Saturday, August 30, 2008
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/30/2008 03:16:00 PM
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, August 29, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election 2008: John McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate is brilliant. Her individualism matches McCain's. But it's the new strengths she brings to the ticket that make the team formidable.
Read More: Election 2008
To say it was a bold pick is putting it mildly. Palin, after all, isn't well-known outside Alaska. But McCain is maverick-bold, and this masterstroke looks like a game-changer for Republicans.
A first look at Palin, 44, shows striking political similarities with the man who heads the ticket. Like McCain, she thinks independently and has shown political courage. Elected governor in 2006, she became popular for tax-cutting and budget-balancing, both hallmarks of McCain's own career.
Also like McCain, Palin has confronted political corruption, even at a cost to herself. In 2004, she quit a position as head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission monitoring the industry rather than look the other way on ethics violations by the chairman, who was also the Republican Party chief. That made her a political outcast. It took courage, but it's also profoundly bipartisan. It may render Democrats' "unity" talk hollow.
Palin is also a straight-talker. As governor of a small-population state, she's accessible, with a history of working with and listening to people, taking in all sides. She uses plain language and doesn't fear gaffes. She couldn't be further from the canned, focus-group-driven politicians who dominate politics. This builds trust.
McCain's and Palin's similarities present an emerging political coherence and unity of message that should appeal to voters. But it's new strengths to the McCain ticket that make Palin's entry truly exciting. Several will add fire to McCain's campaign.
Palin, for example, represents the frontier. Alaska and its energy development are at the forefront of American interests. As oil prices soar to record levels, the state's oil and gas could free the U.S. from the tyranny of hostile foreign oil suppliers including Russia, Iran and Venezuela that are using high prices to amass power and create trouble abroad.
Palin has been a strong voice for liberating her state's energy for the benefit of the nation. Her recent legislative victory establishing a 7,200-mile natural gas pipeline across North America after 30 years of failure is a remarkable accomplishment.
Alaska's leadership will add to Palin's appeal in other frontier states in the Rocky Mountains, Great Plains and pockets of the rural Midwest and mid-Atlantic. Like Alaska with its oil, these are rugged regions desperate to develop their clean coal and shale oil resources.
Democrats at their Denver convention identified them as make-or-break battlegrounds, and the Idaho-born Alaska governor may move them into McCain's column. Palin's record of fighting for responsible development and against special interests will resonate, giving these states hope that they too can reach the prosperity they've been denied by do-nothing Democrats.
Palin's lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association and her affinity for pickup trucks, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and other outdoor life will only add to her Middle American appeal.
It also helps that she's a woman. Much as we dislike identity politics, Palin's nomination moves the historic momentum to the GOP and appeals to female voters who wanted to see Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket.
Democrats in Denver were nervous about shutting out women from their own ticket, and many delegates left angry. As many as one in five Hillary voters, according to one survey, are open to voting Republican. Denver delegates from Florida, Illinois and Texas told IBD they knew of McCain voters in their ranks.
Palin's nomination adds to a McCain team that already includes very competent advisers such as Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and Meg Whitman, who ran eBay. By contrast, based on what was seen at the Denver convention, the main achievement of the Democrats' female flag bearer, Michelle Obama, was marrying well.
Palin's presence on the McCain ticket will also energize a key Republican subgroup: religious conservatives. As a mother of five, including a baby born with Down syndrome, her appeal with female voters stands to go much further than Clinton feminists. Her devotion to family will resonate with the large anti-abortion segment of the Republicans, including Catholics and evangelicals, who will be inspired by her example.
Though she is not wedded to party politics, Palin has a conservative voting record. This will strike a chord with the party's base and raise trust in McCain, who has had his doubters. This in turn will give the campaign some needed enthusiasm.
Finally, Sarah Palin is a governor with two years of authentic executive experience. This spares this race the specter of an all-senator show. And history shows it's far better preparation for the presidency than other offices. A governor must execute budgets, pull factions together, compromise on tough issues and make the buck stop there. If Palin's short stint as governor calls into question her experience, it's still superior to Barack Obama's two years in the U.S. Senate.
McCain has always been full of surprises, and the nomination of Palin may be his best. Yes, it's a risk. But from all indications, it's one well worth taking.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/30/2008 02:46:00 PM
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election '08: The idea of Democrats emerging unified from their acrimonious convention is laughable. If the GOP convention had the Clinton/Obama feud and John Edwards scandal, it would be declared a catastrophe.
Read More: Election 2008
You don't have to wait until this week's Democratic National Convention is over to know that the Party of Jefferson is shattered, and their gathering in Denver is a historic disaster.
Hillary Clinton may have delivered a rousing speech Tuesday night, but within it she took a not-so-subtle shot at Obama in suggesting that it would be her universal coverage health care plan he would end up signing into law as president. (Campaigning against him, she had blasted his plan for not covering everyone.)
And what real effect did her calls for unity have? "Yes, I'm still bitter," California Hillary delegate Jerry Straughan, skeptical that former first lady really meant what she said, told the Washington Post. "Obamination Scares the Hell Out of Me" and "Nobama" buttons were prevalent.
Former Democratic National Committee chairman and Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe isn't even staying in Denver for Obama's Thursday night acceptance speech; Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell suggested that Obama is hard for average Americans to identify with; Bill Clinton on Tuesday in Denver waxed on before the cameras about the "hypothetical" dilemma of Democrats choosing a candidate who "agrees with you on everything, but you don't think that person can deliver on anything."
Democrats in the Mile High City are divided by sex and by race. Investor's Business Daily observed a visible racial segregation among delegates when it came to hanging out together, a balkanization or clannishness fueled by very strong identity politics.
Angry Michigan delegates complained to IBD about their distant hotel
accommodations, seeing it as payback for Michigan breaking party rules by holding its nomination contest early.
GOP strategist Mike Murphy described the feeling in Denver's thin air to the New York Times' Maureen Dowd as "submerged hate."
On top of all that is Obama's loss of support among two key groups conservative Democrats and moderate-to-liberal Republicans. A new Gallup poll finds that since June, conservative Democrats backing Obama have dropped from 71% to 63%, while his GOP support has gone from 10% in June to 11% in mid-July, down to only 7% in Gallup's latest tracking poll.
Imagine if it were the other party undergoing equivalent convulsions. Let's say Mitt Romney's supporters demanded an open floor vote and were seething with public resentment against John McCain, the way Hillary's delegates are against Obama.
Add to that former President George H.W. Bush verbally undercutting McCain at every opportunity, in the manner of Bill Clinton's anger toward Obama regarding Hillary, because of, say, statements he made against his son, the sitting president.
