July 7, 2010



Mark Twain popularized the phrase that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics. As a public service, this column dissects some gigantic political lies, which can be debunked and rebutted by statistics.

Number One:  There is "an undeniable record of Jewish anti-black behavior," said Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, who has long supported a Palestinian state. Farrakhan demands "repair of my people from the damage," which presumably means monetary reparations.

America has the world's largest Jewish population, approximately 5.7 million, which exceeds Israel's population of 4.7 million. According to the 2000 census, there were about 1,970,000 Jews in the New York area, 265,000 around Chicago, 630,000 around Los Angeles and 355,000 in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. Jews are about 2 percent of the total U.S. voter pool, or roughly 3 million.

The Jewish vote has been rock-ribbed Democratic for almost a century. Republican Dwight Eisenhower got 40 percent of the Jewish vote in 1956, and Ronald Reagan got 36 percent in 1984, but Bill Clinton won 80 percent, Al Gore got 79 percent and John Kerry got 76 percent, and in the 2008 election, 75 percent of Jewish voters supported Barack Obama over John McCain.

Despite the fact that the median income of a Jewish household is $53,300, much higher than the $39,500 average of the U.S. population, Jews tend to vote their culture over their economic status. They are suspicious of concentrated power, sympathetic toward disadvantaged minorities -- which they perceive they once were -- and supportive of government attempts to redistribute wealth.

Alcee Hastings, a black Democratic congressman from Florida, observed that there is a "nexus between Jews and blacks by virtue of the Holocaust and by virtue of slavery which, independent of each other, were horrible events" and which created a bond.

So where is Farrakhan's "anti-black behavior?" African Americans should vocally repudiate this pernicious lie.

Number Two: "We need to elect more Democrats," said Joe Berrios, the Democratic candidate for Cook County assessor, who claimed that President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection prospects in Illinois are now "in jeopardy" because the independent assessor candidacy of Forrest Claypool "will elect Republicans (Bill) Brady and (Mark) Kirk and make Illinois more Republican."

Message to Berrios: Democrats occupy every statewide office, every Cook County office and every Chicago office. There are no Republicans anywhere to oust.

It has been said that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. Berrios, the county Democratic chairman, is seeking refuge in partisanship. His plea: Vote for me because I'm a Democrat.

Claypool filed his nominating petitions on June 21 with more than 90,000 signatures -- an astounding logistical accomplishment. He needed 25,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Clearly, such buzz words as "independent" "reform," and "property tax reduction" were motivators to procure signatures, as they will be for Claypool's campaign. Berrios's attorneys closely scrutinized the petitions, and they concluded that while 60,000 could be challenged, due largely to the signers not being registered voters, such an effort would give Claypool helpful publicity and ultimately would fall short of knocking him off the ballot.

In the three-candidate Democratic primary, insider Berrios, who is of Puerto Rican ancestry, won with an anemic 39.2 percent of the vote, getting 203,397 votes in a turnout of 519,716. He won 22 of 50 Chicago wards, losing the black and Lakefront areas, and 17 of 30 suburban townships, again losing predominantly black and white liberal areas.

Turnout in Cook County in 2006 was 1,350,915, with 670,222 in Chicago and 680,693 in the suburbs. In the 2006 race for assessor, incumbent Democrat Jim Houlihan won by 1,010,398-246,185, getting 80.4 percent of the vote.

Voter registration is 1,444,277 in Chicago and 1,439,415 in the suburbs. If half vote, turnout in November will be around 1.4 million, with about 600,000 from the predominantly black wards and townships. The Republican assessor candidate is Sharon Strobeck-Eckersall, a total unknown; she will get 15 percent of the vote, or about 200,000 votes. That means that Berrios needs 600,000 votes to win, or 400,000 more than he got in the primary.

"He's putting a 'big hurt' on the Democratic party," Berrios said of Claypool. "He's going to bring out voters who will vote Republican for other offices and elect a Republican as governor and senator." That, Berrios added, could mean that Obama will lose Illinois and, hence, the presidency, in 2012.

