Patterico's Pontifications

1/10/2013

Now You Tell Us™ (Part 4): Obama Not Getting Big Money Out of Politics As He Promised To Do

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 7:21 am

(Note: “Now You Tell Us”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s disclosure of negative information about Barack Obama that didn’t come out during the election.)

Between the election and the inauguration is the traditional time for the L.A. Times to reveal negative facts about Barack Obama that many of us already knew, but that the electorate at large evidently did not. Today example, from this morning’s L.A. Times web page:

The beginning of the story:

Even before Barack Obama was sworn in as president the first time, he touted his efforts to “change business as usual in Washington” by setting strict rules for his inauguration: No corporate donations were allowed; individuals could give only $50,000.

This time, Obama’s inaugural committee is seeking million-dollar contributions from corporations and offering perks in return, such as tickets to the official ball. The six companies that have given so far include AT&T, Microsoft and Financial Innovations, a marketing company that received $15.7 million to produce merchandise for Obama’s reelection campaign and is the official vendor for the inauguration. The committee has put no limit on how much individuals can give.

The relaxed rules reflect how Obama has largely dropped his efforts to curb the role of money in politics, a cause he once vowed to make central to his presidency.

It’s OK to say . . . now that he’s safely elected.

(Entries from 2008 found here, here, and here.)

9/25/2012

James Rainey: You Should *Thank* The L.A. Times for Withholding the Khalidi Tape

Filed under: 2012 Election,Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 7:35 pm

James Rainey says we should be thanking the L.A. Times for withholding the Khalidi tape — because if they hadn’t promised to do so, we never would have heard about it in the first place:

The latest resurrection of the Khalidi video mythology came this week courtesy of Breitbart.com. The website on Thursday offered a $100,000 reward for a copy of the “Khalidi tape” — which the right-wing site speculates will lay bare the ugly back story of Obama’s disdain of Israel, his “sacrifice” of Free Speech, and his effusive support of Mideast radicals.

. . . .

So why couldn’t the newspaper simply release the video, along with the story? This is where the tempest, which began four years ago, continues to this day.

The misunderstanding stems from one camp’s unwillingness to hear, or acknowledge, some essential truths about the way journalists do their jobs. Wallsten, like every other honest reporter out there battling for information, must build relationships with sources.

Every conversation about a piece of information becomes a transaction. For many sources who share previously confidential information, their threshold for divulging the secret is that their identity be shrouded. That also means keeping confidential any details, regarding the exchange of information, that might tend to divulge the source’s identity.

In the case of the Khalidi video, the unnamed source agreed to share the illuminating bit of video evidence with Wallsten, but only with the understanding that the reporter could not reproduce or rebroadcast the images. The journalist had to make a decision: Do I agree to that condition and get to see evidence that no other reporter has seen of Obama meeting with Palestinian Americans? Or do I insist on a full public release of the video, with the likely outcome that the source would share nothing?

Wallsten pushed for the release of the video but when the source would not agree, Wallsten agreed to accept more limited access to the recording. He agreed not to reveal his source nor share the video with anyone else.

The net result: The world got a story that showed Obama the political operator, sliding between two opposite and highly contentious worlds. The audience did not get to view the video, but it got far more than it had without The Times’ reporting. That’s the nature of some journalistic negotiations; giving up the perfect to obtain the very good.

That’s fine, as far as it goes. But there are some other steps that could be taken, and I pointed them out in November 2008, just before the last presidential election:

I’m at a loss as to why editors can’t take simple steps that (as far as we know) are not precluded by the promise to the source. They could:

  • Prepare and release a transcript.
  • Go back to the source and ask permission to release the tape now.
  • View the tape again to see if Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn were present (as has been rumored) — and if they were, publish a story setting forth the details of their interaction, if any, with Senator Obama.
  • View the tape again to see whether Senator Obama is shown on tape during any of the more controversial statements — and if he was, describe his reaction.

Promises to withhold source material, while they may be necessary for a story, should be disfavored. If they’re given, editors should give them the narrowest possible reasonable interpretation.

Instead, editors seem determined to construe their promises more broadly than even their source contemplated. They haven’t said they promised not to release a transcript, for example. So why haven’t they?

Do me a favor and help me ask James Rainey for a response as to why these things couldn’t be done. He decided to opine, so he can’t really refuse to answer on the grounds that it’s someone else’s story.

These are fair questions. Could you answer them, Mr. Rainey?

