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Monday, May 31, 2010

How's Your Mortgage Rate?

How's your mortgage rate? I can believe 4.25%. I can even believe getting it with no points, though full closing costs. I am having trouble believing that this can be done by only putting 5% down and with no mortgage insurance.

Also, this deal is for a condominium which usually require higher down payments. Still, the phone number is available and hopefully everyone qualifies for this deal.

Violence on the Seas

There was a deadly incident on the high seas involving members of the Israeli military and members of a Palestinian group of protesters.

Israeli commandos on Monday stormed six ships carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists on an aid mission to the blockaded Gaza Strip, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens after encountering unexpected resistance as the forces boarded the vessels.

The operation in international waters off the Gaza coast was a nightmare scenario for Israel that looked certain to further damage its international standing, strain already tense relations with Turkey -- the unofficial sponsor of the mission -- and draw unwanted attention to Gaza's plight.

The tough Israeli response drew condemnations from Turkey, France and the U.N.'s Mideast envoy, while Greece suspended a military exercise with Israel and postponed a visit by Israel's air force chief.

This incident occurred hours ago. It's unclear how bad this will be but it looks bad. More coverage here.

Officials estimated that passengers will show slight resistance, and possibly minor violence; for that reason, the operation’s commander decided to bring the helicopter directly above the top deck. The first rope that soldiers used in order to descend down to the ship was wrested away by activists, most of them Turks, and tied to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down. However, Flotilla 13 fighters decided to carry on.

Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.

However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.

And here.

And here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kirk Exaggerated Military Record

Mark Kirk may be following Connecticut AG Dick Blumenthal into military infamy.

Republican Representative, and candidate for the United States Senate, Mark Kirk has overstated his military accolades, claiming that he received the Intelligence Officer of the Year award. In a statement last Saturday, Kirk admitted that he had exaggerated his record.

Kirk says that he recently reviewed the biography on his website and realized that he'd made a mistake. He has been boasting, however, about this award for years, saying that he was awarded for his service in the war in Kosovo, Operation Allied Force.

Kirk used the award in his resume during his first run for Congress. He has also used his military time and accolades as a case for greater experience over his opponent in the race for the Senate, Alexi Giannoulias.

There's been a lot of news recently and so it's unclear just how much effect this will have on the Illinois Senate race. His opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, has plenty of problems of his own.

Rove and New York Times Agree on Sestak

The New York Times did some fact checking on the supposed job offer made by the administration to Joe Sestak.

The White House did not disclose what those options were, but people briefed on the matter said one option was an appointment to the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board, a panel of prominent Americans outside government who provide independent oversight of the nation’s spy apparatus and advise the president. But White House officials discovered that it would not work because Mr. Sestak could not serve on the board while still serving in Congress.

That's similar to what Karl Rove has been saying since news broke. The reason is that serving in both the Executive and Legislative branch at the same time violates the Separation of Powers.

So, now come the questions. Are we really to believe that a former president and a former Constitutional professor, and current president, didn't know that you couldn't serve in both branches at once? If neither did, what does that say about the competence of both, especially the current occupant of the White House, in handling his duties.

One would think that all involved would know that in order to serve on the White House' advisory panel Joe Sestak would need to give up his Congressional seat. So, now we're supposed to believe that Sestak would give up his bid at the Senate in order to take on an unpaid advisory position that would also mean giving up his Congressional seat.

If the White House wanted to end this matter, they may have wanted to explain the curious logic one would need in order to believe a story less and less believable every single day.

Obama; Government Can Solve All Problems..Except All It Can't

It appears that the so called top kill method has failed.

Three attempts to pump mud and 16 tries to stuff solid material into a breached Gulf of Mexico oil well failed to stop the flow, top BP executives said Saturday, and engineers and executives with the oil giant have decided to "move on to the next option."

That option: Place a custom-built cap to fit over the "lower marine riser package," BP chief operation officer Doug Suttles said. BP crews were already at work Saturday to ready the materials for that option, he said.

From here, BP is now admitting that it may not be until August until this leak is finally plugged.

A BP executive says a relief well is the "end point" of efforts to stop the Gulf oil spill — which suggests there's little chance of plugging the leak until the new well is completed in August.

With BP declaring failure in its latest attempt to plug the uncontrolled gusher feeding the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the company is turning to yet another mix of risky undersea robot maneuvers and longshot odds to keep crude from flowing into the Gulf.

Meanwhile, everyone watches helplessly as the oil reaches the shore slowly, more and more video of wildlife covered in oil come, and an environmental disaster begins. The one that looks most helpless is the President himself. It's unclear what if anything the president can do to make the situation better. What is clear is that in the campaign the president presented himself as herculean. Who can forget this piece of soaring rhetoric.

generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment” — when, among other wonders, “the rise of the oceans began to slow.”

Of course, it wasn't merely campaign rhetoric upon which Obama said that there was nothing the government couldn't do. The entire health care debate was predicated on the idea that health insurance companies were gouging us and the government was going to "hold them accountable".

The entire financial reform debate was predicated on the idea that the financial world was nothing more than the Wild Wild West and now there would be a new sheriff to reign them all in.

In Barack Obama's world, there is nothing that the government can solve. Nothing that is besides this sticky little oil leak. There we have a serious problem for this president. In the same vein, he also said that Cap and Trade would usher in a new day of energy independence. Again, there's nothing the government can't solve. Nothing that is but this sticky oil leak. The president sits back helpless. The oil leaks. It reaches closer to shore. The damage to the environment and to the economy is simply unimaginable and the president can't do a thing to stop it. If he's helpless here, how can he credibly claim to solve any problems?

A Despicable Article

Last year, Playboy released a list of ten conservative women that they wished to be raped.

Obama promised us the dream of post-partisanship—a cuckoo land where party affiliation and factional animosity were forgotten. Turn on cable news or open any newspaper, however, and you’ll quickly discover that the dream has yet to materialize. But there is a way to reach across the aisle without letting principles fall by the wayside. We speak, naturally, of the hate f**k*. We may despise everything these women represent, but goddammit they’re hot. Let the healing begin.* (Note: word editing mine)

When Tony Snow's cancer returned, many far left folks gleefully reveled in his turn for the worse.

I’m sorry to hear about this for Tony, I hope it is all good news for the guy. Tony may be a BushCo whore but nobody deserves to have cancer, it’s a terrible desease that has caused far too much misery to my family and many, many more.

Conservatives were rightfully up in arms and full of moral outrage. Now, conservative author PJ O'Rourke has turned the tables and he's wishing death upon famous liberals.

One bright idea isn’t going to solve the problems of the American newspaper industry, but it’s one bright idea more than the American newspaper industry has had in 40 years. What I propose is “Pre-Obituaries”—official notices that certain people aren’t dead yet accompanied by brief summaries of their lives indicating why we wish they were.

