Monday, March 31, 2008

Politics takes a back seat

Cubs opening game.jpg

Opening day of the baseball season is a de facto national holiday. On a rainy day, Wrigley Field was filled with 41,000 fans anxious to see the Cubs march toward the NL Central crown. I was glad to be there, too, but for different reasons—a break from politics and a way to keep my eye on the Cardinals' rival while silently rooting against them.

It worked, the Cubs lost 4-3. A great pitching duel between Carlos Zambrano and Ben Sheets came apart at the end when both teams' closers allowed three runs. In the 10th, Milwaukee scored a run for the winner.

A great day in the cold March rain of Chicago.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Obama: Massive tax hikes but not a liberal

Barack Obama gave another economic address today and then submitted to a rare interview to a non-fawning reporter. His answers on taxes should frighten America even more than the rantings of his racist pastor.

As we've pointed out before, Obama is a George McGovern liberal, not a JFK Democrat. He believes that we should permanently stifle the economy by dramatically increasing taxes on many Americans and thus limiting the growth potential of our economy.

BARTIROMO: ...let's hypothetically say that...

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

BARTIROMO: ...cap gains tax goes from 15 percent to 25 percent.

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

BARTIROMO: You're impacting a lot of people.

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

BARTIROMO: A hundred million Americans own stocks today.

Sen. OBAMA: Absolutely.

BARTIROMO: So it's not just the rich.

And then Barack, who had the most dogmatic liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate, proclaimed his tired redistribution ideology is not based on ideology or dogma.

BARTIROMO: Why raise taxes at all in an economic slowdown? Isn't that going to put a further strain on people?

Sen. OBAMA: Well, look, there's no doubt that anything I do is going to be premised on what the economic situation is when I take office. I'm going to be sworn in in January, we don't know what the economy's going to look like at that point. And, you know, the thing you can--you can be assured of is that I'm not going to making these decisions based on ideology. I'm not a dogmatist. I know that some, you know, my opponents to the right would like to paint me as this wooly-eyed, you know, liberal or wild-eyed...

BARTIROMO: You're not a liberal?

Sen. OBAMA: The--but my attitude is that I believe in the market, I believe in entrepreneurship, I believe in opportunity, I believe in capitalism and I want to do what works. But what I want to make sure of is it works for all America and not just a small sliver of America. And if it turns out--if somebody can make a persuasive argument to me that, you know what, what we need at this juncture, at this particular point in time is a different set of policies than some of the ones that I've proposed, I'm always going to listen to people. Because I think one of the problems, in fact, with the Bush administration has been its rigidness when it comes to economic policy. I mean, you ask them any question, they'll say tax cuts. It doesn't matter what the problem is, if it's, you know, our trade deficit: tax cuts. If it's, you know, slowdown in manufacturing: tax cuts. You know, at a certain point, you know, if you've only got one arrow in the quiver, then you're going to have problems.

Read the whole interview and be scared. Very scared.

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Blagojevich's final hustle?

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is pushing hard for public funding of Wrigley Field renovation. It may be his most brazen hustle yet.

As we all know, Blagojevich is on Disneyworld boat ride toward a corruption indictment—he can't get off and we all know where the boat lands. His once vaunted (and illegal) campaign money raising operation is finally starting to sputter and his legal bills are rising. In the last six months of reporting available, 39.7 cents of every dollar he raised went to Winston & Strawn, the downtown law firm headed by former Governor Jim Thompson. Big Jim happens to head the public agency putting together the Wrigley plan.

If the trends continue, Rod will be out of money to pay his legal bills as the feds close in on him. What is the one thing that kept his campaign treasury flush over the years? Promises of high returns for investors. What does the Wrigley Field public financing plan include? About $350 million in bonding and plenty of legal work. In other words, lots of no-bid contracts to hand out to "investors."

Blagojevich said they are looking at "creative ways" for a Wrigley deal that doesn't use taxpayer dollars. He compared it to the refurbishment of Fenway Park where the Boston Red Sox play.

