Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween: But Beware the Quadruple Taxing Hour

Happy Halloween Everyone! But, beware, the quadruple witching hour of Democratic tax increases is fast approaching.

Unless you've been living under a rock lately (or getting your news only from Ellen's Blog), you know by now that a year after being elected into office, Democrats at virtually every level of government are poised to tax you and me practically into bankruptcy.

Here's a sampling of the new taxes proposed by Democrats at the state, county, City of Chicago, and national level:

Chicago Democratic Tax Increases: $292 million
1. 15% property tax increase
2. Higher water taxes
3. Higher sewer taxes
4. Higher phone taxes
5. Higher beer taxes
6. Higher wine taxes
7. Higher liquor taxes
8. Higher leased car taxes
9. Higher office equipment taxes
10. Higher parking taxes
11. New 15 cent per square foot tax on new office space
12. New $120 annual tax on SUVs
13. New 10 cent tax on bottled water

Collar County Democratic Tax Increases: $158 million
14. Increased Cook and Lake county sales tax
(This is to bail out the CTA which the Illinois Inspector General reported has a 46% absentee rate and several floors of its headquarters have been unoccupied for years).

Cook County Democratic Tax Increases: $888 million
15. Triple sales taxes
16. Double gas taxes
17. Double parking taxes
(This is to hire 1,100 new employees, including patronage jobs)

State of Illinois Democratic Tax Increases: $7 billion
18. New Gross Receipts Tax (Delayed by the state legislature)

Federal Expected Democratic Tax Increases: Tens of Billions
19. Alternative Minimum Tax: increased from 4 million paying to 23 million
20. Marginal Tax Rate Increase: Current tax relief will expire, raising the rate to 39%
21. Social Security Tax increase: lifting the $94,000 income cap on FICA tax
22. Dingell Carbon Tax: New federal property tax against any home over 3,000 square feet.

Read about it in more detail here.

All I can say is that thank goodness I don't live in the City or in Cook County, and although I work there, I can live without buying bottled water, and they can't tax my SUV (although they can charge me more to park, I suppose). You would think that anyone with any brains would have coordinated to some degree and not tried to sock the taxpayers all at once, at every level of government--even the generally oblivious man/woman in the street will have a hard time ignoring this one. Although I'm generally pretty cynical about the degree to which "normal" people pay attention to these kinds of issues, I've noticed they start paying attention when it hits their pocketbook in a fairly obvious and direct fashion (as opposed to various kinds of "stealth" tax increases, like simply whittling down deductions).

Here's my question: Are people in this state finally waking up to the fact that they are getting the government they voted for, and sadly, deserve?

Actually, that's not my question, because I know the answer to that one.

What I really want to know, is now that the one-party rule of the Democrats at the City, Cook County and State level have us headed for the perfect storm of tax increases, not to mention the federal tax increases proposed by Dem Charlie Rangel, will the voters of this state think twice in the next election before sending the same (or more) Democrats back into office?

Does the Republican party have a chance to capitalize on this, now that the Dems are feeling their oats and have revealed their plan to tax us all back to the stone age? If so, what's the Republican message? Many would say (perhaps rightly) that our credibility as the party of fiscal responsibility has been so damaged as to be irreparable. Discuss.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tales from the Front Line In Springfield: Mark Kirk, Jay Footlik, and Finally Dan Seals... Is the Green Guy a No Show?

Sorry for the tardy report, but it's been a busy day. Today, of course, was the earliest first day of filing for petitions in the entire history of Illinois. The primary is February 5th. That basically means three months of hardcore campaigning for the Dems for the right to go head-to-head with Mark Kirk next November. Meanwhile, Mark Kirk will be in the enviable position of being able to save most of his dough for the general election.

TA's sources indicate that Kirk's crowd was up near the front of the line, with Footlik's camp somewhere well behind Kirk. The Seals contingent was far behind in line, in fact, about an hour behind Footlik by most estimates. I don't know specifically, but I assume Seals made it in line before 8:00 a.m., which is the time I believe you have to be there to secure a place in a run-off lottery if there is more than one candidate for the office. So we'll have to see who wins the coveted first place position on the Dem ballot. Either way, the Dems are going to have to start getting up a lot earlier in the morning to beat Kirk.

Seals seems to have cut it kind of close, but perhaps he needed to finish a last minute blitz through the somewhat alien territory of the Tenth District to pick up enough signatures. We'll see how many he has, and how many Footlik has--a nice start to the real primary campaign would be a cross-petition challenge among the Dem candidates.

There was no sign of David J. Kalbfleisch, the Green Party candidate (I know I've said no ad hominem attacks on my blog, so consider this a strategic tip, not an attack--this guy's web pictures make him look like he's 20 years old and hasn't had to shave a day in his life. I would try to make him a look a little older if I were his handlers). If he's still planning to run, he may be waiting until near the end of the filing period to file, which might not be a bad idea, as it gives less time to set up a challenge. I don't see Kirk filing a challenge, but Seals might.

So, it seems like Seals intends to run, at least for now. I'm assuming he got the guys at The Point to give him the day off to go file. Wonder how long that will last. And maybe standing in line with all of the excitement will motivate Footlik to go after Seals and start some real campaigning. Someone made the observation a short while ago on the blog that Footlik's "press release" attacking Seals for not debating was not posted on his website, which was interesting. Footlik will have no choice but to go negative almost immediately, as the 10th District voters get that neither one of them is Kirk--they will want to know what the difference between the two Dems is, and the only truly effective way to do that is to criticize your opponent.

Any bets on how long it takes for the Seals-Footlik fireworks to begin? Anyone have an update on a planned debate?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

10th District Blog Wars: Dan Seals Strikes Back!

I haven't had this much fun with a computer since I bought Lego Star Wars II. TA and friends now seem to be locked in almost a real-time flame war with our liberal blogging counterparts over whose candidate and version of the "truth" will emerge victorious. And it's more than a year till the election(!)