In this piece, O'Rourke satirically suggests that newspapers start something called a pre obituary in which people that are still alive are eulogized because he, O'Rourke, wishes they were dead. Thus, this pre obit would eulogize why they should be dead. O'Rourke even goes so far as post humously wishing he could write just such a pre obit to folks now dead, folks like JD Sallinger of Catcher in the Rye fame.

The main advantage of the Pre-Obit over the traditional obituary is the knowledge of reader and writer alike that the as-good-as-dead people are still around to have their feelings hurt. It was a travesty of literary justice that we waited until J. D. Salinger finally hit the delete key at 91 before admitting that Catcher in the Rye stinks. The book’s only virtue is that it captures, with annoying accuracy, the maunderings of a twerp. The book’s only pleasure is in slamming the cover shut—simpler than slamming the door shut on a real Holden Caulfield, if less satisfying. The rest of Salinger’s published oeuvre was precious or boring or both. But we felt constrained to delay saying so, perhaps because of an outdated Victorian hope for a death-bed flash of genius.

O'Rourke then goes on to list liberals like Gore Vidal, Jane Fonda, Ted Turner, and Norman Lear as prime candidates for a pre obit. We'll see if the same conservatives that were morally outraged when one of their own was attacked show the same kind of moral outrage to this article. No doubt that O'Rourke will claim that this was done in satire. He doesn't really want Ted Turner dead...he just says it in the article.

This was published in the Weekly Standard, a fairly well respected conservative news source. O'Rourke has been around for a while. It's unclear that anyone else will notice just how despicable this piece is.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Michigan to License Journalists?

This speaks for itself.

A Michigan lawmaker wants to license reporters to ensure they’re credible and vet them for “good moral character.”

Senator Bruce Patterson is introducing legislation that will regulate reporters much like the state does with hairdressers, auto mechanics and plumbers. Patterson, who also practices constitutional law, says that the general public is being overwhelmed by an increasing number of media outlets--traditional, online and citizen generated--and an even greater amount misinformation.

Where to start? Let's start with the first amendment which makes our press free. Having the government create a licensing program for journalists would infringe on a free press. Of course, such a program is open to so much potential corruption I wouldn't know where to start.

Let's look at the state of Michigan. It has some of the worst unemployment, budget deficits, and overall economics in the nation. That comes in large part from too much government interference. Michigan has among the largest per capita government officials in the country. In other words, Michigan has far too much government interference as it is. For instance, they often lose automobile plants to the South due to onerous regulations.

Now, Michigan wants to bring that failed formula to news. Of course, we all know what that will do. It will limit news in Michigan. If it's harder to become a reporter in Michigan, there will be less reporters in Michigan. So, along with car companies, newspapers will also have a max exodus from Michigan.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sestak: More Questions Than Answers

Here's what we know so far after the White House released a statement today about the Sestak affair. It appears that Rahm Emanuel reached out to former President Bill Clinton and Clinton reached out to Joe Sestak. Clinton offered an unpaid advisory White House position if Sestak dropped out of the race.

The White House asked former President Bill Clinton to talk to Rep. Joe Sestak about the possibility of obtaining a senior position in the Obama administration if he would drop out of the Democratic primary race against establishment-backed Sen. Arlen Specter, the Obama administration said in a report released Friday morning.

The White House then concludes that no laws were broken. This doesn't seem right. The law states that an official whether DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY offers something of value in order to drop out of a race is a crime. So, the fact that this was Clinton and not the White House is irrelevant. The fact that this was preliminary or informal is also irrelevant. All that matters is whether or not there was a direct quid pro quo. Was Sestak offered a job if he dropped out of the race? If that's what happened, that's a crime.

So, all that matters is exactly what Clinton said. That will be difficult to prove. For instance, what if the offer was done strictly in a hypothetical manner, would that be a crime? It also is peculiar to say the least that a non paid advisory position was offered. This would entice no one. Was it really all that was offered? If there was nothing untoward, why did the White House use an intermediary?

What is without question is that this looks awful. The best defense for this White House is the claim that this is done all the time. That may be true but in fact, Obama promised to rise above all of this. Even if no laws were violated, this goes against every bit of the soaring rhetoric that Obama made in the campaign. There's nothing inspiring or transparent about any of this. At best, there was no direct quid pro quo but just an implied one. That wouldn't be illegal, just scummy. That said, this first broke in February and now it's almost June and we still don't know much. No one will explain exactly what was said and why this isn't illegal. The reality is that this is politics as usual. Obama had no accomplishments coming into the presidency. He won largely on his soaring rhetoric, and this episode is another example that the soaring rhetoric is NOT backed up by action.

Council Winners

The council winners are up.

Council Submissions

Non Council Submissions

AZ Lawmaker Appeals New Law to the UN

Arizona state Sen. Amanda Aguirre has appealed the new Arizona anti illegal immigration law to the United Nations?

Aguirre attributes her stands on immigration – a departure from how partisans in Washington tend to line up on the issue – to her “very interesting background.”

“I have a Mexican background,” she says, “I also have a great great father with a last name Hamilton who was here fighting against Mexico in the Mexican American war. I have a Hamilton blood and I have Mexican blood, too.”

Her take on the border fence – tarred as unwelcoming or even racist by many Democrats – may underscore the severity of the immigration crisis for states like Arizona, given the rampant drug war murders south of the state’s borders.

Ironically enough, the committee this would be referred to, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, include such stalwarts on human rights as Cuba, Venezuela, and Haiti. Furthermore, in order for the commission to issue a challenge there needs to be a specific case in which someone's human rights have been violated. Since the law hasn't taken effect, that's impossible.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Paul in Danger

There's now two surprising polls today. First, AG Blumenthal pulled out ahead into a lead he'd seen before the revelation that he misrepresented his Vietnam record and now there's a new poll that shows the Kentucky race is tightening.

In the second poll taken since the Kentucky primaries and the first since Republican Rand Paul talked openly about his reservations with certain aspects of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Paul leads Democrat Jack Conway by 3 points, according to the DailyKos/Research2000 survey (May 24-26, 600 LV, MoE +/- 4%).

Paul 44
Conway 41
Und 15

People should be dubious of this poll for a number of reasons. First, it's commissioned by the Daily Kos. That's not exactly a bastion of objective polling. Second, here are the internals. 80% of Republicans were voting for Paul. 76% of Democrats were voting for Conway and Paul beat Conway by 43-31 among independents. Now, Kentucky is Republican heavy state. So, getting more of his own party and winning solidly among independents, we're supposed to believe that Paul is only up by 3%. That's misleading but it does appear as though the race has tightened.

Word Games in the GWOT

Presidential adviser John Brennan added to the confusion from the administration about exactly who the enemy is in the GWOT with this statement.

