Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

02/17/2010 (9:57 pm)

Another Little Lesson in Democrat Tactics

From Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government:

Last week, former President Clinton was rushed to the hospital in New York for an emergency heart operation… But, Big Government has learned of at least one other conference call/meeting around this time. A meeting of former Clintonistas and senior Democrat political operatives to coordinate a push-back to the burgeoning tea party movement. Consider it a Democrat party relief effort…

Big Government has learned that Clintonistas are plotting a “push/pull” strategy. They plan to identify 7-8 national figures active in the tea party movement and engage in deep opposition research on them. If possible, they will identify one or two they can perhaps ‘turn’, either with money or threats, to create a mole in the movement. The others will be subjected to a full-on smear campaign. (Has MSNBC already been notified?)

Big Government has also learned that James Carville will head up the effort.

Bribery. Espionage. Character assassination. I really do want those folks leading the nation, yessirr…

When I do research on a political leader, it’s because I want to know what that person genuinely stands for. If I discover that the person is of bad character, I say so, and I use that information to temper my support and warn others. But I never, ever, do research with the intent of finding dirt with which to smear an opponent. Anybody who does, I want no part of. If I discover that anybody in the party to which I belong does that sort of thing, I’ll call for that individual’s removal from all political activity. Digging dirt for the sake of ruining political reputations is vile.

I don’t know, call me old-fashioned, call me naïve… This is disgusting, and I want no part of individuals in either party who engage in this sort of thing. That it’s practiced by the highest levels of the Democratic party reinforces my estimation that the Democratic party stands for evil. I sincerely hope there’s nothing like this at the top of the Republican party, and I’m fairly certain that it’s the ambition of most Tea Party activists to flush this sort of vile behavior out of American politics altogether. Count me with them.

I’ve said it many times: character assassination is the only thing Democrats do well. They’re expert at it. What does that say?

02/11/2010 (10:52 pm)

Why The Unions Didn’t Applaud

CitizensUnited

About two weeks ago, the US Supreme Court published their decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and the left went berserk. The Court declared that preventing corporations and unions from running ads on their own within two months of a national election or a month of a primary created an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. Henceforth, corporations and unions are free to run ads about candidates to their heart’s content. Leftists decried the demolition of barriers to “corruption,” the unconscionable bypassing of precedent, and the sheer, unnecessary activism of the conservatives on the Court, and predicted a flood of corrupt corporate money in elections (see here, here, and here for examples.) The President huffed,

…the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans…

You’d think the unions would have applauded the decision, since unions, like corporations, were restricted from running ads, but are now permitted. You’d also think the Democrats would have shrugged their shoulders and accepted the change, since unions, which have extraordinarily deep pockets and are nearly 100% in the Democrats’ camp, would offset whatever advantage Republicans might have in the corporate world. But they didn’t.

And if you had any doubt why they didn’t accept it, this week you got your answer. It seems that despite the law, unions have been pouring their vast sums into elections all along. What a surprise.

Joseph Abrams at FoxNews.com published an exposé about a web site called TheTeaPartyIsOver.org, which claims to be a grassroots organization aimed at countering the effects of the burgeoning Tea Party movement with legislation. Only, Abrams discovered that it’s not really a grassroots organization at all. The site is one of several created by a pair of Washington attorneys that funnel money from union bank accounts into local political races, bypassing campaign finance restrictions by laundering the money. The maneuver appears to be legal, but hardly ethical; it clearly utilizes a loophole in the campaign finance restrictions, allowing forbidden union funds to be spent in the guise of local, grassroots activism far from the source of the funds. Abrams uncovered donations from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME) numbering in the millions of dollars, and directed into state political campaigns.

We’ve known for years that unions have been engaging in similar actions. Apparently McCain-Feingold (formally know as BCRA, for “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002″) did not really stop the flow of “corrupting” cash into elections, it just redirected it for those who were prepared to play the system. Democrats claiming that removing the restriction on corporate spending will ruin the election process are just posturing for the camera; what they really oppose is Republicans getting in on the act.

The President was particularly disingenuous on the topic during his State of the Union address. Recall the passage that had Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mouthing “Not true” from his second-row seat:

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities…

“Law Professor” Obama was talking out of his nether parts. The restriction overturned by the Court was less than 20 years old, not a century old, and the decision had no effect whatsoever on rules restricting foreign entities from participating in elections. Worse, though, was the irony of President Obama decrying foreign participation after Candidate Obama deliberately removed normal checks on credit card donations to permit a veritable flood of illegal foreign contributions into his own campaign.

HillaryTheMovieThe Citizens United decision was a significant blow to the Obama effort to stack future elections in favor of Democrats. If you recall, the case was the result of partisan activism on the part of the Federal Election Commission (FEC,) which stepped in to halt David Bossie’s group from advertising its documentary “Hillary: The Movie” during the 2008 primary campaign season. The FEC declared that “Hillary: The Movie” was “express advocacy,” which made it a violation of section 441b of the BCRA: there was no reasonable interpretation other than that the film was an appeal to vote against Hillary Clinton. The partisan nature of the action was clear to those of us who recalled Michael Moore’s release of “Fahrenheit 911″ during the 2004 election cycle, about which the FEC made not the slightest peep; there was no reasonable interpretation other than that the film was an appeal to vote against George W. Bush.

