Monthly Archives: May 2008

>REACT: The passing of Titans

>Within a few short weeks, two of the most senior political icons have fallen, one to the inevitability of dead and the other to the precursor of terminal illness.

Throughout his career, William F. Buckley has been the conscience and oracle of conservative ideology. He rose to prominence during the darkest days of conservative ostracization – the post Eisenhower ear of “good times” having given way to the “days of rage.” In 1964, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater was the standard bearer for a presidential annihilation.

The power of Buckley’s intellect sparked the birth of the modern conservative movement that culminated in the election of Ronald Reagan and the eventual Republican Congress. These were more than elections. They represented the fundament shift in American political culture to the right for the first times since Franklin Roosevelt lead the nation to the shoreline of socialism. Even as Roosevelt proffered that the only thing our nation had to fear “was fear itself,” he pandered to the fears inherent in both depression and war to drive the people to the alter of government for sanctuary.

Often seemingly the lonely voice in the wilderness, Buckley penned the epistles of individual freedom and the righteous of the free market. He did so with conviction, compelling logic and common sense. He believed in principle over politics.

His success was not only in substance, but in style. He was ever the gentleman – the powerful but polite adversary on the debaters’ platform. Though less valued today than in times past, he was a man of virtue and honor. He is almost exclusively known for his beliefs, with little notoriety drawn to his personal life.

Edward Kennedy is, and has been, the personification of the anti-Buckley. He is the iconic personality of the radical left – or progressives, as they again prefer to be called. He too, could be dubbed the lone voice in the wilderness as conservative ideology gained favor and dominance under the rubric of the “Reagan Revolution.”.

He never lost his devotion to the tax and spend policies that would make the central government the point of resolution for virtually all human plights. Though cloaked in the skin of the lamb, the bloody fangs of socialism were always evident.

Kennedy’s ideology is less about freedom and more about amassing political power and privilege — personally and collectively. His brand of liberalism shifted the center of political gravity away from individuals to the paternalistic propensity of government. Inherent in this philosophy is a compulsion to govern — where pragmatism takes precedence over principle. He is more Machiavelli, for whom principle bowed to power, than Mother Theresa, who believed that keeping the faith reigned over temporal success.

This tendency to place pragmatism in the fore creates a selfish notion that the ends justify the means. Principle and policy become meaningless without the acquisition of power.

In his personal life, Kennedy has historically demonstrated that same pragmatic and selfish relativism. His excessive indulgences and tragically scandalous behavior has made him more notable in supermarket tabloids than intellectual journals.

While Buckley articulated the academic underpinnings of free-market conservatism, Kennedy is a constant campaign orator – articulating the language of political advantage at any given moment. While Buckley educated on the ways and means of individual freedom, Kennedy is the salesman of the “big brother” government that he and his fellow believers would provide if given the reigns of power. While Buckley wanted a nation that would think, Kennedy looks to a nation that will only respond.

Still … no matter one’s opinion; we can all rue the end of this clash between ideological Titans. They have personified the Yin and Yang between the philosophic poles of conservatism and liberalism. It is not easy to find their eloquent replacements in the vapid political firmament of these times. Taking sides does not prevent us from mourning the loss of Buckley, or praying for the well-being of Kennedy. Apart from all else, it can be said that both were faithful to their respective causes and visions. Each leaves a great legacy over which we lesser luminaries can carry on the debate.

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>REACT: Creamer dreamer

>If I ever want someone to write a convincing article about the existence of the Tooth Fairy, I would assign the job to liberal emoter Robert Creamer, a fellow Illinoisan. I came to this conclusion after reading his latest espousings on the inevitability of the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. I find the argument advancing the existence of the Tooth Fairy to be more compelling than Creamer’s brief on behalf of Obama’s election.

