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Mar 29, 2008

Why Doesn't Obama Renounce His Bigoted Church?

Politicians want to progress from office to higher office. Barack Obama based his Illinois political career on the black power politics of Chicago, and holds his US Senate seat because of this, and some luck in facing a senate election opponent who imploded. It seems that Pastor Wright was crucial for 20 years to Obama's connections and success.

Obama's message is: Some of Wright's statements are wrong, but Wright is basically a good guy with love in his heart. My words matter, and they are different from Wright's words.

Read more ...

Running for president is a wonderful opportunity and a gamble. If Obama does not win the presidency, he surely wants to keep his job as US senator. He can't burn the bridge that keeps him in national politics. Obama does not renounce Wright, because Wright's speeches reflect the beliefs of a large fraction of Obama's support for his senate seat. Obama's direct words were "I can no more disown him [Wright] than I can disown the black community".

This makes Obama a politician who has gained political power by satisfying his base. He is not a courageous statesman who gained authority by teaching a better way or by reconciling different views. Actually, Obama is supporting a church that accepts and teaches the old, divisive way.

Obama plays the old political game of saying different things to different groups. The message along the way is: I'm saying things to my political base only to keep their support. Ignore that, because I'm telling the truth to you.

Personally, I reject politicians who look for support by accepting and supporting racism, regardless of its value as a political tactic.

Mar 28, 2008

A Political Speech: Coming Together


My fellow Americans.

May I first say that all of you are the most intelligent, beautiful, clear thinking, generous, patriotic, and deserving people that I have met, along with all of the other great people of your town, city, and state.

Our great country and especially our government is torn by disagreement. It is astonishing that we elect people to government, using so much time and at great expense, only to witness these people disagreeing and arguing. They don't get much done, and they make a lot of conflicting arguments and noise while they are not doing things. They are now spending about $3 Trillion (that's 12 zeroes) per year on programs that they argue about. It is time to end partisan differences so that we can do so much more good.

My administration will reach across the aisle to both parties, and especially to the opposing and obstinate party, to gain agreement and smooth the operation of government. We will smile rather than argue.

Some pay taxes and others receive benefits.
- I will bring them together.
Some charge for their services, and others want free services.
- I will bring them together.
Some want a powerful military, and others want a philosophy of peace and forgiveness.
Some want to have earmarks for political supporters, and others want to reduce spending.
Some explain why my policies are wonderful, and others stupidly and maliciously object.
Some want my political party to rule forever, and others want to end this benevolent rule.

So I say the following to all of you, and especially to those who want a job with my administration, or a subsidy or grant from us, or want to run a program, or supply a program, or just want to have the street fixed in front of your home.

We should soon be the party in power, and we will be, with your help.

A Political Speech: My Policies


My fellow Americans.

May I first say that all of you are the most intelligent, beautiful, clear thinking, generous, patriotic, and deserving people that I have met, along with all of the other great people of your town, city, and state.

I want you to know where I stand on the issues. I believe in Prosperity, and I always will. If you want more of the details, look at the literature available in the back of the room, or on my website. These also say that I believe in Prosperity.

My overly friendly, bewildered opponent believes in Bare-Survival. Or he used to. He says now that he believes in Almost-Prosperity, but he used to believe in Bare-Survival. Mark my words, he will believe in Bare-Survival again.

Prosperity is clearly the right choice. It means more money in your pockets. Naysayers complain that this is a subsidy from the Government. I say that the Government has lots of money, or can borrow more, and there is no better cause for using this money than to provide lots of Prosperity for you and your great state.

Mealy mouthed opponents say that I voted for Bare-Survival in my prior political life. This wasn't me. It was all of the other misguided politicians that I had to deal with. I fought hard for Prosperity, but I could only fight them to achieve Bare-Survival. With your support, we won't stop at Almost-Prosperity, but we will fight on to Overwhelming Prosperity.

Some people of little breeding say that I may have said things that support Bare-Survival. This is a misinterpretation. I believed in Prosperity all along, and through hard work and deep introspection, I gained the strength to publicly support Prosperity. It is a sign of my intelligence and faith in God that I could analyze the situation and now clearly support Prosperity.

Thank you for your support. With your prayers, votes, and lots of Prosperity we will transform this great nation.

Mar 2, 2008

2006 Tax Comparisons - Wide Format

The information below for tax year 2006 is from the Tax Foundation "Federal Individual Income Tax Data 07/18/08".
These tables are also available as an Excel workbook.

2006 Tax Data Split Into Separate AGI Slices

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14)
Slice Rank Tax Returns (MM) AGI Min Total AGI (B) Percent of AGI Tax Paid   (B) Tax Rate on AGI Tax Rate Ratio Tax Share Slice AGI Per Return Tax Per Return Tax Per Return Ratio
  All 100% 135.7 $0 $8,122 100% $1,024 13% 1.8 100%   All $59,844 $7,543 2.3
  1% 99% 1.4 388,806 1,792 22% 408 23% 3.3 40%   1% 1,320,289 300,893 92.8
  4% 95% 5.4 153,542 1,186 15% 207 17% 2.5 20%   4% 218,434 38,187 11.8
  5% 90% 6.8 108,904 865 11% 109 13% 1.8 11%   5% 127,532 16,071 5.0
15% 75% 20.4 64,702 1,693 21% 158 9% 1.3 15% 15% 83,147 7,781 2.4
25% 50% 33.9 31,987 1,570 19% 110 7% 1.0 11% 25% 46,265 3,243 1.0
50% 0% 67.9 0 1,016 13% 31 3% 0.43 3% 50% 14,979 450 0.14

This table reports data from the Internal Revenue Service about all tax returns showing positive AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) whether or not any tax was owed.

Each row is data for a "slice" of taxpayers. The usual IRS data reports averages for groups of taxpayers from the top (as shown in the table far below). The IRS data reports on the top 1% 5% 10% 25% 50% and All returns. I split out each slice by computing the difference between groups.

This presentation makes it easy to compare your situation to your "tax neighbors". Are their taxes fair? Should they pay so much less or more than you do?

The first row is for all returns averaged together. The last row reports the 50% of tax returns with the lowest AGI's. The row "25%" reports the next one-quarter of tax returns having higher AGI's. The next higher rows report the one-quarter of tax returns with the highest AGI's.