Citizens United appealed to the DC District Court but was not granted a stay, the DC Court noting that Citizens United used funds from corporate sponsors to market the movie. CU had to restrain its marketing effort pending appeal to the Supreme Court. The Court, in an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, overturned the decision from a 1990 case called Austin v Michigan Chamber of Commerce, in which the Court had permitted an exception to the first amendment, granting the government power to restrict the speech of corporations in order to prevent “distortion” caused by amassed corporate wealth. Today’s court, finding no other acceptable reason to permit CU to market its film, declared the reasoning in the 1990 decision faulty, recalling Justice Scalia’s dissent from that case: “The government cannot be trusted to assure, through censorship, the ‘fairness’ of political debate.” The Court left in place restrictions on the amounts corporations can donate directly to candidates, and requirements that the sources of funds be exposed publicly.

While caterwauling over the end of their monopoly on the use of amassed funds, Democrats have commenced extorting funds from corporations for use in elections. That extortion also became evident this week, as the Obamateur President announced exceptions to his own administration’s purported outrage over “unconscionable” executive bonus payments, stupidly admitting to Bloomberg BusinessWeek that he “does not begrudge” huge bonuses for the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. Those two investment banking firms, just by coincidence, are the firms from which employees contributed the most to his campaign of any corporations in America. Apparently the vicious assaults on ordinary corporate practice only apply to those firms that forgot to feather the Good President’s nest. He quickly backpedaled as the blogs took note, but too late.

Expect legislative action to restore the ban on corporate spending. Expect the legislation to neglect to include the ban on union spending. It hardly matters, though. Democrats decry the presence of money in politics — and then ignore the law. It’s their way.

01/20/2010 (9:07 am)

A Little Lesson in Democrat Tactics

Nobody ever accused Martha Coakley or her campaign of unusual intelligence. Now, thanks to their ineptness, we have a clear lesson in Democrats’ campaign tactics.

The Coakley campaign circulated a press release sometime around 3 PM yesterday, according to Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media. Here’s how it looked when first posted:

coakley-press-release-earlier

The date at the top of the announcement indicated that the release had been prepared the day before — reporting events from polls before the polls had even opened. After Twitter comments circulated regarding the incredible gaffe, the Coakley campaign fixed the posted date. But it was too late, the cat was out of the bag.

This, of course, is what happens when the pros let the amateurs get their hands on the play book. It’s a tactic. The accusation of fraud is prepared in advance automatically, to be used in the case that the election happens to be close enough for recounts.

These tactics were not new when Al Gore brought them to national attention in Florida, but the Democrats have been employing them routinely ever since. As we learned in Ohio in 2004, even when the election is not close, the Democrats’ political operatives can create the appearance of fraud in the minds of their brainless followers, whose ensuing, incessant noise-making will create a permanent taint on the outcome of the election. As we learned to our dismay in Minnesota in 2008, sometimes they manage to turn a close election with these sorts of shenanigans.

And as we knew back in 2000, the tactics are deliberate and not honest. But this instance is more transparent than most. It’s not just the date on the release, although that’s a dead give-away: I imagine their press-release-generating software automatically posts the date on the release, and they just forgot to change it. It’s the location: Massachusetts registers Democrats more than 2-to-1 over Republicans. Every public official is a Democrat. If there’s any election fraud here in Massachusetts, everybody knows it has to have been carried out with the cooperation of Democrats. So, if there were, in fact, ballots marked deliberately with Scott Brown’s circle filled in, then they were filled in with the knowledge and assistance of Democrats. QED.

The repetitive noise generated by this reflex tactic produces what I’ve called in the past a “screeching inversion” — the appearance in public that Republicans are jimmying elections, when in fact it’s the Democrats who are doing it. This is how it becomes possible for politicians with the character of a snake with a peptic ulcer, like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, to run a campaign against a “Republican culture of corruption,” one of the most stunning ironies of modern politics. There is no such culture, nor is there any significant evidence of widespread election cheating by Republicans. There is widespread evidence of cheating by Democrats, but Republicans do not engage in the same sort of dishonest posturing, nor do they have the cooperation of the press, so they can’t generate the same sort of heat.

According to AP, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, who appears to be an honest civil servant, has dismissed the Coakley campaign’s reports, saying that there were too few instances to indicate widespread fraud, and that they could not verify the reports. Greg Sargent at the Plum Line has the report pegged to a software engineer in Cambridge, but does not think it indicates anything significant.

Keep it in mind for future elections. The most effective response to the use of such a tactic is to calmly and correctly identify it as a tactic.

My thanks to Gateway Pundit, from whom I borrowed the graphic at the top of the column.

12/10/2009 (6:49 pm)

The Coming Permanent Oligarchy

obamablackboard

It’s not every day that Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake and I even appear to agree on anything, so we should mark this occasion somehow.

Jane posted an email that she sent to subscribers to FDL’s Action Memos regarding her opinion that President Obama has utterly failed to address the pressing needs of health care reform, opting instead to satisfy the desires of huge corporations and cronies. And I agree, that’s exactly what he’s done, and the bill is a failure. Read:

When Barack Obama announced his health care plan in 2007, he said insurance premiums for a family of 4 would be cut by $2500. This plan will see premiums increase $1000 each year.

Obama said “coverage without cost containment will only shift our burdens, not relieve them.” This plan does nothing to meaningfully contain spiraling health care costs.

Obama said “it’s time to let the drug and insurance industries know that while they’ll get a seat at the table, they don’t get to buy every chair.” This plan includes a deal between the White House and PhRMA that guarantees there will be no negotiation for Medicare prescription drug prices.

Obama said he’d go after the drug companies who “sell the same exact drugs here in America for double the price of what they charge in Europe and Canada.” But the White House deal not only doesn’t do that, it bans the reimportation of cheaper drugs from Canada.

What does this deal do? It forces Americans to buy the products of large corporations, then the IRS penalizes them if they refuse.

