January 8, 2010
Obama and the White House Chicago BoysBy Ed Lasky
Barack Obama has a problem. His polls numbers are dropping and his policies are fueling an angry backlash across America. The Democratic party is held in disrepute, and congressional Democrats are dropping like flies. This imperils Obama's radical agenda and his own 2012 prospects. What to do? Game the system and rig the future elections. That is how things are done in the streets of Chicago.
Signs are emerging that the Chicago Boys -- the triumvirate of Obama, Emanuel, and Axlerod -- are up to their old tricks, as I touched upon in a previous American Thinker column. My recent interest was piqued by two news items that floated across my screen in the last week.
One was the release of the White House visitor logs that showed visits by Anna Burger, Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and named by Fortune Magazine as "the most powerful woman in the labor movement. " We know Andy Stern, head of the SEIU, routinely visits the White House and has boasted of the tens of millions of dollars and man-hours the union spent in electing Barack Obama to the presidency. We can expect a repeat performance come 2012.
But Anna Burger is far more than an SEIU honcho; she also is the vice-chairman of a shadowy group called the " Democracy Alliance," composed of billionaire funders and savvy political operatives who set out a few years ago to change politics as we know it in America. Among their projects was something called the Secretary of States Project that set about electing secretaries of state in key battleground states.
These are the very officials who are charged with maintaining the integrity of the voting process. Recall the controversies in Ohio and Minnesota -- including ACORN problems -- regarding the accuracy of the votes in those states last year? The secretaries of state who gave a stamp of approval to these elections (where Democrats won) were Democrats supported by the Democracy Alliance. Various state chapters of the Democracy Alliance have formed to use a range of controversial methods to ensure Democratic victories. (See "The Colorado Model" by Fred Barnes for a display of the type of tactics that can be used to manipulate elections. These include creating faux controversies, spreading them through supposedly non-partisan groups created by Democrat activists, and relying on an echo chamber effect until the mainstream media picks up the "story" and broadcasts it far and wide. Other groups are formed to harass journalists and editorial writers who don't push the liberal line.)
Was Burger in the White House to plot future strategies with, say, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod? These are putatively the Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser, respectively, to President Obama. But before that, Emanuel was the maestro of political fundraising and spending, and Axelrod was a veteran political strategist who has run numerous political campaigns over the years (including Obama's). The Democracy Alliance has helped form front groups to get Democrats elected. Axelrod is a master at this type of tactic.
The Alliance's handiwork played a role in the victory of Al Franken over Norm Coleman, which helped secure a sixty-seat majority in the Senate. There was a group -- Alliance for a Better Minnesota -- that posed as a group of concerned citizens. The Alliance was funded by outsiders, namely the wealthy, hyper-partisan Democrats behind the Democracy Alliance. This was a so-called astrotruf group: it falsely appeared to be a true grassroots effort.
Tellingly, the Obama team has killed off disclosure rules mandating that unions reveal how they spend the billions of their members' union dues. These, in turn, are often poured into "front groups" and other "funds" each year. Anyone care to wager whether these funds will flow to help Democrats? Thanks to Obama, we will never know. So much for transparency. But we do have change.
The second item that sparked my interest was Obama's move to ditch the superdelegates' role in nominating Democratic candidates for the presidency.
These superdelegates include Democratic members of Congress, national party figures, and established leaders of the Democratic Party. They vote at the nominating convention. The system was established in the wake of the 1972 Democratic Party nominating process, when anti-war radicals seized control of the party and ended up nominating George McGovern. The superdelegates were supposed to ensure that radicals did not take over the party's nominating process. Well, apparently that sort of restraint does not appeal to Obama, who now has taken steps to shape the nominating process to play to his preferred territory: the caucuses, where his brand of populism holds sway. The Wall Street Journal noted the trick:
Since Obama's policies are sacrificing the careers of Democratic congressmen to fulfill his agenda, these politicians may withhold their support at a future nominating convention. What is the solution? Remove them from the equation by stripping their vote. Out they go, joining the ever-increasing number of bodies under the bus.
Of course, the boys who earned their stripes in the rough-and-tumble world of Chicago politics (where the phrase "vote early and vote often" should be the city's motto) will not stop there in their drive to win.
Why should they? Customs, rules, ethics, and traditions were thrown under the bus to get ObamaCare bills passed by the House and the Senate. Why stop there when there are so many ways to skin Americans? Skullduggery comes naturally.
There are other cards to play (and Obama is an avid poker player).
How else will the Chicago Boys game the system and gin up victories?
There was the plan to bring the census operations into the White House. That would have been a neat trick -- put Obama acolytes in charge of the process that determines each state's electoral votes (a strategy akin to Obama's role in gerrymandering districts to favor his own campaign as a state senator).
While that seems to be off the plate for now, there is still the prospect that sampling may be used to collect census figures. That is a statistical method that has been denounced by, among others, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal as a formula that could be abused to exaggerate the number of residents of certain states and municipalities. This would affect the number of House seats awarded to each state. Those figures also play a role in the amount of federal funding flowing to those areas. Those are also the very figures used to determine electoral votes.
Will census figures compiled by community groups chosen by this administration be reliable? Remember that this team earned their stripes in Chicago and has ties to ACORN, which is embroiled in voter registration and other scandals across our nation.
There will be a strong desire to boost numbers in blue states, especially since red states seem poised to pick up seats and electoral votes, as people vote with their feet and move to red states. This won't do for the Obama team -- not at all.
