holistic characteristics,” he said.
Last month, Ms. Fisher spent a morning chatting with a reporter at a private club in Washington and then took an
impromptu tour of the Supreme Court, where the grandeur of the surroundings seemed to bring home to her the gravity of the
question she had presented to the justices.
She is working in Austin, where she had wanted to be in the first place, as a financial analyst. She said her college years at
Louisiana State had been fine and that she had enjoyed the camaraderie of the bowling team.
But she added that she had lost a benefit that her state’s government had decided to distribute on a basis other than merit.
“The only thing I missed out on was my post-graduation years,” she said. “Just being in a network of U.T. graduates would
have been a really nice thing to be in. And I probably would have gotten a better job offer had I gone to U.T.” She said she was
trying to come to terms with her role in a case that could reshape American higher education. Asked if she found it interesting or
exciting or scary, she said, “All of the above.”
But she did not hesitate to say how she would run an admission system. “I don’t think,” she said, “that we even need to
have a race box on the application.”
Supreme Court Wades Once More Into Racial Preferences (USAT)
USA Today, October 9, 2012
WASHINGTON — The spirit of the late Heman Sweatt will be inside the Supreme Court this week when the justices
consider whether the University of Texas-Austin campus that he first integrated in 1950 has carried its system of racial
preferences too far.
That's the argument posed by Abigail Fisher, who contends that her application for admission in 2008 was rejected
because of her skin color: white.
Sweatt probably could relate to that. He sued the university after being blocked from admission in 1946 because he was
black. Today, his descendants say, racial preferences are still needed to guarantee equal opportunities for minorities.
STORY: Supreme Court to delve into more divisive issues
Both sides will be in court Wednesday when the justices take up Fisher v. University of Texas and the underlying issue of
affirmative action that still divides the nation -- more than a half-century after Sweatt made civil rights history.
"Fisher gives the Supreme Court the opportunity to clarify the boundaries of race preferences in college admissions — or,
perhaps, eliminate them altogether," says Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, which fights in court
against the use of racial and ethnic preferences.
The court has taken a turn to the right since its last ruling upholding affirmative action in 2003. Five justices are on record
opposing the practice. That could mean defeat for the university — and, possibly, a sweeping declaration that racial preferences
are unconstitutional, not only at public universities but also at private schools such as Harvard and Yale because they receive
federal funds.
MORE: The court on race
"I would hate to see that happen," says Heman Marion Sweatt II, 62, a nephew of Heman Sweatt and a University of Texas
graduate. "A lot of people feel that affirmative action is not needed anymore. I would love to see the day when affirmative action
is not needed, but realistically, it still has to be dealt with."
On the flip side of that argument is Fisher, a plain-spoken young Texan denied entry into her father's and sister's alma
mater. She says racial preferences made her a victim of discrimination.
"There were people in my class with lower grades who weren't in all the activities I was in who were being accepted into
UT, and the only other difference between us was the color of our skin," she says in a video posted by the Project on Fair
Representation to make its case. "For an institution of higher learning to act this way makes no sense to me."
The vast majority of higher education groups say it makes a great deal of sense. In brief after brief submitted to the
Supreme Court in support of the Texas flagship university, organizations representing nearly all facets of higher learning –
including public research universities, Ivy League schools, undergraduate and law students, even college basketball coaches –
argue that colleges and universities must be allowed to consider race and ethnicity in admissions to achieve the educational
benefits of a diverse student body. Some say nothing less than the nation's future is at stake.
The United States "is in the midst of a perfect storm of economic crisis, rapidly shifting demographics and lagging
educational achievement compared to other nations," says University of Missouri higher education professor Roger Worthington,
editor of the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. "If we do not fix the underlying educational disparities that exist in this
country, there is no path forward to regaining our competitiveness on educational or economic grounds."
Denied because 'he is a negro'
Before the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954 — the unanimous court decision striking down public
school segregation — and a series of cases on racial preferences leading up to Fisher, there was Sweatt v. Painter.
It was a simple case. Sweatt had sued the university and its president, Theophilus Painter, for denying him admission to
the UT law school in 1946 because, as Painter pointed out at the time, "of the fact that he is a negro."
To represent him before the Supreme Court, Sweatt chose Thurgood Marshall, who would go on to become the court's first
black justice. He won the case based on another "fact" — that he could not get an equally sound legal education elsewhere in
Texas. It was the first time the court had ordered a black student admitted to an all-white institution.
Sweatt left the law school before graduating, the victim of chronic health problems and a divorce. But his case may be more
relevant to the court's consideration of Fisher than most of the cases that have followed, including Brown.
Today, those rulings have become victims of their own success. Schools and universities have grown more integrated,
however haltingly. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court's 5-4 decision upholding the University of Michigan Law School's limited use of
affirmative action, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor predicted, "The Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial
preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today."
The Michigan case wasn't a slam dunk for the civil rights movement. At the same time, the court ruled 6-3 against the
university's more numerical system of racial preferences for undergraduate admissions. And the O'Connor decision included a
dissent from Justice Anthony Kennedy that takes on added weight today: Since her retirement, he has become the swing vote.
"Preferment by race, when resorted to by the state, can be the most divisive of all policies, containing within it the potential
to destroy confidence in the Constitution and in the idea of equality," Kennedy wrote in Grutter.
Kennedy's significance as the man in the middle hasn't been lost on lawyers for Fisher and the university. They mention
him by name 50 times in their three main briefs.
Fisher's lawyers contend that the university seeks "racial balancing," something Kennedy clearly doesn't sanction. "Racial
balance is not to be achieved for its own sake," he wrote in a Georgia desegregation case in 1992.
The school's lawyers point out that in using race as one factor, the university isn't resorting to quotas or numerical targets,
which Kennedy disavowed in his Grutter dissent. They say the lawsuit "is just asking this court to move the goal posts on higher
education in America and overrule its precedent going back 35 years."
The makeup of today's court is notable for other reasons. O'Connor's replacement is Justice Samuel Alito, a firm
conservative who argued against affirmative action in the 1980s while serving in the solicitor general's office under President
Ronald Reagan. On the left, Justice Sonia Sotomayor has called herself a "product of affirmative action" because of her
admission into prestigious Ivy League schools despite less than stellar test scores. Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from
the case because of her previous involvement as solicitor general in 2009-10.
Colleges could 'lose out on a lot of great kids'
If the Supreme Court rules that the university went too far in using racial preferences, most experts predict the campus
could see a drop in black and Hispanic enrollments, just as it did after the 5th Circuit Court outlawed a race-conscious admissions
policy used by the University of Texas School of Law in 1996. A year later, state legislators created the "Top 10 Percent" plan,
through which students in the top 10% of their high school graduating class are automatically admitted to the state university of
their choice.
That law has helped schools boost racial diversity, primarily because most of the state's public high schools are segregated
by race and ethnicity, but not enough to achieve a "critical mass," school officials said. After the Supreme Court upheld the
University of Michigan's affirmative action program, the University of Texas again began factoring race into admissions.
If the justices decide more broadly that extra measures designed to boost racial and ethnic representation on campus are
unconstitutional or no longer necessary, the nation's most selective universities, public and private, will lose a long-standing tool
aimed at furthering their mission to prepare a diverse pool of well-trained graduates for leadership roles.
A ruling against the University of Texas, or more broadly, the consideration of race in admissions, also threatens to upend a
tradition by the court of deference toward university decision-making, says Ada Meloy, general counsel of the American Council
on Education, a non-profit umbrella group that represents higher education institutions in Washington. She says colleges will
remain committed to that goal even if Texas loses the case.
"It is so important to the vast majority of higher education institutions to be able to assemble the kind of student body that
they think best fits their mission," she says.
Some of those who have petitioned the court on Fisher's behalf say colleges don't deserve that freedom. They argue that
Jews, Asian Americans and others have been discriminated against in the past because of their academic talents, and nothing
prevents such discrimination from extending to others in the future.
"Over their history, colleges and universities have often fallen prey to fashionable race discrimination," says a brief
submitted by California and Connecticut faculty members and scholars, among others, who urge the court to overrule the
University of Michigan decision. "Consequently, they are unlikely candidates to receive special deference on matters of race."
Colleges would probably turn to race-neutral alternatives used by public universities where affirmative action has been
banned, Meloy says.
Already, public universities in Texas, California and other states have stepped up recruitment in high schools where the
student body is made up predominantly of underrepresented minorities, established partnerships with schools to improve the
pipeline of minority students, and established scholarships. The University of Georgia, Texas A&M University and the University
of California system have dropped preferences for children of alumni, which tend to favor white students from relatively affluent
Colleges also might de-emphasize or eliminate an admissions requirement for standardized test scores, on which black
and Hispanic students tend to score lower than white and Asian students.
In a study this month by the non-profit Century Foundation, author Richard Kahlenberg argues universities should accept
that affirmative action has run its course and replace racial preferences with class-based preferences. Schools could put more
weight on factors such as parental income, parents' education levels and resources available in the community where they live,
he says.
Studies of the University of California system, where racial preferences have been banned since 1996, suggest that such
measures alone would not be sufficient. At the University of California-Los Angeles, for example, African-American students
represented 6.7% of its freshman class in 1995, but only 3% in 1998 and 3.6% last year despite multiple race-neutral strategies.
"All of our efforts in terms of outreach have not made an impact," says Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, associate vice
chancellor of enrollment management. "Race matters."
In Del Valle, Texas, a predominantly black and Hispanic community east of Austin, Del Valle High School college counselor
Sarah Mabry says many of her brightest students have overcome great obstacles to get to the point where they would even
consider applying to a prestigious school such as the University of Texas.
"Let's give everybody the chance they deserve," she says. "For God's sake, this is America."
That's just why others argue against racial preferences — to protect the rights of Fisher and others who they say are victims
of discrimination when universities ignore their superior qualifications.
"Nowhere in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence does the word 'diversity' appear," a group of Texas faculty
members argue in a brief supporting Fisher. "There is no constitutional basis for the courts, let alone a state university, to engage
in such a radical restructuring of America, allocating education, jobs and contracts based on race."
If the Texas plan is declared unconstitutional, Marie Bigham, director of college counseling at the highly diverse Greenhill
School in the Dallas suburb of Addison, predicts a chilling effect.
"My students of color, I worry they're going to say that 'these places don't value what I bring,'" she says. White students,
too, will look elsewhere, she says. "When my students are shopping for colleges, (diversity) is an important data point for them.
We're going to lose out on a lot of great kids."
'I didn't take this sitting down'
Among those either siding with Fisher or making the case against affirmative action programs are scholars who argue that
racial preferences hurt those they are supposed to help.
Gail Heriot, one of three members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to file a brief supporting Fisher, points to studies
showing that minority students frequently falter at the toughest schools and in the most rigorous fields of study. Admitting them to
Princeton rather than Penn State isn't always in their interest, she says.
"Grades matter more ... than eliteness of law school," says Heriot, a law professor at the University of California-San Diego.
Minority students, she says, often should "thumb their nose at Princeton and go to a school where they're going to be a success."
That's the view of Richard Sander, a UCLA law professor and economist who studies the effects of racial preferences. He
argues in his book, Mismatch, co-authored with Washington journalist Stuart Taylor Jr., that generous preferences from elite
schools often doom students to failure.
"Our whole focus is on what will work," Sander says. "We're trying to make this a pragmatic discussion. It's been a very
ideological discussion."
On the other side, the 73 briefs filed in support of the university's position include those from business executives,
government officials and retired military leaders who say their fields need college affirmative action programs to provide a stream
of qualified minority applicants. Several cite a 2009 study by retired Princeton University president William Bowen that shows lowincome and minority students who enroll in academically demanding institutions are more likely to graduate than students with
similar academic qualifications who enroll in less challenging colleges.
A brief filed by several Fortune 100 companies argues that affirmative action programs are "more important today than
ever" because of a "country and world economy that are increasingly diverse." Another filed by former military leaders, including
Colin Powell, Michael Mullen and Wesley Clark, warns that ending the practice "would seriously disrupt the military's efforts to
maintain military cohesion and effectiveness."
An end to racial preferences also would come as a setback to Sweatt's descendants — among them his daughter, who is a
pathologist; another nephew, who is a doctor; and a 13-year-old grandson, who will be in court taking copious notes for his
school newspaper.
"If you have to ask somebody, 'Do we need affirmative action?' then I think that answers the question itself," says nephew
Heman Marion Sweatt II.
Fisher, who graduated this year from Louisiana State University and is working in Austin as a financial analyst, couldn't
disagree more.
"If people say anything about me, I hope they say I didn't take this sitting down," she says in the video. "I didn't accept the
process, because the process is wrong."
Will The GOP Again Compromise On Affirmative Action? (WP)
By Charles Lane
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
When the Gallup Poll asked Americans to identify the top challenge facing the country in July 1964, 60 percent named
racial issues. In the summer of 2012, 1 percent picked race.
Obviously, these findings reflect the great distance the United States has traveled. Racial tension has never disappeared,
and probably never will; take the Trayvon Martin incident. Yet even before Barack Obama’s election as president in 2008, racial
peace was the dominant trend. Not even the 1992 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles policemen, and the violence that
followed the officers’ acquittal, fundamentally disrupted it.
In the American Interest, Walter Russell Mead credits a post-civil rights “Compromise of 1977,” encompassing such policies
as race-conscious university admissions and the Voting Rights Act, which helped build a black middle class and boost minority
representation in government from the White House on down.
Yet by the summer of 2013, that compromise could be shaken and race could once again roil American politics. That’s
because the Supreme Court is poised to take up race-conscious admissions this week and, later this term, a key provision of the
Voting Rights Act. And five conservative-leaning justices are on record as skeptics of both.
So it’s worth recalling that these policies have lasted as long as they have because of compromises — in which
Republicans played a crucial part.
In 1977, white applicant Allan Bakke asked the Supreme Court to strike down a University of California program that
awarded a fixed number of spots in medical school to African Americans and other historically disadvantaged minorities.
Justice Lewis F. Powell, an appointee of President Richard Nixon, crafted an opinion that forbid quotas, while permitting
schools to take individuals’ race into account for “diversity.”
Powell’s amorphous rule satisfied neither civil rights advocates who saw quotas as compensation for past discrimination,
nor critics to whom any use of race is “reverse discrimination.”
But it proved workable — increasingly so as prosperity lessened students’ sense that college admission is a zero-sum
contest. Asked to overturn Powell’s ruling in 2003, the Supreme Court sustained it; Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, whom
President Ronald Reagan appointed to replace Powell, wrote the key opinion.
In 1982, Congress considered an extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The debate pitted a rising conservative
movement against liberal civil rights organizations determined to expand the law’s scope. To oversimplify somewhat, the question
was whether to regulate state practices that resulted not only in fewer minorities voting but also in fewer minorities being elected.
Congress approved a Powell-like standard barring proportional representation but taking account of “the extent to which
members of the minority group have been elected to public office in the jurisdiction.” The architect of the compromise was thenSen. Robert Dole, Republican of Kansas. Reagan signed it into law.
Subsequent history has shown the benefits and defects of each compromise.
Between 1976 and 2010, the African American share of college enrollment rose from 9.4 percent to 14.5 percent,
according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The number of black elected officials rose ninefold nationwide between
1970 and 2000; Deep South states have made the most progress. This is revolutionary.
Still, using race as “one factor” has often become a euphemism for using it as the decisive factor. That understandably rubs
many Americans the wrong way, especially in a multiethnic society that resembles the old white-black caste system less and
less. And access is not the same as success: African American college students graduate at about half the rate of whites.
Race-conscious gerrymandering arguably fuels political polarization, in that it encourages the two parties to split the
electorate into white and minority districts, then pitch them mutually exclusive policies. It’s not clear that minorities have more
power as the dominant group in a non-competitive district or as the swing vote in a competitive one.
It’s in the nature of constitutional litigation for each side in these cases to play down such nuances. Each wants the court to
rule clearly and unequivocally in its favor — to resolve the vexed questions once and for all.
I would agree — if I were equally confident that the rights and wrongs could be so readily defined, constitutionally or
otherwise. But I’m not. A century and a half after Gettysburg, half a century after Selma and 35 years after Bakke, we still need
practicality and compromise. We need the realism, and wisdom, of Powell, O’Connor and Dole.
[email protected]
High-profile Vote For Iowa Supreme Court (WP)
By Bill Turque
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
DES MOINES — Judicial elections were once sedate, bottom-of-the-ballot affairs, frequently overlooked by voters focused
on the bigger-name races.
But there was nothing low-key about the message on a bus that toured Iowa recently, bearing the face of state Supreme
Court Justice David Wiggins and a giant “NO.” Nor was there anything decorous about the contingent of lawyers that trailed with
a smaller truck urging “Yes Iowa Judges.”
A Christian conservative group, Iowa for Freedom, is campaigning to remove Wiggins from the bench because of his vote
in a unanimous 2009 decision overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The cause has drawn two figures not normally
interested in the workings of a state court system: former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), winner of the 2012 Iowa presidential
caucuses, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — both possible Republican presidential contenders in 2016.
“I didn’t come here for any reason other than to encourage the people of Iowa to do what you do so well,” Santorum said.
“And that is to speak loudly to the country.”
Welcome to round two of the fight over the Iowa court. In a campaign launched in 2010, conservative activists unseated
three of the seven jurists who ruled that the state’s Defense of Marriage Act violated the equal-protection clause of Iowa’s
constitution. Organizers called their effort, backed by national conservative groups that contributed nearly $1 million, a warning to
“activist” judges seeking to “legislate from the bench.”
Their success stunned the legal community and deepened concerns about the injection of money and politics into
courthouses. Judges in Alaska, Colorado, Illinois and Kansas faced similar retention fights in 2010, although only in Iowa did the
jurists lose their jobs.
This year in Florida, a group with tea party ties and super-PAC support is seeking to oust three judges on the state
Supreme Court who refused to allow a ballot measure opposing a key provision in President Obama’s health-care plan.
Wiggins has declined interview requests, breaking his silence once, in a September op-ed in the Des Moines Register, in
which he decried the politicization of the courts.
“As a judge, I cannot be motivated other than to follow the law where it leads me,” he wrote. “As a judge, I am not here to
say what is right or wrong. I am here to figure out what a statute means and uphold a person’s rights guaranteed by the
This time, however, the campaign against the court may be up against greater odds. Voter attention is focused elsewhere.
And with pro-gay-marriage initiatives on ballots in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, interest-group money is limited.
Anti-Wiggins spending to date totals less than $250,000, according to state filings. That includes $100,000 from the National
Organization for Marriage and $25,000 from Santorum’s group, Patriot Voices.
Perhaps most significant is the softening attitude toward gay marriage, now legal in five other states and the District.
“As time passes and friends and neighbors come out and get married, people realize that they have less and less to fear,”
said Sally Pederson, a former Democratic lieutenant governor who is co-chairing a fundraising effort to retain Wiggins and
promote an independent judiciary.
A Des Moines Register poll late last month found 49 percent of likely voters in favor of keeping Wiggins on the bench and
41 percent opposed, compared with 32 percent in favor of retaining the three judges in 2010. (Iowa state judges are appointed by
the governor but stand periodically for votes on whether they should be retained.)
In February, a poll by the newspaper found that 56 percent of Iowans were opposed to legislative efforts to pass a
constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. That is consistent with other swing states: Voters back gay marriage by 21
points in Florida, 15 points in Ohio and nine in Virginia, new Washington Post polls found.
In Iowa, conservative activists concede that they face an uphill fight in recapturing the energy of 2010, when the court case
at the heart of the dispute, Varnum v. Brien, was only a year old.
“Once you win a state championship, it’s a challenge to get them back into the locker room and say let’s do this again,” said
Bob Vander Plaats, chairman of Iowa for Freedom, an offshoot of the Christian conservative organization the Family Leader.
Chuck Hurley, president of the allied Iowa Family Policy Center, attributes the shift to what he calls “the Will and Grace
engine of Hollywood” that has portrayed gay relationships as acceptable and desirable.
The most enigmatic figure is the jurist at the center: Wiggins, 60, a blue-collar Chicagoan who drove a delivery route for his
father’s egg business and was the first in the family to attend college. Appointed by Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) in 2003, Wiggins hasn’t
always won friends with his blunt, sometimes abrasive presence, local lawyers say.
“He doesn’t go out of his way to please people,” said Des Moines lawyer Guy Cook, who is leading the local bar campaign
on Wiggins’s behalf. “He’s not some academic who went to a prestigious Ivy League school. He earned his stripes.”
Meanwhile, Kate Varnum, the lead plaintiff in the court case, said she is encouraged by what she sees. She and her wife,
Trish Varnum, are among the 4,500 same-sex couples who have married in Iowa since 2009.
“People thought we would destroy marriage and that awful things would happen to children,” said Varnum, 38, who lives in
Cedar Rapids with her wife and their adopted 11-month-old son, Alex. “We’ve come a long way since 2010.”
At Long Last, Dignity? (NYT)
By Frank Bruni
New York Times, October 9, 2012
Cape Neddick, Me.
If you live for 80 years, Chuck Bennett told me, you see things you never imagined. Crazy, fantastical stuff.
A man on the moon. “Amazing,” he said.
The Soviet Union’s disintegration. “Also amazing.”
And on Nov. 6, if the polls are right and his hope is fulfilled, the people of Maine may pass a referendum for same-sex
marriage, which no state has adopted by popular vote before.
“That’s equally amazing to me,” he said. Ten minutes later, he circled back to say it again. “I would like to reiterate how
amazing it is.”
Bennett was born in 1932 and grew up in Brooklyn without anything but slurs and clinical terms to describe his attraction to
other men. In the late 1950s, he was forced out of the Navy for being gay.
He never found a long-term romantic partner, thwarted in part by a disapproving society with no obvious role models for
him, and he bought his dream house on the ocean here 15 years ago with two close friends, because he didn’t want to grow old
alone and didn’t expect to meet anyone special, not so late in the game.
“You know that old saying, Born 50 years too soon?” he asked me. “I think I do feel something of that.”
Maine is one of four states with same-sex marriage on the ballot on Election Day, a crucial moment for advocates and
opponents alike. The referendums are the first and best tests of popular sentiment since President Obama’s history-making
statement of support in May. (For more on this, visit my blog.)
In Minnesota, the vote is on an amendment to the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. But in Maine, Maryland
and Washington, the vote is to permit it, and thus to join the six states where it’s already legal, thanks to legislatures or courts.
Advocates are most optimistic about Maine, and I traveled here last weekend for a sense of what victory would mean to
someone who’d known and braved a much different world. I found my way to Bennett, a courteous man with a soulful gaze and a
precise way of speaking that reflects his long career in academia, first as a college English professor, then as a dean.
He recalled that during his teenage years, his only assurances that there were other people like him were newspaper
stories about men arrested on Fire Island for “obscene” or “depraved” behavior.
For a while he dated women, but couldn’t summon any real passion for them. He wasn’t sure where that left him. Clearly,
he wouldn’t marry. But what about a relationship like that with a man?
In his late 30s, he had one, and wanted it to go on forever. It lasted five years. Nothing like it ever came along again.
He felt the need to be secretive about his sexuality and kept work colleagues at a distance. His parents died without
knowing he was gay.
Starting in the mid-1980s, he marveled at the proliferation of gay characters in movies and on TV. He later joined efforts to
end the ban on gays in the military, giving money to the cause.
But when gay advocates started talking about marriage, he thought it nuts, partly because they were buying into such a
flawed institution. But also, he said, “The likelihood of winning was so, so far-fetched.”
One of his housemates, David Newman, 71, who is also gay, still has trouble understanding the way “I do” and gold bands
became such an ardent, defining quest. He spent a lifetime trying, out of painful necessity, not to be tormented by the straight
world’s norms, which excluded him.
“How can somebody like me, who has made a significant investment in inventing an alternative world, come around to
accept gay marriage?” he asked, clarifying that he supports the referendum. It’s just unsettling to him, this challenge to what he
thought he was supposed to believe about such conventions.
For Bennett, the marriage focus of the Maine referendum is almost beside the real point, which is validation.
“I see it as something of profound significance,” he said. “Whether anyone winds up getting married in Maine, I don’t care. I
care that they can get married.” That right means that gay people are equal to straight people. It recognizes their dignity. His
I asked him if the absence of such recognition during most of his life made him bitter.
“I was fortunate,” he said, explaining that his family wasn’t especially religious and his nature isn’t self-punishing, so he
never felt that being gay was some abomination. But it was certainly a limitation. A cause for hiding, or at least holding essential
parts of himself in reserve.
“I’m inclined to look back not in anger, as John Osborne once said, but with some degree of sadness,” he said. “Everyone
could have been happier. Everyone could have been more fulfilled if they hadn’t been burdened with this prejudice.”
Judges To Hear Appeal Of DeLay's Conviction (WSJ)
By Russell Gold
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Protestants Lose Majority Status In U.S. (USAT)
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, @clgrossman, Usa Today
USA Today, October 9, 2012
For decades, if not centuries, America's top religious brand has been "Protestant." No more.
