Archive for Democrats

Another Milhous in the White House

Seriously, it’s like 40 years ago, all over again:

In her memoir Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, Attkisson looks back on the final years of her network career. One concludes from her book that Attkisson encountered more difficulty practicing her profession at CBS News during Obama’s tenure than at any other time. She reached an agreement for her departure from CBS News in March 2014, well before her contract was to expire.

The book’s subtitle refers to the difficulties Attkisson encountered in “Obama’s Washington.” The term is in part a euphemism for the Obama administration, but it also reflects the support for the administration within CBS News. The head of CBS News is David Rhodes, brother of Obama national-security adviser Ben Rhodes.

Let’s digest that for a moment. I write a lot about the Democrat-Media Complex, but this is as bad as it gets—tied, I suppose, with Al Sharpton on MSNBC, George Stephanopoulos on ABC, David Axelrod wherever he is, Mr. and Mrs. Jay Carney wherever they are, crony capitalist Jeffrey Immelt, head of GE (parent corporation of the the NBC networks), etc. ad nauseam.

Each of the scandals falls into a larger pattern of scandal management practiced by the Obama White House. (The reader can infer how the IRS scandal fits the pattern precisely to a T.) Her book is invaluable for how it analyzes and exposes this pattern, combining her reportage and her behind-the-scenes work at CBS News.

The pattern begins with blatant denials — bald lies — and stonewalling. Attkisson deftly articulates one of the bona fide occupational qualifications for service as a spokesperson in the Obama administration. Referring specifically to HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters, whom Attkisson had caught lying to her, she writes: “It takes a certain kind of person to be untruthful and then display utter lack of contrition when caught.”

You say Joanne Peters, I hear Haldeman and Erlichman.

Also, rather than responding to straightforward inquiries, administration spokesmen pump reporters for the information they have so they can undermine it. Attkisson calls this technique “pump and mine.” The administration then plants slanted leaks to friendly bloggers and reporters; next, it characterizes any advances in the story as “old news.”

Attkisson also shows how the administration, using a technique she calls “controversialization,” disparages any sources and reporters who move the story forward. As she recounts in the book, Attkisson has extensive personal experience being at the receiving end of this technique.

She singles out Media Matters as the main outlet that moves administration spin into the mainstream media. As Attkisson demonstrates, however, the power of Media Matters derives from the complicity and cooperation of its many allies in the media, i.e., the many Obama allies in the media.

See above.

She writes:

Perhaps the greatest PR coup of all is that the administration’s expert spinners successfully lead the media by the nose down the path of concluding there’s no true controversy unless there’s a paper trail that lays blame directly on the president’s desk. Time and again, with each scandal and each damaging fact, Democrats and the White House read from the script that says, “there’s no evidence President Obama knew” or “there’s no evidence of direct White House involvement.” Anything short of a signed confession from the president is deemed a phony Republican scandal, and those who dare to ask questions are crazies, partisans, or conspiracy theorists. . . .

Under President Obama, the press dutifully regurgitates the line “no evidence of White House involvement,” ignoring the fact that if any proof exists, it would be difficult to come by under an administration that fails to properly respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, routinely withholds documents from Congress, and claims executive privilege to keep documents secret.

You say Barack Obama, I hear Richard Nixon.

Attkisson bookends her accounts of the Obama-administration scandals she covered with the story of what she describes as coordinated intrusions into her telephones and computers. She was working on the Benghazi story when a friendly source “connected to a three-letter agency” offered a surprising observation. “The administration is likely monitoring you — based on your reporting,” the source advised her. She had, in fact, been having troubles with her phones and computers, which were behaving oddly.

Three sets of experts — including experts hired by CBS — examined her computers. All reached the same conclusion: She was the victim of computer intrusion and monitoring. One expert found classified government documents secreted in her hard drive, though she had not placed them there and had nothing to do with them. She believes that they were placed there by the intruders for use against her at an appropriate time.

The Department of Justice has issued two statements on Attkisson’s case. In response to Attkisson’s first public mention of her experience, in the course of a radio interview, the Department of Justice said:

To our knowledge, the Justice Department has never “compromised” Ms. Attkisson’s computers, or otherwise sought any information from or concerning any telephone, computer, or other media device she may own or use.

