Monday, November 24, 2008

This year's craze

In previous years, the hot item at Christmas was Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch Kids, or Playstation II. This year, a new craze is sweeping America. Lines wrap around the department stores as throngs of screaming shoppers clamour for the item that all the kids are begging for. Suppliers are running short as demand skyrockets, and retailers are falling behind in their efforts to keep the merchandise on the shelves.

Expert market analysts agree that this year's hot item is the all-new "Bail-Me-Out Elmo."

Kids are delighted by the antics and recorded messages of this lovable red critter. If you push his nose, he will wiggle around and say charming phrases such as "Give me more money" and "I'm too big to fail."

However, Bail-Me-Out Elmo is never satisfied with the money you give to him. If you meet his demands for financial assistance, he will continue to ask for more and more money. He is pre-programmed with many endearing phrases such as "Just borrow the money" or "I love other people's money."

If you continue to feed him huge doses of taxpayer dollars, you will be rewarded with gleeful comments such as "Let's make sub prime loans!" or "Why make better cars than Toyota?" But if you cut off the flow of cash, he may become threatening or belligerent, saying things like "My union won't endorse you!" or "Fine! I'll just declare bankruptcy!"

The makers of Bail-Me-Out Elmo were concerned that the toy would not be popular enough to cover the development cost, but they decided to proceed with creation of the product. They explained that "if the toy is wildly popular we will make lots of money, and if it flops, we'll just get the government to pick up the cost."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Frightening picture

This photo from Halloween should make your blood chill in horror as you anticipate the grim fate about to befall you, the rabid insatiable appetite which will consume us all, the impending doom we can not escape.

Then there is my sister in a costume, as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We love Sarah!

Governor Sarah Palin is getting it from all sides these days. It is not surprising that she was smeared by the Democrats and their media lapdogs. That is what those people do. But what I find disgusting is how the McCain campaign tried to blame her for losing the election.

There were the silly accusations about how she bought $150,000 of clothes with campaign money, which turns out to be completely untrue. The reality is that they sent a staffer to buy an assortment of clothes. The staffer bought $70k worth at one store and $50k at another. From that assortment, they picked out the things they wanted to keep, and returned the bulk of the items. Somehow the $120k got rounded up to $150k and the fact that the net cost was much less than either of those numbers was ignored.

More ridiculous than that was the whisper campaign from the McCain staff about Palin walking around her hotel room wrapped in a towel. Seriously? Who cares?? And then suggesting that she didn't know that Africa was a continent and not a country. I don't believe that one for a moment.

And the height of irony was when McCain's staff said that Palin had "gone rogue". I recall that when McCain first announced Palin as his VP selection, he called her "the original maverick" and described her as a strong, independent woman. I suppose that a maverick is someone who doesn't go along with everyone else, while a rogue is someone who doesn't go along with you.

What this amounts to is McCain and his campaign trying to pin the blame for losing to BO onto someone else. Indeed there is reason to believe that something was mishandled, considering that 18 months ago the only states where BO beat McCain in head-to-head polling were Illinois and Hawaii. BO certainly ran a good campaign, and he has charm and charisma to spare. Giving flowery self-promoting speeches is something he excels at. But McCain certainly dropped the ball as well. And if McCain wants to make the case that he lost because Palin is unfit to be VP, then one has to wonder what that says about him. He picked her, after all.
But the premise is bad. Sarah Palin is not why McCain lost. Palin gave the ticket a significant boost, and the Dems had to expend a great deal of money and effort to counter that. In the weeks after announcing Palin, McCain was ahead of BO and trending upwards.
The turning point was the day that Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, a few days after John McCain said "the fundamentals of the economy are strong." Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had already collapsed and AIG was just about to follow suit. Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley were also clearly in trouble, and people began to recognize that there was a systemic problem.
McCain could have set himself apart at this point by opposing the bailout, but he didn't. He could have countered BO's specious claim that the financial meltdown was caused by Bush policies "shredding regulation" by pointing out that government meddling got us into this mess in the first place, but he didn't. He could have made the case that less taxes and a more business-friendly environment would lead back to solid economic growth which benefits everyone, but he didn't. He turned to the government solution just like his socialist opponent.
The mood swung hard against the incumbents, and from that point on it was all downhill. In any other situation he had several winning cards in his hand: energy independence and all the economic benefits of drilling here, Joe the Plumber and a low, fair tax that is not used to redistribute wealth from those who produce it to those who don't, his foreign relations expertise compared to his opponent's undeniable naivety, and his determination to win the War on Terror contrasted to his opponent's eagerness to capitulate. But in mid-September when the sub-prime mortgage house of cards finally collapsed, that one issue trumped everything else, and whoever was in charge at that time was going to be kicked out.
So let's not blame Sarah Palin. Blame the primary voters for picking a flawed candidate, blame John McCain for mishandling the situation, and blame the bad timing of the mortgage crisis.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A banner of bold colors

Take a few minutes to read what Ronald Reagan said after the disastrous election of 1974. Based on this idea, Reagan won two terms, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. were elected, and Republicans took back the Congress for the first time in my life. When Congress and the President abandoned this principle, let spending run out of control, allowed government to expand beyond it's Constitutional bounds, bought into the Democrat idea that government is the solution rather than the problem, and nominated a man who embodies "pale pastels" it all fell apart. It's time to get back to the basics, put away the pastels, and repaint our banner with bold, primary colors.

The words of the great Ronald Reagan:

“Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?”

“A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.”

“I do not believe I have proposed anything that is contrary to what has been considered Republican principle. It is at the same time the very basis of conservatism. It is time to reassert that principle and raise it to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.”

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Taking the "bored" out of board games

It's a novel concept, but my family makes it a point to spend quality time together on a regular basis. These days people have so many activities that it is really easy for families to never be all together for any length of time, and when they do, all too often they are watching TV or something equally non-interactive.

One step in the right direction is to make it a point to eat dinner together and use it as an opportunity for meaningful conversation.

But our favorite thing to do is to play some kind of table game. I have always enjoyed games, and they provide a fun way to spend time together with an activity that encourages interaction. We like a lot of the classic table games, including various card games and board games, but there are also many lesser-known games which are a lot of fun. Here are a few that you ought to try.

