Saturday, August 30, 2008

Americans Like Palin Better Than Biden

Rasmussen polling finds Americans reacted more favorably to Sen. John McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate than Sen. Barack Obama's choice of Sen. Joe Biden. According to Rasmussen, 53% of Americans responded with a favorable first impression of Gov. Palin. Only 43% of Americans responded with a favorable first impression of Sen. Biden, who has been in the U.S. Senate longer than all but two senators. Biden was viewed unfavorably by 38% of the poll's respondents, while Palin was viewed unfavorably by just 26% of the respondents. Even worse news for Obama-Biden is a new Zogby poll showing McCain-Palin leading 47%-45%. What happened to Obama's post-convention bounce?

What Does The Veep Do?

Democrats and some in the media are having fun poking at comments Gov. Sarah Palin recently made during an interview with Lawrence Kudlow concerning the job of the vice president. Asked by Kudlow about her chances of being chosen by McCain, Palin responded:

“As for that V.P. talk all the time,” she told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow in late July, “I tell ya, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me: What is it exactly that the V.P. does every day?"

“I’m used to being very productive and working real hard and in administration,” she continued. “We want to make sure that the V.P. slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that were trying to accomplish up her for the rest of the us before I can even start addressing that question.”

“It’s a pretty big job, madam governor,” Kudlow told her.

“This is a pretty cool job here, too, though as governor of Alaska,” Palin responded.

While some are scoffing at Palin asking what exactly the vice president does, the question actually says a lot about how seriously she takes the proposition. Constitutionally, the vice president is assigned two constitutional duties: assume the duties of the president in the event of death or incapacity; and serve as president of the Senate, casting a vote only in cases of a tie. If the president chooses not to assign any additional responsibilities to the vice president, there is nothing the vice president can do but sit and stew. Until recently, vice presidents did very little beyond performing ceremonial responsibilities, such as attending funerals for the death of a foreign head of state. Palin's comments to Kudlow make clear she's not interested in a title. She expects to be an active partner in a McCain administration. You can bet she received that assurance before accepting McCain's offer of the vice presidency.

Would You Want This Man As A State Trooper?

The Democratic blogs have been abuzz that Gov. Sarah Palin is facing a state ethics probe for firing her public safety commissioner allegedly because he wouldn't fire a state trooper who was once married to one of her sisters. The Anchorage Daily News last month examined the state trooper in question, Mike Wooten, and uncovered some very troubling issues with his employment and personal conduct. Among the issues:

  • Wooten used a Taser on his stepson.
  • He illegally shot a moose.
  • He drank beer in his patrol car on one occasion.
  • He told others his father-in-law would "eat a f'ing lead bullet" if he helped his daughter get an attorney for the divorce.
  • A reprimand in January 2004 for negligent damage to a state vehicle.
  • A January 2005 instruction after being accused of speeding, unsafe lane changes, following too closely and not using turn signals in his state vehicle.
  • A June 2005 instruction regarding personal cell phone calls.
  • An October 2005 suspension from work after getting a speeding ticket.
  • A November 2005 memo "to clarify duty hours, tardiness and personal business during duty time."

The Anchorage Daily News reports notes that Wooten served on a SWAT-like team, which required a "cool-headed" officer to perform in crisis situations. The article makes clear that Wooten had some serious drinking problems and issues of domestic abuse towards Palin's sister. The alleged death threat against Palin's father if he hired a divorce attorney would have caused any normal person to have concerns about him serving as a state trooper. I think the Democrats are making a huge mistake if they intend to continue making Palin's alleged efforts to get this state trooper fired an issue in this campaign. As Rex Early would say, "That dog won't hunt."

Five Things You Should Know About Sarah Palin

As the mainstream news media picks up the Obama-Biden mantra that Gov. Sarah Palin is lacking in experience to become vice president, here are five things you should know about her before making any conclusions about her:

  • Palin has held elective office longer than Barack Obama. She was first elected to the city council in Wasilia, Alaska in 1992. After four years on the council, she was elected the city's mayor, a position she held for 10 years, including serving as President of the Alaska Conference of Mayors. In 2006, she was elected Alaska's first woman governor. She also chaired the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission for two years.
  • As governor of Alaska, she serves as Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard. It's also worth noting that Alaska borders two international boundaries, including Canada and Russia. She has visited national guard troops deployed in Iraq and wounded soldiers in Germany. Admittedly, it's not much in the way of foreign or military experience, but it's more than Obama's zero experience. Note that he has chaired a subcommittee for the past two years dealing with Europe and the Middle East and has failed to hold a single meeting.
  • She resigned in protest as Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in order to expose legal violations and conflicts of interest of Alaska Republican leaders. Her whistle blowing efforts help bring down the governor, attorney general and state party chairman of her own party.
  • She bucked the party establishment and took on and defeated an incumbent governor of her own party, promising to clean up Alaska politics.
  • As governor, she has passed landmark ethics reform legislation and used her veto power to eliminate wasteful spending. In her first acts as governor, she fired the governor's chef and sold the state's jet on E-Bay. Remember that famous "Bridge To Nowhere" Sen. Stephens obtained $400 million in a federal earmark to build? She told the federal government to keep the money. She also campaigned against U.S. Rep. Don Young in the Republican primary because of his big-spending ways.

It is striking to note how comparisons of Palin's experience are being made to Obama's, the number one guy on the ticket and not the number two guy, Joe Biden. Is Sarah Palin's depth of experience as good as it could be? No. Is it deeper than Obama's experience? You bet it is. You can deride her experience all you want, but at the end of the day, she has executive experience which Obama, and for that matter, McCain and Biden, are lacking. Unfortunately, too many reporters immediately bought into the Obama spin on Palin and are misrepresenting her experience relative to Obama's and Biden's.

The Star's Matt Tully fell right into Obama's lap. "How does Sen. John McCain ever again question Sen. Barack Obama's experience, or argue that Obama isn't ready to lead?", he writes in his column today. "It's hard to imagine McCain could do either after choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate, seeking to put a woman who until recently was mayor of a tiny city one breath away from the presidency." Before running down the Democratic talking points, Tully should have taken the time a good reporter would have done to learn who Sarah Palin is. If he had bothered to do that, he would know that the young 44-year-old governor brings experience none of the other three men on the ballot have to offer. And on the issue of change, there can be no question that Sarah Palin is the candidate who has demonstrated the strongest will through her actions to buck the status quo and fight for change.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Just What The Doctor Ordered

Sen. John McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate is a stroke of genius. She got where she is fighting the good ole boys in Alaska and doing what is right. She is a true believer in open, honest and limited government. She is the product of a working class family, and she understands the concerns of ordinary Americans. She's a proud mother who chooses life, even when that child is inflicted with Down Syndrome, a decision which was not above her pay grade. Hats off to Sen. McCain. He chose a person all Americans can count on to keep him on his heels to do what is right for America. No more business as usual. This is the ticket for change, not Obama-Biden.

Is It Sarah Palin?

The late buzz is that Sen. John McCain may have chosen Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential choice. Gov. Mitt Romney and Gov. Tim Pawlenty have been eliminated according to Fox News. A mystery flight which landed in Dayton last night carrying a woman and her two sons has fueled the speculation. The Drudge Report is suggesting as much. The choice could help McCain attract the votes of many dissolusioned female voters who supported Sen. Hillary Clinton's historic presidential bid. Maybe not. ABC News says Palin is in Alaska today with plans to attend the state fair. Damn, Drudge botches both vice presidential picks.

UPDATE: No, ABC is wrong. It is Palin.

