30 October 2008

The (background) check's in the mail...

I'm disgusted by the hyperpartisan actions of Helen Jones-Kelley, the director of Ohio's Job and Family Services office. For those just climbing out from under a rock, Jones-Kelley authorized a series of previously undisclosed extensive background checks on the newest campaign celebrity, Joe the Plumber. Coincidentally, she is a registered Democrat and Obama contributor.

"Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, disclosed yesterday that computer inquiries on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher were not restricted to a child-support system. The agency also checked Wurzelbacher in its computer systems to determine whether he was receiving welfare assistance or owed unemployment compensation taxes." (Columbus Dispatch, 10/29/2008)

Jones-Kelley claims that it's her job to perform such detailed background checks on anyone in her state who publicly claims to have significant resources.

"Given our understanding that Mr. Wurzelbacher had publicly indicated that he had the means to purchase a substantial business enterprise, ODJFS, consistent with past departmental practice, checked confidential databases," she wrote...

Ultimately she decided that the checks were "well-meaning," but misinterpreted amid the heated final weeks of a presidential election. Apparently she has mastered the art of understatement. Jones-Kelley indicated that the results remained confidential, though it stretches the bounds of credibility to suggest that they would have stayed confidential had anything of note turned up.

Please note, I'm not suggesting (yet) that The O's campaign had anything to do with Jones-Kelley's actions. However, the degree of separation isn't sufficient to make me feel comfortable about her claims that her actions were "well meaning but misinterpreted." As with the Palin effigy, The O had a chance to come out and deliver a strong statement against politics as usual (purportedly one of the cornerstones of his campaign), but came up just a bit short.

Not so fast, my friends...

I understand and appreciate that the Republican base is getting excited because the polls are starting to show closure between McCain and The O. Not to rain all over the parade, but popular vote doesn't mean diddly squat. To paraphrase the resounding theme from the '92 election, it's the electoral college, stupid.

I haven't done the EC math, but I suspect it's possible that either candidate could pull a significant majority of the popular vote (along the lines of 51-49 or even 52-48) and still lose because they didn't win the right states to hit 270 electoral votes. I'm no grizzled campaign veteran, but I can't say I've spent a whole lot of time getting worked up over the latest poll that shows The O up by 8, or 10, or 13 points. Number one, we don't know the pollster's processes (weighting, sample size and distribution, etc.) well enough to put significant faith in the results. Number two, the expansion and contraction happens too frequently as candidates gain and lose momentum during the course of a 10- or 12-week campaign (particularly from things you could never see coming, a la Joe the Plumber). Finally, it's unrealistic to expect that a major party candidate would pull less than 46-48% of the popular vote; polls that show a candidate at 40-44% are simply out of touch with reality.

In the end, the only poll that matters is the EC vote, and we won't know that until Tuesday night at the earliest. So take what encouragement you need to from the tightening polls, but understand that under our system, popular vote doesn't mean anything to the bottom line.

29 October 2008

All the news that's fit to withhold?

The L.A. Times admits to having a videotape that might portray The O in a negative light to many who are unfamiliar with his politics as they pertain to Israel. Since the time that this fact achieved public prominence earlier this week, they have refused to release the tape, and McCain has wasted untold amounts of breath attempting to publicly shame them into doing so. It's a strategy that won't work for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that the Times claims that its reporter made an agreement with the source that provided the videotape and background for the article based on the tape back in April that he would not release the videotape. Whether such an agreement was/is in place is irrelevant; the burden of proof would be on the accuser to show that such an agreement wasn't in place.

Much as it pains me to admit it, the agreement's a pretty solid journalistic reason for the Times not to release the tape. If I were McCain, and inclined to waste my breath pining for things that won't come to pass, I'd be calling on The O instead to encourage the source to allow the tape to be released. That is, unless The O is aware of something on the tape that We the People might not understand or overlook.


Better yet, maybe McCain could call on The O to condemn the Halloween display in which Gov. Palin is hung in effigy, since the vast majority of women's groups aren't going to defend her given how irrelevant she makes them. Mama was right, as always: Shameless is as shameless does. (BTW, I'm aware that there are now effigies of Obama being hung in other parts of the country due to the unwillingness of authorities to classify the Palin effigy as a hate crime. Doing the same thing as an idiot and simply changing the face still makes you an idiot.)

But I have promises to keep...

Unless you're The O. While it may be too little, too late, at least someone in the MSM (outside of FOX News) has decided to call him on his failure to keep the promise he made regarding accepting and working within the limits of public financing for his Presidential campaign. Campbell Brown at CNN delivered this commentary during her show last night -- spot on, but in the end, probably inconsequential.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to the CNN site to stare at the lovely (and brave) Ms. Brown some more.