Blokus -- Try to get as many of your pieces on the board as possible, with each one touching your own color only at the corners. Keeping your own options open while blocking off your opponents is key to the strategy.

Qwirkle -- Place different tiles in rows sharing a common color or shape. Complete a row of six to score a "Qwirkle" bonus.

Ticket to Ride -- Build a railroad network connecting key cities before your opponent buys up the routes.

Rat-a-tat-cat -- Silly name, great game requiring memory and strategy.

What's next

So the charismatic demagogue has won the election by a rather convincing six point margin. Not nearly as impressive as Reagan, but better than anyone since. What happens next?

Back in August at the Dem's convention, Michelle Obama recounted how she first met BO. She said that BO was talking about "the world as it is and the world as it ought to be" and saying that we should not be content to let the world remain as it is when we could be working to make it more like the world as it ought to be. Inspiring words. BO may actually have said that, but he is not the first one to say it. He was quoting from Saul Alinsky's book "Rules for Radicals: A Manual for the Overthrow of the American Government." That book has served as BO's guide and playbook from his community organizing days in Chicago, to the state and national legislature, and through his campaign for President. His actions and strategies can be mapped point for point to the instructions Alinsky laid out.

Aliksky once said that "If you want to fuck your enemy, you must first seduce your enemy." BO's pattern of teaming up with anti-american radicals, including racist hatemonger Jeremiah Wright, domestic terrorist Bill Ayres, Bernardine Dohrn, Rashid Khalidi, Michael Pfleger, James Meeks, Michelle Obama, ACORN, the New Party, and the Gamaliel Foundation and his rhetorical attack on America in his campaign indicate that he views America itself as his enemy. As of today, the seduction is complete. The wining and dining is over. Alinsky makes it clear what comes next.

Here are my predictions for what BO will do as President, now that he no longer has the option of voting "present" and he actually has to lead for the first time in his life.

He will pull a major shift in his policy on Iraq. BO wanted to get out of Iraq because he wanted Bush to lose. Once he is President he certainly won't want to be the one to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Joe Biden laid the foundation for this shift in policy, warning that there would be a crisis early in the BO Presidency, and it would not be apparent at first that their response would be the right one. It certainly would not do for BO to simply announce that he suddenly is in favor of victory rather than defeat, so the change will presented as a response to some event which provides new information. This will serve as BO's excuse to do what he is already planning to do: launch a major new offensive in Iraq. It is hard to know what the outcome will be. Based on BO's lack of understanding or experience with military matters, it could be a disaster. But if he lets the military leaders make the important military decisions, it may work out well, but only because we have spent five years doing the hard work to get to the point where such a thing is possible. His promise to begin withdrawing troops immediately and bring almost all of them home in a matter of months will fall by the wayside. There will still be more than 100 thousand troops in Iraq 18 months into his term. As Joe says, "Mark my words."

The economy will trend downwards into the summer, and then will begin to recover. This would have happened regardless of who was President. It is a normal cycle which has repeated itself many times. BO's promise of tax cuts will never happen. With a trillion dollars going to the bailout, continued costs of the war in Iraq, and BO's trillion dollars in new spending, taxes will go up. He will hike capital gains taxes, corporate taxes, payroll taxes, and income taxes on people making far less than the $250,000 he promised. He will claim that his wealth redistribution program is a tax cut because it will be implemented as a tax rebate to people who pay no income taxes. But that is not a tax cut -- it is confiscating what I earn and giving it to someone who did not earn it.

The same media which spent twice as much money travelling to breathlessly cover BO campaign events as they spent covering McCain events will continue to fawn over their chosen one. The honeymoon will last four years. The tough questions will never be asked.

BO will make minor changes to the medical system, not even attempting something as sweeping as what he proposed in the campaign. He will claim victory based on the assertion that "it is a step in the right direction" although it will simply amount to a bit less freedom and a bit more government intrusion into our lives.

Disillusion will sweep through America as people who had been promised the sun, moon, and stars, projected all of their hopes and dreams on BO thinking that he was the answer to all of their problems, and ate up the image carefully crafted by his campaign that BO is the messiah come down from on high to usher in a new golden age of heaven on earth. When BO fails to deliver on the hype, people will come to realize that experience and integrity really do matter and that lofty rhetoric doesn't go far in leading a country apart from real, workable policies.

But don't worry. We survived Bill Clinton. In fact we thrived in spite of him. BO makes Bill Clinton look like a screaming moderate, but that is what we are here for. Conservatives will continue to push back against encroachments on freedom and liberty, fight for justice, advance free market capitalism, and oppose the tyranny of socialism. You can call us "Conservatism Underground". For the time being we are forced into exile, but we won't give up. Unlike BO's long-time ally Bill Ayres, we don't advance our agenda with bombs and murder. We do it peacefully, with powerful ideas and convincing arguments built on the foundation laid by Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan. The principles set forth by these great conservative thinkers have been largely absent from presidential politics for twenty years. Bush certainly did not adhere to any kind of fiscal restraint, as spending spiraled out of control, and McCain was still further from anything resembling conservatism. I said it in 2006 and I'm saying it again: we need to get back to those principles proven for two hundred years. So let's take off the gloves and fight for the future of America.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Unrealistic expectations?

Is BO about to be elected President based on unrealistic expectations of his fans?

His advisors say "YES".

This can only lead to disappointment when BO fails to lead us to a glorious heaven on earth.

Vote to save the animals!

If BO wins, these poor innocent bulls, chickens, goats, and sheep are to be merciless slaughtered! Hurry out and vote against BO to save the animals! PETA thanks you.

Different vote this time

Back in March I voted for Barack Obama in the Texas primary and caucus. You can read all about that experience. In today's election, I voted for John McCain. It was nice to not have to fight back the vomit reflex this time.

Monday, November 03, 2008

BO's Mediscare

BO is demagoguing McCain's health care reform proposals, running ads in swing states saying that McCain plans to tax employer-provided medical insurance and that a McCain administration will need to cut $882 billion from Medicare over the next decade to fund his health reforms. Obama pushes further on the stump, claiming a 20-percent Medicare benefit cut next year. “You’ll pay more for your drugs; you’ll receive fewer services; you’ll get lower quality care… it ain’t right.”