Charges Dismissed Against Larry Sinclair

Remember when Larry Sinclair was hauled away in handcuffs in June after a D.C. press conference at the National Press Club where he laid out sex and drug allegations against Sen. Barack Obama? And remember how those charges stemmed from a sealed grand jury indictment obtained by Delaware Attorney General Joe Biden, III, son of Sen. Joe Biden, Obama's vice presidential pick, who had ordered Sinclair arrested and extradited to his state to face a dispute over a few hundred dollars? Sinclair is now reporting that the charges brought by Attorney General Biden against him have been dropped for lack of evidence. Coincidental? Mission accomplished? Here's a summary of the court docket form Sinclair's case:


(A) FIRST CASE REVIEW 08/11/2008
(B) FINAL CASE REVIEW 09/02/2008
(C) TRIAL 09/11/2008





05 CASE 08/28/2008 CASE CLOSED.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Biden Lied About Wife's Car Accident

In an act of reprehensible cruelty, then-presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden while campaigning in Iowa last year blamed the car accident in which his wife and daughter were killed on a drunk driver. The claim was completely false. The car accident was in fact his own wife's fault. Apparently distracted by one of the three children in the car with her, she accelerated into the path of an oncoming truck which could not stop to avoid her car. Celia Cohen explains at the Delaware Grapevine in a story entitled, "It Ain't So, Joe":

If ever there was a crash that tugged at the heart of the entire state, it was the one that took the lives of Joe Biden’s wife and baby daughter and hospitalized his two toddler sons 35 years ago, just weeks after his precocious election to the U.S. Senate.

It was an unbearable turn of events, from one of the most daring political breakthroughs in Delaware political history to unspeakable grief, and there is no reason to make the accident appear worse than it was.

While campaigning in Iowa for the Democratic presidential nomination, however, Biden did.

“Let me tell you a little story,” he was quoted as saying last Friday in the New York Times.

“I got elected when I was 29, and I got elected November the 7th. And on December 18 of that year, my wife and three kids were Christmas shopping for a Christmas tree. A tractor-trailer, a guy who allegedly – and I never pursued it – drank his lunch instead of eating his lunch, broadsided my family and killed my wife instantly, and killed my daughter instantly, and hospitalized my two sons, with what were thought to be at the time permanent, fundamental injuries.”

Except there was no drinking. There was not even speeding. The truck’s brakes checked out, as well. It was not the driver’s fault.

Biden quickly abandoned the drunk driving claim when he was called out on it. “All I said was what I heard at the time. What I heard from folks at the time is he’d been drinking,” Biden said, sounding agitated. “I don’t want to talk about it. . . . She must have pulled out. . . . It’s still painful to talk about 35 years later.” Imagine the pain of the innocent truck driver's family that he was being falsely accused by a U.S. senator and presidential candidate of getting drunk and slamming into Biden's wife car, killing her and his daughter? Cohen explains that embellishment and plagiarism are not unfamiliar territory to Biden:

The embellishment is reminiscent of one of the problems that undid Biden the last time he ran for president 20 years ago. He was swallowed up mostly by plagiarism charges, but there was also an incident, taped by C-SPAN, in which Biden became irritated with a New Hampshire voter and belittled him by inflating his own uneven academic credentials.

Among Biden’s claims, he said he was named the outstanding student in political science at the University of Delaware and was in the top half of his law school class at Syracuse University, both untrue, and won an international moot court competition, which was true. He also gibed, “I’d be delighted to sit down and compare my IQ to yours.”

As I said when Obama picked Biden, the two are meant for each other. They are the most pathological, self-absorbed people you will encounter in American politics today. Now the mainstream media will not share stories like this which reflect on the true character of Biden or Obama. So pass this story along to your friends. It says a lot about Joe Biden and the person who admired him so much that he put him on his presidential ticket with him.

Botched Investigation Allows Dozens To Walk Away From Pea Shake Busts

Botched warrants is being offered as the reason criminal charges are being dismissed against dozens charged in last year's pea shake houses initiated to fend off criticism that Mayor Bart Peterson was turning a blind eye to the illegal gambling houses in mostly-black neighborhoods. WRTV's Jack Reinhart reports on this outrage:

Charges against dozens accused of involvement in "pea shake" gambling in Indianapolis have been dropped because of errors in the warrants used to arrest
them last year, the Marion County prosecutor's office said.

The suspects were arrested during several police raids on what authorities said were illegal gambling operations in 2007. Since then, more than one judge has ruled the warrants that police used to enter buildings, gather evidence and make arrests had technical flaws, 6News' Jack Rinehart reported.

Details about those flaws weren't available. The prosecutor's office didn't say exactly how many people had charges dismissed, but it said the number could be more than 50.

Despite the dropped charges, the raids succeeded in closing the operations, and police officers will try to ensure they remain closed, said Indianapolis Deputy Police Chief John Conley.

"Any attempts by those people ... to reopen and go back to doing what they were doing before, they're going to find themselves in jail again," Conley said.

There you have it, folks. It's been going on for decades, but nobody is held to account. Our only hope is that the federal government, as rumored, is stepping in and going after corrupt law enforcement officials responsible for these criminal activities. We all thought those arrests last year were all for show during the mayoral election. Now you know the truth.

Howey Likens Obama To Lincoln On Experience

I've long since given up any hope that political writer Brian Howey would offer a single piece of objectivity on any matter relating to Sen. Barack Obama. His suggestion in his column today, however, that Obama's experience is comparable to Abraham Lincoln's before he ascended to the presidency is more than this Illinois native and Lincoln enthusiast can tolerate. I accept the ignorance of average American when it comes to understanding American history, but I expect a little more from someone like Howey. He offered this defense to Republican critics that Obama lacks experience to be president:

When I talk with my Republican friends about Obama, the conversation almost certainly turns to the notion of “experience.” And my standard answer has been this: If you were to line up the 1860 resumes of Edward Bates, Salmon Chase, William Seward and Abraham Lincoln and make a decision based strictly upon that, you wouldn’t have chosen Lincoln. And when you compare the Obama and Lincoln resumes, there is some similarity. Lincoln had served two years in Congress and eight years in the Illinois legislature. Obama is in his fourth year in Congress, served eight years in the Illinois Senate and had endured a defeat in his first run for Congress.
Howey's decision to limit the experience to their legislative service is quite self-serving. A presidential candidate brings not only his political experience to the office, but his entire life experience. On the broader score, Obama can't hold a candle to Lincoln's experience.

Lincoln grew up poor, the son of of uneducated farmers. His mother died when he was nine years old. Unlike Obama, there were no prestigious prep schools and private colleges, to earn a good education. Lincoln educated himself. Lincoln married and lost three of his four children to sickness. His wife often suffered from irrational thoughts and was suspected of being a spy for the Confederacy because of her slave-owning Kentucky parents. Lincoln suffered severe bouts of depression which he had to learn to self-medicate.

Lincoln had to endure jokes his entire life about his gangly body and his ugly face. He captured the imaginations of his listeners with his gift for words and speeches he wrote himself without a teleprompter, not from a pretty face and fancy suits.

A God-fearing man, Lincoln never joined a church to prove his religious beliefs to anyone and certainly not one that promoted racial division and contempt for the U.S. government.

Unlike Obama, Lincoln volunteered for military service, becoming a Captain in the Illinois militia during the Black Hawk War.

Unlike Obama, Lincoln rose to the top of the legal profession without a Harvard law degree. He represented little people and big corporations alike and handled both civil and criminal cases. He earned a reputation as one of the best lawyers in America. Not a mere community organizer who never litigated a single case but who instead hung his shingle out at a law firm which exploited his connections to win millions in government housing money for its politically-connected clients who exploited impoverished residents of his own legislative district, all the while feigning complete ignorance of what was taking place.

Unlike Obama, Lincoln risked his political career by opposing a very popular war as a member of Congress, a move that forced him to take a hiatus from politics.

Unlike Obama, Lincoln took an unpopular position with many of his constituents by opposing slavery and fighting for its abolition. Remember, he lost that Senate race after those famous debates with Stephen Douglas, which captured the attention of an entire nation. When Lincoln was first asked to take a seat in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois, he deferred the seat to a Democrat-turned Republican. Can you imagine Obama waiting his turn for anything? Lincoln would help form the modern day Republican Party, founded upon the notion that all men are created equal.

Yes, Lincoln did more than talk about civil rights. He fought for civil rights and died for it. Obama talks about a single ethics bill he authored. Shame on you, Brian Howey, for even thinking about comparing the experience of Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama.