Obama, who ran on a "change" platform, won Cook County in 2008 by 1,629,024-487,736, a margin of 1,141,288 votes. To win, Berrios needs 37 percent of those Obama voters to opt for him in November, and he needs 350,000-plus black votes. That's why the president, quite ludicrously, will be a factor in the campaign for assessor: Vote for Berrios to save Obama? Give me a break.

Cook County needs a few independents in office. It does not need to install the county's Democratic chairman as assessor.

Number Three: "Gun control reduces crime." That is a liberal article of faith. "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." That has long been the mantra of the National Rifle Association and anti-gun control groups. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a momentous June 27 decision, ruled that armed self-defense is constitutionally protected and that the right to keep and bear arms is "necessary to our system of ordered liberty."

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which contains the due process clause, mandates that individuals are protected from state governments. The Supreme Court has ruled that, under the clause, states cannot curtail freedoms of speech, press, religion, the right to vote or to have an abortion, or search and seizure protections, or the right to a jury or to avoid self-incrimination. Now the right to keep a gun in the home is a "fundamental right" and cannot be banned by local government - particularly the City of Chicago. Guns can be regulated and registered, however.

In 1980, before Chicago's gun ban took effect, the firearms-related murder rate was 18.3 per 100,000 population. In 1990, after it took effect, it was 21.6, and in 2010, it is 14.4. Banning a gun in the home for self-defense does not reduce crime.

Number Four:  There are few second chances in politics. Fail once, and fail miserably, and it's curtains. However, Scott Lee Cohen, who quit as the Democrats' candidate for lieutenant governor, now looms as America's next Jesse Ventura. Cohen, a wealthy pawnbroker, spent $2.2 million and won the primary on Feb. 2 with 25.9 percent of the vote. He then capitulated to party pressure and withdrew because of negative post-primary personal revelations. But now he's back, having obtained more than 120,000 signatures to run for governor as an independent. Instead of being a pariah, Cohen is now a sympathetic figure -- a victim. He is the perfect protest vehicle.

The question is: Does he siphon votes from Republican Bill Brady, thereby electing Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn, or does he take votes from Quinn, thereby electing Brady? Or are both so flawed that Cohen, despite his flaws, could win? Cohen is viewed by some as Illinois' version of Jesse Ventura, who won the Minnesota governorship in 2002 with 37 percent of the vote.

In the 2006 election for governor, which had a turnout of 3,487,989, the lackluster choice was between Democrat Rod Blagojevich, who got 1,736,731 votes (49.8 percent of the total) and Republican Judy Baar Topinka, who got 1,369,315 votes (39.3 percent). That prompted 361,336 Illinoisans (10.6 percent) to vote for the unknown Green Party candidate, Rich Whitney, who is running again in 2010.

Cohen got 37.8 percent of the Chicago vote in the February primary, winning a plurality in 15 wards, and he got 28.6 percent of the suburban vote, winning 17 townships. He got 47.5 percent of the vote in the largely Jewish 50th Ward.

The outlook: The Republican vote is solid at 40 percent, and it could creep to the range of 43 to 45 percent. The Green Party vote, which was a protest in 2006, will dwindle to 5 percent or less. Cohen will get at least 10 percent of the vote, primarily from black and Jewish voters, and perhaps eclipse 15 percent, all at the expense of Quinn. That leaves the governor with at best 47 percent or at worst 35 percent. Cohen will get votes which would be cast for Quinn over Brady.

Had Cohen not quit, he would be blamed as the spoiler for the Quinn-Cohen ticket. Now he's getting a second chance. He's the spoiler in the Quinn-Brady race.

Number Five: Any moron can grow up to be Illinois' governor. As detailed from testimony in the corruption trial of Blagojevich, being stupid, crude, coarse and greedy is not an impediment to being elected to Illinois office.

The taped transcripts of Blagojevich's conversations are appalling. He is a college and law school graduate, but he can barely compose an intelligent sentence. His utterances are laced with profanity, devoid of articulation, totally self-focused, and whiny and arrogant.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the feds can't prosecute politicians for their failure to deliver "honest services." If there were a ban on self-serving, moronic services or idiotic behavior, Blagojevich surely would be guilty.