Our friend over at the 10th Dems, Ellen Beth Gill, apparently spent her weekend protesting the war downtown and otherwise enjoying the nice Autumn weather, only to return to her computer and find to her chagrin that TA and some of the other less liberal bloggers in the 10th District had noticed that her preferred candidate Dan Seals had gotten himself a new gig recently. As noted in previous posts, Dan's new job is over at The Point website as Director of Business Development. The Point seems to be a bizarre mixture of activism without responsibility, as most of the so-called "campaigns" that have been set up have no chance of ever actually engendering enough support to commit any of the participants to actually doing anything. For example, the campaign to stop Best Buy from allegedly selling inappropriate video games to minors demands that 500,000 people sign up before anyone will be committed to boycotting Best Buy. How's THAT for decisive action? Ellen Beth herself, after years of blogging, only reached 50,000 hits a short while ago. I wouldn't be too concerned that Best Buy's holiday shopping receipts are going to be impacted anytime soon...

But, I digress. Ellen Beth chastised us non-liberal bloggers for poor research, but doesn't explain what we got wrong, although from what I can infer, she is upset that some of us have implied that Dan Seals may be pulling out of the campaign because he found himself a new job. Ellen criticizes us for not going to the source (i.e., Dan Seals), and posts what I understand is a direct quote from the Seals campaign:

They're at it again. Not only has Dan's Democratic opponent attacked him, but Kirk's cronies have ratcheted up their Rovian Republican rumor mill. Their attack? That Dan Seals has a job and therefore might not run for Congress! That's right, folks, because Dan isn't independently wealthy, still has student loans to pay, needs to help support his three young girls, pay a mortgage and taxes that benefit the Tenth District, and because Dan can't afford to maintain two residences at once right now- one in the Washington DC area and one in Illinois- like his opponents- they attack him for being a regular citizen candidate! Here's the deal. Dan is a business consultant and adjunct professor at Northwestern University. Being a consultant- like Melissa Bean was wan she ran for Congress- enables Dan the flexibility to work directly with several clients AND run for Congress.

Ellen finishes with a parting shot, saying "Apparently republican bloggers have a lot of time on their hands, but no interest in seeking out and reporting on the truth." At least she's reading TA's blog... I wasn't sure if she could bring herself to do it after she booted me and other bloggers with no acknowledgement. But, I was not surprised to see she provided no link to our posts, lest any of her readers attempt to easily review our work and decide for themselves...

Well, let's look at the Seals statement, which I guess may or may not make it into a formal press release.

First, we all knew Seals was supposedly a private business consultant since not going back to GE. Whether he actually ever had any paying clients, who knows? But, anyone whose has kept up with the blogs over the last few days know that no one was (recently) critical of Seals' gig as a consultant; rather, it is the brand-new gig as Director of Business Development for The Point (which sounds like an entirely different kind of job than his "consulting" work) that makes us wonder about his commitment to his campaign. The statement also does not address the bio of Seals on The Point which clearly identifies him as a "former candidate for U.S. Congress."

The issue is not Dan having a job, kids, it's the NEW job, and the type of job it appears to be, not to mention the description of Seals on the actual website. Either The Point got it wrong, or it got it completely right... I don't think our research is at fault, Ellen. And that "statement" from the Seals camp doesn't even mention the new job. And we're the ones with the "false" scoop, huh?

The statement also tries to gain pity points by painting Dan as a hardworking guy simply trying to make ends meet, still paying student loans, but contributing to the society around him by paying a mortgage and taxes that "benefit the Tenth District."


Sorry, I almost lost it there for a second. But seriously, which college intern over at the Seals office actually made that statement?

Also, in case you missed it, the Seals camp does try to get a subtle dig in at Footlik at the same time, as it mentions Seals' "opponents" (plural) that maintain two residences, one here in the District, and one in D.C. Well, if Dan wants to cry poor, let him release his tax returns, as Mark Kirk has done. Let's see how much The Point thinks he's worth, and let's measure that against the time that a normal person would have to put in to demand that kind of salary. For example, if Seals is pulling in 200K a year from The Point (not unheard of for a U of C MBA in a full time job), it probably isn't going to leave him much time to campaign... at least, not much time to campaign and still put in an honest days' work. But, I'm not going to hold my breath to see the Seals tax returns available to the public any time soon.

In any event, I'll be looking in over at Ellen's from time to time to await her next post, where she promises to explain how we have all made a horrible mistake and got our facts and conclusions totally bass ackwards.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jay Footlik Finally Wakes Up: He Has to Beat Dan Seals First

Well, well, after months of running what amounts to essentially a primary campaign against four term incumbent 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk, newbie Democratic candidate Jay Footlik has finally woken up to the fact that he first needs to beat his nemesis, Dan Seals, in the primary election in February 2008. If you can get past Seals, Mr. Footlik, there will be plenty of time to worry about how to defeat Kirk. But up until this week, the Footlik campaign was acting as if Seals did not exist.

On Friday afternoon (while Dan Seals was fretting over whether to continue his stand against Hollywood Video late fees, see post below), Footlik issued a press release chastising Seals for refusing to debate him, and rather cleverly dug up some old Dan Seals quotes from the last election cycle, in which Seals lobbied hard to get Mark Kirk to engage him. See the Footlik press release here. Among other quotes, Seals was noted as saying that "it is absolutely essential for the voters to hear our contrasting visions for America.” [Dan Seals for Congress Press Release, 8/4/06]. Footlik can't understand why Seals is running away from him at the speed of light, and refuses to engage in what would be sure to be a left-wing lovefest of a debate.

Well, Seals apparently didn't spend the entire last cycle not picking up a few tricks, at least, because according to the Footlik press release, Seals has already turned down two debate challenges. Of course, this is not to say that Mark Kirk gave Seals the complete stiff arm on debates last season, as even the Footlik press release acknowledges that Seals (while all the while ranting about Kirk avoiding him) actually blew off a scheduled debate in Waukegan in November 2006.

If I were Seals, I wouldn't be eager to debate Footlik either. First, as the Dem candidate with more local name recognition, why give the upstart challenger a platform? Good enough strategy for Kirk, good enough for me, figures Seals. Of course, let's see how fast Seals changes his tune if he does win the primary and goes on to repeat his uphill battle to get face time with the incumbent.