He repeated the administration argument that the enemy is not "terrorism," because terrorism is a "tactic," and not terror, because terror is a "state of mind" -- though Brennan's title, deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security, includes the word "terrorism" in it. But then Brennan said that the word "jihad" should not be applied either.

"Nor do we describe our enemy as 'jihadists' or 'Islamists' because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children," Brennan said.

The technical, broadest definition of jihad is a "struggle" in the name of Islam and the term does not connote "holy war" for all Muslims. However, jihad frequently connotes images of military combat or warfare, and some of the world's most wanted terrorists including Usama bin Laden commonly use the word to call for war against the West.

If these folks aren't Islamists, why do most scream Allah Akbar right before executing their deed? Why do they speak of a Jihad and praise Allah at every turn? The administration can't seem to wrap their arms around a basic fact. They are certainly twisting Islam. They aren't the first to twist a religion. They aren't the first to start holy wars by twisting a religion. In fact, Islam isn't the first religion to be twisted and turned into a war.

If Brennan was around during the Crusades, I could imagine him struggling to tell the world that the enemy wasn't Christian. Of course, they were and in much the same way, Christianity was twisted. Are we supposed to ignore that it was Christianity as opposed to all other religions that was twisted during the Crusades.

Religion has been the centerpiece for many struggles and all sorts of deaths. Hitler targeted Jews because they were inferior. Are we supposed to ignore this as well? The center piece of Hamas/Hezbollah's long term war against Israel is that they view Judaism as a wholly inferior religion and all those that practice deserve death. Is that not a holy war?

It's time to call a spade a spade. When a terrorists proclaims they are killing civilians in the name of Allah, Islam, and Jihad, that makes them radical Islamists, radical Jihadists, and it also means this war has a significant religious component. In fact, that's no reflection on Islam itself. The fact that someone twists a religion for evil is a reflection on the person himself and not on the religion. That the administration can't bring itself to recognize all this is troubling to say the least.

Comprehensive Reform is Code for Amnesty and a Lack of Border Enforcement

If you want to know why those that want tough border enforcement are so weary of "comprehensive immigration reform", just watch that video. In it, Peter Beinart, a supporter of comprehensive reform, lays out his vision.

In the vision, he spends minutes talking about how to legalize those here illegally. Then, right before he finishes, he says, "and I suppose tough border enforcement as well". Does anyone believe that Beinart is really in favor of any serious border enforcement? That's how most of those that favor "comprehensive immigration reform talk about it. They spend an awful lot of time talking about what to do with the illegals already here and tough border enforcement is an afterthought.

To really close down the border, your heart has to be in it. Beinart's heart is in to making sure that illegals become legal but when it comes to border enforcement...that's another story, and the same goes for most that support comprehensive immigration reform.

Administration Scolds Reporters for Doing Their Jobs

Robert Gibbs had a closed door meeting with some of the White House press corps recently.

As some media outlets and pundits typically allied with the Obama administration seem to take a tougher tone toward the White House, Gibbs is telegraphing the message that on certain issues, they shouldn't ask and on others, he won't tell.

The tension may be reaching new heights. CBS correspondent Chip Reid revealed on air Friday that White House officials called reporters into the West Wing on Friday to scold them for asking too many questions about the Gulf of Mexico spill. One report identified Gibbs as the one doing the scolding.

The dressing-down came after the press secretary faced a barrage of questions about why the administration wasn't doing more to ensure the leak is plugged and mitigate the environmental damage to the coastline. The White House for weeks has battled the narrative that it has not responded forcefully enough to the spill, entrusting too much to the expertise of BP, and at Friday's briefing Gibbs repeatedly swiped at reporters who pressed that button.

It's become cliche, so let me apologize ahead of time. Can you imagine if the Bush administration held a closed door meeting in which reporters were scolded for asking questions the administration didn't like? How long would that meeting be on the front pages of the New York Times?

Can you imagine the moral outrage from pundits and columnists directed at the Bush White House if this situation were reversed? Yet, this story has garnered scant attention. In fact, the White House is brow beating reporters because they dare to do their jobs. This is an outrageous fit of hubris. The White House believes that if they don't like the questions being asked they can scold, privately, the questioners.

What of all the reporters that were in the room? Did any object and ask the White House under what authority they felt entitled to dress them down because the questions were too tough? Why wasn't this meeting the next report from most of them?

The public has a right to know when a White House so overtly bullies those charged with covering them. Yet, this story gets buried. The White House continues its heavy handed tactics and no one seems to care.

Rumors of Blumenthal's Demise Greatly Exaggerated?

A new poll in Connecticut has Dick Blumenthal up by 25 points.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal still holds a commanding lead in the Senate race, despite more than a week of bad press regarding past misstatements of his military record. Blumenthal, the presumed Democratic nominee, leads Republican Linda McMahon by 25 points, a new Quinnipiac survey finds (May 24-25, 1159 RV, MoE +/- 2.9%).

Polls had the race within a couple points late last week and so this is quite a turn around. This race looks like it will be very interesting.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Plight of the Whistleblower

This is an excellent piece on the plight of whistleblowers and what they often go through.

A new study of insiders who blow the whistle on drug company fraud has found that all of the whistleblowers were primarily motivated by ethics rather than possible financial rewards.

However, the study also found many of the whistleblowers paid a tremendous personal cost for their disclosures and a vast majority experienced retaliation from employers, including being harassed, blackballed, and fired. Many were unable to secure other jobs during and after the investigations and some experienced personal health problems including panic attacks.

What's really disappointing is that articles like this wind up in websites of watchdog groups and not on the front page of the New York Times. Whistleblowers are the first line of defense against corruption. They are almost always mistreated. They are retaliated against, lied about, and often lose their jobs.

In so doing, not only does the initial corruption go on but new whistle blowers are discouraged from coming forward. As a result, it's impossible to quantify just how much corruption goes on. The plight of the whistleblower is rarely documented. There is little motivation for any individual to then become a whistleblower. Media could care less if you take on an entire corrupt entity. Often times, the media sides against you. Meanwhile, you take on an entire corrupt structure on your own. The chances of success are small. The chances of pain are enormous. In two stories I've covered, spouses of whistle blowers have committed suicide. These are the kinds of results that occur.

Yet, the media doesn't take much care in these stories. It's truly unbelievable. The stories are compelling, important, and all sorts of powerful people are involved. Yet, Lindsey Lohan gets front page coverage. Meanwhile, if you uncover medical corruption, you'll likely find that no one cares about your story.

Stimulus Surprise

Harvard University recently published the findings of an interesting study about government pork and its effect on local private investment.

Recent research at Harvard Business School began with the premise that as a state's congressional delegation grew in stature and power in Washington, D.C., local businesses would benefit from the increased federal spending sure to come their way.

