Thursday, June 21, 2012

Might We See a Landslide? 

By Bruce Walker / The American Thinker

We have grown unaccustomed to presidential landslides.  The three most lopsided presidential races since 1988 fell short of the conventional definition of a landslide, which would be a ten-point difference in the popular vote between the winner of the election and the next-closest candidate.

Obama in 2008 beat McCain by seven points and carried 28 states.  Clinton in 1996 beat Dole by eight points (although Clinton did not even get a majority of the popular vote) and carried 31 states.  George H. Bush had a seven-point advantage over Dukakis in 1988 and carried 40 states.  A quick perusal of the electoral maps in each race shows a closely divided nation and no real mandate for the victorious candidate.

But that landslide drought could end this November.  Economic conditions produce landslides -- prosperity propelled Reagan and Eisenhower, for example, to huge re-election wins in 1984 and 1956.  Economic distress affects voters even more.  Only once has a president persuaded Americans to re-elect him in grim economic times: FDR in his 1936 landslide re-election.

But FDR's re-election in 1936 was preceded by a highly unusual 1934 midterm victory by Democrats.  Normally, presidents' parties lose seats in midterm elections, but in 1934, Democrats absolutely swamped Republicans, picking up 97 House seats and 12 Senate seats.  Americans were sold on the New Deal, even if the nation was still in the doldrums.

Contrast that smashing victory for Democrats in FDR's first midterm with what happened to Democrats in Obama's first midterm.  Republicans gained 64 seats in the House of Representatives and 6 seats in the Senate, as well as winning gubernatorial and state legislative races all over the nation.  The message to Obama was clear, even if he was not listening.  While Americans might have liked Obama personally, they clearly rejected the policies he was pursuing. 

How bad was this midterm defeat?  Democrats fared worse in Obama's 2010 midterm election than Republicans did in Herbert Hoover's 1930 midterm.  The 1930, 1932, and 1934 elections are generally viewed as transformative elections, when America moved from a free-enterprise, business-friendly Republican nation into a New-Deal welfare-state Democrat nation.  Democrats would hold the White House for twenty straight years after the 1932 election and hold Congress for all but two of those years. 

It was not just the Great Depression which wrought this revolution.  Hoover, unlike FDR, appeared tone-deaf to the suffering of Americans.  He went from an enormously popular man -- not just in America, but around the world -- to a president perceived to be doing nothing while our nation fell apart.  Hoover appeared to Americans in 1932 rather like Carter did in 1980 and George H. Bush did in 1992.

Obama is notably ignoring all the evidence of public unhappiness and promises to keep doing more of what he has been doing before.  Moreover, his campaign has latched onto the strategy of trying to portray Romney as a scoundrel, which includes such profound silliness as when Romney is asked to respond to charges that he bullied a schoolmate fifty years ago.  Even uglier are the attacks on Ann Romney, a loyal wife and good mother who is heroically battling an awful disease.  Ann has been described  as a woman who has never worked or, in a truly despicable portrayal, as some dilettante for fighting her battle with multiple sclerosis by riding a horse.

This sort of viciousness would not bother an acolyte of Alinsky, but the normal rest of America feels very differently, and this approach threatens to lose Obama the single -- albeit relatively minor -- advantage which he has enjoyed: personal likeability.  The polls are beginning to show that this personal favorability gap between the two candidates is narrowing, and if the hatchet jobs on Romney's wife grow coarser, a blowback of sympathy could actually make Romney more likable than Obama by Election Day.  

Obama also seems to think that Romney is a neophyte campaigner.  That is absurd.  Romney ran a good campaign against Ted Kennedy in 1994, won the governorship of the bluest of blue states in 2002, ran a very good campaign for the Republican nomination in 2008, and proved very disciplined and smart in his winning campaign for the nomination this year.  Romney is no Reagan or FDR, but day by day Obama looks more and more like Hoover or Carter, only without the inherent decency of those two men.

