While the mainstream media fixates on Gov. Sarah Palin's wardrobe and the fact that she is lawfully charging her home state when she takes her children to speeches around the country, serious national security issues go largely ignored. This is particularly true regarding U.S. efforts to halt North Korean nuclear-weapons programs — a subject that doesn't fit the current campaign storyline of Barack Obama the change agent vs. John McCain, purported Republican lackey of President Bush.
The Bush administration's approach to Pyongyang has softened dramatically in recent years. So determined are Mr. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and and Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill to keep the North Korea negotiations going that they have been cutting corners on major issues. The most recent example is the subject of North Korea's removal from the U.S. list of terror-sponsoring states. On this issue, Mr. Obama and the Bush administration are in agreement, while Mr. McCain suggests that the Republican administration may be giving away the store.
In recent months, North Korea pushed the administration to capitulate on the subject of what conditions Pyongyang would have to meet for removal from the terror list. The deal announced earlier this month contains a number of gaping loopholes. For example, access to undeclared North Korean sites would only be possible with mutual approval - which would enable Pyongyang to block inspection of suspected covert nuclear facilities. It is also unclear whether North Korea would be required to provide information about its nuclear-proliferation activities with rogue states like Syria, and whether Pyongyang's uranium-enrichment efforts would be covered by the agreement. Washington's handling of the situation sends an unmistakable message of weakness to proliferating regimes like the one in Tehran: that by remaining intransigent they will eventually be able to wear down the United States and its allies.
Mr. Obama reacted favorably to the deal, calling it a "modest step forward." Mr. McCain takes a more realistic approach. In an interview with the Weekly Standard, the Arizona senator sharply criticized the process and substance of the Bush administration's latest deal and likened it to the Clinton administration's 1994 deal with Pyongyang. We know what that eventually led to.
28 October 2008
From The Washington Times.
27 October 2008
By Philip Klein.
"The only way to fix the (Social Security) system is to bring more money in or send less money out," Barack Obama said at a Quincy, Illinois town hall meeting on April 18, 2005, according to the Quincy Herald-Whig.
At the time, the state's newly minted U.S. Senator was making one of the most prevalent Democratic arguments against President Bush's proposal to give workers the option of investing a portion of their payroll taxes in personal accounts. As the Herald-Whig article (linked to on Obama's U.S. Senate website) put it, "Obama said President Bush's plan to create private retirement accounts by siphoning away money from Social Security would cause the very crisis that Bush and his allies say they're fighting to avoid."
More than three years later, Obama still remains fiercely opposed to personal accounts -- but he's no longer concerned with siphoning away money from the nation's retirement system. Lost in all the controversy surrounding Obama's pledge to cut taxes on 95 percent of Americans is the fact that his proposals would drain hundreds of billions of dollars from government coffers that would otherwise be available to pay out benefits to retirees.
Last week, I asked Brian Deese, an Obama economic adviser, to explain the rationale behind the campaign's claim to cut taxes on 95 percent of Americans. As critics of the plan have pointed out, more than a third of Americans pay no income taxes, and thus his tax credits can easily be described as government handouts.
Deese responded to me by email, arguing that it was important to differentiate between income taxes that many people escape, and payroll taxes, which nearly every worker pays to fund Social Security and other entitlements.
"Obama’s Making Work Pay Tax Credit will directly cut taxes for 95% of all workers," he wrote, insisting that it would benefit all those with incomes under $150,000. The plan would "offset" the 6.2 percent employee payroll tax on the first $8,100 of income earned, according to the campaign, translating into as much as a $500 payment per individual and $1,000 payment per couple.
There's a persistent myth that the federal government actually has two bank accounts -- one that stores the payroll tax revenue left over after it makes payments to current Social Security beneficiaries, and a general bank account that funds remaining government services, mainly through income tax revenue. But practically speaking, since the federal government borrows from the Social Security system to help finance its deficit, all the money ends up in the same pot.
In other words, the smoke and mirrors routine surrounding Obama's tax proposal has been conjured up just so that the Obama campaign can make the dubious claim that its plan would "still preserv[e] the important principle of a dedicated revenue source for Social Security."
Of course, "principle" is the operative word.
Here's the problem. If the Obama campaign wants to pretend that it would preserve the idea of having two bank accounts, it means that workers will pay their payroll taxes throughout the year and their money will be deposited in the Social Security system. Only after the fact will they receive "tax credits," but those will be paid out of income tax revenue -- and thus, to paraphrase Obama, they'd be spreading the wealth around. (Again, because more than a third of Americans do not pay income tax, but 95 percent would be receiving checks from the Obama administration.)
However, if we accept the Obama campaign's argument that it is actually cutting payroll taxes, then it has to bear responsibility for the fact that it will be hemorrhaging money from the Social Security system as a result. Over 10 years, the "Making Work Pay" credit will cost $710 billion, according to a Tax Policy Center analysis that has been cited by the Obama campaign. Whatever happened to the Obama who said that "the only way to fix the (Social Security) system is to bring more money in or send less money out"?
It's true that Obama has also proposed raising payroll taxes on those making over $250,000 a year. But those changes, which wouldn't make up for the $710 billion, are already supposed to help deal with the looming crisis caused by the retirement of Baby Boomers (although they wouldn't be enough to make a serious dent in that, either). To top it off, such changes would not be enacted for 10 years, according to Obama -- well after he'd be out of office even were he to serve two terms.
When President Bush proposed allowing individuals to divert some of their payroll tax contributions into private accounts, liberals blasted the plan as a fiscally reckless idea that would bankrupt Social Security, and they frightened senior citizens into believing that it meant their benefits would be taken away. Obama has been engaging in the same type of dishonest fear mongering on Social Security during the presidential race.
But while the creation of personal accounts would lead to a revenue shortfall in the immediate term, over time, it would reduce obligations to future retirees who opted out of the current Social Security system. Obama's plan would produce a revenue shortfall as well, but it wouldn't do anything to reduce the nation's long-term entitlement obligations.
Obama has benefitted from the fact that an esoteric debate on his tax plan is beyond the attention span of most voters. But if his disingenuous claims do one thing, they should expose liberal hypocrisy on the Social Security issue once and for all.
26 October 2008
by Ann Coulter
The media are acting as if they completely and fully vetted Obama during the Democratic primaries and that's why they are entitled to send teams of researchers into Alaska to analyze Sarah Palin's every expense report.
In fact, the mainstream media did no vetting. They seem to have all agreed, "OK, none of us will get into this business with Jeremiah Wright, 'Tony' Rezko, Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers and everyone's impression of an angry Michelle Obama on 'The Jerry Springer Show.'"
During one of the Democratic primary debates, Hillary Clinton was hissed for mentioning Syrian national Rezko, and during another, ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos nearly lost his career for asking Obama one question about William Ayers.
In the past week, TV anchors have taken to claiming that Obama "refuted" John McCain's statement that Obama launched his political career at the home of former Weather Underground leader Ayers.
No, Obama "denied" it; he didn't "refute" it. If "denying" something is the same as "refuting" it, then maybe the establishment media can quit harping on Palin's qualifications to be president, since she too "refuted" that by denying it.
Back before the media realized it needed to lie about Obama launching his political career at Ayers' house, the Los Angeles Times provided an eyewitness account from a liberal who attended the event.
"When I first met Barack Obama, he was giving a standard, innocuous little talk in the living room of those two legends-in-their-own-minds, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. They were launching him -- introducing him to the Hyde Park community as the best thing since sliced bread."
The Times has now stripped this item from its Web page, but the great blogger Patterico has preserved it for posterity on his Web page.
Obama's glib remark that "Bill Ayers is a professor of education in Chicago; 40 years ago when I was 8 years old he engaged in despicable acts with a domestic group. I have roundly denounced those attacks" -- doesn't answer anything.
First of all, the fact that Ayers is a professor of education proves only one thing: He is dumber than any person without an education degree.
Ayers is such an imbecile, we ought to be amazed that he's teaching at a university -- even when you consider that it's an ed school -- except all former violent radicals end up teaching. Roughly 80 percent of former Weathermen are full college professors -- 99 percent if you don't include the ones killed in shoot-outs with the police or in prison -- i.e., not yet pardoned by a Democratic president.
Any other profession would have banned a person like Ayers. Universities not only accept former domestic terrorists, but also move them to the front of the line. In addition to Ayers, among those once on the FBI's most-wanted list who ended up in cushy college teaching positions are Bernardine Dohrn (Northwestern University), Mark Rudd (a junior college in New Mexico) and Angela Davis (History of Consciousness Department, University of California at Santa Cruz).
While others were hard at work on Ph.D.s, Susan Rosenberg was conspiring to kill cops and blow up buildings, and was assembling massive caches of explosives. This put her on the fast track for a teaching position at Hamilton College!
Despite having absolutely no qualifications to teach, having earned only a master's degree in "writing" through a correspondence course, Rosenberg was offered a position at Hamilton within a few years of President Clinton pardoning her in 2001, releasing her from a 58-year prison sentence for participating in the murder of cops and possessing more than 700 pounds of explosives.
But Obama thinks it's a selling point to say that Ayers is a college professor.
Hundreds of college professors have signed a letter vouching for Ayers, which would be like Lester Maddox producing a letter from George Wallace assuring us that Maddox is a respected member of the community. No, really, I've got the letter right here!
The media keep citing the fact that the money Obama and Ayers distributed to idiotic left-wing causes came -- as The New York Times put it -- "from Walter H. Annenberg, the billionaire publisher and philanthropist and President Richard M. Nixon's ambassador to the United Kingdom."
