NB Politicus

New Britain Election Postscript: “If Trump wins will I have to leave the country?”

Posted in civil rights, Diversity, Hate Speech, Immigration, New Britain, Presidential Politics, Racism by nbpoliticus on November 27, 2016

“If Trump wins will I have to leave the country?”

The question was asked of me by a Holmes School student when I was leaving the Masjid Al Taqwa mosque on Arch Street on a Sunday evening in August. It didn’t matter that the 5th grader has probably lived in New Britain all his life and that his parents — part of a growing Muslim American community in central CT,  vote and pay taxes.

“No,” I said without hesitation to reassure the Holmes student. “Even if Trump wins you won’t have to leave the country.”

My visit to Masjid Al Taqwa came at the invitation of  Alicia Hernandez Strong, a Weyleyan student, new officer of the Democratic Town Committee and a convert to the Muslim faith.   Evening prayer, a generous ethnic supper and a panel talk on voter registration organized by Strong were part of the evening that ended with that question from the student from Holmes, reflecting his worries and that of his  family and religious community in 2016.

Inscription at Memorial to New Britain 19th century peace activist Elihu Burritt in Franklin Square.

Inscription at Memorial to New Britain 19th century peace activist Elihu Burritt in Franklin Square. (Todesignllc.com)

Over and over again the Republican presidential nominee, amplified by an easily manipulated media,  spread an unfiltered message of exclusion and fear and “change” to make America great again. Campaign rhetoric  devoid of policy and ideas was mainly against people of the Muslim faith and  millions of others without a path to citizenship whenever Donald Trump took the stage.

In the aftermath of the election and Trump’s “win” concerns are escalating. In some places real acts of hate and violence are directed at  those who were the targets of Trump’s dog whistle rants.  His appointments, including Steve Bannon, the wife-beating publisher of  the ultra right and xenophobic Breitbart News, have done little to allay the concern.

Trump’s appeals to fear and exclusion wrapped in an empty economic populism, however, are producing counter measures.  Mayors, police chiefs, civic and religious  leaders, in their words and official actions, are pushing back against the campaign xenophobia that should make a President, even a vulgar demagogue of a President,  think twice about policies that sanction intolerance and bigotry and are a refutation of what Ellis Island was all about.

The mob portion of Trump’s support and maybe even Trump himself, emboldened by the election, will continue to fan hate and division. But there are millions of Trump voters, bothered by flaws in Hillary Clinton’s establishment candidacy or swayed by the fake news vitriol against her–who will want no part of  the hate and incivility that fueled the Trump candidacy.  In New Britain and elsewhere too many of their co-workers and the parents of children they see at the school where their kids go are on Trump’s hit list.

Post-election it’s up to me and you to tell that Muslim American Holmes School boy, or the Mexican “dreamer” student at CCSU seeking a fair path to citizenship or a refugee who got here from a strife-torn land:

No. You don’t have to leave the country because of your religion or where you are from no matter who the President is.  Your city is the “city for all people” and your neighbors won’t let that happen.

John McNamara





Ukrainian Americans Protest Manafort Ties To Dictator, Trump Campaign

Posted in national politics, New Britain Republicans, Presidential Politics, Ukraine by nbpoliticus on April 23, 2016

The Hartford area’s  Ukrainian-American community, including members of three church congregations in New Britain, is speaking out against a city native with a well-known name among Republicans — Paul Manafort, the son of a former mayor, longtime Washington lobbyist and now campaign manager for the GOP’s unlikely frontrunner,  Donald J. Trump.

With Tuesday’s Connecticut Primary just ahead,  local Ukrainian Americans are calling on the Trump campaign to dismiss Manafort for his representation of and campaign work for Victor Yanukovych, the former president of the Ukraine, whose regime is reported to have “ordered the shootings of more than 100 Ukrainian protestors” and “who stole tens of billions of dollars from Ukraine before fleeing to Russia.”

