by John C. Wohlstetter
If Barack Obama wins the White House and the Democrats also take enough new Senate seats to get to a 60-vote super-majority, they will be able to force floor votes by invoking "cloture" to end a GOP filibuster. To grasp the impact of such an event, it is important to understand how the workings of the House and Senate differ.
The House runs on the will of the majority, with 218 Members able to run the place as dictatorially as can 435. Hearings are easily stacked, with the minority given little notice. Bills can be voted out on a party line, rules set for debate, bills voted through on the floor, under rules that prevent the minority from amending them.
The Senate is different: It runs on the consent of the minority. Until Senate Rule 22 was adopted in 1917, no party truly held control, because no one could cut off debate and force a floor vote.
Since 1917, Democrats have controlled the Senate for seven two-year Congressional cycles, covering eight of FDR’s years, Lyndon Johnson’s first two years, the post-Watergate Congress that faced Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter’s first two years. Republicans have never had such a super-majority.
In 1937, FDR proposed to pack the Supreme Court by raising the number of Justices from 9 to 15. Only the fact that the Court began upholding New Deal legislation saved the country from FDR’s plan. In 1965, with a fresh super-majority, Democrats passed Medicare, under cost assumptions that proved low by (NOT a misprint) over $34 trillion. While Gerald Ford was in the White House, only his veto pen limited what Congress did, as a 2/3 vote in both houses is needed to override a veto. A President McCain could check a runaway Congress. In Jimmy Carter’s first year, the 1977 Social Security tax hike, then the largest in American history, passed. Carter aimed to ensure the system’s solvency for a generation; the fix lasted five years.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of a viable GOP filibuster is for judicial nominations. The next President will likely appoint at least one Justice. Every president has, save for Jimmy Carter (for which we may be grateful); Nixon appointed four. Obama has already stated that in addition to judicial philosophy he would seek judges who share his sense of social justice:
“We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges.”Expect, then, that Obama would seek Justices to the left of even the Court’s four-Justice liberal bloc. Look for clones of Lani Guinier, the 1993 Clinton nominee for the civil rights post at the Justice Department, a hard-left African-American who wrote that she did not regard conservative blacks as “authentic.” Guinier’s replacement, equally radical, was Deval Patrick, now governor of Massachusetts and a front-runner for Attorney-General. Patrick pushed affirmative action hard.
There are about 660 federal trial judges and180 appeals judges in addition to the nine who sit on the Supreme Court. A president typically appoints one judge per week. Due to stalling by Senate Democrats, President Bush appointed fewer, leaving many vacancies on the appeals courts. Thus, the next president will appoint judges who can exert vast influence in thousands of cases. The Supreme Court decides fewer than one hundred cases annually, though landmark rulings change everything. Most dangerous is the added harm the Supremes can inflict if they intervene further in national security cases, complicating America’s task of defending itself against future terrorist attacks, including a WMD strike on the homeland.
John McCain has said that he would appoint Justices like Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. Both are moderate conservatives who usually seek to rule narrowly on cases, avoiding the sweeping rulings Obama seeks. No matter how the election turns out, Democrats will have the 41 Senate seats necessary to be able to filibuster judicial nominations; but the GOP must hold Democrats below 60 in the Senate to have the same power.
If McCain wins and the Democrats achieve their 60-senator filibuster proof majority, McCain won’t be able to get any conservatives confirmed to any court. And every liberal bill that comes out of the House will pass the Senate and probably withstand any veto.
History augurs a sharp left turn if Democrats take the White House and reach 60 Senate seats. Given the most dangerous global financial and economic climate in generations, the fallout from one-party excess could be catastrophic. Equally harmful, Obama judges surely would put a far-left imprint on the law, one difficult to reverse in the future; the Court’s course has mainly been leftward since 1937.
A Democratic super-majority would greatly help Obama “change the world.”
Mr. Wohlstetter, a senior fellow at Discovery Institute, is the author of "The Long War Ahead and the Short War Upon Us" and of the issues blog "Letter From The Capitol."
One of the most sinister and insulting accusations hurled at any criticism of Barack Obama is that it is motivated by ‘racism’ – indeed, that if he loses the election this will be due to the incorrigible racism of red-neck America. This email from Huntley Brown, a black concert pianist and committed Christian, gives the lie to that disgusting smear. There are a number of reasons why, following the dictum of Martin Luther King that someone should be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character, Brown finds he cannot possibly vote for Obama whose views he finds to be anti-Christian. For me, the most telling passage in his email is this:
Would you support a White President who went to a church which has tenets that said they have a ...
1. Commitment to the White Community
2. Commitment to the White Family
3. Adherence to the White Work Ethic
4. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the White Community.
5. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting White Institutions
6. Pledge allegiance to all White leadership who espouse and embrace the White Value System
7. Personal commitment to embracement of the White Value System.
Would you support a President who went to a church like that? Just change the word from white to black and you have the tenets of Obama's former church. If President Bush was a member of a church like this, he would be called a racist. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton would have been marching outside. This kind of church is a racist church... A church can't have a value system based on race. The churches value system has to be based on biblical mandate. It does not matter if itʼs a white church or a black church it's still wrong. Anyone from either race that attends a church like this would never get my vote.
Precisely. As I have been saying repeatedly, the issue that should concern people is not so much Pastor Wright, odious though he is – it is the church to which Obama belonged for two decades, where he regularly worshipped and whose odious racist philosophy to this day he has never publicly questioned, let alone renounced.
Brown also strikes a big chord with me when he writes:
I have problems with both candidates, but the differences I have with Senator McCain are pale in comparison with the ones I have with Senator Obama.
Me too. But now look at what happens when a principled American citizen dares voice such a heresy:
The sad part is I have been getting hate mail and my family is being harassed. As you can imagine not everyone is happy with my e-mail. God bless you richly.
And God help America.
WorldNetDaily reports that Judge R. Barclay Surrick ruled that voters don't have standing to 'police' constitutional requirements for president.
A lawsuit filed by Democratic attorney Philip Berg alleging that Sen. Barack Obama is ineligible to be president was dismissed by a federal judge yesterday on grounds that Berg lacks standing to bring the lawsuit.
In a 34-page memorandum that accompanied the court order, the Hon. R. Barclay Surrick concludes that ordinary citizens can't sue to ensure that a presidential candidate actually meets the constitutional requirements of the office.
