Thursday, August 31, 2006

Is Lake Geneva Sunday Night Traffic the Reason for More Cash Lanes at Marengo Toll Plaza?

Most from McHenry County, not to mention the rest of the state, will be blissfully unaware of westbound back-ups at the Marengo toll plaza near Route 20.

The reason is apparently Wisconsin weekenders returning home on Sunday night.

The reason, according to the Chicago Tribune, is that insufficient cash lanes exist.

There must be some heavy politicians/contributors in the queue.

Like, maybe, House Speaker Mike Madigan, who has a place at Lake Geneva.

(No, it couldn’t be Mike. He would have an I-PASS.)

It'll take a long time to pay off the exta $1.2 million cost from tired Sunday night drivers.

That’s 1.5 million 80-cent tolls.

Shame the Toll Board won’t also make it possible for McHenry County residents to head west from Route 47, not to mention get off in Huntley from the west.

But, then again, I doubt many who would find that useful are influential political types.

The tollway announced that the so-called “open-road tolling” for the Elgin Toll Plaza will be completed by late September.

Right on (election) time.

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You can read about how a Pittsburgh paper is using McHenry County's Gary Gauger as its top example of false confessions at McHenry County Blog.


End of the line for Illiniwek?

From the Sun-Times:

The last dance for Chief Illiniwek

After 80 years, Chief Illiniwek on Saturday will begin what is likely to be his last year of dancing at University of Illinois football games, university sources said.

The chief, who will appear at the season opener at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, will also dance at home basketball games this winter.

But after that, he will no longer be an official university symbol, the sources said.

I attended my first and last U of I football game as a freshman at U of I back in the 80's. My best friend since first grade is Native American, and I was repulsed by the display I saw. I joined a student-led effort back then to send a message to the administration that this symbol was doing more harm to the University than good, and while some of the most offensive wounds were closed (Kam's dropped its "home of the Drinking Illini" ad campaign, and "Sexiest Squaw" contests disappeared), this last vestige of our genocidal past remained.

Since then, I've politely replied to solicitations from the University Alumni Association that I'll be more than happy to write checks when the University drops the Chief. I'm looking foward to making good on that promise. The Chief is a blemish on an otherwise outstanding institution.

I know this issue has been a sore spot for many who, like me, love U of I and the time they spent in Champaign-Urbana, but don't see eye-to-eye with Chief opponents. I think that they will look back years from now and realize that U of I and Champaign-Urbana are no less a place for the Chief's passing into history.


ICIRR: "Denounce what we just said!"

Sun Times headline:

Group: GOP mailer likens immigrants to 'disease'
Wow, that’s eye catching, isn’t it?

The story, by Scott Fornek, opens:

A pro-immigrant group Wednesday called on Republican congressional hopeful Peter Roskam "to publicly denounce and repudiate" a GOP mailer that the group charges treats immigrants as "some type of disease."
Geez, after reading that headline and first paragraph, even I started to think, ‘maybe the NRCC went too far this time. That was pretty bad.’

But, wait!

I remember that our good friend, the So-Called Austin Mayor, has a copy of the controversial mailer on his blog. I've read it three times since I got to the office. I don’t see the word “disease” on it anywhere. Do you?

Interesting. Wonder why Fornek fails to mention that. I mean, he does relate a quote from an NRCC spokesperson saying that "They (the ICIRR) are trying to play politics by mischaracterizing what the mail piece actually says." Maybe that would have been a nice place for Scott to insert some background on just what the piece does say, which, whether you agree with the "path to citizenship" proposal or not, hardly likens anyone or anything to a disease.

Now, many of us in the blogosphere love to play the “why-haven’t-you-repudiated-or-distanced-yourself-from-that” game. But, really, this is a whole different game. This is the ICIRR – with the assistance of a sloppy journalist and headline writer – essentially trying to bully Roskam into repudiating and distancing himself from a quote that they just invented.

As a fan of spin and manipulation, I say to ICIRR: Bravo!

As a Republican supporter of Roskam, I say to ICIRR and the Sun-Times: Are you freaking kidding me?!?

UPDATE: It was brought to my attention by “Bridget” that the mailers in question may be these here. I took a look. Still not even a remote reference to illegal immigrants as “a disease.” So, my point still stands.


Friday: Fired DePaul Professor Thomas Klocek returns to Florida radio

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit.

Thomas Klocek, fresh from a Sunday night appearance on the Andrea Shea King Show, Central Florida's top talk outlet, will grace the airwaves of Florida again this Friday. This time, he'll be a guest on Constitutional Public Radio, where Andrea is joined by her partner Mark for some terrific talk radio.

Broadcasting from Florida's Space Coast, CPR is beamed from AM 1510 WWBC. If you're outside their broadcast area, you can listen on the internet.

As regular visitors of this blog are aware, Professor Klocek a longtime DePaul instructor, was fired after expressing his free speech rights in an out-of-classroom discussion with some Muslim DePaul students.

Sunday's show was recorded by DePaul student Derrick Wlodarz, a member of the DePaul Conservative Alliance. It's a great listen and available here.

Preceding Professor Klocek on Friday will be blogger Kitty Myers of the Kitty Litter blog--she'll be on at 3:30PM Eastern (2:30PM Central). Professor K. will be on at 4:05PM Eastern, (3:05PM Central).

What's become known as the Thomas Klocek Affair began almost two years ago when Klocek walked past a couple of exhibit tables of Students for Justice in Palestine and United Muslims Moving Ahead.

Andrea and Mark have a chatroom set up, and I'll be there Friday afternoon, while listening to the show.

In addition to being radio talk show hosts, Andrea and Mark have their own blog, Radio Patriots.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mike Tristano Prison-Bound Thursday

House Republican Minority Leader (and once Speaker) Lee Daniels’ chief of staff Mike Tristano is enjoying his last days of freedom this year.

It’s off to Federal prison at the end of the month--but not for long.

Assuming good behavior—and there is no reason to believe Mike will not be compliant—he’ll be able to be with his family again in less than a year.

As I have written previously, Tristano was identified as “Official One” in Roger Stanley’s May 9, 2003, plea agreement. At the time I could only narrow it down to Daniels or Tristano. I was told that day that “Committee One” was the House Republican Campaign Committee.

Here’s what mail house owner Stanley and Tristano did in my 2000 primary campaign and that of McHenry state representative 1994 primary candidate Steve Verr:

At the direction of, and in in conjunction with a high ranking official (‘Official One’) of a particular campaign committee (‘Committee One’), and in conjunction with the 1995 and 2000 election cycles, Stanley arranged for negative direct mail pieces to be directed against certain political candidates who were opposed by Committee One.

In order to conceal that the true source and sponsor of the mailings was Committee One, Stanley assisted in recruited ‘straw’ and nominee officers to serve as the sponsors of the mailings. Further, in order to further conceal that Stanley was participating in the mailing process, Stanley caused postal forms relating to the mailings to be falsified and presented to postal officials.

Further, in one or more subsequent state proceedings relating to an attempt to determine the true source and sponsor of one of the mailings, Stanley and others participated in an effort to misrepresent the truth to state authorities regarding the true source and sponsor of the mailings, and thus further concealed Stanley and Committee One’s personal involvement in the mailings.
The guts of these charges were documented by Illinois State Board of Elections Campaign Disclosure Deputy Director Tony Morgando.

And, Morgando would not have gotten involved if I, in 2000, and Gerry Walsh, one of Verr’s allies, in 2004,had not filed complaints with the Board of Elections. (I was told that in 2000, mine was the only probe for which the Elections Board authorized subpoena power.)

