The president's long-anticipated executive action to unilaterally afford temporary legal status to between five and eight million adult illegal immigrants may be pushed off until after the 2014 midterm elections, according to several reports. Appearing on MSNBC yesterday, veteran journalist Jim Warren called the plan "off the table through the elections," presumably in reference to a New York Times story published over the weekend:
President Obama is considering a delay of his most controversial proposals to revamp immigration laws through executive action until after the midterm elections in November, mindful of the electoral peril for Democratic Senate candidates, according to allies of the administration who have knowledge of White House deliberations. The president vowed in late June to act unilaterally, declaring a deep frustration with what he termed Republican obstruction in Congress. He pledged to act to reshape the immigration system soon after he received recommendations from senior advisers at the end of the summer. But now Mr. Obama and his aides appear to be stepping back from a firm commitment to that timing, a move that could draw fire from immigration advocacy groups who are expecting decisive action soon.
The story quotes incensed immigration activists, upbraiding Obama over his refusal to "stand up to Republicans," and calling the rumored delay "unconscionable." They're livid over a potential nine-week postponement. So why would Obama risk upsetting a vocal element of key Democratic constituency? Pure politics:
Some of Mr. Obama’s advisers are urging him to postpone action, fearful of the political ramifications of a broad action to protect millions of immigrants in the country illegally from deportation and to provide many of them with official work papers. Such a move by the president, some senior officials worry, could set off a pitched fight with Republicans and dash hopes for Democratic Senate candidates running in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and potentially in Iowa. Control of the Senate hinges on the outcomes of the half-dozen close races in states where Mr. Obama is not popular, notably in Southern states where opposition to an immigration overhaul runs high, and strategists fear that an immigration announcement could hurt Democratic candidates...Democratic senators have reached out to top White House officials, including Denis McDonough, the chief of staff, to argue that the recent crisis with unaccompanied minors crossing the border into the United States justifies a delay. Several Democratic officials on Capitol Hill said the angry reaction to that border crisis eroded public support for changing immigration policy, and in some cases, turned the issue into a negative one for them.
Democrats' goals are twofold: (1) In the medium-term, they want Obama's action to change the 'facts on the ground' in the immigration debate, so to speak. Once millions are awarded work permits and "temporary" relief from the threat of deportation, it will be exceptionally politically difficult for future presidents or Congresses to reverse that new reality by re-imposing illegal status onto those people. (2) In the short term, some Democrats are hoping that a sweeping executive action from Obama will goad Republicans into a furious response. Within this breathtakingly cynical calculation, they'd actively root for Obama to push the envelope as far as possible in order to prompt an angry reaction, which could then be exploited to fundraise (they hauled in millions with their "impeachment" nonsense this summer), motivate the liberal base for the midterms, and further erode Republicans' image among Latinos. This is the veritable definition of bad faith. What a number of purple and red state Democrats are realizing, though, is that the politics of a massive executive amnesty may, at best, be volatile and risky. Make no mistake, these nervous incumbents and candidates aren't begging Obama not to overreach and bypass Congress on a major policy issue altogether; they're just asking him to execute his power grab after voters would have an opportunity to punish them for it. Also bear in mind that Obama himself has stated explicitly in the recent past that he lacks the authority to take the precise action that now seems to be a fait accompli:
Obama may have undermined his case because he has insisted time and again that he's the president, not the king, and "can't just make the laws up by myself." In a 2012 interview with Telemundo, Obama defended his decision to defer deportations for children but said he couldn't go any bigger. "If we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that's not an option," he said then.
I'll reiterate that I'm pretty moderate on the immigration issue, but my empathy wavers when I see people who entered our country illegally berating and lecturing duly-elected members of Congress for not furnishing them with their preferred political resolutions fast enough. They are not entitled to any immigration reform law, let alone one that meets their various demands (for example: legalization first, border security later, if at all). They should be in no position to make demands. Oh, and by the way:
There’s one highly competitive gubernatorial race happening this year and it isn’t in Wisconsin; it’s in Connecticut. Right now, incumbent Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy is in a tight race with Republican Tom Foley. Foley ran against him in 2010 and lost by a mere 6,500 votes. Besides the economy, gun control is being debated on the campaign trail. And Mr. Foley isn't being hurt by his position on the subject.