Finally, what if Mike Huckabee were involved in a cheating/love child scandal the way John Edwards is, and had become so much of an embarrassment that, like Edwards, he couldn't even speak to his own party's convention after winning lots of electoral votes?
Is there any doubt that the Democrats and the media elites would classify such a GOP convention as the biggest fiasco in the history of party politics?
In such a comparable scenario, would there be any speech Romney could give at the convention that would be hailed as healing the party's wounds? Anything he or any other Republican could say that would give the media the kind of heart flutters Hillary's performance gave, for instance, Newsweek's Jon Meacham, who gushed that it was the best speech he'd ever seen while appearing on the magazine's joint Webcast coverage with the Washington Post?
Feminists demanding a female president are fuming against race-obsessed radicals eager for a black president from the leftist cliques of the South Side of Chicago.
Maybe the Democratic Party's longtime recipe of catering to this interest group and that has finally reached the boiling point.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/30/2008 02:43:00 PM
Triathlete dies after bike crash in Santa Barbara
Fri Aug 29, 1:37 AM ET
Barbara Warren, one of the world's elite endurance athletes in her age group and one-half of a well-known pair of triathlete twins, has died after breaking her neck in a bike crash at the Santa Barbara Triathlon. She was 65.
Warren, of San Diego, died Tuesday at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital when her family told doctors to take her off a ventilator, her twin sister Angelika Drake told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Warren crashed her bike on a downhill road about halfway through the 34-mile cycling section of the race on Saturday, race director Joe Coito said.
Warren was paralyzed from the neck down and was breathing with the aid of the ventilator. Drake said her sister told the family by blinking and nodding that she wanted to die.
"I talked to her and she nodded over and over and over again. She wanted to leave," Drake said. "No athlete would like to have a life with only their eyes talking."
Warren's two daughters and her husband Tom were also with her at the hospital when she died.
Warren won her age group in the 2003 Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii. She competed in the race, the world's top triathlon, 13 times and finished in the top five in her age group eight times.
The two sisters alternated riding bikes in the Race Across America, covering 2,983 miles in less than 10 days.
Warren also competed in a seven-day race across the Sahara Desert, and finished a triple Ironman in France that included a 7.2-mile swim, 336-mile bike ride and 78.6-mile run.
Warren was well-loved among younger triathletes.
Michellie Jones, who won a triathlon silver medal in the 2000 Olympics and won the 2006 Ironman World Title, was also a twin who remembered her fondly.
"She always asked about my sister," Jones said. "She understood the bond."
Warren's twin said she lay next to her sister as she died.
"My heart and my soul are gone," Drake said. "She was everything in my life."
Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election '08: The Obama camp tries to suppress a campaign ad and university archives linking the candidate to a '60s terrorist who hosted his first campaign fundraiser. Is he being "swiftboated," or is this a cover-up?
Read More: Election 2008
When Obama's association with William Ayers was raised at a Democratic debate this year, Obama replied: "This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood. . . . He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis."
Tuesday's release of papers from a Chicago school reform project known as the Annenberg Challenge shows once again Barack Obama has a problem with the truth.
The long-sought records that were kept under wraps at the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC), show that Obama and Ayers attended board meetings, retreats and at least one news conference as the education project got under way. The records also show the two continued to attend meetings together during the 1995-2001 operation of the program.
Clearly the relationship between Ayers and Obama is much deeper and longer than Obama admits. They in fact were partners in various entities and regularly exchanged ideas, including on how to turn Chicago schools into re-education camps to create a generation of social revolutionaries.
Tuesday's release of the papers of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge were sought by the National Review's Stanley Kurtz, who had met a stone wall erected by Obama's UIC friends. UIC temporarily closed the supposedly public archives after Kurtz inquired. Ayers, who has long taught there, may have had a hand in suppressing the documents showing Obama to be a liar.
The UIC records show that in the 1990s, Ayers was instrumental in starting the Annenberg Challenge, securing a $50 million grant to reform the Chicago Public Schools, part of a national initiative funded by Ambassador Walter Annenberg, who died in 2002.
Obama was given the Annenberg board chairmanship only months before his first run for office. He ran the fiscal arm that distributed grants to schools and raised matching funds. Ayers participated in a second entity known as the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, the operational arm that worked with grant recipients. They met and talked often.
When Obama first ran for office, articles in the Chicago Defender and the local Hyde Park Herald mentioned his Annenberg chairmanship among his qualifications.
During Obama's tenure as Annenberg chairman, Ayers' own education projects received substantial funding. As we've noted in our series, "The Audacity of Socialism," Ayers, now a tenured distinguished professor of education at UIC, works to educate teachers in socialist revolutionary ideology, urging that it be passed on to impressionable students.
One of Ayer's descriptions for a course called "Improving Learning Environments" says prospective K-12 teachers need to "be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and . . . be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, teaching for social justice and liberation."
The Annenberg papers are quite extensive 132 boxes containing 947 file folders with 70 linear feet of material. They undoubtedly contain more surprises regarding Obama's relationship with Ayers, one of many relationships Obama has sought to hide.
Obama is actively trying to suppress a campaign ad by an independent group that notes Obama's long and intimate relationship with Ayers. The ad is put out by the conservative American Issues Project (AIP) and financed by Texas billionaire Harold Simmons.
Simmons was one of the main funders of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Democrats cry Obama is being "swift boated" and blame that examination of John Kerry for his loss, not his less than swift campaign.
The ad factually states: "Obama's political career was launched in Ayers' home. And the two served together on a left-wing board. Why would Barrack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it? Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?"
We say not nearly enough. As columnist and political analyst Michael Barone points out, Obama has left no papers from his Illinois Senate days. Nor has he listed his law firm clients or provided more than one page of his medical records.
Obama has tried to distance himself from Ayers, his former campaign contributor and foundation colleague. When asked in the Pennsylvania debate if he could "explain that relationship for the voters and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?" Obama's lame response was that "the notion that somehow, as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense to me."
It makes sense to us. Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground organization that bombed the U.S. Capitol and Pentagon four decades ago, wasn't just a passing acquaintance to Obama.
When Obama was making his first run for the Illinois Senate, Ayers and terrorist wife Bernadine Dohrn had Obama to his house for a 1995 campaign event. Ayers also served with Obama on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago for three years and made a donation to the Friends of Barack Obama in 2001
The AIP ad has run about 150 times in markets in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan.
Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer has warned station managers suggesting their broadcast license might be at risk: "Your station is committed to operating in the public interest, an objective that cannot be satisfied by accepting for compensation material of such malicious falsity."
