Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Police Budgets and Driving Slowly

(Here is a bit of a rewrite of a story published three years ago.  It appeared as a Bob’s Blog piece i
Lately there has been a lot in the media about police budgets. Unlike most people’s, police budgets keep getting bigger.

In December 2014, criminologist Michael Kempa wrote about the issue in a piece in the Toronto Star (

He cited “leapfrogging” contracts and the ever-increasing complexity of social problems that police deal with as two reasons for the increases.

Kempa thinks we need to get police services back to their “core functions.”

This is, of course, not a new idea. Long-time police critic and former Toronto mayor John Sewell reiterated his long-held view that “police should go back to the fundamentals.”

“Get out of the car instead of using the drive-through lane,” he told the London Free Press (

This week in Toronto (February 15-21, 2016) there is a budget battle in the works with some Councillors determined to make some change to the police budget.  Good luck to them.  We’ll need courageous municipal politicians to step to the plate, draw a line in the budget sand and force police services to explore these or any new ideas.    

I was once such a courageous municipal politician. That’s my story anyway.

Simple, Definitely not
and a Slow Driver
There was a day when, through a procedural quirk, I, a simple Ward Councillor, was poised to freeze the police budget. This was when I was Regional Councillor and had for a year ascended to the lofty heights of budget committee member. There were only four on the committee and one member was absent that day. Following my persuasive presentation I believed I had convinced a second member to vote for a freeze to the police budget. We would win the day with a 2-1 majority. Long story short: I had, of course, overrated my procedural and oratorical prowess and the police got their money as they always do. I don’t remember any members of the public or media present that day. All the senior police brass were there though.

I drove like an undertaker for some time after my 15 minutes of oppositional fame. To this day, I bet there is no one who does the textbook-perfect lane changes that I do. 


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Right to an Adequate Standard of Living - Something to Consider for Municipalities

(The story that follows is an edited version of one that originally appeared at

Ten years ago, Craig Foye a lawyer at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic presented to the United Nations in Geneva Switzerland on the growing levels of poverty in Hamilton. That presentation also talked about the failure of senior levels of government to provide an adequate standard of living for those experiencing poverty. *

Craig Foye, Lead author of Update

Foye’s report started an important conversation about the adequacy of social assistance rates.

Recently, Foye updated that report and forwarded it to the the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). **  Earlier this month, Foye spoke to the City of Hamilton’s Emergency and Community Services Committee about the update.

This updated report authored by Foye in collaboration with Laura Cattari and Tom Cooper of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and Sara Mayo of the Social Planning & Research Council of Hamilton is intended to assist the CESCR in assessing the degree to which Canada is conforming to its obligations under the Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights.

Request of Hamilton City Council

On behalf of the Clinic, the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and the Social Planning and Research Council, Foye made two requests.

First, he asked that Hamilton City Council endorse “The Right to an Adequate Standard of Living: An Update to the 2006 Report”, and write to the United Nations Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights to confirm that endorsement to the UN Committee.

Secondly, he requested that Council direct staff to research the possibility of Hamilton becoming a Human Rights City. ***

An edited version of Craig Foye’s presentation follows.

The Presentation

I propose to speak briefly regarding the follow-up report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights regarding the Government of Canada's non-compliance with Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.
Article 11 of the Covenant guarantees the right to an adequate standard of living. Paragraph 1 of

Article 11 reads:

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.

Unfortunately, as both reports show, the right to an adequate standard of living is not being acknowledged or protected by either the Provincial or Federal Governments.

We continue to have social assistance rates that fall far below subsistence levels of income, and those rates remain arbitrary numbers with no relation to the actual cost of basic necessities; although efforts have been made in this area by the Provincial government, the situation continues to gets worse as rates fail to keep pace with the increase in the costs of basic necessities such as rent and food.

While efforts have been made to respond locally to the homelessness crisis, we are nowhere close to providing the numbers of housing subsidies required, and the Landlord and Tenant Board of Ontario (like the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal before it) continues to evict many thousands of tenants for arrears of rent. The number of unemployed workers who qualify for employment insurance benefits locally remains at alarming levels, particularly for women. The minimum wage remains below poverty levels, meaning that even those workers working full-time or more may not be able to pull their family out of poverty. Not surprisingly, we continue to see local individuals and families who cannot afford to feed themselves turning to food-banks and meal programs in unprecedented numbers.

Unfortunately, this poverty is being experienced disproportionately by many already vulnerable groups, including, but not limited to: women, seniors, newcomers, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities.

