Sunday, April 30, 2006

Fake and faker

RodbangsFakebook Files 2006 04 Patquinn

We already know from four years of campaigning that Rod Blagojevich will say anything as long as it fits a campaign strategy. It is a helpful trait for his handlers but it is also the reason the public doesn't trust him, as reflected in poor poll numbers.

He's off to quite a start in this campaign. His first ad was not only fake, but probably illegal. His latest ad is quintessential Blagojevich phony-baloney.

Blagojevich criticizes opponent Judy Baar Topinka for never attending meetings of a little-known state board.

The new 15-second Blagojevich advertisement, which was introduced at a news conference by Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, joins at least five Blagojevich campaign spots already running statewide.

The new commercial accuses Topinka of missing every meeting of the Illinois State Board of Investment, a nine-member board that manages $10 billion in state pension money.

The ad doesn't say that Topinka is "ex-officio" member of the board, which means in government parlance that she's an honorary member. Topinka sends a surrogate to the meetings รข€” a fact also not mentioned.

It is well known within government that the Governor of Illinois is ex-officio member of a few boards himself and, over the years, rarely if ever attends board meetings.

Rod is ex-officio member of the boards of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and University of Illinois, among others. We can find no record of him attending either.

Rod and his campaign know that governors and other top officials who are ex-officio members don't attend meetings nor are they expected to. So Rod is using hundreds of thousands of dollars from a campaign fund under federal investigation to throw this phony garbage on the airwaves. For Rod, par for the course.

For Pat Quinn, who used to have a reputation for fighting for clean, honest government, it marks his descent into the pit of sleazy politics he used to abhor. We wondered whether he would distance himself from Rod to try to preserve his reputation on ethics or throw it all away in a reflex of self-preservation. On Sunday, when Quinn unveiled this phony ad, we got our answer.

New look, url

A hearty thanks to Aaron at Free Will who did most of the work putting this blog on a separate server and modifying a template for the new look at the new url. All of the content of this site should be migrating to the new site in the next day or two.  For those of you looking for someone to help design, operate or modify a website, I highly recommend him. He can be reached here. As I've mentioned before, he has the best anti-Rod Blagojevich material out there in the "Governor Corruptevich" category on Free Will.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Blagojevich ad fake AND illegal

Fake and illegal — a perfect summation of Rod Blagojevich's tenure as governor.

Alexi, we hardly knew ye

Archpundit called this one yesterday:  It's only a matter of time before Alexi steps down.

For those who didn't get the clue earlier, the Tribune sent separate cruise missiles to Democratic State Treasurer candidate Alexi Giannoulias and his mentor, U.S. Senator Barack Obama.

But we also need to stress that, for Giannoulias and his party, this is not going to get any better.

When St. Barack gets criticized by the Tribune, and it's all because of Alexi, look for the heat to rise on this starting this morning.

Oh, and somebody ought to ask Pat Quinn about this.  He also endorsed Alexi. 

Thursday, April 27, 2006

State grand jury closing in?

Did Rod and his minions get caught using his office for political purposes?  The Tribune's Eric Zorn was leery more than a year ago.

The IEPA is not an arm of Citizens For Blagojevich. It should handle and prioritize and investigate based on environmental concerns and urgencies. Period.

Any other use of that agency's power and authority is an abuse.

How about a gas muzzler?

For Barbara Boxer.

"Since George Bush and Dick Cheney took over as president and vice president, gas prices have doubled!" charged Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), standing at an Exxon station on Capitol Hill where regular unleaded hit $3.10. "They are too cozy with the oil industry."

She then hopped in a waiting Chrysler LHS (18 mpg) — even though her Senate office was only a block away.

Just like the post office

The Daily Herald's political column Animal Farm, written by Eric Krol and John Patterson, had this item, which conjured up images of my latest visit to the post office.

Customer service award

On Tuesday, the Daily Herald placed a call to the Illinois Department of Public Health to get information about the recent mumps outbreak. Spokeswoman Kimberly Parker got back to us with the initial information, but when a follow-up question was posed, she said she'd already crossed us off the callback list for the day and we'd have to call back on Wednesday to get on the list again.

Giannoulias knew Giorango was a criminal

In his attempt to extricate himself from a mess, Democratic state Treasurer candidate and banker Alexi Giannoulias did a round of one-on-one interviews yesterday with the news media in Chicago. Giannoulias has been sharply criticized by the press, particularly the Chicago Tribune, for making questionable loans to criminals and not being forthcoming about his knowledge of the loans. In the Tribune story today, he acknowledged he discussed with convicted bookmaker and prostitution ring promoter Michael Giorango his criminal past.

But Giannoulias occasionally strayed across those privacy lines to describe aspects of the loans. On Wednesday, Giannoulias said he once discussed Giorango's criminal past with him. In that conversation, he said, Giorango "may have misrepresented the extent of what took place." Giannoulias declined to answer further questions about that conversation.

Banks, according to press accounts, don't have to make background checks on people they loan money to, but when the bank knows the person is a criminal and loans the money anyway without checking it out further? Giannoulias' interviews didn't put out the fire.

The Barack Obama and Pat Quinn protege still has more explaining to do.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

“I don't believe in guilt by association”

Rod Blagojevich is running “guilt by association” ads linking Judy Baar Topinka to George W. Bush and now, George Ryan.

Here's what the governor said a few short weeks ago:

Asked about the controversy, Blagojevich said Muhammad is not responsible for any racist remarks Farrakhan has made. “I do not believe in guilt by association,” the Democratic governor said.

And, his senior advisor four years ago:

Guilt by association is a bad campaign tactic, and what's good for the goose is good for the gander,” said David Wilhelm, a senior Blagojevich adviser.

Maybe lobbyist-bond expert Doug Scofield can explain the sudden change in position.

Mismanagement Central

TV reporters in particular like to ask politicians when they are going to talk about issues in a campaign. Then they cover the stunt of the day.

All reporters in Illinois ought to take a gander at the audits of the Rod Blagojevich administration. They are unlike any seen in Illinois. Yet they are barely mentioned on the news.

They are important because it is the professional and independent judgment of how our tax dollars are being spent and managed. The answer in Illinois is that hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted every year by a band of incompetent and quite possibly corrupt public servants. Take a look yourself.

Most contracts go through the administration's Central Management Services (CMS). When the first audit of CMS came out last year, there was shock and outrage. Joe Birkett, Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. and a client, said at the time the report was the “Magna Carta of Mismanagement.” Auditor General Bill Holland turned results of the audit over to Attorney General Lisa Madigan for criminal review.

Well, a year later, things haven't changed much.


So much for progress.

I remember in the Attorney General's office a few years ago we got an audit finding of a handful of items. We all took the results as an affront and in the next year or two the auditor general returned an audit with zero findings.

Whoever is running CMS ought to be fired yesterday. And the issue of taxpayer waste ought to be front and center in the campaign for governor.