The figure comes from a partisan action fund led by the head of BO’s own transition team — they would have gotten just as credible a figure from Bill Ayres, but no one can find him these days. describes the ad as a “among the biggest whoppers of the whole campaign.”

What the BO attacks fail to mention is that McCain's proposals level the paying field by refunding $5,000 to every family, so that everyone, including those whose employers do not provide medical insurance, have the opportunity to buy insurance with untaxed income. As the Washington Post noted: "By most independent calculations, the McCain plan will leave most taxpayers better off in strictly financial terms." Even the liberal leaning Tax Policy Center, agrees that the McCain proposals will result in a net savings of $1,200 for the average family.

In the last debate, BO pointed out that $5,000 is not enough to insure the average family. Biden called the shortfall "The ultimate bridge to nowhere." Strong rhetoric, but if you bother to read McCain's proposal rather than just listen to BO attack it, you will understand that the tax credit is not intended to pay the entire cost of insurance, but simply to replace the value of the employers' tax advantage. In fact, the Lewin Group criticized the McCain plan as being overly generous for middle Americans, leaving them with a robust tax reduction.

In the final debate, Obama claimed that 20 million Americans will lose employer-coverage under McCain’s plan. As his ad notes, the plan will end up “raising costs for employers who offer health care, so your coverage could be reduced or dropped completely.” But McCain’s plan doesn’t touch the employer deduction on health benefits (including the payroll tax) — which makes it difficult to see why companies would suddenly ditch their insurance policies. Employers offer health insurance for the competitive advantage in hiring the best people, not for the tax deduction. That said, it is true that a commentary in Health Affairs did speculate that some 20 million Americans would stop getting employer-based coverage. It also suggested that 21 million would buy on the market. Actually, every estimate predicts that the McCain plan will lead to a drop in the number of uninsured: by 5 million (the Tax Policy Center), 21 million (the Lewin Group), or 27.5 million (HSI). The last two studies, incidentally, conclude that more employees will lose coverage under the Obama plan.

The primary advantage of McCain's plan over BO's is that it keeps competition in the healthcare system, which promotes better quality care, supply to meet demand, and lower prices. BO's plan, on the contrary, would remove market forces by denying individuals the right to pick the best doctor or best insurance for their needs or to compare costs and buy the coverage which offers the best value. In every country where this has been tried, it results in severely reduced quality of care, inadequate availability of care, all of which leads to rationing and absurdly long waiting lists to see a doctor. As they say, there are few maladies which are not cured by a six month wait.

As Jason Furman, now economic policy director of the BO campaign, noted in February: “The most promising way to move forward in all three dimensions — coverage, cost, and long-run fiscal situation — is to replace the employer exclusion with a tax credit” and "we could scrap the current deduction altogether and replace it with progressive tax credits that, together with other changes, would ensure that every American has affordable health insurance." That is exactly what McCain proposes.

What we know about BO

Looking back over months of bloging I have done about BO, four inter-related points stand out: BO’s radicalism, his stealthy incrementalism, his interest in funding and organization-building, and his willingness to use — or quietly support — Alinskyite intimidation tactics. Since we stand on the cusp of the election, I’ll lay out the bottom line.

Obama’s troubling associations are more than isolated friendships or instances of bad judgment. His ties to fringe anti-American radicals including Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Rashid Khalidi, Michael Pfleger, James Meeks, Michelle Obama, ACORN, the New Party, and the Gamaliel Foundation all reflect Obama’s sympathy with radical-left ideas and causes — wealth redistribution prominent among them. At both the Woods Fund and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, for example, Obama and Ayers channeled money into ACORN’s coffers. ACORN, a militant group pursuing economic redistribution, succeeded in undermining credit standards throughout the banking system, thereby modeling the New Party’s plans to tame capitalism itself. So the association with Ayers is not an outlier issue, but part and parcel of a network of radical ties through which Obama’s supported “major redistributive change.” Via ACORN, that project has already nearly wrecked our economy. What will happen when it’s generalized?

Similarly, Obama’s “association” with Wright was far more than a mere pastor-parishioner — or even mentor-protégé — relationship. Obama’s work with the Gamaliel Foundation required him to “organize” left-leaning churches into a larger political force. His real interest in Wright, Pfleger, and Meeks was to turn them into the nucleus of a far broader politicized coalition of radical black churches — as shown, for example, by his work with them on the Illinois racial-profiling bill. Again, we are not dealing with mere “associations,” but with intentional political partnerships.

Although media malfeasance is at the heart of our ignorance about these broader patterns, Obama’s absorption of Alinskyite strategies of stealthy incrementalism have helped to hide the truth. Following well-worn organizer strategies, Obama knows how to wrap ideological radicalism in the soothing rhetoric of “pragmatism” and classic American values. There is a kernel of truth to the pragmatism, however. Radical though his ultimate goals may be, Obama follows classic organizer strategy — pursuing his ends in tiny, incremental, and cumulative baby-steps. The municipal “living wage” campaigns supported by Obama, Wright, and groups like ACORN and the New Party were never designed, in themselves, to bring fundamental economic change. These ordinances actually applied to only a very small number of companies. The broader purpose of these battles was to build coalitions for deeper structural change on the national level, when the moment was right. Obama would likely hew to this incrementalism in power, with the same radical long-term goals in mind.

Obama was a master at channeling funding to his organizer allies. He was the key force turning the Woods Fund toward a major increase in support for community organizers, at a moment when other foundations shied away from funding the militant and confrontational tactics of groups like ACORN. In his now infamous 2001 radio remarks, Obama’s preferred strategy for promoting “major redistributive change” was through society-wide organizing from below. As president, Obama would connect his massive youth-volunteer program to his favorite community-organizer groups, thereby creating a political force for long-term restructuring of the American economy. This was the program of the New Party, and I believe it is still Obama’s long-term goal.

