November 29, 2011

Questions to be Answered

There may be nothing wrong with Fox Channel 5’s report on Ginny White’s allegation that she had a 13 year affair with Herman Cain as far as modern journalistic standards are concerned, but there may be plenty wrong with modern journalism.

Good investigative journalism is dead. In this case, Fox 5 has brought us the allegation, but left too many questions. Perhaps, this is the way stories are designed. Like old Soap Opears, the intent is to create an interesting hook so we’ll all tune in for the next installment of “Herman Can: The Scandal.”

To be clear, Cain does need to answer the questions and clarify the exact nature of his relationship with Ms. White. This is someone he knows who has made a serious allegation against him. He needs to explain the nature and extent of this relationship.

Some may question the wisdom of any relationship or friendship between the two. Yet, it seems to me to be the hypocrisy of the modern business world. Imagine, if you would, a man advising male executives. If you’re in business and you’re outgoing and helpful to people of only one sex and less helpful to another, you’re quickly labeled a sexist.  Modern executives are taught to treat men and women equally.

Given that the books with Cain’s handwriting in them are Cain’s own books on leadership and business management, rather than say Leaves of the Grass, that at least suggests Cain’ s relationship with the woman was more professional and encouraging rather than romantic.

The signed books are the weakest evidence provided by White because the incriptions really betray nothing more than friendliness. I’ve had friends sign books with inscriptions just as friendly as these. It’s common.

Perhaps, the bigger proof was her possession of Cain’s private phone number and the number of texts and calls between them. But again, how damning is this? While many of us may only give our private cell phone number to  ten or twenty people, for Cain that number isprobably significantly higher given the number of people and activities he was involved with including church, business, community, friends, family, and political contacts.

The extent of contact between Cain and White was further obscured by Fox’ 5’s reporting. They stated there were 61 text messages and phone calls, both incoming and outgoing. This fails to give us any helpful idea as to the nature of these contacts. If Cain and White were having a twenty minute phone conversation every other day while Cain was on the campaign trail this would raise some questions. But, with text messages thrown in, the possibilities can become endless. White very well could have been sending several text messages without Cain responding or responding less. Or if Cain and she texted back and forth for a few minutes, they could easily burn through a dozen text messages in no time flat. Cain also could have had a list of friends that he sends text messages to for whatever reason. In addition, the two could have played phone tag on something, with many calls back and forth leaving messages on voice mail and never even touching base. Without giving us a clue as to the breakdown of the conversations (numbers of texts, number of phone calls, length of phone calls, and who was the initiator of the contacts.)

Even then, all that we would have in context is the situation over the last four months when Ms. White admits the sexual relationship had ended.

Unlike the sexual harassment stories, this one is real simple to prove or disprove. Ms. White listed several specific places that she says She and Cain frequented. If that’s the case, then there should be someone at those hotels to corroborate. If Fox 5 had been into old-fashioned investigative journalism, they would have investigated this angle themselves. But, if they did that, we’d have less incentive to tune in for the next installment.

  12:23 am Uncategorized  

November 28, 2011

Disappointment and Betrayal

In 2006 there was an open seat for Governor in New York. Democrats were rallying early on to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, so the Republicans needed a candidate who was exciting and able to compete. I went to a Gubernatorial candidate forum and one person stood out, Assemblyman Pat Manning. Manning was young, had a young family, was an across the board conservative, and was a great speaker. He ran in favor of old fashioned family values and classic American values. When he spoke, it sounded like he meant it. I got my picture taken with him and promptly donated to his campaign. I was hooked, I was excited. I was wrong.

A few weeks later it came out that the man was cheating on his wife, who had begun the process of divorcing him. It was messy, as it appeared him and, (according to insiders I knew at the time) other Assemblymen were passing around interns in a sketchy story that appeared less than true, until he dropped out of the race for Governor. He then tried to run for his old assembly seat, losing to Marc Molinaro in the primary – after getting caught trying to contact Molinaro’s pollster pretending to be Molinaro over the phone. I was disappointed to say the least. I couldn’t get over that this man who I had supported, man who I had believed in, would fall this far and could have deceived me so much. Fast forward to this year.

