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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Losers Who Felt Good

Beware of candidates or strategists who say that they feel good about the coming election.

  • Associated Press, October 25, 2008:  "`There are any number of paths to 270 we feel very good about,' McCain political director Mike DuHaime said this week, an optimistic take on the narrow electoral victory the campaign is hoping to craft."
  • Salon, October 29, 2004:  "On a call with reporters just before the [bin Laden] tape aired Friday, Kerry spokesman Tad Devine said: "I feel very good about where we are. It's fair to say that John Kerry enters this final weekend of the campaign in many ways in stronger shape than the Democratic nominee entered the final weekend four years ago."
  • UPI,  November 1, 2000: "The vice president Wednesday expressed confidence in his chances in Florida. Speaking to WKMG-TV, an Orlando CBS affiliate, Gore said, `I feel very good about[the election]. Especially what's happening here in Florida. In many ways Florida is the key to this race. And the response here in Florida is so enthusiastic, the momentum is clearly growing, that I feel awfully good about what's going to happen on Tuesday.'"
  • UPI, October 31, 1996: '"`The polls are moving, and they are moving rapidly enough (that) nobody knows if they are accurate or not accurate,''  Dole said. `But we feel good about it, we think we just need a little spice.'"
  • New York Times, November 2, 1992: PRESIDENT BUSH --  In an interview yesterday on the CNN program "Newsmaker Sunday." -- "I'm delighted that the campaign will end, and I still feel very confident of victory because I believe the polls have just been totally out of whack."
  • ABC, October 26, 2008: SAM DONALDSON:  "You depressed by the polls, Governor?" GOVERNOR MICHAEL DUKAKIS: "Feel good, feel good, Sam."


Many posts have discussed opposition research in campaigns.  One element of oppo consists of sending "trackers" to take video of what a candidate says and does.  Democratic tracker Will Urquhart writes that tracking is tedious work, requiring a great deal of time and patience.  Useful ammunition sometimes does not reveal itself until long after it's in the box.
One thing I’ve learned is that you truly never know when a seemingly innocuous statement will eventually emerge as a major issue. In July 2011, I recorded an event in South Carolina with Michele Bachmann. During the rally, Bachmann included a new talking point in her stump speech, claiming that 47 percent of Americans paid no taxes and suggested that everyone should pay something. At the time, Bachmann’s comments attracted some attention from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. But more than a year later, that 47 percent talking point from the GOP is back in the news because of Mitt Romney. It’s a tracker’s job to make sure we have it on tape, so that four weeks, or four months, or four years from now, if we need it, we have it.
In order to collect all of a candidate’s statements on camera means we spend a lot of time driving, about as much time waiting around, and, on good days, a solid amount of time furiously typing up a transcript of what a candidate just said. In that way, a tracker’s job is similar to how it’s been in previous election cycles. But in one way, it’s vastly different -- technology.
For starters, we’re recording on high-definition cameras. That means that if someone wants to put the footage we shoot in a TV ad, it’s high-quality video instead of grainy cell phone footage. Then, when something noteworthy happens, we can do in hours what used to take days. Just a few years ago, a tracker would have to actually physically mail their tapes back to headquarters.

Voting from Overseas

With the U.S. presidential election too close to call, hundreds of thousands of Americans living in Europe have been posting their absentee ballots with a sense that they could truly make a difference on November 6.
From Berlin to Paris and London to Madrid, they have closely tracked the battle between Democrat President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, though the emotional temperature is several degrees lower than four years ago, when most expats rallied behind Obama after two terms of George W. Bush, whom many thought had tarnished the U.S. image abroad.
Both the Republicans and Democrats have courted the expat vote since 1988, when absentee ballots reversed the outcome of a Senate race in Florida, allowing Republican Connie Mack to pip Democrat Buddy MacKay, who had led when polling stations closed.
Absentee ballots also made the difference in another Senate race in 2008. Democrat Al Franken came from 215 votes behind to win with the help of absentee votes.
The tightness of the presidential race, with a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll showing a dead heat , has made the expat vote arguably more important than ever. Both Republicans Abroad and Democrats Abroad organisations have gone all out to get Americans registered and voting in their home states.
Some overseas voters are in uniform. Hope Hodge writes at Human Events:
While a number of battleground states have reported dismal numbers of military absentee ballot requests in early counts, the western swing state of Colorado announced Monday that its ballot request totals for military and overseas absentee voters have already surpassed 2008 totals, with eight days to go until the election.
After low recorded voter turnout in these demographics four years ago, Congress authorized $75 million for the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which, among other provisions, established and staffed voting assistance offices at over 220 military bases. But early ballot request totals in a number of states showed an even more depressed military voting turnout than in 2008, and a bombshell report at the end of August from the Department of Defense Inspector General found that half of the new voting offices were unreachable by telephone or email.
Colorado is proving that low military voting does not have to be the status quo.
The office of Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced that 19,055 military and overseas ballot requests had been received, 2,804 more than in 2008. The 8,320 completed ballots the state has already received from these voters amounts to a return rate 80 percent higher than in the 2010 election.
The improvement in numbers is attributed to a statewide project launched in 2010 that allows overseas voters to receive next-day ballots via email and mail them back at their convenience. 
Some of these voters are students on study-abroad programs.  The Capital News Service reports:
In 2009, the federal government passed the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act. The legislation led 47 states, including Virginia, to pass similar laws increasing enfranchisement of overseas voters.
Under the legislation, voters are no longer required to have absentee ballots notarized. States are required to send absentee ballots to registered overseas voters at least 45 days prior to the election. Electronic absentee ballots and registration applications must be made available online by each state in case hard copies don’t arrive, the law states.
Currently, 13 states allow online voter registration, according to a spokesperson for the Pew Center on the States; Virginia is not one of them.
Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) spearheaded the trend toward electronic registration in 2008. Nearly 5 million people accessed the OVF webpage in 2008, including nearly 2 million in the October before the election, according to a report by the Pew Center on the States.
Overseas Vote Foundation established an offshoot, Youth Vote Overseas (YVO), to target students going abroad. The organization does outreach with more than 450 colleges across the country, including more than 10 schools in Virginia.
The goal is to encourage students to register to vote before going abroad, explained Marina Mecl, Youth Vote Overseas outreach program director. As a result, much of YVO’s web traffic comes from within the U.S.
Contact with partner universities overseas helps YVO’s cause, Mecl said, especially in traditional hubs for exchange students.
Between July and October, the organization tallied its highest number of registrations abroad from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and France – four of the top five study abroad destinations from 2008 to 2010. About three out of four voters registering on the site are between 18 and 24.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy and a Split Election Outcome

Previous posts have discussed the possibility of a split between the popular and electoral vote. Hurricane Sandy may have increased the chances for such an outcome.

