Saturday, December 1, 2012

The economic bubble

Our wild and crazy politicians have teamed up with the Fed to see just how much hot air it takes to burst the bubble.

And Wall Street is playing along by responding to every tidbit of news to run up the DOW.  (But these are institutions and funds playing the speculation to deliver good numbers.  These trades are based on perception rather than real value.)

All this Fiscal Cliff talk only nibbles at the edges of the problems.  Key among them are government debt and our valueless money.

According to Washington, the Holy Grail is GROWTH.  The QE3 program, for example, was initiated to stimulate housing growth.  The assumption of QE3 is that people won't buy/build houses because the interest rates are too high.  Since when is a 4% mortgage rate too high?  And how is qualifying buyers based on a 3.5% rate good for the market?  Didn't we just have a collapse because people were in homes they couldn't afford?

But the conventional wisdom says more mortgages, more jobs, more money in the economy...

But even if you are successful in getting more people qualified to pay a mortgage, how does that fix the problems of government spending, public sector pensions, a service economy that doesn't work and the national debt?

Well, in a few words, it doesn't.  It just makes the bubble larger and thinner.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mama Mia, what a story

The embellished résumé has been a problem ever since there were résumés.  And politicians embellishing their backstory has been around since there have been politicians.

The Internet has improved our memory for such tall tales.  After all, a candidate for a small local office tells his story and it goes on the record.  That story shouldn’t change. And politicians have been held accountable for such things as military service (or lack thereof) and academic degrees.

The most famous tale is Obama’s.  He’s been around the world.  And he’s sealed his college records.  Now why would he do that?  He’s already told us he was a lousy student at Occidental College.  And he seemed to have done well at Harvard.  Some think it has to do with his minority student status; that maybe he claimed to have been something other than a U S Citizen.  Of course, that doesn’t prove he was born in Kenya, but the alternative explanation is worse; that he fibbed about his citizenship to claim a foreign student spot.

And there is written evidence that his publicist claimed he was born in Keyna in an effort to sell his books.

Then there was the Elizabeth Warren story.  Oy vey!  The story goes like this.  Warren’s mother told her she was part Cherokee and she went with it.  Boy, did she go with it.  She claimed to be a “woman of color” in order to get a teaching job.  And she milked that story until she gained tenure. 

She rode that trail of tears all the way to the U S Senate.

Now my mother used to call me her Superman.  She even sewed me a red cape.  But she wouldn’t let me play on the roof of the garage.  And my brother used to remind me that, “Just because you have rust in your shorts doesn’t mean you’re a man of steel.”

What mother told you may be an embellishment not suitable for the political arena.  And if you’ve told mother’s story in an earlier campaign, expect to have to back it up later on…or admit it was just a quaint family story.

Enter Mia Love.  Back in January of 2011, before she was a candidate for Congress, Mia was the subject of a Deseret News story by Lee Benson.  It was a fluff piece really.  Benson wanted to highlight Mia Love because she’s black and successful.  What could be better for Martin Luther King Day?

And Mia told her story about how she was the reason her parents got to stay in the United States and she was the reason her siblings got to emigrate from Haiti.  It was quite a detailed account, claiming that her birth in December of 1975 was just in time for the deadline of January of 1976.

Mia went on the run for Congress.  She even spoke at the GOP convention.  What could be better than a woman who is black and successful?  And she spoke about her parents coming from Haiti with $10 in the pockets, but not a peep about her role in their immigration.

Along comes Mother Jones, claiming that Mia was an anchor baby.  Now, that’s a non sequitur.  Mia never said her parents were ever illegal, only that her birth qualified them to remain and bring over her brother and sister.

Here’s the critical part: Mia denied she ever told that story.  She got all indignant and claimed the liberals were picking on her.  She claimed her opponent planted the lie.  By extension, she implied that the reporter made up the story.  (It’s funny that she never said anything when the story ran in January of 2011.)  Further, she would not allow people to talk to her parents.

So if she’s stonewalling, let’s play a little game.  Let’s think about possible endings to the story.  What is she hiding from?  Let’s SPECULATE:

Ending #1: Mia wanted to distance herself from the “anchor baby” label, even though her parents were legal throughout.

Ending #2: Her parents are illegal aliens and never did legalize.

Ending #3: Her parents are Obama supporters.

Ending #4: Her siblings are illegal aliens.

Ending #5: Her parents are green card holders but never bothered to become citizens.

Ending #6: The story was nothing more than an anecdote she liked to tell with no basis in fact.

Ending #7: Lee Benson is a liar who never liked her and made it all up, knowing that someday Mia would be more than the mayor of a small town in the Utah desert.

Ending #8: Have at it.  You make up your own ending.

Here are the stories:
The original:
The exposure:
…or this one:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Baiting the narcissitic voter

Recently, the defeated Mitt Romney summed up his loss to Obama by declaring that the democrat won by offering "gifts" to swing voters.  And they responded.

Some went to the polls thinking, "Obama is more likely to preserve Medicare than Romney.  I'll vote for Obama."

Others thought, "Obama is sure to deliver amnesty to my illegal alien family members, so he gets my vote."

Still others mulled over the entitlements of food stamps, unemployment benefits, free cell phones, child tax credits for illegal aliens, mortgage forgiveness, free college, school loan relief...and voted for Obama over Romney.

Strangely, Romney wasn't a real hard-liner when it came to entitlements.  In fact, if he did what he was talking about on the campaign trail, he would be a bigger spender than GWB.  Maybe he wouldn't set records like Obama has, but he didn't talk like a slash and burn candidate.

As for taxes, if you listened closely Romney was proposing a plan to give you your money back with one hand and take it away with the other.

And just like the campaign, we see this fiscal cliff rhetoric as more of the same dabbling in the sand with a tidal wave at our backs.  No one is paying the least bit of attention to the debt clock.  It looms so large that both parties are pretending it doesn't exist.

Obama is stuck in a loop like a pull-string doll.  "All I am asking is that the richest 3% of Americans pay a little bit more."  The GOP response is that we must cut spending, meaning a few hundred billion to make them look fiscally responsible.

The truth is Washington hasn't even tried to be fiscally responsible for decades.  Those Washington shut-down days were alarms that went unheard by our elected leaders.  Efforts to require a balanced budget have been replaced with years of no budget at all.

Why?  Because telling Americans the truth is a negative message.  Politicians do not win elections by telling people, "No."  Responsible parents know that you have to deny some things to your children.  They always want a pony and a trip to Disneyland and a car and a spring break trip...but it is neither wise nor affordable to give it to them.

Apparently, no one in Washington has ever raised children.  So fate will take over and teach us all the austerity lesson.  Time will tell if the children will, like the Greeks, take to the streets demanding their entitlements from a broke treasury.