It turned out quite the opposite. In fact, professors Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval, and Christopher Malloy discovered to their surprise that companies experienced lower sales and retrenched by cutting payroll, R&D, and other expenses. Indeed, in the years that followed a congressman's ascendancy to the chairmanship of a powerful committee, the average firm in his state cut back capital expenditures by roughly 15 percent, according to their working paper, "Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?"

The study looked at the last forty years and considered the states in which their Representative ascended to chairmanship of powerful committees. First, the study found that earmarks went up 40-50% and discretionary spending went up by 10% in those states. Meanwhile, private investment, R&D, and sales went down over those same periods. That puts serious cold water to Keynesian theories.

Stimulus Surprise

Council Submissions

The council submissions are up.

Council Submissions

Non Council Submissions

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obama to Send Guard to the Border

President Obama will send 1200 National Guard troops to the border.

President Barack Obama is preparing to send as many as 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, amid growing concern about cross-border criminal activity and a simmering debate over illegal immigration.

Obama plans to submit a request to Congress for $500 million in supplemental funding to secure the border and enforce federal laws, according to an administration official.

The Census Goon Squad

Here's some information from the Local Census Office (LCO)

1) Do NOT write the LCO phone number on the NV.

2) Do NOT use email to communicate any PII. This means addresses too.

3) There will be Census Officials in town on Tuesday (tomorrow). They will be canvassing the area. If they approach you, just cooperate and answer their questions. They are just seeing how everything is being run.

4) Also, from the LCO.
Business attire should be worn while enumerating.
Men should wear ties

That's all for now.

That's an internal email from the census. This is sent to enumerators, those that go door to door. These folks have been working for nearly two months and now the census is trying to impose a dress code and they're sending in a goon squad to make sure these folks comply.

Rossi Makes it Official

The Republicans will have a formidable challenger to Patty Murray as Dino Rossi made it official.

Dino Rossi will in fact make a bid for Senate in Washington state, several media outlets are reporting. Rossi has long been rumored to be considering a run and will reportedly make his intentions known publicly as soon as Wednesday.

Rossi is looking to defeat Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who's represented Washington for three terms and is currently a member of Senate leadership. He's already signed up a senior strategist from Marco Rubio's campaign in Florida and a veteran of Mike McGavick's challenge to Washington's other Democratic senator, Maria Cantwell, in 2006.

Rossi is within a few points in most polls of Murray and the most recent has him down by four. He was a near winner for Governor a couple years back and he presents the Republicans' best hope to regain that seat in November.

Dow Below 10,000

The Dow has fallen below 10,000 for the first time in months as both fears of the European debt crisis combined with fears of tension in the Korea peninsula has sent stocks all over the world reeling.

Twin fears of global economic contagion and geopolitical turmoil in the Koreas sent the markets reeling for the second day in a row, sending the Dow below 10,000 and volatility surging.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average last closed below 10,000 on Feb. 10 but the bluechips were well below that level at the open amid widespread damage to US equities.
Banks were taking the biggest hit. The SPDR Financial [XLF 14.0405 -0.2895 (-2.02%) ] exchange-traded fund was off 3 percent, mirroring Monday's drop of 2.9 percent in the Standard & Poor's 500 financial sector.
Domestically, the latest housing number was also weak and that added to the pain. Meanwhile, there is good news in all the gloom. Mortgage rates continue to test all time lows and the 30 year fixed rate has planted itself solidly below 5%.
The Dow has now given back about 12% from its highs and that is officially a correction. It was almost certainly finish below 10,000 for the day for the first time in months. Furthermore, each of its 20 components is currently down for the day.
With fears of more European nations about to default, this dynamic doesn't seem like its going away. All safe havens, shorts, as well as gold and other metals have been the top performers during the correction.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blumenthal Apologizes

Connecticut AG and Senatorial candidate Richard Blumenthal apologized for mischaracterizing his Vietnam record and is putting it behind him.

Richard Blumenthal went from Senate shoe-in to political punch line after the New York Times reported on his past misstatements of his Vietnam-era service. But in the span of the week, his campaign now argues that he has successfully navigated through the immediate crisis to the point where Democrats can feel confident again that the party will hold his seat come November.

To bolster that argument, the Connecticut attorney general's campaign released results of an internal poll showing that he maintained a substantial advantage over one of his potential general election foes, WWE executive Linda McMahon. The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey, conducted May 19-20, found Blumenthal leading 55-40. A Rasmussen poll released last week found the same matchup much tighter.

One poll had Linda McMahon within three points. This has definitely hurt Blumenthal and it's not going away. This is difficult to explain and admitting a lie would end his career. Blumenthal will deal with this for the rest of the campaign and at this point, he'd have to be considered an underdog in the race.

It's worth noting that FNS anchor Neil Cavuto is among Blumenthal's chief defenders.

Just remember that the next time someone says that FNS is in the pocket of the Republicans.

$23 Billion for Teachers

The White House is asking for $23 billion to save teacher's jobs and it's calling this a bi partisan issue.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is asking lawmakers to put aside “politics and ideology” as they consider a request for $23 billion in “emergency” funding for public schools – a measure Republicans reject as a massive federal bailout for the teachers’ unions.

The Obama administration is supporting the bill, formally titled the Keep Our Educators Working Act and sponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) dated May 13, Duncan warned that if the bill is not enacted, “millions” of school children will be adversely affected and the ensuing damage will “undermine the groundbreaking reform efforts underway in states and districts all across the country.”

In Illinois, there's a similar dynamic. Governor Quinn wants to raise the income tax by 33% in order to save teacher's jobs. States like Illinois have a constitutional duty to balance their budgets and so they can't simply borrow the money. Th problem is that education spending way up since as far back as the 1960's. About $70 billion was earmarked from the stimulus. The funds should be there and the administration just can't seem to spend less money.


Mike Volpe Interviews Scott Tucker Republican Candidate for State Rep

Here's a few notes from this interview. We spoke of a banking bill that Cullerton helped to push through. Here's a Chicago Tribune article about that bill.

Here's Tucker's website.

That's the Youtube video Tucker is talking about in which he shows how illegals can register to vote in Illinois.

Here's the website for Tucker's opponent.

Deconstructing Rand Paul's Statement

This Rand Paul statement has sent the Kentucky Senate race into total disarray and it's sent giddy Democrats trying to make Rand Paul the face of the Republican Party.

What I think would happen – what I’m saying is, is that I don’t believe in any discrimination. I don’t believe in any private property should discriminate, either. And I wouldn’t attend, wouldn’t support, wouldn’t go to. But what you have to answer when you answer this point of view, which is an abstract, obscure conversation from 1964 that you want to bring up. But if you want to answer, you have to say then that you decide the rules for all restaurants and then you decide that you want to allow them to carry weapons into restaurants.