So, don’t let anyone tell you that state officials don’t investigate criminal behavior...thoroughly.

That it took U.S. Attorney Patrick Fritzgerald to pick up the ball and prosecute that criminal behavior probably says more about the weak state of Illinois statutes than anything else.

So, the big question is whether Tristano, a former boss of mine while I worked for the Department of Central Management Services during the mid-1980’s, acted on his own or not.

I have been told that after the 1996 primary, when I lost McHenry County under dubious circumstances…
(Pause. More votes were cast for the folks running for GOP precinct committeeman in McHenry County than were cast for me and my opponent--Al Jourdan-backed county board member John Brehmer--than were cast for me and Brehmer.

(Let’s see. Brehmer spent $114,300, including $35,300 of in-kind help from people like the pro-abortion Personal PAC,a teachers' union and Jourdan, while I spent $93,400. Anyone think that with that kind of money being spent that the bottom of the ticket would total more votes than were cast for state representative?)
…Tristano looked at the results in Daniels’ office and said something like, “We could have taken him out, if we had gotten involved.”

That’s what a staffer at the meeting told me.

So, did Tristano act alone in authorizing the apparent laundering of money from the House Republican Campaign Committee through Roger Stanley’s business to pay for a negative mailing by the “Committee for Effective Leadership?”

Pardon me, if I believe he did not.

After all, he acted on Daniels’ behalf in offering me the post of Deputy Auditor General (paying something like $110,000) the summer before in Lee’s Elmhurst office and, after I lost the primary, some deputy director post or maybe it was an assistant deputy director job (paying above $90,000) in Financial Institutions or whatever it was called then.

Tristano may have pulled the levers of power, but I don’t think he did significant things like try to take out the only state representative whose legislative service included time before his boss’s 1974 election without Daniels’ approval.

Tristano, in my opinion, was not the puppet master. He was one of the puppets, albeit a well-paid one.

I have not referenced prior articles above. If you would like to learn more, I invite you to click here.

For more McHenry County Blog stories, including one on Michael Tristano that I'll post here tomorrow, click here.


Trouble Brewing

This may not be a politically popular position for me to stake out, but I'm just not sure that I'm buying into this:
A group of Starbucks employees in Logan Square have joined a union, the first group outside of New York, despite the coffee company’s refusal to recognize organized labor.

The workers at 2759 W. Logan Blvd. announced Tuesday night that they were affiliating with the Industrial Workers of the World Starbucks Workers Union in an effort to increase hourly pay, have a guaranteed number of work hours per week and to reinstate employees who they claim were fired for union organizing activity. Union representatives declined to disclose membership numbers...

Union members are demanding a pay increase to $10 an hour for entry-level workers from the current $7.50 an hour in addition to guaranteed minimum hours and healthcare benefits.

“There are no minimum hours and that’s the problem,” Mr. Tessone said. “Our schedule is at the mercy of the manager.”

With regards the healthcare, union officials claim Starbucks only covers 42% of its workers, less than the 47% that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is often criticized for.

While I understand that they may think that their timing is right, I think that some of their fundamentals are wrong. My reservations are based upon two factors: First, I believe that the current wages and benefits seem pretty darn good for the job requirements. Second, the numerous people that I have talked with who work or have worked at Starbucks, (including a former district office staffer of mine) all were very happy with the compensation structure and treatment of employees. In fact, Starbucks is consistently ranked as one of the top corporations when it comes to employee satisfaction.

As far as schedule and hours are concerned - welcome to the real world. Union or no union, seniority drives better scheduling and assignments. If people want to push for a living wage across the board, then they should pursue that struggle. But I think that these folks are going to have a hard time trying to find sympathy for their cause, (or loyalty to the store when another is likely only a couple of blocks away.) Then again, stranger things have happened, especially in this City of late.

To my friends at my local Starbucks, don't get me wrong, I love you guys. But this is bigger than my daily caffeine fix. Just please tell me that somebody in City Council isn't going to try to legislate this.

To post, or read, comments, visit Dome-icile


Pew's study on Politics and Religion

Not exactly local but I'm fascinated by this. Amy Sullivan writing in Slate on God's Party.

The Pew Research Center's annual poll on religion and politics, released last week, shows that while 85 percent of voters say religion is important to them, only 26 percent of Americans think the Democratic Party is "friendly" to religion. That's down from 40 percent in the summer of 2004 and 42 percent the year before that—in other words, a 16-point plunge over three years.


Nationalize Wal-Mart (or should Illinois take it over instead?)

When I studied Economics in College, we on the left advocated nationalizing basic industries. Robert Samuelson explains the case for nationalizing Wal-Mart today.

It's not surprising that, as The New York Times reports, leading Democratic politicians have latched onto bashing Wal-Mart as a "new rallying cry'' that "could prove powerful in the midterm elections and in 2008.'' America's political culture routinely demands at least one hideous corporate villain. In recent decades that role has fallen to General Motors, IBM, Exxon Mobil and Microsoft; now Wal-Mart has assumed the mantle. But these wishy-washy politicians have missed the obvious solution to the Wal-Mart problem: nationalization.

Congress should just buy the company and then legislate good behavior. Wal-Mart executives "talk about paying them (workers) $10 an hour,'' Sen. Joseph Biden told a rally in Iowa, according to the Times. "How can you live a middle-class life on that?''
So let the Feds, or Illinois, or Cook County or the City condem Wal-Mart and seize it; and start paying each and every employee including my kids a middle-class salary.

I used to defend FDR's TVA as a great example of it.

Footnote: you know how politics has changed when you realize no one would defend nationalization (unless I get surprised here with comments).

August 15th was the 35th anniversary of Nixon's Wage-Price controls under his (not Lenin's) New Economic Policy. I remember making the signs to hang in my Dad's Dime Store on South Oak Park Ave explaining to shoppers and employees the number to call if they saw my Dad had violated wage-price controls. Feds required every store in America to display such a sign and they drafted the language for it.

Wish I had saved it.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Judy Calls Me

8/29/6 - So, here I am typing and who calls me?

Of course, you know that from the title.

She didn’t say,

Hi, Cal,
which seemed a bit unusual since I remember when we went to get ice cream on South Grand in her freshman legislative year and the last time I saw her at an event she kissed me twice.

Boy, did she have a beater back then. I’m not sure it even had a back floor. Maybe it was a back seat missing. Maybe, a window had plastic over it. Anyway, it was a junker.

We met Senate President Bill Harris at the ice cream parlor and he told us he had an autoimmune disease.

Funny, the things you remember.

Well, anyway, Judy said,
My new plan freezes property taxes for two years.
And provides
more money for schools.
She went quickly on, not giving me a chance to even say,
Hi, Judy. Why are you calling?
Anyway, she said something like
My plan provides both gas and property tax relief.
I waited for her to ask me what I thought about her plan and whether I had any questions, but, eventually, one of those really irritating telephone sounds started.

I guess she didn’t want to talk.

I wanted to ask her about that Chicago casino proposal and whether Daley had agreed to support her.

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I was going to post my Monday piece on Michael Tristano here today, but since he still has a day of freedom and this is more topical, if you want to read it before tomorrow, you'll have to go to McHenry County Blog, where there is a second post summarizing previous stories.


Monday, August 28, 2006

More Left Stream Media Bias

8/28/6 - Carol Marin displayed palpable bias in her WTTW Chicago Tonight interview of three Cook County commissioners and an alderman on July 19th.

This is a woman, who is showing more and more of her organization Democratic Party bias.

You remember her.

