Sunday, November 30, 2008

Talk About Hatch Act Problems

In case anyone is keeping count, the Indianapolis City-County Council is comprised of about nine councilors whose election as City-County Councilors may have created Little Hatch Act problems. The newest addition to my list is Maggie Lewis, who was just elected at a party caucus to take the place of Cherrish Pryor, a county employee who was elected as a state representative. The Star's "Behind Closed Doors" column describes her work for a state agency that receives federal funding:

Lewis works for the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, consulting for the Governor's Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana. She also consults for the Great Indy Neighborhood Initiative, which works to create and implement community improvement plans.

Yes, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute receives a significant amount of federal funding. The federal Hatch Act prohibits state and local employees who are principally employed in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the federal government from engaging in political activities. Those activities include being a candidate for public office in a partisan office. The Act extends to nonprofit employees as well if the statute through which the organization receives its federal funds contains language which states that the organization shall be considered to be a state or local agency for purposes of the Hatch Act.

The Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency charged with enforcing the Hatch Act, recently opined that Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett violated the Little Hatch Act by running for mayor in Terre Haute last year. Bennett worked for the Hamilton Center in Terre Haute, which received federal Head Start money for its day care center. Although Bennett's job primarily entailed work unrelated to the day care center, he was still found to have violated the Act. The Indiana Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of a challenge by former Terre Haute Mayor Kevin Burke and declared the mayor's office vacant because of Bennett's Hatch Act violation. Bennett is appealing the ruling to the state's Supreme Court.

A summary of opinions on the OSC's website indicates that candidates for partisan public office have been found to have violated the Act when they worked for local law enforcement agencies, a county veterans services department, a state department of transportation agency, a transit authority, a local housing authority, a township building inspector's office, a county and a fire department.

Let's take a look at other city councilors whose partisan election to the Indianapolis City-County Council might have posed a Hatch Act problem if a challenge had been made to their candidacies:

  • Monroe Gray elected while working as a division chief for the Indianapolis Fire Department. He retired from the fire department at the end of last year.
  • Jackie Nytes, originally elected while serving as CFO of the Indianapolis/Marion Co. public library, she is currently serving as executive director of the nonprofit Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corporation.
  • Brian Mahern elected while working for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
  • Dane Mahern elected while working for the City's Department of Administration.
  • Mary Moriarty Adams was originally elected while working for the Indiana Housing Authority. She now works for the nonprofit National MS Society.
  • Vernon Brown elected while working as a battalion chief for the Indianapolis Fire Department.
  • Benjamin Hunter elected while working as a sergeant in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
  • Lincoln Plowman elected while working as a sheriff's deputy. He is now serving in a top management position in charge of investigations for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

It's something to chew on. I am also a strong believer that some of these folks' service on the City-County Council violates the Indiana Constitution, which bars someone from holding positions in two branches of government simultaneously as a classic separation of powers problems. You would think folks would understand the conflict of interest in participating in budgetary and administrative matters pertaining to the agency of government which employs you but obviously that is not the case. And if any of the named individuals have a beef with being put on this list, then kindly furnish me an OSC opinion you obtained before seeking election to a partisan office. I will gladly share it with the readers here.

Someone Else Finally Notices

More than a year ago, I first reported that Indianapolis and Marion County had stopped compiling and reporting hate crime statistics for the FBI, which contributed to a decrease in the reported number of hate crimes in Indiana. Finally, someone in the mainstream media has taken notice. The Star's Dan Carpenter laments the lack of reporting in a column today about hate crimes in the wake of the apparent hate crime killing of an elderly Indianapolis gay couple, which IMPD refused to even consider a hate crime:

Civil rights activists, gays in particular, have redoubled efforts for an Indiana hate crimes law since the October murders of Eric Hendricks and Milton Lindgren, who had previously reported vandalism and the nailing of an anti-gay slur to their front door. Police are not calling the killings a hate crime because, they say, the man under arrest had mercenary motives. Advocates aren't buying that; especially since the earlier report of harassment wasn't logged as a hate crime either. Indeed, Sgt. Matthew Mount, spokesman for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, says IMPD doesn't track hate crimes because the definition is "subjective" and the responsibility is federal.

And yet, state law requires hate crime reporting. Just ask advocates how that's working out.
Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi has advocated at the State House for bias crimes legislation, which would allow evidence that a crime against a person or property was motivated by an offender's bias against the victim's race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or national origin to support an enhanced sentence for the crime. It is perplexing that he has stood by silently as IMPD undermines his own efforts by refusing to even acknowledge that such bias occurs in the commission of crimes. Even more perplexing has been the complete lack of outrage from civil rights group over IMPD's actions.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fox Decides To Discard "Fair And Balanced" Mantra

FOX News' motto is "fair and balanced." For the most part, it was the only television news source this past election which even attempted to be fair in its coverage of the presidential race, although the network had a complete news blackout like the other media on the glaring issue of Obama's inability to satisfy the constitutional requirement for being president. CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS and ABC all threw in with the Obama campaign earlier in the year when Obama was still fending off a challenge from Sen. Hillary Clinton. The New York Daily News' Rush & Malloy reports that FOX News Director Roger Ailes has ordered the network's top news folks to lay off of Obama:

Fox News boss Roger Ailes doesn't want to spoil Barack Obama's political honeymoon, we hear. A source says Ailes has told prime-time hosts , Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren to lay off the President-elect - at least for a while. "WeLink're not going to have any personal attacks on Obama," a network insider says. "The public has spoken - we must treat him with respect."

This news comes as we get further confirmation that censorship is already occurring on the Internet to protect Obama from his critics. The latest censorship victim is Atlas Shrugs' Pamela Geller, an outspoken conservative who blew the lid off of Obama's birth certificate problem and his flagrant violation of federal campaign finance laws. Both issues have become popular Internet search items, but Google has decided to "sandbox" posts that Obama and his supporters find offensive. "I was in the top five search results before the story got legs," Geller told WorldNetDaily. "These stories drove 12,000 to 15,000 people to my site every day." Traffic to her site plummeted over night after Google took steps to block access to her posts. Google CEO Eric Schmidt is an unabashed supporter of Obama during the campaign, even hitting the campaign stump for him.

It is absolutely incredible that in America, "Land of the Free", an important constitutional issue that has been the subject of no fewer than a dozen lawsuits, including one that is pending before our U.S. Supreme Court as I write, has received virtually no coverage in the mainstream media. If you hadn't bothered to tune in conservative talk radio shows or surf Internet blogs, you would have no idea the issue even exists. Then again, very few Americans know anything about the U.S. Constitution anymore thanks to the declining state of public education in this country. Why should we expect the news media to care?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Should Washington Supreme Court Judge Be Disciplined For Yelling Tyrant At Mukasey?

This little item managed to go unreported at the time Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed last week in Washington while delivering a speech to the Federalist Society. It turns out that Washington Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders shouted, "Tyrant! You are a tyrant!", before walking out on Mukasey's speech. Sanders explained his actions to the Seattle Times:

"Frankly, everybody in the room was applauding or sometimes laughing, and I thought, 'I've got to stand up and say something.' And I did," Sanders told The Seattle Times Tuesday. "I stood up and said, 'Tyrant,' then I sat down again, then I left."

The Seattle Times story notes that Sanders initially refused to acknowledge his actions when first questioned about it by reporters. Mukasey did not collapse until some time after Sanders' outburst. The story notes that Sanders could be disciplined by the state's Judicial Conduct Commission for failing to act "dignified" toward those he deals with in his official capacity. Sanders says he thinks his actions fall within the free speech realm. Sanders was previously admonished for visiting a sex offender treatment center and accepting documents from two of the offenders. He was also disciplined for speaking at an anti-abortion rally, but that action was later overturned by a court.