Great Republican though he was, Walter Annenberg died in 2002. The money came from the Annenberg Foundation, which, like all foundations, distributes money to projects that its founder would despise. John Kerry ran for president on the late John Heinz's money. That didn't mean Republican Heinz was endorsing Kerry.
As John O'Sullivan says, any foundation that is not explicitly right-wing will become a radical left-wing organization within a few years. It could be the Association of University Women, the American Association of Retired People, the American Rose Growers, the Foundation for the Study of Railroad Engineers or the Choral Society of Newport Beach.
Left-wing radicals swarm to free foundation money, where they can give gigantic grants to one another and they will never have to do a day's work. That's exactly what Obama and Ayers did with Annenberg's money.
None of the Annenberg money went to schoolchildren. It went to Ayers' left-wing crank friends to write moronic papers that we hope no one ever reads.
Instead of teaching students reading and writing, Ayers thinks they should be taught to rebel against America's "imperialist" social structure. In 2006, Ayers was in Venezuela praising communist dictator Hugo Chavez, saying, "We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution."
He has backed a line of schoolbooks such as one titled "Teaching Science for Social Justice."
Forget about Ayers' domestic terrorism when Obama "was 8 years old." Does he agree with Ayers' idiot ideas right now?
25 October 2008
By Andrew C. McCarthy
The mainstream press steadfastly refuses to delve into Barack Obama’s radicalism, his Leftist revolutionary collaboration with self-identified communists from Frank Marshall Davis to Bill Ayers. The McCain campaign, moreover, has contributed mightily to the whitewash by ineptly seizing on the issue’s least important aspect: Obama’s abject dishonesty about the depth of his relationships with committed Leftists — e.g., the portrayal of Ayers as just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood.”
(Petrified of being smeared as a racist, McCain has never mentioned Davis, whom Obama identifies only as “Frank” in his memoir. And, of course, utterance of Jeremiah Wright’s name is verboten in McCain circles, notwithstanding that his Trinity Church, where Obama was a 20-year member, is a font of Marxist Black Liberation Theology and thus critical to our understanding of Obama’s invocations of “change” and “spreading the wealth.”)
With what little media oxygen there has been sucked out by the largely uninformative discussion of Ayers (and his wife and Weather Underground ally, Bernadine Dohrn) — in which the mantra “unrepentant terrorist” has been a pale substitute for the critical matter of the Ayers’s ideology that Obama plainly shares — much has been missed. Significantly, that includes another key Obama contact, Mike Klonsky.
Here’s what you need to know. Klonsky is an unabashed communist whose current mission is to spread Marxist ideology in the American classroom. Obama funded him to the tune of nearly $2 million. Obama, moreover, gave Klonsky a broad platform to broadcast his ideas: a “social justice” blog on the official Obama campaign website.
To be clear, as it seems always necessary to repeat when Obamaniacs, in their best Saul Alinsky tradition, shout down the opposition: This is not about guilt by association. The issue is not that Obama knows Klonsky … or Ayers … or Dohrn … or Wright … or Rashid Khalidi …
The issue is that Obama promoted and collaborated with these anti-American radicals. The issue is that he shared their ideology.
Klonsky’s communist pedigree could not be clearer. His father, Robert Klonsky, was an American communist who was convicted in the mid-Fifties for advocating the forcible overthrow of the United States government — a violation of the Smith Act, anti-communist legislation ultimately gutted by the Supreme Court. In the Sixties, Klonsky the younger teamed with Ayers, Dohrn, and other young radicals to form the Students for a Democratic Society. It was out of the SDS that Ayers and Dohrn helped found the Weatherman terrorist group.
Klonsky took a different path, albeit one that led inexorably to a new partnership with Ayers, which Obama mightily helped underwrite. Upon splitting off from the SDS, Klonsky formed a Maoist organization, first known as the “October League,” which ultimately became the “Communist Party (Marxist Leninist).”
Klonsky was CP(ML)’s chairman. He was so highly thought of by Mao’s regime that he was among the first Americans invited to visit Communist China. When he was feted there in 1977, a year after Mao’s death, the communist leadership hailed Klonsky’s party as “reflecting the aspirations of the proletariat and working people.”
Klonsky was a regular guest of the Chicoms until 1981, when the relationship soured over the post-Mao leadership’s free-market reforms. (Yes, Klonsky is apparently more committed to communism than China’s own Communist Party.) So what was a Leftist radical without platform to do? Why, what else? He became an American college professor specializing in education.
After getting his doctorate, Klonsky eventually made his way to Chicago and hooked up with his old SDS comrade (and self-professed “small ‘c’ communist”) Bill Ayers. Together, they co-founded the Small Schools Workshop in 1991. The goal — as Ayers has repeatedly made clear, most prominently in a 2006 speech before Hugo Chavez at an education forum in Caracas — is to bring the same Leftist revolution that has always galvanized them into the classroom.
The concept may be called small schools, but Klonsky and Ayers uniquely grasp the force-multiplier effect. In a small class, the teacher preaching the “social justice” gospel that American capitalism is a racist, materialist, imperialist cauldron of injustice can have greater impact on the students he seeks to mold into his conception of the “good citizen” — and on the teachers he is teaching to be preachers. Writing trenchantly about how this system of “critical pedagogy” short-changes the basic education needs of disadvantaged children, the City Journal’s Sol Stern observes that theorists like Klonsky and Ayers:
nurse a rancorous view of an America in which it is always two minutes to midnight and a knock on the door by the thought police is imminent. The education professors feel themselves anointed to use the nation’s K-12 classrooms to resist this oppressive system. Thus … teachers [are urged] not to mince words with children about the evils of the existing social order. They should portray “homelessness as a consequence of the private dealings of landlords, an arms buildup as a consequence of corporate decisions, racial exclusion as a consequence of a private property-holder’s choice.” In other words, they should turn the little ones into young socialists and critical theorists.
Klonsky himself confirms that this is precisely the goal (italics mine):
[S]uccessful social justice education ensures that teachers strike a balance between debating sociopolitical problems that affect children’s lives and teaching them academic basics on which they will be tested. A science teacher can plant an urban garden, allowing students to learn about plant biology, the imbalance in how fresh produce is distributed and how that affects the health of community residents. An English teacher can explore misogyny or materialism in American culture through the lens of hip-hop lyrics. Or as Rico Gutstein, a professor of mathematics education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, suggests, a math teacher can run probability simulations using real data to understand the dynamics behind income inequality or racial profiling. These are “examples of lessons where you can really learn the math basics,” he says, “but the purpose of learning the math actually becomes an entree into, and a deeper understanding of, the political ramifications of the issue.”
When Obama and Ayers collaborated together on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) education-reform project, with Obama chairing the board that oversaw funding decisions, CAC underwrote the Klonsky/Ayers Small Schools Workshop with a whopping $1,056,162. And that’s not all. Nearly another million dollars was steered to the Small Schools Workshop by the Joyce and Woods Funds when Obama sat on their boards. The grand total comes to $1,968,718.
Furthermore, as education remains one of Obama’s core areas of concern — a fact that should frighten you — he gave Klonsky a microphone during the campaign. On the Obama campaign’s official website, Klonsky ran a blog for the candidate, as Klonsky put it, on “education politics and teaching for social justice.” He ran it, that is, until blogger Steve Diamond called attention to it back in June. A that point, the campaign scrubbed the site of all Klonsky traces — a fitting Stalinesque purge, described by Diamond here (and reminiscent of similar efforts to erase the campaign’s false claims about Obama’s relationship with ACORN).
Of course, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” John Stuart Mill called conservatives “the stupid party.” For countless American intellectuals, including many eventual giants of the Right, disdain for bourgeois values led to a ruinous infatuation with the Soviet Union — the audacity of their hope for perfecting mankind blinding them to the unremitting misery wrought by communist ideology.
In 1951, the legendary liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas insisted that, though communism might be a threat abroad, the movement in this country was a mere “bogeyman” that had been “thoroughly exposed” and “crippled as a political force.” We now know that even as he wrote those words, communists had covertly infiltrated the U.S. government at high levels and that, as a political force, the movement was just getting started. The Klonskys and Ayers were still on the horizon.
Now today’s elites, including some prominent conservative intellectuals, thumb their noses once again at the stupid party. They look longingly at the putatively cerebral Obama, a fit more to their liking even if his politics are, they hope, just a tad wayward. But the Leftist revolutionaries are under no such illusions. In Obama, they see the fulfillment of their dreams to remake America. As Klonsky has explained, “My own support for Obama is … a recognition that the Obama campaign has become a rallying point for young activists and offers hope for rebuilding the civil rights and antiwar coalitions that have potential to become a real critical force in society.”
So get ready for Klonsky’s “social justice.” It’s what Barack Obama calls “change.”
24 October 2008
by Austin Hill
Why has a guy named Joe from Holland, Ohio, been a hot topic among the two dominant presidential campaigns?
Could it be that there are millions of other Americans just like him, and we pose a challenge for politicians of all stripes - - especially Democrats?
Of course, I’m referring to Joe Wurzelbacher, the plumber from Ohio who, caught on video questioning Barack Obama about his tax hike plans on October 11th, was told by the Senator that “when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Since the publicizing of that video on Youtube Dot Com, Joe has appeared as a guest on the CBS Evening News, Fox News channel’s “Your World With Neil Cavuto,” And ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.” Joe was also referenced more than 20 times at the third and final presidential debate last week, as John McCain looked into the tv camera and assured Joe that he won’t raise Joe’s taxes, and then repeatedly criticized Obama’s plan to “spread the wealth.”