Early on, I had jumped on the Cain Train. When he first began talking about a Presidential campaign, I was excited. Listening to him speak about the fundamentals of conservatism was mesmerizing. His outsider credentials and his vast business experience was impressive to me. Add to that, he had a great personal story and had a great family life. His wife didn’t want to be in the spotlight, she liked her privacy, so he didn’t drag her on the campaign trail. I liked that. I then went out on a limb for him here endorsing him. Then the allegations started rolling in.

First, there were allegations of sexual harassment. There were few details, they appeared…frankly, unfounded. Then came more allegations, including one from a person who actually came public with their specific allegations. Now, there’s this – claims of a 13 year affair. Cain’s response? All but admitting it with a non-denial denial. It makes all the previous allegations appear plausible. Also, she has specifics – texts, call logs, etc. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before he drops out of the race; which is probably for the best for his family.

In both cases, I went all in for a candidate only to end up feeling betrayed and disappointed in a candidate who was not who they said they were. It’s an awful feeling and one I don’t want to feel again. We all need to be careful before endorsing, but that said – much like in romance, we can not allow the failures of the past to sully our future. We can not be unwilling to endorse for fear of being called a fool. We can not predict who will turn out to be a charlatan, who has skeletons in their closet. You can’t be unwilling to endorse because a skeleton that you never could know about may come out. I can’t just assume that everyone running for public office is untrustworthy, or else I’d never vote.

Trust is important to me and those of us on the right. Limited government, in many ways, requires an informed and responsible public; it requires us to trust each person to do what is right for themselves and their family. In order to have a limited government, you have to hold a great deal of trust in the average person. I trust that I know better for myself than my Senator or my President. I feel the same way about my neighbors and my friends. This is part of why I am a conservative. This inherent public trust carries over into our politicians. Ronald Reagan was a big time truster – according to Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson, Reagan would trust those he appointed to do their job according to their ability and where they were the experts, he would trust their knowledge and their judgment. We on the right want to trust our political leaders. We are appalled when politicians prove untrustworthy and in most cases the grassroots will go after our own.

Trust is important to me and when it’s gone, it takes time to rebuild and forgive the person who appeared untrustworthy. That’s why Newt has taken until now to become politically viable. It took time to heal those past wounds. Right now I’m frustrated and betrayed. That said, I won’t let disappointment prevent me from endorsing and supporting a candidate in the future.

_______________________________________________________

-Matt Newman is a conservative blogger from Maryland who blogs at Old Line ElephantPundit League and Tweets far too often.

  8:05 pm Uncategorized  

November 20, 2011

SNL Presents Mitt Romney, Unleashed!

As always, posted without comment.

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  7:41 pm Uncategorized  

November 16, 2011

Poll Watch: SurveyUSA 2012 Presidential Survey

SurveyUSA 2012 Presidential Poll

  • Barack Obama 46%
  • Mitt Romney 44%
  • Barack Obama 51%
  • Newt Gingrich 40%

Among Independents

  • Barack Obama 43%
  • Mitt Romney 43%
  • Barack Obama 52%
  • Newt Gingrich 36%

(more…)

  12:42 pm Uncategorized  

November 14, 2011

November 13, 2011

A National Education

Just returned from my annual trip to Washington DC with my 8th graders and was once again awed by the wealth of educational experienced there offered at no out of pocket cost. Notice I did not say it was free. I am fully aware that the Smithsonian, monuments and various educational centers are paid for with tax dollars. However, I think this is a good use of our tax money and would support more of it. Where that money should come from is the budget of the Department of Education.

For anyone following the recent GOP presidential debates the idea of eliminating the Department of Education will come as no surprise. Ron Paul has long made the case for killing it, and Rick Perry added it to his plan as well. (At least I think he did; he of course wasn’t too sure of what he thought). This has actually been a rallying cry in the conservative movement for decades.

I do not disagree with the idea that the D.O.E. is actually detrimental to public schools. It puts out unfunded mandates, tries to micro-manage local curricula and generally meddles in the way all overly-large bureaucracies do. A local school will almost always be run better by the locality.

One example is in the federal push towards technology. While there are certainly benefits to teaching technology to our students, the government works at such a necesarily slow pace that by the time ideas and procedures filter down to the local level they are often already outdated. And that is to say nothing of the fact that it is in reality impossible to train students for the jobs of the future. If recent history has taught us anything it is that we can not predict what the jobs of the future will actually be with any technical certainty.