Bauer has also written twice to the Justice Department demanding "prompt action to investigate and to prosecute" Simmons and AIP for violation of campaign laws and individual contribution limits. The problem is that, as the Annenberg papers show, the ad is breathtakingly true and accurate.
The only thing needing investigating is why Obama is trying so hard to hide his past. Full disclosure is change we can believe in.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/28/2008 10:11:00 AM
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/27/2008 11:55:00 AM
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Economy: Average U.S. income fell when George Bush took office in 2001. Naturally, Democrats and the media unfairly blamed him for it. But now Americans are better off than when Bill Clinton was president.
Read More: Economy
According to the latest data from the Internal Revenue Service, average adjusted gross income in 2006 hit $58,029 in 2006 dollars. It was the first time that average income had exceeded the peak year of 2000, the year before incomes began to decline. The average income in 2006 was 1.2%, or $739, higher than in 2000, when incomes were swollen by capital gains from a roaring market, and $1,369 over the 2005 average.
We've heard a lot about how Bush has mismanaged the economy, but there's no evidence of this. In fact, incomes began growing in 2003 after falling in 2001 and 2002 and have trended upward every year since. The small bump in 2003 was followed by gains of $2,291 in 2004 and $2,210 in 2005.
It can hardly be argued that Bush is responsible for falling incomes in 2001 and 2002, or that he's been a poor steward of the economy.
He inherited a decline that began on Clinton's watch with negative growth in the third quarter of 2000 and again in the first quarter of 2001. A stock market crash and the 9/11 attacks hit incomes hard, as did a series of Fed rate hikes. The effects of the resulting slowdown continued until Bush's economic policies, especially his tax cuts, kicked in.
Thanks to a growing economy, Americans' real disposable income has increased every quarter but two from the beginning of 2003, when Bush's policies started going into full effect, to the first quarter of 2007. Some of the growth was remarkable, including a 7.5% jump in the fourth quarter of 2004 and a 6.3% increase in the third quarter of 2003.
In November, voters will pick a candidate to replace a president who did an exceptional job of steering the economy through tough circumstances, but hasn't gotten a shred of credit for it. The best choice is the man who's more interested in increasing income than redistributing and ultimately shrinking it.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/27/2008 09:53:00 AM
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Thursday, Aug 21, 2008 - 01:34 PM
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford insists that Senator John McCain will not choose Sanford to be his running-mate.
Sanford said today that he is going to the GOP convention in Minneapolis on September 1st but he is not slated to speak, and says he's not going there "for the reason you think".
Since McCain secured the delegates needed to become the nominee speculation ran wild that Sanford would be on the shortlist of VP candidates.
"I'll be proven right in the next couple of weeks and we can move on to the next story", said Sanford.
He wouldn't speculate on who McCain would tab as his number two, but said he is confident the senator will make the right choice.
Sanford made the remarks during an interview after a news conference where he urged South Carolinians to call their representatives and senators to urge them to return to Columbia to work on budget problems.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/26/2008 02:10:00 PM
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, August 25, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election '08: Barack Obama picks a loose-lipped running mate who voted for the Iraq War and questioned his readiness. Obama says he wants a veep who'll challenge him. Instead, he got one who'll need to tutor him.
It will be quite possibly the most verbose ticket in political history now that Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., has accepted a vice presidential nomination he earlier said he wouldn't accept from Barack Obama, who Biden once described as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."
Obama, the outsider candidate of change and hope has picked one of the few people who has been in Washington longer than John McCain. This is hardly the "change" Obama promised.
Biden, 65, was first elected to represent Delaware in 1972. Obama was 11. John McCain was dwelling in one of his many homes, the Hanoi Hilton.
Biden was picked to provide Obama foreign policy expertise and Biden, for one, thinks Obama needs it. He's said so.
Of Obama's pledge to invade Pakistan if necessary to fight terror, Biden said, "It's a very naive way of thinking how you're going to conduct foreign policy." He added: "Having talking points on foreign policy doesn't get you there."
Biden is not a man of few words and occasionally feels the need to borrow some. In 1987, Biden was a credible presidential candidate until the moment he lifted passages from a speech by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock.
But even when the words are his own, they can display the racial insensitivity of Obama's white grandmother.
In 2006, on the C-Span series "Road To The White House," Biden famously remarked: "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."
Yes, Obama has a "post-racial" running mate.
Biden's words have criticized Obama so much that one would think he was seeking John McCain's No. 2 slot. Indeed, on "The Daily Show" in 2005, Biden said: "I would be honored to run with or against John McCain, because I think the country would be better off, be well off no matter who . . ."
Of Obama's qualifications, Biden said last year, "I think he can be ready, but right now I don't believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training."
While preparing his own run, Biden said of Obama: "If the Democrats think we're going to be able to nominate someone who can win without that person being able to table unimpeachable credentials on national security and foreign policy, I think we're making a tragic mistake."
Biden's criticisms of Obama have been most heated on the war in Iraq. Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was particularly critical of Obama's May 20, 2007, vote to defund the war.
"I am not going to fail to protect these kids as long as we have a single, solitary troop in Iraq," Biden said during a September 8, 2007, appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press." "This isn't cutting off the war. This is cutting off support that will save the lives of American troops."
Obama has spoken proudly of always being against the war. Speaking to the Brookings Institution in 2005, Biden said: "We can call it quits and withdraw from Iraq. I think that would be a tragic mistake. Or we can set a deadline for pulling out, which I fear will only encourage our enemies to wait us out equally a mistake."
Barack Obama is not ready for prime time and electing him president may be the biggest mistake of all. But that's not us speaking it's Obama's running mate, Joe Biden.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/26/2008 12:50:00 PM
8/25/08 5:19 PM EST
Sen. Barack Obama has launched an all-out effort to block a Republican billionaire’s efforts to tie him to domestic and foreign terrorists in a wave of negative television ads.
Obama’s campaign has written the Department of Justice demanding a criminal investigation of the “American Issues Project,” the vehicle through which Dallas investor Harold Simmons is financing the advertisements. The Obama campaign — and tens of thousands of supporters — also is pressuring television networks and affiliates to reject the ads. The effort has met with some success: CNN and Fox News are not airing the attacks.
Obama has also launched his own response ad, directly addressing Simmons' attempt to link him to domestic terror.
The project is “a knowing and willful attempt to violate the strictures of federal election law,” Obama general counsel Bob Bauer wrote to Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Keeney last week in a letter provided to Politico. Bauer argued that by advocating Obama’s defeat, the ad should be subject to the contribution limits of federal campaign law, not the anything-goes regime of issue advocacy.