Action Taken

After hearing the presentation, the Committee has agreed to recommend that City Council endorse the UN report. Councillor Merulla added an amendment that the letter refer to the unfairness of the tax system in Canada as it applies to municipalities.

The Committee also recommended that Council direct staff to research and report back regarding Hamilton becoming a Human Rights City.


*Craig recorded some of his observations from his 2006 trip to Geneva at

**The Right to An Adequate Standard of Living in Hamilton

**Learn more about Human Rights Cities at

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

We Went South

Last week we alerted you to the fact When the Mayor Smiles was going south.  All politics are local politics we said, not very originally. (American Democrat politician Tip O’Neill apparently first coined the phrase in 1932.)

Friend and colleague Andrew Bome was heading to New Hampshire as a “political tourist.”  He had done this before (in 2008).  At that time, he reported back to Hamilton’s Raise the Hammer.  We asked him if he’d do it for us this time.  Andrew agreed.

Starting last Friday and ending this morning Andrew sent us six stories. We did our best to post in a timely fashion.
Snowy Saturday in New Hampshire

You can find all the posts by scrolling down on this page.

You can find those 2008 Raise the Hammer posts at

Primary Day and Reflections

(Andrew C. Bome is heading home today.  Here are some of his observations from yesterday and reflections on what last night's results may mean for the US Presidential race.)

Tuesday morning was the day of the primary.  Our only real plans were to check out some polling places to see some candidates; we hadn’t seen either Ben Carson or John Kasich and had to check them off our list.  Ben Carson was having an event at a diner; we went, had breakfast and saw the back of Ben Carson’s head.  He teleported out of the diner before I was able to take his picture; at least breakfast was nice.  We did manage to get to a polling place where Kasich was still speaking to the media; it included someone from the Russian media.

Nuggets of Wisdom for Denmark

The evening was taken up by the Clinton victory party.  The doors opened after we got their, so we ended up in a queue in the cold.  I overheard someone at the lineup saying that she hadn’t volunteered yet for Hillary; I am thinking she is a little late.

Hillary Concedes
We were able to manage to get seats in the bleachers with a good view of the podium; being middle aged I prefer sitting to standing. 

Sadly, there was no wifi at the auditorium, the phone coverage was terrible and no-one at the event set up a television to broadcast the result.    Effectively during the first hour after the polls closed Alan and I were effectively in radio silence.    Someone nearby was able to connect to the outside world, so we knew that Hillary had lost on Democratic side and that Trump won on the Republican side.  Neither of the results was surprising, but many, myself included, wanted something different.

The concession speech was good.  She was defiant and she promised to continue on; she said she was knocked down, but she will get up again (but she never said anything about being left down).  The audience was excited and cheering her on.  The next stop for Hillary is Nevada and South Carolina; she has to win those.

On the way out, we got an illustration of how much media there is in New Hampshire during primary time.  Some roving reporter with a camera got an interview with Alan; he was from Danish television.   I’m guessing that Danes will be getting some nuggets of wisdom about New Hampshire from some random Canadian dude.

What it all Means

The results were interesting.  Trump won and won big; that size of his win was a bit of a surprise.  Kashich’s second place wasn’t surprising; he did well in the debate and had been covering the state a lot.  Rubio’s bad debate performance mattered; he came in 5th place right below Bush.   Cruz eked out third place.  Christie came in 6th; he destroyed Marco Rubio in the debate, but it did not help him.  He says he is going to South Carolina today, but if his flight connects through Newark, he might deplane.
Bernie at a Campaign  Event on the Weekend

The Democratic results were a bit of a shock.  Bernie was always going to win, but the polls were narrowing.  But the actual results had Bernie 22% ahead of Hillary.  No amount of spin can make that result look good.  I still think that Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States; I am just less sure of that now than I was yesterday.   On the Republican side we know that Christie is going home; news is that he is stopping in New Jersey.  Fiorina and Carson may claim that they are continuing; they won’t be getting any coverage, won’t be getting debate spots and won’t be able to raise any more money.  Rubio is in deep trouble; he will not be able to fund raise off his New Hampshire result and for people not named Trump, campaigns run on other people’s money.  Kasich is out of money, but his result will let him raise lots to let him continue.  As for Cruz, 3rd is a great result; he wasn’t expecting to do well and came out in a respectable 3rd place.  His campaign may have legs in the south.   Bush has money and he did somewhat better than expected.  Given that Graham has endorsed him, my guess is that his plan is to put lots of resources in South Carolina and that his plan depends on him winning there.  If Bush does, he will be the candidate; if Bush doesn’t, I have no clue what will happen.