Second, from what I've seen of Footlik, he would wipe the floor with Seals in a debate. The only example I can provide of Footlik is not really debate footage, but does give you an taste of Footlik's fairly impressive command of foreign affairs (at least compared to Dan Seals), as shown in this video clip courtesy of our local videoguy Lee "peace at any price" Goodman. See the clip here. Some context for this clip is in order, as our friend Mr. Goodman no doubt intended to embarrass Footlik by challenging his position on the continued bombing of Hezbollah by Israel back in summer of 2006. The fact that Goodman posted this clip on his site shows that Goodman thinks that any politician that is willing to use military force in defense of anything, even Israel, is clearly deranged. But, if you watch the whole thing, I think Footlik comes off as pretty knowledgeable and convincing, at least in comparison to how Dan Seals responded to the question of whether the U.S. would support Israel in the event of an attack on Israel by Iran, as shown here. Also compare Seals' pacifistic view on the Hezbollah situation in comparison here.

It's clear that right now both Dem candidates ought to be pulling out all the stops to be able to emerge the victor against Kirk. Neither of them can afford to bring anything other than their "A" game in this primary war. So far, Seals has not been doing too well with his lackluster campaigning (see post below for his flub of a fundraiser in Chicago a few weeks ago) and futzing around with his new gig at The Point website. But, until yesterday, Footlik didn't appear to get the fact that he has to earn the right to make a run at Kirk. Maybe he's finally gotten the message and we'll start to understand why Footlik over Seals, or vice versa. But, a debate would help. Even TA would go to that. Seals and his former primary opponent last time around, Zane Smith, engaged in a number of debates in which they tried to out-left each other. See here, again courtesy of Lee Goodman.

Based on the evidence thus far, I'll take Footlik over Seals. But then, the question becomes, why Footlik instead of Kirk? It's not clear to me that Footlik's take on foreign policy is much different than Kirk's, even on the war, as both men seem to agree that the war should end, but that pulling our troops out immediately to leave an unstable situation and power vacuum primed for exploitation by Iran (heck, even the top three Dem presidential candidates refuse to say that they will be able to get the troops out in their first term if elected). But, that's a battle we can discuss in February, maybe.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Updated x2: Dan Seals Quits the (Hollywood Video) Campaign!

OK, so the lede here is a little misleading. What I'm talking about is Dan Seals' further adventures at The Among the many campaigns that Dan Seals has personally joined on that site (see posts below for an explanation of how these "campaigns" work) was the campaign for "Help Fight Hollywood Video Late Fees." See here. But, as of this afternoon on October 26, 2007, Dan has quit! Yes, either he decided that Hollywood video has an American right to charge whatever the heck they want for late fees (and customers have a choice to go elsewhere for their video rentals), or perhaps he decided that it was a futile group to be in bed with, as only about 5 out of the 10,000 people necessary for a commitment to take action on this issue had signed up. Well, Dan, that's what I call sticking the course in the face of tough times. I wonder if his political decisions will also be dictated by which way the polls are going.

Not to worry, though. Dan is still a member of 8 other The Point campaigns as of this afternoon, including the "Buy a Wii for The Point office campaign" (although this appears closed, as apparently those wacky Point employees got their Wii... how many other "successes" have there been so far, one wonders....) and the notable "Keep the Motel Bar Winter Lunch!" (a desperate plea to the Motel Bar, located in the front of the 600 W. Chicago building in Chicago, to continue serving lunch in the winter, when it’s difficult to leave the building). Some of the others attempt to incite action against Best Buy, Starbucks, and Citgo, as mentioned previously.

One really wonders what the point of this site is. And why someone who wants to represent the 10th District in Congress thinks that this is all making him look like a winning candidate.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Updated: Dan's New Gig

TA's sources have confirmed that Dan Seals is sending out e-mails on behalf of The Point as its Director of Outreach. He also can be found making comments on The Point website, encouraging campaigns such as the boycott of Citgo gas stations. Maybe more on this later, but boycotting Citgo gas stations would harm many Americans (over 4,000) who work here in the U.S. (see the urban myth buster story here), so Dan might want to re-think that particular call for action.

Dan signs his posts on The Point with this thumbnail pic:

Isn't that just too cute for words? Just what I want in MY congressman! Dan's e-mail at The Point is Drop him a line and ask him how the new gig is, and if he's still running for Congress.

Why is Dan Seals Smiling? He Just Got a New Job! (But It’s Not in Congress)

Dan Seals ran a fairly close race against Mark Kirk last cycle, as we all know. Last time around, he took a leave of absence from his marketing job at GE Commercial Finance in order to campaign (and reportedly paid his living expenses out of his campaign funds). Apparently, GE didn’t need him back, as he became a ‘private business consultant’ after the election, but that’s not the subject of today’s post.

Seals’ pitch this time around is that he is in a much better position to compete against Kirk because he has the entire cycle, rather than only 11 months, to campaign his heart out on a full time basis. Well, it turns out that Seals may not have as much confidence in his chances for success as he says, because he just took a new job with a start-up Internet company. While I was trying to find out if Seals’ claim to be a ‘private business consultant’ was legitimate (i.e., did he have a website, any actual paying clients, etc.), the only thing I could find about Seals’ private business life is a website for a new endeavor (I kinda hesitate to commit to calling it a business just yet, for the reasons discussed below) called The Point (no, not the Chicago radio station).

According to the website (visit here), The Point is brand-new, having been founded in September 2007. As far as I can tell, The Point is a site where activists can engage in ‘risk-free’ activism. The way it appears to work is that if someone has a bone to pick with, let’s say, Target, and that person wants to boycott Target, you create a “campaign” on The Point, and ask 5,000 people (for example) to sign up and agree to boycott Target with you. Only if 5,000 people also agree to do so are you committed to actually go through with it. And of course, from a legal perspective, I don’t see how The Point or anyone else could actually enforce this, but that’s ‘besides the point.’ (Ha Ha) Or, if you want to raise $10,000 to fight world hunger, you agree to pay $10 if 1,000 other people do, but you don’t have to pony up unless the threshold number of contributors (which the campaign manager sets) agree to do so as well. Swell… good, solid old-fashioned activism and consumer defense, but only if there is sufficient safety in numbers.