The effects have been severe in New York and New Jersey .  Property damage amounts to billion of dollars, and millions of people may not get electricity back for several days.  These problems could affect turnout in several ways.
  • First, recovering from the disaster will be tough and time-consuming.  People will have to repair their homes, restock refrigerators full of spoiled food, and make up for lost work.  Some may not have time to vote.
  • Second, even before the storm, there was a backlog of absentee ballot applications in New York City, and the hurricane will probably worsen the delay.  Some voters will not get their ballots in time.  In other states as well, the storm may hinder early voting.
  • Third, storm damage will disrupt get-out-the-vote efforts.  Though neither presidential campaign is putting resources into either state (both of which will go for Obama), many downballot campaigns and local party organizations were planning on door-to-door contact and electronic communication to mobilize supporters.   The hurricane will cost these efforts several days that they can't get back. 
In 2008, 7,640,640 New Yorkers and 3,868,237 New Jerseyans voted for president, for a total of approximately 11.5 million ballots.  If similar numbers were headed for the polls this year, and if the hurricane depressed turnout by just one percent, that's a drop of 115,000 votes, of which about 65,000 would probably go to Obama.

In this scenario, he would still carry the two states, but in an extremely close election, his national popular-vote total might dip below Romney's.  

The Hurricane and the Campaign -- 1992

From UPI, August 29, 1992:
Knowing Hurricane Andrew is one domestic disaster he cannot afford to blow, President Bush returned to Washington Saturday to get an update on federal relief efforts in Florida and Louisiana.
Having set aside a planned weekend at his seaside home in Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush flew to the White House from Camp David, Md., for a high-profile meeting with top aides.
With cameras rolling, Bush stepped off his helicopter on the South Lawn and strode to the Cabinet Room for talks with Transportation Secretary Andrew Card, Deputy Defense Secretary Donald Atwood and members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Earlier in the day, the Defense Department announced that the number of federal troops assisting in South Florida would be doubled to 14,000.
The president was showered with criticism from victims of Hurricane Andrew last week that the government was slow to respond to their massive loss of homes and businesses.
But a Newsweek poll released Saturday showed that 54 percent of Americans believe Bush has done a good job handling relief efforts. At the same time, however, 57 percent said they think Bush is more concerned about matters in Iraq and Bosnia-Hercegovina than the plight of those in Florida and Louisiana.
From The New York Times, August 30, 1992:
Gov. Bill Clinton said today that an effort should be made to "look into" why problems have plagued the hurricane disaster-relief effort in Florida and Louisiana.
But he pulled up short of blaming President Bush for any of the troubles, saying he did not want to politicize the issue in an election and that any investigation should be carried out in "as nonpolitical a way as possible."
"I do believe an important job of a President is the management of disasters," the Democratic nominee told reporters here at an appearance before a wildlife group. "I think they need to look into it. But I don't want to get into assessing the blame there because I don't know what the facts were. We ought to look into how it can be changed for the future."
The Bush Administration has been hit by complaints over the past several days that it moved ineptly and too slowly to aid the victims of Hurricane Andrew, particularly in Florida.
Today, the Bush campaign said that Mr. Clinton, despite his claims to the contrary, was jumping on criticisms of the disaster relief for political advantage. "He's trying to exploit what is a terrible situation for political gain," said Torie Clarke, a campaign spokeswoman. "He should be ashamed of himself."
From The New York Times, September 2, 1992:
With a few deft words, President Bush threw the full weight of incumbency behind Florida's hurricane victims today, and showed in the process why even Presidents who lag in the polls are electoral forces to be reckoned with.
Seeking to recover from an early stumble in the Federal relief effort, Mr. Bush flew Air Force One to the site of the worst storm damage and opened the Federal treasury to residents of South Florida.
He committed the Government to footing the entire cost of rebuilding the region's shattered schools, bridges, hospitals, roads and other public facilities, a tab that is likely to run double that of the $1.5 billion spent after Hurricane Hugo struck South Carolina in 1989. He also pledged to rebuild Homestead Air Force Base, at a cost that could reach $500 million, even though some experts had concluded that if the judgment was based on military need, the base might never be reopened.
By day's end it was clear that this normally budget-conscious President, who has railed for months against unrestrained Federal spending, would spare nothing when it came to helping Florida's hurricane victims.
Though he lost the general election to Clinton, Bush won Florida by 1.9 percent.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Department of Business?

In an interview with MSNBC, President Obama said:
I’ve said I want to consolidate a whole bunch of government agencies. We should have one Secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like getting loans to SBA or helping companies with exports. There should be a one-stop shop. Now, the reason we haven’t done that is not because of some big ideological difference. It has something to do with Congress talking a good game about streamlining government, but protective about giving up their jurisdiction over various pieces of government. So, there are going to be a whole things of government that I think we can work on, the first thing though is, let’s go ahead and get settled, how big a government, how do we pay for it?
The president spoke about reorganization in his 2011 State of the Union   A year later, he did propose legislation enhancing the president's ability to reorganize the government.  Though he spoke about it at a January meeting of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, he said very little about afterward.

 And he has not met with the Council since then.

Is It Possible to Postpone the Presidential Election?