"My position's very simple: Cubs play at Wrigley Field, new owner has to keep the Cubs at Wrigley Field, no taxpayer dollars," Blagojevich said at a news conference.

It is important for the state-backed agency to get involved because Wrigley is a huge tourist draw in the state, Blagojevich said.

So Rod and Big Jim are pushing a plan that will put taxpayers on the hook for a Wrigley Field renovation that will happen anyway. And they are pushing for an outcome that will help Rod raise campaign cash to pay Big Jim's law firm.

Even by Illinois standards, the brazen-meter needle is traveling to new territory.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another canard by the Left

The blogger Patterico has been on top of correcting the Left and the MSM for consistently trying to rewrite history by stating the Bush administration was claiming Iraq was responsible for 9-11. Just a few days ago, he corrected the L.A. Times.

Many liberals have argued that, by referring to (and allegedly exaggerating) the links between Al Qaeda and Iraq, the Bush administration has deliberately implied that Saddam was behind 9/11. But any such implication is in the eye of the beholder. There is absolutely no doubt that Saddam's regime was a state sponsor of terrorism — as the more recent Pentagon report makes painfully clear — and after 9/11/01, the Bush Administration decided to go after state-sponsored terrorism in an aggressive way. Back when Americans cared about 9/11, a lot of us felt the same way. I know I did.

This naturally meant that Bush and Cheney sometimes justified the war in Iraq by referring to the fact that, after 9/11, America had decided to go after terrorists rather than wait for the terrorists to come to us. This explanation does not constitute "claims" that Iraq was linked to the 9/11 attacks.

Patterico and others have complained that the Administration doesn't more aggressively defend itself against such unwarranted attacks. The Bush inner circle must believe arguing these fine points is a losing proposition against the anti-war MSM, but I think they are wrong. You can't allow a damaging lie to be created and then cemented without interruption.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Blagojevich Inc., a $57.8 million corporation

Rod Blagojevich$57.8m6.5$8.9m
George Ryan$24.4m29$0.8m
Jim Ryan$21.1m13$1.6m
Judy Baar Topinka$15.4m27$0.6m
Jim Edgar$9.2m22$0.4m
Glenn Poshard$5.1m2$2.6m
Dawn Clark Netsch$2.4m20$0.1m

Columnists in town are trying to find meaning in the massive corruption trial of Tony Rezko and the Rod Blagojevich administration. Some want to focus on bi-partisan participation and others the drug habits of key witness Stuart Levine. They are all missing the point. The real meaning of the corruption trial can be found in the chart above.

There has never been anything like the Blagojevich money operation in Illinois. They made any other pay-to-play apparatus look like a lemonade stand.

Blagojevich's two top fundraising captains, Rezko and the similarly indicted Chris Kelly, opened the spigots fully and used all governmental powers they could think of to reward big donors. Giving the Blagojevich administration a big campaign contribution thus became one of the best investment opportunities in America because of the guaranteed exponential return.

"I had been involved in politics and in corrupt deals before," Levine testified. "[But] I had never witnessed or been a part of or close to someone who was able to influence the governor as I saw that Mr. Rezko could. I had never been that close to an individual that had that type of power."

There have always been insiders lurking around the halls of government, waiting to pounce on the spoils if they are allowed. It takes an honest and attentive chief executive to stop the graft. The chart above shows that Illinois has had no such chief executive the last five years.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

'A typical white person'

I would like to know from our great racial healer, Barack Obama, what exactly is a "typical white person." Perhaps he can ramp up for another "major" speech to tell us.

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McQueary: Media coddling Obama

I have praised Daily Southtown columnist Kristen McQueary before for her against-the-grain commentary. Today, her column, "Media coddles Obama" is a gem.

She unflinchingly takes on the editors of her own news organization (Chicago Sun-Times) and the Chicago Tribune in a column that probably ends any chance the Trib would hire her in the future, if that interested her. But she did her readers a service by dissecting the strange flood of praise the papers gave Barack Obama for his long on style, short on substance appearances before their editorial boards last week.