Landslides often sneak up on pundits.  Although Stuart Rothenberg has just declared Obama the "narrow underdog" in his re-election bid, the situation for Obama and his party may be much worse than that.  We may be about to see the first presidential landslide in 28 years.

Holder prosecutes mom and pop, fat cats walk

Yet another scandal for Obama's embattled attorney general

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – With great fanfare, President Obama signed Executive Order 13519 on Nov. 17, 2009, establishing a Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to be led by Attorney General Eric Holder with the aim of prosecuting fraud and recovering assets in the economic debacle that began one year earlier.

In 2010, the Mortgage Fraud Working Group organized under the executive order issued its first annual report, boasting that the number of mortgage fraud defendants charged by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices more than doubled from 526 in fiscal year 2009 to 1,235 in fiscal year 2010. A similar increase was reported in the number of mortgage fraud cases charged, going from 267 in 2009 to 656 in 2010.

However, WND research has demonstrated that the mortgage fraud cases pursued by Holder’s Department of Justice have typically targeted homeowners charged with making fraudulent loan applications. Largely ignored are the financial institutions that made the loans and prominent Democrat donors and colleagues of Obama administration officials.

High friends in high places

As WND has previously reported, Holder has overlooked possibly fraudulent “loan to own” equity recapitalization loans Credit Suisse made to some 15 or more luxury resorts or to various principles involved in the transactions, including supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle, a long-time Democratic Party operative with a history of providing financial support to top Democrats, including Bill and Hillary Clinton.

WND has also reported that Credit Suisse is a client of the Washington-based law firm that Holder left as a partner to become attorney general and Lanny Breuer left as a partner to head of the Justice Department criminal division under Holder.

The firm, Covington & Burling, represents “a Who’s Who of big banks and other companies at the center of alleged foreclosure fraud,” Reuters reported Jan. 20.

In addition to Credit Suisse, they include Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo & Co. and at least one other bank among the top 10 largest mortgage servicers.

Holder prosecutes mom and pop

On Feb 19, 2011, New York Times Op-Ed writer Joe Nocera lamented that Holder and the Justice Department had decided not to prosecute Angelo R. Mozilo, the high-flying former CEO of Countrywide Financial, one of the mortgage lending firms most responsible for the continuing mortgage crisis.

“Hundreds of billions of dollars have been lost by investors while millions of borrowers have lost their homes,” Nocera wrote, recalling that Mozilo sold $140 million in Countrywide stock while his company was failing. “Few of the people who ran the institutions that contributed to the disaster have been found liable.”

On March 25, 2011, Nocera contrasted the kind treatment Mozilo received at the hands of Holder’s DOJ with the experience of 48 year-old Charlie Engle. Engle caught the attention of Robert W. Nordlander, an IRS special agent, after movie actor Matt Damon financed a documentary film titled “Running the Sahara,” featuring Engle’s ultra-marathon challenge.

Convinced Engle was understating his taxes, Nordlander resorted to a dumpster dive for records Engle may have thrown away, unwilling to believe that all Engle earned from the documentary was $30,000.

Still unsatisfied, Nordlander hired an attractive female undercover agent to meet Engle and see if she could entice him into making admissions.

Engle’s crime, for which Holder’s U.S. Attorneys sent him to prison as a felon, was that he took out a “liar loan,” overstating his income.

“Charlie has always insisted that he never filled out the loan document – his mortgage broker did it, and he was actually a victim of mortgage fraud,” Nocera wrote in yet another editorial on Richard Engle, published June 1, in which he noted the broker later pleaded guilty to another mortgage fraud.

“Indeed, according to a recent court filing by Charlie’s lawyer, the government failed to turn over exculpatory evidence that could have helped Charlie prove his innocence.”

Nocera’s conclusion: “For whatever inexplicable reason, prosecutors really wanted to nail Charlie Engle. And they did.”

Another “small fry” touted by the DOJ in November 2009 as part of a Holder surge in mortgage fraud prosecutions was Lakeisha Gates.