But for now it seems that bread and circuses will win the day.  The blinders are firmly in place.
The trapeze performers were better last year, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

After the election

It’s always interesting to note the things that happen after the election.  This year is no exception.
1)     The head of the CIA resigns over an adulterous relationship.  The administration knew about it since July.
2)     Syria and Israel escalate their hostile intentions.  (Could it be a Romney win would have changed this outcome?)
3)     The stock market immediately falls back to its level before the summer run-up.
4)     The Elmo puppeteer admits to a homosexual relationship with a young man half his age.  In typical “he said-he said” fashion, they are debating the boy’s age (under 18 or over).
5)     An energy breakthrough is announced.  The United States will be the world’s #1 oil producer within a decade, thanks to fracking and shale.
6)     Obama returns to his hard line position on taxes while claiming to fix the fiscal cliff.
7)     Jesse Jackson Jr faces pressure to resign, proving it really is about politics, not the will of the people.
8)     The media is now looking into the Benghazi scandal, now revealing that the compound may have been home to a secret prison and the attack was a jailbreak.

Just think what Obama can do without having to worry about winning another term.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Debate answers on illegal alien crisis

Below is a very direct question that speaks to the crux of the illegal alien question.  Obama dances around his lack of effort.   Romney talks about enforcement of work permit laws and a hybrid DREAM Act.  These are important statements because they are made late in the campaign and to a large, general audience.


OCTOBER 16, 2012




QUESTION: Mr. Romney, what do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society?

ROMNEY: Thank you. Lorraine? Did I get that right? Good. Thank you for your question. And let me step back and tell you what I would like to do with our immigration policy broadly and include an answer to your question.

But first of all, this is a nation of immigrants. We welcome people coming to this country as immigrants. My dad was born in Mexico of American parents; Ann's dad was born in Wales and is a first-generation American. We welcome legal immigrants into this country.

I want our legal system to work better. I want it to be streamlined. I want it to be clearer. I don't think you have to -- shouldn't have to hire a lawyer to figure out how to get into this country legally. I also think that we should give visas to people -- green cards, rather, to people who graduate with skills that we need. People around the world with accredited degrees in science and math get a green card stapled to their diploma, come to the U.S. of A. We should make sure our legal system works.

Number two, we're going to have to stop illegal immigration. There are 4 million people who are waiting in line to get here legally. Those who've come here illegally take their place. So I will not grant amnesty to those who have come here illegally.

What I will do is I'll put in place an employment verification system and make sure that employers that hire people who have come here illegally are sanctioned for doing so. I won't put in place magnets for people coming here illegally. So for instance, I would not give driver's licenses to those that have come here illegally as the president would.

The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States and military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident.

ROMNEY: Now when the president ran for office, he said that he'd put in place, in his first year, a piece of legislation -- he'd file a bill in his first year that would reform our -- our immigration system, protect legal immigration, stop illegal immigration. He didn't do it.

He had a Democrat House, a Democrat Senate, super majority in both Houses. Why did he fail to even promote legislation that would have provided an answer for those that want to come legally and for those that are here illegally today? What's a question I think the -- the president will have a chance to answer right now.

OBAMA: Good, I look forward to it.

Was -- Lorranna -- Lorraine -- we are a nation of immigrants. I mean we're just a few miles away from Ellis Island. We all understand what this country has become because talent from all around the world wants to come here. People are willing to take risks. People who want to build on their dreams and make sure their kids have an even bigger dreams than they have.

But we're also a nation of laws. So what I've said is we need to fix a broken immigration system and I've done everything that I can on my own and sought cooperation from Congress to make sure that we fix the system.

The first thing we did was to streamline the legal immigration system, to reduce the backlog, make it easier, simpler and cheaper for people who are waiting in line, obeying the law to make sure that they can come here and contribute to our country and that's good for our economic growth.

They'll start new businesses. They'll make things happen to create jobs here in the United States.

Number two, we do have to deal with our border so we put more border patrol on the -- any time in history and the flow of undocumented works across the border is actually lower than it's been in 40 years.

What I've also said is if we're going to go after folks who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they're trying to figure out how to feed their families. And that's what we've done. And what I've also said is for young people who come here, brought here often times by their parents. Had gone to school here, pledged allegiance to the flag. Think of this as their country. Understand themselves as Americans in every way except having papers. And we should make sure that we give them a pathway to citizenship.

And that's what I've done administratively. Now, Governor Romney just said, you know he wants to help those young people too, but during the Republican primary, he said, "I will veto the DREAM Act", that would allow these young people to have access." His main strategy during the Republican primary was to say, "We're going to encourage self-deportation." Making life so miserable on folks that they'll leave. He called the Arizona law a model for the nation. Part of the Arizona law said that law enforcement officers could stop folks because they suspected maybe they looked like they might be undocumented workers and check their papers.

You know what? If my daughter or yours looks to somebody like they're not a citizen, I don't want -- I don't want to empower somebody like that. So, we can fix this system in a comprehensive way. And when Governor Romney says, the challenge is, "Well Obama didn't try." That's not true. I have sat down with Democrats and Republicans at the beginning of my term. And I said, let's fix this system. Including Senators previously who had supported it on the Republican side. But it's very hard for Republican's in Congress to support comprehensive immigration reform, if their standard bearer has said that, this is not something I'm interested in supporting.

CROWLEY: Let me get the governor in here, Mr. President. Let's speak to, if you could...


CROWLEY: ...the idea of self-deportation?

ROMNEY: No, let -- let -- let me go back and speak to the points that the president made and -- and -- and let's get them correct.

I did not say that the Arizona law was a model for the nation in that aspect. I said that the E-Verify portion of the Arizona law, which is -- which is the portion of the law which says that employers could be able to determine whether someone is here illegally or not illegally, that that was a model for the nation. That's number one.

Number two, I asked the president a question I think Hispanics and immigrants all over the nation have asked. He was asked this on Univision the other day. Why, when you said you'd filed legislation in your first year didn't you do it? And he didn't answer. He -- he doesn't answer that question. He said the standard bearer wasn't for it.

I'm glad you thought I was a standard bearer four years ago, but I wasn't.

Four years ago you said in your first year you would file legislation.

In his first year, I was just getting -- licking my wounds from having been beaten by John McCain, all right. I was not the standard bearer.

My -- my view is that this president should have honored his promise to do as he said.

Now, let me mention one other thing, and that is self-deportation says let people make their own choice. What I was saying is, we're not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented illegals, and take them out of the nation. Instead let people make their own choice. And if they -- if they find that -- that they can't get the benefits here that they want and they can't -- and they can't find the job they want, then they'll make a decision to go a place where -- where they have better opportunities.

But I'm not in favor of rounding up people and -- and -- and taking them out of this country. I am in favor, as the president has said, and I agree with him, which is that if people have committed crimes we got to get them out of this country.

ROMNEY: Let me mention something else the president said. It was a moment ago and I didn't get a chance to, when he was describing Chinese investments and so forth.

OBAMA: Candy?

