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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Alexi's Bank Problems

The Tribune has a detailed piece about the problems that Broadway Bank will cause to Democratic Senatorial candidate Alexi Giannoulias.

The clock is ticking, and the real estate deals gone south are piling up, at Broadway Bank, the lending institution owned by the family of U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias.

Many U.S. banks are struggling amid the worst financial crisis since the Depression. Almost monthly, at least one Illinois lender has collapsed, seized by the government because of poor performance, often due to real estate loans turned sour.

At once-successful Broadway, headquartered in a former car dealership in the
Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago, the situation has turned awful at an inopportune time for the Illinois treasurer. Less than a week before Giannoulias' Democratic primary election victory earlier this month, the scope of the problems at Broadway became clearer after a regulatory order was made public saying the bank has just three months to get its financial house in order.

Giannoulias has several problems as he heads into the primaries vis a vis Broadway Bank, the bank owned and operated by his family. First, the bank is on the verge of being taken over by regulators. Unless Broadway raises roughly $75 million it will be taken over by regulators. The problems stem almost entirely from bad real estate loans. From 2002-2006, Alexi Giannoulias was the chief loan officer at Broadway Bank. As such, he was singularly most responsible for generating real estate loans for Broadway Bank during the height of the boom. Now that boom has turned to bust, so too have many of these loans. Here's how Broadway Bank broke down the numbers.

Of Broadway's more than $240 million in seriously delinquent loans and foreclosed real estate, Demetris Giannoulias said, 9 percent of the value of those deals originated during Alexi Giannoulias' tenure as the bank's chief loan officer from 2002 through 2006, when he left to successfully run for state treasurer.

That would put most of the responsibility on his successors at the bank. The more general problem is that Giannoulias' experience amounts to his time at the bank and four unremarkable years as the State's Treasurer. He spent six years being a loan officer during the height of the real estate boom. That's the sum total of his accomplishments. Giannoulias comes from a powerful and well connected family. That more than anything is the reason that at 33 he's on the cusp of being a U.S. Senator. That's not the profile that makes for a good candidate this year.

Finally, there are the loans made by Giannoulias himself to reputed member of the Outfit (the name of the Mafia in Chicago) Michael Giorango. One of those, a property in Florida, is currently in default. The optics on those loans certainly don't look good. Those loans were the subject of several ads by opponents when he ran for Treasurer in 2006. Look for that issue to appear again in this cycle.

Gore Admits Climate Errors

This is a rather remarkable admission.

Former Vice President Al Gore admits that mistakes have been made by the scientific community regarding the issue of climate change.

In an op-ed piece for The New York Times, Gore said: "It is true that the climate panel published a flawed overestimate of the melting rate of debris-covered glaciers
in the Himalayas, and used information about the Netherlands provided to it by the government, which was later found to be partly inaccurate. In addition, e-mail messages stolen from the University of East Anglia in Britain showed that scientists besieged by an onslaught of hostile, make-work demands from climate skeptics may not have adequately followed the requirements of the British freedom of information law."

Gore states that it's unrealistic to expect scientific research to be 100 percent error-free. And he says the errors have not changed the consensus opinion of the scientific community on climate change.

Gore continues to claimthat "consensus" in the science community is in favor of global warming. That's of course non sense. Even before the latest admissions there was no such consensus. There may be consensus among those that Gore respects...those that agree with Gore.

To see just how vibrant the debate is on each side of global warming check out Joe Bastardi of Accuweather arguing against global warming going up against Joe Nye the Science Guy in favor of global warming. Never have props been so well used in a debate.

Titan's Promises

Titan Advertising is an advertising firm out of Britain that began making a splash in the states starting in the beginning of the decade. They specialized in print advertising for public transportation. They began to guarantee minimums in additional advertising to major transit authorities like those in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York.

In other words, Titan promised that revenues would increase by a set amount. Let's say it was $10 million. They also guaranteed a percentage of each advertising dollar. Let's say it was 72%. Titan would guarantee whichever was lower. Most advertisers that work with transit systems merely guarantee a piece of each advertising dollar earned. Because Titan guaranteed a minimum they swooped in and secured dozens of contracts with major transit systems all over the country. During the boom periods, this was no problem.

Yet, over the last two plus years, advertising of all sorts has dropped off tremendously. What happens when you guarantee $10 million in business but you only deliver on $2 million? So, what's happened to Titan? They've begun to default on many of these contracts.

The lawsuit alleges that Titan has failed to make mandated payments exceeding
$400,000, and has failed to provide PACE with an account of its billings, as it is required to pay PACE a certain percentage of its gross sales. It also states that Titan failed to provide PACE with the irrevocable letter of credit that the contract requires.

This is the contract between Titan and PACE [PDF] and Change Order #5 to the contract [PDF], which extended its life. The letter of credit requirement in Change Order #5 requires Titan to provide a LoC equal to 50% of the annual minimum payment for each year. In other words, Titan does not have the credit to get an LoC for a mere $2.35 Million. The Change Order also states that CBS Outdoor already paid the guaranteed minimum revenue for the period ending March 31, 2009. Titan was in default beginning in April 2009 when its guaranteed minimum payments began.

Meanwhile, many transit authorities have begun to dump Titan as a result.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has revoked its contract with troubled
advertising firm Titan Outdoor Holdings and awarded the right to run ads on the region's buses and commuter trains to CBS Outdoor.

The decision was a blow to Titan, which was founded in 2001 and quickly became a top player in transit advertising with contracts around the country and in Canada. The New York-based company's contract with the MTA started in January 2007.

So, Titans promises blew the company's fortunes up during the economic boom but now they're on the brink of defaulting with dozens of the same transit systems that made them such a player only ten years ago. Of course, the City of Chicago can still be counted on to give them a new deal.

Previously, CTA’s advertising contracts for print and digital advertising were under separate contracts. The approved contract has both types of advertising managed under the same agreement which is more advantageous for CTA and advertisers in coordinating opportunities for companies that want to advertise on the system, said the organization.

Both print and digital advertising have been impacted by the weak economy and the new agreement takes into account the current market conditions and expectations moving forward.

The contract also contains five one-year renewal options for both print and digital
advertising. For digital advertising, the additional five-year options would provide a minimum of $7.6 million. If, however, revenues from digital advertising exceed the minimum guarantee, CTA would receive 55 percent of all revenues for the duration of the contract.

