Monthly Archives: February 2006

>OBSERVATION: Jesse tops black popularity poll — but it is not good news.

>In a recent poll, African Americans were asked to name their most respected leaders.

It comes as no surprise that the ubiquitous Jesse Jackson topped the poll. It was very surprising, however, that he only garnered 15 percent of the vote – this despite his perma presence in press. Instead of Jackson as the anticipated dominant leader, votes were scattered more evenly over a larger group. It appears that the black community is less enamored with The Reverend than is the news industry.

Equally surprising was the number two and three spots. Of the top three leaders, as selected by the black community, two are Republicans, Condi Rice and Colin Powell. This suggests some loosening of the Democrat grip on the black populace.

Of course, the press cannot quite grasp the significance of information not aligned to its bias. There was no mention of the significance of the two GOP stars near the Jackson level. Ponder this for a moment. Rice and Powell breathing down the neck of Jackson as the most respected leaders in the black community. Hell….given the margin of error, Rice could actually be MORE respected among blacks than Jackson — and she’s not a minister of the cloth.

In some ways, this is not so surprising. Jackson has never been the beneficiary of universal black adulation. In a way, he is like China’s Mao Tse-Tung. There is a lot of official respect, — picture on the Great Wall and all — but behind the scenes, he is not a very popular guy. The killing millions of his own people does not rest easy on the Sino soul.

Regarding Jackson, he has never been particularly popular among the Chicago black community. Those who know him best, or were there to witness his sometimes sleazy rise to prominence, prefer to ignore him. Conversely, Jackson involves himself in surprisingly few hometown causes. His Chicago activities generally center around long harangues at convocations behind the fortress-like wall of his Rainbow Coalition headquarters – and opportunistic speak-and-run press conferences with at least two cameras.

Then there is the Martin Luther King family. Attempting to steal the national limelight while Reverend King’s body was hardly cold has been the publicly forgotten, but privately unforgiven, event that severed the cordiality and cooperation between the Jacksons and the Kings. The fact the he was denied the stage (ooops… I mean microphone) at the Coreta Scott King funeral is a pretty good indication of the family’s contempt for Jackson. This was not an oversight.

>REACT: Polling puts Mayor Daley in big trouble … despite Chicago Tribune spin.

>Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says he is pleased with a recent poll that shows he has a 56 percent approval rating. So sayeth a BIG banner headline atop the Chicago Tribune. It also said that 70 percent of the people do not, for one moment, believe Daley when he says that he was clueless of the criminal activities that have taken down scores of bureaucrats, including the top people in his administration.

The Trib front page article is riddled with opinions and supposition, putting a significant “spin” on the story. Their “spin” is that the public thinks Daley IS a crook (although The Trib did not say so in so many words, but to believe he knew of the misdeeds is to believe he is culpable in the illegal activities. Prima fascia, as the lawyers say) BUT the public does not care. They conclude that the Mayor’s accomplishments outweigh his transgressions.

This is the old thinking, when the City Hall transgressions were a few loafing Streets and Sanitation workers, the public demurred. The Trib polling numbers, however, suggest a public getting weary of financially supporting multi million dollar rib offs, and the pervasiveness of the theft of taxpayer money.

Anyone in politics knows that an incumbent with barely more than a 50 percent approval rating is potentially in trouble. It would only take 3 percent of the public to switch from favorable to unfavorable to sink Daley’s rating into the dangerous lower half.

The Trib’s poll analysis does not take into consideration the firmness of the 56 percent approval rating. The fact that it is perilously close to the 50 percent fulcrum, and that 70 percent belief that the Mayor is a liar would suggest a likely weakness in the approval rating.

Despite the Trib’s historic practice of spinning polling data in City Hall’s favor, there are facts that cannot be denied. In this case, the big story is the weakness of Hizzoner. Buried near the end of the article is the biggest news of all. According to the poll, if the election were today, the Mayor would be in a dead heat with none other than Jesse Jackson, Jr. The poll gave Daley only 41 percent of the vote against 38 percent for Jackson, with 21 percent undecided. THAT is phenomenally bad news for the incumbent, and it shows why “approval ratings have to be put into context. They do not indicate how people will vote. In a three-way race, adding Congressman Louis Guttierrez, the Mayor would be forced into a runoff. Again, the all powerful Oz-like Mayor appears very weak, indeed.

The Mayor is not up for election until 2007. In the meantime, it is more than likely that additional scandals will rock the administration. There will be trials of some of his closest aides. There will be additional indictments among his inner circle – maybe even his family. The Mayor, himself, may become a “target’ of the investigation, a “person of interest,” “official #1,” or even an indicted official. No one is making any public predictions. But, no one is privately discounting any possibility.

