February 29, 2008

Chicago Rules

Hatched by Dafydd

It appears that Barack Obama has a guardian angel -- with brass knuckles -- looking over his career; but the senator also firmly believes that "the Lord helps those who help themselves."

At each of the two major steps forward in Obama's political career -- becoming an Illinois state senator and a United States senator -- he has advanced not by winning a vote against a tough opponent, but by default, after those tough opponents were forced off the ballot. Similarly, Hillary Clinton could not run against Obama on substance, since their positions are nearly identical; the best she could do was complain that he mesmerized an audience the way she only wished she could.

It seems that our friend and worthy adversary is only really comfortable when he's running against an empty chair... or a Doppelgänger.

Let's skip through his political career chronologically...

The Illinois state Senate

Perennial Watcher's Council winner Wolf Howling posted about John McCain's current campaign-finance woes (more about that anon); but he (or she) also linked to a Chicago Tribune story about Obama's rise to the Illinois state Senate:

The day after New Year's 1996, operatives for Barack Obama filed into a barren hearing room of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

There they began the tedious process of challenging hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of state Sen. Alice Palmer, the longtime progressive activist from the city's South Side. And they kept challenging petitions until every one of Obama's four Democratic primary rivals was forced off the ballot.

This was for the 13th district in Chicago, a Democratic stronghold; the real election is the Democratic primary, with the actual general election being a coronation. So by sending his lawyers to force all the other candidates off the primary ballot, Obama cleared the decks for an essentially unopposed election.

One of the lesser candidates, Gha-is Askia, summed up Obama perfectly:

"Why say you're for a new tomorrow, then do old-style Chicago politics to remove legitimate candidates?" Askia said. "He talks about honor and democracy, but what honor is there in getting rid of every other candidate so you can run scot-free? Why not let the people decide?"

Well, all right. It happened once; that's just happenstance. Obama remained in the state Senate for eight years, then ran for the United States Senate, for the seat vacated by the retiring Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.

United States Senate, part I

First, Obama had to secure the nomination... and that didn't look too likely. His main opponent was the front runner, Blair Hull -- a self-financing securities trader. Hull was running far ahead of Obama as late as mid-February, 2004.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the primaries: For some reason, never explained, journalists and TV broadcasters suddenly became obsessed with gaining access to Hull's divorce records from six years earlier.

They went to court; despite such records normally remaining sealed, they persuaded the judge to open them to the general public. I can only conclude that some person or persons unknown gave them a significant piece of evidence indicating there was something in there that was "important" for voters to know.

What they found was that Hull's wife alleged that, at one point during the proceedings, Hull had threatened to kill her. Now, I have never threatened to kill a woman; but I've never been divorced. I understand it's not that uncommon when the divorce is bitterly contested. Hull was not charged with that offense.

She also alleged that he had battered her (which could mean anything from beating her to grabbing her arm). He was arrested, as I suspect was required under Illinois law (we have a similar law in California); but he was not charged with that offense either.

Despite the lack of any evidence for anything other than the usual allegations that spouses make in acrimonious divorces (especially when hundreds of millions of dollars are involved), Hull's campaign collapsed. From front runner, he ended up finishing a distant third with only 10% of the vote.

The beneficiary of Hull's electoral free-fall was none other than Barack Obama... who once again found his most dangerous opponent suddenly sidelined by something completely unrelated to the campaign. This time, however, Obama had nothing to do with it -- or at least not as directly as the last time... no fingerprints. It was the local news media who suddenly (goodness knows why) got bees in their bonnets about Hull's divorce proceedings.

Okay, big deal; so it happened twice, not just once. Twice could still be just coincidence.

United States Senate, part B

Now Obama rolled into the general election. In the GOP primary, the intimidatingly named Jack Ryan had cruised to the nomination. In many ways, Ryan was an ideal candidate: a self-financing investment banker worth hundreds of millions of dollars, who had nevertheless spent years teaching poor, black kids in inner-city Catholic schools. Ryan was tall, slender, and as good looking as Obama. He was a solid conservative but not a scary evangelist. And he was formerly married to a Borg.

Obama jumped out to an early lead, after a rookie gaffe by Ryan; however, there was still plenty of time (almost five months) for Ryan to recover come back strong. But then, a funny thing happened on the way to the general election: For some reason, never explained, journalists and TV broadcasters suddenly became obsessed with gaining access to Ryan's divorce and child custody records from five years earlier.