Interestingly, my review of The Point seems to indicate that neither Target nor any other company is in any immediate danger of mass boycotts sponsored by The Point, as most campaigns only have a handful of people signed up, and as far as I can tell, the only campaign that has reached a threshold number of people is the campaign started by the president of the company to raise $350 to buy a “Wii” video game system for the office. Sorry, but if you can’t afford to front the cash for a video game system for the office (the point of which would be, what, to encourage people to slack off on the job?), how do you afford the copier lease or other office necessities?

In any event, here is Dan’s bio from The Point:

Dan Seals, Director of Business Development
Dan Seals is a former candidate for U.S. Congress. He has also served as a Director at GE Commercial Finance and Group Manager at Sprint. Dan was selected to be a Presidential Management Fellow under the Clinton Administration where he served in U.S. Department of Commerce and in the U.S. Senate. Dan received his MBA from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago, his MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and his BA from the Boston University College of Communication.

TA notes a couple VERY interesting things here. First, is the fact that Seals has taken a job with what purports to be a legitimate business venture (as opposed to simply claiming he’s a consultant to hide the fact he’s out of work) on what I assume is a full time basis. Otherwise, why would a start-up company hire a part-timer to be “Director of Business Development”? That would seem to be a pretty darn important position for a brand-new company. So, not only is he clearly not a full time candidate, he also has taken on a significant role with a fledgling company that you would think will be very demanding on his time and energy. Which comes first, Dan, the campaign or the job?

Next, Seals is noted as a “former” congressional candidate. Why the “former” designation??? Seals has not dropped out (yet), as far as I know. I’m sure he wouldn’t have forgotten to mention this little fact during his The Point job interview. So, perhaps The Point doesn’t want people to know that their new Business Development director might be a little… distracted… over the next 13 months. If I was an investor, that’s information I might want to know.

And of course, there’s the whole issue of claiming to be a “Director” of GE Commercial Finance. I did a little looking into GE, and it does seem that they throw the title of “director” around internally pretty liberally, but to the outside world, when you call yourself a “Director,” to me that implies being a member of the Board of Directors for a major financial enterprise, which is an entirely different thing than being a cubicle-dwelling marketing guy. Finally, it's probably worth noting that those companies (or their employees) that are identified as "targets" on The Point probably are not going to be big Dan Fans, assuming that this site ever has any meaningful effect on any company's business. But it's typical of populist Dem rhetoric that seeks to cast businesses as evildoers that need to be slapped down (or better yet, taxed to death) at every opportunity.

What The Point’s business strategy is, or what Dan’s job responsibilities will be, are not clear from the information on the website. But, there is no advertising, no fees to participate or dues to pay, so at this point, I don’t know how The Point is going to make any money. But, that’s not my issue. My question is why Dan Seals is out looking for a new career when I thought he wanted to be MY congressman. So, is Dan Seals simply hedging his bets… just in case—OR ready to give up the race and start a new career? Does Jay Footlik have him THAT rattled? Either way, this makes his commitment to his own campaign seem a lot less impressive than it was a few months ago when he announced that he was going to do whatever it took to defeat Kirk this time around.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dems quietly advancing their agenda while the eye of the public is elsewhere

What’s that, you say? TA thinks the Dems are actually getting somewhere, despite the gridlock in Springfield and the ineffectiveness of Congress? How can that be?

Well, campers, it turns out that while the attention of the public is centered on more headline-grabbing issues, such as the war on the national level, and the budget crisis down in Springfield, Dems have been surprisingly effective at advancing certain aspects of their collective agenda. Sadly, for all of their posturing about being the party of the people, the goals of both the local and national Democrats continue to be out of sync with the best interests of the people, while helping their campaign supporters to feed at the public trough.

For example, the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday that the U.S. Senate voted 47-46 (45 Dems, two Republicans) to cut $2 million from the budget of the Office of Labor Standards. (here’s the link, but you need to be a WSJ subscriber). Bravo!, you say- someone is finally doing something about bloated government. Not so fast.

That budget cut is about the only one you will see supported by the Dems—and why this particular one? As reported in the WSJ, it turns out that this particular office is responsible for collecting from organized labor unions something known as LM-2 forms. LM-2 forms force unions to account for who they spend tens of millions of dollars of their members’ dues money every year. Such forms reveal startling facts about the way unions are run—one union spent $26,000 of the members’ dues money on golf for the unions bosses. It also shows that many union bosses make nearly the same amount of money that many of the so-called “overpaid CEOs” that unions like to castigate—Jimmy Warren, Treasurer of the AFL-CIO makes $825,262 yearly, while Don Hunsucker, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1288 makes $679,949 a year. Wow. I’d like to be paid that much for standing up for the rights of downtrodden proletariat workers (as they would no doubt characterize their jobs)—as long as it doesn’t interfere with their golf game.

This office is also responsible for rooting out union corruption, mostly embezzlement. Should you think that this is not an active or needed office, in September alone, the Labor Department announced 13 indictments and seven convictions, for a total of 97 indictments and 115 convictions so far this year.

In any event, the point is that by cutting the budget of this office, Congress is effectively reducing oversight on their union supporters, which, as everyone knows, are one of the core constituencies of the Democratic party. Dems are also working hard to end secret voting for decisions on when to admit unions into workplaces, which, if passed, will have an enormous chilling effect on the ability of workers to freely decide whether or not to unionize without the threat of peer pressure (or worse strong-arm tactics) on those individuals who do not support a union in their workplace.