Surrick defers to Congress, saying that the legislature could determine "that citizens, voters, or party members should police the Constitution's eligibility requirements for the Presidency," but that it would take new laws to grant individual citizens that ability.
"Until that time," Surrick says, "voters do not have standing to bring the sort of challenge that Plaintiff attempts to bring."
Berg has maintained that uncertainty about how the U.S. does enforce the requirements of presidency may result in a constitutional crisis should an ineligible candidate win the office.
"This is a question of who has standing to stand up for our Constitution," Berg told Jeff Schreiber of America's Right blog. "If I don't have standing, if you don't have standing, if your neighbor doesn't have standing to ask whether or not the likely next president of the United States – the most powerful man in the entire world – is eligible to be in that office in the first place, then who does?"
Daniel P. Tokaji, writing for the Michigan Law Review, suggests that the better venue for a lawsuit might well be in state courts.
The current federal lawsuits challenging the presidential candidates’ eligibility to serve as president are not justiciable, and it is questionable whether any justiciable case could be brought in federal court as an initial matter. Fortunately, there are alternative means to adjudicate this matter that are consistent with the U.S. Constitution. The most promising is a preelection state-court lawsuit seeking to keep an allegedly unqualified candidate off the ballot. In the event that a renegade state court rejects a candidate who is, in fact, eligible or that two or more state courts reach conflicting conclusions on a candidate’s eligibility, U.S. Supreme Court review should be available as a backstop. This avenue seems less fraught with peril than congressional resolution of the matter, given Congress’ dubious legal authority to not count electoral votes of a candidate it believes ineligible. Those who seek to challenge a presidential candidate’s eligibility would thus be well-advised to dust off their state election codes and head to state court.
General Growth Properties, the owner of Glenbrook Square is taking a direct hit from the credit crunch. Business Week reports that analysts say the owner of 200-plus shopping malls might be forced into sale amid cash crunch, credit crisis, and stock declines.
General Growth Properties (GGP), the nation's No. 2 shopping mall company, may soon become the next giant felled by the credit crunch. Analysts believe that Chief Executive John Bucksbaum ...could be forced to sell the company ...because he'll be unable to make payments on its staggering $27.4 billion debt load. "GGP is at the end as a going concern," says RBC Capital Markets analyst Richard C. Moore II. "It's time for them to go away."
General Growth has been reeling this week amid the financial crisis. It suspended its dividend, which it had increased 11% last April to 50 cents a share, in a failed bid to woo back shareholders. The company's stock, at nearly 58 a year ago, plunged to just above 7 on Oct. 2 after news broke that its long-serving chief financial officer, Bernard Freibaum, had quit after selling several million shares to meet margin calls.
Chicago-based General Growth last month announced that it was considering merging or selling off assets.
Analysts say buyers could include such mall giants as the Simon Property Group (SPG), the Indianapolis-based mall titan that leads the mall pack in the U.S. and boasts some 383 malls worldwide, and Westfield Group, whose 118 malls are spread across the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Britain. Westfield is based in Sydney, Australia. Even if they assumed General Growth's debt load, both companies could likely afford to buy the outfit, especially since its market value has dipped below $3 billion. Analysts say such buyers could cover the debt service, which includes payments of about $1 billion due next month and an additional $3 billion next year, using untapped credit lines and with cash flow from the mall properties.
General Growth's malls in 44 states, which include such trophy properties as the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas and Chicago's trendy Water Tower Place, are faring surprisingly well. Occupancy topped 93.2% in the second quarter this year, the company reported, and net operating income continued to rise. Indeed, analyst Louis Taylor of Deutsche Bank (DB) still expects the company to generate more than $3 a share this year in funds from operations, a key barometer of health in a real estate investment trust. The company last year produced $3.71 a share in such funds.
GGP stock closed today at $3.24. Investors have seen the stock price drop from an apex of $57.84 during the past year. Meantime, the company's publicly traded debt sells at discounts as steep as 22%.
Orson Scott Card is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist, and in this opinion piece he takes on both while lamenting the current state of journalism.
An open letter to the local daily paper — almost every local daily paper in America:
I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.
This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.
It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.
What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.
The goal of this rule change was to help the poor — which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house — along with their credit rating.
They end up worse off than before.
This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.
Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans. (Though why quasi-federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me. It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of Congressmen who support increasing their budget.)
Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?
I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."
Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting sub-prime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.
As Thomas Sowell points out in a TownHall.com essay entitled "Do Facts Matter?" : "Alan Greenspan warned them four years ago. So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. So did Bush's Secretary of the Treasury."
These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.
Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!
What? It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?
Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number-two recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.
And after Freddie Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted him for advice on housing.
If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he was.
But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign — because that campaign had sought his advice — you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama campaign.
You would never tolerate such weasely nit-picking from a Republican.
If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted, politically selfish, and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama.
If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.
There are precedents. Even though President Bush and his administration never said that Iraq sponsored or was linked to 9/11, you could not stand the fact that Americans had that misapprehension — so you pounded us with the fact that there was no such link. (Along the way, you created the false impression that Bush had lied to them and said that there was a connection.)
If you had any principles, then surely right now, when the American people are set to blame President Bush and John McCain for a crisis they tried to prevent, and are actually shifting to approve of Barack Obama because of a crisis he helped cause, you would be laboring at least as hard to correct that false impression.
Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.
But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie — that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad — even bad weather — on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.
If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth — even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.
Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means . That's how trust is earned.
Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time — and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.
Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter — while you ignored the story of John Edwards's own adultery for many months.
So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?
Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?
You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles.
That's where you are right now.
It's not too late. You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.
If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.
Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.
You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.
This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.
If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe — and vote as if — President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.
If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats — including Barack Obama — and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans — then you are not journalists by any standard.
You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a news paper in our city.
October 19, 2008Sen. Christopher Dodd sounded like Dr. Seuss without the depth last week. "It is what it is," declared Dodd, mistaking Hartford for Whoville, when he told The Courant's Rick Green that he had no plans to release documents from his $800,000 in sweetheart mortgages from subprime titan Countrywide Financial.
"There is nothing to the story and I'm just not going to keep on repeating it," pronounced Dodd, as he morphed into Yertle the Turtle. "'You hush up your mouth!' howled the mighty King Yertle. 'You've no right to talk to the world's highest turtle.'"
