Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Decision '08, Ethics — Rick Moran @ 11:48 am

Man, you knew this was coming. Super Delegates in Ohio are demanding a quid pro quo for their vote. And they don’t care if it’s Hillary or Obama that meets it:

Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, one of the leading protectionists in Congress, said Ohioans have many suggestions on economic and trade issues they hoped the candidates would address.

“We have a laundry list of measures we think would be effective, some involving tax policy, some involving investment policy, intellectual property incentives to hold investments in this country,” Kaptur said. “I’m hoping superdelegates [who] are uncommitted that have the economy as their major concern will gravitate to our group and use that power to gain additional attention.”

Much of this article originally appears in The American Thinker

Among congressional Democrats from Ohio, only Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a Clinton backer, has endorsed. The rest — Kaptur, Reps. Dennis J. Kucinich, Tim Ryan, Zack Space, Betty S. Sutton and Charlie Wilson, and Sen. Sherrod Brown — remain uncommitted even after their state’s voters handed Clinton a decisive victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

“We had a general agreement,” Kucinich said of the pact. “We have economic issues that need to be addressed. Ohio has economic issues more urgent than any other state.”

This will be a treat to watch. How many of these “deals” do you think are going to be announced and how many are going to take place in some smokey back room? Just what is the presidency worth? Perhaps a more accurate question is what do you think it will go for this year? How many more billions will either Hillary or Obama be willing to add to federal spending to fulfill their promises to these delegatations and receive their support?

For a party predisposed to spend the living daylights out of the budget, having a front row seat for this bidding war is going to be like watching an auction at Christie’s involving a Da Vinci or Rembrandt.

So sit back and relax. Make some popcorn if you like. And make sure you have your calculator handy because adding up the goodies for each state’s delegation is going to be hard to follow without one.

Portions of this article appear in The American Thinker


Filed under: Decision '08 — Rick Moran @ 7:36 am

Even if Hillary Clinton had wrapped up the Democratic party nomination for president on Super Tuesday in early February as most expected her to do, the problem of what to do with Florida and Michigan delegates would have remained.

That’s because the Democratic National Committee, in what might be termed a fit of pique, took away all of those states’ delegates as a result of their violation of primary scheduling rules (while also preventing candidates from campaigning in those states). At the time this occurred, I couldn’t have been the only observer who wondered how a national party could disenfranchise two of the biggest states in the union and not suffer untoward consequences. At the very least, by denying the delegate’s credentials from those two states - states that have proven competitive in most national elections - the DNC risked losing the presidential election because of their slavish adherence to rules designed to enforce party discipline.

Contrast the behavior of the Democratic National Committee with their counterparts at the RNC. The Republicans, also seeking to get control of the primary process, took away half the delegates from Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, Wyoming, and New Hampshire - also as a result of their violations of primary scheduling rules. They also allowed full participation by all candidates in those primaries.

As a result, while there was some grumbling and even some legal challenges, the primaries went forward on the Republican side with little or no backlash. (Note: There may yet be a blow up on this issue for Republicans. But it probably won’t rise to the level of what the Democrats are going through.)

Now the Democrats are in a pickle of their own making. With Hillary Clinton desperate for delegates and the Michigan and Florida state parties still seething, a push is now underway to either seat delegates who were chosen during the illegal primaries by forcing a showdown at the convention with the credentials committee or hold some kind of “re-vote” with the blessing of the DNC that would allow full delegate participation in the convention from those two states.

Howard Dean will not bend the party rules to grandfather in the disputed delegates from Michigan and Florida, the Democratic party chairman said in a statement today.

Instead, he put the state parties on notice: either they can wait and allow the credentials committee to decide whether to seat their delegates, or submit to a re-vote sanctioned under DNC rules. “We look forward to receiving their proposals should they decide to submit new delegate selection plans and will review those plans at that time,” he said in the statement.

“Everyone seems to be asking what the DNC will do,” a Democrat close to Dean said. “But the question is: what will the state parties do.”

Dean’s statement implies that he has no intention of changing the rules to accommodate any solution proposed by the candidates or the state parties. There has been some suggestion that the two remaining presidential candidates might try to broker a deal among themselves. His line in the sand narrows the options for Hillary Clinton’s campaign because it is unlikely that a credentials committee would endorse a delegation congenial to her mathematical interests.

In other words, the ruling last November that disenfranchised Michigan and Florida really doesn’t count. If the two states want representation at the convention, all they have to do is submit a plan to the DNC on how they wish to choose the delegates and they will sanction it.

So much for party discipline.

Dean’s blunder has the potential of leaving a trail of blood all the way from Denver to the November election. By placing the burden of holding a nominating contest on the state parties, he effectively washes the DNC’s hands of any responsibility for maintaining discipline in the face of rank defiance by local entities.

Why not stick to your guns and enforce the original decision? And if that decision was wrong - and supporters of both candidates believe it was - Dean should resign and allow his successor to clean up the mess. Paying for do-over primaries in both states would be an expensive proposition. A primary in Michigan would cost taxpayers in that cash-strapped state $10-12 million - a not inconsiderable sum even if the candidates were to pay for the two primaries as some have suggested. (The cost of a do-over primary in Florida is estimated at $15 million.)

Then there are the organization challenges of staffing the polling places, polling machine maintenance, absentee ballots, and setting up the whole infrastructure necessary to hold the contests. Could all of that be done in just a few months?

Florida would appear to be hesitant:

Karen Thurman, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party, issued a statement late Wednesday that seemed to discount the possibility of a second primary.