In pursuit of his goals, Obama has shown himself willing to quietly support, and sometimes to openly use, radical Alinskyite tactics. At the Woods Fund, Obama’s allies bragged about the way their “post-ideological” cover had allowed them to fund ACORN’s confrontational tactics, while escaping public criticism. Obama has shamelessly used Alinskyite “direct action” to silence and intimidate political foes during the current campaign (a matter well-known to conservatives, yet little noted by the mainstream press). Victory would only cement the conviction in Obama and his allies that these tactics had “won,” and therefore should be used again.

Has Obama changed? Was he merely using his radical Chicago allies to gain national renown, and thereby an opening for a more moderate political program? I find this view unconvincing. Obama has often claimed that his early community organizing, and his redistributive legislative work, were at the very core of his political identity. We’ve heard his radicalism on the radio in 2001. Does anyone really believe that he’s changed in 2008? Obama’s political radicalism consolidated his shaky personal identity. It formed him as an adult. He cannot abandon that inner stance without losing hold of an already precarious self. Obama chose to live in Hyde Park — chose that radical setting as the site of his adult self-creation. Hyde Park was never the place Obama needed to conquer in order to escape. On the contrary, it was the personally chosen home he now hopes to nationalize by spreading his organizing gospel to America’s youth.

Obama is clever and pragmatic, it’s true. But his pragmatism is deployed on behalf of radical goals. Obama’s heart is, and will remain, with the Far Left. Yet he will surely be cautious about grasping for more, at any given moment, than the political traffic will bear. That should not be mistaken for genuine moderation. It will merely be the beginning stages of a habitually incremental radicalism. In his heart and soul, Barack Obama was and remains a radical-stealthy, organizationally sophisticated, and — when necessary — tactically ruthless. The real Obama — the man beyond the feel-good symbol — is no mystery. He’s there for anyone willing to look. Sad to say, few are.

Reasons to vote BO

Before you vote, consider these questions. It ought to make you think twice before you vote for BO, unless you are a wacked out leftist, in which case he is your man.

1. Are you basing your vote mainly on what you've heard BO say about his plans and proposals? Remember that any politician can promise you the moon and the stars before the election. Any politician can regurgitate what his advisers have found the voters want to hear. The key is to see how the plans, proposals, and all the rhetoric square up with the record and reality. BO's record is often the very opposite of his lofty rhetoric. He says he wants to bring us all together and end the partisanship in Washington. In fact, both his friends and foes confess that he has not once reached across the political aisle on any issue of consequence. Can you really expect an extreme left-wing radical extremist liberal, who votes the party line 98 percent of the time, to bring us altogether?

2. Are you voting for BO because you find him likeable and eloquent? He may be that, but that's not enough. If you are looking for a heart surgeon, do you want someone who is likeable and eloquent, or someone who knows how to do heart surgery? It's easy to vote on the superficial, but that could be a formula for disaster. BO is clearly not up to the job. His foreign policy blunders show he doesn't have a clue: Iran is a tiny country and not a threat to us, and that's just one of many.

3. Do you believe that BO is what might be called a moderate, a centrist, or a middle-of-the-roader? In fact, the National Journal found him to be the most liberal member of Congress, even more liberal than the man in the number two position, socialist Bernie Sanders, and more liberal than Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry. To call him a liberal is to put him closer to the center than he deserves to be. He is a radical, an extremist, a socialist, and a hard-line left-wing liberal. Consider his position on abortion as an example. He actually opposed a bill in the Illinois legislature to give born-alive infants as a result of a botched abortion a right to medical care and a right to life. This puts him in the column favoring infanticide and murder. This has been documented seven ways to Sunday, despite his usual denials. He is considered the most extreme pro-abortion advocate in the Senate. He has never voted for any restriction on abortion, such as requiring parental consent for a minor. He voted in favor of the barbaric partial birth abortion. He favors the legislation that would nullify any state restrictions on abortion. He views the central purpose of the U.S. Constitution as allowing and facilitating abortion. He would deny hospitals and doctors the right to refuse to do abortions, and would thus threaten to close all Catholic hospitals.

4. Are you voting for BO because you agree that we need change? You may not like what's going on now, but that's not the question. There is good change and bad change. Do you know what kind of change BO has in mind? Look at his record, and you'll find he's going to dish up, in its most extreme form, the failed policies of the Democratic Party - high taxation, big government, more spending, more regulation, more welfare, soak the rich (meaning soak small business and entrepreneurs so they will not be able to create jobs and serve as the engine of prosperity), and weaken national defense. He is all talk and no action. He says he'll cut spending. But whenever asked, he can't name a single program he plans on cutting. He confuses rhetoric with reality.

5. Do you favor BO based on his claim he will give 95 percent of Americans an income tax cut? Doesn't that sound too good to be true? How can you cut taxes, spend an additional trillion, give everyone the Cadillac of health insurance of the kind congressmen get, give every youngster a college education, send billions every year to the corrupt U.N. to end world poverty, pay for the $700 billion bailout, pay another $300 billion for another stimulus package, pour billions into alternative energy, etc. etc. etc. He's a politician, not a magician, and clearly not an honest one at that. There's another fraud buried in the 95 percent promise. Forty percent of Americans don't even pay income taxes so he's really designed a welfare program disguised as a tax refund and a tax cut program. He is going to "soak the rich." The "rich" already pay most of the income tax bill (the top 10 percent pay 70 percent of the total bill; the bottom 50 percent pay only 2.6 percent of the total bill). If he loads up on the high end earners, they will simply not play, i.e., they will stop investing, creating jobs and opening new enterprises. That's what happens when your program involves drowning small businessmen and entrepreneurs in a flood of higher taxes. He says 98 percent of small businesses will not be affected by his tax increases on small business. That may be true, as most small businesses don't even have employees. But the ones that do are few in number compared to the ones who don't. But they are the very group that will be driven out of business, or driven to lay off employees, or driven to kill expansion plans. They are the ones that generate about 70 percent of small business income. He'll stick it to small business, and jack up the capital gains tax, the dividend tax, and the payroll tax for these businessmen. Then he'll throw in a windfall profits tax, increase the death tax, and throw in some other tax increases for good measure. So he may give you a welfare check or a refund, but that won't make up for the job losses and depression or recession that his tax scheme will aggravate or produce. One other caution: He keeps lowering the definition of "wealthy". It started at $300,000, a few weeks ago it was $250,000, and now Biden says they will increase taxes on anyone making more than $150,000. Gov. Bill Richardson said BO will raise taxes on those making more than $120,000. Do I hear $100,000 or $50,000 or $42,000? When they soak the rich that involves adjusting the definition downward for almost everyone. Look at the record. He recently voted to increase taxes on those making as little as $42,000, and has a long record of voting for tax increases. It's easy to promise tax cuts a la Clinton and then turn around and increase taxes after the election. If you think Clinton was bad on this point, wait until you see what BO might do. Don't rely on BO to keep promises. Look what he did with his promise to take public financing. He broke that promise even before the election. Can you imagine how quickly he'll break promises after the election?