Hold on a second. The...

ROMNEY: Mr. President, I'm still speaking.


ROMNEY: Mr. President, let me finish.


ROMNEY: I've gotta continue.


CROWLEY: Governor Romney, you can make it short. See all these people? They've been waiting for you. (inaudible) make it short (inaudible).

ROMNEY: Just going to make a point. Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in -- in Chinese companies.

Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: I've got to say...

ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: You know, I -- I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours so it doesn't take as long.

ROMNEY: Well, let me give you some advice.

OBAMA: I don't check it that often.

ROMNEY: Let me give you some advice. Look at your pension. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States. You also have investments through a Cayman's trust.


CROWLEY: We're way off topic here, Governor Romney.


OBAMA: I thought we were talking about immigration.


OBAMA: I do want to make sure that...

CROWLEY: If I could have you sit down, Governor Romney. Thank you.

OBAMA: I do want to make sure that -- I do want to make sure that we just understand something. Governor Romney says he wasn't referring to Arizona as a model for the nation. His top adviser on immigration is the guy who designed the Arizona law, the entirety of it; not E-Verify, the whole thing. That's his policy. And it's a bad policy. And it won't help us grow.

Look, when we think about immigration, we have to understand there are folks all around the world who still see America as the land of promise. And they provide us energy and they provide us innovation and they start companies like Intel and Google. And we want to encourage that.

Now, we've got to make sure that we do it in a smart way and a comprehensive way, and we make the legal system better. But when we make this into a divisive political issue, and when we don't have bipartisan support -- I can deliver, Governor, a whole bunch of Democrats to get comprehensive immigration reform done, and we can't...

ROMNEY: I'll get it done. I'll get it done. First year...

OBAMA: ... we can't -- we have not seen Republicans serious about this issue at all. And it's time for them to get serious on it.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me move you on here please. Mr. President, (inaudible).

OBAMA: This used to be a bipartisan issue.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

So many questions

Jose Antonio Vargas was stopped by police near the Minneapolis Airport last week because he was wearing headphones while driving.  He would probably have been educated about the law and sent on his way…except when they ran his drivers license they discovered that it had been cancelled by the state of Washington.

Why?  Because Vargas himself made headlines in June of 2011 declaring that he was an illegal alien.  He had been using a doctored Social Security Card for years.  It turns out that the government takes a dim view of such things.

And so a courtesy stop turned into a quick investigation by ICE.  Within three hours ICE let him go, not because he’s here legally but because they claimed to have bigger fish to fry.

So, here are the questions:

Why didn’t someone catch up with him and confiscate his drivers license?

How many times did he board an airplane with a known invalid license?  Isn’t that against the law?  Or is TSA too busy feeling up grannies and children?

What liability does the government have for allowing Vargas to travel around the country and rent cars?  (By the way, the rental company immediately towed his car once it was determined that his license is invalid.)

Does our government condone his various speaking tours by not enforcing the law?

After all that, why would ICE fail to detain him?  Does he have some sort of special immunity because he’s a DREAM Act advocate?  Forget the official explanation that he wasn’t “bad enough” to deport.  Here’s a guy criss-crossing the country speaking out against the law of the land and that’s not taken into account here.  He’s simply ignoring the law.

Who is funding the Vargas tour?  How is he legally paying taxes?

This has been a bad couple of weeks for Homeland Security.   Twice they have shown the failure of their very mission – to improve communication within and between law enforcement agencies.

The first case was when two different sets of Border Patrol agents fired on each other in the Arizona desert, resulting in the death of an agent and the wounding of another.

Where was the communication between responding teams?  If BP agents can’t even communicate properly, what hope do we have that these expensive inter-agencies will work when we need to talk between the local police/fire departments and federal agencies?

And regarding Vargas, why did he still have a license?  How long can someone go with a cancelled license?  (Apparently at least 15 months.)  Why wasn’t he placed on the No Fly list?  Where’s the communication between ICE and TSA?  Where does the PC/Affirmative Action mania in this country come into play when it comes to immigration enforcement?

So many questions…and sadly, Mitt Romney isn’t asking any of them.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Romney's 47%

Here’s another tempest in a teapot in the presidential campaign.  You know, the secret video of Romney saying that people getting free money from the government will never vote for him.

Gasp!  He’s right.

And it points out the same message Obama and Romney and Dinesh D'Souza have been trying to tell us all along.  It’s really a matter of semantics.  Political buzzwords are used to cloud the meaning, but it all comes down to this:

Obama believes that government exists to provide an equal quality of life for all, even if it means spending money we don’t have in order to do it.

Romney believes that government exists to preserve the rights we all have to pursue the quality of life we wish to have.

We could have long discussions about what it costs to achieve security (read – freedom from want), but we lose not only money in the form of taxation, but also liberty.

It is only natural in a campaign for one side to look at spending and ask, “Does Romney intend to cut Medicare as part of his plan to trim the size of government?”

Of course, such a question ignores all the wasteful endeavors of big government like grants, pensions and regulations.  Much of what government does is far afield of “social justice,” but you won’t hear liberals talking about that.

And Romney isn’t a real tough guy when it comes to limiting government.  He talks a rather moderate game, surely less strident than Ron Paul.

But Obama keeps promising the crowds that they will get relief from student loans, high mortgages and insurance premiums.  And he’ll throw in a cell phone and Internet bandwidth to boot.

So it really comes down to a candidate who sees government as the provider of relief from all your ills vs. a candidates who wants to dial down government a bit and work us back toward a self-reliant America.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Obama's Middle Class - Vocal and Upset

The timing couldn’t be worse.  The Chicago teachers are striking and Obama’s right hand man and fundraiser-in-chief is forced to side with the people over the union.

Obama had hoped to solve the recession problem in a couple of years when he took office in 2009.  So he sent stimulus cash to the school districts to make up their shortfalls.  The revenue would come back soon, he thought.  But he was wrong.

All that stimulus money did was delay the inevitable.  The public sector was running out of money and would need to cut jobs, wages and benefits. 

More public sector workers are being laid off these days than private industry.  That sounds unfair but it really isn’t.  The private sector made its big adjustments three or four years ago.  And they have been careful not to hire back too many people.

But the public sector has more union representation and are more soft-hearted than real management.  Besides, they keep their kingdoms by spending all their budgets and asking for more each year.

Even so, they eventually have to trim when the money is gone.  And they are trimming.

So, here we have a crass representative of the CTU by the name of Karen Lewis.  She is not going to budge and she has the perfect in-your-face attitude.  Some videos of her in action are viral You Tube clips.  Let’s just say she isn’t much of an example of a professional educator.

And their isn’t much sympathy for the plight of the school teachers in Chicago.  Look at their customers.  Unemployment in Chicago is third worst in the nation and a solid point higher than the national average.  Minorities fare far worse.  And even in the better neighborhoods, people are underemployed.

