Maine becomes 13th State to vote to overturn Citizens United

On Monday, Maine joined West Virginia, Colorado, Montana, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, Maryland, Vermont, New Mexico and Hawaii in calling for an amendment to the United States Constitution on campaign finance. Maine’s State House voted 111-33 with strong bipartisan support in favor of the measure while the Senate voted 25-9.

Polls indicate that 73% of Democrats and 71% of Republicans disagree with the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling and want to keep corporate spending out of political campaigns.

To take effect, an amendment must gain the support of two-thirds of the House and the Senate and be ratified by 38 states.

New Jewish Faces on Capitol Hill in 2013

PM Netanyahu Meets with Senator Daniel Inouye— by David A. Harris

Now that the 113th Congress has been sworn-in, we thought you would be interested in learning a little bit about the newest members from our community who are bringing their Jewish values to Capitol Hill.

Photo: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presents Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) with a replica of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jerusalem
(September 2, 2012). Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO

More after the jump.

  • Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz was appointed to the U.S. Senate following the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) — a pro-Israel giant and true friend of the American Jewish community. Notably, Senator Schatz was sworn into the Senate with a Tanakh, and his entrance into the Senate brings the total of Jewish partisan Democrats to 10 — the number required for a minyan. (Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, an eleventh Jewish senator who caucuses with the Democrats, is an Independent.)
  • Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL) is a former Mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida and she successfully fought a tough campaign against a formidable opponent. Frankel is very familiar with the issues that concern her constituents, including protecting the social safety net and support for Israel.
  • Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL), who was defeated following his first term in 2010, is beginning the second chapter of his congressional career in the 113th Congress. Grayson is an outspoken advocate for many of the issues of concern to American Jews, and his voice will be important in rallying the Democratic caucus.
  • Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) was a prominent voice in both the California Assembly and Senate, and believes in so many of the policies supported by the clear majority of our community.
  • Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL) is a distinguished businessman and Jewish leader from Chicago who ousted incumbent Representative Robert Dold (R-IL). Schneider is an outspoken Israel supporter and is committed to protecting America’s middle class.

Jewish Hawaiian Lieutenant Governor Replaces Sen. Daniel Inouye

— by Marc R. Stanley and David A. Harris

The National Jewish Democratic Council is pleased to see that Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz has been selected to serve in the United States Senate. The late Senator Inouye left behind a tremendous record of partnership with the Jewish and pro-Israel communities — and we are fully confident that Brian Schatz will continue that robust partnership. The entire NJDC family wishes Schatz the best of luck and we look forward to working with him in the future.
 

Friend Of Israel Senator Daniel Inouye To Be Laid To Rest Tomorrow

Today, Senator Daniel Inouye will be honored at a memorial service in Washington DC before his final trip home to Hawaii where he will be buried. According to Fox News:

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were to be among those offering tributes during the ceremony Friday at Washington National Cathedral, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Biden also spoke at a ceremony Thursday at the Capitol, where Inouye was given an honored resting place: beneath the dome.

Inouye was only the 31st person to lie in state in the rotunda, the most recent being former President Gerald R. Ford nearly six years ago.

During the day, congressional staff, tourists and other Capitol Hill visitors filed past to pay their respects at Inouye’s casket, draped with an American flag.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the statement below in response to the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI).

On behalf of the people of Israel, I wish to express my deepest condolences on the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye.

I was proud to call Senator Inouye a friend.  He was a humble man with a towering spirit, whose exemplary bravery on the battlefield during World War II was followed by an exemplary life dedicated to serving his country and defending its most cherished values.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel, our country has been blessed to have had the unwavering support of outstanding American leaders who were dedicated to strengthening the security of Israel and to deepening the unique and powerful alliance between Israel and the United States.

But even among these leaders, the contributions of Senator Inouye stand out.  His friendship to the Jewish people knew no bounds, and he worked tirelessly throughout his public life to safeguard the one and only Jewish state.

The people of Israel will forever owe him a profound debt of gratitude.

My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Inouye’s family at this difficult time.