6. Do you like his plan for universal health care? He would deliver universal health care in its most expensive Cadillac form, bankrupting the treasury and destroy the quality of care. We still haven't figured out how to finance Medicare, which only covers senior citizens. This is a much bigger plan. Where will the doctors and hospitals come from the provide care for the 47 million new insureds? There won't be enough to go around, so they will have to ration care. BO also wants taxpayers to pay for medical care for illegal immigrants. So when you have to choose between an organ transplant for a 25-year-old illegal immigrant and a 65-year-old senior, under the typical rationing system, the seniors will be out in the cold. BO promises to reduce everyone's premium by $2,500, which is the biggest slice of baloney ever dished up by a promise-the-moon candidate. He's going to do that by implementing new efficiencies, such as digital medical records. Every health-care reformer in the history of the world promises all kinds of major efficiencies and economies and elimination of fraud, waste, and corruption, but they don't succeed. If he is so smart and so able to save taxpayer moeny, why hasn't he accomplished any little bit of that improvement in the Senate? Even sound improvements take years to implement and may actually take major investments to bring about. Digital recordkeeping system cost hospitals millions of dollars which won't be paid off for many years. BO demagogues McCain's plan, saying that McCain wants to tax the cost of employer-provided medical insurance. That is a dishonest representation of McCain's free-market plan which levels to playing field so that everyone can afford an insurance plan and people still have the freedom to pick their own insurance, their own doctor, rather than being forced into a government run disaster. I've found that the less a politician knows about health care, the more grandiose his proposals. It's easy to build heath delivery castles in the sky when you aren't limited by reality. The health care delivery system we have is the best in the world, even with its defects. But BO will make it a lot worse.

7. Do you still believe that BO can work all this magic, cutting taxes and spending like a typical liberal Democrat? If you do, why hasn't BO been pulling off some of this magic during his Senate tenure? I'll tell you why. He's spent most of his time writing his second book and running for president. If he has such magical plans and proposals, why hasn't he accomplished anything of note in his legislative career in the Illinois state house and in the U.S. Senate? I'll tell you why, and that's because he's all talk and pretty speeches, and no action and sound solutions. Here's the classic example. He said he saw the present financial crisis coming a few years ago. So he said he wrote a letter to the secretary of the Treasury and the chairman of the Federal Reserve and he says they did nothing. He's a U.S. senator being paid to legislate and not write complaint letters. But he's so deep into his oratorical delusions he thinks that saying it makes it happen. If he weren't deluded, he wouldn't have even told that story about his solution to the greatest financial crisis of our time: write two letters and forget it. And that fits into his approach when emergency legislation was being debated in Congress. He said, "I have a phone. You know where to get me. Call me if you need me." If he were a general, he'd tell his troops that he has a phone and to call if they need him. Some general; some leader.

8. Do you want a strong president who can stand up to his party, to special interest groups, and to foreign enemies? Then don't pick BO who seems to be too weak to stand up to anyone. He couldn't even stand up to the corrupt Chicago political machine. He has never stood up to his own party and dissented on a major political issue. He carries water for his union supporters, putting teacher's demands above improving the quality of education. He shows no inclination to stand up to our enemies abroad. He called for restraint on the part of the invaded Georgians instead of denouncing the illegal aggressor Russians. He called for understanding of the terrorists after 9/11. He has never shown a speck of political courage or any other kind of courage. Compare that with the record of Sen. John McCain.

9. Do you want a president who insists on free and open debate and stands behind the First Amendment and its guarantees of free speech? Then don't vote for the candidate who has done everything proper and improper to shut down any criticism directed his way. He called for harassment and intimidation of a Chicago radio station that planned interview two of his critics. He encouraged prosecutors in St. Louis to threaten critics with criminal prosecution on the pretense they may have said something that was false. He called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate an organization that had been critical of him. He boycotted a Florida television station after its anchor asked Sen. Biden some tough questions. Most recently he threw three newspapers off his campaign plane for endorsing John McCain. They are the Washington Times, the New York Post and the Dallas Morning News. He instigated an investigation and a smear campaign against "Joe the Plumber" whose only offense was asking a question. He avoids exposure to the press. As I've learned from my own experience, his campaign ignores questions that aren't the usual softballs thrown his way by the mainstream media. He stonewalls, as he did for many months when questions came in about his land deal with the corrupt politician and convicted felon Tony Rezko. He is hypersensitive to criticism and tries to turn it aside with his usual comment of "that's the old politics." When asked about his long-term and close association and collaboration with terrorists, bigots, racists, America-haters, and subversives he says let's stick to the big issues.

10. Do you want a president who will make sure our democratic values are protected and we continue to be the greatest and freest nation in the world totally committed to our Constitution and our democratic values? Then don't vote for BO. The mainstream media does not report on news that might hurt Obama's electoral chances. Instead they fawn over him as if he is a Messiah or Savior. The media is so invested in him they are likely to continue to deify him after the election. This means we will have our mainstream media only reporting the government party line. Tomorrow, you should not only vote against BO but also against the biased, dishonest and fraudulent mainstream media.

11. Do you want a candidate who will heal any racial divide that remains in this country? Then don't vote for BO, as he is shown he is willing to play the race card to win votes. You heard him falsely claim the Republicans plan to say that he has a strange name that he doesn't look like the other presidents on our currency, and that, yes, he is black. That is a false and libelous charge but it shows you he is willing to stoop to any depths to win votes, including playing the race card. Compare that with John McCain. He was so intent on keeping race out of the race, that he didn't even take advantage of Sen. Obama's long and close association with the racist, bigot, America-hater Rev. Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright, because he thought that might stir racial divisions, as Rev. Wright is black. Sen. McCain goes out of his way and doesn't take advantage of a powerful and legitimate issue to avoid racial animosity; BO jumps right in and stirs it up.