On average, Tom Foley has almost a 5-point lead over Malloy. Ramsussen and CBS News/NYT polls have Foley up 7 points over Malloy. This is a potentially embarrassing political defeat for the anti-gun left; the state that started another national dialogue about gun control, which conservatives won, would elect someone who’s more Second Amendment-friendly for governor almost two years after Sandy Hook. "Even Connecticut voters reject gun control" would be the new narrative in this debate that often ends in defeat for liberals.
What would Bloomberg and his cronies have left to fall back on besides petty open carry bans at grocery stores and retail chains in states that already permit such an exercise of constitutional rights statewide?
In a debate last week, gun control was brought up. Gov. Malloy said the new anti-gun laws he signed into law was keeping the Nutmeg State safe. Mr. Foley obviously disagreed, citing government overreach and that violent crime is down across the county (via WSJ):
Gun control has emerged as a major campaign issue, with Mr. Foley criticizing firearms restrictions the governor signed into law in 2013 in response to the deadly school shooting in Newtown. The package included universal background checks, a ban on sales of ammunition magazines with 10 or more rounds and a ban on the sale of certain types of firearms the state defines as "assault weapons."
The changes, Mr. Malloy said, have contributed to a declining statewide homicide rate: "I believe what we have done has made Connecticut safer."
Mr. Foley countered that violent-crime rates were falling across the U.S., adding that the new laws inconvenience gun owners and wouldn't prevent another mass shooting. "This was so overreaching that it went way, way beyond in what I think would have been an appropriate response to Newtown," said Mr. Foley, an ex-ambassador to Ireland and former private-equity manager. "It's not good leadership. It's grandstanding."
At the federal level, the Manchin-Toomey bill also sought to expand background checks and there was an amendment to ban assault rifles that went down in flames. Even Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal said that this bill would not have prevented the tragic Newtown shooting.
There’s also the independent factor. While Connecticut is reliably Democratic, Democrats are note the majority in the voter rolls; it’s independents. Even Clinton pollster Douglas E. Schoen noted that these voters could decide the election in 2014–and that Foley is mounting a campaign that caters to their interests. He also noted Governor Malloy’s inability to campaign on Sandy Hook since it’ll come off as politicizing tragedy and “rub voters the wrong way.” Then again, anti-gun liberals did just that in the months after the tragedy, but got nothing in return for it.
Yet, there was some action taken at the local level. In February of 2013, the Newtown school board voted in favor to allow armed guards to be stationed at schools, which is an initiative endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
As with any election, we shall see what happens, but if Malloy loses; what does this mean for gun control in America? We all know the movement has suffered significant legislative and legal defeats, but does a Foley win mean this anti-civil rights crusade is on life support? I sure hope so.
Editor's note: This post has been updated since publication.
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the September issue of Townhall Magazine.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative was supposedly developed with one goal in mind: to strengthen the United States’ global competitive advantage by rigorously educating the next generation.
It is unquestioned that Americans are falling behind their foreign counterparts in academics. U.S. students tested below average in math and only nudged in close to average in reading and science when compared to 34 other developed countries, according to the 2012 Program for International Students Assessment.
“To maintain America’s competitive edge, we need all of our students to be prepared and ready to compete with students from around the world,” then-Vermont Gov. and National Governors Association vice chair Jim Douglas (D) said at the announcement of Common Core in 2009.
Unfortunately, this visionary overhaul has burgeoned into a federal government power grab. In its current capacity, the standards may end up hurting our already failing education system and overlooking our children’s unique needs and the diversity of the country at large.
WHAT IS COMMON CORE?
The Common Core lobbying push began in 2006, when NGA chair and then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano
(D) launched her Innovation America campaign. Napolitano’s goal was to “give governors
the tools they need to improve math and sci- ence education, better align postsecondary education systems with state economies, and develop regional innovation strategies.”
An ensuing task force composed of the NGA, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the progressive educational group Achieve Inc. produced a 2008 report titled “Benchmark- ing Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World Class Education.” The writers urged state leaders to “upgrade state standards by adopting a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts for grades K-12 to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be globally competitive.”