Rainey can be contacted at james.rainey@latimes.com and is on twitter at http://twitter.com/latimesrainey. (I am on Twitter at http://twitter.com/patterico. Follow me if you haven’t already!)

Thanks to dana.

P.S. I will happily publish any missive sent to Rainey, along with his response, if any.

9/9/2012

Newt: Clinton Speech Made Obama Look Bad

Filed under: 2012 Election,General,Obama — Patterico @ 1:01 pm

Which is true, if you think about it:

The Clinton speech at the Democratic National Convention was “eerily anti-Obama, if you just listen to the subtext,” the former House speaker said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning.

He added: “Here’s Clinton saying, ‘I reformed welfare because I worked with Republicans; you didn’t, Mr. Obama.’ He didn’t say it that way, but think about it: ‘I had the longest period of economic growth in history; you didn’t, Mr. Obama. I got to four balanced budgets by working with Republicans; you didn’t, Mr. Obama.’”

The comments follow recent efforts by GOP candidate Mitt Romney to use the economic success of the Clinton years as a counterpoint to the lackluster job growth during Obama’s tenure. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Romney said Clinton “really did elevate the Democrat convention in a lot of ways and, frankly, the contrast may not have been as attractive as Barack Obama might have preferred.”

Clinton may — I say may! — not have intended to make Obama look bad. But when you look at the facts and what he actually said . . . he did.

9/4/2012

Open Thread: Democrat Convention

Filed under: 2012 Election,Obama — Patterico @ 7:16 am

It ain’t like the old days:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The last time Democrats assembled for their national convention, the proceedings were awash in a mix of giddy exuberance and teary emotion as delegates nominated the party’s first African American presidential candidate.

Four years after the party in Denver, that jubilation has cooled.

And that’s the L.A. Times.

Your observations below.

9/3/2012

What Should We Think About on Labor Day?

Filed under: 2012 Election,Economics,General,Obama — Patterico @ 1:38 pm

Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times says we should remember the value of unions. Wilma Liebman, writing in the L.A. Times, takes a slightly different perspective, and says we should remember the value of unions.

Actually, I guess that’s the exact same perspective.

Maybe I can offer a truly different perspective: remember the value of labor. Of the opportunity to work. Which many Americans lack under this president.

Ed Morrissey has an amusing interview by Chris Wallace of David Axelrod, in which Axelrod attempts to dance around the following uncomfortable comparisons between when Obama took office (“then”) and now:

  • Unemployment: 7.8% then, 8.3% now
  • Median income: $54,983 then, $50,964 now
  • Gas prices: $1.85 per gallon then, $3.78 now
  • National debt: $10.6 trillion then, $15.9 trillion now

You know the drill by now: it’s Bush’s fault!!!

But it’s worse than that. The real number (which everyone puts in quotes despite the fact that it really is the real number) is more like the number named by that supposed doddering old fool Clint Eastwood:

The “real” number of unemployed Americans is 23.5 million. These are people that are unemployed (12.8 million), want work but have stopped searching for a job (2.5 million), or are working part-time because they can’t find full-time employment (8.2 million).

As the Maryland governor showed, it’s impossible to honestly answer that Americans are better off today than they were four years ago. If you need to work full-time, but are only working part-time, you are not doing well. If you have given up on looking for a job, you are not doing well. 8.3% doesn’t begin to paint the picture.

Every one of those 23.5 million people needs to understand that we are worse off today than we were four years ago. Not better.

That’s what I’m thinking about on this Labor Day.

UPDATE: Elect me and this time it will be different!!!

Rahm Sends Chicago Cops to Democrat Convention in Charlotte, N.C. — In the Middle of a Chicago Crime Wave

Filed under: 2012 Election,General,Obama — Patterico @ 11:26 am

It’s good to have friends with access to cops:

Only days after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked for federal agents and U.S. Marshals to help combat the city’s wave of violence, about 50 Chicago police officers have arrived in Charlotte to work perimeter security details for a week at the Democratic National Convention.

The Chicago officers, in their distinctive uniforms and checkerboard-brimmed hats, said they had been instructed not to talk with reporters about their out-of-town assignment.

. . . .

Last Friday, Mayor Emanuel and Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy publicly asked for federal help in targeting neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by the city’s wave of violence.

“The help comes in the form of additional agents to target guns, gangs and drugs,” Superintendent McCarthy said at a news conference.