Doug Finke of the State Journal Register did a good job of summarizing the findings today but here are a few other lowlights:

• Contract bids were not opened with any witnesses.

• Once selected, vendors were allowed to jack up their prices before the work even started.

• One vendor raised the price of his computer services $13.5 million without submitting change orders.

• Numerous items were purchased and not reported on property control records, including two new 42-inch plasma TVs.

We already reported that employees at CMS and various other state agencies, including Rod's own Inspector General, failed to fill out time sheets as required by state law.  So, we have no hard evidence they even showed up for work.  The audit demonstrates we all would have been winners had they stayed home.

The ghosts of Rod Blagojevich

They say that an organization reflects its leader. It's doubly true in Illinois.

Buried in another batch of corruption-unveiling audits by Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland yesterday was a ghost of Rod Blagojevich's past.

Back in 1996, Chicago Tribune reporters Laurie Cohen and Mitchell Locin all but proved that Rod Blagojevich was a ghost payroller on the city of Chicago payroll.

“The specifics of what Blagojevich did for that money are elusive, and public records provided little clarification," the Tribune said.

Jim Ryan ran a TV commercial in 2002 based on the Trib article but Rod used his huge spending advantage and the George Ryan scandal to bury any doubts about his ethics.

Fast forward to this week. Holland released audits for various agencies under the Governor's control and in nearly every one of them he found that employees were not filling out time sheets as required by state law. No ghost payrolling was alleged, but when employees don't tell anyone when they are working, who knows? Did Rod teach them that trick?

Here are the agencies where employees couldn't be bothered to tell the public when they were working and when they were not:

  • Central Management Services

  • Department of Public Health

  • Department of Revenue

  • Housing Development Authority

  • Office of the Executive Inspector General

Yes, Office of the Executive Inspector General.

Sadly, the irony train is not yet at the station.

The state law that requires employees to fill out time sheets is the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. Here is what James Wright, Blagojevich's Executive Inspector General, says about the act on the governor's website:

Welcome to the Ethics Training and Compliance Center. The interactive program that you are about to begin, will allow you to meet your annual ethics training obligation, which is a requirement of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. This program is intended to familiarize you with some of the laws, rules and policies that govern your conduct as a state employee.

Although most of you are already familiar with many of the standards of conduct that are reflected in these laws and rules, this year's ethics training program will serve as a reminder of your responsibility to always conduct state activities with honesty, integrity and fairness.

As an important element of your commitment to acting ethically, please take the time to carefully read and review all of the subject matter contained in this course. Remember, we must all work together and perform our responsibilities in accordance with the standards set forth in the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, and other laws, rules and state policies, in order to ensure the public's trust in the operation of our state government.

James A. Wright
Executive Inspector General

Here is what Holland said about Wright's office:

The Office did not comply with the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (5 ILCS 430/5-5) regarding employee timekeeping requirements.

This is the same state law that Pat Quinn was bragging about last week on Chicago Tonight to suggest that Rod Blagojevich has cleaned up state government. We know that Rod doesn't show up for work. Now we can't be sure about quite a few of his employees.

Paging Lisa Madigan.

More about the CMS audit coming up.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Governor Gas Bag

Get ready for a new round of demagoguery from Rod Blagojevich on gas.

He was busy demogogueing on stem cells and his Republican opponent beat him to the punch Monday on expressing concern for rising gas prices. That led to this funny spot of film at the end of CBS-2 Chicago's report yesterday where Rod turned mute when asked about gas prices.

He wasn't mute four years ago when he had two press conferences complaining that Illinois Governor George Ryan and state Attorney General Jim Ryan were to blame when gas prices went to nearly $2 a gallon. Rod was a congressman at the time and he did not blame President Bush or the federal government. He said the Ryans were:

…sitting idly by in allowing Big Oil to make big profits at our expense.

Now that he's governor and Lisa Madigan is attorney general, it's the federal government's fault! But, hey Rod, gas is now more than $3 a gallon and you said four years ago you were going to do more to keep prices down.
Look for Rod to cook up a new initiative that blames George W. Bush. I hope the news media asks him about his statements four years ago.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ground zero of corruption

Where do you suppose a bunch of people from all over the country are gathering Tuesday morning to talk about corruption?

Why Chicago, of course.

The National Association of Attorneys General is hosting a “Conference to Address Public Corruption” at the Hyatt Regency, 151 East Wacker Dr.

If reporters are looking for something to cover, this might be the place.

Some of the participants of note (don't know if the schedule has been updated):

  • 9:15 a.m. panel — Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's Cindi Canary.

  • 10:50 a.m. panel — Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine.

  • 11:55 a.m. panel — Chicago Tribune reporter Rick Pearson.

  • 2:10 p.m. panel — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who is moderating a discussion of "how public corruption can be prevented."

No offense to the home state AG, but do you think she is qualified to speak on that topic? After all, the Democratic Mayor from Chicago and the Democratic Illinois Governor are chest deep in federal investigations and she hasn't done a thing to stop any of the graft. And she said two summers ago she could support Governor Rod Blagojevich politically WHILE she was investigating him. (She since backed off that contortion).

Maybe Lisa will pick up some tips while moderating the panel. Maybe she'll get lucky and nobody will ask whether it inspires public confidence that her father, House Speaker Mike Madigan, is campaign chairman for the governor she supposedly is investigating.

Eat, drink and pocket $8,474

Who is the woman from Rod Blagojevich's Office of Management and Budget who was improperly paid for eating, traveling and spending her work days in the city she lives in?

Things like this slip through the cracks with the media because Illinois' Auditor General has undressed the Blagojevich administration for millions of dollars of waste, abuse and possible fraud and they can't possibly keep up with all of it. Another recent finding found questionable no-bid contracts to politically connected vendors from the same OMB. Several of Democrat Bill Holland's findings have been flagrant enough to be turned over to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

This finding involves travel back and forth between Springfield and Chicago. Government in those circumstances require that a home base be declared where the employee lives. Then, the employee could be reimbursed for per diem while at locations other than the home base. This woman apparently spent lots of time in Springfield. When she went back to Chicago, where she lived, she claimed per diem for a total of $8,474. (See full report, pps. 21-22).

The Office did not exercise adequate control over its travel expenditures. We noted the following:
One employee who resides in Chicago, reported a Springfield residence on travel vouchers. This employee was incorrectly reimbursed for per diem and transportation in and around their residence, totaling $8,474.

Could it be Becky Carroll, the Blagojevich budget spokeswoman who has aggressively defended the fiscal policies of the administration despite their utter failure? If not her, who? Maybe a reporter ought to request the detail of these per diem and other expenses.

UPDATE: Now we are getting somewhere. Rich Miller says it's not Becky Carroll. Maybe he knows who overbilled taxpayers nearly $10,000 and will share the name. The Auditor General did not include the name in his audit, but the OMB response said the employee is a woman.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

WaPo keeps one secret: Leaker is a Dem

Despite overwhelming evidence uncovered yesterday by blogs that fired CIA leaker Mary McCarthy was a big Dem contributor, giving $2,000 to John Kerry and another $7,700 to the Ohio Democratic Party — all in 2004, the Washington Post and its team of reporters and researchers missed it this morning.