UPDATE: Howey has company. Al Gore made the same comparison at tonight's convention. ABC New reports: "Gore also compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln, saying that "before he entered the White House, Abraham Lincoln’s experience in elective office consisted of eight years in his state legislature in Springfield, Ill., and one term in Congress –- during which he showed the courage and wisdom to oppose the invasion of another country, that was popular when it started, but later condemned by history."

Welcome To The Stage The Great Emperor

Whoever had the bright idea of creating a stage modeled after an ancient Greek temple for Sen. Barack Obama to deliver his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention played right into the hands of critics who are convinced Obama is the most self-centered, self-worshiping politician in modern American politics. Yes, a Greek temple would be a place where you worship the gods.

Hat tip to the Political Inquirer.

To the paid Democratic blogger who is poking fun at this post, I refer you to the ABC News blog discussing this "Greek Tragedy". And did I mention that Obama's stage designer also handled Britney Spears last concert tour?

Said one Democrat: "This is a disaster of mythical proportions." Said another: "It's not enough that he wants to be president -- he wants to be Zeus." Said the first: "Will he send down thunderbolts from the mountain?"

Those are the Democrats -- though assuredly not Obama partisans. Cue the Republicans: The RNC blasted around an e-mail referring to the "Temple of Obama."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bayh Proves What A Phony He Is Tonight

The campaign of Sen. John McCain was quick to point up tonight the hypocrisy in the speech Sen. Evan Bayh delivered at the Democratic National Convention. Bayh knocked McCain's support of the War in Iraq. McCain's campaign responds with the following:

Senator Evan Bayh took to the stage in Denver tonight and had the audacity to say of John McCain and George Bush that “our brave soldiers were killed because of their reckless incompetence” in managing the War in Iraq. There has been no harsher critic of the conduct of that war than John McCain, who advocated tirelessly for the surge strategy that sparked a dramatic decline in violence, decimated al Qaeda, and put victory within reach. Though he didn’t mention it tonight, Senator Bayh, like Joe Biden, supported the Iraq war, but as soon as their support became a political liability, both looked after their own political interests.

“Our brave soldiers were killed by a ruthless enemy in Iraq, and if Senators Bayh, Biden, and Obama had had their way, we would have left Iraq in defeat. In contrast, John McCain had the courage to put his country before his own political ambitions.”—Ben Porritt, Spokesman McCain 2008

Bayh Voted For Authorizing The Use Of Force Against Iraq. "Passage of the joint resolution that would authorize the use of force against Iraq and require the administration to report to Congress that diplomatic options have been exhausted before, or within 48 hours after military action has begun. The president also would be required to submit a progress report to Congress at least every 60 days." (H.J. Res. 114, CQ Vote #237: Passed 77-23: R 48-1; D 29-21; I 0-1, 10/11/02, Bayh Voted Yea)

Bayh Took Credit For Being "One Of The Principal Sponsors Of The Iraq [War] Resolution." Hannity: "Is your party week on defense issues?" Bayh: "Well, Sean, let me remind you I was one of the principal sponsors of the Iraq resolution along with
Senator Lieberman..." (Fox News' "Hannity And Colmes," 11/14/02)

Bayh: "The Only Way To Remove Saddam, I Think, Was Through The Use Of Force." (Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes," 1/20/04) Barack Obama Said That Once We Made A Commitment In Iraq "We Have To Finish The Job, We Owe It Not Only To The Troops Who Sacrificed Their Lives, But Also The Iraqi People." "Obama continued, 'All of us assume that when we make that commitment, that we have to finish the job, we owe it not only to the troops who sacrificed their lives, but also the Iraqi people.'" (Jake Tapper, "Obama In Never-Before-Aired 'Nightline' Interview From 2004: Praises John Kerry's Experience, Disses 'Cut And Run' Proposals From Iraq," ABC News' "Political Punch" Blog,, Posted 8/27/08)

McCain And Obama Miss Ballot Deadline In Texas

This could become one of the biggest snafus in modern presidential election history. Both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama missed the state filing deadline in Texas, the nation's second largest state, to have their names placed on the ballot. Texas state law requires each party to certify their general election candidate no later than 70 days before the general election, which was August 27, 2008. This same thing occurred in Indiana in 1988, but the Election Commission allowed the parties to certify their candidates anyway. A lawsuit was filed and went up to the 7th Circuit, which held that the plaintiff had not timely filed her suit, indicating that if she had filed it timely, she may have prevailed. See Fulani v Hogsett, 917 F 2d 1028 (1990). Libertarian Bob Barr is the only candidate who met the deadline in Texas. It is hard to imagine there won't be a remedy fashioned in Texas, but the Democrats have no incentive to do so. Without Texas, McCain has no chance of winning in November.

Big hat tip to Shofar.

Five Percent Of Indiana Delegates No Show For Roll Call Vote

One would think a delegate to a national nominating convention of either party could at least show up for the roll call vote for nominating the presidential candidate. Apparently four of Indiana's 85 delegates to the Democratic National Convention had more important things to do than show up for the roll call vote according to WISH-TV's Jim Shella. That's 5% of the delegation! And one of the 85 delegates who cast a vote doesn't even live in Indiana. That was former Indiana Democratic Chairman Joe Andrew, a Maryland resident. He was making up for the fact that he failed to cast a vote in the Democratic primaries this year.

Mow The Weeds, Please

This now abandoned condominium project in the heart of downtown, Lockerbie Park, has become quite an eyesore. Waist-high weeds are growing uncontrollably on this property located at the corner of Michigan and College on the eastern edge of Indianapolis' downtown. While some pricey townhouses were built on the western edge of the property along Park Avenue, most of which have been sitting vacant for a couple of years, the developer filled in the holes and abandoned work on the balance of the block-sized lot. DMD employees drive by this property daily. You would think someone would cite the owner for the tall weeds.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Obama Scrutinized Health Of Veep Candidates

In a remarkable admission, Sen. Evan Bayh told WISH-TV political reporter Jim Shella that he was required to undertake a physical exam and provide a blood test as part of the vetting process by Sen. Barack Obama's vice presidential selection team. He was also questioned about whether he had ever been treated for mental depression. As Shella notes, that latter question is known as the Tom Eagleton question in reference to the discovery that Sen. Eagleton had undergone electro-shock therapy to treat depression. That disclosure led Sen. George McGovern to dump Eagleton from his ticket in 1972 and replace him with Sargent Shriver.

It is curious that the Obama team would so closely scrutinize the veep candidate's health when he has shown a complete unwillingness to open up his own health records. While Sen. John McCain released hundreds of pages detailing his health history, Obama released a simple one-page letter from his doctor. Although Obama's doctor claimed in late May that Obama was in "excellent health", he acknowledged he hadn't undergone a physical examination in 16 months. This is of particular concern given the history of cancer in his family, the fact he smoked for many years and abused hard drugs in his late teens and early twenties, and both of his parents suffered from serious illnesses and died at young ages. His doctor's letter's only acknowledgement of medical difficulties was that he had treated him for upper respiratory infections and skin rashes in the past.

I'm curious what the Obama team did with the blood tests. Did they test them for HIV, Hepatitis or other blood-borne illnesses? Were they studying their DNA make-up? Were Obama's Chicago political hacks digging for all the dirt they could on potential political foes? If I had been in Bayh's shoes, I wouldn't have given a blood sample. Why should Obama know about the medical secrets of his veep candidates when he doesn't have the decency to air his own medical records with the American public? After all, it's his hand which we know will be on the nuclear button if he becomes president. It's worth noting that President John F. Kennedy, hid very serious problems from the public. His daughter, Caroline, ran Obama's vice presidential search efforts.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Feds Probing IMPD

WTHR's Steve Jefferson picks up on a major federal grand jury investigation underway involving the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Jefferson reports:

As a Metro police officer was arraigned on a rape charge Monday, Eyewitness News has learned IMPD is bracing for the outcome of another investigation into officer conduct. The new investigation involves a federal grand jury investigation into the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department underway right now. Sources close to the investigation won't say exactly what kind of officer conduct they are looking into, but that same source characterized the grand jury investigation as huge. There is no word on how many or which officers are the target of the investigation.