Down in Springfield, similar machinations are in the works to take care of Dem constituencies while the attention of the public is on the budget shenanigans. For example, Democratic State Rep. John Fritchey from Chicago’s north side sponsored a bill (HB 1798) that would allow trial lawyers (another core Dem support group) to collect damages for “grief and sorrow” suffered by the beneficiaries of decedents in wrongful death cases, in addition to actual losses that can be calculated like lost income and medical expenses. See the Tribune story here. Governor Bag-O-Chips signed this bill into law, and in one fell swoop, managed to undo most of the last two years’ worth of successes in medical malpractice tort reform in this state. Most likely, the ones feeling the most grief and sorrow over this new law will not be the trial bar.

So, you haven’t heard of either of these issues? No big shock—most people seem to get their news nowadays mostly from TV at 10:00 p.m., and that’s good for about 8 minutes of mostly local stuff (shootings, accidents, etc.), followed by commercials, weather, more commercials, sports, still more commercials, and finally some human interest story that’s supposed to be funny or heartwarming so that we don’t go to bed wondering why we should even get up in the morning (or worse, not tune in to the news tomorrow night).

You have to at least read newspapers, or better yet, do your own research (love that Internet!—thanks Al Gore) to find out the real story behind the story. But most of us are just too busy, too disinterested, or feel too powerless to effect change to even bother rooting this stuff out. That’s what the Dems are probably counting on.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Would you like Footlik Fries with that Dan Burger? Observe how the Dems eat their own...

More on last Thursday's big Dan Seals meetup sponsored by DailyKos....

Check out this excerpt from the DailyKos--see if you can guess whose side Kos is on...

Seals received a lot of grassroots and netroots support in 2006, being named to the Netroots Candidates list. For 2008, he's already been named as a Blue Majority Candidate. But, this time around, he has to get through a primary against carpetbagging LieberDem Jay Footlik. Seals is running a strong campaign yet again, but could always use more help, whether you knock on doors for him, phone-bank, or make a contribution to his campaign coffers. (emphasis added)

And now check out one of the responses to Kos on his site:

Considering Jay has been living in Buffalo Grove since July and Dan has yet to become a resident of our district, I think we’re branding the wrong candidate a carpetbagger. Hearing Dan brag about his work for Joe Lieberman to Jewish groups and hiding from that part of his resume when talking to our community is also becoming tiresome.

HaHaHaHaHa!!! And I thought the Republicans tried to eat their young.... Seriously, though, I was really struck by the insightfulness of the above commentor, even though he or she was instantly criticized on DailyKos as a "Footlik Troll". (I didn't know that DailyKos was an official Dan sponsor and other views were not appreciated, but given what we know of Ellen's MO, I guess maybe I should not be surprised that this is typical among the Dem Bloggers.) So, Seals appears to have a selective memory regarding his experience when speaking to different groups, huh? THAT is going to come back to haunt him, big time.

Sadly, if you read the Kos link, you will see that the Thursday night group could not even guarantee the meeting room at Goose Island because they could not scrape up the $150 bucks it would take to reserve the room in the event another group wanted to rent it. Wow. I've heard of shoestring campaigns, but that takes the cake.

Now look at this additional pic from the event. Count 'em, what are there, 10 attendees, plus whomever took the picture? Glad they didn't spend that $150 bucks to reserve the room, the event definitely would have been in the red. About 10 more events like this and Seals won't have to worry about running anymore, because he'll be broke. Should I be shocked that they could not scrape together more than 10 Dems to come hear Seals in Chicago, considering the Dem population on the liberal north side? Or should we be shocked at all, considering the venue was nowhere near the 10th District and why should we expect people to come hear somebody running in a district light years away from where they live?

Better turn up the steam, Mr. Seals, the clock is ticking.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Campaigns 101: Never Get Photographed With a Drink In Your Hand, Dan

Well, it looks like Dan Seals never spent much time with former Congressman John Porter (no big shock), who used to give some really good campaign advice, among which was "never get photographed with a drink in your hand." Even if it's seltzer water (and I have no idea what he's holding), it doesn't look too good.

Seals was photographed at some Chicago meetup at the Goose Island Brewery, sponsored by Daily Kos, as near as I can tell, not having been invited (another shocker). Check out the link here. The next mistake Danny makes is to mug for the camera all by himself. Where's his eager prospective constituency all gathered around him to hear his latest pronouncements on how he is going to fix the universe (right after the 10th District)?

The meetup didn't seem to be much of a meetup, though. As you can see from this next picture, there appears to be all of one Dan Fan at the meeting. Now, maybe it was before everyone was supposed to show, and Dan was practicing his "considered reasoning before he announces his wisdom" look, but the next trick of campaigning is that you are never the first to show or the last to leave. You send your advance people to do the preliminary stuff, show up when the party is rocking and you can maximize your contact with prospective voters. Then go to the next event. Repeat often.

So, it appears Dan has a lot to learn about campaign logistics, even though he's been at this game for a while. He's some more free advice- you might want to keep some distance between yourself and Kos, whose blog has been widely accused of anti-semitism, as well as general hatemongering and other lovely attributes. See here and here and here. Here's another one: try having an event in the 10th District for a change, instead of trying to drum up support in the far friendlier (but still foreign territory) of Chicago.

Good luck, Dan. It appears you're going to need it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Will Tenth Dems Rely Too Much on Foreign Workers?

No, not those kind of foreign workers, the ones many people are concerned about nowadays, that come to this country ILLEGALLY but expect to be forgiven for breaking the law once they hang around long enough. Oh, sorry, that's right, these are "undocumented workers" not illegal immigrants.

Anyway, I digress. This is supposed to be a moderate blog. Actually, I suppose what really gets my goat is the law-breaking aspect of the whole thing, being a lawyer.

In any event, I have to run to an early client meeting, so for today, I thought we'd follow up on yesterday's theme in a sense. I heard over the weekend complaints by the Seals camp that Footlik was using (gasp!) paid workers to come to Highland Park (anyplace else that anyone knows of?) to canvass for signatures. How can he (Footlik) have the gall to invade OUR area and tell us who to vote for?

