Monday, January 29, 2007


This LA Times article is potentially disastrous news for Senate Democrats.

It’s hard to buy undeveloped land in booming northern Arizona for $166 an acre. But now-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid effectively did just that when a longtime friend decided to sell property owned by the employee pension fund that he controlled.

In 2002, Reid (D-NV) paid $10,000 to a pension fund controlled by Clair Haycock, a Las Vegas lubricants distributor and his friend for 50 years. The payment gave the senator full control of a 160-acre parcel in Bullhead City that Reid and the pension fund had jointly owned. Reid’s price for the equivalent of 60 acres of undeveloped desert was less than one-tenth of the value the assessor placed on it at the time.

Haven’t we heard of Harry’s real estate bargains before? Did Reid think that nobody would notice? Frankly, Dingy Harry has gotten more great deals than any American politician in my lifetime.

What’s worse news for Democrats is that they’re betwixt and between on this. If they don’t make an example of Reid’s shady land deals, then they’ll be characterized as totally corrupt. Remember that Reid short-changed an employee pension fund, giving them only 10 cents on their retirement dollar. Based on this article, the assessor valued the property at more than $100,000 per acre. I’m not a real estate expert but that seems cheap in a hot real estate market.

If they do make an example of him and expel him from the Senate, that gives Jim Gibbons, the Republican governor or Nevada, the power to name Reid’s successor. If the Democrats don’t make an example of Reid, people will know that they aren’t worthy of the public’s trust. They’ll know that Democrats will sell out anyone for a buck.

Believe it or not, it gets worse:

Six months after the deal closed, Reid introduced legislation to address the plight of lubricants dealers who had their supplies disrupted by the decisions of big oil companies. It was an issue the Haycock family had brought to Reid’s attention in 1994, according to a source familiar with the events.

Can you say quid pro quo? It’s difficult, if not impossible, to conclude that this was slush money paid to Reid for his intervention on a constituent’s behalf.

If Reid were to sell the property for any of the various estimates of its value, his gain on the $10,000 investment could range from $50,000 to $290,000.

That’s probably the most conservative thing that I’ve heard from the LA Times in ages. Based on their own reporting, Reid paid $166 per acre was “less than one tenth” of what the assessor valued the land at. Frankly, I’m skeptical of that assessment. Frankly, I can’t imagine this land not being worth $50,000 per 1/3 acre lot, not $166 per acre. That would put Reid’s eventual profits alot higher than $290,000.

Based on this information, this deal makes Hillary’s futures deal all those years ago look modest. And that takes some doing. That takes alot of doing.

In a statement, Reid’s spokesman Jon Summers said that the transaction was not a gift and that the price was due to the property’s history and the fact that only a partial interest was sold. Reid’s action on the lubricants issue was unrelated to the sale and reflected the senator’s interest in fairness for small businesses, Summers said.

RIIIGGGHHHHTTT. Harry Reid, the small businessman’s hero. That should be his campaign slogan the next time he runs. That is, if he isn’t run out of the Senate before that. If he’s such a friend of small business, why would he have ripped of this small business’s pension fund that badly?

Because an employee pension fund had owned the land Reid purchased, labor law experts contacted by The Times said, a below-market sale would raise additional questions. Pension fund trustees like Clair Haycock have a duty in most cases to sell assets for their market value, the experts said.

“I think this would have been considered a potentially serious issue” at the time, said Ian D. Lanoff, who led the Labor Department’s pension division during the Carter administration…

Let’s suppose for the sake of discussion that Reid didn’t push legislation for this ’small business owner’. Let’s stipulate for this discussion that he simply paid 1/10th of the market value of the land, keeping in mind that Reid essentially bought this from the employees’ pension fund. At a time when pension funds are badly underfunded, this is serious business.

If there is justice in this world, Harry Reid will be run out of town on a rail & Republicans will have a 50-50 split in the Senate. The bad news is that I doubt that there is justice in a Democrat Senate.

Can you say ‘Democrat Culture of Corruption’?


The Democrats class warfare minimum wage increase is now being debated in the Senate .. and Ted Kennedy is about to have a stroke. Did you hear this pathetic man screaming at the Republicans? [video] "What is it about it (the minimum wage) that drives you Republicans crazy? What is it about working men and women that you find so offensive?"

Well ... of course .. most of you will recognize this as cheap demagoguery. There are two faulty premises to Kennedy's question:

  1. The working wage has some meaningful connection to "working" men and women.
  2. Republicans are offended by working men and women.

Both premises are false.

Let's deal with this "working men and women" line first. This rhetorical nonsense is now a basic part of the left wing class warfare arsenal. The goal here is to foster the idea that the more money you make the less you work. The reality is that there we have two resources we can use to make money, physical labor and mental labor. Most of us use a combination of the two. The ugly little fact is that, generally speaking, and professional athletes aside, the more of your mind you use the more money you will make, and the more of your muscle you use the less money you'll make.

Here's another fact. The more money you make, the more likely it is that you will vote Republican. The less money you make, the more likely you will vote Democrat. Bring this all together and you'll soon figure out that the more you use physical labor to earn money, the more likely it is you will vote Democrat.

Knowing that almost all Americans value the concept of hard work, the Democrats have worked to promote the concept that the only real work that physical labor. Working with your mind -- managing investments, for instance -- just isn't work. Therefore the only real working people out there are those who work with their hands instead of their brains .... or those more likely to vote Democrat. Once you've made this absurd concept a reality you have created a wonderful class warfare weapon. If you're smarter than the average bear, and if you realize that it is not the role of government to set wages, you then become an enemy of "working men and women."

This, then, enables Ted Kennedy's demagoguery. He first asks what it is about the minimum wage that, as he says, drives Republicans so crazy. Simple. First -- there are still a few Republicans out there who believe that in a free market economy it is not the role of government to set wages. If the government can set a minimum wage, what is to stop the government from setting a maximum wage? If the government can set a minimum wage, then why can't the government set a minimum wage based on family size? Why can't the Imperial Federal Government of the United States just pass a law saying that the minimum wage goes up by $2.00 per hour for every child born to the worker? Once you allow the government to have a say in establishing the value of labor ... the sky is the limit. Where does it stop?

Secondly ... Republicans realize that less than 20% of the people in this country who earn the minimum wage live in families that are anywhere near or below the poverty level. Over six out of ten people who begin work at the minimum wage have received their first raise within the first year. Only 15% of minimum wage workers are still receiving the minimum wage after three years on their job. What percentage of the full time work force is earning just the minimum wage? Around 1 percent.

So .. to answer Kennedy's screaming questions: The minimum wage drives (some) Republicans crazy because there is absolutely nothing in our Constitution that allows the government to set wages, and the minimum wage is used by Democrats as nothing more than a tool of class warfare. Around one percent of full-time workers earn the minimum wage, and most of them are part of families that are well above the poverty line. It just isn't an issue. Knowing Republicans are also upset because they know that the Democrats push for the minimum wage increases are just another way of telling unions "thanks for your support."

And to answer Kennedy's second question, there is nothing about "working men and women" that Republicans find offensive. What they do find offensive is the Democrat use of the phrase "working people" as a tool of class warfare through their attempts to convince lower income Americans that those who make more than they do aren't really working for the money they earn.