Brian Murphy Announces Mike Ryman, Former Federal and Congressional Government Inspector, as Candidate for Lieutenant Governor

Crofton, Maryland – Today, the Murphy for Maryland campaign announced that Mr. Mike Ryman has been selected to be Brian Murphy’s candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. In making this announcement, Brian Murphy provided the following statement:

Good morning. Thank you for joining us today. I trust you all had a nice July 4th weekend. This past weekend, Joy, the kids, and I traveled the state to celebrate the holiday with fellow Marylanders. It was a time to show our support for our shared heritage, to say thank you to the men and women whose service has secured our freedom, and to voice our shared optimism for what lies ahead. Under the right leadership, great things are in store for Maryland. And our best days lie ahead.

When we began this campaign last winter, our goal was simple. This campaign is about providing a clear alternative to the reckless policies of the last eight years: the same policies which are responsible for our current economic woes. Maryland’s problems are apparent and they are obvious – and so are Maryland’s solutions.

Yet neither of my competitors has taken responsibility for their mistakes, and neither is willing to offer practical solutions to put us on the road to recovery. Maryland small businesses and entrepreneurs are ready to grow our economy. And they deserve a Governor who will stare down these reckless policies, and balance our budget without raising taxes. I intend to be that Governor.

Under the last eight years, we have seen record spending, followed by record taxes. And today, we have record unemployment and record deficits. Maryland needs real solutions. Our tax burden is already among the highest in the nation, and is certainly the highest in our region. This makes it almost impossible for Maryland businesses to compete, even though our workforce is the most talented in the country. Maryland families and businesses deserve better.

I am the only candidate who has built businesses, and I am the only candidate who has actually created jobs. I understand the importance of the private sector, and I look forward to working with Maryland companies to grow our job base.

The contrast between my opponents and me is significant. I am the only candidate who has signed a pledge not to raise taxes. Maryland’s budget, per capita, is among the highest in the nation. Money is not the problem, so an increase in taxes is not the solution. Maryland’s government must take a lesson from Maryland families and small businesses. Our government must learn to live within its means. And under a Murphy administration, we will. You have my word.

My experience building Maryland’s private sector is significant, and my training in Economics and Finance combine to give me the unique perspective to address Maryland’s budget.

As Governor, I will select men and women of character and distinction to serve in my administration. They will share my principles, my values, and my passion for serving this great state. And today, I am announcing my first hire: for Lt. Governor, my pick is Mike Ryman.

Growing Maryland’s economy is my number one priority. To do that, it’s imperative that we work together to balance our budget, without raising taxes. Throughout Mike’s career, he has served our country with honor and distinction. A common thread throughout Mike’s career is his passion for our country. Mike has always viewed being a public servant as an honor, and he holds himself and those around him to the highest standards. Mike spent the majority of his career rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse in both the public and private sectors. So it’s only fitting that Mike joins this ticket with the goal of doing the same thing for Maryland’s budget.

Mike and I are the right team to look our State’s problems in the eye. Mike and I present the right combination of private sector experience, academic training, and proven leadership. We are a clear alternative to the broken policies of the last eight years. Maryland Republicans don’t have to settle, and Maryland voters don’t have to settle.

Over the past several months, we have built our case with Maryland voters and our support is growing every day. In the months ahead, with Mike on the ticket, we will continue to build our case that we are the right team to take Maryland in a new direction.

And now it is my great honor to introduce you to my friend, your next Lieutenant Governor, Mike Ryman.

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For more information on the Brian Murphy for Governor campaign or view Mike Ryman’s biography, see http://www.BrianMurphy2010.com.

For media inquiries, please contact: Karla Graham at Karla@BrianMurphy2010.com or (410) 924-4577

Obama courting vampire vote?

By: Nikki Schwab

Forget Team Edward and Team Jacob, Organizing for America hopes “Twilight” fans will be Team Obama.