The "25% row in yellow is the one I use for overall comparison. It is the "middle class" slice, the second one-quarter of returns from the top.

Column (10) "Tax Share" is the one usually quoted in articles. The top 1% of taxpayers paid 40% of the income tax in 2006. The top 10% paid altogether 71% of the tax, amounting to $725 billion.

Compare this to the additional $4-6 trillion in borrowings that the Obama administration wants to spend. That additional spending is 6-8 times as much as the total tax paid by the upper 10% of taxpayers. So, who is going to pay for that additional spending?

A middle class taxpayer with $46,300 of AGI paid about $3,300 in federal tax. $4-6 trillion in extra spending, spread out in proportion among all taxpayers, would require a payment of $13,000 to $20,000 from that person, being 28-42% of one year's AGI.

An upper class taxpayer at the 90% rank now pays 13% of AGI in tax. He would have to pay 52-78% of one year's AGI to pay for the increased spending, if spread in proportion among taxpayers.

Column (9) "Tax Rate Ratio" compares your effective tax rate to your tax neighbor. The middle class, yellow row is set as the standard (set to 1.0), paying 7% of AGI as tax. Note that this is the "whole" rate, 7% of total AGI. It is not the "marginal" rate that is quoted in the tax tables in tax return instructions.

The average tax on the first 50% is a whole rate of 3% on AGI, a .43 fraction of the rate paid by the middle class slice. Someone earning about $130,000 paid a whole tax rate of 13%, which is 1.8 times the rate paid by the middle class slice.

From the Tax Foundation link, 43 million tax returns had exemptions, deductions, and tax credits resulting in zero tax. Some even received money back from the IRS for the Earned Income Tax Credit (and other credits), which are not included in the IRS data. These returns are part of the lowest 50%, but are not split out because they are not separately reported.


  (1)  Slice - Groups of taxpayers according to AGI (Adjusted Gross Income). AGI is total income less deductions for such as IRA contributions, and moving and business expenses. You get Taxable Income when you subtract deductions, allowances for dependents, and qualified expenses (eg. child care).

  (2)  Rank - Where each row ranks according to AGI. The yellow row represents 25% of all individual tax returns, and sits above 50% of all tax returns.

  (3)  Tax Returns (MM) - The millions of tax returns in the slice, 33.2 million returns in the yellow slice.

  (4)  AGI Min - The minimum AGI for returns in this slice. Returns in the yellow slice have AGI between $30,881 and the next higher slice ($62,068).

  (5)  Total AGI (B) - All AGI reported in this slice.

  (6)  Percent of AGI - (Slice AGI)/(Total AGI). The percent of AGI contained in this slice. Note that the slices are not equally wide and have different AGI's, so these numbers don't relate easily to each other.

  (7)  Tax Paid (B) - Total tax paid for this slice, in billions.

  (8)  Tax Rate on AGI - (Col 7)/(Col 5). Tax paid as a percent of AGI.

  (9)  Tax Rate Ratio - The effective tax rate for this slice compared to the 7% tax rate for the "middle class" yellow slice. For example, the value 1.8 for the "5%" row says that those people are paying tax at a rate that is 1.8 times the rate for the "middle class". The ratio is 1.0 in the yellow row because we are comparing this row to itself.

(10)  Tax Share - The percent of total tax collections paid by this slice.

(11)  Slice - Repeats (Col 1) for convenience in reading the table.

(12)  AGI Per Return - The average AGI reported for each return in the slice.

(13)  Tax Per Return - The average tax paid for each return in the slice.

(14)  Tax Per Return Ratio - This compares the amount of tax paid by an average individual in each slice, to the average "middle class" return in the yellow row.


2006 Tax Data by Upper AGI Groups

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13)
Group Tax Returns (MM) AGI Min Total AGI (B) Percent of AGI Tax Paid   (B) Tax Rate on AGI Tax Rate Ratio Tax Share Group AGI Per Return Tax Per Return
All 135.7 $0 $8,122 100% $1,024 13% 0.9 100% All $59,844 $7,543
Top   1% 1.4 388,806 1,792 22% 408 23% 1.6 40% Top   1% 1,320,289 300,893
5% 6.8 153,542 2,978 37% 616 21% 1.5 60% 5% 438,805 90,729
10% 13.6 108,904 3,843 47% 725 19% 1.3 71% 10% 283,169 53,400
25% 33.9 64,702 5,536 68% 883 16% 1.1 86% 25% 163,155 26,029
50% 67.9 31,987 7,106 87% 993 14% 1.0 97% 50% 104,710 14,636
Low 50% 67.9 0 1,016 13% 31 3% 0.22 3% Low 50% 14,979 450

This table gives Federal income tax statistics in the usual way, reporting on groups from the top by AGI. For example, column (11) in yellow reports that the top 1% of tax returns collectively paid 40% of all Federal income tax, and the top 5% collectively paid 60%.

This gives a good idea of what is happening to the top 1% or 5%, but it averages together what is happening to the lower groups. This data is recomputed to give the first table above, "2006 Tax Data Split Into Separate AGI Slices".

Mar 1, 2008

TPM: Adequate Compensation

The Political Manual:
Get Paid What You Are Worth


We at Black Ops Political Advisors (BOPA) advise you that the legislative process has set your salary and benefits, and you should abide by all of the rules and regulations. We provide an excellent Compensation Compliance Department, which can guide you to meet all of those detailed paper requirements for proving that you are honorable, or at least legal in your salary and campaign funds.

The public is concerned about every dollar of your compensation. They think you are not worth your current pay and should not get more. They don't understand the uncertainty and competition in your position, or what you are really worth. It doesn't help to remind them that you control billions of their dollars, and can waste large amounts. This scares them, but doesn't make them more sympathetic.

Appointment or election has given you power and independence. The public wants to believe in "public service" because they are afraid that power will be used wantonly. Some of your competitors are prosecutors. They will sympathize with you as a fellow politician, while they send you to jail to gain support for themselves. You must never provide any proof that you are in this for yourself, or you will be sunk.

There is a bit of risk, but not out of line with the other risks you have taken. A few unlucky politicians go to jail. You could be in an auto accident tomorrow, or have a nasty confrontation with a deranged constituent. It may help to imagine your friends and competitors pointing and laughing if you manage to be poor when you retire from politics.