This same advisory group proceeded to jointly develop the standards known today as Common Core State Standards.
The testing rubric sets K-12 grade-specific goals for English, language arts, and math. In theory, these standards would en- sure that students in every state are reaching the same academic level. At the same time, teachers still have the freedom to craft lessons at will, as long as they include the material needed for students to pass the national benchmark. Regardless of where a family relocates, or what school system they transfer into, a student should be able to enter the academic setting with confidence that they can keep up Microsoft guru Bill Gates eventually became one of Common Core’s biggest champions after activists sold him on the idea in 2008. Gates then heavily funded the organizations that pushed the Common Core standards and those same organizations are now set to use Microsoft products for their digital learning programs.
“I want to explain why Common Core is among the most important education ideas in years,” Gates wrote in a February 12, 2014 USA Today op-ed.
“The standards are just that: standards, similar to those that have guided teachers in all states for years, except these standards are inspired by a simple and powerful idea: Every American student should leave high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the job market.”
Initially, 45 states agreed to join the initiative in 2009. And in many respects, the program started off on the correct foot. It did not take long, however, for states to recognize the product’s false packaging and the potentially detrimental effects it would bring to their state.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
“If you look at the history of Common Core, how it came to be, the pressure and the incentive that were put on states to adopt it, I think it’s easy to conclude that this was federally driven,” Lindsey Burke, Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation, tells Townhall.
Follow the money and you will find that the federal government is the biggest backer of Common Core.
“From the get-go, there were $4.35 billion dollars in Race to the Top grants offered up to states that adopted the standards,” Burke says.
President Obama’s 2009 law, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, funded $4.35 billion to the competitive grant program, Race to the Top. This program offered monetary incentives (which for all intents and purposes can be referred to as a bribe) to implement educational reform.
According to the program’s executive summary, one of the criteria for reform just so happens to be using a “common set of high-quality standards” that have been adopted by a “significant number of states.” The only standard that fulfills these criteria is Common Core.
In addition to the Race to the Top carrot, Obama also used a draconian No Child Left Behind stick to whack any states that dared to defy his Common Core commandment. Burke explains:
“There is a looming deadline in No Child Left Behind that states are facing in the 2014-15 school year. No Child Left Behind says that every child has to be proficient in reading and math, and that’s a wonderful goal, but states are nowhere near meeting that goal, and there are a cascade of sanctions that will fall down on states if they come up short.”
“So the Obama administration,” Burke continues, “comes along and says, ‘we’ll waive that requirement from you, and we’ll ostensibly provide you relief from No Child Left Behind, but again, if and only if you agree to adopt common standards and other reforms that the White House prefers.’”
The current administration’s ideology of progressive reform is at the heart of the federal entanglement, Burke explains.
“For conservatives, that’s at odds, both with the tenets of federalism and the extremely limited role, if any, that the federal government is supposed to play in education policy, and it’s at odds just with the practical nature of education financing.”
Having a strong nationalized education system is not even indicative of improved academic performance. For example, Canada, which landed more than 20 places ahead of the United States on the PISA scale, does not even have a centralized education department. Tax money for public education is administered via provinces and territories that work together with local school boards to decide on implementation. Creating yet another federally monitored program can only indefinitely confirm one fact: a large sum of taxpayer money will be consumed.
The United States already spends more than $11,000 on each student, per year, with few tangible benefits for the cost. At the same time the Slovak Republic (spending what amounts to $5,000 per student) has managed to score similarly to U.S. students academically, PISA found.
Aware of the nation’s growing anti-Washington sentiments, the standards were relentlessly marketed as voluntary and state-led. It was this very phrasing that lured lawmakers to agree to the scheme.
ALL STRINGS ATTACHED
Oklahoma state Rep. Mike Turner (R) witnessed this selling point firsthand. Though not yet in the legislature at the time, Turner recalls the time when lawmakers agreed to the Common Core initiative:
“From what I understand everybody thought it was going to be this new era of education accountability and that we were going to have these minimum standards and that they are, quote on quote ‘locally derived.’ That is where Oklahoma, at the time and still, is ranked low compared to other states when it comes to a lot of different education standards. I’m sure a lot of lawmakers voted ‘yes,’ because they figured anything was better than what we had at the time.”