You say Justice Department, I hear Justice Department.

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A Mole at the SOTU

Did you hear about the Republican operative who crashed the SOTU?

It’s true:

Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds. (Laughter.) She waited tables. He worked construction. Their first child, Jack, was on the way. They were young and in love in America. And it doesn’t get much better than that. “If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.”

As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans and enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job and then a raise. Ben is back in construction — and home for dinner every night.

“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.” We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.

A mom (female) and a dad (male), both working and successful, without benefit of government handouts. Who wrote that, Dan Quayle? It sure as hell wasn’t Obama’s composite perfect woman, Julia. I don’t know if Rebekah Erler is rock-ribbed or not, but she’s a Republican.

Except she’s not:

The woman whose story of economic recovery was showcased by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address is a former Democratic campaign staffer and has been used by Obama for political events in the past.

Unmentioned in the White House bio of Erler is that she is a former Democratic campaign operative, working as a field organizer for Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

This also wasn’t the first time the White House used the former Democratic campaign staffer as a political prop. Obama spent a “day in the life” of Erler in June so that he could have “an opportunity to communicate directly with the people he’s working for every day.”

Reuters revealed Erler’s Democratic affiliations following that June event, and the Minnesota Republican Party attacked Obama for being “so out of touch with reality that he thinks a former Democrat campaign staffer speaks for every Minnesotan.”

Shame on Patty Murray paying slave wages to her female employees. I hope little Jack and Henry never went to bed hungry because Murray (D., WA) chintzed out on paying Rebekah a decent wage. If that experience wasn’t enough to turn her into a Republican, nothing will.

Even Michelle seemed pretty annoyed at the whole charade:

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Democrat Politics

I’m sick of tired of the lying and the cheating. Enough. It has to stop.

No, not the New England Patriots and “deflate-gate” (Google it if you haven’t heard of it).

Ex-Governor Deval Patrick:

Before Deval Patrick departed office earlier this month, he gave Charlie Baker, his gubernatorial successor, traditional gifts, including a pewter key, a gavel, and a 19th-century Bible.

He left a Massachusetts economy that is, by many measures, humming along.

But Patrick also left Baker something more pernicious: a mid-year budget gap the new governor now pegs at $765 million.

Baker said tax money coming into state coffers so far this fiscal year, which runs from July 2014 through June, has essentially met expectations. Tax revenue is on track to grow about 4.5 percent from last fiscal year to this fiscal year, Baker said.

But spending is set to grow by more than 7 percent, “and therein lies the $765 million problem,” Baker said at a press conference, in which he did not outline any specifics about potential cuts.

Medicaid costs, including fallout from Massachusetts’ bungled health insurance website, are a significant part of the spending side of the deficit, the administration found.

ObamaCare rears its plug-ugly head once again.

Baker has pledged not to raise taxes or fees, cut aid to cities and towns, or take money out of the state’s “rainy day” fund to deal with the deficit. At the press conference, he did not outline a solution to problem.

That’s why we elected a Republican: no new taxes. And a 4% revenue increase with a 7% spending increase is why it’s too late.

PS: And what’s the line about the economy “humming along” doing in the story? What’s the relevance, and where’s the justification? What a crap newspaper the Glob is.

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Mario Cuomo, RIP

Not a news flash to any of you, I’m sure. I let a few days pass out of respect, a respect he most certainly earned. But it was not always thus. Mario Cuomo once defined “loser”. Literally, if in no other way.

I moved to New York in the last days of the horrendous Abe Beame administration. New York was bankrupt; President Ford had told it to “drop dead” (in the unforgettable Daily News headline). The city was nearly out on its feet.

For the 1977 mayoral election, it needed young new leadership (God knows it wouldn’t be a Republican, John Lindsay notwithstanding), and Cuomo and Ed Koch were the frontrunners. Cuomo had previously lost a statewide bid to be Lt. Governor on the ticket with Howard Samuels, but both lost to Hugh Carey’s juggernaut.

Cuomo was an Italian from Queens; Koch, a Jew from Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. No Irish applied, but a black man (Percy Sutton), Hispanic (Herman Badillo), and a woman (Bella Abzug) also ran. As did Beame for reelection. Koch beat Cuomo three times: in the primary; in the runoff; and in the general election (when Cuomo ran on the Liberal ticket).