Dodd will serve the state green eggs and ham before he'll honor his pledges to release the documents from deals that will save him tens of thousands of dollars over the terms of the loans. Nonsensical answers, however, won't smother persistent, serious questions about Dodd's abuse of his office.
Dodd has answered almost no questions about the details of his 2003 mortgages. The senator cast an unflattering light on himself when he couldn't settle on a credible response in June to the simple question of whether he knew he was getting special mortgage deals as a "Friend of Angelo." That's the privileged category of borrowers that Countrywide co-founder Angelo Mozilo made sure received cut-rate loans with hefty traditional fees waived.
Dodd went from it's outrageous to think he would profit from his office, to he didn't know he got valuable special deals, to he thought everyone who refinanced with Countrywide got that kind of treatment. Those dizzying contradictions on the easy questions must have left Dodd cowering as he contemplated explaining documents that would show he knew what Countrywide was doing for him — each answer putting the lie to his past protestations.
That Countrywide employed lobbyists to influence Dodd and his colleagues while the lender lavished benefits on the senator may ensnare him in an ominous encounter with the Senate's ethics committee. It would be harder for that body to whitewash a violation if the insidious mortgage details are known to a suspicious public.
The customs and expectations of Washington continue to bewilder us. Dodd exemplifies its worst rituals. For example, as the nation's financial system crumbled earlier in the year, Dodd continued to accept tribute from Wall Street's falling masters.
In the history of this epic, Dodd has guaranteed himself a permanent spot in the pantheon of the privileged oblivious. On June 9, Lehman Brothers, according to news reports, "the nation's fourth-largest investment bank said wrong-way trading moves and risky mortgage-backed securities plunged it into a nearly $3 billion second-quarter loss." Two days later, campaign finance reports indicate that Lehman Brothers' PAC contributed $5,400 to attend a Washington campaign fundraiser for the aptly named "Friends of Chris Dodd." By September, Lehman Brothers jolted the world by filing for bankruptcy.
For most us of, a company imploding and losing billions of dollars would concentrate our attention and leave no time for politics. The wreckage to hardworking people's finances, however, are trifles compared to a wounded and angry senator's drive to raise campaign cash. Even cut-rate mortgages don't buy a pass when the chairman of the Senate banking committee goes on the hunt for contributions. Amid the turmoil of the spring, insolvent Countrywide's new owner, Bank of America, sent a $5,000 contribution from its PAC for the June event.
Dodd's campaign finance reports are available to the public, so he can't use the shroud of surly distortions he wraps around his dubious mortgage documents to hide his fundraising. The senator, the reports tell us, in the midst of the meltdown, put the squeeze on the businesses that his committee oversees.
He has collected tens of thousands of dollars from companies and industries that have cast themselves or been dragged into the maelstrom. These are Dodd's marks. His easy prey for early campaign cash in the crisis. They are Countrywide without the stonewalling and secrecy. Contributors may think a $700 billion taxpayer bailout of high finance shows they still know how to get a big return on an investment in Dodd. For the public, however, those finance reports tell a story of bloated entitlement, just like Dodd's mortgages.
"Undecided people are having a difficult time just culturally making the change, making the move for the first African-American president in the history of the United States of America," Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden said at a San Francisco fundraiser Saturday evening. "So we need to respond. We need to respond at the moment, immediately, not wait, not hang around, not assume any of this won't stick."This quote is as enlightening as his early description of Obama.
"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Obama said, "you'd have to ask Senator Clinton, uh, Senator Biden what he was thinking,"
Remember "Ponytail Guy? Slate does:
"Ponytail Guy" is the term some in political circles use to refer to Denton Walthall, who asked a question in the second presidential debate in 1992. A domestic mediator who worked with children, Walthall scolded President George H.W. Bush for running a mudslinging, character-based campaign against Bill Clinton in 1992. Referring to voters as "symbolically the children of the future president," he asked how voters could expect the candidates "to meet our needs, the needs in housing and in crime and you name it, as opposed to the wants of your political spin doctors and your political parties. ... Could we cross our hearts? It sounds silly here but could we make a commitment? You know, we're not under oath at this point, but could you make a commitment to the citizens of the U.S. to meet our needs—and we have many—and not yours again?"
It did sound silly: a father-president dandling a nation of children voters on his knee. But instead of challenging the paterfamilias premise, the candidates took his pain seriously. Walthall didn't scold Bush by name, but as the camera shot over his shoulder (showing us his ponytail), Bush could be seen growing annoyed. The question was addressed to all the candidates, but Bush was the candidate running the character-based campaign. He had answered a previous questioner by making the case for why Bill Clinton's character should be an issue. So it was obvious Bush was the target of the Ponytail Guy's criticism.
In 1992, the moment symbolized the disconnect between Bush and the electorate: He wanted to talk about character, while America was pleading for solutions. The president compounded his problem when he inartfully handled a woman's inartful question about how the "national debt" had hurt him personally. (Bush was also caught looking at his wristwatch twice during the evening.) Clinton knew how to take advantage of the moment. "I worked 12 years very hard as a governor on the real problems of real people. I'm just as sick as you are by having to wake up and figure out how to defend myself every day. I never thought I'd ever be involved in anything like this."
Now we have met "Joe the Plumber" ...Son of Ponytail Guy. The leftists at Tribe.net describe what happened:
Last weekend, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) visited a quiet neighborhood outside Toledo, OH, and ran into a man named Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. Wurzelbacher, known as "Joe," asked Obama if he believed in the American Dream and expressed his concern about having to pay higher taxes should he fulfill his desire to own a small plumbing business. "I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year," he told Obama. "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" Obama explained that his tax plan is premised on the idea that "if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. If you've got a plumbing business, you're going to be better off if you've got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you." Obama then added, "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." Wurzelbacher became an instant conservative hero. Right-wing media immediately latched on to him -- who called Obama's economic plan "socialist" -- and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) quickly jumped on the bandwagon, lionizing "Joe the Plumber" in the final presidential debate last Wednesday. "What you want to do to Joe the Plumber and millions more like him is have their taxes increased and not be able to realize the American Dream of owning their own business," McCain said to Obama. But the reality is far different. In fact, a progressive tax policy is exactly how "millions" like "Joe the Plumber" can realize the American Dream ...
Psst. 84% of all Americans which includes 77% of all Democrats oppose the concept of wealth redistribution to fix the economy!