Eulogy by Former Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor follows the jump.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Sallai Meridor remembered the late Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) in an op-ed for Israel’s Ynet. Meridor wrote:

Senator Inouye played a leading role in all major aspects of the strategic relations between America and Israel. He initiated transforming from loans to grants the American military aid to Israel, amounting to tens of billions of dollars over the years. He led the American support for the development of multi-layered Israeli initiated missile defense system, from David’s Sling, to Iron Dome. He assured that Israel would not only be allowed to purchase most advanced American weapons systems for its defense, but also be able to develop its own cutting edge systems to assure Israel’s qualitative military advantage over its enemies.

Inouye’s support for Israel has never been conditional, nor has he ever expected anything in return….

Being himself an American of Japanese origin, serving his country while his relatives were kept by his own country in detention camps, he embarked on a life long journey of standing with and for the Jewish people. He bound his soul with the Jewish people and vowed to do all he could to help Israel. From selling Israel’s bonds as a young student to appropriating billions for Israel’s defense as the chairman of the Senate committee, he has always stood with Israel. The room of this American hero and most powerful leader was decorated with Jewish menorahs. Every year, he made the effort to attend Israel’s Independence Day celebration in DC to show his solidarity and support. His door and heart have always been open to Israel’s representatives.

When I served as Israel’s ambassador to the US, I had the privilege of meeting with him in this office. Whenever I was seeking a wise caring advice, help vis-à-vis the administration on critical issues, or achieving for Israel the almost impossible, I would ask to visit Senator Inouye. He has always been proud of Israel and concerned about its future. He profoundly understood the difficulties facing a tiny nation, the dangers emanating from the prevalent hatred towards the Jews and their state, and the existential challenges facing a Jewish democratic state in the Middle East. He unequivocally believed that a secure Israel is in the best interest of the United   States and an important part of the American story. He was more than deeply concerned about the threat of a nuclear Iran. Concern for Inouye has been a call for action. ‘What can I do for Israel’s defense?’ He would ask….

Israel has many great friends on Capitol Hill, but there has only been one Daniel Inouye. A noble human being, an American hero, a lover of Zion.

Jerusalem will not forget a true friend, Senator Dan Inouye

אִם אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלָיִם, תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי
If I forget you, O Jerusalem​​, let my right hand wither – Psalms 137:5

— by David Bedein

As a journalist in Israel for the past 26 years, I have met hundreds of politicians from around the world who visit Israel and laud the Jewish state with superlatives of support.

There is only one visiting politician whom I ever met who had tears in his eyes as he discussed his connection to Israel.

That was Senator Daniel Inouye, the Democrat from Hawaii who just passed away.

When I first interviewed Inouye in 1987, I held out my right hand to shake his hand, not realizing that he did not have an right arm.

Although I felt embarrassed, he went on to reassure me, with a genuine good spirit, that his loss of a right arm in the war against Germany in World War II was nothing like the losses suffered  by  the Jewish people to the Nazis.

The Senator went on to relate that in the 20 months that Inouye spent in US Army hospitals recovering from the loss of his right arm and other wounds, he learned about the Jewish death camps from a fellow officer in the hospital and that he spent his convalescence reading up on Jewish history, and, when Israel was formed in 1948, he became a registered Israeli bond salesman  — without commission.

Looking at my kippah, I will never forget how the Senator smiled and told me that he spent a few years considering conversion to Judaism, but that he did not want to make his Methodist mother uncomfortable.

This was a man whose support for Israel and the Jewish people was not deep and geunine.

Daniel Inouye will be mourned in Jerusalem.
David Bedein is the director of the Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research.

Israel Behind The News
Funds Needed to Continue Proactive News Investigations

  • Dangers of Further US Aid to the PLO Army
  • Threat of Planned PLO Army Deployment in Hebron and Jerusalem
  • UNRWA and PA for War Curriculum, financed by US and the West
  • Conflicts of Interests of Israeli businesses invested in the Palestinian Authority

Senator Daniel Inouye (1924-2012)

  • President pro tempore of the United States Senate.
  • Represented the State of Hawaii in Congress since statehood.
  • First Japanese-American in Congress and in the Senate.
  • Served during World War II earning a Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star Medal, 2 Purple Hearts.

