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.

Boston Bombing: We are All Targets

As I reflect on the events of the past 24 hours, my thoughts and prayers are with the 130 people who have been injured, to greater or lesser degrees, by the bombs that exploded in Boston. May they be granted speedy and complete recoveries. May G-d strengthen the hands of those who tend to their injuries and wounds. May those in need be granted healing, both physical and spiritual. I know that you join me in extending heartfelt sympathy and prayers for comfort to the families of the three victims who died from their wounds. I pray that those whose job it is to find and apprehend those responsible are successful in their work. May those who are guilty be brought to justice and be held accountable for these heinous crimes. [Read more…]

The First and Latest Republican Nominees’s Home State Tsuris

In our article The State of the Home States, we pointed out that if Romney had won the election, he certainly would have had to do so without his homestate of Massachusetts and that James K Polk was the only President to have been elected without carrying his homestate. Polk, lost his home state (North Carolina) by 4.78% (3,945 votes) and his state of residence (Tennessee) by 0.1% (123 votes).

In fact Romney’s defeat in his home state was greater than Polk’s. According to Smart Politics,

With just 37.5% of the vote to his name, Romney barely moved the needle on John McCain’s performance in the state in 2008. The Arizona U.S. Senator won 36.0% of the vote in Massachusetts four years ago — losing by 25.8% to Obama.

The only presidential candidate to suffer a larger home state loss than Romney was the first-ever Republican nominee, John Frémont of California in 1856.

Frémont only captured 18.78% of the vote (20,704 votes) while James Buchanan carried the State of California and its 4 electoral votes. In the next election, the Republican party fared better; its nominee Abraham Lincoln carried his home state and won the election of 1860.

Video Romney highlights after the jump.

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%

Mitt’s Remaining Taxing Questions

Mitt Romney finally filed his taxes for 2011 and on Friday, Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan made their 2011 returns public along a letter from Romney’s accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers attesting to Romney’s tax rate over the last 20 years.

Romney is hoping these disclosures will end discussion of his personal finances and allow him to turn his campaign in advance of the October 3 debate. However, these disclosures raise perhaps as many questions as they answer.

  • Mitt’s enormous IRA: Romney’s IRA is valued at over $100,000,000. How did he build up such a big retirement fund given the $6,000 legal annual contribution limit. Even assuming a healthy 10% rate of return it would take 78 year for an IRA to grow that much. Did Bain undervalue the assets it contributed in Mitt’s IRA?
  • Cayman Islands: In this 2010 video courtesy of BuzzFeed, Paul Ryan calls the Cayman Islands “the place you hide your money”. We know his running mate Mitt Romney had an offshore bank account there? How long has he had the account? How much money was in it? And how much tax was he able to avoid thereby?
  • Residency: M. S. Bellows of the Guardian has an interesting theory about why Romney refuses to follow the tradition of disclosing his tax returns. Perhaps he is not so worried about the bottom line (how much taxes he paid) but the top lines (his mailing address)!

    Tax returns require taxpayers to state their residence address, and the Romney returns already produced, although partially redacted, state clearly that they lived in ‘Belmont, MA 02478’ in 2012 (tax year 2011) and 2011 (tax year 2010)… But the Romneys, arbitrarily, refuse to disclose a copy of the returns they filed in 2010 or 2009 (for tax years 2009 and 2008) – which, perhaps not coincidentally, bracket the time period when Romney allegedly committed fraud by voting in Massachusetts when he actually resided in California. So here’s the question: did Romney put his son’s basement’s address on the returns he filed in 2009 and 2010? Or did he truthfully use his real (non-Massachusetts) address, thus implicating himself in voter fraud?

  • Missing Millions: According to Rick Newman at US News & World Report, Mitt’s preliminary 2011 tax return showed $20,901,075 in adjusted gross income. His final return shows $13,696,961 in AGI. A $7,204,114 error is not small change! Where does the discrepancy arise?
  • Missing Thousands: Similarly, Paul Ryan’s final return show $64,122 in income that he “forgot” to list in his original return. To Romney that might not be much, but it still represents 20% of Ryan’s income. How could Ryan who chairs the House Budget Committee lose track of 20% of his family income?
  • Donations: Romney had a political problem with his 2011 return. Earlier this year, he said he never paid less that a 13% tax rate, but this year’s taxes were going to work out to a 12.2% rate. In order to avoid this embarrassment, he voluntarily chose to claim only $2.25M out of the $4.02M in donations they listed. This increased their tax rate to 14.1%. According to William Douglas and David Lightman:

    In 2011, the Romney’s charitable cash contributions included $1.115 million to the Mormon church and $214,516 to Tyler Charitable Foundation, a Romney family foundation. The Romneys also claimed a deduction of $920,573 for noncash contributions that were not spelled out in a statement accompanying the return.