Did I mention the high property taxes in Cook County…or the sales tax…or the 5% income tax?

And the union turns up their noses at 3% raises, a nice health insurance plan, job protection and legendary vacation days.

Even the folks on welfare have seen cuts in their perks.  Some of the freebees are gone and qualifying takes added paperwork.

It all leads to parents asking the question, “What are the teachers complaining about?”  Good question.

So, Obama perpetuated the problem back in 2009 by sending free money to school districts that simply kept hiring and paying as though there was no recession.  They finally woke up to the problem and now must fight the unions to lower costs.  Karen Lewis is the personification of unions fighting back.  Welcome to Obama’s middle class.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Voldemort Economics

We've all heard of Voodoo Economics.

May I introduce Voldemort Economics.  It consists of dealing with our economic woes without mentioning the real problem.

Obama (and to a lesser extent, Romney) believes that the problem with our economy is confidence.  People are afraid to spend and business owners are afraid to expand.  It's sort of like FDR's tag line: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

But that simply isn't the case.  If that was the real problem we would have returned to normal when George Bush sent every couple $1,200 with instructions to go out and buy something.

As for stimulating business, Obama's trick to allow businesses to accelerate depreciation was a pretty good idea, but it was a one-shot deal that just gives a tax break early.

No, the real problem, the problem that must not be named, is that our money is worthless and we owe boatloads of cash to people who should be our competitors, if not our enemies.

Obama pays a bit of lip-service to bringing our jobs back home, but that is all it is.  Some days he talks of global expansion, but never isolationism.  To impact the balance of trade in our favor would require tariffs and embargoes...and tax breaks and regulation waivers at home.  No one's talking about such efforts.

At some point we will wake up to the fact that Fed manipulations of the interest rate (how much below zero can you go) and their Quantitative Easing are just not working.  They boost the stock markets but do nothing to actually fix the economy.  In fact, they are making it worse.

They have painted us into a corner by creating a dilemma where the thing we need (HIGHER interest to encourage savings) kills the golden goose of growth.  If interest rates go up, inflation will rise and businesses will stop borrowing.  But with the low rates we have today, people are forced to play the market to get any return at all.  That's fundamentally wrong and only proves that our money has no value.

So, watch for either candidate to talk about returning value to our money.  You're more likely to hear them call out, "Voldemort."

And we will continue to put our faith in the stock market, which is based on perception instead of reality.  By no means a firm economic foundation.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Obama accepts the nomination

President Barack Obama signed up for a second term Thursday night by accepting the nomination of the Democrat Party.

His speech was calculated to draw a contrast between his philosophy and that of Mitt Romney.  And it was a very progressive vision.  Essentially, he wanted to perpetuate and enhance the Nanny State and get the millionaires to pay for it.

But the Nanny’s purse is empty and her credit cards are all maxed out.  And taking it all from the millionaires won’t even pay the interest.

Remember the GOP debates?  Remember the young man who asked, “For every dollar I earn, how much do you think that I deserve to keep?”

I suppose the Obama answer is that the young man should keep it all…and get subsidized tuition…and interest-free student loans…and free health care…and if he happens to be here illegally, citizenship.

This is a clear example of the difference between Obama and Romney.  As Obama has already proven, you simply cannot have the dream the Democrats are selling.  Someone has to pay for it.

The GOP makes some wild promises of its own, but at the end of the day Romney realizes that you have to make some serious cuts in spending and some folks are going to miss their entitlements.

Some of the cuts are easy.  You have to stop paying federal employees for sick days they didn’t use.  It’s simple, but the unions will squawk. 

And handing out free cell phones to welfare recipients is nonsense.  They’ve already got smart phones, so these toys are just given to their children to play with.

We’ve got entire departments in Washington that regulate everything from school lunch to CO2 emissions.  Less government means less expense.

Don’t expect Romney to have the big talk with America about doing without some of the perks.  That wouldn’t work.  He’d lose the election.

But come the inauguration, he must begin cutting deep…if we are fortunate enough to take the White House back from the progressives.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The GOP Platform 2012

Here's the actual text from the GOP Platform approved in Tampa this week.  The subject is immigration:
The Rule of Law: Legal Immigration
The greatest asset of the American economy is the American worker. Just as immigrant labor helped build our country in the past, today’s legal immigrants are making vital contributions in every aspect of our national life. Their industry and commitment to American values strengthens our economy, enriches our culture, and enables us to better understand and more effectively compete with the rest of the world. Illegal immigration undermines those benefits and affects U.S. workers. 

In an age of terrorism, drug cartels, human trafficking, and criminal gangs, the presence of millions of unidentified persons in this country poses grave risks to the safety and the sovereignty of the United States. Our highest priority, therefore, is to secure the rule of law both at our borders and at ports of entry.

We recognize that for most of those seeking entry into this country, the lack of respect for the rule of law in their homelands has meant economic exploitation and political oppression by corrupt elites. In this country, the rule of law guarantees equal treatment to every individual, including more than one million immigrants to whom we grant permanent residence every year. That is why we oppose any form of amnesty for those who, by intentionally violating the law, disadvantage those who have obeyed it. Granting amnesty only rewards and encourages more law breaking. 

We support the mandatory use of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (S.A.V.E.) program – an internet-based system that verifies the lawful presence of applicants – prior to the granting of any State or federal government entitlements or IRS refunds. We insist upon enforcement at the workplace through verification systems so that jobs can be available to all legal workers. Use of the E-verify program – an internet-based system that verifies the employment authorization and identity of employees – must be made mandatory nationwide. State enforcement efforts in the workplace must be welcomed, not attacked. When Americans need jobs, it is absolutely essential that we protect them from illegal labor in the workplace. In addition, it is why we demand tough penalties for those who practice identity theft, deal in fraudulent documents, and traffic in human beings. It is why we support Republican legislation to give the Department of Homeland Security long-term detention authority to keep dangerous but undeportable aliens off our streets, expedite expulsion of criminal aliens, and make gang membership a deportable offense.

The current Administration’s approach to immigration has undermined the rule of law at every turn. It has lessened work-site enforcement – and even allows the illegal aliens it does uncover to walk down the street to the next employer – and challenged legitimate State efforts to keep communities safe, suing them for trying to enforce the law when the federal government refuses to do so. It has created a backdoor amnesty program unrecognized in law, granting worker authorization to illegal aliens, and shown little regard for the life-and-death situations facing the men and women of the border patrol.

Perhaps worst of all, the current Administration has failed to enforce the legal means for workers or employers who want to operate within the law. In contrast, a Republican Administration and Congress will partner with local governments through cooperative enforcement agreements in Section 287g of the Immigration and Nationality Act to make communities safer for all and will consider, in light of both current needs and historic practice, the utility of a legal and reliable source of foreign labor where needed through a new guest worker program. We will create humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily, while enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas.