Another View Of The Meaning Of Natural Born: Obama Fails The Requirement

P.A. Madison examines over at the Federalist Blog the question of what the phrase "natural-born citizen" means under Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, a requirement a person must satisfy in order to serve as president of the United States. His conclusion is not going to be comforting to the former University of Chicago Senior Lecturer on constitutional law. Madison concludes:

Therefore, we can say with confidence that a natural-born citizen of the United States means those persons born whose father the United States already has an established jurisdiction over, i.e., born to father’s who are themselves citizens of the United States. A person who had been born under a double allegiance cannot be said to be a natural-born citizen of the United States because such status is not recognized (only in fiction of law). A child born to an American mother and alien father could be said to be a citizen of the United States by some affirmative act of law but never entitled to be a natural-born citizen because through laws of nature the child inherits the condition of their father.

There you have it. Barack Obama, Sr. was undeniably a Kenyan citizen. The fact that the President-elect's mother was a U.S. citizen makes him a U.S. citizen by virtue of law enacted by Congress; however, Obama could only inherit natural-born status from his father. A person born under a double allegiance, as Obama himself acknowledges he was until he reached the age of 21, cannot be a natural-born citizen.

Everyone agrees that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can never be president because he became a U.S. citizen through naturalization, an affirmative act of law. Similarly, because Obama was not born the son of a U.S. citizen, he cannot be our president according to Madison's analysis. The U.S. Supreme Court must act and enforce our Constitution. I don't care what the result of the November election was. We are a nation of laws, not of men. If the rule of law is not enforced, then our Constitution will cease to have the respect and primacy it is entitled to have under our constitutional form of governance. Perhaps our Supreme Court will interpret the "natural-born citizen" requirement differently than P.A. Madison and others. Nonetheless, it is a question that must be answered. It's just too important to ignore. Obama can keep hiding his original birth certificate from us as long as he wants. Under this interpretation, it is irrelevant because his father was a Kenyan.

Taxpayers Petition Against Washington Township Budget And Tax Levy

Petitions are being circulated among Washington Township property taxpayers to challenge the 2009 budget and tax levy approved by the Washington Township Board on November 10. Specifically, the petition raises objections to the following: a $47,277 "Chief of Staff" position for the township (note--there is no staff to manage); the 69% pay raise the township board members just voted themselves; the $41,639 appropriated to pay health, dental, vision, life and disability benefits for Trustee Frank Short and the Chief of Staff; and other sums appropriated for legal services, other professional services and dues and seminars. The petition states that two resolutions adopted at the November 10 meeting were done so without advance notice to at least 3 of the township's board members. That included a 4% increase in township employee pay and the 69% board member pay raise. The petition notes that the higher tax levy approved by the township board comes at a time the rainy day fund has a $3.4 million balance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What's The Purpose Of Your Existence?

That pretty much summarizes the view of a Star editorial responding to the Washington Township Board's decision last week to vote itself a 60% pay raise. "It's never easy for taxpayers to watch a government body vote itself a pay raise," the editorial reads. "It's especially hard when that government body should not exist."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Kenyan Ambassador Admits Obama's Birth In Kenya?

Detroit radio talk show host Mark Fellhauer and his colleagues on WFIR's "Mike In The Morning" believe they got Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S. Peter Ogego to matter-of-factly admit to Barack Obama's birth in Kenya as his paternal step-grandmother Sarah Obama has claimed. Ogego tells them that plans are underway to mark Obama's birthplace in Kenya. You can listen to their light-hearted interview with the Ambassador by clicking here. After listening to the complete interview, I'm not thoroughly convinced that Ogego fully understood the drift of the suggestive question by Fellhauer, but Fellhauer sees it differently.

Hat tip to Debbie Schlussel.

UPDATE: A Bush White House press spokesperson, Tony Fratto, declined to answer questions about Obama's birth certificate and ended the press briefing after the question was posed. Here's the exchange:

Q Thank you, Tony. Two questions. There's been extensive media coverage of where the two Obama daughters will attend school. And my question: The White House believes that they should be able to attend the school their parents select without criticism because it's private rather than public, don't you?

MR. FRATTO: I think we support all parents making that decision.

Q Good. The CEO of WorldNetDaily has called on the President-elect to release a birth certificate listing the hospital and names of parents. The White House believes that this would fully satisfy the constitutional requirement, don't you?

MR. FRATTO: I don't think I have anything to say on that, Lester, and I think we're going to end it right there.
Thank you.

Bauer Will Be Roadblock To Permanent Tax Caps

When you have as your party's leader a man who has represented a gerrymandered district for decades and who has continuously drawn a second paycheck from either a local school district or Ivy Tech, it should come as no surprise that that leader will do everything within his power to block homeowners from receiving the benefit of permanent property tax caps in the Indiana Constitution. House Speaker Pat Bauer has already said he wants to put off a vote on permanent property tax caps until next year. Although the legislature last year easily approved the constitutional amendment, it must be voted on again during the current 2-year legislative session in order to be voted on by voters in 2010. Failing a vote, proponents of property tax caps will have to start the process of amending the constitution anew in 2011.

House Speaker Pat Bauer will have plenty of support from local governments and schools to block a vote on the amendment this year. But as the Star's Bill Ruthhart reports, he'll also have support from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which would just as soon keep shifting the property tax burden on to homeowners and away from business as has been the practice for many years. Locally, proponents were dealt a big blow to the tax cap efforts when Democrats Mary Ann Sullivan, Ed DeLaney and John Barnes won their respective House districts in Marion County. All three of these newly-elected legislators accepted tens of thousands of dollars from the Indiana State Teachers Association's political action committee. ISTA opposes making the tax caps permanent as do Sullivan, DeLaney and Barnes. My guess is that Bauer will tie the tax cap amendment up in committee so his members won't have to take an unpopular vote against the measure.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bring Back The WPA

President-elect Barack Obama announced yesterday a several hundred billion dollar spending plan to create or save 2.5 million jobs over the next two years "by spending billions of dollars to rebuild roads and bridges, modernize public schools, and construct wind farms and other alternative sources of energy." Notice the use of the word "save" in addition to "create." That way if the American economy sheds 2 or 3 million jobs over the next couple of years, Obama can claim he saved a similar amount of jobs by spending billions of dollars our federal government doesn't have to spend. And all that national debt we've already piled up becomes even bigger simply because of the deflation our country is currently experiencing.

A Meteorite Crashing To Earth In Canada

Check out this video taken from a police dashcam in Western Canada as a meteorite crashes to Earth this past Thursday night.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Birth Certificate Issue Will Not Die

The American people may have been fooled into believing that Sen. Barack Obama possesses the constitutional qualification to be president of the United States, but the people who are convinced Obama lied to the American people about meeting the natural born qualification aren't going away. Non-believers ran a full page ad in the Washington Times this week demanding answers to the questions the media refuses to make Obama answer. The ad cites the claim of his paternal step-grandmother, Sarah Obama, that she was present for his birth in Kenya, Obama's own refusal to produce a valid, original birth certificate proving his birth in Hawaii and Indonesian school records identifying him as an Indonesian citizen with the name "Barry Soetoro".

An online signature drive has been launched, which has already garnered signatures of nearly 40,000 Americans, is petitioning the 2008 electors to the Electoral College, Congress, the Federal Elections Commission, U.S. Supreme Court, President George W. Bush and state election authorities to enforce Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution by requiring Obama to prove he is a natural born citizen. Multiple lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts across the country challenging Obama's qualifications under Article 2, Section 1. Every single ruling to date has dismissed the claims of the citizen petitioners on the basis that they lack standing to bring a claim. Former American Independent Party presidential candidate, Alan Keyes, and other members of his party have filed a lawsuit in California attempting to force the Secretary of State there to deny certification of Obama's electors until Obama proves he is a natural born citizen. There is a precedent in California in the past for the Secretary of State to actually remove a third party presidential candidate from the ballot on the ground that the candidate was not constitutionally qualified because he had not yet reached the age of 35 based on his official birth certificate.

Dr. Ron Polarik, a computer graphics expert, appeared this week on Janet Folger's Faith2Action radio talk show and explained his analysis of the certificate of live birth posted on Obama's "Fight The Smears" website and, which purport to prove Obama's birth in Hawaii. He concludes unequivocally that it is a forged document. He says the two separate postings of the COLB on these sites is actually a compilation of someone else's 2007 COLB and a 2008 COLB. I encourage you to visit Faith2Action's website, where you can download and listen to Polarik's analysis. Polarik is not deterred by the Hawaii Department of Health's confirmation that it has a birth record on file in Hawaii. Hawaiian law at the time allowed a parent to register a birth which may have actually taken place outside the state if the parent claimed to have resided in the state for at least one year prior to the child's birth.