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, April 23, 2006; Page A01

Staff writers Walter Pincus, Al Kamen, Howard Kurtz and Dan Morse, and research editor Lucy Shackelford and researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

You'd think a newspaper that specializes in covering politics would know how to find one of the many readily available and free websites that list campaign contributions — the same sites that bloggers found immediately.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Carol Moseley Bran?

Can't wait for the Ambassador Flakes from Ambassador Flake.

CIA leaker a Dem hack

The Clinton-appointed CIA leaker Mary McCarthy has close ties to big mouth Richard Clarke, federal document thief Sandy Berger, and gave John Kerry $2,000, and, apparently, the Ohio Democratic Party $7,500 in 2004. Don't remember reading any of that in Dana Priest's story. Best line, from Ankle Biting Pundits:

Thanks guys. Hope too many Americans weren't killed in your little MSM circle jerk.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Pulitzers no prize for us

The Pulitzer Prize choices this year were deeply disturbing and obviously ideological. Much has already been written on the blagosphere, including the thoroughly researched Power Line post, The Pulitzer for Treason. Power Line last year reported on the dubious Pulitzer given last year to an AP contract photographer who may have been colluding with terrorists.
Today, a Washington Times columnist laments the choices.

Dana Priest of The Washington Post, won the best reporting award for revealing that the CIA was using secret prisons in Easter Europe to interrogate terrorists.
In other words, they gave an award to a reporter who got a tip from a government worker who betrayed his or her country by revealing top-secret information. The reporter and The Post, in an effort to become the darlings of left, then splashed said top secret information all over the front page. Who benefited from this "Pulitzer Prize Winning Reporting?" Terrorists who mean to kill everyone in the United States.
Next, you have the New York Times winning a Pulitzer Prize for announcing President Bush's "domestic eavesdropping program." Again, a proudly left-of-center newspaper is given a prestigious award for revealing top secret information that can only bring aid and comfort to al Qaeda and other terrorists who mean to destroy us and our allies.

What galls me most is the NY Times "domestic surveillance" story. When all the rhetoric is stripped away, the story served very little useful purpose and almost assuredly harmed our security.

The overwhelming weight of evidence is that the program is legal. And the NY Times and other big media have been exposed as consistently misrepresenting the facts in their reporting. All the Democrat critics say the program is useful, only that it ought to go through the special FISA court. Those critics have largely shut up after polls showed the overwhelming number of Americans would like the government to monitor al Queda related communications with Americans. Duh. Even a liberal like Joe Klein said this recently:

It would have been a scandal if the NSA had not been using these tools to track down the bad guys. There is evidence that the information harvested helped foil several plots and disrupt al-Qaeda operations.

There is also evidence, according to U.S. intelligence officials, that since the New York Times broke the story, the terrorists have modified their behavior, hampering our efforts to keep track of them–but also, on the plus side, hampering their ability to communicate with one another.

So, just what was the point of the story other than to reveal national security secrets and attack the Bush administration? I thought the Pulitzers were supposed to honor journalism that serves some larger public interest.

UPDATE: The CIA fired the woman who leaked the prison story to Dana Priest at the Washington Post.

The leak pertained to stories on the CIA's rumored secret prisons in Eastern Europe, sources told NBC. The information was allegedly provided to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, who wrote about CIA prisons in November and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for her reporting.

Just a fake town hall meeting

UPDATE ON POST BELOW: The Tribune is reporting this morning that Rod Blagojevich's campaign arranged the TV commercial at the school labeled as a "town hall meeting." That might get Blago off the hook with the feds, if the explanation is true, but it doesn't explain the mislabeling of the event. It was the first closed-to-the-town town hall meeting in history.

Officials in the governor's office said Blagojevich had no public events that day. Campaign aides said the governor made the comments to people called by his campaign to come to Waters Elementary School, located just blocks from the governor's North Side home. No media were notified of the Saturday event at the public school, which was closed for the day, campaign aides said.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Did Blago get caught?

In the AP story this evening on Rod Blagojevich's new TV ads, reporter Deanna Bellandi hints at what could be a big problem for Rod.

In the two ads featuring Blagojevich, he often speaks directly into the camera, pledging to work to get the assault weapons ban and minimum wage increase passed. The footage of Blagojevich comes from a March 25 town hall meeting but the ads don't say where the event was and don't show any audience members.

The town hall was held at a Chicago public school in Blagojevich's neighborhood and was not open to the media, campaign spokesman Doug Scofield said.

Scofield said the event was not scripted for the cameras that were there to record it.

"It was a very real event in which he had something he knew he wanted to say," Scofield said.

Thomas J. Waters School Principal Tomas Revollo said between 25 and 40 people attended, including teachers, parents and residents.

The facts aren't in yet, but if Rod used state resources to host a fake town hall meeting for the purposes of filming a campaign commercial, he's in a heap of trouble.

The root of corruption

Southern Illinois University's Mike Lawrence weighs in this morning with the best perspective yet on the George Ryan verdict. Mike is a friend and someone who I consulted before deciding to leave journalism for government — a career path he had already trodden. Nobody in Illinois has a better perspective of how corruption percolates. Very few people in Illinois are more universally respected among journalists and politicos. Two points I liked best. The first touches on the point I made earlier about current Governor Rod Blagojevich and his two top fundraisers, Chris Kelly and Tony Rezko.

No law will assure that a governor or secretary of state will set the right tone and choose senior people who are not only incorruptible but also devoted to keeping an administration clean, even confronting the boss if necessary.

And an admonition for the media to work harder to sort out fact and fiction on matters of public integrity and not settle for he said, she said stories that give moral equivalence to massive corruption on one hand and an inconsequential matter on the other.

Fighting corruption is no simple matter. The media must be even more vigilant. Television, in particular, must afford us far more opportunities to assess candidates beyond the sound bites and 30-second commercials. Most important, we as citizens must give integrity a higher priority than getting our way on an issue and having our garbage collected on time.

Don't overthink George Ryan

I don't understand the angst by some commentators over the George Ryan verdict.

Daily Southown's Kristen McQueary, in a well-written column, struggles with the notion that a person who has some good qualities and is corrupt shouldn't be judged so harshly. And she suggests the rules changed on George.

Even the simplest synopsis of the case raises questions in my mind: Can a corrupt man still be a good man?

Southtown columnist Phil Kadner suggests all politicians are inflicted with at least low-level corruption and the real scorn should be reserved for those who don't fund schools adequately.

You know they're still debating whether to adopt ethics legislation in the cesspool that is our state capital.

The Beachwood Reporter's Steve Rhodes tries the separate the corrupt George Ryan from the good George Ryan who cleared Death Row.