In 2007, Gates worked as a clerk at a small brokerage firm in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Allegedly at the behest of the owners of the firm, Gretchen and Eric Scott, Gates acted as the nominee purchaser at grossly inflated values for two properties the Scotts owned. She misrepresented on the loan application that she made $5,000 per month as the vice president of a catering company.

Gates obtained a mortgage for $300,000, which soon defaulted. For her participation in the deal, Gates earned $10,000.
 
She pleaded guilty to federal mortgage fraud charges and agreed to testify against the Scotts, who she said put her up to it. The Scotts were charged with a conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.

When the Mortgage Fraud Working Group boasts of prosecuting mortgage fraud, the cases typically involve individual borrowers who had lied or otherwise committed fraud by obtaining mortgages on one or more properties.

Those the Obama administration allows to walk free are the likes of Angelo Mozilo, who built an empire making highly inflated mortgages based on questionable appraisals to lenders who were never properly credit-qualified. Mozilo amassed a fortune that enabled him to pay a $67.5 million fine to settle Securities and Exchange Commission fraud charges without appreciably denting his massive net worth.

WND has previously reported how Countrywide Financial Group gave preferential “friends of Angelo Mozilo” loans to Democrats Franklin Raines and James Johnson, who each made millions personally while holding executive positions in Fannie Mae amid the irresponsible mortgage activities each directed to the ultimate detriment of the taxpayer.

Nocera’s conclusion was that the Justice Department has taken after “the smallest of small fry – and then trumpeted these prosecutions of how tough it is on mortgage fraud.”

He wrote: “It is a shameful way for the government to act.”

‘The fix is in’

WND has previously reported that Edra Blixseth, the former spouse of Tim Blixseth, the founder of Yellowstone Club, has teamed with Ron Burkle, the supermarket billionaire who was a major donor to Hillary Clinton in her 2008 presidential campaign.

Mike Flynn, attorney for Tim Blixseth, has explained to WND his reasons for believing Burkle used his political connections with Holder and Breuer to quash criminal investigations regarding Edra Blixseth.

“The Holder/Breuer-controlled Justice Department quashed the entire investigation; they declared the Yellowstone Club ‘off limits,’ and even the ‘connected’ bankruptcy judge Ralph Kirscher, who declared Edra exonerated and discharged from all liability,” Flynn told WND.

“The Holder DOJ and Judge Kirscher made the decisions to sweep away the pending Montana Yellowstone Club investigation and proposed indictment of Edra Blixseth in the face of the documented, irrefutable evidence,” he said.

Flynn provided WND evidence of a series of questionable loans and various financing attempts to gain ownership of the Yellowstone Club at prices deeply under market undertaken by Edra Blixseth, beginning in June 2007. The transactions resulted in millions of dollars of defaulted loans. Meanwhile, Blixseth, Burkle, various hedge fund investors and Credit Suisse ended up owning the Yellowstone Club for under $10 million.

“Some of the loan documents, Edra Blixseth used to commit this massive fraud or so grossly false on their face for tens of millions of dollars, that it makes the Edra Blixseth case appear to be a cover-up resulting from rank cronyism or worse,” Flynn said.

Flynn told WND his office provided the Obama-appointed Montana U.S. Attorney with documentary evidence proving that while Edra Blixseth was signing perjured loan documents with banks, she was contemporaneously signing sealed affidavits in her divorce reciting the opposite of what she was stating to the banks – in both instances to obtain millions of dollars in her divorce and tens of millions from the banks.

“Tens of millions of dollars of the Edra Blixseth loans have never been paid to creditors or accounted for,” Flynn said.

“Burke and Sam Byrne of the Boston-based hedge fund CrossHarbor Capital Parthers have ended up with $800 million in Blixseth assets, while the Democratic bankruptcy judge has swept all the documentary evidence under the rug. Judge Kirscher has discharged Edra Blixseth, and the Holder/Breuer DOJ has quashed all criminal investigation as ‘off limits.’”
Op-ed:
Executive Privilege...Obama’s Achilles heel
By: Diane Sori

Late yesterday afternoon, Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in an expected party line vote of 23 to 17, found Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over the documents concerning Fast and Furious subpoenaed last November. Now going to the full House for the actual contempt vote sometime next week, no matter the final outcome, this bodes very badly for the DOJ, Holder, and especially Barack Hussein Obama.