Now, Jane’s object was to get people to sign a petition demanding a true public option. This, of course, I won’t support, because the public option is nothing but a Trojan Horse to produce a full-blown, government-run health system, which will bankrupt the nation, shrink the US health system to 2nd-world size, and leave even more Americans without health care.

But I find it encouraging that Ms. Hamsher at least may be beginning to realize that she’s been a useful idiot in the construction of an oligarchy that includes the largest corporate players, along with the unions and permanent, “Democratic” party oligarchs like The One.

I was surprised at first by Obama’s willingness to include the most powerful corporations in his power grab, but I should not have been. Remember the image of Obama teaching an ACORN class that I scared up during the campaign, the one that appears at the top of this column? He was lecturing on power relationships. I’ve never attended any of his classes, but based on what I know of Saul Alinsky and the tactics of community organizers, I can imagine that he’s actually teaching how the greed of various players can be tapped to get them to cooperate in schemes that you might think they’d avoid like the plague.

This seems to be a powerful part of Mr. Obama’s power strategy. He’s been negotiating with the largest corporate players all along, not to get them to agree to their own demolition, but to ensure monopoly power for them within the new, permanent power regime. In return, they apparently promise to support his power grab, and they fail to engage their marketing muscle into the sort of publicity that might defeat the administration’s proposals in public.

Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner noted from the right what Jane Hamsher noted from the left: that Obama’s commitment seems to be to a permanent power position for the largest players:

But this facade of Democrats-versus-industry is crumbling now that the final bill is being crafted. The measure still contains the insurers’ grand prize, the individual mandate — a federal requirement that every individual buy sufficiently comprehensive health insurance.

By late Tuesday, all signs pointed to Democratic abandonment of the one major “reform” policy that the insurers’ hated: a government-run insurer, known as the “public option.” Sen. Joe Lieberman said that in Senate negotiations, Obama didn’t even bring up the public option as a bargaining point, which shows it’s not a White House priority.

Liberal and moderate Democrats early this week were lining up behind an alternative “public option” that is not public at all, but just another government program to funnel Americans into private health insurance. As the Associated Press put it, “instead of Medicare-for-the-masses, it would be Blue Cross Blue Shield or Kaiser Permanente, albeit with a government seal of approval.”

And the drug makers? They cut their deal with the White House early. Obama promised not to go after their government favors such as the ban on reimportation of drugs and high Medicare payments and, in exchange, the drug makers offered $150 million in “Harry & Louise” ads rallying the public behind “reform” together with some discounts for Medicare patients.

Even outside of this deal between White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and top drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin, the drug companies stand to profit from Obama’s plan, which subsidizes prescription drug purchases and will likely mandate prescription drug insurance.

The heads of the largest corporations are not stupid men. I’m sure they realize that President Obama is not their friend. However, I’m sure they also see that economic liberty is no longer part of the landscape, and they see their best available deal as becoming corporate partners to Big Brother. If democracy will not protect their right to engage in business freely, they will serve whatever master permits them the best return for the longest time, regardless of the ism represented by that master. They may favor liberty personally, but their corporations will not become martyrs.

In addition to striking deals with the largest corporations, the Obama administration has also been extremely friendly to unions, and in particular the Service Employees International Union (SEIU.) SEIU President Andy Stern was the most frequent visitor to the White House during the Obama administration’s first 6 months, and the SEIU perpetuates President Obama’s intention to incorporate ACORN into American government somehow. Administration policy has rolled back union disclosure guidelines, slashed budget for the union watchdog arm of the Dept of Labor, and written pro-union guidelines into the stimulus bill and the auto industry bailout. Union representatives (and other major contributors to Obama’s perpetual campaign) continue to get seated at the head of the table at official White House functions. And one of the most obvious beneficiaries of national health care reform would be those unions whose retiree pension plans are approaching bankruptcy.

So the Obama administration is no better for progressives, ultimately, than it is for conservatives. We were wrong to assert that Obama is a pure socialist. He’s far more cynical than that, and seems to be operating more along the lines of the Soviet Communist Party, which was anything but communist. He apparently intends to establish an oligarchy of mutual interest, merging the common aims of the unions, the largest businesses, and the heads of the Democratic party. And have no doubt: we know by the persistent stacking of the deck that he fully intends for this oligarchy to become permanent.

A final word to ardent capitalists and free marketeers: huge corporations are not your friend, and never have been. The market thrives on competition, and the largest players tend to operate anti-competitively. The real losers in the coming permanent oligarchy will be small businessmen, whose insignificance is being guaranteed by the new rules favoring the largest players. And, of course, those citizens whose personal fortunes might have been secured by engaging in successful small businesses are the losers as well, as are those hourly wage-earners those businesses might have hired. In fact, the entire economy will shrink as a result of the oligarchic power of the largest players. But Obama will have formed his power circle, and that’s what matters. The good of The One is the good of the nation. Don’t you know that?

09/28/2009 (8:54 am)

Fox Ordered Not To Run Anti-Olympics Story?

That’s the headline on the top of the Drudge Report this morning. Drudge has never had to retract a story, but…

FOX-TV CHICAGO ORDERED NOT TO RUN ANTI-OLYMPICS STORY
Sun Sep 27 2009 21:56:11 ET

A local TV station that reported on Chicagoans NOT wanting the Olympics has been told NOT to run the report again, insiders tell the DRUDGE REPORT!

The Chicago Olympic Committee told FOX Chicago that its broadcast “would harm Chicago’s chances” to be awarded the games.

The station’s news director ordered staff to hold fire after the report aired once last Thursday morning, claims a source.