In the 1960s, two in three Americans called themselves Protestant. Now the Protestant group -- both evangelical and
mainline -- has slid below the statistical waters, down to 48%, from 53% in 2007.
Where did they go? Nowhere, actually. They didn't switch to a new religious brand; they just let go of any faith affiliation or
label, according to a study out today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. It says one in five Americans (19.3%) claim no
religious identity.
This group, called "Nones," is now the nation's second-largest category after Catholics, and outnumbers the top Protestant
denomination, the Southern Baptists. The shift is a significant cultural, religious and even political change.
Count former Southern Baptist Chris Dees, 26, in this culture shift. He grew up Baptist in the most religious state in the
USA: Mississippi. By the time he went off to college for mechanical engineering, "I just couldn't make sense of it any more," Dees
says. Now, he's a leader of the Secular Student Alliance chapter at Mississippi State and calls himself an atheist.
Today, the Nones have leapt from 15.3% of U.S. adults in 2007, Pew reports. One in three (32%) are under age 30 and
unlikely to age into claiming a religion, says Pew Forum senior researcher Greg Smith. The new study points out that today's
Millennials are more unaffiliated than any young generation ever has been when they were younger.
"The rise of the Nones is a milestone in a long-term trend," Smith says. "People's religious beliefs, and the religious groups
they associate with, play an important role in shaping their worldviews, their outlook in life and certainly in politics and elections."
The study comes amid an election campaign where the Republican Party, which placed Protestants on its presidential
ticket for a century, has nominated a Mormon with a Catholic running mate. The U.S. Supreme Court includes six Catholics and
three Jews.
Eileen Lindner, a Presbyterian pastor and editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, says, "We are still
twice as likely to be affiliated with a religion than Europeans, but there is strong evidence that our religious institutions… are
playing a less significant role in American life."
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptists Theological Seminary in Louisville, says disapprovingly, "Today, there's
no shame in saying you're an unbeliever. …This is a wake-up call. We have an incredible challenge ahead for committed
Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie To Lead RGA (POLITCO)
By Alexander Burns
Politico, October 9, 2012
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will take over the Republican Governors Association next year, followed by New Jersey Gov.
Chris Christie in 2014, an RGA official confirmed to POLITICO.
Republicans have viewed the RGA chairmanship as an increasingly desirable post as the committee has gained financial
power and prominence in national politics. Both Jindal and Christie are potential presidential candidates in 2016.
Under the current plan, which was first reported by CNN, Jindal's vice chairman in 2013 will be Wisconsin Gov. Scott
Walker. In 2014 — assuming Christie runs for and wins reelection next year — Jindal will then take the vice chairman job.
(PHOTOS: Bobby Jindal's career)
The lineup will allow three of the GOP's superstar governors to take a turn at the RGA helm but avoid any of the three
holding a top post during a year when he's running for reelection.
The Democratic Governors Association has not yet named its chairman for the 2013 cycle, but Vermont Gov. Peter
Shumlin is believed to be the top candidate for the job.
Read more about: Republican Governors Association, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, 2012 Elections
Desperately Seeking The Real Obama (WP)
By Richard Cohen
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
Last week something notable happened. The Daily Caller, a conservative Web site, came up with a tape of President
Obama speaking in the spring of 2007 to an audience of black ministers about matters of concern to black ministers and their
black congregants. After the tape was aired, conservative commentators announced with considerable urgency that they had
discovered “the real Barack Obama.” He is — and there are reliable sources for this — a black man!
The perspicacious Fox News host Sean Hannity was among the first to note the importance of the speech. He said it
offered “a glimpse into the mind of the real Barack Obama.” The real Barack Obama is not, as you might foolishly think, the man
who has been in the White House for almost four years — covered by the media, giving speeches, pardoning Thanksgiving
turkeys and not returning the phone calls of key members of Congress. He is, instead, the man who gave a single speech back in
2007 and who lapsed, as many politicians do before black audiences, into a black speech cadence that, if you ask me, he should
use more often.
As for the speech itself, while it might have sounded innocuous to the average (white person’s) ear, it supposedly contained
“dog whistle” messages that could be heard only by black people in the audience. This explained the headline on a column by
Washington Examiner columnist Gregory Kane: “Obama’s dog-whistle speech from 2007.” Kane, too, wondered if the speech
revealed “a glimpse of the real Barack Hussein Obama.”
The search for the True Obama is the Holy Grail of the conservative movement. It is a quixotic quest, a fool’s errand, that
induces a kind of delirium in the president’s critics. The 2007 speech itself is evidence of this recurring madness. It was not, as
both stated and implied, overlooked at the time. It was matter-of-factly reported by various news organizations, so the tape
contained nothing startlingly new. One bit of stale news was that Obama had praised the rabid Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whom he
would eventually dump as his spiritual adviser. He also pandered to the audience. I guess this is the sort of thing only radicals do.
Some of us, in fact, think we know the real Barack Obama. He is a man of the center — or maybe a wee to the left of it —
who is prudent in all things, dotes on his children and is loving to his wife. His most radical program is called Obamacare, and if it
has sent us all down the road to socialism, we have somehow become stuck in a suburban cul-de-sac. Instead of a single-payer
plan — the one adopted by much of the industrialized world — we stick with private insurance companies, those soft-hearted
institutions that would, if they could, seize the La-Z-Boy from under a retiree. This is not Trotsky. It’s not even Hubert Humphrey.
I’m glad Kane slipped in Obama’s middle name with all its jihadist overtones, because it plays a role in making the
president a mysterious man of the left. It makes him a trifle weird, and since he seems to have come from somewhere at sea —
Hawaii? Indonesia? — he really could be a Muslim or something even worse, although my imagination fails me here. It does not
fail others, though. Dinesh D’Souza has cited Obama’s exotic provenance to assert that the president “draws his identity and his
values from a Third World, anti-American ideology that goes by the name of anti-colonialism.” In his latest book, D’Souza even
does a Cotton Mather number on Obama’s mother. “Ann’s sexual adventuring may seem a little surprising in view of the fact that
she was a large woman who kept getting larger.” For rebuttal, how about a mouthful of soap?
This need to turn a political foe into the frightening “other” is a reaction against modernity — the permanent platform of the
Republican Party. The country is changing demographically, socially, culturally. A lot of the change is unwelcome, trashy —
Kardashian to the nth degree. Remarkably, the man who gets the blame for all this is a dad out of a ’50s sitcom, a national
security hawk who, in his personal qualities, is an insurance underwriter’s dream. Still, the right awaits the Freudian slip that will
reveal Obama’s trueness, a lapse into possibly Russian or, worse, French. Liberals long ago realized they had idealized Obama.
Only conservatives still hope he is a different man.
[email protected]
Buying The Election? (NYT)
By Joe Nocera
New York Times, October 9, 2012
Do you remember that moment in the first Austin Powers movie when Dr. Evil, back in action after being cryogenically
frozen for 30 years, gets his hands on a nuclear warhead? “If you want it back,” he snarls to a group of world leaders who have
gathered in a secret United Nations bunker, “you will have to pay me” — here he pauses for dramatic effect — “one million
dollars!” The assembled leaders burst into laughter because it was such a pathetically small sum.
Campaign finance these days reminds me a lot of that scene. I lived for a few years in Washington, right around the time
that Congress, aroused by the Watergate scandal, was reforming the country’s campaign finance laws. It instituted a system for
presidential elections that combined small contributions from individuals ($1,000 or less), public financing from the taxpayers and
a cap on how much the candidates could spend. In the Gerald Ford-Jimmy Carter year of 1976, the two candidates were allowed
to spend — can we pause here for dramatic effect? — around $35 million each.
Fast forward 36 years, to last weekend’s news that the Obama campaign had raised $181 million in just one month,
September. Not all that long ago, the ability to partake of public financing was a sign that you had arrived as a serious candidate;
today no candidate in his right mind would want to be so constrained.
Four years ago, Obama became the first presidential candidate since campaign reform was instituted to opt out of public
financing for the general election. He raised $750 million. John McCain, who accepted public financing, was only able to directly
spend the $84 million or so he was allotted under the system. (Although the Republican Party raised millions more.) This election
season, Mitt Romney and President Obama could end up spending more than $1 billion each. They seem to spend more time
fund-raising than pressing the flesh with voters. According to Brendan Doherty, a political science professor at the United States
Naval Academy, Obama has held six fund-raisers in a single day. Twice.
And that doesn’t even account for what’s truly different about this election: the rise of the “super PACs” and 501(c)4s, which
are essentially a form of campaign money-laundering, allowing wealthy people to contribute millions toward supposedly
“independent” spending on campaign advertising, polling and other expensive campaign goodies. Sheldon Adelson, the casino
mogul, whose main political interest appears to be Israel, has pumped $10 million into Restore Our Future, the biggest
Republican super PAC. Although individual contributions to a particular candidate remains severely restricted — no more than
$5,000 — the amount someone can pour into a super PAC is limitless. The means by which the country finances its campaigns
is utterly broken.
In a recent cover story in The Atlantic, James Bennet, the editor, traces how that happened. He focuses on a man named
Jim Bopp Jr., a lawyer from Terre Haute, Ind., who has largely devoted his life to freeing the nation of campaign spending limits.
To him — and, indeed, to the majority of the current Supreme Court, in the Citizens United case — limits on political spending are
a violation of the First Amendment.
What is astonishing is the way Bopp makes unlimited spending seem actually democratic. “Most people don’t even know
who their congressman is,” Bopp tells Bennet. If there were more spending on campaigns, voters would be more educated about
the candidates. The Supreme Court majority, meanwhile, has essentially said that, by definition, campaign spending that is
independent of the candidate cannot be corrupting.
But, of course, what we are learning in the real world is that super PACs and 501(c)4s are hardly independent. Karl Rove,
who absolutely knows what the Romney campaign needs at any given moment, runs the most important of the Republican super
PACs. Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and Obama’s first chief of staff, is helping to raise money for a Democratic super
What we also know in the real world is that unlimited spending will not serve to enlighten voters. It will deaden them to
political argument — as is happening in just about every swing state, where the ads are running with such frequency that people
are tuning them out. Finally, we know from hard experience that the money that comes into politics has the potential to corrupt.
In Congress we see it every day. A congressman gets on an important committee, begins to raise money from the
companies that care about the committee’s issues — and, suddenly, the congressman is writing legislation the company wants.
What feels different now is that the sums are so large, and that it has the potential to influence not just Congressional and
Senate candidates but the presidential candidates as well. If Romney wins, will he really be willing to take a position on Israel that
is different from Adelson’s? One suspects not.
“This can’t be good for Democracy,” Bennet told me in an e-mail. It’s not.
Romney Needs To Shake 'Rich Guy' Image (USAT)
By DeWayne Wickham
USA Today, October 9, 2012
Mitt Romney's biggest Etch A Sketch moment came not during his debate with President Obama but on his victory lap on
Fox News a day later.
On the debate stage, the former Massachusetts governor did a good bit of obfuscating, revising and distorting of his
positions on the issues. But at the desk of Sean Hannity, the GOP presidential nominee did a full-throated reset of his dismissal
of 47% of Americans -- a reversal that sounded more contrived than contrite.
Last month, Mother Jones, a liberal magazine, released a secretly recorded video of Romney being more revealing in a
closed-door meeting with wealthy supporters than he has ever been while publicly stumping for votes. When asked how he would
convince "everybody" that they have to be less reliant on government support (a common theme among rich right-wingers),
Romney spoke contemptuously of a large segment of the American electorate.
"There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. ... There are 47% who are with him, who are
dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for
them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it," Romney answered. "These are
people who pay no income tax" and "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their
Romney's 47% diatribe became an ugly storm cloud over his campaign that threatened to hover there until the last vote is
cast on Election Day. So probably no one was more surprised than Romney when neither President Obama nor Jim Lehrer, the
debate moderator, raised the issue, especially because Romney apparently was ready with a well-rehearsed response.
But the next day, Fox News gave Romney an uncontested chance at damage control. Pointing out that the president hadn't
raised the 47% issue, Hannity asked Romney what he would have said had the president brought it up. "Well, clearly in a
campaign with hundreds, if not thousands, of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then, you are going to say
something that doesn't come out right. In this case, I said something that was just completely wrong," Romney answered.
To win this election, Romney has to shed the image of a rich guy who speaks contemptuously of those who don't see life
as he views it from his privileged perch. He has to convince enough people that he misspoke in that secretly recorded video
when he labeled 47% of Americans as moochers because some of them get government subsidies that differ from those handed
out to the rich.
Romney is disdainful of the earned income tax credit that leaves some poor workers with no federal income taxes to pay.
But he expresses no dislike for the low capital gains tax rate and obscure tax rule that allows the rich to pass on assets to their
heirs without paying taxes on their increased value.
Romney ought to be made to explain in great detail how something that seemed so right for him to say in the confines of a
private fundraiser with his wealthy buddies is completely wrong now that it has been leaked to voters.
Otherwise, the GOP presidential wannabe leaves people to question whether he has found his political soul -- or simply
thinks it was wrong to have spoken so freely in a place where cellphones and cameras weren't collected at the door, as they are
now at his private campaign events.
Jay Greene: The Imaginary Teacher Shortage (WSJ)
Forty years and a million more teachers later, student performance is unchanged. Yet Obama and Romney both
say schools need more staff.
By Jay P. Greene
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
How To Restore Confidence In The Financial Markets (WSJ)
The mutual-fund industry has stiffly opposed FEC efforts to reform money-market funds. That doesn't instill the
sort of trust we need.
By Laurence D. Fink
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
The Best And Worst Governors On Growth (WSJ)
Sam Brownback, Rick Scott, Paul LePage and Tom Corbett all get an 'A' as tax cutters.
By Chris Edwards
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Consumer Protection Agency Proves Its Worth (USAT)
USA Today, October 9, 2012
When consumers got a solicitation from American Express for its Blue Sky credit card, they figured if they signed up and
met the requirements, they'd get $300. That's what the letter promised, prominently promoting a "$300 Bonus Offer." People
signed up for Blue Sky, but the bonus money vanished into thin air.
Until recently, such deception wouldn't have gotten a peep out of Washington regulators. But there's a new sheriff in town:
the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Last week, in a deal the CFPB brokered, American Express agreed to refund $85
million to a quarter million customers who had been fooled by the Blue Sky offer or harmed by other allegedly deceptive or
unlawful practices.
The AmEx deal is the third in a string of recent settlements with credit card issuers that illustrate why the bureau was
needed — and why it remains a favorite target of bankers and their allies in Congress, who continue trying to defang it. When
American Banker, the industry's bible, proclaimed last week: "Why the CFPB's AmEx fine should scare bankers," the publication
was spot on. Bankers are on notice that the bureau is on the lookout for a broad range of misleading practices by the onceuntouchable industry.
Remember when credit card issuers could raise interest rates at any time for any reason? Or when misleading come-ons
and gargantuan late fees were the norm? A gaggle of regulators supposedly oversaw the banks, but they were uninterested in or
hostile to consumer concerns. The industry kept Congress at bay with huge campaign contributions.
After the financial meltdown, though, Congress cracked down on unconscionable credit card practices and created an
agency that for the first time would look at issues from a consumer perspective. Now in its first full year of operation, the bureau is
coming into its own.
In the weeks before the AmEx settlement, Discover and Capital One agreed to pay fines and refunds for allegedly using
deceptive tactics to sell customers expensive payment "protection" products of dubious value.
Discover will refund $200 million and Capital One $150 million. All told, the $536.5 million in payouts and penalties are
numbers that get banks' attention and deter others from using similar tactics.
The first hint of trouble at AmEx was spotted in routine audits by state regulators in Utah, home to AmEx's banking arm,
and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. They joined with the consumer bureau to follow the threads — a cooperative model that
brings Washington's full weight down on institutions that flout the law. It's a fair bet, though, that without the consumer bureau, it
never would have happened.
Members of Congress allied with the banking industry, primarily Republicans, say they want to restructure the bureau to
make it more "accountable" and replace its single director with a five-member commission. The goal is to hobble the agency by
appointing industry-friendly commissioners, a familiar Washington tactic.
The banks and their congressional backers are betting that the public's memory will be too short to recall past abuses. But
it's tough to see any legitimate reason to take such an effective new cop off the beat.
CFPB Is Hurting Customers, Not Helping (USAT)
By Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer
USA Today, October 9, 2012
We continue to hear about the many American families who live paycheck to paycheck and have limited access to credit.
Yet the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Obama administration continue to attack financial institutions,
further limiting a consumer's ability to access credit.
They also refuse to offer any suggestions to address the issue at hand. It's apparent that CFPB, created by the troubling
Dodd-Frank Act, is more interested in defending itself than helping our nation's consumers and small businesses.
Dodd-Frank was supposed to address the causes of the financial crisis that rippled through every part of our economy.
Instead, we have more bureaucracy and a law that doesn't address the causes of the crisis.
The stated goals of the agency are, in some respect, laudable. The problem lies in the execution.
Look no further than CFPB's new rules on international transfers of money, which are used by millions of Americans, often
to send money to families overseas. The rule will ultimately burden consumers rather than protect them because it is out of sync
with the way institutions conduct transfers. It puts in jeopardy consumer access to international funds transfers through their
banks and credit unions because thousands of institutions will likely end this popular consumer service.
Americans today need protections, which is why every financial regulator had a consumer protection department before the
CFPB was created. A growing number of Americans also desperately need access to credit. Instead of helping this situation,
CFPB is making credit harder to come by, and making it harder for businesses to expand, grow, hire and provide services to
Speaking as a former bank examiner, I can tell you that putting consumer protections before the safety and soundness of
financial institutions puts the American public at risk.
CFPB is part of the problem, not the solution, when it comes to creating an environment in which our small businesses can
succeed and consumers are actually protected. We must guard against a bureaucracy more focused on scoring political points
than solving the underlying problems of our financial system.
Reform For Congo, Not Wall Street (WSJ)
The SEC dawdles on credit-rating rules.
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Misleading Advice For Student Borrowers (NYT)
New York Times, October 9, 2012
Federal student loan default rates are rising ever higher, with the worst rates among those who attended for-profit colleges.
For-profit schools account for about 13 percent of higher education enrollment but nearly half of all defaults. New data from the
Department of Education show that 22.7 percent of students from for-profit schools who began repayment in 2009 defaulted
within three years. That’s twice the three-year default rate of public colleges and three times the rate at private, nonprofit
In 2014, the federal government will have the power to cut off federal student aid to colleges whose graduates have default
rates of 30 percent or higher for three consecutive years or 40 percent in a single year. The aim is to root out colleges that saddle
students with crippling debt while giving valueless degrees or often no degrees at all.
Now prompted by the threat of sanctions, some schools are urging students to enter “default management” programs that
allow them to stop making payments temporarily. The problem is that, for many students, these plans can be costly and
inappropriate. They can leave a student with even higher debt because interest continues to accumulate during the forbearance
period and is added to the principal. According to a Senate committee report on for-profit schools, a former student with a debt of
more than $18,000 who chose forbearance for a three-year period would end up paying about $5,000 more.
Far better are income-based repayment plans, under which struggling borrowers are allowed to pay an affordable amount
based on earnings and family size. But the for-profit colleges appear to steer borrowers to the forbearance program because it
requires less paperwork and only a signature on a form or a verbal commitment over the phone. Federal officials should look
closely at schools that enroll large percentages of students in forbearance programs and require them to provide borrowers with
all the options, including the income-based relief program. The government could also automatically enroll qualified borrowers in
income-based repayment before they miss nine months of payments and default.
Our Endorsements In Northern Virginia’s Congressional Races (WP)
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
NORTHERN VIRGINIA’S congressional delegation, which includes three of the state’s 11 seats in the House, has been
generally effective, if not quite as successful as suburban Maryland’s at insinuating itself into leadership positions. The fact that
Metro’s Silver Line extension to Dulles airport, one of the nation’s biggest infrastructure projects, is nearing the halfway point to
completion is testament to the delegation’s tenacity.
It will be all the more important that Northern Virginia retain good representation as Congress flirts with the indiscriminate
budget cuts known as sequestration. The impact of those to the region, with its dependence on federal spending, would be
devastating. It’s critical that seasoned pros, not amateurs, have their hands on the tiller.
That’s one reason we support the three incumbents running for reelection this fall — Rep. Frank R. Wolf in the 10th District,
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly in the 11th and Rep. James P. Moran in the 8th. Although the three have displayed varying strengths,
and each has shortcomings, they are preferable to the well-intentioned amateurs running against them.
The clearest case is that of Mr. Wolf, a Republican who has represented his district for three decades. In a party that has
veered sharply to the right, Mr. Wolf has retained a rare and admirable independent streak. He’s one of a handful of House
Republicans who refused to sign Grover Norquist’s pledge never to raise taxes; courageously, he even spoke out against Mr.
Norquist’s purity tests from the floor of the House. And Mr. Wolf, having pushed for the creation of a bipartisan commission on the
deficit, also broke ranks with the GOP to support legislation that would have enacted the commission’s main recommendation —
a balanced package of deep spending cuts and revenue increases. He deserves reelection against a slate of inexperienced
Mr. Connolly, a Democrat elected in 2008, is a relative newcomer to Congress, but no one questions his command of state,
local and federal issues with a bearing on his district — a product of his many years as a member and then chairman of Fairfax
County’s Board of Supervisors. Knowledgeable and energetic, he has pushed successfully for legislation to ease telework for
federal employees. He’s also relatively unafraid to buck his party — witness his sensible support last year for free-trade pacts
with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
Mr. Connolly’s Republican opponent, Chris Perkins, is a retired colonel who spent years of his Army career working with
Congress. Mr. Perkins is substantive but his background is narrow; he’s taken little interest until now in matters unrelated to the
military. And while he insists that his instincts and thinking are moderate and independent-minded, many of the positions that he
has staked out in public, judging from his Web site, are doctrinaire.
Mr. Moran, a Democrat who has long represented the heavily Democratic 8th District, has embarrassed himself, and his
constituents, with ill-considered comments in the past. But he is conscientious and constituent-oriented, and his opposition in this
election, as in past contests, is weak.
Romney Foreign-policy Speech Takes Tough Tone But Proposes Few Changes (MCT)
By Lindsay Wise And Jonathan S. Landay
McClatchy, October 9, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney slammed his rival’s international strategy as weak Monday in a speech at
Virginia Military Institute.
But many of the remarks in his critique didn’t pass the truth test, and despite his tough tone, the foreign-policy positions he
outlined hewed close to those already held by President Barack Obama.
“I believe that if America does not lead, others will – others who do not share our interests and our values – and the world
will grow darker, for our friends and for us,” Romney said. “America’s security and the cause of freedom cannot afford four more
years like the last four years.”
The speech lambasted Obama’s response to the Arab Spring, specifically his administration’s handling of the violent attack
on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
“I want to be very clear: The blame for the murder of our people in Libya, and the attacks on our embassies in so many
other countries, lies solely with those who carried them out – no one else,” Romney said. “But it is our responsibility and the
responsibility of our president to use America’s great power to shape history – not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the
mercy of events. Unfortunately, that is exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under President Obama.”
In the address before more than 500 Virginia Military Institute cadets and local supporters in Lexington, Va., the former
Massachusetts governor made his case to voters that he’d be a more capable commander in chief than Obama.
“I know the president hopes for a safer, freer and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this
hope,” Romney said. “But hope is not a strategy. We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when
our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade
agenda to speak of and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity.”
Romney said Obama “missed an historic opportunity” to provide leadership during his term, a time of great upheaval in the
Middle East.
As president, Romney said, he’d work with U.S. partners to arm rebels in Syria, make aid to Egypt conditional on the
development of democratic institutions – as well as peace with Israel – and advocate an independent Palestinian state coexisting
with Israel.
Coming off a strong performance last week in a debate with Obama that centered on domestic policy, Romney is looking to
boost his reputation in international relations, the topic of a debate coming Oct. 22. Although voters often don’t base decisions on
foreign policy, Romney’s line of attack Monday dovetailed with his campaign’s overarching narrative that Obama is a weak
Romney’s most serious charge in the speech was that the president’s national-security strategy is “not one of partnership
but of passivity,” said Karl Inderfurth, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a public-policy
research institution.
In reading a copy of the speech, Inderfurth said, he was reminded of the old political catchphrase “Where’s the beef?”
“I think it’s fair to ask Gov. Romney: What’s his beef?” said Inderfurth, who was an assistant secretary of state under
President Bill Clinton. “He basically endorses President Obama’s approach on Iran, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and creating a
Palestinian state, all the hot-button issues. His rhetoric is critical, but his actual policy prescriptions are quite in line with Obama.”
Qataris and Saudis already are arming the Syrian rebels, for example, and the CIA has people in Turkey trying to
determine which groups will receive the weapons. Egyptian aid always has been tied to its peace treaty with Israel, and a twostate Israel-Palestinian solution aligns with long-standing U.S. policy.