Why is it so hard to fathom that a man could believe that a broken system that may be responsible for putting innocent people to death should end and also believe that there is nothing wrong with using public office to enrich your friends and grease the wheels of government? And that one has nothing to do with the other?

As someone who has been in government and watched things from the inside, I say all three are mostly wrong.

What Kristen is missing is that a public official is held to a higher standard and if they don't understand that, they better not get into public service. When a leader of a public office is confronted with corruption in his or her office, they have two choices: stamp it out or hide it. Every public office I've worked in has had such crossroads moments, and every time, the leader stamped it out. The signal was sent.

George Ryan sent the opposite signal and instead of dying, corruption flourished.

Jim Edgar fired Bob Hickman when he screwed up. George Ryan covered up when it happened on his watch.

One of the biggest red flags to the news media about Rod Blagojevich should have been his inaction regarding Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly. Both are clearly in the sights of the federal prosecutors and their names show up in story after story about corruption in the Blagojevich administration. Yet Rod says he stands by them 100 percent. Signal sent. Corruption is tolerated.

Rhodes is wrong about George and the moratorium. Anyone who was watching that issue closely knows that George's actions were at least 95 percent motivated by his own political survival. The moratorium was announced on a weekend sandwiched in between the announcement that George's inspector general was going to be indicted and the indictment itself. Both were blockbuster stories that clearly marked the tipping point of his political viability. Every TV station played it as "wag the dog." That's what it was.

His insincerity on the issue became evident when he didn't do the hard work to look at the Death Row cases one-by-one and just commuted them all.

The system needed reforms and was getting reforms. George Ryan was not hell-bent on reform — he was desperate to save his political skin so he could steal some more. Pandering to the Chicago Tribune and national media was his last card to play.

George Ryan was a corrupt public official and a deep embarrassment to decent citizens of Illinois. Why is that so hard to say?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Will Pat Quinn explode?

Pat Quinn has a choice to make in this race: He can try to defend the indefensible corruption in the Blagojevich administration or he can try to salvage his reputation on ethics by distancing himself from his running mate.

It doesn't look like he's made up his mind yet. On Chicago Tonight last night, he looked tentative and uncomfortable defending the multiple federal investigations of Rod Blagojevich. He should have been basking in his prescient warnings about George Ryan years ago, but he can't push that button too hard without looking like a phony because he's buttoned his lip since serving as Lt. Governor under Rod.

Rich Miller first noted the trend when Rod was rolling over for SBC and Bill Daley on anti-consumer legislation and appointments. Old Pat would have been the first to the podium to denounce the capitulation.

In defiance of all expectations, he's been "Silent Pat" for two years.

Quinn the consumer advocate didn't utter a peep when the governor packed the Illinois Commerce Commission with pro-utility hacks and cut deals with major utility companies to pass controversial legislation.

The longtime campaign-ethics reformer has remained mum as some of the governor's closest advisers have raised millions of dollars from people and companies that do business with the state or want something from the governor's office.

And the environmental advocate kept his trap shut when the governor worked to site a high-sulfur coal-fired power plant in the already heavily polluted Chicago metropolitan area.

Phil Kadner noticed it too, but was uncharacteristically soft on Pat, saying he is miscast as Lt. Gov. I'd say it's not the office, it's the person he is serving under.

I used to cover Pat when he was an aggressive critic of the Illinois Tollway. He used to show up there and call press conferences to denounce the no-bid bond contracts given by Republican administrations to political allies. He said the state needed competitive bidding of bond work. Yet, now that Democrats control the entire state, you hear barely a whisper from Pat on the subject. He did slide a letter to the Tollway about competitive bidding back in 2004, but nobody knew about it.

On Chicago Tonight this week, he barely mentioned Rod Blagojevich, instead throwing in Barack Obama's name about five times when talking about state ethics legislation.

Pat has done good work standing up for our veterans. And he generally has been an honest and sincere public official. He's throwing away that reputation by remaining silent about his partner, "Public Official A." He has the next seven months to decide whether to preserve his legacy or tarnish it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Groundhog Day for Durbin

Must be nice to be able to call for the same thing repeatedly and get the news media to write stories each and every time. I believe this is the third or fourth time Durbin has called for Rumsfeld's resignation. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise given that Time magazine called Durbin one of the best members of the U.S. Senate despite his stunning partisanship. Or because of it. Even after he embarrassed himself with the Nazi remarks.

Tax fairness

John Biemer, a Chicago Tribune reporter, is a conscientious guy who generally does a good job playing it straight. But he falls prey to what is a common bias in reporters writing about tax cuts.

Writing about dueling press conferences in the 6th Congressional District race between Republican Peter Roskam and Democrat Tammy Duckworth, he notes that Duckworth is calling for cuts to the Alternative Minimum Tax and that Roskam was calling for an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Duckworth was alleging the AMT is starting to hurt the middle class. Roskam charged that Duckworth's opposition to extending the Bush tax cuts amounted to support of a big tax increase.

Both were supporting "tax cuts." But when it came to Roskam's support, Biemer prefaced his writing with loaded phraseology.

Asked how the nation could afford to extend tax cuts with an $8 trillion national debt and a costly war in Iraq, Roskam said, "There is a spending problem in Washington, D.C. "One of the ways for me to be active as a new member of Congress is to be one of the voices that says to the Republican Congress, `We ought to get this spending under control,'" he said.

Duckworth said she "would seriously consider repealing part" of the Bush tax cuts, which she said, "have caused our deficit to swell and our debt to explode.

No such language prefaced Duckworth's call for a decrease in the AMT, which would result in the same "loss of revenue" in the world of most journalists.

Of course that world is flawed. As has been demonstrated time after time, tax cuts increase revenues by stimulating the economy. Just recently, the government reported the growth in revenues.

Through the first six months of this budget year, revenues have totaled $1.04 trillion, up 10.5 percent from the same period a year ago.

We can all agree that spending is out of control.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Albert Pujols on fire


Albert Pujols' last five AB's:

HR, HR, HR, HR, double to deep right center.

The Mighty Quinn?

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said he saw the George Ryan verdict coming 12 years ago.
When will he unleash his corruption sniffing skills on the Democratic governor he serves under?

Tip of hat to Phil Rogers

Nobody covered George Ryan more aggressively and accurately over the years than NBC-5's Phil Rogers.
Lots of journalists uncovered new information in the George Ryan corruption saga over the years, but nobody was more on top of it than Phil Rogers. He started blowing the whistle on shenanigans in George Ryan's Secretary of State's office in 1993. I've had many conversations with Phil over the years about George Ryan and he had a better handle than anyone on the scope of George's corrupt operation. And he fearlessly said so — even early on — because he did his homework.

Verdict bad news for Rod

The immediate speculation of the media seems mixed on whether the George Ryan jury hurts Judy Baar Topinka or Rod Blagojevich most.

I think they are misreading this badly.