This is not a new problem, and you owe much to prior politicians. They have worked tirelessly on methods to receive adequate compensation. You stand on the shoulders of giants. You can create any amount of mischief spending vast amounts of public funds, provided it is from the heart and not for personal gain. You are a servant of the people. Any benefit you may receive personally is coincidental.

Receiving political contributions comes directly from your public service. Rewrite a law, relax a restriction, or specify an earmark, and contributions will flow in. Remind these constituents that laws can also change for the worse.

Political funds may be used for re-election, to pay BOPA, or for contributions to other politicians to coordinate policy. Unfortunately, you can't use this money for personal gratification, such as for food and rent. This possibility was removed in 1991 by reform laws. Sad, but it doesn't help to dwell on the past.

We will talk about a fictional politician Jim much like yourself. BOPA doesn't do fiction; we are hard edged. Yet, we are presenting what we call fiction. Jim's story is about acquiring personal wealth. We won't encourage you to violate your sacred trust by benefitting from public projects. So, Jim is an example of what not to do. These methods are well tested and effective, but don't use them; your honor would be at risk.


Jim was respected for his creation and support of the charity "Needy Children First Support Line America". Jim arranged for public and private contributions to NCFSLA, and his staff called prospective donors at Easter and Christmas, using information from the property tax records.

Jim's brother and cousin supplied equipment, office rental, office supplies, mailing list operations, and management services to NCFSLA. Whatever was left over went toward a yearly picnic for some children and well publicized contributions to other charities.

Jim was familiar with constituent service throughout his early career. Zoning restrictions, building permits, sewer hookups, restaurant inspections, liquor licenses, gun licenses, public contracts, street repairs, administrative review of speeding tickets, and awarding no-show jobs provided ample areas for service and thank-you gifts.

Gifts were always in cash and any meetings were "around the corner", away from any snooping cameras or microphones. Jim required that each constituent include in the envelope a hand-written note like "Jim, you are doing great work for the children. Here is my contribution." That note was a lifesaver in a few surprise meetings with law enforcement. Some of the money did find its way to the charity.

Jim kept records for fantasy football, baseball, and soccer. A few extra, unnamed columns helped him track his compensation and billing. A third party would not make any sense out of it.

In higher office, NCFSLA benefitted his public image, and provided a place to park helpful staff. He selected other compensation activities that fit his prestige, power, and particular opportunities.

Weaving together public service, re-election themes, political fundraising, and personal compensation is one of the most interesting and rewarding activities of high public office. Here are some choices that we at BOPA warned Jim about:

Arrange grants to community organizations.

This creates goodwill and encourages volunteers for campaigns. There should be enough grant money to provide jobs for personal operatives and sub-contracts for family run companies.

Create new contracts.

Encourage new ideas for garbage processing, recycling, green government vehicles, resource management, environmentally sensitive school cafeterias, concrete with recycled content, or biodegradable curtains and furniture.

You and your family can form a service company FamCo which sells to a preferred company NewContractor. NewContractor can easily win the new government contracts by bidding 70% of the realistic price. It can be expected that the first application of a new technology will have cost overruns. Increasing the contract to two or three times the original bid gives 40-110% in compensation opportunity. (2 x 70% = 140%, 3 x 70% = 210%).

If another company is dumb enough to bid less, then let them have the contract. Announce your efforts to stop "waste, fraud, and abuse" and don't give those guys a penny more. They can turn over the unfinished project to NewContractor, which will get additional funding to complete things.

Possibly you can award the contract without bidding, citing the particular abilities of NewContractor and the lack of other choices in this technological area. Watch out! Prosecutors see no-bid contracts as a red flag, because it is simple enough to be understood by juries. When there is bidding, project evaluation, contract award, cost overrun, and re-award, there is so much paperwork that the jury falls asleep. Hence, less interest by the prosecutor.

The story may come out that FamCo is making money from government contracts. Reply that FamCo does not have any government contracts, and would have served any winning bidder. Any cost overruns are due to the exciting, eco-friendly, but previously untried technology.

For a thrill, with an appropriate professional license, you may supply consultant services directly to NewContractor. A man has a fundamental right to practice his profession. Please don't write anything down. It helps if you come from a rural region where "business on a handshake" is not completely laughable. Practice saying "no comment" until it is smooth and unemotional.

Create or Improve a Park.

Buy a few houses near a rundown park or playground. Arrange for a city improvement plan to fix up a few parks, including that one. An earmark works well. The value of the properties will increase. If you can, fence in the park and give keys only to abutters and your properties.

Deflect criticism by noting that you showed confidence in a rundown area by investing within your community, and a park or playground is good for everyone. Announce that you will work hard to get the resources to fix up all the rundown parks.

You may also use a beach instead of a park. Develop an entire waterfront if you can swing it. This is a jackpot if available.

Build a Road.

Coordinate this plan with other politicians. Buy land that is a bit out of the way, that would be good as an office or theme park if only it were more accessible. Build a new road to run nearby, and the value will jump.

Don't build the road directly to the property edge; too obvious. Deflect criticism by noting that roads are good for everyone, and your property didn't need a road anyway. Eminent Domain is your friend.

Subsidize Energy.

There is an "energy crisis" each 10 years. This is caused mostly by Congress and local governments refusing to develop energy. This is a wonderful opportunity to write laws that direct vast flows of money. People will approve of anything that keeps the lights on and their cars running. You get credit for trying to solve the problem.

Buy stock in startup companies. Favor them with friendly legislation, subsidies, and mandates to use their products. Changing energy production creates vast dislocations in supply. If some supplies are scarce and the price is going up, buy commodities futures or shares in companies which produce those supplies. Impose tariffs on importing those supplies, for extra price-increasing effect.

Deflect criticism by stating proudly that you have invested personally in the industries that are solving the energy problem, and any tariffs create good jobs for the American people.

Have the discipline to sell, well before the subsidies are recognized as futile and wasted. Don't believe your own hype. Why did you sell? Diversification before retirement.

The above is only a brief survey. There are many more approaches to understand, with many details to master. We suggest a private and confidential meeting with the BOPA Compensation Compliance Department, so you may be completely informed about many other tested, profitable approaches to avoid. Each one is custom designed to your situation.