Minimums still apply.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Six More Weeks?

The worst thing I heard all week was that the president wanted to give the Congress another six weeks to debate health care.

At a White House healthcare summit held Thursday, President Barack Obama urged Republican congressional leaders to consider working on several areas of common interest in the healthcare reform package, giving them a rough 6-week deadline before Democrats may consider using alternative measures to pass the plan.

Obama named health insurance reform, the purchase of health insurance across state lines and medical liability reform among the top three areas where agreement could possibly be reached.

Republicans argued they wanted to scrap all proposals on the table and rework a set of smaller steps to reform healthcare.

For Democrats, starting over is not an option they said, because of the dire situation many Americans face.

I know I speak for most Americans when I say that another six weeks of more debate of this health care bill is nothing short of political torture. Not only is Obama's bill a disaster but his incompetence in passing it has caused the debate to go on way too long. Now, we have at least six more weeks.

Video, Quote and Word of the Day

supplicate (verb)

to make humble

Philosophy is nothing but common sense in a dress suit.

Author Unknown

New Financial Regulations Announced

Vice President Joe Biden announced new financial regulations for investment advisors on Friday.

The White House said the proposed regulations would allow financial institutions
to give workers advice on investments if they follow one of two rules:

•Advisors are not compensated for steering workers into investment choices that are more profitable for financial institutions.
•The advice is based on an objective computer model that has been certified by an independent expert.

The White House said today that the proposals would affect tens of millions of Americans and will apply to all financial institutions that both provide investment options such as 401(k)s to employers and offer financial advice to employees.

There is definitely something to these regulations. Mutual funds and other investment vehicles often pay varying fees to the investment advisor and there's no question that this corrupts the process.

At the same time, implementing such regulations is not all that easy. This would mean totally overhauling the manner in which mutual funds and other investments are paid. It means that it's no longer worthwhile to be a marketmaker since added fees are a major benefit of being a market maker.

So, while this idea has some benefit, it must be fleshed out properly.

Tea Party's First Birthday

Today, there will be celebrations of the first year anniversary of the tea parties.

What a difference a year makes.

Just one year ago, Republicans were reeling from President Barack Obama's historic inauguration. Pundits widely predicted a political realignment that would vanquish conservatives from the halls of power for a generation.

Tea party groups will mark their one-year anniversary with a variety of events around the nation Saturday. But unwittingly, Obama and his Democratic colleagues may well have helped them commemorate the anniversary already, by holding this week's high-profile healthcare summit.

After all, most pundits agree that the last-ditch effort to save Obamacare probably wouldn't have been necessary, if it weren't for the heated town hall protests over the summer that wrecked the Democratic supermajority Obama was banking on.

Here's a flash back to the first Tea Party in Chicago. Of course, any excuse to play the Santelli rant is one I readily make.

The tea parties have become a political force and our political landscape will never be the same.

Point Counter Point: Free Trade

Ian Fletcher, who I featured here, is involved in an internet debate on free trade. He represents the protectionist side. Arguing for free trade is Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute.

They've just completed their opening statements. Here's Fletcher's.

Free trade is gradually bleeding America’s economy to death, and the much-promoted myth that economics vindicates it does not survive serious scrutiny.

To debate this issue without bogging down in semantics, we need to make a few things clear at the outset. For a start, the phrase “free trade” has two meanings, which are often confused:

1) The purely theoretical concept of perfectly free trade as analyzed in economics text-books.

2) The current free trade policy of the U.S. This is about 99%, not 100%, free on America’s part, and much less so on the part of our major trading partners.

Here's Griswold's.

Americans are better off today because of our greater freedom to trade and work with people around the world. Our growing engagement in the world economy has delivered real benefits to Main Street Americans.

Competition from trade has blessed American families with lower prices, more choice, and better quality when we spend our paychecks. Because of trade, consumers pay lower prices for food, clothing, shoes, electronics, and cars, which translate directly into higher real incomes. The cars we drive today are safer and more fuel efficient because of import competition. The bargains that trade has delivered have done more to help struggling families make ends meet than any “stimulus” bill from Washington.

The debate continues on the 2nd of March.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Council Winners

The Council Winners are up.

Winning Council Submissions

Winning Non-Council Submissions

Our Convoluted Immigration Policy: A Case Study

I have a friend currently in his thirteenth month of a twenty two month prison sentence in Florida. In April of 2007, his mortgage business collapsed. He broke up with his fiance and developed an uncontrollable drinking habit. One night following one of his binges, he got the bright idea of breaking into his neighbor's house in order to steal money because his neighbor owed him money. That's what he did and the only reason that he knows how much it is, $131, is because that's what the receipt at his bank said it was. He had stolen his neighbor's change collection.

He was caught soon after and, at the end of January 2009, the judge sentenced him to a 22 month jail sentence. This happened because 1)the amount was over $100 which made it grand larceny and 2) he broke in and thus he had multiple offenses piled on top of each other. I am not defending his actions. They are inexcusable and the fact that they only happened because he was inebriated doesn't make it better.

He is, however, paying his debt back to society. He has no other criminal record. He came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was three. He's now 41. He's lived here legally throughout however he never became a citizen. He always worked legally and his status was always in proper order throughout. Because he was convicted of a felony and that felony carried a prison sentence of more than a year, the Department of Homeland Security is preparing to deport him following his sentence. In fact, short of political intervention, he will be deported.

He no longer has any family in Mexico. In fact, it's been years since he even visited. He did something wrong. He's paying his price. It's a high price. Many much worse crimes have been given much smaller sentences. Donte Stallworth received a month after his drunk driving accident killed a man. Certainly had this occurred in Chicago, he likely wouldn't have received any prison sentence at all. His boss told me that the County he committed his crime in is very tough on law and order and they treated his crime much more seriously than most.

Still, isn't this a country where we believe in second chances? Isn't this also a country with a wide open border where millions cross illegally everyday? Isn't this the country that allows millions of illegal criminal aliens to roam free? Yet, with my friend, the full force of the law will apply.

Video, Quote, and Word of the Day

puerile (adjective)


The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.
Benjamin Franklin

Rubio in Credit Card Flap

Marco Rubio, billing himself as a fiscal conservative, is involved in a flap that puts that into question.

Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio is defending himself following reports that he charged thousands of dollars to his Florida Republican Party credit card for personal expenses ranging from car repairs to a visit to a fancy barbershop.

The St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald reported Thursday that Rubio, who is facing off in the GOP primary against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, charged more than $100,000 to his state party American Express card between November 2006 and November 2008 -- he was House speaker for most of that period.

The report said the charges covered not only official travel but grocery bills, wine store purchases and other seemingly personal items, and that while Rubio claimed he paid the party back for personal expenses, the Florida GOP picked up the tab for some of them. The report said, for instance, that the party paid $1,000 for repairs to his family car -- Rubio said it was damaged at a political function.

Rubio has acknowledged making the charges. He claims that 89% of the charges were related to his work as party chairman. (that means that 11% are not?) The charges amount to about $110000 over a period just more than 2 years. Rubio charged that the charges were leaked to Crist's campaign in an act of desperation.

First Shoe Drops in Paterson Affair

The first official has resigned in relation to the explosive story in yesterday's New York Times.

The cabinet official who supervises the State Police has resigned in the wake of the reports of the governor’s and State Police’s intervention in the abuse case.

The official, Denise E. O’Donnell, commissioner of the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, issued a statement Thursday after inquiries from The New York Times.

“The fact that the governor and members of the State Police have acknowledged direct contact with a woman who had filed for an order of protection against a senior member of the governor’s staff is a very serious matter,” she wrote. “These actions are unacceptable regardless of their intent.”

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that a Paterson aide, David Johnson, was involved in an alleged domestic dispute that turned violent. After Johnson was dropped, the New York State Police made contacts with the alleged victim in the case after the incident. The case was under the jurisdiction of the New York City police department. The State Police has no jurisdiction however they are in charge of protecting Governor Paterson. Paterson is also under extreme pressure to resign and give up his re election bid.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Health Care Summit: The Break

There was plenty of speechifying, talking points, and political shots. There was also a good and substantive debate. Each side has a clear strategy. The president wants to constantly hammer home that the sides agree on almost everything. Meanwhile, the Republicans want to hammer home that there's a huge philosophical difference: the president wants D.C. to decide and the Republicans want the private markets to make decisions.

This is a shrewd tactic by the President. He constantly referred to ending the tactic of refusing coverage for pre existing conditions, the health care exchange, portability, risk pooling, as points of agreement. Max Baucus and Chuck Schumer also hammered that theme home. It's shrewd because if a deal falls apart the president can claim that the sides weren't that far off and so the Republicans are obstructing out of partisan gains.

The Republicans constantly pointed out all the ways that the current health care reform gives government more control: the health care exchange will be regulated by the HHS secretary, new bureaucracies, and new mandates.

The best point made was made by Tom Coburn. He said that one in three dollars spent in health care is spent on something but health care. That sounds off but there's all sorts of things: waste, fraud, abuse, lawyers, accountants, marketing, etc. Of course, we can't cut all of it out but one in three is startling. Coburn said that going after those dollars that go to something other than health care and making them more efficient.

Ultimately, all of these things are much more complicated than either party is making it seem in the summit. For instance, it's true that both parties agree on such things as denying coverage due to pre existing conditions, portability, and risk pooling. The difference is how we get there. Even pre existing conditions is not a simple topic. Forcing insurance companies to take everyone no matter what that would cripple the insurance companies. That's why the president wants to mandate coverage. That would give insurance companies millions of healthy people to counter act taking on millions of sick people. It would also stop people from gaming the system and waiting to get sick to get insurance. Yet, the Republicans feel as though mandating health insurance would be a major D.C. power grab and an unprecedented destruction of liberty.

These are the philosophical debates. They will be hashed out today. They won't end today. What happens today is not nearly as important as what happens going forward. I think the president will win plenty of goodwill today. This has been a civil and probing back and forth. Still, if he moves forward with health care reform that isn't substantively different he'll still fail.

The Jobs' President Focuses on Health Care

Today, the most recent first time jobless claims numbers came out and they continued to weaken.

Separately, initial claims for unemployment benefits rose 22,000 to 496,000 last week, the Labor Department said.

Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall to 455,000.

"We can hope this is a temporary setback but it certainly looks as though in the first quarter...the economy is retrenching," said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York.

That's the third week in a row that first time jobless claims have risen. Next Friday, the February jobs' numbers will come out. If the first time jobless claims are any indication, that number will be ugly.

The president spent 20 plus minutes in his state of the union on jobs. He didn't start talking about health care until 40 minutes in and it lasted less than five minutes. That was more than a month ago. The indication following the SOTU was that Obama was going to pivot from health care to jobs.

That hasn't happened. All the political oxygen since then has been filled going after health care which,frankly, isn't going to pass. The much anticipated health care summit just got under way. That will be the focus of of non stop hyperanalysis for at least another week.

So, we'll be at least into March and the president will still be focused on health care. Worse yet, AT BEST he'll pass some sort limited health care reform. If that happens, he'll take some credit but it won't be any sort of monumental accomplishment.

It turns out that Senator DeMint was right. Health care is Obama's Waterloo. He allowed himself to get caught in political quicksand. He created the environment for a bill that was universally hated. Furthermore, he created an environment for a bill that just can't pass. Worse yet, he's stuck and he can't seem to get away from it. He can't seem to figure out how to get away from it. So, the jobs president will continue to be overwhelmed by health care until it's his Waterloo.

The Paterson Bombshell

The rumors have been swirling but the New York Times finally released their Governor Paterson bombshell.

Gov. David Paterson has suspended a close aide and is asking for an investigation by the attorney general after a published report linked the aide to a claim of domestic violence involving a former girlfriend.

Paterson on Wednesday said he was suspending David Johnson, who rose from volunteer to driver to confidant in more than a decade of working for the Democrat. Paterson also asked Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate a New York Times article's claims that state police may have pressured the woman to drop a
criminal case against Johnson.

The full New York Times article is here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Council Winners

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

What is a TIF?

My nominee for the non council submission this week (out later today) is from Ben Javorski about Alderman Ike Carothers. Carothers recently pled guilty to corruption related charges and is serving a forty eight month sentence.

The details of Isaac Carothers's recent guilty plea—how the former alderman accepted about $40,000 in home improvements from a developer in return for pushing a zoning change through the City Council—have already been splashed across the front pages.

But what hasn't been reported is the role played by our old friend, Mr. TIF.