A week later, the candidates are still talking about this guy. McCain and Palin speak supportively of Joe the plumber, and express their intentions to keep Joe’s tax burden low. And amazingly, presidential candidate Barack Obama and vide presidential candidate Joe Biden, with people around the globe watching their every move, have taken to belittling, impugning, and maligning their fellow American, the very-middleclass Joe Wurzelbacher.
Insisting that his tax plan will only raise taxes on those earning in excess of $250,000 a year, Obama has repeatedly scoffed at Joe the plumber, asking “how many plumbers make a quarter of a million dollars?” And Biden joked on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno that he wants to help real plumbers who are “actually licensed.”
Obama and Biden may both be surprised to know that, in many states, individual plumbers can practice their craft under the auspices of someone else’s license - - like, for example, the owner of the plumbing company that employs them. They may also be shocked to learn that, yes, plumbers and owners of plumbing companies can, and often do earn $250,000 a year or more. We still call them “small businesses” - - and they are some of the very businesses that will be endangered should the Obama-Biden economic plan become law.
But why is Obama, the multi-millionaire graduate of an elite Ivy League school, spending his precious campaign time trying to discredit one blue collar, middleclass man from the swing state of Ohio? Perhaps it is because Wurzelbacher threatens Obama’s assumptions about America.
Joe Wurzelbacher symbolizes the American middleclass in ways that we simply haven’t seen it symbolized in the media for a long time. So far as we know, Wurzelbacher has no direct or familial connections to the epicenters of American power - - elite schools, Fortune 500 companies, Washington politicians, and so forth. But this doesn’t leave Joe feeling like a victim.
Indeed, the hard working “Joe the plumber” apparently views himself as upwardly mobile, and fears that his government will punish him financially once he achieves his idea of “the American Dream.” To be sure, Wurzelbacher never told Obama that he earns over $250,000 a year (that’s Obama’s own misrepresentation of the facts). On the contrary, Joe said that he intends to, in the future, generate that level of income.
But perhaps most importantly, Wurzelbacher (and those of us like him) doesn’t get any satisfaction from tax policies that impugn those above him on the social ladder. We are horrified, not enchanted, by Obama’s third-world style class warfare and politics of envy. We aspire to achieve as the millionaire’s in our midst have achieved (even the millionaire named Barack). And we also understand that to economically malign one category of Americans, is to malign us all.
Governor Sarah Palin represents this middleclass paradigm beautifully. And she articulates the middleclass vision better than anyone else in the current race.
But regardless of whether or not the McCain/Palin ticket wins next month, the independently-minded American middleclass has been awakened, thanks in no small part to Joe, and Sarah. Consequently, Obama, Biden, Pelosi and company will find it far more difficult to enact their socialist vision for America.
23 October 2008
By Charles Krauthammer
Let me get this straight: A couple of agitated yahoos in a rally of thousands yell something offensive and incendiary, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are not just guilty by association — with total strangers, mind you — but worse: guilty according to the New York Times of “race-baiting and xenophobia.”
But should you bring up Barack Obama’s real associations — 20 years with Jeremiah Wright, working on two foundations and distributing money with William Ayers, citing the raving Michael Pfleger as one who helps him keep his moral compass (Chicago Sun-Times, April 2004) and the long-standing relationship with the left-wing vote-fraud specialist ACORN — you have crossed the line into illegitimate guilt by association. Moreover, it is tinged with racism.
The fact that, when John McCain actually heard one of those nasty things said about Obama, he incurred the boos of his own crowd by insisting that Obama is “a decent person that you do not have to be scared (of) as president” makes no difference. It surely did not stop John Lewis from comparing McCain to George Wallace.
The search for McCain’s racial offenses is untiring and often unhinged. Remember McCain’s Berlin/celebrity ad that showed a shot of Paris Hilton? An appalling attempt to exploit white hostility at the idea of black men “becoming sexually involved with white women,” fulminated New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. He took to TV to denounce McCain’s exhumation of that most vile prejudice, pointing out McCain’s gratuitous insertion in the ad of “two phallic symbols,” the Washington Monument and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Except that Herbert was entirely delusional. There was no Washington Monument. There was no Leaning Tower. Just photographs seen in every newspaper in the world of Barack Obama’s Berlin rally in the setting he himself had chosen, Berlin’s Victory Column.
Herbert is not the only fevered one. On Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Jonathan Alter of Newsweek fell over themselves agreeing that the “political salience” of the Republican attack on ACORN is, yes, its unstated appeal to racial prejudice.
This about an organization that is being accused of voter registration fraud in about a dozen states. In Nevada, the investigating secretary of state is a Democrat. Is he playing the race card too?
What makes the charges against McCain especially revolting is that he has been scrupulous in eschewing the race card. He has gone far beyond what is right and necessary, refusing even to make an issue of Obama’s deep, self-declared connection with the race-baiting Jeremiah Wright.
In the name of racial rectitude, McCain has denied himself the use of that perfectly legitimate issue. It is simply Orwellian for him to be now so widely vilified as a stoker of racism. What makes it doubly Orwellian is that these charges are being made on behalf of the one presidential candidate who has repeatedly, and indeed quite brilliantly, deployed the race card.
How brilliantly? The reason Bill Clinton is sulking in his tent is because he feels that Obama surrogates succeeded in painting him as a racist. Clinton has many sins, but from his student days to his post-presidency, his commitment and sincerity in advancing the cause of African-Americans have been undeniable. If the man Toni Morrison called the first black president can be turned into a closet racist, then anyone can.
And Obama has shown no hesitation in doing so to McCain. Just weeks ago, in Springfield, Missouri — and elsewhere — he warned darkly that George W. Bush and John McCain were going to try to frighten you by saying that, among other scary things, Obama has “a funny name” and “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills.”
McCain has never said that, nor anything like that. When asked at the time to produce one instance of McCain deploying race, the Obama campaign could not. Yet here was Obama firing a pre-emptive charge of racism against a man who had not indulged in it. An extraordinary rhetorical feat, and a dishonorable one.
What makes this all the more dismaying is that it comes from Barack Obama, who has consistently presented himself as a healer, a man of a new generation above and beyond race, the man who would turn the page on the guilt-tripping grievance politics of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
I once believed him.
From The Washington Times
Over the weekend, Montgomery County Police arrested Jose Juan Garcia-Perlera, 33, for a string of home invasions and a murder he was linked to through DNA evidence. This is an unending saga in the Washington area, involving crime, illegal immigration and local governments' safe-haven policies.
For 13 months, Mr. Garcia-Perlera allegedly made a pretty good living as a home burglar. According to authorities, he got up every morning, traveled from his home in Hyattsville about 10 or 15 miles to Montgomery County neighborhoods - Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Potomac - casing homes of the elderly. He would then presumably strike days later - breaking in, hog-tying the homeowners - 92, 77, 84 and 85, 78, 63 years of age - and absconding with the goods. The next day he walked or drove to Fred's Pawn Shop about a half-mile away from his Hyattsville apartment to unload his ill-gotten bounty and collect his evil greenbacks.
Anyone who grew up in Hyattsville, Langley Park, Bladensburg, Riverdale and other towns in Prince George's County along the District's northeastern border knows that things have changed dramatically in the past 15 years. These towns have large immigrant communities, including many who are illegally in the United States. While most of these illegals are trying to live productive, law-abiding lives, a minority are bent on indulging in a more predatory lifestyle. No matter, they are here - presumably without our knowledge - and they are not supposed to be. As the old saying goes, "It ain't hard to tell."
Local police, county executives and council members and members of the mundane bureaucracy know exactly where they are and in many cases who they are. But for some reason, they won't lift a finger to follow the law - our federal laws against illegal immigration. Perhaps some immigrants got fed up with the system after all these years. Illegals would be deported back to their home countries, but they would re-enter the United States. Legal immigrants would run into them again months later, right back in the neighborhood in this country. This occurred because the federal government was doing the same thing it is today - failing to police the nation's borders.
Every year newspapers log hundreds of stories about crimes committed by illegal immigrants, typically burying in paragraph 7, 8 or 13 the fact that "He is not a U.S. citizen" (as The Washington Post did in its story on Mr. Garcia-Perlera.) From reading these accounts, is, one might think the matter of immigration status is some trivial matter.
With the passage of the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration law in 1986, the border line was erased and every year since, Americans either visiting the border or looking at maps may wonder if anyone - the presidential candidates, the Border Patrol, the media, average citizens - will get angry enough or concerned enough to make an effort to draw it again.
22 October 2008
by Thomas Sowell
Apparently there is something about Sarah Palin that causes some people to think of her as either the best of candidates or the worst of candidates. She draws enthusiastic crowds and provokes visceral hostility in the media.
The issue that is raised most often is her relative lack of experience and the fact that she would be "a heartbeat away from the presidency" if Senator John McCain were elected. But Barack Obama has even less experience-- none in an executive capacity-- and his would itself be the heartbeat of the presidency if he were elected.
Sarah Palin's record is on the record, while whole years of Barack Obama's life are engulfed in fog, and he has had to explain away one after another of the astounding and vile people he has not merely "associated" with but has had political alliances with, and to whom he has directed the taxpayers' money and other money.
Sarah Palin has had executive experience-- and the White House is the executive branch of government. We don't have to judge her by her rhetoric because she has a record.
We don't know what Barack Obama will actually do because he has actually done very little for which he was personally accountable. Even as a state legislator, he voted "present" innumerable times instead of taking a stand one way or the other on tough issues.