Ukrainian Americans of all ages protested involvement of Paul Manafort in Presidential politics in New Britain on April 23rd

Ukrainian Americans of all ages protested involvement of Paul Manafort in Presidential politics in New Britain on April 23rd

Residents calling for Manafort to exit the Trump campaign assert that Manafort and his colleagues “have made tens of millions of dollars  representing some of the world’s most brutal dictators of the 20th century.”  One press report has dubbed Manafort a member of the “torturers’ lobby.”

An impromptu protest against the Trump hire of Manafort was held on Saturday, April 23rd near the entrance to the Route 9 Tadeusz Kosceiuszko Highway  and Paul Manafort Drive (named for the lobbyist’s late father) near Central Connecticut State University.   A group of Ukrainian-Americans held up signs  in protest such as “Shame on Putin, Shame on Manafort, Shame on Trump” and “Manafort’s Client Killed 104 Heroes.”  Ukrainian Americans fear Trump’s anti NATO position and praise of Russia’s Vladimir Putin will jeopardize the Ukraine’s fledgling democracy.

A statement released by the ad hoc group led by Alex Kuzma stated:

“Throughout his career Paul Manafort’s work overseas has been in direct conflict with the foreign policy interests of the United States and its allies, yet Manafort is now working to help influence the future of the highest office of the United States, pushing for a candidate who is more on message with Russian President Putin than our current U.S. President and member of Congress on both sides of the aisle.”

Ukrainian Americans condemn Trump campaign's hiring of Paul Manafort.

Ukrainian Americans condemn Trump campaign’s hiring of Paul Manafort.

Manafort, 66, has long been involved in national GOP politics and a partner in K Street lobbying firms such as Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly and more recently Davis, Manafort.  Through the years he has been among highly compensated U.S. consultants working for foreign leaders with a record of human rights violations and whose policies have contradicted U.S. foreign policy.

Local Republicans appear unfazed by Manafort’s foreign adventures.  In a New Britain Herald story on the the Trump-Manafort connection, former New Britain Mayor and current Chamber of Commerce President Timothy Stewart said of Manafort: “He’s a go-to guy as a Republican operative and he has been for many years. ‘PJ’ is the man. He knows the players.”

A 2014 Politico story –“Mystery Man: Ukraine’s U.S. Fixer”– described Manafort’s roles as presidential operative and consultant to dictators:


Over three decades in Washington, Manafort built a storied career as a Beltway man of mystery: a famously discreet operative who worked for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, steered the 1996 GOP convention and built not one but two white-shoe D.C. lobbying shops, a pair of firms that bore Manafort’s name and catered to an eclectic stable of clients including anti-communist Angolan rebels and Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator of the Philippines.

Last month Manafort  re-surfaced as Trump’s delegate fixer and liaison to the Republican establishment.   After a long hiatus, Manafort is back on U.S. soil managing Trump’s campaign just like he did for Ukraine’s Yanukovych and others with disturbing records of human rights violations.


Sanders’ Call To End Economic Injustice: A “New Dealer” For the 21st Century

Posted in Presidential Politics by nbpoliticus on April 3, 2016

A Brief History of Delegates And Super Delegates

Posted in Presidential Politics by nbpoliticus on March 3, 2008

The origins of pledged delegates chosen in caucuses and primaries and “super delegates” are getting much more scrutiny with no resolution in the Clinton versus Obama race. That was the case at the Feb. 21st New Britain Democratic Town Committee meeting. DTC member Butch Wierbicki, a United Auto Workers retiree, asked with a tone of suspicion in his voice where and when did the super delegates come from?

The earlier-than-ever Iowa and New Hampshire face offs and the front-loading of many primaries were supposed to make curiosity about delegates a moot point. Last December conventional wisdom held that New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who had already signed up a good share of the “super delegates”, would be the inevitable nominee before one rank and file Democrat went to vote in a caucus or primary.