A Certified Black Ops Political Advisor (CBOPA) is the ideal operative to help in your success. He or she is expert and discreet. We offer experience and service in depth, and your CBOPA is sworn to secrecy by blood oath enforced by our Internal Controls process. This advice is expensive, and worth it. What price honor?

We know that you want to look back on a career of public service and accomplishment from an appropriate hilltop residence in a wonderful location.



(Excerpts and quotes are edited for relevance and clarity, keeping the original meaning. My comments begin with "Note:" where there may be confusion.)

Grants to community organizations

Slush Scandal Hits Fake Tenant Group
04/27/08 - New York Post by Angela Montefinise and Brendan Scott

Councilwoman Maria Baez allocated $7,500 of her Fiscal Year 2008 discretionary funds to the 2401 Davidson Avenue Tenants Association, a group supposedly located in the six-story building she called home until 2005.

The building is also the registered headquarters for her campaign committee, "Friends of Maria Baez," and home to her campaign treasurer who lives in Baez's former apartment. But, the building's superintendent and more than a dozen residents at the 60-unit building said there is no tenants association.

Former State Senator Winikow, Convicted Of Felony Charges In Utilities Scandal, Dies At 68
08/28/08 - The Journal News By Laura Incalcaterra

Linda Winikow rose from PTA activist to State Senator and political power broker before her conviction on felony corruption charges. Friends said Winikow's political and public service accomplishments should not be forgotten.

The young mother and member of the East Ramapo PTA became a Democratic committeewoman in Ramapo in the 1960's, was named to the Ramapo Zoning Board of Appeals in 1968, elected to the Town Board in 1971, and to the State Senate in 1973.

As a Town Board member, she hatched and headed the Ramapo Consumer Protection Board, using consumer protection issues as a platform to propel her political base. She wasn't afraid to use her elbows and mouth to get services for her constituents while strengthening her political position.

She left the State Senate in 1984 to work for Orange and Rockland Utilities, one of her main targets for consumer protection issues. She approached her job like her political office, arranging for company donations to numerous community organizations.

Winikow plead guilty in 1993 to stealing from O&R, extorting political contributions from a utility contractor, taking illegal campaign contributions, and paying off two weekly newspapers to stop negative publicity about O&R.

Pension Payoff: Community College Deal Attacked
06/28/08 - East Valley Tribune by Dennis Welch

District Chancellor Rufus Glasper enrolled two East Valley lobbyists in the state retirement system as employees of the college district. The lobbyists for private, nonprofit corporations thus qualified for state retirement payments worth thousands of dollars for the rest of their lives.

He did not notify officials at the state retirement system, who learned of the deal from a story published earlier this month in the Tribune. Glasper said, "You can always have hindsight" about his lapse. He insists there is nothing wrong with listing Arnett and Carlson as community college workers because their organizations share similar goals.

The S.E.I.U. Non-Profit
12/14/08 - Instapundit by Glenn Reynolds

The scandal-ridden Los Angeles chapter of the Service Employees International Union started a charity to develop housing for low-income workers. In 2005 and 2006, all of its expenses of $165,000 went to consulting fees, insurance costs, and overhead. In two of the four years it has been operating, it spent nothing toward its charitable purpose.

Create New Contracts

Sex, Lies, and Government Contracts
05/05/06 at Alternet.org

Federal investigators have traced corruption involving members of Congress, some of the nation's highest-ranking intelligence officials, bribery attempts including "free limousine service, free stays at hotel suites at the Watergate and the Westin Grand, and free prostitutes," and tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts awarded under dubious circumstances.

In March, former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison for accepting $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for lucrative defense contracts.

California defense contractor Brent Wilkes gave more than $630,000 in cash and favors to Cunningham for help in landing millions of dollars in federal contracts. Wilkes devoted much of his 20-year career to developing political contacts in Washington, serving recently both as a county finance co-chairman to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and as the state finance co-chairman for President Bush. Wilkes, his family members and his employees were heavy campaign contributors to several members of Congress, and he frequently invited members on chartered corporate jets.

Wilkes won tens of millions of dollars worth of defense contracts for his companies through closed-door congressional earmarking. Many of the contracts Wilkes secured were for projects the Pentagon never requested. Wilkes has thus far avoided any criminal charges, but federal officials are investigating instances of quid pro quo, since the timing of Wilkes' many political donations closely parallels the approval of earmarks for Wilkes' companies.

Rock, Paper and Politics: Turning Gravel Into Gold
12/30/07 at PalmBeachPost.com News

"How PB Aggregates rock pits became government-run reservoirs, revealing close connections between county's elected officials and their business partners."

Note: These related stories about contract corruption have everything.

PB: How Deals Made Landowners Rich and Put Officials in Prison

Tomeu and his partner in Palm Beach Aggregates, Sam W. Klein, first made tens of millions scooping up sand and crushed rock for public roads and private real estate construction. Next, they secured valuable paper approvals - "entitlements," Tomeu calls them - that would allow construction of public reservoirs, a power plant and 2,000 homes on their property.

Palm Beach Aggregates hired top lawyers, lobbyists and land planners. Tomeu, Klein and those around them contributed more than $2 million to political fund-raising campaigns and politicians' favored charities. The partners schmoozed, lunched and hosted parties to woo people in high places.

Congress approved their plan within a bill to restore the Everglades. In Tallahassee, legislators appropriated $1 million that helped the project. In West Palm Beach, an emissary of Gov. Bush publicly urged the water district to buy the pits. District board members, all appointed by Bush, slapped each others' backs and heartily agreed.

Two of Aggregates' lobbyists helped county commissioners with their reelection campaigns and briefed them privately on Aggregates' projects. County commissioners first urged the water district to buy the rock pits. Commissioners went on to approve zoning for a power plant, then promised the company permits to build 2,000 homes on its property.

PB: As Consultant, Senator Had No Formal Contract

Florida's State Senate President Ken Pruitt of Port St. Lucie collected $382,373 for behind-the-scenes assistance to real estate company Venture Four, connected to Palm Beach County's unfolding political corruption scandal.

Venture Four was formed by Tomeu, two of his brothers-in-law, and a family friend. Venture Four's partners say Pruitt was a consulting St. Lucie real estate agent, and collected the commission on a $38 million land deal in St. Lucie County. They said he didn't have a written contract or job description, and didn't find the buyer. Pruitt won't talk about what he did for the money.