The western Pennsylvania chapter of the Obama-supporting grassroots group recently showed up at a premiere for the new “Twilight” flick, “Eclipse,” at a Pittsburgh shopping area. And it went well enough that National Press Secretary Lynda Tran said she could see OFA heading to movie premieres again.

“To my knowledge the effort in Pennsylvania is the first time OFA volunteers have turned to a movie premiere to connect with potential supporters,” Tran told Yeas & Nays in an e-mail. “Given their success in Pittsburgh I wouldn’t be surprised to see other efforts like this one replicated around the country.”

So how well did it go? According to the Allentown Morning Call, OFA managed to “entice some Hollister-wearing “Twilight” fans to register to vote and some 300 in total to promise to cast ballots in the congressional elections this fall.”

Young voters overwhelmingly supported President Obama in the 2008 election and women tend to vote Democratic. Both demographics seem to love the steamy vampire series.

Pelosi, Gone Mad Over Healthcare?

By Mike Lillis and Julian Pecque

eaker Nancy Pelosi is doubling down on healthcare reform, betting that it will do Democrats more good than harm in November’s elections.

She and her leadership team have seized on new polls that suggest healthcare overhaul’s popularity is rising, and they are urging members of Congress to use this week’s recess to tout the new law.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the party leadership have sent lawmakers back to their districts urging them to hold town hall-type meetings to highlight the law’s benefits, in the belief it could help Democrats avoid major losses in November.

Recent polls indicate a slow but steady uptick in the popularity of healthcare reform. Despite Republican hopes that the law’s controversial passage will win them seats this fall, the Democrats’ actions show they still consider the issue a political winner.

“There’s an aggressive campaign to talk about the benefits of the legislation,” said a House leadership aide.
David Redlawsk, a political scientist at Rutgers University, said the party that prevails in November will likely be the one that can rally independents behind it. And that, he said, will hinge on messaging.

“Both parties’ bases will be convinced their party is right,” said Redlawsk. “Republicans will believe it is a huge waste of money and government overreach; Democrats will buy the positives and the messages that it is working.

“In the end,” Redlawsk said, “healthcare reform may be one of the few positive messages Democrats have to put out there — if they can continue to highlight its benefits.”

With that in mind, Democratic leaders circulated a memo late last week pressing members to host meetings with constituents during this week’s recess to underscore the benefits of the reform law. The memo also suggests drawing attention to Democrats’ jobs agenda and their response to the BP oil spill.

Leaders are encouraging members to demonstrate a new online tool for choosing personalized insurance plans; to highlight the arrival of Medicare prescription drug rebate checks; and to stage roundtable discussions on the so-called patients’ bill of rights, the insurance reforms designed to protect consumers from losing coverage and benefits.

The memo is loosely based on a July 2 letter from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to lawmakers.

By voting unanimously against the Democrats’ legislation, Republicans bet that voters will be upset that it passed. That dynamic has turned the health reform debate into one of politics as much as policy, with Democrats trumpeting every benefit that comes along and Republicans blasting the changes as a government takeover of the healthcare system.

Recent polls have given both sides reason to be hopeful. A survey sponsored last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 48 percent of respondents viewed the reforms favorably — up seven percentage points from a month earlier — while 41 percent have an unfavorable view.

More recently, a Rasmussen Survey found that 60 percent of Americans would like to see the reforms repealed — a finding that Republicans are quick to note.

“The American people want nothing to do with its cost increases, tax hikes and Medicare cuts, and they will hold accountable every Democrat who ignored the will of the American people and voted for it,” Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Republican House leader John Boehner (Ohio), said in an e-mail.

Not that Democrats are touting everything in their reform law.

The memo does not dwell, for instance, on the high-risk insurance pools launched by the Obama administration last week. Those pools are designed to cater to patients who can’t get health insurance due to pre-existing conditions. Democrats have said those pools will cover the sickest Americans before state-based insurance exchanges go live in 2014. But the Congressional Budget Office recently questioned their effectiveness, finding that the $5 billion allocated for the pools is likely to run dry by 2013.