Wow. What a short memory the Seals folks have. Wasn't it just last cycle that the Chicago and 9th District Dems were bussing up workers from Downtown and Lincoln Park to canvass in Lake Forest for Seals? Wasn't it just a few months ago that Jan Schakowsky invaded the 10th District with her strike team to protest the war in Iraq, and demanded that Mark Kirk show up to take a beating in front of the cameras?

Apparently, the Seals camp can dish it out but can't take it. Not even from a fellow Dem. I promised myself I wasn't going to link to Ellen's Blog, but you really ought to get a chuckle out of the absolute flame war going on over there between the Seals and Footlik supporters, here.

This is going to be fun, at least until Feb. 5th. Has anyone heard of any Seals-Footlik debates? If they have any, it'll be great to see their pandering to the left base, all caught on camera by failed candidate and all around peacenik Lee Goodman. See what he caught the last cycle on Dan Seals's fine moment talking about an American response to an attack on Israel from Iran, here (hat tip: GOPulse).

Anyway, gotta run. Have at it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Will the Tenth District Dems Rely Too Much on Foreign Aid?

While commenting yesterday over on Unincorporated Middle (thanks for the shout-out about the new blog over there by the way, and also to El Rider at Flying Debris), we discussed the premise that after the primary, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ("DCCC") is going to come down like a ton of bricks on the Tenth District. Certainly, the Seals camp has a vested interest in perpetuating this notion, which gives his campaign both hope and an aura of inevitability (even invincibility?) But, let's examine whether that's true, and whether in fact it's a good thing for Seals anyway.

First off, Mr. Seals has to win the primary. As much as his camp would love for Footlik to drop out, Footlik shows no signs of doing so--he out fundraised Seals the last quarter and while he was behind this quarter, in total dollars raised, he is right in there ($480,336 Footlik v. $567,192)--especially considering that Seals has (or should have had) the big jump on Footlik by having run just last cycle, greater name recognition, and a more established local presence (well, in the 9th District anyway).

So, why hasn't Seals pulled far away from Footlik in fundraising? One reason may be that some former prominent Seals contributors have jumped ship to Footlik. We won't name names here, but you can figure this out by looking at the campaign disclosures. Secondly, some of the local money may simply be waiting on the sidelines to see who comes out of the primary scarred and bloody, but the winner. But, the true believers tend to give early, and fence-sitting money is money that may find a different home if the eventual nominee does not inspire donors to write some big checks, especially in the face of a huge deficit compared to Kirk--no one likes to feel they are throwing their money away on an un-winnable race. There are plenty of other Dems that will be out there with their hands out (can we predict Hillary?)

But, more likely, this is simply the best Seals (or Footlik) can do, and it is an indication of how the campaign is going to go. It's not a coincidence that Kirk is absolutely on fire when it comes to fundraising, and even though some of the local press seems intent on making this a race (see here), the more enlightened national press focuses on Kirk's success, not the opponents nipping at his heels. See here where CQ Quarterly states that "Kirk of Illinois appears to be in the strongest financial position of any of the vulnerable Republicans." Also Roll Call noted that "Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who was sitting on more than $1.5 million as of Sept. 30 and has outraised the combined intake of the two highly touted Democrats seeking to oust him…" (sorry, no link since you have to be a Roll Call subscriber to access).

So, what's going to happen when the primary is over (two men enter, one man leaves)? Will DCCC indeed parachute in with the troops and millions of dollars? I'm not so sure anymore, even though this is still early and anything can happen. First, by the time the primary is over, whatever pennies Seals and Footlik have socked away will be spent. And if Seals doesn't spend every dime he has to stave off Footlik, no matter what early polls might show (and there have not been any publicly-released ones to my knowledge), he's a fool. A primary is like taking a case to trial- you don't show up expecting to only give a half-effort no matter how clear and convincing you think your case is--you come loaded for bear, or don't come. So, whomever the winner is, his coffers will be empty, and DCCC will be looking at the prospect of having to completely replenish them, at least initially.

Second, DCCC has a lot on its plate. The Dems' success in the last cycle is a two-edged sword. Yes, they won a lot of seats, but many of those were in districts that only slightly leaned Dem in that election, and it was in a year of great national outrage against the war and incumbents in general. Regardless of the state of the war in the next election (and I think the situation will have improved greatly by then), that outrage has been spent, in large part, and if any is left, may be directed by the leftist zealots against their own incumbents who were unsuccessful in ending the war the day after they took office (they are a tough crowd). So, the point is that DCCC needs to worry greatly about keeping their advantage, as well as trying to pick off a few new seats. For example, Melissa Bean was a winner in a largely Republican-leaning district. She has at least one legitimate opponent, and she is not hugely popular among the left wing of her own party. Will DCCC rather spend money to help protect Bean, or spend it to try to knock off Kirk? It depends on the spread between Kirk's coffers and his challenger. If the Kirk number is $2 mil or so, and the challenger is at $0, DCCC knows it is a $3MM investment to even be competitive. That $3MM could help defend a lot more seats instead of trying to pick off one--especially with a challenger that either already lost once in a landslide Dem year (Seals) or a relative unknown with no clear message besides he's not Kirk (Footlik).

But what if DCCC does ride in a white horse to save Seals/Footlik? What's the Dem policy on foreign aid? Does the fact that the 10th Dist. Dem nominee can't be competitive without a huge influx of outside cash mean that Seals/Footlik is doomed because he cannot apparently raise enough local support to fund the campaign? Could be. Kirk's numbers do not just represent money in the bank, but they also represent votes.

Consider this a 10th Dist. campaign open string.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Government is Best Which Governs Least... Or is it?

Welcome to Day 4 of TA's Blog! I must say I've been very encouraged by the response here so far, and the nice comments many people have made. I figured Blogging was going to be somewhat like being in radio... you never know if anyone is actually on the other end listening. However, it's clear that many are listening, so thanks and we'll try to keep it up on this end.