“It is important also that we are clear about one issue. At this time, no suggested alternative process has been able to meet three specific and necessary requirements: the full participation from both candidates, a guaranteed commitment of the millions of dollars it will cost to conduct the event and a detailed election plan that would enfranchise all Florida Democrats, including our military service members serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

“The Florida Democratic Party cannot consider any alternative that does not meet these requirements. Indeed, it is very possible that no satisfactory alternative plan will emerge, in which case Florida Democrats will remain committed to seating the delegates allocated by the January 29th primary.”

Granholm seems to have ruled out a primary altogether:

Granholm made it clear her first choice would be to find a way to seat the delegates from the January 15 Michigan primary, but acknowledged the fact that Barack Obama was not on the ballot creates a fairness issue.

“It could not be a primary because a primary is publicly paid for, and the taxpayers would not spend any more tax dollars on a primary. So if there’s anything it would have to be a caucus, but we’d have to have a way to pay for it without taxpayer dollars.”

What an unholy mess.

The Michigan Democratic party is up for a do-over primary but the governor won’t allow it. The Florida Democrats want the result of their original primary accepted and can see no alternative primary or caucus scenario.

Can you say “trainwreck?”

Dean’s “solution” is useless. No money - no primary. And it is apparent that Florida Democrats have dug in their heels and want their $15 million primary results validated.

If this is a game of chicken between the national and state parties, Denver would seem to be where the two sides will collide. If the national party prevails in the credentials committee (which is almost guaranteed), they will make 6 million Democratic voters in Florida and Michigan very unhappy. If Clinton were to somehow win the day and have those delegates seated, how many millions of unhappy Obama supporters will there be?

A Hobbesian choice to be sure. And one for which Howard Dean is completely responsible.


Howard Dean sums up the Democrats problem in one quote from this morning’s GMA:

“They have to be seated within the rules,” Dean said on “GMA.” “What you cannot do is change the rules in the middle of the contest.”

Of course they’re trying to change the rules in the middle of the race. That’s because the DNC ruled originally that the states were ineligible! And if they can’t change that rule why are we even bothering with all of this?

Howard Dean is a dunce, don’t you think?



Filed under: Decision '08, PJ Media — Rick Moran @ 5:00 pm

My latest column is up at Pajamas Media. I take a look at Hillary Clinton’s surprising showing last night and wonder what happened to Obama.

A sample:

Americans admire bulldog tenacity in their politicians. And they hate quitters. If you can say nothing else about Hillary Clinton’s night, it is that she rose to a very steep challenge and fought through to victories in Rhode Island and Ohio, breaking the spell Obama had on the voters, stifling his momentum, and at least slowing his march to the nomination that seemed so inevitable just a few days ago.

It could very well be that on the threshold of the biggest night of Barack Obama’s life, Democratic voters drew in their breath and said “not yet” to the senator from Illinois. Nagging questions raised successfully by the Clinton campaign about Obama’s experience with a controversial ad as well as the appearance of the first chink in his squeaky clean armor — the result of a curious meeting between representatives of the Canadian consulate in Chicago and Obama’s top economic policy advisor. A press report suggested that the advisor, Austan Goolsbee, told the Canadians not to pay attention to the anti-NAFTA rhetoric from Obama because he was simply pandering to Ohio voters and that once in office, there would be few changes to the agreement.

Whether the story is accurate is not the issue. The Obama camp was slow off the mark and confused in their response. They denied such a meeting took place only to have a memo of the conversation leaked to the Associated Press proving that it did, in fact, occur. They denied the substance of the story but the memo suggested otherwise — at least to some extent.

In short, it was a stumble at absolutely the worst time for the campaign. Obama had tremendous momentum in Ohio. He was closing the gap on Clinton and seemed poised to once again pull off a big win. The NAFTA gaffe angered many Ohioans and probably made the difference for Clinton.

And then there was “the ad.” It’s now infamous portrayal of a phone ringing in the White House at 3:00 AM while showing pictures of cute kids fast asleep and a voice over asking who the voter wants answering that phone may have been a clumsy evocation of Lyndon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad (a child counting petals she is pulling off a flower morphing into a countdown to launch a nuclear missile), but nevertheless appears to have had an impact. This is especially true in hawkish Texas where Clinton arrested a slide and clawed her way back into the race. (As of midnight Eastern time, Texas is still too close to call).

Yes, it was a very late night indeed.



Filed under: The Rick Moran Show — Rick Moran @ 7:31 pm

Join me and my trusty sidekick Rich Baehr, Political Correspondent for The American Thinker, for a special primary night edition of The Rick Moran Show. We will go live beginning at 7:00 PM Central time and continue on the air until at least 8:00 PM Central (longer if there is no winner called in both Ohio and Texas).

Tonight, Rich and I will be watching Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont as these primaries will probably determine Hillary Clinton’s future. Joining us from Texas for a live report will be Silvio Conti who will be talking to us from McCain party central.

For the best in political analysis, click on the button below and listen in. A podcast will be available for streaming or download around 15 minutes after the show ends.

The Chat Room will open around 15 minutes before the show opens,

Also, if you’d like to call in and put your two cents in, you can dial (718) 664-9764.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio


Filed under: CHICAGO BEARS — Rick Moran @ 4:55 pm

A great sadness has descended across much of the Midwest today. In Detroit, Minnesota, Chicago and especially the tiny town of Green Bay, Wisconsin, the news that Packer great Brett Favre is retiring was greeted with an indescribable feeling of loss that NFL Sundays would no longer feature perhaps the greatest quarterback ever to play the game.

A subjective statement to be sure. There will be those in Montana’s corner or those pushing Unitas or perhaps even Dan Marino as best ever. And if I had to live off the difference between any of those Hall of Famers, I wouldn’t get rich that’s for sure.