From the Iowahawk News Cartel:
We've all witnessed a lot of insanity in American politics over the last few years. Up until the last few days, none of it has seriously bothered me; hey, just more grist for the satire mill. But after witnessing the media's blitzkreig on Joe 'the Plumber' Wurzelbacher, I can only muster anger, and no small amount of fear.
Politicians -- Sarah Palin, Bill Clinton, et al. -- obviously have to put up with some rude, nasty shit, but it's right there in the jobs description. Joe the Plumber is different. He was a guy tossing a football with his kid in the front yard of his $125,000 house when a politician picked him out as a prop for a 30 second newsbite for the cable news cameras. Joe simply had the temerity to speak truth (or, if you prefer, an uninformed opinion) to power, for which the politico-media axis apparently determined that he must be humiliated, harassed, smashed, destroyed. The viciousness and glee with which they set about the task ought to concern anyone who still cares about citizen participation, and freedom of speech, and all that old crap they taught in Civics class before politics turned into Narrative Deathrace 3000, and Web 2.0 turned into Berlin 1932.0.
Godwin's Law! you say? if the jackboot fits, wear it.
If it's meta-memes and meta-meta-narratives these media headlice want, so be it. I hope you will join me in expressing a simple bit of solidarity with this guy, Spartacus style. I AM JOE. I am a Wal Mart schlub in flyover country who changes my own oil and unclogs drains without a license. I smoke and drink beer and toss the football in the front yard with my kid, and I figure I can fend my way without handouts from some Magic Messiah's candy bags. Most everyone in my family and most everyone I grew up with is another Joe, and if you screw with them, you screw with me.
Are you a Joe? Say it proud. Leave it on every goddamn newspaper comment section and online forum. Let these pressroom and online thugs know you won't stay silent when they try to destroy the life of a private citizen for speaking his mind -- because for every one of them, there are a million Joe Wurzelbachers. And for that we should all be thankful.
by gadfly1 Comment »
Trying to follow the polls during this election season can make one dizzy. Are we headed for an Obama landslide and a 10- or 11-percent margin of victory? Or is this race still close, with Obama ahead by about 5 percent? The answer depends not only on which polls you read, but — I would argue — on how those polls are reported, especially with regard to the partisan breakdown of survey sample and the seeming dearth of undecided voters.
Let me start with the Obama landslide polls — the most recent examples being a Newsweek poll released on October 11 showing an 11-point lead for Senator Obama and an ABC News/Washington Post Poll released on October 12 showing a similar 10-point lead. No doubt such polls cause great concern among McCain supporters — but should they? As with all polls, the best data comes from what we political diehards call “the internals” or the results below the line that measure candidate support among key demographic groups or public support for candidates on certain issues (the economy, the war, etc).
Consider the Newsweek poll. Although the poll reports that Obama leads McCain 52 percent to 41 percent overall, the poll also shows that McCain is winning Independent voters 45 percent to 43 percent. Obama is winning Democrats 91 percent to 5 percent and McCain wins Republican by 89 percent to 7 percent. From these numbers, it’s difficult to understand Obama’s 11-point advantage — until you look further into the polls internals and see that the results are based on a respondent sample that was 40 percent Democrat (D), 27 percent Republican (R), and 30 percent Independent (I). Three percent expressed no preference. To see how that affects overall support one need only multiply each candidate’s level of partisan support (D, R, or I) by each group’s percentage of the overall sample. As shown in the table below, Obama’s 52 percent is based on 91 percent support among Democrats multiplied by Democrats 40 percent proportion in the poll, his 7 percent support among Republicans (27 percent of the respondents) and his 43 percent support among Independents (33 percent of respondents — add the “no preference” folks to this group). Tally Obama’s support across the three groups and you arrive at 52 percent. If you follow the same calculations for McCain, you’ll arrive at 41 percent.
|Poll Results Based on Newsweek's Partisan Breakdown|
|Level of Support by Party (LSP)||Resultant Level of Support|
(RS x LSP)
|Overall Level of Support||52%||41%|
The problem is: In no recent election has the Democratic Party (or any party) enjoyed such an advantage among the American electorate. In 2004, exit polling data found the electorate to be 37 percent D, 37 percent R and 26 percent I. In the 2006 midterm elections for the House of Representatives the electorate was 38 percent D, 36 percent R, and 26 percent I. In 1996 and 2000, Democrats enjoyed a 4-point edge over Republicans. Given this history, it seems hard to believe that the Democrats have suddenly leapt to a 13-point partisan advantage. If one takes the Newsweek results and re-weights them to reflect a more realistic 4 point partisan advantage for Democrats the results change significantly. As can be seen in the following table, Obama’s 11-point lead shrinks to 4.
|Poll Results Based on Historic Partisan Breakdown|
|Respondent Sample (RS)|
|Level of Support by Party (LSP)||Resultant Level of Support|
(RS x LSP)
|Overall Level of Support||49%||45%|
If one were to assume that partisan turnout in 2008 is the same as 2006 (38 percent D, 36 percent R and 26 percent I) then Obama’s lead would drop to 2 percent. But turnout in 2008 is likely to favor Democrats, leading me to believe that Obama has a lead in the neighborhood of 4 to 5 percent. The ABC News/Washington Post poll reported a 9-percent partisan advantage for Democrats and, similar to Newsweek, reported a significant Obama advantage.
Recent polls by Zogby and Rasmussen show Obama with a 4- to 5-point lead. Unlike Newsweek, Zogby and Rasmussen weight their samples to reflect what they consider to be the likely partisan makeup of the American electorate and are finding a closer contest in their polls. Interestingly, Rasmussen is assuming a 6-percent partisan advantage for Democrats.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE UNDECIDEDS GONE?
The other issue to consider when looking at polling data is the number of undecided voters. Most polls are showing remarkably few undecided voters. Newsweek reports 6 percent undecided, ABC News finds only 2 percent. Rasmussen reports none. Yet Zogby finds 8 percent undecided and a recent FoxNews poll found nearly 15 percent of the electorate to be undecided. How can this be?