"Clean up the mess in Washington"? He was part of the mess in Chicago and lined up with the Daley machine against reformers.
He is also part of the mess in Washington, not only with numerous earmarks, but also as the Senate's second largest recipient of money from Fannie Mae, and someone whose campaign has this year sought the advice of disgraced former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, who was at the heart of the subprime crisis.
Why then the enthusiasm for Obama and the hostility to Sarah Palin in the media?
One reason of course is that Senator Obama is ideologically much closer to the views of the media than is Governor Palin. But there is more than that. There are other conservative politicians who do not evoke such anger, spite and hate.
Sarah Palin is the one real outsider among the four candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency on the Republican and Democratic tickets. Her whole career has been spent outside the Washington Beltway.
More than that, her whole life has been outside the realm familiar to the intelligentsia of the media. She didn't go to the big-name colleges and imbibe the heady atmosphere that leaves so many feeling that they are special folks. She doesn't talk the way they talk or think the way they think.
Worse yet, from the media's perspective, Sarah Palin does not seek their Good Housekeeping seal of approval.
Much is made of Senator Joe Biden's "experience." But Frederick the Great said that experience matters only when valid conclusions are drawn from it.
Senator Biden's "experience" has been a long history of being on the wrong side of issue after issue in foreign policy. He was one of those Senators who voted to pull the plug on financial aid to South Vietnam, which was still defending itself from Communist invaders after the pullout of American troops.
Biden opposed Ronald Reagan's military buildup that helped win the Cold War. He opposed the surge in Iraq last year.
Sarah Palin will not be ready to become President of the United States on the first day that she and John McCain take office. Nobody is.
But being Vice President is a job that can allow a lot of time for studying, and everything about Governor Palin's career says that she is a bright gal with her head on straight. The country needs that far more than it needs people with glib answers to media "gotcha" questions.
Whatever the shortcomings of John McCain and Sarah Palin, they are people whose values are the values of this nation, whose loyalty and dedication to this country's fundamental institutions are beyond question because they have not spent decades working with people who hate America. Nor are they people whose judgments have been proved wrong consistently during decades of Beltway "experience."
21 October 2008
By Michelle Malkin
Six-term Sen. Joe Biden’s got some nerve going after citizen Joe the Plumber. But the entrenched politician from Delaware, who fancies himself the nation’s No. 1 Ordinary Joe, had no choice. Obama-Biden simply can’t tolerate an outspoken citizen successfully painting the Democratic ticket as socialist overlords. And so a dirty, desperate war against Joe Wurzelbacher is on.
The left’s political plumbers are attacking the messenger, rummaging through his personal life and predictably wielding the race card once again. It’s standard operating procedure for the Obama thug machine.
Wurzelbacher, in case you’ve been in hibernation, is the small-business man from Ohio who questioned Obama about his tax plan during a Toledo campaign swing last weekend. The revealing exchange was caught on tape and broadcast widely across the Internet and TV airwaves.
In response to Wurzelbacher’s question about why he should be “taxed more and more for fulfilling the American dream,“ Obama sermonized that he needed to “spread the wealth around” because “it’s good for everybody.”
John McCain flung that chilling Marxist mantra back in Obama’s face during Wednesday night’s presidential debate and repeatedly cited Joe the Plumber’s plight.
Obama squirmed. The dirt-diggers started Googling. And the next morning, six-term Sen. Biden launched the first salvo against the Ohio entrepreneur on NBC’s Today Show, challenging the veracity of his story: “I don’t have any Joe the Plumbers in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year.”
Under an Obama-Biden administration, they’ll make sure no Joe the Plumbers ever earn such a salary. “It's good for everybody,” don’t you know?
Biden, as is so often the case, twisted the facts about Wurzelbacher. No surprise there. Slick Joe Biden is the one who tells fables about visiting a diner in Delaware that hasn’t been open in years; spins yarns about getting “forced down” in a helicopter over Afghanistan because of perilous conditions that turned out to be weather related, not al-Qaida related; and continues to slander the family of the man involved in his wife and daughter’s fatal car accident (crash investigators cleared the now-deceased driver of drunk driving, despite Biden’s insinuations). But I digress.
Wurzelbacher never claimed to be making $250,000 a year. He told Obama that he might be “getting ready to buy a company that makes about $250,000, $270,000” a year. His simple point was that Obama’s punitive tax proposals would make it more difficult to realize his dream.
Obama’s followers couldn't handle the incontrovertible truth. Left-wing blogs immediately went to work, blaring headlines like “Not A Real $250k Plumber!” Next, they falsely accused Wurzelbacher of not being registered to vote — he’s registered in Lucas County, Ohio, and voted as a Republican in this year’s primary.
Next, they called him a liar for identifying himself as undecided. Only registered Democrats and fake Republican tools used in mainstream media stories and YouTube debates are allowed to use that label, you see.
Next, award-winning liberal blogger Joshua Marshall cast Wurzelbacher as some kind of rabid freak for calling Social Security a “joke” — as if no working-class Americans could believe that the federal government’s entitlement programs were a rip-off unless they were bought and paid for by the McCain campaign.
Then, suddenly, the journalists who wouldn’t lift a finger to investigate Obama’s longtime relationships with Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright sprang into action rifling through citizen Joe Wurzelbacher’s tax records. Politico.com reported breathlessly: “Samuel J. Wurzelbacher has a lien placed against him to the tune of $1,182.92. The lien is dated from January of ’07.” Press outlets probed his divorce records. The local plumbers union, which has endorsed Obama, claimed he didn’t do their required apprenticeship work and didn’t have a license to work outside his local township.
After Wurzelbacher told Katie Couric that Obama’s rhetorical tap dance was “almost as good as Sammy Davis, Jr.,” the inevitable cries of “bigotry” followed. (There are now tens of thousands of hits on the Internet for “Joe the Plumber racist.”)
Welcome to Joe the Plumber Derangement Syndrome. If you can’t beat him, smear him. It’s the Obama way.
20 October 2008
By Andrew C. McCarthy
This is rich.
Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign is complaining to the Justice Department about the attention being focused on the determined effort by ACORN, Obama’s wholly owned vote-fraud division, to steal the 2008 election. Adding ignorance to gall, the campaign demands that what it calls a “Special Prosecutor” must investigate not ACORN but — you guessed it — the McCain campaign and the Bush administration.
The art form to which chutzpah has been raised in this instance is a letter from the Obama campaign’s top lawyer, Robert Bauer of the Perkins Coie law firm in Washington. Of course these days, due to the intricate web of traps for the unwary known as “campaign finance regulations” — for which Sen. McCain has no one but himself to blame — all candidates for high office need legal teams. Obama, though, is a special case.
When not scorching the earth to destroy ordinary citizens who have the temerity to ask the messiah blunt questions, or threatening political opponents with prosecution for campaigning against him, or promising war crimes investigations against the opposition party if Americans are daft enough to put his toadies in charge of the Justice Department, Obama comrades can be found editing the amendments to the last modification of their most recently restated campaign-finance reporting errors.
One day the candidate is taking money hand over fist from fictitious supporters like “Good Will” and “Doodad Pro.” The next day, he is illegally raising funds from foreigners (perhaps more than a staggering $63 million), including from Palestinians — who figure a candidate who pours tens of thousands of dollars into the coffers of a terror-supporting former PLO spokesman like Rashid Khalidi is a safe bet to make a prophet out of Jesse Jackson. On still other days, Obama finds himself having to explain his campaign’s misrepresentation of the $800,000 payday it gave his old pals at ACORN.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, is essentially a Marxist shakedown outfit. One of its main rackets is election fraud — but it can also be very helpful if you happen to be a Leftist activist who finds himself needing, say, to foment a riot, vandalize public property, shut down legislative hearings or opposition conferences, harass the families of elected officials, extort leave-us-alone pay-offs from banks, promote illegal immigration, or the like.
Like ACORN, Obama is a community organizer in the Saul Alinsky radical mode, and he goes way back — two decades back — with the organization. He represented ACORN as a lawyer, taught “organizing” to ACORN’s up and coming rabble-rousers, colluded with ACORN in Chicago “get out the vote” projects, funded ACORN when he sat on the boards of left-wing charities, and exploited ACORN’s enthusiastic support when he won his senate seat in 2004 — a victory the “non-partisan” ACORN can’t help itself but claim credit for.
THE SPECIAL-PROSECUTOR CANARD
And now, as the heat has been turned up on ACORN for tossing what little caution it has ever had to the wind as it goes into overdrive on Obama’s behalf, The One himself is riding to the rescue. In an Orwellian brush-back pitch, the Obama campaign demands that DOJ investigate the McCain campaign and Bush Justice Department officials for what it portrays as the trumpeting of “unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”
Before we get to that last farcical assertion (by the guy who wants to be responsible for enforcing federal law, no less), Obama ought to be embarrassed by the sheer stupidity the letter conveys.
Bauer addresses his complaints to both Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Connecticut U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy. Why Dannehy? Because, according to Bauer, she is the “Special Prosecutor” appointed by Mukasey to investigate whether crimes were committed in connection with President Bush’s firing of nine U.S. attorneys. “The appointment of a Special Prosecutor was necessary,” Obama’s legal beagle opines, “because the Department’s leadership was the focus of the investigation and unable to credibly undertake an independent, professional and credible inquiry.”