But the case for Favre is compelling. Three time MVP - never done. He had 275 consecutive games started, including playoffs - never done and probably never to be duplicated. Most yards, most TD passes and an absolutely frightening desire to win. Of all the athletes I have cheered and booed down through my 54 years, Favre and Michael Jordan stand head and shoulders above all others as the greatest competitors I have ever seen.

But look beyond the numbers and the desire. This is a man who thoroughly enjoyed the game. How many times did we see him take a gargantuan hit by some 300 LB lineman and bounce up like a jack-in-the-box with a huge grin on his face and fanny slap for the guy who planted him? His youthful exuberance in his declining years made it seem as if he could play forever.

But, of course, he couldn’t:

“I know I can still play, but it’s like I told my wife, I’m just tired mentally. I’m just tired,” Favre, a 17-year veteran and three-time NFL MVP, told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen in a voice mail message.

“If I felt like coming back — and Deanna [his wife] and I talked about this — the only way for me to be successful would be to win a Super Bowl. To go to the Super Bowl and lose, would almost be worse than anything else. Anything less than a Super Bowl win would be unsuccessful,” Favre said in the message.

“I know it shouldn’t feel unsuccessful, but the only way to come back and make that be the right decision would be to come back and win a Super Bowl. And honestly, the odds of that, they’re tough. Those are big shoes for me to fill, and I guess it was a challenge I wasn’t up for. “

He would never admit it but even someone as seeming indestructible as Brett Favre was starting to feel the pain of a thousand bumps, bruises, strains, and sprains that occurred over his brilliant 17 year career. Like most retired football players, he will be in some kind of pain for the rest of his life. But also like most players, he would gladly go back and start his career over even knowing what awaited him upon retirement.

He was a joy to watch - as long as he wasn’t playing your team. I had the misfortune of watching Brett Favre through 34 contests against my Beloved Bears. I cannot tell you how many games the Bears would be up going into the final minutes only to have this Grand Master Magician put the Packers on his back and carry them down the field for what would ultimately prove to be the winning score. It was maddening. It was uncanny. And it was sheer brilliance.

The weather never phased him. In this respect, he was a throwback to the “old” Packers who played in the Central Division with Chicago, Detroit, and Minnesota all with outdoor stadiums. Now only Chicago features an outdoor amphitheater for Favre to display his courage and ability to endure the cold and frozen tundra that Green Bay fans take such pride in enduring along with him.

Favre was the most enthusiastic passer I ever saw. By that I mean, he could be in the grasp of three lineman and still heave the ball 40 yards downfield for a completion. I saw him complete passes underhanded, pushed like a shot put, flung like a discus, and heaved 70 yards downfield. He may have been the best downfield passer who ever lived.

As the fortunes of the Packers waned over the previous 3 or 4 seasons prior to 2007, speculation grew that Favre would retire rather than be on a losing team. Indeed, at times Favre took desperate chances to get a moribund offense moving in those years resulting in more interceptions than at any time in his career. It seemed that his skills were waning at the same time the Packer’s fortune’s were ebbing.

And then came this past magical season and Favre looked almost like a rookie again flying around the backfield, taking off to run, meeting the challenge of directing a young team with a breathtaking combination of enthusiasm and experience. Favre willed the team to the NFC Championship game only to lose in the bitter cold and snow to the Giants.

Yes, I shall miss watching him play. But I and every other Bears fan will also breathe a huge sigh of relief now that he is headed to Canton. He made our lives miserable all those years he would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But on a much broader and more important level, he enriched our experience in watching and appreciating the game of football - a game he played with love and abandon for 17 years.


Filed under: Decision '08, Obama-Rezko — Rick Moran @ 7:42 am

The Prophet of Change:

Toward the end of the press conference, the question of Goolsbee’s meeting was raised again. Obama answered curtly and then walked out after a staffer called last question. The press erupted with shouts, but Obama continued to walk out.

He paused only to say, “Come on guys; I answered like eight questions. We’re running late.”

On the flight from San Antonio to Dallas, Obama, unsurprisingly, did not wander back to make small talk with the traveling press corps.

Yesterday, I idly wondered when Obama would start addressing the numerous questions about his relationship with indicted Chicago fixer Tony Rezko. The candidate’s press availability was starting to become an issue and I surmised that with the Rezko trial beginning yesterday, sooner or later Obama would have to bite the bullet and face some tough questions.

For fifteen very uncomfortable minutes yesterday, we got a preview of what’s in store for Obama from here on out in the campaign:

Led by the Chicago press corps that has covered Obama for years, the candidate today faced a barrage of questions in what turned out to be a contentious news conference.

Questions centered on why his campaign had denied that a meeting occurred between his chief economic advisor and Canadian officials as well as questions on his relationship with Tony Rezko, a Chicago land developer and fast food magnate, now on trial for corruption charges.

Obama claimed that when he had first denied the meeting between Austan Goolsbee and any members of the Canadian administration he provided “the information that [he] had at the time.”

He added, “Nobody reached out to the Canadians to try to reassure them. They reached out, unbeknownst to the rest of us; They reached out to Mr. Goolsbee, who provided them with a tangible conversation and repeated what we’ve said on the campaign trail.”

When did the meeting take place? Why did the Canadian officials reach out? Did Goolsbee not come forward right away and admit the meeting to Campaign Manager David Plouffe and Obama when both denied it last week? These are questions that went unanswered as the press conference was cut short.

Much of the back and forth, though, between reporters and Obama was about his relationship with Tony Rezko, with reporters demanding to know why new details were emerging from the case though Obama and his staff had claimed they had been forthright with all the details.

Indeed, what made this press conference different for Obama was the presence of a cadre of Chicago journalists who have been on the Rezko-Obama story from the beginning.