But Romney’s assertion that he’d “recommit” the U.S. to “a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in
peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel” contrasts with his remarks captured in a video of a private fundraiser in Florida
earlier this year.
In the video, Romney said he’d believed for some time that "the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing
peace and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.”
On Afghanistan, Romney said in Monday’s speech that he’d heed military commanders’ advice and implement a “real and
successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.” That timeline matches Obama’s exit strategy.
Romney pledged to toughen sanctions on Iran and said he’d tighten measures already in force aimed at coercing the
country to halt its uranium enrichment program, which the United States and other powers contend is aimed at developing the
ability to produce nuclear warheads. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes.
Obama has won European Union, Chinese and Russian support for four rounds of U.N. sanctions, and the U.S. and EU
have imposed their own stricter measures. Taken together, the sanctions are the toughest ever slapped on Iran since its nuclear
program came to light in 2002 after 18 years of concealment.
Romney said he’d increase pressure on Iran by restoring a “permanent presence” of U.S. aircraft-carrier task forces in the
eastern Mediterranean.
However, there’s almost always a carrier task force in the 5th Fleet region of the Persian Gulf and often there are two, as
there are today, according to the U.S. Navy website.
Romney accused Obama of failing “to offer tangible support” to fledgling governments that succeeded the overthrown
dictatorships in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. This is inaccurate. The Obama administration has provided more than $200 million in
assistance to Libya since the uprising that toppled the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi began in January 2011, according to a
report Aug. 9 by the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.
Those funds have included $89 million in humanitarian assistance and $40 million for a program in which the U.S. is buying
heavy weapons looted from armories during the uprising to prevent them from falling into terrorists’ hands.
The United States has provided more than $300 million to Tunisia since the ouster of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in
January 2011, according to the State Department. The funds have helped the country pay its foreign debt, raise money, and
boost employment and private enterprise.
Egypt remains one of the largest recipients of U.S. assistance, receiving $250 million in economic aid and $1.3 billion in
military support annually. A House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee chairwoman, Republican Rep. Kay Granger
of Texas, announced last month that she was blocking $450 million in assistance to Egypt amid growing disagreements with the
government of newly elected President Mohammed Morsi.
Romney suggested that Obama is responsible for “rising violence, a resurgent al Qaida, the weakening of democracy in
Baghdad and the rising influence of Iran” in Iraq because of “the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence.”
All U.S. forces were required to be out of Iraq by last Dec. 31 under a timetable that the Republican George W. Bush
administration had negotiated with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Malaki and the Iraqi parliament overwhelmingly
approved on Nov. 27, 2008.
Romney also criticized Obama as failing to promote new foreign markets for American goods, and he asserted that the
president had signed no new free-trade agreements in four years. “I will reverse that failure,” he said.
Obama signed free-trade pacts with South Korea, Panama and Colombia on Oct. 21, 2011. The accords were the largest
package of such agreements signed in 17 years. They’d been negotiated by Bush’s administration and revised by Obama
administration officials to include labor rights assurances from Colombia, a tax information exchange with Panama and an
overhaul of automobile tariffs with South Korea.
Romney’s foreign policy advisers say Monday’s speech was designed to communicate his commitment to “peace through
strength,” a phrase that Republican Ronald Reagan famously used in his successful run against Democratic President Jimmy
The Romney campaign repeatedly has sought to draw comparisons between Obama and Carter, whose popularity
suffered badly during the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in Iran in 1979-80, undermining his bid for a second term.
“The American people are going to be asked to make a decision, and in the area of foreign policy and national security,
there’s a pretty bold choice,” said one of Romney’s advisers, former Ambassador Rich Williamson.
The Obama campaign didn’t wait for the speech to be delivered before hitting back.
In a news briefing Sunday, Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration refused “to be lectured by someone
who has been an unmitigated disaster on foreign policy every time he’s dipped his toe in the foreign policy waters.”
After the speech, Psaki said this was Romney’s seventh attempt to reboot his foreign policy.
“When you’re commander in chief you don’t get to bring an Etch A Sketch into the Oval Office,” she said. “ ... This is
somebody who leads with chest-pounding rhetoric. He’s inexperienced. He’s been clumsy at his handling of foreign policy.”
'Hope Is Not A Strategy' In Middle East (USAT)
USA Today, October 9, 2012
LEXINGTON, Va. -- Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney attacked President Obama on Monday for being too
passive on the world stage and ceding American leadership to others. But in the litany of specifics he offered, it was unclear how
a Romney administration would change course.
Romney criticized Obama for trying to put "daylight" between the United States and Israel -- but espoused the two-state
solution with an independent Palestine that has been the national policy since the George W. Bush administration.
In regards to Afghanistan, Romney said he wouldn't let politics dictate policy but said he would also "pursue a real and
successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014" -- the same deadline Obama has given.
Romney said he would condition aid to Egypt on the new post-Mubarak regime's continued peace with Israel and respect
for human rights -- strings the Obama campaign said are already attached.
And while his saber rattled loudest at Iran -- pledging to move two carrier groups within striking distance should Iran
develop a nuclear weapon -- Romney said he would continue and escalate the Obama administration's economic sanctions.
"I watched the speech with great interest trying to figure out what Gov. Romney's policies really are," said former secretary
of State Madeleine Albright, speaking for the Obama campaign. "But I think I've come out more confused."
For all the rhetoric on both sides, the candidates are farther apart in tone than they are on substance, said James
McCormick, chairman of the political science department at Iowa State University. For example: Obama uses the word
"partnership," while Romney uses the word "leadership."
Romney said he shared Obama's hopes for a "safer, freer and a more prosperous" Middle East allied with the United
States. "But hope is not a strategy," he said.
"That's the kind of difference you can see," said McCormick, editor of The Domestic Sources of American Foreign Policy.
"They're nuanced differences."
Romney's speech, delivered to more than 500 cadets and faculty in white dress uniforms at the Virginia Military Institute,
won the day's headlines and served to momentarily refocus the campaign on foreign policy. Obama spent most of his day raising
money in California.
It was the seventh major foreign policy speech of the Romney campaign, and seized on events that have occurred since
his speech in August to the American Legion convention in Indianapolis. Most notably: the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya
in Benghazi last month. Romney said blame for the attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates "lies solely with those who carried
them out," but said Obama was "leading from behind" and "leaving our destiny at the mercy of events."
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt called Romney's response to Ambassador Chris Stevens' death as "unseemly."
"The American people don't want a commander in chief who jumps at the chance to politicize a national tragedy," LaBolt
Romney has reason to shift the conversation to foreign policy in an election campaign largely about the economy,
McCormick said: Polls have generally shown that the public approves of Obama's handling of foreign policy -- although Libya
may provide a crack in that armor.
A foreign policy debate is scheduled for Oct. 22 in Florida, which could take on even more significance. As a challenger,
Romney needs to demonstrate confidence and competence necessary for Americans to envision him as a commander in chief.
In Virginia, a crucial swing state where four polls taken in the past week are evenly split, one in eight voters is a veteran -one of the highest populations in the nation.
Romney delivered Monday's address at VMI, a state-supported military college on a historic pre-Civil War campus in the
Shenandoah Valley. He chose the site not just because it's in a battleground state, but also because its most famous graduate
was George C. Marshall, the soldier-diplomat responsible for rebuilding Europe after World War II.
John Dommert, a 21-year-old VMI cadet from Chester, Va., who intends to seek a commission with the Marine Corps, said
he heard in Romney's speech a more complete vision for an active U.S. involvement in the Middle East and the world -- and he
and his buddies are comfortable with that.
"It's very fitting to come to a school that's producing a bunch of military leaders about foreign policy," he said. "We've all
grown up in a time of war, so it's very near and dear to us."
Romney continued his appeal to military voters Monday at a rally in the naval port city of Newport News, Va.
In an airport hangar outside Toledo, Ohio, Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, followed up with an even more
hawkish indictment of Obama's foreign policy.
"If you go home after this and turn on your TV, you will likely see the failures of the Obama foreign policy unfolding before
our eyes," Ryan said. "The Middle East is in turmoil. Nearly two dozen nations we witness on our television screens were burning
our flags in protest in riots. You see, if we project weakness abroad, our adversaries are that much more willing to test us, to
question our resolve, and our allies are more hesitant to trust us."
Romney Says White House Botched Response To Benghazi Attack (NYT)
By Trip Gabriel
New York Times, October 9, 2012
5:39 p.m. | Updated LEXINGTON, Va. — After weeks of refraining from dipping back into the sensitive topic of the attack
that killed the American ambassador in Libya, Mitt Romney on Monday offered harsh criticism of the administration for being slow
to label the assault terrorism and faulted its overall handling of the attack.
The assault on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi “cannot be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the
administration’s attempts to convince us of that for so long,’’ Mr. Romney said. “No, as the administration has finally conceded,
these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others.’’
In a wide-ranging foreign policy address meant to polish Mr. Romney’s image as a potential commander in chief, he
belittled President Obama as “leading from behind” in conflict spots across the Middle East, from Syria to Iran to Egypt to Israel.
Acknowledging that Mr. Obama deserves credit for killing Osama bin Laden, he nonetheless criticized the president as
lacking a comprehensive counterterrorism policy and failing to capitalize on the Arab Spring uprisings.
“Unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our president is indifferent to their quest for
freedom and dignity,’’ he said, speaking at the Virginia Military Institute. “As one Syrian woman put it, ‘We will not forget that you
forgot about us.’”
On Iran, Mr. Romney said that the president’s sanctions had failed to slow its march to a nuclear weapon. He would “put
the leaders of Iran on notice” that the United States, along with “friends and allies,” would halt that progress, beginning with a
show of military force.
“I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf,’’ Mr.
Romney said, speaking in the Hall of Valor of the Virginia Military Institute. “For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran
through actions — not just words — that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.’’
He went further, linking Iran’s continued progress toward a nuclear weapon to Mr. Obama’s putting “daylight” between the
Unites States and Israel, which Mr. Romney said “emboldened” Iran.
“The world must never see any daylight between our two nations,’’ he said. Some Middle East experts have described that
formulation as having the potential to lead the United States into war, given the bellicose signals of the Israeli prime minister,
Benjamin Netanyahu, toward Iran.
The Obama campaign pushed back aggressively on Mr. Romney’s address, beginning early in the day, when excerpts
from the speech were released. It held up past inconsistencies and stumbles by Mr. Romney, including calling Russia the
country’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe’’ and opposing support for the Libyan insurgency before its ultimate success.
Two national security advisers to the Obama campaign, Michèle Flournoy and Colin Kahl, critiqued Mr. Romney’s
“unseemly response” in attacking the administration for rushing “to sympathize with those who waged the attacks’’ on American
outposts on Sept. 11, before the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was confirmed.
Mr. Romney’s “instinct was to play politics with the tragedy and attempt to score political points in any way he could,’’ the
advisers wrote.
Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, said in a conference call after Mr. Romney’s speech,
“To someone not totally into foreign policy, it sounds pretty good, but it’s really full of platitudes.’’
“For someone who has spent her own life in foreign policy, there’s an awful lot of rhetoric,” she said, adding, “You don’t get
the sense he knows what tools to use and how to operate in an international setting and what the role of the United States is in
the 21st century.’’
Roving broadly in his speech over Iraq, Afghanistan and counterterrorism, Mr. Romney conspicuously left one name
unmentioned: George W. Bush, the architect of much of the unilateralist policy in the region, a version of which Mr. Romney
“It is the responsibility of our president to use America’s great power to shape history — not to lead from behind, leaving our
destiny at the mercy of events,’’ Mr. Romney said. “Unfortunately, that is exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East
under President Obama.’’
Romney Criticizes Obama's Foreign Policy Approach (WSJ)
By Sara Murray
Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Romney Foreign Policy Speech Called Vague (POLITCO)
By Josh Gerstein
Politico, October 9, 2012
Mitt Romney’s foreign policy speech Monday was filled with tough talk and slams of President Barack Obama’s leadership
— but little of the clarity Romney has vowed to bring to the Oval Office.
What the Republican nominee’s campaign billed as a major foreign policy address didn’t have much new in it and left some
analysts unimpressed. The speech, they said, was much like Romney’s previous swings at laying out a foreign policy: couched in
broad ideology and big ambitions and lacking the specifics for how he’d bring any of them about
(Also on POLITICO: Romney: Obama has made U.S. less safe)
Romney seemed eager to use the address to capitalize on the momentum he had from his strong debate performance and
to reinforce the image of Obama as a feckless leader in over his head both abroad and at home. However, those looking for clear
policy distinctions with the current White House were left wanting.
“There’s absolutely nothing in this speech. This is a repackaging of language that has been a staple of Romney’s campaign
since he threw his hat in the ring,” said James Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations. “If Romney has a foreign policy
strategy, he still has not told us what it is. The governor is very fond of saying hope is not a strategy, but that cuts both ways. He
didn’t answer two key questions: what he would do differently and why we should expect what he would do to work.”
(See also: Romney’s foreign policy speech (full text, video))
But one prominent foreign policy analyst, Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, offered qualified praise of Romney
for raising the profile of foreign policy issues and for creating a counterbalance to those urging that the U.S. pull back around the
“I like the tone of patience and engagement even if I may disagree on certain specific substantive matters,” O’Hanlon said
on Fox News just after Romney’s speech. “What Gov. Romney has done is make it easier to debate on both sides in terms of
what are the next steps we need to take as Americans.”
Obama partisans panned Romney’s 23-minute speech and his overall rhetoric on international affairs as lacking in
substance and nuance.
(PHOTOS: Anti-U.S. protests in Middle East, North Africa)
“There’s an awful lot of rhetoric and things, but when you get to the specifics, you just get the sense he doesn’t know
exactly what tools to use,” former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on a conference call organized by the Obama
campaign. “I just find him very shallow….To those not totally into foreign policy, it sounds pretty good, but it’s really full of
Referring to the op-ed on foreign policy that Romney published last week in The Wall Street Journal, Albright added, “I am
a professor. If one of my students turned that in, he’d get a ‘C’ because he gave absolutely no specifics.”
Portions of Romney’s speech seemed to reflect a divide in Republican circles between foreign policy experts who have
aggressively promoted democracy as a way to advance American goals in the Middle East and others who believe the Arab
Spring movement threatens to unleash forces that could be more hostile to the United States and to Israel than the authoritarian
“The Republican Party and the conservative movements are divided between these two frameworks of analysis and
Romney’s doesn’t actually choose between them — which is not to say he’s any worse than Obama,” said Steve Rosen, a
conservative former director of foreign policy for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “The defense of the West’s
agenda is not exactly the same as the Freedom Agenda. To some extent, the two things get confused.”
Romney On Foreign Policy: ‘No Flexibility With Vladimir Putin’ (CALLER)
Daily Caller, October 8, 2012
In a foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared that
“there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin” in his administration, alluding to President Obama’s conversation with outgo
Posted By Nicholas Ballasy On 1:22 PM 10/08/2012 @ 1:22 PM In DC Exclusives,DC Exclusives Video,Elections,Featured,Politics,Video | No Comments
In a foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared that
“there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin” in his administration, alluding to President Obama’s conversation with outgoing
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev over a hot mic in March.
“The first purpose of a strong military is to prevent war. The size of our navy is at levels not seen since 1916,” Romney said
Monday. ”I’ll restore our navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year, including three submarines.”
“I’ll implement effective missile defenses to protect against threats and on this, there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin.”
(RELATED: Romney uses Medvedev statement to smack Obama)
In March, President Obama told Medvedev that he would have more “flexibility” after the 2012 presidential election.
“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him [Putin] to give me
space,” Obama said, according to ABC News. (RELATED: Obama defends hot-mic missile gaffe)
“Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you,” Medvedev said.
“This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama replied.
“I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin],” said Medvedev.
Romney also said “hope” is not a national security strategy for America in the Middle East.
“Drones and modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight but they are no substitute for a national security
strategy for the Middle East. The president is fond of saying that the tide of war is receding and I want to believe him as much as
anyone else,” Romney said.
As examples of the danger that remains in the Middle East, Romney cited the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris
Stevens “likely at the hands of al-Qaida affiliates” and Iran getting closer “than ever” to creating a nuclear weapon.
“I know the president hoped for a safer, freer and more prosperous Middle East allied with us. I shared this hope but hope
is not a strategy. We can’t support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by
deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the
perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity,” Romney said.
Follow Nicholas on Twitter
URL to article:
Mitt Romney On Obama Foreign Policy: Hope Is Not A Strategy (ROLLCALL)
By Abby Livingston
Roll Call, October 9, 2012
Mitt Romney indicted President Barack Obama’s foreign policy today in a speech delivered at the Virginia Military Institute.
The Republican presidential nominee repeatedly described aspects of Obama’s foreign policy as “failed.” But Romney’s
critique was far less bellicose than his previous forays into foreign policy and was delivered in a statesman-like tone and with a
formal, presidential backdrop on VMI’s Lexington, Va., campus as opposed to a campaign atmosphere.
“It is our responsibility and the responsibility of the president to use America’s greatest power to shape history, not to lead
from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events,” Romney said. “Unfortunately, that’s exactly where we find ourselves in
the Middle East under President Obama.”
“I know the president hopes for a safer, freer and more prosperous Middle East, allied with us,” Romney also said. “I share
this hope. But hope is not a strategy.”
Romney added his voice to the chorus of Republican politicians and conservative pundits who have accused the Obama
administration of mischaracterizing the facts surrounding the circumstances of the Sept. 11 attack on the United States consulate
in Benghazi, Libya, that ended in the assassination of the U.S. ambassador.
“This latest assault can’t be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the administration’s attempts to
convince us of that for so long,” Romney said. “No, as the administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate
work of terrorists.”
This approach played much differently than the controversial written statement Romney issued as the attack in Libya was
unfolding. Furthermore, Romney insinuated that enough has not been done in retribution for the attack.
“In Libya, I’ll support the Libya people’s efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all of them, and I’ll vigorously
pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed our fellow Americans.”
This could be an attempt to mitigate the political impact of Obama’s crowning national security achievement: the killing of
Osama bin Laden.
Romney touched on a common theme in his campaign, “American exceptionalism,” but he shied away from rhetoric like the
title of his book, “No Apology.”
In fact, he quoted Gen. George Marshall, saying, “The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.”
That line could be seen as a response to recent comments Obama made to CBS about Romney’s foreign policy. Obama
accused Romney of seeming “to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.”
“So if Gov. Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so,” the president also said to CBS.
On other fronts, Romney was critical of the president’s relationship with Israel, the administration’s reliance on unmanned
drones, and what Romney described as “deep and arbitrary” military cuts.
Romney also sought to re-articulate his view of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
“I’ll recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace and security
with the Jewish state of Israel,” he said.
Romney Foreign Policy: How Different From Obama's? (CSM)
Christian Science Monitor, October 8, 2012
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney harshly criticized President Obama’s foreign policy leadership in a speech
Monday at the Virginia Military Institute.
Focusing on the Middle East, Mr. Romney accused the Obama administration of concealing for days the fact that terrorists
were behind the attack in Benghazi, Libya, which killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Also,
Mr. Obama has put “daylight” between the United States and Israel, Romney said, and failed to halt Iran’s march toward nuclear
weapons capability.
Under Obama, the US has “led from behind,” Romney said. Citing the example of VMI grad George Marshall, the great
World War II Army chief of staff and Truman-era secretary of State, Romney vowed that as president he would use US power to
shape world events, instead of simply reacting to them.
“Unfortunately, this president’s policies have not been equal to our best examples of world leadership,” Romney said.
Romney supporters saw the speech as building on the success of his crisp performance in the presidential debate last
week. He “looked the part of commander in chief,” wrote conservative Jennifer Rubin in her Right Turn blog at The Washington
This is one of the political hurdles that a candidate must overcome to topple an incumbent chief executive, of course. If
voters are leery about a candidate's ability to handle late-night phone calls on foreign crises, they may hesitate to displace a
tested administration.
Romney tried to do this with a light hand. There were no accusations that Obama had “sympathized” with rioters in the
Middle East – a charge the GOP nominee has made in the past.
Instead, his tone seemed to reflect a core strategy of the Romney approach: Voters who still like Obama must be
persuaded that it’s still OK to vote against him.
Romney “replaced righteous anger with sober disappointment and sought to give persuadable voters permission to feel the
same way about the president’s foreign policy failures,” wrote BuzzFeed political writer McKay Coppins.
But some critics said that the foreign policy themes that Romney enunciated relied heavily on repeated yet vague
assertions that he’ll be a better leader than Obama. Also, they said, his actual policies hew fairly closely to existing US positions.
As to US relations with Israel, it does seem clear that a Romney administration would take a different tack, in that Romney
vows to align the US more closely with Israeli interests. “The world must never see any daylight between our two nations,” he
On Syria, however, Romney said he’d work with allies to make sure rebels who “share our values” get the arms they need.
That’s pretty much what’s going on now, though Romney might urge the transfer of more powerful weapons.
In Afghanistan, Romney hinted that Obama had pulled out troops too fast, but added, ”I will pursue a real and successful
transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.”
That’s the current Afghanistan timetable.
As for Iran, Romney has said that it should not get nuclear weapons capability. The Obama administration has been vaguer
about exactly what line Iran should not cross. But Romney did not rattle sabers here, saying only that he’d impose new sanctions
on Iran and tighten ones already in place.
Those are the tools the current administration says it will rely on for the time being to try to curb Tehran.
Both Obama and Romney have the same foreign policy goals, writes Daniel Drezner, a blogger for Foreign Policy
magazine. They want a peaceful, stable Middle East, for example. That’s unsurprising.
It’s in the means where they should differ. “And – in op-ed after op-ed, in speech after speech – Romney either elides the
means altogether, mentions means that the Obama administration is already using, or just says the word ‘resolve’ a lot,” Mr.
Drezner writes. “That’s insufficient.”
In fact, Romney has changed positions on a number of foreign issues, Madeleine Albright, Clinton-era Secretary of state,
said in a conference call with reporters. He’s switched back and forth as to whether the US intervention in Libya is a good thing,
for instance.
“When you get to the specifics, you kind of don’t get the sense that he knows exactly what tools to use and how to operate
within an international setting and what the role of the United States is in the 21st century,” said Ms. Albright.
Romney Lays Out Vision For Mideast (WT)
Obama backers: Nothing new
By Seth McLaughlin And Guy Taylor
Washington Times, October 9, 2012
LEXINGTON, Va. — Mitt Romney vowed Monday to "recommit" the United States to a two-state solution between the
Israelis and Palestinians, to put "clear conditions" on U.S. assistance to Egypt and to ensure Syrian opponents get access to
needed weapons as he sought to define key foreign policy differences with President Obama.
While putting some meat on the foreign policy bones his advisers have been outlining for months, the Republican
presidential nominee also accused Mr. Obama of "passivity" on the international stage, which he said is damaging the interests of
the U.S. and its allies.
"Hope is not a strategy," Mr. Romney said at the Virginia Military Institute, asserting that the Obama administration has left
people around the world wondering, "Where does America stand?"
Mr. Romney said that if he is elected, the world will see clear and predictable behavior from the White House.
But critics from the Obama camp and beyond said the address served only to bolster perceptions that the former
Massachusetts governor is long on platitudes but short on substance when it comes to clear differences with the president on
foreign policy.
"I would like to ask Gov. Romney or his advisers exactly what he would do differently and how he would operate and how
he truly understands what is going on in the Arab world and how deal with it," former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
said Monday in a conference call arranged by the Obama campaign.
Mr. Romney laid out differences in what he called "bedrock principles" toward the Middle East, and said the U.S. must
adhere to them in order to give American allies the certainty a stable world needs.
"No friend of America will question our commitment to support them, no enemy that attacks America will question our
resolve to defeat them, and no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America's capability to back up our words," Mr. Romney
"I will champion free trade and restore it as a critical element of our strategy, both in the Middle East and across the world,"
he said. "The president has not signed one new free-trade agreement in the past four years. I will reverse that failure."
On Iran, which is widely thought to be trying to acquire nuclear weapons, Mr. Romney remained vague on whether he
would support a pre-emptive military strike, saying instead that "we must make clear to Iran through actions — not just words —
that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated."
He said U.S. aid to Egypt must come with new conditions that would push the new regime there to respect democracy and
to live up to its peace treaty commitments with Israel.
Just weeks after a video surfaced showing him sharing his doubts with donors about the viability of a two-state solution for
Israel and the Palestinians, Mr. Romney punctuated Monday's speech with a pledge to "recommit America to the goal of a
democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel."
"On this vital issue, the president has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated
disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new president will
bring the chance to begin anew," he said.
When it comes to Syria, where opposition forces are in a bloody stalemate with the regime of Bashar Assad, Mr. Romney
said the U.S. must do more to get arms into the hands of the rebels — at least those whom the U.S. trusts.