Chicago is making a bid for the 2016 Olympics. Apparently, this is very, very important to the President of the United States, so important that he has an Olympics office in the White House and is making a trip to Copenhagen to visit the Olympic Committee.

However, there is a group in Chicago that is openly supporting the competing bid from Rio de Janero, in Brazil. In fact, there are as many Chicagoans opposing Olympics in Chicago as defending them. They fear it will be a windfall for corrupt politicians and contractors, but a huge drag on the economy of the city, which is already nearly bankrupt. They created an ad, which you can see below, that highlights their opposition to the Olympic bid, and they aired it on Fox News Thursday morning.

According to Drudge, Fox has been ordered not to run the ad again by Chicago’s Olympic Committee.

This is an intriguing claim. I can’t imagine anybody other than the owners of Fox News that would have the authority to order the news organization to do anything. To say they were “ordered” to drop the ad suggests a claim of greater authority, and possibly a threat. The story has no explanation, though.

Bossing people around seems to be the Chicago way, and also seems to be becoming the American way under President Obama. This story is of a piece with last week’s under-reported story concerning Humana insurance, which was threatened by the White House with lawsuits if they continued to send their customers political ads explaining how Obama’s health care plans threatened their benefits. It’s also of a piece with the thuggery of the Obama campaign’s attempts to control stories about candidate Obama that they did not want the public to hear. It is no surprise to those of us who were keeping our eyes open during the campaign, but it is becoming increasingly clear that President Obama hates free speech, and, like any dictator attempting to control the minds of the people in order to retain power, is doing whatever he can to end it.

Orders Fox not to run an ad? Orders them?

I know the White House has approached news organizations on patriotic grounds in the past, asking their assistance regarding war efforts; there are times when national security might be compromised by a story, and for the sake of defending the nation or protecting the troops, the President needs to ask for the cooperation of private news organizations. This is sobering, but not unheard of.

However, what we’re seeing here is not about national security, it’s about a city’s power brokers gaining wealth by winning a bid for Olympic games. This is not even a proper topic over which to ask a news organization not to run stories.

Steve Bartin explained the appeal of the Olympics to the corrupt city bosses in Chicago in an article a couple of weeks ago; basically, the Olympics present a marvelous opportunity for graft, enriching those who are fortunate enough to have connections at city hall. For everyone else, though, Olympics have been financial disasters, resulting in enormous long-term debt and seldom paying off vendors and businesses with the level of business they’ve been promised. The Chicagoans for Rio site explains in some detail. So does the No Games Chicago site. Basically, members of the one party that rules Chicago want to enrich themselves by breaking the city financially. This is corrupt.

Corruption is the enemy; it is the thing that must be rooted out first, if the United States is ever to become a viable nation again. The current administration promised to do this, but they seem to be a more virulent strain of the disease rather than the cure. If the Tea Party movement does not have the effect of rooting out corruption in both parties, both in Washington and in state capitols across the nation, it will have been a failure. Government must be smaller, but it must also be honest.

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin, who was on top of this story from the beginning. Her article is eye-opening. And she adds more today, too.

09/19/2009 (7:04 pm)

ACORN in a Nutshell (Updated)

1obacornlog003Puns aside, I was shocked and a little amazed when a commenter on a recent thread insisted that the only criminal behavior exhibited by ACORN has been from a handful of employees going overboard in collecting voter registrations. It appears that the mainstream press has succeeded in misleading at least one seemingly intelligent Democrat into ignoring a veritable flood of damning evidence. It’s not the first time.

I’ve said for years, and believe it to be profoundly true, that the proper definition of “Democrat” is “an American voter who still believes that what he reads in major newspapers and hears on television news programs is accurate.” Once a person has learned that the press is systematically lying to them in order to make them support their agenda, which is written for them by the Democratic party, they tend to find alternative sources for the truth — after which, it’s pretty difficult to remain a good Democrat.

So, for all you Democrats out there, and for Republicans and Libertarians who have not been keeping up with the evidence, here are a handful of pithy links that will apprise you of the fuller picture of the organization calling itself the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Notice that it is an association: there are actually more than 300 separate organizations in the network, all carefully organized in such a way as to defeat any efforts to penetrate the maze and understand how they interact. It’s actually a deliberately structured shell game that enables a group of people who describe themselves in their own internal documents as “central and indispensable to the Progressive enterprise of gaining and using political power” to present themselves to the IRS and the Federal Election Commission as a non-profit enterprise engaged in non-partisan efforts to register voters and obtain housing loans.

ACORN, in short, is a criminal enterprise.

Here are the opening paragraphs from the Staff Report of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued July 23, 2009, entitled “Is ACORN Intentionally Structured as a Criminal Enterprise?”

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has repeatedly and deliberately engaged in systemic fraud. Both structurally and operationally, ACORN hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American electorate.

Emerging accounts of widespread deceit and corruption raise the need for a criminal investigation of ACORN. By intentionally blurring the legal distinctions between 361 tax-exempt and non-exempt entities, ACORN diverts taxpayer and tax-exempt monies into partisan political activities. Since 1994, more than $53 million in federal funds have been pumped into ACORN, and under the Obama administration, ACORN stands to receive a whopping $8.5 billion in available stimulus funds.

Operationally, ACORN is a shell game played in 120 cities, 43 states and the District of Columbia through a complex structure designed to conceal illegal activities, to use taxpayer and tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract investigators. Structurally, ACORN is a chess game in which senior management is shielded from accountability by multiple layers of volunteers and compensated employees who serve as pawns to take the fall for every bad act.