We leave today to head back home.  Both Alan and I had fun, and we may do it again in 4 years.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Dy 3 & 4 - more candidates; and Trump!!!

(Andrew C. Bome brings a critical Canadian perspective to the New Hampshire Primary.) 

Plan for Sunday was to go to a Fiorina event before the Super Bowl and then go to the Rubio Super Bowl party.  At some point during the day, we also made plans to attend a Jim Gilmore event; Governor Gilmore is low keyed, and we thought it would be the only chance at a sighting.

Carly Fiorina is an odd candidate.  Her only run for public office was a failed Senate bid in California.  Her big claim to fame is that the was the CEO of Hewlett-Packard; that sounds like a really impressive accomplishment, until you realize that at Hewlett-Packard she bet the company on a takeover of Compaq and almost lost it.  By the time the Board fired her she had destroyed a huge chunk of the value of Hewlett-Packard. Despite her incompetence, she got a massive severance to leave (depending on who you ask she either got $21 million or $42 million).  She really represents everything that is wrong with modern capitalism.  She was an executive that made a huge bet with other people’s money.  Had it worked out, she would have been a hero and paid a fortune; it didn’t work out and she got a fortune anyways.  I am guessing that I am not the only person who is unimpressed by Ms. Fiorina; she is at 5% in the polls or less.

We arrived at the Carly event just as she was leaving.  We had some wings and nachos, courtesy of the Carly campaign, and some tea that was a tepid as her campaign.  She left shortly after we arrived.  In my view, the perfect candidate meeting.

We then headed out to the Marco Rubio Super Bowl watch party.  It was at a sports complex that look more like an astroturfed warehouse than anything sporting related.    There were no Koch brother wings, but we were able to have pizza on the candidate; sweet, dinner was free.  We met a lady from North Carolina; she was a political tourist like we were.  She likes meeting candidates and being in a state that is neither an early primary state nor usually a swing state, they rarely come to her state.  So every four years she goes to New Hampshire; she told tales of being served CanapĂ©’s by waiters in tuxedos at a Forbes event in 1992.    She beats us at any of our political tourism.

Marco spoke to the crowd.  His views are somewhat odd.  His main claim about what is wrong with Obama is that he is trying to make America more like the rest of the world and taking away what makes America special.  Apparently Obama is clever that way.  Speaking as someone from the rest of the world, I actually welcome the United States becoming more like the rest of us.  The rest of his speech was just going through a laundry list of conservative talking points; he even name checked Benghazi. I had so much red meat thrown at me that I seriously considered becoming a vegetarian.  Two amusing lines; first, Marco hates disco.  Second, he claimed he would be President for everyone; after last night’s debate I am not sure that would include Chris Christie.

Jim Gilmore had an event in Windham.  It was the same school that Alan and I had chowder with Chuck Norris and Mike Huckabee in 2008.  This time things were different.  Jim Gilmore is a former governor of Virginia and was governor during 9/11; he has some credibility as a candidate.  However, during the Iowa caucuses he came dead last and polled below “other” on the Republican side.    At first I was really impressed; there were 100 people waiting for him to speak and this was in the midst of the Super Bowl.  I thought this was what made New Hampshire great; they take their responsibilities seriously and will listen to even the least credible candidates. 

I was wrong.  Alan noticed that almost all of the crowd were really young and he wondered if this was a bunch of students on a field trip.  Alan nailed it; it turns out that most of the people in the crowd were students from Hofstra University in Long Island on a field trip to New Hampshire.  Beside these students, there was me and Alan, one 9/11 truther and precisely 1 New Hampshire voter.    The voter did not stay for the whole thing.  I think at that point he stopped being a candidate for President, but was playing one for the benefit of some Hofstra students.  I could talk about what he thought, but he wasn’t all that impressive and did not seem prepared; I know being able to think fast on your feet is important in a President, but you still have to be prepared. 

We chatted with one of the students afterwards; she was a student journalist at Hofstra.  She was not impressed with Governor Gilmore.

The big news of the night: Denver won the Super Bowl. 

Monday was a planned busy day.  Our plan was to see Christie in the morning, Hillary at noon, Cruz at 3:00 and Trump in the evening.  The day was long, but we were able to make it to all of the events.