"I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure
they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad's tanks, helicopters and fighter jets," Mr. Romney said. "Iran is sending arms to
Assad because they know his downfall would be a strategic defeat for them. We should be working no less vigorously with our
international partners to support the many Syrians who would deliver that defeat to Iran — rather than sitting on the sidelines."
Critics said Mr. Romney tried to carve out differences but didn't articulate a dramatically different vision from the president's.
"When push comes to shove, it seems to me in this speech that Romney's a realist and so is Obama," said Gordon Adams,
an international relations professor at American University who served on President Clinton's national security staff during the
"When it comes to defining exactly what Romney would do, whether it's toward Iran or Egypt, or Libya or Syria or Israel, it's
pretty much the same thing when the rubber hits the road that Obama's already doing," Mr. Adams said. "And where it's not, it's
manifestly unrealistic."
He added that when it comes to overall U.S. foreign policy, "The elusiveness of strategy in the 21st century is intense, and
it's particularly intense in the region that Romney chose to focus on.
"You need to be aware of the fact that not everybody looks to the United States to shape their course of events, and this is
particularly true in the Mideast."
On the issue of standing up countering Iranian nuclear ambitions, Mrs. Albright said, "Short of immediate military action,
[Mr. Romney] can't specify what he'd do differently on Iran than the president."
U.S. assistance to Egypt, the former secretary of state added, is "already conditioned on many of the things that he listed,
like Egypt meeting its obligations to its — the peace treaty with Israel and to proceed with its transition to democracy."
A Scrubbing On Foreign Policy (WP)
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
In 1967, a TV interviewer asked George Romney to explain why he supported the Vietnam War after a trip to that country
in 1965 but opposed it two years later when he was running for president.
“You know, when I came back from Vietnam, I just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody could get,” Romney said.
“By the generals?” asked Lou Gordon, from Detroit’s WKBD-TV.
“Not only by the generals but also by the diplomatic corps over there,” the candidate said. “They do a very thorough job.”
Susceptibility to brainwashing is apparently an inherited trait. If brainwashing accounts for a change in position, George’s
son Mitt has had his gray matter cleansed more often than most people shampoo their hair.
The “brainwashing” interview ended the elder Romney’s career. But brainwashing doesn’t carry the stigma it did 45 years
ago. Scrubbing one’s brain clean of previous positions has been Mitt Romney’s stock in trade. In fact, his foreign-policy speech
Monday to the Virginia Military Institute was one long gargle-and-rinse of the candidate’s previous positions.
Last year, Romney called the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya “mission creep and mission muddle.” On
Monday, he accused Obama of declining to use “America’s greatest power to shape history” and of eschewing “our best
examples of world leadership” in that same corner of the world.
Last year, Romney said American troops “shouldn’t go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation. Only
the Afghanis can win Afghanistan’s independence from the Taliban.” On Monday, he spoke of that same conflict as a matter of
the utmost national importance, saying the route to “attacks here at home is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan
people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11.”
Last year, Romney reversed his earlier support for the Iraq war, saying, “If we knew at the time of our entry into Iraq that
there were no weapons of mass destruction . . . obviously we would not have gone in.” On Monday, he was back to his original
view, accusing the Obama administration of an “abrupt withdrawal” from Iraq and portraying the situation there as part of “a
struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, hope and despair.”
Just a few months ago, Romney said “there’s just no way” to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians because
Palestinians are “not wanting to see peace.” He said it was necessary to “recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem.”
On Monday, he said he would “recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in
peace and security” with Israel.
Rub-a-dub-dub! Four positions got scrubbed.
Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom famously predicted that the candidate would use an Etch-a-Sketch approach in the
general election to erase his previous positions. But nobody predicted that the entire exercise would occur in the space of one
week — and just a month before the election. Stranger yet, Romney hasn’t been shifting all his views to the center in recent days.
While his domestic policies are moderating, his foreign policy is moving to more of a neocon hard line. The only consistency is
inconsistency: Whatever Romney’s positions were, they are no longer. As his dad might have said, it has been a very thorough
The process began last week in Denver, when Romney stipulated that he would not reduce the share of taxes the wealthy
pay, that he would not enact a tax cut that adds to the deficit and that he would not cut education spending.
This was followed a couple of days later by the most thorough brainwash. After weeks of defending his secretly recorded
claim that 47 percent of Americans are mooching off the government, he told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity: “I said
something that’s just completely wrong.”
These came on top of Romney’s reversals of long-standing positions on abortion, taxes, Ronald Reagan, global warming,
economic stimulus funding, the auto-industry bailout and gun rights. So by the time he arrived in Lexington, Va., for Monday’s
speech, Romney might as well have been carrying a bottle of Listerine: Another wash was obviously coming.
After Romney dismissed Afghanistan last year as unworthy of American involvement because it’s a “war of independence,”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) scolded the candidate, saying he sounded like Jimmy Carter. But after Romney employed his
Afghanistan tough talk on Monday, Graham issued a new statement saying that Romney would “return America to our traditional
leadership role in the world.”
As the lather rinses, questions remain: Was Romney brainwashed before? Is he being brainwashed now? Or is it a
continuous cleaning cycle?
[email protected]
Romney Looks To Drive Home Argument That Obama Is Weak (HILL)
By Julian Pecquet And Justin Sink
The Hill, October 9, 2012
Mitt Romney’s foreign policy address Monday hammered home his argument that voters should oust an in-over-his-head
President Obama.
With 29 days to go before Election Day, Romney worked hard to capitalize on a strong debate performance last week that
polls suggest has voters giving his candidacy a second look. A Pew Research poll released Monday afternoon showed Romney
with a 4-point lead.
While Democrats dismissed his address at the Virginia Military Institute as devoid of details and substance, several foreign
policy experts gave him good reviews and argued he largely accomplished his goal of setting himself up as a viable alternative to
Obama on the international stage.
“Finally, Romney has a distinct — and I would say somewhat compelling — foreign policy message,” said Shadi Hamid, the
director of research at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center. “I actually think this was a smart move and a timely move by the
Romney team.”
The GOP presidential nominee skewered the president’s handling of the Middle East, saying Obama was leading from
behind and had failed to match up with previous U.S. leaders from both parties.
Much of the address repeated long-standing arguments from Romney, most notably that Obama has not done enough to
support Israel in the Middle East or to prevent Iran from accessing nuclear weapons. He promised a strong missile defense
program regardless of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s views.
Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, who has criticized Romney on foreign policy in the past for a lack of
specifics, offered praise for Monday’s speech.
“It wasn't the vague airy-fairy stuff of earlier; he made a rational case on Russia, a smart case on the Middle East and on
Iran,” she said. “The key was to make a better case for the U.S. in the world than Barack Obama; I believe Romney did so.”
Romney also touched on Iraq and Afghanistan, where he criticized Obama for removing U.S. troops too quickly and for
political reasons.
In addition, he accused Obama of offering too little support for rebels in Syria and for not putting conditions on U.S. aid.
Romney aides said the main drive of the speech was to present Romney as a bolder leader than Obama, something they
think could help their candidate pick up voters focused on domestic issues.
“There were clear differences on Syria policy, on aid conditionality, but also I think the overall theme that came through in
the speech today was regarding U.S. leadership and how the U.S. is perceived abroad. And I think that is a message that could
potentially resonate with Americans,” Hamid said.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, the deputy director of the Council on Foreign Relations’s Women and Foreign Policy program,
had a similar take.
“Romney continued the line he effectively used last week at the debate, that it is time for new leadership,” she said. “He did
not set out to offer details, but to settle concerns that he isn't a credible alternative. And the speech today did that.”
Democrats countered by attacking the lack of details.
“Despite calls from within his own party and across the spectrum for a detailed blueprint for America's role in the world,
Romney offered a blend of inaccurate critiques and proposals for initiatives that are already underway,” the liberal-leaning
National Security Network think tank said in a statement.
In a conference call with reporters, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she'd give Romney a “C” if he were
one of her students. She acknowledged that Monday's speech at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington would sound “pretty
good” to “those who are not totally into foreign policy,” but that it was in fact “full of platitude and free of substance.”
Other Democrats skewered Romney on policy specifics. They pointed out that in his quest to look tougher than Obama
across the board, he doubled down on the unpopular suggestion that America should still have troops in Iraq.
“In Iraq, the costly gains made by our troops are being eroded by rising violence, a resurgent al Qaeda, the weakening of
democracy in Baghdad and the rising influence of Iran,” Romney said. “And yet, America’s ability to influence events for the better
in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence.”
Romney also criticized Obama for what he characterized a politically motivated decision to pull troops from Afghanistan,
saying his own policy would be guided by the direction of military leaders — a stance that appeared to at least open the door to
keep U.S. troops in the country for a longer period.
Aides to Romney brushed off criticism about a lack of details, and the speech, coming just four weeks before the election,
was clearly designed more for swing voters than foreign policy wonks. During the address, Romney repeatedly accused Obama
of having “led from behind,” of having “failed to lead,” and of displaying “passivity.”
Further driving that point home, Romney running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proudly declared to a campaign audience
as Romney spoke: “that's what leadership looks like.”
The perceived foreign policy gap is one Romney needs to bridge. In a New York Times/CBS News poll of Florida, Ohio and
Pennsylvania released earlier this month, the president led by at least 15 percentage points in each of the three states among
voters “very confident” in the candidates' abilities to be an effective commander in chief.
But Team Romney believes its candidate was boosted substantially by his strong debate performance — and benefited
tremendously from being seen as holding his own on the same stage as the president.
Acknowledging that they must both convince voters to fire the president and hire the Republican nominee, Republican
strategists say the debate performance and foreign policy speech were designed to make Romney look presidential.
Moreover, they acknowledge, a more credible candidate can better critique the president on a broader range of issues,
including those most likely to motivate swing voters.
“The Romney guys see foreign policy as a part of a larger narrative that President Obama's leadership is lacking,” said
Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. “If they can tag him as leading from behind abroad, they can turn around and tag him with
the same thing at home on domestic issues like the economy.”
Romney Hits At Obama Policies On Middle East (FT)
By Stephanie Kirchgaessner In Lexington, Virginia, And Geoff Dyer In Washington
Financial Times, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Financial Times are available to FT subscribers by clicking the link.
Talking Tough — Without Specifics — On The Middle East (WP)
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
AFTER REPEATEDLY FUMBLING on foreign policy during his campaign, Mitt Romney delivered Monday a coherent and
forceful critique of President Obama’s handling of the upheavals in the Middle East. Arguing that a fateful struggle is playing out
across the region, he said the United States is “missing an historic opportunity” because of Mr. Obama’s failure to more
aggressively support liberal forces against dictators and Islamic extremists. “It is the responsibility of our president to use
America’s great power to shape history — not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events,” Mr. Romney said.
That analysis of Mr. Obama’s policies is one we largely agree with. As we have argued frequently, the president has been
too cautious and slow in supporting secular liberals in Egypt against Islamists and the military. He left Iraq open to destabilization
by failing to agree with its government on a continued U.S. military presence. He led the Middle East peace process into a blind
alley through his wrongheaded quarreling with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a point Mr. Romney harped on.
Worst, Mr. Obama has stood by — or pursued feckless diplomatic initiatives — while Syria has descended into a
maelstrom of massacres, opening the way to a sectarian civil war that could spread across the region. “The president is fond of
saying that ‘the tide of war is receding,’ ” Mr. Romney noted. “But when we look at the Middle East today — with Iran closer than
ever to nuclear weapons capability, with the conflict in Syria threatening to destabilize the region, with violent extremists on the
march, and with an American ambassador and three others dead, likely at the hands of al-Qaeda affiliates — it is clear that the
risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office.”
So how would Mr. Romney remedy these errors? That’s where the weakness of his speech lay: It was hard to detect what
tangible new steps the challenger would take. On Syria, Mr. Romney said he would “ensure” that “those members of the
opposition who share our values . . . obtain the arms they need.” The Obama administration is coordinating some materiel help to
the rebels; Mr. Romney hinted that, unlike Mr. Obama, he would support supplying the rebels with anti-aircraft weapons. But he
did not mention Turkey’s call for the creation of protected zones on Syria’s territory — a measure that would be more likely to end
the war on terms favorable to the West.
Mr. Romney said he would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons “capability,” in theory a more stringent red line
than Mr. Obama’s vow to prevent the actual construction of a bomb. But his means to that end sounded identical to those of the
current administration. Having criticized Mr. Obama for failing to support Iran’s “green movement,” Mr. Romney said nothing
about encouraging popular resistance to the regime.
In all, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Mr. Romney, like Mr. Obama, is avoiding the embrace of a more robust Mideast
policy out of fear of offending voters weary of international conflict or of dividing his own advisers. Mr. Obama’s campaign
released a new ad calling Mr. Romney’s foreign policy “reckless.” In fact, this was a too-cautious response to a too-cautious
In Search Of Answers From Mr. Romney (NYT)
New York Times, October 9, 2012
Mitt Romney mounted a big foreign policy display on a flag-draped stage at the Virginia Military Institute on Monday,
serving up a lot of tough-sounding sound bites and hawkish bumper stickers, some of them even bumping up somewhere close
to the truth, to give the appearance that he would be stronger and more forceful on international affairs than President Obama.
He seems to consider himself, ludicrously, a leader similar to the likes of Harry Truman and George Marshall, and, at one
point, he obliquely questioned Mr. Obama’s patriotism. The hope seems to be that big propaganda, said loudly and often, will
drown out Mr. Obama’s respectable record in world affairs, make Americans believe Mr. Romney would be the better leader and
cover up the fact that there is mostly just hot air behind his pronouncements.
Mr. Romney’s stated policies in Monday’s speech, just as they have been in the past, are either pretty much like Mr.
Obama’s or, when there are hints of differences, would pull the United States in wrong and even dangerous directions. His
analysis of the roots of various international crises is either naïve, or deliberately misleading.
One new element is Mr. Romney’s assertion that the threats have “grown worse.” He desperately wants to undercut the
edge that voters have given Mr. Obama on foreign policy, even before he ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden. But he offers
no real evidence to back up that particular claim, and if it were true that the threats have been so much worse for so long, it’s odd
that Mr. Romney hasn’t really talked about them before.Militancy in the Arab world is a serious issue that needs to be addressed
by both candidates. The Obama administration has been seized with the challenge of extremists from Yemen to Somalia to the
Philippines and beyond since taking office and has used various strategies to deal with it. But, as much as Mr. Romney wishes
voters would believe otherwise, it was President George W. Bush’s unnecessary war in Iraq that gave Iran more room to
maneuver and fueled anti-Americanism.
The situation has become more complicated since the Arab Spring revolutions that brought Muslim countries more
freedoms — and more turmoil and more ways for extremists to create trouble.
But it is not, as Mr. Romney seems to think, one big monolithic struggle against those who are seeking to wage “perpetual
war on the West.” There are different strains of Islam and many kinds of Muslims with different political agendas. To create smart
policy, American presidents have to see the nuances, not just the slogans, and be willing to work with many different kinds of
Mr. Romney seized again on the Sept. 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the murders of
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others, to make cheap political points. He said the attack “was likely the work of
forces affiliated with those that attacked our homeland” on Sept. 11, 2001, an exaggeration that he can be making only for
political effect.
The administration initially characterized last month’s attack as a spontaneous demonstration gone awry, but, within two
days, described it as an organized terrorist act by extremists with possible links to Al Qaeda. But that organization has changed
so much, and splintered so much, since 2001 that to suggest a link to the attacks in New York and Washington seems untenable.
In any event, in times of crisis, as Mr. Romney must know, it is not unusual to modify an analysis when new intelligence is
One of Mr. Romney’s main complaints is that Mr. Obama hasn’t helped America’s friends. In Iraq, Mr. Romney is right
when he points to rising violence and the rising influence of Iran. But when Mr. Romney faults Mr. Obama’s withdrawal of
American troops from the country, he never says what he would have done as president, or what he would do. Would he have
refused to withdraw forces, or would he redeploy them now, even though the Iraqis did not and do not want them? It was not Mr.
Obama’s withdrawal that left Iraq a political mess. It was Mr. Bush’s reckless invasion and inept running of the war.
Mr. Romney continues to fault Mr. Obama for not leading on Syria, where thousands have died at the hands of President
Bashar al-Assad’s forces. While he says he would make sure the rebels get the weapons they need, he never answers the
bottom-line question: Should the United States go to war there?
He said he would toughen sanctions on Iran. If he intends to go beyond what Mr. Obama is already doing with international
support, he should say so and spell it out. Otherwise, the only room he leaves to the right of Mr. Obama’s policy is to wage war
on Iran — a catastrophically foolish idea that most Americans recognize as folly.
Mr. Romney repeated an outright lie about Mr. Obama’s military spending policy to make himself appear more concerned
about America’s defense. He accused Mr. Obama of favoring “deep and arbitrary cuts” to the military when, in fact, those cuts, if
they happen, were mandated by a deal demanded by the Republicans to end their trumped-up crisis over the debt ceiling.
One good piece of news is that on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Romney has remodified his position one more time.
After telling a private donor party during his primary campaign that “this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” he now
endorses a two-state solution, although he never suggests how he would go about this.
Americans deserve an intensive, textured and honest discussion on foreign policy. They did not get it on Monday. Mr.
Obama should respond, forcefully, to Mr. Romney on these issues, even before their next debate on Oct. 16, which will include
issues of foreign affairs.
Romney's World (WSJ)
A contrast with Obama on the benefits of U.S. global leadership.
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Romney Channels Obama On Foreign Policy (WP)
By Eugene Robinson
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
Mitt Romney claims to disagree with President Obama on many aspects of foreign policy. We’re still waiting to hear what
those differences might be.
I wasn’t surprised that Romney’s highly touted Major Policy Speech on foreign affairs Monday offered few specifics. But
even in its generalities, Romney’s tour d’horizon sounded very much like a speech Obama might have given recounting his
overseas initiatives over the past four years.
Romney pledged to “put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them
from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.” Obama has repeatedly said the same thing, most recently in his address to the U.N.
General Assembly last month, when he said the United States “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear
Romney said he would “work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.” Obama has done just that,
according to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said in July that “this administration, under President Obama, is doing in
regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.”
Romney said that in Syria, he would “identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values” and
then work with “our international partners” in the region to ensure those rebel forces obtain the arms they need. Obama has done
that, too. This summer, according to widespread reports, Obama signed an intelligence finding that authorized covert assistance
to the Syrian rebels. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been supporting the rebels with arms under U.S. guidance.
In Afghanistan, Romney said, he would work to ensure a “real and successful transition” of security control to Afghan forces
“by the end of 2014.” That is basically a word-for-word recitation of Obama’s policy. Which Romney has criticized in the past. But
never mind.
Specifically in Libya, but also throughout the Middle East, Romney promised to make clear that the United States stands
with those who seek democracy, freedom and prosperity — and that we stand against the forces of extremism and terrorism,
such as al-Qaeda. “In short, it’s a struggle between liberty and tyranny,” Romney said. Moments earlier, Romney had described
the slaying of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, and the events that followed. Tens of thousands of Libyans
poured into the streets to denounce the terrorists who mounted the attack — and to express their support for the United States.
Well, in Libya, as elsewhere, people already have a good idea where this country stands.
In his secretly recorded “47 percent” remarks in May, Romney said the Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever” in peace
with Israel and therefore proposed to kick the peace-process can down the road until this attitude changes. In his speech
Monday, Romney retreated to the position taken by both George W. Bush and Obama: There should be “a democratic,
prosperous Palestinian state” side by side with Israel.
“On this vital issue, the president has failed,” Romney said. And this is true. Obama joins presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford,
Carter, Reagan, Bush the Elder, Clinton and Bush the Younger in not having brought full and lasting peace to the Middle East.
I did hear one concrete departure from Obama’s policies. Romney pledged to increase the Defense Department’s budget.
Specifically, he promised that he would have the Navy build 15 ships a year, including three submarines.
For the moment, leave aside the fact that this is spending the nation can’t afford and the Pentagon doesn’t want. What
does Romney intend for these new naval assets, and the other weapons systems his spending would buy, to accomplish?
What’s the mission? Is it to show we’re the only remaining superpower? Is there a human being who doesn’t get that?
If Romney weren’t pretending to believe that government spending never boosts the economy, I’d say his Pentagon
shopping spree sounds awfully like a Keynesian stimulus program.
I’m not arguing that Obama’s foreign policy has been perfect. I can think of a number of situations I believe he should have
handled differently. But I defy anyone who heard Romney’s speech to explain how he differs from Obama, practically or even
To the extent there’s any distinction at all, it’s rhetorical. Romney seems to believe that speaking in a more belligerent tone
somehow changes everything. The world is unlikely to be impressed.
[email protected]
Romney Relies On Narrow Distinction To Score Obama On Trade Deal (BLOOM)
By Julianna Goldman
Bloomberg News, October 9, 2012
Republican Mitt Romney relied on a narrow distinction to fault President Barack Obama for not signing any “new”
agreements since taking office.
In a speech on foreign policy today at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, Romney said Obama “has not
signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years. I will reverse that failure.”
Putting a free-trade agreement into effect is a two-part process. First, the deal is signed with the other country, then the
president must win congressional passage and sign into law the enabling legislation.
Almost one year ago, on Oct. 21, 2011, Obama signed into law free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and
Panama. While he signed the legislation to ratify the accords, which had been stalled in Congress for four years, it was President
George W. Bush who initiated the deals and signed the agreements with the U.S. trading partners.
Romney’s remarks are “campaign rhetoric, so you go right to the margin without being technically inaccurate,” said Gary
Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It overstates Obama’s
indifference, but it was a low priority for Obama because he waited a couple of years.”
During the first two years of his term, Obama worked on overcoming objections to the deals from U.S. companies, including
the Ford Motor Co. (F), and labor unions. The final pacts included new terms for auto tariffs from South Korea, a tax- information
exchange with Panama and labor-rights assurances from Colombia.
While the bulk of the three free-trade agreements were negotiated under Obama’s predecessor, “there were some
remaining small issues, but important issues, to get it through Congress,” Michael Moore, a professor of economics at George
Washington University who also served in the Bush administration as an economist specializing in international trade. Getting
congressional approval is “not a small thing.”
Final approval of the trade deals marked an occasion where Obama worked with Republicans in Congress to gain
passage. House Democrats objected to the accords, which also faced continued opposition from the AFL-CIO labor federation.
The United Auto Workers and United Steelworkers Union were among the labor unions urging lawmakers to support approval,
once the terms were renegotiated to include aid for workers who lose jobs as a result.
The South Korea deal alone is the biggest for the U.S. since the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. The U.S.
International Trade Commission projects it will boost U.S. exports as much as $10.9 billion in the first year that it’s in full effect.
The centerpiece of Obama’s new trade initiatives is negotiating agreement with eight Pacific nations called the TransPacific Partnership. The current talks are with Australia, Chile, Peru and Singapore, all of which already have separate free-trade
agreements with the U.S., as well as with Malaysia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Brunei.
Two-way trade between the U.S. and those eight nations totaled $171 billion in 2010, compared with $457 billion with
China. Japan, which does $181 billion in trade with the U.S., also has expressed interest in joining the group.
Work on trade deals with major economies or multiple nations can span more than one administration. Negotiations for the
North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico began in 1986, under then-President Ronald Reagan,
continued under President George H.W. Bush and weren’t finished until Bill Clinton took office. It was signed into law by Clinton
on Dec. 8, 1993.
The U.S. probably could wrap up free-trade deals with smaller economies within a single presidential term, though getting
those “notches in your belt” isn’t necessarily the best course, Moore said. Obama’s made a choice to pursue bigger agreements,
primarily the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That initiative was begun under Bush and Obama has “greatly expanded the
“The T-PP would have a much bigger positive effect on the U.S. economy than having three or four agreements with
smaller economies,” Moore said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Julianna Goldman in Washington at [email protected]
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at [email protected]
Embassy In Libya Sought, And Received, Extension Of Security Team Beyond Scheduled
Deployment (AP)
By Larry Margasak, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, requested — and received — a four-month extension of a 16member security team, a February request that showed just how dangerous the situation in the country had become for
American diplomats.
The commander of the security team, Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, told ABC News that slain U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens
had wanted the team to stay even longer — past the end of its extended deployment in August.
A senior State Department official confirmed to The Associated Press that the initial extension request was granted, but
said that despite Wood's comments, a request for an extension past August was never made.
Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is preparing for a hearing Wednesday on whether the State
Department refused repeated requests for more security in Benghazi.
The embassy request for an extension of the security team through August was in a February memo to department
officials, obtained by the AP from a government official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to release the
The State Department will send two officials to testify at the hearing, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has
named an agency review board to determine whether security was lax. The FBI also is investigating the attacks, which Obama
administration officials initially described as a spontaneous protest but now acknowledge was an act of terrorism.
The State Department official said that after the team remained through August, it was replaced by an equal number of
personnel with the same skill sets. Had the security support team still been in Tripoli at the time of the attack in Benghazi, it
wouldn't have made any difference, the official said.