Hurricane Sandy is raising the question of postponing the election.  The Constitution raises some issues here.
Article I, Section 4.
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
Article I, Section 5.
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Article II, Section 1, clause 4
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the [Presidential] Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Eight years ago, the Congressional Research Service addressed the question.
The United States Constitution does not provide in express language any current authority for a federal official or institution to “postpone” an election for federal office. While the Constitution does expressly devolve upon the States the primary authority to administer within their respective jurisdictions elections for federal office, there remains within the Constitution a residual and superceding authority in the Congress over most aspects of congressional elections (Article I, Section 5, clause 1), and an express authority in Congress over at least the timing of the selections of presidential electors in the States (Article II, Section 1, clause 4). Under this authority Congress has legislated a uniform date for presidential electors to be chosen in the States, and a uniform date for congressional elections across the country, which are to be on the Tuesday immediately following the first Monday in November in the particular, applicable even-numbered election years.
In addition to general contest, protest and challenge statutes whereby the results of elections to federal office are initially adjudicated in the States, a handful of States have provided in State law express authority to postpone or reschedule elections within their jurisdictions based on certain emergency contingencies. The States’ authority within the United States Constitution appears to be sufficient to enact legislation to deal with emergency and exigent circumstances concerning federal elections, as long as such laws do not conflict with federal law enacted under Congress’ superceding constitutional authority. Federal courts have thus generally
interpreted federal law to permit the States to reschedule elections to congressional office when “exigent” circumstances have necessitated a postponement. 
The federal statute for presidential elections, however, expressly states that “[w]henever any State has held an election for the purpose of choosing electors,” but fails to “make a choice on the day prescribed by law,” then the electors may be selected on a subsequent day in the manner established by the legislature of the State:
3 U.S.C. § 2. Failure to make choice on prescribed day Whenever any State has held an election for the purpose of choosing electors, and has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.
Does the wording of 3 U.S.C. § 2 mean that the authority of the States to reschedule an election for presidential electors is contingent upon the State actually having “held an election for the purpose of choosing electors”? If so, then under this theory no prior postponement and rescheduling would be permitted State-wide, even a postponement for natural disasters such as an impending hurricane, or the destruction shortly prior to the elections of a number of polling places, since it would conflict with the federally scheduled time in 3 U.S.C. § 2.
Certainly, if a scheduled election is being held when terrorist or other types of attacks are conducted on voting places, destroying certain polling places in various precincts and disrupting the election generally in a State, then the power of the State to find under its general election contest and challenge procedures that the results of the election, because of such disruptions, are not viable or valid, and that, either a new election, or a continuation of the election (whereby those people who were not certified by election officials as having already voted could come to vote at a subsequent time), would appear to be in conformance with federal law, both at 2 U.S.C. § 8 (for congressional elections), as well as 3 U.S.C. § 2, in the case of the
election of presidential electors. In such cases, the State had clearly “held an election,” but a choice was not necessarily made because the State has determined that the results could not fairly be ascertained.
However, if there is a disruption just prior to an election, could an election for presidential electors not be held, that is, be postponed and rescheduled in a particular State and still be in conformance with 3 U.S.C. § 2? There is no clear and definitive authority on this question, nor do there appear to be specific legal precedents bearing upon this issue. Even though the purpose in 1845 of this particular provision at 3 U.S.C. § 2, regarding the subsequent choosing of electors, was clearly to allow those States that required an absolute “majority” in a general election to be “elected” to hold a subsequent run-off election if no candidate’s electors received such a majority,44 the language itself may be open to broader interpretation

Standing Guard in a Hurricane

A previous post noted that the military does not abandon the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier even in harsh weather, such as Hurricane Sandy:

Photo: Spc. Brett Hyde, Tomb Sentinel, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), keeps guard over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during Hurricane Sandy at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Oct. 29, 2012.  Hyde lives by the Sentinel's Creed which in part says “Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability”. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr.)

An earlier version of this post featured the photo below.  Although a number of news sites identified it as a current picture, it turns out to be one from September.

International Views of the US Election

The presidential election is likely to be close.  But if the whole world could vote, Obama would win big. The BBC reports:
A BBC World Service opinion poll has found sharply higher overseas approval ratings for US President Barack Obama than Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
An average of 50% favoured Mr Obama, with 9% for Mr Romney, in the survey of 21,797 people in 21 countries.
Only Pakistan's respondents said they would prefer to see Mr Romney win November's election.
France was the most strongly pro-Obama (72%).
The survey was conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA between 3 July and 3 September.
Last month, the German Marshall Fund had a similar finding:
The 11th annual Transatlantic Trends survey out today reveals that transatlantic majorities still approve of U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and that Mitt Romney is largely an unknown in Europe.
Transatlantic Trends 2012 ( shows 82% of Europeans said they had a favorable opinion of the American president. When Europeans were asked about Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, 38% of respondents either said they did not know or refused to answer, and 39% said their view was unfavorable; 23% reported a favorable view.
President Obama is not as popular at home as he is in Europe, although a majority of Americans (57%) said their overall view of the president was favorable, 40% unfavorable. Romney is seen unfavorably by a plurality in the United States (49%). If Europeans could vote in the U.S. election, 75% of EU residents would vote for Obama, and only 8% would vote for Romney.
The Hill reports on a conspicuous exception to the pattern:

Israelis prefer Mitt Romney over President Obama by wide margins, according to the latest polling from the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University.
The Republican candidate leads Obama 57 percent to 22 percent, the organizations' Peace Index for October found in its October survey.
The gap is especially marked among self-described right-wingers — 70 percent of whom prefer Romney — while Obama gets three times more support from Arab Israelis, 45 percent versus 15 percent.

Bill Graham Ad

Charities with 501(c)(3) status under the tax code may not take part in political campaigns.  The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is such a group.  Yet it is running an ad urging voter to support candidates who "base their decisions on biblical principles."  The ad may not fall afoul of the tax code because it does not name any individual or party.

This case illustrates the complex relationship of religion and politics, as well as the unique circumstances of the 2012 election.  Despite his recent wish that he had steered clear of politics, Billy Graham has endorsed Mitt Romney, the first Mormon presidential nominee of a major party.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