Wrong. Glenn Fine, the DOJ inspector-general appointed by President Clinton and retained by President Bush (since keeping George Tenet on at CIA was apparently not enough), issued a Democrat-pleasing report calling for an investigation of the already mega-investigated U.S. attorney firings — notwithstanding that the president’s termination of executive branch appointees is not a crime. Mukasey responded by selecting Dannehy to lead the probe. But Dannehy is not a “Special Prosecutor.”
Instead, because the investigation involves officials who worked in Washington at either Main Justice or the White House, the attorney general determined it would raise potential conflicts of interest to assign a prosecutor from Main Justice or the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington. As is routinely the case in such circumstances, the investigation was given to a veteran prosecutor from another district, in this case, Connecticut. The investigation, however, is still being done by the Justice Department. Dannehy is not independent. She reports to the deputy attorney general (which is standard — all district U.S. attorneys report to the DAG). The DAG reports to Mukasey. The Justice Department is not recused from the investigation (as it was, for example, when Patrick Fitzgerald prosecuted Scooter Libby or when Lawrence Walsh investigated Iran-Contra).
One has to figure that Obama, a U.S. senator running for president, and his hot-shot Washington lawyer grasp the elementary difference between “independent” and “not independent.” So why publicly file a letter that is so wildly off base? Obviously because the letter is a political document, not a legal one.
Obama clearly hopes to discredit the multiple ongoing investigations of ACORN by tainting DOJ with the Democrats’ trumped up claim that empty GOP allegations of election fraud prompted the U.S. attorney firings. The thin reed for this is David Iglesias, the U.S. attorney in New Mexico who was dismissed after the state’s top Republicans complained that he was not moving on vote-fraud cases.
The claim won’t wash. To begin with, it’s not even accurate as to Iglesias. Obama’s lawyer suggests that election fraud “did not exist” in New Mexico; in fact, what Iglesias found was that whatever fraud his office had learned about could not be reached by federal law. That’s because, as Bauer conveniently fails to mention, elections — even federal elections — are state-run affairs. Absent strong evidence of an interstate scheme of fraud or, say, use of the U.S. mails to carry out the fraud, election improprieties do not violate federal law no matter how clear they may be.
OBAMA & ACORN, ATTACHED AT THE HIP
Which brings us to ACORN. Obama’s longtime ally is now being investigated in at least 14 different states for election fraud. Cynically, Obama is banking on the fact that most people don’t grasp the state/federal distinction. By taking aim at the Justice Department, his letter obscures the fact that the numerous investigations of ACORN have been undertaken not by DOJ but by state authorities — and in some instances by Democrat law-enforcement officials who find themselves unable to turn a blind-eye to ACORN’s blatant tactics.
For example, in Nevada, where ACORN appears to have submitted thousands of phony voter registrations — including filings on behalf of the Dallas Cowboys’ star players — the FBI participated with other agencies in a raid on ACORN’s Las Vegas office. But the investigation is being run by state authorities, not the feds.
The choice to use the Cowboys makes perfect sense, for when it comes to fraud, ACORN truly is America’s Team. As Jim Hoft details in a useful Pajamas Media account, “The Complete Guide to ACORN Voter Fraud,” state agencies are examining ACORN’s activities not just in Nevada but in North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Connecticut, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Michigan, and New Mexico (where Iglesias may be gone but ACORN is alive and well).
This year alone, ACORN has filed 1.3 million voter registrations, and already — without thorough scrutiny by forensic law-enforcement investigators — tens of thousands of them are known to be fraudulent. The group, moreover, is known to have bribed voters to register dozens of times and to have hired convicted felons as registration recruiters.
Interestingly, ACORN’s Nevada program is known as “Project Vote.” As detailed by Steve Gilbert at Sweetness & Light, Project Vote has long been ACORN’s “voter mobilization” arm. In 1992, it was directed in Chicago by a young “community organizer” named Barack Obama. The resulting registration of 150,000 new voters became the springboard for his political career. As observed about Obama’s efforts by top ACORN agitator Madeline Talbott (a staunch proponent of the lawlessness ACORN euphemistically calls “direct action”): “Barack has proven himself among our members. He is committed to organizing, to building a democracy. Above all else, he is a good listener, and we accept and respect him as a kindred spirit, a fellow organizer.”
ACORN is not just carrying out voter fraud in the here and now. Over the years, as Hoft recounts, several its operatives have been convicted for these activities. And how could it be otherwise? What voters need to understand is that ACORN is a revolutionary Leftist organization. It was founded in 1970 by Wade Rathke, a former member of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) — the Communist organization from which Bill Ayers’ Weatherman terrorist group split off in the late Sixties. It is adherent to the radical principles of Saul Alinsky, of whom Obama is a disciple — in fact, he authored a chapter in an anthology called After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois.
Under the aforementioned heading of “direct action,” ACORN has made fraud, extortion, harassment, and menacing core parts of its modus operandi. As a matter of principle, ACORN believes that the established bourgeois American order is racist, materialist, imperialist and illegitimate. ACORN no more cares about election laws than about other laws it decides must be circumvented in the service of the higher purpose it reveres: “Change.”
For nearly 20 years, Obama and ACORN have been attached at the hip. And now he rides to ACORN’s rescue.
by George H. Wittman
The lowest-ranking enlisted persons in the Armed Forces of the United States who are expected to handle sensitive matters in the scores of jobs involving classified equipment or written material must be investigated before obtaining their security clearance. Could Barack Obama gain such a clearance?
To begin, the clearance applicant would have to complete a detailed personal history form that includes, if necessary, government access to all health and education files. This is the starting point of all security investigations. Top Secret clearance involves a field investigation rather than the Secret version that is usually limited to a "name check" that is a basic police and public information file review. For the TS clearance an investigator will visit the home neighborhoods and work place sites of the applicant in search of supportive and/or derogatory references.
If the clearance is extended further into the handling of information of such importance that it requires a compartmented distribution, the field and document investigation is pursued with considerable vigor over a lengthy period of time. Nuclear and other sensitive technical or political matters fall into this category.
In all cases, whether on the lower level or up to the most sensitive intelligence, the background of the applicant's personal and business involvement forms the nucleus of the initial phase of the investigation. The people with whom the applicant associates lead the investigator to personal connections and matters relative to the individual's character, beliefs and past acts appropriate to matters of security.
Eligibility for clearance at all levels is directly influenced by the people with whom one associates. Yes, who your friends are and have been does count -- a great deal. This is true, of course, in many types of police investigations where suspicion is adequate reason for further inquiry. In matters of security clearance, past associations often can mean the end of the process rather than just the beginning.
Considering Barack Obama as a candidate for a top secret security clearance status with a full array of compartmented clearances, one has to be cognizant of the fact that there is considerable evidence of associations and even assistance from individuals with past criminal records or who have expressed anti-American beliefs. Obviously admitted domestic terrorists William Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, as well as recently convicted felon, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, fall into this category.
There is no possibility that a Top Secret clearance would be awarded to a member of the Armed Forces whose background included such associations. An intelligence service clearance for the handling of highly classified material would be totally out of the question.
IF THERE IS SOME hesitancy to accept that Barack Obama's associations would have precluded his obtaining a TS clearance with compartmented information access, it should be realized he would have had to pass both a polygraph test and a personal psychological evaluation. What are the chances of his being willing to take these tests, to say nothing of his passing, in light of his refusal even to make his educational records available?
It may be deemed unfair, but a child of an American mother and a foreign-born non-U.S. citizen father always receives additional scrutiny. So does the fact that questions have arisen concerning the source of funding for Obama's law school education. According to a well-researched article by Kenneth Timmerman (Newsmax), Obama was assisted financially by Khalid al-Mansour through the latter's rich Saudi contacts. Mansour has been referred to as a "Black Nationalist and a Black Muslim" who was a mentor to the founders of the radical Black Panther Party of the 1960s.
All of these matters would have arisen in a normal security clearance. The harsh truth is that the United States is willing to accept presidential candidates like Barack H. Obama who could never gain a Top Secret clearance if he was simply a U.S. Army enlisted man. And yet Obama wants to be Commander-in-Chief. Something is wrong here!
19 October 2008
We occasionally here about Mr.Ayers, and the Weather Underground. But you never hear enough about who they actually were. Here is a primer:
Federal Bureau Of Investigation
I know what you Libtards are thinking. The past is the past. Fair enough. So if a candidate had an associate that was a Nazi, the past would be the past,right? That's not how it works. Mr. Ayers participated against physical attacks against the United States of America to include bombings. But this is ok, right? These are the type of people Obama embraces for "Change".
For a related post, and the flame war that follows, go here.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation
Twenty-nine years ago Thursday, an explosion rocked the headquarters of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. No one was hurt, but the damage was extensive, impacting twenty offices on three separate floors. Hours later, another bomb was found at a military induction center in Oakland, California, and safely detonated. A domestic terrorist group called the Weather Underground claimed responsibility. Remember them?
Who were these extremists? The Weather Underground -- originally called the Weathermen, taken from a line in a Bob Dylan song -- was a small, violent offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), created in the turbulent ‘60s to promote social change.
When the SDS collapsed in 1969, the Weather Underground stepped forward, inspired by communist ideologies and embracing violence and crime as a way to protest the Vietnam War, racism, and other left-wing aims. “Our intention is to disrupt the empire ... to incapacitate it, to put pressure on the cracks,” claimed the group’s 1974 manifesto, Prairie Fire. By the next year, the group had claimed credit for 25 bombings and would be involved in many more over the next several years.