Enrique Tomeu is a partner in Venture Four, and President and co-owner of Palm Beach Aggregates. He said "Ken is a friend of mine. He would have gotten a bigger percentage if he had found a buyer. He was hired as an expert, our GPS to show us around St. Lucie County."

Ernest Cox is a lobbyist and spokesman for Venture Four. He said "As strange as that may sound, these guys do handshake deals. His job was evaluating offers and helping them with the lay of the land: Who are the players? What's involved? Who is doing what?"

PB: Donations to Local Charities Seen as Conduits to Influence

Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty routinely co-chaired charity balls, selling $5,000 and $10,000 tables to developers who needed her vote. Commissioner Burt Aaronson endorsed a transfer of public parkland to private developers; the developers offered space for a religious school in their shopping center. Commissioner Addie Greene openly accepted $5 million in aid to minority business owners, for her vote to approve Scripps' Biotechnology Campus.

It was a few weeks before a critical vote to grant 2,000 housing permits on the property of Palm Beach Aggregates. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center of Juno Beach is dedicated to rescuing sea turtles, and is in the district of County Commissioner Karen Marcus. "I'm not much of an environmentalist," Sam Klein once said. Yet, Klein toured the Center with Karen Marcus, and followed up by donating $50,000 anonymously.

Soon after, Marcus joined in votes that raised the value of Klein's land by $200 million.

In late 2006, federal agents took notice. No charges were filed, but commissioners' charities were now being viewed according to the "honest services" law, a 28-word statute used by Assistant U.S. attorney John Kastrenakes to extract resignations and guilty pleas from two County Commissioners.

Kastrenakes told County Attorney Denise Nieman the only guaranteed way to avoid the appearance of impropriety for County Commissioners is to "just stop doing charity work."

Congress Continues Insufficient Oversight of Federal Contracts
11/07/2006 at OMBWatch.org

Congress has reduced the federal government's capacity to investigate and oversee how government contracts are awarded and administered.

The House Appropriations Committee eliminated jobs for 60 investigators monitoring defense contracting and intelligence spending, and has abolished the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction, which investigated contractor abuses in Iraq.

Congress could be crippling its own capacity to hold contractors accountable. Typically, only government officials have the authority and resources to perform comprehensive reviews of government contracts.

The Special Investigations Division of the House Committee on Government Reform found few contractors have been punished for known abuse, and many contractors obtain additional work despite citations for prior abuse.

Congress has made it harder for itself and the executive branch to maintain even the current, grossly inadequate level of oversight.

Create or Improve a Park

New Orleans Official Buys Land Near Development He Champions
05/03/08 at The Times-Picayune by Jen DeGregorio

New Orleans Building Corp. CEO Sean Cummings and a friend spent $1.1 million on an empty warehouse in the Faubourg Marigny district. Cummings thought the old building would be perfect for a high-end grocery store in an area with few food shops.

The property is just blocks away from the first phase of the $300 million riverfront development promoted by his company. As head of the city agency Reinventing the Crescent, Cummings has been a cheerleader for the plan to transform 4.5 miles along the east bank of the Mississippi River.

Cummings is a commercial developer of swanky projects. He has long defended his government post by saying he amassed his holdings years before Mayor Ray Nagin tapped him to run the Building Corporation in 2003. But, the Marigny warehouse is a private real estate deal at the same time he was lobbying for public investment that could raise the value of his land holdings.

Richard Jeansonne of French Quarter Realty thinks Cummings' holdings in the area give him reason to push for quality, "If I saw something improving, I'd buy property where it was improving, and then I'd have an incentive to make it improve."

Cummings argues that he is just one of many property owners who will benefit from Reinventing the Crescent. The agency says that the state will invest $162 million, the city more than $100 million, and the federal government $45 million.

Cummings said, "I give up an extraordinary amount of time and money to do this. This is a public service to me. I'm trying to fix a city that's broken."

Build A Road

Hastert's $2 Million Land Profit
Property within 5 miles of Prairie Parkway corridor.
06/15/06 at SuburbanChicagoNews.com by Matthew DeFour

U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert made a $2 million profit on a 69 acre parcel of land located within a few miles of the proposed Prairie Parkway. He purchased the land three years before as part of his 195 acre estate northwest of Plano. He also sold an adjacent 70 acre parcel purchased in 2004, for a $287,000 profit.

Hastert has been promoting the road since taking federal office in the 1980's, as a way to address transportation needs in western Kane and Kendall counties. Hastert delivered $207 million in federal transportation dollars in July 2005 for the $1 billion Prairie Parkway project.

Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean dismissed connections between the profit and the proposed Prairie Parkway. "This is a Washington, D.C. special interest group who is trying to throw mud against the wall to see what sticks. None of the properties purchased by the Speaker are close enough to the Prairie Parkway to be affected by the proposed highway."

Subsidized Energy - Past and Present

Congress Kills the U.S. Synfuels Corp
01/11/86 at BNET by J. Raloff

US President Jimmy Carter launched the US Synthetic Fuels Corp (SFC) in 1980 to subsidize companies and processes to convert coal, tar sands, oil shale, and heavy crude oil into gasoline and natural gas. Congress agreed to spend up to $88 Billion [$218 Billion in 2007 dollars]. The public supported this large investment to achieve energy independence from foreign oil supplies following the Arab oil embargo and gasoline rationing.

President Reagan took office in 1981. He disliked the SFC, noting that subsidies to private, commercial sized companies went against free market principles. Congressional supporters claimed that Reagan's appointees to the SFC wanted to abolish the agency. The energy industry was mostly lukewarm. Congress was enthusiastic.

Before long, complaints developed over SFC's sluggish activity. The agency had been expected to approve $20 billion in guaranteed loans and subsidized product prices to reach its first milestone: the production of 500,000 barrels of crude-oil equivalent daily by 1987. As of July 1985, however, SFC had committed only $1.2 billion toward three projects--and they would yield less than 2 percent of that 1987 production target Congress had set. Then there were scandals, charges of lavish spending, and mismanagement by SFC officials.

SFC's support was initially strongest in the Congress. Koleda observes their dissatisfaction has been growing steadily, "fueled originally by mismanagement issues, and increasingly by falling oil prices."