Carol Marin - TV news editor but a first class print journalist as well - along with Chris Fusco and Tim Novak of the Sun Times have been ferreting out the details of this very complex relationship between the candidate and the crook for more than 2 years. And Marin especially made life hell for Obama yesterday:

Obama and Carol Marin, political editor at NBC5 in Chicago and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, tangled over how up front Obama had been about Rezko. Obama cut off her line of questioning, saying that Marin’s questions were personally motivated.

“Carol, can I just say I have to really dispute this,” Obama said. “It is true that you wanted an individual sit down, but I don’t think that’s fair to speak for the entire Chicago press corps because on this — Let me finish,” he interjected as she tried to interrupt.

“Before you were reporting on these issues I had an avail,” Obama said, pointing to members of the Chicago press corps who were present, “where I literally stood there and took every question people could think of.”

Lynn Sweet from the Chicago Sun-Times then jumped in and told Obama that he may have answered questions for the Chicago press, but many other reporters hadn’t had a chance to hear him on the issue.

“I just want to make that point an issue,” Obama said. “You may still have questions, which I’m happy to answer, but I don’t think it’s fair to suggest somehow that we’ve been trying to hide the ball on this. There have been more attacks. There have been several hundred stories written on this issue. The fact of the matter remains unchallenged.”

Here’s the problem for Obama and the press; that “avail” (shorthand for an unscheduled press conference or “candidate availability”) was not with reporters on the Rezko-Obama beat but with embedded campaign reporters. Also, that avail only scratched the surface of the real estate transaction involving Obama and Rezko and did not address issues that have come up since then such as Obama’s assistance to Rezko that got his client a contract to build senior housing - a favor that gave Rezko a windfall of $855,000 in fees.

Nor has the candidate addressed numerous other issues relating to the purchase of his house, the possible intervention of the senator with the State Department to secure a visa for Rezko business partner and convicted fraudster Nadhmi Auchi, or exactly what kind of legal work Obama performed for Rezko’s slumlord management company while he was with a law firm doing business with Rezko.

The modus operandi of the campaign in the past has been to request written questions that would be submitted by reporters to the campaign and answered in due course. Or just as often, the questions are ignored or dismissed as having been answered already as the candidate did yesterday.

So it’s not surprising that when Obama was made available to the press with the Rezko wrecking crew of Chicago reporters present, fireworks would ensue. If you asked that contingent of Chicago reporters where this story was headed, they would probably tell you that they had yet to hit bottom and that other issues such as Obama’s relationships with Rezko cronies have yet to be fleshed out and explored. Some of those cronies also donated monies to his campaigns for state senate and the US senate and it remains to be seen if there were any favors exchanged as a result of those contributions.

But is this what we can expect from the candidate in the future? Tantrums and sulks just because the press is trying to do its job? Ed Morrissey compares John McCain’s presser the day after the New York Times smear against him:

Compare this to the press conference John McCain held after the New York Times smeared him by accusing him of having a sexual affair with a lobbyist. Not only did McCain — whose temper has its own zip code, according to some Capitol Hill staffers — give a lengthy and reserved statement, but then stood at the podium until the reporters ran out of questions. In fact, at the end, McCain had to ask twice whether anyone had anything else to ask him before leaving the podium.

By my count, McCain answered 36 questions in this press conference. How many did Obama take before walking off in a huff?

I would say to Barack Obama that after next Tuesday’s Mississippi primary, there is a lull in the campaign until the Pennsylvania showdown on April 22 (assuming Hillary Clinton wins either Ohio or Texas). It would be well to try and get ahead of the Rezko issue by making yourself more available to those who are covering the story in Chicago and answering questions that have been avoided or ignored. Otherwise, your campaign will be in reaction mode until the November election.

And as the drip, drip, drip of revelations continue, your prospects for victory diminish substantially.


Karl at PW also notes the Chicago cadre of reporters - most notably from the Sun Times - who tried to hold Obama’s feet to the fire yesterday but were dismissed in Marin’s case as trying to promote some kind of personal agenda.

Karl notes Marin’s bio where she quit NBC 5 because they hired Jerry Springer to give “commentary” on the news. Marin’s resignation (and co-anchor Ron Magers threatened resignation) doomed Springer’s run at WMAQ to 4 days.



Filed under: Decision '08, Obama-Rezko — Rick Moran @ 5:52 pm

A better question might be: “When will Obama talk to the press about anything.”

Generally speaking, Obama has been the least accessible candidate for president in a while. Howard Kurtz commented on this phenomena in January:

All traveling campaigns have a bubble-like quality, but Obama seems unusually insulated. One moment of absurdity came Tuesday, when reporters on the press bus were asked to dial into a conference call in which Obama announced a congressman’s endorsement — even though the candidate was nearby and just as easily could have delivered the news in person to the bus captives. Obama answered a few questions, but reporters are generally placed on mute after they speak so there can be no follow-up. (Clinton held a news conference the same morning.)

That afternoon, as the candidate was working his way through a raucous crowd at Linder University in Greenwood, New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny shouted a question about whether Obama was allowing Bill Clinton to get inside his head.

“Don’t try a cheap stunt like that. You’re better than that,” Obama told him with a smile. He finally suggested that “the other side must be rattled if they’re continually saying false things about us,” before walking away. What creates such awkwardness are long days when reporters have only seconds to bellow a question.

When Obama decided to do a round of interviews on the next day’s morning shows, not only did the campaign fail to notify the traveling correspondents the evening before, but a press aide insisted when asked about the rumor that he knew of no such plans.

And the isolation is even more pronounced when it comes to reporters who know the Rezko story. Sun Times blogger Lynn Sweet:

On Sunday, the chief strategist for the Obama campaign disagreed with my conclusion where I wrote that Obama has not talked to reporters who know the Tony Rezko story the best.