12. Do you want to elect someone whose record is out in the open and who has been vetted by the media and demonstrated to be someone you can trust? Then don't vote for BO who has been given a free pass by the mainstream media that has kept all but favorable information about BO from the public. BO has stonewalled and deceived when confronted with questions. He won't even release a copy of his birth certificate. There are years of his life that he has kept secret, such as his time at Columbia and Occidental. When confronted with some crooked, racist, bigoted, or America-hating associate he claims he really didn't know about that side of the person. He was in Rev. Wright's church for 20 years, he read his newsletters and accounts of Rev. Wright's highly publicized ravings and rantings in the Chicago media, and yet he never figured out what Wright stood for. This is the BO's pattern. Now he claims he didn't know about his long-time ally Bill Ayres, even though Ayres introduce BO into the Chicago political scene and hand-picked him to run his Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a radical organization whose purpose was to use the public schools to indoctrinate kids with socialist ideology. This is what proves he is either the dumbest graduate of Harvard's law school in history or the biggest liar in American presidential political history. Does BO know the people he knows? If he is such a poor judge of character, should we trust him to appoint cabinet leaders, judges, and other government officials? Don't take a risk with your future and the future of America and the free world.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Islamic Law coming soon to a city near you

A 13 year old girl was convicted of adultery after complaining that three men had raped her. Then she was buried up to her neck and stoned to death by al-Qaida linked Islamic militants in a crowded stadium in the Somali city of Kismayo.

That is Islamic Sharia Law in action, the same system of law which al-Qaida seeks to impose on us. Think twice before electing a President who wants to surrender Iraq to these people.

In the union's pocket

In 2005, newly elected US Senator BO visited Thornton Township High School in a predominantly black suburb of Chicago to conduct a "youth town hall meeting." The students prepared questions for the rising star of the Democrats. BO described the meeting in his book "The Audacity of Hype":

At the meeting they talked about violence in the neighborhoods and a shortage of computers in the classrooms. But their number on issue was this: Because the school district couldn't afford to keep teachers for a full school day, Thornton let out every day at 1:30 in the afternoon. With the abbreviated schedule, there was no time for students to take science lab or foreign language classes. How come we're getting shortchanged? they asked me. Seems like nobody even expects us to go to college, they said. They wanted more school.

As I hear about this visit, I wonder about the tension that must have gripped that room as those students, mostly black and disproportionately poor, pleaded with him for more school. I wondered in particular how the teachers who stood in attendance felt as it all transpired. For they knew something that the students, and maybe even BO did not: the average teacher in Thornton School District was paid $83,000 that year, even with the shortened day. That figure does not include administrators, who made significantly more. In 2005 over one quarter of the teachers were paid six digit salaries for nine months of teaching.

Did the teachers worry that Obama might realize the real cause of the short days? With teachers that expensive, how could any school afford a full day of class?

The elementary school day in Chicago proper is even shorter, at five hours and forty-five minutes. This is not for lack of funds: Chicago schools already spend $10,550 per pupil, twenty percent higher than the national average, and have the shortest school day of any city in Illinois.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), an early endorser of BO for President, has vigorously resisted attempts to increase instruction time. In 2007, CTU demonstrated its might by taking on Mayor Daley, thwarting his attempts to force full days on teachers. Their new contract contained no extra hours, but significant pay raises for the next four years. Deborah Lynch, the previous CTU president, had agreed in 2003 to a fifteen-minute increase in the length of the school day in exchange for a seven-day reduction in the school year. This minor concession, netting five hours of extra teaching, was used against her in the next CTU election, which she narrowly lost.

For teaching less than six hours a day, nine months out of the year, an entry level 22-year-old teacher with no experience will earn $43,702 this year, plus $3,059 in pension contributions. That is modest, but it is more than the city's median income. In four years his salary will increase to $57,333 with a $3,992 pension contribution. He finishes the school day when other people are headed back to the office after lunch. If he makes his summers productive, he can move into a higher salary track by going to summer school. He has a secure job and a guaranteed raise every year, regardless of economic conditions.

But for the money they spend, Chicago public schools provide very little in the way of results. The four-year graduation rate is only 54%. According to a recent study, only 6% of entering freshmen in Chicago public schools will obtain a college degree by age 25. Only 31% of Chicago high school juniors meet or exceed state standards on the Prairie State Achievement Examination.

Education is one of Obama's favorite topics in his flowery speeches delivered with dulcet tones. He seems to genuinely appreciate the fact that he could never have gotten as far as he has without the top-quality education he received at the elite private school in Honolulu and undergraduate and law degrees from two of America's most prestigious academic institutions.

In his stump speech he brought up education constantly:

"When I see my nine-year-old and my six-year-old, it makes me weep because I see children who are just as smart and just as beautiful as they are, who just don't get a shot. It's unacceptable in a country as wealthy as ours that children every bit as special as my own children are not getting a decent shot at life."

As a U.S. Senator and a state legislator BO had an opportunity to do something concrete about these children who are not getting a decent shot from the failing public school system. But the reality is that he did not take that opportunity. He can not criticize CTU for depriving Chicago school children of a full day and a full year of quality education. The union is his ally, his endorses, his donor, his supporter. He is more committed to the union than he is to the issue of education. Here is what BO himself said about his relationship to the union:

"I owe those unions. When their leaders call, I do my best to call them back right away. I don't consider this corrupting in any way. I don't mind feeling obligated towards teachers in some of the toughest schools in the country, many of whom have to dip into their own pockets at the beginning of every school year to buy crayons and books for their students."

Well, that does sound better than admitting that he "does not mind feeling obligated" toward Chicago unions who demand short work days and short work years. BO stood by the CTU in opposing even the most obvious of reforms. In 2001 he twice voted "no" on a bill which would have let school districts require unruly students to complete suspensions before they could be shunted into new school districts. The CTU rewarded BO for his loyalty in October 2007 by endorsing him for President.

