Monthly Archives: January 2007

>REACT: Clinton is “in” (trouble)

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In the wake of Barak Obama’s (See! Even I cannot keep his name out of print), long awaited but not surprising announcement that he is “exploring” a presidential race, New York Senator Hillary Clinton has firmly announced that she is “IN”.

What she is “in,” however, is trouble. Not long ago, she was the golden girl of the Democrat party. I suspect many, including herself, felt her nomination was just a matter of time.

On the plus side was her successful run for the Senate, where she did not serve as the shrill strident voice her critics had hoped. She proved to be a popular carpetbagger, and shed that appellation with a strong win for a second term. She did not join the caucus of outrageous liberals, and basically did pretty well for herself.

Hillary has pretty much convinced the public that she is not simply the political benefactor of her husband. This is critical. She showed that she is not a tag-a-long, and more importantly, that she is the spouse but not the clone of Clinton the First.

She still has advantage over Obama with regard to debts and structure. Lots of the political decision makers owe the Clintons. They provided the spoils of government largess during Bill’s presidency, and a lot of political fundraising then and now. Early expectation enabled her to garner some important commitments.

However, all of that may mean nothing. Whether Obama is the man or not, he has shown Hillary to be vulnerable – a deadly perception in political warfare. This is not uniquely to Obama’s advantage. Governor John Edward could shoot past the two leaders as they mutually fizzle. After several months of Obama-Clinton battling over position, the public may welcome a “fresh” candidate. We should always keep in mind that early leads and fawning publicity are usually not good in presidential races. Early front-runners frequently fail.

The nation appears ready for a woman president, and has been so for about a decade. But the person still matter to the voters – with the possible exception of the now irrelevant feminist extremists. Hillary’s move to the center appears to be a wash. She gains some centrist support, and loses the ladies of the far left.

She can only do so much to change her image. A softer hairstyle, more business-like attire, and some shift in policy cannot overcome her stage presence, which is as soothing as fingernails on a blackboard. She suffers from inverse charisma.

Despite her efforts to move away from the ethical issues of her husband’s term, she will have to deal with them again. It is a hit like Ted Kennedy’s bridge over trouble waters. Though Chappaquiddick is not a matter of public attention every day (expect to the dead girl’s poor family), it reappeared in the more intense spotlight when Kennedy toyed with a presidential run. Each time, Chappaquiddick rose like a bad Brigadoon out of the swamp of Martha’s Vineyard.

As the campaign progress, the questions of HER culpabilities during the Clinton years will again resurface. I think one of the more damaging questions will surround the existence of those “enemy” IRS and FBI files in HER office – after she denied having them. There are also a number of issues to be explored regarding her work with the Rose law firm.

When this stuff hits the press at the most strategic times, it will not be the work of Republican Clinton bashers. It will come from the Obama team, specifically his top consultant David Axelrod, who has a well-deserved reputation as a very aggressive, tough, no-holds-barred political combatant. If Hilary ever went through a tollgate without paying, Axelrod will find it and use it to maximum effect. By the time he is done, the infraction will look like criminal road rage.

This is going to be one interesting political season.

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>OP ED: The presidential "race"

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Okay, one more Obama item.

For those who are excited at the prospect of the first black man to reach the presidency … or vice presidency … I have news for you. Obama is not black. He is half-white. In fact, culturally he has been most closely associated with his white mother — until being black was a booster rocket for his remarkable political rise.

What is it about America that we insist a drop of Negro blood makes a person black? It is a widely held prejudice that has been around since the enlightened founders found it necessary to make a huge moral compromise on the issue of slavery and declared free blacks as fractional citizens. On the other hand, I have this silly notion that race identity has something to do with genetics, logic and common sense. If we want to recognize different “races,” which I abhor in the first place, we should at least get it right. Obama is as white as he is black, and in terms of his personal knowledge of the black experience in America, he is most certainly more white.

We used to call mixed race people, mulatto, but that term fell into disfavor – leaving us without an acceptable word. Multi ethnic is too bureaucratic – and why not, it was coined by government bureaucrats. Hybrid? Uh uh. The auto industry grabbed that one. Maybe he is the black-lite candidate, but somehow that does not work. Makes him sound mostly black. Some of my black friends (the real ones) refer to Obama as pepper over salt with the same implication found in the expression “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Several years ago, the late Senator John Moynihan advised President Nixon how to win public support (before Watergate, that is). The Senator said, “If you are going to act like a Tory, you should speak like a Whig. If you are going to act like a Whig, you should speak like a Tory.” This makes me think that Obama’s success may be due to the fact that he looks like a black and speaks like a white. His challenge is to get the blacks to see him, and the whites to hear him. If that were to switch polarity, he would be lucky to be re-elected to the Illinois State Senate.