Which was fine, especially as Cuomo turned the table on Koch four years later to beat him for governor (a position for which Koch would have been horribly unsuited). He redefined the governorship in is image, as Koch redefined the mayoralty in his. Cuomo’s legacy turned in 1981, and it is that legacy we remember.

With one small qualification.

I guess no one sees fit to mention it now, but it was one big [bleeping] deal 37 years ago.

The New York City of those days was rawer, dirtier, nastier than the polished stone that 20 years of Republican leadership bequeathed to its citizens. I loved it and feared it simultaneously. But even I was shocked by that. And I wasn’t alone:

“They put up signs on Queens Boulevard, the whole boulevard, it was shocking… I called Mario a weekend or two before the election and I said, ‘Mario this is happening… Mario, you gotta do something about that. It’s not right.’ ” While Cuomo told him he would try to do something, Koch said, “I don’t believe he did anything.” Koch reflected, “That matter has affected our relationship from ’77 through this year. We get along, we got along as mayor and governor but I always held it against him. I also held it against this son Andy Cuomo. Even though social relationships when we meet in public are good, underneath he knows I know what I’m really thinking, ‘You [swear].'”

Koch eventually forgave Cuomo, and the world eventually forgot. Cuomo always denied being behind it. But there are bizarre chapters in every life’s story.

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Detroit’s $178,000,000 Bankruptcy

A bargain!

Legions of lawyers, consultants and other advisers have been paid nearly $178 million for their work on Detroit’s historic bankruptcy, a number that comes in under budget but still makes it the most expensive municipal restructuring in U.S. history.

The law firm Jones Day led the way in the fees disclosed Tuesday with a $57.9 million bill. Detroit hired the firm in the months leading up to its July 2013 bankruptcy filing and chose one of its former partners, Kevyn Orr, to be emergency manager. Mr. Orr resigned in mid-December after almost 21 months in office.

Of course, billable hours are a pittance compared to the true costs:

The city recently exited bankruptcy protection after cutting about $7 billion of $18 billion in long-term obligations and promising to reinvest more than $1.4 billion in essential city services.

Maybe I should get past the blame stage, but I do have to wonder: shouldn’t someone or something—perhaps the Democratic National Committee—shoulder the responsibility for this economic crime against humanity? For are not the consequences of bankruptcy (and the decades of irresponsible government that led to it) indeed an abuse of the powerless citizens who are left behind—80% of whom are black? Heck, they even called in the UN to declaim a “human right” to water—a bit rich for a city on a river of its own name, also on a lake, and whose name translates as “the straits”.

All that’s behind Detroit now. It’s a city that wants to get clean:

Expect to learn in more detail this year about the Ilitch entertainment group’s plans for a 45-block district that will include residential, retail, bars, restaurants and a new hockey arena. Those plans will determine the fate of several historic buildings, including two large structures that stand near the new arena.

Downtown development impresario Dan Gilbert, meanwhile, is expected to put more meat on the bones of his vision for the area south of Ilitch’s entertainment empire. Gilbert has acquired many buildings along and just off Woodward, some of which already have been rehabbed and are rented, others whose renaissance is underway or planned as businesses are lured to an area that is steadily drawing new breath.

Work on the $140 million M-1 light rail streetcar line, which broke ground in mid-2013, will continue through 2015 — a minor annoyance for Woodward drivers. With its 12 stops, M-1 is integral to the Gilbert and Ilitch development areas, and north. Businesses already have opened along the route, once largely bereft of shops and offices, and more are likely to follow.

The future of Detroit’s riverfront and the Joe Louis Arena, whose main tenant, the Red Wings, will move to the new arena in 2017, continues to be murky. But since some coveted riverfront land went to city creditors during Detroit bankruptcy, development is expected there.

The historic Corktown neighborhood west of downtown should continue to grow and thrive in 2015, spurred by some brave entrepreneurs who opened shops, restaurants and wine and liquor specialty places in recent years. Their success, along with the promised redevelopment of the old Tiger Stadium property, is expected to keep that area’s mojo working in the coming year and beyond.

One day at a time, Detroit. Easy does it.