A recent John McCain ad pointed out that BO's only accomplishment in improving education was supporting a bill which provided sex education in kindergarten. The BO campaign shot back with a false attack calling the McCain campaign supporters of pedophiles. A much better response would have been to give examples of actual legislation that BO had authored, or even co-sponsored, which actually improved the education of our kids, but he couldn't point to a single one.

Over the river and through the woods

Hurrah for the fun, is the pudding done.
Hurrah for the...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Making a Senator

In January 2003, state senator BO approached his mentor, Senate President Emil Jones and presented him with an intriguing offer.

“You can make the next U.S. Senator.”

“Wow, that sounds good! Got anybody in mind?” Dumb question.

“Yes, me.”

Here is how Obama’s political Godfather punched Obama’s ticket to Washington.

Jones is described, but not named, in BO’s Dreams of my Father as “an old ward-heeler who made the mistake of backing one of the white politicians in the last mayoral election.” Jones was a product of Chicago’s patronage system, first hired as a sewer cleaner, then moving up the ladder based more on who he knew and who he kissed up to than any actual ability. Today, Jones still takes care of his own. His son landed a $57k job in the Illinois Department of Commerce last April, in spite of lacking the required college degree. Jones’ stepson got a sweetheart deal for his tech firm Synch-Solutions when Emil lined up a $700,000 contract for the state budget office. At Jones’ request, Governor Blagojevich, a Democrat ally of Jones, rescinded the requirement that the director of mental health at the state’s Department of Human Services be a medical doctor, allowing Jones wife to take the job, paying $186,000, an $80k raise over her previous salary. State Representative Jack Franks, Democratic chairman of the House State Government Administration Committee attacked Jones cronyism as the “Friends and Family Plan.”

Jones prepared BO to run for Senate by “bill-jacking” popular legislation from other legislators just before it would pass, and assigning it to BO so that he could claim credit for bills which he had virtually no involvement with. State Senator Ricky Hendon was author and chief sponsor of two such bills, one requiring that interrogations of murder cases be recorded, and the other to reduce the incidence of racial profiling by the police. Emil Jones took these bills from Hendon and reassigned them to BO on the day they were due for a vote. BO often speaks of these bills as if they were his own babies. Hendon told a reporter, Todd Spivak that “no one wants to carry the ball ninety-nine yards all the way to the one-yard line, and then give it to the halfback who gets all the credit and the stats in the record book.”

In 1998, Jones gave BO a popular piece of legislation, also on the day it was up for final passage. The bill barred political fundraising on state property and barred lobbyists and contractors from giving gifts to legislators. One little-noticed provision in that bill allowed for Legislators to keep any money in their campaign fund when they retired, provided that amount of money had been in their campaign fund in 1998. That little loophole, pushed through by Emil Jones with the help of his dupe, BO, allowed Jones to retire with a $578,000 “bonus” last year. So much for stamping out corruption.

Jones placed BO as chairman of the senate’s health committee, which put him in charge of legislation that affected the Service Employees International Union, with more than 100,000 members in Illinois. Biographer David Mendell says that from that position, “Obama carried SEIU’s water” in Springfield on a number of issues. He increased SEIU hospital workers benefits and even forced hospitals to post union staffing level statistics on the Internet in an effort to bully hospitals into hiring more union employees. As a result, SEIU endorsed BO for Senate, an important development because most other unions endorsed his opponents.

Another way Jones helped Obama was to give him a free pass on more controversial issues, allowing him to avoid nasty debates. BO voted “present” 130 times while serving in the state Senate. Other senators would not be permitted to do such a thing, but Jones looked the other way for BO.

BO’s election to the Senate was mainly a result of the assistance of a corrupt Democrat Senate Leader, combined with a good measure of luck. In the primaries, BO was up against several Democrat rivals: Dan Hynes, State Comptroller, Gery Chico, Daley’s chief of staff, liberal talk show host Nancy Skinner, and eccentric multi-millionaire Blair Hull. Hynes seemed like the clear leader, except that Hull poured $28.7 million of his own money into the primary, blanketing the state in television and internet advertising. The media saturation dragged Hynes down to a second-place tie with BO. Just two weeks from the election Hull was more than ten points up over Hynes and BO. Then the Tribune released Hull’s divorce files, including testimony from Hull’s ex-wife that he “hung on the canopy of my bed, leered at me and stated ‘Do you want to die? I’m going to kill you.’.” Apparently the Tribune got those records from BO’s advisor, David Axelrod. By primary day, Hull had sunk to 10 points, but Hull’s $28 million had pulled Hynes down with him, so BO was the only one left standing.

That left BO to face Jack Ryan in the general election. No one knows how Ryan’s divorce file was made public, but it happened on June 22, 2004. His ex-wife described Jack taking her to sex clubs featuring whips and cages, and making her cry by pressuring her to have sex in public. By Washington standards it was rather dull. After all, it was his own wife. But for a young politician beginning his career, it was fatal. Ryan was forced to relinquish the nomination, leaving the Republicans scrambling to find a replacement in the last weeks of the campaign. They finally dredged up Alan Keyes, a perennial all-purpose candidate who was particularly ill-suited for this race. Obama wrote that Keyes was “an ideal opponent; all I had to do was keep my mouth shut and start planning my swear-in ceremony.”

Keyes went on to lose by the largest margin in Illinois history. As Obama described it, “My campaign had gone so well that it looked like a fluke.” Maybe it was. But the result is that BO was propelled to national star status without ever being tested in a real election. He has never had to get down and throw elbows or be the bad guy. And he has never had to campaign on a record of ideas or accomplishments, either. David Mendell described BO as “an idealized candidate unsullied by political competition.” This may be the first time a major party candidate has run for President having never before had a serious election challenge from the other party.

Once BO was elected to the US Senate, he returned the favor to his Godfather. In 2007 he obtained $11 million in earmarks for Chicago State University, a pet project of Emil Jones. The university kicked back $55k to Jones in contributions from its trustees, foundation directors, and administrators. BO also rejected calls to get involved in passing an ethics bills which Jones was blocking in Illinois which are very similar to the reforms he called for in the U.S. Senate.