The way I've always viewed this issue is that every candidate for president of the United States should be forced to prove that he or she is at least 35 years of age and is a natural born citizen. Oddly, there is no formal requirement that a candidate for president comply with the constitutional requirements other than to make attestations to that effect. Obama himself is a stickler to such legalities. After all, he challenged the validity of the petitions filed by his four primary opponents, including a long-time state senator, the first time he ran for public office. He succeeded in having all four opponents bounced from the election ballot, allowing him to run for his first office unopposed. Obama could have put this issue behind him months ago by simply producing the original birth certificate. Why won't he? John McCain did.

If it's not enough that Obama may have presented a forged birth certificate to fool the media and the American people into believing he was born in Hawaii, there are also questions about whether he registered for the Selective Service System when he reached the age of 18. This issue was supposedly debunked earlier this year when evidence of Obama registering for selective service back in 1980 surfaced; however, new evidence seems to suggest that Obama's supposed 1980 registration didn't make into the Selective Service System's database until this year. That's right, the document location number (DLN) indicates the record for his 1980 registration was created in 2008. A retired federal agent, J. Stephen Coffman, explained his efforts to find out Obama's SSS status in a recent e-mail to me:

What is interesting is that when I first contacted the Selective Service about Senator Obama's registration not showing up on the "Check A Registration" section of their website ( they said it was because he probably used a different name then Barack H. Obama or a different Social Security Number or date of birth. The registration that they evenually sent me shows the name Barack H. Obama and the same date of birth that I used. So that does not make any sense as to why his registration was not online prior to September of this year. You have to have the Social Security Number to use that function. It would be a privacy issue to release it.

Initially, I was not given a copy of his registration card because of claimed privacy issues. I pointed out that his name and date of birth was in the public domain. I also stated that if they could not provide me with a copy of the form, then my FOIA should be considered to include all correspondence (including, but not limited to emails) sent or received by the Selective Service. Seems they did not want to give me the emails. So they gave me the form.

I am not against the Selective Service. I recently re-enlisted in the Reserves (I have over 26 years Active and Reserve service). So I sent my concerns about the registration form to the Selective Service. They declined to comment. So after a few weeks, I forwarded it to Debbie.

Anyone can request the same document from Selective Service by sending a FOIA. There should not be any delay as they have it readily available - especially with the Document Locator Number.

Apparently, the database for the Selective Service System is maintained in Chicago, leading some to speculate that a friend of Obama's accessed the system unlawfully to correct the potential embarrassment, not to mention what would be his own criminal law violation in failing to register, if that proved to be the case. I registered for the Selective Service System when I turned 18 not too long after Obama purportedly registered. I was also appointed as a member of my local Selective Service System board when I was only 18. A year ago I recounted a story about how that came about after a chance meeting with an Illinois power broker, William Cellini, in my state senator's office:

I was interning in a local state senator's office in 1981 when Mr. Cellini stopped by to visit the state senator. After the senator and Mr. Cellini visited for awhile, I was invited into the senator's office and asked if I wanted to be a Selective Service Board member. "Am I old enough," I asked. With that, at the age of 18, I was appointed a member of the local Selective Service Board in my area when it was reconstituted after being abolished many years earlier. It later made a headline in the Charleston Times-Courier when a reporter called me up and asked how I got appointed to the Board and I told the reporter exactly how it happened. Red-faced, I called up Mr. Cellini and apologized for the headline. He told me it wasn't a problem and not to worry about it. Later, I figured out it was exactly the kind of publicity he liked getting.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago just recently indicted Cellini in its ongoing investigation of corruption within Illinois state government. Cellini is accused of mail fraud in what federal prosecutors claim was a conspiracy to extort money from state pension fund managers to benefit Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Do I believe it's possible that someone could have illegally post-registered Obama? You bet I do. I still don't have a clue after all these years why the hell Bill Cellini had anything to do with who was appointed to local Selective Service Registration boards in Illinois. If someone solves that mystery, please share it with me.

State's Pension Funds Take $5 Billion Hit

The precipitous decline in the stock market in recent months has taken its toll on the state's public retirement funds balances. To date, losses of close to $5 billion have been racked up, reducing the PERF balance from $16.7 billion to about $12 billion, or approximately 28%, according to the IBJ's Peter Schnitzler. The losses erase all of the gains realized over the past 3 years. There is some criticism for PERF's investment managers, who earned over $57.6 million last year. “I won’t second-guess anybody’s investment decisions,” said Bill Styring, president of locally based Styring and Associates and former senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute. “But I do have a cat by the name of Trixie who could probably have done as well,” he said. “Trixie and I figured out, over a year ago, where this thing was going.” He added: “The problem is, how much money are we paying these geniuses to lose my money, your money? I’ll work for $1 and my cat needs a can of cat food now and then.”

Schnitzler's report indicates that almost every pension system in the country has shed at least 10% of its value over the past year. "Every report we’re getting is down, down, down,” Elizabeth Karier of Pensions and Investments tells Schnitzler. “It’s horrible. It looks awful; it is awful. But they’re pretty much in the same boat as everybody else right now.” Most have bled between 15% and 20% of their total assets she says. One expert notes that PERF fared better than the S&P 500 but others think that is a dubious yardstick to use for comparison purposes.

PERF has responded in recent months by adopting a more conservative investment strategy. "Under the previous allocation, PERF earmarked 65 percent of its assets for equities, while 20 percent went to fixed-income investments such as bonds, and 15 percent went to alternative assets, such as venture capital, real estate investment trusts and hedge funds," Schnitzler reports. "Under the new asset allocation, PERF will hold only 40 percent of its assets in equities." "It will simultaneously increase fixed-income and alternative investments to 30 percent each. That’s a major policy shift for a pension that, until 12 years ago, had never invested in anything riskier than bonds. And before August 2006, PERF held only 5 percent of its assets in alternatives." The downside of this new investment strategy is that PERF won't quickly recover its losses if and when the stock market bounces back.

Indiana Fares Better Than Others In Tough Economic Conditions

This wasn't quite how it played out back in the 1970s, but Indiana is surprisingly doing better than all of its surrounding states in what is shaking up to be the worst post- Great Depression economic downturn in the US. Compare these latest unemployment figures:

  • Indiana (6.4%)
  • Nationwide (6.5%)
  • Kentucky (6.8%)
  • Ohio (7.3%)
  • Illinois (7.3%)
  • Michigan (9.3%)

Ted Evanoff of the Star reports that the opening of Honda's massive automotive plant in Greensburg helped offset jobs lost elsewhere in the state's most recent unemployment figures. "We have a more diversified economy than Michigan's,'' said Peter Grossman, an economics professor at Butler University in Indianapolis. "There have been successful efforts to attract companies, not just Honda, but that certainly doesn't hurt. But also warehouses and logistics centers."