The Chase. The FBI doggedly pursued these terrorists as their attacks mounted. Many members were soon identified, but their small numbers and guerilla tactics helped them hide under assumed identities. In 1978, however, the Bureau arrested five members who were plotting to bomb a politician’s office. More were arrested when an accident destroyed the group’s bomb factory in Hoboken, New Jersey. Others were identified after two policemen and a Brinks’ driver were murdered in a botched armored car robbery in Nanuet, New York.
Success for the FBI/NYPD Task Force. Key to disrupting the group for good was the newly created FBI-New York City Police Anti Terrorist Task Force. It brought together the strengths of both organizations and focused them on these domestic terrorists. The task force and others like it paved the way for today’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces -- created by the Bureau in each of its field offices to fuse federal, state, and local law enforcement and intelligence resources to combat today's terrorist threats.
By the mid-'80s, the Weather Underground was essentially history. Still, several of these fugitives were able to successfully hide themselves for decades, emerging only in recent years to answer for their crimes. Once again, it shows that grit and partnerships can and will defeat shadowy, resilient terrorist groups.
I know what you Libtards are thinking. The past is the past. Fair enough. So if a candidate had an associate that was a Nazi, the past would be the past,right? That's not how it works. Mr. Ayers participated against physical attacks against the United States of America to include bombings. But this is ok, right? These are the type of people Obama embraces for "Change".
For a related post, and the flame war that follows, go here.
From The Washington Times
There is little doubt now that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was either co-opted by an outside group bent on committing massive voter fraud to rig this election, was a willing participant or was itself intent on doing just that.
The case of Darnell Nash, a voter from Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland) is the necessary proof that adds fuel to the fire of similar voter-registration-fraud allegations that have been circulating around the nation for a month now. Mr. Nash not only filled out numerous registration forms for ACORN and used an address that wasn't his, but he has admitted to voting using one of those fraudulent registrations, according to the New York Post.
Ohio election officials are playing down the fraud aspect. But that shouldn't surprise anyone considering the manner in which Ohio officials conducted the 2004 election and the widespread allegations of selective closing of certain polls at quitting time and the leaving open of others based on the preponderance of party registrations.
But those were allegations in 2004. This is actual voter fraud in 2008 - not registration fraud, where intent is difficult to ascertain. This time someone submitted a fraudulent registration with the intent of casting a phony ballot to influence the election.
Not since the 1960 election between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, when Democrats and Republicans were both involved in questionable vote-rigging games - fraudulent absentee ballots from dead people in Chicago and voter suppression and intimidation in the South - was this type of evidence discovered. And the discovery did not occur before the election took place.
Voters demand election integrity. John McCain and Barack Obama must show leadership by joining forces and working out an agreement with their respective parties, states and election officials, to ensure fraud-free elections over the next 22 days. The agreement should:
-- List every precinct in battleground states where either party fears there is a potential for voter intimidation, fraud or mistrust of the tabulation process.
-- Recruit a volunteer for each named precinct to work jointly as an observation team.
-- Recruit bipartisan teams that would oversee multiple precincts and respond to and investigate reports of problems.
-- Establish clear rules for when polling places will be kept open after the closing time established by law.
This is the suggestion offered by former Sens. John Danforth and Warren Rudman, who co-chair Mr. McCain's Honest and Open Election Committee. This discussion should take place tonight during the debate. Also, Mr. Obama, whose campaign paid ACORN $800,000 to register voters during the primary, should be saddled with the burden of proof and take the lead in addressing the allegations.
Regardless of what the campaigns decide to do, state and local officials will have to spend the next three weeks going over every ACORN-sponsored registration they have received - all 1.3 million of them.
18 October 2008
From Town Hall
Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Friday kept up the Republican ticket's attack on a community activist group that registers voters and cited an Ohio plumber's encounter with Democrat Barack Obama as indicative of his tax policies.
Campaigning in one of the swing state's conservative strongholds, Palin said Obama hasn't been forthcoming about his ties to ACORN, the Association of Community Activists for Reform Now. The group faces allegations of voter registration fraud in Ohio and other states.
Obama has said he doesn't have any significant links to the group.
"You deserve to know," Palin told thousands surrounding her stage in a suburban community park. "This group needs to learn that you here in Ohio won't let them turn the Buckeye State into the Acorn State."
The FBI is investigating whether ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election, according to senior law enforcement officials who spoke to the Associated Press Thursday.
The Obama campaign on Friday rejected claims of any ties to the group.
"They are not...an agent of this campaign, they did not perform registration services for this campaign," Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer said.
In a letter to Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey on Friday, Bauer asked that any investigation into registration irregularities be turned over to a special prosecutor currently investigating partisan political firings of U.S. attorneys nearly two years ago.
"It is highly likely that the very sort of politically motivated conduct identified in the Department's investigation to date, necessitating the appointment of a special prosecutor, is repeating itself, and for the same reason: unwarranted and politically motivated intervention in the upcoming election," Bauer wrote.
In Ohio, with the crowd chanting "Joe! Joe! Joe!" Palin also referred to Joe Wurzelbacher, the plumber repeatedly cited by McCain in Wednesday night's presidential debate as an example of a hardworking American concerned that Obama will raise his taxes.
The Toledo-area man, who doesn't have a plumber's license and owes the state back taxes, would receive a tax cut under the plan offered by Obama. Still, Palin argued that Wurzelbacher showed how the Democrat's ideas would have damaging consequences.
"We've really got to hand it to Joe," Palin said. "Somehow he got Barack Obama to finally state his intentions in plain language _ Sen. Obama said he wants to spread the wealth and he wants government to take your money and decide how to best redistribute it."
After the crowd booed, Palin added: "Joe suggested that sounded a little bit like socialism. Whatever you call it, I call it bad medicine for an ailing economy."
Scott Owens, Butler County chairman for the McCain campaign, said 15,000 tickets to the event were handed out and estimated that the crowd was near that number.
by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
WASHINGTON -- How is it that Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain has been badly damaged by this financial crisis while the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama, is successfully presenting himself as a financial genius, capable of working Christ’s miracle of the loaves and fishes on our economy?
The financial markets froze up because the Democrats prevailed on mortgage lenders -- mainly Freddie Mac and Fannie Mac -- to relax standards against thitherto unqualified property buyers. They did it out of an ideological commitment to their thesis that poor people living in private homes would be better citizens. It was a noble vision. Yet it was economically untenable. A huge real estate bubble resulted, and now that the bubble has burst the entire economy is imperiled.
Curiously, the Democrats have not suffered the consequences of their “deregulation” of the mortgage market. Instead, they have hung the “deregulation” canard on McCain. As the record makes clear, it is McCain who signed on to a letter with 19 other Republican senators in 2006 calling for the tightening up of Fannie and Freddie’s loans. Even before that, in the summer of 2005, Republican Senator Richard Shelby fashioned a bill in the Senate Banking Committee to impose stricter regulations on Fannie and Freddie only to see it blocked from getting to the Senate floor by a party line vote that kept it in committee. The Republicans favored this regulation tightening. The Democrats opposed it.
In an early example of his slipperiness, Senator Obama stood with his fellow Democrats in opposing the bill. Then he went on record opposing his own vote by writing the Secretary of the Treasury that subprime mortgages are dangerous. As has been said of other evasive politicians, Obama is a chameleon on plaid. Apparently a chameleon on plaid can escape the media’s accountability even as he boldly opposes stricter regulations on subprime loans while writing the Treasury to oppose such loans. Yet how is it that the media have given the entire Democratic Party a pass on their advocacy of subprime loans?
As this election grinds on I am frequently reminded that voters are not getting the whole story, that coverage is amazingly slanted towards an inexperienced Obama who, incidentally, comes from a very dubious background. I have been especially aware of this since September 26. That was when The American Spectator online reported that Senator Obama’s longtime political supporter and present National Finance Chair gutted a Chicagoland bank by recklessly extending the kind of dubious loans that have caused today’s financial crisis.
Penny Pritzker, from her position on the board of the holding company controlling Superior Bank, approved of risky loan practices that eventually cost depositors hundreds of millions of dollars. Superior had been unable to make money with traditional safe loans, so Ptitzker encouraged the bank to enter the subprime market. Then she defied regulators who told her the bank’s practices were reckless. After the bank failed in 2001 and government investigators examined the corpus delicti, the wealthy Pritzker family ended up paying $460 million in penalties over a 15-year period.
Nonetheless, when it came to selecting his finance chair, candidate Obama chose Penny Pritzker. Now, with not a peep of recognition from the media, he abominates Wall Street for practices she pioneered. He claims Republican aversion to regulation led to this financial crisis. Yet the record is clear. In the finance sector it is the Republicans who favored regulation and the Democrats who thwarted it. If the media remain mum on all this, these same Democrats will control two branches of the federal government soon. Maybe they will make Penny Pritzker secretary of the Treasury.
17 October 2008
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
The title of this piece — “His invisible friend Joe the Plumber” — comes from a line with which MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann started his late-night post-debate broadcast on Wednesday night.
The problem with the host’s description is that Joe the Plumber is anything but invisible. To the taxman. Now, to the candidates. I don’t know if Joe the Plumber will win the election for John McCain. But he should.
Because in the end this election is all about freedom. And Senator Government is not.
Joe the Plumber, as everyone by the end of this weekend is liable to know, is one Joe Wurzelbacher, an Ohio plumber who wants to buy a business but knows it’s going to hurt him, tax-wise, if Barack Obama becomes president.
To his concerns, Obama told Joe: “It’s not that I want to punish your success, I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance at success, too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.”
What does that sound like to you. Could it be . . . Marx? Could it be . . . socialism?