So what to do? Fool 'em with some other numbers, this time the ones with dollar signs in front of them. But the Chicago Boys may have tipped their hands by revealing one of their cards:
And those illegal aliens will also boost electoral votes of those blue states. We can also expect a campaign to allow felons to regain their right to vote. Anything to boost those numbers and rack up some wins.
But wait, there's more.
The push to "Rahm" through universal voter registration is a ploy ripe for voter fraud, as noted so well by my American Thinker colleague James Simpson in his recent column. This is a proposal to impose a federal mandate regarding voter registration. State laws will be overridden by federal law drafted and passed by Democrats. As John Fund notes:
What is the problem? Many of these lists include vast numbers of illegal immigrants, there will be felons, there will be duplicates, and there will be a lot of people who never cared enough about the country or democracy to take the simple steps to register under state laws. What will be the end result? A huge pool of likely Democratic voters will be created out of thin air -- and then Obama's army of volunteers and Democratic Party activists and paid contractors (think ACORN) will shepherd them to the voting booths. Between the pickup at home and the pulling of the lever, a lot of steps can be taken to ensure they vote the left way.
Are there any more ways for Obama and the boys to stack the deck?
The Federal Election Committee monitors how campaigns raise and spend money. Obama has appointed John Sullivan, SEIU's in-house lawyer, to serve on its six-member panel. Obama's campaign was marked by fundraising and spending scandals. (Among them were foreign donations being received and hundreds of thousands of dollars going to the SEIU, and to Obama-linked ACORN for "get out the vote efforts." Hmm..."get out the vote"...is that anything like "street money"?) Community groups are being used, by the way, to collect census numbers. Given the record of "community groups" and vote fraud, is that a bright idea? The answer depends on which side of the aisle you sit.
The Department of Justice under Eric Holder, a close ally of Barack Obama , has shown a very lax attitude towards prosecuting Obama supporters for voter intimidation (à la the New Black Panthers Party travesty). Conversely, the DOJ is aggressively challenging state voter verification laws meant to ensure the integrity of the voting process. The steps that Obama's DOJ is taking will allow non-citizens to vote and will also boost the number of votes, legitimate or not, for Democrats in 2010 and Obama in 2012. Does anyone think Holder's Justice Department will prosecute criminals that help Democrats, given the example of the New Black Panther case?
The administration has also telegraphed a plan to push for illegal immigrants to become citizens. How many of the estimated twelve-million-plus new citizens will vote for the man, and party, that bestowed upon them U.S. citizenship? Quite a few, I imagine. It's true that there will not be a quick payoff for this effort, since citizenship will take some time. However, there will be some Democratic voters created, and the effort will curry favor with groups that favor such immigration reform.
Many blue states are indeed blue (emotionally) these days because their economies are a wreck. Think California, New York, and Michigan. All are states that may no longer be so rich when it comes to money, but they are rich with electoral votes. These states might pose a problem for Obama in 2012 (vote the bum out). How to salve their anger?
How about billions and billions in stimulus money that is disproportionately being showered upon Democratic districts, and that often does not correlate as well with unemployment numbers as it does with partisan makeup? This is stimulus money, all right -- designed to turbocharge Democratic turnout and reward Democratic interest groups (teachers, government workers) for their fealty to Obama. This is a far bigger pot of money than what's collected when we voluntarily choose to fund elections on our tax forms.
There are other steps that Obama and the Chicago Boys are taking to help Obama. Obama may have won the Nobel Peace Prize, but he knows how to fight when it comes to his own career. Let's remember that this is the candidate who un-presidentially boasted that he brings a gun to a knife-fight -- one more sign that he does not play fair! Of course, if he had only a knife, he would likely use it to stick someone in the back, as is his wont. He did this with drug companies when he suckered them into a deal to back health care reform and then reneged on his pledge to oppose drug re-importation efforts after their support was in the bag. Israel is one small voodoo doll to him, given his proclivity to stick it to that nation. All the pledges and people thrown under the bus...
Will the Chicago Boys sic the recently expanded Internal Revenue Service on Obama's ever-expanding scroll of enemies? He joked that he would do so when Arizona State University had the temerity to question his bona fides when it came to awarding him an honorary degree. A joke, yes -- and like the jibes at Special Olympics contestants and Joe Biden, not a particularly witty one.
What happens when a media outlet does not kowtow to Obama? They get the treatment meted out to FOX News. What happens when a pollster reports Obama's plummeting popularity? The Chicago Boys rev up the vast Oval Office conspiracy, as they did when their liberal shock troops attacked Scott Rasmussen. What happens when talk radio ticks off the Obama team? Threaten to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine. Then apply a dose of Media Matters criticism. Lather it up with some insults, and then rinse and repeat.
If that doesn't do the job, release the dogs of war (bloggers, Air America, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow) to spread some misinformation and insults ("teabagging").
And of course, there is always, always the race card. Obama's ace in the hole.
There are other perfectly fine steps Obama is taking to prepare for 2010 and 2012. For example, the Obama drones are being prepped to swarm our neighborhoods again. That is legitimate, at least, if annoying.
But are the tricks outlined above legitimate? Weren't we promised the most transparent administration in history, one that would transcend partisanship? That was so 2008. Sweet talk has been replaced by trash talk, and promises have been and will be betrayed.
What we got was a team that will stoop very low indeed to win elections, honesty and transparency be damned. Obama may be a good basketball player, but he and his team excel in the blood sport of politics, and they will use every trick and tactic, no matter how disgraceful, to win. That may be the Chicago Way, but it is not the American Way.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.