Also, thanks to Gov. Mitch Daniels, the state has a pretty sizable rainy day fund. Our budget problems pale in comparison to the nightmare faced in neighboring Illinois where Democrats have completely plundered the state after attaining one party domination of the state and piling on massive tax increases accompanied by new spending. Unquestionably, things are going to get much worse before they get better here in Indiana, but we can be grateful that we have a sharp, steady hand at the helm during these tough times.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The View: Homeschooled Kids Are Demented

The View's Joy Behar continues the show's shameless reputation of mocking anyone who doesn't subscribe to the liberal view. Behar, a former public school teacher, opined this week that children who are homeschooled are "demented." When the only co-host with any common sense, Elizabeth Hasselback, defended homeschooling as a good thing, Behar shot back, "A lot of them are demented when they're homeschooled. … They're afraid of children. They learn to be scared of other children." No, their parents are rightfully scared of people like Behar teaching their children.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Novak's Revealing Interview

Syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who is fighting for his life in a battle to survive brain cancer, sat down for a very revealing interview with Barbara Mutasow of Washingtonian magazine. It's a must read for political junkies. Here's a few of the items Novak shares in the interview:

  • He didn't pay enough attention to his two children when they were growing up.
  • Politics is just as partisan today in Washington as it was decades ago: "Bob Kerr, a Democrat from Oklahoma, called Indiana Republican Homer Capehart a 'rancid tub of ignorance.'"
  • The Republican Party finds itself in the same place it was in 1957.
  • Mike Pence isn't on his list of "most interesting Republicans" in Congress.
  • One of the sources he talks to daily is a former Lugar staffer.
  • He has a very low opinion of President George W. Bush; Reagan is his favorite president.
  • Newt Gingrich was a failure as Speaker of the House. "It's amazing to see how much influence he still has and how popular he is in the Republican Party."
  • He regrets writing too much in his column about "behind-the-scenes" political trivia.
  • On left-wing critics in the press' attempts to ruin him over the Valerie Plame affair: "The hell with you. They didn't ruin me. I have my faith, my family, and a good life. A lot of people love me -- or like me. So they failed. I would do the same thing over again because I don't think I hurt Valerie Plame whatsoever."
  • The most helpful thing that someone can say to a person gravely ill like him: "I guess the most helpful thing they can say, if they're a man or woman of faith, is to tell me they're praying for me."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The New East Chicago

I'm sorry to disappoint the people of East Chicago, but you're being replaced by a new and improved East Chicago. It's also known as our nation's capitol, but starting on January 20, 2009, the corrupt political machine that has ruled the City of Chicago for more than a half century is expanding its reach to the highest levels of our federal government. Barack Obama, a relative babe by Chicago machine politics standards, will be taking with him a bevy of seasoned hacks to assume the reins of government. The all-star team includes:

  • Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff. As veteran Chicago Tribune political reporter John Kass put it best upon hearing of Emanuel's appointment: "It took only 36 hours for President-elect Barack Obama to take the off ramp from the Change We Can Believe In Highway and slam his foot on the gas in the express lanes of the Chicago Way." Mayor Daley's former Water Department boss, Donald Tomczak, is sitting in a federal prison convicted of bribery. In another trial of Mayor Daley's political patronage bosses, Tomczak testified on behalf of the government how he was ordered to put city workers out on the political stump for Emanuel during his inaugural 2002 run for Congress.
  • David Axelrod as Senior White House Advisor. Once upon a time, Axelrod was one of the good guys working as a well-intentioned reporter for the Hyde Park Herald. He later sold out and crossed over to making bigger bucks and more money as the mouthpiece for Mayor Richard Daley and his corrupt political organization. His public relations firm earned a reputation for its success at astroturfing, another word for the act of manufacturing grassroots support for businesses and political candidates.
  • Valerie Jarrett as Senior White House Advisor. She formerly served as Mayor Daley's Chief Deputy Mayor and headed up the Chicago Transit Authority. She has also made a lot of money in the management of subsidized government housing for the City of Chicago as the CEO of the Habitat Company where she helped steer business to Obama political cronies like Tony Rezko and Allison Davis. According to the Boston Globe, one of the housing complexes Jarrett's company managed in Obama's former state senate district was considered "uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage...In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale -- a score so bad the buildings now face demolition."
  • Eric Holder as Attorney General. Holder is best known as the former Clinton Administration Deputy Attorney General who approved a last-minute pardon of Marc Rich, the worst tax cheat in American history. Most people aren't aware of his ties to the corrupt Chicago organization. Gov. Rod Blagoyevich, who is enmeshed in a federal corruption investigation of a pay-to-play scandal within his administration, paid Holder $300,000 a few years back to determine whether a casino company headed by a man who had violated Illinois' gambling laws should be allowed to build a new casino in Rosemont. Holder's work was pretty much a wasted effort after he got into a jurisdictional war with the state's Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, the daughter of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan. So a guy who accepted $300,000 from the corrupt Illinois governor will be in charge of administering justice and supervising the work of the U.S. Attorney in Chicago working over-time to root out political corruption.
  • Greg Craig as White House Counsel. Why not? Craig served as former President Bill Clinton's chief impeachment counsel. Craig also represented the Cuban government in their efforts to return Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba after he washed ashore in Florida with other Cuban asylum seekers. And Craig represented John Hinckley, the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan and William Kennedy Smith when he was accused of rape. Nothing like covering all your bases.

Yeah, John Kass had it right. "Change We Can Believe In" is really just a euphemism for the "Chicago Way." Move over East Chicago, Indiana. Welcome the new and improved East Chicago.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Marion County Township Assessors To Keep Pay But At Reduced Amount

A glitch in state law will allow the Marion County township assessors who saw their jobs eliminated by voters this past election to continue drawing a salary for the two years of their 4-year terms remaining; however, the City-County Council has introduced a proposed ordinance to reduce their pay from a current range of $60,000-$70,000 to a range of $20,000-$27,000. The salary reduction will save taxpayers $400,000 annually over the next two years reports the Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy.

Surprisingly, O'Shaughnessy's report indicates that there may be some resistance from council Democrats to the proposed reduction in the county option income tax by Mayor Greg Ballard. "Joanne Sanders, the Democratic minority leader, said she is not yet convinced the state law is clear that the money couldn't eventually be used for another purpose, such as hiring police or filling potholes," O'Shaughnessy writes. Hmmm. Wasn't it the council Democrats earlier this year who were proposing a sunset of the 65% county option income tax increase they approved last year when they were in control of the council?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cop Corruption Case Takes An Odd Twist

Jason Barber is one of several IMPD police officers who has faced criminal charges since the beginning of the year. Barber is charged with selling a handgun to a convicted felon and official misconduct. According to the Star's Jon Murray, an attorney for Barber claims the confidential informant in Barber's case, the convicted felon who allegedly purchased the gun from Barber, recanted his story about purchasing the gun from Barber. Making matters worse, Corey Smith, the 30-year-old informant, was found dead last week under suspicious circumstances. Barber's attorney claims that Smith was coached by police to help frame his client according to Smith's recantation. Not surprisingly, Barber's attorney wants prosecutors to dismiss the charges against his client. Retired IU criminal law professor Henry Karlson tells Murray that prosecutors will have a tough time obtaining a conviction. Any way you choose look at this latest development in this case, it further shakes public confidence in the Indianapolis police department.

White Cleans Closet And Finds More Ballots

I don't see anything sinister here, but public confidence isn't inspired when the county clerk for the state's largest county tells us weeks after the election that she has just discovered 446 absentee ballots which were received prior to the election but got misplaced. According to Marion County Clerk Beth White's office, the ballots were placed on a shelf in a storage closet out of sight and not noticed until today. Because there weren't really any close races in Marion County, it is unlikely the ballots would change any results. But it still represents as many votes as are cast in an entire precinct.

The Republicans were quick to respond to today's discovery. "Today's news that hundreds of ballots had been haphazardly misplaced by Beth White and her staff is yet another disturbing example of how poorly elections are administered in Marion County, " Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John said. "These are people's votes we're talking about. The fact that Beth White had no idea that these ballots were missing shows the lack of tracking and accountability in how votes are handled by her office. These shenanigans do not happen in other major cities, and the people of Marion County deserve better." The Republican press release notes that White's office received the absentee ballots on October 26, more than a week prior to the election.