More Zombies in the News

We've seen zombies in political protests, campaign ads, and information from the Centers for Disease Control.  Associated Press reports on zombies in emergency preparedness training:
Move over vampires, goblins and haunted houses, this kind of Halloween terror aims to shake up even the toughest warriors: An untold number of so-called zombies are coming to a counterterrorism summit attended by hundreds of Marines, Navy special operations forces, soldiers, police, firefighters and others to prepare them for their worst nightmares.
"This is a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party," said Brad Barker, president of Halo Corp, a security firm hosting the Oct. 31 training demonstration during the summit at a 44-acre Paradise Point Resort island on a San Diego bay. "Everything that will be simulated at this event has already happened, it just hasn't happened all at once on the same night. But the training is very real, it just happens to be the bad guys we're having a little fun with."
Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.
In the scenario, a VIP and his personal detail are trapped in a village, surrounded by zombies when a bomb explodes. The VIP is wounded and his team must move through the town while dodging bullets and shooting back at the invading zombies. At one point, some members of the team are bitten by zombies and must be taken to a field medical facility for decontamination and treatment.
Fox 43 reports on a similar exercise in Franklin County, Pennsylvania:
The Franklin County Department of Emergency Services used a zombie apocalypse theme for an emergency preparedness drill Saturday.
"What we're doing is a pod exercise, which is appointing distribution. This would be used for any kind of major catastrophe. If you've been bitten by a zombie, you are going through and getting medication, which is M&M's," said Meghan O'Brien, Assistant Director for the Franklin County Department of Emergency Services.
The zombie bite is a metaphor for any kind of medical emergency. Depending on what it is, volunteers would then tell those affected what kind of medication they would need and how to take it.

Cuban Missile Crisis: JFK Calls Former Presidents

On October 28, 1962, JFK called former president Hoover, Truman, and Eisenhower about the apparently successful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

 It is hard to believe, but all three old men would outlive the youthful chief executive.

A Romney Path Without Ohio or Virginia

It  is just possible for Romney to win without Ohio or Virginia.  An independent poll finds that Obama and Romney are in a statistical tie in Minnesota.  If he can carry that state, along with Iowa and Wisconsin, then Romney could get the minimum 270.

Here is a map from the RCP do-it-yourself page:

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 28, 1962

Fifty years ago today, the United States marked the final day of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Two years ago, Andrew Glass wrote at Politico:
On this day in 1962, the Cuban missile crisis, which threatened to start a superpower war, came to a close when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove 42 intermediate-range nuclear missiles from Cuba. For its part, Washington promised not to invade the Communist island, while pledging (secretly) to dismantle its own missiles in Italy and Turkey.
At the Council on Foreign Relations, James M. Lindsay writes:
Confident that the crisis was headed to a peaceful and satisfactory conclusion, Kennedy called former presidents Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower. He told them only what was in the news. He didn’t tell them about the secret promise he had made to remove the Jupiter missiles from Turkey. The former presidents not surprisingly applauded Kennedy’s skill in forcing Khrushchev to capitulate.
Not everyone one was pleased that the missile crisis had been resolved peacefully. Fidel Castro was outraged. He would later lead his fellow Cubans in chants of “Nikita, mariquita, lo que se da no se quita!” (“Nikita, you little homosexual, what is given should not be taken back!”)
None of that was a concern for JFK. After calling presidents Truman and Eisenhower, he turned to his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and invoked the memory of Abraham Lincoln. “This is the night I should go to the theater,” said the president. RFK replied, “If you go, I want to go with you.”

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Deliberation and Ballot Measures

Joe Mathews writes about California Governor Jerry Brown's efforts to win voter approval of a tax increase.  Brown recently had a discouraging encounter at a coffee shop:
Here's how the LA Times described the conversation:
"In the cafe, located in the shadow of San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, Brown asked employees whether they had heard of Proposition 30. A couple had. Most had not.
"'Do you watch TV?' Brown asked a young woman who had not heard of the measure.
"She said she did not. Brown seemed exasperated. 'That's the problem,' the governor said.
'How do you reach the non-TV voter?'" 
There's an obvious answer to that, one that critics of Brown's low-profile strategy have been offering for some time: you reach the non-TV voter by engaging citizens in every form of media, in person, and through new deliberative tools (available via the Internet and in person) in conversation about government.
Brown has done precious little of this. His concern about being overexposed seems genuine, and it's charming in an old-fashioned sort of way. But it's also wrong for these times. The world and California are much bigger places; the media universe is more crowded. The occasional statement, or a big push late in campaign season, isn't enough to get the word out in this environment. Public engagement must be constant.
A governor who isn't constantly trying to cut through the clutter and get out a consistent message is, quite simple, a governor who isn't doing his whole job.

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 27, 1962

From the JFK Library:
A second letter from Moscow demanding tougher terms, including the removal of obsolete Jupiter missiles from Turkey, is received in Washington. Over Cuba, An American U-2 plane is shot down by a Soviet-supplied surface-to-air missile and the pilot, Major Rudolph Anderson, is killed. President Kennedy writes a letter to the widow of USAF Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr., offering condolences, and informing her that President Kennedy is awarding him the Distinguished Service Medal, posthumously.
A PBS documentary describes the shoot-down:


More from the JFK Library:
At a tense meeting of the Executive Committee, President Kennedy resists pressure for immediate military action against the SAM sites. At several points in the discussion, Kennedy insists that removal of the American missiles in Turkey will have to be part of an overall negotiated settlement. The Committee ultimately decides to ignore the Saturday letter from Moscow and respond favorably to the more conciliatory Friday message. Air Force troop carrier squadrons are ordered to active duty in case an invasion is required.
Later that night, Robert Kennedy meets secretly with Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. They reach a basic understanding: the Soviet Union will withdraw the missiles from Cuba under United Nations supervision in exchange for an American pledge not to invade Cuba. In an additional secret understanding, the United States agrees to eventually remove the Jupiter missiles from Turkey.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Getting Electors to Defect

As a number of political analysts have pointed out, there is a small but real chance of a 269-269 tie vote in the electoral college. If that’s the count when the electors cast their ballots on December 17, then the newly-elected House of Representatives will pick the winner in January. Under the 12th Amendment, each state delegation gets one vote. Republicans currently have a majority of representatives from 33 states, and this election probably won't change that number very much. So a tie vote would mean a Romney victory. (The Senate elects the vice president, however, so if Democrats keep their majority there, Romney’s vice president would be Joe Biden.)

But a tie on election night doesn’t necessarily mean a tie on December 17. Contemplating the prospect that a deadlocked electoral college would send the decision to a GOP House, supporters of President Obama might try to get some GOP electors to change their votes.

Such a move would be lawful. Twenty-one states do not bind their electors to vote for the candidates to whom they are pledged. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia do have such requirements, but there is serious doubt that the courts would uphold them.