As Eric Krol points out today in an article that quotes yours truly, the George Ryan damage to the GOP peaked years ago. Not it's Rod who is under multiple federal investigations and the last thing the public wants is George Ryan II.

And this frees up Pat Collins and other personnel to move forward on those investigations.

Don't underestimate the extra confidence this will give Patrick Fitzgerald's office to pursue circumstantial cases of corruption. Bad, bad news for Rod.

UPDATE: The Trib just said this in an editorial:
Twelve conscientious jurors weighed the evidence and declared Ryan a criminal. Corruption is his epitaph. Who's next?

UPDATE:  RCP agrees

George Ryan verdict in

The other marathon (not Boston) is coming to an end today. A verdict is expected later this morning in the George Ryan trial.

UPDATE:  Guilty all counts, both George Ryan and Larry Warner. 

The “wall”

The Boston Marathon will be run later this morning and my good friend John Ruberry, also known as Marathon Pundit, has run this race three times among his dozens of marathons. He has a good description of hitting the wall in Boston.

At the beginning of the race in Hopkinton, the elevation is 500 feet above sea level. The first 16 miles of the race, until the town of Newton, runners enjoy mile after mile–with an interruption now and then–of downhill racing. At the Newton western town limits, the elevation is just 50 feet above sea level. But then, thousands of legs, accustomed to miles of down hills, have to contend with four miles of uphill pacing–finishing off with the storied Heartbreak Hill at mile 20.

Now about mile 20: Even in fast and flat marathons such as Chicago's, the vicinity of the 20th mile is where many runners "hit the wall." They get a somewhat sudden feeling of severe fatigue. Legs, up until this time which are fairly limber, become stiff, and as many runners phrase it, become as flexible as telephone poles.

At Boston, throw downhills and sudden uphills into the physical fray, and those same legs, rather than being telephones, feel like steel corkscrews.

I have completed two marathons and had to stop in a third because of a bad hamstring. All on flat earth and at elapsed times that did not qualify me to torture myself on the hills of Newton.

Subpoenas be damned — pay to play must go on

The Blagojevich administration doesn't seem to be deterred by subpoenas or the coverage that results from those subpoenas.

Back in October 2004, various newspapers reported that the feds subpoenaed records related to some $300,000 in contracts given to Ron Picur, a University of Chicago professor who used to work with Blagojevich budget chief John Filan at the Chicago accounting firm of PTW.

The Tribune previously disclosed that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed state and university records about Picur, who had received more than $324,000 in contracts from the budget office on budget matters, bond work and assistance to the Department of Transportation.

In an audit finding last week, the Democratic Auditor General strongly criticized contracts given to Picur by Filan's budget office. The audit says the contracts should have been competitively bid unless it could be demonstrated that they were legitimately unable to be done by other firms. Even then, the contracts had to be identified in advance as “sole source” and were not.

The Office awarded three contracts totaling $154,220 for budget advisory services without soliciting competitive bids for the services. The Office also failed to publish its notices of intent to enter into sole source contracts in the Illinois Procurement Bulletin.

Blagojevich's budget office, in the audit, gave pathetically lame excuses for describing Picur's work as unable to be done by other firms. Blago's budgeteers said the “the contracts in question are for highly technical specialized services in a wide variety of areas…” and apparently tried to sell the notion that only Picur could be “able to provide consultative services on an “on-call” basis throughout the fiscal year including weekends and holidays.” Yeah, nobody else in Illinois has a Blackberry.

The Bloomington Pantagraph's Kurt Erickson and Matt Adrian were skeptical about this one in their Sunday column.

We're guessing his high-priced expertise became known to the governor through Picur's former job as the comptroller for the City of Chicago in the mid-1980s. Or, maybe, Picur was showered with your tax dollars for his connections to the governor's budget chief, John Filan. The two of them worked together at the Chicago accounting and auditing firm of PTW.

However he received his largesse from the state, we want to make sure to remind the people who are paying him that a federal grand jury subpoenaed Picur's work, income and travel records as part of an ongoing investigation back in 2004.

If subpoenas won't stop them, the feds need to try something stronger: indictments.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Liberals are a scream

Liberal blogs are a scream, according to the Washington Post.

cuckoobird.jpgIn the angry life of Maryscott O'Connor, the rage begins as soon as she opens her eyes and realizes that her president is still George W. Bush. The sun has yet to rise and her family is asleep, but no matter; as soon as the realization kicks in, O'Connor, 37, is out of bed and heading toward her computer.

Out there, awaiting her building fury: the Angry Left, where O'Connor's reputation is as one of the angriest of all. "One long, sustained scream" is how she describes the writing she does for various Web logs, as she wonders what she should scream about this day.

The most popular left wing blogger, Daily Kos, once celebrated the horrific death of U.S. soldiers in Fallujah.

Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly.

That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

Again, the Democrats are losing the battle of new mediums. First talk radio, now the blogs. The right has a flotilla of partisan bloggers whose power lies in their research that debunks misinformation flowing from the Mainstream Media. Power Line, Little Green Footballs, JustOneMinute and WizBang are but a few examples. They are pointed in their postings, but not screeching angry like Daily Kos and Maryscott O'Connor.
It's up to Republican candidates to harness this new power source. The Washington Times explores this question today.

"It's the new talk radio. We can connect with new people who will come out and vote for us," said Mr. Kingston, vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, who has a blog and writes an occasional "diary" for the popular conservative site
On Monday, Mr. Kingston held an hourlong conference call with conservative bloggers. Unlike most conference calls, which traditionally target a specific issue, Mr. Kingston allowed participants to address topics ranging from Iraq to illegal immigration.
Popular conservative blogger Matt Margolis, who has participated in several of Mr. Kingston's conference calls, said such interactions provide insight and access to bloggers, and, ultimately, will help legislators get out an unfiltered message.
"Republicans need bloggers to help get their message out, while Democrats have been able to rely on the mainstream media," said Mr. Margolis.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Blago's 2 “B”s: Borrow. Blow off bills.

We already know that Illinois under Rod Blagojevich has more debt than any state except California.

The other leg of his budget-balancing formula: Don't pay the bills.

If you're not paying your bills, it's easy to make it look like your books are balanced," said Todd Evers, who owns four Illinois pharmacies and is waiting for more than $500,000 in Medicaid payments.

Blago-nomics drives Illinois to the bottom

Illinois is joining an exclusive club that includes only Louisiana and Michigan. These are states with a "negative outlook" from the NY bond agency Fitch's. Governor Rod Blagojevich's continual raiding of pension funds for more spending has finally come him to bite Illinois.

Only two other states were given the negative outlook rating: Michigan, which has had six straight years of job losses attributed to a reeling auto industry, and Louisiana, still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, according to Fitch Ratings.

There are explainable reasons for the other state's problems. Illinois' reason: Why Republicans of course, according to Rod.

"Fitch's concern lies with the state's long-term pension debt, which grew in 2003 to $43 billion after more than 30 years of Republican rule in Springfield," Carroll said. "The pensions are unarguably better-funded and more secure today due to the governor's actions, and he remains committed to reversing decades of poor fiscal decisions made by his Republican predecessors."