"They had nothing to do with Benghazi, zero," the official said. "They were based in Tripoli and they were not a quick
reaction force jetting around the country."
However, State Department emails show that the 16-member security team did play a role in Benghazi, even though its
main mission was to provide security at the embassy in Tripoli. A State Department security official who was temporarily assigned
to Benghazi thanked Wood for members of the team escorting U.S. officials to a dangerous area outside of Benghazi and also
for providing training to members of a Libyan quick reaction force, teaching a tactical medicine class and reviewing defensive
Another email from a security official in Benghazi said the staff there had spoken to Wood when he visited about equipment
needed for the Benghazi mission.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said late Monday that the Security Support Team was "enlisted to support the
reopening of Embassy Tripoli to help ensure we had the security necessary as our diplomatic presence grew. They were based
in Tripoli and operated almost exclusively there. When their rotation in Libya ended, Diplomatic Security Special Agents were
deployed and maintained a constant level of security capability. So the departure of the SST had no impact whatsoever on the
total number of fully trained American security personnel in Libya overall, or in Benghazi specifically."
While the February memo referred to conditions in Tripoli, the description also generally described the security situation in
"Overall security conditions continue to be unpredictable, with large numbers of armed groups and individuals not under
control of the central government, and frequent clashes in Tripoli and other major population centres," the memo said.
The memo added, "Until these militias are off the streets and a strong national police force is established, we will not have a
reliable host government partner that is capable of responding to the embassy's security needs.
"It is likely that we will need to maintain a heightened security posture for the foreseeable future."
The February memo said the 16-member team was an integral part of the mobile and fixed site security protections. The
team's duties beyond securing diplomatic facilities included training local guards, being a quick response force, and providing
medical support, communications, and disposal of explosives.
The force also supplied security for visits from government officials, including deployment of 13 of the 16 members for a
congressional delegation led by Republican Sen. John McCain.
Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Mitt Romney: Obama Has Made U.S. Less Safe (POLITCO)
By James Hohmann
Politico, October 9, 2012
LEXINGTON, Va. — Using his harshest language yet, Mitt Romney charged Monday that President Barack Obama has
made America less safe during his time in office, citing the recent attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya as a case in point.
In a tough foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute here, Romney linked the attacks in Benghazi — including
the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens — to a broader critique of Obama’s foreign policy as naïve and weak.
Romney's full address
“When we look at the Middle East today — Iran closer than ever to nuclear weapons capability, with the conflict in Syria
threatening to destabilize the region, with violent extremists on the march and with an American ambassador and three others
dead likely at the hands of Al Qaeda affiliates — it is clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the
president took office,” Romney told 500 cadets and local supporters in a 23-minute speech. “America’s security and the cause of
freedom cannot afford four more years like the last four years.”
(PHOTOS: 10 slams on Obama and Benghazi)
He mentioned the killing of Osama bin Laden – Obama’s biggest overseas triumph – but Romney credited “military and
intelligence professionals.”
The former Massachusetts governor also criticized Obama for ending the war in Iraq, one of the president’s proudest
“America’s ability to influence events for the better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop
presence,” he said. “The president tried — he tried, but he also failed — to secure a responsible and gradual draw-down that
would have better secured our gains.”
(Also on POLITICO: Experts pan Romney's speech)
Romney also outlined what he’d do as president in a host of hot spots, trying to fill in a foreign policy vision that has been
criticized as opaque.
He said he would draw clearer red lines regarding Iran’s drive to develop nuclear weapons: “I will not hesitate to impose
new sanctions on Iran and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier
task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region — and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and
As a counterweight to Iranian influence, Romney supports the arming of rebels to defeat the Syrian regime and building
relationships with the insurgents so that they can eventually become allies: “I will work with our partners to identify and organize
those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks,
helicopters and fighter jets.”
(See also: Romney's foreign policy speech (full text, video))
Romney explained that America has friends and enemies, but that some exist in a gray area in between. He would make
foreign aid to Egypt conditional on the new Islamist government building democratic institutions and maintaining peace with
In Afghanistan, Romney reiterated his support for a “a real and successful transition” to Afghan security forces by the end of
2014, but he kept the door open to an indefinite U.S. military presence if the country becomes a terrorist sanctuary.
“I will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders,” he said. “And I will affirm
that my duty is not to my political prospects but to the security of the nation.”
(Also on POLITICO: 6 keys to a Romney revival)
Romney also maintained that he supports a two-state solution in Israel; video of a closed fundraiser in May found him
suggesting that the peace process was doomed because the Palestinian government is not serious about a peaceful solution.
“In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new president will bring the chance to begin
anew,” he said.
Mitt Romney Foreign Policy Speech Seeks Momentum On New Front (HUFFPOST)
Huffington Post, October 8, 2012
Mitt Romney sought to seize political momentum on a new front Monday, delivering a robust foreign policy speech that
included a few new specifics and a sharp critique of the current U.S. course in the Middle East.
In the speech, Romney's third major address on foreign policy during the campaign, the Republican presidential nominee
moved incrementally toward a more detailed outline of his potential policies as president and commander in chief, including
calling for providing arms to elements of the Syrian opposition.
Romney also increased his criticism of President Barack Obama's foreign policy, seeking to build on recent unsettling
incidents across the Middle East -- including an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens
dead -- to portray the president as either unable or unwilling to gain control in that volatile region.
"This president's policies have not been equal to our best examples of world leadership, and nowhere is this more evident
than in the Middle East," Romney said in his speech at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Va. "It is the responsibility
of our president to use America's great power to shape history, not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of
events. Unfortunately, that is exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under President Obama."
In the past few weeks, a wave of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa has refocused public attention on foreign
policy, bringing renewed criticism of Obama's handling of a region where al Qaeda can still mount attacks. Until recently, the U.S.
use of targeted drone strikes and killing of Osama bin Laden had allowed Obama to proclaim that the threat of international
terrorism was greatly diminished. Romney sought to characterize the recent attacks as evidence that al Qaeda remains strong, a
relevant force in a broader contest of values from which the United States has largely withdrawn.
"The attacks on America last month should not be seen as random acts," Romney said. "They are expressions of a larger
struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East, a region that is now in the midst of the most profound upheaval in a
In significant part, the distinction Romney appeared to draw between himself and Obama was one of tone. Whereas the
president's approach has been one of "passivity" and indifference, Romney argued, his would be aggressive and dominant,
including tougher sanctions on Iran and "no flexibility with Vladimir Putin" over missile defense.
"I know the president hopes for a safer, freer and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States," Romney
said. "I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy."
Romney also provided some specifics on how he would handle the various crises in the region.
He said, not for the first time, that he would seek to use strict conditions on U.S. aid to influence the newly elected
government in Egypt and reiterated his criticism of Obama's explicit timeline for withdrawing combat troops from Afghanistan at
the end of 2014, promising to adjust the plan according to recommendations from U.S. generals.
"President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions in Afghanistan is arguing for
endless war," Romney said. "But the route to more war -- and to potential attacks here at home -- is a politically timed retreat that
abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11."
He pledged to "recommit" the U.S. to the goal of "a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state" beside Israel, reversing finally
the ambiguity left by remarks secretly recorded this past spring, when he seemed to suggest that a negotiated peace between
Palestine and Israel was impossible and not worth pursuing.
As for Syria, Romney embraced a more aggressive posture: He said the U.S. should assist "those members of the
opposition who share our values" in acquiring the weapons they need to combat the "tanks, helicopters and fighter jets" of
President Bashar Assad.
The U.S. already supports efforts by Saudi Arabia and other countries to arm the rebels. Romney stopped short of
endorsing a direct American role in the conflict.
The contrast between Romney's seeming discomfort with the instability in Libya -- he once decried U.S. involvement as
"mission creep and mission muddle" -- and his call for more aggressive intervention in Syria seems to capture what The New
York Times described Monday as a sharply divided foreign policy team within Romney's campaign.
In a briefing for reporters on Sunday, his foreign policy advisers sought to portray Romney's overall outlook as "bipartisan"
with roots in the policies of former presidents like Bill Clinton and Harry Truman. The use and threat of force in this way is "a
bipartisan tradition," said Romney adviser Richard Williamson in the call. "It's a recognition that strength is not provocative,
weakness is provocative." He added, "That is a much different approach than Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama."
One name that did not come up during that call, or during Romney's speech at VMI, was that of the last Republican
president to embrace an expansive vision for American foreign policy: George W. Bush.
But in Romney's decision to deliver his address at VMI, at least one observer saw a resonance with a speech given there
by then President Bush in early 2002, in which Bush sharply reversed his limited goals for Afghanistan and described a vision for
U.S. intervention in the Middle East that divided the region neatly between allies and enemies.
"In the Middle East, where acts of terror have triggered mounting violence, all parties have a choice to make," Bush said at
the time. "Every leader, every state must choose between two separate paths: the path of peace or the path of terror."
"What they're really talking about is a return to the foreign policy of George W. Bush," said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at
the liberal Center for American Progress and part of a loose team of foreign policy advisers to the Obama campaign. "The fact
that they're doing it in the same place as Bush spoke is pretty amazing. That was the start of a very weak period for the Bush
administration's foreign policy, and it really damaged America's standing in the world."
On Monday, Romney seemed to lean, at least somewhat, toward that black-and-white vision of the world when he spoke of
the 2009 democracy movement in Iran, on which conservatives have accused Obama of turning his back.
"When millions of Iranians took to the streets in June of 2009, when they demanded freedom from a cruel regime that
threatens the world, when they cried out, 'Are you with us, or are you with them?' -- the American president was silent," Romney
Romney Says Obama's 'Passivity' Has Made Middle East Less Secure (LAT)
By Maeve Reston
Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2012
LEXINGTON, Va. — President Obama’s chief foreign policy achievement in his first term was his order to carry out the
daring raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. But Mitt Romney challenged his rival on that turf Monday, arguing that
Obama has not done enough to secure peace in the Middle East, allowing terrorist networks to build strength while “leaving our
destiny at the mercy of events.”
During a formal foreign policy address at the Virginia Military Institute here in Lexington, Romney said Americans should
take pride “in the blows that our military and intelligence professionals have inflicted on Al Qaeda” in Pakistan and Afghanistan —
which he called “real achievements won at a high cost.”
But he argued that Al Qaeda “remains a strong force in Yemen and Somalia, in Libya and other parts of North Africa, in
Iraq, and now in Syria.”
“Drones and the modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight, but they are no substitute for a national security
strategy for the Middle East,” Romney said.
PHOTOS: Memorable presidential debate moments
Romney’s comments contradict the Obama administration’s arguments that its years of counterterrorism efforts have
decimated Al Qaeda, the primary terrorist threat. But U.S. officials and private terrorism experts acknowledge that militant groups
with ties to Al Qaeda or at least similar aims continue to flourish in many parts of the world, including the Middle East and North
Africa. Terrorist groups in Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Mali, among other places, have become a growing focus of U.S. and
Western efforts.
The influence of Al Qaeda is a new point of emphasis for Romney, and a clear pivot from the economy, after many months
in which foreign policy has been an afterthought for his campaign. With little foreign policy expertise of his own and after a difficult
foreign trip in which he managed to offend both the Brits (over the handling of the Olympics) and later the Palestinians (with an
offhand comment about the wealth disparity between Israel and Palestine), the area has long appeared to be a vulnerability for
But in these closing weeks of the campaign, the Republican presidential nominee has seized on the unrest in Libya, Egypt,
Syria and Iran to make the case that the president has been too passive in helping advocates of Democracy gain a foothold
around the world.
PHOTOS: U.S. ambassador killed in Libya
“We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds,
when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of
our strategy is not one of partnership but of passivity,” he said Friday.
He argued that activists in Syria and Iran felt abandoned by the U.S. during their struggles for a more Democratic society:
“Unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our president is indifferent to their quest for freedom
and dignity.”
Even though Romney bungled his own initial response to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya — by issuing a hasty
and political statement before the facts were known about the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three Americans — he
said Monday that he would try to do more to “support the Libyan people’s efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all
of them.”
He did not offer any detail about what those efforts might look like.
Much of Romney’s speech on Friday focused on the threat of a nuclear Iran — he vowed to impose tougher sanction,
though the Obama administration has been praised, even by Republicans, for taking a hard line on sanctions. Romney also said
he would make aircraft carrier task forces a permanent presence in the eastern Mediterranean and the gulf region.
Romney vowed to “recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace
and security with the Jewish state of Israel.”
INTERACTIVE: Battleground states map
That statement was a shift from remarks that Romney made behind closed doors at a May fundraiser that was secretly
taped and leaked to Mother Jones magazine. In that private setting, Romney said he was concerned that Palestinians “have no
interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.”
Paul Richter contributed to this report from Washington.
Follow Politics Now on Twitter and Facebook
[email protected]
Twitter: @MaeveReston
Attack On US Mission In Libya Presents Legal, Policy Dilemma For Obama Administration (WP)
By Michael Birnbaum And Craig Whitlock
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
TRIPOLI, Libya — The Obama administration is confronting a legal and policy dilemma that could reshape how it pursues
terrorism suspects around the world as investigators try to determine who was responsible for the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S.
mission in Benghazi.
Should it rely on the FBI, treating the assaults on the two U.S. compounds like a regular crime for prosecution in U.S.
courts? Can it depend on the dysfunctional Libyan government to take action? Or should it embrace a military option by ordering
a drone strike — or sending more prisoners to Guantanamo Bay?
President Obama has vowed to “bring to justice” the killers of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other
Americans. But nearly one month later, the White House has not spelled out how it plans to do so, even if it is able to identify and
capture any suspects.
Each of the options is fraught with practical obstacles and political baggage. An unproductive, slow-moving investigation is
complicating matters, with the FBI taking three weeks to reach the unsecured crime scene. Meanwhile, the administration has
given contradictory assessments, initially suggesting the attack was committed in the heat of the moment by a mob and more
recently saying it was planned by terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda.
On Tuesday, Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, is scheduled to visit Tripoli to meet with senior
Libyan officials and give a high-level kick to the investigation.
The White House is not ruling out any option, an administration official said. The official, who spoke on the condition of
anonymity to describe the evolving policy, said the involvement of the FBI at this stage should not be taken as evidence that the
administration plans to prosecute any suspects in U.S. courts.
More broadly, it remains uncertain whether the White House will respond to the fatal assault on the Americans in Benghazi
as a criminal act or an act of war, a critical legal distinction that has gone unresolved in Washington since the other Sept. 11
attacks, in 2001.
“It brings into sharp focus a number of issues that the government has been dealing with since the beginning of the socalled war on terror,” said Karen J. Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at the Fordham University School of
Law. “It clarifies so beautifully all of the hard issues we’ve had to confront over the last 11 years.”
All of the options available to the United States could have lasting consequences in Libya, where a transitional government
is plagued by infighting and elected leaders have been unable to assume the full reins of power.
Even the basic issue of allowing the FBI to access the crime scene at the U.S. mission in Benghazi for less than a day last
Thursday was politically sensitive for Libyans, a Foreign Ministry official said.
“There is very strong public opinion about the Americans coming here and running the investigation,” said Saad el-Shlmani,
a ministry spokesman. Some top officials, he added, see the country’s sovereignty at stake.
But deferring to Libya’s fragile justice system — still warped after 42 years of undemocratic rule by Moammar Gaddafi —
hardly presents an attractive choice for the administration.
As of last weekend, the Libyan government still had not secured the ruins of the primary U.S. compound in Benghazi, let
alone interviewed many witnesses. Libyan courts can be chaotic places, especially in Benghazi. Lawyers say security issues can
paralyze the system, which is only slowly starting to assume trappings of ordinary procedure in a country that does not yet have a
Courts are “functioning in Benghazi, but they’re partially functioning,” said Col. Mohammed Gweider, the head of the special
courts and prison in Tripoli that handle high-level cases. “It’s the government weakness that’s being reflected in the court system.”
Asked whether the Libyan justice system could handle a prosecution related to the Benghazi attack, he said, “God willing, it
can be ready” by the time any suspects are charged and put on trial.
Among U.S. officials, however, doubts are hardening.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who was in Tripoli on Monday to meet
with Libyan officials, said a “lack of institutions” in post-revolutionary Libya is hampering efforts to jointly investigate the attack.
“I don’t think there’s been much coordination at all,” he said in an interview. “My sense is that almost everything the
American government knows about the situation is what the American government has derived on their own.”
Asked if he had confidence that the perpetrators would be brought to justice, Corker replied: “Anybody who’s seen even a
glimpse of this would have to say that it’s going to be very difficult.”
In a previously undisclosed development, Corker said U.S. investigators are examining video from security cameras at the
primary Benghazi compound to help them piece together what happened on Sept. 11 and identify participants in the attack.
Despite the obstacles, John B. Bellinger III, a legal adviser to the White House and State Department under President
George W. Bush, predicted that because of the circumstances of the case, the Obama administration would seek to bring any
suspects to the United States to face trial in a civilian court. “I would tend to think that this administration — and frankly even the
Bush administration or a Romney administration — would try hard to apply a criminal law enforcement approach if possible,”
Bellinger said.
Even if the FBI is able to identify and locate the suspects, however, arresting them and transferring them to the United
States could be difficult, given the lack of an extradition treaty with Libya.
Without an extradition treaty, the Libyans could apprehend the suspects themselves and hand them over to the United
States outside a normal legal process — though some critics might paint such an arrangement as an extralegal rendition.
Regardless of the mechanism, bringing the suspects to the United States would ignite a whole separate debate over
whether to prosecute them in the regular civilian courts or before a military commission.
Congress last year passed a bill that generally prescribes military commissions for terrorism suspects affiliated with alQaeda. But Bellinger predicted that the administration would nevertheless seek to prosecute the Libyan suspects in a civilian
“Some Republicans might complain that if the killers were associated with al-Qaeda, they ought to be tried before a military
commission,” he said. “But the law passed last year gives the president the option to try the suspects in the federal courts.”
Obama has not hesitated to order drone strikes in other countries, such as Yemen and Pakistan, where terrorism suspects
have eluded the grasp of law enforcement agents. But such a course might come at a steep political cost in Libya, disrupting its
emergence as a democratic nation and imperiling ties with Washington.
Some Libyans remember the 1986 airstrikes on Tripoli ordered by President Ronald Reagan in response to suspicions that
Libya was responsible for the bombing of a West Berlin disco that killed two U.S. service members and injured 79 others.
“For Libya [drone strikes] would be a disaster. Libya is in a very fragile place,” said Shlmani, the Foreign Ministry
spokesman. “Any unilateral action by any country, but especially by the United States, would really be damaging.”
Whitlock reported from Washington. Ayman Alkekly in Tripoli and Anne Gearan in Washington contributed to this report.
Libya's Bani Walid Is Shelled In Standoff Over Rebel's Death (REU)
By Ali Shuaib, Reuters
Reuters, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from Reuters currently cannot be included in this document. You may, however, click the link above to
access the story.
Libya Militias Lay Siege To Pro-Gadhafi City In Another Sign Of Chaos (MCT)
By Mel Frykberg
McClatchy, October 9, 2012
Thousands of Libyan security force members and hundreds of militiamen have massed around the Libyan town of Bani
Walid in a show of force that underscores how tense and fragile the country’s security situation remains, nearly one month after
an attack by Islamist militants on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
The faceoff at Bani Walid pits militia forces once loyal to deposed dictator Moammar Gadhafi against Libyan security forces
and militiamen from Misrata who were critical to the anti-Gadhafi uprising last year. The immediate cause is the death Sept. 25 of
a militiaman who helped capture Gadhafi.
Security forces began laying siege to Bani Walid a week ago, demanding that Gadhafi loyalists implicated in the death of
Omran Shaban be turned over. The siege has cut off food, water and medical supplies, with local doctors complaining that armed
men set up a checkpoint on the main road from Tripoli, the capital, and blocked three vehicles carrying medical supplies, oxygen
and medical personnel from reaching the town. Civilians trying to flee the town were prevented from doing so.
Amnesty International, the international advocacy group, last week denounced the cordon around Bani Walid. “It is worrying
that what essentially should be a law enforcement operation to arrest suspects looks increasingly like a siege of a city and a
military operation,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
Bani Walid was one of the last cities in Libya to capitulate to revolutionary forces after the fall of Gadhafi, and pro-Gadhafi
tribes remain influential there. The current conflict arose after Shaban and several colleagues from Misrata were sent to Bani
Walid in July to help free several journalists from Misrata who’d been abducted by gunmen.
Instead, Shaban, who is widely recognized as the militiaman who found Gadhafi hiding inside a drainage pipe outside the
city of Sirte in October 2011, was taken captive. He was shot and allegedly tortured. He died Sept. 25 at a hospital in Paris,
where he’d been taken for treatment after his release.
Libyan authorities ordered that Shaban’s abductors be surrendered, and when a deadline passed with no response from
Bani Walid leaders, they called a general mobilization of forces to impose the siege. A new deadline has been set for
Wednesday, though many in Bani Walid apparently were defiant and there were reports of fighting Monday, with at least one
person killed. Egyptian diplomats, meanwhile, evacuated hundreds of Egyptians from the town, but militias at roadblocks have
prevented the evacuation of hundreds more.
The likelihood of further violence at Bani Walid is just one sign of the fractured nature of Libya, where few expect the
authorities to be able to conduct an investigation into, much less arrest the perpetrators of, the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S.
The Libyan government remains weak and riven by factions that led to the dismissal Sunday of the prime minister by the
General National Congress. Mustafa Abushagur was fired on a 125-44 vote after he submitted 10 names for top government
posts. Most of those names belonged to members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Abushagur’s own party, the National Front of
Salvation of Libya, while there were no nominations from the National Forces Alliance, the secular group that won most of the
votes in July’s parliamentary elections.
Security fears also have been raised in the town of Sousa, south of Benghazi, after members of Ansar al Shariah, the
militia alleged to be behind the attack on the U.S. consulate, were accused of killing four policemen during a grenade attack at a
According to Libyan media reports, security force members surrounded about 150 Salafist gunmen, alleged to have links
with al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, holed up in the Sousa mountains. The Salafists include former Guantanamo Bay
detainee and Ansar al Shariah leader Sufian Ben Qamu, who reports said had allegedly ordered the killing of the policemen.
Mohammed Magarief, who as president of the National Congress is Libya’s top elected official, has said that AQIM gunmen
participated in the consulate attack.
Syria Rebukes Turkey As Artillery Fight Continues (NYT)
By Rick Gladstone
New York Times, October 9, 2012
Syria escalated tensions with Turkey on Monday, accusing its neighbor and former friend of imperialist delusions
reminiscent of Ottoman dynastic rule, as Syrian Army gunners exchanged artillery blasts with their Turkish counterparts across
the border for the sixth consecutive day.
Insurgent sympathizers and the Syrian government described an extremely violent day in the nearly 19-month-old uprising
in Syria. In unverified accounts, killings and destruction were reported in the cities of Aleppo, Homs and Dara’a and in northern
Idlib Province, where members of the rebel Free Syrian Army claimed to have discovered a massacre committed by security
forces at a makeshift prison.
In Damascus, there were reports that a suicide attacker had detonated a bomb near a government intelligence compound.
The new violence coincided with word that the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, which has been
plagued by leadership dysfunction and factionalism, was trying to make itself more relevant to a future political solution by
convening a special conference next week in Doha, Qatar.
In what appeared to be part of that effort, the council’s president, Abdulbaset Sieda, was said by the news organization Al
Arabiya to have visited Bab al-Hawa, a rebel-held border town, on Monday. If true, the trip would be his first into Syria since he
became the group’s leader in June.
Mr. Sieda was quoted in a telephone interview with The Associated Press as saying the group would not rule out a future
role for any members of President Bashar al-Assad’s government, as long as they had not ordered killings or participated in
them. By some estimates more than 20,000 Syrians have died.
Mr. Sieda seemed to be trying to revive suggestions floated in the council that some of Mr. Assad’s subordinates could
have a soft landing in a post-Assad government. Those suggestions had gained little support as others in the council, which has
rarely spoken with a unified voice, insisted that everyone in Mr. Assad’s government was irrevocably tainted.
As a possible interim leader, Mr. Sieda mentioned a Syrian vice president, Farouk al-Sharaa, whose name had also been
floated in an Arab League peace plan that went nowhere.
George Sabra, a spokesman for the council, played down the significance of Mr. Sieda’s statement, saying the council
welcomed anyone who had not participated in killing. What constitutes participation, however, is unclear. Mr. Sharaa has been an
important figure in Mr. Assad’s hierarchy for years.
“The issue is not just names,” Mr. Sabra said by telephone. “But we need a plan. What’s the benefit if we change names
and keep the regime? Do you think people will accept that?”
He also said that the council had “no problem” with Mr. Sharaa, but that “no one can decide, or approve, except the Syrian
Mr. Sharaa’s name as an interim president also was broached over the weekend by the Turkish government, which has
long hosted members of the Syrian National Council. The Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said Mr. Sharaa’s hands
“are not contaminated in blood.”
