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“What Are They Thinking?”: The Many (Possible) Motivations Of The GOP’s Many 2016 Candidates

The list of Republican presidential candidates seems to be getting longer by the day. On Wednesday, Rick Santorum entered the race, and on Thursday, former New York Governor George Pataki is expected to do the same. Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, now counts 18 likely contenders. And yet, only a few have much of a real chance of winning: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio lead the pack, followed by Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

So why, if you’re Pataki, run at all?

“Pataki—I’m puzzled about this,” Sabato told the New Yorker last month. “I don’t even know what he’s been doing. Has he been on corporate boards?”

Indeed, Pataki hasn’t held office since 2006, and he declined to run for president in the past two cycles. But a number of other 2016 entrants are equally puzzling: Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, who has never held public office; Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and Tea Party favorite; Mike Huckabee, the ex-Arkansas governor. Even Donald Trump is threatening to run.

Why run as a dead-in-the-water candidate? Maybe God tapped them to run (“I feel fingers,” said Carson). Maybe they want to influence the public policy debate. Maybe they want to return to the spotlight. Or maybe they genuinely believe they can win. After all, in 2012, five different candidates held the lead at some point, including pizza mogul Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Mitt Romney won, as expected, but for a while there—especially after Santorum’s early wins in Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri—2012 looked like it could be anyone’s election.

But there are other motivations, too. As four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader recently explained: “You can fatten your mailing list and your Rolodex for future opportunities. These can include lucrative jobs, retainers, paid speeches or book advances.” Other potential motivatations include selling books, booking speaking gigs, getting a coveted appointment, or just getting an old-fashioned ego boost.

Pataki, for instance, is on a few corporate boards, like the environmental consulting firm he formed called the Pataki-Cahill group, and serves as a counsel for the law firm Chadbourne in New York. He’s represented by the Greater Talent Network. In 1998, Pataki ran into trouble for collecting $17,000 per speech while in office, but it’s not clear that he’s given any recent paid speeches: Speakerpedia, which has multiple speech reports for all of the candidates below, has zero for Pataki.

After 2012, Santorum created a movie production company, EchoLight, which produces Christian films featuring the likes of Corbin Bernsen and Brian Dennehy. Last year, Santorum released Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works, a campaign manifesto masquerading as a book. On top of that, he had $455,000 in 2012 campaign debts as of March. To pay the bills, he rented out his list of supporters for a total $37,000 this year, according to the Center for Public Integrity. He also gets paid up to $25,000 per speech, according to Speakerpedia.

Huckabee knows this tactic well. He’s rented his email list of supporters to a group that claimed to have found the cure to cancer in a verse of the Bible. His last bid for president in 2008 paid off well, earning him his own show on Fox News that he ended this year. Speakerpedia says he makes as much as $50,000 per speech.

Carly Fiorina, whose 2010 Senate bid failed, is a popular speaker as well; she’s represented by the Celebrity Speakers Bureau and reportedly can top $100,000 per speech. Her latest book, Rising to the Challenge, came out the same week in May that she announced her candidacy. Many believe Fiorina is vying to be the vice presidential pick (she’s a long shot for that, too), which she denies.

Ben Carson has no less than six books to hawk, the most recent of which, One Nation: What We Can All Do to Succeed, came out in 2014. And according to National Review, “the possible Republican candidate’s schedule includes paid speaking engagements running into the autumn of 2015 — many months after he’s expected to declare his official candidacy.” Those engagements may pay as much as $50,000 each.

As for Donald Trump—well, maybe he just wants a few million more Twitter followers to troll.

 

By: Rebecca Leber, The New Republican, May 28, 2015

May 31, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Rick Santorum | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Stats Are All On Bill de Blasio’s Side”: Crime Has Changed; The NYPD Should Change Too

Back before a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner, before a Baltimore man named Ismaiiyl Brinsley assassinated officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn as some deranged form of response, and before New York’s politics descended into chaos, with a crowd of hundreds of officers turning their backs on their mayor when he spoke at Ramos’s funeral and the head of the police union saying that de Blasio was acting less like the city’s responsible chief executive and more like the head of a “fucking revolution” — before all of this blazing December heat over the politics of crime, Mayor de Blasio gave a speech at a public housing project in Brooklyn addressing the city’s spectacular public safety record this year. In 2014, he noted, nearly all major crimes continued to decline and New York looks likely to see even fewer murders than it did last year, which set a record for the lowest total in modern history. These stats are particularly important to de Blasio politically, because he has promised that the less heavy-handed policing regime he envisioned (fewer stops, less harassment, more transparency and accountability) would not lead to more crime, and in this year’s crime data he could claim a little bit of proof. “We think it’s normal that we can bring crime down while bringing police and community closer together,” the mayor said, at the Ingersoll Houses in Fort Greene, on December 2. It was a striking speech, because de Blasio, adopting a technocratic tone, was arguing that crime had changed and therefore policing could change, too.