28 October 2008

Marx My Words

How much more corroborating evidence do We the People need to see to accept that The O is a Marxist-Socialist, despite his protestations otherwise? Forget the "spread the wealth around" comment that made an instant celebrity out of Joe the Plumber. Forget the discovery of the 2001 interview with Chicago Public Radio in which The O laments that the civil rights movement didn't sufficiently utilize the courts to achieve redistributive change. Forget even the association with Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn, both card-carrying Marxists. Those are merely the manifestations of the underlying disease, one that he seemingly brags about in recounting his undergraduate days in the first of his memoirs, "Dreams from My Father":

"To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists."

Not exactly a Who's Who of conservatism, for sure. But what does it say about this person that he was so conscious of how he was perceived by others whose opinion of him was significant to him that he was compelled to choose his friends "carefully?" Even more telling, the conglomeration whose good opinion he sought were the most radical, way-beyond-liberal folks he could find. This tells me that The O isn't merely dabbling in some form of Marxism-Socialism now, as a child or young adult might experiment with different styles or personalities or affiliations; instead, this extreme radicalism is a strongly internalized worldview that he has cultivated for most, if not all, of his life.

At what point are We the People going to rise up against the Obamatrons and other assorted sheeple and say, "Enough is enough! You're not fit to lead this country!" For all of our sakes, it had better be soon.

The most unkindest cut of all...

...is a cut that's not really a cut. In this excellent analysis of what The O has (and hasn't) said about tax cuts, Ned Barnett at AmericanThinker.com posits that The O's plan, if enacted, actually provides for four tax increases for We the People who have the poor fortune to earn less than $250K per year (otherwise known as the Arbitrary Richness Threshold, or ART). At the risk of oversimplifying Barnett's work (as a small business owner, he brings a unique and relevant perspective to the issue), here are the four tax increases he identifies:

The O has:

1. Promised to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. He parses his words carefully and explains that allowing the tax cuts to expire isn't the same as a tax increase, irrespective of the fact that the tax rates to which we would revert are higher. I'm not sure my wallet and my bank account are sophisticated enough to appreciate the difference between the two; all I know is that, at my family's income level, we will pay an additional $3,000+ in taxes, and we don't make anywhere the ART.

2. Proposed lifting the current cap on Social Security payroll taxes, which currently limits the tax to 12.4% on the first $94,700 of an unmarried individual's earnings. Half of this tax is paid by employers and half by employees. As employers' costs in this area increase, they will react by either (a) reducing payroll, or (b) passing the cost along to consumers.

3. Proposed increasing the capital gains tax from 15% to 20%, a full 1/3 increase. He continues to pitch this increase as a tax on the "fat cats," but the reality is that many people who earn less than $250K have personal portfolios that are subject to capital gains taxes. Obviously, there are no capital gains taxes on 401k accounts, IRAs, or pension plans, but woe to those who dare to sell stock from their own personal portfolio: The O's plan does not consider -- or care -- whether you make more or less than the ART.

4. Promised to raise taxes on businesses. As with the proposed increase in payroll taxes, businesses will not realize these increased taxes without passing the cost along to consumers in one form or another. Increasing the cost of doing business is, in essence, a de facto tax increase that will be realized by We the People.

The O has promised that he won't actively raise taxes on the bottom 95% of earners (many of whom don't pay any taxes to begin with), but the reality is that his plan passively raises taxes on 100% of taxpayers. Even in this brave new postmodern world, words still mean something. Just ask Bush pere: We read his lips, too.

27 October 2008

October Surprise?

This 2001 video of an interview with Chicago Public Radio appears to confirm my worst suspicions about The O and his intent with MY money. Is it the October Surprise we've been waiting for? Maybe, but what isn't surprising is that the MSM have almost universally chosen to ignore it.

At this point, I'm not sure what The O will have to do to get people to recognize his far-left socialist views for what they are. I'm seriously considering sending Joe Biden a t-shirt that says, "I'm with Socialist" and has the arrow pointing to The O. I actually think Biden is sufficiently detached from reality to wear the thing. It's worth a shot, anyway.


Here's a partial transcript (emphasis added), for those of you who don't want to go to YouTube to watch the video:

"...If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that. ..."

26 October 2008

Early! (and Often, if you can manage it...)

"How many people have early voted?" Obama said, eliciting cheers from people bundled up in fleece. "That's what I'm talking about. No point in waiting in lines if you don't have to. You know who you're going to vote for."

Allow me to translate:

"Please, please, please go ahead and cast your ballot for me now, because I'm deathly afraid that some of the bad stuff I've been hiding won't stay hidden until election day. I want you to vote for me now, so you can't undo it later or change your mind."

03 October 2008

A visit to Mr. Webster...

Pondering in my spare time this afternoon how the Democrats, Bush, and Paulson managed to get the "lipstick on the pig" of the bailout bill, my mind wandered to a phrase I first heard in business school some 20 years ago. While it's not a phrase I use every day, I still find it useful in many circumstances. After considering the matter, I thought it apropos to revisit today.

Main Entry: due diligence (n.)

1 : the care that a reasonable person exercises under the circumstances to avoid harm to other persons or their property 2 : research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction (as a corporate merger or purchase of securities)

Example: Congress failed to exercise due diligence in passing the recent bailout bill.