Oklahoma’s education ranking came in at only 43, when compared to other states by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit public policy organization. Despite having one of the poorest education rankings in the nation, lawmakers were quick to turn on Common Core when they learned more about it.
“The moment people began to see how many actual strings were involved, that’s when everything hit the fan,” Turner states. “The huge amount of outcry, you know, parents, teachers, community activists; they’re infuriated about the Common Core standards because it has completely robbed them of the ability to have any influence at all. And it’s completely re- written, not just the school curriculum, but it has also redone how teachers are evaluated, how we’re teaching to a test.” Common Core requires states to implement assessment tests using either the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
Additionally, David Coleman, one of the standard’s lead writers, has more recently become president of College Board, the organization responsible for the SAT. Coleman proceeded to alter the SAT to align with Common Core. This means states, or even home-schooled students who remain out of the broad system, may find the test caters to students who have been raised on the standards.
ANGERING THE LEFT AND RIGHT
Not everyone is as enthusiastic about this new stratagem. The California Teachers Association, for example, spoke out on their website against linking student achievement to testing and highlighted the hypocrisy the Obama administration has shown in backing this technique for learning assessment.
“During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama contended that teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests and that students deserve to learn in an individualized manner. ... The narrow content focus encourages teaching to the test, which artificially inflates test scores while simultaneously narrowing the curriculum taught in the classroom.”
Many education wonks have found the new curriculum only debatably superior to the previous standards of some states. Massachusetts, for instance, one of the nation’s strongest academic achievers, will undoubtedly be worse off with the adoption of Common Core.
The new standards in math, English, and language arts are also not making any significant gains toward international standards. A study conducted by the dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education found that Common Core is failing to live up to its promise.
“The Common Core’s shift in emphasis to higher-level thinking skills is not consistent with curricular standards in countries that currently outshine the U.S. in international assessments,” a summary of the study on UPenn’s website notes. “[P]laces like Finland, Japan, and Singapore don’t put nearly as much emphasis on higher-order skills as does the Common Core.”
STATES WANT OUT
Indiana became the first state to repeal the new testing standards and many states have since followed suit.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), originally a supporter of Common Core, quickly relinquished his views and rejected the standards when he became better acquainted with them.
“Let’s face it: centralized planning didn’t work in Russia, it’s not working with our health care system and it won’t work in education,” Jindal stated in May. “Education is best left to local control.”
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) also signed a bill to shirk the Common Core standards with overwhelming support from the state legislature (78-18).
“I have to give a lot of credit to colleagues, who, at the original time thought [Common Core] was a great idea,” Turner says. “It’s fantastic to see them come around and see what the actual fruit of their implementation is. They began to realize that where federal government giveth, federal government taketh and control.”
Common Core was supposed to bring accountability and education standards to make our kids brighter, but it did neither, Turner explains.
“It is nothing more than a failed experiment that has cost significant resources, both in man-power and in dollars, only to put us on a one-size fits all agenda. We should have been looking at home-grown standards that takes into consideration each community’s goals.”
The end product does not encourage innovation or skill- setup, it instills in children the school’s need to produce widgets, which fit into a common machine, Turner remarked.
Oklahoma, like the other states that have or are in the midst of rejecting Common Core, is working to create its own set of standards that will be unique to the children, the people, and the local economy.
The very name “Common Core” goes against the heart of America’s rich and diverse population, where each person is valued for their individualism and rare skill set.
“Our kids aren’t ‘common,’” Heritage’s Burke points out, “they are incredibly unique and we want to move towards an education system that is individualized and personalized.” •
That whole armed citizenry thing is working....in Iraq against ISIS. More from Al Jazeera:
Government forces mainly composed of Kurdish peshmerga fighters and armed volunteers have broken through the Islamic State group siege on the town of Amerli located between Baghdad, and the northern city of Kirkuk.
The news came as the AFP news agency reported on Monday that fighting with the Sunni rebel group continues in Sulaiman Bek and Yanakaja towns north of Amerli, killing at least two peshmerga fighters.
As of Monday, Iraqi forces and the armed volunteers have taken control of Amerli, a day after entering the town, where at least 12,000 people have been trapped for over two months with dwindling food and water.