BO presents himself as a reformer, a shining beacon of change and hope floating above the squalor of "old" politics. But the reality is that BO is a product of the corrupt, incestuous morass of the worst of the old style politics, and he has done nothing to repudiate that corrupt machine. On the contrary, he has reached his current position not by offering new ideas or working on behalf of the citizens, but by working the machine for his own benefit.

Backing the Machine

Part 2 in my series on how reality and BO's carefully crafted image don't match up.

BO has spent millions of dollars on handlers, image managers, and spin controllers to create the image that he is a reformer. Let’s take a look at his record and see if he really has taken on corruption and abuse of power in an effort to put power back in the hands of people and get government back on track working for the cause of everyday citizens, or if he has been part of the problem, exploiting his power for his own gain and perpetuating the corruption in one of the most dirty cities in America.

To punch your ticket in Chicago politics, the person you go to is John Stroger, the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Political connections and campaign contributions are they means to secure a cushy government job or get promoted. Without those connections or money, you languish at the same desk for years as less qualified people bypass you by crawling to Stroger.

BO, a long-time player on the Chicago political scene, knows how the machine works. An in 2006 he had a chance to put a stop to it, but decided instead to perpetuate it for his own benefit. In that year, John Stroger faced a serious challenge for re-election from a reform-minded liberal Democrat. Local politicians across the political spectrum, sick of Stroger’s corrupt reign lined up to support the challenger. All except for BO, the highly influential rising star of the Democrat party. He had the opportunity to yank out a keystone of the corrupt Machine that has plagued the city for decades, as any true reformer would be eager to do. But he did not.

When John Stroger fell ill, his son Todd Stroger took his place on the ballot (under suspicious circumstances) for the general election. Suddenly BO found his voice, endorsing Stroger, and going so far as to call him, to the horror of Chicago’s liberals, “a good progressive Democrat.”

Stroger won by a narrow margin, due very likely to the credibility he got from BO’s endorsement. The newer Stroger was even worse than his father. Eventually the FBI raided the Cook County office building and Circuit Judge Julia Nowicki was put in charge of documenting the results. In a scathing 54-page report she detailed more than 200 cases of illegal cronyism and patronage hiring. She documented employees using county time for political activity. She found county employees who were harassed for not joining Stroger’s political organization. And she found that Stroger’s human resources staff still kept two sets of personnel files to order to “cover” patronage employment. More than half of the campaign contributions Stroger received came from county contractors or employees. Stroger’s campaign cash was predominately coming from people whose pockets he was lining with taxpayer money.

By not rocking the boat, BO secured the support of Daley, Stroger, and Emil Jones for his presidential bid, giving him essential connections, credibility, and money to support his campaign.

When the county government settles the numerous lawsuits, it will be the taxpayers of Cook County who end up paying for Stroger’s crimes, which BO could have put an end to but chose not to.

Tribune columnist John Kass, an expert on Chicago’s political scene wrote:

“What is Obama allowed to campaign as a reformer, virtually unchallenged by the media, though he’s a product of Chicago politics and has never condemned the wholesale political corruption in his home town the way he condemns those darn Washington lobbyists? He has endorsed Daley, endorsed Daley’s hapless stooge Todd Stroger for President of the Cook County Board. These are not acts of a reformer, but of a guy who, as we say in Chicago, won’t make no wave and won’t back no losers.”

BO has never stood for change or reform. He denied the voters a choice and backed the machine. That is the real story behind “Change you can believe in.”

Dirty Chicago Politics

BO presents himself as a new kind of post-partisan, post-political, post-racial leader. A reformer who hovers above the morass that other politicians trudge through. An agent of change, a beacon of hope, the Messiah sent to establish heaven on earth. I’ve spent months researching about his history, his political career, and the people he has teamed up with and the tactics he has used to get where he is today. I am going to post a series of articles in which I examine these claims and compare his actual deeds to the perception he has worked so hard to create.

My examination starts on a cold, windy January day in Chicago. BO hired a consultant named Ronald Davis to examine the petitions submitted by his primary opponent, incumbent Illinois Senator Alice Palmer. She was required to submit 757 signatures to get onto the ballot for re-election. She submitted 1,580 signatures. Davis’ job was to disqualify enough petitions to get Palmer thrown off the ballot. BO says he was uneasy with this hardball tactic, but he justified it by saying “If you couldn’t run a successful petition drive, then that raised questions in terms of how effective a representative you were going to be.”

BO checked up on the project nightly, as one by one, Davis and his team disqualified Palmer’s signatures. The Chicago paper reported that some of the petitions were disqualified because the registered voter printed his name rather than writing it. A female voter got married after she registered to vote and signed her maiden name.

Eventually, BO brought Palmer below 757 signatures and threw an incumbent state senator off the ballot. While they were at it, they got the other three candidates disqualified as well. One of them was named Gha-is Askia. He didn’t stand much of a chance of beating Palmer, but he had gathered 1899 signatures. Askia was quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying:

“Why say you are for a new tomorrow, then use old-style Chicago political tricks to remove legitimate candidates? He talks about honor and democracy, but what honor is there in getting rid of every other candidate so you can run scot-free? Why not let the people decide?”

This was the same man who just three years earlier ran ACORN's “Project Vote” which flooded the city with its slangy slogan “It’s a power thing.” The hundreds of volunteers he trained produced the first black voting majority in Chicago history and created a buzz that BO was the kind of candidate who could run against his opponents and win. But now, thanks to his “petitions guru” he had no opponents. Did he believe that he couldn't win if the voters had another option?

Years later he explained his tactics saying, “If you can win, you should win and get to work doing the people’s business.”

BO promises to smooth over the bitter divides of American politics. He promises hope and an end to bitter partisanship. He frames himself as someone who rises above Clintonian or Rovian tactics. Contrast those claims to what he did in 1996 before he was even elected state senator. He had already done enough to make Karl Rove, Bill Clinton, or Niccolo Machiavelli proud.

BO got his start in politics by denying voters a choice.

Does this betray BO’s professed ideals? Does it clash with his “new politics?” Was he really serving South Side’s voters with his tactics?

When asked about this in 2007, he smiled and said, “I think they ended up with a very good state senator.”