As I noted to a colleague this afternoon when the subject turned to the bailout (she's a flaming lib, while I'm not so much), while I think this bill is a huge stinker in general, my biggest issue is that they passed the bill without exercising the same basic investigatory standard that even the most rudimentary businesspeople use: Get the facts, assess the pros and cons, and get some expert help when you need it. Instead, Congresspersons became instant economists, capable of understanding all sides of this complex issue (heck, they couldn't even come to consensus on who was at fault) and the effects of their actions both on the underlying issue itself and on the world's financial markets. In their rush to show that they were Doing Something, they couldn't be bothered to slow down a bit and listen to those with some expertise who might have counseled them just to Do Nothing For A While; after all, Doing Nothing doesn't sell, while Doing Something is a proven winner, even if it's the Wrong Thing.

01 October 2008

What I'd say if I were smarter...

This is what I'd blog if I were smarter. As I read it, I found myself nodding along and thinking, "That's it, precisely!" It hits all the high notes on my concerns about McCain, as well as my general frustration that he and his fellow Republicans seem content to stay "above the fray," as it were, and consistently refuse to place blame where blame is due. (Credit: americanthinker.com)


October 01, 2008
Time for McCain to Name Names

By C. Edmund Wright

There is but one issue in the 2008 election. The economy. Or more to the point, the economic meltdown. Whoever wins this debate will win the election. Or perhaps more accurately, whoever loses this debate will lose the election. Period.

It is important to understand this for anyone trying not to lose this upcoming election. That would ostensibly include Arizona Senator John McCain. And it may not be as simple as what side of the Paulson Plan debate you are on. The housing-mortgage virus is eating up billions of dollars of wealth daily and this tends to irritate those who are losing the wealth. That would now include everyone in the country who owns any stock, mutual fund shares or real estate. In other words, a large share of voters. (Note: This doesn't include me, though I understand the writer's logic. I'd prefer that McCain oppose the bailout, but I'm picking my battles here.)

When folks are this angry, there is hell to pay and "hell to pay" includes figuring out who to blame. For all of McCain's wanting to stay "above the fray" and his too-clever-by-half comment that now is not the time to assign blame, he is not hearing the public. It is indeed time to assign blame. With this kind of financial destruction on the part of most American families, someone is going to get blamed. You can count on it.

Let me repeat. Someone will get blamed. You will either enter that debate or you will lose that debate. Period.

And short of properly assigning blame to the liberal policies and politicians who are responsible for this mess, the blame will automatically fall to the current Presidential administration and by extension, his party. Right or wrong, that's how our politics play out. McCain simply has no choice now. He will start doing what he claims he loves to do related to government corruption -- naming names -- or he will be thrown on the ash heap of electoral shame alongside Bob Dole, George H. W. Bush and so on.

The good news for McCain, should he decide to grasp it, is that the party against which he is (supposed to be) running can easily be pegged with the lion's share of the blame regarding our economic meltdown. There is no doubt that liberal policies on energy and housing have combined to put the country in this situation, and only unwinding these policies will lead the nation out of this problem. Naming names properly will name a whole lot of folks with "D" beside their names.

Congress, of course, is now led by the very people who put us into this mess to begin with. If McCain thinks he can thread the needle in a bi-partisan fashion here, he is sadly mistaken. If he does not point out the facts, then his party will take the blame for and he will not win the election. It cannot happen. As far as he has run from President Bush, he will never get as far away from Bush as Obama can.

Bush has actually been on the right side of the energy production debate and the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac regulation debate all along. The President has been a feckless advocate of the correct positions on these issues to be sure, but at least one can legitimately claim that the administration was intellectually correct on Fannie, Freddie and oil.

McCain himself eloquently and correctly pointed out problems with Fannie and Freddie back in 2005 and 2006, only to have the reforms he wanted defeated by Democrats in Congress. President Bush was with McCain on these issues. Obama meanwhile, garnering more Fannie Mae contributions in two years than all other senators not named Chris Dodd in the last nine, has been on the wrong side of these issues. This is a slam dunk waiting for McCain simply to take advantage of it.

Recently he has been out rambling on about government spending, CEO pay and earmarks. Yawn. None of this is pertinent unless you point out that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were Democrat earmarks and that the worst CEO pay abuse in recent memory is Franklin Raines' incentive compensation from Fannie triggered by fraudulent accounting. McCain did not bother to point any of that out of course. We must not "assign blame."

The simple fact is this: if the Democrats do not get their deserved blame for this economic situation, Republicans will experience a bloodbath on Election Day. The way our elections work, it is up to McCain to make that happen. The fact that he seems not to understand it is why many conservatives loathed the idea of a McCain nomination to begin with.

It can be argued that if McCain will not assign blame, he will not win the White House. He says he wants to lead. That sometimes mean calling out friends and colleagues in the opposition.

We soon will see whether McCain has it in him to put his country ahead of his instinct to reach across the aisle. If he does not show this ability, he will never occupy the Oval Office.