For more than a year, that has been a pretty small group of investigative journalists—from the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. I checked with the Sun-Times reporters before I wrote my column and rechecked again. They all said they have never had a chance to discuss Rezko with Obama.

There have been two times where Obama took questions on Rezko reporters—in Waukegan, Ill. in November, 2005 (transcript is reposted below) or LINK where none of the investigative reporters were present because Obama commented after a political event. There was also a hastily arranged April, 23, 2007, session where Obama talked to some Chicago reporters. The YouTube clip is from NBC5 and the Chicago Sun-Times.

On Sunday’s “This Week” show, Obama head honcho David Axelrod lied through his teeth when responding to a question about Lynn Sweet’s contention regarding access to local reporters with extensive knowledge of the Rezko case:

AXELROD: I think she is wrong. We’ve talked to reporters from
– and he’s talked to reporters from both papers several times in
several sessions about this, and each time the conclusion is the same:
There’s no evidence of any wrongdoing related to Mr. Rezko.

What do the reporters in question have to say about that?

Sun-Times Reporter Tim Novak
“David Axelrod has never talked to me, Fusco or Mckinney about Obama. Neither has Obama.
All we’ve gotten are responses to written questions, and who knows who actually answered those. And occassionally we talk to (Bill) Burton.
But the point is that Obama himself has never sat down and discussed these questions about Rezko.”

Sun-Times Reporter Chris Fusco
“Tim is absolutely right about that one.”

Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney
“Well, I know Chris and I have never had a sit-down interview with Obama. Axelrod might be referring to the December 2006 Q and A, but as you know those were written questions and written responses. I believe Tim’s experience was identical when he wrote about Rezko’s slum properties. Axelrod would have been more accurate, perhaps, had he said today that Obama has “communicated” with reporters (through spokesmen and a Q and A). But he hasn’t spoken to us directly about this. You are right. Axelrod is wrong.”

Sun-Times Political Columnist Carol Marin recalls when Tim Novak broke his first major piece on Rezko’s slumlord holdings in Obama’s state senate district, Obama’s campaign delayed providing substantive answers for weeks.

This is the favorite ploy of the Obama campaign; if it’s about Rezko or some other controversy, please submit your questions in writing. That way, of course, they don’t have to take follow up questions or see the candidate stumble and fumble around trying to spin his way out of trouble.

And in one of the most incredible examples of this technique, the sellers of the house that Obama bought with the help of Rezko would only answer written questions and respond through the campaign. Whoever heard of such nonsense? Reporters were forced to submit questions - many of which went totally unanswered - through the campaign and received a response from the sellers also via campaign headquarters.

The Rezko trial that starts today is not expected to drop any bombshells on Obama. But there are many other aspects of Obama’s relationship with Rezko - legal work done for his slumlord management company, favors done for Rezko while both a US and state senator, and Obama’s connection to some of Rezko’s shadier associates - all of these questions must eventually be addressed by the candidate himself with the press. It won’t happen on the morning puff shows nor will it be satisfactory if some worshipful reporter were to interview Obama without any knowledge of the ins and outs of Chicago politics and the Rezko-Obama relationship.

Obama must sit down with reporters who will ask the right questions. Otherwise, future revelations - and I guarantee there’s more to come on this story - will only add to the candidate’s woes.


Filed under: Obama-Rezko — Rick Moran @ 4:14 pm

According to Noam Scheiber of The New Republic, the dust up over Obama’s two faced NAFTA policy doesn’t seem to be going away and in fact, may be working against the Illinois senator:

Okay, scratch what I said about Goolsbee and Canada. I still don’t think it’s substantively a big deal, but between hearing CNN’s reports from Ohio this morning, and listening in on a Clinton conference call just now (and hearing reporters’ questions on the subject), I think they’re getting some significant traction with this story today.

Two things make it problematic for the Obama campaign: 1.) The sudden appearance of this lurid-sounding memo written by a Canadian consular official. I don’t think it’s particularly revealing–as I said this morning, it reflects what the Canadians thought they heard from Goolsbee; there are, significantly, no direct quotes. But the term “memo” just sounds bad–as though there were some cover-up that’s now falling apart. 2.) Certain Obama officials denied last week that there was any contact between the Obama campaign and the Canadian government about NAFTA. That’s clearly no longer “operative,” as Howard Wolfson pointed out on the call. While the memo story is a little ambiguous on its own–the Canadian official claims Goolsbee said one thing; he claims he said another–the Obama campaign’s previous denials will make the press view their current claims more skeptically.

If this story is getting the kind of coverage in Ohio CNN is suggesting it is, it’s hard to see how Obama makes up ground there today.

If you read the parts of the memo from Joseph DeMora who works at the Chicago consulate, it is pretty ambiguous and not exactly a smoking gun showing that the Obama advisor - Austan Goolsbee - gave the wink, wink, nudge, nudge to the Canadian government on OBama’s real position on NAFTA:

Goolsbee disputed a section that read: “Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. He cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.”

“This thing about `it’s more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans,’ that’s this guy’s language,” Goolsbee said of DeMora. “He’s not quoting me.

“I certainly did not use that phrase in any way,” Goolsbee said.

The meeting was first reported last week by Canadian television network CTV, which cited unnamed sources as saying that Goolsbee assured the Canadians that Obama’s tough talk on the North American Free Trade Agreement is just campaign rhetoric not to be taken seriously. The Obama campaign and the Canadian embassy denied there was any inconsistency between what the candidate was saying publicly and what advisers were saying privately.

Is that true? Even allowing for misinterpretation it is hard to believe that the consulate official could have gotten it that wrong. It may have been more subtle but clearly, Goolsbee left the impression that Obama was saying one thing but would do another if he was elected.