After more than three years in office, that excuse is getting old, Rod.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Science > Allah

Free Will, written by Aaron, a former southern Illinoisan living in NY State, thinks it's time to send Iran a message.

We don't have to go into Iran. We don't have to change their regime. It is, however, time to get a carrier battle group or three ready to smash all their toys, from nuclear facilities to barracks to warships to the shrine they put the yellowcake vial in and Ahmadinejad's first apartment, to show the Islamist fascists that if they try to impose their will on the West, we will simply dismantle their power, because science is greater than Allah, and that the way for the good people trapped in evil societies to avoid losing in it is to join the fight, just as those under fascist occupation had to do sixty years ago.

By the way, when on Aaron's site, type "Governor Corruptevich" in his search engine and you are in for some of the best writing on Illinois' Public Official A.

No worries

Dusty is not worried about the way the baseball season is shaping up.

Media and Obama pass test

Yesterday, we urged the Illinois media to ask whiz kid U.S. Senator Barack Obama about his endorsement of ethically challenged Alexi Giannoulias, the Democrat nominee for Illinois State Treasurer. Looks like the media asked and Obama didn't hold back.

"I'm going to take a look at what's been going on and I'm going to ask Alexi directly what is happening," said Obama, an early and enthusiastic backer of the first-time candidate, after a town-hall meeting at York High School in Elmhurst.

Murphy's shuts down in Carbondale

One of my favorite places in southern Illinois is no longer.


Murphy's Bar and Grill in Carbondale has always been a place where locals could take a break from their worries and see a few familiar faces.Many of those faces packed the popular eatery Wednesday for its final day of business after a run of more than 20 years.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What about Alexi, Barack?

If ever the opportunity existed for the media to ask Barack Obama a tough question, today could be the day.

The Chicago Tribune acknowledged today in a scathing editorial, "Deposit some answers, please" that Obama's endorsement essentially nominated Alex Giannoulias in the Dem primary for Treasurer in Illinois.

Alexi Giannoulias won the Democratic primary for state treasurer. No more than a handful of voters had even heard of him a few months ago, but a lot of money bought a lot of TV ads featuring an endorsement from Sen. Barack Obama, and that carried Giannoulias to a victory over an underfunded opponent.

Obama said he was a fine young man, and that apparently was good enough for most primary voters. But we need to learn a whole lot more before November.

And the paper goes on to say Alexi has some serious questions to answer about the paper's revelations that his answers about giving out bank loans in the primary weren't exactly accurate.

Giannoulias has been nothing but puzzling when he has been questioned about his ties to Michael Giorango, a convicted bookmaker and prostitution ring promoter.

Giorango has received multiple loans from Broadway Bank, where Giannoulias is vice president and senior loan officer. The bank is owned by the Giannoulias family.

When he was questioned by the Tribune in March about loans made between 1994 and 2002, Giannoulias said the bank's decisions were made while he was still in law school, when he wasn't a full-time bank employee.

But the Tribune reported Sunday that newly discovered public records show Broadway Bank made nearly $12 million in additional mortgage loans to Giorango just last year–when Giannoulias was overseeing the bank's loans.

Giannoulias' newest response? Those 2005 loans were negotiated by his brother, Demetris, the bank's chief financial officer.

In March, Giannoulias said Broadway Bank "never financed any casinos. We never did anything like that." But newly obtained records show that the recent loans went partly toward a mortgage that Giorango and another convicted felon used to acquire a casino boat marina in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Let's get this straight. Voters are supposed to be impressed by Giannoulias' experience at the bank. Yet his defense here is that he was clueless as to what his bank was doing?

And he wants to take control of the entire state treasury?

Giannoulias was asked if it was acceptable for a state treasurer to lend money to crime figures. His response to Tribune reporter David Jackson: The treasurer should work to get "the best rate of return for taxpayers to create jobs."

What, no questions asked?

There's no suggestion that the loans were illegal. Giannoulias makes the point that they met standards set by federal regulators and passed audits. But, oh, there are a lot more questions to be answered.

Has the 30-year-old candidate for treasurer ever really been more than a junior officer at the family bank? If he had the authority his title implies, how can he claim he didn't know about this bank business?

How well does he know Giorango?

And why has Giannoulias failed his first tough test as a candidate?

Okay, back to Obama. He'll be conducting two town hall meetings today.

  • ELMHURST — 10:30 a.m. York High School, 355 W. St. Charles Road.

  • WESTCHESTER — 12:45 p.m. Westchester Intermediate School, 10900 Canterbury St.

Here a question for him:

Q. You are the Democratic point person on ethics in the Senate, yet back in your home state, the man you strongly endorsed for state Treasurer has been under fire from the Chicago Tribune for questionable loans and questionable answers about those loans. Do you still strongly endorse Alexi Giannoulias for state Treasurer and if so, why, in light of these serious allegations?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lisa Madigan's free ride from press continues

As somebody who worked there for eight years, I will concede up front that the Illinois Attorney General's office is a place where it's generally easy to get good press. There is a seemingly endless supply of consumer protection lawsuits and other criminal and civil actions that are brought that put the AG on the side of protecting the public.

But some of those high-profile cases also bring negative publicity as well. That is, if the press decides to ask the tough questions. Since Lisa Madigan became AG in 2003, the press has taken a vacation covering her office.
Just recently, there was another example. Copley News Service reporter Adriana Colindres revealed that the Rod Blagojevich administration gave a $500,000 no-bid legal contract to a politically connected law firm to defend against pending lawsuits related to the state's failure to open certain prisons.

The state-hired law firm, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, has made more than $250,000 worth of contributions to political campaign funds since 2002, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections Web site. That figure includes separate contributions of $50,000, $25,000 and $25,000 to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's political campaign fund, Friends of Blagojevich, and a combined total of $22,500 to the state Democratic Party's coffers.The law firm's legal services are needed “in anticipation of litigation related to the termination of the Grayville and Hopkins Park prison projects,” a portion of the state contract reads. “The state wishes to minimize its potential legal and financial exposure through the legal expertise of Vendor.”

The AG must approve lawyers hired by the Governor's office when those lawyers appear in court on behalf of the state. Jim Ryan on several occasions rejected the lawyers that George Ryan was trying to hire. Sometimes the reason was that the law firms were not qualified for the work, or that the work could be done in-house by the Attorney General's office, with its fleet of taxpayer-paid attorneys.

Because Rod Blagojevich is under the scrutiny of multiple federal corruption investigations, it's difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt on contracts like these.

“I'm not going to make accusations that this is pay-to-play, but I would sure suggest that it gives the appearance of impropriety,” said Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria. “I mean, a $50,000 contribution from the same law firm that gave money to the governor is now being hired to represent the state? It smells.”