Schools need to focus on teaching what is timeless: critical thinking, rhetoric, logic and problem solving. No matter what changes the future may bring, these skills will always stand by our students.

The liberal knee-jerk reaction to the idea of eliminating the fed from public education is to cry out that if we do we would have public schools resorting to teaching creationism or some other hot button issue.

To this I respond, so what?

What is the goal of a school? It is to foster intellectual curiosity and provide students with the tools to satiate that curiosity. No single curricula point is going to derail that. There are plenty of well educated, thoughtful and honest citizens of this country who hold that creationism is true. Just because I personally do not agree with them, does it really make me a better citizen, community member or productive member of society? Of course not.

Where I differ from the Rick Perrys and Ron Pauls of the world is that I still believe the federal government has a role to play in educating the citizenry. This is what my recent journey to our nation’s capital reminded me. The fed gets the most bang for it’s buck when it focuses on grand scale education rather than micro-managing the day to day teaching of students. The Smithsonian Museums are a perfect example of public education spending done right. Here anyone can go to view, learn and participate in a variety of educational activities.

I live in Massachusetts and in Boston we have an excellent science museum. However, if you are a family of four or five the cost of visiting this museum can be prohibitive. If the government wants to foster true intellectual curiosity in an egalitarian fashion why not subsidize a museum rather than throw money into a black hole of bureaucratic red tape throughout the public school system.

Another idea based off of the DC model would be to fund state historical museums/living history centers. Even the most jaded American can’t help but feel some pride when visiting the Jefferson or Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Why couldn’t this concept be duplicated on a more local scale?

The Occupy crowd have clearly gone too far, but one of their underlying motives is understandable. They have a lack of connection to the system. They have no sense of community, no sense of being in this together. Therefore they operate from a more selfish, “what-can-the-government-do-for-me perspective. The government should do more to foster a sense of national pride.

I am not naive. I am also not suggesting that a few museums are going to solve our nation’s problems. But I am suggesting that we may want to look at how we promote intellectual curiosity and civic pride and that perhaps re-purposing the D.O.E. could be a place to start.

After all at it’s core a conservative is one who wants to conserve. Our collective past and educational future need conservation too.Cutting spending is always good, but sometimes spending smartly also helps.

  1:07 pm Uncategorized  

November 8, 2011

Ohio Nixes Public Sector Republican Reforms

Tonight’s off-year elections come complete with a depressing development out of Ohio, as a massive majority of the state’s voters cast ballots to repeal Republican reforms to public sector collective bargaining:

In a political blow to GOP Gov. John Kasich, voters handily rejected the law, which would have limited the bargaining abilities of 350,000 unionized public workers. With more than a quarter of the votes counted late Tuesday, 63 percent of votes were to reject the law.

Given Gov. Scott Walker’s successes at keeping the public behind his own attempts to reform the public sector in Wisconsin, as demonstrated by the Prosser victory earlier this year, as well as by the Democrats’ failed attempt to win control of the Wisconsin state senate via recall elections, today’s results in Ohio call into question the political potency of Gov. John Kasich. A former congressional bean counter, Kasich made a brief run for the presidency during the 2000 election cycle, culminating in a lackluster and short-lived single-digit candidacy. It’s certainly possible that John Kasich is simply a poor politician who was ushered into office during the wave election of 2010 and who lacks the necessary skills to move the dials of public opinion rightward in the state of Ohio.

Whatever the case, this sort of lopsided result may suggest that Ohio will be significantly less “red” in the coming election cycle than it has been in the last few presidential elections. It’s possible for Republicans to win the White House without Ohio, but to construct such a scenario is challenging. The reality is that a Republican victory will probably include the state of Ohio, though it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Ohio actually gives Republicans a narrower margin of victory than a few formerly bluer states such as Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

  9:27 pm Uncategorized  

Quantity and Quality

Over at Wizbang, Jay Tea makes a good point regarding the Cain scandals and the arguments we’ve heard over here repeatedly in the comments:

Finally, there’s the “where there’s this much smoke, there has to be a bit of fire soemwhere.” I don’t buy that argument at all. Especially in politics, when piling on is such a common phenomenon.