Friday, November 14, 2008

If We Could Have Only Had Answers To These Questions From Obama

Who needs Nixon's White House plumbers to dig for dirt on potential enemies when an application for employment with the Obama administration will accomplish the same objective. I'm, of course, referring to the now infamous job questionnaire making its way around the Internet and the derisive feedback some of the questions asked of applicants is receiving. There are 63 questions in all that an applicant is required to answer. In attorney lingo, if similar information was requested in a litigation discovery request, the opposing party would justifiably call it a fishing expedition rather than a quest to discover information relevant to the litigation. Here's some of the questions which caught my eye:

  • "If you or your spouse ever worked abroad, please describe the circumstances." As if Obama would answer any questions about his alleged birth abroad, his alleged adoption by his Indonesian step-father or his alleged Indonesian citizenship during this past presidential campaign. It only figures that he would expect more disclosure from his potential employees about their foreign ties than he was willing to share with the American voters.
  • "Briefly describe any controversial matters you have been involved with during the course of your career." Again, Obama the candidate protested the discussion of any of his controversial associations with the likes of William "The Bomber" Ayers or Rev. Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright. Yet, you better be prepared to disclose any such matters if you want to work in his administration.
  • Anything you've ever written (book, article, column, or publication must be identified. That includes any aliases or "handles" you may have used on the Internet. Do you think that includes the identity of persons who ghost wrote a book or article for you as well? And how compliant was the Obama campaign in furnishing the public his past work? Wasn't all of his Illinois Senate records dumped in the garbage and unavailable for public inspection?
  • If you've ever given a speech, identify it. If it was recorded, furnish the recording. Again, didn't it require a lot of digging for anyone to find out similar information on Obama's speeches before he became a candidate for president?
  • This is my personal favorite: "If you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but not limited to an e-mail, text message or instant message, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe." That question should pretty much disqualify anyone under the age of 40.
  • Another question asks you to identify any affiliation you or your spouse has had with a financial institution, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and Washington Mutual. Why? Almost every one of Obama's top advisers have financial ties to one of these entities. It hasn't stopped them. Why should it stop anyone else from serving in his administration?
  • The financial disclosures go well beyond what Obama made public about he and his wife's personal finances. You are required to disclose any net worth statement you furnished to a bank, a copy of all brokerage statements for investment accounts, all loans you or your spouse have received in excess of $10,000, all real estate held in your name or your spouse's name or through a third party for your benefit over the past 10 years, the terms of any mortgage you've received, including any special terms, any interest you may have in any government grants, loans, services or guarantees, any gift you or your spouse received in excess of $50,000. Gee, if Obama had only furnished all of this information during his presidential campaign, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago may well have indicted him already.
  • Do you have a same sex partner? Better own up to it. Obama wants to know who you've been cohabitating with the past 10 years.
  • Have a blog, a MySpace or FaceBook account? Turn it over. Obama wants to read it.
  • Another favorite is a question asking if you've had any association with a person, group or business that could be used to attack or impugn your character and qualifications for government service. Again, I'm reminded of Ayers, Wright, Rezko, et al.
  • Own a gun? Tell us about it, including if anyone has been harmed as a result of your ownership of a gun. Interestingly, there are no questions asking about any terrorist organizations with which you may have been associated.

If a person honestly and completely answered all of the questions asked of them to apply for a job in the Obama administration, the holder of that information would be able to hold a lot over your head for pretty much the rest of your natural life. Applicants are always told this information is held in confidence, but when it comes to anything involving politics, don't believe that for one minute. The Clintons went well beyond what Nixon's plumbers did in gathering dirt on potential enemies. Remember the FBI files episode at the Clinton White House when the files of every major Republican and Democrat in Washington wound up in the hands of an ex-bar bouncer and private investigator hired to work at the White House by Hillary Clinton? And recall how something terrible would always conveniently leak out about a Clinton antagonist who dared to challenge the Clintons? The Chicago political machine is reknowned for learning the peccadilloes of every political foe. You can bet that David Axelrod and Barack Obama are game to such tactics as well.

Ballard To Call For COIT Reduction After All

I feel vindicated. Mayor Greg Ballard is calling for a nearly $18 million tax reduction in the county option income tax over the next three years. "The proposal, drafted in response to a recent Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF)advisory, will go before the City-County Council on Monday evening," says a press release from the Mayor's office. "If approved, it will result in $5.7 million being returned annually to Marion County taxpayers for the next three years."

Ballard earlier conditioned a return of any of last year's COIT increase upon implementation of government consolidation and other local government reforms. This year, voters approved the elimination of township assessors; however, much more government consolidation remains, including the elimination of township government and further consolidation of township fire departments with the city fire department. When I originally called on the Mayor to seek a reduction in the COIT, several detractors attacked my position, saying the state law would not permit the City to reduce last year's tax increase without a change in the state law. It looks like the DLGF interpreted the law the same way I interpreted it.

Warren Buffett Looking Out For Number One

Who knew GE was a bank? Its finance arm has been given approval to gain temporary backing of its $139 billion in debt held by its finance arm by the FDIC. The move basically assures the corporate giant equal footing with banks to source its debt. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway received $3 billion in preferred stock with GE recently to help improve its liquidity. Recall that another Buffett company, Kansas Bankers Surety Co, helped send our financial markets into a tailspin and triggered the withdrawal of large sums of bank deposits when it announced it would no longer insure depositors accounts above the $100,000 FDIC-insured amount. The bailout bill approved after Buffett's company stopped insuring bank accounts boosted the insured amount per account to $250,000 through the end of 2009, substantially reducing the exposure of the Buffett-controlled insurer.

GE was once venerable corporate giant. It represented the best of corporate America more than any other company. Ronald Reagan once served as a spokesman for the company before entering politics. In more recent years, the company has been poorly managed and has experienced a precipitous drop in profits. The company's news division, NBC, basically became an extension of the Obama presidential campaign, openly pulling for his victory. Its cable news division, MSNBC, was particularly pro-Obama and has hampered the network's profitability because of its poor ratings. Not surprisingly, GE's white knight, Buffett, was a big Obama supporter who has been providing the president-elect advice on economic policy. It makes you wonder if some of the players manipulated economic events over the last few months to benefit themselves and Obama at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Court Of Appeals Rules Terre Haute Mayor Ineligible To Serve

More than a year after former Terre Haute Mayor Kevin Burke challenged Duke Bennett's upset win in the city's mayoral election, a divided Court of Appeals ruled that Bennett's job with the nonprofit Hamilton Center made him ineligible to be a candidate for Terre Haute mayor under the federal Hatch Act. The Court of Appeals 2-1 decision (posted at the Indiana Law Blog) invalidated Bennett's election, declared a vacancy and ordered a special election to be conducted to take his place. I would anticipate an appeal of the ruling by Bennett to the Indiana Supreme Court, although an online report by the Terre Haute Tribune-Star does not indicate whether that decision has been made. It seems to me that Judge Najam has the better argument of how the law should apply in this case. He contends that the losing candidate, Burke, had no right to seek Bennett's removal based upon long-standing common law applied by our Supreme Court where there is no evidence the voters who supported the winning candidate had any knowledge of the winning candidate's ineligibility to hold office. The election, Najam notes, could be declared void, but only an action of the State could result in the removal of the elected official from office. Here, the Court of Appeals took it upon itself to remove Bennett from office and order a special election. If this ruling stands with respect to the Court's interpretation of the Hatch Act, then there are several Indianapolis city-county councilors who should be similarly booted from their public office on the same ground.

Ballard Targets Neighborhoods For Abandoned Housing Funds

Eleven neighborhoods are being targeted by Mayor Greg Ballard to receive $29 million in federal funding to deal with the areas with the highest number of abandoned and foreclosed homes. The targeted areas include the neighborhoods just outside the mile square downtown, the near eastside and extending through a central part of the city along either side of I-70 from the near northside to the far eastside. You can click on this map to see if your neighborhood is included within the targeted areas. The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy explains the steps the City will take:

The city also kicked off a public comment period of 15 days to get input on how the funds should be distributed. City officials said the plan won't be completed until after a public meeting in January, with the first projects to begin after that.

In general, the money will be split between buying nearly 200 properties for the Indianapolis Land Bank, acquiring 50 units to rehabilitate and developing 70 affordable rental units. Smaller amounts will go toward demolition, new construction, financing and administration . . .

Maury Plambeck, director of the Department of Metropolitan Development, said the public comments and meetings will help determine where to focus within the target areas. He said the money would not solve the problem but would make a dent.

At least 25 percent of the money must be used to buy and redevelop abandoned or foreclosed homes for people whose incomes are not more than 50 percent of the area's median income.