Colindres and Copley did a good job in uncovering the contract but nobody appears to have asked Lisa Madigan why she approved it.

You'd think the fact that the law firm gave $22,500 to the Illinois Democratic Party that her father is head of would at least prompt the question.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Peter Fitzgerald was right about O'Hare expansion, part 24

Former Senator Fitzgerald said many things about the gargantuan O'Hare Expansion and most have been proven correct. Among his assertions: United would never be able to fund the plan. Crain's story hints that he's right.

Some insiders say that with United Airlines just out of bankruptcy and American Airlines battered by record fuel prices, O'Hare's top carriers may have cooled on funding the project. "Their focus is elsewhere. They're fighting for survival," says David Schulz, director of the Infrastructure Technology Institute at Northwestern University.

Representatives of the carriers didn't return calls seeking comment.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Paging Barack Obama

Considering your strong support for Alexi Giannoulias in the Dem primary for Treasurer, and your position as point person in Washington for your party on ethics, what do you say about this?

The Washington Post gets it

What is completely lost in the mainstream media's frenzy to attack President Bush on the "leak" story is the grotesque amount of coverage the MM gave Joe Wilson and his subsequently discredited attack on the administration. The Washington Post was leading the charge.

I was in Washington working for the Senate and I couldn't believe the massive coverage.

Today, the Washington Post acknowledges that in an editorial.

The affair concerns, once again, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his absurdly over-examined visit to the African country of Niger in 2002.

But the Post has since exposed Wilson for the fraud he is.

The material that Mr. Bush ordered declassified established, as have several subsequent investigations, that Mr. Wilson was the one guilty of twisting the truth. In fact, his report supported the conclusion that Iraq had sought uranium.

And the Post wonders what the heck all the fuss is about over the "leak."

It's unfortunate that those who seek to prove the latter would now claim that Mr. Bush did something wrong by releasing for public review some of the intelligence he used in making his most momentous decision.

Sometimes, the MM rises above its dislike for President Bush.

UPDATE: The Left goes absolutely bonkers when a media outlet goes off the reservation.

NY Times cluelessly makes fun of itself

The new public editor of the NY Times tells us breathlessly that the paper is going to lower its standards and allow more blogs. But beware — the blog material does not go through the NY Times vaunted fact checking machinery.

…The Times has been slower than the online versions of The Washington Post and other newspapers to embrace full-fledged blogging. That cautious approach hasn't bothered me, given my conviction that serious journalism starts with the authentication and verification of information.

…The aggregation concept, which isn't unique to The Times, can have value for readers interested in business — even though much of the information hasn't gone through all The Times's journalistic filters

…While the banner of The New York Times flies at the top of each page of DealBook, much of the information there hasn't been verified or confirmed by the staff. In my mind, this is a fundamental departure from the way the rest of the paper's content –except for wire service stories — is authenticated before it is published. Readers can benefit, my review of the paper's early efforts suggests, even if those blogs don't deliver Times-quality news content.

The irony, of course, is that blogs have ripped the veil off the NY Times and other mainstream media's credibility, exposing huge mistakes, gaping errors of omission and unabashed bias.

It makes sense for the Times to go with the flow by including more blogs. But it ought to drop the sanctimonious drivel about its own layers of review. The public ain't buying it and it's largely because of the blogs.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Relentless demogoguery

While the national TV media cheerfully reports on the new jobs of two of its favorite lefty women (who are good interviewers, the press reports!), it simultaneously continues shameful smearing of the President of the United States in Plamegate.

As Austin Bay points out accurately, the news media can be inprecise when it suits its purposes.

The sudden press flap over Scooter Libby's alleged “revelation” that President Bush declassified intelligence information related to Iraq is silly but all too predictable. The entire flap relies on mixing terms and “misunderstanding by innuendo” — a technique of demagoguery, not journalism. The flap is yet more evidence that the national press is more interested in playing “gotcha” with the Bush Administration than reporting the news.

Assuming Libby is right, what President Bush did was neither illegal, unethical, or related to the disclosure of Valerie Plame. But you'd never know it by the national news coverage. Tom Maguire has covered this better than anybody, including the high-priced celebrity leftists on TV.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Royko at the BillyGoat

Eric Zorn has an amazing video of late columnist Mike Royko waxing poetic about softball amid the smoke and beer at the Billy Goat.

Ol' weasel eyes

He's slick and has weasel eyes and I'm not talking about Blagojevich.

This is a reason to make Illinois proud, despite its governor-under-investigation.

Celebrity liberals on the move

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Blagojevich operative goes to prison

Our governor's campaign field director in 2002, Robert Creamer, was sentenced to prison today as his ultra-liberal wife and corruption haranguer Jan Schakowsky looked on.

Somewhere along the way, she stopped blaming her husband's stealing on George W. Bush.

Creamer is a longtime political organizer who was instrumental in his wife's 1998 victory, and who worked in Governor Rod Blagojevich's 2002 primary campaign. “The timing is curious,” said Schakowsky of Creamer's indictment, which came seven years after the investigation. Schakowsky noted that Abner Mikva, a former federal judge, congressman, and Clinton White House counselor, called it a “political indictment” with the decision to indict made at the “highest levels.” Creamer's trial will occur in 2005.

Rod dropped Creamer after the 2002 primary but not because of ethical concerns. Something much worse in Rod's world: he sucked at politics. Rod got walloped in Cook County and only barely beat Paul Vallas statewide because his mountains of dirty money was able to flood two downstate media markets — St. Louis and Quad Cities — where his underfunded opponent couldn't tread.

A key fundraiser in 2002, Al Ronan, saw his lobbying firm indicted, and two others, Chris Kelly and Tony Rezko, are in the feds' crosshairs.

Dominic Longo has sued Blagojevich and Rod's childhood buddy with alleged mob ties finally was let go by IDOT after repeated arrests.

This was the campaign whose mantra was cleaning up state government.

DeLay strategy will backfire

If Tammy Duckworth wants to bring Tom DeLay into the 6th District race, she's welcome.

But it will backfire, big time.

Duckworth's candidacy is a creation of Rahm Emanuel, and his name will be more potent poison to 6th District voters in November than will DeLay's.

As usual, Democrats are brazenly raising ethics issues with huge problems in their own closets.  It was just last year that plea agreements in the federal Hired Truck scandal revealed that Rahm got elected using illegal help

Gerald Wesolowski admitted shaking down Hired Truck companies for campaign donations to Mayor Daley, John Daley's 11th Ward Regular Democratic Organization, and Tomczak's son, former Will County State's Attorney Jeff Tomczak. Wesolowski also described how Water Department employees won promotions, pay raises and coveted overtime in exchange for doing campaign work for Mayor Daley, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and others. Unnamed city officials gave Tomczak his marching orders, according to the guilty plea.

There is a long list of questionable ethical practices by Emanuel that Republicans would be glad to talk about.  I'd personally like to see more discussion about how he got so rich so quickly after leaving the White House.