The grand jury investigation is "huge." Get that?

Follow The Party

The Sunlight Foundation is making it easy for you to track the parties thrown at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this week and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis next week. The Party Blog, which you can access here, allows you to keep track daily of the special interest groups and lobbyists paying to entertain party bigwigs at their respective conventions. Check it out and crash the party.

Obama's Mentor Calls Clinton Delegate An "Uncle Tom"

The tension between supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama has erupted in Obama's own home state delegation of Illinois. Obama's mentor and the man who says he is responsible for putting him in the U.S. Senate, Illinois Senate President Pro Tempore Emil Jones, Jr., called Chicago political consultant Delmarie Cobb an Uncle Tom, which the Chicago Sun-Times has confirmed based on eyewitness accounts of two Chicago aldermen. Cobb explains what happened in the lobby of the Illinois delegation's hotel in Denver:

"Last night, I was called an 'Uncle Tom' by Emil Jones in the lobby of the hotel, right in front of [Ald.] Freddrenna Lyle and [Ald.] Leslie Hairston and [Ald.] Latasha Thomas," said Cobb, a member of Clinton's Illinois Steering Committee. "I walked over to him and asked him, 'What did you just call me?

The embarrassing flap came on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, which will open tonight with a string of Chicago speakers talking about Obama's life story. Jones is often referred to as Obama's "political godfather." . . .

"If people are still making digs at the Hillary Clinton people because we supported her, that is not going to bring us on board. It makes us feel as though we're outsiders, and we're Democrats," Cobb said. "The litmus test for being black is [seen as] supporting Barack."

For his part, Jones denied calling Cobb an "Uncle Tom", but the two aldermen's account clearly supports Cobb's claim. Jones last week announced he was stepping down from the Illinois Senate. Naturally, he annointed his son, Emil III, to take his place on the November ballot.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Reminder Of How Badly Taxpayers Were Shafted By Lucas Oil Stadium Deal

The facts surrounding the lease agreement forged between the City of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay on the new Lucas Oil Stadium are scandalous. When you see the details in print, you are left asking yourself, "How could this have happened?" The Star's Ted Evanoff lays out the lurid details, which explain why there is no money left to pay for the operating and maintenance expenses for the costly new stadium, but Jim Irsay will be able to pocket $1.4 billion. Here is what they are:

  • Jim Irsay gets a share of any money you spend at the stadium, including food, beverage, memorabilia and parking.
  • Irsay gets 100% of the game day ticket sales and half of the ticket sales from all non-game events.
  • Any money spent on advertising at the stadium belongs to Irsay.
  • Jim Irsay keeps every dime of the "sales of suites and club seats to corporations and the well-heeled."
  • Irsay could make an additional $41 million a year above the $150 million or more his Colts have made in the RCA Dome.
  • Irsay pays zero rent and pays none of the operating and maintenance expenses on the stadium.

Why is it necessary to screw over the taxpayers so badly? It always comes down to the size of Indianapolis' market and how the public has to fork over more if it wants a professional football team. "Smaller cities such as Indianapolis tend to shell out more for new stadiums because they fear the team will move away -- something club owners often threaten to do," Evanoff writes. For Indianapolis, that meant shelling out at least 89% of the $720 million cost to be build Lucas Oil Stadium. Evanoff's comparison of other cities' stadium deals makes it abundantly clear Irsay got the best deal in the nation. According to the figures furnished in Evanoff's story, no other public stadium cost more, except for the new stadium in Arlington, Texas for the Dallas Cowboys. Yet the public there is only covering 30% of the costs of that $1.1 billion stadium. And what does Indianapolis get? Prestige. "Keeping the team in Indianapolis lends the city a certain prestige bestowed on few American cities," Evanoff writes.

I still remember when Mayor Goldsmith renegotiated the lease on the RCA Dome back in the 1990s with the Colts. We were told that was an "ironclad" agreement. But it required the City to pay subsidies to the team if the team's revenues dropped below a certain level. Irsay started lobbying the City for a new stadium before the ink on the old deal was even dry. In the end, your government broke the lease agreement and paid Irsay a cool $40 million break-up fee so he could enter into this completely one-sided agreement. As bad as it would have seemed if the taxpayers had been required to pay a maximum of $160 million in subsidies to the Colts under that old agreement, it would have been a bargain compared to what we've been stuck with under the new stadium.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Untold Story Of The 2008 Democratic Presidential Race

The untold story of the 2008 Democratic presidential race is how Sen. Barack Obama was able to win the nomination despite the fact that Sen. Hillary Clinton beat him straight up in the popular votes cast at the primary elections open to registered voters. He won the nomination through the caucuses held in many states, even states like Texas which held a primary election. Despite many complaints from Clinton and her supporters that the Obama campaign was systematically stealing votes at the caucuses Chicago style, the mainstream media ignored their complaints. Screenwriter and director Gigi Gaston has prepared a compelling documentary, "We Will Not Be Silenced," to document the stories as told by Clinton supporters in places like Texas and Iowa.

Their stories are not surprising to people all too familiar with the Chicago way of stealing elections. Obama supporters show up without proper identification or proof they are registered to vote in a precinct and are allowed to vote. Clinton supporters are told their names can't be found in the precinct books, or they are told their votes have been counted to go home when in fact their vote hadn't been registered because they hadn't affixed their signature to the registration forms. When all else fails, the Obama supporters resort to threats and intimidation.

The documentary includes some disturbing accounts from Lake County, Indiana. Although Indiana is a primary state which Clinton won, we all know too well how the Gary Mayor Rudy Clay, the Lake County Democratic Chairman, held up the vote count for many hours and did not release it until after the live television newscasts had signed off for the night. This deprived Clinton of a prime time declaration of a win in Indiana. Obama had already been pronounced the winner in the North Carolina primary. While Mayor Clay did his thing for Obama, Obama celebrated with fawning reporters on the flight back to Chicago. Wearing tight jeans, Obama pranced and posed near the front of the plane to please the demands of the admiring female reporters.

One witness describes how high school students from Gary were bused from their school to precincts in Crown Point to vote with instructions to cast votes for Obama. According to the witness, this was carried out with the approval of faculty and administration. Students were given the rest of the day off from school after casting illegitimate votes. How is that for a civics lesson? Another woman tells how two young men stood outside a polling place in Gary warning people not to bother attempting to cast a vote if they weren't planning to vote for Obama. She observed several voters being turned away, including elderly voters.

The documentary is about 33 minutes long. I would highly encourage you to take the time to listen to the stories told by these people. I'm not a Hillary Clinton supporter by a long shot, but I do believe she was unfairly denied the Democratic nomination this year. Anyone who believes in the rule of law and the importance of fair and honest elections based on the one man, one vote principle should be appalled by what happened this year. It is unbelievable that so much attention could be focused on the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election and, yet, a blind eye is turned towards the outrageous conduct which occurred in this year's Democratic primaries, including the stripping of delegates in Michigan and Florida, both handily won by Clinton. Obama only agreed to restore those states to full delegate status when he knew the nomination was safely secured, largely through the help of the unelected super delegates.

The Obama supporters want you to believe Clinton and her supporters are just sore losers. People who fail to grasp the root of their disenchantment with Obama and the Democratic Party are missing why so many Clinton supporters plan to cast a vote for John McCain or a third party candidate this fall. Indeed, one recent poll indicated that Obama was getting the support of only 52% of the voters who cast a vote in the primaries for Clinton. Keep a close eye on Clinton's supporters in Denver. They want their grievances heard and they are determined to let America know how they feel about it. The question is whether a fawning media will allow America to hear their voices.

Gaston's documentary ends with a famous quote from Thomas Jefferson, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." If Obama and his supporters are willing to steal the Democratic nomination, what can we expect from them if they win the presidency and control the executive functions of our federal government? After watching Gaston's documentary, you will understand why Democrats fight voter ID laws so vociferously.

Hat tip to Hoosiers For Fair Taxation.