If you are not familiar with Creamer (pictured), he is a regular contributor to the Huff ‘n Puff Post … I mean the Huffington Post. He is the husband of Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowski (one of the more charming liberals), and according to his own tag line, Creamer is “a long time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book, Stand Up Straight. How Progressives Can Win.” (Is “Stand Up Straight” demeaning to the gay community? Is this code language? You just cannot be too careful these days.)

Anyway … Creamer forgot to mention that he was the founder and head of Illinois Political Action, a radical left-wing advocacy group. I say “was” because he left that group when the local U.S. Attorney found a cell for him in one of those federal penal institutions. He spent half a year as a guest of the taxpayers for something to do with bank fraud, check kiting and not turning over payroll withholding money to the government — all the while he took home a six-figure salary and enjoyed a generous expense account. He copped a plea to avoid more serious charges – as if those are not serious enough. Of course, as with most scandalized and felonious left-wingers, he remains in the highest esteem of the liberal establishment – ergo his platform on the Huffington Pest…. ooops … I mean Post.

Hailing from Illinois, Creamer is another of Obama’s good friends of dubious repute – guys who span the spectrum from controversial to criminal. Tony Rezko? Bill Ayers? Jeremiah Wright? This is getting more interesting all the time. I wonder if Creamer’s enthusiasm for Obama is spelled p-a-r-d-o-n.

Weeeeell … as I said … one of Bob’s constant writing themes is the inevitability of Barak Obama. He is convinced — or at least attempting to convince – that Obama is the overwhelming people’s choice. He not only thinks Obama is going to win in November, but win big. As he puts it …

… the odds are good that Obama will win the Presidency. And if Democrats execute with precision during the campaign, the odds are good that he will win with a healthy margin.

In his recent Huffington column, ole Creamer cites a statistical model devised by the political prognosticators at http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/. He claims they show Obama easily carrying enough states to get 273 electoral votes, with 270 needed to win. And there are other states likely to go for Obama, according to Creamer.

I went to see what the deal was (see chart) . I found that 538 currently gives Obama an electoral victory of 270.8 – a meaningless one and a half vote victory. And what is the margin of error on this projection?

More interestingly, 538 gives the popular vote to McCain. This is a little like the nomination process, itself, where Obama could slip to second place in the popular vote (depending on your partisan calculas), but receive the nomination at the hands of the delegates.

Even more interesting in the 538 projection, Clinton swamps McCain in the Electoral College and wins the popular vote. It appeas that Hillary is the one who could “win with a healthy margin.”

Coincidentally, syndicated Columnist, Bob Novak, has done his own Electoral College analysis. He shows McCain as the winner today with the bare minimum of 270 votes. Another “who knows” result.

“The odds are good that Obama will win the Presidency.”??? What is Creamer thinking? Smoking? The only thing that can be extrapolated from these guesstimates is that we could be in for another long, long election night – or maybe days.

Of course, Creamer is an expert in the art of never being wrong, so he adds the disclaimer that his prediction could change based on new developments. Using Creamer’s logic, allow me to make my own prediction. I think that Ralph Nader will be elected president with 66 percent of the popular vote. Of course, my prognostication will be adjusted based on future data – like Nader’s failure to get out of single digit polling numbers by the last weekend of the election season.

Creamer confidently predicts that if the election were today, Obama would win. Whoa! There is a prediction as courageous as it is meaningless. Would someone take Creamer aside and explain that the election is not for another five months? Even at that, I take exception to Creamer’s opinion. If the election were today, I think McCain wins. Things seem to change when the voters have to get serious about their decision. That’s why early polls and projections are mostly wrong.
I am standing by my prediction that Obama bombs in November. I say we’re looking at a 51/48 win for McCain, minimally — with a few votes for Nader as the Green Party candidate and Libertarian standard bearer Robert Barr.

Time — and maybe the Supreme Court — will tell.

>REACT: Book burning Bush should be burned

>According to the press, the book is a sensation. “Former George Bush loyalists turns on him,” is the generic headline.