Before Ferguson, this could be seen as part of a broader political correction, in that the country in general had seemed to turn against the crime and punishment regime that has basically stood since the 1980s. Even most of the major Republican presidential candidates (Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie) have made it clear that they believed major reforms to reduce sentences and inmate population were overdue. States had been cutting prison populations to the extent that by 2013 the number of prisoners they housed was getting smaller rather than larger for the first time in 40 years. Scholars found that those states that cut their inmate population most dramatically had, unexpectedly, seen the largest drops in crime, which made it hard to argue that closing prisons would return us to the dark days of the ’80s. When de Blasio built his campaign in part around the case against stop-and-frisk, and when Bill Bratton agreed to implement radical changes to the policy, they were taking a risk, in that any major increase in crime could be blamed on these decisions. But you could see their calculation: Politically speaking, they were riding a pretty strong wave.

But something strange has happened during the past month, both in the politics of New York and those of the country. In the debates over policing that followed the tragedies of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and officers Ramos and Liu, race has assumed the central role, displacing crime. This has brought about a more direct confrontation with our remaining national sickness around race, but it has also surfaced an atavistic, tribal strain in our politics, reminiscent of the racialized fights of an earlier era. It is probably no accident that some of the central figures of New York’s recent past returned to the public stage last week, and that their view diverged from de Blasio’s. Instead of a reasonable, technocratic decision to adjust policies of policing and punishment to a place where there is much less crime, they saw the debate as a declaration of allegiances — of whose side you were on.

“We’ve had four months of propaganda — starting with the president — that everyone should hate the police,” Rudy Giuliani said. “That’s what the protests were all about.” Ray Kelly suggested that de Blasio’s public statements that his son Dante, who is half-black, take “special care” when dealing with police “set off this latest firestorm.” George Pataki called the slayings of Ramos and Liu a “predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric” from de Blasio and Eric Holder, Obama’s long-serving attorney general.

With all the talk of race, in New York and elsewhere, doubtless some of the police and their defenders feel as if they are being blamed for things that are not their fault, that a whole ugly national history is being dumped on their heads. On Fox News and CNN, Giuliani kept returning to his conviction that de Blasio was defaming the NYPD as racist. But in the responses to the assassination, it was possible to sense a deep perceptive chasm in addition to the emotional one — not merely over how the police should operate, but on what the nature of crime is. De Blasio called Brinsley a “heinous individual” and a “horrible assassin,” but his emphasis was always on the individual maniac, not anything he stood for or anyone he represented. There was surely some political calculation to this, alongside genuine belief, but it still differed noticeably from the police view. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, police sources told the Daily News that they were focused on the suspicion that Brinsley was “a member of the Black Guerrilla Family,” a large criminal gang with black nationalist politics, and that the slaying was a consequence of a concerted plot by the gang to “get back at cops for Eric Garner and Ferguson.” The story was quickly debunked — no one could find any connection between Brinsley and the BGF. But it seemed to reveal a basic difference in perspective — that crime is a function not of poverty but of individual pathologies and pathological networks, and that, without continued vigilance, it could still return.

Nearly every New Yorker now lives, in some meaningful way, in a post-peak-crime city marked by gentrification and safety, even in what were very recently very poor neighborhoods. The statistics that de Blasio rattled off at the Ingersoll Houses were astonishing: 80 percent reductions in murder and robberies since the early ’90s. (Perhaps even more amazing is the statistic that the criminologist Frederick Zimring of the University of California-Berkeley likes to cite, that auto thefts have declined by 95 percent.) The mayor is, as my colleague Chris Smith astutely pointed out, lying low right now. But when he reemerges, one way to further de-escalate tension might be to continue in the cooler vein he displayed at Ingersoll: talk about the achievements of the NYPD in reducing crime; about the accomplishments of the last year as the department has scaled back stop-and-frisk while seeing continued declines in violence; about the false choice of the trade-off between security and freedom. He could talk, in other words, less about policing and more about crime, which has the added benefit of giving the police credit for accomplishments so sustained that they have enabled a new approach. The tide that national politicians of all ideologies sensed before Ferguson, of liberalizing attitudes toward punishment, still exists. The stats are all on de Blasio’s side.