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Fairy Tale

Once upon a time:

The Land of Lincoln [Illinois] has accrued a $111 billion unfunded liability for government workers’ pensions—up 75% from five years ago. There is an additional $56 billion of unfunded debt to cover health benefits for the state’s retirees. Illinois today is already spending more of its general fund on pensions than on K-12 education. One in four tax dollars pays for its retired workers’ benefits. Last year the state had to defer paying $7 billion owed to contractors. All this after Democrats in 2011 raised income taxes and corporate taxes by 67% and 30%, respectively.

The level of debt is staggering. According to a recent report by Statista Inc., Illinois residents owe $24,959 each as their share of the outstanding bonds, unfunded pension commitments and budget gaps the state has accumulated. Thank goodness this obligation doesn’t go on my credit report, or my credit rating would be in the tank along with the state’s A-minus bond rating, the worst of any state in the nation.

It is no wonder that 850,000 people have left Illinois for other states in the past 15 years, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. Or that Illinois has become one of the most business unfriendly states in the country (40th in a recent Forbes survey).

Crushing debt isn’t just Illinois’s problem. According to State Budget Solutions, America’s 50 state governments collectively owe $5.1 trillion, including outstanding bonds, unfunded pension commitments and budget gaps. California has by far the largest debt—$778 billion—more than twice that of No. 2, New York, with $387 billion in red ink.

It may be a coincidence, but the eight lowest debt-per-resident states have Republican governors.

The message of the midterm elections last month was that Americans want to put the era of fiscal irresponsibility and economic stagnation in the rearview mirror. I’m hoping that Bruce Rauner, the Republican elected governor of deep-blue Illinois, will show them how it can be done.

Talk about a non sequitur! Where did that happily ever after come from? I’m as hopeful as anyone that this country has changed course, but that’s not very hopeful. How do you fund the unfunded when the size of the unfunded dwarfs any source of funding? Scoot over, Detroit. There’ll be a lot more municipal defaults and reworked pension deals—all of them in Democrat strongholds—before this undigested mess passes.

PS: How does Illinois’ pension liability increase 75% in five years? I can’t even begin to comprehend.

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Hail to the Chief!

What will Elizabeth Warren say when she breaks her pledge not to run for prezzy?

So Sioux me:

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren becomes the officially anointed shadow candidate of the left today in an old-fashioned, Kremlin-style “vote” where she’s the only contender and there is really only one choice: Run, Elizabeth, Run.

The online “voting” run by the influential liberal organization, MoveOn.org, to launch a presidential-style campaign to draft Warren may have been slightly rigged, but could give the Massachusetts senator and her breathless backers a significant new push to test the waters against presumed front-runner Hillary Clinton.

“Our members want to see a contested Democratic primary,” said Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org. “This moment was made for Elizabeth Warren. So we’re putting it to a full vote.”

Okay, ‘vote’ may not be the right word. The old communist leaders of Russia and China would have been envious of the percentage Warren will get when the results of the online coronation are announced late this morning. Joe Biden, Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, sadly, were left off the MoveOn.org ballot.

The liberal group’s 8 million members did have a chance to say they oppose a draft Warren effort, and while they may not have been shipped off to Siberia like in the old communist days, they did risk getting kicked off MoveOn’s mailing list. But there’s no need for that kind of terrifying threat.

“We are pretty confident we are going to soar way above the 50 percent threshold,” a cheeky Wikler said.

Yuk-yuk!

Warren’s repeated denials that she “isn’t” running aren’t deterring progressive groups. They were only more emboldened by the former Harvard professor’s comments in the hard-hitting People magazine interview where she said “I don’t think so” to the presidential question.

To Warren enthusiasts, that means full-steam ahead.

I’m immune to her charms, but her supporters see Kate Upton in a tankini when they look at her.

She sure knows hot to whip them into a frenzy:

Senator Elizabeth Warren, in an increasingly public spat with the White House, on Tuesday issued her fiercest salvo yet about President Obama’s choice for a key Treasury Department post.

The Massachusetts Democrat — in a 4½-page speech with 34 footnotes — rebutted criticism about her opposition to Antonio Weiss, the nominee for undersecretary of domestic finance. She denounced his qualifications for the job, cast the relationship between Wall Street and the White House as dangerously unbalanced, and further dug a divide between the administration and her allies.