Chris Christie- On his Knee
Chris Christie - Retail Politics

First up was a Christie event.  It is in a warehouse of a machine shop (Gilchrist machinery).  I have never been to a rally at an industrial plant before.  This being a Christie event, when the Governor came in, the sound track was Bon Jovi; he is from New Jersey and it is appropriate.  He came right by me and I got to shake his hand.  Woot! I checked that off the box.

Christie had the first celebrity endorsement.  This guy called “the cake boss introduced Christie; he is food network dud and he looks like he is from Jersey. One interesting sartorial note; Christie was wearing French Cuffs.  Elegant, but you don’t expect a Republican doing that.  Christie was a very good speaker.  He makes eye contact with a lot of people and caught my eye twice.  He is also a lot heavier than I expected; he is a bit shorter than I am, but significantly heavier. 

He said nothing surprising.  He is a conservative; he makes stuff up about perceived problems (times are perilous, Social Security is insolvent.) and then says not surprising conservative talking points about them (keep Guantanamo open, means test social security and raise the retirement age).  But the way he said it was engaging.  He had one bit of great retail politics.  A New Hampshire voter said she was undecided; he went to to her and got on his knee in front of her and took her question.  Very cool and very smooth; he probably got her vote.

Hillary Clinton - Learned to Speak

On to the Hillary event.  It is at Manchester community college and our first task was queuing.  The line was long and Alan had little faith that we would get in.  I was more optimistic.  Of course, this is our second attempt at getting into a Clinton event.  We tried to get into a Clinton event on Saturday but we were too late, and they were not letting anyone else in.  That was not necessarily a bad thing as Bill was not in the state; he was in Pahrump Nevada.  I didn’t think there was anything else in Pahrump.

Lots of media was at this event.  We saw a roving reporter from Swedish public radio.  I also saw both Rachel Maddow and Tucker Carlson.

Celebrity sightings: Rachel Maddow and Tucker Carlson.

We got in; this is our second attempt at seeing Hillary live and our first success.  The success was temporary though.  I went to the washroom and when I returned, the secret service wouldn’t let me back in.  I spent the rest of the rally standing behind the plexi-glass walls; I saw everything and heard everything, but it would have been nice to snark with Alan.
No Room in the Gym 
Chelsea and Bill Clinton were introduced by Senator Jean Shaheen and Governor Maggie Hassan.   Chelsea gave a warm introduction to both her Dad and her Mum.  She talked about her daughter and the child that she is pregnant with.  She said that the 2016 election is significant because it was her first as a Mom.

Bill then spoke; he looked relaxed after his day in Pahrump.  Bill framed the quest as both who has the best ideas and who is the best change maker.  For Bill Clinton having good Ideas are not enough, you have to be able to make the idea real because change is hard.  He then talked about both her bipartisan successes as a Senator and her successes as Secretary of State.  The latter was a bit weird as he quoted Henry Kissinger’s comments about Hillary’s success at state: don’t know how I feel about that because, Kissinger!

He also talked about her bipartisan successes; curious that.  Everyone claims they want to be bipartisan, but it never really works.

Hillary came on and she began her speech by talking to Bernie supporters.  They may not support her, but she supports them and will always have their backs.

She then moved to attack George W. Bush. Her criticism may have been valid, but that was eight years ago and she may have missed a limitation date on her criticism.

Throughout her speech she would use the term imagine; for example she would say “try to imagine combating climate change by developing clean energy.”  All of her policy proposals were framed that way and that was neat.  She was asking the voters to engage their imagination to see a better world.  This could be a very effective rhetorical device and could be the equivalent of Obama’s 2008 slogan “Hope.”

She finished her speech comparing herself to Bernie Sanders.  She said doesn’t just talk; she introduces legislation and gets things done.  Nifty; she starting talking directly to Sanders supporters and the finished by talking about Bernie.

I saw Ms. Clinton speak in 2008.  She is a smart lady, who would have made a good President and her campaign was historic. Her speaking style did not reflect any of this.  In the eight years since, she has learned to speak; while she may never be an orator like Barack Obama, her oratory can excite and when she is President, I want to hear her inaugural address.

We had a very democratic lunch; it was free.  We went to a diner called the “Red Arrow diner.” It is a diner of note in the Manchester area.  Lunch was on the folks at Sirius XM.  It was a large lunch.  I had this burger that included fried Mac & Cheese and has grilled sandwiches as the buns.  Lots of calories and it kept me fueled for the day.