>OP ED: Obama’s destiny

>Following the precedent set by the national media, I will do several items in a row on Barak Obama. Well, if I really followed their lead, I would have to write something about my own junior senator every day – and I could not ever be critical. However, there is only so far I am willing to follow the sycophants in the press.

I have written previously that I do not think Obama will make it to the presidency – at least not this cycle. Apparently, in response to my opinion, the entire national press has quadrupled its promotional efforts. Obama is getting around more than Paris Hilton (Until recently, I thought that was lodging in France.)

If Obama can hold one of the “place” or “show” positions in the primaries, he is likely to be an obvious pick for vice president. His lack of experience would not be a factor because there is no real job description. Vice presidents usually go around giving nice speeches while the President runs the country. (Someone should have clued Bush in on that time-honored tradition.)

Obama is a gifted orator who can make platitudes sound like substance. He is the perfect political orator. He has, in spades (no pun intended), the most important qualities of a vice president – good looks, charm and great platform presence.

Hard-nosed political pundits would tell us, if they had the courage to say it out loud, that bringing a black (even a half black) into the White House as president is a more challenging task than as a vice president. I mean really, the seat of power has been known as the WHITE House for a couple hundred years. It takes the public time to adjust.

My belief that Obama’s political skyrocket will fizzle short of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue does not mean that I think the guy has no future. I just think he is not the man of the moment. I don’t think there is a woman of the moment either, but that is another story.

>OBERSERVATION: Obama’s exploration

>Barak Obama has announced the formation of his presidential “exploratory committee.” Under the so-called election reforms, we have another example of stupid outcomes. You see, in the good old days a candidate would “explore” unofficially, and then announce his intention to run and set up a campaign committee. Sweet and simple.

Now, because of these convoluted and counterproductive election laws, it is not wise to set up a campaign committee. Too much reporting, restriction and regulations. So, you set up an exploration committee.

There is a saying that if it looks, acts and sounds like a duck, it is a duck. Government regulators do not understand that concept. It may look, act and sound like a campaign committee, but it is not.

This bit of legislated euphemism serves no good purpose. It makes campaigns more expensive and detracts from discourse over issues. If you don’t believe that latter point, just keep in mind that I am now forced to waste time and space to bring this lunacy to your attention. We should be engaged over Iraq or Senator Barbara Boxer’s beliefs that only parents have opinions.

The problem we have in America, is that the so-called reformers are still at it – fixing things that are not broken.

>REACT: Slavery apology

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Having just issued a personal apology, I am familiar with the subject. This brings to mind the question of slavery and the call for apologies and even reparations – a euphemism for cold cash. Certainly there are situations where apologies are due, and even some compensation for the wrong – like “I’m sorry I backed into you car, here is my insurance agent.”

The problem with the slavery demand is that it does not meet any test of legitimacy. They are nothing more than a pandering to political correctness to shake down the taxpayers for some money.

Here are my rules for apologies. They should come from the person, or persons, who committed the wrong. Whoa! Now that is a revolutionary concept, don’t you think? Since when do people who committed no wrong have a requirement to apologize for anything?

Personally, I do not own any slaves … never have. The fact that my then 5-year-old daughter told neighbors that her adopted black older sister was our slave does not count – even though she did baby sit, wash dishes and take out the garbage on occasion. You can see from the accompanying photograph (including her adopted son, who now serves in Iraq), Yvette appears very happy despite the years of household chores.

As I mentally searched my family history to uncover some connection to slavery that might suggest some complicity in the past sins of indentured servitude, I realized that my ancestors were not in American when the hideous institution was in effect. They were growing grapes and making wine in a country that never had slavery.

Since this is the experience of most Americans, the notion of a national apology seems to be a stretch at best.

If there is any meaning to ensnaring long past institutions and groups into the slavery apology business, I think we have to be specific. As a mostly Republican type, my political ancestors in America were the abolitionist. They fought and died to end slavery. Democrats, on the other hand, were fighting to preserve human ownership. If the past matters so much, then why aren’t the apology proponents call for a mass exedous of blacks from the Dem party? Shouldn’t there be reparations for the the more recent segregation, Jim Crow laws and the lynchings that were a coomon part of the Democrat party agenda in the Republicanless “old south.” This makes me think that if anyone is obligated to apologize, it is only the donkey butts who bear an apparent burden of guilt. Some of them (i.e. ex- KKKer Senator Robert Byrd) are still alive and can reasonably apologize for thier personal sins.

Now some activists think that commercial enterprises that had “ties to slavery” in the past … the waaaaaaaaaay long ago past … should apologize, pay reparations and even be denied government contracts. This suggests that it was not people who were responsible, but the corporate entity. In a funny sort of way, by transferring culpability to contemporary company officers, you are absolving the guys who really were culpable. This would be like holding some 22nd Century Enron executives responsible for today’s debacle and scandal. I mean, what if the company passed hands because of a hostile take-over? The new guys now have to make amends for the old guard who fought against them. If we apply this reasoning to criminal justice, maybe we should hang Mussolini’s grandkids.