Note: It was a good try at distributing government funds. Unfortunately, the new companies didn't succeed with their startup plans, and falling oil prices made the whole thing useless.

The Wages of Synfuels
Some sharp operators profit from tax credits for "synthetic fuels."
09/2001 at Mother Jones by Bill Hogan

Note: The US Synthetic Fuels Corp and its enabling legislation in 1980 left a tax break. It phased out Dec 2007, unless it was extended under industry pressure.

Visit any of the 55 plants that manufacture coal-based synthetic fuels. All of the plants turn out products that pass as "synfuels", coal that supposedly has been processed to burn more cleanly or efficiently. The facilities are really designed to manufacture something far more valuable to their owners: tax credits worth as much as $1 billion a year.

Little wonder, for it's a sweet deal indeed. The Section 29 tax credits are typically worth more (about $26 a ton) than the so-called synfuels on which they are based (about $22 a ton). Many of the plants simply blend coal dust or crushed coal with binders and additives, and then bake the mixture into pellets or briquettes for sale to utilities. Others do even less, merely spraying ordinary coal with low-cost chemicals.

The most aggressive player in the Section 29 game is Electric Fuels Corp. of St. Petersburg, Florida, a subsidiary of Progress Energy Corp., one of the nation's 10 largest power companies. Its "proprietary" manufacturing process, which it has refused to divulge, apparently involves taking otherwise marketable coal and spraying it with a gummy pine-tar emulsion called the "chemical change agent." Electric Fuels expects its synfuel plants to generate up to $390 million in tax credits this year.

Al Gore Set to Profit from Sustainable and 'Green' Technologies 05/17/2008 at LiveLeak

Weeks before announcing a $300-million, three-year advertising campaign to raise awareness about global warming, former Vice President Al Gore conducted a slide show for a group of investors in Monterey, Calif., touting companies such as Bloom Energy, Amryis, Mascoma, and other firms that are not yet household names.

These bio-fuel and green technology firms could be poised to take off, Gore told his audience. "Here are just a few of the investments I personally think make sense," he said during the March 1 presentation. "I have a stake in these so I'll have a disclaimer there."

Gore's admitted stake in those companies comes from his partnership in the venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB). Gore joined the firm last November, forging a partnership between KPCB and the London-based Generation Investment Management, a firm Gore chairs, and which steers investments in green and "sustainable" companies.

The seed money is intended to "grow" the companies so they can be publicly traded [sold to the public]. Both funds are closed to further investment. Last week, Generation Investment Management reportedly closed a $683-million "Climate Solutions Fund" to further investment.

Without government action on climate change, some business analysts say green companies backed by KPCB are either unlikely to be profitable or their growth will be slow.

Gore has a financial stake in businesses that could profit from government policies designed to fight global warming. His critics see a motivation other than a selfless desire to protect the planet.

Gore has lobbied Congress and state governments to enact bolder environmental regulations. Gore's defenders counter that he and his partners are simply looking at companies that will have long-term sustainability during the "climate crisis."

Chris Horner is a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-enterprise think tank. He said, there are a bunch of folks that stand to make real money, who have invested a lot in companies that are not worth real money until the agenda of this ad campaign is achieved.

Editorial: Pelosi And Pickens, Investment Partners
08/18/08 at DC Examiner

It is difficult to imagine a more unlikely pair of investors than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco, and Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens. Pelosi is among the most liberal and pro-environmentalist politicians in Congress, while Pickens has long been associated with Republicans, hedge funds and the energy industry.

Pelosi invested between $100,001 - $250,000 in May 2007 to purchase public common stock in Pickens’ Clean Energy Fuels Corporation (CLNE). Pelosi's investment was first highlighted by the blogs Michigan Taxes Too Much and #Don't Go

CLNE is part of Pickens’ $6 billion plan to build a massive wind farm in west Texas and to switch millions of vehicles on American roads from gasoline to natural gas. Pelosi’s purchase is listed on her most recent congressional personal financial disclosure form, available at Opensecrets.org.

A search of Pelosi’s official web site found no announcement of the investment. A request yesterday for information went unanswered by the Speaker’s official spokesman.

Coincidentally, Pelosi’s investment came the same month as the House passed the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which she hailed as making the Congress over which she helps preside “the most open and honest in history.”

There are numerous ways Pelosi could provide assistance to CLNE and Pickens, including helping secure federal tax advantages. Pickens expects at least 15 percent profits on the wind farm and associated initiatives. At CLNE’s $14 per share value, Pelosi appears to own between 7,000 and 17,000 shares.

Pelosi campaign donor Joseph E. Seagram & Son is listed as owning a residential/condo/garage at 235 Montgomery Street, San Francisco. That is also the address of the Paul and Nancy Pelosi Charitable Foundation, a tax-exempt educational organization. Its most recent tax return shows assets of nearly $700,000 in corporate stock.

There may be reasonable explanations for these matters. Speaker Pelosi should provide detailed answers if she expects to be taken seriously on congressional ethics and transparency.

A Collection of the Above

Blagojevich arrested on federal charges
12/09/08 - ChicagoBreakingNews by Jeff Coen and Rick Pearson via AmericanThinker by Rick Moran.

Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich seems to have sought compensation with a vigor that is unusual even for politicians. He should have read Talk At Your Own Risk. Politics is a discipline. He should have studied.

[edited] The malfeasance of Governor Rod Blagojevich is so outrageous in its scope that even jaded journalist hacks on the statehouse beat are shocked.

The Chicago Tribune reported some of the alleged charges against Blago:

Blago sought appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services, secretary of the Energy Department, an ambassadorship, or a lucrative job with a union in exchange for appointing a specified candidate to Obama's now open Senate seat.

Blago had a list of individuals and firms that received state contracts or tax benefits. He intended to raise $2.5 million from this list before a tougher law on campaign donations became effective at year end. This law was prompted by his prior voracious fundraising.

Blago announced a $1.8 billion plan for new interchanges and "green lanes" on the Illinois Tollway. He expected a contractor to raise $500,000 for his campaign in exchange for a contract. Blago said "If they don't perform, f--k ‘em".

Blago schemed to fire Chicago Tribune editors responsible for editorials critical of him, in exchange for state cooperation with the Tribune Co. to sell Wrigley Field stadium.