They went to court; despite such records normally remaining sealed, they persuaded the judge to open them to the general public. I can only conclude that some person or persons unknown gave them a significant piece of evidence indicating there was something in there that was "important" for voters to know... something big enough to overcome the natural desire to maintain the privacy of their child, Alex. Particularly so, since both parents had requested that the court not release those records.

Once again, a little bird appears to have whispered into the ears of reporters from the Chicago Tribune and the local ABC affiliate. They found an unproven allegation from Ryan's actress wife (Jeri Ryan, "Seven of Nine" on Star Trek: Voyager) during the custody fight that on a couple of occasions, Ryan took her to a sex club and expressed a desire for the two of them to have sex while in the presence of other couples and spectators.

Jeri Ryan swore in the affidavit that she was appalled (though I would have paid good money to see Six of Nine naked), and that this contributed to her no longer being attracted to her husband. In spite of this claim, husband Jack Ryan won custody, leading to the conclusion that the judge either didn't believe Mrs. Ryan's claim or didn't take it as seriously as did she.

Nevertheless, the revelation shattered Ryan's conservative campaign (I reckon conservatives don't like pree-verts): Within a week after the story broke, Ryan dropped out of the race... leaving the Republican Party with no nominee. After a few weeks of increasing desperation -- during which Democrats were in court trying to prevent the GOP from substituting anybody at all -- they finally accepted carpetbagger Alan Keyes as their nominee. He went on to lose in a landslide to Barack Obama... which is hardly surprising, since Keyes was not an Illinois resident and had never even considered running in Illinois until the collapse of Ryan's campaign.

Like a web, the pieces all fit into place...

There is a wonderful aphorism by Ian Fleming, found in the James-Bond novel Goldfinger:

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time is enemy action.

When the same sort of mysterious, slate-clearing event occurs three times in a row, and each time to the benefit of the same man, I believe it's time to consider whether "enemy action" is afoot; or in this case, consider the possibility that the person behind the Jack Ryan tipoff to the news is the same as the person behind the Blair Hull tipoff, and the same guiding intelligence as was behind the challenging of all four candidates opposing Obama in the Democratic primary for the state Senate seat for the 13th district of Illinois. And that intelligence would most likely be Barack Obama and his strategists.

This is not proof positive, of course; maybe Chicago newsmen always compulsively try to pry into divorce records, and maybe Chicago courts routinely grant access even with no evidence of any kind that there might be something voters "need" to know.

But to me, it seems far more plausible that none of this happened by sheer happenstance or coincidence, but by concerted action on the part of a bare-knuckle brawler in the Al Capone, Richard Daley mold. "That's the Chicago way;" that's what they do up in the 13th.

And now, of course, something funny is happening on the way to the presidential election...

The road to Casablanca

Maybe the New York Times speculation that John McCain can be sued off the ballot has nothing to do with Obama. Perhaps nobody in the campaign put the bug in the Times' ear; maybe it just occurred to them completely independently. So be it; they're still acting as Obama's guardian angel with a cosh and knuckle dusters.

But it doesn't even stop there. Wolf Howling explicates another devious attack on McCain's ability to campaign... an attempt to send him into electoral penury. Let me simply quote from Mr. Howling's excellent journalistic adventure:

How this all came about is, last year, with his campaign in shambles, McCain signed up for public financing during the primaries.. Under the public financing rules, he would not receive any public financing until March. Obviously that would not have worked in this season of early primaries. But the promise of those funds did bear on McCain obtaining a $1 million bank loan in advance of Super Tuesday. In the end, he never even dipped into the loan itself as his fund raising picked up sufficiently.

That notwithstanding, McCain has now notified the FCC that he intends to withdraw from the public financing agreement during the primaries. The rules say that if you dip into the public funds -- which McCain hasn’t -- or you use public funds as collateral for a loan, than you are obligated to follow the public financing rules.

So, the question is, did McCain use those funds as collateral? That is a legal question, and one has to look to the terms of his loan.

As it happens, the McCain campaign was very careful to structure the loan so that the collateral was not the federal matching funds. In this, they had an already approved guide to follow:

If that sounds like a rather slippery legal maneuver to you, well it does to me also. Objectively, in a court of law, I can see it standing up. But I would also have to grant to my friends on the other side of the aisle that it smells enough that they at least have reasonable grounds to cry foul. However, those grounds may be somewhat limited. Apparently, at least according to those in the McCain camp, this is precisely how Howard Dean went about his withdraw from public financing during the 2004 campaign.