The answer is that most polls “force” undecided respondents to name a preference for a candidate. These “leaners” as they are often called are then lumped in with everyone else as if they were committed supporters. This approach is misleading. According the American National Election Study (which has been examining the American electorate since 1948), in every presidential election since 1992, 15 to 20 percent of the electorate did not make up their mind until the final two weeks before Election Day. Asking respondents to “lean” one way or the other when they are truly undecided creates the false impression that a trailing candidate has very few voters left to convince. In the ABC News poll, 15 percent of Senator McCain’s supporters and 12 percent of Senator Obama’s indicated that the could change their mind before Election Day. If the behavior of the electorate in past elections is any indication, then the final few weeks of the 2008 campaign should provide ample opportunity for movement in this race.
In the end, the polling data suggests that John McCain trails Barack Obama by 4 to 5 percent. Although Obama has enjoyed that lead rather consistently since recent events have catapulted the economy to the top of most voter’s concerns, a 4- to 5-percent lead is far from insurmountable — and the closing weeks of an election is the very time when as many as one in five voters are tuning in and deciding which candidate to support.
— Written for NRO by Todd Eberly, an assistant professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Read this related post at Curmudgeonly & Skeptical.
David Freddoso writes in today's New York Post:
John McCain blew it. Barack Obama will win the election, and there may be nothing that McCain can do to stop it.Indeed, conservatives have come face-to-face with The Abilene Paradox. Simply stated it is as follows:
This isn't just what liberals are saying. It's what conservatives are thinking, and they're angry. Annoyed that this is exactly what they thought would happen when he squeaked out a win in the primaries. Frustrated that they kept their criticism of his campaign to a minimum for the sake of the party. Livid at what they consider McCain's sluggish efforts.
Organizations frequently take actions in contradiction of what they really want to do and therefore defeat the very purposes that they are trying to achieve.Jerry B. Harvey published “The Abilene Paradox; The Management of Agreement” in Organizational Dynamics in its Summer 1988 edition. His personal parable below describes the situational paradox.
The July afternoon in Coleman, Texas (pop. 5,607) was particularly hot ...104 degrees as measured by the Walgreen’s Rexall Ex-Lax temperature gauge. In addition, the wind was blowing fine-grained West Texas topsoil through the house. But the afternoon was still tolerable ...even potentially enjoyable. There was a fan going on the back porch; there was cold lemonade; and finally, there was entertainment. Dominoes. Perfect for the conditions. The game required little more physical exertion than an occasional mumbled comment, “Shuffle ‘em,” and an unhurried movement of the arm to place the spots in the appropriate perspective on the table. All in all, it had the makings of an agreeable Sunday afternoon in Coleman ...that is, it was until my father-in-law suddenly said, "Let’s get in the car and go to Abilene and have dinner in the cafeteria."Back to the New York Post story, Freddoso continues the parallel Abilene Paradox tale:
I thought, “What, go to Abilene? Fifty-three miles? In this dust storm and heat? And in an unairconditioned 1958 Buick?
But my wife chimed in with, “Sounds like a great idea. I’d like to go. How about you, Jerry?” Since my own preferences were obviously out of step with the rest, I replied, “sounds good to me,” and added, “I just hope your mother wants to go.”
“Of course I want to go,” said my mother-in-law. “I haven’t been to Abilene in a long time.”
So into the car and off to Abilene we went. My predictions were fulfilled. The heat was brutal. We were coated with a fine layer of dust that was cemented with perspiration by the time we arrived. The food at the cafeteria provided first-rate testimonial material for antacid commercials.
Some four hours and 106 miles later we returned to Coleman, hot and exhausted. We sat in front of the fan for a long time in silence. Then to be sociable and to break the silence, I said, “It was a great trip, wasn’t it?”
No one spoke. Finally my mother-in-law said, with some irritation, “Well, to tell the truth, I really didn’t enjoy it much and would rather have stayed here. I just went along because the three of you were so enthusiastic about going. I wouldn’t have gone if you all hadn’t pressured me into it.”
I couldn’t believe it. “What do you mean ‘you all’?” Don’t put me in the ‘you all’ group. I was delighted to be doing what we were doing. I didn’t really want to go. I only went to satisfy the rest of you. You’re the culprits.”
My wife looked shocked. “Don’t call me a culprit. You and Daddy and Mama were the ones who wanted to go. I just went along to be sociable and to keep you happy. I would have had to be crazy to want to out in heat like that.”
Her father entered the conversation abruptly. “Hell,” he said.
He proceeded to expand on what was already absolutely clear. “Listen, I never wanted to go to Abilene. I just thought you might be bored. You visit so seldom I wanted to be sure you enjoyed it. I would have preferred to play another game of dominoes and eat the leftovers in the icebox.”
After the outburst of recrimination we all sat back in silence. Here we were, four reasonably sensible people who, of our own volition, had just taken a 106-mile trio across a godforsaken desert in a furnace-like temperature through a cloud-like dust storm to eat unpalatable food in a hole-in-the-wall cafeteria in Abilene, when none of us wanted to go. In fact, we’d just done the opposite of what we wanted to do.
To the degree that they are engaged in this election, conservatives are motivated entirely by fear of Obama and what he will do as president when backed by a solidly liberal Democratic House and Senate. They are not driven by love of the Republican candidate, and it shows in the anger present at McCain campaign rallies. Most conservatives will probably vote for McCain, but they also realize they are far less likely to persuade others, and they feel a disaster coming. The enthusiasm the Right felt during the 2004 election, which had been framed as a true ideological clash between Left and Right, simply does not exist this time around.
What would have happened if Republicans had nominated a conservative this time around? Conservatives must consider the possibility that things would look just as bad as they do now. The Bush presidency, by its mere association with conservative ideas, has ruined many of Republicans' best issues, creating an overwhelming headwind for any Republican running this year.
But a true conservative might also have shown voters an alternative rather than someone who incites "I agree with John" in the debates; someone to put Obama's left-wing policies in stark relief.
Could any Republican have risen to the task this year of winning a presidential election? We will never know the answer to that question. But John McCain has less than a month now to prove that he was not the wrong man to beat Barack Obama. As much as conservatives hope he can prove otherwise, they are watching this election now with dread.
Okay...I use the word "discovered" a bit loosely--the way one might "discover" a Big Mac at McDonald's. But now that I have your attention, the point is that most voters don't have a clue that Obama writes in his memoir that the very first time he attended Trinity United Church, he heard Rev. Wright rant that "white folks' greed runs a world in need."