The report, which is 88 pages long, goes on to document how ACORN has failed in its fiduciary responsibility to contributors and employees, violated IRS regulations, violated its own corporate charter, engaged in activities forbidden to not-for-profit enterprises, and engaged in voter registration fraud, embezzlement, and organizational mismanagement. You can read the report here. If you don’t want to wade through 88 pages, you can read the release from the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee here.

By the way, notice, at the end of the quote block, above, that designating a few employees to take the fall for the criminal behavior of the entire organization is actually a strategy.

Here’s a link to an article discussing a plea agreement made by a senior ACORN employee at the national level, in response to an indictment brought in Las Vegas, NV, indicating a nationwide conspiracy by directors of ACORN to engage in widespread voter registration fraud and illegal remuneration of registration workers.

Here’s a link to an article documenting that the instructions for the quota system that produced the “handful” of violations is actually in ACORN’s instruction manual that gets used nationwide. The author of this article is a former ACORN employee, and is not a Republican.

Here’s a link to an article citing previous ACORN involvement in union-related embezzlement and fraud.

Here is a discussion of ACORN’s corporation shakedown process, which I regard as a clear violation of the RICO statute.

ACORN was in fact begun as a spin-off from the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). The NWRO was created deliberately to overload the welfare system in an attempt to bring capitalism to its knees and instigate a revolution; that was the stated intent of the founders. ACORN’s conduct in voter registration makes an astonishing parallel; they don’t seem to be attempting to stuff the ballot box, but they do seem to be attempting to overload the system in such a way as to make it unworkable. The recent sting operation reported by Big Government blog reveals that they also do what they can to game the system for the benefit of illegals of various sorts. And, the core operation of the organization is itself a huge fraud: by creating a false front of voter registration and home loan counseling organizations, they obtain federal funds and tax exemption, which they then put to partisan, political purposes in a systematic fashion.

ACORN/Obama fusion image borrowed from Michelle Malkin. Ms. Malkin gives Photoshop credit to Leo Alberti, so I will, too.


UPDATE: I knew when I posted this that there would be lots of links that added bits of information, and I determined in advance that I was content with the sketchy details I’d provided. However, one reader added a link to the Cloward-Piven strategy put into play by the National Welfare Rights Organization, which was the organization from which ACORN spun off. This, I think, is crucial information regarding the organization, so I’m going to add the link here.

Read about the Cloward-Piven strategy at Smart Girl Politics (and your monitor will look like a gift for a baby shower, but that’s what you get for visiting a site called “Smart Girl Politics.” :) )

I’m also adding the link to my own article that explains President Obama’s connection to ACORN, for anyone that has not read it.

08/25/2009 (2:59 pm)

Changing the Subject

meme0824mergedThe memeorandum.com display on the right indicates blog and news site traffic last night after about 8 PM, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was going to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogators of Wahabist detainees. In case you’re not familiar with memeorandum, that display represents an unusually large amount of traffic for a single topic. I regard this as a troubling instance of the practice of politicians in power to change the subject when the public narrative is not going their way. Clearly, Obama wanted the attention off of health care.

Although changing the subject is nothing new in human communication, we got used to a particularly cynical brand of it during the Clinton years, in which the President developed the habit of firing lethal missiles at Middle Eastern targets when he needed a distraction. It’s not that there existed no good reasons to fire missiles; it’s that his use of them accomplished nothing international aside from embarrassment, and served only to take the public’s attention off of truly thorny domestic matters. We had missile-firing incidents a month before the 1994 election, a month before the 1996 election, the day Monica Lewinsky testified before the grand jury, and the day the House voted on impeachment — all just by coincidence. We also had at least one arms inspector in Iraq resign in disgust when it became clear that his job was not to find hidden weapons, but to provide PR cover for the President.

Now we’re seeing another President use the announcement of investigations to distract the public from a health care narrative that has gone badly out of control for the White House. I suppose the Obama White House is now going to return to trying to sneak the bill through under cover of night, which is their style. They’re not committing murders like the Clintons did (or are we supposed to think “brown people don’t count”?) but they are making career operatives fear for their safety who performed difficult tasks for their country.

We also heard last week that the Bush team probably asked for Homeland Security alerts in advance of interim elections. Again, this falls short of murder, and does not make government employees sweat bullets and suffer strokes, but it does make the public uneasy, not to mention the increase in cynicism when the act becomes public.

What we are seeing here is an excellent reason to note the lesson from the TFJR sermon yesterday, that genuine moral virtue and true, heartfelt service to the public good are necessary characteristics of good governors. I’m a Republican, and frequently defend the moral acceptability of Republicans over Democrats on this blog, but the standard truly has nothing to do with policy choices, it has to do with personal character. I want to vote for men and women who choose the right policies; but I want much more to vote for men and women who possess genuine moral character, and who serve the public good out of a sincere heart. The nation cannot prosper without those. They are few, and far between. Morally excellent leaders must become the norm rather than the exception. They will not become the norm unless citizens of good moral character demand it.

This highlights another feature of moral government that we had better bear in mind: morally excellent governors arise from morally excellent people. A people without moral excellence will not elect moral governors. I learned this the hard way when I lived in Mobile, Alabama back in the 1980s. The people there are largely conservative, and oppose high taxes and government encroachment on their lives. Yet, season after voting season, they re-elected the likes of Howell Heflin to the US Senate, one of the porkiest porkers ever to pork up a Senate bill. I liked my neighbors and I liked their politics, but they had the representatives they deserved. It’s a characteristic of human politics, regardless of what sort of system: people get the government they deserve. So, if we want righteous government, we had better become righteous people.