Bauer’s letter called on the Justice Department to open “an investigation of the American Issues Project; its officers and directors; and its anonymous donors, whoever they may be.”
“This is a sad ploy to circumvent the First Amendment by a campaign who has no arguments with the merits of our ad. It’s the classic maneuver: If you can’t win on the merits, file a lawsuit,” said a spokesman for the American Issues Project, Christian Pinkston, who said his group's non-profit status allowed it to participate in elections as long as it does a majority of policy work, which it plans to do.
A spokeswoman for Keeney, Laura Sweeney, declined to comment on Bauer’s letter.
The Obama campaign plans to punish the stations that air the ad financially, an Obama aide said, organizing his supporters to target the stations that air it and their advertisers.
But the ad continues to air widely. Evan Tracey, who tracks campaign advertising at TNS Media Intelligence, said it has been broadcast 150 times in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Michigan. Federal Election Commission reports indicate that Simmons has spent more than $2.8 million buying ads.
Obama’s campaign has written a pair of letters to station managers carrying the ads.
The letter calls the ad’s attempt to link Obama to terrorism “an appalling lie, a disgraceful smear of the lowest kind on the senator’s patriotism and commitment to the rule of law.”
Airing the ad “is inconsistent with your station’s obligations under Federal Communications Commission regulations,” the letter continues, saying Simmons’ group lacks formal incorporation.
One large group of network affiliates, the Sinclair Broadcast Group — which aired an documentary attacking John Kerry in 2004 — has been running the ads, Obama aides said. The campaign has launched a special effort to pressure Sinclair.
“Obama supporters have now sent more than 93,000 e-mails to the Sinclair stations that have decided to run the ad,” said Obama’s spokesman Tommy Vietor. “Other stations that follow Sinclair’s lead should expect a similar response from people who don’t want the political discourse cheapened with these false, negative attacks.”
Spokesmen for Sinclair, CNN and Fox didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The ad focuses on Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers, a Hyde Park acquaintance at whose home Obama attended a gathering early in his political career. Ayers is a complicated figure: professor and adviser to the mayor of Chicago despite not having repented his past as a domestic terrorist with the Weather Underground.
"How much do your really know about Barack Obama? What does he really believe?" asks the ad, which also uses imagery from the Al-Qaeda terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it?" asks the ad’s narrator.
Its financier, Simmons, who made his first fortune in chain pharmacies, was a major donor to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that damaged Kerry in 2004 by questioning his patriotism. He has raised more than $50,000 for Obama's rival, Sen. John McCain, though there’s no evidence that his anti-Obama effort has McCain’s explicit blessing.
Obama has launched a response ad, which addresses McCain directly, and will air in Ohio, Tracey said.
"With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the '60s, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?" says Obama’s ad. "McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers' crimes, committed when Obama was just 8 years old."
McCain’s camp, meanwhile, appears to welcome the controversy.
“The fact that [Obama] is launching his own convention by defending his long association with a man who says he didn't bomb enough U.S. targets tells us more about Barack Obama than any of tonight's speeches will,” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said, citing the Obama campaign, that a Roanoke, Va., television station was not airing the ad. That was incorrect; the station, WFXR, is airing the ad.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/26/2008 10:43:00 AM
Monday, August 25, 2008
No wonder Barack Obama got such a tepid reception this week at the Veterans of Foreign Wars' convention. The better the United States does in Iraq, the worse he looks.
If only his strategy had been followed. His presidential campaign would be sitting pretty at this point instead of struggling to maintain a once comfortable lead. Iraq would still be Issue No. 1 instead of the economy, and he would be making the most of it - instead of events in Iraq working to his political disadvantage.
It's been a long McGovern summer for Sen. Obama as his lead in the polls has dwindled down, and he's been obliged to wiggle out of - excuse me, refine - one position after another. (Some of us are old enough to remember when he was still a left-winger instead of a waffler.) That he's quite good at shifting his political stances can't quite disguise the fact that he's doing it. And it's costing him his credibility. Especially when he insists that he's not changing his stance at all, not at all, just giving it some, uh, needed nuance.
Without the Surge in Iraq that, lest we forget, Sen. Obama strongly opposed, and whose success he still tries to deny, Iraq would be in chaos, America's enemies crowing, terrorism revitalized, our allies demoralized and the rest of the Middle East quaking.
But the growing prospect of victory in Iraq has tended to remove it as a political issue. Nothing unites like success. The brigades devoted to the Surge are now out of Iraq, the Iraqis are moving into political confrontations rather than civil war, and victory is in sight, not that Barack Obama is prepared to accept it.
There are few things sadder in this presidential campaign than General Obama's trying to depict himself as some kind of realist. When he does, as before the real vets this week, even his legendary smoothness deserts him.
Sen. Obama bridles when it's pointed out that, not to put too fine a point on it, he favored failure in Iraq. If this president and commander-in-chief hadn't finally followed John McCain's advice, changed secretaries of defense, and replaced his incompetent generals with an effective commander, America would now be confronting another Vietnam-era defeat - this one in the heart of the Middle East.
All of which might have been good for the Democratic presidential candidate's chances in this election, but it would have been disastrous for America and freedom everywhere.
At that infamous congressional hearing when the Surge was still largely an abstraction rather than an accomplished fact, Sen. Obama's co-star at next week's Democratic convention, Hillary Clinton, said it would take a "willing suspension of disbelief" to back General David Petraeus' new strategy. Which may have been the most memorable misjudgment in contemporary military history. And the junior senator from Illinois seconded her motion.
Both senators grabbed the headlines when they were predicting the Surge would never work. Now they're awfully quiet on the subject of General Petraeus and his strategy. Maybe they have some shame after all.
Has either of these armchair generals ever recognized how wrong they were on Iraq? Has either ever apologized to the real general whose leadership has matched the valor and skill of his troops in Iraq? Or praised George W. Bush for having the flexibility to adopt a whole new and better strategy in Iraq? If so, I haven't noticed.
Instead, Barack Obama pretends that it's his patriotism that's being criticized, not his military judgment, which has been more political than military. What a stark contrast with Sen. McCain's record. John McCain was criticizing Donald Rumsfeld in the strongest terms years ago, while Barack Obama was still nuancing like mad. As is his way.
Happily, Mr. Rumsfeld is no longer secretary of defense and we're winning in Iraq. But it was John McCain who stuck to the goal of victory through the darkest days in Iraq and never wavered, while Barack Obama was ready to pull out and hope for the best, which in reality would have been the worst possible outcome.