As you may recall, Obama said, following Rev. Wright's infamous press club appearance in April, that "The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago." The racist Rev. Wright quote included in Dreams from My Father contradicts this statement. While some bloggers and opinion journalists were quick to draw attention to this passage in Dreams from My Father shortly after the Wright story broke in March, this quote was never reported on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, or PBS, according to Nexis.
I bring attention to this fact because McCain and Palin are saying that Obama's statements about his relationship with Bill Ayers call into question Obama's judgment and truthfulness. While Obama has misrepresented his relationship with Ayers and never told the whole truth about that relationship (when did Obama learn that Ayers was an unrepentant domestic terrorist, and what did he say to Ayers about it?), I don't expect a smoking gun to emerge proving that Obama is lying about Ayers. We're never going to find a picture of Obama reading a newspaper story about Ayers's terrorism.
On the other hand, in Dreams from My Father--an audio version of which may be purchased for $17.13--we have Obama's recollection of listening to a radical Rev. Wright sermon, which proves the Rev. Wright he got to know 20 years ago was strikingly similar to the Rev. Wright of those more infamous sermons--fodder, perhaps, for a campaign ad.
Would McCain be accused of flip-flopping if he were to bring up Wright? Sure, but Obama flip-flopped on the relevance of the Keating scandal. McCain can always point out that Hillary Clinton and Obama himself have said that Wright is a legitimate issue, and the DNC went after McCain merely for being endorsed by John Hagee.
The press of course will say that it is racist to point out that Obama listened to Rev. Wright make racist remarks in the first sermon he ever attended. But most people realize that if McCain had chosen a racist pastor to be his mentor for 20 years, it wouldn't make any one a racist to point that out.
Exit quotation: "There are reasons not to talk about Ayers, Wright, Khalidi, etc. — not to talk about Obama and radicalism. But there are reasons for doing so, too. And I ask this: If not now, when? (If not us, who?!) After November 4, it will be too late. Isn’t now the time to talk about it, discuss it, air it? Let Obama address it? What are campaigns for?"
Posted by John McCormack on October 9, 2008 in The Blog at weeklystandard.com
From the ediorial pages of Investors' Business Daily:
The Crash: "Why has the market dropped so much?" everyone asks. What is it about the specter of our first socialist president and the end of capitalism as we know it that they don't understand?
The freeze-up of the financial system — and government's seeming inability to thaw it out — are a main concern, no doubt. But more people are also starting to look across the valley, as they say, at what's in store once this crisis passes.
And right now it looks like the U.S., which built the mightiest, most prosperous economy the world has ever known, is about to turn its back on the free-enterprise system that made it all possible.
It isn't only that the most anti-capitalist politician ever nominated by a major party is favored to take the White House. It's that he'll also have a filibuster-proof Congress led by politicians who are almost as liberal.
Throw in a media establishment dedicated to the implementation of a liberal agenda, and the smothering of dissent wherever it arises, and it's no wonder panic has set in.
What is that agenda? It starts with a tax system right out of Marx: A massive redistribution of income — from each according to his ability, to each according to his need — all in the name of: "neighborliness," "patriotism," "fairness" and justice."
It continues with a call for a new world order that turns its back on free trade, has no problem with government controlling the means of production, imposes global taxes to support continents where our interests are negligible, signs on to climate treaties that will sap billions more in U.S. productivity and wealth, and institutes an authoritarian health care system that will strip Americans' freedoms and run up costs.
All the while, it ensures that nothing — absolutely nothing — will be done to secure a sufficient, terror-proof supply of our economic lifeblood — oil — a resource we'll need much more of in the years ahead.
The businesses that create jobs and generate wealth are already discounting the future based on what they know about Obama's plans to raise income, capital gains, dividend and payroll taxes, and his various other economy-crippling policies. Which helps explain why world stock markets have been so topsy-turvy.
But don't take our word for it. One hundred economists, five Nobel winners among them, have signed a letter noting just that:
"The prospect of such tax-rate increases in 2010 is already a drag on the economy," they wrote, noting that the potential of higher taxes in the next year or two is reducing hiring and investment.
It was "misguided tax hikes and protectionism, enacted when the U.S. economy was weak in the early 1930s," the economists remind us, that "greatly increased the severity of the Great Depression."
We can't afford to repeat these grave errors.
Yet much of the electorate is determined to vote for the candidate most likely to make them. If he wins, what we consider to be a crisis in today's economy will be a routine affair in tomorrow's.
by gadfly1 Comment »
DELETED INDOCTRINATE U SCENES: TERRORIST PROFESSORS
A man named Bill Ayers has been in the news lately as Senator Barack Obama's connections to the 1960s-era domestic terrorist have become an issue in the presidential campaign. It reminded us of a segment cut from an earlier edit of Indoctrinate U.
In this deleted scene, we told the story of how 1960s campus radicals morphed into today's academics. Three of those radicals were Ayers, his now-wife Bernardine Dohrn, and Mark Rudd. Together, they led the Weather Underground, a group committed to the violent overthrow the U.S. Government.
To bring about their hoped-for communist utopia, the Weathermen bombed dozens of targets around the country including the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and military recruiting stations. In executing their various attacks, the Weathermen killed a few of their own and also murdered a security guard while robbing an armored car. They targeted the families of judges, celebrated the Manson murders, and through legal technicalities, most of them avoided jail.
Decades later, they're still unapologetic. In an interview published on September 11th, 2001, Ayers told The New York Times, "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."
What does all of this have to do with higher education? Watch the video to find out.
ACORN Files Voting Rights Suit on Behalf of Imaginary-Americans
ST. LOUIS - Attorneys for the voting registration organizations ACORN and Project Vote filed an anti-discrimination voting rights suit in the U.S. Federal District court this morning, alleging the United States government is involved in "a widespread, systematic effort to disenfranchise Imaginary-Americans and deprive them of access to polls."
"Participation in our electoral process is a fundamental right, and the foundation of our democracy," said ASDF ASDFG, a spokesperson for the National Association for the Advancement of Imaginary People, one of the groups named as plaintiffs in the class action. "We will not be silent when government denies people access to the polls on the basis of color, or sex, or existential status."