This, by the way, is why I detest the Democratic character assassination machine so deeply; it drives good people out of politics. Deliberately creating an illusion that a good person is a bad person violates the 9th commandment (“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”.) Democrats are good at this; it’s about the only thing at which they are good. The Democratic slime attacks against Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Clarence Thomas, Dan Quayle, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, and Sarah Palin epitomize why Americans have so few morally excellent governors. I’m not saying that these people were moral paragons in all matters, but I am saying that the successful, partisan assaults to ruin their reputations ensure that good people will avoid politics, and that the US will elect corruptible governors.

Keep an eye out for health care initiatives in the dark of night; our sneaky, dishonest President just changed the subject.

05/28/2009 (9:32 am)

DealerGate, or Why Government Should Never, Ever, Ever Get Involved in Private Business

dealership

Among the flood of outrageous acts* from the Obama White House, the government has pretty much taken over Chrysler and General Motors, two ailing auto manufacturers, stolen whatever value is left from the individuals who worked for, financed, and earned that value, and given ownership to the government and the United Auto Worker’s union. This raised fears of partisan favoritism in the conduct of business, fears which are today being amplified.

About 2 weeks ago, Chrysler filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced a plan to close roughly 25% of its dealerships that were “just not pulling their weight in terms of sales.” The dealerships selected to be closed, allegedly based on sales and service records, were to receive notice and be given a chance to appeal, and the final evaluation of the bankruptcy filing was to be heard by US Bankruptcy Court in New York on June 3.

In the past two days, bloggers reviewing the list of closings have reported a deeply disturbing pattern. It appears that of all the franchisees who have been selected to close, virtually none are Obama supporters, but lots and lots are major Republican donors. From yesterday’s WorldNetDaily article:

WND reviewed the list of 789 closing franchises and databases of political donors and found that of dealership majority owners making contributions in the November 2008 election, less than 10 percent gifted to Democrats while 90 percent gave substantial sums to Republican candidates.

The listed franchise owners contributed at least $450,000 to Republican presidential candidates and the GOP, while only $7,970 was donated to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign and $2,200 was given to Sen. John Edwards’ campaign.

Obama received a combined total of only $450 in donations – $250 from dealer Jane Baldock in Wenatchee, Wash., and $200 from Waco, Texas, dealer Jeffrey Hunter.

Ten percent to Democrats makes it seem slightly less suspicious… until you realize that all the Democrats were Obama’s adversaries.

Doug Ross has been leading the charge on the research (here Monday, here Wednesday,) and other bloggers have been tracking the political angle as well, including this one dedicated solely to tracking political donations of the Chrysler franchisees. It’s not proof positive, but it’s awfully damning.

The bankruptcy filing makes sense — Chrysler’s been in trouble for a while — but closing dealerships does not. Chrysler dealers are franchised, which means they don’t cost the company anything besides administrative costs at the home office, and those are nominal. The franchise buys the cars from the manufacturer and pays for them immediately; the cars that you see on the dealers’ lots are already revenue to the Chrysler Corporation, and are assets owned by the franchisee. In one sense, it pays Chrysler to have as many franchises open as it possibly can. It would suit them if there was a franchise on every block. They sell more cars that way, and what do they care if the franchisees can’t make any money because there are too many Chrysler dealerships?

090527-lees-summit-mo1They care because they can’t get good dealers unless the dealerships are profitable. For this reason, franchise agreements usually include market protection clauses, that say, for example, that Chrysler will only permit so many dealers per 1,000 population in a given area, or that no other franchisee will be authorized within a certain county, or some such. This is done to protect the franchisee, and smart franchise buyers check market protection clauses carefully before investing their money to buy the franchise.

So, while revoking the franchises of non-performing dealers perhaps streamlines an administrative task for the home office, and (if done fairly) might improve dealer relations, it’s not the first move one would expect a company to commence when filing for bankruptcy, nor the second, nor the third. This is not where the company needs to restructure.

It makes sense, though, as part of a partisan move to reward political allies under the cover of bankruptcy proceedings. Chrysler is most decidedly not playing fair; it’s playing hardball with the franchisees. In many states laws protect franchise owners from suddenly losing their franchise rights without compensation, and forces the franchisor (Chrysler, in this case) to help the franchisee recoup losses — buying back parts and inventory, for example. Not this time, though. From a Gannet story describing a lawsuit being filed by cut dealerships:

Chrysler’s request goes far beyond just ending dealer contracts. It would bar an affected dealer from selling any Chrysler vehicle or part under warranty after June 6. Any payments or damages from ending the contract would be left with the “old” Chrysler whose liquidation won’t cover the liabilities it assumes.

And Chrysler wants to block dealers from appealing the decision with state authorities, and asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez to rule that federal bankruptcy law supersedes all state laws over dealer contracts.

Under the laws of most states, if Chrysler wanted to end a dealer contract it would have to give the dealer several months to wind down its business, offer to buy back vehicle and parts inventory and, in some cases, offer reimbursement for a number of costs, such as remodeling.

But in bankruptcy, Chrysler contends it can avoid any such liabilities as part of the case.

Take note of that phrase, “payments or damages from ending the contract would be left with the ‘old’ Chrysler.” Since Chrysler is filing bankruptcy to protect itself from creditors, this means that the franchise owners who are being shouldered out can’t obtain satisfaction from a lawsuit; they might win, but they’d have to wait in line for payment out of whatever is set aside to satisfy creditors, usually a long, drawn-out repayment process that returns pennies on the dollar.

In short, the dealers who are being cut, are being ruined financially. They’re suing based on a 5th Amendment complaint; they’re being deprived of property without due process of law, and without just compensation, by the government.