Blago and others wanted financial benefits for the governor, family members, and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards, commissions, jobs, and contracts.


Next: ?? To be Discovered

Contents and Backstory

TPM: Talk At Your Own Risk

The Political Manual: Talk At Your Own Risk

The most difficult discipline for the ascendant politician is to Stop Talking. We are being intentionally direct here, because you must remember and practice this.

Isn't it ironic? You have spent your life talking to people who would not listen to you. Now you have a chance at real power, at fulfilling your dreams of telling others what to do, at hearing your own words strike awe into subordinates and opponents. But, outside of carefully crafted speeches and sound bites, we recommend silence.

People can hear what you say and testify to it later. And, remember those pesky cell phone recorders. You must approve many actions and projects that will cause trouble for you if they become known to the public. Sadly, some of them will become known. If anyone can testify that you said "put the earmark into the appropriation bill, and make sure we get a $20,000 contribution from those bastards", then you are damaged or sunk.

Your CBOPA (Certified Black Ops Political Advisor) will train a few trusted aides. Your aides won't say anything very direct in discussions with you, but you will know what they are talking about. You can and should say "No" where appropriate. Say "I don't like that idea, it needs work" when you mean Maybe. Say "I could support that idea if we remove the objectionable parts" when you mean Yes. You will have plausible deniability if a recording of your meeting surfaces on YouTube or in the local FBI office.

You may object that this keeps you from forming policy and crafting your own ideas into law. May we point out that your positions derive from polls and focus groups that your aides are most familiar with. You should rely on your research people who are expert in arcane policy points. Relax and enjoy being CEO of a political organization. You have enough to do memorizing speeches and coordinating your positions with other politicians to smooth over inevitable frictions.

Above all, you do not want a reputation as someone who reads the legislation or understands the details (a policy wonk). You want to be known as a high level thinker who looks at the big picture. You can then deny responsibility for the problems that arise from your "pick the winners" legislation.

In the extreme, you might avoid voting on controversial legislation. The risk is that you may be seen as doing nothing in office. You will not be able to argue that at least you did no harm. Find the solution to this problem in the chapter "Voting Both Ways".

Certainly do not say anything definite anywhere outside your offices, to anyone. People will often be mystified as to what your position is, or even what you are referring to. You can usually meet with them again after your staff has prepared the way. Most of the time they will get the drift.

You may want to feel the thrill of "doing a deal" yourself without your staff knowing. This is risky, but may be necessary. Please start any such discussion with the phrase "In what follows, I do not intend to do or say anything improper." Memorize this exactly, because it has been tested in criminal practice.

In a famous case, Politician "Z" said in a meeting "Deliver the cash to my offices after 9:00 PM tonight." At the trial, "Z" testified that he did not intend anything improper, as he had said at the time, and any mistakes he made came from his ignorance of all the minor legal details. He was acquitted, because a plea of ignorance from a politician is very believable.

In the rare and sad case that a piece of legislation or an earmark becomes a scandal, you can fire the legislative aide that understood the bill. This does not work if you have given speeches showing detailed knowledge of what you have proposed or voted on.

May we suggest that you protect your aides with a BOPA Scandal Policy. For a relatively small cost, the policy provides support for your aide and his or her family during the period of low-profile repentance. The aide will get useful training at BOPA and reenter politics at the same or higher salary. Some of the best aides in politics have done this more than once. If you want to hire the best aides and shift responsibility onto them, they need the reassurance that this policy provides.

The above methods may not be enough for sexual scandals. These are very difficult to manage. Obviously, you are "doing the deal" yourself, and the public has a clear understanding and visceral interest in this type of story. Against all history and repeated disclosures to the contrary, the public expects politicians to be upstanding and moral. This is just a difficult and restrictive fact. We feel for you. Learn more in the chapter "Bimbo Eruptions".


Presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama, and Presidential candidate John Edwards, are examples of applying the above advice.

Mr. Obama seems to have managed well his record of controversial political opinion. As an Illinois State Senator for 8 years he voted "present" nearly 130 times.

Obama Proved Pragmatic and Shrewd
July 30, 2007 - The New York Times by Janny Scott

Mr. Obama did not bring revolution to Springfield in his eight years in the Senate, the longest chapter in his short public life. But he turned out to be practical and shrewd, a politician capable of playing hardball to win election (he squeezed every opponent out of his first race), a legislator with a sharp eye for an opportunity, a strategist willing to compromise to accomplish things.

It’s Not Just ‘Ayes’ and ‘Nays’
December 20, 2007 - The New York Times by Raymond Hernandez and Christopher Drew

In Illinois, political experts say voting "present" is a relatively common way for lawmakers to express disapproval of a measure. It can at times help avoid running the risks of voting no, they add.

“If you are worried about your next election, voting "present" gives you political cover,” said Kent D. Redfield, a professor of political studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “This is an option that does not exist in every state and reflects Illinois political culture.”

Amid McCain's new status, old scandals stir
02/28/08 - Boston Globe by Michael Kranish
Mr. McCain avoided being badly hurt in April 1987 in the Keating Five Scandal. McCain was accused of pressuring bank regulators to go easy on Lincoln Savings and Loan, a bank owned by political contributor and close friend Charles Keating.

"I don't want any part of our conversation to be improper," McCain said, according to Black's notes. Then he launched into a complaint about how regulators were conducting an examination of Lincoln's finances. "It seems to me, from talking to many folks in Arizona, that there's a problem," McCain said, according to Black's notes.

Black later told the Senate Ethics Committee that the actions of the five senators were clearly "improper."

Mr. Edwards stated that rumors of his affair and expected child were false in 12/2007. Instead, a member of his campaign claimed to be the lover and father. Unfortunately Edwards was caught visiting his rumored lover, and he admitted to the affair on 8/08/08.

John Edwards aide claims paternity 08/01/08 - Mcclatchy Newspapers by Lisa Zagaroli and Lorenzo Perez.

The National Enquirer reported that John Edwards had a sexual relationship, and later a baby, with Rielle Hunter, who had been hired last year by Edwards' presidential campaign.

The National Enquirer reported Rielle's statement "The fact that I am expecting a child is my personal and private business. This has no relationship to nor does it involve John Edwards in any way. Andrew Young is the father of my unborn child."