State efforts to reduce illegal immigration must be encouraged, not attacked. The pending Department of Justice lawsuits against Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, and Utah must be dismissed immediately. The double-layered fencing on the border that was enacted by Congress in 2006, but never completed, must finally be built. In order to restore the rule of law, federal funding should be denied to sanctuary cities that violate federal law and endanger their own citizens, and federal funding should be denied to universities that provide in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, in open defiance of federal law.

We are grateful to the thousands of new immigrants, many of them not yet citizens, who are serving in the Armed Forces. Their patriotism should encourage us all to embrace the newcomers legally among us, assist their journey to full citizenship, and help their communities avoid isolation from the mainstream of society. To that end, while we encourage the retention and transmission of heritage tongues, we support English as the nation’s official language, a unifying force essential for the educational and economic advancement of – not only immigrant communities – but also our nation as a whole.

Source link:

Friday, August 31, 2012

Condi's Comments

I really don’t like political convention speeches.  They are filled with crowd-pleasing comments calculated to get applause and obfuscate the hard truths of reality.  Where oratory is concerned, everyone wants to deliver the speech of the century…but in order to do that they typically paint the other party as all wrong and their own without sin.

In other words…pure spin.

For example, Condoleezza Rice gave a rousing speech about the need for a strong defense and a clear message to the world about our foreign policy.  It was a good speech calculated to show Obama’s weaknesses and highlight the vast differences between the GOP and the Dems on these critical issues.

She was short on details but spoke from her expertise as a former Secretary of State.

But then she wandered into the immigration debate with code words calculated to woo Latinos.  (Hers were the words of Bush-Rove, delivered by a black woman to make them more palatable.)

Here’s what she said:
    “More than at any other time in history, greatness is built
on mobilizing human potential and ambition.  We have always done
that better than any country in the world.  People have come
here from all over because they have believed our creed of
opportunity and limitless horizons.
    “They have come here from the world's most impoverished
nations just to make a decent wage.  And they have come here
from advanced societies as engineers and scientists that fuel
the knowledge-based revolution in the Silicon Valley of
California, in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, along
Route 128 in Massachusetts, in Austin, Texas, and across this
great land.
     “We must continue to welcome the world's most ambitious
people to be a part of us.  In that way, we stay young and
optimistic and determined.  We need immigration laws that
protect our borders, meet our economic needs, and yet show that
we are a compassionate nation of immigrants.”

Such flowery words.  Might those “impoverished” ones be the people we call illegal aliens?  Is she suggesting we legalize them?  Is she suggesting that one million green cards a year isn’t enough?

The last line of the quote gives us the GWB slant: “…show that we are a compassionate nation of immigrants.”  One is surprised that the podium didn’t collapse from the weight of all that baggage.

It is an interesting irony that Rice talks about our need to import engineers and scientists and later in the speech talks about poor domestic education in certain zip codes.  Why not address the defects in college curricula and get some jobs for the hundreds of thousands of college grads who are unemployed?  (Short answer: She’d rather pander to illegals and get cheap labor for her Chamber pals than dis her fellow professors.)

While we’re on the subject of minorities, surely Rice is an intelligent woman.  It seems unlikely that she fails to make the connection between illegal aliens coming here “just to make a decent wage,” and our own citizens who have few skills competing with them for the same jobs.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The TSA is consistent... inept!

Another trip, another horror story with TSA.

At O'Hare on August 10th:  I went through the body x-rated machine.  They instructed me to empty my pockets.  I went in the box and assumed the position.  They decided to pat down my left leg.  And he checked me from crotch to ankle.  Then they let me go.

After I left the screening area I discovered a plastic my RIGHT, front pocket.  So...does that mean these experts don't know their left from their right?

Eight days later, the Salt Lake airport.  Big signs in line inform you that you can choose the x-rated machine or the traditional magnetometer.  So I line up next to the mag machine.  Guess what?  They sent me to the box.  I told him I had a choice and he flatly told me if I didn't get in the box they would do a pat down.  Those were my two choices.

Several people before me went through the mag arch.  The machine was turned on and staffed.  But I didn't have that option.

I really dislike the TSA.  They employ knee-jerk tactics and punish the innocent while the terrorists are making other plans.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


There was a Chick-fil-A article in the LA Times on August 3rd.  The headline read: “Chick-fil-A Kiss-In: LAPD called to Hollywood store over media mob”

Source link:

The byline was - Richard Winton, Ruben Vives in Torrance and Rosanna Xia in Los Angeles

I’m not sure which of them wrote this phrase, but it makes no sense to me.  It reads:
Some held anti-gay marriage signs that read "Jesus is the only answer."

I just don’t get the intent of the reporter. 

Missing the Point - Again

The AP sent around a news story yesterday about ICE detention facilities.  The takeaway message included:
  • Private companies are housing most of the illegal aliens awaiting trial/deportation
  • This incarceration is expensive
  • The government hasn’t really compared actual costs
  • These private prison companies donate to politicians

Source link:

But the illegal alien incarceration problem is merely a symptom of the bigger problem, one the AP failed to report on.  At issue are the following politically-motivated factors:

1)     Our government chose to use private prisons rather than build or use government facilities.  For example, the Thomson Illinois prison has had capacity for years, yet it has become a Senator Dick Durbin football.  Washington has chosen not to build new federal detention centers for illegal aliens.
2)     Sharing the load is rented space from county jails around the country, making them dependent on the federal gravy train.
3)     The immigration court system is a protracted mess, working harder at granting amnesty than quickly deporting people who are unlawfully present.  This all takes time and appeals...and bed space for long periods of time.
4)     Obama in particular has championed the cause of comfort for these prisoners.  Dance lessons, cooking classes and family visits all add to the cost of incarceration.  And they have free medical care.  I don’t.
5)     Private industry has learned not to warehouse parts for the factory.  The Just-in-time concept of managing the factory has become a necessary science.  Somehow government just doesn’t get it. 

In short, we need more beds, swifter deportation, a tougher immigration court and stronger interior enforcement.  Our current “strategies” will not solve the detention bed problem.

It is clear from this problem that government does not understand the concept of opportunity costs.

How NOT to Protest Traditional Marriage

Yesterday was the Kiss-in protest, a photo op showing gay pride vs. traditional marriage.

On higher ground, it is a demonstration of the right to protest vs. the right of an individual to speak out about God and marriage.

But setting aside content, let’s talk about technique here.  On August 1st those who happen to agree with CEO Cathy that traditional marriage is ordained of God chose to visit Chick-fil-A and buy a sandwich from the local restaurant.  It was a show of strength and resulted in record sales of chicken sandwiches.

Contrast that to the GBLT people who are planning a kiss-in at Chick-fil-A today.  The plan is simple.  Two (or more, I suppose) same-sex people will enter the store and give each other a passionate kiss in front of all the paying customers.

That’ll show ‘em.  NOT!