The breakthrough was aided by expanded US air strikes, which destroyed Islamc State armed vehicles near Amerli as well as near Mosul Dam further north.
And from the BBC:
Outgoing Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who visited Amerli on Monday, said: "Our enemy is retreating and our security forces backed by volunteers are advancing to purge further towns."
Under President "constitutional law professor" Obama, nearly everything is a "right." According to Obama everyone has a right to healthcare, housing, a "living" wage, food, transportation, etc. What this really translates to is: government dependence on everything, but that's a whole other topic on its own.
Now as his illegal immigration and open borders base continues to pressure him to act on his own to bring amnesty to tens-of-millions of illegal immigrants, President Obama is touting
illegal immigration as a right. He said as much during a speech on Labor Day.
"Cynicism is a bad choice. Hope is the better choice. Hope is what gives us courage. Hope is what gave soldiers courage to storm a beach. Hope is what gives young people the strength to march for women’s rights, and worker’s rights, and civil rights, and voting rights, and gay rights, and immigration rights," Obama said (I'm not sure the men who stormed Normandy Beach did so on "hope" but whatever).
For first time Obama plugs "immigration rights"— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 1, 2014
The reason the left refers to nearly everything they want as a "right" is so they can justify an entitlement to that right. Once people become entitled, or accept the idea of entitlement surrounding a certain issue, its game over.
Immigration to the United States is not a right and illegal immigration and breaking the law are certainly not things anyone is entitled to.
Good news everyone: We're back to pre-911 complacency as Islamic terror armies gain ground all over the world (as a side note, the United States apparently still doesn't have a strategy in place on how to deal with this growing, real threat). An alarming new report from ABC News shows authorities from U.S. Customs and Immigration and the State Department have lost track of 6,000 foreign students whose visas have expired.
As a reminder, the 9/11 hijackers purposely applied for student visas to get into the United States and knew when those visas expired nobody would come looking for them. To add insult to injury, the 9/11 hijackers should have never been issued visas in the first place. Remember this headline? State Dept. Lapses Aided 9/11 Hijackers.
A new report accuses the State Department of staggering lapses in its visa program that gave Sept. 11 hijackers entry into the United States.
The political journal National Review obtained the visa applications for 15 of the 19 hijackers — and evidence that all of them should have been denied entry to the country.
Almost all of the hijacker's visas were issued in Saudi Arabia, at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or the U.S. Consulate in Jedda. Terrorist ties aside, the applications themselves should have raised red flags, say experts. The forms are incomplete and often incomprehensible — yet that didn't stop any of the 15 terrorists for whom the visa applications were obtained from coming to the United States.
The only alleged would-be hijacker who failed to get a visa was Ramzi Binalshibh, who was denied entrance to the United States repeatedly.
"This is a systemic problem," said Nikolai Wenzel, a former U.S. consular officer. "It's a problem of sloppiness, it's a problem of negligence which I would call criminal negligence because obviously, having reviewed all these applications, there is a pattern here."
The pattern? None of the 15 applications reviewed was filled out properly.
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the September issue of Townhall Magazine.
In 2008, the Romeike family had a big decision to make about the future of home schooling their children: stay in Germany, where the practice has been banned since 1918, and risk losing custody of their children, or seek political asylum in the United States.
As many are aware, they chose the latter.
By January 2010, all seemed well for the devoutly Christian family. A U.S. immigration judge made an unprecedented decision to grant the Romeikes asylum on religious freedom grounds, saying that Germany’s policy of persecuting homeschoolers is “repellent to everything we believe in as Americans,” and that the family was being denied “basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.”
But the victory would be short lived. The decision was challenged and overturned by the Obama administration, and by 2014, after years of uphill legal battles in the American court system, it looked as though the family may be deported to Germany.
Thanks in part to significant political and media attention, however, the administration suddenly relented in March and granted the family permission to stay in the country indefinitely.
The outcome of the Romeike family’s case was one of the Home School Legal Defense Association’s greatest successes in recent years, William Estrada, HSL- DA’s director of federal relations, tells Townhall. HSLDA, which represented the family, has been advocating for the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children since 1983.