There would be a precedent for an organized effort to flip electors. When it became apparent that Al Gore won a popular-vote plurality in the 2000 election, a pair of students at Claremont McKenna College started a Website to persuade Republican electors to support Gore. (We mention this attempt in our textbook.) Although they attracted a lot of publicity, they got little support from Democratic political professionals, who were focusing on the vote count in Florida.

Things would be different this time, in part because Democrats are still seething about the 2000 result. If the impetus for a vote-switching effort didn’t come directly from the Obama campaign or the Democratic National Committee, it would surely come from outside-spending groups or the progressive side of the Twitterverse.

In most states, people get to be electors because of long service to their party, so it would be hard to switch many of them. But in case of a tie, it would only take a single defection to decide the election. Out of 269 mostly-obscure people, might not one feel a temptation to earn a line in the history books?

If a Republican elector or two seemed to be wavering, the Romney campaign would probably try to flip Democratic electors the other way. One would guess, then, that both sides have contingency plans for an electoral-college whip operation, complete with up-to-date contact information for every elector.

I don’t know if this scenario would be good for the country, but it would be fascinating to watch.

Technology, News, and Campaign Money

The Project on Excellence in Journalism finds that Americans are following the presidential campaign more closely on nearly every news platform than they were earlier. The biggest gains have come on  websites of traditional news sources and sites native to the web.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project finds that technology is providing a new avenue for campaign money:
In June of this year, the Federal Election Commission for the first time allowed political campaigns to accept campaign contributions via text message, and both of the major presidential candidates now allow supporters to contribute directly to their campaign using a cell phone. In two surveys fielded in late September, we asked a series of questions aimed at determining how this new contribution model is fitting into Americans’ political giving habits. Because few (if any) congressional or state-level candidates currently accept mobile donations at this time, we limited our questions on this topic to presidential campaign contributions only.
10% of 2012 presidential campaign donors have contributed via text message or cell phone app. Democrats are more likely to contribute online or directly from their cell phone, while Republicans are more likely to contribute in person, by phone call, or via regular mail.

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 26, 1962

A Soviet-chartered freighter is stopped at the quarantine line and searched for contraband military supplies. None are found and the ship is allowed to proceed to Cuba. Photographic evidence shows accelerated construction of the missile sites and the uncrating of Soviet IL-28 bombers at Cuban airfields.
Day 12: Oct. 26, 1962
In a private letter, Fidel Castro urges Nikita Khrushchev to initiate a nuclear first strike against the United States in the event of an American invasion of Cuba.
John Scali, ABC News reporter, is approached by Aleksander Fomin of the Soviet embassy staff with a proposal for a solution to the crisis.
Later, a long, rambling letter from Khrushchev to Kennedy makes a similar offer: removal of the missiles in exchange for lifting the quarantine and a pledge that the U.S. will not invade Cuba.
Recording of a telephone conversation with JFK. State Department Spokesman Lincoln White, and Press Secretary to the President Pierre Salinger. They discuss White’s comments to the press concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis, press reaction, and procedures for releasing further statements.

Evangelicals for a Non-Protestant Ticket

Mitt Romney is a Mormon and Paul Ryan is a Catholic.  The Republican ticket is the first in the history of either party not to include a ProtestantThe Los Angeles Times reports that evangelicals are still backing it:
"It's our belief that the great irony of this election will be [that] you'll have the first ticket without a Protestant on it, and that ticket will get the highest support by evangelical voters of any ticket in history," said Gary Marx, executive director of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition. "That's going to be the great irony — supporting a Mormon-Catholic ticket at record levels, and I think that's already showing up in the polling data."

The Faith and Freedom Coalition has set an ambitious goal of reaching out to 17.1 million evangelical households in 12 battleground states to push them to vote. Marx said the group was trying to contact each household seven to 12 times using a variety of techniques, including phone calls, direct mail, email, text messaging, voter guides in churches, radio ads on conservative-skewing stations and personal visits by volunteers.

Focus on the Family's political wing, CitizenLink, in cooperation with six other organizations, has set a goal of registering as many as 5 million previously unregistered evangelical voters, and is sending out millions of voter guides that compare Romney's and Obama's positions on issues of importance to conservative Christians.

"We want to make the records known," Daly said, "and let you decide which person lines up with your values."

Not all evangelicals are conservative, and the Obama campaign also has an outreach effort to rally religious voters. But polls suggest that the president will not do as well among white evangelicals as he did in 2008.

The slow economic recovery may be the primary reason. But Obama has also lost support among some evangelicals for his support of same-sex marriage, and for policies perceived to be threatening to religious freedom, including a rule in his healthcare plan that would require some religious institutions to provide contraceptive services to their employees.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Electing the President: Nuts and Bolts

  • November 6, 2012—Election Day -- Registered voters cast their votes for President and Vice President. By doing so, they also help choose the electors who will represent their state in the Electoral College.
  • Mid-November through December 17, 2012 --  After the presidential election, the governor of your state prepares seven Certificates of Ascertainment. “As soon as practicable,” after the election results in your state are certified, the governor sends one of the Certificates of Ascertainment to the Archivist. Certificates of Ascertainment should be sent to the Archivist no later than the meeting of the electors on December 17, 2012. However, federal law sets no penalty for missing the deadline. The remaining six Certificates of Ascertainment are held for use at the meeting of the Electors on December 17, 2012.
  • December 11, 2012 --  States must make final decisions in any controversies over the appointment of their electors at least six days before the meeting of the Electors on December 17, 2012. This is so their electoral votes will be presumed valid when presented to Congress. The deadline for resolving any controversies is December 11, 2012. Decisions by states’ courts are conclusive, if decided under laws enacted before Election Day, November 6, 2012.
  • December 17, 2012 -- The Electors meet in their state and vote for President and Vice President on separate ballots. The electors record their votes on six “Certificates of Vote,” which are paired with the six remaining Certificates of Ascertainment.
Here is a news report on the 2008 meeting of North Carolina's electors:

  • December 26, 2012 -- The deadline for receipt of the electoral votes by the President of the Senate and the Archivist is December 26, 2012. States face no legal penalty for failure to comply. If votes are lost or delayed, the Archivist may take extraordinary measures to retrieve duplicate originals.
  • On or Before January 3, 2013 -- The Archivist and/or representatives from the Office of the Federal Register meet with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House in late December or early January. This is, in part, a ceremonial occasion. Informal meetings may take place earlier.
  • January 6, 2013 --  The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes on January 6, 2013. Congress may pass a law to change this date. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the Electoral College vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.  If a State submits conflicting sets of electoral votes to Congress, the two Houses acting concurrently may accept or reject the votes. If they do not concur, the votes of the electors certified by the Governor of the State on the Certificate of Ascertainment would be counted in Congress.
Here is video of the vote count in 2009:

  • If no Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides for the House of Representatives to decide the Presidential election. If necessary the House would elect the President by majority vote, choosing from the three candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each state having one vote.
  • If no Vice Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment provides for the Senate to elect the Vice President. If necessary, the Senate would elect the Vice President by majority vote, choosing from the two candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each Senator having one vote.
  • If any objections to the Electoral College vote are made, they must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and one Senator. If objections are presented, the House and Senate withdraw to their respective chambers to consider their merits under procedures set out in federal law.