To help Calvin Boender build Galewood Yards, a residential and commercial complex on the west side, Carothers not only put his muscle behind the zoning change but used his influence to get $5.3 million in property tax money funneled to Boender and his partners.

The concept of the TIF is central to understand the way the City of Chicago government works. They've often been mischaracterized. For instance, Michelle Malkin calls them a tool of wealth redistribution.

These “public-private partnership” scams inevitably involve tax-increment financing gimmickry to siphon off tax dollars to subsidize developers/builders/contractors who then reward politicians with big campaign donations. (See here for how it works.)

The Chicago Olympics bid involves TIFs at a massive level.

And voters oppose it at their own risk — including threat of violence against them by their own representatives!

Remember the video from March 2009 of an unhinged Chicago alderman attacking a citizen who dared to challenge the wealth redistribution TIF scheme?

Calling it a wealth redistribution scheme is a mischaracterization of what they are used for, though frankly TIF's are far too sophisticated for Malkin to understand.

To understand TIF's let's look at an example. Let's suppose you live in a property that has a yearly property taxof $2500. Now, your property is designated a TIF zone. What does that mean? To you it won't necessarily mean anything, YET.

Now, out of your $2500 property tax bill, say your first $2000 will still go to normal expenses: schools, roads, hospitals, etc. That will be limited to the first $2000. The rest goes into a fund for "community development". What is that? It's whatever the mayor wants it to be. So, a big condominium project can be designated a TIF project, theoretically.

Now, it's not quite that simple. Of course, any specific project must go through all the proper committees: zoning and such. Still, each of those committees are chosen by the mayor. Furthermore, whereas a TIF zone is designated, the money isn't spent on a specific project for months or years.

In the case of Carothers, he helped to funnel $6.5 million in TIF money to a developer, Calvin Boender, he was tied to. So a TIF is a great way to funnel city money, property tax money, to people of influence. Tracking what project gets what TIF money is nearly impossible. Often, the corruption is discovered after the fact.

TIF's have often been referred to as a slush fund for Mayor Daley. The case of Ike Carothers shows others use that fund.

The Dems in Health Care Chaos

The Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson's new venture, has the story.

President Obama’s attempt to press ahead with a comprehensive health-care bill on Monday prompted one reaction in Washington more than any other: confusion.

“I was actually surprised that they’re pushing it again. The most important thing is jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. We need to focus on jobs,” said Rep. Heath Shuler, North Carolina Democrat and a leader of the 54-member Blue Dog coalition of conservative Democrats.

Shuler, speaking to The Daily Caller on his way out of a meeting of the Democratic caucus on Monday evening at the Capitol, expressed the sentiment that is increasingly common in Washington, the reason so many are scratching their heads at Obama’s insistence on trying to pass a catch-all piece of legislation.

Right now every faction of the Democratic Party is battling the other: moderate vs. liberals, Senate vs. House, pro life vs. pro choice. No issue is resolved. Dennis Kucinich says he won't vote for any bill without a public option. Many liberals in the Senate want the public option in the bill through reconciliation. Meanwhile, moderates will vote against the bill if it has a public option.

On top of this, Bart Stupak was on Fox News this morning stating unequivocally that the President's language on abortion in his so called bill is unacceptable. The president's so called bill is so vague that the CBO doesn't have enough to figure out what it costs.

Meanwhile, the so called Cornhusker kickback is gone. Instead, every state will have their extra Medicaid payments paid by the feds. Of course, it can't be scored. That number would jump off the page. This is an exercise in futility and political suicide. Former Bush advisor Keith Hennessey speculates that all of this might be a means of making the Republicans look like obstructionists.

If he thinks a Democrat-only deal is possible, then they’ll need to use reconciliation to pass a bill. The meeting is to set up that hardball legislative process by demonstrating that Republicans are uncooperative.

If it is, it will fail miserably at that. Once again, we have a public inter party fight. It's just plain sad. We're a year in and nothing is decided: public option/ no public option, abortion language, immigration eligibility, costs, taxes, fees, mandates., etc. None of this is still decided. This is what the Democrats have been PUBLICLY squabbling about. Turning around and then blaming Republicans would be laughable. The president has lost control of his party. It's that simple and that's playing out publicly.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Obama/ACORN Video

The conservatives are having a field day with this one.

In reality, the president isn't saying much here that is all that shocking. Of course, he has worked on campaigns that ACORN also worked on. They both were part of the same radical area in Hyde Park in Chicago. Of course, they worked on the same campaigns. They all worked on the same campaigns.

I always said that ACORN was a piece of a largely far left/radical puzzle that defined Obama's political and professional upbringing. I just always felt that there wasn't a smoking gun for a nefarious relationship. This video certainly isn't that.

Still, the optics here look terrible. First, Obama has downplayed his own involvement with ACORN. Second, ACORN's brand is worse than the Tiger Woods' brand right now. So, for those reasons, this video will have some staying power. Watch for this video to become part of a loop on Beck.


Go to any left or far left sight these days and your bound to run into someone pushing the idea of reconciliation to pass health care reform. Really? Are the Democrats really going to go this way? Here's one example.

This week the President is hosting a bipartisan gab-fest at the White House to try to tease out some Republican votes for health care. It's a total waste of time. If Obama thinks he’s going to get a single Republican vote at this stage of the game, he’s fooling himself (or the American people). Many months ago, you may recall, the White House and Dem leaders in the Senate threatened to pass health care with 51 votes -- using a process called "reconciliation" that allows tax and spending bills to be enacted without filibuster -- unless Republicans came on board. It's time to pull the trigger.

Why haven’t the President and Senate Dems pulled the reconciliation trigger before now? I haven’t spoken directly with the President or with Harry Reid but I've spent the last several weeks sounding out contacts on the Hill and in the White House to find an answer. Here are the theories. None of them justifies waiting any longer.

It's important to note that the filibuster is NOT in the Constitution. The filibuster was created by the forefathers of the Senate in order to make the Senate the deliberative body. There is nothing in the Constitution that says you need 60% of the vote to pass a bill. Furthermore, the filibuster has been used a lot more often over the last few decades.

Reconciliation was a tool created to get budget items passed with only 51 votes. As Democrats like to point out, it was used by President Bush to get his tax cuts through.