“It was an incredible victory for the Romeike family and it really showed Germany is out of the mainstream in the way they do not allow any home schooling in their country,” he says, pointing out that even Russia and communist China allow the practice.
Although home schooling may seem like a deep-seated right in America, it was not long ago that HSLDA was fighting for its very survival in this country.
“The first 10-15 years [of HSLDA’s existence] you could say was actually the battle for home schooling’s survival, that was where we were defending families who were in prison; we were fighting to make home schooling legal,” says Estrada, a home-school graduate. “When we were founded in 1983 only a handful of states allowed home schooling. In pretty much all of them, home schooling was a criminal offense because it would be a violation of the truancy laws.”
By the early 1990s when home school- ing was legal in all 50 states, HSLDA transitioned to national work: battling H.R. 6 of 1994, which would have required all teachers, in all types of schools, to be certified in every subject area they teach; trying to keep the federal government from encroaching on home school- ing freedoms; and working to stop U.N. treaties, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Home schooling is very bipartisan. It’s grown and is now recognized by everyone, and what we’re fighting for is more of a long-term defense to protect parental rights, Estrada says.
The numbers alone demonstrate its increased acceptance.
When the U.S. Department of Education first started conducting a quadrennial report in 1999, there were roughly 850,000 home-schooled students. Now, however, there are approximately 1.8 million students, according to its latest report of the 2011-2012 school year.
As the number of home-schooled students has grown, so too has the diversity of the population choosing this education option.
“When home schooling started in the ‘70s and ‘80s it was primarily fundamentalist Christian families who were home schooling because they didn’t like the direction the public school was taking as far as religious issues,” he says. “We are seeing home schooling rising across the board, among secular families, people who are home schooling who think the school is too conservative or too religious, and that has really started to swing the demographic.”
In addition to religious reasons, parents who choose to home-school most often cite concerns about the school environment and the academic content of the public school, the Department of Education has found. There are also sizeable minorities of people who home- school for other reasons, such as military families or families who have a child with a disability.
And Estrada says that anecdotally at least, dissatisfaction with Common Core has contributed to increasing numbers of home-schooled children in the last year or two.
“The good news is that Common Core does not apply to home-schools,” he says, “the bad news is if we’re unable, and I mean public school, private school, and home-school parents, if we’re unable to stop Common Core, we’re very concerned about the future of home schooling. You know, down the road there will be pressure on home schooling to conform.”
College acceptance could become harder for students who have not gone through Common Core, requirements to receive federal student aid could change, and so could standardized testing. For all these reasons, HSLDA remains actively engaged in the fight against Common Core.
There’s no question home schooling- has come of age, but that doesn’t mean HSLDA’s work is over. The association actively promotes home-school-friendly legislation on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures across the nation, and continues to provide invaluable home-schooling-related legal advice and representation to its more than 84,000 member families.
“We have the greatest members and that’s why we’ve continued to be able to fight for home schooling, for parental rights—those freedoms that are so dear to all parents,” he says. •
Democrats are using the tragic shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this month to mobilize black voters ahead of the midterm elections. It could impact the races in Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Arkansas, where black voters represent a significant part of the electorate. African-Americans represent thirty percent of eligible voters in Louisiana and Georgia alone. The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin indicated that African-Americans “played a pivotal role” in 1998 elections. Yet, trying to drive up voter turnout will be tricky since the states that will determine if Democrats keep the Senate are in the south, where Obama is deeply unpopular (via NYT):
With their Senate majority imperiled, Democrats are trying to mobilize African-Americans outraged by the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., to help them retain control of at least one chamber of Congress for President Obama’s final two years in office.
In black churches and on black talk radio, African-American civic leaders have begun invoking the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, along with conservative calls to impeach Mr. Obama, as they urge black voters to channel their anger by voting Democratic in the midterm elections, in which minority turnout is typically lower.
“Ferguson has made it crystal clear to the African-American community and others that we’ve got to go to the polls,” said Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia and a civil-rights leader. “You participate and vote, and you can have some control over what happens to your child and your country.”
The push is an attempt to counter Republicans’ many advantages in this year’s races, including polls that show Republican voters are much more engaged in the elections at this point — an important predictor of turnout.