Ted Cruz - Seriously Deranged Understanding of Second Amendment

The next stop was a Cruz rally at a VFW Hall.
Cruz - Nobody Likes Him

Ted Cruz was introduced by a tea party nation dude; says it all.  He called Cruz the Reagan of today.   I am not sure how Reagan would take that as he made deals with Democrats. This tea party dude focussed on the second amendment as said that it was the most important amendment.  He explained that the second amendment is there to protect the constitution.  It is about the ability of the citizenry to fight a tyrannical government.  This is seriously deranged.  I don’t think the framers of the constitution were famous for their love of the masses of citizenry; many of the checks and balances are to keep rule away from the rabble.  Somehow the notion that they would have an amendment that was there to allow the citizenry to revolt is unhinged.  Also if there were an armed revolt against tyranny, what happens would depend on what the army does; it either supports the revolution, in which case we call it a coup d’etat, or it quashes the revolution in which we call it a massacre.  Or the army could fracture and you have a civil war.

This view of the second amendment is widely held amongst conservatives.  Jim Gilmore also made reference to it.  He ought to know as he is on the Board of Directors of the National Rifle association.

One of the folks introducing Cruz was a state senator.  He tried to convince us that Cruz would unite people.  I guess they have to say that, but Cruz?

Cruz came out and started talking about the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution and he set out his constitutional theory.  It is an Interesting starting point but a tea party crowd is the crowd for it.

Ted Cruz’ speech was curious.  He divided the world into “us” and “them”; not unusual in a politician, but the “them” were not Liberals or Democrats.  He set himself apart from all other Republicans.  In his entire speech, he only attacked Obama near the end of his speech.  The rest of his speech was an attack on all other Republicans.  He called them moderate squishes and thought that compromise was evil.  Also the answer to almost every question (the economy, immigration, drug policy) was securing the border.  I am surprised that his answer to a foreign policy question wasn’t “secure the border”. 

The knock on Cruz is that no-one likes him; this is unsurprising since he doesn’t actually appear to like anybody.

Donald Trump – A Rambling Mess

We ended the evening with the Donald Trump rally.  The folks who introduced him were mildly offensive. The vet who started the pledge of allegiance said he was looking forward to having a President who loves his country.  That is offensive; no one ideology has a lock on patriotism.  Liberals are just as patriotic as conservatives.

A local talk radio guy gave an apocalyptic rant.  It's premised on the political class driving the country into the ground; not much evidence of that, but the fans ate it up.  He also said that Trump’s fans are an army; for Liberty!  Not brown shirty at all.

Trumps musical introduction was an interesting choice.  The first is Nessun Dorma from Turdandot sung by the Three Tenors; the last line is Italian for “I will win”.  He then comes out to the Beatles “Revolution”. 
Trump - Rambling Man

His speech was a rambling mess.  He just talks, and talks and talks, and says nothing.  Occasionally a sound bite goes out to applause.  He may also just be making stuff up (health care costs are going out 50%).   He also whines; he whined about "really winning" Iowa; He also whined about the debate and not getting tickets because they all go to donors.  He sounds whiny.  And Eisenhower; he really likes Ike.  Listening to Donald Trump running for President is how I would imagine Grandpa Simpson would sound like running for president; and I would rather vote for Grandpa Simpson.

Day 3 – Sunday with Jeb!

(Andrew C. Bome continues with his posts from New Hampshire with some interesting insights and praise for Jeb!)
Sunday and Monday were very busy days catching a bunch of rallies.  One of the downside of the Republican clown car of candidates is that there are a whole lot of Republican candidates that are having rallies.  We saw most of them.
Sunday morning was our chance to see Jeb!.  I use Jeb! Because he does; he doesn’t want to use his last name, and I will respect that.  At least it is not an unpronounceable symbol.    The event was in a grade  school gym; the event was full, but  Alan and I made it in time to get some seats. 
Before the rally we were chatting with some of the “no labels” people.  That is the movement founded by Jon Huntsman and Joe Lieberman; somehow they feel that partisanship in the US is destructive and that people should just compromise and sacrifice to get things done.  Sounds nice in theory, but given Lieberman’s (and folks like Lieberman) participation in the “no labels” group, compromise seems to mean that Democrats should just act like Republicans and the world would be a better place.  They wanted to extract a promise from Jeb! That he would convene a meeting of congressional leaders of both parties within 30 days of being elected president.  They never did get to ask their question, mostly because they never put up their hand.
A somewhat concerning moment:  At the beginning (after the roadie sound check) we were asked to turn off our phones; I was afraid that we might see a repeat of “Harperdammerung”, but that never happened.
The Jeb! Rally was the best of the lot.  First, he had endorsement from Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham.  Graham’s endorsement is significant because it tells us that Jeb! Is in the campaign at least until South Carolina; Jeb! Is probably counting on a credible showing in New Hampshire and a win in South Carolina.  Senator Graham will help with that.