At one point, Sen. Obama said his policy toward Iraq was much the same as the president's, but that of course was early on, when we appeared to have won a short war.
Never fear: Barack Obama is not about to desert his country's cause in its hour of victory. It is only in times of crisis - when the enemy is advancing and America is divided and defeat seems inevitable, in those times that try men's souls, to borrow a line from Thomas Paine - that Barack Obama fails the test as president - and as commander-in chief.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/26/2008 10:19:00 AM
Monday, August 25, 2008
July 29, 2008, 6:22PM EST
Company medical clinics are springing up at Toyota, Harrah's, Disney, and elsewhere—and the savings are substantial
by David Welch
When a company unveils a new plan to rein in health-care costs, workers usually groan. Yet Toyota Motor (TM) is getting rave reviews for the on-site medical center it built at its truck factory in San Antonio. Ask line worker Louis Aguillon. He went to the clinic in May with nagging back pain, and paid just $5 for the visit. "I saw the doctor for 20 minutes," Aguillon beams. "You're not just a number there."
Toyota isn't running a charity. The medical center, which cost $9 million to build in 2007, could save the company many millions over the next decade. Managed by Take Care Health Systems whose business is running medical clinics, the program has helped Toyota slash big-ticket medical items including referrals to highly paid specialists, emergency room visits, and the use of costly brand-name drugs. Plus, there are big productivity gains because workers don't have to leave the plant and drive to a doctor's office for routine medical matters.
The company doctor is back. It's a tradition with roots in the 1800s, but the practice fell from grace in the 1930s and 1940s, when critics complained that the doctors were mainly serving the employers' interests. Many states passed laws requiring such medical centers to be owned by physicians. Even now there are calls for monitoring the clinics, to ensure they emphasize patient care over savings.
Nevertheless, in a climate of deepening health-care woes, company-based medical centers are winning dozens of fresh converts. These include the North American units of Toyota and Nissan (NSANY), Harrah's Entertainment, and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. Pharmacy chain Walgreen (WAG), which also operates nearly 200 small clinics for customers at its retail stores, sees so much growth in on-site medical centers that in May it snapped up Take Care Health. A recent study by benefits-consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide (WW) found that 32% of all employers with more than 1,000 workers either have an on-site medical center or plan to build one by 2009. "We're talking about a microcosm of health-care reform," says Hal Rosenbluth, president of Walgreen's health and wellness division. "Companies can take control and understand their health-care costs."
In setting up a clinic, an employer typically comes up with a blueprint of the services it aims to provide to its workers. Then it hires an outside firm to manage the project, offering employees a major break on co-pays and other incentives if they use the center. At Toyota, the co-pay is $5, vs. $15 if workers visit an outside doctor. Some companies also reward the use of in-house services by making deposits in the worker's health savings account.
At the San Antonio plant, Toyota workers find little reason to venture outside. The on-site medical team can take X-rays, treat broken bones, and handle various emergencies. The doctors perform many of these procedures for as little as half of the physician fees charged by a specialist or a local hospital. And when medicines are required, an on-site pharmacy steers patients to generic drugs that have proven just as effective as the branded products. That seems to suit Toyota employees: some 60% of the San Antonio staff uses the clinic.
Managers of on-site centers such as Toyota's make a variety of bold claims. Rosenbluth says every dollar invested in setting up a clinic will return $3 to $5, even though on-site doctors spend an average of 20 minutes with each patient—more than double the national average for primary-care physicians. Some of the biggest savings are on referrals to specialists and visits to emergency rooms, where the financial burden falls mainly on the worker's employer. Peter Hotz, president of Take Care Employer Solutions, the on-site medical division of Walgreen, says the clinic-management companies Walgreen acquired refer 40% fewer patients to specialists, compared to the primary-care physicians who treated the workers previously. And emergency room visits are down 72% at companies where Take Care is managing medical facilities.
Patient vs. Company Care
The question is, will health management companies hired to help control costs act in the patients' best interests? "We are trying to avoid the company-doctor image," says Dr. Jeb Johnson, Take Care Health's medical director at the San Antonio plant. "If [employees] perceive that we place some company's interest over their well-being, they won't come."
That doesn't entirely reassure critics. Some worry that the general-practice doctor might miss something a specialist would catch. And there are potential privacy issues, says Dr. Bruce Auerbach, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. When employers have a tight relationship with the health-care provider, there's a risk they might access health information that could prejudice them against a particular employee. But Auerbach also believes clinics work well when the right guidelines are in place.
As for the quality of care, employers who have built medical centers say there is no need for concern. The cost savings, they say, come mainly from eliminating inefficiencies, including premium care that doesn't improve the patient's health. P.H. Glatfelter (GLT), a York (Pa.)-based paper manufacturer, says the company reduced costs by $2.1 million last year using a Take Care Health-run clinic to serve 1,700 workers at a plant in Chillicothe, Ohio. A large portion of the savings, says Greg Paradiso, Glatfelter's director of compensation and benefits, come from cutting unnecessary specialist referrals. At his plant, only 4% of patients are sent to a specialist, while 25% of patients in the surrounding community are referred out. By avoiding 2,100 such visits, with an average fee of $250, the company shaved $525,000 from its total health-care bill.
Need, Not Want
Managers of the medical centers also maintain they are more diligent in screening for long-term health conditions than traditional company-supported health plans. That's because there's an incentive to help workers avoid diabetes, hypertension, and heart conditions—problems that are expensive to treat and are responsible for high rates of absenteeism. Dr. Johnson, the Take Care Health medical director at the Toyota facility, says he is seeing improvements in such measures as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Companies running clinics also tend to save money on medicines. At Glatfelter, the use of prescription drugs by employees fell by 5% after the clinic was opened, saving the company about $130,000. "I think this is a silver bullet," Paradiso says. "I want our doctors prescribing what patients need, not what they want." Many of the union workers have enrolled, says Billy Smith, president of United Steelworkers Local 988, which represents some of Glatfelter's workers. "We've always had good luck with it," Smith says. "I haven't heard any complaints."
Scale Necessary for Return
If on-site clinics are beloved by boss and worker alike, why aren't all companies building them? For starters, there has to be scale. Clinic managers say there should be at least 1,000 employees in a single location to make the economics work, and the majority of workers must sign up. "Employers looking for a one-year return are barking up the wrong tree," says Stuart Clark, executive vice-president of operations for Comprehensive Health Services, one of Walgreen's largest competitors, with more than $100 million a year in revenue. "This is a two- to three-year return."