There was an awful lot of "benefit" wafting through newspaper pages March 15, the day after Obama attempted damage control downtown - benefit both in the forgiving portrayal of his friendship with Rezko and in sheer space dedicated to his words and to sympathetic photographs of Obama looking "thoughtful."

I am not sure whom to cast - Obama or the editors - in the role of Pepe Le Pew, the Warner Bros. skunk in a perpetual state of l'amour.

The editors seemed thrilled he visited their newspaper offices and finally answered questions he should have addressed months previously. They seemed quite satisfied with Obama's answers, although a Chicago Tribune reporter later said on "Chicago Tonight"on WTTW-TV (Channel 11) he was struck by the number of times Obama could not or would not answer questions, including how many fundraisers Rezko hosted for him throughout the years.

Read the whole column. It's excellent.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The most overrated speech ever

There. I just matched MSNBC's Chris Matthews in hyperbole. He was calling Barack Obama's speech today one of the most important of our time and comparing Obama to Abraham Lincoln. Well, to put it charitably, Matthews is so fixated on race that he wants whatever the bi-racial Obama says to be historic because it fits into a template that Matthew embraces.

The speech wasn't even close to being historic. It was well-written. However, it had very little poetic bounce and was flatly read and delivered. It also was not much different than what Obama has said in his books and other speeches. The difference that he was tactically trying to put closure on a media firestorm that was seriously harming his candidacy.

It had very little that spoke to me, a suburban white Republican. He poked a little at black culture and white culture and wove into a narrative that excused his own failure to speak out against Rev. Jeremiah Wright when it counted instead of when he was under the gun from the media. A white Republican politician in the reverse position would never get the same easy absolution.

He cheapened the "major" speech by saying our racial divide needs to be healed so we can address Democratic talking points. He also backtracked on his answer Friday by admitting he has heard Rev. Wright's tirades. If that was President Bush making that backtrack, the leftwing internet sites that Obama panders to would be screaming: Bush lied! Instead, leftwing commentators praised the speech's "nuance." Whenever I hear someone praising a speech's nuance, I know that it was jumbled and not communicated clearly.

Again, it was not a bad speech. As a political move, it was well done, allowing Obama to temporarily escape the pounding pressure of the Wright imbroglio. Yet the bad Wright tape still exists and will be played throughout the campaign, if Obama is nominated. There's nothing in today's speech that compares to the power of that video. It's the difference between action and words.

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Stop playing Rev. Wright video, Obama urges

Enveloped between some towering prose, Barack Obama today made a plea to the news media: Stop playing the damaging Rev. Jeremiah Wright video because it is hurting my candidacy.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

He wants to be the blank slate that America loves, not be exposed as a left-wing Democrat.

Don't be deceived by the pleasant demeanor or the words that few could disagree with. If Obama is truly identified, he loses.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Obamas didn't want green space next door?


Barack Obama met the editorial boards of the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times on Friday and finally answered in detail questions surrounding his same-day real estate purchase with indicted influence peddler Tony Rezko.

On what I consider the key question in the entire matter, Obama's answer was evasive. I'm glad the Tribune finally asked the question but disappointed nobody pressed him further on his non-answer. He said that Rezko intended to develop his part of the sale—Obama's side yard—and that Barack and Michelle welcomed that. He said a house right next to his would serve as a buffer to traffic. And he said before the Secret Service came along, people peered into his house from the street.

He would rather have a house butting up against his rather than trees, bushes and open space? Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Tribune: Senator, could I try to understand a little bit, the virtue you and Michelle saw in developing that lot? I don't think [street name redacted] is all that busy—it's not 47th or 55th [Streets]—and it seems that there is virtue in having that empty lot, particularly with that wall of evergreens that went up along the south side.

Obama: I guess there are different aesthetic opinions. We did not think that . . . I could see the advantage of having the whole thing, and then maybe doing something with that. We were building a fence, we didn't own the lot, and having a house there would have been, from my perspective, probably preferable, partly because those evergreens are not rock solid. People often peer into our house. Or at least they did until Secret Service showed up. They are less likely to do so now.