Butch Wierbicki is not alone in wondering about super delegates. Many Democrats and observers are asking and wondering about delegate selection because every delegate vote now matters. You’ve heard the numbers. The Democratic nominee will need 2,025 delegate votes out of more than 4,000 for the nomination at the national convention in Denver in August. As of March 1, both Clinton and Obama had amassed over 1,000 delegates each for the stretch run. Obama is holding an advantage after 11 straight primary and caucus victories and the early favorite Clinton is seeking a comeback on March 4th and the April 22nd primary in Pennsylvania.

The delegate make up of the 2008 Democratic National Convention springs from two conflicting trends in the Democratic Party over the last 40 years. One (grassroots) is to empower the rank and file to select the nominee. Delegates pledged to a candidate at the district level are the grassroots. The other (top-down) is to allow party potentates to have an automatic voice to determine the nominees, party platforms and rules. These are the super delegates, officially known as “Party Leaders and Elected Officials (PLEOs)” as stipulated in national party bylaws.

In 1968, a fractious national convention torn up by the Vietnam War made concessions to reformers to review rules for a more open selection process. The result was the McGovern-Fraser Commission, which established a process that gave grassroots people, union members and minorities a greater chance at becoming delegates. The more “democratic” rules took effect in 1972 when former Senator George McGovern (who led the commission) became the nominee.

In 1982, the pendulum had swung the other way. According to www.superdelegates.org: “As the Democratic Party increased their use of primaries and caucuses to select delegates during the 1960s and 1970s, intra-party criticism continued, with the opinion expressed that some control of the nomination process should remain among party elites. Although the McGovern-Fraser reforms insured significant primary delegate representation by the 1972 National Convention, Democratic presidential defeats in 1972 and 1980, and the surprise success of then-outsider candidate Jimmy Carter’s nomination in 1976, increased the call for more control being vested with Party leaders.”

Enter the Hunt Commission (led by then North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt). Hunt’s group established the super delegates representing 15% of the convention — a percentage that has since grown to 20% of all delegates. Former Cong. and 1984 Vice Presidential Nominee Geraldine Ferraro, a Clinton supporter, defended super delegates in a February 25th Op-Ed article in the New York Times: “So we created super delegates and gave that designation to every Democratic member of Congress. Today the 796 super delegates also include Democratic governors, former presidents and vice presidents, and members of the Democratic National Committee and former heads of the national committee. These super delegates, we reasoned, are the party’s leaders. They are the ones who can bring together the most liberal members of our party with the most conservative and reach accommodation. They would help write the platform. They would determine if a delegate should be seated. They would help determine the rules. And having done so, they would have no excuse to walk away from the party or its presidential nominee.”

In reality, super delegates are an attempt to put a little bit of the “smoke-filled room” back into the process. They are meant as a counterweight to the reforms adopted following the McGovern-Fraser Commission that paved the way for proportional delegate selection and the opportunity for rank and file Democrats (not party regulars) to become delegates.

Super delegates have every right to lead as Ms. Ferraro suggests, but they also need to heed what primary voters and district delegates want in 2008 if the Democratic nominee is to prevail in November. There can be no turning back the clock to “party bosses” and the smoke filled rooms of yesteryear. Unlike 1972, Democrats will have the best chance of winning the Presidency by upholding the open and democratic reforms that allowed the grassroots to get to conventions nearly 40 years ago.

In Connecticut, separate Clinton and Obama caucuses will be held on March 19th in each Congressional District to pick the delegates pledged to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Reflecting the popular vote of Feb. 5th, Obama will have the edge on pledged district delegates (It’s 3 to 3 in the 5th Congressional District). Additional at-large delegates will be selected by district delegates after the caucuses. There are 11 super delegates from Connecticut, including Senator Dodd and the four Democratic members of Congress. Dodd and U.S. Reps. Murphy, DeLauro and Larson have swung to Obama. The other superdelegates include National Committee members Ellen Camhi, Anthony Avallone, Steve Fontana and John Olsen, State Party Chair Nancy DiNardo and New Haven’s Marty DunLeavy who gains his status by virtue of being a member of the National Democratic Party’s “ethnic coordinating committee.” More information is available at www.ctdems.org