    Romney could file an amended return at any time during the next three years and receive a refund of this excess tax. Does he plan to do this? And if not, how does that square with his statement in July

    “I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president.”

At least there is one question that is off the table for now:

Tour de Shuls: Biking around the Jewish Community

Local Congregations Featured Tour Stops in the First Annual Tour de Shuls PA/NJ Bike Ride to Benefit Camp Ramah

— by Leonard Abrams and Bruce Tomar

Middle Atlantic Region of Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs proudly presents the inaugural Tour de Shuls a bike ride to benefit Camp Ramah on Sunday morning, September 23, 2012. Cyclists will enjoy a choice of a 45 mile, 20 mile or family friendly 3 mile ride. All rides begin and end at Temple Sinai in Dresher, PA. The ride will feature tour stops at
Beth Sholom in Elkins Park, PA and Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell, PA. The cost to ride is $36 ($54 after 9/9). Check-in begins at 7:00 AM.

Every dollar raised from rider fees, contributions and sponsorships will be donated directly to Camp Ramah. This will be a great day for the Shuls of the Middle Atlantic Region, the Ramah movement and the Jewish community at large. All participants will be treated to a catered lunch by Temple Sinai Men’s Club’s acclaimed “Men in the Kitchen.”

A similar event is planned for September 2 in Indianapolis to benefit Hillels on eight university campuses across Indiana. On June 24, rides were held in Massachusetts and Connecticut rides to support the Tikvah special needs program at Camp Ramah New England.
Register today to ride, donate, sponsor a rider, sponsor the event and volunteer at www.tourdeshulspanj.org For further information contact event co-chairs Leonard Abrams at leonardabrams@marfjmc.org or 215-498-2566 or Bruce Tomar batomar1@hotmail.com or 856-429-9042.

How Stimulus and Health Care Reform Turned Out

Ezra Klein:

The latest Chicago Booth poll of economists focuses on the 2009 stimulus. The first question asked whether the stimulus increased employment by the end of 2010. Eighty percent of the polled economists agreed. Four percent disagreed. Two percent were uncertain.

The second question asked whether, over the long run, the benefits would outweigh the long-term costs (like paying down the extra debt). Forty-six percent agreed. Twelve percent disagreed. Twenty-seven percent were uncertain.

Dana Milbank:

At the last possible moment to save his reelection, the economy is beginning to hum, as evidenced by Friday’s jobs report. And Obama’s Republican opponents are shaping up to be as formidable as, well, marshmallows. While Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are making each other unelectable, the president is singing Al Green, congratulating Super Bowl winners, playing with science projects, raising obscene amounts of campaign cash and watching his poll numbers soar.

Academy of Music 155th Anniversary Concert and Ball


Major movers and shakers in Philadelphia’s economy were among the 1500 supporters at Saturday night’s 155th Anniversary Academy of Music Concert and Ball, including (left to right) Ron and Rachelle Kaiserman, Robert and Caroline Zuritsky, and Renee and Joe Zuritsky.

— by Bonnie Squires

Philadelphia’s premier white-tie event took place at the historic Academy of Music, preceded by receptions and dinner at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 155th Academy of Music Anniversary Concert and Ball featured the debut on the Academy of Music stage of. Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin , with special guests multiple Grammy Award®-winners singer/pianist Diana Krall and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Tipping its hat once again to the first Academy concert, the program was a mix of popular and classical music, just as the 1857 opening concert was.

Jazz performer Krall surprised the audience by calling back on stage her friend and collaborator, Yo-Yo Ma, to the delight of everyone.

More after the jump.


Terese Casey, wife of Senator Bob Casey, and Felice Wiener

Yannick also had the Philadanco dancers, reflecting the rainbow of colores which lit the stage and columns of the Academy, perform to the strains of the orchestra.  A surprise finish was the appearance of the Society Hill Dancers, dressed in formal attire of the 1850s, doing a waltz.

