Category Archives: Corruption

IRS flagged Tea Party groups

The IRS flagged “tea party” and “patriot” groups for extra scrutiny in 2012, the Associated Press and others are reporting. The agency acknowledged and apologized today for the practice, which amounted to political profiling of conservative groups during the last presidential campaign. It points to local office staff in Cincinnati as being responsible.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is calling on the White House to investigate, and tea party groups are claiming vindication for their earlier assertions of political favoritism at the IRS.

Two things here:

1) Although none of the 75 or so targeted groups had its tax-exempt status revoked, some did withdraw their application for 501c4 designation. If they did so in response to this admittedly undue level of IRS attention, then the damage is still done.

2) It’s quite possible – as its Bush-appointed chief asserts – that the IRS proper did nothing wrong, at least in an immediate sense. If culpability or complicity does reach into higher levels of the department, it may be more likely that officials ignored or avoided something that should have been investigated earlier.

Stay tuned…

Leave a comment

Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Conservative Movement, Corruption

The broken C-Span pledge, and why it matters

Republicans and an increasing number of independent observers are criticizing President Barack Obama for his failure to honor a promise he made repeatedly during last year’s campaign. On at least eight occasions throughout the primary and general election, the candidate told voters that health care reform would be worked out before the public eye, with discussion and deliberation televised on C-Span.

As an overhaul nears completion in Congress, the unmet pledge signals a stark reminder not merely of presidential limitations but of this president’s true nature, and the fundamental deception that marked and enabled his successful campaign for the office. More on that later, but first the facts.

Here’s Barack Obama on the campaign trail, playing up the C-Span pledge in various venues. The clips were compiled by Naked Emperor News, published on Breitbart.com, highlighted by the Drudge Report and have spawned a major story in the nation’s at-large news stream. New developments are in part responsible for that trajectory, but the overall attention on the issue testifies to the impact of new media, and some of its right and center-right elements in particular.

The video evidence was headlined by Drudge the day after C-Span chairman and CEO Brian Lamb‘s December 30 letter to House and Senate letters was publicly reported. The public-service cable channel founder asked House and Senate leaders to honor the president’s pledge regarding open negotiations.

While I watch C-Span regularly and value its objective and informative programming, I don’t believe that all aspects of policy-making should necessarily be open to public viewing. In our republic we elect representatives to govern and make decisions on our behalf, and vote them out if they break trust with the public. Americans share certain basic civic responsibilities, but a peering, omnipresent public leads to cynical posturing in our politics.

Nonetheless, the decision not to hold open discussions is a valid and poignant symbol of other shameful steps taken by majority Democrats in this process: disallowing members time to read bills and amendments, threatening an extraordinary and inappropriate use of the reconciliation procedure, calling a key vote at the dead of night, flagrantly buying votes at public expense, bypassing a conference committee and excluding Republican lawmakers from participation at this and earlier junctures.

The president is taking fire for his broken promise from Republicans but also major news outlets, liberal media voices like Bill Press and Jon Stewart, and partisan allies like Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri). However, the point to take away from all of this is not that Barack Obama should follow through on his promise to broadcast health care talks on C-Span.

The president does not have authority to televise congressional proceedings. In fact, Congress has no programming authority over C-Span, an independent organization. Leadership may control the cameras in the chambers, but they don’t decide what actually airs on television. These facts underscore the disturbingly casual manipulation in Obama’s empty, repeated assertions and assurances of coverage and the transparency it was supposed to represent. Not only did Barack Obama give his word falsely, or at least lightly, but it wasn’t his to give in the first place.

The entire episode illustrates the single most important political fact about Barack Obama: he is not a moderate, a centrist or a transformative political quantity superimposed upon a national political calculus of competing ideas and interests. Rather, he is an intense ideologue and determined partisan who will naturally use all practical political means to achieve all possible political ends. In this case, the president’s failed and foreign ideology of statism motivates further consolidation of governmental control over the country’s system of health care.

The C-Span flap is reminding many Americans – and thankfully, showing others for the first time as documented by plummeting poll support among independent and moderate voters – that Barack Obama is not who he told us he was. Let’s send him a message in the mid-terms to keep him honest in the future.

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, Democratic Party, Health Care, Media

MRP on Robin Carnahan/ACORN

The Missouri Republican Party with a nice ad on Robin Carnahan & ACORN.