Having previously said that he would NOT ask Obama to invoke Executive Privilege, Eric Holder did just that as he refused to turn over the Department of Justice documents Rep. Darrell Issa demanded.  When Obama invoked this privilege, he prevented himself and others in the White House from being forced to testify or to produce said documents.

Can you say cover-up!

With Holder unable to cut a deal because Issa would NOT accept the turnover of only ‘selected’ documents and briefings on what he would NOT turn over, the only logical reason the White House would assert this privilege is because Obama is somehow connected to this scandal, something we’ve all suspected since day one.  But Holder insists the documents subpoenaed are executive branch communications that Executive Privilege protects, and that Obama is NOT trying to hide any involvement in the operation.

To that I say bull, because if those documents Obama and Holder are trying so hard to hide show that Obama was even remotely involved or even just had a passing knowledge of the operation, it goes directly against sworn testimony given by Holder before the Oversight Committee.

Can you say perjury!

So even while the White House was still claiming it had nothing to do with Fast and Furious, with the asserting of Executive Privilege to protect his Attorney General, it became obvious that Obama wanted to conceal certain documents that would either implicate him or his administrative staff directly to the operation or to the cover-up in the aftermath of Border Agent Brian Terry’s death. 
 
So much for the self-proclaimed, most transparent president in history.

With this new development, some political pundits are contending that a Constitutional crisis and showdown are at hand for how can Obama assert Executive Privilege if he was NOT involved as he continues to claim.  But there really is no point of contention here because while Executive Privilege has been used by all presidents, nowhere in the Constitution is the term or even the concept of Executive Privilege mentioned.  Executive Privilege has solely been considered a right implied by the constitutional principal of separation of powers between the three branches of government.  Therefore, since it’s NOT specifically mentioned in the Constitution NO Constitutional crisis is possible.

End of that hoped for diversionary tactic.

But what exactly is Executive Privilege, the surprise Obama threw into the mix?  Simply, Executive Privilege is the power claimed by presidents to withhold from Congress, the courts, or individuals, information that has been requested or subpoenaed by the legislative and judicial branches of government.  Presidents claim that in order for their advisers, their ‘inner circle’ so to speak, to be open and forthcoming in giving much needed advice, that they must be assured their discussions will remain confidential and protected.  And if they don’t get that assurance than they simply will not be willing to give such advice knowing that someday they might be called to testify, under oath, before a congressional committee.

Now here's a possible 'gray area'...can Holder be considered an adviser to the president in his capacity as AG and thus be protected by Obama's Executive Privilege.  That will be something for Issa and the committee to discuss, and for the courts to decide.

But can Obama’s use of Executive Privilege in protecting Holder and himself be negated.  I believe it can since the courts have consistently held that Executive Privilege is not absolute and can be “overcome by an adequate showing of need,” as it did in United States v. Nixon (1974) when the Supreme Court ruled that Executive Privilege did not apply in a case where the President was attempting to avoid criminal prosecution.
   
If there was ever a case where a president is trying to avoid criminal prosecution this is it. 

And what makes Obama’s asserting Executive Privilege to protect Holder even worse is that he publicly criticized and condemned his favorite punching bag, George W. Bush, for his use of this very privilege in the controversy over the dismissal of US attorneys.  I guess as the old saying goes, ‘what’s good for the goose is NOT good for the gander.’

Or in Obama’s case...hypocrisy raises its ugly head yet again.

By asserting this privilege it’s apparent that if Barack Hussein Obama and Eric Holder had nothing to hide, the 80,000 documents that were subpoenaed over 8 months ago would have been turned over in full when first asked for, and there would have been no need for this Executive Privilege to have been implemented at all.

I hope Holder and Obama aren’t claustrophobic because I believe most jail cells are 6’ X 9’ at most.  Or will Holder throw Obama under the bus to save himself.  Only time will tell.