There's a very easy way to judge if reconciliation is a good idea. If your bill is popular then you use it. If it isn't, you shouldn't pass it under any circumstances. The mere suggestion of Democrats, liberals and pundits that reconciliation is the way to go is proof positive that they still haven't figured it out. Their brand has been tarnished and that's largely because of this health care reform bill. It's a major reason why a Republican is now Massachusetts' new Senator.

The answer, if you're trying to improve your numbers, is to present something entirely different to the public. Instead, the Democrats are giving serious consideration to jamming a bad bill no one wants down everyone's throats. Worse than that, reconciliation would probably still not pass. First, to use reconciliation, you must adhere to all sorts of confusing standards. No one can really explain any of them. That bill will still need to be merged with the House's bill. The Democrats couldn't figure out how to do that without reconciliation. Are we really to believe they'll figure it out now?

Beyond that, not all Democrats are brain dead. Some realize that this health care bill is killing the party, and more importantly, their own reelection chances. Reconciliation or not, the Democrats still have the same problem. They don't have the votes to pass the bill. Even talking about reconciliation hurts their ratings, and they're doing it with a scheme that has no hope of working.

The Corrosive Effect of Class Warfare

The debate of the moment is all about jobs.

A bipartisan jobs bill cleared a GOP filibuster on Monday with critical momentum provided by the Senate's newest Republican, Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

The 62-30 tally to advance the measure to a final vote on Wednesday gives both President Barack Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats a much-needed victory — even though the measure in question is likely to have only a modest boost on hiring.

Brown and four other Republicans broke with GOP leaders to advance the measure. Most other Republicans opposed the bill because Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada stripped out provisions they had sought and wouldn't allow them to try to restore them.

While it seems everyone has their own opinions of the best way to gain jobs, almost everyone agrees that we need to help two groups: small business owners and local banks.

I have nothing against small businesses or local banks. Still, to target small businesses while ignoring big businesses is entirely political not economic. Big businesses provide millions of jobs, just look at WalMart. The same is true of big banks and small banks. Big banks provide needed capital for millions of businesses and individuals. Yet, giving them aid has turned into a politically toxic proposal. At the same time, politicians are jumping over each other to provide a way to make life easier for community banks.

This has everything to do with class warfare. Small businesses have become a sympathetic group. Meanwhile, big businesses are viewed as powerful and corrupt. As such, you can get all sorts of populist cred if you provide help for small businesses while demonizing big businesses. There's a similar process for banks. Yet, these are entirely political calculations. There's no economic logic to helping small businesses while punishing big businesses. It's an entirely political logic and it's rooted in class warfare.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The ACORN Rebranding

A few weeks back, I passed along this story about the California chapter of ACORN.

The new entity will be called Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). It will, on paper at least, be entirely separate now from ACORN. The relationship will be what Wade Rathke characterized the relationship between ACORN and ACORN Housing. ACORN is its own entity and ACCE is its own entity and the two are fighting for common goals.

It's becoming an epidemic. Matt Vadum picks up the story.

As part of the radical group’s fraudulent rebranding scheme, ACORN has renamed its New York chapter New York Communities for Change. Unlike on the West coast where ACORN is at least pretending its renamed California chapter (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment or ACCE) is not part of the ACORN network, New York Communities for Change shares the same Nevins Street address as ACORN’s Brooklyn office.

A March 4 fundraiser for New York Communities for Change is being hosted by Debra Cooper.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts branch of ACORN has been renamed New England United for Justice.

More state-level name changes are expected soon while the basic structure of ACORN, which is controlled from the top using interlocking directorates, remains essentially intact.

Norman Oder also has the latest.

The New York Communities for Change web site cites an address and fax number (left), which are the same as the Brooklyn ACORN address and fax number (right, below), as indicated on a now-defunct web page preserved by the Internet Archive.

That address is responsible for much more political activity.

As City Hall News reported 11/30/09, that same address houses the Working Families Party, formed in 1998 by ACORN and two unions, now with more than 60 affiliate organizations. And it also houses the nonprofit lobby group the Working Families Organization, Data & Field Services, the political consulting company founded in 2007 by the Working Families Party, and the nonprofit Progressive America Fund.

This rebranding allows local chapters to ditch the ACORN name. It also means that ACORN will stop the top down structure and be structured much like Wade Rathke's Community Organizers International. By that, it's a confederation structure where locals control their own funds.

Things That Make You Go Hmm...

The Civic Federation just released their report for how to balance the state's bills. It's sobering to say the least. The Civic Federation is calling for $10 billion in tax increases and $2 billion in spending cuts. That includes raising the state's income tax by about 2% on every tax payer. Both Chicago papers are all over the story. As part of its series, the Sun Times had this companion piece.

The cash-starved State of Illinois is months late and more than $700 million behind in paying its education bills, and at some school districts, taxpayers don't have to go far to find out exactly how much their schools are owed.

Districts stretching across Naperville, Carpentersville and Rockford have posted signs outside their schools announcing how much the state owes them.

Elgin, home to the state's second-largest school district, was dotted last week with school signs declaring: "The state owes U-46 $12.4 million.''

"We've updated them twice so far,'' said U-46 spokesman Tony Sanders. "It helps the public to see why we have some of the financial problems we have.''

I know I am very confused. After all, the state owes its school districts $700 million. How can this be? After all, the president has been touting the stimulus telling everyone that the stimulus kept the states from facing the very school budget shortfalls the state of Illinois has.
What was it he said about teachers not being laid off? Wasn't there $700 million in that $787 billion to help the school districts in Illinois?

Iran, Russia, and Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov has a theory about Vladimir Putin that I have repeated on numerous occasions. I will repeat it again. Putin does everything with an eye toward artificially making oil prices as high as possible. At the same time, he also makes sure that he creates a situation he can control.

That would explain Russia's insistence on protecting Iran from sanctions as they build up their nuclear capabilities. The threat of a nuclear Iran increases the price of oil. At the same time, if Iran were nuclear, that would also be a situation that Russia could no longer control. That might explain Russia's more aggressive tone.

Iran should improve its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's spokeswoman says.

"On the subject of sanctions, Russia's position remains unchanged. Russia still believes that Iran should more actively and broadly cooperate with the IAEA and other countries," spokeswoman Natalia Timakova told reporters on Tuesday.

"If these obligations are not fulfilled, no one can exclude the application of sanctions," AFP quoted Timakova as saying.