Some experts argue the focus on healthcare reform is being overplayed in a tough economic environment where jobs will be the larger worry among voters.

David Epstein, a political scientist at Columbia University, said the political advantage on the healthcare front this year will go to neither party.

“The [Republicans] can’t really run against it, because now it’s passed and no one feels like their healthcare has been changed much, except for a few benefits that kicked in immediately,” Epstein said. “The [Democrats] can’t run on it much either, though, because it’s still complicated and voters are unsure about its long-term effects.

“It’s a push,” he added. “In this election, it’s going to be the economy, stupid.”

Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at George Washington University, agreed.

“My hunch,” she said, “is that until voters more directly feel and see the effects of the healthcare law, neither party will be especially harmed or advantaged.”

Democrats push for new Internet sales taxes

by Declan McCullagh

The halcyon days of tax-free Internet shopping will, if Rep. Bill Delahunt gets his way, soon be coming to an abrupt end.

Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, introduced a bill on Thursday that would rewrite the ground rules for Internet and mail order sales by eliminating the option for many Americans to shop over the Internet without paying state sales taxes.

At the moment, Americans who shop over the Internet from out-of-state vendors usually aren’t required to pay sales taxes. Californians buying books from Amazon.com or cameras from Manhattan’s B&H Photo, for example, won’t be required to cough up the sales taxes that they would if shopping at a local mall.

This is hardly a new debate: pro-tax officials and state governments have been pressing Congress to require taxes to be collected for a decade or so. They argue that reduced sales tax revenue threatens budgets for schools and police, and say that, as a matter of fairness, online retailers should be forced to collect the same taxes that brick-and-mortar retailers do.

But with states scrambling for new sources of revenue during what may be a double-dip recession, pro-tax lobbyists are hoping that they’ll have better luck this year. The National Conference of State Legislatures applauded Delahunt’s legislation, saying he should be commended for allowing states to collect as much as $23 billion in new taxes.

So did the Retail Industry Leaders Association, whose tax committee members include Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Costco, AutoZone, Target, and IKEA.

On the other side are groups that advocate for lower taxes and retailers including Amazon.com and eBay. In a statement on Friday, Tod Cohen, eBay’s vice president for government relations said: “At a time when unemployment rates are high and small businesses across the country are closing shop, we are confident that Congress will protect small Internet retailers and the consumers they serve from another Internet tax scheme.”

Co-sponsors of Delahunt’s bill, the “Main Street Fairness Act,” include Reps. Michael Capuano, John Conyers, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, and Peter Welch, all Democrats. No Republican has signed on as a co-sponsor.

The final version of Delahunt’s legislation had not yet been made public on Friday, and his office did not immediately respond to queries from CNET. But it’s expected to be similar to other versions he’s introduced before.

Earlier versions were drafted in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision saying that, in general, out-of-state retailers can’t be required to collect sales taxes unless Congress changes the law. The justices noted in a 1992 case called Quill v. North Dakota: “Congress is now free to decide whether, when, and to what extent the States may burden interstate mail order concerns with a duty to collect use taxes.”

One exception to that rule is a legal concept called “nexus,” which means a company can be forced to collect sales taxes if it has a sufficient business presence. If Amazon had an office in California, it already would be collecting sales tax for Golden State residents. (Another exception is the sale of cigarettes, which is covered by the Jenkins Act.)

In response to complexity concerns, the pro-tax forces have offered a proposal that they hope Congress can be persuaded to adopt. The concept is called the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement, invented in 2002 by state tax officials hoping to straighten out some of sales tax laws’ most notorious convolutions.

Since then, some 24 states have signed on, either wholly or partially, to the agreement, meaning they agree to simplify their tax codes and make them uniform. If enough states participate, proponents believe it will be easier to convince Congress to make sales collection mandatory for out-of-state retailers.