Graham was a good speaker.  He was warm and funny and delivered his lines well; I don’t think he should give his day job to go into comedy, but he is funnier than most politicians when he delivers bits.   He talked about the debate and commented on how Cruz made Ben Carson angry, and how difficult it is to make Carson angry; he also said he learned that you never want to make Chris Christie angry at you.   He finished on a serious note and talked about the sacrifice of veterans and their families; he asked the audience to pick a commander-and-chief that is worthy of the sacrifice. 
Susan Collins spoke next.  She was less memorable than Senator Graham, but she did talk about Jeb!’s compassion.  Maybe she is saying that Jeb! Is a compassionate conservative.  She also said that Jeb! Was the best president for perilous times. 
Jeb! Then came on.  He impressed.  While he was critical of the Democrats (he specifically said Obama & Clinton)  he talked of the importance of solving problems and serving constituents.  He said that is why people go into public service. It is what is done and it is what should be done in Washington.
His first promise was to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  

He also made another promise.  He said that he would not blame Obama for anything.  He said that he got sick and tired of Obama blaming his brother for everything and Jeb! would not be doing that.  This was the biggest applause line of the day.  This will probably be the first promise he breaks; blaming the last guy is a time honoured tradition in politics.

Trump Campaign Material
He then spent some time attacking Trump.  He talked how he attacked women, Latinos, Muslims and the disabled and said that you don’t want that kind of man as a president.  He also attacked Trump’s intelligence; not knowing what the Nuclear Triad is, is not a good thing in a presidential candidate.
Jeb! Had one of the best lines I heard.  He is behind in the polls and the media has not been taking him seriously as a candidate.  He talked about the media convening a “secret squirrel meeting” in Washington and anointing a candidate.  It is a line that is worth using and I might use in future.
He went on to questions and answers.  The only thing that was memorable was that someone asked him about global warming.  He did say that Global Warming is a thing and that it is caused by human activity; his solution is that we should learn to adapt.  While that is not a good answer, this is the first time I have heard a major Republican admitting that Global Warming is a thing.
Overall, I was impressed by Jeb!.  He is smart, he is thoughtful and is a good speaker.  He was obviously energized by a good debate performance on Saturday night.  If I was a voter and an independent, I would vote on the Republican side and vote for Jeb!.  Not because I think that he should be president; I am a liberal and I would vote Democrat in the general.  But I think it is important that a democracy has at least two functioning parties.  Jeb! Is one of the few of the republicans who is not a clown; the republicans deserve and need a candidate that would make a credible president.  Jeb! Is credible.
The Next President of the United States?

Sunday, February 07, 2016

New Hampshire Day 2 p.m. – Hanging with Vermin

(Andrew C. Bome reports on Saturday evening activities in New Hampshire.)

Saturday night was debate night for the Republicans.  The debate was hosted by ABC and was being held at St Anselm’s College.  Not being big ticket Republican donors, we couldn’t get inside to see the main event.  Instead we headed over to the barricaded area where the demonstrators got to hang out; this was the free speech zone.
The free speech zone in 2008 was the highlight of the trip.  We got to hang out with some Fred Thompson supporters and had a good time listening to them froth.  This time, it was a little more subdued.
There were interesting things happening to be sure.  First, the main demonstration was the demonstrators demanding a $15.00 per hour minimum wage.   There were trade union types (UAW and SEIU were the two most visible ones) and lots of young protesters singing and chanting.  We also saw a few other protesters.  There was one guy who was waving a sign saying “no to Royalty”; that is a political manifesto that I can stand behind.  His rant was about the Clinton’s and the Bushes being serious candidates for president; he thinks it is all a little too dynastic.   
Andrew with Vermin Supreme

I also achieved my goal of having a selfie taken with a candidate; I did it, but the candidate was Vermin Supreme.  While he sounds like the worst menu item at a taco bell, Vermin is a guy who always pays his $100.00 to get on the ballot in New Hampshire.  Like Clinton, he was on the ballot in 2008 and he is on the ballot in 2016; unlike Clinton, he was on the ballot here in 2012 as well, and God willing he will be on the ballot in 2020.  He is very visible because he wears a boot on his head; his platform includes free ponies for everyone.  When we left the free speech zone (along with others) he berated us and called us cowards; I am not sure how I feel about being called a chicken by a guy with a boot on his head.