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption

The case against the Chicago Olympics

10/02/09 1:05 p.m. CST: UPDATE: Chicago’s bid has been rejected. Read IOC Blows off Windy City, Obama

Wow…..after reading this I’m more inclined to support those who oppose the Olympics coming to Chicago. Since this is published as an open letter and I’ve seen it in several spaces in the public domain, I’m going to republish it here in full, as opposed to just excerpts. This is written by investigative journalist Ben Joravsky and originally appeared in the Chicago Reader. This is really quite a letter, so consider this highly recommended reading. Finally, the more I think about the obsession with pageantry and political stagecraft on the part of team Obama, the more likely it seems to me that this push is all about Obama (at least, for the Obama machine it is). It would not be fitting to bring the games to Chicago for that reason.

Dear members of the International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission:

Welcome to Chicago!

I know you’re here for the next few days to check out our lovely city to determine if we—as opposed to Madrid, Tokyo, or Rio—have the best plan for hosting the 2016 Olympics.

Just so you know from the outset, I hope you don’t give us the games. I’ve been against it from the start, and I could fill a book with the reasons. But I’m not here to tell you how paying for the games would cripple my hometown—if you want that, see chicagoreader.com/2016_olympics. This letter is about your needs, not ours. I’m here to tell you some things about Chicago you’ll never hear from Mayor Daley, who’s acting like a used-car salesman, trying to sell you an old beater without letting you look under the hood.

Here’s the fundamental problem: We can’t afford the games. We’re broke—and I mean damn near destitute. The public school system is about $475 million in the red and the city’s facing its own deficit of at least $200 million. Just a few months ago Mayor Daley said he’d balanced the budget by raising fees and fines and slashing the city payroll, but already expenses have risen and revenues have dropped faster than anticipated. His aides have warned that more cuts could be on the way.

The Chicago Transit Authority, which runs our public transportation system, is busted too, in more ways than one. CTA officials are in the thick of their annual budget crisis, warning of fare hikes and service cuts that could affect traffic in every part of town. They don’t have enough money to replace the old buses or repair the tracks that are falling apart.

I know it’s not your concern if it takes ordinary Chicagoans ever more time and money to get to work, especially since the 2016 bid committee has made it clear that it won’t depend on the CTA to shuttle athletes, reporters, and spectators back and forth from hotels to venues.

But thousands of people here are quietly stewing over these budget problems, since they’re the ones who always have to fork over taxes, fees, and fines to make up the difference. Mayor Daley has acknowledged that citizens won’t stand for another property tax hike, especially with thousands of families losing their homes to foreclosure during the economic meltdown.

So instead he’s hiking fees that hit tourists as well as residents. It costs more than ever to park, go to a play or restaurant, or stay in a hotel. And he’s selling off pieces of public property, including Midway Airport and the city’s parking meters. It’s starting to sink in here. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t get a call from an outraged resident bitching and moaning about how much it costs now to park at a meter—or to pay off parking tickets.

And then there are the TIFs: $550 million a year in property taxes siphoned from the schools and parks to feed slush funds that Mayor Daley controls with virtually no oversight. At the moment, the public is conveniently in the dark about them because they’re too complicated for the mainstream press to cover and our tax bills don’t reflect how much we’re paying to keep them funded. But every year the TIF take rises and sooner or later the public will catch on. (If you’d like to bone up on the subject, see chicagoreader.com/tifarchive.)

Again, I know it’s not your problem if the city is selling off public assets or keeping two sets of books. But I do think you’ll want to keep these things in mind as you consider whether the bid committee’s financial guarantees are worth the paper they’re written on.

The committee says it can put on the Olympics here for less than $5 billion, since it won’t have to acquire a lot of land or do a lot of construction. Don’t believe it. London, the host for the 2012 games, is now expected to spend $16.5 billion, nearly twice what it first estimated. And Chicago has a fine track record of delays and cost overruns on public projects. The mayor may take you on a tour of Millennium Park while he’s here, but he probably won’t mention that it cost $475 million to build—a mere $325 million more than originally projected. You might like to take a stroll along the Chicago River, but the latest extension of the riverwalk won’t be finished until June. It’s cost taxpayers $22 million—double the original estimates.