The company-clinic movement faces an important test in November. Walt Disney Parks & Resorts plans to open a $6 million facility at Disney World in Orlando, which will serve more than 40,000 employees and their dependents. Tracy Swanson, vice-president of workforce planning, benefits, and compensation for Disney's (DIS) parks, says the program is partly a response to the state's shortage of physicians, which she attributes to Florida's high malpractice costs. Says Swanson: "We can't afford to wait for the government to solve this."
X-Rays in Aisle 5
Wal-Mart (WMT), CVS (CVS), Walgreens (WAG), Duane Reade, and others have been opening in-store health clinics at a rapid clip: There are now about 950 such outlets across the country. But they are loosely monitored and state regulations vary widely, The New York Times reported last August. Some don't require a physician to be on the premises. And critics say some stores may be using the clinics to pump up their pharmacy business. As a result, Rhode Island, California, and other states are stepping up scrutiny.
Welch is BusinessWeek's Detroit bureau chief.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/25/2008 02:30:00 PM
By GEORGE F. WILL | Posted Friday, August 22, 2008 4:30 PM PT
Barack Obama has made his economic thinking excruciatingly clear, so it also is clear that his running mate should be Rumpelstiltskin.
He spun straw into gold, a skill an Obama administration will need in order to fulfill its fairy-tale promises.
Obama recently said he would "require that 10% of our energy comes from renewable sources by the end of my first term more than double what we have now."
Note the verb "require" and the adjective "renewable."
By 2012 he would "require" the economy's huge energy sector to here things become comic supply half as much energy from renewable sources as already is being supplied by just one potentially renewable source.
About 20% of America's energy comes from nuclear energy produced using fuel rods, which, when spent, can be reprocessed into fresh fuel. Obama is (this is part of liberalism's catechism) leery of nuclear power.
He also says and might say so even if Nevada were not a swing state he distrusts the safety of Nevada's Yucca Mountain for storage of radioactive waste.
Evidently he prefers today's situation nuclear waste stored at 126 inherently insecure above-ground sites in 39 states, within 75 miles of where more than 161 million Americans live.
But back to requiring this or that quota of energy from renewable sources. What will that involve?
For conservatives, seeing is believing; for liberals, believing is seeing. Obama seems to believe that if a particular outcome is desirable, one can see how to require it.
But how does that work? Details to follow, sometime after noon, Jan. 20, 2009.
Obama has also promised that "we will get 1 million 150-mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads within six years." What a tranquilizing verb "get" is.
This senator, who has never run so much as a Dairy Queen, is going to get a huge, complex industry to produce, and is going to get a million consumers to buy, these cars. How? Almost certainly by federal financial incentives for both billions of dollars of tax subsidies for automakers, and billions more to bribe customers to buy these cars they otherwise would spurn.
Conservatives are sometimes justly accused of ascribing magic powers to money and markets: Increase the monetary demand for anything, and the supply of it will expand.
But it is liberals like Obama who think that any new technological marvel or other social delight can be summoned into existence by a sufficient appropriation. Once they thought "model cities" could be, too.
Where will the electricity for these million cars come from? Not nuclear power (see above). And not anywhere else, if Obama means this: "I will set a hard cap on all carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb global warming an 80% reduction by 2050."
No he won't. Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute notes that in 2050 there will be 420 million Americans 40 million more households. So Obama's cap would require reducing per capita carbon emissions to levels probably below even those "in colonial days when the only fuel we burned was wood."
Regarding taxes, Obama says "we don't want to return to marginal rates of 60 or 70%." The top federal rate was 70% until the Reagan cuts of 1981. It has since ranged between 50 in 1982 and today's 35. Obama promises that expiration of the Bush tax cuts will restore the 39.6 rate.
He also favors a payroll tax of up to 4% on earnings above $250,000 (today, only the first $102,000 is taxed), most of which are also subject to the highest state income-tax rates.
When the top federal rate was set at 28 under Reagan, payroll taxes were not levied on income over $42,000, so the top effective rate of combined taxes was under 35. Obama's policies would bring it to the mid-50s for many Americans, close to the 60% Obama considers excessive.
There is never a shortage of nonsensical political rhetoric, but really: Has there ever been solemn silliness comparable to today's politicians tarting up their agendas as things designed for, and necessary to, "saving the planet," and promising edicts to "require" entire industries to reorder themselves?
In 1996, Bob Dole, citing the Clinton campaign's scabrous fundraising, exclaimed: "Where's the outrage?"
In this year's campaign, soggy with environmental messianism, deranged self-importance and delusional economics, the question is: Where is the derisive laughter?
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Lone accountant takes on IRS and wins
By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Business Writer
Sun Aug 24, 5:41 PM ET
It took seven years, but Charles Ulrich did something many people dream about, but few succeed at: He beat the IRS in a tax dispute.
Not only that, but tax experts say potentially millions of other taxpayers could benefit from his victory.
The accountant from Baxter, Minn., challenged the method the IRS has used for more than 20 years to tax shares and cash distributed by mutual life insurance firms to their policyholders when they reorganize as public companies.
A federal court recently agreed with his interpretation.
"There's a tremendous amount of money at stake," said Robert Willens, a New York City-based tax analyst at Robert Willens LLC. "Tens of thousands of people could be in line for a refund."
Don Alexander, an IRS commissioner in the 1970s and now a tax attorney in Washington, said while it's not unusual for individuals to take on the agency, "most of them lose."
Alexander called it "quite a significant case."
The dispute arose when more than 30 mutual life insurance companies became publicly traded corporations in the late 1990s and earlier this decade, in a process known as "demutualization."
Mutual companies are owned by their policyholders, so the companies provided stock and cash to compensate them for the loss of their ownership interests when they went public.
All told, roughly 30 million policyholders received distributions, Ulrich estimates. MetLife Inc. provided over $7 billion of stock to about 11 million policyholders when it went public in 2000, while Prudential distributed $12.5 billion in stock to another 11 million.
The IRS held that the recipients hadn't paid anything for the shares and owed taxes on the full amount when the shares were sold. Cash distributions also were fully taxable, the IRS said.
That didn't sound right to Ulrich, 72, an accountant for 49 years. He began researching the issue in 2001, when he received shares from two companies, Prudential and Indianapolis Life.
Ulrich concluded that policyholders had paid for their ownership rights through their premiums so the distributions should have been tax-free.
That could make a significant difference in what a taxpayer owes. If a company distributed shares worth $30 and a recipient subsequently sold them at $32, under the IRS' view they would pay taxes on all $32. Under Ulrich's interpretation, they would owe taxes only on the $2 per share gain.
