Sunday, July 31, 2016

This Presidential Election Is “Consequential”

From the Editorial Board at the Houston Chronicle:

“On Nov. 8, 2016, the American people will decide between two presidential contenders who represent the starkest political choice in living memory. They will choose between one candidate with vast experience and a lifelong dedication to public service and another totally lacking in qualifications to be president. They will decide whether they prefer someone deeply familiar with the issues that are important to this nation or a person whose paper-thin, bumper-sticker proposals would be dangerous to the nation and the world if somehow they were enacted. 

The Chronicle editorial page does not typically endorse early in an election cycle; we prefer waiting for the campaign to play out and for issues to emerge and be addressed. We make an exception in the 2016 presidential race, because the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not merely political. It is something much more basic than party preference…

“Any one of Trump's less-than-sterling qualities - his erratic temperament, his dodgy business practices, his racism, his Putin-like strongman inclinations and faux-populist demagoguery, his contempt for the rule of law, his ignorance - is enough to be disqualifying. His convention-speech comment, ‘I alone can fix it,’ should make every American shudder. He is, we believe, a danger to the Republic.

“It's telling that so many Republicans have distanced themselves from their party's nominee. That sizeable list includes a number of prominent Texans, Bush family members foremost among them, as well as Sen. Cruz and House Speaker Joe Straus. These stalwart Republicans are concerned not only about the future of their party (and, with the exception of the two Bush presidents, their own political careers), but, more important, they're concerned about the future of this nation.

“It would not be surprising to discover that these experienced politicians and public servants share the existential concern that first lady Michelle Obama raised in her powerful speech on behalf of Clinton at the party convention in Philadelphia: ‘Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military at your command, you can't make snap decisions. You can't have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.’

Americans know Hillary Clinton… Whether voters like her personally is almost irrelevant at this ‘moment of reckoning,’ to use Clinton's words… On the issues, there's no comparison in terms of thoughtfulness, thoroughness and practicality. 

“Acknowledging the influence of erstwhile competitor Bernie Sanders, for example, she will focus as president on repairing an economy that has left many working people behind and struggling. She will address income inequality and wage stagnation and will work to create jobs. She'll work with Congress to end tax loopholes, noting as she did on CBS's ‘Sixty Minutes’ last weekend that an executive shouldn't be paying the same tax rate as his secretary. She also will push for equal pay for women, increasing the minimum wage and expanding tax credits for poorer families.

“Rejecting the ridiculous border-wall notion her opponent famously touts, she'll push for comprehensive immigration reform, building on a sensible plan that passed the U.S. Senate three years ago, only to be held hostage by a rump group of tea-party opponents in the House. She has said she intends within the first 100 days of her administration to introduce a path for the undocumented among us to earn citizenship.

Health care has been a decades-long issue for Clinton, at least since her days as the first lady of her adopted state of Arkansas. As first lady in the White House a few years later, her failed health initiative led to the creation of CHIP, the immensely successful children's health insurance program. She will work to improve the Affordable Care Act, not abolish it.

On energy…, she acknowledges the seriousness of climate change, the most ‘consequential, urgent, sweeping’ problem the world faces. She has said she wants the United States to be the ‘clean energy superpower of the 21st century.’ She also acknowledges that clean-energy reforms will result in economic casualties, among them the coal industry. She has proposed a $30 billion plan to revitalize communities where coal production is in decline and, as Bill Clinton mentioned in his convention speech last week, she intends to dispatch him to West Virginia to help struggling families and communities build a viable economic future.

“Hillary Clinton has said she sees natural gas as a bridge fuel and foresees a new economy built on rapidly increasing shares of renewable energy. She has a record of supporting fracking, and she supports the Paris agreement on climate change.

On trade…, although she now says she opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership…, we're confident she will be adept at negotiating deals that would grow wages and jobs and that would protect American workers. Despite his vaunted deal-making claims, her opponent, we suspect, would be lost at sea trying to meet the nation's trade goals.

“On foreign affairs, the former secretary of state is knowledgeable, dependable and trusted worldwide, unlike her blusterous opponent whose outrageous remarks last week about Russia were merely the most recent bizarre outburst to unsettle our allies… Clinton supports NATO, unlike Trump who, in the words of columnist Timothy Egan, ‘now stands ready to repudiate nearly 70 years of security for our European allies under an 'America First' banner.’

We could go on with issues, including her plans for sensible gun safety and for combatting terrorism - her policy positions are laid out in detail on her campaign web site - but issues in this election are almost secondary to questions of character and trustworthiness. We reject the ‘cartoon version’ of Hillary Clinton (again to borrow her husband's phrase) in favor of a presidential candidate who has the temperament, the ability and the experience to lead this nation.