That being said, I want to encourage free debate and exchange of ideas here... what I do NOT want is for this Blog to turn into a giant echo chamber (like Ellen's Blog), where it is only like minded zealots talking to each other, saying only what they want to hear. I could simply lurk on Ellen's Blog if I wanted that. It reminds me of a funny story that illustrates the liberal bias in mainstream media as far back as Nixon's run for the White House. When Nixon won in a landslide (after an entire election cycle of taking a hammering in the media), a well known newspaper editor (forget if he was from the NY Times or the Washington Post) was heard to have expressed his amazement at the win, saying, "I can't believe Nixon won- not a single person I know voted for him!" Kidding aside, a comment like that makes it clear to me the danger of only hanging out with like-minded people and never considering another view. It should be obvious that neither political party in the U.S. has all the answers (or even most of the answers), so we need to continually challenge and question our elected representatives.

So, let's get to it. Today's post questions the involvement our government should have in regulating businesses, not for health and safety reasons (which I think everyone agrees we need), but simply for the sake of promoting or protecting certain businesses over others "for the good of society."

I was at a professional event last night in the City, and was seated with a gentleman at dinner who started railing about Wal-Mart, big box stores in general, outsourcing of professional jobs of all kinds to India, manufacturing to China, etc., etc. His view was that the government needed to step in to "protect" America and American jobs. How this would be accomplished, he didn't know (shocker), but I suggested perhaps we needed to return to the 1800s, with high tariffs and protectionism to keep out foreign goods. Of course, this would have the effect of dramatically increasing the prices of goods, which would not be a popular result. This individual lamented the fact that the government did not step in and regulate the business practices of companies like Wal-Mart that are very good at dominating market share and beating up their vendors to give them the very lowest prices, because this can have the effect of not only sometimes putting local mom and pop businesses out of existence, but even some entire companies that can no longer competitively sell their goods to companies like Wal-Mart that have the ability to buy from China or wherever.

As we went around and around, the consensus around the table became that while it would be great to have no competition from foreign workers and companies on one hand (many people would theoretically have higher-paying jobs and more money to spend), we would pay for it by having to pay for it, i.e., the money for higher-paying jobs and goods has got to come from somewhere, and it would be out of our pockets. No more cheap goods at Wal-Mart. To me, people like this seem to fail to understand that there is no free lunch--you can't simply decide to raise a standard of living with no ancillary effects on the rest of the economy. Guys like Representative Dingell, though, may actually understand this point--his theory with his global warming bill is that no one will accept it, because it costs too much and we as Americans are unwilling to make the sacrifice. If I don't think that Wal-Mart or Target or whatever store is good for the economy, or I don't like their labor policies, or whatever, I am free to shop elsewhere. But, should the government force this decision on me if the bureaucrats somewhere decide that THEY don't like it either, and want to force the American people to pay more to accept higher prices??? Lest it shock anyone, this has in fact been the policy of the American government over several periods in our history, and even continues today in some aspects of the economy.

So, being a laisse-faire capitalist myself, the question of the day is, to what extent can or should government get involved in trying to "protect" certain businesses (excluding businesses that might need to be protected for security interest reasons or similar national interests) from private competition? Let's try to stay away from Wal-Mart bashing or other exercises and focus on the duty of government to regulate, not for the safety and welfare of society, but merely for the sake of promoting certain private business interests over others.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Will Al Gore Win the Nobel Prize but Lose His Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction?

Al Gore, who is currently basking in the (global) warming afterglow of his Nobel Peace Prize may soon be on the losing end of a proposed change to one of the bedrock principles of the U.S. tax code, namely, the mortgage interest tax deduction. Sadly, while Al Gore probably won't miss the money, many of those who live on the North Shore may fall victim to a hairbrained scheme proposed by Representative John D. Dingell (D-MI), who is the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Mr. Dingell proposes to phase out the mortgage interest deduction on "large" homes (defined as anything larger than 3000 square feet). Read the summary from Dingell's website here.

Dingell states, "These homes have contributed to increased sprawl and longer commutes. Despite new homes in and of themselves being more energy efficient, the sheer size, sprawl and commutes lead to dramatically more energy use – or to put it more simply, a larger carbon footprint."

Specifically, the proposal:

Phases out the mortgage interest on primary mortgages on houses over 3000 square feet. An owner would receive....

85% of the mortgage interest deduction for homes 3000-3199 square feet
70% for homes 3200-3399 square feet
55% for homes 3400-3599 square feet
40% for homes 3600-3799 square feet
25 % for homes 3800-3999 square feet
10% for homes 4000-4199 square feet
0 for homes 4200 square feet and up

There are exemptions for historical homes (prior to 1900) and farm houses and exemptions for home owners who purchase carbon offsets to make home carbon neutral or own homes that are certified carbon neutral.

Well, folks, I don't know about you, but I can think of a dozen problems with this legislation without even breaking a sweat.

First, this is what we were trained in law school to debunk as "over and under inclusive reasoning." The faulty initial premise is that big houses are BAD, because they are all energy hogs. This is over inclusive, in that not all big houses have large carbon footprints, as more modern homes in general are farm more energy efficient than comparable homes built even 15 or 10 years ago. Therefore, a 4000 sq. ft. home built last year may well be more energy efficient than a home half that size that was built 50 years ago. It is also under inclusive, as there are plenty of older homes out there that not only leak energy like sieves, but have such inefficient heating plants (fuel oil furnaces, anyone?) that will not be captured by this legislation, because they are below the minimal size threshold.

Moreover, how will this tax be collected? There is no national property tax and no current mechanism for collecting such a tax; therefore, there is no standard for determining the square footage of a house. Ever discuss this issue with a real estate agent listing a home? Do you count the closets and hallways, or not? Is a an enclosed porch included? How about a detached (but heated) garage? How about a basement? Does it matter if it is finished (and heated) or not? How much wasteful bureaucracy would have to be created from scratch just to administer this change? Are we all required to go out and get certified appraisals that will definitively assess the square footage of our houses? Will it be the honor system- any guesses on how many cheats there will be with that plan, and how will the system be enforced???