“Despite a decade of trying to reduce the unreasonable burdens cited by the Supreme Court, the actual simplification achieved by the Streamlined Sales Tax Project is not nearly sufficient to convince Congress that it should abandon its role in protecting interstate commerce,” Steve DelBianco, executive director of the NetChoice coalition, said in e-mail on Friday. Coalition members include AOL, eBay, Expedia, and Yahoo.

There is one caveat under existing law: online purchases from sites like Amazon and eBay only seem to arrive tax-free. Legally, however, purchasers are required to pay their own state’s sales tax rate–the concept is called a “use tax”–and then voluntarily report the amount owed at tax time. But, state tax collectors say, few do.

State tax collectors haven’t exactly been idle while waiting for Congress. They’ve been trying to force Amazon to turn over purchase records in North Carolina, attempting to force retailers to become tax-tattlers in California and Tennessee, and putting the squeeze on affiliate programs in Colorado.

Earlier this week, the Direct Marketing Association sued Colorado, saying its law requiring out-of-state retailers to turn over purchase history information is unconstitutional.

Rule by Consensus

What determines our morality? How do we determine the right course of action? How do we differentiate right from wrong? In the political sphere, how do we argue against our current rush into socialism? Too often, much too often, we quote polls or election results or statistics. If one major party or another wins an election, especially by a large majority, it becomes a license to act according to their platform or program, no matter how destructive, irrational or wrong. The statists for years have been arguing from polls, getting the ‘feeling’ for what the people want, using the media to steer their desires, stating their case from the standpoint of emotional crisis. They have convinced the majority of the people that a government answer to a problem is the only answer that needs to be explored, the politicians simply need to argue details and emphasis. Every year we slip further and further into the statist nightmare, we lose more and more liberty, the government gets bigger and bigger, exerts greater and greater control and takes more and more money. Few statists are honest about their goals because most people, due to the fact that they have been endowed by their Creator with a rudimentary understanding of the basic rights and liberties that make us human, would never choose slavery given an opportunity to hear a reasoned argument for and against its adoption. Nor do most want to be honest about the logical conclusions of statism, it has always led to the gulag and the death camps because it negates the value of the individual and the individual’s inherent rights. They simply want to be pragmatic, getting the benefits while trying to balance an inherently unbalanced system, hoping to get theirs before everything comes apart. Now that there is a group in charge who are unbalancing the system in order to bring about the final resolution of the conflict between freedom and tyranny in favor of tyranny, people are getting nervous, at the least.
What do we hear from those who rail against the obviously socialist polices and actions of our government, the so-called conservatives? Two thirds of the people want health care repealed. This percentage think we shouldn’t bail out the banks. A certain percentage don’t think we should own General Motors. For those who make such argument, what happens if the majority do want health care, bank bailouts or direct government ownership of industries? Where are their arguments then? The same place as their arguments against Social Security and Medicare. They don’t make them because the majority of the people, while they may complain, don’t want them repealed or abolished. Because of that, arguments based on polls or public opinion or even elections cannot ever be winners for libertarians. The statists have the time to make people comfortable in their slavery, accepting of their chains, and in so doing they move the argument; not over whether or not to have state control of this or that arena but only the degree of control. At best, policy based on public opinion is what we have now, with a hodgepodge of special interest groups vying for an ever larger piece of the pie. At worst, it becomes mob rule in which anything becomes possible and no right or property is respected.
The men who founded this nation did so according to principles, the key one of which was an understanding of the sacrosanct nature of individual rights. Men have a right to their lives as men. Their lives and the production of their lives does not belong to any other man and it certainly does not belong to the state. That is the fundamental argument that needs to be joined today. Not over how to reform a system that has become increasing statist. The reformers will always lose because it only requires another election to reverse any progress made in the defense of liberty. We should not be arguing about what degree of statism we should have but whether the state should be involved in any of the things we currently accept. If we are going to argue against government run health care and be consistent, we cannot accept Medicare and Medicaid as legitimate forms of government intervention. If we try, the most consistent argument will win and the most consistent argument will either be all or nothing. The argument that allows exceptions will lose every time because once the exception is allowed, the premise of government control is accepted and the game is over. The same could be said for any government intervention in the market or our lives that is not directly related to the preservation of our fundamental rights.
It is time that those who stand for liberty stop trying to be “moderate”, accepting a degree of slavery, a degree of respect for rights, a degree of redistribution, a degree of social justice, a degree of security or a degree of brute force. It is time to stand on absolute principles and learn to articulate those principles. After all, the fundamental nature of man yearns to be free, he must be fooled into becoming a slave. For too long so called “conservatives” have cooperated in the deception of the statists to reduce us all to servitude. They have failed to rise up to promote the “extreme” of “absolute” liberty. They have made arguments from fickle popular opinion, faith or even through appeals to history for history’s sake and not according to the fundamental nature of man or the moral principles that make liberty and freedom so much better than tyranny. If we do not explain it and live it, freedom will continue to lose.