Tribune: And you never had a conversation with Mr. Rezko about would he keep that vacant so you'd have that, it was clearly your understanding that . . .

Obama: It was my understanding that it was going to develop the property.

Tribune: And did he ever make any movement in that direction? Was there any effort to develop it?

Obama: Frankly, he had owned a lot of lots. I don't know. But what I know is that he was involved in a very big development downtown. I don't think that this was at the very top of his list. And by the time that . . . in any situation, the pace of developing a lot might not be immediate, but apparently he was in legal trouble at this point. And so I don't know his motives or what was going on at that time.

This is not an insignificant point. As Hugh Hewitt pointed out recently, if Barack and Tony agreed that Tony would buy the vacant lot and hold it that way until the Obamas could buy it later, it very well might be considered an illegal gift under U.S. Senate rules. I've made the same point several times in recent months.

So, let's all consider this question. If you wanted more privacy would you rather have a house or apartment building close to your house, or green space, trees and whatever landscaping buffer you could afford?

I don't find Barack's answer in the mainstream of logic, common sense, or perhaps, truthfulness.

UPDATE: In the audio of the Sun-Times visit, as the meeting was breaking up, a reporter asked Obama point-blank whether he and Tony discussed keeping the land vacant. Barack said "no." This interchange is not captured on the Sun-Times transcript.

This is mind-boggling. The self-described friends, who socialized four or five times a year and who conducted a walk-through of the house, never discussed keeping property vacant that Tony was buying next door? So Tony just said he was developing the lot and that was that? His good friend Tony never asked Barack what his preference was for the adjacent lot?

Barack's answer is difficult to believe.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

But don't question his patriotism

1. His 20-year pastor, friend and spiritual advisor says, "God Damn America."

2. He won't put his hand over his heart during the pledge of allegiance.

3. He won't wear a flag pin.

4. His wife says his candidacy is the first time she's been proud of her country.

5. He's friends with Pentagon bomber William Ayres.

No pattern here, media, go away.

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Barack's mixed message on civility

In order to shed the Rev. Wright controversy, Barack Obama is doing interviews, including with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. The following is part of Obama's latest statement on Wright.

I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit.

So, why is he going on Olbermann's show?

Olbermann has called President Bush a "fascist" "engaging in terrorism," a "liar" and "idiot in chief." He even asked if there is an element in the Republican party that wants to re-segregate America.

Olbermann, by far, is the most degrading cable commentator on television. He substitutes name-calling for argument and says it all with a sanctimonious scowl. Is Obama saying that tenor is OK because he's a left-winger?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

MSM's 'structuring' of Dem scandals

When Republicans get caught in scandals, the MSM quickly conjures up other GOP examples and connects them into "pattern" stories. With Dem scandals, if party affiliation is even mentioned, there is no such connecting the dots.

VIEIRA: Let's talk very quickly about Governor Spitzer's resignation. He was a superdelegate for Senator Clinton. So she loses his vote. Beyond that, do you see any other fallout for the Democrats?

TIM RUSSERT: Probably not. There had been some references to any time there's a story about sex and men, this would focus attention on former President Bill Clinton, but I think that's probably just been a day or two story and now with the new governor of, of New York in place on Monday, that story pretty much leaves the front pages.

Two Democratic governors (NJ, NY) of bordering states resigning in disgrace over sex scandals. Pattern? Nah. Another Dem governor (IL) embroiled in the biggest corruption scandal in that state's history. Pattern? Nah.

As we are learning in the Eliot Spitzer case, it is called "structuring" when someone tries to hide crimes by breaking financial activity into small pieces. It would seem that the MSM is "structuring" its coverage of Democratic scandals, especially when you consider it does the exact opposite with Republican scandals.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A tale of two prosecutors

News media bias allowed Eliot Spitzer to thrive politically. Can you imagine if John Ashcroft had acted as publicly hostile to prosecutorial targets and lost so many cases? The difference was that Spitzer is liberal and his targets are hated by the MSM.