Seems like one-time White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has poison penned a tome that scoops shovels full of insider dirt on the President and his key advisors. The book will be a HUGE success in the hands of the gleeful left wing literati and media establishment. The liberal talk show circuit will be filled with “we told you so” bleating.

Now, I know Bush is a bit of a dunce. His presidency is a failure whether you view it from the right or the left. His approval rating suggests that even his mother may be turning on him. Yep! He blew it. No question about it.

However … don’t you feel a little queasy reading McClellan’s slashing account of his former boss? There is something in the human soul (a good something) that makes us distain backstabbers.

This is a guy who got his career from the beneficence of George Bush. He was sending the Bush White House message to the world. He was their flack … their mouthpiece … their spinner. Now he writes a self-serving diatribe against his padrone.

And why? To enlighten and warn the public about the inner workings of the Bush administration in the last few months of its existence? Nooooooooo! He does it solely and selfishly for … yeah … money, and maybe another fifteen minutes in the public eye. In the old street parlance, the guy’s a ratfink.

Oh yeah! There is that other reason. Maybe a little payback for the President recognizing that McClellan was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. It is also true that the high political family were not given the political status they thought they deserved.

What really galls is that he uses the tell-all format to kick a guy while he’s down. With a writer’s precision and prerogative, McClellan absolves himself of any complicity and culpability. Oh yeah! He was the oracle espousing the bull dung. But, he was misinformed by those meanies like Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney. (This is where you are supposed to shed a tear for poor ole Scott).

McClellan would like us to believe that he is an honorable and truthful man, victimized by those above him. I’m not buying it. He was part of the schemer team, the key spin advisor. If the White House was dishing out bad stuff, McClellan was more than a waiter delivering it to the public table. He was at least a sous chef.

I think the sleazy nature of this guy can be seen in accusing Karl Rove and Scooter Libby or comparing notes to get their story straight regarding the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA undercover agent. McClellan says he hates to report this particular incident because he was not privy to the conversation between Rove and Libby. So, why does he write about it?

In the book McClellan says that after a senior staff meeting, Rove asked Libby to meet with him privately. Libby agreed, and they went off to another room.

That’s it. Two White House staffers, go off for a private conversation, and McClellan scurrilously surmises that they are engaging in a sinister conversation to concoct mutual alibis in the Plame case. Why else would the want to meet in private?, McClellan asks. Oh … I don’t know. But, I bet there are at least a few hundred issues of mutual interest – and that does not count personal matters like setting up a golf date. And even if they did want to discuss the Plame problem, it is not exactly illegal. In this, McClellan elevates “cheap shot” to a whole new level of meaning. No matter what you think of these guys, this is just wrong.

He still claims to respect the President. How phoney can a guy be? His words exude animus and vitriol in every paragraph.

If the Bush administration was trying to sell a bad product, McClellan was the hawker-in-chief. Perhaps it was his ability to recycle trash that provided him with the skill and the motivation to write trash. If George Bush was not exactly his role model, McClellan can always look to Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot.

>REACT: Daley saves the day … for a change

>

In the case of the “pate de foie graz ban bungle” it took Chicago Mayor Rich Daley almost a year to knock out the “city’s silliest ordinance,” as he called it.

Well, Hizzonor was not about to have to wait another year to keep his “kids” in the City Council from another silly action. This time the Mayor stepped in.

Just about the time the Council was to vote to order the White House not to invade Iran (a truly silly thing, to be sure), the Mayor politely asked them refrain from passing the legislation.

Of course, even a polite request will get immediate obedience from the submissive aldermen. They well know that if you reject even the gentlest suggestion from Hizzonor, you will be tossed under the bus – and the Mayor has lots of buses.

He said he was concerned that such a resolution would hurt the presidential candidacy of favorite son Barak Obama. He does not want to upset the first time ever the Chicago political machine will get its own president. I mean … they have had several governors and a few senators rise from the ranks of the Chicago machine, but never a president.