>OP ED: Ryan’s character defense proves he is the bad guy we all have known

>Everyone agrees that defense attorney Dan Webb is among the best of the best – a really smart guy. There is only one conclusion to draw from his strategy in the trial of former Illinois Governor George Ryan. He is desperate.

Lawyers like to win on the merits of a case. If that is not possible, they try to win on technicalities of the law. If that is not possible, they try to win on emotional appeal. And if THAT does not work, they try to win on at all cost – the equivalent of kicking the television after all rationale repairs and adjustments have failed. Webb knows when he cannot win on the merits … the technicalities… the emotions of the jury … because he is a smart guy.

During the prosecution phase, Webb employed an extremely aggressive and high-risk strategy to try to break down witness. He engaged in a number of squabbles with the prosecutors. His cross examinations seemed more emotional than thoughtful and logical.

His first defense witness was offered up to show how it was that Ryan could walk around with wads of cash he never withdrew from his bank account. The defense argument was that a portion of the money came from “gifts” Ryan received from his minions, including the janitor (who got the gift money form the Ryan campaign fund). While a sleazy practice, Webb argued it was all very legal. To mount his defense, Webb had to admit Ryan was a greedy scumbag in order to counter the prosecution’s contention that he was a CROOKED greedy scumbag. Of course, having all but stipulated that Ryan is a greedy scumbag, a jury might find it easier to believe he is crooked as well. That’s the risk.

To counter Ryan’s image problem, Webb is now resorting to a tried and usually failed tactic. Character witnesses. After months of punishing testimony on Ryan’s lack of character, the defense hopes that a few people outside the issues of the case can polish the tarnished image.

The problem is, none of the character witnesses have an ounce of knowledge of Ryan’s character outside of very limited and narrow settings. His church pastor. This is like those priests who used to bless mobsters for coming to church regularly and being generous when the collection plate was passed.

Next cometh the doorman at his Chicago apartment. Yeah. The doorman, whose only knowledge of Ryan was an occasional nod and the passing of a folded bill instead of a handshake. Then there is that actor from the old M.A.S.H. series and author of “Dead Man Walking,” who only have had a limited association with Ryan over the death penalty issue.

(At the time of the pardons, it was speculated Ryan only granted them to establish an image for the upcoming trial. The defense use of character witnesses suggests validity to that supposition. Adding to the cynicism is the fact that Ryan was NEVER seen as a humanitarian – more of a ruthless autocrat.)

It appears form the character witness list that Ryan does not have anyone how knows him really well who will stand up for his character. Either his closest friends do not think much of his character, or they are in, or on their way, to prison.

Webb’s character witness strategy is a “Hail Mary pass.” You cannot fault Webb. Of course, it is a weak defense. Of course, it is risky. But when the merits of the case are stacked against you … nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Webb is a smart lawyer. So, I suspect he and his high-priced defense team (giving millions of dollars of free legal services to Ryan, however) is spending more nights on an appeal strategy than the ebbing proceedings in the district court. If Ryan takes the stand, you can rest assured that Webb sees a conviction on the horizon — because Webb is a smart guy.

>REACT: The Saddam Insane … ooops … Hussein Circus

>Okay … the Saddam “Insane” bit i a bit hooky, but I could not resist. I guess you can be a mysginist, misologist, misoneist, miso-whatever and still be technically sane.

In fact, watching the trial of the bad cad from Bagdad, you start to appreciate the sanity in the middle – you know the one that covers the heart of a phychopathic killer, but is clever and rational enough to perfectly play out the mad defendant.

As each day bring another example of Hussein’s trial-disrupting, message-sending outbursts, you have to question who is in control – and who is sane.

In an apparent attempt to show the world the new order(ly) judicial process in Iraq, the Iraqi leaders, under the guidance of the United States overseers, have made a terrific blunder. The highly publicized and televised trial is just what the middle east did not need. Forgive the Iraqis, but did the American advisors never hear of O. J. Simpson. They have made Hussein a catalyst for the terrorists and the recently disenfranchised followers of the Hussein’s Baath party. His whining about food, mistreatment and potty breaks are getting more sympathy than the victims of his Nazi like brutality.

At the time of his capture, I did not expect Hussein to make it to the jail alive. Well … maybe to the jail, where he would be severely “debriefed” and then fall victim of a jail house accident or an “official” suicide from a dozen shots to the head. But, nooooo. He survives all that only to be given the his biggest audience ever. Each day he is allowed to show his defiance and call his troops into terrorist action. He makes one political speech after another. The only difference between now and when he was in power is that he now gets more media attention when he speaks. Hussein is looking more like the head-of-state than the accused-of-state.