I don't know why Paul is having so much trouble explaining this. The matter is rather simple. He's a libertarian. So, he believes the free market should solve all problems, not the government. He understands why the Civil Rights Act was used but he's troubled by it? Why is he troubled by it? It's because using the federal government to tell private business how to run their businesses is a pandora's box.

For instance, there is a movement to regulate salt in restaurants.

Not content with just trying to tax soft drinks, New York’s nanny-state politicians are also considering legislation to prohibit the use of salt in the preparation of restaurant food. Assemblyman Felix Ortiz introduced this absurdist bill on March 5. Ortiz is one of New York’s more strident food cops, having already introduced strict restaurant menu labeling proposals in the past. He is also following in the steps of fellow food nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg who went so far as to compare salt to carcinogenic asbestos.

No one argues that discrimination in restaurants is abhorrent, unacceptable, and needed to be stopped. What Paul is saying is the attitude that government regulates everything it doesn't like from a private business is a pandora's box. Chuck Schumer wanted to outlaw having airlines charge for carry on bags. Where does it stop? That was what Paul was saying and he should have simply said it better.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Partisanship, Opportunism, in Paul Affair

By now everyone knows that Rand Paul stepped in it when he suggested that he was uncomfortable with the federal government telling a private business how to act even if that action was blatantly racist. That statement has lead to a firestorm that continues to follow him today.

Outside the GOP rally, about two-dozen protesters held signs rebuking Paul. One read "Rand the Klan's man." Another, held by a black woman, read "Should I not be served?"

One of the protesters, University of Louisville student Perry Green, who is black, called Paul's comments about discrimination disturbing."It's fundamentally un-American to discriminate along the lines of race or gender and these sorts of things," he said.

The media is literally giddy about the prospect of milking this for all it's worth.

I felt he was cagey on NPR, but no cagier than a lot of politicians on a lot of subjects. The sum and substance of his position - that he abhors racism (of course) but has misgivings about the government telling private businesses what to do wasn't so surprising given his ideology.

Then, last night, he was stupid enough to appear on Rachel Maddow's show, for a long segment. She crushed him. You can watch it here, on Joan Walsh's blog. The full segment is 19 minutes. You can skip the first 9:00 and watch the main back-and-forth, or if you want to cut right to the chase go to about 15:00 and watch the last four minutes.

Maddow had something Robert Siegel did not: lots of time. So she really bore down. By the end, he looked ridiculous. She asked point blank if he thought Woolworth's (a private business) should have been able to retain the right to desegregate its lunch counters in the 1960s, yes or no. He wouldn't answer.

All of this is entirely disingeuous and here's why.

The same media now giddy over Paul had to be dragged kicking and screaming to cover the story of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Here we had a Presidential candidate's pastor for 20 years who is blatantly racist and blatantly anti American.

What does the Rand Paul story tell us about Rand Paul? It says that his roots are so libertarian that he is UNCOMFORTABLE with the federal government telling a private business what to do even if they're telling them to stop a blatantly racist policy.

Which is worse exactly? Which is more important? Yet, they will milk this story. They will try and hang this around Paul and define him with it. Meanwhile, the same media wanted to do anything but cover Jeremiah Wright.

Djou Wins in Hawaii

Charles Djou won the special election in Hawaii last night.

For the first time since, May, 2008, House Republicans have won a special election.

Republican Charles Djou topped Democrats Colleen Hanabusa and former Rep. Ed Case (D-HI) to succeed retired Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) in Congress. Before Djou’s victory, Democrats had won 11 consecutive special elections. The stretch included a win last Tuesday by Rep. Mark Critz (D-PA) to succeed the late-Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA). Many political handicappers expected Republican Tim Burns to win that contest and viewed the race as a barometer for how the political winds may blow this fall.

Djou secured 39.5 percent of the vote. Meantime, the two Democratic candidates, Hanabusa and Case combined to score nearly 60 percent of the vote. But that splintered the Democratic impact and allowed Djou to squeak through.

This was no surprise. The national Democrats had pulled out of this race at the beginning of the month. Furthermore, there were two Democrats running against one Republican and so the dynamic in this race was unique. The next special election will be in Eric Massa's old seat in New York state.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Discriminatory Authority: The Arizona Immigration Law and Financial Reform

President Obama has recently attempted to thread the needle in his criticism of the Arizona anti illegal immigration law. Now, he says it has the potential for discrimination and abuse.

I think the Arizona law has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion. Now, after it was initially passed, the Arizona legislature amended it and said that this should not be carried out in a discriminatory way. But I think a fair reading of the language of the statute indicates that it gives the possibility of individuals who are deemed suspicious of being illegal immigrants from being harassed or arrested. And the judgments that are going to be made in applying this law are troublesome.

At the same time, Obama is pushing financial reform and in that reform is the ability for the federal government to take over any financial institution that they deem on the verge of failure and a "systemic risk".

Under the new law, the government would be able seize the wobbly firm, fire its executives, and fund its operations until it could sell them off in pieces. The proceeds from these sales would pay the government back; whatever was left would go to bondholders, who would presumably suffer some losses. The shareholders—the people who own common stock—would get wiped out entirely. (If the proceeds weren’t enough to repay the government, it would recoup the rest by levying a fee on the industry.) This is basically a scaled up (and stretched out) version of the way the FDIC handles smaller-bank failures.

First, every law has the potential for abuse and discrimination. Second, the standard "reasonable suspicion" has been part of case law for years. Meanwhile, systemic risk is a relatively new concept and it will be applied entirely by the federal government. So, isn't this law open to just as much abuse and discrimination as the Arizona law?

After all, what's to stop the Obama administration from liquidating a financial firm simply because that firm contributed to Republicans? There's little since "systemic risk" is a vague term to be applied by the Treasury Department. Here's how Dick Morris described the potential for abuse.

The bill authorizes the secretary of the Treasury — a political appointee — to seize any financial company (bank or nonbank) simply because, in his opinion, it is too big to fail and in danger of insolvency.

This power can be used for political retribution, pressure for campaign funding, or any other abuse bureaucratic whim or partisan politics can conceive. It is a power Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez would love to have!

Yet, Obama has used every opportunity possible to sound the alarm about the potential abuse of the Arizona law. Meanwhile, not once has Obama even considered the possibility that the sweeping financial reform bill will lead to the same kind of abuse.

Floyd Landis is No Whistleblower

By now, everyone has heard about the explosive charges made by Floyd Landis.

Lance Armstrong's RadioShack team has struck back at doping allegations made by Floyd Landis, Armstrong's former teammate who this week confessed to having used performance-enhancing substances throughout his career -- including the 2006 Tour de France he won on the road.