— by Marc R. Stanley and David A. Harris

On behalf of NJDC, we extend our condolences to Senator Inouye’s family and the people of Hawaii. The Senator leaves behind a distinguished record of heroism and service to our country that has inspired members of younger generations to enter public service. Senator Inouye was one of the strongest pro-Israel voices on Capitol Hill, and his leadership within the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittees resulted in significant increases in aid for Israel. He was a true mensch in every sense of the word, and we are deeply saddened that he is no longer with us.

The State of the Home States

Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and their running mates have a fair claim to a number of "home" states. None of these are really “swing states,” but these in theory are the states that know these men best, so let's take a look at how the campaign is going in these states. Poll numbers are from Nate Silver's polling average as of Sunday, November 4.

State Claim to fame
Dem GOP Advantage
District of Columbia Obama resides in the White House (2009-present). 88.0% 8.0% Obama +80.0%
Hawaii Obama was born in Honolulu (August 4, 1961). 61.6% 33.6% Obama +27.5%
Illinois Obama moved to Chicago in 1991. He was Illinois State Senator 1997-2004 and Illinois’ US Senator 2004-2008. 56.6% 38.7% Obama +17.9%
Mass-achusetts Romney has degrees in business and law from Harvard University (1971-1975). He stayed in Boston where he worked for Bain Capital (1977-2002) and served as Bishop of the Ward for the LDS Church (1981-1986). He ran for Senate unsuccessfully (1994). He was elected Governor (2003-2007).
Obama has a degree in law from Harvard University (1988-1991).
56.8% 38.5% Obama +18.3%
Michigan Romney was born in Detroit (March 12, 1947). His father George Romney was President of the American Motors Company (1954-1962) and Governor of Michigan (1963-1969). 49.3% 44.6% Obama +4.7%
Utah Mitt and Ann Romney were married at the Salt Lake Temple (1969). Romney attended Brigham Young University. Romney ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Romney owns a home in Park City, UT. 24.3% 69.9% Romney +45.6%
California Romney owns a lavish beachfront home in La Jolla.
Obama attended Occidental College.
54.4% 38.8% Obama +15.6%
New Hampshire Romney owns a beachfront vacation home in Wolfeboro, NH. 48.7% 46.3% Obama +2.4%
Wisconsin Paul Ryan was born, raised and continues to live in Janesville, WI where he represents Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. 49.9% 45.7% Obama +4.2%
Pennsylvania Joe Biden was born in Scranton (Nov. 20, 1942) and lived there until 1953. 49.6% 44.8% Obama +4.8%
Delaware Biden moved to Delaware in 1953. He served as Delaware’s Senator (1973-2009). 57.1% 37.8% Obama +21.0%
Ohio Ryan attended Miami Univerity (Ohio). 48.7% 45.8% Obama +2.9%
New York Biden attended Syracuse University. 59.9% 35.0% Obama +24.9%

Agreement Among States to Elect President by National Popular Vote

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.

The bill has been enacted by the District of Columbiaand 8 states (VT, MD, WA, IL, NJ, MA, CA, HI) shown in green on the map. They total 132 electoral votes bringing us almost halfway towards the 270 necessary to activate the National Popular Vote.

Eleven more states (shown in purple) have passed NPV bills in at least one chamber of their legislature. For example, recently the Republican-controlled New York Senate passed NPV in a 47-13 vote. Republicans supported the bill 21-11 while Democrats supported it 26-2. Across the country, NPV has been endorsed by 2,124 state legislators.

The shortcomings of the current system stem from the winner-take-all rule (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state).

The winner-take-all rule has permitted a candidate to win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide in 4 of our 56 elections – 1 in 14 times. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected Kerry despite Bush’s nationwide lead of 3,000,000.

Another shortcoming of the winner-take-all rule is that presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to the concerns of voters in states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign visits and ad money in the November general election campaign in just six closely divided “battleground” states — with 98% going to 15 states. This makes two thirds of the states mere spectators. (The maps on the left show a similar situation during the final five weeks of the 2004 Bush-Kerry election. Each purple hand represents a visit from a presidential or vice-presidential candidate and each dollar sign represents $1,000,000 spent on TV advertising.)

The winner-take-all rule treats voters supporting the candidate who comes in second place in a particular state as if they supported the candidate that they voted against.

Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives the states exclusive control over the manner of awarding their electoral votes:

“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”

The winner-take-all rule is not in the Constitution. It was used by only three states in our nation’s first election in 1789. The current method of electing the President was established by state laws, and that these state laws may be changed at any time.

Under the National Popular Vote bill, all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes – that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).

The bill preserves the Electoral College, while assuring that every vote is equal and that every vote will matter in every state in every presidential election.

The bill has been endorsed by New York Times, Sacramento Bee, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times, Common Cause, FairVote, LWVUS, and NAACP.


As seen in this state polls are extremely favorable. Supports ranges from a “low” of 67% in Arizona to a high of 83% in Tennessee. On this map, shades of blue represent the highest support and 50/50 support would be represented in purple.

The movement for the National Popular Vote is bipartisan: The national advisory board includes former Senators Jake Garn (R-UT), Birch Bayh (D-IN), and David Durenberger (R-MN) as well as former congressmen John Anderson (R-IL, I), John Buchanan (R-AL), Tom Campbell (R-CA), and Tom Downey (D-NY). Former Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Governors Bob Edgar (R-IL) and Chet Culver (D-IA) are champions.

This Spring, Pennsylvania House Bill 1270 was introduced by Rep. Tom C. Creighton (R-Lancaster County) and Senate Bill 1116 was introduced by Senators Alloway, Argall, Boscola, Erickson, Fontana, Leach, Mensch, Solobay, Vance and Waugh. These bills have not yet be acted upon action by the State Government Committees.

Additional information is available in the book Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote.

Pennsylvania poll results follow the jump.

To support National Popular Vote efforts, donate money, contact your state legislator and get involved.
Pennsylvanians Strongly Support Popular Vote for President

Two out of three Pennsylvanians believe the President should be the candidate who “gets the most votes in all 50 states”, according to a recent poll conducted by noted Political Science Professor Dr. Terry Madonna.

The strong showing came in Madonna’s March Omnibus Poll involving a telephone survey of more than 800 Pennsylvania residents and voters. Among those interviewed, seven in ten agreed “it would be unjust to have a President who did not receive the most popular votes.”

The survey findings were released by the National Popular Vote Project even as state House and Senate sponsors are garnering additional support for enabling legislation on the matter.

Madonna said polling showed bipartisan public support for the project. “A clear majority of Republicans and Democrats favor popular voting in place of the Electoral College’s current method for choosing the President,” Madonna said. “The fundamental reasons the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College system no longer exist, and the voters of Pennsylvania understand that.”

The prime sponsor of the legislation in the House, Republican state Rep. Tom Creighton of Lancaster County, is quick to point out that his legislation (HB 1270) does not seek to supplant the Electoral College, but rather seeks to direct the electors as provided in the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitution, Creighton notes, spells out in Article II, Section 1, that only the state legislatures may set rules on electors and that, in fact, the term “Electoral College” does not appear in the Constitution.

“Right now, most states allow electors to abide by a ‘winner take all’ approach which casts all of a state’s electoral college votes for the candidate who wins that state,” no matter if the candidate wins by a single vote or in a landslide. That “winner take all” practice has resulted in four elections where the candidate who received the most popular votes was not seated as President. A half dozen other elections resulted in “near misses.”

Only about one in four persons surveyed believe that electing a President by the national popular vote will favor one party over another. And of those who believe that, there is a clear split over which party would be favored.

Support was strong for the popular vote across the state although the most vigorous support was noted in Northwestern Pennsylvania, where 72% supported the concept. Philadelphia and suburban counties came next with 69% supporting a National Popular Vote. 63% supported the concept in both Southwestern(including Pittsburgh) and Northeastern Pennsylvania. A clear majority (58%) supported the idea in Central Pennsylvania.

The Madonna survey included the questions on the presidential election at the request of the National Popular Vote Project, a non-partisan, non-profit organization promoting the issue nationwide. Interviews were conducted with 807 residents, of whom 659 were registered voters, using a random digit telephone number selection system that allowed for the inclusion of cell phone users, in addition to regular landline respondents. The sample error was plus or minus 3.4%.

Results in the survey were similar to those reported in a 2008 automated survey of more than 1,000 Pennsylvania voters conducted by Public Policy Polling. In that poll about 70% favored the election of the President by the national popular vote.