She became a national media heroine by quitting WMAQ-TV when the station hired former Democratic Party Cincinnati Mayor and then and now TV shock show host Jerry Springer to do commentary.

Then, in 2000, she was given carte blanc to create the “liberal thinking woman’s” nightly news show by WBBM-TV, but bombed.

This summer, she didn’t utter a public peep when WTTW hired no-longer-on-Chicago schlock radio host Mancow for similar guest commentaries.

On Chicago Tonight, Marin had been questioning just-named interim Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele about the financial situation at county government when she turned to Republican Party nominee for Cook County Board President Tony Peraica.

On the panel were three Democrats (Alderman Todd Stroeger, named the day before by the Cook County Central Committee to replace his father on the fall ballot, Cook County Commission Forrest Claypool and Steele), plus Republican Party nominee for Cook County Board President Tony Peraica.

A pretty normal 3-1 WTTW bias against conservatives. (Despite, the odds, conservatives are able to hold their own on these WTTW panels).

I finally got her exact words. You can listen them to here. (7 minutes in.)

Here’s what I was able to transcribe.

After interviewing Steele on substantive governmental questions, Marin changes course in what had to be a pre-planned attempt to smear Peraica:

Commissioner Prisonni (she mispronounces Peraica’s name), let me jump to you and ask about a political question…
Peraica says, “Sure.”
…because there are plenty of Democrats out there who might want to protest by voting for you, but they see you as an anti-gay, pro-gun, anti-abortion (pause) guy in the bluest state and county in the state, so what do you have to say to them on the social issues that are going to make you attractive if they do decide to jump the traces?
Peraica then tries to follow up on what Steele had said about doing a quick study to figure out how to save money, pointing out that 30 years of studies are already on the shelf and gets in that he has taken a pledge against raising taxes before Marin charges back to her agenda of trying to frame the fall election in favor of Todd Stroger:
OK, but, but, to my question first.

What are you going to do on, on the pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-gay kind of, you’re not a social liberal.
Peraica responds,
There’s not anti-gay anything. That’s, that’s a myth that was created by some to paint me as some kind of an extremist.

I am pro-life. I am pro-2nd amendment. I am anti-tax. I’m a fiscal conservative. And I think that these issues that you try to kind of raise as a division between myself and the Democratic electorate who voted for Forrest Claypool are really a myth.

People care about their pocket books….
He challenges Stroeger and Steele to tax a no tax hike pledge, but Marin, surprise, surprise, fails to follow up.

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Photo of Carol Marin, looking left, taken from the WTTW 7-19 interview of Peraica and others.

For more McHenry County Blog stories, including one on Michael Tristano that I'll post here tomorrow, click here.


All He Can Do Is All He Can Do

Whenever Barack Obama's name is raised as a possible candidate for President, the rightwing critics inevitably cry out, "But what has he accomplished in the Senate?"

Today's rightwing Washington Times tells us how a lone coward in the Senate may have put a stop to an Obama-sponsored bill that would "require the administration to create a searchable Web site that would list the name and amount of any federal grant, contract or other award of money amounting to $25,000 or more."

It's a sign of just how hot an issue pork-barrel spending has become that the biggest game in political Washington this summer is trying to smoke out the senator who is blocking a bill to create a searchable database of federal contracts and grants.

The bill has the support of the Bush administration and activists on widely divergent sides of the political spectrum. It also passed a Senate committee without any objections, so the unknown senator is annoying many people.

Sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, and Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, the bill would require the administration to create a searchable Web site that would list the name and amount of any federal grant, contract or other award of money amounting to $25,000 or more.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, tried to win speedy passage just before the Senate left for its summer break, but at least one senator objected anonymously.

Now, a Web site dedicated to exposing wasteful government spending, is conducting a public campaign to smoke out the obstructor or obstructors, while blogs on both sides of the political spectrum have weighed in, demanding action on the bill.
In essence, the anonymous objection means that a senator has anonymously said that he or she would filibuster the bill if it were brought to a vote on the Senate the floor. If the Bush administration and Sen. Frist were behind Sen. Obama's bill like they say, they would simply bring the bill to the floor and call the mystery senator's filibuster bluff.

But that's a big if.

The "What's Obama Done?" meme has served the Republicans well -- and we know Illinois Republicans love "earmarks" -- so it's simply not in the GOP's interest for Sen. Obama's name to be attached to legislation that would expose pork-barrel "earmarks" to taxpayer scrutiny.

There is more non-Moonie coverage of the anonymous objection to Sen. Obama's bill here and here.

Note: If anyone saw this covered in the Chicago papers, please let me know where.

Cross-posted at the So-Called "Austin Mayor" blog

UPDATE: The Mystery Senator is revealed in Talking Points Memo:
It's Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), according to Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) comments a couple of weeks ago, recorded in a small Arkansas paper.


. . .And You Want to be Our Latex Salesman or Danny & The Tigers

This one is rich. Congressman Danny K. Davis had progressive circles abuzz with hopes of giving the County Board back to 'the people.' OK.

The man is a junket junkee. Fine. Globe trot. It's great big wonderful, wacky and wild world out there - but really Congressman a trip on Tamil Tigers? Folks, there aren't even any in the Little League World Series! Danny and the Tigers!

A couple of months ago he lights incense to and crowns Rev. Moon - the "Something or Other"

Okay, the tin-foil hat is on pretty snug. Then I see this in my un-paid for copy of The Tribune ( I haven't bought a Chicago Tribune since their editorial board out-sourced a political smear of Chicago Firefighters in 2004 to Kudzu boy) and all I could think of was that great Seinfeld episode:,1,6377409.story?coll=chi-newslocal-hed

The one where George is found out by the company that he is interviewing for - Because Van DeLay Industries is his buddy's living room. George asprawl with his shorts down and Jerry says, '. . . and You wanted to be My latex salesman.'

Congressman - ' . . . and You wanted to be Our County Board President.'


Klocek Florida radio interview from Sunday night audio available online

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit.

Thanks to Derrick Wlodarz for tuning in last night to Andrea Shea King's WDBO AM 580 (Orlando) interview of former DePaul professor and free speech champion Thomas Klocek.

You'll find Tom Klocek and Andrea Shea King here.

Derrick is a member of a rarity at Chicago's DePaul University: A group espousing common sense, the DePaul Conservative Alliance.


Blagojevich spends $500,000 on a rolling pin

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch runs down how the Blagojevich campaign is spending "more money than they know what to do with." The bulk of the story centers around the television commercial ad in which a photo of a rolling pin appears above Topinka's head in the commercial, an announcer intones: "Topinka opposes an assault weapons ban . . . because she says it could ban a rolling pin. What's she thinking?"

This ad, part of an early media blitz in which Blagojevich "spent a remarkable $5.3 million on TV ads in key markets - including a rare, early foray into the St. Louis market." The rolling pin ad ran over 500 times in the Chicago area, but did not run in the St. Louis area at all, that area received ads touting the governor's record on education and jobs, with a mere $100,000 spent. Topinka's campaign believes the amount of money spent is more like $8 to $10 million with no televised response from her side which has decided to wait until closer to the election to buy television time.

Scattered throughout the story are digs at Topinka for not utilizing television ads, comments like: "No response" to Blagojevich's ads, "She's been basically invisible..." etc. The question from here is, are we electing people on the basis of television ads? Looks like it, especially when political observers seem to think so.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

UPDATED! Tonight! Fired DePaul professor and free speech proponent Thomas Klocek to be guest on Central Florida's #1 talk radio station

He'll be on any minute now! There is a chatrooom feature. Chat with Andrea (and friends) live!