The federal funding provides a large pool of money the City has not had available in the past to tackle abandoned homes. It is estimated there are anywhere between 8,000-10,000 abandoned homes in Indianapolis at present. Let's hope the City makes wise use of these funds to put a real dent in the problem.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Democrats Can't Stand Attention Daniels Is Getting

When Evan Bayh or Frank O'Bannon won their respective governor's races, Democrats were always quick to tell us that the public liked the job they were doing and thought highly of them as individuals. Bucking a national Democratic tide, Gov. Mitch Daniels wins re-election by a wide margin after tackling more issues in four years than either Bayh or O'Bannon tackled during their respective two terms in office. This has caught the attention of some in the national news media, who are touting Daniels stature in the Republican Party nationally. Those same Democrats who lavished so much praise on Bayh and O'Bannon are having no part of it. To hear these folks describe it, Daniels is not all that:

  • He had a weak opponent with a weak message.
  • He has bad economic policies.
  • He's selling off the state's assets to the highest bidder.
  • His ethics are bad.
  • He only won by a big margin because he got a free pass in this election.

I almost forgot the most important point. Mitch Daniels is boring. How about unattractive? Any takers? Yeah, those guys Bayh and O'Bannon were the real life of the party, weren't they? I understand that Democrats can't be expected to be cheerleaders for Daniels, but at the same time, give the guy his due. He had a lot of big ideas which he pushed these past four years to move this state forward. Not all of this ideas were good or well thought out, but he's forced the state to think about where it's at today and what it needs to do to move it forward. Whether you like him personally or not, I think most Hoosiers decided to give Daniels another four years because, on balance, they believe he is moving the state in the right direction. It probably didn't hurt that the guy has taken the time to meet more Hoosiers in person during his term as governor than any other governor in Indiana history. And given the number of big and controversial issues he tackled compared to his Democratic predecessors, that big re-election win is a pretty ringing endorsement.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remember Our Veterans

Take time out today to thank our veterans for their service to our country. Today is a national holiday in their honor. It may not be for long if supporters of Barack Obama have their way. They are already demanding a national holiday in his honor even before he serves a single day as president.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More On Hispanic Vote's Impact On 2008 Vote

Townhall's Ivan Moreno sides with my contention that Hispanic voters made the difference in Obama's win this year. He cites statistics showing that at least 2 million more Hispanics voted in the 2008 presidential election versus 2004, representing 9% of all voters. Among first-time Hispanic voters, the numbers favoring Obama over McCain were staggering. The U.S. government, Moreno notes, naturalized a record 1 million new Americans last year. "And the new Hispanic voters backed Obama by 76 percent to 23 percent for McCain," he writes.

The message to the Republican Party could not be more clear. If the party continues to engage in immigrant bashing, the party is doomed to permanent minority status. Republicans have been able to compete nationally because of the sizable number of Hispanic voters it has been able to attract. President George W. Bush learned the importance of the Hispanic vote as governor of Texas, which has one of the largest population of Hispanics. Despite his shortcomings, Bush understood how critical these voters were to his presidential campaigns. He won two close presidential races because he outperformed the party's losing GOP contenders in the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections among Hispanics. Similarly, President Ronald Reagan enjoyed substantial support among Latinos. Recall that he signed into law the country's biggest amnesty law of all time, granting citizenship to millions of undocumented Hispanics and propelling their electoral influence.

The GOP's chances among African-American voters is hopeless, particularly after Obama's historic election. The party can ill-afford to continue losing support among Latino voters, a group that is growing at double the rate of blacks in this country. Even here in Indiana, Hispanics represent more than 5% of the population and will likely surpass the number of African-Americans in the state within a decade or a little more if the current population trends hold up. This year's election outcome should be a wake-up call to the GOP to get right with Hispanics, or risk condemning the party to permanent minority status.

In Marion County and Indianapolis, the situation is even more precarious with a significantly larger African-American population than the statewide numbers and a rapidly growing Hispanic population. At the same time, more and more white voters are fleeing to the suburban counties to escape the higher taxes, bad schools and high crime here. Again, GOP efforts to win African-American votes in Marion County have proven futile. The party should be doing all it can, however, to compete among Latino voters and the city's growing GLBT community. Mayor Ballard has shown some interest in reaching out to Latino voters, but he has devoted far more attention to the African-American community, which has pretty much slammed the door in his face at every turn. Ballard has completely ignored the GLBT community despite the significant support he received from it during last year's election. That formula ensures defeat in 2011 for Ballard unless he rethinks his outreach efforts.

Think about this. The Democrats in Congress are likely to pass into law next year the immigration reform legislation authored by Senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain, and President Obama will sign it into law. That legislation will give a path to citizenship for nearly 12 million people. If that group votes in the numbers first-time citizens voted in this election once they are naturalized, the Republicans could be shut out of the White House and Congress for decades to come.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Former Hoosier Economist Leads Call To End 401(k)s

Teresa Ghilarducci is a former economics professor at Notre Dame University and served as a board member of PERF during the Bayh-Obannon era. Ghilarducci is now a professor at New School for Social Research in New York and could become a key economic adviser during an Obama administration. Her plan is to "spread the wealth" by eliminating 401(k)s, IRAs and other private retirement accounts in favor of a Guaranteed Retirement Account (GRA) managed by the Social Security Administration. Carolina Journal reported on Ghilarducci's little-noticed testimony before a hearing of the House Committee on Education and Labor last month:

Triggered by the financial crisis the past two months, the hearings reportedly were meant to stem losses incurred by many workers and retirees whose 401(k) and IRA balances have been shrinking rapidly.

The testimony of Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, in hearings Oct. 7 drew the most attention and criticism. Testifying for the House Committee on Education and Labor, Ghilarducci proposed that the government eliminate tax breaks for 401(k) and similar retirement accounts, such as IRAs, and confiscate workers’ retirement plan accounts and convert them to universal Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs) managed by the Social Security Administration.
Ghilarducci's plan is based on a paper she wrote last year entitled, "Agenda for Shared Prosperity." The article in Carolina Journal quotes from Ghilarducci's paper her claim that private retirement accounts “exacerbate[] income and wealth inequalities” because tax breaks for voluntary retirement accounts are “skewed to the wealthy because it is easier for them to save, and because they receive bigger tax breaks when they do.” Under Ghilarducci's plan, 401(k)s, IRAs and other private investment vehicles would be eliminated and converted into GSAs. All workers would have 5% of their income automatically deducted from their paychecks and deposited into a GSA. The employer would be responsible for one half of the contribution but would receive no deduction for the contribution. Capital gains would be taxed annually. If you die, you are allowed to bequeath only one half of your GSA to your family. If you die after you retire, your heirs receive your contributions to your GSA, plus your interest but minus contributions paid to you before your death and contributions made by your employer.

According to Ghilarducci's plan, individuals simply don't have the ability to make investment decisions on their own. She said, “[H]umans often lack the foresight, discipline, and investing skills required to sustain a savings plan.” The Carolina Journal points out what happened in Argentina after the government seized private retirement accounts to pay for government programs and to deal with a ballooning national deficit. "Fearing an economic collapse, foreign investors quickly pulled out, forcing the Argentinean stock market to shut down several times. More than 10 years ago, nationalization of private savings sent Argentina’s economy into a long-term downward spiral."

This is pretty scare stuff. I suspect Sen. Evan Bayh would quickly distance himself from his former appointee's views if pressed on the issue. If you want to permanently destroy this country, I couldn't think of any better plan to do it than the one she's putting forward and which likely has the support of Big Labor. With Democrats fully in charge of the political branches of government, what's to stop them from attempting massive "wealth redistribution" as Obama told Joe The Plumber that he favored?

Hat tip to Atlas Shrugs.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

WTHR's Andrea Morehead Scores Interview With Sarah Obama

It must be sweepstakes week. WTHR has been touting an interview Andrea Morehead obtained of Sarah Obama in Kenya which it plans to air on Monday during its 11:00 p.m. broadcast. A teaser for the interview says:

In a tiny home in a small African village, far away from the glare of the political spotlight, lives the grandmother Barack Obama calls "Mama Sarah."

In an Eyewitness News exclusive, anchor Andrea Morehead takes you on a journey to Kenya to trace the roots of our next president's life. Discover the legacy of his father and hear Mama Sarah's message for her grandson.

Sarah Obama is not a blood relative of Obama's. She is a step-grandmother by virtue of being the second subsequent wife of Barack Obama's grandfather. Obama's campaign rushed out interviews of her during his primary fight with Sen. Hillary Clinton when questions about Obama's Muslim heritage were raised. Sarah Obama rejected claims that Barack was Muslim, although she has only had two brief opportunities to meet Obama during his past visits to Kenya. She also earned a reputation for charging reporters for interviews.