The RadioShack team posted a statement on its website and attached a lengthy series of e-mails written by Landis and his personal physician, Dr. Brent Kay, who is also the primary sponsor of his bike team, and sent to Armstrong; Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, whose company owns the ongoing Tour of California; and USA Cycling president Steve Johnson and the federation's lawyer, Steven Hess. The only responses included are Messick's. No correspondence from Armstrong was included in the postings.

Let's put to the side the veracity of Landis' charges, and assume, against all evidence, that they are true. Would this make Landis a whistle blower?

I dealt with a similar situation with my reporting on Michelle Malkin, Michael Gaynor, and Anita Moncrief. Anita Moncrief became the main source for the seven most explosive pages in Michelle Malkin's book, Culture of Corruption. In return, Malkin used the pages in her blog,, to prop up Moncrief. Included in Malkin's adoring manner toward Moncrief was Malkin's allusion to Anita Moncrief being a whistleblower.

Last June, I told you about the speech-squelching attempt by ACORN/Project Vote to silence one of its most potent critics — former Project Vote official-turned-whistleblower Anita MonCrief.

The problem with this description is that Anita Moncrief is no whistle blower. Anita Moncrief was an employee of ACORN affiliate Project Vote. During that time, she used a company credit card to run up almost $2000 of personal expenses. Project Vote caught her and fired her. After she was fired, Moncrief then accused Project Vote in a series of voting improprieties.

Now, let's look at a real whistle blower. Pat McDonough was working on a Chicago plumbing project when he noticed a series of trucks that appeared to be stalled and doing nothing on the project. He found out that these trucks were hired by the city to friends of the mayor and he went to the media. As a result of his exposure, what he discovered is now infamously known as the Hired Truck Scandal, one of Chicago's biggest scandals. In fact, McDonough isn't even mentioned in the Hired Truck Scandal's Wikipedia page. To this day, McDonough continues to earn his living as a plumber for the city of Chicago. By blowing the whistle on this corruption, he put himself in the direct crosshairs of those that write his paychecks. His career there is stalled and he also continues to be a champion of good government.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently had a piece on what motivates a whistleblower.

The most common of the themes, integrity (11 of 26 relators), was linked by some relators to their individual personality traits and strong ethical standards. One relator reasoned, "When I lodged my initial complaint with the company, I believed what we were doing was unethical and only technically illegal. This ethical transgression drove my decision. My peers could live with the implications of `doing 60 in a 55 mph zone' because it did indeed seem trivial. However, my personal betrayal . . . so filled me with shame that I could not live with this seemingly trivial violation" (Relator 25). The relators in this group felt that financial circumstances helped to subvert such ethical standards in their colleagues, saying that most colleagues were unwilling for personal or family reasons to jeopardize their jobs.

A slightly less common theme (7 of 26 relators) involved trying to prevent the fraudulent behavior from posing risks to public health. Most of the relators who described this type of motivation felt they had unique professional experiences or educational backgrounds that gave them a superior grasp of the negative public health implications of the illegal conduct. Some relators (7 of 26) characterized their action in reporting the fraud as emanating from a sense of duty to bring criminals to justice. Many of these relators were new employees who perceived themselves as being outside the fold in their companies.

In the case of both Landis and Moncrief, their motivations were far more personal and far less for the public good. The main difference, however, is this. A whistle blower sees corruption and reports it. They don't have time to worry about potential problems this will cause themselves. In the case of both Landis and Moncrief, they saw corruption and said nothing. They only reported on this corruption after harm was done to them. Does anyone really think that Landis would have reported on doping if he hadn't been caught himself? Does anyone really think that Moncrief would have reported on Project Vote corruption if she hadn't been caught stealing and fired? That's what Pat McDonough did. He reported on the corruption as soon as he saw it and at great peril to himself. That's not what Landis did at all. Instead, Landis, like Moncrief, waited until it was beneficial to themselves to report on the corruption.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Senate Passes Financial Reform

It's become an afterthought given the debate over illegal immigration but with relatively little fanfare, the Senate passed financial reform yesterday.

The legislation passed the Senate 59 to 39 and must now be reconciled with a similar bill passed by the House of Representatives in December, before it can be sent to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

The controversial measure, supported by the Obama administration, sets up new regulatory bodies and restricts the actions of banks and other financial firms. It is designed to try to make order of the cascading regulatory chaos that ensued in 2008 when mammoth banks and some unregulated financial firms collapsed, and public funds were used to save them. Among other things, the legislation would:

The legislation creates a consumer financial protection agency, regulates more stiffly derivatives, manages systemic risk, gives the Fed more power, and allows for the federal government to liquidate very large financial firms.

Frankly, no one, especially those that passed it, understands financial reform. It's completely unclear if this bill will help or hurt. Furthermore, the bill is almost fifteen hundred pages long and so who knows what's in the bill.

Council Winners

The council has spoken.

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

Rand Paul: State's Rights Vs. Civil Rights

Rand Paul had his first serious gaffe of his campaign with this appearance on a Louisiana radio station.

REPORTER: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains and I`m all in favor of that.


PAUL: You had to ask me the "but." I don't like the idea of telling private business owners. I abhor racism. I think it's a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant. But at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I think there should be absolutely no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that's mostly what the Civil Rights Act was about, to my mind.

While this will throw Paul off message for a few days, I don't believe this will cost him the election. Paul is a true blue libertarian and he doesn't believe that the government should be telling a private business what to do. Before anyone thinks this is out of the mainstream, remember that the principle to free speech is to protect speech we also abhor.

Democrats/Felipe Calderon Vs. the American People

Mexican leader Felipe Calderon continued his assault into the new Arizona law in his speech in front of the joint session of Congress.

As Mexican President Felipe Calderon ripped Arizona's new law clamping down on illegal immigrants in front of Congress on Thursday, Democrats and White House officials rose to their feet to cheer, including Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Janet Napolitano -- two officials who have confessed to not even reading the law.

The Mexican leader criticizing the Arizona law is one thing. After all, it's overwhelmingly disapproved in Mexico. Democrats and members of the administration standing up and cheering is something totally different. Here, the Democrats have made it clear. They are squarely against not only the people of Arizona but people of America.

This law is overwhelmingly approved and only getting more approval as it goes. The spectacle of one party standing up and cheering a foreign leader criticizing a domestic law is one that you can bet will be in advertisements for months and years to come.

Blair Takes the Fall

The Obama administration has had its first high profile casualty with the forced resignation of Dennis Blair.

Dennis Blair, President Barack Obama's national intelligence director, is resigning after a 16-month tenure marked by intelligence failures and turf wars among the country's spy agencies.

Blair, a retired admiral, is the third director of national intelligence, a position created in response public outrage over the failure to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Blair intends to offer his resignation Friday, one of two government officials said, adding that several candidates have been interviewed for the job. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made.