In a strikingly personal jab at Weiss and a broader knock at the White House, Warren noted Weiss’s employer, the investment bank and asset manager Lazard, would give Weiss a multimillion-dollar payment if he left for public service.

“Mr. Weiss’s friends at Lazard are giving him a golden parachute valued at about $20 million as he goes into government service,” Warren said at a Capitol Hill event. “For me, this is one spin of the revolving door too many. Enough is enough.”

“Hey there, liberal weenie. Is that a ballot in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”

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Democrats Behaving Badly

Talk about a standing headline, you can think the Democrats were motivated to release their so-called terror report out of moral indignation.

Or you can face the truth:

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, FORMER CIA OFFICIAL: Yes. I mean, I think it’s a very dark day for the CIA. I think the CIA’s been thrown under the bus.

SEAN HANNITY: Let’s go to Dianne Feinstein back in 2002 when she said the following, this was quoted in New York Times, where she said, you know, it took that real attack, I think, to kind of shiver our timbers enough to let is know that the threat is profound and that we have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.

You were there. You knew these senators, these lawmakers. Do you remember any specific meetings? Was Dianne Feinstein told specifically what the CIA was doing in terms of enhanced interrogation?

JOSE RODRIGUEZ: There are about 40 instances where we briefed the Senate and the House intelligence committees over the life of the program from 2002 to 2009. And we briefed Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi and Rockefeller and many others all the time. And we at the outset, at the beginning, back in 2001, I remember very clearly them telling me, you know, the problem that you guys have is that you are risk adverse. You need to use the authorities that we have given you to go out there and destroy this organization and to kill bin Laden. So we feel that we briefed them and briefed them thoroughly, and they are, you know, hypocritical.

We waterboarded three people during the life of the program. That’s it. Three persons. I don’t know where they get the other numbers.

SEAN HANNITY: Would we have gotten bin Laden without the intelligence that KSM during the waterboarding released to you guys? Didn’t he open the door to the courier which led us to bin Laden, is that true, sir?

JOSE RODRIGUEZ: Actually, the initial information came from a facilitator called Hassan Ghoul going back to 2002 and 2003, he actually told us about the courier. That’s when we first heard about the courier.

Abu Faraj Al-Libi told us that he knew about the appointment to become the chief of operations through the courier, and then KSM, of course, we intercepted a message that he sent to his fellow prisoners in which he says do not say a word about the courier. So we gained a lot of insight from our prisoners at the black sides about the importance of the courier, which eventually led to the takedown of bin Laden.

SEAN HANNITY: So in other words, you’re saying that the accusation that these enhanced interrogation techniques were used beyond what we had already been disclosed you’re saying is false, number one, and that, in spite of their suggestion that they were not successful, you’re saying that, in fact, that’s not true. You were there, it was successful?

JOSE RODRIGUEZ: It was a very successful, and for those of us who were there, it’s just amazing that they could have come to this conclusion. Those of us who read the intelligence coming out to the black sites every morning and acted on that intelligence know the value and basically it led to the destruction of the organization. In terms of whether we exceeded the authorities that we had, this program actually has been subjected to very intense investigations by Justice Department and, in fact, from 2009 to 2012, John Durham, the special investigator, conducted a thorough investigation and he basically found no prosecutable charges to be made for anyone.

Obama says “when we make mistakes, we admit them”. Like this:

SEAN HANNITY: You know, I talk a lot on this program about selective moral outrage, Jose. Let me give you an example. We have, under President Obama and his drone program, we have the estimated death toll at 2400. In Pakistan alone, the death toll is estimated between 450 — I’m sorry 400 and 950 civilians including 168 to 200 children. Can you explain to me how the drone program under Obama is not far more morally problematic that enhanced interrogation. What do you make of Dianne Feinstein’s silence on that issue in comparison?

JOSE RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, it’s very interesting because, you know, this administration actually does not take any prisoners. They prefer to kill them from afar using drones. And somehow they feel that because they kill from a distance somehow it’s more ethical. More ethical than the difficult and messy and unpleasant task and mission of actually interrogating a prisoners. I think it’s a distortion of what our values are. You know what our values are —

SEAN HANNITY: I’ll give you a choice, get waterboarded or get drilled with a drone strike. I think I’ll take the waterboarding.

JOSE RODRIGUEZ: I think I’ll take the waterboarding, too.