But that idea was dismissed on Monday by Syria’s information minister, Omran al-Zoubi, in a reaction reported by the
official Syrian Arab News Agency. Mr. Zoubi accused the Turkish government of behaving as if the world had reverted to the
Ottoman dominance that shaped the Middle East for centuries.
“Turkey isn’t the Ottoman Sultanate,” Mr. Zoubi said. “The Turkish Foreign Ministry doesn’t name custodians in Damascus,
Mecca, Cairo and Jerusalem.”
He said the Turkish foreign minister’s statements reflected “obvious political and diplomatic confusion and blundering,”
according to SANA.
Mr. Zoubi’s rejoinder came as Turkey shelled Syrian targets across the border on Monday after a Syrian shell hit the
Altinozu district of Hatay Province, where farmers were working. The semiofficial Anatolian News Agency said there were no
Turkey and Syria once enjoyed one of the strongest friendships among Middle Eastern neighbors. They became estranged
after Mr. Assad’s government brutally suppressed the political opposition that started with peaceful demonstrations in March
Turkish and Syrian border troops have been shelling each other since Wednesday, after a Syrian mortar shell killed five
civilians in Turkey, a NATO member. The shelling has raised fears that the unrest in Syria will broaden into a regional war.
Syria has accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of joining with Turkey in arming the insurgents, an accusation that gained some
credibility with a report on Monday by BBC News, which said its correspondent had seen three crates of what appeared to be
Saudi weapons diverted to a rebel base in Aleppo.
Reporting was contributed by Anne Barnard, Hwaida Saad, Hala Droubi and Hania Mourtada from Beirut, Lebanon, and
Sebnem Arsu from Istanbul.
Syria Blasts Turkish 'Gaffe' On Assad-Shara Switch (AFP)
AFP, October 9, 2012
Syria on Monday accused Turkey of having made a "political and diplomatic gaffe" with its suggestion that Vice President
Faruq al-Shara take over from the country's embattled President Bashar al-Assad.
"What (Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet) Davutoglu said amounts to a flagrant political and diplomatic gaffe," Information
Minister Omran al-Zohbi said, quoted on state television.
"We're not in the days of the Ottoman Empire any more. I advise the Turkish government to give up (power) in favour of
personalities who are acceptable to the Turkish people," he fired back.
Davutoglu said on Saturday that Shara was "a man of reason and conscience and he has not taken part in the massacres
in Syria. Nobody knows the (Syrian) system better than he."
The Syrian opposition, which Turkey supports, "is inclined to accept Shara" in place of Assad, he said on the public
television channel TRT.
Ties between Ankara and Damascus, which have been tense since the March 2011 start of a revolt in Syria, worsened
sharply after Syrian shellfire from across the border killed five Turkish villagers last week.
Turkey, which hosts nearly 100,000 Syrian refugees on its territory, openly supports rebels from the Free Syrian Army and
has openly called for Assad's ouster.
It has systematically retaliated for several days for Syrian shelling that has hit Turkish territory.
Turkey Retaliates For 6th Day Of Syrian Shelling (AP)
By Bassem Mroue And Suzan Fraser, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
BEIRUT (AP) — The Turkish military retaliated with artillery fire for a sixth straight day Monday after a Syrian shell hit its
territory, and Turkey's president warned that "the worst-case scenario we have all been dreading" is unfolding in Syria and along
its borders.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul called on the international community to do more to try to end Syria's nearly 19-month-old
conflict, which has claimed more than 30,000 lives and — with Turkey-Syria tensions rising — heightened fears of a regional
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday warned that the escalating conflict on the Syrian-Turkish border is "extremely
The main Syrian opposition group, meanwhile, signaled it is softening its position on possible talks to arrange a political
In the past, the Syrian National Council has said that President Bashar Assad and his inner circle must step down before
such talks can begin. However, the SNC chief said Monday that talks would be possible with members of the regime who do not
have blood on their hands.
In the latest cross-border incident, a Syrian artillery shell fell on Turkey's border province of Hatay on Monday, the provincial
governor's office said. The state-run Anadolu news agency said the round landed in a cotton field near the town of Altinozu.
People were working in the field but no one was injured, Anadolu said.
Turkey retaliated Monday, as it did on five previous days, the governor's office said. Last week, after deadly cross-border
shelling, Ankara warned Assad that it will respond to each shell or mortar round that hits Turkish soil.
Turkey also sent more artillery to hotspots along the troubled border on Monday, Turkish media reported.
The persistent Syrian shelling suggests the cross-border fire of recent days is not accidental. Turkey, along with other
foreign allies of the Syrian opposition, is reluctant to intervene militarily in Syria, and Damascus' military strategy relies, in part, on
the high threshold for foreign intervention.
Gul, the Turkish president, described Syria's civil war and its regional impact as the "worst-case scenario that we've all
been dreading," adding that along with the suffering of the Syrian people, "once in a while we're also affected."
Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Gul also said the situation in Syria must not be allowed to continue.
"Sooner rather than later there will be change, a transition," he said. "Our only hope is that this happens before more blood
is shed, and before Syria self-destructs more than it already has. It's also crucial that the international community act in a more
effective way."
Efforts to get the two sides to negotiate a peaceful transition have failed up to now.
However, the head of the SNC, Abdulbaset Sieda, said Monday he would not oppose a role for members of Assad's ruling
Baath party in the country's political future as long as they did not participate in killings during the uprising.
He told The Associated Press that the SNC will meet next week in Qatar and will discuss, among other things, the
possibility of Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa serving as interim leader if Assad were to step down.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday that al-Sharaa was a figure "whose hands are not contaminated
in blood" and therefore acceptable to Syrian opposition groups.
"We are with any solution that stops the killings in Syria and respects the ambitions of the Syrian people in what guarantees
that there will be no return to dictatorship and tyranny in Syria," Sieda said by telephone from Turkey.
When asked about al-Sharaa, Sieda said: "We have no information that he participated in the killings or gave orders but he
belongs to the political leadership."
Syrian officials have said that Assad will remain in his post until his 7-year term ends in 2014, followed by an election that is
expected to pit Assad against other candidates.
Ban, speaking to the World Forum for Democracy in France, said the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi,
would return to the region this week to continue international efforts seeking a political transition in Syria.
Sieda said the Syrian opposition will not repeat a policy carried out in Iraq years ago when members of Saddam Hussein's
Baath party were forced to leave their jobs after his government was overthrown in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
De-Baathification, a concept started under the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority which ruled Iraq after the invasion,
was an Iraqi government policy of trying to purge important government jobs and positions of former mid- and high-ranking
members of the Baath party.
"We will not repeat the failed experience of de-Baathification," Sieda said. "We will just remove all its (Baath party's)
illegitimate privileges and officials who committed crimes will be put on trial."
"The Baath party will practice its activities in accordance with the democratic process. We will not have a revenge policy
and we will preserve state institutions," he said.
Activists reported violence in different parts of the country, mostly in the central city of Homs, the northern city of Aleppo,
and the southern region of Daraa.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based activist group, said 20 people were killed in the southern village
of Karak, which has been attacked by government troops. It said the 20 were killed when vehicles transporting wounded people
were targeted by troops.
Meanwhile, residents of the Turkish border town of Akcakale, struck repeatedly by shelling from Syria, said they fear for
their safety, even though Turkish troops have deployed to the area.
"If this shelling is going to continue day in and day out, we can't live here. We are not safe, our property is not safe," said
Hamit Ciftcioglu, whose jewelry store is just 75 meters (yards) from where a mortar round hit Sunday.
Last week, officials decided to re-open schools that had been closed for weeks due to dangerous conditions. But children
who lined up Monday morning found they had nowhere to go.
"They told us schools would reopen on Monday. So we sent our children to schools this morning but unfortunately they had
to come back. They told us the schools were still closed," said Isa Tokdemir, a father of two.
Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Syrian Cross-border Salvos Send Message To Turkey (AP)
By Elizabeth A. Kennedy, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's cross-border attacks on Turkey in the past week look increasingly like they could be an intentional
escalation meant to send a clear message to Ankara and beyond, that the crisis is simply too explosive to risk foreign military
With Turkey eager to defuse the crisis, the spillover of fighting is giving new life to a longshot political solution, with the
Turks floating the idea of making President Bashar Assad's longtime vice president, Farouk al-Sharaa, interim leader if the
president steps aside.
A military option — which would involve foreign powers that already have expressed a deep reluctance to getting involved
in the crisis — is still not on the table, analysts say, despite six consecutive days of Turkish retaliation against bombardment from
inside Syria.
"Syria is aware that Turkey cannot go a step further," said Ali Tekin, assistant professor of International Relations at
Ankara's Bilkent University. "The Turkish people don't want a war and there are no vital national interests at stake to warrant a
war. Syria sees this."
The Syrian conflict has taken a prominent role in the U.S. presidential election at a time when the U.S. and its allies have
shown little appetite for getting involved.
On Monday, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said the U.S. should work with other countries to arm the Syrian rebels,
allowing the rebels to drive Assad from power themselves. Romney did not call for the U.S. to directly arm the Syrian rebels.
The most recent flare-up between Syria and Turkey started Wednesday, when a shell fired from Syria slammed into a
house in the Turkish border village of Akcakale, killing two women and three children. That set off the most serious and
prolonged eruption of violence along the frontier since the uprising began nearly 19 months ago.
Although it was not clear whether Wednesday's shelling was intentional, Turkey responded swiftly by firing back and
convening parliament for a vote that authorized further cross-border military operations if necessary.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cautioned Damascus not to test Turkey's "limits and determination." But the
Syrian shelling has continued every day — leading many observers to conclude the acts are intentional provocation.
"It's not an accident. You can't send shells across the border by mistake five days in a row," said Mustafa Alani, a Middle
East analyst of the Geneva-based Gulf Research Center, just hours before Syrian shelling struck Turkey for a sixth day.
There have been no other reports of casualties from the shelling since Wednesday's deaths.
An activist group said Monday the number of people killed in the conflict crossed the threshold of 32,000 over the weekend,
and the pace is accelerating.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it counted 32,079 dead as of Sunday — among them 22,980
civilians and civilians-turned fighters, 7,884 members of the Syrian military and 1,215 army defectors fighting alongside the
In the past week alone, more than 1,200 people were killed, according to the head of the Observatory, Rami AbdulRahman, who said he only counts named victims or those whose death is verified by other means, such as amateur video.
Also Monday, a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb near a compound of the Syrian intelligence service on the outskirts
of Damascus, a Syrian official said. There was no immediate word on casualties, the official said on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The pro-government Al-Ikhbariya channel said the explosion in the Harasta suburb was followed by armed clashes. Syrian
rebels are increasingly targeting security compounds in Damascus, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility for
Monday's blast.
According to Alani, the analyst, escalating the crisis serves as a reminder to NATO, Turkey and the West that Syria's civil
war can inflame the region with lightning speed. The threat of a spillover is likely to pressure Western powers into drafting a
political solution, part of which could involve Assad's exit from power, rather than his being toppled by force.
A political solution, Alani said, could prevent Assad "ending up like Gadhafi."
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was captured and killed by rebels on the outskirts of his hometown of Sirte last year, and
his corpse was put on public display in a refrigerated locker for several days.
While Ankara maintains that the shells are coming from the regular Syrian army, Paul Salem of the Carnegie Middle East
Center, a Beirut-based think tank, did not exclude the possibility of "other sources, a rebel unit, firing across the border, trying to
create conditions for Turkey to intervene in Syria."
As the border skirmishes intensified over the weekend and the world began to consider whether Turkey would respond
more forcefully, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu tried to redirect attention away from the military developments.
On Saturday, Davutoglu said Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa was a figure "whose hands are not contaminated in
blood" and therefore was a possible figure to head a transitional administration.
Abdulbaset Sieda, the head of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, said Monday his group is
willing to consider Ankara's proposal.
Sieda's comments appear to be a softening of the opposition's stance that it will accept nothing less than the ouster of the
Assad regime and the president's inner circle. But this apparent change in heart could be a way for the opposition to appease its
Turkish allies rather than a major shift toward a political settlement of the conflict.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi scoffed at Davutoglu's proposal, saying it reflects "obvious political and
diplomatic confusion and blundering."
"Turkey isn't the Ottoman Sultanate; the Turkish Foreign Ministry doesn't name custodians in Damascus, Mecca, Cairo and
Jerusalem," al-Zoubi said Monday.
Turkey, which shares a 566-mile (911-kilometer) frontier with Syria, nearly went to war with its neighbor over Syrian support
for Turkish Kurdish rebels in the 1990s. The relationship improved dramatically since Assad came to power in 2000, and the two
countries reached out to build economic ties. But now, Turkey has become one of the most vocal critics of the Assad regime,
accusing it of savagery.
The rebels who are trying to bring down Assad have used Turkey as their base, enraging the regime.
Turkey, NATO's biggest Muslim member, became a regional power in the past decade, backed by a growing economy,
emerging democratic credentials and historical and cultural links to neighbors. It pursued pragmatic links with authoritarian
leaders, but shifted to a pro-democracy position as uprisings swept the Middle East and North Africa.
From the outset of the Syrian crisis, Turkey has tried to position itself as a major player and power-broker — something
some observers say was a miscalculation based on overconfidence in Ankara's influence over Damascus. As recently as April,
Davutoglu told Parliament that Turkey "will continue to guide the wave of change in the Middle East."
On Monday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul pushed for a Syrian transition, warning that "the worst-case scenario we have
all been dreading" is unfolding in Syria and along its borders.
"Sooner rather than later there will be change, a transition," he told reporters in Ankara. "Our only hope is that this happens
before more blood is shed, and before Syria self-destructs more than it already has."
AP writers Barbara Surk and Bassem Mroue in Beirut, Albert Aji in Damascus and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey,
contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Syria Opposition May Accept Role For Assad's Party (AP)
By Basssem Mroue, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Syria's main opposition group said Monday that he would not oppose a role for members of
President Bashar Assad's ruling Baath party in the country's political future as long as they did not participate in killings during the
The comments by Syrian National Council (SNC) head Abdulbaset Sieda appear to be a softening of the opposition's
stance that it will accept nothing less than the complete removal of the Assad regime and the president's inner circle. He told The
Associated Press that the Turkey-based SNC will meet next week in Qatar and will discuss, among other things, the possibility of
Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa serving as interim leader if Assad steps down.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday that al-Sharaa was a figure "whose hands are not contaminated
in blood" and therefore acceptable to Syrian opposition groups.
"We are with any solution that stops the killings in Syria and respect the ambitions of the Syrian people in what guarantees
that there will be no return to dictatorship and tyranny in Syria," Sieda said by telephone from Turkey.
When asked about al-Sharaa, Sieda said: "We have no information that he participated in the killings or gave orders but he
belongs to the political leadership."
Syrian officials say Assad will remain in his post until his 7-year term ends in 2014 followed by an election between Assad
and other candidates.
Also Monday, the U.N.'s secretary-general made a strong appeal to halt the flow of arms into Syria and warned that the
crisis threatens stability in the entire region. Ban Ki-moon said he is "deeply concerned" about the continued flow of arms to both
the Syrian government and opposition forces, and said a "political solution" is "the only way out of the crisis."
Speaking at an international conference on democracy in the French city of Strasbourg, the U.N. chief described the
escalating conflict along the Syrian-Turkish border and the impact on Lebanon as "extremely dangerous."
In his speech to the World Forum for Democracy, Ban also said the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi
would return to the region this week to continue international efforts seeking political transition in Syria.
Sieda said the Syrian opposition will not repeat a policy carried out in Iraq years ago when members of Saddam Hussein's
Baath party were forced to leave their jobs after his government was overthrown during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
De-Baathification, a concept started under the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority which ruled Iraq after the invasion,
was an Iraqi government policy of trying to purge important government jobs and positions of former mid- and high-ranking
members of the Baath Party.
"We will not repeat the failed experience of de-Baathification," Sieda said. "We will just remove all its (Baath party's)
illegitimate privileges and officials who committed crimes will be put on trial," he added. "The Baath party will practice its activities
in accordance with the democratic process. We will not have a revenge policy and we will preserve state institutions," he said.
Activists reported violence in different parts of the country, mostly in the central city of Homs, the northern city of Aleppo,
and the southern region of Daraa.
The Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 20 people were killed in the southern village of
Karak what has been subjected to an attack by government troops. It said the 20 were killed when vehicles transporting wounded
people were targeted by troops.
Activists estimate about 30,000 people have been killed in the 18-month-old uprising that has morphed into a civil war.
Tensions remained high along Turkey's border with Syria a day after a Syrian mortar round landed some 200 meters
(yards) inside Turkey, near the village of Akcakale. Turkey's military retaliated, targeting locations inside Syria.
The incident follows a deadly attack last week, when another shell hit the area, killing five people and wounding several
The Turkish armed forces have deployed en masse to the region, but residents of Akcakale still fear for their safety.
"If this shelling is going to continue day in and day out, we can't live here. We are not safe, our property is not safe," said
Hamit Ciftcioglu, whose jewelry store is just 75 meters (yards) from where the mortar round hit Sunday.
Last week, officials decided to re-open schools that had been closed for weeks due to dangerous conditions. But children
who lined up Monday morning found they had nowhere to go.
"They told us schools would reopen on Monday. So we sent our children to schools this morning but unfortunately they had
to come back. They told us the schools were still closed," said Isa Tokdemir, a father of two.
Turkey has vowed to retaliate against the shelling from Syria and Turkey's parliament last week approved a bill that would
allow cross border military operations there.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Syria not to test his government's patience.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Westerners With Roots In Syria Trickle In To Help Rebels (NYT)
By J. David Goodman
New York Times, October 9, 2012
The night before leaving his parents’ home in Wayne, Tex., to join the rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad
in Syria, Obaida Hitto left a bouquet of white roses for his mother, with a sterling silver locket and a note: “You’ve made me what I
am. But now I need to go and do what I need to do.”
Mr. Hitto, 25, a former high school football player, deferred his plans for law school to sneak into Syria to assist the rebels
by making videos and spreading information on the Internet to help their cause.
“I’m one of them,” Mr. Hitto said proudly during a recent telephone interview.
Since the early days of the uprising, Syrian rebel forces have filled their ranks with army defectors and civilians. But as the
war has dragged on, and the government has made it much harder for soldiers to defect, two other groups have contributed to
the opposition. There has been a rise in the number of foreign fighters, many of them Islamist extremists. But there has also been
a small, though noticeable, number of men like Mr. Hitto, of Syrian descent and with Western passports, who have made the
journey to join the Free Syrian Army. Experts estimate they number roughly a hundred and come from the United States, Britain,
France and Canada.
Their presence is not enough to shift the tide of the battle, but they add another element of determination and complexity to
a bloody landscape where loyalties and ambitions are often unclear.
“Even though he’s not fighting on the front lines, I would consider him a foreign fighter,” Aaron Y. Zelin, a fellow at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said of Mr. Hitto. Mr. Zelin keeps a rough tally of foreign fighters in Syria based on
news reports and Islamist postings and said the two groups together number in the thousands.
Mr. Hitto, who has extended family in Damascus, has spent five months posting videos and photographs from Deir al-Zour,
sometimes very near the fighting, many marked by billowing plumes of thick smoke, the clack of gunfire and narrations that shake
with an activist’s conviction and anger, delivered in an American accent. “All around us there is shooting,” he said in an Aug. 1
clip of a burning building. “The world seems to not care.”
Few in Mr. Hitto’s position have made the decision to stay as long as he has, especially as residents have fled areas of
“Eighty-five percent of the civilian population has left the city,” Mr. Hitto said in a Skype interview last month from Deir alZour. “If people only saw what was really happening to the people here they might do the same thing I did.”
The State Department does not keep a count of Americans entering Syria and has discouraged all travel to the country.
Those who enter do so illegally; they are smuggled over the border from Turkey by Syrian activists, and huddle with trusted
contacts in areas of the country controlled by the Free Syrian Army. Some have gone for brief trips to rebel-controlled areas in
the north, providing noncombat assistance. The overland trek across the border, often on foot or under cover of darkness, can be
Abdullah Aldahhan, 24, a medical student from Detroit, spent three weeks in the northern province of Idlib this summer,
delivering medical supplies to makeshift clinics in a dozen cities for the American aid group Muslims Without Borders.
“That was my first time going into Syria,” he said, adding that he slept, traveled and ate with rebels. “We ate mostly
cucumbers and tomatoes every single day, whatever they could grow in their backyard.”
Those Mr. Aldahhan met in Syria asked why he had wanted to leave his comfortable life in the United States to assist their
fight. “I explained to them that this was my country, too,” he said in a telephone interview from Detroit, adding that he planned to
go back.
Ranya Sabbagh, 39, said she made a weeklong trip to her native Syria in August to the town of Jebel al-Zawiya in Idlib, the
hometown of a friend who helped get her into the country. “It’s not something I would recommend to others,” she said. “I got an
hour and a half of sleep at night. I’m from Dallas, I’m not used to hearing gunshots except maybe hunting.”
Mr. Hitto, however, seems to stand out for his commitment. Since he left for Syria, his parents, Suzanne and Ghassan Hitto
said, they have spent each day searching online for glimpses of him. “I feel like a Vietnam mom, when those first images came
from the TV,” Ms. Hitto said of the short clips her son has produced with the help of local activists.
“Once we didn’t hear from him for eight days,” she said. “I looked at every video coming out of Deir al-Zour, looking to see if
his face was there among the dead.”
Last month, he nearly ended up among them.
Following a pair of rebel fighters looking to pick off government soldiers at a checkpoint, Mr. Hitto said, he climbed high into
an abandoned apartment building in a formerly upscale area of the city along the banks of the Euphrates River. Nearby were two
tanks, he said.
After climbing to the fourth floor of the building, Mr. Hitto said, one of the rebels, a sniper, found a suitable vantage and shot
at the checkpoint, hitting a government soldier. “Then the building started to get hit,” Mr. Hitto said. He tried to film from a window
on a lower floor, but the bullets began coming in his direction. He turned to flee.
“As soon as I got to the door, the mortar hit the building,” he said. Shrapnel ripped across his arm and thigh. At least three
pieces lodged in his back. He was taken to a hospital in Istanbul where he is recovering.
Though mostly overshadowed by battles in and around the larger cities of Damascus and Aleppo, Deir al-Zour has been
the scene of intense clashes in recent weeks. The area around the city, near the border with Iraq, is believed to be a gateway for
supplies to the Assad government, possibly originating in Iran, Syria’s main regional ally. The United Nations has accused Iran of
supplying the Syrian government with weapons and technical support.
Mr. Hitto arrived in the city in May after his brother-in-law, who has relatives in Deir al-Zour, helped connect him to activists
there. He flew to Turkey, crossed into Syria and headed for the front lines in the east. His father, a native of Damascus who came
to the United States in 1983, said he remained conflicted about his son’s choice, which was made over the family’s objections.
“Obaida, bless his heart, he made up his mind,” said Ghassan Hitto, describing how the two had argued over going to Syria
for months before his son slipped away one weekend when his father was away on a business trip. His son, however, has no
regrets and says that once he heals, he will return to the battlefield.
“I will do myself a disservice if I don’t go back,” he said. “Even though I’m just one person, it’s something that I really believe
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: October 8, 2012
An earlier version of the picture caption with this article misstated when Obaida Hitto was injured. It was September, not
Think Tank: Path To Iran Nuke Warhead 2-4 Months (AP)
By George Jahn, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
VIENNA (AP) — Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to arm a nuclear bomb within two to four months but
would still face serious "engineering challenges" — and much longer delays — before it succeeds in making the other
components needed for a functioning warhead, a respected U.S. think tank said Monday.
While Iran denies any interest in possessing nuclear arms, the international community fears it may turn its peaceful
uranium enrichment program toward weapons making — a concern that is growing as Tehran expands the number of machines
it uses to enrich its stockpile of enriched uranium. As those fears grow, so does concern that Israel could carry out its threats to
attack Iran's nuclear facilities before that nation reaches the bomb-making threshold.
In a strident call for an internationally drawn "red line" on what he said is Iran's move toward nuclear arms, Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sept. 28 that the world has until next summer at the latest to stop Tehran before it can
build an atomic bomb. Flashing a diagram of a cartoon-like bomb before the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu said Iran is
ready to move to the "final stage" of making such a weapon by then.
For now, U.S. military and intelligence officials say they don't believe Iran's leadership has made the decision to build a
bomb, while also warning that the country is moving closer to the ability to do so.
The Institute for Science and International Security did not make a judgment on whether Iran plans to turn its enrichment
capabilities toward weapons making. But in its report made available to The Associated Press ahead of publication Monday, it
drew a clear distinction between Tehran's ability to make the fissile core of a warhead by producing 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of
weapons-grade uranium from its lower enriched stockpiles and the warhead itself.
"Despite work it may have done in the past," Iran would need "many additional months to manufacture a nuclear device
suitable for underground testing and even longer to make a reliable warhead for a ballistic missile," the report said.