The Jewish community was among 1500 supporters of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Academy of Music, an historic monument to music, opera and dance. The Gala evening began with a pre-concert dinner. Guests could choose from two exciting offerings this year: the President’s Cocktail Party and Dinner at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, or a Dine Around option, which allows patrons to dine at selected restaurants along the Avenue of the Arts, or on their own. In a nod to the Academy’s early years, and in a unique departure from recent history, both the Anniversary Concert and the Academy Ball were held entirely within the Academy of Music. A “symphony in three movements,” this unique evening gave attendees the chance to celebrate the “Grand Old Lady of Locust Street” within her very walls.

Public officials attending the evening included Governor and Mrs. Tom Corbett, Senator and Mrs. Bob Casey, a number of city and state officials, and corporate, cultural, arts organizations and philanthropic foundation leaders.


Christina and John Saler

The gala was co-chaired by Joanna McNeil Lewis, president and CEO of the Academy of Music,  and John R. Saler, chairman of Stradley and Ronon’s Government Affairs Practice Group, who also serves on the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra.


Corbetts greet Richard Worley, chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra, with Joanna McNeil Lewis and John Saler, co-chairs of the Academy of Music Concert and Ball, in the background.

In the receiving line with the co-chairs and the Corbetts were Richard Worley, chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra board of trustees, and Allison Vulgamore, CEO of the Orchestra.

The energy of Yannick, the Orchestra, the guest artists and the dancers enthralled the audience.  And the impressive program journal, reflecting the support of various segments of the community, was the parting gift as people finally left the Academy balls, held in various sections of the Grand Old Lady of Broad Street.

Photos credit: Bonnie Squires.


More photos
David and Susan Lipson Ken and Nancy Davis Ron and Marcia RubinHelen and David Pudlin, Esq.
Sandy and David Marshall, with Dianne and Jeff Rotwitt Scott and Lynne Mason with friends Pat and Rob Schaffer Harmelin Group

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.

Obama Names Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient

President Barack Obama named Gerda Weissman Klein, President George H. W. Bush and thirteen others as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.  The awards will be presented at a White House ceremony early next year.

“These outstanding honorees come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place.  I look forward to awarding them this honor.”

The following fifteen individuals will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

1. Gerda Weissmann Klein

Gerda Weissmann Klein is a Jewish Holocaust survivor who has written several books about her experiences.  After Nazi Germany took over her homeland of Poland, Klein was separated from both her parents:  they were sent to Auschwitz and she to a series of labor and concentration camps.  In 1945, she was sent on a forced 350-mile death march to avoid the advance of Allied forces.  She was one of the minority who survived the forced journey.  In May 1945, Klein was liberated by forces of the United States Army in Volary, Czechoslovakia, and later married Army Lieutenant Kurt Klein, who liberated her camp.  A naturalized citizen, she recently founded Citizenship Counts, an organization that teaches students to cherish the value of their American citizenship.  Klein has spoken to audiences of all ages and faith around the world about the value of freedom and has dedicated her life to promoting tolerance and understanding among all people.


2. President George H. W. Bush

George Herbert Walker Bush was the 41st President of the United States.  Prior to that, he was Vice President in the Reagan Administration, Director of Central Intelligence, Chief of the U.S. Liaison’s Office to the People’s Republic of China, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and a Member of the House of Representatives from the 7th District of Texas.  He served in the Navy during World War II.  President Bush and President Clinton worked together to encourage aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

More after the jump.

3. Chancellor Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. She is the first woman and first East German to serve as Chancellor of a unified Germany, which this year marks its 20th anniversary.  She has often said that freedom is the happiest experience of her life.  Chancellor Merkel was born in Hamburg but was raised in what was then Communist East Germany after her family moved to Templin.  Her political career began when she joined the new Democratic Awakening party in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  In 1990, as West and East Germany merged into one reunited country, her party joined with the Christian Democratic Union, and she was elected to the German parliament.  She has been chairman of the CDU since April 2000 and was recently reelected to another term.


4. Congressman John Lewis

John Lewis is an American hero and a giant of the Civil Rights Movement.  He served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), helped to organize the first lunch-counter sit-in in 1959 at the age of 19, and was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington.  In May 1961, he participated in the initial Freedom Ride, during which he endured violent attacks in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Montgomery, Alabama.  In 1964, he helped to coordinate the Mississippi Freedom Project, and, in 1965, he led the Selma-to-Montgomery march to petition for voting rights where marchers were brutally confronted in an incident that became known as “Bloody Sunday.”  Eight days later, President Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress, condemned the violence in Selma, and called for passage of the Voting Rights Act, which was enacted within months.  Since 1987, John Lewis has continued his service to the nation as the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th District, which encompasses all of Atlanta.