Mike Calpino
Candidate for Wicomico County Council, District 2

Atomic Jihad: Ahmadinejad’s Coming War For Islamic Revival And Obama’s Politics

Illegal Immigration Costs U.S. $113 Billion a Year, Study Finds

The cost of harboring illegal immigrants in the United States is a staggering $113 billion a year — an average of $1,117 for every “native-headed” household in America — according to a study conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

The study, a copy of which was provided to FoxNews.com, “is the first and most detailed look at the costs of illegal immigration ever done,” says Bob Dane, director of communications at FAIR, a conservative organization that seeks to end almost all immigration to the U.S.

FAIR’s opponents in the bitter immigration debate describe the organization as “extremist,” though it is regularly called upon to testify before Congress.

Groups that support immigration reform immediately attacked FAIR’s report and pointed out that it is the polar opposite of the Perryman Report, a 2008 study that found illegal immigration was actually a boon to the American economy. It estimated that illegal immigrants add $245 billion in Gross Domestic Product to the economy and account for 2.8 million jobs.

The FAIR report comes as President Obama moves immigration reform to the top of his agenda, and it is likely to be a rallying point for those who oppose the president. At a speech Thursday at American University in Washington, D.C., Obama argued that the entire immigration system is broken and needs sweeping reforms. Among the changes he said are needed is “a path for [farm] workers to earn legal status,” which the president’s critics called an opening for a new amnesty program.

FAIR’s report argues that there are two choices in the immigration debate: “One choice is pursuing a strategy that discourages future illegal migration and increasingly diminishes the current illegal alien population through denial of job opportunities and deportations. The other choice,” it says, “would repeat the unfortunate decision made in 1986 to adopt an amnesty that invited continued illegal migration.”

Click here to read FAIR’s Executive Summary

The report states that an amnesty program wouldn’t appreciably increase tax revenue and would cost massive amounts in Social Security and public assistance expenses. An amnesty “would therefore be an accentuation of the already enormous fiscal burden,” the report concludes.

The single largest cost to the government of illegal immigration, according to the report, is an estimated $52 billion spent on schooling the children of illegals. “Nearly all those costs are absorbed by state and local governments,’ the report states.

Moreover, the study’s breakdown of costs on a state-by-state basis shows that in states with the largest number of illegals, the costs of illegal immigration are often greater than current, crippling budget deficits. In Texas, for example, the additional cost of immigration, $16.4 billion, is equal to the state’s current budget deficit; in California the additional cost of illegal immigration, $21.8 billion, is $8 billion more than the state’s current budget deficit of $13.8 billion; and in New York, the $6.8 billion deficit is roughly two-thirds the $9.5 billion yearly cost of its illegal population, according to Jack Martin, the researcher who completed the study.

Click here to see FAIR’s state by state costs.

“The most important finding of the study is the enormous cost to state and local governments due to lack of enforcement of our immigration laws,” Martin wrote.