On the substance, his court record speaks for itself. Most of Mr. Spitzer's high-profile charges have gone up in smoke. A New York state judge threw out his case against tax firm H&R Block. He lost his prosecution against Bank of America broker Ted Sihpol (whom Mr. Spitzer threatened to arrest in front of his child and pregnant wife). Mr. Spitzer was stopped by a federal judge from prying confidential information out of mortgage companies. Another New York judge blocked the heart of his suit against Mr. Grasso. Mr. Greenberg continues to fight his civil charges. The press was foursquare behind Mr. Spitzer in all these cases, and in a better world they'd share some of his humiliation.

Ashcroft, meanwhile, is a conservative and he has been dogged by the press for nearly every move he made in his public career. Despite this, he was one of the most qualified U.S. Attorney Generals ever and ran one of the best offices ever—something you never read about in the national press.

I know personally the dislike Spitzer evoked. When Jim Ryan was Attorney General in Illinois, other attorneys general at national conferences were united in their disdain for the hyper-aggressive style of Spitzer, who then was AG of New York.

I ran into Spitzer again when U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald invited him to testify at a high-profile committee hearing on insurance industry abuses. He clearly knew the material and talked in a tone of assurance that bordered on frightening. The news media always fawned over him, and talked about him as a future president or U.S. Attorney General.

Now he's just another liberal myth that largely was created and enabled by the news media, as the Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel notes in the excellent commentary linked above.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

David Wilhelm, Teflon man

Like a hit-and-run driver who helped cause a massive pile up on the freeway, David Wilhelm has left a mess behind in Illinois and the state and national media won't ask him about it.

Wilhelm is doing interviews these days in Ohio as a supporter of Barack Obama, that guy who is lecturing us on cleaning up government. It would be a perfect time for journalists to ask David about a giant Illinois scandal he was part of, but that hasn't happened yet.

Wilhelm was Rod Blagojevich's campaign chairman in 2002. He also headed Blagojevich's transition team as he took office in 2003 after defeating former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan. The Tony Rezko trial that is taking place in downtown Chicago is about the massive corruption related to the Blagojevich fundraising operation in 2003 and 2004.

We have already learned from prosecution witness Kelly Glynn, the Blagojevich finance chairman who no longer lists the title on her resume, that Rezko was one of the campaign's top fundraisers. At the head of that campaign was Wilhelm. It is quite apparent from a reading of federal documents relating to Blagojevich corruption that the campaign fund will someday be indicted, as well as the governor. It's just a matter of time.

Wilhelm, after he finished his transition duties, proceeded to cash in on his Blagojevich connections in a big way, snagging contracts and pension deals from two of the state pension agencies at issue in the Rezko prosecution. His Teachers Retirement System contract was the subject of a federal subpoena. There were other stories about cronyism connecting Wilhelm and Blagojevich.

The smoke was trailing Wilhelm as he left town in 2005. It appeared a sudden departure and there was widespread speculation among the insiders in Springfield that it was related to the widening federal investigation, a notion that Wilhelm denied.

Wilhelm was at the vortex of the most intense fundraising operation in Illinois history. That operation formed the crux of what looks like the largest corruption scandal ever here. Yet smiling, amiable Mr. Wilhelm rarely if ever gets a question from our national and state press corps about any of this. A friend told me recently that Wilhelm has a person assigned to keep his name out of the Illinois corruption scandal. If that is true, the person is earning his money because Wilhelm's role should certainly be part of the discussion.

I met Wilhelm during that 2002 campaign and he indeed is friendly and courteous. But he deserves to be asked if he has ever been questioned by the feds in Operation Board Games and whether he feels even an ounce of contrition for bringing Illinois the most dysfunctional and corrupt governor in the country and collecting some of the corruption booty on his way out of here.

Here is what Wilhelm was feeding us in 2002.

"Rod realizes that he is being elected as a reformer. People in this state are fed up with corruption and broken promises. The Blagojevich administration will be one of honesty," he said.