The new suit was prompted by on a series of law enforcement raids of ACORN offices in 10 states over the past week, as well as a reported Justice Department investigation. Federal and state officials say they were acting on tips of fraudulent voter registration forms, after election officials reported a flood of unusual applications submitted by ACORN canvassers. In Las Vegas the Clarke County election commission reported thousands of registrations signed by the Dallas Cowboys, while in St. Louis officials discovered thousands of others signed by Power Rangers, Menudo, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In Cleveland, Ohio Republican officials complained to the Federal Election Commission after early-voting sites barred observers when thousands of Invisible-Ohioans arrived at the polls aboard hundreds of invisible ACORN buses. In Ida Grove, Iowa, Ida County Registrar Debby Ballard expressed concern when a convoy of Chicago ACORN semis submitted 4,000,000 provisional ballots, 17 seconds before a 5 pm deadline.
"I'm proud that Ida County can boast of a 114,312% voter registration rate, but I'm not sure if I can get all of them processed by Monday," said Ballard. "I've got a pilates class in Sioux City."
After the raids, ACORN officials initially blamed the problems on rogue volunteers.
"We are in the midst of our most successful signup ever, registering over 7 trillion new voters in the last week alone," said ACORN spokesman Charles Jackson. "It's impossible to have 100% quality control, and a few misspellings might have fallen through the cracks."
On Tuesday, ACORN said it would dismiss any workers suspected of fraud, and would outsource 40% of voter registration jobs to Banglore Registration Industries.
"The quality control is better in India, and we can save over $35 per metric ton," noted Jackson.
After consultation with attorneys, however, ACORN -- which has received $800,000 from the Obama campaign for registration efforts -- filed a suit claiming the increased legal scrutiny was driven by a political agenda. Amicus briefs were added from several Imaginary Rights groups, adding civil rights violations to the list of complaints.
"Whether we are obituary notices, hallucinatory giant rabbits, or strings of random keyboard strokes, it's time for the chimera community to stand up and claim our rights as citizens," said ASDFG. "We will no longer be silent and invisible. Okay, maybe invisible."
In addition to $3.2 jubajillion in damages and free federal mortgages for homeless spectres, the suit also seeks enforcement of the Americans with Dimensional Disabilities Act. The Act requires voting places to make accommodations for existentially-challenged voters who have trouble completing ballots written in standard 3-dimensional reality. The accommodations include multiple site registration, time travel, and allowances for alcoholics to cast ballots for dependent D.T. phantasms.
"Many of our community inhabit the Tapioca subluster of the 11th Dimension, and it's hard for them to find a convenient spacehole to make it to the local elementary school," explained ASDFG.
A ruling in the suit is expected later this week from St. Louis federal appelate judge Fwinklezorg the Hydragoat.
From the article "Anatomy of a Trainwreck," by Economics Professor Stan Liebowitz, University of Texas at Dallas.
Executive Summary: Why did the mortgage market melt down so badly? Why were there so many defaults when the economy was not particularly weak? Why were the securities based upon these mortgages not considered anywhere as risky as they actually turned out to be?
This report concludes that, in an attempt to increase home ownership (see chart above), particularly by minorities and the less affluent, virtually every branch of the government undertook an attack on underwriting standards starting in the early 1990s. Regulators, academic specialists, GSEs, and housing activists universally praised the decline in mortgage-underwriting standards as an “innovation” in mortgage lending. This weakening of underwriting standards succeeded in increasing home ownership and also the price of housing, helping to lead to a housing price bubble. The price bubble, along with relaxed lending standards, allowed speculators to purchase homes without putting their own money at risk.
The recent rise in foreclosures is not related empirically to the distinction between subprime and prime loans since both sustained the same percentage increase of foreclosures and at the same time. Nor is it consistent with the “nasty subprime lender” hypothesis currently considered to be the cause of the mortgage meltdown. Instead, the important factor is the distinction between adjustable-rate and fi xed-rate mortgages. This evidence is consistent with speculators turning and running when housing prices stopped rising.
Conclusion: The political housing establishment, by which I mean the federal government and all the agencies involved with regulating housing and mortgages, is proud of its mortgage innovations because they increased home ownership. The housing establishment refuses, however, to take the blame for the flip side of its focus on increasing home ownership— first, the bubble in home prices caused by lowering underwriting standards and then the bursting of the bubble with the almost catastrophic consequences to the economy as a whole and the financial difficulties being faced by some of the very homeowners the housing establishment claims to be trying to benefit.
Hat tip to Mark Perry who comments:
More support of the proposition that U.S. public policy turned good, responsible renters into bad, irresponsible homeowners.
LGF summarizes remarks made by Joe Lieberman on Fox News Sunday:
Writing in the NY Times, Bill Kristol describes his discussion of the "Wright Stuff" with Sarah Palin:
Wallace asked Lieberman if McCain would bring up Rev. Jeremiah Wright after condemning state Republican parties for running ads criticizing Obama for his relationship with the controversial figure.
Lieberman responded: “He [McCain] didn’t like that approach. Senator McCain feels that same way about bringing up Reverend Wright through his campaign. And that’s the kind of line drawing that I think John McCain is all about.”
Later on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume said the McCain camp would be “out of their mind” to not bring up Obama’s relationship with Rev. Wright.
“What on earth are Joe Lieberman and John McCain talking about when they say that the long association with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is off the table?” Hume said. “Why is that off the table? It’s an important part of Obama’s background and record. It’s one of the reasons people wonder about who he really is.”
Palin also made clear that she was eager for the McCain-Palin campaign to be more aggressive in helping the American people understand “who the real Barack Obama is.” Part of who Obama is, she said, has to do with his past associations, such as with the former bomber Bill Ayers. Palin had raised the topic of Ayers Saturday on the campaign trail, and she maintained to me that Obama, who’s minimized his relationship with Ayers, “hasn’t been wholly truthful” about this.
I pointed out that Obama surely had a closer connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright than to Ayers — and so, I asked, if Ayers is a legitimate issue, what about Reverend Wright?
She didn’t hesitate: “To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.
I guess so. And I guess we’ll soon know McCain’s call on whether he wants to bring Wright up — perhaps at his debate with Obama Tuesday night.
When Bill Kristol asked Governor Palin if she had any advise for Senator McCain before his Tuesday night town hall debate she replied: "Take the gloves off."
John Kass writes in today's Chicago Tribune about the next presidential debate and the subject that John McCain should breach that Obama does not want to talk about:
Going into Tuesday's presidential debate, the campaign of Republican John McCain still suffers from the lousy economy and that Bush hanging ponderously from his neck.