Not only is his proposal unworkable from a practical standpoint, he simply doesn't know what he's talking about. Big houses do not (in and of themselves) cause urban sprawl. Moreover, big houses are sometimes necessary to house BIG families--many of which tend to be minorities and would be hardest hit by the loss of this deduction. Perhaps Mr. Dingell is also oblivious to the current sub-prime mortgage crisis and thinks that an additional impedement to home ownership should be placed on the backs of working people.

How does Al Gore feel about this? His energy-guzzling 10,000 sq. foot house not only should lose its tax deduction under Dingell's scheme but be liable for an energy penalty. But, that wasn't mentioned in his movie, which has been discredited as fraught with scientific inaccuracies.

In the end, it's those of us on the North Shore who are simply trying to provide a nice home for our families and send our kids to college (and save a few bucks for retirement so we don't have to eat dog food out of a can) that will bear the brunt of this ivory tower scheme. I guess this is what passes for leadership from the Dems nowadays.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Say what you like about NASCAR fans, but are they actually a public health threat?

Here's a nice example of the misplaced priorities and skewed world view of the new leadership in the House. Does going to a NASCAR race pose as much danger as a visit to a third-world country? Apparently some of those Dem leaders who never get out from behind the Beltway think so. It was reported that before going on a "fact-finding trip about health preparedness at mass gatherings'' to races at Talladega Superspeedway and Lowe's Motor Speedway, congressional aides were told to get immunizations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and influenza.

"I have never heard of immunizations for domestic travel, and as the representative for Concord, N.C., I feel compelled to ask why the heck the committee feels that immunizations are needed to travel to my hometown," Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC), said in an Oct. 5 letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who chairs the Homeland Security panel. "I have been to numerous NASCAR races, and the folks who attend these events certainly do not pose any health hazard to congressional staffers or anyone else," Hayes added.

"Since committee staff members are visiting hospital and other health-care facilities available at or near these venues, including areas where groups of people are detained before being transferred to other off-site facilities, I believe that the recommendation (not requirement) that our congressional staff receive these same immunizations was sound," Thompson said in a letter responding to Hayes issued Wednesday.

Read the complete story here.

Maybe congressional staffers on the Dem side should do more pre-trip research than simply watching Talladega Nights?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Welcome to TA's New Blog!

Hello, and welcome to the new blog created by me, Team America World Police. Please call me TA for short.

I've been commenting on other people's blog's for the better part of two years, mostly in relation to local politics, especially the 10th District here in Illinois. However, I never had the inspiration to start my own blog, given that there are already many interesting blogs out there, and I was content to simply sit back and offer comments.

Something changed recently, however, as I was recently 'kicked off' Ellen's Tenth Congressional District Blog, for no worse crime than trying to offer an opposing view to the partisan hack material that, sadly, the author Ellen Beth Gill seems to delight in publishing. Since prior to the last election, TA and Ellen have been exchanging views and engaging in lively debate on her blog. In fact, I daresay that TA had become something of a celebrity on Ellen's Blog, as acknowledged by many of her regulars, as well as the fact that nothing much really seemed to be going on over there, except when TA left a comment. When that happened, the blue dogs came out barking, and boy, was it a free-for-all. But, I'd like to think that most of the discourse was polite, respectful and reasoned. Occasionally, there were personal attacks and hateful language (by others, not me), but by and large, I thought it was quite an interesting exchange of views and ideas.

Sadly, that all changed last week. Ellen, without even acknowledging she was doing so, simply decided to start deleting TA's posts. For a short time, she left a "deleted comment" marker in place, but then she stopped doing even that.

I directly challenged Ellen to confess to her blog readers what she was doing in a series of posts directed at her, which she immediately deleted. Not sure if anyone else even got a chance to read them before they were deleted, but no matter. My satisfaction is that Ellen knows that I beat her, and she had to sacrifice her own high-minded principles of defense of free speech and openness to differing views to rid herself of that annoying TA. I guess she figured she could no longer sell her snake-oil to the masses with TA and others (I recall bloggers Badge of Honor, El Rider and others who I have not seen on Ellen's Blog lately either, come to think of it) pointing out her partisan, untruthful attacks, mostly on Congressman Mark Kirk. In any event, she knows in her heart that she has lost, and it's clear that she cannot stand behind the very principles she espouses- freedom of speech and allowing open discourse to let people decide what the truth really is.

All that brings us here to this- my new Blog. I hereby pledge to keep this Blog a place where reasoned, intelligent discourse is the order of the day, and people with differing viewpoints will not be stifled, simply because they disagree. Nevertheless, this is a family blog, and abusive or offensive commentors will be deleted and banned for life. I will strive to encourage intelligent discussion about local politics, focusing on the Tenth Congressional District and Lake County, with occasional jibes at the craziness down in Springfield, which of course affects us all. There will also probably be indirect commenting on Ellen's Blog, since anyone who does not drink the Dem Kool-Aid is not allowed there anymore.

Also look here to hopefully get the latest news about the Tenth Congressional District race. It will be one to watch, although not quite as exciting as the Dems think. If I'm lucky, maybe there will be some exclusive posts and inside news here from the campaign before anywhere else, from time to time.

So, having said all that, let's start off with an observation and a question: Q3 fundraising results for Mark Kirk, Dan Seals and Jay Footlik have just (unofficially) started to be reported in the papers. While Seals was noted in Crain's as raising just over 300K (to Footlik's rather disappointing 200K or so), Mark Kirk raised more than 525K, bringing his total this cycle to an eye-popping $1.8 million, with $1.5 cash in the bank.

So, the question is--where is the Dem money? Why is it, if Kirk is so universally hated by his constituency (as Ellen would have you believe), and is on his way out the door, that Kirk continues to shatter the fundraising efforts by his rivals? Surely, it can't be because Dan Seals is just getting warmed up... he's now been a candidate for almost two years, and his 47% of the vote in last term's election, while impressive, doesn't seem to be translating into people willing to write checks. Has the 10th lost confidence in Seals, since he couldn't seem to get the job done in a national landslide year for Democrats? Or is it just that the people in the 10th genuinely like and respect Mark Kirk, and this is a sign of how this campaign is going to develop through the next 12 months?