Cain’s detractors are applying a variant of a phenomenon that I first heard as a quote from Josef Stalin — a quote I have used multiple times, because it has a lot of truth in it. “Sometimes, quantity has a quality all its own.” The theory seems to be that the merits of any individual accusation are less significant as long as there are a lot of them. Their weaknesses are lost in the crowd.

Sorry, I don’t buy that. Not for a moment. While the theory of strength in numbers might apply to sticks (easy to break individually, impossible to break when bundled together), that simply doesn’t apply here. There is nothing that is uniting the accusations together, and therefore no reason why we can’t test each on its own — and splinter them easily. In fact, there is every reason we should.

I should add that one commenter provided a technical critique of the only non-anonymous woman’s story, that you can read for yourself.

Tea’s point here about quantity is right. And it also raises the point if we’re going to make this the new standard for candidates. That is. We will throw you to the wolves if a enough anonymous and/or unprovable allegations are brought forward regardless of their merit.  All you have to do to destroy someone is find enough accusers to come forward with allegations.  How easy are we making it?

Lets take a scenari. Someone anonymous comes forward and accuses Romney of making unwanted sexual advances while he was on mission in France, then two more anonymous sources come forward from the Olympics, and finally someone comes forward who was a volunteer for Romney’s campaign for the Senate 17 years ago. All with unproven and anonymous allegations, often vague. By the new Herman Cain standard, that would finish off Mitt Romney.

Of course, Romney supporters will counter with the fact that Romney’s reptuation is squeaky clean. That ignores the fact that until 9 days ago, so was Herman Cain’s. Former colleagues who know him best have almost universally expressed that this is not the Herman Cain they know.  Yet, slowly the media venom is taking its course.

This whole story is Exhibit A in why good people don’t run for office. All it takes in our modern political life is anonymous charges and gossip to decimate a spotless reputation built over 40 years of business experience, scrapping every step of the way to achieve your American dream.

To those who would suggest that people not buying  into this anonymous string of attacks against Herman Cain lack some concern for morality. This is absurd. I’m concerned about morality and if the charge were to be proven true, I would not support Mr. Cain at all. But morality is more than just sexual morality. There is the morality of fair play and of a presumption of innocence that is basic to our American way of life.  It is basic to judeo-Christian ethics. Slander is just as serious and corrosive a sin as sexual immorality. (see Leviticus 19:16, Psalm 101:5, and Colossians 3:8)

The Herman Cain case is indeed like a lynching, because people are willing to destroy a man, not based on the substance of the allegations, but on weak individual cases that will not stand on their own.  It does make convenient political fodder for those who are already disposed not to like Mr. Cain. It also make sense for the politically calculating mind to make a short-term calculation that morality, fairness, and truth don’t matter.

That’s just not who I am and I hope that’s not where the American people are. I believe in truth, fairness, and a presumption of innocence, and I will continue to take that stance.

  9:14 am Uncategorized  

Now It’s Five

From the Washington Examiner (emphasis added):

A former employee of the United States Agency for International Development says Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain asked her to help arrange a dinner date for him with a female audience member following a speech he delivered nine years ago.

Donna Donella, 40, of Arlington, said the USAID paid Cain to deliver a speech to businessmen and women in Egypt in 2002, during which an Egyptian businesswoman in her 30s asked Cain a question.

“And after the seminar was over,” Donella told The Washington Examiner, “Cain came over to me and a colleague and said, ‘Could you put me in touch with that lovely young lady who asked the question, so I can give her a more thorough answer over dinner?'”

Donella, who no longer works for USAID, said they were suspicious of Cain’s motives and declined to set up the date. Cain responded, “Then you and I can have dinner.” That’s when two female colleagues intervened and suggested they all go to dinner together, Donella said.

Cain exhibited no inappropriate sexual behavior during the dinner, though he did order two $400 bottles of wine and stuck the women with the bill, she said.

A narrative is forming. No matter how innocent, any and all of Herman Cain’s behavior is now going to be viewed through that lens.

Welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Cain. You did volunteer for this, right?

  8:22 am Uncategorized  

Evaluating He Said/She Said Accusations

With Herman Cain’s first public accuser coming out name and all, we are confronted with a classic he said/she said situation.