The report found that the federal government paid $28.6 billion in illegal related costs, and state and local governments paid $84.2 billion on an estimated 13 million undocumented residents. In his speech, Obama estimated that there are 11 million.

But FAIR’s critics said the report wrongly included American-born children of undocumented workers in its study.

“The single biggest ‘expense’ it attributes to unauthorized immigrants is the education of their children, yet most of these children are native-born, U.S. citizens who will grow up to be taxpaying adults,” said Walter Ewing, a senior researcher at the American Immigration Council. “It is disingenuous to count the cost of investing in the education of these children, so that they will earn higher incomes and pay more in taxes when they are adults, as if it were nothing more than a cost incurred by their parents.”

He added that “the report fails to account for the purchasing power of unauthorized consumers, which supports U.S. businesses and U.S. jobs” and that it “ignores the value added to the U.S. economy by unauthorized workers, particularly in the service sector.”

Martin said FAIR expected that criticism, but that because the children are a direct result of illegal immigration, their inclusion was both fair and reasonable.

Obama approval among independents: 38%

With 95% of African Americans still supporting him, the president’s overall approval number according to Gallup is 46%. That’s with 81% of Democrats supporting him too. (Only 12% of Republicans are brain dead enough to approve of him.)

But those numbers for independents are now in George Bush territory; just 38% think the president is doing a good job.

Over the past year, Obama has lost support among all party groups, though the decline has been steeper among independents than among Republicans or Democrats. Today’s 38% approval rating among independents is 18 percentage points lower than the 56% found July 6-12, 2009. During the same period, his support has fallen nine points among Democrats (from 90% to 81%) and eight points among Republicans (from 20% to 12%).

Overall, 46% of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president in the June 28-July 4 aggregate, one point above his lowest weekly average. Obama’s average weekly job approval rating has not been above 50% since Feb. 8-14, though it reached the 50% mark as recently as May 3-9.

Obama’s lower ratings come amid a still-struggling economy, the ongoing difficulties presented by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the recent change of command in the war in Afghanistan. Underscoring the challenge at hand, Obama’s 44% approval rating in July 2-5 polling (Gallup did not interview July 4) ties his lowest three-day average to date.

Gallup points out that other presidents suffered similar downturns in their popularity by July of their second year in office. They also mention that those presidents’ parties suffered big losses the following November.

We can only hope that stays true to form.

Is 99 weeks too long for unemployment?

By: David Freddoso

You’ve lost your job, and you’ve been out of work for six months.

So, quick choice: Option One, take a full-time job for $10 an hour at a big box store.

Option Two, continue collecting $400 each week in unemployment benefits until you find something better. You can do this for a total of 99 weeks, or just under two years.

Option One comes with a health insurance plan to which you must contribute. Option Two, thanks to the stimulus package, comes with a similar deal for the first 15 months: a 65 percent government COBRA subsidy for your old employer’s health plan.

So, which one would you choose?

Don’t feel bad for hesitating. Even if you’re the most conscientious job-seeker in America, you may calculate that it’s better not to take the job. Maybe you can find something closer to your current field and closer to your old salary. And if such jobs no longer exist … well, then, Congress is giving you 99 weeks — nearly two years — to figure that one out.

If you ponder aloud the possibility that 99 weeks might be too long to lie in the safety net, you will be criticized as “heartless.” Some sophomoric pundit will frame your statement in absurd, straw-man terms, as if you were suggesting that benefits “make people lazy.” They don’t. What they do, when extended to two years, is alter the choice that job-seekers are making.

Unemployment benefits should not be confused with welfare. Your employer pays a state and federal unemployment tax on your behalf (usually less than $1,000 combined per year), and in exchange, the government normally provides you with up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits when you lose your job. In the current crisis, Congress has extended that to 99 weeks, and partisan tension has prevented it (for the moment) from extending the time period for which that more generous regime applies.