More recently, Sarah Obama made news when attorney Philip Berg, who has filed a lawsuit challenging whether Obama satisfies the "natural born" citizen requirement for being president, claimed he had a recorded telephone conversation with Sarah claiming that she was present for Barack's birth in Kenya, contradicting his claim to be born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Berg's lawsuit is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court after it was tossed by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania district court on the basis that Berg lacked standing to challenge Obama's constitutional qualification to be president. Berg filed a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review the district court's decision, along with a request for a temporary injunction to halt last Tuesday's presidential election until the issue was decided. Justice David Souter rejected Berg's injunction request; however, he ordered the defendants, including Sen. Obama, to respond to Berg's writ request by December 1, 2008. Berg filed a transcript of the recorded telephone conversation with Sarah Obama as part of his filing with the Supreme Court, but this evidence was not tendered to the district court as part of Berg's complaint for reasons I cannot explain, and I remain unconvinced of the claim after listening to the recording. Sarah Obama speaks Swahili and her spoken words had to be translated into English.

Soon after the Berg controversy over the alleged claim by Sarah Obama that Barack was born in Kenya, it was announced that she and other Kenyan relatives of Obama would cease giving interviews to the media until after the U.S. election. It is unclear when Morehead interviewed the step-grandmother. I suspect Morehead didn't question the 87-year-old about Berg's claims, although it would have added an interesting twist to her interview. The truth is that this woman probably knows much less about Barack than Morehead, or probably many Americans for that matter.

UPDATE: Morehead's report which aired tonight was as deceptive as the teaser ads for it. Her report continued to misrepresent Sarah Obama as Barack Obama's grandmother. His paternal grandmother is dead. Sarah Obama is just one in a succession of four wives taken by Barack's paternal grandfather, a fact conveniently omitted by Morehead's shabby reporting. There was absolutely nothing new in this report. Morehead, of course, didn't ask Mama Obama about the claim she supposedly made to others that Barack was born in Kenya and not Honolulu and that she was present for his birth. A translator was used for the interview so Morehead doesn't have a clue what Sarah Obama really told her. Morehead's report showed armed guards furnished by the Kenyan government outside of Sarah's home, which she says are there 24 hours a day.

Hispanic Vote Was The Key To Obama's Victory

If you want to simplify the analysis of the 2008 presidential election compared to the 2004 presidential election, you can explain the electoral map changes in Obama's favor by looking only at Hispanic voters. According to the Pew Research Center, Obama defeated McCain by a two-to-one margin among Hispanics. In 2004, Bush won 40% of the Hispanic vote nationally. Obama's wins in battleground states with a high Hispanic population, including Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico, is explained by the shift in support from Bush in 2004 to Obama in 2008. Bush carried 54% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, while Obama carried 57% of the Hispanic vote in the Sunshine State. Additionally, in states like Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, which Obama carried by small margins, the added support from Hispanic voters turned these red states to blue this year. Obama had a 1-point margin in Indiana and North Carolina, a 4-point margin in Ohio and a 5-point margin in Virginia.

As an immigration attorney, I believe the significant, shifting allegiance among Hispanic voters from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party over the last four years can be explained by the party's hard line stance on immigration reform. Ironically, Sen. John McCain did more than anybody in Congress, save Sen. Edward Kennedy, to get meaningful immigration reform legislation through Congress, which would have granted a path to legalized status for the estimated 12 million undocumented aliens living and working in America. President Bush had pledged to sign into law the legislation pushed by McCain and Kennedy. McCain's work on this legislation was the major reason his campaign was given up for dead until his upset win in the New Hampshire primary this year. McCain's record on Hispanic issues throughout his congressional career in Arizona has been exemplary. Unfortunately, he was compelled not to talk about his record by the hardliners in his own party. McCain's inability to communicate his record to Hispanic voters in this election probably cost him any chance he had at beating Obama this year.

Friday, November 07, 2008

California Gays Blaming Mormons For Gay Marriage Amendment's Success

More than 2,000 gays and lesbians protested outside a Mormon temple in Los Angeles, blaming the church for the passage of California's Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The protesters blame the church for funneling millions into a media campaign supporting the ballot measure. Some activists are even pushing the IRS to revoke the church's nonprofit status.

If you believe the exit polls, the overwhelming number of black voters who supported the amendment put the ballot measure over the top. An exit poll claimed that by a 69-31% margin, black voters, who came out in record numbers to support Obama's presidential candidacy, favored the amendment. That same poll showed 53% of Hispanic voters supported the amendment, while less than half, 49%, of white and Asian voters supported the amendment. Sen. Barack Obama, like the majority of black voters, opposes gay marriage, although he claimed he didn't support Proposition 8. The measure passed by a slim margin of 52.5% to 47.5%.

Recall that Indianapolis' black churches led the fight against the passage of the City's Human Rights Ordinance, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Twenty-nine ministers from the African-American community led a prayer at the City-County Building in opposition to the ordinance, which they claimed "promote[d] a homosexual lifestyle" against biblical teachings. The HRO passed in spite of the opposition with the support of several African-American council members. The ministers rejected the idea that the HRO had anything to do with civil rights. The Sacramento Bee notes the opposition to gay marriage within the black church as contributing to the lop-sided support for Proposition 8 among black voters. "They do not believe at all that there is a correlation between civil rights vis-à-vis blacks and rights for gays," said Gary Dietrich, president of Citizen Voice, a nonpartisan voter awareness organization.

Obama Takes Shot At Ailing Nancy Reagan

Showing what a classless act he is, Sen. Barack Obama took a shot at the ailing 87-year-old former First Lady Nancy Reagan by telling the Sun-Times Lynn Sweet that he wasn't going to get into "the Nancy Reagan seance thing" when answering a question about consulting all three living former presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. His memory is not good as usual. Yes, Mrs. Reagan, who was just recently admitted to the hospital after suffering a broken pelvis from a fall in her home, admitted to consulting a well-known astrologer after the assassination attempt on her husband's life a little more than 60 days into his presidency. It was actually former First Lady Hillary Clinton who reportedly held seances at the White House in an attempt to communicate with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. And another former First Lady from Illinois, Mary Todd Lincoln, also reportedly conducted seances at the White House.

UPDATE: To you Obama fans, my thoughts are vindicated by none other than your own guy. “President-elect Barack Obama called Nancy Reagan today to apologize for the careless and off handed remark he made during today’s press conference," said transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "The President-elect expressed his admiration and affection for Mrs. Reagan that so many Americans share and they had a warm conversation."

The Great Turnout Myth Of 2008

As someone who will not, cannot and wouldn't know how to, succumb to a cult following, I've been thoroughly amazed by the ability of the Obama campaign to create total fictions about their candidate, his opponents and every circumstance surrounding him and get the media to report the script on cue and to a tee. The latest such example is how Obama so inspired Americans of all walks of life to become involved and participate in the political process for the first time. The word "apathy" was no longer commonplace because of the hope and opportunity The One represented. Well, the election turnout numbers are starting to become a little more concrete and, as it turns out, this year's turnout was basically the same as it was four years ago when President Bush faced off against Sen. John Kerry. One of the Obama networks, CNN, reports:

A new report from American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate concludes that voter turnout in Tuesday’s election was the same in percentage terms as it was four years ago — or at most has risen by less than 1 percent . . .

“Many people were fooled (including this student of politics although less so than many others) by this year’s increase in registration (more than 10 million added to the rolls), citizens’ willingness to stand for hours even in inclement weather to vote early, the likely rise in youth and African American voting, and the extensive grassroots organizing network of the Obama campaign into believing that turnout would be substantially higher than in 2004,” Curtis Gans, the center’s director, said in the report. “But we failed to realize that the registration increase was driven by Democratic and independent registration and that the long lines at the polls were mostly populated by Democrats.”