Thomas Klocek will be the guest on the Andrea Shea King's show tonight at 9pm Chicago time.

Klocek was a popular and respected 15 year adjunct professor at DePaul University in Chicago, the nation's largest Catholic college who was fired after a heated discussion with some Muslim students outside of the classroom.

Andrea broadcasts from Orlando, Florida on AM 580 WDBO. If you don't live there, you can listen on the internet.

Regular visitors to Marathon Pundit have read about the Klocek case. Now you have the opportunity to hear it from the professor's own words.


"Hiring Case Against Governor Dropped"

“A judge on Thursday dismissed accusation that Gov. X violated state hiring laws, allowing him to get out of a long running legal jam without personal punishment.”

Don’t the supporters of Governor Rod Blagojevich wish this headline and lead sentence were about him?

I guess I’m the only one in Illinois that thinks the parallels between the patronage problems of Kentucky’s Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher and Blagojevich’s merit more than a couple of paragraphs. (The headline above is taken from a small article in the Chicago Tribune on Friday.)

Just in case others are interested, here is a why the Democratic Party’s Attorney General decided to dismiss the case, here’s a column by former reporter Al Cross in the Courier-Journal.

Part of the reason was that

following an Executive Branch Ethics Commission opinion, had said he (the attorney general) would not run against Fletcher as long as his office was prosecuting the Governor. (Kentucky’s governor’s election is in 2007.)
And, here’s an interesting paragraph tid-bit:
It may have been telling that the agreement says the administration acted "without malice." Democrats targeted in the scheme would probably disagree.
A second column by Courier-Jouirnal columnist Bob Hill is more biting:
Did you ever think Kentucky would reach the condition where it almost missed the moral turpitude of "Crying" Paul Patton -- the previous occupant of the governor's throne?
And, more:
He (the governor) claims the secret negotiations cleared him of all charges and exonerated him of all allegations, a technical truth marred only by the fact that he'll never sell that self-serving garbage to anyone outside his political family.

So, governor, who has been at the helm of the Starship Kentucky the past few years -- Mr. Spock?
If you think Illinois columnists are tough on Blagojevich, this one is harder on Kentucky’s GOP governor.

And, of course, in Illinois not even the governor's father-in-law believes him.

Previous articles comparing Fletcher and Blagojevich here and here.

And, more on the Gay Games not yet having paid its bills in Crystal Lake at McHenry County Blog.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Chief Postal Inspector on Ryan Case in Springfield

I don’t know if it is significant or not, but the chief postal inspector in the investigation of George Ryan is now based in Springfield.

Maybe Basil Demczak just wanted cheaper housing.

Maybe the Feds needed a top-flight investigator on the ground in Springfield.

For what this postal inspector requested from me while he was vacationing, click here.

Maybe he had something to do with the Secretary of State’s 8,000 ghost payroll hour pleas. Their supervisor was Cecil Turner, “first vice chairman of the Sangamon County Democratic Central Committee and head of its minority caucus,” the State Journal-Register says.

More stories on McHenry County Blog, including the fall-out from the Gay Games in Crystal Lake.


California to legalize industrial hemp?

On Monday, the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act was approved by the Assembly on a vote of 44-29. The bill is now taking steps toward Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk for his signature.

AB 1147 has gained momentum as more legislators learned that California businesses spend millions of dollars each year to import hemp from Canada, China and Europe.
The demand for hemp and its use in numerous products, such as food, body care, clothing, paper and even auto parts, has been growing rapidly in recent years. The U.S. hemp market now exceeds an estimated $270 million in annual retail sales, and the new law would give farmers the ability to legally supply U.S. manufacturers with hemp seed, oil and fiber and would not weaken anti-drug laws.

$270 million seems low to me, but that's enough for now. It's only a matter of time before the drug warriors figure out there are campaign contributions and votes to be had from farmers and industrial hemp entreprenuers and allow industrial hemp. Whoever does it first gets a head start on a huge new market.

Our power party gubernatorial candidates are playing dueling budget gimmicks with gambling when the simple idea of allowing industrial hemp would do more good for Illinois than either one of them will ever do. Blago wants to throw hundreds of millions around in corporate welfare and further shove ethanol and bio-diesel down our throats with an almost $2 billion spending package. A carbon-dioxide pipeline and 20 some fuel plants? No no no no no. Bad idea. Instead of spending that money on things ADM can afford anyway, cut and cap the gasoline taxes and let us keep our money to buy goods and create more jobs. (Gas taxes are for another post.)

Back on topic, I've talked about hemp before. Creating Illinois Jobs and many interesting tidbits of info about industrial hemp.

This really is a no-brainer and Illinois better get in on the action before it's too late. Come on Whitney, this is right up your alley.

*Henry Ford experimented with hemp to build car bodies. He wanted to build and fuel cars from farm products.

*BMW is experimenting with hemp materials in automobiles as part of an effort to make cars more recyclable.

*Because of its low lignin content, hemp can be pulped using less chemicals than with wood. Its natural brightness can obviate the need to use chlorine bleach, which means no extremely toxic dioxin being dumped into streams. A kinder and gentler chemistry using hydrogen peroxide rather than chlorine dixoide is possible with hemp fibers.

*Hemp grows well in a variety of climates and soil types. It is naturally resistant to most pests, precluding the need for pesticides. It grows tightly spaced, out-competing any weeds, so herbicides are not necessary. It also leaves a weed-free field for a following crop.

*Hemp can displace cotton which is usually grown with massive amounts of chemicals harmful to people and the environment. 50% of all the world's pesticides are sprayed on cotton.

*Hemp can displace wood fiber and save forests for watershed, wildlife habitat, recreation and oxygen production, carbon sequestration (reduces global warming), and other values.

*Hemp can yield 3-8 dry tons of fiber per acre. This is four times what an average forest can yield.


But now with Philippine and East Indian sources of hemp in the hands of the Japanese, and shipment of jute from India curtailed, American hemp must meet the needs of our Army and Navy as well as of our Industry. In 1942, patriotic farmers at the government’s request planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp, an increase of several thousand percent. The goal for 1943 is 50,000 acres of seed hemp. - Transcript (exerpt) of the original 1942 United States Department of Agriculture Film, Hemp for Victory.


Blago's Back

Cross-posted from ICPR's blog, The Race is On:

Team Blago is back on the air this week with another flight of ads. The buy started Wednesday, August 23rd and runs at least through Monday the 28th. In placement it appears much like the waves of ads they ran in April, May, and June before taking most of July and August off: heavy on news and public affairs with a few prime time spots thrown in for good measure. But these spots are 30 seconds long, and are not bookended. These also seemed intended to prod his positives upward, touting his role in the Amber Alert system, rather than just drive his opponents’ lower.

And there are a lot of them. He’s spending $400K in Chicago for this buy, and it’s only 6 days long – that’s $65K a day on TV spots. For our analysis of ad spending earlier this year, click to Don’t Touch that Dial.

Blago’s the biggest thing going in Chicago TV these days, at least as far as political ads, but while he’s alone on the air right now, he won’t be alone for long. The U.S. Chamber had spots up in support of Democratic Congresswoman Melissa Bean, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has bought time in October and November (presumably for both Bean and Duckworth, though the contracts don’t say). The National Republican Campaign Committee matched that buy, and those federal commitments are already approaching $8 million in the Chicago area. Melissa Bean has reserved time for her own campaign in October in addition to the DCCC buy on her behalf.

Already, about as much ad time has been reserved for the General Election as for the Primary Election, and most candidates for state office have yet to jump in. Stations we spoke with expect the Governor's campaign to extend their buy beyond next week.

