The National Education Association (NEA) held its most recent convention in Chicago in July 2011. While they expressed some dissatisfaction with President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, they decided to endorse the President for a second term as the lesser of the two evils. Nevertheless, the delegates did not hesitate to approve of a resolution directing the NEA’s president to “communicate aggressively, forcefully, and immediately” to President Obama and Secretary Duncan that the NEA was appalled with Duncan.
According to Phyllis Schlafly’s Education Reporter: “The resolution went on to lay out 13 charges against Duncan, including focusing too heavily on charter schools, failing to respect and honor the professionalism of teachers, weighing in on local hiring decisions, and focusing too heavily on competitive grants (i.e. Race to the Top).”
The resolution was endorsed by the union’s board of directors, which gave it its highest priority. The union has been screaming bloody murder over the lay-off of teachers and support staff due to budget cuts. But even the NEA has had to trim its own budget by $14 million by downsizing its national staff.
The radical Left in Congress is pressing Secretaries of State across the nation to oppose state changes to election laws that require voters to prove they are who they claim to be and are eligible to cast a ballot. Nearly 200 Democrats, led by Maryland leftist Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democrat Whip, signed a letter that went to Secretaries across the country. States that pass photo-identification and other laws, Hoyer disingenuously argues, are “suppressing” votes and undermining “democracy,” at least as he and some of the most radical Congressmen define “democracy.”
Nate Silver’s article in the New York Times on President Obama’s reelection chances looked carefully at three major influences that could determine the outcome in November of 2012 and concluded that the President is a slight underdog: “It is early, and almost no matter what, the election will be a losable one for the Republicans. But Obama’s position is tenuous enough that it might not be a winnable one for him.”
A skilled forecaster, Silver looked at three major factors that he thinks will influence the election: approval ratings, the economy, and the President’s opponent’s ideology. At the moment the President’s negative approval ratings across the spectrum of pollsters doesn’t concern him, and he thinks that even if the economy dips further as many are increasingly predicting, the electorate is suffering from bad news “fatigue,” and more bad news won’t really count for much. When it gets to ideology, however, it is clear that if the President’s opponent can make a strong case against him, then the election is over and the President will lose.
Days after news broke of Herman Cain’s alleged cases of sexual harassment, new updates continue to flood news outlets. The story began by revealing that during Cain’s tenure as president of the National Restaurant Association, he was accused of sexual harassment by two women. Following that story, however, other women came forward to make similar accusations against the GOP presidential contender. The latest woman to make such an accusation is Sharon Bialek, who is the first to voice her allegations publicly.
In Washington, D.C. on Nov. 4, Mitt Romney promised attendees at the Defending the American Dream Summit that if elected, he would end funding for several federal programs. Conservative Republicans, however, may not have been comforted by Romney's reasons for denying these programs federal funding. At the event, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, he stated: For each program that we have in the government, I'm going to look at them one by one. I’m going to ask this question: Is this program so critical, so essential, that we should borrow money from China to pay for it? Now, for example, I like Amtrak. But I’m not willing to borrow $1.6 billion dollars a year from China to pay for it.
The New York Times called the November 5 "debate" between Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain — supposedly styled on the Lincoln-Douglas debates — "congenial." That was an understatement. The Los Angeles Times came a little closer, calling it a "Vulcan mind meld."
Go ahead, ask this commentator: What was the main difference between the 1858 Illinois Senate debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas and the Gingrich-Cain "debate"?
The main difference was that Lincoln and Douglas actually disagreed about a few principles, such as the expansion of slavery into the U.S. territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The tone of the entire Gingrich-Cain "debate" was ably summed up by Herman Cain in his first statement after Newt Gingrich's opening remarks: "At this particular juncture, I'm supposed to have a minute to disagree with something that he said, but I don't." And it didn't get any more testy than that.
As a debate, this event — so fervently sought by Gingrich since the race began — was a real snoozer. The point of debates is to draw out the differences between candidates. Cain and Gingrich hardly disagreed on anything. They might as well have called it a joint press conference. Cain actually hinted that Gingrich would be his vice presidential choice, asking Gingrich (in what was probably the toughest question of the night): "Mr. Speaker, if you were the Vice President of the United States, what would you want the President to assign you to do first?"
The police in New York will have a hard time complaining about being overworked given the terrible story of 21-year-old Samantha Zucker. The Carnegie Mellon College senior was in Riverside Park in the early hours of October 22 with her boyfriend Alex Fischer. Fischer related his version of what happened: “We’re there five minutes when a police car came up and told us we had to leave because the park was closed. We said, ‘O.K., we didn’t know,’ and turned around to leave. Almost immediately, a second police car pulls up.”
Police stopped the couple, and the two were given tickets for trespassing. Fischer was able to produce this driver’s license as identification, but Samantha had left her driver’s license in her hotel room a couple of blocks away. She asked if a friend could retrieve the driver’s licenses from her room, but, Ms. Zucker relates: “He said it was too late for that, I should have thought of it earlier.”
The officer then arrested Zucker, handcuffed the young woman, and took her to the 26th Precinct Station House. She was then transported to central booking in Manhattan, and because one of the officers was ending his shift before Zucker could be photographed, the young woman was moved back to the 26th Precinct Station House. Then Samantha Zucker was taken by two officers who had just started their shifts back to central booking where she spent a second night in jail.
With the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder continually under fire these days, it was something of a surprise, even to Capitol Hill insiders, that the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, is now in the crosshairs, and that new rules are being advanced not only to deny the public access to documents, but to lie outright, telling requesters that either the documents never existed or don’t exist now. Washington Times reporter Luke Rosiak quoted portions of the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center’s (EPIC) letter to the Justice Department lambasting its 180-degree turn: “These changes [to FOIA] … are contrary to law and exceed the authority of the agency.” EPIC’s letter called the move a “retreat from current practice.”
“The administration’s proposed changes to the Freedom of Information Act guidelines would allow the Department of Justice to deny the existence of documents and [even] prevent judicial oversight,” wrote Seth Mendel in Commentary Magazine. He noted that even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) agreed that Obama was “authorizing agencies to lie.”
The changes were announced October 30 and promptly picked up by most major news outlets. Legal Counsel for the Sunlight Foundation, John Mr. Wonderlich, wrote a strongly worded letter to the Department decrying the blatant retreat from open-government policies.
Wisconsin's AB 237 would make all civil forfeiture offenses into arrestable offenses.
The Supreme Court has declined to take up the appeal of a lower court ruling that bans crosses placed along Utah’s highways in honor of fallen state troopers. The justices ruled 8-1 on October 31 not to hear the appeal filed by Utah and a state troopers’ group that had wanted the court to overturn the decision and give more leeway on the display of religious symbols on public lands.
Reported the Associated Press: “Since 1998, the private Utah Highway Patrol Association has paid for and erected more than a dozen memorial crosses, most of them on state land. Texas-based American Atheists Inc. and three of its Utah members sued the state in 2005.” Two years later a federal court upheld the constitutionality of the crosses, but that ruling was later overturned by the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver.
In April the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) took up the case on behalf of Utah and the Highway Patrol Association, asking the Supreme Court to review the case. ADF Senior Counsel Byron Babione expressed his disappointment in the High Court’s refusal. “One atheist group’s agenda shouldn’t diminish the sacrifice made by highway patrol officers and their families,” he said. “Thirteen heroic men fell, leaving their survivors to mourn and memorialize their loved ones, and now those widows, children, parents, colleagues, and many more must suffer through losing the very memorials that honored those heroes. Justice is not well served when unhappy atheists can use the law to mow down memorial crosses and renew the suffering for the survivors.”