In 2003, Ulrich publicized his views by contacting tax and insurance experts and setting up a Web site.
"Largely I was regarded as a lunatic," he said, who "would never prevail against the IRS."
Still, some people who'd paid taxes contacted Ulrich and asked him to file refund requests, which he did, for a fee. Some of those refunds were granted, he said. Tax experts say the IRS doesn't always closely scrutinize small refunds.
One of his clients, Jean Prevost and her husband, Jim, who live near Minneapolis, received a refund of almost $1,500 in federal and state taxes in 2003.
"It wasn't a huge amount of money, but it was ours," she said.
But the IRS wasn't pleased with Ulrich, accusing him of promoting abusive tax shelters and demanding the names of his clients, which he said he refused to provide.
The agency backed off in 2004 with help from the IRS's Taxpayer Advocate office, Ulrich said.
IRS spokesman Bruce Friedland said the agency is prohibited from commenting on its interactions with taxpayers.
One of Ulrich's clients, Eugene Fisher, a trustee for a Baltimore, Md.-based trust, sued the IRS in February 2004 after being denied a refund.
Judge Francis Allegra of the Court of Federal Claims in Washington sided with Fisher and called the IRS' view "illogical" in an Aug. 6 decision. He ordered the agency to refund $5,725 in taxes plus interest to the trust overseen by Fisher.
It's not clear how many people could benefit from the ruling. Many of the 30 million policyholders are probably too late to seek refunds, since claims must be filed within three years of the April 15 tax deadline. That means the statute of limitations for taxes paid for 2004 ran out April 15, 2008.
Many individual taxpayers may not have enough at stake to go to the trouble, said Burgess Raby, a Tempe, Ariz.-based attorney who represented Fisher. Still, millions of policyholders could benefit from the court's ruling, he said.
Raby credits Ulrich with being the driving force behind the issue.
"The genesis for this was Chuck's real feeling that this was an unfair position" by the IRS, Raby said.
The government could appeal the ruling and likely will fight future refund claims, perhaps hoping for a different outcome in a separate court, tax experts said.
Charles Miller, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said the government hasn't yet decided whether to appeal.
Still, taxpayers should request refunds if they're eligible, the tax experts said, because even if the IRS rejects the claim, doing so extends the deadline for a potential refund for two more years.
Ulrich will prepare refund requests for interested taxpayers, for a fee, and has posted additional information at his Web site, http://www.demutualization.biz. But he said the principle is more important to him.
"I think it's important that taxpayers' rights be protected," he said. "We should have had a Boston Tea Party over this."
(This version CORRECTS Website to http://www.demutualization.biz)
Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
August 24, 2008
Two days after watching former Delran High School soccer star Carli Lloyd being awarded an Olympic gold medal, Mayor Ken Paris unveiled details of the Labor Day parade to celebrate Lloyd's accomplishments in Beijing.
According to Paris, the parade will begin Sept. 1 at 10 a.m at Vermes Field on Tenby Chase Drive in Delran. The route will turn left onto Haines Mill Road before proceeding onto Conrow Road. It will then turn left on Hartford Road before ending with a ceremony attended by local officials and members of the state Assembly on the Delran High School football field.
"I am amazed at how much Carli's gold medal has brought this town together," Paris said Saturday. "The business association, the athletic association, the police and firemen, contractors -- everyone wants to help. I've never seen so many people offer to do so much."
The parade is expected to include string bands, marching bands, color guards, fire engines and, of course, Lloyd, a 2000 graduate of Delran High School, who scored the lone goal in the U.S. women's soccer team's 1-0 win over Brazil on Thursday to capture the gold medal.
Paris invited the entire Delran community to join in the celebration but acknowledged that soccer enthusiasts from the tri-county region may want to show their appreciation as well.
Asked how many people he expects to attend the event, he said. "Your guess is as good as mine."
Reach Chuck Gormley at email@example.com.
Barack Obama has ad mitted it was "boneheaded" to get involved in a land deal with Tony Rezko, his friend and fund-raiser. But the media's focus on that deal has distracted from the bigger question: Why would Obama become involved in any deal with a man like Rezko, who made his living sponging off taxpayers and corrupting public officials? Because, by the time of the deal, the two already had a long relationship of mutual benefit.
The deal's details are well-known: On June 15, 2005, Obama bought a gorgeous house in Hyde Park for $1.65 million - $300,000 below the list price. Rezko bought the empty but attractive lot next door from the same seller at the same time; Obama would later buy part of Rezko's lot, overpaying him.
The transaction was shady, but not obviously corrupt. The overall Obama-Rezko relationship looks worse.
After Rezko's 2006 indictment on unrelated federal corruption charges, Obama denied unequivocally that he'd ever helped the man: "I've never done any favors for him."
That's simply false. Rezko was a genius of corporate welfare who enriched himself at taxpayers' expense, both legally and illegally, via his multiple political connections. Yes, he went to others for the illegal deals that landed him in prison. But Rezko depended on Obama when he wanted legal access to the state treasury. The arrangement was a far cry from Obama's image of "change and hope."
It's impossible to know Obama's motives. But several of his official acts benefited Rezko, who in turn raised some $250,000 for Obama's campaigns.
In October 1998, Obama wrote city and state officials, urging them to give Rezko $14 million to build an apartment complex outside of Obama's state Senate district. The Chicago Sun-Times noted last year that Obama's request included $855,000 in "development fees" for Rezko and for another developer, Allison Davis, who happened to be Obama's old law-firm boss. Obama's spokesman said it was just a coincidence that the state senator wrote letters to obtain millions of dollars for his two longtime friends.
In fact, Obama was a dependable ally of subsidized developers in the Legislature, giving Rezko and others broader help as well. In "The Case Against Barack Obama," I identify and parse six housing bills with which Obama was closely involved. A few examples:
* In 2001, Obama cosponsored a bill allowing developers to sell state tax credits to others and pocket half of the proceeds.
* In 2002 and 2004, he was chief cosponsor of a bill to authorize a rent-subsidy fund giving "grants . . . directly to developers" of low-income housing. Seventy percent of the money was earmarked for the Chicago area.
* Obama cosponsored the Illinois Housing Initiative Act of 2003, which required the governor to develop a plan for more low-income housing and "provide[d] for funding for housing construction and rehabilitation and supportive services."
* In 2003, Obama voted for the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act, which required Illinois municipalities to make 10 percent of their housing units "affordable" (by definition, this included subsidized housing). This forced 46 communities just outside of Chicago to create more than 7,000 new "affordable" units - a huge boost in demand for area developers. The bill also provided loopholes for developers to circumvent local ordinances and regulations.