A book to be published next month raises some interesting questions about all this ad spending. What Sticks is an analysis of several large commercial advertising accounts. It concludes that 37.3% of the $1 billion (with a “b”) spent by 36 of the nation’s biggest advertisers was wasted on campaigns that didn’t achieve what they set out to do.

The book looks at commercial advertising, and political ads are a very different animal. But political ads across the nation are likely to hit $1 billion this year, and Illinois could easily see a fall campaign season as busy as or busier than the Primary. Is it really all worth it?


A crazy quote...

Thanks to a blog dedicated to the Chicago Public Schools a story from the Tribune about a Principal who decided not to take in any more students and allow class sizes that will ballon to over 40 students. On the Southwest side of Chicago thanks to the growth of the Hispanic community that way the schools that way are getting very crowded and this principal or actually interim principal, Martin McGreal, basically put his foot down and took a stand. Well it got him terminated.

He's only 37 years old and was once upon a time one of 12 teachers from Curie High School the system's CASE examined which was opposed by many teachers because it was thought to be confusing and not reflective of curriculum. CPS decided not to administer this exam.

Well in any event this was a crazy quote that Mr. McGreal said about what a demographic planner said to him about not worrying about a large freshman class...

McGreal proposed that some students and teachers use part of Lindblom College Prep High School, a selective enrollment high school about a mile to the east that is under capacity.

McGreal said he was appalled when one demographic planner told him not to worry about a large freshman class since many of the teens would not show up or drop out.

"He told me that we would probably lose about half the kids anyway," McGreal said. "That's the kind of mentality we're fighting."

Is that person serious???


Our Thoughts and Prayers For The Kadner Family

One of the sincere voices against political corruption and fair play to the underserved of America, The Daily Southtown's Phil Kadner is mourning the death of his father. A consistently tough-minded and fair critic of political corruption, Phil learned his moral code from his Dad.

The Daily Southtown's Dan Lavoie wrote a fine piece on the loss of a wonderful man. Our thoughts and prayers go with the Kadner family at this time of loss.


Crunchy number stuff

A shameless violation of the three posts rule, but fun if you like regressions. Go straight to the very last paragraph on the shifts in the vote / seats ratio.

Political Arithmetik: Votes, Seats and the Generic Ballot


Steve Huntly on Emanuel's Plan

Steve Huntly's column on The Plan.

The Plan is mostly centrist Democratic stuff. However you may feel about issues he raises, there's no doubt that Emanuel is proposing for the Democrats a comprehensive national agenda, maybe even a winning one. Just one question: Is it an agenda that will appeal to the rabid Bush-hating, anti-war, bring-back-the-'60s crowd that seems to dominate the party these days?
A thread if folks want to comment about a book that will sell far fewer copies then Obama's but maybe have more lasting ideas (?)

We certainly have some literary Democrats in Illinois.


A nice guy.... a decent man

Today's ST:

Mayor Daley's former patronage chief, Robert Sorich, recently testified under a grant of immunity before a federal grand jury investigating City Hall corruption, his lawyer said Thursday.
And Ald Balcer a few days ago at the Sorich fund raiser,
Balcer made no apologies for supporting his longtime friend and Bridgeport neighbor. John Daley and Degnan declined to comment.

Balcer said of Sorich: "I know him. I've worked with him. He's from the community. I go to church with his mother. He's just a nice guy -- a decent man. I'm not ashamed to call the man my friend."
Balcer's got guts. He doesn't bale.

You wonder what he and others will be saying after all is said and done here. Jim's done a lot for Vets in Chicago when he managed the City's Vets program. I hope he doesn't end up with egg on his face or worse here.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Trailing the World

I don't agree with his proposed solution, but Mayor Daley is absolutely right about the problem:

Mayor Daley suggested Thursday that high school be extended for a fifth year to defray college education costs now squeezing working poor and middle-class families.

Unless something is done to loosen the college tuition collar, Daley warned that the “birth rate will go down in the United States and our knowledge-based economy will not grow.”...

“America had better come to grips with this….If we’re a land of opportunity and we want to be a knowledge-based society and we want to compete against India and China, we had better educate our children. These young kids should not be worried about financial assistance — all worried in the [senior] year. Every principal will tell you that. They’re in their offices trying to figure out, ‘Can I get $500? Can I get $1,000, $1,500?’ We have to set our priorities and our priorities should be giving everyone an opportunity to go to college….I hope in 2008 there is a huge national debate on that issue alone.”

While I may have some other differences with the Mayor, I totally respect his passion about this subject. When he came down to Springfield last year, he met with Democratic legislators. The first, and primary, issue that he discussed was this one.

During his talk, he cited Thomas Friedman's must-read book The World is Flat and the concern that we are well down the road to being at a serious competitive disadvantage with foreign countries, whose educational systems and work ethic are outpacing ours.
Having just returned from Taiwan and having witnessed some of the accomplishments that they are making, I am even more concerned than I was a week ago. I hope to relate some of those observations here soon.

With respect to our local education, I am concerned that we are on the path to a crisis. The answer is not to lower standards and increase the time to take tests so that more kids score 'higher'. The answer is not to consider an increase in minimum wage service jobs to be a sign of economic prosperity.

The answer is to demand more of our education system and to realize that the needed changes will not likely yield results in convenient two or four year cycles that coincide with elections, but will require a willingness and the courage to take bold steps in order to accomplish long-term benefits for our future.

The answer is to prepare our youth to compete in a new world economy. To teach them not just proficiency in their own language, but in other languages as well that will make them desirable in a global environment. One step toward that answer may lay in year-round schooling that would provide societal benefits on many levels. I would be interested in hearing what readers think might be other parts of the equation.

To read, or post, comments, visit Dome-icile


You can take the boy out of the fraternity...

I know, I know, this isn't a local issue...but this is not confidence inspiring:

U.S. New & World Reports’ Paul Bedard says our commander in chief “loves flatulence jokes . . . can’t get enough of fart jokes. He’s also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides.”

In an interview yesterday, Bedard, who writes “Washington Whispers” for the weekly newsmagazine, also said he’s heard about Bush’s full-salute “Austin Greeting.” That’s when new aides come in for their “meet and greet.”

“Word is,” says Bedard, “he likes to gas a couple, and then bring the aide in and see what the kid’s face looks like.”

Naturally, the aide can’t accuse the President or grimace or hold his nose. This dilemma apparently drives the presidential funny bone wild.


Arlene Jones's Black Entertainment District and Judy Baar-Topinka's crap shoot

If JBT says gambling's a solution, why not put that casino at the old Brach's Candy site on the West Side.

Arlene Jones made the case (again) today in the Austin Weekly News.

If we cannot get a large manufacturing company to relocate to the Brach site, then it is time we stand up for what we want that will benefit us! Why can’t our side of town become a tourist attraction? We have some of the best planned parks in the entire city within a stone’s throw of the Brach site (Garfield, Columbus, Austin Townhall, Humboldt and Lafollette). We have access to the green line and major streets. The Metra also zooms right past the Brach site.

A large percentage of our housing stock is part of the original bungalow belt. We can attract students of architecture and folks who just like looking at it. The entire world has enjoyed black culture through music, food, dance and slang. Do I have any proof that folks would come to our side of town? You know I do!

Years ago I was on the community council for the Garfield Park Conservatory. At that time, they would barely get 100 people a week to go there. Then they held the Chihuly glass exhibit and got 20,000 in one week! So I refuse to listen to anyone who wants to say our side of town cannot attract people. Hell, we attract those folks looking for drugs on a daily basis.
It's a natural combined with the mid-city transit way.