The real Republicans that were in the free speech zone weren’t so captivating.  Proving the point that a candidates supporters are not necessarily like the candidate, the Chris Christie supporters were cowering in a corner of the zone.  The $15.00 per hour demonstrators seemed to frighten them.   Ted Cruz had a few supporters here; with one notable exception, he seemed to attract only ugly people.  Maybe extremism only attracts ugly people; that has been my experience with left wing extremism and this appears to hold for right wing extremism as well.
We spent most of the time talking to Kasich supporters.  Alan decided to ask about the proper pronunciation of his name; it turns out it is a hard “ch” not soft.  They were mostly nice people, but they looked like a crew of accountants trying to run a demonstration; it looked off, and was very low key.  They did have some naughty things to say of others.   They told us it wouldn’t be a good idea to talk to Trump supporters; they might charge.    They also made cracks aimed at the $15.00 an hour demonstrators like “they haven’t figured out the Soviet Union has fallen.”
Super PAC Sponsored Snacks
That may be the case, but those demonstrators should put the fear of God into conservative politicians.  $15.00 per hour is a fairly standard progressive policy prescription.  The supporters of this had the energy and had the people.   The Republicans had neither.  The Republican demonstrators were as lifeless as their campaign.  They may think they have the upper hand.  The future belongs to progressive politics.
After this, we decided to go to the Ben Carson debate watching party.  It was held at a restaurant called Verandah grill.  The food was good (chicken fingers and nachos) and was on the Ben Carson campaign; mmmmm Carson super PAC sponsored snacks.  

The people we talked to were very nice, but they mostly left us alone; except for the one guy who wanted us to volunteer for the Carson Campaign.  The best part of the debate was watching Chris Christie pound on Marco Rubio; I loved watching Rubio not have anything to say, repeat his talking points, and then get slammed by Christie.  Apparently I was not alone in enjoying this.  Rubio also has Dumbo ears; once you notice this, you can’t “unnoticed” it.  The scariest moment came during the discussion of North Korea launching a test ICBM; only Donald Trump had the right answer (get the Chinese to do something about them).  It is scary when Trump sounds saner than everyone else on a foreign policy issue. 
We finished the night at the Kasich debate watching party.  It should have been called Kasich debate watching sausage fest; there were women there, but for every 1 woman, there appeared to be four of five men. 
At the Kasich Debate Watching Party
The men as well looked a little too earnest and a little too well groomed; they looked like they wanted to grow up and go into sales.

Tomorrow: Jeb, Marco & the Super Bowl.


Saturday, February 06, 2016

New Hampshire Day 2, a.m. – Class is in Session

(Andrew C. Bome's second report from New Hampshire in advance of the Primary.)

The plan this morning was to do some domestic things and then head to a nearby Bernie Sanders event.  It turned out the Bernie Sanders event was not across the street, but was across the state.  It took us an hour to get there, but we made it in time.

The event was at the main campus of Franklin Pierce University; the speech was at the field house.  Being a Bernie Sanders event at a University, there were lots of younger folks in the crowd, complete with the more interesting clothing choices of youth (the less said about the hipster in  the trilby, the better).  A few things of note were the dude in with a toque that had a skunk pattern around the base: “skunks on a toque” sound like the name of an unsuccessful Ottawa punk band.  There were a few pro-pot folks wearing T-shirts saying “Keep calm and Bern one”; the logo showed Bernie smoking a joint.
Bernie Sanders at Franklin Pierce University

There also appeared to be a number of Franklin Pierce University journalism students interviewing folks.  None interviewed me; the egotistical lawyer in me was offended.  I did see one of these j-school students interviewing one of the professional journalists in the crowd.  I detect a future Washington Post columnist in the making.

When Sanders was introduced everyone (myself included )raised their phones to get a picture.  It was if we were in church and the priest said the thing that got us to raise our phones and praise someone. 

Bernie’s speech was OK, but I have heard better.  I really felt like I was an undergraduate listening to a lecture by a really cool professor.  It was well organized and thought out, but it was a lecture in any event.  Maybe that is why Bernie Sanders is polling so well amongst university students and grads; he reminds them of their favourite professor.