With that going against him, he's running uphill, trying to remind Americans that he challenged his own party, and the Democrats, on corruption. Because of McCain's opposition to politicians who feed from the public trough, there is a road open to him Tuesday. It's the Chicago Way.
Obama definitely does not want to go there. It would be a forced march for him. Obama's gauzy references to Chicago involve baseball and where he met Michelle and those blissful hours he spent as a community organizer. What he doesn't want discussed is his evolution from independent Democrat to potential White House enabler of the corrupt Chicago Democratic machine.
The Chicago Way is a road the Beltway media establishment dare not travel. It must frighten them. It conflicts with their fairy tale about Obama as reformer, and they're much too busy rummaging through garbage cans in Alaska to bother about Chicago's political alleys.
But any child in Illinois knows the Chicago Way leads through the most politically corrupt city in America, in a politically corrupt state, where muscle trumps reason, where Democratic warlords brazenly promote their offspring into public office, where even souls are offered up for sale.
The national media have never wanted to understand, much less expose, political corruption here, or examine how Obama prospered under the Daley machine's guidance. A trip down the Chicago Way would force them to re-examine their ridiculous narrative that sets Obama as a political reformer riding a white horse, or is that a winged unicorn?
A tour of the Chicago Way isn't without risks for McCain. Though his supporters would say it puts Obama in proper context, Democrats would certainly cry "guilt by association." Yet the national urgency to view Obama as a political life-form several evolutionary rungs above Chicago's common political hacks is not only a mistake, it's disingenuous. So on Tuesday night, McCain might ask:
How, for example, could change agent Obama endorse the boss of the Chicago machine, Mayor Richard Daley, after Daley's friends and drinking buddies, white guys with mob connections, received $100 million in city affirmative action contracts, a crime that sent one of them to federal prison?The mayor said there is no such thing as a machine. Does Obama truly believe there is no machine that runs Chicago and Cook County? Then he should declare it. And, if so, then how does he explain the Daley hacks sitting in federal prison for rigging thousands of city jobs?
McCain could ask about the machine trolls Obama endorsed per Daley's direction. And what of Obama's own political mentor, the legendary city sewer inspector/Illinois Senate President Emil Jones (D-ComEd), who upon retirement will convert almost $600,000 in campaign cash and stuff it into his pockets, and begin cashing a fat public pension, as his son, Emil III, takes Daddy's place in the legislature, courtesy of the Democratic bosses.
Is this the change we've been waiting for?
McCain could ask about Obama's real estate fairy, the convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko, who is now apparently cooperating with federal investigators probing the dealings of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who also campaigned as a reformer. Rezko is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 28. How was the Rezko-Obama real estate deal, the one that Obama himself described as "boneheaded," never made a subject of a Senate Ethics Committee investigation?
McCain also might offer up some straight talk about his own involvement in the Keating 5 scandal two decades ago -- and how he was dishonored by that, and whether the shame changed his views on political corruption.
Hillary Clinton tried to link Obama to Chicago's politics during her party's primaries, but she was shouted down. Back then, at a Tribune editorial board meeting, I asked Obama about his place in Chicago's corrupt history.
"I think that all of you have been following my career for some time," he said. "I think I have done a good job in rising in this environment without being entangled in some of the traditional problems of Chicago politics. I know there are those, like John Kass, who would like me to decry Chicago politics more frequently."
Just the corrupt parts, I said.
"I'll leave that to his editorial commentary," Obama continued, "but I think it's fair to say that I have conducted myself in my public office with great care and high ethical standards."
Is Obama corrupt, the way the caricature of Chicago-style corruption is often drawn, with some beefeater alderman reeking of gin, stuffing an envelope into his breast pocket? No, though he came close with Rezko in that smelly deal for the purchase of Obama's home.
But Obama looked the other way in order to prosper and assiduously avoided conflict with the machine to the point of embrace. In this, he offered Americans a glimpse at the real man inside that nice suit, the Chicago Way.
Bill Ayres is a friend of Barack Obama as acknowledged by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley:
"Bill Ayers, I've said this, his father was a great friend of my father. I'll be very frank. Vietnam divided families, divided people. It was a terrible time of our country. It really separated people. People didn't know one another. Since then, I'll be very frank, (Ayers) has been in the forefront on a lot of education issues and helping us in public schools and things like that."
"People keep trying to align himself with Barack Obama. It's really unfortunate. They're friends. So what? People do make mistakes in the past. You move on. This is a new century, a new time. He reflects back and he’s been making a strong contribution to our community."
Michael S. Murphy at Pajamas Media wonders if the current credit crises marks the end of an era ...
From where I sit, the United States government has embarked on two pieces of social engineering in the last few years. One was to make oil expensive as expensive as possible to drive people to greater use of alternative energy sources - because anything less would be irresponsible and destructive to the environment. The other was to enshrine home ownership (i.e., easy-to-obtain mortgages) as a new American right - because anything less would be unequal and racist.
None of us voted on these decisions - indeed, neither was even spoken about directly, much less debated. But nevertheless, both became national policy… and both have sparked national, now international, crises. Then, once they became crises, both were blamed on ‘greedy capitalism’, instead of what they really were: legislative interference into market forces.
Fine. We’ve been through this before, and no doubt we will see similar, government-induced crises again - inevitably accompanied by Administration officials and our elected representatives pointing at everyone but themselves.
But what makes this particular economic crisis so appalling, at least from this vantage point, is the sheer scumminess, corruption, short-sightedness and general incompetence of everyone involved. At least in the business world, especially in the take-no-prisoners world of high-tech that kind of venality and ineptitude either gets you fired or kills the company; by comparison, in Washington, it puts you in charge of the recovery effort.
Nobody in this mess has covered himself or herself in glory. President Bush seems to have had the right instincts on this, but as a lame duck who long-ago burned up all of his public support, he mostly seems dithering and toothless. The Democrats declare that the nation is at risk… then go about as usual turning the bailout bill into another yet another partisan pay-off scheme to fund the next round of crisis-creating social engineering. It is a measure of just how corrupt the Dems have become that Senators Dodd and Frank, who perhaps more than anyone in Washington are responsible for this crisis, not only are allowed to keep their committee seats, but run the press conference on the bail-out. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Messrs. Dodd and Frank need to be investigated, tried and convicted in my view ...and the misguided energy policy must end as well.