Make sure you read this report too:

The report, issued by the committee’s outgoing senior Republican, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, stands in stark contrast to Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) highly critical findings asserting that the CIA misled the public, Congress and the White House about its enhanced interrogation program.

“We have no doubt that the CIA’s detention program saved lives and played a vital role in weakening Al Qaeda while the program was in operation,” the Republican senators concluded.

The GOP report decried the Feinstein study, arguing that it contained “faulty analysis, serious inaccuracies, and misrepresentations of fact” to create a series of false conclusions about the counterterrorism program’s effectiveness and the CIA’s interactions with Congress and the White House.

The authors accused Democrats of failing to be objective when compiling their findings and for harboring “political motivations” in their review, criticisms they said some intelligence officials have also leveled. The Republicans also lamented that the report’s commission cost U.S. taxpayers $40 million.

The minority report largely serves as a point-by-point rebuttal to Feinstein’s, particularly the conclusion that enhanced interrogation techniques were not effective in collecting useful intelligence for threats against the U.S.

Most political of all, the Dems timed their report to swamp any mention of Gruber’s appearance before the House Oversight Committee yesterday. Mission Accomplished.

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Turn Out the Lights, the Democrat Party’s Over

We’ve already taken our victory lap for calling a net gain of nine seats for the GOP, leading to a 54-46 majority. Thirstradamus may be clairvoyant, but he’s also refined enough not to take a second victory lap (or a third). Where was that vaunted clairvoyance when I wrote demurely “They’ll certainly keep, probably widen, their lead in the House.”?

As of this morning, they have 246 seats, a gain of 14 seats. “Probably widen” hardly does justice to that sort of ass-whuppin’.

I would rather revisit the scene of my success with someone else’s take on the events and their meanings, Kevin D. Williamson’s:

The Democrats, being intellectually dishonest, cling to the myth that the two parties “switched places” on racial issues in the 1960s, that Senator Landrieu’s troubles are a consequence of that reversal, and that the general Southern realignment is evidence that the Republican party is a comfortable home for bigots, Confederate revanchists, and others with dodgy racial politics.

This is a strange line of argument, and an indefensible one once the evidence is considered. Democrats remained the favored party in the South for decades and decades after the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, controlling a majority of governorships, Senate seats, state legislative bodies, etc., well into the 21st century.

A few obvious questions: If white Southerners were really so enraged about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and if they switched to the Republican party to express their displeasure, then why did they wait 30 years before making that preference felt in House elections? Why did Dwight D. Eisenhower — a supporter of civil-rights legislation who insisted on the actual desegregation of the armed forces (as opposed to President Truman’s hypothetical desegregation) and federal agencies under his control — win a larger share of the Southern vote in 1956 than Barry Goldwater, the most important Republican critic of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, did two cycles later? Why did Mississippi elect only one Republican governor in the entire 20th century, and that not until 1992? Why didn’t Alabama have a Republican governor until 1987? And why did Louisiana wait 60 years to eliminate its last Democratic senator in favor of a candidate from the party of Condoleezza Rice, Ben Carson, Allen West, Mia Love, Tim Scott, and that not-very-white guy who serves as governor of Louisiana? White supremacy should be made of sterner stuff: Did somebody forget to tell Louisiana state senator and newly confirmed Republican Elbert Guillory that he’s black?

Strange that redneck bigots would wait for so many decades to punish the Democrats for giving up cross-burning; my own experience with that particular demographic suggests that its members do not in general have that sort of attention span.

And then, my favorite point:

Similarly, the migration of white Southern voters to the GOP did not begin after the fight over the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And why would it have? Despite the principled opposition of Barry Goldwater, a lifelong NAACP member who nonetheless believed that the bill gave the federal government too much power over state and local matters, Republicans supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at significantly higher levels than the Democrats did, just as Republicans, Goldwater included, had fought for the Civil Rights Act of 1957, passed on Republican votes over Democratic obstruction and signed by a Republican president.

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes,” said Mark Twain. A later version, attributed to Winston Churchill, has the truth still putting on its pants, but the point is the same. The evaporation of the Southern Democrat has everything to do with the Democrats and nothing to do with race.

Does this look like the showing of a rump Southern white people’s party to you?