Why would anyone think this PDA would somehow help their cause?  It seems to me that even moderates who are warming up to the idea of gay rights will be turned-off by such displays.  After all, same-sex intimacy is the toughest sell when it comes to accepting gays as normal.  Two men living together and enjoying travel and conversation is fine; grown men playing tummy sticks or having anal sex…not so much.

Their parades with the bump-and-grind actions, leather outfits and chains, only serve to reinforce the stereotype of the GBLT lifestyle.  Kiss-in protests are just more of the same.

Chalk it up as just another difference between Liberals and Conservatives.  Occupy Wall Street is an entirely different game than a Tea Party rally.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Muzzling Mitt

The news outlets seem to have found a tool to keep Romney away from any substance.  They simply take any candid remark from Mitt or his people and make it the news for 48 hours.
Like the Anglo-Saxon flap.  I'm not sure why tying America's foundation to England is so politically incorrect, but to make it into headlines seems a bit foolish to me.

Then they made Romney's comments about Olympic security problems into a major diplomatic incident.  Excuse me, but Romney had a serious bombshell dropped in his lap five months before the 2002 games.  It seems to me he is uniquely qualified to point out the elephant in the middle of the room.  After all, it was in all the papers for weeks.  Is that somehow treasonous to Brits?  It shouldn't be.

So, everything is making Mitt an offender-for-a-word to avoid any legitimate comparison to Obama or, God forbid, explore his solutions to the real problems in America.

One might think that the news outlets can only do political correctness these days.  They don't do substance.  I prefer to believe that they are campaigning for the liberals.  An attack on the minutia of the Romney campaign is effective and far easier than real reporting.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Rules were made to be broken"

How’s that for an Obama campaign slogan?

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has issued a document listing all of the Obama Administration’s efforts to sidestep the immigration laws of the United States.  They have methodically made it easier for illegal aliens to work and live in the United States, and opened up new opportunities for individual amnesty.

While Obama has been boasting about record numbers of deportations, he has actually been decimating various enforcement efforts.

For information about the FAIR report, see the link below:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who will be the Veep?

Who cares?

The Vice President is just a cipher; a place-keeper.

Worse, he/she is chosen not for their talent but for the votes they can make up.

And once chosen, they are brought into the shop, painted up, coached and told to just shut up most of the time.

Look at what they did to Sarah Palin?  She had an important position to take and they put tape over her mouth.  She was chosen as a conservative then hammered into a crash-test dummy.

We'd really like a smart, trusted adviser to the president.  Maybe someone who could temper his position.

But since these kingmakers have decided it is too risky to run someone who can think for themselves, why bother to care who they choose to manipulate?

Candidate Choices

Here we are less than four months to election day and it has come to this.

We have Obama acting all moderate these days, just like he did in 2008.  But he’s really a Social Justice candidate.  Some call him a Socialist or even a Communist, but those are just labels.  To be sure he believes in the Nanny State where government fills in all the gaps for the disadvantaged.

From free cell phones to credit card debt write-offs, he believes that society should carry the burden.  Big government programs; big taxes; deficit spending.

He started his presidency with a full-tilt campaign for progressivism.  Listen to his state of the union speeches those first couple of years.

The midterms sent him a message but it got garbled in his head and came out, “The GOP is blocking every good work of mine.”

If Obama stays in the White House you can assume that he will make some Hail Mary efforts to add more progressive programs.  He will be thwarted to a large degree by Congress if the conservative movement holds in November.

Then there is Mitt Romney.  He is no panacea.  I would expect from his rhetoric that he will NOT be a conservative president.  He’s probably along the lines of Bush 2, one of those “compassionate conservative” types.

Romney may cut back on things like Obamacare, Medicaid and Unemployment Benefits.  If the economy revives while he’s in office, he’ll enjoy a revenue boost.  Keep in mind he’s got a lot of Obama baggage to make up for and dismantling federal programs takes years.  Don’t expect any grand reversal of spending.

Best case, we’ll be back to the GWB spending days.

In summary, there is no turnaround presidential choice here.  We’ve got Social Justice vs. Status Quo. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Obama wants to graduate

I was thinking yesterday that Obama is acting like a college student with his campaign.
He spent the first two years of his term monkeying around with progressive ideas.  Take a look at the things he promised in his January 2010 State of the Union address:
· New small business loans
· Small business tax credit
· No capital gains tax on small business development
· Tax incentives on plants and equipment
· Infrastructure investment
· Clean energy facilities
· Energy rebates
· Increase taxes to companies with overseas employees
· Tax breaks for US job creation
· Banking reform – inform bank customers
· Research funding
· Nuclear power plants
· Offshore drilling
· Biofuels
· Clean coal
· Climate change laws
· Increase exports
· More trade deals
· School reform
· Government college loan
· Tuition tax credits
· More Pell grants
· Limit repayment of school loans 10% 10 years
· Double child care credit
· IRAs for all
· More home refinancing
· Health care reform
· Foreign aid for AIDS
· Bioterror defense
· Civil rights prosecution
· Immigration enforcement

In his third year he started to take his work seriously.

And here he is, approaching graduation, trying to tell us what a good job he's done while blaming others (Bush, Romney, the evil GOP House, Fox News, The Tea Party, Sara Palin...anyone but himself) for his lack of results.

I certainly hope we don't allow him to graduate.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Let's Play...

...YOU be the Immigration Judge.

Here's your case:

Modesto Rosales
  • Male
  • 23 years old
  • Arrived in the USA on a B2 visa 21 years ago
  • Speaks English fluently
  • Father of two, though not listed as so on the birth certificates
  • Provides some support to his children
  • Filed tax returns
  • Enrolled in “Transforming Incarcerated Dads”
  • Married to a U S Citizen

But wait, there’s more…
Juvenile rap sheet:
  •  residential burglary
  • disorderly conduct
  • aggravated battery
  • resisting an officer
Adult convictions:
  • driving under the influence
  • driving on a suspended license
  • possession/consumption of alcohol by a minor
  • domestic battery/bodily harm
  • unlawful possession of a firearm
Immigration charges
  • Overstayed his visa (Charged August 2009)
  • Firearms possession (Charged January 2012)
Personal life
  • Wife plans to divorce him

So, what do you think?  Should the judge give him a Green Card or order him deported?

(drum roll, please) The answer is:
Judge Robert P. Owens ordered that Rosales’ application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident be granted.  Translation:  He was given a Green Card.

One is left wondering who would be considered deportable.

Well, the judge surely blew this one.  The judge ruled in April of this year.  On June 23rd Rosales and another man invaded the home of his former girlfriend (and mother of the five-year-old), beat her, beat the man in the home with an iron…all this while his son watched on (so much for the “good father” part).

Here’s the story from The Courier News:

Accused home invader won prior bid to stay in US

By Mike Danahey June 27, 2012 10:18PM
Updated: June 28, 2012 5:12PM
ELGIN — One of the men accused in last weekend’s home invasion and brutal beating of two people was allowed to stay in the country by a judge in April, federal documents indicate.