With two successful and two unsuccessful domestic attacks since Obama took over, intelligence became an issue. A recent Congressional report on the failed Christmas Day bombing pointed out that many intelligence gaps continue to exist that contributed to 9/11. Blair has taken the fall, though this story is far from over.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Arizona Immigration Law: the Power of Brevity

There's something that hasn't received enough attention about the Arizona immigration law. It's between ten and sixteen pages, depending on the format you read it in. It's been a long time since a law has been so overwhelmingly approved. Governor Brewer has seen her approvals jump exponentially since she passed it.

In part, that's because the law is simple and straight to the point. You don't need to worry about what's hidden in the bill since it's only sixteen pages and there's no place to hide. It's simple, straightforward and clear.

Contrast that with health care reform which was more than 2000 pages. The financial reform is just under 1500 pages. Almost no one knows what's in there because no one can read and understand all that writing.

Meanwhile, the Arizona bill has no such nuance. The power of brevity is alive and well.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Emery Joe Yost: In the Eye of the Storm

It was August 13th, 2000, and it was a typical Sunday afternoon in Chicago. Only in minutes, Emery Joe Yost’s life would change forever. He was about to find himself entangled in a living nightmare, caught in the crosshairs of a mentally disturbed individual. To make matters worse, Yost’s life was the envy of most. He had recently gotten engaged. He was less than a year from completing his Master’s degree from DePaul University’s school of new learning. This would mean a promotion and a significant raise in pay from his employer the Chicago Park District. In 1998, Harry Porterfield had featured Yost in his regular feature “People You Should Know”. That’s because Yost’s Master’s thesis was chosen to be presented at the 1998 World Congress of Leisure in Brazil. Meanwhile, his musical career was thriving even though he only considered it a second income. One of the bands he played with, La Tour, had been featured on the soundtrack of Basic Instinct. Yost was touring all over Chicago and the Midwest.

Yet, at this exact moment on the 13th, Yost was working as a park supervisor at Wilson Park. He was sitting on the steps of the park’s administration building watching over the playground where about a dozen children were enjoying the summer day. That’s when he looked to his left. On the balcony of the condominiums that overlooked the park stood a man with his pants down and his genitals in full view of the children. To make matters worse, unbeknownst to Yost, his own niece witnessed the same event at that exact moment. At that exact moment, she was riding her brand new bicycle up along the other side of the building with a direct eye line to the balcony. His niece turned around and rode home furiously. Meanwhile, Yost immediately got on his cell phone and called the police.

The man identified and arrested was Kevin Long. Long had by then gained a reputation in the area surrounding Wilson Park for strange and disturbing behavior. He once threatened then Wilson Park superviser Debbie LeVar and said of her, “that bitch has a bug up her ass and I’m just the guy to take it out”. Levar had been transferred to Sauganash Park months earlier, however, and on this day, it was Emery Joe Yost in Long’s sights. While Long exposed himself in full view of most of the park, the only ones willing to make a statement on the record were Emery Joe Yost and his niece. Long was booked for indecent exposure and released on bond the next day, but his contact with Emery Joe Yost and much of his family had only started.

Bob Yost, Emery’s brother, was also a Chicago Police Officer, along with the father of Emery’s niece. He was based out of the station on Halsted and Addison. That station received a phone call from Long two days later. Long was looking for Bob Yost, however Yost was out on patrol at the time of the phone call. Instead, Long spoke with Yost’s Lieutenant. During the course of this conversation, Long made it clear that if Bob Yost’s daughter ever testified against him, great harm would come to her and the entire Yost family. As a result of this phone call, Long was again arrested, arraigned, and released on bond.

Despite facing multiple criminal charges, Kevin Long was only getting started in his harassment of Yost. On August 31st, 2000, Kevin Long was now writing a letter to Justice Ann Burke. Burke is now an Illinois Supreme Court Justice. She’s also the wife of Alderman Ed Burke. In 2000, however, she was an Appelate Court Judge in the First District. She was also the mentor and advisor to Emery Joe Yost on his thesis at DePaul. In this letter, Long accused Yost of attempting to recruit him to help Yost cheat on his master’s paper. Long claimed that Yost wasn’t competent enough to complete the paper on his own. Furthermore, Long claimed that Yost, who’s about 5 feet 5 inches tall, had “little man’s syndrome”. Carbon copied on this letter were the dean of the School of New Learning at DePaul and the Dean of Students at Depaul. The charges that Long made against Yost were eventually investigated and dismissed. Still, six months after receiving this letter, Justice Burke dropped Yost as an advisor. According to Yost, Burke told him that he had listed her as his advisor on his e resume and as a result, her role as a Justice wouldn’t allow her to continue as his advisor. Neither Justice Burke nor Depaul University would respond for comment about this series of events.

This set of events were also the first in a series of events in which the Chicago legal system unwittingly helped Long. First, because no one would testify that Long’s penis was erect at the time he exposed it, he could only be charged with a misdemeanor according to Chicago ordinance. Meanwhile, Bob Yost wasn’t only a police officer but he was considered a witness. Despite this, because Long's threat was made by phone rather than in person, this was also considered a misdemeanor and not a felony. As such, Long didn't face any jail time for either incident, despite their proximity to each other and the clear threat posed in both of them.

By the beginning of 2001, Long filed his first civil suit in U.S. District Court in the Dirksen Federal Building against Yost. Back in the 1980’s, Long had attended John Marshall Law School but never graduated. He also spent time doing legal research for a Chicago area personal injury law firm. As such, Long was proficient enough in the law to file this, and subsequent suits pro se. In other words, he always represented himself.

Meanwhile, Yost says he was forced to get his own counsel, and he says the series of suits filed by Long against him have cost him well in excess of six figures. When Yost called the police on August 13th, 2000, he wasn’t just an average citizen but a mandated reporter. A mandated reporter is an individual who’s job duties demand that they protect the children they are responsible for. As such, Yost was duty bound to call the police on that day. Yet, Yost says that the Chicago Park District, his employer, refused to provide him with counsel all throughout his civil process.

The Chicago Park District disputes this and gave this statement, “The Chicago Park District was not named as a party in the Kevin Long vs. Emery Yost, et al cases of 2003 and 2004, and has no record of Yost requesting counsel for either case at the time when the lawsuits were filed. Only in 2007, after the suits had been dismissed, did the Chicago Park District learn about the complaint for the 2004 litigation. In 2007, Yost asked for Chicago Park District to represent him, only after the suit had been dismissed and after his motion for sanctions for attorneys’ fees had been denied.”