At the very least, will a reporter ask him about that?

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Double death

After several years of loyal duty, my desktop and laptop both died suddenly a day apart.  It may be a day or two before I resume posting.Â

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Barack's strange backdrop

In his losing speech tonight, Barack Obama spoke outside against a cinderblock background. Not a good choice. Looked like he was speaking inside a penal institution. That's the kind of mistake a big money campaign should never make.

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Government under the big top

First came the pander. Then the incompetence. Followed by possible cronyism. Then, to top it all off, more money, more pandering. Welcome to Illinois government run by Democrats.

"I woke up this morning to discover . . . the million dollars went to the wrong place; not to the church community, as it was intended to go. And so we're here to make that right," said (Illinois Governor Rod) Blagojevich, who canceled other plans Monday to confront the embarrassing disclosure.

Blagojevich managed to capsulize most of his shortcomings in one episode.

"This really takes the cake. Of all the dumb things the governor has done, this one has to be way up there," said Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), who intends to seek hearings on the matter before a House panel he chairs. "The man has to be stopped."

The intrigue over where the first $1 million went continues.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Beware of billionaires bearing loans

Aaron Watson at Free Will believes I'm wrong, that Barack Obama's biggest vulnerability is his link through Tony Rezko to Nadhmi Auchi, the British billionaire and former Iraqi.

As I've said before, the "coincidental" associations between Rezko and Obama have a history of occurring at an incredibly convenient pace. If Barack Obama's campaign has been taking money from an avowed Ba'athist sympathizer, especially one who seems to have been heavily involved in buying off the French government, it casts his protestations that he is "the only candidate who opposed the war from the start" in an entirely different light.

Don't know if Barack knew much about Auchi, although it is difficult to know for sure. Barack left the press in a snit this evening after arguing over his "openness" on his Rezko ties. Contrast that with John McCain, who patiently answered every question after the New York Times smear article a few weeks ago.

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Beware of billionaires bearing loans

Aaron Watson at Free Will believes I'm wrong, that Barack Obama's biggest vulnerability is his link through Tony Rezko to Nadhmi Auchi, the British billionaire and former Iraqi.

As I've said before, the "coincidental" associations between Rezko and Obama have a history of occurring at an incredibly convenient pace. If Barack Obama's campaign has been taking money from an avowed Ba'athist sympathizer, especially one who seems to have been heavily involved in buying off the French government, it casts his protestations that he is "the only candidate who opposed the war from the start" in an entirely different light.

Don't know if Barack knew much about Auchi, although it is difficult to know for sure. Barack left the press in a snit this evening after arguing over his "openness" on his Rezko ties. Contrast that with John McCain, who patiently answered every question after the New York Times smear article a few weeks ago.

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The Rezko question Obama won't answer

As the national media finally swarms around Barack Obama, asking him about his same day property purchase with accused corruption kingpin Tony Rezko, most of the questions are off the mark.

Here is the question he needs to be asked:

Q. Did you ever discuss with Rezko the notion that he would buy the side lot to your mansion and keep it undeveloped until you could afford to buy it back from him?

This appears to be the danger zone for Obama. From my seat, this seems to be the most logical reason for Rezko's participation in the purchase. Acknowledging that reason could be deadly to Obama because it might be construed as a gift and therefore a Senate ethics violation. The association with Rezko, by itself, is bad judgment but nothing more. Any arrangement that bestowed a gift upon Obama is much worse.

This might explain why Obama has been so vague about answering questions about this precise point. Here's what the Tribune said about the question on Nov. 1, 2006.

Obama said his family's real estate broker brought the house to his wife's attention. He said he discussed the house with Rezko but isn't sure how Rezko began pursuing the adjacent lot. But Obama raised the possibility that he was the first to bring the lot to Rezko's attention.

"I don't recall exactly what our conversations were or where I first learned, and I am not clear what the circumstances were where he made a decision that he was interested in the property," Obama said.

"I may have mentioned to him the name of [a developer and] he may at that point have contacted that person. I'm not clear about that," Obama said.