Of course, the many witnesses who attest to Hussein’s murderous ways get almost no attention in the press. He comes across more as the victim than the villain – especially among the Arabs and Muslims, who are quick to accept any accusation against the United States.

And what is the end game here? After a long and fair trail, the general anticipation is that Hussein will be executed. The way this is going, the dispatching Hussein to his 100 virgins will only create another event to stir the pot of lethal discontent. For growing numbers, his execution will not be the just consequence for an evil man, but the martyrdom of an Islamic hero. Even those who hated him in power will see Hussein as the personification of their own oppression.

Can you believe that sane people would have not foreseen this outcome? Is it possible to have full use of one’s faculties and still script such a counter productive scenario as this Hussein et al trail? And most importantly, is it too late for a credible … even modestly incredible … jail house accident?

My suggestions is to put Hussein and his co-defendants in a remote controlled U.S. military vehicle, festooned with reproductions of the famous Danish cartoons, and run the damn thing up and down the airport road a few times a day – until the inevitable happens.

>REACT: More Gore Bore

>There are no political depravities that can dissuade former Vice President Al Gore from trying to get public attention in the hope of giving his post-White House existence on earth some measure of relevancy. This time he finds a receptive audience in Saudi Arabia. As you may recall, the liberals has often criticized the Bush administration (and previous Republican administrations) for being too cozy with the Saudis. This did not stop Gore from offering his anti-American opinions to the leaders of the sheikdom.

Often members of the loyal opposition travel to international trouble spots to reaffirm American policy. (Did I say “loyal?”) It was once the rule that “politics end at the waters edge.” However, liberal Democrats will break any rule if it can give them hope of regaining power – or at least being taken seriously. Gore’s blabbermouthous in Riyadh is not likely to achieve either for the left wingers. Quite the opposite. I suspect his Arab antics will simply further convince the public of the incompetence of the liberal Demorest – and their unsuitability for public office.

You see … Gore decided to tell the Arabs, in a nation that has a significant terrorist presence among its population, that America is torturing Arabs. The there is a pogrom against Arab citizens throughout the United States.

While there may be some marginal anecdotal examples of abuse perpetrated at the local level, there is no national policy of abuse and discrimination. In making his false charges, Gore incites the extremists in the Arab populace. He undermines our national mission, and therefore our troops. In generations gone by, his action would have been treasonous. In fact, it IS treasonous – just that we do not punish treason any more.

When one ponders just how low the extreme left will go to pander for approval, you discover a new low. Well to Al Gore, I give the “Cindy Sheehan Award.” Or … do I give Cindy Sheehan the “Al Gore Award.” Or do they both get the “John Kerry Award.” In case you are not familiar with these honors, the trophies come in the shape of a boot (Texas style, Of course).

So … however we do it, I am all for giving Sheehan, Kerry and now Al Gore the boot.

>OP ED: Cheney should step aside.

>It is clear that Vice President Dick Cheney has become something between a distraction and a liability for the Bush administration. Much of the reason has to do with the constant, and often specious, criticism of the “bashers,” but some is due to his own style and issues.

Since the Vice President is not totally blameless in drawing the adverse attention of critics, and the painful winces of supporters, this is a reasonable time to suggest he step down.

There are many good reasons to do so. He has pretty much served out his utility. Any good advice he can provide the President can be given from outside the office. The Scooter Libby issue will only attract more clouds. He is not likely to be the most sought after campaigner for his party’s congressional candidates. His health is compromised, and he could spend more time with the family. Etc. Etc. Etc.

There are enough issues to make a resignation credible — not seeming to be a political ploy to annoint a successor, and yet not enough scandal to have him depart in disgrace. Any more disclosures and he may have to depart by a much greater public clamor.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the resignation would be to allow the Bush administration an opportunity to rewrite the future with a fresh face — to zap the malaise that grips the White House. To do this, Bush would nominate Condi Rice as Vice President.

Instantly, the entire perception of the Bush presidency would change. The first woman and the first African-American to hold the second highest office in the land would dramatically reconfigure the political landscape for both Bush and the Republican Party. This would place Rice in the lead for the 2008 presidential nomination.

Her competency for the office is without question, despite anticipated criticism of faux civil rights leaders such as Jesse Jackson. It would instantly open the GOP’s historic ties to the black community.

A Rice vice presidency would totally befuddle all the current Democrat strategists pondering the 2006 elections and the 2008 nominations. The GOP could save their majorities in Congress, and even produce some gains.

Resigning is something Cheney should do for the good of the country and the cause … and that never hurt a person’s reputation.

Note to Condi: If you are nominated in 2008, I recommend you name outsider Steve Forbes as Vice President. His strength on the domestic/financial side coupled with your foreign policy background is a winning combo. Rice/Forbes sounds like a winner. Finally, a team America could really love.