This is Birkett's old neigborhood. He and Topinka should get out there, at that old Brach's site, and hold a press conference. Maybe Jones would join them because she sure got it right about Garfield Park Conservatory.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Teacher Union Pay Hike Strategy Interrupted

In McHenry County’s Huntley School District 158, something I have never seen before happened Tuesday night.

A contract negotiated by three members of the teacher union’s 2005 ruling Majority Six school board members (one of whom, Glen Stewart, has now gotten a $101,000 school administrative post) went unapproved when the board put off the vote until right before a Thursday morning “board members meet the teachers meeting.”

This came after a 3-hour secret session op what most thought was a "done deal."

While obviously scheduled to bring pressure on any weak brothers, the meeting represents a set back to the ruling clique that I have seen nowhere else…ever.

The reason for the delay can be traced to publication by the Daily Herald’s Jeffrey Gaunt of an article outlining what he found out about the contract.

Angry citizen after angry citizen made the 10-16% raises for selected (many or most) high school teachers the reason they were criticizing the contract and the now Majority Five. (Stewart resigned after getting his new post and was replaced Tony Quagliano, an ally of the only minority member, Larry Snow).

Newly elected board member Snow’s name was brought up in a favorable light again and again by testifying taxpayers.

Others pointed to the School Board President Mike Skala’s wife’s being a high school French teacher and, hence, his having a conflict of interest should he vote for the contract. It may be even worse than that. She was a union representative for the high school last year.

Of course, with its five-vote majority, the Majority Five does not need Mike Skala’s vote to ratify the contract.

What seems to be at work here is the willingness of at least one of the school board members to reveal some of the contract’s contents before the vote...or, maybe, reporter Gaunt found another source.

One might think this is part of the “transparency” that new school superintendent John Burkey, who is from Dunlap, a suburban school district near Peoria, brought to the job.

But Burkey was clearly not pleased to be telling union leaders in the hall that the vote had been postponed.

Only one teacher was among those who spoke to the board. She talked of the unethical nature of revealing the contract’s contents before the board vote.

Now, I’ll certainly admit that it was unusual.

I have never heard of done before.

But, unethical?

How unethical is it for school boards throughout Illinois to decide on the biggest expenditure in the budget without having public discussion on whether the details—or even the total amount to be promised—are fair to the taxpayers.

It strikes me as a lot more unethical to blindside taxpayers.

Needless to say the ruling faction that the teachers' union helped elect will ratify the union contract that three of its members helped negotiate.

To find out what happens at the early Thursday morning, go to McHenry County Blog.

= = = = =
At the top is Huntley School Board member Glen Stewart offering his thanks to School Board President Mike Skala after being appointed to a $101,000 administrative job.

The head shot below right is of Larry Snow, the man who fought a fraudulently promoted tax hike referendum and then got elected to the school board. Below left is Skala.

Next comes the photograph of Superintendent John Burkey explaining to union representatives that a vote to ratify their contract will not be taken until early Thursday morning.

Finally, regular meeting attender Aileen Seedorf holds up a piggy bank that she said represented the savings of the community's children, which would have to pay for the "Titanic financial iceberg" the contract represented.


GOP's Requiem for the Hyper-Rich

Death and Taxes

The two words that just go together -- like Fear and Loathing.

And in today's episode of GOP Mailing Melodrama, the National Republican Congressional Comittee brings all four.

Of course the mailer in question also features low-budget cheesiness that we have come to expect from the NRCC's 6th District correspondence. First, there is pathos via clip art:

But it is somewhat unclear whether the woman in the clip art is trying to stifle her grief, her laughter or her vomit. Perhaps she witnessed something "just disgusting"...

And there is the now familiar odd-ball death imagery:

But there is no explanation why a multi-millionare -- the tax in question only applies to estates in excess of two million dollars -- would have such a battered headstone. And there are no clues as to why the deceased multi-millionare's family -- who, regardless of the size of the estate, inherit the first two million dollars tax-free -- didn't insist that the writing on the gravestone be written in parallel lines.

No one in my family will ever trigger the millionares' estate tax, but I would never EVER stand for such a shoddy headstone.

And there is the obvious question: Is this grave the home of the goofy ghost from the earlier mailer? The voters of the 6th District want answers!

But what about the substance of the mailer? Just as goofy.

"You shouldn't have to pay taxes when a loved one dies"? Okay, you don't have to.

All you have to do to avoid paying taxes "when a loved one dies" is not accept an inheritance from an estate of more than two million dollars. Not only is not inheriting millions my plan for avoiding the estate tax, everyone I know is going to avoid it that way.

And because the tax only applies to multi-million dollar estates -- less than 3 percent of deceased adults in 2002 had estates subject to the tax-- I'll bet that you and almost everyone you know will avoid the estate tax in exactly the same way.

And what about the claim that the multi-millionares' estate tax puts family farms and small business owers at risk?

The truth is that very few actually pay the estate tax.

The Tax Policy Center reports that in 2004, in all of the United States of America, roughly 440 taxable estates were primarily farm and business assets. And even considering estates in which farming or business was a sideline, the Center found only 7,090 taxable estates for 2004 that included any farm or business income. The estate tax repeal benefits primarily non-farmers and non-business-owners. People like the fellow pictured on the right:

And these hard workers:

But what about the mailer's claim that Democrat Major Tammy Duckworth just can't wait to spend your hard earned money?

Eric Krol of your Daily Herald reports that Maj. Duckworth has vowed to cut Congressional spending by ending the wasteful and corrupt practice of "earmarking" pork projects in Washingon. By contrast

Republican congressional hopeful Peter Roskam, who’s always billed himself as a fiscal conservative, tried to walk a political tightrope Monday by embracing an oft-criticized budget tactic for securing federal funding for local projects. The 6th Congressional District GOP nominee said he’d support continuing the so-called practice of “earmarks” if elected to Congress[.]
Well, that sure ain't gonna slow Congressional spending.

So, in conclusion, here are two pieces of free advice.

First, to the NRCC: While it is okay to use cut and paste graphics with no connection to the 6th District in your mailings, you should not use cut and paste arguments about rampant Congressional spending when 1) your party controls Congress, and 2) your candidate has embraced pork barrel spending.

Second, to Republican readers: Please, please, please donate to the National Republican Congressional Committee. No, really. If you're a Republican and have only one dollar to contribute to the election in November, please send that dollar to the NRCC. Nothing would make my Democratic heart happier than to see GOP campaign dollars directed to the masterminds behind these mailings. So Republicans, please give to the NRCC, and give often.

In fact, you Democratic voters might want to contribute to the NRCC trainwreck as well.


Secret agent man?

Is Sen. Barack Obama’s trip to Africa just a cover for his secret dealings with Iran and his plan to save the world from a nuclear disaster?

First this:

Iran responded Tuesday to a set of incentives from Europe and the United States aimed at ending its nuclear program, but did not agree to suspend the enrichment of uranium by the end of the month, the West’s primary demand.

In its response, Iran offered “serious talks” over its nuclear activities but did not raise the issue of suspending enrichment by Aug. 31, the deadline established by the United Nations Security Council, Western diplomats said.

Then this:

It is a policy of the U.S. government to have no direct communication with Iran. Between the two nations, there are no formal diplomatic ties.

But what if a U.S. senator and an Iranian foreign minister happened to be staying in the same hotel -- on the same floor, no less -- and bumped into each other in the hallway?

A hypothetical question, it's not.

Here in Pretoria, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Motakki are staying in the same hotel. Their groups have crossed paths in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel, but the two officials have not. Yet.