From the November 5, 2006, Chicago Sun-Times:

Q: Did you approach Rezko or his wife about the property, or did they approach you?

A: To the best of my recollection, I told him about the property, and he developed an interest, knowing both the location and, as I recall, the developer who had previously purchased it.

This vagueness might have been more innocent had the Tribune not revealed last month that Obama was holding a significant fact back. In a story that deepened the Obama-Rezko mystery, reporters David Jackson and Bob Secter found out that Obama gave Rezko a walk-through prior to the purchase of his $1.65 million south Chicago mansion.

It's not clear why Obama had not previously divulged Rezko's tour of the house with him. In 2006, he told the Tribune he recalled talking to Rezko and his wife "either at an event or some conversation we had where they mentioned to me that they either knew the property or knew the developer or something like that."

To those Obama acolytes who believe the sainted one has answered all questions about Rezko-gate, that's not what the Sun-Times ace reporters say.

Sun-Times Reporter Tim Novak
"David Axelrod has never talked to me, Fusco or Mckinney about Obama. Neither has Obama.
All we've gotten are responses to written questions, and who knows who actually answered those. And occassionally we talk to (Bill) Burton.
But the point is that Obama himself has never sat down and discussed these questions about Rezko."

Sun-Times Reporter Chris Fusco
"Tim is absolutely right about that one."

Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney
"Well, I know Chris and I have never had a sit-down interview with Obama. Axelrod might be referring to the December 2006 Q and A, but as you know those were written questions and written responses. I believe Tim's experience was identical when he wrote about Rezko's slum properties. Axelrod would have been more accurate, perhaps, had he said today that Obama has "communicated" with reporters (through spokesmen and a Q and A). But he hasn't spoken to us directly about this. You are right. Axelrod is wrong."

If somebody wants to see the smooth-talking senator pause and stammer, ask him the question above.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

The essence of the Rezko trial

National attention will be on the Barack Obama angle, but the real focus of the Tony Rezko trial starting tomorrow in Chicago was well summarized by Tribune reporters Bob Secter and Ray Long.

Perhaps never before has a sitting Illinois governor become so enmeshed in a criminal proceeding of such breadth.

Rezko's trial, set to begin with jury selection Monday, is expected to shed unflattering light on the inner workings of an administration that (Rod) Blagojevich vowed would clean up state government after his predecessor left in scandal.

Boiled to its essence, the prosecution's complex case against Rezko involves allegations that he and other insiders exploited their relationship with Blagojevich to seek millions of dollars in kickbacks from firms seeking state business or regulatory approval.

The government's case is expected to include testimony about separate conversations between Blagojevich and two political insiders in which he allegedly gave a thumbs-up to pay-to-play politics. In one conversation, according to court documents, Blagojevich was said to have explicitly raised the notion of rewarding campaign donors with state contracts, legal work and investment banking.

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Another 60 Minutes fraud upon America?

Another 60 Minutes hit job on the George W. Bush administration—this one against Karl Rove—is being exposed as a fraud. The influential Power Line blog, written by experienced lawyers, not shreiking political wingnuts, is taking the show apart in methodical fashion. The same blog was instrumental in exposing the 2004 fake memos fiasco that ended Dan Rather's career.

First Scott Johnson took a whack at the story. Then, John Hinderaker, in great detail, shows that the person 60 Minutes relied upon for the most explosive charges is either lying or unstable.

What is surprising is not that Jill Simpson exists, but that CBS chose to put her forward on 60 Minutes as a credible witness, without disclosing the many facts that would have enabled the network's viewers to draw their own conclusions about Simpson's story. It seems fair to wonder whether, at some level, the people who run CBS and 60 Minutes are as deranged as Jill Simpson when it comes to Karl Rove and the Republican Party.

Gateway Pundit was the early leader in exposing this story and has a thorough rundown here.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker discusses his findings in a radio interview.

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America about to learn Obama is a rookie

Hugh Hewitt sums up Barack Obama and the upcoming general election very well.