It’s not like anyone is getting rich off unemployment. Even our hypothetical $400 a week, which is near the high end of the various states’ unemployment payouts, is rather meager. If it’s enough to cover your rent or mortgage, it probably won’t stretch beyond that subsidized COBRA premium.

That’s why the argument that extended unemployment benefits extend unemployment is far from airtight. But neither is it without merit. You have to think that the benefits regime that Congress has been struggling to extend — nearly two years of benefits and 15 months of government-subsidized health coverage — is affecting job-seekers’ behavior even now.

For some two-income households, a two-year benefits period will be a bridge to becoming a one-income household. For some older workers who have lost their jobs, it will serve as a bridge to retirement, Social Security and Medicare benefits. And yes, some people will spend 99 weeks watching DVDs.

But assuming that the vast majority of unemployment recipients are earnest job-seekers, 99 weeks of benefits will affect them by removing any incentive to take available lower-wage jobs as a temporary (or permanent) measure. It’s a lot easier to be picky if you have a 99-week backstop.

Tomorrow night, comedian Stephen Colbert is teaming up with migrant farm workers for a segment called “Take Our Jobs.” The segment is intended to highlight the need for a guest-worker program or immigration amnesty, because Americans will not “take their jobs” even if they are offered. But Colbert will also be highlighting the fact that Americans — even teenagers, even the unemployed — simply will not take the menial, low-paying jobs that migrant workers do.

You can blame the high minimum wage for this, or the regulations and the taxes that make lawful employment impossible in agriculture, or the availability of cheap foreign food, or cultural laziness, or whatever you like.

But give the entitlement state its due. If unemployment benefits last 99 weeks, and they are even mildly attractive next to a $10-per-hour job, then no rational actor would pick lettuce for less.

Reverse discrimination in New Black Panther case

President Obama should order Attorney General Eric Holder to let Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli testify before the Commission on Civil Rights about alleged 2008 Black Panther voting fraud in Philadelphia. (Ahmad Massoud/AP)

Surely President Obama does not support the U.S. Department of Justice’s outrageous decision to drop prosecution of the most blatant example of voter intimidation likely ever caught on video, the New Black Panther case in Philadelphia in 2008. Obama needs to tell Attorney General Eric Holder to reverse the decision before this thing explodes into a scandal of epic proportions. More important, Obama should make clear to Holder and to America that he expects the Justice Department to prosecute all federal voter intimidation cases to the fullest extent of the law without regard to anything but the evidence at hand.

The evidence at hand in Philadelphia includes video of two thuggish African-American men dressed in military fatigues. As one wielded a baton in a menacing manner, they hurled racial slurs at white voters who understandably were scared away from the polling place. The Justice Department under President George W. Bush filed criminal charges against the two men. After Obama took office, default judgments resulted when the defendants failed to show for their trials. But Holder’s Justice Department later dropped the charges following a plea deal in which one of the men agreed not to carry a weapon near the Philadelphia polling place until 2012. Both men are now free to intimidate voters again.

J. Christian Adams, one of the top Justice Department lawyers involved in the case, resigned to protest political interference he claims derailed prosecution of what he called “the clearest case of voter intimidation that I’ve seen since I’ve been practicing law.” Adams has since claimed that Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, an Obama political appointee, overruled a unanimous recommendation for continued prosecution by Adams and other attorneys involved. On Tuesday, Adams told the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that Justice Department officials “over and over and over” showed “hostility” to prosecution of voter intimidation cases involving “black defendants and white victims.” Former Justice Department colleagues are now coming forward to corroborate Adams’ claims and to counter the department’s charge that he “distorted facts.”

This case must be made right as quickly as possible and with no room for further doubts about the integrity of Justice Department voter intimidation prosecutions. To that end, Obama should order Holder to let Perrelli and others in the department testify before the Commission on the Civil Rights and turn over all documents the commission has requested. Anything less at this point risks undermining five decades of distinguished federal voting rights enforcement that is among the enduring legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.