Chicago’s homicide rate is about 31 percent higher than last year, with 346 reported killings as of August 19, according to figures provided by the Chicago police.

Local activists and police union heads are dumbfounded.

Me? I’m not surprised at all. Are you?

9/1/2012

This Seat’s Taken

Filed under: 2012 Election,General,Obama — Patterico @ 10:03 am

In the wake of Clint Eastwood’s discussion with an empty chair (representing Barack Obama) at the GOP convention, Barack Obama tweeted this:

Oh, man, the fun we’re having with this.

This seat’s taken:

And this seat’s taken:

And this seat’s also taken:

And, while this Photoshop was not done with Obama’s tweet in mind, it seems appropriate to note that this seat’s taken too:

Don’t get too comfortable, Mr. President.

P.S. Amid the blame game over Eastwood’s appearance, let me just note that I kinda liked it. Sure, they might have done better to show the material humanizing Romney instead. But Eastwood was hardly the disaster that the liberal media proclaims.

8/26/2012

How the 1983 Race for Chicago Mayor — And the Coverage of That Racially Charged Campaign — Relates to the 2012 Presidential Race, and Next Week’s GOP Convention

Filed under: 2012 Election,General,Obama,Race — Patterico @ 11:20 am

Is it racist to run against or oppose a black candidate for office? To rational people, posing the question answers itself: of course not. But the candidacy of Barack Obama reminds us that there are people out there ready to portray as “racist” any spirited opposition to Obama and his policies. This cynical mode of attack will absolutely be used in the coverage of the upcoming GOP convention. We all know this, and we know it doesn’t matter what happens at the convention — the charge of racism will be made regardless.

I was reminded of this on my morning walk as I listened to a podcast episode of one of my favorite radio programs: “This American Life.” It’s a great show with insight into innumerable facets of human existence. But it sometimes goes wrong when it strays into politics, or covers an issue that is a liberal hobby horse. (The program suffered a famous embarrassment earlier this year when it had to essentially retract an entire episode about treatment of workers at Chinese Apple manufacturing plants; the conditions described were mostly accurate, but parts of the narrator’s account had been fictionalized without the program’s knowledge. As I wrote here, the retraction was honest and well done. But one wonders if the oversight of the program’s contents was more lax because the slant of the program related to the liberal hobby horse of exploitation of overseas workers in sweatshops.)

The segment I listened to this morning, an old segment from March 2009, gave me the sense that the producers had been scammed again. Although the segment is old, it has a direct relevance to today’s presidential politics, because it portrayed a white politician (Bernard Epton) running for office (mayor of Chicago) against the first black candidate for that office (Harold Washington).

If the parallel to Barack Obama is not clear from that description, the segment made it explicit. The segment was first aired two months after Obama’s inauguration, and the narrator drew repeated parallels to the McCain/Obama race. (You can read the transcript here.)

Epton, a Republican, was described in the segment as a decent man who rejected racism — at least, before he ran against his black Democrat opponent. For example, Epton had stayed put in a residence located in an area that was experiencing “white flight,” because he believed that it was wrong for whites to leave an area simply because its demographics were turning black. Near the beginning of the segment, Epton is heard explicitly rejecting the notion that anyone should vote for him because he was white:

Female Reporter
So many people are saying if Harold Washington wins, the white people will be afraid and they will then vote for you and that improves your chances.

Bernie Epton
Well, I resent that very much. I think that Harold Washington and I, if he is a winner, I am positive that we will come out with a joint statement, perhaps speak together to repudiate it. I don’t want to be elected because I’m white and Harold doesn’t want to be elected because he’s black. I want to be elected because I’m the best qualified.

But the segment then portrays Epton as changing his tune, and tolerating racism in his campaign once he thought he might win. The narrator explains that, because Chicago is heavily Democratic, it is generally expected that a Republican candidate like Epton is going to lose. But when Harold Washington, the black candidate, won the Democratic primary, all of a sudden Republicans thought that Epton had a chance. Outside national consultants came in to help. And, the segment claims, Epton began behaving differently.

I listened to the episode for evidence that Epton was tolerating racism. One of the pieces of evidence was the slogan (submitted by national political consultants) that Epton adopted: “Epton for mayor before it’s too late.” Epton insisted that the slogan referred to Chicago’s financial problems, but I guess the left saw it as a dog whistle.