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 25, 1962

From the JFK Library:
Knowing that some missiles in Cuba were now operational, the president personally drafts a letter to Premier Khrushchev, again urging him to change the course of events. Meanwhile, Soviet freighters turn and head back to Europe. The Bucharest, carrying only petroleum products, is allowed through the quarantine line. U.N. Secretary General U Thant calls for a cooling off period, which is rejected by Kennedy because it would leave the missiles in place.
Much public debate between the United States and the Soviet Union took place in the halls of the United Nations. During the debate in the Security Council, the normally courteous U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson aggresivrely confronted his Soviet U.N. counterpart Valerian Zorin with photographic evidence of the missiles in Cuba.

Cuban Missile Crisis: Inside the Mind of a President

This page of JFK's random notes during an October 25, 1962 EXCOMM meeting suggests what presidents think about: "decisions" and "leaders."

  Doodle by President Kennedy from October 25, 1962

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Horses and the Military

From The John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center
The Senior Mountaineering Course includes tactical mountain operations, field-craft training, horsemanship, animal packing instruction, maintaining mountaineering equipment, selecting appropriate mountaineering equipment, high-alpine medical considerations, medical emergencies, trauma emergencies, weather forecasting, belaying techniques, constructing improvised climbing equipment, casualty extraction, moving non-trained personnel over vertical obstacles, conducting mountain operations
Special Forces used horses in Afghanistan.

There is a monument to the horse soldiers near Ground Zero:


ABC News reports:
The most memorable line of Monday night’s debate was President Obama’s pointed “horses and bayonets” jab at Mitt Romney for questioning what Romney said was a shrinking U.S. Navy.
Obama responded that Romney “hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. ” He added, “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.”
Horses and bayonets quickly became a Twitter punchline, but while they may no longer be needed for bayonet charges, it turns out the Pentagon still owns a hefty arsenal of bayonets.
The Army said today it has 419,155 bayonets in its inventory. The Marine Corps has another 195,334 bayonets that it bought in 2004 and it plans on buying 175,061 more bayonets this year. A Marine official says it’s not accurate to add the two totals together as the new ones will include replacements for ones already in service as well as additional stocks.
Aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Staff Sgt. Leon S. Parker tells recruits how to use bayonets,  July 24, 2012:

At The Wall Street Journal, Julian E. Barnes writes:  "In 1916, Army and Marine Corps forces were relatively small, the World War I buildup having not begun. There were about 200,000 active duty Army soldiers and about 14,000 Marines, making it unlikely that there were more than the approximately 614,000 bayonets in the inventory today."

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 24, 1962

The Hollywood version:

From the Nuclear Files:
10:00A.M.: The ExComm meets to consider the situation in Cuba. According to Robert Kennedy 's memoirs on the crisis, the meeting "seemed the most trying, the most difficult, and the most filled with tension." Robert McNamara tells the group that Soviet ships approaching the quarantine line show no indications of stopping and that two Soviet ships, the Gagarin and the Komiles, are within a few miles of the line. Naval intelligence then reports that a Soviet submarine has moved into position between the two ships. McNamara states that the aircraft carrier USS Essex has been directed to make the first interception, and that antisubmarine tactics, including the use of small explosives, has been ordered to prevent the Soviet submarine from interfering with the blockade.
According to Robert Kennedy , the president asks, "Isn't there some way we can avoid our first exchange with a Russian submarine--almost anything but that?" McNamara replies, "No, there's too much danger to our ships...Our commanders have been instructed to avoid hostilities if at all possible, but this is what we must be prepared for, and this is what we must expect." At 10:25A.M., a new intelligence message arrives and John McCone announces: "We have a preliminary report which seems to indicate that some of the Russian ships have stopped dead in the water." Dean Rusk leans over to McGeorge Bundy and says, "We're eyeball to eyeball and I think the other fellow just blinked." President Kennedy directs that no ship be intercepted for at least another hour while clarifying information is sought.
At the Council on Foreign Relations, James M. Lindsay offers an important qualification:
Rusk’s comment became the iconic line of the Cuban missile crisis. But it was misleading in a critical way. It implied that U.S. and Soviet ships were in close proximity if not actually steaming straight for each other. The men gathered around JFK on the morning of October 24 certainly thought that was the case; McCone even recorded a note later in the day that a U.S. Navy vessel had confronted a Soviet ship at virtually the same time he received the intelligence bulletin in the White House. The incident didn’t take place. In fact, the two closest Soviet ships were more than five hundred nautical miles from the quarantine line and headed back to the Soviet Union.
The crisis was far from over. Back to the Nuclear Files timeline:
9:24P.M.: The State Department receives a letter for President Kennedy from Premier Khrushchev . At 10:52P.M., the message is read to Kennedy. Khrushchev writes, "if you coolly weigh the situation which has developed, not giving way to passions, you will understand that the Soviet Union cannot fail to reject the arbitrary demands of the United States." Khrushchev warns that the Soviet Union views the blockade as "an act of aggression" and that, as a consequence, he will not instruct Soviet ships bound for Cuba to observe the quarantine. 
At the direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, SAC increases its alert posture to DEFCON 2 for the first time in history. Thomas Powers, the commander-in-chief of SAC, believed, as he later wrote, that while discreet preparations had been appropriate before, it was now "important for [the Soviets] to know of SAC's readiness." Consequently, Powers decides on his own authority to transmit uncoded messages to SAC commanders noting that SAC plans are well prepared and that the alert process was going smoothly. 
At the request of President Kennedy , the Defense Department drafts two separate plans to increase civil defense preparations during a possible military engagement with Cuba. The first outlines civil defense measures which could be taken in the vicinity of targets close to Cuba under attack with conventional weapons, while the second suggests measures which could be taken in response to possible nuclear attack within MRBM range.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Names and Words Not Mentioned in the Foreign Policy Debate