Obama Pulls Ads In Indiana

After spending money like a drunken sailor in Indiana on campaign ads, the Obama campaign not only chose to pass over Sen. Evan Bayh as his veep choice, it's also pulling his ads here--at least temporarily. Two polls taken within the last week show Obama trailing McCain here by six percentage points. He actually lost ground here in the polls after his massive ad buy, which was not matched by the McCain campaign. The AP reports:

Barack Obama began scaling back TV advertising for the convention week, pulling ads in Republican strongholds in the South and Mountain West to concentrate on ad wars with rival John McCain in battleground states.

But Democratic and Republican officials familiar with Obama's ad purchases said the campaign had decided to pull ads from Alaska, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Montana and North Dakota during next week's convention. Two Democratic officials, speaking not for attribution because they were not authorized to discuss ad strategy, said the campaign intends to return to those state airwaves the following week. Obama has already pulled ads in Miami, but there were conflicting reports on whether he planned to silence his ad presence in the rest of Florida.

It looks like Obama's 50-state strategy has been scrapped for a traditional battleground state approach to the campaign. The South looks like a big losing proposition for Obama. A recent poll in the region shows McCain leading in 11 southern states by a 16-point, 51%-35% margin. Obama's decision to pass over Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) could signal that his campaign is virtually writing off the South. Virginia and Florida are the only two states in the region where Obama is running close behind McCain. His choice of Biden, a Scranton, Pennsylvania native and a Catholic, suggests Obama's campaign is on the defensive. Recent polls show Obama with a narrow lead over McCain in the Key Stone state, a must win state for any Democratic presidential candidate.

Does Obama Know Something We Don't?

Twice during Sen. Barack Obama's introduction of his vice presidential running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden, he had to correct himself on referring to Biden as "the next president of the United States." Hoosierpundit has the video here.

Joe Biden's House Problem

Byron York resurrects an old story about the sale of Sen. Joe Biden's Delaware home a few years back to a top executive of MBNA, the credit card giant based in Delaware, for $1.2 million. It appears the selling price may have been a little generous given the extensive work required on the home after its purchase. The issue also resurrects the close ties, including lots of campaign contributions, that Biden has taken from the credit card giant. Biden's son landed a job as an executive with the company after the sale and the cementing of Biden's relationship with MBNA. I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot more about this house problem.

Joe Biden Saturday Morning Humor

Everyone has a Joe Biden gaffe or two to share it seems. I wanted to share a couple with you which are particularly entertaining. There's the Michael Scott moment in Biden's recent presidential campaign where he tells an Indian-American supporter about how Indian-Americans are the fastest growing population group in his home state of Delaware. "You can't go into a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent," Biden declared to the shocked supporter. Check out the video posted by Zach Wendling here. In a favorite YouTube moment, Biden is captured on video singing the jingle from that commercial promoting the Villages retirement community in Florida. I thought they only ran those ads in Indiana. Not funny, but equally as telling, is Joe Biden declaring that John McCain would make a great president. I have to think Jen Wagner was pinching herself when she wrote on her blog this morning that "Joe Biden is a good selection."

IBJ Examines Ballard's No Bid Real Estate Deal Putting City Assets In Play

The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy first raised questions about a contract the City of Indianapolis recently entered into with Venture Real Estate Services, LLC, giving the politically-connected company owned by John Bales the exclusive right to market any property the City decides to sell. That story was in the context of Ballard's desire to rid the city's park system of so-called pocket parks, which have sprung up all over town over the past couple of decades. Today, the IBJ's Cory Schouten examines the contract more closely and uncovers some real jewels, including:

  • The attorney who represented Bales in negotiating the contract with the City was Bob Grand, managing partner at law firm Barnes & Thornburg. Ballard appointed Grand as president of the Capital Improvement Board and he acts as his "right-hand man."
  • "The agreement gives Venture the right to a commission of 2 percent to 3 percent of sale price for disposition of every property the city deems surplus, and for every lease or sale-leaseback deal. "
  • "The deal also gives Venture a percentage of “savings realized or revenue generated” by the firm’s efforts to negotiate better deals on real-estate-related expenses of city government. Bales would pocket 10 percent of savings up to $100,000; 5 percent of savings up to $5 million; and 3 percent of savings above $5 million." What this provision means is that Bales' firm will get paid money even if the City simply donates park land to a neighborhood association to run as a neighborhood park.
  • "In another twist, the agreement appoints Venture the city’s representative for any development or redevelopment project—a clause that would appear to give Venture a leg up on the potential development of the former home of Market Square Arena at Alabama and Market streets."
  • "When Mayor Bart Peterson was in charge, the company had partnered with Hearthview Residential Inc. and Mansur Real Estate Services Inc. on a $150 million proposal for the site calling for a Target store and a 14-story tower with condos, office and retail space." Note: Schouten's article quotes the City's Mike Huber as saying any deal on the Market Square property will be done outside this agreement.
  • "Bales has a reputation for landing deals that benefit him as much as his clients, in some cases buying properties his clients are considering leasing. And he’s equally known for political connections; he represented his friend Carl Brizzi, the Marion County prosecutor, a few years ago in the lease of 72,000 square feet at 251 E. Ohio St."

As the readers of this blog already know, I'm very unhappy with the mayor's decision to enter into this contract. It doesn't pass the smell test by a long shot. Schouten interviewed me for the story and does a good job capturing my thoughts about the deal:

A better approach would be to pay a reasonable fee for a firm to do the review, argues Gary Welsh, a local attorney and author of the conservative blog Advance Indiana who championed Ballard’s election as mayor.

Venture officials have “every interest in identifying as much property to sell off as they can because that’s how they get paid,” he said. “It’s a foregone conclusion you’re going to come up with some property to sell.”

Welsh supports the sale of some small parks that he says are little more than vacant lots turned into parks as political favors or vehicles to honor prominent citizens. But he takes issue with the city’s awarding the contract to Venture.

Welsh said the mayor’s advisers are weaving a tangled web of conflicts of interest. He points to a $30 million real estate investment fund launched recently by Venture that has Bales, Barnes & Thornburg partner Ben Pecar and Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi on its board of directors. The stated mission of the fund: Capitalize on real estate opportunities in Florida and value opportunities in Indiana.

“I don’t think Ballard realizes how much they’re manipulating him on this stuff,” Welsh said.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Biden Gets The Call?

The AP confirmed that both Sen. Evan Bayh and Gov. Tim Kaine got word from Sen. Obama earlier today that they weren't his choice for vice president. Instead, it looks like the call went out to Sen. Joe Biden. The Swamp says a private jet which left Chicago's Midway Airport landed not long ago at New Castle County Airport near Biden's home in Delaware. ABC News also confirms that a Secret Service detail has been sent to Biden's home.

If Sen. Obama wanted a pathological egotist as a running mate to match his own character flaws, he found that man in Sen. Joe Biden. Like Obama, Sen. Biden has been caught blatantly plagiarizing the speeches of other political leaders. As a candidate for president in 1988, Biden not only plagiarized the speeches of British Labour Leader Neil Kinnok, he also was busted for inflating his resume by claiming such things as academic honors in law school. He actually finished 76th out of 85. I loved this classic remark he made back then in response to his resume inflation as noted by Chris Cilizza:

One of the most overlooked episodes during the 1987 collapse of Biden's campaign was a snippet of footage captured by C-Span in which the Delaware senator, in response to a question about where he went to law school and what sort of grades he received, delivered this classic line: "I think I have a much higher IQ than you do."

Like Obama, Biden is in love with himself and loves to hear himself talk. Biden has meticulously undergone several hair transplants to treat his balding head with some success, as long as he is facing the camera, which he loves to do. Biden's comments about Obama are priceless. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy ... I mean, that's a storybook, man," Biden said of Obama. Earlier this year as a presidential opponent, Biden questioned his qualifications. "I think he can be ready, but right now I don't think he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training." Yes, Obama found the man he's been looking for all along. Himself. And he swept himself off the floor.
UPDATE: It's now official. The Obama campaign leaked its official decision to the media hours ahead of the promised text message to supporters that they would be the first to know who he had chosen. The McCain campaign immediately hit the Biden choice hard, noting in a statement that Biden had "denounced Barack Obama's poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing—that Barack Obama is not ready to be president."