In an Internet interview this week, after his now-infamous run-in with Barack Obama, Plumber Joe worried about just that: “You start giving people stuff, and then they start expecting it — and that scares me. A lot of people expect it now. They get upset when their check’s late, they get upset when they don’t get as many benefits as they used to, or when different government agencies are cut or spending is cut here and there for whatever reason — people get upset at that. And that’s because they’re used to getting it and they want more. I mean, everyone’s always gonna want more. People work the system left and right to get more out of welfare, to get more out of state assistance, federal assistance. And if government’s there for them, they’re gonna keep on trying to manipulate it to get more out of it. You got people that come along and say, “Hey, I wanna help you people,” I mean, they’re all ears! They’re like, ‘Hey, you can help me more, I don’t have to work as hard, I don’t have to do as much, and you’re gonna give me this? Man, that’s great, you’re a good guy.’”
He continued, “So yeah, it goes down the socialist — His health-care plan scares me. You know, I don’t like people going without health care, but it’s not my job to pay for everyone else’s health care. It’s hard enough paying for my own. I like the idea of deregulation as far as — nationally, you know, you only get insurance companies that can work in this state — if you deregulate that then you have more people competing and then the prices would go lower. It seems pretty simple to me. It probably isn’t that simple — but you flood the market with more products, usually they go down cheaper.”
Whereas John McCain talked Wednesday night about things like choice — and not the murdering type Obama did — Barack Obama rightly worries Americans like Plumber Joe.
In this election, the burdens of our taxpayers have been an afterthought in the face of an unprecedented government takeover of the mortgage industry. But excessive government comes at an excessive cost — not just in economic theory, but to very real people. (That’s “real” in the sense of “non-imaginary,” Keith.) I don’t know how the Joe the Plumber strategy polls, but, for the sake of all the Joes out there, let’s listen to the Plumber’s concerns about what a President Obama would mean to all of our pocketbooks.
16 October 2008
by Ken Hoagland
At the heart of the financial meltdown now bedeviling Americans is a simple and profoundly ignored fact that does not require an advanced degree in economics to understand: Our government spends more than it takes in—a lot more.
Sure, regulators could have done a better job but, in truth, politicians at every level have frustrated attempts to blow the whistle on bad loans, bad reporting and bad ethics. Why? Because politicians have been buying our votes with our money—and our future earnings—for a long time. And they don't want any interference from those they are "helping."
It's not just the naked bribes represented by "earmarks" for hometown voters; it is new entitlement programs like the prescription drug benefit, new rules governing the behavior of favored banks and investment houses and a headlong rush to buy the votes of the poor by guaranteeing home ownership, irrespective of one's financial ability to repay a loan. Lest we forget, let's also add up all the special tax breaks for favored contributors that have bloated income tax code rules to 67,500 pages. It's a bi-partisan betrayal of our future cloaked as concern for the common good.
Although our nation was founded on the principle that the citizen was sovereign, government spending increases and more and more taxes taken from our earnings, savings and investments have effectively transformed the American citizen into a serf working another's land for the privilege of taking a fraction of the fruits of his or her own labor.
Just Trust Us
"Trust us," we are told. "We have the best interests of the nation at heart." Citizens are now left with no rational choice to protect savings, college plans, and investments but to accept the new aristocracies' trillion dollar picking of our pockets to prop up institutions that must function. It is not the first time in recent years that we have accepted the grasping hand of the federal government in our wallets to avert a disaster not of our making.
In 1983 a "Blue Ribbon" panel of similar leaders including Alan Greenspan, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and others "saved" Social Security from another big collapse by dramatically raising taxes on earnings of up to $97,500 annually. The promise, then, was that Baby Boomers would actually "pre-fund" their own retirement with astoundingly increased taxes, decades ahead of time. It was also promised as relief to the coming generations so they would be free of crippling taxes. Sounded good.
Lo and behold, the trillions of dollars taken in since then—far exceeding promised payments to senior citizens—have since been spent on everything else. Turns out, that it was nothing more than a new tax levied on those with earnings below $97,500 a year so executive and legislative branch office holders could have more of our money to spend extravagantly on "us" so they could win new terms in office. The FICA payroll tax has become a major factor in keeping the poor that way, retarding new business growth and keeping middle-class earners from moving up. Worst, it also turns out that our children and grandchildren will, in fact, still be burdened an ever-growing and mind-numbing national debt AND unbelievably high FICA taxes to support their parents.
In yet another example of playing fast and loose with politics and our money, 1986 saw Congress reject the tax policies of the Reagan administration and as consequence, the Savings and Loan industry collapsed. Turns out the definition of the tax value of real estate holdings had been changed overnight by the House Ways and Means Committee and banks no longer met liquidity rules. That politically inspired cat fight cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. And worse, we didn't learn.
It is past time--way past time--for hometown America to save America from our well-intentioned but criminally incompetent, at best, and cynically corrupted , at worst, national leadership. Do we have a moment to lose? Do we really need any more examples of how the new aristocracy can—and will—destroy the pursuit of happiness?
The reform that can save the nation and restore our identity as citizens who have empowered and limited government (instead of the other way around) is called the FairTax.
Because the FairTax allows every American to take home everything that is earned without any federal withholding, millions of distressed homeowners could actually afford home mortgage payments. The elimination of FICA taxes eliminates the highly regressive Social Security and Medicate tax but the FairTax provides a far broader stream of revenue into these faltering programs. Because the FairTax eliminates all exemptions, gimmicks and loopholes, Congress would be removed from the ability to buy votes with tax giveaways and billionaires pay taxes when they spend money. Because the FairTax makes nearly all federal government taxes entirely transparent, the sovereign citizen can know the score and put the brakes on extravagant new spending. Because the FairTax eliminates the price advantage now enjoyed by overseas producers, American jobs won't be leaving our shores. In fact, because the FairTax makes the USA the most favorable tax environment in the world, we can expect trillions of dollars of investment rushing into the US economy. With the FairTax, our money is ours first and only secondly devoted to government. Savings growth, investments and business decisions are guided by opportunity and real progress instead of tax avoidance tactics.
We've lost more than $2 trillion of our retirement savings in a week's time and our kid's future at college is in serious jeopardy. This didn't happen by accident but at the hands of the very same people who have given the FairTax a cold shoulder. Those candidates and incumbents of either party who would spend our future earnings to stay in office and who reject the FairTax for similarly self-interested reasons now need a strong reminder from voters about whose offices they occupy. Please pay attention to our voting guide and send that message.
Finally, our campaign needs your help—as always. We never have enough to do the job right. Send us a contribution if you can, even in these hard times. It may turn out to be the best investment you ever made. If you can't afford a donation, then help us by recruiting two new supporters. And keep your cards, letters, phone calls, faxes and e-mails going to incumbents and candidates.
The plain fact is, we either now save ourselves from our new aristocracy or suffer the consequences as modern day serfs in a nation never contemplated by our Founding Fathers.
14 October 2008
By George H. Wittman
Barack Obama appears committed to the withdrawal from Iraq of the principal American fighting force in a strict 16-month time frame. One wonders if he has chosen to disregard the ominous portent of the consequences that are clearly on the horizon of such an action -- or if he and his advisors are just ignorant of the facts.
The Shia-dominated Iraqi central government and parliament want independence from American influence as soon as possible. At the same time their ambition is to retain close enough relations with the U.S. so that they can use our assistance domestically and internationally. And they have no intention of turning over any of the $79 billion that Barack Obama keeps mentioning is in their treasury.
The Obama campaign has created a fictionalized Iraq political scene in which there are virtually no consequences to America leaving Iraq effectively on its own. Much has been made of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's statement seeking a U.S. pullout essentially along the Obama guidelines. If Barack Obama had even the slightest knowledge of Iraqi and Middle Eastern affairs other than the talking points supplied by his aides, he would have sensed immediately he was being ensnared in a typical Iraqi con.
That atmosphere that exists in Baghdad political circles today is best exemplified by the unfortunate situation in which a member of their parliament, Mithal al-Alusi, finds himself. Al-Alusi , the head of the Democratic Party of the Iraqi Nation, attended a conference on anti-terrorism in Israel in late 2004. For this "crime" al-Alusi was stripped of his parliamentary immunity and indicted under a 1950s-era law against subversion: this is a capital offense.
And this is the Iraq that Barack Obama believes can be left to its own devices in 16 months. The fact is that Obama and his left-wing, anti-war supporters want to get out of Iraq as soon as possible at any price. Obama has danced around this issue, changing the wording of his surrender and retreat, for no other reason than domestic political expediency. American security interests in the region never enter into his calculation.
Reality in the Middle East dictates that the centuries-old animosity between Sunni and Shia in the Tigris and Euphrates crescent is not going to be quieted by the creation of a Shia-dominated government in Baghdad. Aside from the presence of a powerful dictator, a colonial power, or the availability of a neutral intervention force (as envisioned in the strategy of Gen. Petraeus), there always will be conflict within this benighted part of the world.
CONTRARY TO THE ROSY PICTURE currently being drawn by the Bush White House for its own legacy purposes, Iraq remains a tinder box. There is no question that the U.S. simply can withdraw from Iraq and leave the country to deal with its own problems. Though he covers his plans with rhetoric, this is exactly what Obama intends. His entire concept is based on an expectation of the existence of a broadly accepted strong democratic central government.
Unfortunately the contest among the Sunni, Kurds and majority Shia will continue for what they believe is an equitable division of post-Saddam spoils. If the U.S. intends to remain a credible strategic power in the Middle East, an intervention-capable force must remain in place to prevent internal conflict in Iraq for an indefinite period. This is what John McCain meant.