Then Epton was blamed for racist appeals made by his supporters that his campaign did not countenance:

The slogan set a tone for the campaign– the very tone Epton said he didn’t want. Now, it was going to be whites versus blacks, with Epton as the white savior. And soon, anonymous leaflets popped up in white neighborhoods all over the city. One of them read, “Your vote for Mr. Epton will stop contamination of the city hall by a Mr. Baboon.” Around town, Epton supporters donned various buttons. One depicted a watermelon with a slash through it. Another button had nothing on it at all. It was just white. None of these were being distributed by Upton’s campaign, but it was all being done in his name.

If it was being done in his name, I guess it was his fault? That’s certainly the impression you get.

When a racial incident made national news — someone scrawled “nigger die” on a church that Washington was slated to visit, Epton condemned it in no uncertain terms:

I am appalled that any people in any community would interfere with the worship by any religious denomination. And like you, I reject any of that antagonism or racism or bias or call it what you will.

But the big “gotcha” moment that is supposed to show Epton’s complicity in racism came when one of his confidantes became angry at a William Safire op-ed that the campaign was distributing. The op-ed is portrayed in the segment as arguing that if blacks can vote for Washington because he’s black, whites can vote for Epton because he’s white — and Epton is portrayed as supporting the argument:

[O]ne of Epton’s campaign workers– his policy director, Haskel Levy, began having qualms. He’d already confronted Epton over the slogan and Epton, even while defending the slogan, told him, “Haskel, stay with me. If we win this election, I’ll get rid of all these Republican operatives and opportunistic Democrats and we’ll do good work once we get in.” And so Haskel stayed. But then, one afternoon at campaign headquarters, Haskel noticed a pile of papers by the front door. They were hundreds of copies of an op-ed piece written by William Safire, conservative columnist for the New York Times.

Haskel Levy
It basically claimed the following– if blacks can vote for blacks because they’re blacks, whites can vote for whites because they’re whites. And I looked at it and I just hit the roof. And I took the whole pile and threw it into the garbage can. It’s a shallow– it’s a stupid way of looking at the world. It’s just false.

Alex Kotlowitz
Right, but also, it was in the context of what had been going on in that campaign. In some ways, the campaign was using it to justify–

Haskel Levy
[UNINTELLIGIBLE] incendiary– an incendiary thing. It was being passed out– people were coming in to collect them to give out in the neighborhoods. When blacks get screwed because they’re blacks, they’re a legitimate interest group. What is the white interest group? I can understand a Pole voting for a Pole, a Czech voting for a Czech, but why would a white vote for another white? The only thing, in this particular circumstance, they have in common is that they don’t like blacks.

Alex Kotlowitz
And so it was after that that you went and talked to Bernie Epton the second time.

Haskel Levy
This was the second time and I said that I’d had it. I said, do you realize what’s happening? I said, you have to repudiate the racist campaign. You’ve got to repudiate any people that are supporting out of racist reasons. And if you don’t, I’m gone. And if you don’t, I’m voting for Harold Washington. And Bernie said his argument is correct– Safire’s argument is correct. And I said, that’s it Bernie. And that’s when he got pissed off. And he picked up my coat and jacket and briefcase and he ostentatiously threw it out of his office. And he literally said, get that [BLEEP] out. And he threw me out of the office. And I left. That was the end of it.

(All emphasis in this post is mine.)

Here’s the problem: I found Safire’s piece, and it makes precisely the opposite argument of what the story claims. Safire called it “racist” to vote for whites because they are white, and noted that Epton agreed. In other words, there was nothing racist about Epton saying that Safire’s argument was correct.

You can read Safire’s piece in its entirety here. Safire begins the piece by noting some of Washington’s less attractive qualities as a candidate:

  • Washington failed to file income tax returns for 19 years. He was convicted of tax law violations and jailed for a month.
  • The State Bar suspended Washington from practice for 5 1/2 years for converting client funds to his own use.
  • Washington made false claims in his application for reinstatement to the Bar, falsely denying that he had faced any civil actions during the years he was suspended from his law practice. In fact, he had faced five civil actions.

None of these aspects of Washington’s past make in into the “This American Life” segment, by the way. We are told only how the black man in Chicago stopped getting screwed after Washington was elected.

Safire rhetorically asks whether it is “racism” to bring up such issues about a candidate’s past. He notes that it would not be considered racism to bring up similar foibles by a white politician — showing a double standard. True enough, no?