According to U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review Immigration Court documents obtained by The Courier-News and dated April 12, 2012, Judge Robert P. Owens ruled in favor of Modesto Rosales during removal proceedings against Rosales.

Owens ordered that Rosales’ application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident be granted.

According to reports, Rosales, 23, and Jaime Zarate, age unknown, are accused of invading a home along the 400 block of Raymond Street early Saturday morning, where they beat a man in the face with an iron and also beat Rosales’ former girlfriend in front of her 5-year-old child. Elgin police arrested the two men later that morning after a short chase near Rosales’ home in the 300 block of Wilcox Avenue, reports stated.

Reports stated both had been out on parole and were charged with home invasion, a Class X felony, and four counts of aggravated battery, a Class 3 felony. Rosales also was charged with aggravated domestic battery, a Class 2 felony. The men remain in Kane County jail Wednesday with bail set at $500,000 for each, and both are to appear in court again Friday.

“The Court finds that the respondent’s equities in this case tip the scale, ever so slightly, in the respondent’s favor,” the document states. “Clearly, the respondent’s criminal history is substantial and extremely troublesome, However, the Court is persuaded that the respondent has shown sufficient remorse, maturity and rehabilitation to merit a final opportunity to stay in the United States.”

The adverse factors Owens considered were that Rosales “has been convicted of driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, possession/consumption of alcohol by a minor, domestic battery/bodily harm, and unlawful possession of a firearm,” the document states, noting these offenses took place between July 24, 2003, and March 18, 2009.

Rosales also testified that he had been arrested on several occasions as a juvenile on charges including residential burglary, disorderly conduct, aggravated battery and resisting an officer, the document states.

Favorable factors considered by Owens included that Rosales has been in the United States since he was 2 years old, had never left the U.S., and that he is more comfortable speaking English than Spanish.

The document also notes Rosales’ strong family ties in the U.S. and a citizen wife, “although she testified that she plans to divorce him when she has the time and money to do so,” the document states.

According to the document, Rosales has filed tax returns, is a good father and has two children who are U.S. citizens whom he provides for though “he is not listed as their father on their birth certificates.”

In October 2011, he enrolled in “Transforming Incarcerated Dads” to improve his parenting skills, the document states, and Rosales also enrolled in several classes to increase his job skills while last incarcerated.

An immigration hearing was conducted March 12, the document states. On Aug. 5. 2009, the Department of Homeland Security served Rosales with a notice to appear in court for remaining well beyond well beyond the six months allowed as a B2 visitor who came to the United States through Brownsville, Texas. On Jan. 19, the DHS served additional charges regarding Rosales’ Dec. 28, 2010, conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm, a deportable offense.

Source Link:

The King of Taxation

When the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare on the basis that it is a tax and that government has the right to tax us, they created the mother of all unintended consequences.

Obama will now forever be known as the president who lobbied hard and won the distinction as the man who imposed the largest and most ominous tax in history.

How could it be otherwise?  This tax will impact all of us and continue to grow in size and scope.  Medical costs are the largest expense we have.  And the costs have grown wildly, outstripping the rate of inflation year-after-year.

And what a legacy for Obama.  No wonder he's denying it is a tax.  But you can't have it both ways, Barack.  Unless you call it a tax you don't have the right to impose it.

Obamacare is the largest tax in history and it must be noted that Obama and the democrats hold all the blame here.  They were told repeatedly by the GOP and the American people not to pass it.  You deserve the crown of taxation.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Gagging again

Once is more than enough.
  • Do you remember how Obamacare failed twice in Congress?
  • Do you remember the costume party at the White House where white lab coats were provided for the photo op with the doctors who supported it?
  • Do you remember that Obama cut a deal with pharma early on so they would stand aside during the public debate on Obamacare?
  • Do you remember all the deals and procedural dancing to get it passed?
  • Do you remember Pelosi telling us to get it passed so we can find out what's in it?
  • Do you remember that Obama claimed there was no GOP alternative?
We gagged and Congress passed the bill on a week end.

Now I feel like the Supreme Court just shoved it all further down our throats.

Let us hope there is a strong gag reflex on November 6th.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Taking Stock of the Situation

(In the aftermath of the U S Supreme Court ruling of Arizona SB1070)

If I’m an illegal alien (or a future one) I’m feeling pretty good these days.
For example, worksite raids have ended thanks to Obama’s selective enforcement (or lack thereof) of federal laws prohibiting people to work without authorization.
So, the feds won’t check up on you…and as of today the U S Supreme Court has forbidden the states from checking.

Illegal aliens can go ahead and work with confidence.  In fact, the only suckers are the citizens who dutifully fill out their I-9 forms and provide the required ID to employers.

Speaking of ID, remember that pesky rule that’s on the books requiring immigrants to carry their papers?  That is so yesterday.  Once again, the feds don’t bother to check and the states are forbidden to do so.  “We don’t need no stinkin’ papers.”

And if you drag your children across the border they have Obama’s blessing that they can take our jobs and get an automatic work permit.  Sweet.

What’s even better is that Obama’s opponent in the November election sounds like he’ll do the same thing or something similar.

So, if you’re an illegal alien you should be breathing easier these days.  The rules you thought you were breaking are not being enforced.

For the rest of us, I wonder just how this soft approach is going to serve to deter future illegal aliens.  Just how is this supposed to help?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sun Times Sniffing Around

The Chicago Sun Times has traditionally been the newspaper of the left in town.  These days it’s hard to find any rag that doesn’t shill for Obama.  But The Sun Times is going out on a limb to criticize Obama.

Staff reporter Dan Mihalopoulos wrote a story today about David Axelrod, Obama’s PR manager who left the White House last year to work full time on the campaign.

It seems that Axelrod’s old PR firm, the one that he founded, is knee-deep in Chicago business.

Of course, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was Chief of Staff at the same time Axelrod worked in the White House.  Hmmm.

And although Axelrod left the PR firm to work in Washington, he’s still drawing $200K a year (Does that make him a 1%-er?) from the firm and his new firm is on the same floor in the same building as the old.

Did I mention that he still has an office in the old firm?

Did I mention that two of the projects Axelrod’s old firm is working on are very lucrative, long-term programs – renovating Wrigley Field with public money and an infrastructure investment scheme using private funds.

But all the answers are lined up to assure us that everything is legit.  [Of course they are.  Chicago politics is always clean.]