Another Obama/Bayh Hoax?

Matt Drudge says it's real. A Kansas City company is claimed to be printing up Obama/Bayh bumperstickers. NBC's Andrea Mitchell says, "Not so fast." Mitchell claims the bumpersticker report is bogus. She says her sources tell her that the choice is likely to be Sen. Joe Biden. Her sources tell her Senator Bayh and Gov. Kaine were notified today that they were not going to be the choice. Mitchell notes that Biden's entire family has gathered at his home and that students of the law school class he was scheduled to teach tomorrow have been told to expect a substitute. It just gets crazier by the moment. As for those text message alerts, it will reportedly take at least 3 to 4 hours for all of the recipients to be notified. That leads some to speculate the official word won't go out until the wee hours of Saturday morning.
UPDATE: Fox News now cites an Internet report claiming that a private jet left Chicago's Midway Airport earlier this evening en route to Wilmington, Delaware to pick up Sen. Biden.

Philadelphia Lawyer Files Lawsuit To Block Obama Candidacy

A prominent Democratic Philadelphia attorney, supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton and avowed Bush-hater, Philip Berg, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania yesterday seeking to block Sen. Barack Obama's nomination as the Democratic candidate for president based on Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution requiring a president to be a "natural born citizen." Berg's lawsuit contains an explosive allegation that Obama was actually born in Kenya. Berg's complaint alleges that Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, had travelled to Kenya while she was pregnant and was not allowed to board a plane to return back to her home in Hawaii until after she gave birth to Barack Hussein Obama II. Obama's father was a Kenyan citizen. Berg's complaint cites an online story by journalist Wayne Madsen claiming that the GOP sent an opposition research team to Mombasa, Kenya, which succeeded in locating a certificate registering Obama's birth at a maternity hospital in Kenya. The lawsuit also cites school records in Jakarta, Indonesia, which show Obama's name as "Barry Soetoro", lists his citizenship as Indonesian and identifies his religion as Islam. Berg's lawsuit asks the Court to grant a temporary restraining order blocking Obama from seeking the presidency until the issues surrounding his citizenship can be determined. America's Right blog says of Berg:

Berg is a former gubernatorial and senatorial candidate, former chair of the Democratic Party in Montgomery (PA) County, former member of the Democratic State Committee, and former Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania. According to Berg, he filed the suit--just days before the DNC is to hold its nominating convention in Denver--for the health of the Democratic Party."I filed this action at this time," Berg stated, "to avoid the obvious problems that will occur when the Republican Party raises these issues after Obama is nominated."
The case has been assigned to Judge R. Barclay Surrick. He was appointed to the federal bench in 2000 by President Bill Clinton. Berg is hard-charging partisan. He once called on the GOP-appointed Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore to voluntarily disbar themselves.

UPDATE: Judge Surrick denied Berg's request for a temporary restraining order at an emergency hearing this afternoon according to America's Right blog, which reports:

As for the hearing, the temporary restraining order was denied by the Hon. R. Barclay Surrick, but the subject can once again be breached once everyone is served. He acknowledged that some issues in his background could serve to hinder credibility, and promised to address those issues with me soon. He also acknowledged that Judge Surrick asked why, after months of this information circling around the Web, he waited until the week before the convention to file suit." I told him that somebody had to," he said.

Berg, according to the blog, denies he is acting on behalf of Sen. Clinton. Berg has posted all documents related to his filing at

First Obama Legal Writing Surfaces

It seemed unreal. Sen. Barack Obama had been president of the Harvard Law Review and taught constitutional law classes at the University of Chicago School of Law for years. Yet, Obama appeared to have never authored a single piece of legal work. Alas, Politico has uncovered Obama's lost law review article. The subject? Abortion. The case that was the subject of his article was an Illinois fetal rights case, which decided there was no civil remedy for a fetus in a tort action against a negligent mother. Obama opined that the government may have more important concerns than "ensuring that any particular fetus is born."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama's Schedule Still Leaves An Opening

Much ado is being made in the blogosphere and the online media about the apparent lack of an Indiana stop on Obama's schedule for Saturday. As I read the schedule, his big rally at the Old State Capitol in Springfield is not scheduled to begin until 2:00 p.m. That leaves a lot of unscheduled time earlier in the day. It's a mere 3-hour drive from Bayh's old hometown in Shirkieville, Indiana to Springfield, Illinois, not that I'm suggesting such an event would be scheduled at the last minute. A couple of people on the stage last year when Obama made his announcement at this same spot will not be on hand this Saturday. That includes Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Illinois Senate President Pro Tempore Emil Jones, both of whom are tied to corruption scandals in the Land of Lincoln. Blago says he was invited but won't attend to avoid muddying the waters. No word on why Jones is skipping the event. We know Rev. Jeremiah Wright won't return. He was held up in the basement of the Old State Capitol last year when Obama decided at the last minute he wasn't fit to stand on the same stage with him. We know how that relationship ended.

The Presumptuous

The Telegraph tells the English that Caroline Kennedy will be their country's new ambassador when President Barack Obama is sworn in as president. "If Barack Obama makes it to the White House, Britain seems set to have its first Kennedy as American Ambassador to the Court of St James's since JFK's father, Joe," the Telegraph's Tim Walker reports in his Mandrake column. "Mandrake hears that it will be payback for Caroline Kennedy JFK's only surviving child and a power broker in the Democratic Party, for being such an enthusiastic cheerleader for Obama." Caroline's grandfather, Joseph Kennedy, proved to be a disastrous ambassador to Britain during the pre-World War II years with his appeasement and defeatism tendencies. His ambassador days were finished off in 1940 after he gave an interview in which he said, ''Democracy is finished in England. It may be here.''

Caroline Kennedy is credited with getting Sen. Ted Kennedy on board the Obama bandwagon. She is one of three people heading up Obama's vice presidential search committee. Sen. Evan Bayh's father, Birch, has had a close personal relationship with Ted Kennedy. Birch is credited with helping to save Ted's life after a plane in which the two were passengers crashed in 1964. Birch pulled Ted from the plane's wreckage. Son Evan has maintained a similarly close relationship with Kennedy family members.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another Two IMPD Officers Under Investigation

From the Star:

Officer Christopher Poindexter, 34, was arrested Aug. 14 after, police say, he filed a false report to cover up an accident in which his fiancee sideswiped a vehicle while driving his department-issued cruiser.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Michael Spears also suspended and is seeking to fire 10-year veteran James Ingalls amid allegations that Ingalls had sex with a prostitute while on duty . . .

That makes 10 officers either arrested, jailed or under investigation in the past four months, prompting some local leaders and activists to call for greater scrutiny within the department.

Voting Present Is Not Voting No

There has been much discussion since Sen. Hillary Clinton first raised the issue of the numerous "present" votes Sen. Barack Obama cast as a state senator in Illinois. "In the Illinois State Senate, Senator Obama voted 130 times 'present,'" Clinton said. "That's not 'yes.' That's not 'no.' That's 'maybe.'" During a Fox News feature on Obama this week, State Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago) made the claim that any lawmaker who casts a "present" vote in the Illinois legislature is actually casting a "no" vote to explain Obama's vote on abortion-related legislation. That is not true and Sen. Cullerton knows it. When I worked for the Illinois House Republicans from 1984-90, Cullerton served as the floor leader for the House Democrats. He was a master at obfuscation then. I see that he has not changed after all these years.

Illinois legislators can choose between pressing a green button for a "yes" vote, a red button for "no" vote or a yellow button for a "present" vote. During the last three years I worked for the Illinois legislature, I served as the staff floor manager for then-House Republican Leader Lee A. Daniels. In that role, it was my job to physically cast all of his votes for him when he was not on the floor. Before you panic, let me explain this. In Illinois, the four legislative leaders typically remain in their offices while the legislature is in session unless a key vote is taking place on the floor. A staff person is permitted to cast the vote for the absent leader, although the leader could monitor how his button was being voted and immediately contact the staff person by phone if his vote was not being cast according to his wishes. On rare occasions, Rep. Daniels would direct me to cast a "present" vote. The only time he ever directed me to cast a "present" vote was when he had a conflict of interest, such as when his law firm represented a client with a direct interest in the passage of a piece of legislation. Lawmakers often stated on the record their conflict of interest when they cast a "present" vote.