Then Safire addresses the argument referenced in the “This American Life” segment about the desirability of races voting as a racial bloc:

The double standard comes in when a possibility arises that whites may do the same thing [as blacks did in voting for Washington as a group]. If it is laudatory for black voters to vote as a bloc for the black candidate, then logic dictates it should bother nobody that white voters are likely to vote as a block [sic -- sorry, Mr. Grammar! -- ed] for the white candidate.

But it bothers everybody, including the white candidate, who insists he wants no votes from racists. And racist is what such a voting pattern would be, of course: If words have meaning, voting on the basis of race is racist.

Accordingly, we should either stop praising the black community of Chicago for uniting behind the black candidate or stop complaining when whites show inclinations to do the same. Both actions are racist: Praise both or condemn both.

If Safire is calling voting as a racial bloc “racist,” it’s kind of hard to portray that as praise.

Ultimately, having read Safire’s piece and listened carefully to the segment, I can’t find any evidence Epton was a racist. I think Epton’s legacy is being smeared because he happened to run a spirited campaign against a black politician.

The “This American Life” program is ironically called “The Wrong Side of History” — and indeed, liberals are certainly going to work to portray any white Republican as being on the “wrong side of history” when they run against a historic black candidate.

But it ought to matter whether the candidate is worthy. Based on what I know of Washington, it’s a joke that he was a viable candidate. With his background, he should have been laughed off the podium. It’s only because Chicago is such a corrupt and highly partisan town that a guy like that has a chance.

Which brings us to Barack Obama. It is perhaps no accident that he made his political bones in Chicago — the same town where a black politician with a history of criminality, dishonesty, tax evasion, and cheating people was portrayed as a hero. Perhaps Obama noted how Washington was feted and thought: hey, this is the town for me!

After all: it’s the Chicago way.

I took the time to write this post about a three-year-old radio segment about a 29-year-old political race because I think it’s important that history be written properly. Make no mistake: Big Media and liberals (but I repeat myself) will strain to rewrite the history of the GOP convention next week to make it seem like a cornucopia of racism.

We can’t let them do it. We have to make sure history is written properly, the first time around.

8/1/2012

Obama: Deport the Criminals Last

Filed under: 2012 Election,Immigration,Obama — Patterico @ 12:01 am

Failing to deport illegal criminals costs lives. Again:

The Obama administration released illegal immigrants who went on to commit more crimes, including charges of 19 murders, 3 attempted murders and 142 sex crimes, the House Judiciary Committee said in a report Tuesday.

All told, 16 percent of the nearly 47,000 illegal immigrants the administration was notified of but declined to deport between 2008 and 2011 under its Secure Communities program have gone on to be charged with other crimes, the committee said.

. . . .

While hundreds of thousands of aliens have been sent back home under the program, 159,286 were not put in deportation proceedings during the period under review, CRS said.

About three-quarters of those weren’t eligible for deportation because they were legal immigrants and their criminal records didn’t rise to the level of deportation.

But nearly a quarter could have been deported and weren’t, CRS said. They went on to commit the 19 murders, 3 attempted murders and 142 sex crimes, the Judiciary Committee said.

So, 19 people dead because of lax immigration policy. But what is that as compared to all the votes Obama will get?

Thanks to Robert C.J. Parry.

7/27/2012

Breaking: Obama’s Economy Still Sucks

Filed under: 2012 Election,Economics,Obama — Patterico @ 7:31 am

When the L.A. Times can’t spin it for you, man, it’s time to hang it up:

U.S. economic growth slowed further in the second quarter as consumers cut back on spending and businesses curbed their investments, the government reported Friday.

The economy expanded at a sluggish annual rate of 1.5% in the April-June quarter, down from an upwardly revised 2% growth pace in the first quarter and a 4.1% increase in the final quarter of 2011.

The latest reading of the nation’s gross domestic product — the total value of goods and services produced — was slightly better than analysts’ expectations of a 1.3% gain.

Still, the deceleration confirmed that the economy has slipped into another spring stall. The loss of momentum raises the risks of more trouble ahead as Europe’s economic problems hurt American exports and manufacturing, and growing angst about the so-called fiscal cliff — looming tax increases and government spending cuts — threatens to further weaken consumption and hiring by businesses.

An economy growing at a 1.5% pace is consistent with a monthly growth of less than 100,000 new jobs, said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands. “That’s not enough to take care of new workers coming into the labor force, let alone rescue the unemployed,” he said.

Better than expected; worse than it’s been.

I can’t figure out why massive government spending hasn’t done the trick!

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