McCain has given notice to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that he is withdrawing from public financing for the primaries; but the FEC isn't prepared simply to wave adios. They want to discuss the matter among themselves and then vote on it; and they say that until they do vote, McCain must remain within the public-financing system -- and abide by the draconian spending limits.

In the primaries, candidates taking public campaign financing are restricted to spending $50 million... and McCain has already spent $40 million plus. That means that if he is forced into this system, he will have to essentially "go dark" for the next six months, until the GOP National Convention in early September.

During that period, Obama will be able to spend campaign money without limit... and McCain will not be allowed to spend hardly any. So it would seem to be vital that the FEC hold its vote as soon as possible, so as not to disrupt the GOP campaign and -- in essence -- once again "clear the decks" for an easy Obama win over an emasculated opposition.

Alas, there is a monkey wrench in the ointment: They cannot hold such a vote because they don't have a quorum. They need four of the six possible members to show up; but there are currently only two members in the FEC. Two others await confirmation (a Democrat and a Republican are always nominated together, because the committee must maintain an equal number of each party).

The Democratic nominee, Steven Walther, has enough votes to sail right through, as likely does the Republican nominee, Hans von Spakovsky. Alas, Mr. von Spakovsky cannot get a vote... because one senator has put a hold on his nomination.

See if you can guess which junior senator from Illinois has prevented a confirmation vote for Mr. von Spakovsky. Others have since joined in, but Barack Obama was one of the first. Thus, Barack Obama is abusing his senatorial privileges to try to force McCain to go dark for the next half a year... and utterly pervert democracy in the process. But heck, as Mayor Daley should have said, You can't make an omlet without breaking a few heads.

Yet another funny thing on the way to the presidential election!

Like a puzzle, the strands all join at the center...

Perhaps it's just I, but there appears -- at least on first glance -- to be a bit of a pattern here. And the pattern isn't even limited to a particular Democratic campaign for the presidency. Consider this: The FISA reform bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, better than 2-1 (thus necessarily with "bipartisan" support). Everyone agrees that the Senate bill would pass in the House as well, were it ever put to the vote.

But it hasn't been, and there is no guarantee it ever will be. The merits of the bill itself are irrelevant; Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) is withholding it for two extremely vital reasons:

  1. The provision granting telecommunication companies immunity from lawsuit -- for having cooperated with the federal government in tracking down terrorists right after 9/11 -- interferes with the ability of John Edwards and his cronies to extract tens of millions of dollars from them, on the novel legal theory that "No good deed goes unpunished by a court of law." (Besides, the telecoms should be taught a good, hard lesson for having aided and abetted "the regime.")
  2. And must urgent of all, the Bush administration must not achieve yet another political victory!

Compared to these two critical political concerns, mere national-security needs surely pale. But notice the tactic used... rather than make their case to the voters that there is no need for FISA reform, rather than put it to an up or down vote in the House, the Democrats would rather use parliamentary maneuvering to prevent it ever coming before the members.

Structurally, this is the same technique used by those who don't think the anointed, such as "Back-Room" Barack, should have to run against a real opponent in a real election; after all, fickle, dimwitted voters might choose the wrong man.

It's not even confined to the United States. Recall the saga of the the left-wing Liberal Party in Canada during the sponsorship scandal: At the end, when it was patently obvious that the Grits had lost the confidence of the country (let alone Parliament), it took an actual, literal vote of no-confidence to dynamite them out of control. (You never hear "it's a fair cop" from the Left; it always requires a shootout at the O.K. Corral to haul them away.)

It's the same with the thoroughly discredited Kadima-Labor coalition in the Israeli Knesset: Everybody knows that if there is ever again an election in Israel, Likud will be forming a new government... and maybe even the first majority government in Israeli history. For that very reason, the ruling coalition appears resolved that never again will there be a vote in Israel, if they can help it!

Sententious epilogues R we

Simply put, the Right sees the vote as a sacred duty, even a privilege, and they abide by it even when it's a little suspicious (think of Nixon in 1960 or John Ashcroft in 2000). But the Left sees the vote as an annoying imposition, a petty and superfluous speedbump standing in between the anointed and their vision. Their first impulse is to abrogate the vote in advance by some clever legal argument ("None of my opponents have enough legitimate signatures!" "McCain isn't really a natural-born citizen!"). When that fails, and they lose the election, they instinctively file a flurry of subpoenas and lawsuits, hoping somehow to reverse the ballot box in the courthouse.

And evidently, this applies even to Mr. Clean, Mr. Articulate, Mr. Agent of Change. Meet the new Barack, same as the old Barack.