The allegation raised by Sharon Bialek occurred in 1997. Records of corroborative organizations such as the airline, Amtrak, the hotel, etc. are not available. Records of the NRA for what Mr. Cain’s schedule was may be, but they’re not sharing, and no one has any subpoena power.

So what we are left with is the record of Ms. Bialek v. Mr. Cain.

There are a few points that give her story credibility:

  • 1) Her attendance of the Tea Party Event: While it doesn’t make her a conservative diehard necessarily, it also would go against the suggestion that she’s a liberal plant though not entirely disprove it.
  • 2) Her remembrance of certain details such as what she was wearing and the time that Cain allegedly arrived at the hotel bar.
  • 3) The sound introduction to the story with positive impressions of Cain.

There are several points that would argue against her narrative:

  • 1) The details missing from the narrative: While she remembers the exact time that Cain showed up at the bar, amazingly she doesn’t remember or state the exact day that this meeting occurred. Given other facts such as her visiting her boyfriends family, this would be an easy date to nail down. This comes off like a hedge. Mr. Cain’s job keep him in Washington all the time. He was jetting all over the country on behalf of NRA and speaking to different state associations. If she gave a date, we could nail down where Mr. Cain was on the day in question. What she was given us is a date that could  be any time between July 7 and July 22nd and still be considered Mid-July. In addition to this, while she remembered the exact time that Cain arrived, she didn’t remember the name of the Italian restaurant which could at least be checked for some, at least geographic, accuracy.
  • 2) The improbability of the whole thing: Bill Clinton was pretty darn reckless, but her allegations against Herman Cain put this on a whole other level. She alleges, basically that Herman Cain, in a car, on a public street did a very dexterous sexual assault with the intent of doing a sex act right there, where any police officer might come by and  arrest him for public indecency. It’s not impossible, but it’s nearly as reckless as Anthony Weiner’s use of Twitter. Doing in the NRA offices after everyone has left would have some credibility. This really seems far fetched. Not to mention the somewhat dubious statement that all he had to do was let her know when she could be in town and he’d meet with her as his duties at the NRA took him out of town infrequently.
  • 3) The character of the accuser: Ultimately, we have to look at the character of the accuser in a situation like this to establish motives and truthfulness. On this point,  Ms. Bialek has some ‘splainin’ to do. She had two bankruptcies in 1991 and 2001 and was also involved in a paternity lawsuit in the late 1990s against the father of her child who was a media executive. She has frequently changed jobs, switching nine times in the past seventeen In addition, as of late, she’s been sued successfully by Illinois Lending for the modest sum of $3,500, which despite winning a default judgment, they’ve had trouble collecting.  While she claims that she won’t be selling interviews. Past sexual harassment accusers have gone on to land far successful gigs including Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers.
  • 4) Laughing and joking with the Press about your new hairdo before revealing something that has embarrassed and haunted you for years casts a little doubt on the credibility:

 Add to that, the hiring of professional Character hitwoman Gloria Allred, and there’s plenty of room to question her credibility.

The liberal double standard has been discussed quite a bit with this case, when compared to Bill Clinton and other Democrat politicians such as John Edwards. Perhaps, though, it’s a general decline in standards.

Before the name of Gennifer Flowers came out, there was general chatter that Bill Clinton had a reputation as a womanizer. What made the Flowers allegations worthy of some consideration was evidence in the form of tapes. In addition, Clinton acknowledged he was womanizer in the course of the 1992 campaign on 60 minutes, so this gave some credibility to the charges that would come. And of course, Monica Lewinsky provided the most concrete evidence in the form of a stained blue dress. However, there were many women who claimed affairs with Clinton who did not make the mainstream media, and only ended up in publications like the American Spectator. The media has been reckless in failing to get specifics, named accusations, and actual evidence compared to the deference they showed to Bill Clinton. They’ve been willing to trash Mr. Cain’s reputation on next to no evidence.  ]

Cain is set to hold a press conference tomorrow in Scottsdale to answer questions on this as Bill Bennett has called for him to do.  Not certain what this will solve. Anyone with any sort of loose connection to Herman Cain can come up with another allegation.

  12:35 am Uncategorized  

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