During my vacation I read Barack Obama's books. and Dreams From My Father: A Story Of Race And Inheritance was a revelation.  The Audacity of Hope is dull, the sort of book we expect from presidential candidates.

But Dreams is pretty raw, and very revealing.  Every political commentator should read it.  I'll be posting on it for the next few days, but it showcases the source of Obama's appeal: Senator Obama walked the civil rights' activist and community organizer's walk.  He knows the underclass.  He tried, in a very real, very committed way, to improve their lot. 

He believes.

Barack Obama is a man of the left --the hard left ,the uncompromising left.  His passion is real, not feigned, and the intensity of his campaign volunteers is to be expected as a result. 

But he is far, far from the mainstream of American politics, and as the electorate learns this, I expect they will become exceedingly cautious about handing the country's future to a man only three years into the D.C. swirl --exactly the same time he spent as an "organizer" on the South Side of Chicago.  He didn't "know" Chicago after three years, and he doesn't know D.C. --or the world-- now.

Senator Barack is, in short, a rookie.  The sort of rookie the fans love, then turn against, realizing he isn't up to the job.  The sort of rookie that makes huge mistakes, which while merely disappointing on the football field, are deadly on the field of international conflict.

Senator Obama is Jimmy Carter, without the experience.  Carter, without the United States Naval Academy education.

He's going to win Texas and Ohio on Tuesday, and lose to John McCain in November.

We are a people defined by common sense, after all.  We don't turn the county's survival over to rookies.

Democrats intoxicated with Obamamania won't read this but they should.

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

'In the footsteps of Carter and Clinton'

Another interpretation of the new Barack Obama 3 a.m. commercial.

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Hillary: 103 women lying until proven otherwise

A member of the mainstream press finally forced Hillary Clinton to answer why one of her biggest donors are top executives of a company accused of serial sexual harassment. And the answer is one you would expect from the stereotype of a fat Republican sheriff running for re-election in rural Alabama, not the first viable female candidate for President.

Here's what the campaign told Lisa Myers of NBC News.

Sen. Clinton's spokesman, Howard Wolfson, told NBC News in a statement that the senator decided to keep the funds because the lawsuit is "ongoing" and because none of the sexual harassment allegations has been proven in court. "With regard to the pending harassment suit, as a general matter, the campaign assesses findings of fact in deciding whether to return contributions," Wolfson said.

Everyone in America has the presumption of innocence, of course, but I don't recall that being the standard when Hillary's people demanded that Barack Obama return all money generated by fundraiser Tony Rezko, who is indicted but not convicted of federal corruption charges.

And how bad are the allegations against International Profit Associates and its convicted criminal founder, John Burgess? The federal government claims that 103 women employees—known in Hillaryspeak as "working women"—were victimized for years of a brazen pattern of sexual harassment including "sexual assaults," "degrading anti-female language" and "obscene suggestions." IPA denies the allegations in a case pending in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

"This is by far, hands down, the worst case I've ever experienced," said Diane Smason, one of the EEOC lawyers handling the lawsuit. "Every woman there experienced sex harassment, they were part of a hostile work environment of sex harassment. And this occurred from the top down."

And the obvious point the story raises:

Some political analysts say it is surprising that the first viable female candidate for president would not be more sensitive to allegations of sexual harassment.

"The fact that Hillary Clinton at this point is holding onto money from a contributor who has been charged with sexual harassment can only be perceived as insensitive to women's issues and women," says Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Senior Scholar at the School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California. "I don't think that fits the definition of feminism, at least the last time I looked."

I've written extensively about IPA and its sexual harassment and fraud problems here.

For all Hillary's whining about MSNBC's alleged bias against the Clintons, the network did Hillary a major favor by only publishing this blockbuster story on the web and not airing it on TV. Clearly, by assigning Myers, one its star reporters, to the story, the network intended to air it prominently. But my guess is that since Hillary's fortunes are tanking, the network backed off.

Publishing it on the web was analogous to a giant airliner dumping fuel before the big crash.

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