Big Jim to step aside

From Crain's:

Former Gov. James R. Thompson is resigning as chairman of law firm Winston & Strawn LLP.

He plans to leave the chairman position next month after 13 years—nearly matching his record 14-year tenure as governor—but remain active as a Winston partner, he says.

“It is time,” he says.


When all you have is a Hammer, everything looks like a Nail

I never thought I would have anything nice to say about Joe Birkett, atleast on a blog.

But people's positions on the issue of crime and punishment often cross party lines, and for the first time, I find Joe Birkett on the same side as me.

The compelling lede from today's Daily Herald story, regarding the hyper-incarceration of drug addicts:

Nick Blasucci found himself in jail and in desperate need of a fix.

He traded his only pair of shoes for drugs that failed to get him high. He received a replacement pair but quickly put them on the black market, too.

It wasn't the life the 17-year-old suburban kid imagined for himself growing up in Glendale Heights. He yearned for his freedom, something away from the jail's bartering system and his tedious existence within it.

The DuPage County court system offered him a way to avoid incarceration. If he agreed to enter rehab, at the county's expense, he would receive probation instead of prison.

Blasucci had no desire to give up his heroin addiction. But if it meant his freedom, well, he would begrudgingly accept the deal.

"I stayed sober at first because I always wanted to look good in court," he said. "But, after a while, I started staying sober because I wanted it for myself."

Blasucci, who now lives in Batavia and has been sober for 16 months, credits the court-mandated program with saving his life.
Joe Birkett's response:
DuPage County State's Attorney Joseph Birkett - who championed the drug court program that put Blasucci on his road to rehabilitation - agrees incarcerating drug addicts is not always the most fiscally or socially responsible option.

"Ultimately, it's better to have someone getting treatment," Birkett said. "It's much cheaper to have someone out working, paying taxes and contributing to society than it is to house them in prison."

If Joe Birkett can admit it, why can't the Cook County State's Attorney's office just say it, instead of this?

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. It's time to put a few better tools in our toolbox.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dershowitz spanks DePaul's Finkelstein--again, brings up Klocek case

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit.

DePaul University's resident Holocaust-minimizer, Norman G. Finkelstein, gets another well deserved verbal thrashing from Harvard professor and author Alan M. Dershowitz.

From today's FrontPage Magazine:

The level of "academic" discourse on the Middle-East reached a new low—quite a feat considering some of the old lows—when the notorious Jewish anti-Semite and Holocaust-justice denier Norman Finkelstein wrote a screed suggesting that I be targeted "for assassination" because of my views on Israel. The obscene article was accompanied by an obscene cartoon drawn by "Latuff," a frequent accomplice of Finkelstein. The cartoon portrayed me as masturbating in rapturous joy while viewing images of dead Lebanese civilians on a TV set labeled "Israel peep show," with a Jewish Star of David prominently featured. The cartoon aptly represents the content of Finkelstein’s piece, which accuses me of being a "moral pervert" who "missed the climactic scene of his little peep show." He also claims quite absurdly that I "sanction mass murder" and "the extermination of the Lebanese people." (I’m surprised he hasn’t accused me of kicking of puppy dogs, scowling at little children, and parking in handicapped spaces.)

Finkelstein calls me a Nazi not once, but twice, first saying that I subscribe to “Nazi ideology” and then comparing me to Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher, who was prosecuted at Nuremberg by my mentor Telford Taylor.

The peep-show cartoon was even too extreme for the notorious "Counterpunch," a Stalinist website that glorifies Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist enemies of the U.S. and Israel. Prior to its decision not to run this particular cartoon, Counterpunch seemed to have no standards, but even for them this one was apparently too much (though they kept in the "peep show" reference that inspired the cartoon).

This academic pornographer, who uses "professor" in his byline even when he is spewing unacademic hate, is now up for tenure at DePaul University, a Catholic school in Chicago that recently fired a teacher named Thomas Klocek for offending Arab students during a discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Finkelstein was fired by several universities at which he previously worked for abusing students who disagreed with his bigoted views. The chairman of one department where he taught said he was fired for "incompetence," "mental instability" and "abuse" of students with politics different from his own. I wonder whether Finkelstein will submit this "assassination" article as part of his tenure portfolio at DePaul. He certainly should, since it is quite representative of his "scholarship." If he submits it, will it be accompanied by the masturbation cartoon? It should, because the cartoon too personifies Finkelstein’s academic standards.

The second anniversary of the beginning of the Thomas Klocek affair is on September 15.

Here is the Finkelstein Counterpunch article Dersh refers to in today's write-up.

Here's a previous Dershowitz spanking of Finkelstein.

Related posts: Norman Finkelstein article: Dershowitz' descent into moral barbarism

CAIR-Chicago recommended that DePaul fire Klocek

Hat tip to Dr. Steven Plaut in Haifa.


Scheurer Plays the Vietnam Analogy Card

Today, Moderate (anti-war) Party 8th congressional district candidate Bill Scheurer issued the following press release today:


August 22, 2006

Scheurer sees Vietnam in Bush Iraq war policy

President Bush’s press conference Monday was all too familiar to Bill Scheurer, independent Moderate Party candidate for Congress in the IL-8th District.

“For those of us who are old enough to remember, we’ve seen this all before,” Scheurer said. “We’ve put our troops in the middle of a civil war, with no end in sight and a president who insists they stay.”

Scheurer recalled the arguments in Bush’s speech as almost identical to those put forth by previous administrations during the protracted Vietnam war.

“He kept using phrases like ‘leaving before the job is done,’” Scheurer said. “The same things were said in 1965, and we wasted another eight years and countless lives, and nothing was accomplished.”

Scheurer said he believed his opponents’ support (incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean and Republican David McSweeney) for Bush’s Iraq policy might be because they were too young to remember the parallels between this war and the one in Vietnam.

“David McSweeney was 14 when Ronald Reagan was president. Melissa Bean was only 11 years old when the Vietnam War ended,” Scheurer said. “Neither one of them remembers how the war dragged on, pointlessly, taking with it 58,000 American lives, 3 million Vietnamese lives and billions of dollars in the end.”

Scheurer said that, lacking this sense of perspective, his opponents might easily be caught in the rhetoric of continuing the war.

“Bush’s contention that if we leave Iraq the terrorists ‘will follow us here’ is wrong,” Scheurer said. “Bring our troops home and secure our borders. Start focusing our military on national defense, their true mission, which Bush and his enablers in Congress (like Bean) have left undone.”



What's Your Take on the Game?

While I'm still shaking off the jet lag, how about some levity and creativity in the interim? With the massive amount of hype surrounding the Samuel L. Jackson movie 'Snakes on a Plane', I thought that we could try to put a local spin on the spoofs that have been put out there.

To get things rolling, I'll throw a couple out there:

A movie about the latest problems with the CTA titled, 'Mistakes on the Train'.

A film about Springfield corruption called, 'On the Take on the Plain'.

You get the idea. Have at it.

To read, or post, comments, visit Dome-icile


Registering Latinos in DuPage

Illinois Review’s unpaid (and, formerly Illinois Leader’s not-paid before she quit) editor Fran Eaton could be putting bread on the table by working at Kohl’s or Starbucks.

But, since she is more interested in the political process than stocking shelves or scalding herself making lattes, she is being paid to set up voter registration drives in west suburban churches.

She has called all sorts of churches and has good relationships with numerous Catholic ones.

So, it was nothing out of the ordinary for her to have contacted the office of St. Isidore’s Catholic Church in Bloomingdale and dropped off a packet of registration information at the church office

Eaton offered her assistance in setting up a voter registration drive.