Untitled

That the Democratic party has attempted to hijack for itself credit for the hard and often bloody work performed for a century almost exclusively by Republicans, from Lincoln to Eisenhower, is a reminder that the party of Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton is not a place for men with a very developed sense of decency.

And what happened in the 1960s wasn’t the parties’ “changing places” on racism and civil rights; it was the Democrats’ — some of them, at least — joining the ranks of civilized human beings for the first time.

It only took them a century.

Slavery wasn’t the unique sin of this country—almost every trading country was guilty of it two hundred years ago. And neither party was clean of the stain of slavery either, though Lincoln’s Republicans obviously deserve more credit for its abolition. But the century of Jim Crow that persisted like an open sore after slavery was abolished—that the Democrats own. Just ask Robert Byrd.

PS: We may say that Barry Goldwater was on the wrong side of history on the Civil Rights Act—and he was—but not how hard it was for states to get out from under the presumption of guilt of the Voting Rights Act:

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional. Section 4 lays out the formulas for how the Justice Department enforces Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 requires that the states identified with a history of discrimination obtain approval from the federal government before they can make changes to their election law. Section 4 formulas as of 2013 mandated that “Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia in their entirety; and parts of California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota” ask for preclearance for electoral law changes. After Shelby County v. Holder, these states are free to make changes to election law or district maps without approval from the Justice Department.

The Supreme Court’s opinion notes: “voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that. The question is whether the Act’s extraordinary measures, including its disparate treatment of the States, continue to satisfy constitutional requirements. As we put it a short time ago, ‘the Act imposes current burdens and must be justified by current needs.’”

Just so. As we’ve already demonstrated above, this ain’t your granddaddy’s South: no Democrats.

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Scorched Earth

Obama administration policy:

The White House worked closely with liberal House Democrats last week to torpedo a tax deal that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-­Nev.) was negotiating with Republicans.

The unusual move to kill a Reid­-backed proposal has raised suspicions among Senate negotiators about the White House’s motivations. They believe President Obama’s team is eyeing a broad corporate tax reform deal in 2015, when Republicans will control the Senate and the House.

“It might indicate less about the merits of the package and more about the White House using progressives to kill a deal now in order to pave the way for a deal with Republicans next Congress that progressives will absolutely loathe,” said a senior Senate Democratic aide.

The administration joined forces with the House Democrats with one thing in mind: making sure a possible veto wouldn’t be overturned.

“Clearly the White House calculated that the House Democrats could sustain a veto,” said another Democratic aide. “The White House had conversations with a slew of House Democrats on Tuesday. It was furiously trying to assess how much opposition there was in the House. They were very upset.”

I’ll admit to being confused. Why would Obama spike a deal with Democrats when Congress will turn even more Republican next year? The article descrbes the horse-trading, but this is the key take-away for me:

The deal fell apart amid lingering tension between Reid and the White House in the aftermath of last month’s devastating midterm losses, which many Senate Democrats blame on Obama.

They’ve been feuding openly for the past four weeks. I don’t think Obama ever got over Reid’s “light-skinned black” and “Negro dialect” comments. I don’t know about light-skinned, but he sure is thin-skinned.

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Ready for Hillary?

So you’re the one.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D-Massachusetts): Well, I think first of all, Hillary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, excuse me, has been an extraordinary public servant and would be a terrific candidate for president. But I think that the narrative that it’s inevitable is off-putting to regular voters.

CHUCK TODD: So she should be challenged in the Democrat party?

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: I don’t mean that as a criticism of her. I just think that people read inevitability as entitlement. And the American people want and ought to want their candidates to sweat for the job. You know, to actually make a case for why they’re the right person at the right time.

Boy, if the image of a sweaty Hillary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, excuse me, doesn’t torpedo her chances, Elizabeth Warren doesn’t stand a chance.

The 2014 winner of my annual award for “Member of Congress of the Year” goes to the politician who had such a good year she now defines her party’s future — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

The Massachusetts senator could become the Barack Obama of 2016, able to grab the Democrats’ presidential nomination from the favorite, Hillary Clinton, by coming at her from the left. The defining issue for Democrats in 2008 was Iraq. In 2016 it will be the economy. Warren is much more in step with the party on this issue than is Clinton.