Anecdotes are surfacing suggesting that some of the cut dealers are high performers. Others complain of grossly unfair practices, like this dealer who had just finished a company-mandated facelift for his dealership when he received his cut notice. Writes Josh Painter at Red State:

Some of the dealers chosen to be terminated were among the more successful outlets in the Chrysler dealership network, and many of them had been loyal Chrysler and Dodge agents who had maintained an excellent working relationship with the Detroit automaker for decades.

Some dealers who got a thumbs down from Obama’s automotive panel told compelling stories about their situations that raised doubts about the process of selecting them for closing. One example, a dealership in Alvin, Texas, had increased its new car sales by 50% in the first four months of 2009, while other MOPAR dealers’ sales were in the tank. Another in Melbourne, Florida, had, at Chrysler’s insistence, totally renovated its facility financed by incurring millions of dollars of debt in the form of a bank mortgage.

Adding fuel to the fire, a lawyer for the excised dealers deposed Chrysler’s chief executives, and reported that it was his impression that cutting dealerships was not favored by Chrysler’s board, but was in fact the result of pressure from the Obama administration’s auto czar. The Chrysler Corp’s official statement denies this, but do we believe it?

Doug Ross claimed yesterday he has statistical proof that the closings were selected by political donation, calculating that the probability of the pattern he’s detected is roughly 1 over 1 billion. In fact, this does not prove that the complaint is true — the sample of closed dealerships is not a random sample, and correlation does not prove causation — though it does suggest it strongly.

But proof hardly matters. What matters is the perception.

politicskenyastyleLast year about this time, Kenya erupted into violence because of a national election that many perceived was rigged. Hundreds died, and hundreds of thousands fled their homes in fear. Have you ever wondered why that does not happen in the US? It’s because here in the US, losing an election does not usually mean you won’t be able to feed your family or keep your business; in Kenya, it does, because the elected officials hand out huge favors to all their political backers, normally members of their own tribes who help keep them in power. Patronage here in the US has been chicken feed by comparison — until now. Now, we’re beginning to perceive that the government is choosing winners in the economic lottery by which party they’ve donated to, and which candidate. If people begin perceiving that losing an election means they’re financially ruined, we’re on the road to civil war, and the US becomes Africa.

This cannot happen if the government stays out of private business, and remains relatively small. The reason we don’t have Africa’s level of political violence is not that we’re better people than they are, it’s that we’ve by and large kept government out of private business, and kept patronage to a minimum. As strange as it may sound, we Americans have had relatively little at stake from the outcome of political fortune, compared with the rest of the world. President Obama seems intent on changing that.

The investigation of this matter should continue, and if it turns out that the Obama administration is deliberately ruining private businesses along partisan lines, I will call for his impeachment. This is completely unacceptable in the United States. The government must be kept out of business, because an economy ruled by political self-interest is never preferable to one ruled by economic self-interest.

*The flood of outrageous acts is a tactic, designed to prevent any individual act from getting the attention it deserves. I would say that President Obama learned it from President Clinton, who used the same tactic, but it appears that both learned it from Saul Alinsky.

12/14/2008 (7:26 am)

Blago, the Part That Really Scares Me

It’s becoming increasingly clear that President-elect Barack Obama was involved in the process of selecting the successor to his Senate seat. That’s hardly surprising; of course he was. He also lied about it, which appears to be a reflex of his. We’re seeing smoke rising from the pile of unsavory political connections associated with Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s corruption spree surrounding the bidding war for Obama’s seat. There are lots of things we ought to be concerned about regarding this; corruption in high office is no joke. We know how disruptive it can be from the last Democrat who occupied the White House.

Here’s the part that seems new to me, and it’s got me even more concerned:

Gateway Pundit reported on Wednesday that KHQA News from Chicago had a news report on its site from Nov 5, 2008, stating that Obama was going to meet with Governor Blagojevich that afternoon. Stop the ACLU added that KHQA had another report from Nov 8 stating that Obama had met with Blagojevich to discuss the Senate seat.

And then, both news reports disappeared.

Click on either of the original links where the stories were found, and you’ll get a general screen with a message saying that the article is unavailable. KHQA has posted an explanation that they have no knowledge that the meeting that was scheduled for Nov 5 actually took place. Blogger Warren Throckmorton called them, and they deflected his questions. They have no comment about the Nov 8 story that claims that the meeting did take place. Google caches of the story are being purged all over the ‘net. At this point, all that remains of the story is the screen shots that certain internet bloggers took of the original reports.

I remember the Clinton years very clearly. Newspapers all over the country rushed to assist President Clinton as he ducked and ran through the firestorm of controversy that his apparent criminality created. They refused to report on genuine scandals. They published denunciations and rebuttals of stories they had never carried. They headlined phony research suggesting that the President’s reflexive dissembling was normal human behavior. It was obvious they wanted very, very badly for the President to have been a more honest man than he was.

I don’t remember any of them attempting to change history for him, though.

That’s what KHQA is doing. They’re trying to make their own story go away.

KHQA is not the Obama campaign staff. We’ve seen campaign staffers try to pull similar stunts when their candidate lied on the campaign trail, or when embarrassing connections appears on the official campaign web site. This is different; this is ordinary citizens participating in the corruption, out of their own ill will.

We saw some of the same propensity to engage in immoral acts to help The Messiah when employees of the state of Ohio ran background checks on Joe Wurzelbacher. There was no indication that members of the Obama campaign asked them to perform those acts, though I suppose that’s possible. It appears as though Helen Jones-Kelly of the Ohio Depart of Job and Family Services simply decided on her own to help the Obama campaign by breaking the law.

We saw something similar, but not quite as far gone, when the Washington Post attempted to fact-check their own story after the fact and refute it in order to call John McCain a liar. That was bad enough, but at least they did not attempt to pretend that their original story did not exist.