Yost vigorously disputes this characterization. In fact, he said that he knew exactly how the Chicago Park District felt about the situation based on his boss’, Roger Konow’s, reaction the day after Yost filed a complaint against Long with the Park District. According to Yost, Konow said this to Yost about the complaint, “you had better be telling the truth or you will be fired“. Yost also shared a series of email correspondences from 2003-2007 between himself and members of the Chicago Park District staff in which he expressed frustration with their lack of support. Furthermore, Long would file similar civil suits against members of the Chicago Police Department and even a Nun and the Archdiocese and the Chicago Police Department provided them with attorneys. Konow, a distant cousin of Mayor Daley, would eventually be removed from the Park District after he was caught embezzling. He now works for the Chicago Public School system. He didn't respond to an email for comment.

Meanwhile, Kevin Long wasn’t done exposing himself to members of the Yost family. September 13th, 2001, was a bright summer day of the Labor Day weekend. It was also the second encounter between Kevin Long and the Yost’s in which he exposed himself. The Long family was having a barbecue at Bob Yost’s home. Meanwhile, Yitka Yost, wife of Emery’s other brother John, was still at her own home finishing making some food. She walked through the same Wilson Park on her way to her brother in law’s home. Sitting on a park bench was the same Kevin Long. Long got her attention and when she looked over Long’s testicles were exposed. Yitka Yost ran to the home of Bob Yost, relayed the story, and the family called the police. Long was arrested attempting to flee in the Jefferson Park Blue Line station by Chicago Police officers.

Meanwhile, Long was also making subtle, and not so subtle, threats against Yost in U.S. District Court. Almost immediately, Long began to publish Yost’s social security number in court filings. Despite being warned repeatedly by US Federal Court Judges to knock off this habit, Yost says that Long continued to publish his social security number throughout their legal disputes which lasted most of the decade. Then, in one incident in 2003, Long approached Yost after a hearing and said this, “Not until I am in the grave will I stop haunting you”

Meanwhile, the court system, the politicians, and the Chicago bureaucracy were all acting as unwitting accomplices to Kevin Long. By the end of the decade, Long would be arrested 19 times and convicted 10 times. Yet, he’d only face a prison term of more than a year once. Even then, Long was let go early by the office of Governor Pat Quinn, part of a group of “non violent offenders”. He received no jail time for the original August 13th incident or the subsequent threats against Bob Yost two days later. He also received no jail time for the incident the next Labor Day. One resident of the area I spoke with, Kathleen Waters, says that she sounded the alarm to members of the Chicago Park District, the mayor’s office, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, and even members of Congress and no one took her warnings seriously. The park district refused to curb Long’s bizarre behavior at Wilson Park. This included jumping rope with no shirt on and tight shirts right next to the playground, harassing the staff, and all sorts of vandalism in and around the park.

By 2005, civil suits were flying on both sides between Long and Yost. As such, there was regular court appearances and judges gave both parties restraining orders. As such, by 2005, Long’s interactions with Emery Joe Yost were limited to the courtroom. So, Long began to threaten other members of Yost’s family. By this point, Yost had gotten married and divorced, largely due to the stress of Kevin Long. In the summer of 2005, Kevin Long sent Yost’s now ex wife, then living in Michigan, a letter and wrote her birth date and social security number on the outside of the letter. Two weeks later, Long called her parents, also in Michigan, and threatened them.

In the summer of 2006, Kevin Long harassed Emery Joe Yost’s cousin, Matt Dougherty. Dougherty is a researcher and scientist working for Baylor University. He’s also a part time musician that has collaborated with Yost. Yost once listed some of their collaborations on his on line web site. One summer evening in 2006 near midnight Dougherty’s phone in Houston rang. It was Long. Long said he was “investigating Emery Joe Yost” and that he wanted to speak to Dougherty about him. Dougherty refused and reported the conversation to Yost. The phone calls didn’t stop however. Dougherty says that every couple days Long would call and leave messages on his phone about Yost. The phone calls finally stopped when Dougherty recorded almost thirty minutes worth of tape and presented those to Yost’s attorney in Chicago.

By 2007, it was time for Art Whiteside and Justice Kathy Flanagan to stand in Long’s crosshairs. Art Whiteside was a resident of the area that surrounded Wilson Park. By 2007, he was well aware of the notorious reputation that Kevin Long had achieved in the neighborhood. Whiteside decided to volunteer to be a court advocate. In that role, he would come to court and then provide moral support to one of the parties. He volunteered to be a court advocate for Emery Joe Yost in one of his suits against Long. A few days after his appearance in court, Whiteside noticed that his tires were slashed. His car was again vandalized a few days after this and so he installed a video camera directed at his car. Again, his car was vandalized but this time the camera caught Kevin Long. He took this video to the police who took it to a judge. The judge, however, said the video was too grainy to make an identification. So, the police installed their own video in Whiteside’s home and this video again caught Long vandalizing Whiteside’s car. Long was arrested, arraigned, and released on bond, but he wasn’t done. Long would again be caught by the same video vandalizing Whiteside’s car upon his release.

Meanwhile, Justice Kathy Flanagan was the judge in one of the civil matters that made its way through court between Long and Yost starting at the end of 2006. Yost says he remembers Long making a series of veiled threats against Flanagan throughout the process. Then, one fall evening of 2007, court security caught Long in Flanagan’s chambers after business hours. He was arrested on the spot and this time wouldn’t make bail.

Finally, there was Joe McCaffery. McCaffery became Yost’s lawyer in most of these civil proceedings and eventually replaced Burke as his advisor during his Master’s program. Long was out of jail about a month following his sentence for trespassing into Judge Flanagan’s office when Long was in court for a hearing in his civil case against Yost. After the hearing, Long approached McCaffery and threatened to kill McCaffery’s ten year old daughter. Long was arrested again on the spot and this time incarcerated until November of 2009. In fact, Long was released along with a batch of prisoners deemed "non violent" by Governor Pat Quinn. Quinn's office didn't return a phone call when asked for comment on this determination. In fact, Long should still be in prison as of this writing.

By March of 2010, Emery Joe Yost didn’t know what to make of things. In the beginning of the month, he told me that things were relatively quiet. Not only had Long not contacted or bothered him, but the same could be said of his immediate family and friends since his release in November. Things were quiet, too quiet.

Little did Yost know that within two weeks, Kevin Long’s story would explode all over Chicago. On March 17th, Kevin Long attempted to enter the Richard J. Daley Center with four knives. He was arrested and incarcerated where he remains to this day. Long was initially searched because his name was on a list of "judicial threats" created by the U.S. Marshall Services in Chicago following the death of Judge Joan Lefkow's husband. He wound up on this list in no small way to Yost's insistence that Long presented such a threat. Following that, US Marshalls executed a search warrant of Long’s condominium and found thousands of knives and guns. The rest of the city had woken up to the nightmare that had engulfed Yost and his friends and family.


Also, For another Chicago area story, check out this piece on Tony Demasi..