That afternoon, Eaton received a phone call from a woman who said she said she was an employee of St. Isidore’s.

She said she “and 22 others are working full-time from Waukegan to the South Suburbs registering voters through churches and she found it interesting that I was doing something similar.”

She told me she was working for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

She asked me, “Could we work together?’

Eaton replied that it made sense to work together and not duplicate efforts.

“She agreed to call me if she needed my assistance and that’s the way phone call ended,” Eaton said.

“I did a piece on Illinois Review that talked of my concerns about how one verified whether a person being registered is a U.S. citizen,” she continued.

“And, I called the DuPage County Board of Elections to ask if I would be held responsible for registering non-legal residents using the motor voter forms.

“She (the woman at the Board of Elections) said all I could do is accept their statements, that I had no way of verifying whether or not people are legal.

“On August 14th, I wrote an article about the situation for Illinois Review.

“I think the questions I raised in my piece disturbed them,” Eaton said, “because the next thing I know they had a (last) Saturday press conference and issued a press release accusing me of trying to infiltrate their organization. At least that’s what the Daily Herald reporter told me Saturday.

“They said they have asked for an investigation by (DuPage County State’s Attorney) Joe Birkett.

“I am not a secret agent. I’m just trying to register voters.

“I invite an investigation by (Joe Birkett and I hope the ICIRR will welcome an investigation of their work as well.

“Personally, I think ‘they doth protest too much.’

“Oh, yes. La Raza (the Spanish language newspaper) interviewed me this morning and I expect a story tomorrow.”

Maybe the investigation should be conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The Coalition's press release can be accessed at McHenry County Blog.


What to give a governor who has everything

"Who the heck is giving Rod all this stuff?"
Republican lieutenant governor nominee Joe Birkett wants Gov. Blagojevich to disclose the thousands of gifts he receives from close associates each year. "Unless he comes clean, we have no way of knowing what the gifts are," said Birkett.

A state law requires that every giver of gifts of $500 or more be disclosed. With the Bla-governor under such close scrutiny, you might wonder what you can and cannot give him the next time he comes over for dinner.

The Daley Show is compiling a list of answers to this challenging question: What can I give a governor who has it all?
  • Penicillin
  • A small scrapbook of things you've done with him
  • A mirror
  • $499 in small bills
  • Attention - approval - your time - encouragement - laughter
  • Immunity from prosecution


Monday, August 21, 2006

Topinka: Medicaid Savings to Come from Managed Care

Gubernatorial hopeful Judy Baar Topinka responded today to charges that she hates grandmas and little kids. [Thanks CapFax]

According to Topinka, the $2.9 billion she hopes to wring out in savings from Medicaid will come from requiring folks to enroll in managed care style programs.

What I am proposing is that we manage the massive growth of the state’s $8 billion-and-growing annual program by transitioning Illinois’ Medicaid recipients into a managed care system just like the state offers its employees and private sector companies provide for their employees.

Amazingly, Illinois taxpayers are now paying for a Medicaid program that is much more expensive than their own private health care plans. While billions of taxpayers dollars go wasted, Rod Blagojevich is asleep at the switch.

Through better management, over four years, Illinois can wring $2.9 billion in savings from a program that will cost taxpayers nearly $40 billion.

Topinka couldn't pass up the opportunity to call Governor a big, fat liar. Well, these were the actual first words of her release:

Rod Blagojevich isn't telling voters the truth.

Topinka has put me in the rare position these days of defending Rod Blagojevich. I went back and looked at Topinka's release, "Common Sense Budget Cuts." The words "managed care system" don't appear anywhere in there. She does say:

Establishing a Medicaid Reform Task Force on her first day in office to determine how to precisely restructure our Medicaid plan. Follow in the footsteps of Florida—a state that is making their Medicaid system look more like private insurance than a government program.

Now, I'm not sure which it is. Is Topinka going to move us toward a "managed care system," or is her Medicaid Reform Task Force going to decide the best approach? Will medicaid recipients have a vote on the task force, or will it be packed with private insurance company representatives who hope to get lucrative subcontracts providing managed care services for Medicaid?

These are two good questions to ask. I'm sure someone has more.

But my first point is this: how can any reasonable person be expected to discern that Topinka was talking about Medicaid managed care, let alone Governor Blagojevich? Heck, some of Topinka's loyalists were convinced she was going to save $2.9 billion by targeting illegal aliens who travelled thousands of miles from Mexico, risking their lives through the desert, in hopes of sneaking on to the welfare rolls here.

My second point is this: If Topinka doesn't want her opponent to define her positions, her p.r. staff needs to do a better job of defining them to the public in her initial release.

My third point is this: I don't know many voters who think Illinois should be more like Florida (land of swamps, gators and hurricanes) or wish state government was run more like an insurance company. You guys might want to expand your Encyclopedia of Analogies.


Obama walks on water in Africa

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit.
Yesterday Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) thrilled residents of Capetown, South Africa by walking from their city onto the Indian Ocean waters to the former prison at Robben Island--where Obama viewed the onetime jail cell of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Did I make that stuff up? Yes. But some people are treating Obama as if he was the Savior. Earlier this month, Michael Madigan ridiculed magazine cover boy Obama as "the Messiah.

Here's an AP article about Obama's extended African trip. In the article, there is no mention of any legislation Obama has sponsored being enacted into law during his 19 months as a US senator.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rick Pearson: A good reporter writes a bad column

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit.

Rick Pearson has been writing about Illinois politics for at least a decade, and he's generally considered to be a fair and decent reporter. I'm a little biased, as in 2002, I submitted a question to Pearson that not only got me invited into the studio audience of the final gubernatorial debate between eventual victor
Democrat Rod Blagojevich and Republican Jim Ryan, but he used my question too.

"Blago" is running for re-election this year, he's being challenged by feisty Republican Judy Baar Topinka.

Today Pearson unloaded a stink bomb in the Chicago Tribune. In his column, Rick wrote about the 34 city tour that the Republican party statewide ticket kicked off last week in Springfield. The tour will focus on that forgotten "corner" of the state: that part of Illinois south of Interstate 80, better known as "Downstate."

Up until about 10 years ago, heavily Democratic Cook County was counterbalanced by the Republican suburbs and Republican Downstate. The latter two aren't as "Red" as they used to be, and Illinois is now a "deep blue" state.

So focusing on Downstate makes a lot of sense for the GOP here.

Rick Pearson isn't so sure, as he wrote today. Free registration required:

Topinka said Blagojevich's treatment of the Downstate region was "rather shabby" and said her tour, which winds up Thursday in DuPage County, was meant to "go back out there and say, `Look, you count.'"

"There is something more than just the city of Chicago and Cook County," said Topinka, who lives in Riverside. "These are very important--God knows I love them dearly--but you know, it's like a mother with many children, you love all of them, and you have to bring everybody in."

Still, Illinois' political history is littered with candidates who stumbled while trying to strike the right symbolic note in their appeal to Downstate voters.

Topinka chose to launch her bus tour at the historic train depot where Abraham Lincoln delivered his farewell to Springfield en route to assuming the presidency. And we all know how Lincoln returned to Springfield.

Huh? What the heck is that supposed to mean? I'm sure Pearson didn't mean that Judy will return to Springfield as a hero, as Lincoln did.

New Ruberry posting rule: Anonymous comments, the "other anonymous" excepted, will be deleted. See my most recent Wal-Mart post below for a detailed explanation for my decision. Also, keep in mind, the sister blog to this one has a checkered history in regards to anonymous posters.


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