And now, either by request or by their own initiative, a local news organization has decided to make history vanish, in order to help the President-elect lie to the people. It’s more important to them that Obama look credible than that they maintain their own integrity, let alone that they do their jobs as reporters.

The failure is a failure of virtue, and it’s widespread in our nation. These are people for whom “personal integrity” means holding the right political views, not being the right sort of human being. It’s not just the candidate; it’s his followers. They’re all corrupt.

Laws are never enough to maintain the peace, nor are policemen. If the nation decides that law means nothing, there cannot possibly be enough policemen to keep them from breaking the law. We learned this as a nation during Prohibition, but it’s an axiom of political science; lawful behavior requires general agreement from the population. Laws only work when the people agree to them.

If the problem is simply that a law is a bad idea like Prohibition, attempting to enforce a debatable moral rule that most people simply do not agree to, then changing the law solves the problem. However, when the problem is that the people lack the moral virtue to obey even ordinary moral rules like “tell the truth” and “do your job faithfully,” nothing can be done. There is no solution. Civil behavior in that environment is not possible. Personal safety is also not possible. Commerce is not possible; sound commerce relies on trust.

The real horror of the Clinton years was not that the President was corrupt and needed to be removed. That was anticipated by the nation’s founders, which is why impeachment was written into the Constitution. The real horror was the number of people who approved of his corruption, and defended it. You can’t impeach an entire nation.

That horror has only grown worse. Today, instead of the bulk of the nation simply endorsing the corruption, we’re seeing them join it. They’re part of it.

We have not just elected a corrupt politician. We’ve become a corrupt nation. Corrupt nations do not survive, nor do they deserve to.

Hat tip to Jammie Wearing Fool, where I first saw this story.

12/10/2008 (5:16 am)

My "Me Too" Blagojevich Post (Updated)

US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald turned in another bombshell yesterday, moving to stop what he called a “political corruption crime spree” by indicting Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on charges of political corruption. Blagojevich, it seems, was selling off Obama’s Senate seat for cash, among other, similar acts. That would be bad enough, but Jake Tapper of ABC almost immediately recovered a newsreel of Obama strategist David Axelrod telling reporters that Obama had met with Gov. Blagojevich to discuss the Senate seat just a few weeks ago, directly contradicting a claim by the President-elect that he had not spoken to the governor about the Senate seat.

The result on the Internet has been entertaining. I routinely watch an internet collection machine called memeorandum.com to see what’s hot in the mainstream blogosphere. It collects all related stories into an indented column so you can see them all together. I’d paste a screen shot of what it looked like at 1 AM this morning, only I can’t capture the screen easily — it’s three screens long (here’s the link to it, though.) I don’t recall any story generating that level of response in the last year. Incredible.

In a dazzling display of high-speed sycophancy, the New York Times produced a report purporting to make Obama a hero and distance him from Gov. Blagojevich. According to sizzling hot on-the-spot reporters Mike McIntyre and Jeff Zeleny, it seems The One placed a phone call — that’s one (1) phone call — to State Senator Emil Jones three months ago to facilitate passage of an ethics bill that placed a deadline on the Governor’s pay-for-play schemes, so Blago went into overdrive to raise as much money as possible before January. No mention is made in the article of the fact that the investigation of Blagojevich has been ongoing for years, though they manage to slip in on page 2 that there was some connection with the Rezko indictment.

Ace of Spades HQ leans the other direction and produces reminders of how close Obama and Blagojevich have been, historically, and Jake Tapper (link in the first paragraph, above) has his own questions on the subject.

To those of us who watched the entire campaign closely, the scenario is wearily familiar. Barack Obama lies impulsively when faced with an uncomfortable situation, and then everybody around him realigns with his words to make his pronouncement work. If for some reason it doesn’t work, he’ll make another pronouncement and the staff will realign with that, etc. ad nauseum. How many times did this happen in the last year? Eight? Twelve? We lost count, with denials of connections with Rezko, Wright, Malley, Klonsky, Ayers, Dohrn, Raines…

The last time there was a Democrat in the White House, the entire nation got treated to a years-long discussion of just how common and necessary lying is, since the President turned out to be a compulsive liar. It was so bad that the Democrats had to invent reasons to call George W. Bush a liar, non-stop for 8 years (with no mention of how normal and necessary lying is, curiously enough.) Now the Democrats are heading for the White House again, and again, our President appears to be a compulsive liar. Color me stunned.

Was President-elect Obama involved in the scandal? I don’t know. Probably not. Let US Attorney Fitzgerald figure that one out. It’s enough that we’re all being treated to yet another of what already seems like an unending string of implausible denials by The Messiah. For better or worse (mostly worse,) we just elected a Chicago machine politician to be President. It’s going to be a long four years.

I suppose the good news is that painting the Democrats as corrupt will be easier during the next election cycle, if the Republican party manages to find a campaign advisor with the wit to take advantage. Blagojevich joins the ranks of recently-indicted Democrats Eliot Spitzer (Gov. NY), Don Siegelman (Gov. AL), and Kwame Kilpatrick (Mayor Detroit,) and I’m pretty sure I’m leaving a few out. Republicans, meanwhile, have produced the likes of Mark Sanford (Gov. SC), Sarah Palin (Gov. AK), and Bobby Jindal (Gov. LA). And the Democrats are calling the Republicans a “culture of corruption.” Pardon me while I pretend to know how to spit.


UPDATE: Michelle Malkin takes on the same topic as my final paragraph in a nationally syndicated column today. You can read it on her blog site, and it’s worth a look. Her list of Democratic scandals is longer than mine.

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