He started his speech with the line “Are you ready to make a political revolution” and the obligatory bad suit and hair joke; his sweater vest looked like it came from the Rick Santorum collection..  His speech was organized along three connected themes: a corrupt campaign finance system; a rigged economic system; and, a broken criminal justice system.    He would set out the problem and set out how the first problem would connect to the second problem and the third problem.  For example, a corrupt campaign finance system allowed banks to lobby hard to deregulate the financial system.  That led to a broken economic system with banks that were too big to fail and required trillions in bailouts.  While a kid caught with a joint got a criminal record, no wall street bankers have gotten arrested over their activities in 2008; his line was that the banks were too big to fail and bankers were too big to jail. 

This was all really cool, but he really did not have much to say on how to solve any of the problems that he set out.   At best he said that if people come together, there is nothing that they can’t accomplish; that is nice rhetoric, but it don’t fix anything.

It is not like he did not have any policy suggestions.  He did; but it was a fairly standard progressive wish list (single payer health care; $15.00 per hour minimum wage; paid family & medical leave; lower tuition and better student loan terms), but it was unconnected to anything.

At least his speech had a nice end; he said that they would make a political revolution.  Nice parallel to his first line.

Friday, February 05, 2016

New Hampshire Trip Day 1 – Foiling the Weather Gods

(Following is Andrew C. Bome's first report from the New Hampshire.)

My Friend Alan and I decided that we would be heading to New Hampshire this year to hang out at a variety of Primary related events.  We did this 8 years ago. We saw history being made and had a whole lot of fun.   We are hoping to do the same; if we are lucky we might meet some of the same “whacky” people that we met 8 years ago.

Our trip almost did not happen; we literally never got off of the ground.  The plan was to fly from Buffalo to Boston, rent a car in Boston and drive to Nashua, New Hampshire.  When we arrived at the airport, our flight had been cancelled due to weather in Boston.   We were in good company; Donald Trump had to cancel an event today due to weather in Boston. 
Andrew arrives in New Hampshire

The Airline had rescheduled to Saturday evening at 7:30, or we could reroute our trip to New York and fly from there to Boston; we would have arrived in Nashua past midnight.  Neither were good options.   Alan and I are intrepid dudes so we decided to turn our adventure into a road trip.  We drove seven hours from Buffalo through New York, Vermont and New Hampshire and arrived at our hotel in Nashua at around 9:00.  It was a lovely drive; or it would have been during daylight hours in the summer.

Our only real casualty was a planned Hillary Clinton rally at 7:00 p.m.  We aren’t that worried; we are both pretty sure she will have a few more events before Tuesday.

Tomorrow’s first event is a Bernie Sanders rally in Nashua; doors open at 9:00 a.m. and the rally starts at 11:00.  We should have fun: Sanders supporters are young, enthusiastic and committed.  That makes for some fun conversations.  We had booked ourselves for a 10:30 Chris Christie event; sadly he gets thrown under the bus.  We are also planning to spend time in the “free speech zone” at St. Anselm’s college during the republican debate.  That should be fun and where we get to meet some folks with some “different” ideas.

The high point of the trip will be the super bowl viewing party.  It is with Marco Rubio; looking forward to my Super PAC Nachos. 

I have a few goals for this trip.  First, I want to be able to get at least one selfie with a Candidate; even Jim Gilmore is good enough.  Second I want to steal a few lawn signs.  My home office has framed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton lawn signs from 2008.  I want to replace them with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders lawn signs from 2016.  Third, swag: buttons, hats, shirts, leaflets.  I want it all. If I can do all of this, meet some interesting people and not get arrested, I will have a successful holiday.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Reporting from New Hampshire

Readers will know we are all about local politics here at When the Mayor Smiles.

We also subscribe to that old adage that all politics are local politics.

It follows, then, that we ought to offer comment on the big political events going on down south of the border and specifically the upcoming New Hampshire Primary.

Sadly, our knowledge of this form of local politics ranks only slightly ahead of Sarah Palin’s grasp of Russian geography.

Not to worry. We’ve got it covered.

Andrew C. Bome
Hamilton lawyer, Andrew C. Bome, leaves this Friday for New Hampshire and has committed to send back his observations on this unique and perplexing exercise in democracy.

Bome returns to the Granite State where his observations were documented and well received in 2008 for Hamilton’s Raise the Hammer.