After voting for this measure (it passed narrowly), Obama then cosponsored a new bill that moved up its implementation by more than a year.
These and the other Obama-backed bills helped make millionaires of Rezko and other slum developers at taxpayers' expense. The developers - including his former law boss and an adviser to his current campaign - reciprocated, together giving and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama's campaigns.
To sum up: Obama got them subsidies to build. He secured them a steady income of government rent subsidies. He arranged special tax credits and abatements for them. He backed measures that increased demand for their services, and helped them legally circumvent local laws.
Perhaps Obama acted with only the poor in mind. Yet some of his developer friends weren't so conscientious - especially Rezko.
Notably, Rezko's company claimed that it lacked the funds to heat one of its 11 buildings in Obama's state Senate district from December 1996 to February 1997. But Rezko still managed to write a $1,000 check to Obama's campaign fund on Jan. 14. That month, his tenants shivered as 19 inches of snow fell on northern Illinois.
With his early and large investments in Obama, Rezko helped the Democratic nominee get to where he is today. Obama, meanwhile, helped Rezko with his legislative work and his letter-writing. Given this close working relationship, the Obama-Rezko land deal is far less surprising.
David Freddoso, a political reporter for National Review, is the author of "The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media's Favorite Candidate."
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/24/2008 02:28:00 PM
CHANGE ??? Barack Obama and his Judgement … Tony Rezko played Bigger Fundraising Role & Raised More Money than Previously Known
March 15, 2008 by Scared Monkeys
Change, or same old same old? The longer the Democratic primary campaign goes on, they more we find out about Obama. What we are discovering is hardly a man of “Change”. Barack Obama continues to follow the same pattern. Deal with individuals and have lapses in judgement. Then when it is politically harmful to maintain those long standing relationships … he distances himself and “Blames it on Rio”. Hey Barack … JUDGEMENT MATTERS!!!
Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for President who has based his entire campaign on hope and change has once again stepped in a pile of change. First, Obama was linked to Tony Rezko, then it was Michelle Obama’s comments about not being proud of America. Most recently, it was the controversial comments from his long spiritual adviser Reverend Wright. Now the specter of Tony Rezko and his political fund raising for Barack Obama has reared its ugly head again.
But in a 90-minute interview with Tribune reporters and editors, Obama disclosed that Rezko had raised more for Obama’s earlier political campaigns than previously known, gathering as much as $250,000 for the first three offices he sought.
Obama also elaborated on previous statements about his private real estate transactions with Rezko, saying they were not simply mistakes of judgement because Rezko was under grand jury investigation at the time of their 2005 and 2006 dealings. “The mistake, by the way, was not just engaging in a transaction with Tony because he was having legal problems. The mistake was because he was a contributor and somebody who was involved in politics.”
Faced with intensifying scrutiny as the Democratic primary season grinds on, Obama said voters should view his Rezko dealings as “a mistake in not seeing the potential conflicts of interest.” But he added that voters should also “see somebody who is not engaged in any wrongdoing . . . and who they can trust.” (Chicago Tribune)
- Hot Air: The Tony Rezko trial just produced a new nugget that makes Obama look more dishonest.
- Rezko Watch: Follow the Money: Obama attempts to “quell” Rezko controversy
- Spin Cycle: Obama: Wright and Rezko, in one day
UPDATE I: Barack Obama Beginning to Sound Like a Typical Politician … Obama tells Sun-Times it’s hard to keep track of about $250,000 from tainted donor
Barack Obama, what is that sound? Its the sound of inevitability and your campaign crashing to the ground. The longer that the Democratic Primary goes on … the more that the public sees Obama for what he really is … Just another politician.
The candidate of so-called “Change” is beginning to sound like the very thing that he claims to be the champion against. Barack Obama sounds like Hillary Clinton, not being able to recall when asked in the past about improprieties with White Water. Now Obama … the so called candidate of political change looks just like one in a long line of lying, spinning and unable to recall politicians.
This is the breakdown Obama provided for Rezko’s fund-raising:
- About $160,000 for Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate election. Obama has given that money to charity.
- From $50,000 to $60,000 for Obama’s failed attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush in 2000.
- Between $10,000 and $15,000 for Obama’s first election, in 1996, to the Illinois Senate.
- “Somewhat less than that” for Obama’s re-elections to the Illinois Senate in 1998 and 2002.
Obama’s estimate exceeded his campaign staff’s previous estimates of Rezko’s fund-raising during Obama’s 12 years in politics. In November 2006, Obama’s staff estimated Rezko raised $50,000 to $60,000 over the senator’s career. In the last year, Obama’s campaign fund has given charities more than $157,600 in donations it linked to Rezko, his family, friends and business associates.
It would appear that is all that Obama has done lately is be guilty of repeated poor judgement. However, having a religious adviser in your ear for 20 years is far from poor judgement … that is just a convenient excuse.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/24/2008 12:36:00 PM
April 25th, 2008 by Destructo
Obama and his apologists are trying to write off criticism stemming from his long-time association with Reverend Wright, and Ayers.
Criticism of these two individuals is entirely justified on its own. Both of them have a long history of bashing the country they live in, in spite of the fact that they both enjoy the benefits of our free society. Wright is building a multi-million dollar house in the Chicago ‘burbs. Ayers lives in the high-falutin Hyde Park neighborhood and enjoys a nice position as an education professor (that’s right - he’s one of the most influential individuals involved in setting the curriculum for people who are studying to become teachers. Scary. I honestly don’t understand how someone who tried to blow up the Pentagon isn’t still behind bars. But, whatever.
Obama has a long association with both of these guys, and people try to brush it off. We need to keep two things in mind:
Obama is running for a political position that will make one of the most powerful people in the world. He will be commander-in-chief of the most powerful military in history. He will have his finger on the nuclear button. Never mind the fact that he will be in a position to utterly derail the economy and eviscerate the constitution. Does the fact that he’s chummy with a former honest-to-god terrorist and avowed communist not bother you?
His pastor of 20 years, who performed his marriage and provides his family with religious guidance, believes that AIDS is a government conspiracy against black people. Obama would control the very institutions that Wright believes are at the core of his conspiracy to keep the black man down. Does that not bother you?
Obama is running for President of the United States of America. He has known he was going to run for President for years now - plenty of time to dissociate himself from these people.
Whether he secretly sympathizes with these people, or believes his association should not be an issue, or just neglected to consider the consequences, it shows an astonishing lack of smarts that should disqualify him in the mind of any sane voter.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 8/24/2008 11:39:00 AM