Here’s a sample of the official explanations:
  • Axelrod says he had no role in landing those contracts and isn’t involved in the work ASGK is doing for Citibank…or for the Cubs.
  • Axelrod says he didn’t even know Citibank was an ASGK client until a reporter told him.
  • Axelrod says the terms of his deal with ASGK “are fixed and unaffected by these deals” with Citibank and the Cubs.
  • “If you think hiring Axelrod’s old firm will get you special access or privileges, you are sorely mistaken,” says spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton. “No person or company has an inside track into City Hall.”
  • The firm’s executives don’t register as lobbyists because they say they don’t ever directly lobby — contacting public officials on behalf of their clients. Rather, they say they help clients get their stories out in other ways — with “media relations, message development, advertising, social media and constituency relations.”
  • Another Axelrod-founded firm — AKPD Media and Messaging — recently produced ads critical of the Chicago Teachers Union, which is embroiled in a contract dispute with Emanuel.
  • AKPD oversaw Emanuel’s ad blitz during his mayoral campaign, and the firm is a paid consultant to his political committee, state records show.
  • “I rent space in my old offices, but I work full-time out of Obama headquarters these days,” Axelrod says.
  • Ald. Will Burns (4th) — who voted for the trust — works for ASGK. Its website lists him as a managing partner. Burns says he doesn’t work on the Citibank account and had been unaware that Citibank is an ASGK client.

Absolutely the best photo depicting the matter is this one:

But you’ve got to trust the Chicago Machine.  There’s nothing to see here.  Really.  Especially in an election year.

A tip of the hat to Mr. Mihalopoulos for his political courage.

David Axelrod: No role in firm’s deals
BY DAN MIHALOPOULOS, Chicago Sun Times Staff Reporter

Last Modified: Jun 18, 2012 02:10AM
David Axelrod — the top campaign adviser to President Barack Obama — sold his ownership stake in ASGK Public Strategies in 2009, when he became a senior White House adviser.

But Axelrod didn’t cut his ties to the Chicago public relations firm completely. He still has an office there. His name is on the door. His old partners are still paying him the five annual $200,000 payments they agreed to when they bought him out.

Now, two of the firm’s clients — Citibank and the Chicago Cubs — have a lot riding on decisions to be made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Axelrod friend and former White House colleague who ran on a pledge to reform a City Hall he described as riddled with influence-peddling.

Axelrod says he had no role in landing those contracts and isn’t involved in the work ASGK is doing for Citibank, which wants to help finance Emanuel’s highly touted Chicago Infrastructure Trust, or for the Cubs, who want Emanuel’s help in financing a major renovation of Wrigley Field.

Axelrod says he didn’t even know Citibank was an ASGK client until a reporter told him.

“I knew they represent the Cubs — I’m a huge fan,” says Axelrod, who’s back in Chicago from Washington to guide the president’s re-election campaign, which is based here. “But I have not been involved in the [Wrigley] project and don’t know the details of it.”

Axelrod says the terms of his deal with ASGK “are fixed and unaffected by these deals” with Citibank and the Cubs.

Emanuel’s top spokeswoman says hiring ASGK won’t win Citibank and the Cubs any favors from City Hall.

“If you think hiring Axelrod’s old firm will get you special access or privileges, you are sorely mistaken,” says spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton. “No person or company has an inside track into City Hall.”

Still, the public is rightly skeptical when companies with insider connections are involved with government, especially when the stakes are high, says David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

Yepsen says the Cubs and any firm that wants a part of the potentially lucrative Infrastructure Trust should engage in “total transparency” about who’s helping their efforts.

“I don’t want to say they shouldn’t be doing business with the city, but they have to do their ‘moving and shaking’ in the open,” Yepsen says. “Rahm Emanuel, Axelrod’s old firm, these banks — they don’t need any inference of impropriety or cronyism. They have to show they have nothing to hide and that what they are doing is in the public’s interest.”

ASGK quietly has played a role in a number of major issues at City Hall, among them helping win City Council approval in 2008 for the Chicago Children’s Museum’s now-abandoned plan to move from Navy Pier to Grant Park.

The firm’s executives don’t register as lobbyists because they say they don’t ever directly lobby — contacting public officials on behalf of their clients. Rather, they say they help clients get their stories out in other ways — with “media relations, message development, advertising, social media and constituency relations.”

Another Axelrod-founded firm — AKPD Media and Messaging — recently produced ads critical of the Chicago Teachers Union, which is embroiled in a contract dispute with Emanuel. AKPD oversaw Emanuel’s ad blitz during his mayoral campaign, and the firm is a paid consultant to his political committee, state records show.

Like ASGK, AKPD continues to pay Axelrod for selling his stake in that firm. AKPD owed him $2 million, to be paid over four years, when he became a White House aide, Axelrod told federal ethics officials.

Both AKPD and ASKG are housed at the same River North address that’s also home to Axelrod Strategies, the firm he founded upon leaving the White House last year. “I rent space in my old offices, but I work full-time out of Obama headquarters these days,” Axelrod says.

ASGK’s managing partner, Eric Sedler, won’t talk about the work the firm is doing for the Cubs and Citibank.

Dennis Culloton, spokesman for the Cubs’ owners, won’t say what ASGK is doing for the team but says it was hired in the past year and answers to Michael Lufrano, the team’s general counsel and executive vice president of community affairs.

The team needs support from Emanuel and the City Council to advance its $300 million plan to rehab Wrigley. In April, Emanuel said negotiations for a Wrigley deal were in the final stages. Then, the mayor reacted angrily to reports last month that Joe Ricketts — patriarch of the family that owns the Cubs — was part of a conservative group considering a since-dropped plan for a $10 million attack ad campaign on Obama.

Emanuel has since declared that that won’t affect negotiations with the Cubs, but Hamilton says City Hall currently isn’t engaged in any Wrigley talks. “If and when they do resume, the mayor will make his decision based on what is best for taxpayers,” Hamilton says.

Citibank and a fund called Citi Infrastructure Partners — which won’t talk about ASGK’s work — were two of the five financial institutions that Emanuel singled out at a March 1 news conference with former President Bill Clinton at which he announced the formation of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. Citibank and Citi Infrastructure Partners told city officials they’re considering investing as much as $200 million apiece in the initiative, which is designed to use private dollars to pay for public works projects.

Asked how the firms came to be involved in the initiative, which hadn’t been approved by the City Council, Hamilton says Lois Scott, Emanuel’s chief City Hall financial officer, relied on her 30 years of experience in the private sector and “made calls with an open invitation . . . to express investment potential.”

A newly nominated, five-member board will screen applicants to finance Infrastructure Trust deals. With only seven aldermen dissenting, the Council quickly approved an ordinance creating the trust in April.

Ald. Will Burns (4th) — who voted for the trust — works for ASGK. Its website lists him as a managing partner. Burns says he doesn’t work on the Citibank account and had been unaware that Citibank is an ASGK client, though Citibank is listed as a client on the firm’s website. “I don’t do a lot of work for ASGK, to be very frank,” Burns says, adding that city ethics officials assured him that his vote for the Infrastructure Trust wasn’t a conflict of interest because “any number of financial institutions can participate in the trust.”
Copyright © 2012 — Sun-Times Media, LLC