Take a drive down State Street while you’re here and see the enormous construction zone between Randolph and Washington. Block 37, as it’s known, has taken the city more than 20 years and tens of millions of dollars to develop, and under those newly constructed buildings is an unfinished train station that’s cost $250 million so far—more than twice the initial price tag.

Chicago’s bid committee has told you that it’ll raise the money through “public-private partnership.” That is, they’ll get private donors to kick in all the cash, and if somehow they don’t, they’ll be able to dip into various rainy day funds, insurance payoffs, and $500 million in taxpayer money authorized by the Chicago City Council and another $250 million guaranteed by the state legislature.

Given our financial situation, where’s that money going to come from?

People around here are going to be very, very displeased if they’re asked to cover the mayor’s enormous bet. Think of the citizenry of Chicago as a big sleeping giant. One day that giant will be stirred from his slumber. Someday, possibly very soon, it will dawn on Chicagoans that all the meters they’ve been feeding, all the taxes they’ve been paying, all the fines and fees they’ve forked over, still can’t pay the teachers and the police and the firefighters and fill the potholes and collect the garbage and remove the snow, and wonder how it is that we can still afford two weeks of international fun and games. And they will erupt.

I know it sounds like a long shot. But I’ve seen it happen before. Back in 1979, when folks got so angry they ousted one mayor—a guy named Bilandic—in favor of a relatively unknown out-of-work city employee named Jane Byrne.

And if it happens between now and 2016, guess who the public will blame? That’s right—the Olympics will be public enemy number one around here. You might even have to hand the games off to some other city, like you did with the winter games back in 1976. I know you remember that fiasco. In 1970, you awarded the games to Denver. Two years later, Coloradans voted to deny public funding for the games and you wound up having to shuffle them to Innsbruck, Austria.

If there’s a revolt over the Olympics in Chicago, it will probably be a messy one, made toxic by matters of race. Mayor Daley has been careful to include pictures of happy children from a variety of backgrounds in the public relations packets he’s been sending you. Obama’s historic election-night celebration in Grant Park made us look like one big charming melting pot. And race relations are a lot better around here than they were in the 1980s, when white folks lost their freaking minds over the prospect of electing a black mayor.

But Chicago remains one of the most racially segregated cities in the country, with a nervous tension just beneath the surface that flares every now and then over issues like crime, police misconduct, or the worth of black politicians such as Senator Roland Burris or Cook County Board president Todd Stroger. Mayor Daley usually contains the animosity by plying his black political supporters with just enough patronage to keep them happy. But the Olympic plan is perceived by many as a thinly disguised urban renewal project. They worry that Olympic “improvements” will drive working-class African-Americans from the near south side.

Granted, so far there have been no large public outbursts against the Olympic bid. You can’t even find an alderman with the guts to ask routine questions before approving the mayor’s Olympic initiatives—like $86 million in public funding for the Olympic Village. If people haven’t raised a stink yet, it’s because they’re not putting two and two together yet—2016 seems so far away, and meanwhile there are parking meters to be outraged about—or they’re scared to take on the mayor.

But it’s not because they love the idea of hosting the Olympics. The mayor waves around a poll his Olympic bid committee took a year ago that found 76 percent of Chicago-area residents favor bringing the Olympics to town. But a Chicago Tribune poll taken in February found that 75 percent are against using public money to pay for them.

Several aldermen have told me that they’ve gone along with this boondoggle because they’re afraid of enraging the mayor by voting no. I know he’s probably been pretty charming to you. But you wouldn’t like Mayor Daley when he’s angry. Some aldermen—and even a few of the business leaders who’ve kicked in money to the Olympic campaign—tell me they’re hoping you’ll do the dirty work of killing the games.

So please do us all a favor: Give the games to Rio. Or Madrid. Or Tokyo. Send them anywhere but here. And let’s all pretend like this cockamamie idea of holding them in Chicago never left the confines of Mayor Daley’s skull.

2 Comments

Filed under Barack Obama, Corruption, Sports

Obama on community organizing, ACORN

In November of 2007:

“I come out of a grassroots organizing background. That’s what I did for three and half years before I went to law school. That’s the reason I moved to Chicago was to organize. So this is something that I know personally, the work you do, the importance of it. I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.”

1 Comment

Filed under Barack Obama, Corruption, The Left

How to win while not in power

The ACORN story continues to develop, and Big Goverment is the locus of energy and information that threatens serious political and economic damage to the corrupt grassroots organization. As events unfold, there are lessons for movement conservative activists to observe and apply elsewhere.