One argument raised by the slavery apologists is the ongoing negative impact of slavery. Any modern day suffering under racial prejudice should be compensated. Somehow, we are supposed to know what damage accrued to an individual because their great, great, great, great grandpa was horribly snatched from his village in Angola. In reality, there is no way to know the value of the outcome. Martin Luther King may have been a starving kid in the dry plans of Ethiopia had it not been for slavery. Even my Africa-to-Jamaica-to-America daughter might never have been part of my family. I think that would have been a loss for all of us. Just because many outcomes stem from an awful act does not make the outcome bad.

Any current prejudice can be addressed appropriately. If someone denies a black person their basic civil right, like renting an apartment, THEN there is a need to apologize and perhaps provide some monetary compensation. In this case, you have a real live perpetrator and a real live victim. You also have laws and courts and real evidence.

I bear no prejudice, and have proudly raised a bunch of kids without prejudice in their hearts. Consequently, I feel no compunction to atone. I am not guilty … not sorry for my conduct … not sorry for my ancestor’s behavior. I do not believe that there is a black person alive today who is due a nickel in reparation for the most surely wrongful suffering of ancestors he or she cannot even trace. In a true apology, don’t you have to recognize your wrongdoing? Feel guilty?

Okay, there are exceptions … like when my mother made me apologize to the kid down the block for hitting him. I gave a barely audible “I’m sorry” without sincere conviction. He deserved it. However, it was not as if I was being forced to apologize for my great grandfather whacking some neighbor kid. How ridiculous is that?

The idea of offering an apologia for slavery at this date is so absurd, so twisted and so disingenuous that it can only be explained as yet another example of politically correct liberal thinking.

>REPLY TO DAN: Mea Culpa

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I hate apologies, especially when I have to make them. In my haste to scribe a response to Dan between phone calls and pit stops, I blew it. Now, I could have just pulled down my errant item and reworked it more correctly, but that does not seem fair. So, I must bleed in public. Well, at least “in public” as far as anyone, besides Dan, reads my blog.

So Dan, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I am beating my breast (gently) with my fist as I was taught to do in Catholic elementary school.

I should not have cast Dan into the legions of the left. He may be a person like me, unwelcome at any end of the political table for the sin of apostasy. He refers to leaning Republican nationally and Democrat locally. I do not lean by geography, but simply find the Republicans, on balance, more likely to promote my causes. But I do not embrace all Republicans out of a sense of partisan loyalty. Philosophy trumps partisanship.

Where Dan and I do seem to have strong agreement is our evaluation of the Illinois/Chicago GOP. After the 1995 election, when I was personally ill-served by but local elephant herders, I was quoted (accurately, by the way) in the Chicago Tribune as saying something to the effect that one cannot begin to imagine just how dysfunctional the Chicago/Cook County GOP is until you see it from the inside. It is pathetic.

Dan has taught me a lesson. In the future, I will be more careful with my name-calling, reserving it for dyed-in-the-wool leftist lunatics.

>REACT: The minimum wage fraud

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Nothing sounds better than to increase a person’s wages, especially those who subsist at the lower rungs of the economic scale. If you are among those who think the Democrats unrelenting mantra of minimum wage is such a great idea, consider this. Why not legislate to raise all wages. That’s it! We will just rule that everyone in the nation will get a 100 percent pay raise. Think of all the good that will come of doubling the salary of every American.

Now, if you know anything about economics, you know that such a regulatory move by the government is a really bad idea. It would wreck the economy. It is toxic. So, what is so good about a little bit of monetary poison in the form of a minimum wage?

For sure, many employees will enjoy the benefits of the minimum wage, but not nearly as many as one might think. First of all, the vast majority of workers already exceed the minimum wage. Many other workers are part timers or contract workers, and not subject to minimum wage considerations. It does not apply to the legions of self-employed. Of course, it does not apply to the unemployed.

Oh! Speaking of the unemployed. Every increase in the minimum wage has created more unemployed as employers offset the payroll increase with job cuts in order to keep a fairly constant overhead. In labor circles, this is known as “benefiting the survivors.”

The other untoward outcome of a minimum wage increase is the accompanying increase in the cost of goods and services. We are already crying in our fried rice over the low wage advantage of Asia, and our new Democrat national policy is to exacerbate that situation by making domestic goods and services more expensive.

If you wonder why the Democrats would embrace a policy that would throw low-income people out of jobs, think cynically. I often point out that a party that relies on the poor and the unemployed as their power base are going to make more people poor and unemployed. The minimum wage issue, bad as it is for the economy, is great politically for the party that derives its power from pandering to the poor.