 

By: Benjamin Wallace-Wells, Daily Intelligencer, New Tork Magazine, December 30, 2014

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Bill de Blasio, NYPD, Police Violence | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Law Unto Themselves”: Turning “Law And Order” Into An Idol That Justifies Defiance Of The Law

Being by nature a bit of a communitarian, my civil libertarian muscles are often under-exercised. I’m still having trouble regarding Edward Snowden as my hero. But there is something about men in uniform with guns deciding they do not need supervision that scares even me. Charlie Pierce connects the dots between two recent examples of such insubordination, and its relationship with the principles of the Founders so often cited by Oath-Keeper types who appeal to Higher Laws:

Here’s something interesting about the Declaration of Independence, which we all revere because, you know, freedom. In the long bill of particulars on which the Continental Congress arraigned King George III — and there are 27 counts on that indictment — there’s only one mention of taxes. Rather, every one of the charges, especially the one quoted above, has to do with the illegitimate use by the king, and by his agents in the American colonies, of existing political institutions against the people themselves, either directly (by quartering troops, for example), or by rigging those institutions so they functioned for his benefit and not for the benefit of the people of the colonies. The men who signed the Declaration had long experience with what happens when the legal and political institutions of a state, and the people charged with their operation, suddenly consider themselves above the civil power they are supposed to serve — which, or so said Mr. Jefferson of Virginia, derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. That, they saw, was the true danger to their liberties posed by the government of the colonies at that time.

For the past two weeks, on two different fronts, we have been confronted with the unpleasant fact that there are people working in the institutions of our self-government who believe themselves not only beyond the control and sanctions of the civil power, but also beyond the control and sanctions of their direct superiors. We also have been confronted with the fact that there are too many people in our political elite who are encouraging this behavior for their own purposes, most of which are cheap and dangerous. In Washington, John Brennan, the head of the CIA, came right up to the edge of insubordination against the president who hired him in the wake of the Senate report on American torture. Meanwhile, in New York, in the aftermath of weeks of protests against the strangulation of Eric Garner by members of the New York Police Department, two patrolmen, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were murdered in their squad car by a career criminal and apparent maniac named Ismaaiyl Brinsley. In response, and at the encouragement of television hucksters like Joe Scarborough, police union blowhards like Patrick Lynch, political zombies like George Pataki, and comical fascists like Rudolph Giuliani, the NYPD is acting in open rebellion against Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, and the civil power he represents over them. This is an incredibly perilous time for democracy at the most basic levels.

Just as it is obviously dangerous to allow people beyond the reach of democratic institutions to determine national security needs and the measures taken to address them, it should be obviously reckless to turn “law and order” into an idol that justifies defiance of the law and an anarchic disregard for lines of authority. That way lies Governments of National Salvation and all sorts of despotism in the name of Higher Purposes. It’s bad enough that there are so many Americans who presume their Second Amendment rights include a right of revolution if the government’s policies don’t suit them. It’s worse when you have to wonder if some of the Forces of Order are going to join them.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, December 23, 2014

December 23, 2014 Posted by | Law Enforcement, NYPD, Police Brutality | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Flame Throwers And Fire Fighters”: Those Fanning The Flames And Those Trying To Tamp Them Down

It’s obvious that the big story of the day is the murder of two NYC police officers yesterday. I’m always hesitant to comment on a story like this as its unfolding. Its better to wait for all the information, process it, and see what we can draw from it.

But as people are weighing in, there are those that are fanning the flames and those that are trying to tamp them down. For example, in the category of flame throwers.

Rudy Giuliani:

“We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police,” Giuliani said during an appearance on Fox News on Sunday. “The protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged. The protests, even the ones that don’t lead to violence, a lot of them lead to violence, all of them lead to a conclusion. The police are bad, the police are racist. That is completely wrong.”

George Pataki:

Sickened by these barbaric acts, which sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of #ericholder & #mayordeblasio.

NYPD Union Chief Patrick Lynch:

“There’s blood on many hands tonight. Those that incited violence on the streets under the guise of protest that tried to tear down what NYPD officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated,” Lynch said, according to CBS New York. “That blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the office of the mayor.”

And here is what a few of the fire fighters had to say.

President Obama:

I unconditionally condemn today’s murder of two police officers in New York City. Two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification. The officers who serve and protect our communities risk their own safety for ours every single day—and they deserve our respect and gratitude every single day. Tonight, I ask people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal—prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen.

Attorney General Eric Holder:

I condemn this afternoon’s senseless shooting of two New York City police officers in the strongest possible terms.

This was an unspeakable act of barbarism, and I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of these two brave officers in the line of duty.

On behalf of all those who serve in the United States Department of Justice, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the officers’ loved ones and colleagues. I will make available all of the resources of the Department to aid the NYPD in investigating this tragedy.

This cowardly attack underscores the dangers that are routinely faced by those who protect and serve their fellow citizens. As a nation we must not forget this as we discuss the events of the recent past. These courageous men and women routinely incur tremendous personal risks, and place their lives on the line each and every day, in order to preserve public safety. We are forever in their debt.