The Canadian government is denying it - for obvious reasons. They’ve already inadvertently injected themselves into the campaign and just wish it would all go away.

But CTV, who broke the story originally, went back and reconfirmed the story with their government sources. The fact that by all reports the memo in question received very wide distribution inside the Canadian government also points up the seriousness with which the Goolsbee conversation was taken. This despite the insistence by the Obama campaign that Goolsbee was pretty much of an independent operator and wasn’t speaking on behalf of the campaign:

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Goolsbee’s visit was not as an emissary from the campaign, but as a professor from the University of Chicago. He was not authorized to share any messages from the campaign, Burton said.

Burton, who was on the call while Goolsbee described his visit to the AP, said, “It all boils down to a clumsy, inaccurate portrayal of the conversation.”

Asked if he agreed with Burton, Goolsbee said he did.

Goolsbee, by the way, is Obama’s senior economic policy advisor. Just what was the Canadian government to believe when someone with that pedigree shows up at their Chicago consulate and starts to talk about NAFTA and the campaign?

Regardless of how the events transpired between Goolsbee and the Canadians, the view from the ground in Ohio from Scheiber is significant. Over the weekend, steel workers were picketing Obama’s headquarters in Toledo demanding clarification on his NAFTA policy. And newspapers, pundits, and local talk shows are filled with talk about the incident.

What this has done is killed the momentum Obama was enjoying in Ohio that had allowed him to halve Clinton’s lead in the state. In fact, it appears in both Texas and Ohio, Hillary Clinton has arrested her slide and especially in Texas, has battled back even with Obama:

The Democratic Party presidential primaries in Texas and Ohio remain too close to call between Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, with momentum sloshing back and forth, a new Zogby International poll for Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle two-day telephone tracking poll shows. As voters in these two big states prepare to wrap up their voting tomorrow, neither candidate has been able to break away from the other.

The two delegate-rich states with elections on Tuesday are among the last of the big states left in the primary election season, and both candidates stand to split the delegates under the party’s proportional delegate apportionment scheme.

This plays into a developing theme for the campaign - that the race is entering a new phase with Hillary Clinton on the rebound.

There are several factors that point to this scenario. First and most importantly, the national press was stung to the quick by the Saturday Night Live skit from two weeks ago that showed the press fawning all over Obama. The voters agree that the press has been much tougher on Hillary than on Obama.

Recently we have seen two major developments in the press that point to a possible bursting of Obama’s glowing press coverage balloon; 1) There has been increased attention paid to Obama’s national security inexperience; and 2) The national media has finally woken up to Obama’s “Rezko problem.”

Hillary’s “3 AM” commercial has generated an enormous amount of interest and talk on the newsnets as well as Sunday’s news shows. Hillary’s chief strategy guru Mark Penn issued a memo that shows the campaign is ready to take advantage of this issue:

Following up on their conference call earlier today, the Clinton campaign released a memo entitled: “Why Hillary Clinton is Ready to be Commander-in-Chief.”

In the memo, Mark Penn, the chief strategist for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (N.Y.) presidential campaign, writes: “If Barack Obama says it’s fear mongering to talk about how Senator Clinton will protect America, he is going to have a rough time up against John McCain. This is not a debate he can duck with two wars going on.”

Penn asserted today that an ad that raised the specter of a national security crisis and questioned Sen. Barack Obama’s (Ill.) readiness to handle such an event has fundamentally altered the shape of the race heading into tomorrow’s votes in Ohio and Texas.

Penn said the ad, which began airing Friday, effectively framed the question of “who’s ready and prepared to be commander-in-chief.” Penn added: “Just by merely asking the question and nothing more, millions of people understood what is the answer to that question.” He called it a “tipping point” in the race that has signaled a “change in momentum.”

Surely part of this is pure spin. But Penn is a savvy guy and I think the ad has finally given the Clinton’s a way to attack Obama effectively.

But the attack will mean little unless Obama is taken off his pedestal and shown to be an ordinary politician. And with the trial in Chicago of Obama’s long time friend and fund raiser Tony Rezko starting today, the national media has finally discovered this story and have begun covering it in earnest.

Obama will almost certainly not be called as a witness. But there’s a good chance his name will surface in connection with an illegal contribution to his campaign. Rezko asked one of this cronies to contribute money to Obama’s senate campaign and then reimbursed him for the contribution. Obama has given the money to charity but prosecutors may bring up Obama’s name in connection with that contribution as evidence of a pattern of behavior on the part of Rezko.

And the infamous real estate transaction involving Obama’s house and Rezko’s purchase of the vacant lot next door is also receiving increased scrutiny. At the time of the transaction, the Rezko’s were broke and creditors were swarming around his companies and assets. And yet, they were able to come up with $125,000 in cash to put as a downpayment on the $600,000 lot - a purchase that allowed his friend Obama to buy his house at a $300,000 discount. Rezko probably got the money via a loan from a shady Iraqi named Nadhmi Auchi who the Pentagon refers to as a “bagman” for Saddam Hussein:

But the case against Rezko prepared by the always determined U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald poses possible new pitfalls for the Democratic front-runner by introducing into the proceedings Auchi, who has been convicted on corruption charges in France and given a suspended sentence. While his friends describe Auchi and his family as victims of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny, Pentagon sources call him a “bagman” who laundered money in London for the Iraqi dictator.

Auchi may also be involved in the Oil for Food scandal where billions of Saddam’s dollars were funneled to western companies.

There are many other questions about the Obama-Rezko relationship that are being asked. More investigations targeting Rezko and his companies are underway which can only mean more trouble for Obama down the road.