Russia has made such threats before. They've never followed through when push came to shove. Still, no one understands Vladimir Putin better than Garry Kasparov. If Kasparov is right, a nuclear Iran is not in Russia's interest. As such, if you follow Kasparov's theory, they will stop Iran from getting a nuke before it is too late. Such a move would serve all their purposes and be very shrewd as it would also mean they'd have that much more geopolitical leverage as well.

Obama Still Wants to Have It All on Health Care

The president unveiled his new health care proposal about half an hour ago.

US President Barack Obama has unveiled new plans to advance legislation to overhaul the US healthcare system.

One of the key proposals gives the US government new power to block health insurers from imposing excessive premium increases.

Mr Obama has made healthcare reform a centrepiece of his presidency, but has so far failed to get a new law passed.

There's three key features to his proposal. First, almost everyone will be required to have health insurance. Second, there will be very tough restrictions against health insurance companies as far as who they can and can't cover. Third, the Feds can dictate how much a health insurance company can raise rates.

The president still doesn't seem to get it. Think of this as a balloon. If you squeeze one part, another part will balloon. So, if you force insurance companies to cover everyone, they will charge higher rates. If you force them to cover everyone and you don't allow them to charge higher rates, the insurance companies will squeeze from somewhere else.

The insurance companies will simply cover less. They will also reimburse less to doctors. Milton Friedman once said, "there's no such thing as a free lunch". The president is approaching it as though there is. He seems to think that he can force the insurance companys' hands with no consequences. That won't happen. The more he squeezes in some places, the more the insurance companies will squeeze out of other places. This plan is pure fantasy.

Niger Coup

The situation in Niger continues to disintegrate.

Niger's military plans to run the uranium-exporting country until politicians agree on a new constitution and are ready for fresh elections, West Africa's regional mediator said after meeting the junta on Sunday.

No timeframe has been set for the transition back to civilian rule but a spokesman for the junta said on Sunday that elections would be held "as soon as possible" and the situation was similar to a coup in 1999 that led to transparent elections.

This follows the military's ouster of Mamadou Tandja the Prime Minister last week. That followed months of wrangling between Tandja and the opposition. The military says they will run the government until a political settlement is reached.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Video, Quote, and Word of the Day

harridan (noun)

a scolding

The unfortunate thing about this world is that good habits are so much easier to give up than bad ones.
Somerset Maugham

MGM Building Up By Tearing Down

Anita Moncrief took some time off from attending CPAC to write her latest investigative piece on ACORN 8. She published the piece on Michelle Malkin's Hot Air and quoted Michael Gaynor in the piece.

The piece is several thousand words long so let's sum up. ACORN 8 is corrupt because several of its board members are on other boards together and also more than one of these other groups lists as its main address the home address of a main principle of ACORN 8, Marcel Reid.

If this seems curious, here's the backdrop. Among ACORN and its 200 or so affiliates, often the board members overlap. Furthermore, most of these ACORN affiliates listed either an Elysian Fields address or an Erie Street address in New Orleans. So, according to Moncrief, ACORN 8 is engaging in exactly the same behavior that ACORN engaged in.

There are however some important differences between ACORN and ACORN 8. First, often the board members of ACORN affiliates were unaware that they were on the board of many of these affiliates. For instance, last summer Matt Vadum ran a story about Ron Sykes, who was registered as a lobbyist by ACORN financial arm, Citizen's Consulting Inc. When contacted by Vadum, Sykes said he was not only unaware that he was a lobbyist but a part of CCI altogether.

Second, the relationship weren't merely common board members and addresses, but common bank accounts, or at least, multiple bank accounts all located at one bank. (whether or not these bank accounts were all controlled by one person is still unclear)

Moncrief never proves either of these points. In fact, it's unclear that any of these groups have much money or bank accounts. Furthermore, there's no evidence that anyone was put on a board without their knowledge. It's not at all uncommon for people to serve on multiple boards. Serving on a board is mostly a matter of prestige. The work often amounts to a few days of intense work ever quarter. Yet, Moncrief makes this a very nefarious activity. For instance, Michael McCray, ACORN 8 board member, also serves on the board of the International Association of Whistleblowers, which is,...if I have to explain that you may as well stop reading.

An Internet search of one of the progressive ACORN 8 organizations reveals that the The International Association of Whistle-blowers (IAW) was established in 2007, and was founded by Michael McCray, Esq, Dr. James J. Murtagh MD and Zena Crenshaw, Esq. Amazingly, the initial meeting of the IAW was held the week of May 11-18 2008, just as the ACORN embezzlement scandal broke.

Back at Glenn Beck’s chalkboard. It appears that a group of friends may have established a network in direct competition with ACORN while serving as board members and used this same network to, among other things, boost their credibility with awards and sham conferences while using the ACORN scandal as a spring board into the national spotlight.

I wrote about McCray's whistleblowing here. James Murtagh was a player in my first investigative expose on Emory University and Grady Hospital. Ms. Crenshaw I am not aware of however all three consider themselves whistleblowers. Marcel Reid also considers herself a whistleblower and so all four are on the board of IAW.

Moncrief also continues to hammer a common theme which is that ACORN 8 dismissed corruption on the part of President Obama because they were sympathetic to his agenda.

One of the ACORN 8 affiliates, Power Over Poverty Under Laws of AmericaRestored (POPULAR) has even started an “Obama Lights the Way” campaign in order to push their agenda on Capitol Hill.

In fact, "Obama's Light the Way" is a campaign by POPULAR to raise awareness of complaints made to the Department of Justice that have gone uninvestigatied. Moncrief never explains what it is and in fact, it's unclear that she even knows what it is. One could say that Moncrief merely wants to attach ACORN 8 to Obama in any way possible no matter how innocuous the situation really is.

Moncrief then gets to the heart of the matter.

Conveniently for America, at the very moment that ACORN was imploding, a group materialized and offered a solution to “save America.” The group appeared non-threatening and often exclaimed shock at the very mob protest activities that ACORN had engaged in for decades. With the help of several well placed Republicans and Conservatives whom they used for credibility, the ACORN 8, offered a revisionist history of ACORN while peppering stories with innuendos of danger. In a op-ed piece published in 2009, the co-founder of McCray’s IAW posted this prepackaged ACORN 8 statement (emphasis mine).