The transcript of last night's debate reveals some odd omissions in what was supposed to be a discussion of foreign policy and national security:
  • War Powers
  • Constitution
  • American exceptionalism
  • Immigration
  • Drugs, narcotics
  • Poverty
  • National Security Council
  • Peace Corps
  • CIA
  • Mexico
  • South America
  • Central America
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • European Union
  • NATO
  • G8
  • Free trade
  • Guantanamo
  • World Trade Organization
  • National Guard
  • Reserves
  • Marines
  • Central Command
  • Susan Rice
  • Hillary Clinton

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 23, 1962

Last night, Bob Schieffer opened the debate by mentioning the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The JFK Library lays out the events of this day in 1962:
Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Edwin Martin seeks a resolution of support from the Organization of American States. Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson lays the matter before the U.N. Security Council. The ships of the naval quarantine fleet move into place around Cuba. Soviet submarines threaten the quarantine by moving into the Caribbean area. Soviet freighters bound for Cuba with military supplies stop dead in the water, but the oil tanker Bucharest continues towards Cuba. In the evening Robert Kennedy meets with Ambassador Dobrynin at the Soviet Embassy.
After the Organization of American States endorsed the quarantine, President Kennedy asks Khrushchev to halt any Russian ships heading toward Cuba. The president's greatest concern is that a US Navy vessel would otherwise be forced to fire upon a Russian vessel, possibly igniting war between the superpowers.
JFK's message to Khrushchev:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cuban Missile Crisis: AP Retrospective

A retrospective from the Associated Press:

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 22, 1962 -- the Speech

On this date in 1962, John F. Kennedy made a national television broadcast announcing that the Soviets had placed offensive missiles in Cuba and that the United States would blockade the island:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cuban Missile Crisis: JFK Calls Eisenhower

On October 22, 1962, just before going on television to reveal the Cuban Missile Crisis to the American people, JFK consulted with former president Eisenhower:

Do Facebook Ads Work?

Previous posts have discussed ways in which Facebook may influence political behavior.  But does it pay to advertise on Facebook? Brendan Sasso writes at The Hill:
Facebook advertisements are a popular way for candidates to connect with voters, but a recent academic study suggests they aren't actually that effective.
Donald Green, a political science professor at Columbia University, and David Brookman, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, found that voters exposed to Facebook campaign ads were no more likely than other voters to know the advertised candidate's name. Nor were they more like to have a favorable impression of the candidate or vote for the candidate.
The authors concluded that online ads are "quite unlikely to play a meaningful role in determining the fate of a political campaign or retailer."
Brookman admitted that $280 might not have had a measurable impact if the candidate had spent it on TV ads or yard signs instead.

"This still could be the most cost-effective campaign tactic out there," he said. "We can't rule that out."
But he argued that Facebook ads are cheap because most groups doubt their value.
"There's a reason TV ads are so expensive," he said.

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 21, 1961

On this date in 1962 -- a Sunday, like today -- the general public still did not know that the Cuban Missile Crisis was under way.

At the Council on Foreign Relations, James M. Lindsay writes:
Kennedy began his Sunday by attending 9:00 a.m. Mass at St. Stephen’s Church as he usually did. After returning to the White House, he met with Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and reaffirmed the decision he hadmade the day before to impose a blockade on Cuba. He then met with Gen. Walter Sweeney, the head of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command. The general confirmed what the president had learned in earlier discussions with the ExCom: an air strike wouldreliably destroy at most 90 percent of the Soviet missiles. So when the planes returned home, some working Soviet missiles could still be pointed at the United States.
Kennedy spent his afternoon meeting with the ExCom. The group went line-by-line through the speech that Ted Sorensen had drafted for the president to give to the nation the next night, weighing the political and diplomatic consequences of every sentence. One issue was whether Kennedy should call what the United States was about to do a “blockade” or a “quarantine.” Rusk noted that “The legal meaning of the two words is identical”; stopping ships on the high seas would constitute an act of war under international law regardless of what Washington called it. He preferred calling what the United States was about to do a “quarantine,” however, because it would allow the administration to avoid unflattering comparisons to the blockade that the Soviets had imposed on Berlin in 1948 and 1949. Kennedy accepted Rusk’s point and directed that the term “quarantine” be used.
 From the National Security Archive:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Unions and a California Ballot Measure

Earlier this year, unions tried to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker over his efforts to limit public-sector collective bargaining.  Now they're fighting a California measure to limit their ability to gather political money.  KCBS-TV reports:

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 20, 1962

 From the Nuclear Files timeline:
9:00A.M.: ExComm [the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, an ad hoc group formed to make recommendations to the president] meetings continue at the State Department. Final planning for the implementation of a naval blockade is completed, and Theodore Sorensen's draft speech for President Kennedy is amended and approved. As McNamara leaves the conference room, he reportedly phones the Pentagon and orders four tactical squadrons to be readied for a possible airstrike on Cuba. McNamara explains to an official who overhears the conversation, " If the president doesn't accept our recommendation, there won't be time to do it later." 
2:30P.M.: President Kennedy meets with the full group of planning principals. He notes that the airstrike plan as presented is not a "surgical" strike but a massive military commitment that could involve heavy casualties on all sides. As if to underscore the scale of the proposed U.S. military attack on Cuba, one member of the JCS reportedly suggests the use of nuclear weapons, saying that the Soviet Union would use its nuclear weapons in an attack. President Kennedy directs that attention be focused on implementing the blockade option, calling it the only course of action compatible with American principles. The scenario for the full quarantine operation, covering diplomatic initiatives, public statements, and military actions, is reviewed and approved. Kennedy's address to the nation is set for October 22, at 7:00P.M.
Late night: James Reston, Washington Bureau Chief for the New York Times, phones George Ball and McGeorge Bundy to ask why there is such a flurry of activity in Washington. Reston is given a partial briefing on the Cuban situation but is requested to hold the story in the interests of national security.
From the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency:
Mariel, on the northwestern coast of Cuba, served as a major port of entry for Soviet goods and as a Cuban naval base. NPIC analysts monitored imagery of the port to gauge whether additional Soviet materials were brought in to add to the already growing threat. The Soviets attempted to send four “Foxtrot” diesel submarines to Cuba during the crisis. Intelligence gathering provided by NPIC and other agencies resulted in the U.S. Navy successfully forcing three subs to the surface before turning them around, with the fourth turning back in mid-journey, still submerged. 