Beside its payload of weapons grade uranium, a nuclear warhead also needs to have a complicated trigger mechanism
that sets off a chain reaction in the weapons grade uranium — the fissile core of such a weapon — resulting in the high-power
blast and widespread radiation characteristic of such weapons. While the International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran may
have worked secretly on testing such a nuclear trigger, Iran vehemently denies any nuclear weapons experiments.
Additionally, ISIS — which often advises Congress and other branches of U.S. government on Iran's nuclear program —
said any attempt to "break out" into weapons-grade uranium enrichment would be quickly detected by the United States and the
IAEA, which monitors Tehran's known enrichment sites. With Washington likely to "respond forcefully to any "break-out" attempt,
Iran is unlikely to take such a risk "during the next year or so," said the report.
Still, the report suggested a narrowing window as Iran positions itself to increase enrichment.
Iran now has more than 10,000 centrifuges enriching uranium at its main plant at Natanz, 225 kilometers (140 miles)
southeast of Tehran, making low-level material. Additionally it has about 800 machines turning out 20 percent enriched uranium
at Fordo, a bunkered structure fortified against an air attack near the holy city of Qom, as well as about 2,000 more installed but
not yet running.
Uranium enriched to 20 percent can be turned into weapons-grade material much more quickly than low-enriched uranium.
If the centrifuges at Fordo, which are now idle, also start operating and are used to make 20 percent material, Iran — using its
total enrichment output of low and higher grade uranium — could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a warhead within
three or four weeks, said the summary.
Olli Heinonen, who stepped down as the IAEA's deputy director general in charge of the Iran file in 2010, said the Institute
for Science and International Security report contains "good and technically sound estimates."
He said Fordo will nearly double its production capacity of 20 percent enriched uranium to up to 30 kilograms (more than 60
pounds) a month, if and when all the machines there are operating.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Iran Raises Rhetoric Against Israel (WSJ)
By Benoît Faucon And Joshua Mitnick
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Iran Says It Blocks Cyberattack On Oil Platforms (AP)
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran says it has successfully blocked a cyberattack on the computer network of its offshore drilling
platforms, a semiofficial news agency reported Monday.
The report by ISNA quoted Mohammad Reza Golshani, IT head of Iran's state offshore oil company, as blaming Israel for
having planned the attack.
Iran periodically reports the discovery of viruses and other malicious programs in government, nuclear, oil and industrial
networks, blaming Israel and the United States. In May, Iran shut down part of its oil facilities because of another such
Israel has done little to deflect suspicion that it uses viruses against Iran.
In this case, Golshani said, the attack occurred over the past two weeks, was routed through China, and affected only the
communications systems of the network. He said the main network was safe since it was isolated from the Internet, and was
back to normal operations. Iran announced that it had temporarily disconnected its oil ministry and its main crude export terminal
from the Internet after the May attack.
Iran earns up to 80 percent of its foreign revenue from the export of crude.
Iran is odds with the West over its nuclear program. The West suspects the program is aimed at developing weapons.
Tehran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is geared toward peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer
A computer worm known as Stuxnet briefly brought Iran's uranium enrichment activity to a halt in 2010.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Strict New Procedures For Iran Currency Trading After Protest (NYT)
By Thomas Erdbrink
New York Times, October 9, 2012
TEHRAN — Iranian police officers moved to arrest unlicensed currency dealers and increase patrols in the center of the
capital on Monday to prevent unofficial trading from disrupting new government-imposed rates of exchange for the national
currency, the rial.
Over the past days, Iran’s leaders have sought to stabilize the value of their currency after a market panic last week when
the rial fell by about 40 percent against the United States dollar and other foreign currencies.
Now, only those traders licensed by Iran’s Central Bank may buy and sell the rial for foreign currency, and at rates that
value the rial at 25,500 to the dollar — substantially more than last week, when it took as many as 37,500 rials to buy one dollar.
But the new restriction on unofficial trading also had an adverse effect, causing lines of customers who wanted to sell their
rials at the better rate in anticipation that it would eventually weaken again. Several authorized money traders refused to sell
foreign currency in large quantities, and some hired private security companies to regulate the flow of customers.
In another measure to help ensure that the state’s foreign currency would be used only to buy the most important imports,
a Parliament member said all luxury imports had been forbidden.
The politician, Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghaddam, also said that Parliament had been preparing to discuss the suspension
of the second phase of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s subsidy reform plan, Iran’s English-language state television channel
Press TV reported. The lawmaker stressed that people would continue to receive a monthly cash payment, which the
government is due to deliver in a week.
The monthly payment — about 450,000 rials a person to nearly 60 million people — is viewed by some economists as a
contributor to inflation by raising the number of rials in circulation.
Iranian leaders have called the currency crisis a plot by Iran’s enemies to subvert the economy, which has faced acute
problems that many economists in Iran and abroad attribute to government mismanagement and the effects of the sanctions
imposed by the West over the disputed Iranian uranium enrichment program.
The sanctions, which have constricted Iran’s ability to sell oil and conduct international financial transactions, have sharply
increased the price of imports and contributed to the loss of confidence in the rial, which in turn has fueled inflation. Though the
Central Bank of Iran has said the annual inflation rate is about 25 percent, by some outside measures it is much higher. Steve H.
Hanke, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a conservative research
group in Washington, said he calculated that the rate was now as high as 196 percent.
Members of Parliament have garnered enough votes to call Mr. Ahmadinejad in for questioning over the currency crisis, the
semiofficial Fars news agency reported, but it was not clear when or if this would happen.
All shops that had closed in Tehran’s grand bazaar, the scene of an angry demonstration against the falling currency on
Wednesday by shopkeepers and passers-by, had reopened by Monday, but there were many fewer shoppers than normal. Many
businessmen said they did not know what to charge for their products because of uncertainty over the foreign exchange rates.
“How can we sell enough to pay our debts?” asked Saeed Jalilian, a garment seller. “I have no customers. I will go broke.”
Still, in other Tehran shopping centers people could be seen having lunch and buying products, but most whispers of
conversations were about the falling rial.
Experts agreed the government had to do something to stop the fall of the rial, but said they were worried that in the long
term the downward pressure would be difficult to counteract.
“It is clear that these new rates are only sustainable if the Central Bank continues to feed foreign exchange into the market,”
said Mousa Ghaninejad, an economy professor at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University. He said that lack of confidence in the
rial, after inflation and sanctions, was not going away.
“My heart wishes for the fall of the rial to stop,” Mr. Ghaninejad said, “but economic rationale tells me otherwise.”
Ramtin Rastin contributed reporting from Tehran, and Rick Gladstone from New York.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: October 8, 2012
An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Iran’s president. He is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, not Ahmadinjead.
Israel Launches Airstrikes After Attacks From Gaza (NYT)
By Isabel Kershner And Fares Akram
New York Times, October 9, 2012
JERUSALEM — Gaza militants fired a barrage of rockets and mortar shells into Israeli territory on Monday, causing no
casualties but some property damage, after an Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza on Sunday killed one Palestinian and wounded
at least nine others.
Israeli warplanes responded immediately, striking a number of rocket-launching squads as they fired toward Israel,
according to the military, and hitting several facilities belonging to Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza. The military said
the sites were being used to store weapons.
Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza, said that five Palestinians were wounded in the strikes on
Monday, one of them seriously.
The latest flare-up began with a missile strike on Sunday against two men who Israel said were members of jihadist groups
involved in terrorist activity against Israel. Some Palestinian news outlets identified them as radical Salafi militants. Gaza medical
officials said that the two, who were struck while riding on a motorcycle, were critically wounded, and that one later died. They
said that at least eight passers-by were also wounded in the strike.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli military said that up to 30 mortar shells fell inside Israel on Monday morning, and the military
said that a number of rockets also struck Israeli territory near the Gaza border.
The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a smaller militant group, claimed responsibility for the rocket and mortar fire,
saying they had aimed at Israeli military bases near the border.
A spokesman for the military wing of Hamas, known only by his nom de guerre, Abu Obeida, said that the attacks on
Monday were meant as a message that “the Palestinian resistance will not allow unilateral aggression” from Israel. He warned of
“stronger, expanded responses” if the Israeli raids continued.
Most of the rockets and mortars fell in uninhabited areas in Israel, but the military said that some buildings were damaged.
Several goats were killed in a petting zoo in an Israeli communal farm near the border.
Israelis were marking the last day of the Sukkot holiday on Monday, and schools and offices were closed. Israelis near the
Gaza border were advised to remain close to bomb shelters and protected areas. The Education Ministry in Gaza said that four
schools in southeastern Gaza were evacuated because of Israeli shelling.
Hamas has largely adhered to an informal, if fragile, cease-fire with Israel and has acted in the past to rein in smaller
groups, but this was the second time in less than four months that Hamas joined in firing rockets at Israel.
In June, the armed wing of Hamas joined Islamic Jihad in firing barrages of rockets into Israel after a number of deadly
Israeli airstrikes. Analysts said at the time that Hamas was acting out of a sense that Islamic Jihad was gaining ground, and after
Gaza residents had criticized Hamas for not avenging Israeli strikes.
Then, three days of cross-border fighting ended when Egypt brokered a restoration of the cease-fire and Hamas renewed
its commitment to the truce.
Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, and Fares Akram from Gaza.
Israeli Forces And Gaza Militants Exchange Fire (AP)
By Ibrahim Barzak, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli forces and Palestinian militants exchanged fire on Monday in the most serious flareup in months along the border with the Gaza Strip, officials said.
The latest exchange came after Israel targeted two men in an airstrike into southern Gaza on Sunday night, killing one and
wounding the other. Israel said they were militant jihadists responsible for attacks.
Then, militants of the Islamic group Hamas that rules Gaza and a smaller hardline offshoot, Islamic Jihad, fired some 30
rockets toward Israel's southern border on Monday morning, causing some property damage but no casualties, said an Israeli
military spokeswoman. She spoke on condition of anonymity, citing military rules.
Gaza's interior ministry said Israel's military launched around 20 tank shells and an airstrike, mostly toward targets around
the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.
Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra said five people were injured after a strike near a mosque. Another mosque was
targeted nearby and a factory was targeted in east of Gaza City, according to the interior ministry.
The Israeli military spokeswoman said the houses of worship were used as "Hamas posts" but did not offer more
Fearing further attacks, Hamas security officials evacuated their compounds, according to an official who spoke on
condition of anonymity to discuss the group's movements.
Hamas has not confirmed the identity of the two men targeted Sunday. The Israeli military said the two were members of
an al-Qaida-inspired group identified as having been involved in rocket attacks and an infiltration from Egypt.
Hamas' spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group on Monday fired rockets back to show Israel that it could not operate
freely in Gaza. "We have the right to defend ourselves," Zuhri said.
Israel and Hamas have held to a shaky, unspoken truce over the past two years but the latest exchange was the worst
barrage from Gaza since June, according to the Israeli spokeswoman.
The exchange also comes in the wake of Israel downing a foreign drone over its territory on Saturday. Israeli officials would
not say where the drone came from, although suspicion fell on the Lebanese group Hezbollah, a Hamas ally. On Sunday, Israeli
aircrafts swooped over Lebanon, setting of sonic booms that rattled villages in the pro-Hezbollah south.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Egypt President Decrees Pardon For Protesters (AP)
By Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's new president on Monday issued a decree pardoning all those charged with or convicted of acts "in
support of the revolution" since the beginning of the popular uprising that forced his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, from power.
The move by Mohammed Morsi was long demanded by Egypt's youth groups behind the uprising. It could potentially
benefit more than 1,000 protesters currently on trial following their arrests during demonstrations since the uprising against
Mubarak erupted on Jan. 25, 2011 and until Morsi was sworn in on June 30.
Those already convicted for their role in the protests may also be pardoned. Most of those on trial or convicted were
detained during the rule of the generals who took over after Mubarak stepped down in February 2011.
Mohammed Gadallah, Morsi's legal advisor, said the decree is "one of the revolution's most important victories."
"It shows the revolution is now in power and guides the decision-making," Gadallah told The Associated Press. "This is a
legislation that protects the revolutionaries."
However, the wording of the decree is vague and doesn't immediately set anyone free, according to several human rights
lawyers. It asks the prosecutor general and the military prosecutor to prepare a list of names, within a month of the decree's
issuance, of those who may benefit from the pardon.
The first article of the decree, which was published on Morsi's official Facebook page, orders a "comprehensive pardon for
crimes and misdemeanors or attempts to commit them in support of the revolution and the realization of its goals."
The only suspects exempted from the decree are those charged with premeditated murder over that time period.
"It is a great step, but not enough," said Ahmed Seif, a member of the committee formed by Morsi to review cases of those
tried following the uprising. He said he had advised Morsi to specify who would benefit from the pardon.
"Now, there will be differences over how to implement the pardon, and a debate," Seif said.
Gadallah said the decree is likely to cover all major court cases where protesters clashed with military troops and security
forces. However, he admitted it is not clear how many would benefit from the pardon.
Another human rights lawyer, Ahmed Ragheb, praised Morsi's decree but said it doesn't include "all the victims of the past
Ragheb said Morsi's choice of wording in the decree — "those supporting the revolution" — can be interpreted in different
"No one is facing charges called 'supporting the revolution,'" Ragheb said.
Protesters currently on trial face charges ranging from resisting authorities, damaging public or private property or
disrupting public order. More than a 12,000 civilians have been brought before military tribunals, many of them on charges such
as "thuggery."
It will be up to the prosecutor general and the military prosecutor to name those who will be pardoned. Suspects who are
excluded can challenge the decision, and a judicial panel would be the final arbiter.
Seif said it could take months before pardons actually materialize.
A month after becoming president, Morsi pardoned more than 500 civilians convicted before military tribunals.
But rights groups have criticized Morsi, and the military generals who ruled before him, for failing to bring to trial most of the
policemen, army troops and officers suspected of using excessive force or torture against protesters.
Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, a lawyer involved in many of the protesters' cases, said the amnesty is too little too late and that
the pardons should come with a financial compensation.
Abdel-Aziz said the decree is likely meant to ease political pressure on Morsi just days ahead of a protest rally against the
president planned for Friday.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
NKorea Says SKorea US Are Within Its Missile Range (AP)
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea says South Korea, Japan, Guam and the U.S. mainland are within range of its
An unidentified spokesman at the North's powerful National Defense Commission issued the statement Tuesday in
response to South Korea's recent announcement that the U.S. agreed to let it have longer-range missiles capable of hitting all of
North Korea.
It's unusual for North Korea to say its missiles are capable of striking the U.S., but the country has regularly issued harsh
rhetoric against Seoul and Washington.
Seoul-based analyst Koh Yu-hwan says the North had no choice but to respond to South Korea's extended missile range
but it won't likely launch a provocation.
The North Korean spokesman said South Korea's extended missile range shows the allies are plotting to "ignite a war"
against the North.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
N.Korea Says Missiles Can Strike US Mainland (AFP)
AFP, October 9, 2012
North Korea said it possessed "strategic rocket forces" capable of striking the US mainland, as it responded to a new USSouth Korean deal to extend the range of the South's missile systems.
In a series of bulletins released on the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Tuesday, the spokesman of the
National Defense Commission also said Pyongyang was ready to match any enemy, "nuclear for nuclear, missile for missile".
The warnings came two days after South Korea announced an agreement with the United States to almost triple the range
of its missiles to cover the whole of North Korea.
"We are not concealing the fact that (North Korea's) revolutionary military, including strategic rocket forces, has placed not
only South Korean enemy forces and US forces in the Korean peninsula but also Japan, Guam and even the US mainland within
its target range," the spokesman said.
North Korea is known to have an inter-continental ballistic missile in development -- the Taepodong-2 -- but it has never
been tested successfully.
In April, the North carried out a failed rocket launch in what it said was a bid to put a satellite into orbit.
The US and United Nations condemned the launch as a disguised ballistic missile test, saying the rocket was simply a
three-stage variant of the Taepodong-2.
Europe Tells Greece To Speed Up Economic Reform (NYT)
By James Kanter
New York Times, October 9, 2012
LUXEMBOURG — International officials told Greece on Monday night to accelerate the pace of economic reform in
exchange for further financing from a stalled bailout package. Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the Eurogroup of finance
ministers, told a news conference that 89 so-called “prior actions” like overhauling labor and pension laws that were agreed to
with Greece in March needed to be implemented, “at the latest,” by Oct. 18.
“Other very significant prior actions needed to bring the program back on track should also be implemented before a
political decision in principle on the disbursal can be taken,” Mr. Juncker said after a meeting of euro area finance ministers.
Oct. 18 is the first day of a two-day summit of European Union heads of government. A failure by Greece to hit the 10-day
deadline laid down by Mr. Juncker could take pressure off the heads of government to make any firm decisions on further funding
for Greece during that summit.
Efforts by the Greek finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, to free up the next round of bailout loans from foreign lenders
was high on the agenda of the monthly meeting of the finance ministers that began on Monday. Negotiations between Greece
and the so-called troika of lenders over an austerity package of 13.5 billion euros ($17.6 billion), must be approved before
additional bailout money can be unlocked. Greece needs to receive a loan installment of 31.5 billion euros or it will face default in
late November.
“Greece is doing a lot, there’s no question about it,” Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary
Fund, told the same news conference. “But acting means acting, not just speaking, so the list of prior actions have to be
implemented,” she said. As expected, the case of another member state, Portugal, was far more straightforward.
The ministers gave the green light for the next disbursement of rescue loans to Portugal, which negotiated an aid package
of 78 billion euros last year. That decision effectively grants the government in Lisbon another year, until 2014, to bring its budget
deficit to below 3 percent of output.
Earlier Monday, Germany sought to ward off talk of a bailout program for Spain. Spain is doing everything necessary to
make structural reforms and “needs no aid program,” the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, told reporters.
The government of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has lately seemed intent on seeking to delay any request by
Spain for a government bailout — or at least to ensure that any such request is bundled with requests from other countries, like
Cyprus. That could help Ms. Merkel avoid having to make repeated explanations to the German Parliament amid growing
wariness in her country about a ballooning bill for assisting far weaker parts of the euro bloc. The Spanish prime minister,
Mariano Rajoy, has been in no hurry to ask for European aid for his government, despite the European Central Bank’s
announcement last month of a new bond-buying program that would be intended to help keep a lid on the borrowing costs of
countries like Spain, in return for agreeing to an aid program. But as his country’s financial burdens grow, many analysts say
such a request may be only a matter of time. Germany, though, would prefer that it be later rather than sooner. Mr. Schäuble
noted Monday that Spain already had been offered up to €100 billion ($130 billion) to help recapitalize its banking industry, which
imploded when a real estate bubble collapsed.
But how that bank rescue would work remained unclear on Monday.
Spain wants the aid to flow directly to banks from the European Stability Mechanism, a permanent rescue fund that
eventually is to have firepower worth 500 million euros to fight crises in the euro area. Mr. Rajoy would prefer that the stability
fund money flow directly to avoid it being counted as part of Spain’s national debt.
Officials from Spain, Ireland and Italy were cheered when E.U. leaders reached an agreement at a summit meeting on
June 29 that committed the euro zone to allowing the direct recapitalization of banks, if moves were made to create a single
European banking regulator under the aegis of the European Central Bank. But the application of that agreement in the cases of
Spain and Ireland were thrown into doubt last month when Germany, Finland and the Netherlands suggested that banks that had
already run into difficulty might not be eligible.
Arriving at the meeting on Monday, the Irish finance minister, Michael Noonan, said that euro area countries should stick to
the letter of an agreement signed at a summit in June. “The policy position as set out by the heads of state and government on
the 29th of June is the policy that prevails,” said Mr. Noonan. “We have had assurances of that” from E.U. authorities, said Mr.
Klaus P. Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism bailout fund, which held its first board
meeting on Monday, suggested at a news conference that the circumstances under which the fund should be used to directly
recapitalize banks was still a matter for Europe’s politicians to resolve. “This point has not been discussed in any European body
so far,” Mr. Regling said.
Eurogroup Chief: Lenders, Greece Should Agree Soon (AP)
By Don Melvin And Sarah Dilorenzo, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
LUXEMBOURG (AP) — Greece and its international lenders need to agree quickly on a program of reforms so the next
tranche of bailout loans can be released, the head of the group finance ministers from the 17 countries that use the euro said
Inspectors for the so-called troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European
Commission — are currently in Greece, looking for ways to reduce the country's debt. Greece needs more money soon to avoid
defaulting on its obligations.
Greece has depended on bailouts from Europe and the IMF since May 2010. To get the loans, it has implemented a series
of deep budget cuts and tax hikes, while increasing retirement ages and facilitating private sector layoffs.
However, Athens must pass further austerity measures worth €13.5 billion ($17.5 billion) over the next two years to qualify
for its next rescue loan payment — without which the government will run out of cash next month. It is these cuts and tax
enforcement measures that Greece and the troika are currently negotiating.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the eurogroup chief, speaking to reporters in Luxembourg after a meeting of the finance ministers of
the euro countries, praised Greek officials and their willingness to do what is necessary for the country and its economy. And he
said a report from representatives of the troika was largely positive.
"We were happy to learn that substantial progress has been made over the last weeks — and, mainly, days," Juncker said.
"We called on the troika to finalize their negotiations and agree on a complete set of measures to close the fiscal gap for '13 and
'14 as soon as possible."
Juncker and IMF chief Christine Lagarde emphasized that it was still necessary for Greece to fully implement all the
measures it had agreed to in March — by Oct. 18, at the latest, Juncker said — for the next slice of aid to be released.
Earlier Monday Olli Rehn, the EU's financial and monetary affairs commissioner, said he was "less pessimistic" about the
future of the euro than he was earlier this year — but warned that the region was still a long way to go before the financial and
economic crisis is solved.
Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund lowered its outlook for world economic growth ahead of its annual meeting in
Tokyo. The IMF forecasts that the world economy will expand by 3.3 percent this year, down from an estimate of 3.5 percent
growth issued in July. Among the 17 nations that use the euro, low growth in the major "core economies," such as Germany and
France, will be offset by outright contractions in the smaller economies, leading real gross domestic product to fall by about 0.4
percent in 2012, the IMF said.
The IMF thinks growth in the euro area will stay flat in the first half of 2013 and tick up to about 1 percent in the second half
of the year, the IMF said.
The eurogroup of finance ministers is meeting during a period of relative calm for the eurozone. This year, leaders of the
European Union and its institutions have taken steps to alleviate the concerns surrounding the region's debt crisis. The European
Central bank said Sept.6 that it would be willing to buy unlimited amounts of debt in countries like Spain and Italy, which are
struggling with high borrowing costs.
Also the EU has acquired significant new powers designed to help it resolve the current crisis and prevent new ones. These
include the power to closely monitor national budgets and demand changes in them. Also in the works is a central banking
Rehn said the organization's ability to react to the eurozone's financial crisis has improved significantly compared with two
years ago when the crisis began.
He welcomed the official launch Monday of Europe's new €500 billion ($647.9 billion) permanent bailout fund, the
European Stability Mechanism, generally referred to as the ESM.
"We have enough challenges in Europe," Rehn said as he entered a meeting of finance ministers from the eurozone. He
added that while nobody was in "a party mood," he was "less pessimistic for the moment of the future prospects of the eurozone
than, for instance, in the spring."
The ESM is designed to reassure investors that the EU is better equipped to contain whatever crises erupt in the eurozone.
"Today is a good day for Europe," said Juncker, who is also chairman of the ESM's board of governors, as well as prime
minister of Luxembourg.
The ESM will eventually replace a temporary bailout fund, known as the EFSF, but the two will overlap for the time being
while the EFSF continues to handle the bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
The new fund will eventually have €500 billion at its disposal that it will use to buy the bonds of countries whose borrowing
costs are becoming unmanageable and to lend money to them if that is not enough. It will also lend money to countries that need
to prop up failing banks, including handling Spain's bank bailout. It is expected that the fund will eventually be able to lend money
directly to banks, without the government having to carry those loans on its books.
Currently, such rescues have to go through governments — and that puts an added strain on countries such as Spain that
are already having difficulty reducing their debts.
The EU countries have agreed that the banks can receive direct recapitalization only once the European Central Bank is
put in place as their supervisor, with broad powers to oversee — and sanction — them. But there has been disagreement over
how fast that should happen.
France and others are pushing for the ECB to start supervising banks by the end of the year. But German officials say it
can't be done that quickly and momentum has slowed on the project.
French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici turned up the temperature in the debate on Monday night, saying that the
supervisor had to be in place quickly and that once it's up and running, banks should be able to retroactively receive direct
"That's the letter and that's the spirit" of the leaders' agreement, he said. "I see no reason to go back on it."