This is real important, too. Everyone knows that the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has the Mayor’s brow in the prosecutorial crosshairs. Despite his promise to keep Fitzgerald, you can bet that in one of his first acts a President, Obama will sit with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin to pick a replacement – some one not so … ah … aggressive? Someone more inclined to restore the tradition of “selective prosecution.” <– Meaning no machine pinky rings. I am not sure if the Mayor’s reason for opposing the ban is sincere, or just an excuse. Not sure how the resolution would hurt the campaign, especially since Obama is more of an appeasement dove than a militant hawk.

My suspicion is that the Mayor is kyboshing the ban because it really is silly AND because it is really a public relationship attack on President George Bush. Remember, Daley and Bush are buds. And until he surrenders the Oval Office, good ole pal George has the power of the pardon. In the spirit of Illinois’ unique brand of bipartisanship, Daley is already lobbying for clemency for the currently incarcerated George Ryan. Since springing Ryan from the hoosgow would be an incredibly bad and stupid thing, I say there is at least a 50/50 chance Bush will do it.

Whatever his motive, Delay has ended two Council sillinesses in one week. While I deplore the autocratic process, at least this time the Mayor really did save the “kids” from more silly mischief.

>LMAO: Of peace and pate …

>One would think that with all the serious problems besetting Chicago, the Windy City council of aldermen would be overburdened with the serious business of municipal governance. But noooooooo. This week, the city’s oversized and over stuffed legislative chamber came to grips with two issues that can only provoke well deserved public ridicule.

First the ward bases wielded their mighty power to defeat themselves. In an overwhelming vote the aldermen struck down the ban on the sale of pate de foie gras — a ban, they themselves past only a short time ago.

The main argument against the delicacy is how the birds are fed to produce those succulent fatty livers. Somehere along the way, the anti goose viscus crowd provided a humanized example of the process (pictured). Hmmm. I wonder if the demo offended as many people as it aroused. One of those “unanticipated consequences” things. Personally, I was more … uh … never mind. Not saying.

Mayor Daley orderedthe booting of the ban, calling the original action “the silliest ordinance” the Council has ever passed. Considering the impressive list of silly things done by the Chicago City Council at the order of the Mayor, that is an interesting indictment.

This of course raised an obvious question. Since the Council only does what the Mayor tells them to do, how did the silliest law ever get passed in the first place? Obviously someone failed to get the Mayor’s opinion on goose livers. Oh! Wait! Now I get it. The Mayor was saying that not getting his marching orders … that was the silliest thing the Council ever did. Now it makes sense.

Since the Council has now undone the silliest thing it ever did (and this time making sure they got the directive from the Mayor), they needed another silly thing to takes it place. Being very creative, it did not take them long to come up with a resolution to forbid the United States government from taking military action against Iran.

I certainly do not know whether we should or should not use our military to preempt the Iranian mad man from having nuclear weapons. Almost everyone in the world, and even those in their own world over at the United Nations, seems to think that an atomic armed Iran is a very bad idea, indeed. But still … personally … I can’t say. After all, I am not privy to national security briefings. I am not in on the behind the scenes international disucssions. Of course, those high-minded alderman are at least as clueless as I am. But ignorance may not be enough to stop them if making the Chicago City Council one of the few municipal governments in America … nay … in the world … with a foreign policy. (Neighboring Evanston has a similarly afflicted city council, as I have noted in previous blogs. Maybe its the fluoride in the local water.)

This is not the first time the Chicago legislators went down this road. About six years ago, they passed a similar resolution forbidding George Bush and the United States Congress from toppling Saddam Hussein. You can see how much the opinion of Chicago aldermen means in Washington. Needless to say, this new foray into foreign policy will garner about the same amount of attention in the nation’s capital.

I hate to disagree with the Mayor, but I think these war room decisions of the City Council may be the silliest things they ever did. If not the silliest, then certainly the most useless.

In the meantime, the Chicago Transit Authority is crumbling. The schools are producing more drop outs than graduates. Innocent people are being murdered at an alarming rate. The city faces a monumental budget crisis. The once sacrosanct parks are being auctioned off to the highest bidders. “The city that works” can’t even fill pot holes.