>REACT: Response from the left

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I take Umbrage at a recent comment by “Dan” about me in www.moveonandshutup.org. Actually, I am too congenial to really take umbrage, but I do love the word. Take umbrage. Nice.

Before I respond to Dan in substance, I have to say that any organization that starts dialogue under the banner “move on and shut up” may not be the best form for intelligent discussion. Happily, to use the expression, their bark is worse than their bite. Despite the doff of the cap to sensationalism, they operate well within the bounds of civil discord. The fact that their views are almost always wrong does not take away from the reasonable way they display their angst. These are the type of folks you could have over for dinner and enjoy what the late Sun-Times columnist and TV talk show host, Irv Kucinet, used to call “the lively art of conversation.” They may be on the inner edge of the fringe (we must be precise in our placement of people, eh?), but they are not a bunch of morons.

Which brings me to my point.

Writing on MoveOn …etc., Dan said, “I think it’s fair to call the wingnut elements of the right wing a bunch of morons. Larry doesn’t.” Actually, I thought that was exactly the point of my written comments. I am a critic of what I call the strident right – which I personally prefer over the word “moron.” I suggest that it is the left that is recultanct to call out the extremists on the radical left.

How so?

The right tends to boot out corrupt officials. The left re-elects them. The Right tends to repudiate those with extremist so-called right wing views. Skin heads and David Duke. The left gives homage to their extremeists. Cindy Sheehan et al.

Libeals believe that right field extends only five feet from the foul line and left field consumes the remainder of the outfield. For them, the moderation of center field is well into left field territory.

Therefore, I want to both correct and challenge Dan. I do very much disdain the politics of stridency and extremism, but reject the notion that solid philosophic belief or aggressive debate is equivalent to extremism. My challenge is to hear Dan cite the examples of left wingnut policies and personalities he would call moronic. And if Cindy Sheehan is not on his list, he is being duplicitous.

I do agree with Dan on the practical side of the gay rights issue. It is a loser for the GOP. One only has to see what happened to the donkey party in the 1970s, when they became the party of narrow special interests of the past. They spent the next 30 years sliding into second party status. Whether this last election is a turn around or an anomaly is yet to be seen. However, with the GOP starting to congeal into a party of special interests and the defenders of the old culture, the lesson offered by the Dems should not be overlooked.

>REACT: Response from the strident right

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As predicted, some of my most strident conservative “friends” have taken abusive exception to my opinion on gay rights and flag burning.

Taking up the latter first, some right-wingers call me a “traitor” to America for not protecting the flag. (Incidentally, I have one conservative adversary who calls me … and everyone … a traitor for merely deviating from HIS personal interpretation of conservatism. He is the part of the fringe that would scare me if he were in power – sort of the Hitler-lite type.) Anyway, for those of you who disagree with me on the flag issue … amen … that’s what’s great about America. Those of you who raise the disagreement to the level of hateful accusations, I say … ah … hmmmm … okay … time for polite rhetoric. You’re … ah … WRONG! You see, while you only protect the fabric, I protect a noble history of freedom for which it stands — or at least is supposed to stand. The very reason the flag guardians need a Constitutional Amendment to “protect” the flag is that the very notion is UNconstitutional. It violates that all-important First Amendment – our freedom of speech. So… dear conservatives … which is it? A new controversial authoritarian amendment for the evolving police state OR our right of free speech. How can any true conservative be suckered into this flag protection garbage?

Now on the matter of gay rights. What is the problem here? We live in a society that has accepted gay life as a legitimate part of it. My son attends a Catholic school where one kid has two mothers and another has two fathers — and no one, including the Church administrators seems to have a problem with it. Whatever you think of gayness … sin or sickness … you cannot deny basic human and cultural rights, and civic equality. Also, I think there is a good chance that, as God’s children, gayness may well have been part of His intended plan of creation. Wow! Now there’s a thought. There is a third option besides sin or sickness. My stand is based on my desire to maintain a consistent conservative philosophy as best I can see it. As a spiritual person, I am not about to judge my fellow man — even those wearing dresses. (Okay, I may judge their fashion sense, but that’s it.) This is what the bible admonishes me to do. Judge not.

So, in matters of flags, I am a strict constitutionalist and First Amendment defender. In matters of fags, I am an adherent of the bible, and least the judge not portion. How much more conservative can I be?

>REACT: Cindy Sheehan in Cuba

>I see where the shameless and irrelevant Cindy Sheehan has popped up in Cuba as her latest anti-American booking. The only thing that I can see she has proven is the the concept of treason is no longer valid. How ironic it is that she opposes a country that grants her total freedom to be an unprincipled traiter, and favors those who would have summarily exeucuted her for even nominal opposition. Oh well! I like her new name, which has not been widely reported — the war whore. It really not very nice, but it resonates.