Also during Monday's meeting, the finance ministers approved the release €800 million ($1.03 billion) in bailout money for
Portugal. The remainder of the next €4.3 billion tranche of aid must be formally approved by the IMF and the full 27 EU finance
The decision had been widely expected — even though Portugal has said it would miss the targets laid out in exchange for
the €78 billion bailout. Already, the foreign lenders have agreed to allow the country to reduce its deficit to 5 percent of its gross
domestic product this year, rather than 4.5 percent.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Merkel Bears No Gifts On Greek Visit (FT)
By Quentin Peel, Berlin
Financial Times, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Financial Times are available to FT subscribers by clicking the link.
I.M.F. Lowers Its Forecast For Global Growth (NYT)
By Annie Lowrey
New York Times, October 9, 2012
WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund is cutting its global economic forecasts yet again, calling the risks of a
slowdown “alarmingly high,” primarily because of policy uncertainty in the United States and Europe.
It foresees global growth of 3.3 percent in 2012 and 3.6 percent in 2013, down from 3.5 percent this year and 3.9 percent
next year when it made its last report in July. New estimates suggest a 15 percent chance of recession in the United States next
year, 25 percent in Japan and above 80 percent in the euro area.
Financial market stress, government spending cuts, stubbornly high unemployment and political uncertainty continue to
dampen growth in high-income countries, the fund said. At the same time, the emerging-market countries that fueled much of the
recovery from the global recession, like China and India, have continued to cool off, with global trade slowing.
“The recovery has suffered new setbacks, and uncertainty weighs heavily on the outlook,” the fund said, warning that its
forecasts might be overly optimistic if policy makers in Europe and the United States fail to carry out pro-growth policies.
“Downside risks have increased and are considerable.”
The fund, which is based in Washington, will officially issue its report Tuesday at the start of a major meeting with the World
Bank in Tokyo. The forecasts are part of the fund’s World Economic Outlook report, released four times a year.
The latest report focused on the higher-income countries whose political and economic troubles are posing significant risks
to the rest of the world. The fund estimated that these advanced economies, including the United States and Germany, would
grow about 1.3 percent this year, down from 3 percent in 2010.
The fund does not expect growth to pick up much next year, either, forecasting growth of just 1.5 percent, in those
“Low growth and uncertainty in advanced economies are affecting emerging market and developing economies through
both trade and financial channels, adding to homegrown weaknesses,” Olivier Blanchard, the fund’s chief economist, said.
The fund has praised central banks for doing more to support the recovery in recent months. The European Central Bank,
the United States Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan have all enacted new policies to help economic growth and fight
financial distress. That has helped to quiet the markets in Europe and bolster them elsewhere.
Still, political uncertainty and high unemployment have held the recovery back, the fund said. For Europe, the hard work of
building a mechanism to aid countries having trouble accessing financing on the debt markets at reasonable rates and enacting
new cross-Continent policies remains, the fund cautioned.
“The European Central Bank has recently done its part,” the fund said. “It is now up to national policy makers to move and
activate the European Stability Mechanism, while articulating a credible path and beginning to implement measures to achieve a
banking union and greater fiscal integration.”
The fund has also had stern words for the United States. After the presidential and Congressional elections next month,
policy makers will have just weeks to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax increases and mandatory federal spending cuts
that could throw the country back into recession — and drag down global growth with it.
“It’s not a threat just for the United States of America, it’s a threat for the global economy,” Christine Lagarde, the managing
director of the fund, said last month in a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
“We all hope that despite political calendars, which anywhere in the world entail a degree of uncertainty and
unpredictability, there will soon be enough political clarity and no political games in order to actually focus on removing this
uncertainty,” she said.
In the economic forecast report, the fund also cut its growth estimates for emerging economies, whose strength has helped
pull the world out of the global recession. It now foresees growth of 5.3 percent this year and 5.6 percent next year, down from its
July estimates.
The fund knocked a full percentage point off its 2012 growth estimate for Brazil, and 1.3 percentage points off its growth
estimate for India.
Earlier this month, the World Bank released a major development report focusing on the importance of employment to
growth and stability — a concern given high rates of youth unemployment around the world after the recession.
The report found that more than half a billion young people are neither working nor studying, and estimated that the world
would need to create about 600 million new jobs in the next 15 years just to keep the unemployment rate constant.
“Governments need to move jobs to center stage to promote prosperity and fight poverty,” Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank
president, said.“Jobs equal hope. Jobs equal peace. Jobs can make fragile countries become stable.”
Expectations for progress are low heading into the I.M.F. and World Bank meetings. The major political transitions in China,
the United States and other countries have put issues like quota reform on the back burner.
Global Recession Risk Grows (WSJ)
IMF Lowers Growth Forecasts, Warns of Complex Fight Against New Downturn
By Sudeep Reddy And Bob Davis
Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecasts (FT)
By Claire Jones
Financial Times, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Financial Times are available to FT subscribers by clicking the link.
Global Engines Of Growth Slow As China, India And Other Emerging Economies Cool (WP)
By Howard Schneider
Washington Post, October 9, 2012
Major developing countries such as China, India and Brazil were fast and forceful in battling the worldwide economic
downturn of 2009, raising hopes that these dynamic economies would continue to serve as engines for global growth in the years
that followed.
But now, these countries are struggling to sustain their dramatic expansion. Instead, they are slowing alongside — and in
part because of — developed economies such as the United States and Europe.
In turn, the slowdown in the major economies of Asia and Latin America could undercut recovery efforts in the United
States, which has been banking on exports to countries such as China to boost anemic job growth at home.
“We have to brace for years of morass,” said Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization. “I don’t see
where good news comes from.”
The International Monetary Fund on Monday downgraded its projections for growth in developed and developing
economies. The agency now expects the world economy to grow by 3.3 percent this year and 3.6 percent in 2013, down slightly
from estimates in July.
The projections for the euro zone were especially grim, with the region expected to contract by 0.4 percent in 2012 and eke
out growth of 0.2 percent in 2013. The United States was forecast to trudge along through 2013 at a roughly 2 percent rate of
These lackluster projections bode poorly for emerging economies that depend heavily on exports to Europe and the United
States. China, for instance, is now expected to grow by less than 8 percent this year, dramatically slower than its double-digit
expansion of recent years.
“Spillovers from advanced economies and homegrown difficulties have held back activity in emerging market and
developing economies,” the IMF wrote. “Looking ahead, no significant improvement appears in the offing.”
Officials in developing countries are wary of addressing the current slowdown in the same way they tackled the previous
crisis — by borrowing vast amounts of money to finance aggressive short-term efforts at boosting growth.
New stimulus programs have been cautious, and China in particular has been hesitant to take steps that might boost bank
lending to consumers and businesses in the short term but add to deeper problems in the financial system.
Indian officials are more constrained this time around by high inflation and budget deficits. At the same time, their proposals
for reform, which aim to put the economy on a sounder footing, face intense local opposition, particularly from small retailers who
fear competition from multinational chains such as Wal-Mart.
Brazil has slipped from star-performer status as its growth slows and the country turns to new tariffs to try to make up for its
declining edge in manufacturing.
“If there is a substantial slowdown in emerging and developing economies, this doesn’t bode well for the global recovery,”
said Abdul Abiad, deputy head of the IMF’s research department.
As major emerging economies slow, they are likely to reduce their imports of machinery and high-tech products produced
by more advanced countries. This trade has been a bright spot in recent years for countries such as the United States and
The United States could already be feeling the effect; its total exports expanded by only 6 percent through the first seven
months of the year, on a seasonally adjusted basis, far less than the 16 percent increase for the same period from 2010 to 2011.
And these exports have been flat since March.
Countries such as Canada and Australia, which rely heavily on exports of commodities such as coal, copper and iron ore,
will also feel the pinch as global demand falls.
Meanwhile, as Chinese investment at home slows, it may undercut nations such as South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and
others that often produce components for final assembly in China, the IMF said in a report last week.
The global slowdown will be at the top of the agenda when the IMF and World Bank hold their annual meetings in Tokyo
this week. There is likely to be extensive discussion of the most acute threats to the world economy, which are still seen as
coming from the developed world. These include the financial crisis in Europe and the prospect in the United States of dramatic
government spending cuts and tax increases, dubbed the “fiscal cliff,” which are scheduled to take effect at the end of the year.
But economic experts at the IMF, World Bank and elsewhere are growing increasingly worried about threats arising in
developing nations as well. These include concerns that the leadership transition in China this fall could interrupt any further
opening of the Chinese economy. Meanwhile, the process of reform remains slow in Russia, India and elsewhere, potentially
constraining economic activity.
Still, developing nations on the whole are still growing at a far faster rate, estimated at 5.3 percent for 2012, than the
industrialized world, which is expanding at a tepid 1.3 percent this year, according to the latest IMF projections.
But developing nations remain largely dependent on exports to the developed world that have begun to wane – the IMF
forecast a sharp slowdown in the growth of global trade.
“What we are looking at is a synchronized global slowdown,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at the IHS Global
Insight consulting firm. He said that the boost from stimulus spending by governments in 2009 and 2010 is diminishing and that
weak economic conditions in the United States and Europe are undercutting exports from developing nations.
The global financial crisis that spiked in 2009 and the deep recession it caused saw dramatic decline in growth, trade and
jobs. Governments and central banks around the world responded with a rush of measures aimed at boosting lending and
rekindling economic activity. Governments teed up trillions of dollars in new spending.
In the process, developed countries ran up their public debts to levels not seen since World War II, and they are now
constrained in spending more.
By contrast, most developing nations are not burdened by such steep debts. Still, many are hesitant to counter the current
slowdown with government spending, said Hans Timmer, chief development economist at the World Bank.
He said leaders of countries such as India and China are concluding that the main barrier to economic growth is structural
— in other words, their domestic restrictions on investment activities and foreign ownership. The flood of spending unleashed in
2009 and 2010, Timmer said, “helped them through the shock, and it helped the world economy, but it did not help their
economic structure.”
U.S. Panel Cites Risks In Chinese Equipment (NYT)
By Michael S. Schmidt, Keith Bradsher And Christine Hauser
New York Times, October 9, 2012
WASHINGTON — In the latest development to highlight the sensitive terrain that the United States and China are
navigating on economic issues, a House committee issued a blistering bipartisan report on Monday that accused two of China’s
largest telecommunications companies of being arms of the government that had stolen intellectual property from American
companies and could potentially spy on Americans.
The House Intelligence Committee said that after a yearlong investigation it had come to the conclusion that the Chinese
businesses, Huawei Technologies and ZTE Inc., were a national security threat because of their attempts to extract sensitive
information from American companies and their loyalties to the Chinese government.
The companies sell telecommunications equipment needed to create and operate wireless networks, like the ones used by
Verizon Wireless and AT&T. Many of the major suppliers of the equipment are based outside the United States, creating
concerns here about the security of communications.
Those concerns are most acute about Huawei and ZTE because of their close ties to the Chinese government, which the
committee said has heavily subsidized the companies. Allowing the Chinese companies to do business in the United States, the
report said, would give the Chinese government the ability to easily intercept communications and could allow it to start online
attacks on critical infrastructure, like dams and power grids.
The release of the report comes as both presidential candidates have spoken of the importance of United States ties with
China and have promised to act strongly on Chinese currency and trade practices that are damaging to American business
Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, has called repeatedly during his campaign for a more confrontational
approach to China on business issues, although he has focused his warnings more on Chinese currency market interventions
than on the activities of the nation’s telecommunications companies.
President Obama has also taken a tougher stance on China recently. Late last month, Mr. Obama, through the Committee
on Foreign Investment, ordered a Chinese company to divest itself of interests in four wind farm projects near a Navy base in
Oregon where drone aircraft training takes place. It was the first time a president had blocked such a deal in 22 years.
The Obama administration has also filed a case at the World Trade Organization in Geneva accusing China of unfairly
subsidizing its exports of autos and auto parts, the ninth trade action the administration has brought against China.
“We have a process that is not aimed at one specific company but using all the assets and parts of U.S. government aimed
at protecting our telecommunications and critical infrastructure,” a senior White House official said.
The report was released on Monday morning at a news conference held by
Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and
Representative C. A. Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the committee.
They said that the United States government should be barred from doing business with Huawei and ZTE and that
American companies should avoid buying their equipment.
The report said the committee had obtained internal documents from former employees of Huawei that showed it supplied
services to a “cyberwarfare” unit in the People’s Liberation Army.
The United States government, the report said, should go through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United
States, an interagency panel that reviews the national security implications of foreign investments, to carry out its
recommendations. It also said that committee should block any mergers and acquisitions involving the Chinese companies and
American businesses.
In the course of the investigation, the House committee said it had uncovered evidence of economic espionage — and
officials said on Monday that they planned to hand over the evidence to the F.B.I.
Former and current employees for Huawei, the report said, told investigators for the committee that the company had
committed “potential violations” in the United States related to immigration, bribery, corruption and copyright infringement.
Huawei has been the focus of criticism and security warnings for years, including by the Defense Department. Its
expansion plans in the United States have faced resistance from Congress over questions about its ties to the military in China.
Huawei denies being financed to undertake research and development for the Chinese military, and its executives have
repeatedly insisted that they have nothing to hide. The company issued an open letter to the United States government in
February 2011, asking for an inquiry to clear up what it characterized as misperceptions about its history and business
At the news conference, Mr. Rogers and Mr. Ruppersberger said they told the Chinese companies that they had to be
moretransparent but were disappointed by incomplete and contradictory responses to their questions. Mr. Rogers said the
committee was concerned that the companies were extensions of the Chinese government because they were so heavily
financed by it.
In testimony before the House committee in September, officials from both Huawei and ZTE said that supposed “back
doors” in its software that provided unauthorized access to American companies’ computers were flaws, not intentional
But Mr. Rogers said the companies had been told to tell the Chinese to “stop hacking” into American companies and
infrastructure if they wanted to do business in the United States.
“The world is a changed place,” Mr. Rogers said. “We better have faith and confidence in our network.”
In a statement, Huawei condemned the committee’s investigation and report. “Unfortunately, the committee’s report not
only ignored our proven track record of network security in the United States and globally, but also paid no attention to the large
amount of facts that we have provided,” Huawei said in its statement, later adding that “the report released by the committee
today employs many rumors and speculations to prove nonexistent accusations.”
Huawei has had considerable success in winning large telecommunications contracts in Europe and in emerging markets.
But it has had little success in the United States, where politicians have long worried, despite Huawei’s denials, that it might be
used for Chinese eavesdropping or other cyberwarfare activities.
The company was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army and a military
technology researcher who has run it ever since. The company is owned by its employees and, unlike many Chinese
corporations, has chosen not to sell shares in Hong Kong or the United States, which would equire financial disclosures.
ZTE said on Monday that it “had set an unprecedented standard for cooperation by any Chinese company” with a
Congressional investigation.
“ZTE is China’s most transparent, independent, globally focused, publicly traded telecom company,” the company said in a
At a regularly scheduled news conference in Beijing on Monday before the release of the report in Washington, Hong Lei, a
Foreign Ministry spokesman, said “I hope the United States will respect the facts, abandon prejudice and do more things
conducive to China-U.S. economic and trade cooperation, rather than the opposite.”
Michael S. Schmidt reported from Washington and Christine Hauser from New York. Keith Bradsher contributed reporting
from Hong Kong, and Quentin Hardy from San Francisco.
US Panel: China Tech Giants Pose Security Threat (AP)
By Matthew Pennington, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — American companies should avoid sourcing network equipment from China's two leading
technology firms because they pose a national security threat to the United States, the House Intelligence Committee warned
The panel said in a report that U.S. regulators should block mergers and acquisitions in this country by Huawei
Technologies Ltd. and ZTE Corp, among the world's leading suppliers of telecommunications gear and mobile phones.
Reflecting U.S. concern over cyber-attacks traced to China, the report also recommends that U.S. government computer
systems not include any components from the two firms because that could pose an espionage risk.
"China is known to be the major perpetrator of cyber-espionage, and Huawei and ZTE failed to alleviate serious concerns
throughout this important investigation. American businesses should use other vendors," the committee's chairman, Rep. Mike
Rogers, R-Mich, told a news conference. He said the Chinese companies could not be trusted with access to computer networks
that support everything from power grids to finance systems.
The recommendations are the result of a yearlong probe, including a congressional hearing last month in which senior
Chinese executives of both companies denied posing a security threat and being under Beijing's influence.
Rogers said they are clearly tied to the Chinese government, and that allowing Huawei and ZTE to provide network
equipment and services in America risks confidential consumer information and undermines core national security interests. He
said the committee was not concerned about the sales of handsets that make up the bulk of their U.S. businesses, but rather
network infrastructure where they have made fewer inroads.
William Plummer, vice president for external affairs for Huawei, said his company, a private entity founded by a former
Chinese military engineer, was being victimized because of U.S. government concerns about China's government.
"Huawei is Huawei, Huawei is not China," he told reporters. "My company should not be held hostage to someone's
political agenda."
Ahead of the report's release, China's foreign ministry said investment by telecommunications companies is mutually
beneficial. "We hope the U.S. will do more to benefit the interests of the two countries, not the opposite," spokesman Hong Lei
said at a regular briefing in Beijing Monday.
The panel's recommendations, however, will likely hamper Huawei and ZTE's ambitions to expand their businesses in
America. Their products are used in scores of countries, including in the West.
The bipartisan report could also become fodder for a presidential campaign in which the candidates have been competing
in their readiness to clamp down on Chinese trade violations. Republican Mitt Romney, in particular, has made it a key point to
get tougher on China by designating it a currency manipulator and fighting abuses such as intellectual property theft.
Rogers said its release had nothing to do with politics, and was motivated by the need to alert U.S. companies of the risks.
The committee's top Democrat, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, said U.S. companies should proceed with "their eyes wide open." He
cited an estimate from the U.S. Cyber Command that more than $300 billion in U.S. trade secrets was stolen last year.
The committee says it received information from industry experts and current and former Huawei employees suggesting
that Huawei, in particular, may be violating U.S. laws. The allegations include immigration violations and an alleged "pattern and
practice" of Huawei using pirated software in its U.S. facilities.
Rogers said that information of alleged bribery by Huawei to gain a contract in the U.S. would be forwarded Tuesday to the
FBI, and he was confident it would lead to an investigation. The committee also planned to forward information on allegations of
"beaconing" from Huawei equipment to China — that is the unauthorized transfer of information from a computer network.
Huawei, founded in 1987 has grown rapidly to become the world's second largest supplier of telecommunications network
gear, operating in more than 140 countries. ZTE Corp, which is partly state-owned, is the world's fourth largest mobile phone
manufacturer, with 90,000 employees worldwide.
The report says the companies failed to provide responsive answers about their relationships and support by the Chinese
government, and detailed information about their operations in the U.S. It says Huawei, in particular, failed to provide thorough
information, including on its corporate structure, history, financial arrangements and management.
Plummer said it wasn't clear what Rogers was referring in the allegations of "beaconing." He said Huawei had provided
"endless data" to the investigation, which he contended was not objective. He said its recommendations could create "marketdistorting trade policy" and risk the tens of thousands of American jobs Huawei helps to support through procurement from U.S.based suppliers that totaled $6.6 billion last year.
The recommendations "undermine competition, which undermines innovation which drives up the price of your broadband,"
he said.
ZTE said a Sept. 25 letter to the committee, released Monday, that China's government had never requested access to
ZTE's equipment.
"Direct exclusion of one or two identifiable Chinese companies is an obvious unfair trade practice and, as a practical matter,
would not provide meaningful security for US telecom infrastructure systems," the letter says.
In justifying its investigation, the committee contended that Chinese intelligence services, as well as private companies and
other entities, often recruit those with direct access to corporate networks to steal trade secrets and other sensitive data.
It warned that malicious hardware or software implants in Chinese-manufactured telecommunications components and
systems could allow Beijing to shut down or degrade critical national security systems in a time of a crisis.
Huawei denies being financed to undertake research and development for the Chinese military, but the committee says it
has received internal Huawei documentation from former employees showing the company provides special network services to
an entity alleged to be an elite cyber-warfare unit within the People's Liberation Army.
The intelligence committee recommended that the government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or
CFIUS, bar mergers and acquisitions by both Huawei and ZTE. A multi-agency regulatory panel chaired by Treasury Secretary
Timothy Geithner, CFIUS screens foreign investment proposals for potential national security threats.
Last year, Huawei had to unwind its purchase of a U.S. computer company, 3Leaf Systems, after it failed to win CFIUS
approval. Still, Huawei employs 1,700 people in the U.S., and business is expanding. U.S. revenues rose to $1.3 billion in 2011,
up from $765 million in 2010.
ZTE has also enjoyed growth in its sale of mobile devices, although in recent months it has faced allegations about banned
sales of U.S.-sanctioned computer equipment to Iran. The FBI is probing reports that the company obstructed a U.S. government
investigation into the sales.
AP researcher Zhao Liang in Beijing contributed.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Report Threatens Huawei's Growth Plans (WSJ)
China Tech Giants Pose 'Security Risk,' U.S. House Panel Says
By Juro Osawa
Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Victory Tightens Chavez Grip On Power (WSJ)
By José De Córdoba And Sara Schaefer Muñoz
Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
U.S. 'Congratulates' Venezuela On Election (WEEKSTAN)
By Daniel Halper
Weekly Standard, October 9, 2012
Yesterday, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez "won" reelection. Today, the White House is congratulating Venezuela on
that outcome.
From the pool report, which details a gaggle held by White House spokesman Jay Carney:
-Carney said US congratulates Venezuelan people on its election, while noting the US has its differences with Chavez.
President Obama is on his way to tour Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in California.
UPDATE: From the White House transcript of the gaggle:
Q Speaking of foreign policy, can you react to the election results in Venezuela?
MR. CARNEY: The Venezuelan National Elections Commission has declared that President Hugo Chavez won reelection,
I believe roughly 54 to 45 percent, with 90 percent reporting. We congratulate the Venezuelan people on the high level of
participation, as well as on what was a relatively peaceful election process. I would note the challenger has conceded the race.
Browse 15 Years of the Weekly Standard
The Misery Of Venezuela (WSJ)
Hugo Chávez and the ruin in a nation.
Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2012
Full-text stories from the Wall Street Journal are available to Journal subscribers by clicking the link.
Panetta To Latin American Nations: Use Police, Not Military, For Enforcement (AP)
By Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press
Associated Press, October 9, 2012
PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay (AP) — Latin American nations must try to use their police and not their military forces to
enforce the law, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Monday, telling defense ministers here that the U.S. will help them
build their capabilities.
Speaking to a conference of defense ministers from the Americas, where militaries often are used to battle drug traffickers
and other guerrilla groups, Mr. Panetta said the U.S. realizes that it's sometimes difficult to decide if a threat requires the use of
the military or law enforcement.
"In some cases, countries have turned to their defense forces to support civilian authorities," Mr. Panetta said in remarks
prepared for delivery. "To be clear, the use of the military to perform civil law enforcement cannot be a long-term solution."
Mr. Panetta's comments were aimed at a number of Latin American countries that turn to their militaries to fight crime or
help restore order, particularly for counterdrug operations or other instances to quell violent criminal cartels. But countries here
have also, at times, been critical of the U.S. for what they see as a similar blurring of the enforcement lines by America —
particularly the detention center at the U.S. base in Guantanamo, Cuba, where suspected terrorists have been held since not
long after the Afghanistan war began.
The U.S., he said, can help countries ensure that they improve their abilities while still respecting human rights, laws and
civilian authorities.
"We can and we will provide a helping hand, but ultimately civilian authorities must be able to shoulder this burden on their
own," he said.
In his remarks during the opening session of the 10th Conference of Ministers of Defense of the Americas, Mr. Panetta also
encouraged the ministers to approve a new plan to set up a database that will allow the nations to better coordinate their
responses to disasters.
This is Mr. Panetta's second trip to South America this year, as he works to expand U.S military cooperation in the region
and build on relationships that also can help shore up America's interests in the Asia-Pacific region. He stopped in Peru for
meetings with leaders there before traveling to Uruguay.
The database would be at the core of a new system that will help nations organize humanitarian relief efforts in the event of
a disaster. The database would allow countries to list the types of aid they are ready to provide and allow the affected nation to
choose, in order to avoid duplication and better meet urgent needs.
Officials have said that while there was a lot of assistance sent to Haiti, it wasn't well coordinated and there was a lot of
duplication. Defense officials are hoping that the database would solve some of those problems.
"Western Hemisphere nations worked together to provide much-needed help, but we lacked a mechanism to collaborate in
real time and focus our efforts where they were needed most," said Mr. Panetta about the Haiti disaster response. Implementing
the new system, he said, will help nations be ready to respond quickly when the next disaster strikes.
In his visit to Colombia, Brazil and Chile earlier this year, Mr. Panetta underscored Latin America's importance as military
partners in the Pacific, where China is challenging U.S. influence in a number of countries. As those defense relationships grow,
officials say it can only help U.S. economic and political ties across South America.
Mr. Panetta emphasized again Monday that the U.S. does not want to establish permanent bases in the region or take on
any dominant role of defending other countries on the continent.
"Our goal is to work with those nations that want us to help them to develop their capabilities so that they can defend and
secure themselves. Our interest is to work with you, not against you," he said.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or