Day 6: Oct. 20, 1962

Friday, October 19, 2012

Social Media and Civic Engagement

The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports:
The use of social media is becoming a feature of political and civic engagement for many Americans. Some 60% of American adults use either social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter and a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that 66% of those social media users—or 39% of all American adults—have done at least one of seven civic or political activities with social media.
Overall, there are mixed partisan and ideological patterns among social media users when it comes to using social media like social networking sites and Twitter. The social media users who talk about politics on a regular basis are the most likely to use social media for civic or political purposes. And the social media users who have firmer party and ideological ties—liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans—are, at times, more likely than moderates in both parties to use social media for these purposes.
Some of these activities are more likely to be pursued by younger social media users compared with the social media users who are ages 50 or older. Younger users are more likely to post their own thoughts about issues, post links to political material, encourage others to take political action, belong to a political group on a social networking site, follow elected officials on social media, and like or promote political material others have posted.

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 19, 1962

In Springfield, Illinois, the Journal-Register reports on JFK's effort to keep up the appearance of normality in the early days of the Cuban Missile Crisis:
The nation knew nothing about what was happening, of course, and that includes the thousands in Springfield who went to see the president just three days into the crisis on October 19, 1962, as he began a swing through several Midwestern states and the west campaigning on behalf of Democratic congressional candidates. Just a day before arriving in Springfield, Kennedy and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko met for two hours in the Oval Office where Gromyko told Kennedy Soviet aid to Cuba was meant only for defensive capabilities.
Despite the intense discussions and strategy sessions with his civilian and military advisors on how to respond to the situation, the White House thought that having Kennedy stay on his normal schedule would create the impression nothing was amiss. In the meantime, the Joint Chiefs of Staff urged Kennedy to respond with military force, including an airstrike. But Kennedy resisted.
The day after he was in Springfield the president’s press secretary announced that Kennedy suffered from an “upper respiratory infection” and abruptly cancelled the rest of his trip. The president returned to Washington.
David A. Welch and James G. Blight write:
On October 19, the CIA reported the construction of twelve SS-5 launch pads, likely to be operational in December, and more importantly, three SS-4 sites with four launchers each, two sites of which were reported to be operational already.4 American intelligence also revealed the presence of forty-two 11-28 light bombers, capable of delivering nuclear weapons to a range of approximately 600 miles.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Religion and Hispanics

Our textbook stresses the importance of religion in American politics.  The Pew Research Center reports:
Latinos are divided by religion in their preferences in the upcoming presidential election, according to the latest survey by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, both projects of the Pew Research Center. Three-quarters of Latino Catholics and eight-in-ten religiously unaffiliated Latinos support President Barack Obama’s re-election. However, among Latino evangelical Protestants, who account for 16% of all Latino registered voters, just 50% prefer Obama, while 39% support his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
These same patterns are reflected in Latinos’ partisan affiliations. Eight-in-ten religiously unaffiliated Latino voters (who make up 15% of the Latino electorate) and seven-in-ten Latino Catholics (57% of the Latino electorate) are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party. Among Latino evangelical voters, identification with the Democratic Party is lower; about half are Democrats or lean Democratic, while about a third are Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party.
As the presidential election approaches, many Hispanic churchgoers say they are hearing from their clergy about various political issues and, to a lesser extent, about candidates and elections. Roughly half of Latinos (54%) who attend religious services at least once a month say they have heard their clergy speak out about abortion, while 43% have heard from the pulpit about immigration, and 38% say their clergy have spoken out about homosexuality. A smaller proportion, roughly three-in-ten, report hearing from their clergy about candidates and elections.

Cuban Missile Crisis: October 18, 1962

On this date in 1962, President Kennedy met with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, who told him that the Soviet aid to Cuba was purely defensive. JFK knew that Gromyko was lying: US intelligence had already spotted offensive missiles in Cuba. From a memorandum on the meeting:
 As to Soviet assistance to Cuba, Mr. Gromyko stated that he was instructed to make it clear, as the Soviet Government had already done, that such assistance, pursued solely for the purpose of contributing to the defense capabilities of Cuba and to the development of Cuba, toward the development of its agriculture and land amelioration, and training by Soviet specialists of Cuba nationals in handling defensive armaments were by no means offensive. If it were otherwise, the Soviet Government would have never become involved in rendering such assistance. This applied to any other country as well. Laos was a good and convincing illustration of this point. If the Soviet Government had pursued a different policy, the situation in that country today would be quite different. It was quite evident that the Soviet Union and its friends had broader opportunities of influencing the situation in that country than had the United States. However, the USSR had sought an understanding on that question, since it could not go back on the basic principle of its foreign policy, which was designed to alleviate tensions, to eliminate outstanding problems and to resolve them on a peaceful basis. 
 JFK later dictated his memory of a meeting with advisors (sound quality is not great):


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Citizen Davis

On this date in 1976, President Carter signed legislation posthumously restoring citizenship rights to the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis:
In posthumously restoring the full rights of citizenship to Jefferson Davis, the Congress officially completes the long process of reconciliation that has reunited our people following the tragic conflict between the States. Earlier, he was specifically exempted form resolutions restoring the rights of other officials in the Confederacy. He had served the United States long and honorably as a soldier, Member of the U.S. House and Senate, and as Secretary of War. General Robert E. Lee's citizenship was restored in 1976. It is fitting that Jefferson Davis should no longer be singled out for punishment.

Our Nation needs to clear away the guilts and enmities and recriminations of the past, to finally set at rest the divisions that threatened to destroy our Nation and to discredit the principles on which it was founded. Our people need to turn their attention to the important tasks that still lie before us in establishing those principles for all people.