[T]he terrain is tricky [for Democrats]: Many of the states where the black vote could be most crucial are also those where Mr. Obama is deeply unpopular among many white voters. So Democratic senators in places like Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina must distance themselves from the nation’s first African-American president while trying to motivate the black voters who are his most loyal constituents.
While minority turnout traditionally declines in nonpresidential election years, there have been midterm elections in which Southern blacks played a pivotal role. An example occurred in 1998, when President Bill Clinton was, like Mr. Obama, under fire from Republicans and nearing the end of his White House years.
The last point Martin makes is kind of odd. I would agree that it would’ve been pivotal if Democrats took back the Senate in 1998, but they didn't. There was no swing in the Senate composition at the end of the night; Republicans held 55 seats and the Democrats occupied 45. Each party lost and gained three seats.
Democrats took out Republican incumbents in New York, North Carolina, and Indiana, while Republicans booted Democrats in Ohio, Illinois, and Kentucky. These elections would usher in Chuck Schumer and John Edwards into the U.S. Senate.
In Arkansas, Democrats were able to keep the seat Democratic with Blanche Lincoln and incumbent Sen. Paul Coverdell was able to hold the line for the Republicans in Georgia.
So, what’s so “pivotal” about a draw? Not only that, but a draw that ended with Republicans keeping their ten seat majority.
Also, are Democrats really so desperate that they need to politicize someone’s death? Then again, we’re talking about the political left; seldom do they exude any form of shame. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that exploiting death to drive up voter turnout is, well, abhorrent.
Or what could be the Democrat mantra: Racism for thee but not for me.
Little flash-based web games have been around for nearly as long as the internet itself, and distraction-like games are common for political causes. The National Republican Senatorial Committee released "Giopi: Mission Majority" this week to wide coverage across the web. But is it any good?
I beat it in one sitting, in about fifteen minutes, and I can tell you: it's a mild disappointment. You play as Giopi the elephant, whose job is to collect keys and turn light switches in order to win back the Senate for the Republicans. Trying to stop you are two kinds of enemies: "taxers," which walk back and forth and injure Giopi on contact; and "mudslingers," large blue-grey blobs. Both can be defeated by jumping on their heads. When you jump on them, they let out little soundbites, like "phoney scandals" or "what difference, at this point, does it make?"
Also, 8-bit Joe Biden shows up
Which brings us to the most problematic part of the game: the controls. Admittedly, I was playing on my work PC, not a high-end gaming machine, so lag might have been a problem, but Giopi controls pretty poorly. You have to get used to a microsecond lag between when you tell Giopi to jump and when he actually does. Additionally, the hit-boxes on both the Taxer and Mudslinger are oddly wide; this caused poor Giopi much more injury in my playthrough than he deserved.
The little papers are "Taxers", and the grayish blob at the bottom is a "Mudslinger"
The stages themselves are pretty indistinguishable. There isn't even a color swap to tell them apart. In the first level, Giopi collects keys and stomps on Taxers. In the second and third levels, he collects keys and stomps on both Taxers and Mudslingers. In the fourth stage, he flicks light switches.
I'll say this: the game is slightly more competent and entertaining than I was expecting. That might be a low bar, though. As Asawin Suebsaeng wrote at the Daily Beast, partisan flash games have a checkered history:
In 2008, John McCain’s presidential campaign launched a Facebook game called Pork Invaders, which spoofed the arcade staple Space Invaders with a pork barrel-spending theme. In 2004, the Republican National Committee launched John Kerry: Tax Invaders and Kerry vs. Kerry, the latter a nod to the Democratic candidate’s reputation for flip-flopping on key political issues.
But look, the point of Giopi is not to make a good game. It's to get your email address or social media information (one of those must be given as a condition for playing the game) so that the NRSC can market and solicit donations from you.
Still, the game is a mild disappointment. It's a shame, because Giopi is an adorable little mascot. There's a lot of character stuffed into those little pixels! His tanktop is awesome!
Oh, and you can merchandise featuring the little guy as well
I'm not asking for the Emogame, perhaps the greatest flash game of all time. But even just tightening the screws and a little paint job in a few different places could have turned Giopi: Mission Majority into a hit. Especially with that little mascot.