To be sure, members also cast "present" votes in the absence of a conflict of interest. Some legislators would express general support for a bill but choose to vote "present" because they were concerned about some particular language in the bill that might make it unconstitutional or problematic. Typically, the member in this case would explain his or her position on the record. In other instances, legislators would cast a "present" vote to express their disapproval of the bill's sponsor or the group advocating the passage of the legislation. This was a way of "getting even" without actually recording a vote against a legislative idea a legislator would otherwise support. In some instances, a group of legislators would vote "present" in a block to express disapproval with the process. In the final case, a legislator simply voted "present" because he or she did not want to risk offending either side of the issue. As far as I can tell from Obama's numerous "present" votes in the Illinois legislature, this last case explains Obama's failure to vote "yes" or "no."

It is true that a "present" vote has the same effect of voting "no" in the sense that it takes one vote away from the number of votes needed to reach a constitutional majority to pass a bill. In the case of the passage of an amendment, however, as long as more "yes" votes are cast than "no" votes, the amendment will prevail even if there is no constitutional majority. Nonetheless, lawmakers in Illinois typically cast a "present" vote for a reason other than opposition to the bill. So when Sen. Clinton described all of Obama's present votes as "maybe" votes, she had it right.

Bayh Veep Speculation Getting Crazy

The twists and turns in the speculation over whether Sen. Evan Bayh will become Sen. Barack Obama's vice presidential running mate just keep getting crazier. First, there was the attention grabbed by a new website,, which fueled speculation Bayh was the one. It turned out that a Bayh enthusiast registered the site last year.

A couple of days ago, someone spoofed a CNN news link suggesting an aide had inadvertently leaked out Bayh's name as Obama's choice. It momentarily fooled a few until people learned it was faked. The image was strikingly similar to one spoofed by an IU School of Law student a few years ago on April Fools Day, which claimed that the infamous former law school professor, William Bradford, had been nominated to the federal bench by President Bush.

Then came an ABC News report that Susan Bayh had just had her hair and nails done and warned neighbors about the media she expected to descend on her home. That was quickly followed by another strange news report by ABC News about Evan Bayh tossing a gym bag belonging to one of his sons into the street outside his home when departing his home today. ABC reports:

Bayh's week of fatherhood fun hit a roadblock ... or rather, created one.

A large black gym bag got stuck on the door of a car driven by a friend of Bayh's as it pulled out of his garage. The driver then drove about a hundred yards up the street, with the bag dragging along behind the car.

When the car reached the top of the tree-lined residential road, Bayh, sitting on the passenger side, opened his door and the bag fall out into the street. And then, as if nothing had happened, the car drove away, leaving the tag-along bag stranded right in the path of oncoming traffic.

Members of the media staked out at the residence stood around confused about the bizarre scene, before one especially conscientious reporter walked up the hill to pick up the bag. Yours truly took the bag, weighed down with "Spartans" lacrosse gear, back to Bayh's house, dropping it off on the front porch.

The senator, via his spokesman, later expressed his personal gratitude to the good samaritan reporter.

It turns out that Bayh, who is apparently on "Dad duty" at the moment, did not know that the lacrosse bag was stuck on the car, as he drove off to pick up his twin sons, Beau and Nick, at their all-day sports camp. The bag, which belongs to Beau, will fortunately not be needed today, since the boys are at a tennis camp rather than a lacrosse one.

So consider it a crisis averted -- though the incident didn't go unnoticed by Bayh's neighbors. "I thought it was very odd and very strange and out of character that the senator would just toss a bag out into the middle of the street," said Bayh neighbor Ashley Allen.

"He's serious about those boys and their lacrosse," she added. "I'm sure he'll be thrilled to have the bag back."

Bayh, a sports aficionado just like his sons, is planning on hitting some tennis balls with them before returning home later today, where he will find the lost bag safe and sound.

Making matters worse for Bayh, that same ABC report claims Bayh hasn't heard from Obama all week. But then there is major buzz about a major Obama event taking place in Indianapolis on Saturday. The Nashville Post reported: has learned that senior campaign officials from the Barack Obama Presidential campaign are being dispatched from various locations around the country and are converging in Indianapolis for a “major event” to take place on Saturday.

Saturday is the same day that Obama is expected to make his first public appearance with his yet to be announced vice presidential running mate. Indiana is the home state of Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, widely considered to be on the short list of Democratic vice presidential contenders.

Sources in Denver, the site of next week's Democratic National Convention, say that individuals responsible for Obama's major public appearances have been pulled out of the city and are heading east towards Indiana.

The Washington Post dashed Bayh's hopes, however, when it said the Obama campaign flat out denied any Indianapolis trip was in the works for Saturday as reported by the Nashville Post. Is all the hype surrounding Bayh just a bunch of hot air? In the end, all of this media attention may turn out to be one huge negative for Bayh if he once again gets passed over for veep. The attention being paid to he and his wife's self-dealing and the conflicts of interest created by the seven corporate board seats she has managed to attain with few qualifications could prove extremely damaging to his political future in Indiana.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

McCain Takes Six-Point Lead In Indiana

Real Clear Politics has been categorizing Indiana as a toss up state in the presidential race. A new Survey USA poll puts McCain ahead by six points, 50%-44%. That's tipped the balance nationally in the electoral college vote count in McCain's favor for the first time. This year's election reminds me a little of the 1992 presidential race between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. About this time during that campaign, Ann DeLaney was on Indiana Week In Review trying to convince us that Bill Clinton would carry Indiana that year, even with Dan Quayle on the ticket with Bush. Despite Bush's disastrous loss nationally, winning just 37% of the national vote and a strong third-party candidate in Ross Perot, Bush still managed to carry Indiana by 90,000 votes. Perot captured 20% of the vote, holding Bush to 43% compared to Clinton's 37%. I know the Obama folks really like hyping his chances in Indiana in hopes that he will choose Bayh as his running mate and boost the chances of Jill Long Thompson, but I don't see Indiana switching from a red state to a blue state this year. I suspect McCain will wind up with at least 53%-54% of the vote on a bad day where he loses nationally. He'll carry Indiana by at least 10 points if he wins nationally.

Hat tip to Paul Ogden.

And Another IMPD Officer Under Investigation

IMPD has suspended officer Anthony Shaun Smith based on allegations he allegedly exchanged sex with a woman in his police cruiser so she could avoid arrest for an outstanding arrest warrant. The officer in question just joined the police force last year. "Once they consciously, intentionally step over the lines of our policies, good judgment and the law, I'm gonna be the first person on this police department to do everything I can to separate them from that badge," Chief Mike Spears said.

Bloomberg Hits Bayh On Conflicts

Bloomberg News tackles the financial conflicts of interest that Sen. Evan Bayh and his wife, Susan, have created for themselves, a topic which seems to be off limits for most of the mainstream media. The story hits the power couple for Susan's work as a director on seven different corporate boards, pulling in close to a $1 million a year for the couple. The story also hits Bayh's relationship with Emmis Communications, which is run by long-time Bayh supporter and political contributor, Jeff Smulyan. Susan sits on Emmis' board. Bloomberg reports on the losing book deal with Bayh:

Emmis lost money on Evan Bayh's 2003 autobiography, ``From Father to Son: A Private Life in the Public Eye,'' company spokeswoman Kate Snedeker said. Bayh gave the $4,105 of book royalties to the Evan and Susan Bayh Family Foundation.

The book deal creates the appearance of ``a favor being done for the candidate by the company that his wife is on the board of,'' Buzenberg said.

Smulyan said Emmis published the memoir with expectation of making a profit. Kleiman, Bayh's spokesman, said the deal involved ``a standard book contract that was approved by the Senate Ethics Committee.''