But thanks to the City Council, the social elite will again nibble on their fancy goose liver paste, and Iran can rest easier knowing that U.S. troop are being held at bay by civic action.

>FACTOID: Why is gas so expensive?

>Got this in my email from Larry Hart at the American Conservative Union.

When President Bill Clinton vetoed a bill that would have started domestic oil production in a tiny portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), he said it was a waste of time because it would have no effect on gas prices for ten years. That was 13 years ago, in 1995 when oil was $19 a barrel. Every year since, liberals in Congress have blocked efforts to increase domestic oil and gas production, not only in ANWR but throughout the country and offshore.

The one thing Congress cannot legislate is the law of supply and demand. Obvously, they can ignore it — but not without consequences. So, the barrel price for crude is now hovering around $110 — a twelve-fold increase over that of a dozen years. That’s what is pushing the pump price over $4. Well … not entirely. State and municipal governments are piggy backing with tax increases of their own.

The price of crude affects the cost of ALL goods — higher cost for growing, manufacturing, processing and shipping. Everytime you see an increase at the pump, remember that your food, clothing, entertainment, rent, doctor bills and lawyer fees will all be increasing, too.

If you want to do something about it, contact your U.S. senator in support of the “McConnell Amendment” to Senate Bill S2284. It will open up some drilling, and maybe in 10 more years we will not have the same problem.

>OBSERVATION: Hillary is peddling the wrong argument

>In her effort to pull the rabbit out of the hat at the convention, Hillary Clinton repeatedly advances the argument that she is more electable than Barack Obama. If this were what the super delegates were considering, she would have a chance. Unfortunately for Clinton, that is not the deciding factor for the super Ds. They already know she is the most electable of the two.

The super delegates will likely put Obama over the top, but not because they think he is the stronger candidate. They will select him under the pressure of racial intimidation. They will rather risk losing this one election than lose the lock-step loyalty of their captive black constituency over the longer run.

They fear retribution, and not without cause. Black leaders and journalist are warning (threatening?) that the failure to give the nomination to Obama could result in an explosion of pent up frustration. The implication is clear. The African-American community will go ballistic if Obama is denied the nomination in the back rooms of the convention. There is more than a hint of violent protests.

However, the super delegates are less worried about a flare up of urban rioting than the long term impact of blacks staying at home on many elections days to come – or worse yet, accepting the courtship of the GOP. Even a small percentage change in party loyalty will have an enormous impact on all future elections at all levels.

For the Dems, however, it is a bit of a Hobson’s Choice since there is every reason to believe that their “other” mainstay constituency – the non-black working class currently owned by Clinton – may slip over into the Republican column on Election Day if they are denied their candidate. The super delegates are betting that the Clinton crowd will be less angry in rejection than the Obama crowed and less likely to stray for too long — and they are probably right.

For all the abuse she took, Geraldine Ferraro was right. Obama would not be where he is if he were not running as a black man. Instead of electabilty, Clinton needs to convince the super delegates that Obama’s nomination will be more disastrous for the party then her nomination. So, far no one is buying that.

>REACT: Take me home country road …

>Hillary Clinton must be singing the West Virginia theme song these days — hoping that West Virginia’s country road will take her home to the White House. There once was an adage in presidential campaigns that claimed “as goes Maine, so goes the nation.” This year, I think the vision of things to come may be seen in West Virginia, where Clinton crushed the all-but-crowned Barack Obama by some 40 points.

How is that possible?

Pundits point out that West Virginia has a lower percentage of black votes – around five percent. There you have it. Obama is having a hard time winning over the non-black working class – and that includes Hispanics and Asians. If Obama, the perceived winner of the Democrat nomination, cannot beat Clinton in a Democrat primary, how can he beat McCain in a general election, where the demographics work against him to a far greater extent?