In 2004, 122 million Americans voted in the presidential election. Estimates are that between 126.5 and 128.5 million Americans voted this year. Statistically, when looking at the total number of registered voters, there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the 2004 and 2008 election turnout. The study finds that fewer Republicans and more Democrats voted this year. Wasn't that what this election was all about? Faking out the Republicans as much as possible to convince them it's a waste of time to come out and vote, while encouraging Democrats at every step to vote in massive numbers? If you're a student of history, you will discover that the same tactics successfully employed by David Axelrod and the Obama campaign in this year's presidential election are the same tactics deployed by every significant, charismatic tyrant who rose to power pretending to be something he was not and fooling a majority of the populace into so believing. Remember this: things are not as they appear when it comes to anything respecting Barack Obama. Buyer beware.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pence Advances To No. 3 Spot In House GOP Leadership

U.S. Rep. Mike Pence will become Indiana's highest ranking member of Congress when he ascends to the Republican Conference Chairman position in his caucus, the number three spot in the House Republican leadership chain. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), the man Pence challenged for the top leadership post last year, will continue on in his role as House Minority Leader. On fiscal matters and government reform, Pence probably has the right ideas for getting the Republican Party back on track and is an effective spokesman on those issues. His primary downside has been his fixation on social issues like gay marriage and abortion.

Having Pence in leadership will probably be a net plus for Indiana regardless of whether you are a Republican or Democrat. It's been awhile since Indiana has had a member of its congressional delegation in a leadership position. If I'm not mistaken, former U.S. Rep. John Brademas (D), who served as the House Majority Whip until he was upset in the 1980 Reagan landslide election by John Hiler, is the last Indiana member to hold a leadership post. Sen. Richard Lugar, Indiana's longest serving member in Congress, has unsuccessfully sought a leadership position within his Republican caucus on several occasions.

Vane To Join Ballard Administration

There have been rumors for a few weeks of coming changes in the Ballard administration. The Star's Susan Guyett says Robert Vane will become Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director for the administration starting Monday. Vane is a well-liked guy who knows how to talk and listen to folks from all perspectives. He will make a good addition to Ballard's staff. Press Secretary Marcus Barlow tells Guyett to expect further announcements this week.

Daniels Focuses On Second Term Tasks

The Star's Bill Ruthhart discusses priority tasks for Gov. Mitch Daniels' second term. Making property tax caps permanent through a constitutional amendment and further streamlining local government top the list. He also wants to provide college tuition assistance to families making less than $60,000 a year. House Speaker Pat Bauer, whose Democrats will maintain at least a 51-49 majority in the House, tells Ruthhart his caucus will work constructively with Daniels. It also seems likely the budget will soon come to the forefront again as state revenues decline in the face of a deep recession, although Indiana's financial condition is in much better shape than most states at this point in time.

What Happens To Township Assessors?

The office of township assessors in Marion County may be a thing of the past as of the end of the year, but the current elected township assessors will continue to receive their salary through the end of their four-year terms in 2010 unless legislative action is taken. In the case of at least one of the township assessors, Franklin County's Becky Williams, Marion County Assessor Greg Bowes would be wise to hire her as a full-time employee of his office. There are 140 township assessor employees countywide on which Bowes will have to make a decision according to the Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy. Bowes tells O'Shaughnessy he expects to retain about 90% of those employees. That seems a little high. By eliminating the pay for the township assessors, it saves approximately $400,000 annually according to the story, but that figure seems a little on the low side if you include benefits.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

GOP Doesn't Need Any Lectures From Karl Rove

After steering the Republican Party into the giant ice berg which sank it in the past two election cycles, Karl Rove is all over FOX News lecturing the party on what could have, would have, should have as if he had no part in causing the collision. Rove was the strategist-in-chief for the Bush White House and GOP-run Congress for six years. Did it ever occur to him that the McCain-Palin ticket couldn't possibly win this year because of disastrous policies he helped implement? It's nothing short of miraculous that the GOP ticket even had a fighting chance of winning this year, no thanks to Rove.

Obama Campaign Stiffs Indiana Campaign Workers

Anyone out and about this past weekend couldn't help but notice all the workers out canvasing for Obama's presidential campaign. If you assumed they were all volunteers, you would be wrong. They were paid, temporary workers. And several hundred of them became raucous outside of Obama's campaign offices on North Meridian Street when nobody showed up to issue them paychecks as promised. Indianapolis police had to be called to calm down the crowd. WTHR reports:

Lines were long and tempers flared Wednesday not to vote but to get paid for canvassing for Barack Obama. Several hundred people are still waiting to get their pay for last-minute campaigning. Police were called to the Obama campaign office on North Meridian Street downtown to control the crowd.

The line was long and the crowd was angry at times.

"I want my money today! It's my money. I want it right now!" yelled one former campaign worker.

The temporary workers were hired in the final days of the Obama campaign to help volunteers canvass neighborhoods. They showed up to get paid Wednesday morning at 10:00 am.

"There was a note on the door saying 1:00 pm and then at 1:20 pm everybody was like why is nobody here. They just got here and they're trying to get it organized," said Heather Richards, a former campaign worker.

The large gathering of around 375 people prompted police to call in extra officers and set up temporary barricades. The barricades helped keep the crowd from spilling out onto Meridian Street. Police say the several hundred people in line were for the most part orderly.

According to WTHR, someone started paying the workers hours after the workers had been waiting in line but some complained that they there were being shorted on the hours they worked. A spokesman for the campaign offered an assurance that everyone would eventually be paid for their work. I guess if you can raise hundreds of millions of dollars in non-traceable campaign contributions over the Internet, you can afford to pay hundreds of workers in every major city across the country for doing the work normally performed by volunteers. But you better make sure everyone gets paid as promised or you have a public relations disaster as was witnessed in downtown Indianapolis today. Kudos to WTHR's Jeremy Brilliant for being brave enough to do this story. You can bet he'll be getting hate mail from the Obamanauts for weeks.

Winners And Losers

Here is my quick take on the winners and losers of yesterday's election results in Indiana.


  • Governor Mitch Daniels--He proved that a governor can tackle tough issues and help move the state in a positive direction without losing public support. His re-election margin wasn't as big as Evan Bayh's, but he has something to show for his efforts.
  • Obama Indiana campaign--Indiana witnessed an unprecedented grassroots presidential campaign put on by the Obama campaign. It paid off big on election day.
  • U.S. Rep. Mark Souder--He pulls off an impressive re-election win over a well-financed opponent who many pundits expected would prevail in a bad year for Republicans nationally.
  • Republican Attorney General candidate Greg Zoeller. He first convincingly beat an establishment-backed candidate at the state GOP convention and then eked out a victory over a better-financed Democratic candidate.
  • Marion County Democrats--The party swept all of the county-wide races by convincing margins and expanded their influence at the township level.
  • Andre Carson--He breaks through the 60% barrier his grandmother could never achieve. Until redistricting, Republicans won't waste a dime trying to beat him.


  • Indiana Democratic Party--The party never got its act together after its chosen candidate for governor lost to Jill Long Thompson and wound up losing all three statewide races. Fingers will be pointed at Thompson's campaign, but the real blame lies with the state party.
  • Indiana McCain campaign--Luke Messer made no attempt to build a statewide campaign organization to compete against the Obama juggernaut. Pro-McCain bloggers in Indiana felt that they were working alone in this state to boost the McCain-Palin ticket. It wouldn't have taken much to improve McCain's margins in the suburban counties and southern Indiana to have kept Indiana in the red state column. Messer didn't even try.
  • Linda Pence--It's not enough to think you're the smartest attorney in the room. People have got to like you a little if you want them to vote for you.
  • Marion County Republican Party--Local Republicans lost every countywide race and all three closely-contested House races. Rep. Bob Behning barely won in the supposedly Republican stronghold in the southern part of the county. Sen. Teresa Lubbers limped to victory against an under-funded Democratic opponent who couldn't even campaign for office because he was so ill.
  • Jon Elrod--He abandoned his congressional race shortly after winning the May primary to run for re-election to his state representative seat and made the same mistake he made in his losing special election race against Andre Carson. Mary Ann Sullivan pummeled him with false attacks on his record, and he never responded publicly to the false attacks. Here's a hint to my good friend Jon Elrod. A lie becomes the truth when it's repeated often enough.