My head is swimming. Warren had the best 2014? Robin Williams had a better 2014. In what sense does a scheming careerist and serial “spiritual genocidist” ever have a good year?

In the sense of Democrat politics:

Warren’s surprising power is evident in her ability to force Clinton, the former senator from Wall Street’s home state and a well-paid speaker for top brokerages, to go on the attack against income inequality.

“I love watching Elizabeth give it to those who deserve to get it,” she said at a late October rally in Boston. Clinton was referring to Warren’s calls for increased regulation of big banks and Wall Street brokers who have “tried to trick and trap and cheat our families.” Clinton also echoed Warren’s rhetoric when she said at the same rally: “Don’t let anybody tell you that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.”

In the current Real Clear Politics average of polls asking Democrats to select their top choice as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, Warren is running second. And she trails Clinton by a huge margin, 51 percentage points.

But a poll taken this month by the progressive group Democracy for America found Warren to be the most popular choice for party activists asked whom they wanted to see run. Warren drew 42 percent support, overshadowing Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 24 percent and Clinton’s 23 percent.

And who votes in primaries but zealots?

Hillary Clinton is old news, and she’s politically tone deaf. She was divisive as a First Lady, a complete fiasco as Secretary of State, but adequate as a Senator. (And a hell of an investor in cattle futures.) She will not be the nominee, much less the president.

I think Warren will be, and I can’t wait.

Cherokee people! Cherokee tribe!
So proud to live, so proud to die.

It’s your funeral, Crockagawea.

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Illinois, Have You Met Detroit?

You two have so much in common!

Republican Bruce Rauner has his work cut out rehabilitating Illinois from years of liberal-public union misrule, but now he may also have to cope with a willful state judiciary. Consider a lower court judge’s slipshod ruling last week striking down de minimis pension reforms.

The fiscally delinquent state has accrued a $111 billion unfunded pension liability—a 75% increase from five years ago—in addition to $56 billion in debt for retiree health benefits. Incredibly, the state is spending more of its general fund on pensions than on K-12 education. One in four tax dollars pays for retirement benefits. Last year the state had to defer $7 billion in bills to contractors. This is after Democrats in 2011 raised income and corporate taxes by 67% and 30%, respectively. Little wonder that Illinois has the nation’s worst credit rating.

They could be twins, couldn’t they? And Chicago has a hell of an art museum if they need to sell off a few Old Masters to pay for the golden decades of a few SEIU purple-shirted, pinkie-ringed thugs.

Give Illinois credit (albeit CCC- credit) for trying to trim a few microns of fat from its liabilities.

It’s the thought that counts:

Yet Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Belz last week rejected all pension trims as a violation of the state Constitution, which holds that “[m]embership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.” According to Judge Belz, there is “no legally cognizable affirmative defense” for impairing pensions benefit.

Except, well, 80 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Federal courts have established that states may invoke their police powers to impair contracts. In the 1934 case Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that emergencies “may justify the exercise of [the State’s] continuing and dominant protective power notwithstanding interference with contracts,” which the U.S. Constitution otherwise prohibits.

The Supreme Court has since developed a balancing test that allows states to impair contracts when it is reasonable and necessary to serve an important public purpose. The level of legal scrutiny increases with the severity of the impairment.

A contract cannot be binding if it promises something that was not the contract’s to promise. Generous retirement benefits are not generous to the fewer and fewer workers who are left to pay for them; not generous to the poor who are left with fewer services; not generous to outsiders who are tapped to pay for the contracted benefits when the local authority runs out of money, even though they had no say in how those benefits were granted, therefore no duty toward the recipients’ retirement condos in Boca.

If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.

With the facts showing the practice unsustainable, and the law showing the practice unsupportable, what is left?

Table-pounding appeals to our fairness and humanity. Whenever I hear that, I always check to see that my wallet is still in my pocket. We the taxpaying public have met our obligations toward the social contract. What about the obligations of those on the receiving end who took too much? Isn’t their position motivated by greed? Why can’t they be shamed for taking from the poor and vulnerable?

And what in G-d’s name is sacrosanct in a contract between two conflicted parties, the unions and decades of corrupt one-party Democrat rule? One side lavishes excessive benefits on the other in exchange for kickbacks in the form of campaign contributions and votes.

It’s a win-win, except for everybody else.

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