5. John H. Adams

John H. Adams co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970.  Adams served as Executive Director and, later, as president of the nonprofit environmental advocacy group until 2006.  His tenure is unparalleled by the leader of any other environmental organization.  Rolling Stone writes: “If the planet has a lawyer, it’s John Adams.”


6. Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou is a prominent and celebrated author, poet, educator, producer, actress, filmmaker, and civil rights activist, who is currently the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.  She has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal for the Arts in 2000 and the Lincoln Medal in 2008.


7. Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is an American investor, industrialist, and philanthropist.  He is one of the most successful investors in the world.  Often called the “legendary investor Warren Buffett,” he is the primary shareholder, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.  Mr. Buffett has pledged that all of his shares in Berkshire Hathaway – about 99 percent of his net worth – will be given to philanthropic endeavors.  He is a co-founder of The Giving Pledge, an organization that encourages wealthy Americans to devote at least 50 percent of their net worth to philanthropy.


8. Dr. Tom Little (Posthumous)

Dr. Tom Little was an optometrist who was brutally murdered on August 6, 2010, by the Taliban in the Kuran Wa Munjan district of Badakhshan, Afghanistan, along with nine other members of a team returning from a humanitarian mission to provide vision care in the remote Parun valley of Nuristan.  Dr. Little and his wife, Libby, lived and worked  in Afghanistan for three decades beginning in 1976, raising three daughters and providing vision, dental and mother/child care to the people of that country through the NOOR program (Noor means “light” in Persian) that Dr. Little ran for the International Assistance Mission.


9. Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma is considered the world’s greatest living cellist, recognized as a prodigy since the age of five whose celebrity transcends the world of classical music.  Born in Paris, Ma was a child prodigy who went on to study with Leonard Rose in New York.  He made his Carnegie Hall debut at age nine.  He was the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize in 1978, and, in 1991, Harvard awarded him an honorary doctorate in music.  He serves as Artistic Director of the Silk Road Project, and has won sixteen Grammy awards.  He is known especially for his interpretations of Bach and Beethoven, and for his ability to play many different styles of music, including tango and bluegrass.  He serves on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.


10. Sylvia Mendez

Sylvia Mendez is a civil rights activist of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent.  As an eight-year-old, her parents attempted to enroll Mendez in an all-white school in their community, but were denied entry at and were told to go to the school for Mexican children.  Her father and other parents sued and prevailed.  The Mendez v. Westminster case was a landmark decision in the civil rights movement against segregation.  Mendez currently travels around the country giving speeches on the value of a good education.


11. Stan Musial

Stan “The Man” Musial is a baseball legend and Hall of Fame first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals.   Musial played 22 seasons for the Cardinals from 1941 to 1963.  A 24-time All-Star selection, Musial accumulated 3,630 hits and 475 home runs during his career, was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player three times, and was a member of three World Series championship teams.  Musial also served as the Cardinals’ general manager in 1967, when the team once again won the World Series.


12. Bill Russell

Bill Russell is the former Boston Celtics’ Captain who almost single-handedly redefined the game of basketball.  Russell led the Celtics to a virtually unparalleled string of eleven championships in thirteen years and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five times.  The first African American to coach in the NBA-indeed he was the first to coach a major sport at the professional level in the United States-Bill Russell is also an impassioned advocate of human rights.  He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and has been a consistent advocate of equality.


13. Jean Kennedy Smith

In 1974, Jean Kennedy Smith founded VSA, a non-profit organization affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center that promotes the artistic talents of children, youth and adults with disabilities.   From 1993 to 1998, Smith served as U. S. Ambassador to Ireland, and played a pivotal role in the peace process.  Smith is the youngest daughter of Joseph and Rose Kennedy and is the Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center.


14. John J. Sweeney

John J. Sweeney is the current President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO, and served as President of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009.  The son of Irish immigrants, a domestic worker and a bus driver in the Bronx, he worked his way up in the labor movement to become President of the Service Employees International Union, growing the union to serve as a strong voice for working people.  As President of the AFL-CIO, he revitalized the American labor movement, emphasizing union organizing and social justice, and was a powerful advocate for America’s workers.


15. Jasper Johns

American artist Jasper Johns has produced a distinguished body of work dealing with themes of perception and identity since the mid-1950s.  Among his best known works are depictions of familiar objects and signs, including flags, targets and numbers.  He has incorporated innovative approaches to materials and techniques, and his work has influenced pop, minimal, and conceptual art.