NAFTAGate, Rezko, and questions about Obama’s national security credentials have all combined to perhaps - just perhaps - give Democratic voters a slight pause before they anoint The Chosen One as nominee.

And if Hillary has anything to say about it, that day will never come.


Filed under: General — Rick Moran @ 10:45 am

The feds are saying flatly that the Vegas ricin case is not related to terrorism but I’m not so sure.

The man who was staying at the Vegas hotel and is in the hospital in critical condition, who almost certainly manufactured the ricin from raw castor beans by following instructions in what authorities described as an “a book on anarchy,” is apparently obsessed with domestic animals:

Neighbors in Utah described Mr. Von Bergendorff as a peculiar loner commonly seen in brown slacks and a brown shirt. Pauline and Grant Dansie, who live three doors down from Mr. Tholen, said Mr. Von Bergendorff spent six weeks last summer searching their backyard daily for a missing cat that he eventually said he found.

“He’s just a little bit different,” Mrs. Dansie said. “He was so obsessed with this cat; it was really strange. He didn’t really act like he wanted to be a friend. I remember one time he put a cat trap out in our field, and he caught our neighbor’s cat. We told him he had to give it back.”

Mr. Von Bergendorff, who is believed to be a computer graphic artist whose work has appeared on several science fiction novels, appears to have a lengthy history involving pets and animals. The police also found three cats and an emaciated dog in his hotel room; the local shelter took custody of the animals, but the dog was so starved and parched it had to be euthanized.

Public records show that Mr. Von Bergendorff lived for several years in the 1980s and 1990s with a relative, Fred Bergendorff, in La Mesa, Calif. Mr. Bergendorff, who died on Jan. 27, was the founder of the Pet Place, a charity focused on assisting homeless pets, and the host of the organization’s long-running TV and radio programs in Southern California.

The Pet Place appears to be on the up and up - an earnest and effective organization that saves thousands of discarded animals a year. The board members and officers are all upstanding citizens from what information I can gather on the web. There isn’t a hint of radicalism associated with this excellent and caring organization.

But Von Bergendorff may have taken it upon himself to avenge the helpless creatures he cares so deeply about. How is anyone’s guess. The amount of Ricin he made would seem to indicate several potential targets. And since a deadly dose of the toxin could fit on the head of the pin, I leave it to your imagination how many people he might have killed with a couple of vials of the stuff that were removed from his room.

The death of his pet-loving relative relative on January 27 may have tipped him over the edge of sanity. A little more than 2 weeks later, he checks into a Vegas hospital (February 15) with respiratory distress - one of the major symptoms of ricin poisoning:

Inhalation: Within a few hours of inhaling significant amounts of ricin, the likely symptoms would be respiratory distress (difficulty breathing), fever, cough, nausea, and tightness in the chest. Heavy sweating may follow as well as fluid building up in the lungs (pulmonary edema). This would make breathing even more difficult, and the skin might turn blue. Excess fluid in the lungs would be diagnosed by x-ray or by listening to the chest with a stethoscope. Finally, low blood pressure and respiratory failure may occur, leading to death.

CDC investigators are on the scene at the hospital trying to determine if, in fact Von Bergendorff inhaled the ricin.

Other neighbors had an even bleaker description of the life led by Von Bergendorff:

A down-on-his-luck Roger Von Bergendorff lived at his cousin’s home for more than a year before moving to Las Vegas about a year ago, said Tammy Ewell, who lives across the street from Thomas Tholen in Riverton, Utah, and described him and his wife, Ellen, as close friends.

“He was very much a loner. I would say more or less socially regressive. He just barely got by in life. He’d just barely make it,” Ewell said. “Tom was the last resort.”

No word on how Bergendorff made his living in Vegas. The rate at the Extended Stay Motel would run him at least $1200 a month.

The major media won’t speculate on this angle of the story for good reason - no proof. But we have some dots and they can easily be connected with a little intelligent speculation. A man who has exhibited unbalanced behavior in his devotion to animals to his neighbors loses a close relative, goes off the deep end, and envisions himself as perhaps some kind of avenging angel. He acquires a book on how to make ricin in order to exact revenge on those he sees as harming pets or animals. His ignorance in how to handle the deadly poison results in his exposure and subsequent hospitalization.

It is not impossible for such a scenario to have occurred. And it would be interesting to see if Von Bergendorff had made any connections to radical animal rights groups although that idea would be a huge stretch. More likely, he’s a sad, lonely, disturbed man who, if left to his own devices, might have brought tragedy to many people.



Filed under: Politics, Science — Rick Moran @ 9:55 am

I’m no scientist. Neither is Nobel Prize winning global warming alarmist and hypocrite Al Gore. Nor are the legions of global warming deniers who are pointing to a stretch of cold weather as “proof” that global warming is a myth.

We are, most of us, not qualified in any way, shape, or form to make any kind of technical or scientific judgment on most of the evidence relating to climate change unless we happen to hold an advanced technical degree and are able to examine that evidence in its totality and not pick and choose headlines that bolster one’s political position on the issue.

The idiocy inherent in the prospect of myself or 95% of internet commenters - right and left - trying to hold a scientific debate on a subject where almost all of us are not scientists and where most of the evidence is couched in the arcane and mysterious language of scientific disciplines for which the overwhelming majority of us barely realize the parameters of study is self evident.

Not that this matters because at bottom, we who are unable to examine the evidence on the same plane as climatologists, meteorologists, atmospheric physicists, environmental scientists, and a hodgepodge of chemists, archaeologists, anthropologists, and other scientists end up simply believing one side or the other. Like religious fanatics, the two sides argue dogma while rejecting the other’s “beliefs” as apostasy.