Ever since Obama first played the race card (and yes, as I noted in earlier blogs, he started it in order to push his margins up in the all-important primaries of South Carolina and Louisiana.) Unfortunately for Obama, you cannot rally one special interest group without alarming the other — polarizing the general atmosphere. The more Obama pressed for racial solidarity, the more he lost non-blacks who initially gave him some benefit of the doubt on the race issue.

Obama did what he had to do to win the nomination. His strategy was brilliant, and well executed. It seems now that he has gained his victory on the field of political battle. But, like the mortally wounded general, he will leave victorious arena only to die in another venue.

West Virginia is more like the nation demographically than is South Carolina. If this had been a close election, then Obama could have claimed some appeal across the socio-economic spectrum. But, he was not only beaten, he was smooshed. How can the pre-emptive candidate explain getting beaten so-badly?

A lot has been written about Ron Paul winning descent percentages in his hopeless race against the already designated GOP standard bearer, John McCain. Paul, however, is only getting impressive percentages – no victories, and he certainly has not slam dunked McCain in any contest.

Now that Obama has played the racial card, and allowed others to respond in kind, it is inevitable that the General Election will be dominated by the race issue. Obama’s elitist white supporters will see virulent racism in any opposition. If he falls behind in the campaign, his black base will claim they are being denied their “right” to a president of their race. All this, of course, will only exacerbate Obama’s non-black, working-class problem. Now that Obama has played the race card, he cannot withdraw it. It is face up on the table to be trumped. Though they may put on a happy face, the outcome in West Virginia has to privately scare the bejeezus out Obama and his strategists.

>OBSERVATION: Let’s face it …

>As you know, this blog is dedicated to “truth, justice and the American way.” In the pursuit of those worthy goals, I occasionally stumble across some things that just make you wounder, like … What do the Chicago Tribune (and Chicago Cubs) new owner, gazillionaire Sam Zell, have in common with bad-boy political pundit and talking head, James Carville, and the delightfully near-sighted Mr. Magoo? Since pictures are worth a thounsand words, allow me to defer to the photographs. I am not sure why I thought this is important enough to put in my blog, or if there is any relevancy, but here it is, anyway. What should we think of this?

>OBSERVATION: Revenge of the anti mom

>

Now that Mother’s Day is over, I can get back to being a bit cranky on the feminist issues. That’s because the in-vogue contemporary liberal feminism has little to do with motherhood. Despite lip service oblation offered up to the stay-at-home ladies, the feminist movement remains largely anti homemaker, with a good measure of male bashing.

One of the bromides given to the home bound moms is and “accounting” of the commercial value of their household duties. According to this year’s public relations gimmick-imitating-research, the average homemaker should be earning $117,000 a year based on the commercial value of various services.

They price out categories of work, such as baby sitter, cook, laundress, nurse, etc. Of course the whole analysis is as ridiculous as puff articles claiming to list the sexiest women in the world. (Although, I find the latter a much more interesting gimmick-imitating-research). The whole feminist analysis falls on the free market reality that one can hire a person to do ALL the aforementioned services every day for about $25,000 per year.

I am not unfamiliar with the duties of the homemaker. For several years, I was Mr. Mom to five children. I cooked. I cleaned. I bandaged. Even now, after my wife goes off to her full-time job, I remain home to handle my consulting business and a good share of the household duties.

In these modern times, the drudgery of homemaking is gone. The success of soap operas, female subject talk shows, and bridge clubs give evidence that the stay-at-home mom has some significant personal time. Certain mothers, like fathers, have to be “on duty” 24/7, but that does not mean they are actively engaged in the “work.” Parenting is more like being a fireman. There is ample time to play poker between blazes,

If you want to play the same silly game on the other side of the coin, have you recently hired a plumber, electrician, auto mechanic, security guard or any other commercial handyman? Put that on the comparable income for dad, and you can see just how ridiculous all this really is.

Personally, I think the work of a homemaker is priceless. I was raised by one.