Our nation must always honor the valor — and the sacrifices — of all law enforcement officers with a steadfast commitment to keeping them safe. This means forging closer bonds between officers and the communities they serve, so that public safety is not a cause that is served by a courageous few, but a promise that’s fulfilled by police officials and citizens working side by side.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (and AG nominee) Loretta Lynch:

I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of this afternoon’s brutal and senseless attack on two NYPD Officers, and I join Attorney General Holder in expressing my deepest condolences to the families of these fallen heroes…

Today’s assailant struck at the heart of our city — the dedicated officers who pledge their lives to safeguard us all. Today, two have fallen, in a stark reminder of the challenges and risks that our law enforcement officers face every day, both in New York City and throughout our nation.

Let us take this time to grieve with their families, and join the NYPD and all New Yorkers in honoring them for their sacrifice.

Frankly, some of the rhetoric of the flame throwers scares me. I’m sure hoping the fire fighters prevail.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, December 21, 2014

December 22, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, NYPD, Police Brutality | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Some Profoundly Un-American Responses”: The False Choice Of Protesting For Justice And Supporting Our Police

I’m one of the millions of New Yorkers who woke up heartbroken today thinking of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos who were shot dead yesterday while sitting in their car in Brooklyn by Ismaaiyl Brinsley.

As the news unfolded, we learned the briefest details of the two men’s lives such as the fact that Liu was married just two months ago, and that Ramos has a wife and a 13 year old son who “couldn’t comprehend what had happened to his father”, according to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio who met with the families before a press conference last night. I offered prayers for the men, and their widows and son.

Liu and Ramos were not the only victims of Brinsley’s deadly rampage yesterday. Earlier that day, the Atlanta resident had allegedly shot his former girlfriend in Maryland, who apparently now is in “serious condition“. After killing the two police officers, Brinsley fled and apparently killed himself in a nearby subway station.

The assassinations come at a particularly tense moment in America. Recent deaths of black citizens at the hands of police in Ferguson, Cleveland and here in New York have sparked protests and calls for investigation of racism within our policing and criminal justice system. I have been part of those protests. One week ago, I was in Washington, D.C. along with thousands of other Americans of all ages, races and religions who came together in peaceful protest and to listen to the mothers and wives of those men whose lives had been lost.

Never once did I hear any suggestion of violence against the police either in the march or from the microphone. The consistent call was to work with our elected officials, courts and police departments to improve our criminal system. The goal of this movement is justice — its means are non-violent, prophetic action. When I heard the news about the Ramos and Liu killings, I prayed that it was not linked in any way to the peaceful protests that I had been a part of.

But horrifically, the assassin made the connection himself.

He wrote on an Instagram account: “I’m putting wings on pigs today, They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner #RIPMichaelBrown”.

dontrunup

When I saw that I felt sick. And even sicker because the post had 17 Likes, meaning that 17 people read this obviously violent post and supported it and urged him on. And now they have blood on their hands as well.

Unfortunately, the person NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch blamed was not Ismaaiyl Brinsley, or any accomplices that may have known about his alleged intention to kill his ex-girlfriend and two police officers. Instead, he, Pataki, Giuliani and and other pundits declared that the people to blame were Obama, Holder, de Blasio and all those who have been involved in the nation wide protests.

“There’s blood on many hands tonight,” Lynch said last night, “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor.” Lynch went on to blame those who “incited violence on the street under the guise of protest.”

I guess he means me?

The response Lynch and some conservative commentators have had to the horrific killing of these two police officers and the alleged attempt to kill a woman is profoundly un-American. It is meant to chill any criticism or efforts to improve our country and only serves to divide an already deeply divided country and to increase tensions in an already tense time.

Instead of having the deaths of Liu and Ramos further tear us apart, could this serve as a moment of bringing us together? Liu and Ramos are reminders to any who would demonize the police, that our law enforcement is made up of people of all races and backgrounds, who have families and who feel called to this duty to protect and serve.

The families of Eric Garner and Michael Brown were among the first to condemn the killing of Ramos and Liu last night. The protests around the #BlackLivesMatter movement was never against the police, but it was a call to acknowledge that we can do better as a society that continues to bear the scars of racism.

That effort must continue; we can and must do better as a nation. But it will only be successful if everyone comes together and recognizes one another as human beings, deserving of respect, dignity and life.

Instead of pitting the deaths of Liu and Ramos against Garner and Brown, we can join them together, understanding them as martyrs who inspire us on both sides of the blue line to work for a more just, safe and united America.

 

By: Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor, The Huffington Post, December 21, 2014

 

December 22, 2014 Posted by | Civil Rights, Law Enforcement, NYPD | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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