Considering the stakes, this is madness. And scientists are not helping matters any. Likening those who question the conclusion that global warming is caused largely by man and that it threatens civilization to Holocaust deniers is far beyond the pale of rational discourse. Similarly, those who use the term “climate Nazis” to describe global warming advocates have no place in this debate.

But because of the monumental importance of the issue, all of this matters little. Even though our opinions are half baked and ill informed, we scream at each other, accusing one side of being in the pocket of big business (or in thrall to the anti-science element in the Republican party) or the other side of blindly following a “scam” that seeks to destroy the American economy and promote a one world government.

Both sides have been guilty of laughable exaggerations. Every heat wave during the summer is trumpeted to the skies by warming advocates as “evidence” that the world is warming up. The ebbing of ice packs, glaciers, and snow pack on mountains, is fodder for the alarmists while every shred of evidence that might contradict the global warming scenario including core samples and faulty CO2 models becomes “proof” that global warming is a lie.

Case in point:

“Earth’s ‘Fever’ Breaks: Global COOLING Currently Under Way,” read a blog post and news release on Wednesday from Marc Morano, the communications director for the Republican minority on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

So what is happening?

According to a host of climate experts, including some who question the extent and risks of global warming, it is mostly good old-fashioned weather, along with a cold kick from the tropical Pacific Ocean, which is in its La Niña phase for a few more months, a year after it was in the opposite warm El Niño pattern.

If anything else is afoot — like some cooling related to sunspot cycles or slow shifts in ocean and atmospheric patterns that can influence temperatures — an array of scientists who have staked out differing positions on the overall threat from global warming agree that there is no way to pinpoint whether such a new force is at work.

And lest you think only one side can’t tell the difference between “climate” and “weather,” here’s an oldy but goody from 2003:

NBC Blames Global Warming for European Heat Wave

It was inevitable. Whenever someplace in the world gets hot for a few days, sooner or later a network story will blame it on global warming.

NBC’s Patricia Sabga won the contest on Wednesday night when she warned that “scientists attribute the extreme temperatures to what’s been described as a dome of hot air hovering over Europe, a summer weather pattern that may become the norm.” Sean Seabrook, identified on screen as a “meteorologist,” then asserted: “Scientists appreciate now that global warming is taking place and I think these occurrences of heat waves will become more frequent, so this may be a sign of things to come.”

The climate is warming. This is indisputable. It has been warming since the end of the last ice age nearly 20,000 years ago. During that time we’ve had rapid warming spells that last centuries and cooling periods as well (the “Little Ice Age” in Europe from 1300-1800 had a huge impact on politics and society).

But overall, for this last post-ice age epoch the temperature has been rising. No one disputes this. The problem, of course, is the last 100 years or so of human industrial activity and the burning of fossile fuels. Many scientists see the “spike” in average temperature of .75 degrees C as directly related to the increase in CO2 emissions resulting from the burning of hydrocarbons. Others point to a peak of sunspot activity or ice core samples that show past rapid warming periods where there has been an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.

I have no clue who has the upper hand in this debate. Flat statements like “global warming is real” or “global warming is a scam” mean nothing when each side is contradicted by sound scientific evidence. This despite efforts by some in the global warming crusade who seek to end debate on the issue for political, not scientific reasons by trying to postulate that there is a “consensus” that catastrophe is ahead unless we reduce our emissions.

Whoever heard of ending debate on a question of science when there is credible evidence that challenges what has become conventional wisdom? What reputable scientist would agree with this nonsense? No one knows or can accurately predict what the weather will be like 100 years from now. Models that attempt to show a correlation between specific levels of carbon dioxide and temperature have been shown to be useless. No one knows what effect increased temperatures will have in the future. No one even knows if reducing emissions will effect the rise in temperatures one iota.

Closing off debate on climate change is not a question of science but of politics.

It is inevitable that politics would dominate the global warming debate because the solution proposed - reducing emissions - impact ordinary people’s lives enormously, perhaps even catastrophically. For some, whose agenda includes what can only be interpreted as the downfall of the capitalist system, the climate change debate is secondary to imposing their ideas of socialism and reduced influence of the nation state. Others may see a loss of profit and influence unless global warming is “debunked.” And when the cost to the US economy is measured in the trillions of dollars to “play it safe” and proceed as if global warming is the calamitous threat some say it is, the arguments for and against take on an urgency the demands attention.

And then there is the vast bulk of ordinary citizens - you and me - who are caught somewhere in the middle, forced to try our best to understand the debate by reading flawed analysis of both sides in a scientifically ignorant media. Even those few general interest science publications that lay people can read and understand are usually tainted by bias for or against anthropogenic climate change.

In the end, we are left believing one side or the other based largely on our political leanings and not on our scientific acumen. In a way, I envy those who can follow the debate on a technical level and are able to keep the spark of scientific inquiry alive by listening to all sides in this debate and evaluating evidence based on the facts while leaving politics on the outside.

If the only thing you take away from reading this is to have a little more respect for those who don’t agree with you on global warming, I will be content. Because at the moment, speaking for myself, I just don’t know. And the price of ignorance - on both sides - may be too much for us to bear.


I thought about doing this days ago but just never got around to it.

Those who say we shouldn’t only take the word of scientists on global warming are correct.

The problem is any 3 year old chimp can understand the conclusions drawn by various studies and models. But only scientists can examine the evidence those conclusions are based on and make a judgement as to their accuracy and efficacy.

Cooking the books of a statistical study on temperatures or overstating some key piece of evidence can only be discovered by those with the knowledge and training to do so. That is why all legitimate studies undergo peer review.

Anyone who relies solely on the conclusions reached by scientists without examining the evidence from where those conclusions came from is talking throught their hat and need not be taken seriously. That was my point that was poorly made that I am now clarifying.

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