So what should John McCain do? Here is the Big Lizards three-point plan:

  1. Completely ignore the nonsense about him being "ineligible" because he was born in the Canal Zone. It's so stupid, even Judge Thelton Henderson would rule against the Democrats.
  2. Tell the FEC to FO. McCain should ignore the FEC and raise and spend as much as he needs, without regard to the primary spending limits for those joining the federal campaign-finance system. If the FEC threatens him, laugh in their faces. What are they going to do, vote to fine him? They can't vote to impose a penalty -- they don't have a quorum! Remember? That's what started this whole nonsense.
  3. And if "Back-Room" Barack or any other Democrat objects, demanding that McCain accept campaign limits while Obama does no such thing, McCain should take to the airwaves to demand to know why Democrats are desperately trying to to take away the people's sacred right to choose their president. "Just what are you afraid of, Senator Obama, if real Americans are allowed to vote?"

All these confusticating freakshows will drop by the wayside, leaving only the big top itself: The grand strategic issues of war, peace, and economics.

You know, substance... socialist Barack Obama's weakest link.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 29, 2008, at the time of 3:16 AM

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The following hissed in response by: GW

Wow. I didn't realize that I had barely scratched the surface. Tremendous job in bringing all of this info together. Linked

The above hissed in response by: GW [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 5:40 AM

The following hissed in response by: efarr

Very interesting piece. But has Obama pulled any of these shenanigans will Hillary? Without showing that he's done so in the biggest race of his career (to date), the thesis is still a little weak.

The above hissed in response by: efarr [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 6:40 AM

The following hissed in response by: nash

All this shows is that the Big Lizard is as good at innuendo and political smear jobs as the NYT. And that McCain's word isn't worth spit. He wrote the rules. Now he wants to break them.

The above hissed in response by: nash [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 6:50 AM

The following hissed in response by: Steelhand

I guess the hue and cry about keeping out Michigan and Florida deligates hasn't reached your ears, efarr and nash? huh.

McCain wants to break the rules? He wants to observe them. (I don't like them, either.) But a parliamentary procedure is preventing him. Maybe he'll see the light, that using the gov't to keep money out of politics is a waste of time. But the point Dafydd is making is that Mr. Hopey-change is just another morally bankrupt Chicago pol.

And as we Illinoisans are keeping our streak of imprisoned governors in tact (see the Rezko case) BO's tangential links to that case are more proof of Dafydd's point.

Another case of Swiftboating: pointing out inconvenient truths to those unwilling to hear them.

The above hissed in response by: Steelhand [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 8:28 AM

The following hissed in response by: watcherdownsouth

He wrote the rules. Now he wants to break them.

The above hissed in response by: nash

Uhmmm...let's see...

McCain purposefully follows Howard Dean's trailblazing path into how to set up the financing, and does not actually use federal funds or loan funds collaterized with fed funds.

He also would love to get "cleared" by the FEC, but la-ti-da, what do you know, a Democrat is blocking a vote on putting enough people on the FEC panel for a quorum.

I am absolutely not a McCain fan, but dimwitted obstructionism and this Clintonian behavior of yelling "McCain lied!" when the speaker knows it not to be true (or is deluding himself)is just about enough to cause me to break out the checkbook and actually support this septuagenarian RINO.

The above hissed in response by: watcherdownsouth [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 9:41 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Very interesting piece. But has Obama pulled any of these shenanigans will Hillary? Without showing that he's done so in the biggest race of his career (to date), the thesis is still a little weak.

Even if it's true, as I suspect, that Obama is behind much of the freaky "coincidences" that so often leave him running against an empty podium, that doesn't mean he's superhuman. If a candidate gives him nothing to use, he can do nothing:

  • His opponents in the Illinois state-Senate primary were all petition candidates; petition signatures can always be challenged.
  • Hull and Ryan both had very messy divorces; wives in such circumstances often say very, very bad things about their soon-to-be exes... things a clever politician can use.
  • And McCain was corrupt enough not to ban good-looking females from petitioning him for redress of grievances, and he was boneheaded enough to be born outside the United States. There! Something one can use to try to push him off the ballot.

By contrast, Hillary is so well known that every negative thing about her has already been factored into the public's view of her. What good would it do to accuse her of corruption for the cattle-futures investment, or for hiding the Rose Law Firm billing records from subpoena, or for lying about a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to protect her position as Fist Lady? Everybody already knows about those... while the revelations about Hull and Ryan came as a great shock to voters.