Young was a fundraiser for Edwards' campaign. Young's Washington attorney stated at the time “As confirmed by Ms. Hunter, Andrew Young is the father of her unborn child. Senator Edwards knew nothing about the relationship between these former co-workers, which began when they worked together in 2006. As a private citizen who no longer works for the campaign, Mr. Young asks that the media respect his privacy while he works to make amends with his family.”


Next: Adequate Compensation

Contents and Backstory

TPM: Taking Positions

The Political Manual: How to Take Political Positions

As professionals, we share your amusement that the public is concerned about the political positions that you take. If you remember the positions that you have taken in your career, they are certainly on every side of the issues. In the past, you did this randomly and by instinct. You will need to plan ahead in the big leagues.

Do not let your amusement show. The public is serious about your policy views, because they feel that their lives are in your hands.

The public cares despite the obvious fact that you spend your time arranging favors and getting campaign contributions. Hope is a powerful emotion. The slightest indication that you care about policy plays on that hope.

You will need something positive to put into your campaign commercials, like "Senator X has a long record of attention to The Issue". You must take many, weak positions along the way, or you will have to support the one position that you adopted, or worse, name one in the commercials. Announcing your position in a broadcast commercial is going to alienate some people.

You may wish for that happier time when you could say something different to each group over dinner, and only the local paper would report the results. There were no camera-phone videos to play side by side on YouTube.

Don't be spooked by YouTube. Only a few, young adults will see those clips, and they don't vote much anyway. YouTube won't matter unless you manage to have your sexual activities recorded.

So, tell each group what they want to hear, and Never give a reason for your position.

If you give reasons, then you will need to remember a lot of stuff and understand how the stuff interrelates, numbers and such. Worse, you won't be able to change your position, because people will nag you about whether the reasons have changed, or ask why you didn't consider the new reasons at the time that you considered the old reasons.

You will pick the best one or two positions that work at election time. If the gnats ask why you flip-flopped, reply that you have always supported the policy that would be best for your state or country. They can look up the details on your website.

The smartest members of the public may be put off by this approach. So few that you can ignore them. Most people will remember that you agreed with them at some time, and will assume from your vagueness that you altered your opinion a bit only to get some more votes, which is true.

Remember and apply the tested technique for keeping two girlfriends. Tell each one that you love her, but that you must keep the other relationship for now, distantly, because you share business interests, and a breakup would cost a lot of money.

It takes discipline to manage your political positions. Don’t be fooled by the fact that everyone you talk to supports you, and is giving to your campaign. After all, you are giving them government contracts and favors. It is more difficult to win the support of the public. Fortunately, if you can break even on the ideological support of the public, the people who are getting your favors will give you the election.


A great example of proper positioning is the recent report by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, discussed at PowerLine.

Democratic senators took positions in 2002 that supported the Iraq War, said that Saddam Hussein was a severe threat to the U.S., and voted for the war. Later, after nuclear weapons were not found in Iraq, they said that they were misled by the Bush administration's interpretation of the prior National Intelligence Estimate (NIE).

Some argue that the Senate Democratic leadership should have made that decision based on their own review of the facts, and not on the position of a President in the other party.

If they had given a reason at the time, such as "I made my decision after reading the NIE", they would be sunk now. By giving no reason at that time, they can say that they were misled by Bush, who provably did read the NIE.

Next: Talk At Your Own Risk

Contents and Backstory

TPM: Introduction

Introduction to The Political Manual

Welcome to The Political Manual. Just the fact that you are reading this is evidence that you have risen in politics and have gained the trust of a Certified Black Ops Political Advisor (S) (Secret Registered Trademark).

You have already experienced a lot in politics and you are no longer squeamish. You have put under personal control what little idealism may remain in your character. It may help to remember what happened to the idealists along the way. You are still in the game, and you can't play at all if you are eliminated.

The material in The Political Manual will be familiar to you. You will see here in organized form what you may have already learned in an incomplete way. You will find that the Manual gives a welcome and calming order to your usual scattered thoughts. Thoroughly knowing the contents will make it much easier for your CBOPA to guide you to the greatness that was always your destiny.

Don't worry about the length of the Manual. It has been written in an easy style especially for the best politicians, and you will have plenty of time to read it thoroughly, if you follow its advice exactly.

Carry the Manual with you at all times. You will sometimes notice the slight pocket bulges that other politicians reveal, particularly the ones you most fear and respect. We recommend custom tailoring to completely hide the Manual. The plastic-coated pages are durable and water-proof.

In the unlikely event that you might lose personal control over the Manual, it is quickly and easily destroyed by spilling wine or other alcohol onto it. Then, keep back, as the chemical reaction can be startling. You can always get another copy from your CBOPA, at nominal cost.

We are confident that your dedicated study will be rewarded.

Next: Taking Political Positions

Contents and Backstory

TPM: Secret Political Manual Discovered

"I'll Keep Reporting Until They Find Me"

I was hired to remove old papers from a presidential library. Sometimes, against instructions, I read some of the stuff while having lunch. They didn't think that I would be a threat. They didn't expect that a blue collar worker would want to read anything.

It was always fragments like "neutralize that", "rumors about her", and complicated statistics about "blue dog nursing home soccer mom democrats". Good for killing time, but not much to remember.

Then I found a copy of "The Political Manual". I knew it was important because it was marked "Political Advisors and Clients Only" and published by "Black Ops Political Advisors". What really convinced me, that it was important, was that every page was plastic-coated, so that you could always have it with you without damaging it. That must have been why it survived in one piece. Also, I could understand it, which means it was intended for real, important politicians. I put it in my pocket.

When I was driving the truck away, there was commotion back at the library. Shouts between the "suits" like "How could you have lost it, you idiot?", and "You better find it pronto". They waved at me to stop, and took a few shots at me! I was scared, but maybe I already knew too much, so I kept driving.

Now I'm underground, living in cheap motels and hauling trash where I can find some work. I think my way out is to publish the book as best I can, and hope I get it all out before I'm "neutralized" myself. Maybe then they will give up.

So, I'll send out a page or chapter whenever I can find a scanner and a WiFi connection. Wish me luck.

Published Sections
Introduction to the Manual
Taking Political Positions
Talk At Your Own Risk
Adequate Compensation