“These are unsettling times, even if they're not the dark, dystopian end times that Trump lays out. They require a steady hand. That's not Donald Trump. The times also require a person who envisions a hopeful future for this nation, a person who has faith in the strong, prosperous and confident America we hope to bequeath our children and grandchildren, as first lady Michelle Obama so eloquently envisioned in Philadelphia. That's not Donald Trump's America…”

from These are unsettling times that require a steady hand: That's not Donald Trump, Houston Chronicle Editorial Board endorses Hillary Clinton

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Election Justice USA: Without Election Fraud, Bernie Sanders Would Have Won the Democratic Nomination

The following is from the last page of the 99-page report from Election Justice USA:


We have aimed to provide an overview of the evidence for various types of fraud and targeted voter suppression impacting the outcomes of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. After covering the legal background and the history of Election Justice USA’s legal actions, our best efforts to combat election fraud and voter suppression, we gave a thorough treatment of the following:

1) Targeted voter suppression
2) Registration tampering
3) Illegal voter purges
4) Exit polling discrepancies
5) Evidence for voting machine tampering
6) The security (or lack thereof) of various voting machine types

Finally, we gave a date-by-date, state-by-state overview of each of these fraud or suppression types at work throughout the course of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. Based on this work, Election Justice USA has established an upper estimate of 184 pledged delegates lost by Senator Bernie Sanders as a consequence of specific irregularities and instances of fraud. Adding these delegates to Senator Sanders’ pledged delegate total and subtracting the same number from Hillary Clinton’s total would more than erase the 359 pledged delegate gap between the two candidates. EJUSA established the upper estimate through exit polling data, statistical analysis by precinct size, and attention to the details of Democratic proportional awarding of national delegates. Even small changes in vote shares in critical states like Massachusetts and New York could have substantially changed the media narrative surrounding the primaries in ways that would likely have had far reaching consequences for Senator Sanders’ campaign.

We conclude by calling for decertification of the 2016 Democratic primary results in every state in which we have established a reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of the vote tally…

For the complete report, Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries, click here.


Election Justice USA (EJUSA) is a national, non-partisan team of seasoned election integrity experts, attorneys, statisticians, journalists, and activists. The circumstances surrounding Arizona’s presidential primary on March 22nd, 2016—widely acknowledged as one of the most disastrous election days in recent memory—were the lightning rod that catalyzed the formation of EJUSA. Throughout the course of the 2016 presidential primary season, EJUSA has emerged as a leader in the fight for honest elections, pursuing legal action in several states in an attempt to counteract specific forms of targeted voter suppression and election fraud.

This report summarizes the work of the Election Justice USA forensics and legal teams during this period. EJUSA is working not only to expose the voter suppression and election fraud taking place during the 2016 presidential primaries, but to build a mass movement calling for three simple, affordable reforms that will render direct fraud and suppression impossible, safeguarding US elections for future candidates.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The TRS Board: Three Appointed Seats Are Currently Empty (from Bob Lyons, TRS Trustee)

In 2009 in the aftermath of both an Illinois Governor being impeached and forced from office and a former TRS appointed trustee indicted for “pay to play” corruption, the new Governor, Pat Quinn, appointed new public trustees to the TRS Board. Two of the best trustees were Sonia Walwyn, a lawyer, and Mike Busby, a retired business consultant with years of experience in the pension business. 

Both Walwyn and Busby made a significant contribution to the pension board and were reappointed by Governor Quinn in 2012. In 2014 Trustee Busby was picked by the TRS Board to be the chair of the investment committee. You should know there is no salary for serving on the TRS Board. The active and retired teachers on the board have an obvious self-interest for being there, but for the appointed members of the board it is public service in the finest sense of the term. Walwyn’s and Busby’s current terms on the board were up as of Friday, July 15

I know that I and others contacted the office of Governor Rauner to ask that they both be reappointed for another four-year term. TRS Director Richard Ingram repeatedly tried to convey the message that continuity of service is important on a pension board and that Busby and Walwyn deserved to continue to serve. Unfortunately neither was reappointed. Governor Rauner in his first year and a half has replaced two Quinn appointees and filled one of the two empty seats on the board. Now there are three empty seats. Governor Rauner’s office has said they hope to fill those seats by our August board meeting.

You should recall that a 13-member Board of Trustees governs TRS. Trustees include the State Superintendent of Education, who serves as president, six trustees appointed by the governor, four trustees elected by contributing active members, and two trustees elected by annuitants. 

The current State Superintendent Tony Smith became a member of the board in May of 2015. Cinda Klickna of Springfield, an elected member of the board since February 2003, serves as vice-president of the TRS Board and has the most years of service on the board. The other elected members are Mark Bailey of Palos Park (July 2013); Andrew Hirshman of Oak Park (July 2015); Rainy Kaplan of Schaumburg (July 2013); myself from Hoffman Estates (July 2005); Dan Winter of Decatur, the second annuitant (July 2015). The three appointed members of the board are Sandy Stuart of Lake Forest, appointed by Governor Rauner in June 2015; Ann Deters of Effingham and Randy Winter of Highland Park (both in February 2016). 

To repeat, our thirteen-member board by law is supposed to have a majority of appointed members, but with three appointed seats currently empty, that leaves the six elected members in the majority. I can tell you that at least since 2005 the board has been unified in trying to work together for the benefit of the active and retired annuitants and for the people of Illinois. That a member of the board was elected or appointed has made no difference in the cooperative effort to achieve the goals and objectives of the board. 

The three members of the board so far appointed by Governor Rauner all have a background in business and finance and have shown an excellent attitude in the assumption of their responsibilities. I can only hope that that continues and Governor Rauner fulfills his responsibility in completing our board.

Bob Lyons