That's at the heart of the dispute between Anita Moncrief and ACORN 8. Moncrief once worked for ACORN affiliate Project Vote. She readily admits that she was a true believer and even called herself a "radical". She's "seen the light" and now professes to be a conservative. She views any community organization as a tool of radicals. (she's not yet explained how the Tea Parties, also a community organization, is different) Meanwhile, ACORN 8 all believe there's a place for community organizing but see ACORN as having been corrupted and now no longer working on behalf of the people it professes to serve. They want to build a community organization that would get back to ACORN's original mission. That would seem to be a debate on policy not an investigative piece, but Moncrief has instead built a long investigative series that so far has uncovered that members of ACORN 8 also serve on other boards and that sometimes these groups use as their main address the address of Marcel Reid's property.

Moncrief also attempts to brand Marcel Reid a radical by tying her to Ron Karenga.

Before Election day 2008 Fox News was the only major media outlet willing to take on the Obama Campaign machine, but as a frightened radical, I listened to Marcel Reid, a women who was mentored by the radical Ron Karenga and she discouraged me from working with Fox by citing racism, bias and a hatred for Obama. Documents show that Reid, who was still negotiating with ACORN to retain her position on the board, agreed to signed a joint defense agreement with ACORN and, it was decided to not “go after Wade” until AFTER the last presidential election:

Karenga is a former Black Panther, started Kwanzaa, and an overall radical. When Marcel Reid was in college, she took a class taught by Karenga. That's the only evidence of ties between the two. Yet, Moncrief makes the claim that this makes Karenga her "mentor". The link on the document goes nowhere, at least now.

Moncrief also relies on dubious evidence.

The situation is almost too convenient and according to ACORN insiders with knowledge of the events that led to the formation of the ACORN 8, it is. Insiders paint a tale that began with an alliance among Marcel Reid, Karen Innman, Carol Hemingway and most importantly, Bertha Lewis. According to reliable evidence,

Reid, Innman and Hemingway provided Lewis with the crucial votes to elect her as interim Chief Organizer of ACORN after founder Wade Rathke was removed from the organization. Apparently Lewis agreed to help elect the trio to the ACORN interim management committee, with substantial perks like trips, computers and hotel stays.

Huh!?!?!? I've used anonymous sources, but this is ridiculous. If you're going to use an anonymous source, their information must be specific. Here Moncrief references vague"insiders" that make even vaguer claims of "alliances" and "reliable evidence". What does any of this mean? What is this reliable evidence? It's not at all clear. If the evidence is reliable, it needs to be stated. All Moncrief does is reference unknown people, making unknown charges, and the sum total is nothing more than a smear campaign against Reid, Karen Inman, and the rest of ACORN 8. That's exactly the sort of journalism that Hot Air proprietor Michelle Malkin would condemn if it were targeted at Conservatives.

Worst of all is that Moncrief, Michael Gaynor, and Michelle Malkin, continue their entirely conflicted and unacceptable relationship without disclosing it. Anita Moncrief readily uses Michelle Malkin's bandwith and quotes from Michael Gaynor without fully disclosing what is going on. Michael Gaynor has spent more than a year writing about a hundred articles lionizing Anita Moncrief. Anita Moncrief was Michelle Malkin's one and only source for the seven most explosive pages in her book, Culture of Corruption. Isn't it appropriate of all three to disclose this when writing about each other, which each do regularly? Yet, Anita Moncrief has absolutely no problem going on Michelle Malkin's web site after she made Malkin by providing her with explosive charges. She has no problem quoting Gaynor as though he's impartial knowing full well that he's run somethin akin to a public relations campaign on her behalf for more than a year. While all of this is going, Moncrief writes an investigative piece in which we're supposed to believe that there's something nefarious going on because the same people serve on more than one board and one address is used as the main address for more than one organization.

Finally, for full disclosure, I use members of ACORN 8 as sources on matters related to ACORN. I've also communicated with journalists like Matt Vadum and I've interviewed Wade Rathke himself four times. I've reached out to Moncrief, Gaynor and Malkin numerous times with no response. So, you can speculate on my motivations but to say I haven't tried to get the whole story is unfair.

Paul Wins Straw Poll

Boos followed.

Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning Texas Republican who ran a quixotic bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, was the top vote-getter in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s straw poll, capturing the support of 31 percent of those who participated in the contest.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had won the CPAC straw poll for three consecutive years, took 22 percent of the vote. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin won 7 percent and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty 6 percent. Pawlenty attended the
conference; Palin did not.

Paul’s victory renders a straw poll that was already lightly contested among the likely 2012 GOP hopefuls all but irrelevant as the 74-year-old Texan is unlikely to be a serious contender for his party’s nomination.

As the results were displayed on twin large screens in the ballroom – and even before Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio could announce who won – a cascade of boos came down from a crowd that views Paul and his fervent supporters as an irritant. Paul’s backers responded with cheers, though, when their candidate

Ron Paul always seems to do well in polls like this. He did very well in the first Iowa straw poll in the summer of 2007. I also once had a Libertarian friend of mine proclaim that Ron Paul actually won New Hampshire in 2008 in the Republican Party but had it taken by the "establishment".

These sorts of straw polls are great political theater but ultimately irrelevant. Mitt Romney was also a frequent winner here. John McCain didn't even show in 2007. The race for 2012 remains wide open and any poll at this point, straw or otherwise, is meaningless. Stilll, since he won, here's part of Paul's speech at CPAC.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hussain Backpedals

Obama's Islam envoy, Rashed Hussain, has back tracked and admitted to making some controversial comments about Sami Al Arian.

President Barack Obama’s new Islamic envoy, Rashad Hussain, changed course Friday — admitting that he made sharply critical statements about a U.S. terror prosecution against a Muslim professor after initially saying he had no recollection of making such comments.

“I made statements on that panel that I now recognize were ill-conceived or not well-formulated,” Hussain said, referring to a 2004 conference at which he discussed the case.

The comments themselves were fairly innocuous. He never gave on opinion one way or another about the details of Al Arian's case. Instead, he made a general statement about Bush administration policies. These statements are fairly typical of a mindset of many on the left.

This appears to be a case of "it's not the crime but the cover up". The administration initially denied he made them at all. They only backed down after Politico got hold of tape of the event. As such, they inherently condemned the comments themselves. So, now, they are stuck having to defend these comments after taking a totally different stance entirely earlier.