Monday, August 18, 2008

Obama's Mentor Steps Down

Illinois Senate President Pro Tempore Emil Jones, Jr, fellow South Sider and mentor of Sen. Barack Obama, surprised politicos in Illinois by his sudden decision to step down from his position despite being on the November ballot for re-election. True to tradition, Jones announced that his son, Emil Jones, III, would take his place on the ballot and succeed him in the Senate. Jones, whose career began as a machine hack working in the city's sewers, recently got his son a $60,000 state job despite the young Jones lack of a college degree.

Is Jones stepping down to make way for his son? Or could the feds be hot on his trail? The Sun-Times has reported over the past year about how he steered $700,000 in state contracts to a firm owned by his step-son and fought utility rate decreases for ComEd, which also awarded contracts to his step-son's business. Jones' wife got a $70,000 pay raise at her state job. Jones loaned himself more than $100,000 from his campaign account free of interest. Jones is a close ally of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is also a target of a government corruption case brought by the federal government. That investigation has already led to multiple convictions for Tony Rezko, a close political supporter of Blagojevich, Obama and Jones.

According to the Sun-Times, Jones could soon begin drawing a pension of more than $80,000, which will jump to nearly $120,000 after a year under a grandfather provision of Illinois' pension code. He could also pocket more than $577,000 in campaign funds. I suspect he'll need every dollar of that amount and more for a good criminal defense lawyer. You can bet Patrick Fitzgerald is hot on this guy's tail. And what has Jones spent his last year in office trying to accomplish? A pay raise for state lawmakers, of course. Jones was miffed that he couldn't get enough of his colleagues to go along with the raise despite the dire financial crisis the state is facing.

Sen. Barack Obama had these kind words for the man who help make him in Illinois politics: "Senator Jones has been a passionate advocate who has fought for working families and the underprivileged for more than three decades, and Senator Obama is confident he will continue to serve the people of Illinois in retirement.” If Obama is elected president, Jones has quipped that he wants to be ambassador to Ireland. Let's hope the only people he serves is his fellow inmates at a federal correctional institution where he belongs.

Who Pays What Share Of Our Federal Taxes

As with every national election, the Democrats insist upon waging class warfare to win votes. Their claim is that "The Rich" aren't paying their fair share of taxes. The tables above demonstrate the lack of foundation for that claim. The top table demonstrates that more than 60% of the federal taxes are paid by the top 20% by income. The middle table demonstrates the effective tax rate by income group. Note that the highest taxed group by effective rate includes those earning between $1 million and $100 million a year. The effective tax rate declines for those earning more than $100 million a year. People with that much money often own lots of tax-exempt bonds issued by the government. That allows our government to borrow, which it's pretty good at doing. The bottom table demonstrates the effective tax rate paid by broader income groups. Under this measure, the top 20% of income earners pay at the highest effective rate, which is just over 25%. As you can see, the statistics really bring home Sen. John McCain's point that it is irrelevant to define "The Rich" for purposes of discussing income tax rates. I've always believed that the rates should be flat across the board with very few exemptions, credits and deductions except for those at the very bottom of the income ladder. This provides a much fairer income tax. If you earn more, you pay more even if the rate doesn't escalate. Believe it or not, I'm old enough to remember the top tax rate reaching 90%! Reagan did away with that extreme progressive aspect to our federal income tax. If the Democrats and Obama have their way, we will return to that system. And guess what? People will find all sorts of creative ways to hide their income just like they did under that old system.
A big hat tip to Zach Wendling at In The Agora blog for bringing these statistics to our attention. The statistics are based on data compiled by the CBO.

He's The One

Call him the messiah, the chosen one or even God, the Democrats simply don't get that the American people don't like having a would-be president characterized in such terms. At a political fundraiser in San Francisco yesterday, Nancy Pelosi called Obama "a leader that God has blessed us with at this time." Obama also confidently predicted his win. “I will win. Don’t worry about that,” Obama told the faithful. Yes, you are the one. Bow down to him. Praise the coming of the new king.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Making Sense Of Ballard's Plan For Parks

Mayor Greg Ballard's decision to get a handle on the different real estate, buildings and other facilities which contribute to the city's park budget is much-needed. There has been a tendency in the past to convert small lots to city parks all over town, more often than not to satisfy someone's ego of having a park named after them or to allow a politician to score points with a neighborhood association rather than part of an overall strategy of developing and maintaining an appropriate balance of green space. Ballard's suggestion that it might be in the interest of the city to sell off some of these so-called "pocket parks" is worthy of consideration. The execution of this idea, however, has been an abysmal failure to date.

This idea, first of all, got way ahead of itself. Mayor Ballard's comments to the Star's editorial board left many uneasy. A further example of how somebody close to the mayor is looking out for their own self-interests instead of a sound, vital and economic approach to our parks is Brendan O'Shaughnessy's discussion of a contract entered into with John Bales' Venture Real Estate Services, LLC. "The contract gives Venture the exclusive right to market any property the city decides to sell -- an arrangement some say gives Venture reason to put its business interests ahead of the community," O'Shaughnessy writes. "Chris Cotteril, the city's top attorney, said the contract was a creative way to save taxpayer money and that the company was taking a big risk. Ballard pointed out that the city would make the final decision on any sales."

The red flags really begin waving with O'Shaughnessy's observation that "another company Bales owned, Meridian Asset Development, drew attention from city officials three years ago when it was hired to find buildings for county agencies to rent and ended up buying the buildings and becoming the developer." Meridian Asset Development later became a part of Venture Companies. Venture Real Estate Services, LLC is the managing partner of Venture Value Fund I. According to the company's website, its directors include Carl Brizzi, Paul Kite and Barnes & Thornburg partner, Benjamin Pecar, among others, in addition to Bales. The City's Corporation Counsel, Chris Cotteril, is a former attorney for Barnes & Thornburg.

I don't often agree with Jen Wagner, but I think her observation about Ballard's missteps of late is dead on. Wagner blogs today:

A Republican friend and I were talking a few weeks back about the need for every elected official to have a close adviser with no vested interest, someone who's there to say, "Hey, friend, I wouldn't do that because [insert unpleasant consequence here] will happen, and you'll look bad . . ."

I'm going to say one more time that I don't think Greg Ballard is a bad guy.

I will say, however, that I think he's tremendously naive, and he's going to be a bad mayor because he doesn't have the wherewithal to stick to his core values amid an onslaught of requests from people who have their, not his, best interests at heart.

While I'm on this point, the Star's Dan Carpenter hits one out of the park today with his blunt assessment of how Ballard is conducting business as usual. Carpenter writes:

"We're talking, of course, about the established, casual, little-examined practice of transferring the people's wealth -- in real estate and cash -- to well-heeled private entities for the sake of "economic development" or simple bill-paying."

From the huge (Downtown stadiums, office towers, hotels, Circle Centre mall) to the petty (conversion of an inner-city park into a parking lot for a bar in which various Democratic elected officials had an interest), the fruits of "public-private partnership" have been cultivated and harvested without a great deal of trifling over taxpayer remonstrance. Want to know why Simon Properties gets free land for its new headquarters, and why advertising revenues for the government-built and -owned football stadium are kept secret? Just ask your stewards, and listen to the laughter.

Ballard will not be a departure from the Hudnut-Goldsmith-Peterson philosophy of creative availability. He offered a few discouraging words during his campaign about municipal generosity to millionaires, then wound up basking in the shower of Super Bowl glory. He declined to balk at the outrageous giveaway of RCA Dome souvenir auction proceeds and Pan Am Plaza sale profits to private foundations, even though the taxpayers took the latter hit from the other party prior to his watch. Previous agreements will be honored, he said when asked about the Pan Am switcheroo. Even though a court has yet to decide whether that agreement was legal? There's magnanimity for you.

I really hoped Ballard was going to be different. Unfortunately, he seems more interested in becoming cozy with the people who did everything they could to stop him from becoming mayor. Those of us who supported him are just sitting on the sidelines watching in disappointment as we come to the sad realization of what could have been is not going to be.