Enabled by rising new media magnate Andrew Breitbart, movement conservatives James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles exposed firsthand the sordid depths of ACORN’s true nature. Their undercover videos showed organization employees advising a supposed pimp and prostitute how to launder the proceeds of an underage international human sex trafficking ring into a campaign fund for public office. It was all in a day’s work for these “community organizers.”

Caught red-handed, ACORN trotted out a tried, tested (and tired) defense: these were simply individual employees gone bad. Unfortunately, employees gave similar advice to the undercover filmmakers three separate times in three separate cities. After this latest revelation in a long line of scandalous behavior, the Census Bureau cut ties with the organization, and today the Senate voted to restrict housing program grants to the organization.

Now that the spotlight is on the organization, even more unflattering info will come to light as momentum builds and people piece together once disparate bits of information. The Senate amendment to restrict HUD grants to ACORN has yet to become law, and even if it does the group may still carry on its work (it would be interesting to determine what portion of its funding in recent years has come from the government). Nonetheless, the organization has been stunned and perhaps crippled. If things go really right it will go down completely in the months ahead (not counting on that with an Obama “Justice” Department).

This episode illustrates one way to win while not holding official government power. Some of the lessons learned:

1) First, Be Creative. Any intelligent observer knows ACORN is a far left front group for the Democrats. There are a handful of such groups and that’s  legitimate in our system of government; however, this one also happened to be corrupt and soulless. O’Keefe and Giles decided to investigate and document the utter moral depravity of this group that, it seems, would do anything to expand its clout for political ends. They knew it had to be something totally shocking that even ACORN supporters could not excuse, something that would be attention-grabbing and broadly objectionable.

2) Next, Get Gutsy. O’Keefe and Giles are a smash hit right now and probably enjoyed creating and carrying out this special project. Nonetheless, it should not be overlooked that what they did was gutsy. They entered an environment probably very different than their own, and which could’ve become very hostile very quickly had their documentary subjects or associates realized what was going on. The duo climbed into the belly of the beast so as to pierce it sharply from the inside. Their may have been a thrill involved but you can bet these activists had to step outside their comfort zone to make this happen.

3) Finally, Be Persistent. Blast away and don’t stop until the target drops. That’s what Andrew Breitbart is doing over at Big Government right now. It’s what the filmmakers did by not calling it quits after just one successful undercover segment. They kept going. Anybody who has filed a complaint or made a phone call to the RNC or a public official’s office about suspicious ACORN activity is also doing their part. This organization has proven itself to be a partisan criminal enterprise (see numerous cases of voter registration fraud, etc.) and must continue to be monitored and reported on. Don’t let up.

The Van Jones incident is another example (Glenn Beck kept up the scrutiny until others joined and still more could not afford to avoid it), and there will be more. When not in power, you have to pick your (grassroots) battles; some of them may best be waged keeping in mind the lessons above.

Leave a comment

Filed under Conservative Movement, Corruption, Crime, General & Miscellaneous

Breitbart rising

Andrew Breitbart has introduced a new component to his rapidly expanding new media network. The media-savvy conservative has unveiled BigGovernment.com, a website featuring – often in biting and satirical terms – the expanding largesse of the federal government.

One of the biggest pieces on the new site is an unbelievable (well….maybe it is believable, considering its subject) video of ACORN employees advising a prostitute and politician how to set up an international prostitution ring and funnel the money into a congressional campaign. This is must-see. (And I won’t embed it here because I want you to check out the site for yourself).

Kudos to producer James O’Keefe and his partner Hannah Giles on this project. It’s hard to believe ACORN could maintain credibility after something like this, but we know legacy media outlets will suppress this to the degree they feel they have the discretion to do so (think Van Jones and the NYT).

I continue to like what I see from Breitbart. He started out – as far as I know – with his no-nonsense news page running wire stories, which was often used by Drudge (wonder if that was coordinated or what). Then I started to hear him guest host some radio shows and was pleased to learn he’s an astute conservative commentator. Then he launched Big Hollywood, and somewhere along the way started “Breitbart TV.”

Keep up the good work. This is the type of innovative, mixed-mainstream/conservative work we need to win on the new media landscape.

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, The Left