Friday Night Document Drop: No misconduct in Bush interrogation memos

Whenever there's news that an administration wants downplayed, it's always released on Friday evening when most media is preparing for the weekend. So, the news that
David Margolis and John Yoo had no misconduct in their now infamous "torture" memos by the Justice Department came out on Friday.

The architect of the Bush administration's memos authorizing waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques told investigators that the president of the United States has the power to order the "massacre" of civilians, according to an internal Justice Department investigation released late Friday.

The investigators found that Berkeley law professor John Yoo committed "intentional professional misconduct" when he advised the president that such techniques, which many consider torture, were legal.

The report did show that each showed "poor judgment" in issuing these memos. Both faced potential disbarrment and now are off with an admonishment.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Video, Quote and Word of the Day


right in Spanish

Unfortunately, the balance of nature decrees that a super-abundance of dreams is paid for by a growing potential for nightmares.

Peter Ustinov

Council Winners

Winning Council Submissions

Winning Non-Council Submissions

TARP to Foreclosures?

President Obama will propose using $1.5 billion in TARP funds to help: Michigan, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, and California, the five hardest hit states by foreclosures.

While he’s in the state with the highest foreclosure rate in the nation Friday, President Obama plans to announce a proposal to take $1.5 billion in funds originally designed to assist ailing banks and instead use it to help the hardest hit states stem the housing crisis, according to senior administration officials.

The proposal to redistribute money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program will benefit the five states with the steepest declines in home prices: Nevada, California, Florida, Arizona and Michigan.

$1.5 billion would be a drop in the bucket. Also, it's unclear what this money would do that his failed $75 billion loan modification plan would do. Most importantly, TARP was not supposed to be used for this purpose.

Coup in Niger

There's more chaos in Africa.

Niger Republic was thrown into fresh turmoil yesterday as the military ousted
President Mamadou Tandja.

Armed soldiers stormed the presidential palace and held hostage Tandja and his ministers holding a meeting.

A Niger military official later last night announced on the nation's three television
channels that the country's constitution had been suspended.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fed Raises Discount Rate

Is this the beginning of the Fed's turnaround and tightening?

The Federal Reserve on Thursday raised its discount rate to 0.75% from 0.5%, an effort to return its lending facilities to more normalized levels.

The Fed said the move, along with other recent modifications to its credit programs, does not signal a change in its outlook for the economy or for monetary policy, and the more important fed funds rate remains in its range of 0% to 0.25%.

The Discount Rate is what the Federal Reserve charges banks to borrow in order to meet reserve requirements.

The Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, was very careful to use mild language in describing the future stance. The Fed Funds Rate was held at 0-.25%. So, it's still unclear if this is small augmentation or if it is the beginning of more serious.

The equity markets will be of great interest over the next few weeks. When Alan Greenspan raised rates suddenly, that popped the internet bubble. This was also a mild surprise and futures are already down on the news. So, it will be interesting to see what sort of a reaction equities will have.

ACORN, SEIU, Follow the Money

The Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have come out with a second report on ACORN. This one details the connection between ACORN and SEIU. Insiders have told me that ACORN and SEIU are often indistinguishable. We all know that Wade Rathke also started the local SEIU 100 in New Orleans. Often, members of each are members of both.

Here's the report. When I have a chance to read it, I will comment. So far, the biggest news is just how under the radar this report is. Two former ACORN insiders were unaware of it when contacted and one is mentioned in the report. A reporter that often writes about ACORN was also unaware of the report when contacted.

Update on Ken Hodges

Last summer, I featured a series of stories on Ken Hodges, who's running for Attorney General of Georgia.

The Georgia blog, Peach Pundit, has published a three part series. Part III is here. (one and two are linked there)

The only question after reading all this is how Hodges can continue running. That's a question for the media in Georgia.

The Mount Vernon Statement

Mt Vernon Statement -

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Council Submissions

The Council Submissions are up.

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

On Bayh, Hypocrisy Everywhere

Conservatives everywhere reveling in the left's fuming at Evan Bayh. Progressives have no use for his brand of bi partisanship.

So Evan Bayh, the Senate's poster boy for bipartisanship, is, in the immortal words of the Jackson 5, "goin' back to Indiana." The senator explains, "There is too much partisanship and not enough progress [in Congress]--too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving." Bayh is correct--there isn't enough practical problem-solving in Congress. But his brand of bipartisanship should not be mourned. In fact, the country would be better off with a lot less bipartisanship, in any form, right now.

Liberal bloggers are fuming and calling him a traitor and a phony.

Obviously, Evan Bayh’s never been my favorite Senator. And the more one learns about both the manner of his departure, and the thinking behind it, the clearer it is why. Simply put: He’s an immoral person who conducts his affairs in public life with a callous disregard for the impact of his decisions on human welfare. He’s sad he’s not going to be president? He doesn’t like liberal activists? He finds senate life annoying? Well, boo-hoo. We all shed a tear.

Meanwhile, conservatives are reveling in all of this.

Evan Bayh's announcement that he will not be running for reelection in November is but one of many warnings to the liberal left that Americans do not want the liberal left agenda enacted, just as they don't want the country run from the far right.

Independents, Moderates and Centrists are by far the largest voting blocs in comparison to liberals and conservatives, yet the lesson does not seem to be getting through to the far left liberal Democrats as the party as a whole continues to try to push through their agenda

Most of the same folks reveling are also ready for a fight in Arizona.

Early polls suggest Arizona Sen. John McCain leads former Rep. J.D. Hayworth by a healthy margin in the GOP primary. Among conservative radio talk show hosts, however, McCain is losing by a landslide.

As McCain gears up for a vigorous challenge from the former six-term House Republican, national conservative talkers are picking up where they left off in the 2008 presidential campaign, blasting McCain as insufficiently conservative and unloading on him with all the bombast they can muster.

So, let's look at the score here. The same progressives that claim the Republicans are too far right now say that Bayh was nothing more than a conservative with no place in the Democratic Party. The same conservatives that see the Democratic Party as having no place for anyone but progressives are now ready to unload on John McCain because he's nothing but a RINO.

In fact, McCain and Bayh are similar to each other. They worry more about getting things done than ideology. That's what makes ideologues hate them. It's also amusing to see how ideologues love one while hating the other.