And of course, Obama couldn't charge her with botching the attempt to foist socialized medicine on us -- because he was busy trying to do exactly the same thing. So he had nothing to work with; but thank goodness she delivered herself into Obama's hands all on her own steam.

Obama was politically astute enough to realize very early on that Hillary Clinton had already emasculated herself (so to speak):

  • He was so far to the left that Hillary couldn't attack him from that side;
  • Yet she chose, at the very beginning of her campaign, not to try to run against him from the right.

By the time Obama was in a position of sufficient power to contemplate pulling "shenanigans" on her, it was clearly unnecessary: Hillary Clinton had chosen, in a fit of quite characteristic political foolishness, to run against Barack Obama on the "issue" of which of the two was more likeable!


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 2:57 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

It just struck me:
Obama's chants "we can do it" and "yes we can" are potty training chants you say to encourage your kids.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 3:24 PM

The following hissed in response by: the count

I love to pick a nit. The LA Times went to a California judge to open the Ryan custody battle records. It is of course the sister paper of the Chicago Tribune. So I'm sure the Trib put the Times up to it. I couldn't find any other nits to pick. Great post ddyfaD.

The above hissed in response by: the count [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 5:24 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill M

Dafydd, sounds like you are dead on to me.

The above hissed in response by: Bill M [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 6:39 PM

The following hissed in response by: eliXelx

Am I misremembering or didn't Obama at some point declare, sometime before he became the money tree, that he would take Matching funds if the Republican contender took them too?

It must have been before he started tanning Hillary's behind and about when Giuliani was Repub Frontrunner, maybe December.

If that is the case the McCain could:

a)live up to McCain-Feingold by accepting Federal funding
b)challenge Obama to a duel with matching funds or invite him to accept the denomination of "LIAR" and "COWARD" (not "YELLOW", since that could be misconstrued as a racist reference to Obama's skin colour!)
c)run up to the conventions on a shoestring, when he is best, and if Obama doesn't accept matching funds, and has millions and millions to spend, sit back, watch Obama over-expose himself, and complain as to how the Dems want a Fairness Doctrine but are not willing to countenance "Fairness" when they have the power!

It is my considered opinion, Daffydd, that this election will NOT be won by an onrush of TV ads, nor the daily spin; it will come down to persuading Americans to REALLY THINK! I really believe that McCain would get tons of media exposure even without spending money on self-congratulatory or negative ads which, anyway, only preach to the converted.

BTW and OT, what happened to the CTV story?

Also, Obama recently, talking about lobbyists, said something like (paraphrasing) "I will not have them on my bus, I will not invite them to the
White House, and I will not allow them to 'DROWN OUT THE VOICES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE'" (direct money quote). Could somebody please ask him WHICH LOBBYISTS "Drown out the voices of the American People"? Can he name names or is he blowing smoke?

The above hissed in response by: eliXelx [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2008 3:20 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

Yeah, BHO is real tough, but don't you dare say his full name.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2008 10:48 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh




The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 2:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

What a great piece of writing, Dafydd- I had no idea how all this happened until you explained it, and the Fleming quote perfectly sums up the thesis.

One further election point for you to ponder: now Hillary's backers, specifically Walter Shorenstein, are complaining about media bias in favor of Obama. Hilariously, Shorenstein's argument inadvertently (has to be an unconscious mistake!) make the case for an even worse case of bias against McCain.

The MSM has actively sought Obama's election and it has managed in the past to get Obama elected to every one of his offices, as you so ably demonstrate. Now, the national MSM is doing their level best versus McCain. How long before McCains nearly 30 year old divorce proceedings are unsealed?

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 1:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: Hube

Hey -- wasn't it Seven of Nine? Or did I miss some sarcastic humor in there?

At any rate, awesome post. I had no idea about all this either.

The above hissed in response by: Hube [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 6, 2008 7:05 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Hey -- wasn't it Seven of Nine? Or did I miss some sarcastic humor in there?

Yes. But it's up to you to decide which.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 6, 2008 2:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: scrapiron

Barack Hussein "I will stand with Islam" Obama.

The above hissed in response by: scrapiron [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 6, 2008 8:12 PM

The following hissed in response by: i3igpete

We really need to spread this article, especially today. It seems that although it was OK for Obama to play election board games just a short 15 years ago... It's NOT ok for Rahm because they doesn't fall in his favor

The above hissed in response by: i3igpete [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 26, 2011 6:30 AM

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