With his eye as usual on political advantage, Obama has avoided addressing this issue. But he has given every sign of a willingness to believe Arab and Persian good will shall rule future regional problems.
Obama, Jimmy Carter-like, refuses to recognize the real world as opposed to his self-created universe of reasonable and fair-minded "international competitors." Perhaps this is the reason he persists in ignoring the fact that the only thing Iraq as an Islamic country can agree upon is a hatred of Israel. As the U.S. leaves Iraq, Iraq will return again to an active role in the never-ending ambition of the Islamic world to regain control of their holy city of Jerusalem.
A FURTHER COMPLICATING FACTOR in the apparent Obama strategy for the region is the priority his advisors have placed on Afghanistan. The stated reason is that the Obama camp believes that is the best way to attack al Qaeda and its allies. In actuality, Obama himself is convinced the military issues are less complex, NATO is already involved, and, importantly, the Afghan operation is less expensive.
If Obama really wanted to focus on destroying Osama bin Laden, he would have emphasized the need to buy (rent?) the support of Pakistan. In doing that he would have recognized what all previous American administrations have done: that the key to Pakistan's political process has always been the military and whatever civilian allies they chose. Pakistan is now and always has been democratic in name only.
Putting it kindly, the social internationalist (or is it international socialist) vision of Barack Obama is rooted in his own ignorance of the realities of world affairs. His perception of and plans for Iraq exemplify this.
13 October 2008
Bradley R. Schiller
The “race card” was once an effective ploy in electoral politics. Southern Democrats long used it to rally white voters. In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, the Republicans took possession of the race card. Richard Nixon used it to strike fear in the minds of white voters, helping to transform a solid South into a Republican bastion. That card still gets played on occasion. But with white voters receding into the minority in so many jurisdictions, the race card is increasingly viewed as not just an unfair ploy, but an inefficient one as well.
The preferred play of Democrats these days is the “class” card. The Democrats have increasingly tried to redefine the “them vs. us” struggle in terms of class rather than color. As they tell the story, economic prosperity is a zero-sum game. Income gains attained by the “rich” come at the expense of the “poor”. Corporations bestow lavish compensation on executive insiders while cutting salaries, benefits and jobs for hard-working Americans. A massive flow of campaign contributions assures that elected officials will protect and serve the rich, while simultaneously cutting holes in the social safety net. Tax cuts for the rich not only fuel conspicuous indulgence among the elite, but diminish spending on health services, school, and the safety of the poor. Wall Street gains at the expense of Main Street. It all boils down to “them” (the rich) vs. “us” (the poor and middle class). Barack Obama has used the “class card” relentlessly to enlist and energize his supporters.
Fluid economic classes • What frustrates the Democrats' use of the class card is the fluidity of class boundaries in the United States. Successful use of a splintering card requires a clear delineation between “them” and “us.” The race card has a physiological advantage in that regard. But the class card has no such evident demarcation. With the exception of Michael Jackson, people rarely change their color - or even try to. But people do change their economic status with amazing frequency. So it's never entirely clear who's with “them” and who's with “us.” Which makes it very difficult to wage class warfare.
Escaping Poverty • The Democrats want us to believe that a large section of the U.S. population is trapped in poverty and/or toiling at minimum wages just above official poverty lines. This is presumed to be the core constituency of the “us” team - the people who are permanently left behind as the economy grows and incomes of the rich rise to dizzying heights. But this presumption ignores the constant flow of people in and out of the poverty ranks.
Every year at least 1 million immigrants enter the United States, both legally and illegally. Overwhelmingly, they enter our labor markets at the low end of the wage scale and so are counted as “poor” by American standards. The influx of immigrants into the poverty population creates substantial churn in the “us” ranks. As past immigrants climb out of poverty of return home, they create a net outflow from the “us” ranks. This outflow is augmented by the ever-changing circumstances of the native-born poor. People fall into poverty for a variety of demographic and economic reasons. Job loss, divorce, and injury top the list of poverty-creating forces. Even in the best of economic times, these forces push people into poverty. But they don't necessarily keep people in poverty. Divorced moms hook up with new partners. Dependent children grow up. Unemployed workers find jobs. Injuries heal. So there is a constant outflow of poverty households as well. In fact, 2 out of every 3 households that fall into poverty in any given year escape poverty in the following year. In other words, most American poverty is temporary, not permanent.
Moving Up From Minimum Wage • Another rallying point for the class-warfare strategists is the minimum wage. Democrats decry that fact that the federal minimum wage stays so far below average wages. Even with the recent wage hikes (to $6.55 this July, $7.25 next year) minimum-wage workers won't be able to keep a family of four out of poverty. Working long hours at such dead-end jobs supposedly solidifies the position of minimum-wage workers in the “us” ranks.
The assignment of minimum-wage workers to the ranks of the downtrodden is at odds with the realities of minimum-wage experience. Most young people do in fact have first jobs that pay wages at (or below!) the federal minimum wage. Even Brad Pitt started at that level, hawking fast food in a chicken costume. But those entry-level jobs don't last long. Two out of three minimum-wage entrants are consistently earning wages above federal thresholds within two years of labor-market entry. After three years, only 15 percent of minimum-wage entrants are still toiling away at such low wages. There may be a subset of jobs in the U.S. labor market that will always pay low wages; but few workers get stuck in those jobs.
Rags to Riches • The relative absence of permanent poverty implies that the “us” ranks are pretty fluid. In extreme cases, people at the very bottom of the income distribution even move to the very top. Horatio Alger stories are more common than most people recognize. Oprah Winfrey - one of Obama's most visible and ardent supporters - herself rose from the bottom to the very top of the food chain. Bill and Hillary Clinton made a similar move. Obama himself didn't start so low nor rise so far up the income ladder, but he clearly joined the ranks of “them” when he started collecting million-dollar book royalties. When these self-appointed champions of “us” play the class card, they must be biting their tongue.
Turnover at the Top • Oprah's ascension from poverty to the pinnacle of wealth reveals that even positions in the ranks of the rich aren't permanent. Every year Forbes magazine compiles a list of the richest 400 Americans. The “Forbes 400” always arouses a lot of envy; energizing class warfare strategists. You needed at least $1.3 billion in assets just to join the Forbes 400 club this year.
But there is another dimension to the Forbes 400 that get little attention - the turnover in its ranks. Among the top 100 people on this year's Forbes list, fewer than 50 were on that list at all eight years ago. As in other years, there was a rash of newcomers who had made their fortunes in technology, investments, and entertainment. Some, like Oprah, had roots in poverty; most emerged from the “struggling” middle class that Hillary and Obama bemoan. The switched sides in the projected class warfare.
Mobility in the Middle • The most newsworthy team-switching occurs at the very top and bottom of the income distributions. But there is a lot of income mobility in the middle of the distribution as well. The Social Security Administration tracks people's wages throughout their worklife so as to compute an individual's retirement benefits. Those earnings histories allow one to ascertain where a person resides on the income ladder in any given year and to observe how often people change relative rankings over time. Successful deployment of the class card depends on people staying on the same income rungs over time, thus maintaining a clear delineation between “us” and “them”.
In reality, people don't stay on the same rungs very long. Some people rocket up the income ladder; others take a tumble. Cyclical forces, technological breakthroughs, diverse investments, and pure luck all contribute to this intra-cohort income volatility. Think of successive high school reunions. At graduation, some seniors are picked as “most likely to succeed”. One of the reasons we go to the reunion is to discover who really fared well - and who didn't. If you go every decade you'll be surprised how the line-up changes. The quiet nerd who everyone tagged as a loser just sold his hi-tech start-up for millions of dollars. The math wiz is on probation for computer fraud, and that wannabe real-estate tycoon is now working at Wal-Mart. Such dramatic reversals of fortune are witnessed at virtually every reunion. The recent turmoil in financial markets is sure to produce even more reversals of fortune at the next reunion.
Social Security earnings histories document these intra-cohort changes in income position. Over a fifteen year period, 70 percent of the workforce changes relative income position. The average move is 20 percent up or down the earnings hierarchy. Less than half of the workers who are at the top of the wage heap in one year are still at the top 15 years later. The same pattern is evident on the lowest rungs of the ladder: only 35 percent of the workers who were at the bottom 15 years ago are still in the lowest position now. This kind of musical-chairs mobility is what makes school reunions so much fun. This same intra-cohort mobility further blurs the distinction between “us” and “them”.
Mobility Expectations • The phenomenon of income mobility is so pervasive that it is near impossible to rally an army of “us” to do battle with “them”. The task is made even more difficult by even loftier expectations of switching sides. Public opinion polls reveal that a lot of average citizens expect to get rich some day. According to recent polls, one out of three American adults expect to be rich some day. If “us” people expect to be among “them” in the future, they are certainly not going to rally to the side of “soak the rich” proponents today. Why raise income or estate taxes that might come back to bite you after you finally “make it”? This pervasive belief in the American Dream - the notion that everyone has a shot at the brass ring - is the most formidable constraint on the effectiveness of the class-warfare card.
Trumping the Class Card • The economy is certainly not a strong suit for Republicans this year. But, clearly, the Democrats are not willing to place all their bets on the (weak) performance of the macro economy. They are hedging their bets by playing the class card - making the election look like an epic struggle between “us” (the vast middle class and poor) vs. “them” (the rich) between “Main Street” and “Wall Street”. Because this strategy is so at odds with both the realities and expectations of economic mobility, it ultimately fails to win the votes it targets.