Rahm Emanuel wields real clout in Illinois and nationally and his ties to Duckworth are undeniable.   DeLay is leaving and Roskam's short stint in his office as a lowly aide 21 years ago hardly qualifies as a close association.  The voters in the 6th will be able to sort this one out.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

NASCAR smear foiled

Michelle Malkin and other bloggers have reported on an intercepted email that presaged an NBC Dateline idea to show hostility toward Arab-Americans. Where were they going to send these Arab-Americans, complete with hidden cameras? To a NASCAR event of course.

…That said, I'm urgently looking for someone who can be filmed this April 1st weekend at a Nascar event (and other smaller events) in Virginia. NBC is willing to fly in someone and cover their weekend expenses. The filming would take place all day on Saturday and Sunday.

We already have a hijabi sister who will be filmed there but a Muslim is also needed to join her. I also need candidates for the other filming segments which will take place in the following weeks.

A few weeks later, NBC will fly all the filmed participants to New York City to interview them as a group about their experience and thoughts on discrimination they've faced in America, especially in light of the times we live in (war on terror, 9-11, etc.). The show, if approved by NBC (highly likely), is expected to air sometime this summer.

What I need from interested candidates is an email with an attached clear photograph, a resume, and contact information. I also need basic information such as age, ethnic background, accomplishments, etc.

The sooner I can get this the better and please don't make emails too long. I will then submit a group of candidates to NBC so they can choose the people for the show.

Please forward this to all Muslim lists you can. Because of the upcoming filming in Virginia, this is pretty time-sensitive. My contact information is below.


Tarek El-Messidi

Apparently, everybody is now aware of the plan. NBC has sent out a statement and one of Malkin's readers called NASCAR's offices and was told the racing circuit is well aware of NBC's intentions. Another of Malkin's readers suggested that racegoers bring the following banner to the race:

"Nascar welcomes NBC-Muslim Sting operation!"

This is why I love the blogosphere. A decade ago, NBC would have aired the show with whatever flimsy evidence it dug up. Anyone who looks differently than most of a huge crowd will get a few stares, looks and comments — whether they are Arab-American, white male, or whatever. If you are intent on twisting something like that into a prime time newsmagazine segment, you can. It's been going on for years.

Now, NBC will have to look for another smear.

Did Cegelis really endorse Duckworth?

"I certainly endorse Tammy over Peter Roskam. I hope for a Demo-cratic win in November, and I wish her all the luck in the world,'' Cegelis said.

So said the vanquished 6th District Dem candidate in Lynn Sweet's story yesterday.  Does that sound like a real endorsement or a columnist wishing too hard for it to be true so the guns can be trained on Peter Roskam rather than Dem infighting.  Cegelis' statement sounds similar to what Oberweis said the morning after the primary — that Judy Baar Topinka is preferable to Rod Blagojevich.  Maybe Tom Roeser is right about the Sun-Times.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Curling up with the Sunday web tablet

As a former newspaper reporter and editor, I feel little empathy for those in the newspaper business who don't see the inevitable coming.

There's one way out of this mess for the Times. It is a bold, gutsy, and, some would say, foolish way, at least initially: The Times—here's the irony—should go all-digital. That's right. It should abandon newsprint and force everyone to the Web. It should make a stand against Google, using its division—something with real growth, and which is actually working out despite the $410 million in debt taken down to buy the thing—to lead the way. Maybe it should even take the revolutionary step of blocking Google from accessing its content, something no one else is willing to do. Or maybe it should at least say, “This is the deal: You want our stuff, you must share much more with us than you are willing to share with others.” It is worth it to preserve value for the future, to make it so our kids don't think, Let me go to Google for all the news that's fit to print. Heck, in another couple of years they won't even know that the New York Times exists as anything but private-label news source for an Internet portal.

Peoria Pundit, another former reporter and editor, adds his thoughts today.

It won't be long before an aggressive company hires a few good reporters to cover a particular niche topic, say, Illinois politics, or Central Illinois tech, and posts the content regularly on a slick website. Voila, running a newspaper without the overhead. I don't think the consumer will mind one bit. Even though I read tons of newspapers every day, I don't subscribe to a single one.

Amid all this gloomy news for newspapers as we know them, my old newspaper keeps chugging through the fog. Wonder how Doug Ray does it?

Not all Dems are underestimating Meeks

Democratic consultant Donna Brazile is not one to underestimate the possibility of a Meeks candidacy for Governor. She is trying to warn the troops.

There's no question that if Meeks jumps in the race, he has the potential to unite the legitimate economic needs and values of his urban core with the traditional family values movement. God knows, this is a recipe for defeat for many Democrats who are still trying to find their voice on the so-called value issues.

I still think he's going to take a pass, but those who know him best think otherwise.

Lacking an argument, say it fast

One of the principles of political PR: say it fast. Especially when your argument is weak. Judy Baar Topinka yesterday issued a “Dirty Dozen” list of corruption in the Rod Blagojevich administration. It included hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts given to campaign contributors. Some of the instances have prompted state and federal investigations. Rod shot back quickly and the best he could come up with was that Judy took $7,000 in contributions from banks doing business with her Treasurer's office. Never mind the business is competitively bid — he said it fast and it made the stories. I hope the news media puts this in perspective.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Opening day is here

Baseball is finally back and here are predictions submitted to my favorite baseball source, Baseball Prospectus, in its Predictatron contest. Subscription site but you can sign up for a basic subscription and still enter the contest, which pays $500 and a framed picture of Bud Selig.

New York    93-69
Boston         87-75
Toronto       82-80
Baltimore     74-88
Tampa Bay    70-92

Cleveland       89-73
Minnesota      86-76
Chicago          85-77
Detroit          79-83
Kansas City    62-100

Oakland         95-67
Texas            83-79
Anaheim        84-78
Seattle         79-83

New York      88-74
Philadelphia   86-76
Atlanta         85-77
Washington  75-87
Florida          67-95

St. Louis       94-68
Chicago         84-78
Milwaukee     81-81
Houston        80-82
Cincinnati      77-85
Pittsburgh    75-87

Los Angeles    86-76
San Francisco 84-78
San Diego       77-85
Arizona          76-86
Colorado         67-95
Oakland over Boston in 4
Cleveland over New York in 4

St. Louis  over Philadelphia in 3
New York over Los Angeles  in 4

Oakland over Cleveland in 6

St. Louis over New York in 6

St. Louis over Oakland in 7


Saturday, April 1, 2006

Best news this year

The best baseball city in America is about to get a new ballpark. Home opener is a little more than a week away, but this lucky STL Post reporter got the preview.

Pretty ads, dirty money

One of the ironies of politics is that the dirtier the politician, the cleaner they can look in TV ads. Here in Illinois, we have the state's all-time leader in fundraising by a country mile, Milorad Blagojevich. It's about time the people of Illinois are reminded of this phenomenon. My only advice to Rod's people would be to watch some old Jim Brown movies tonight.

Judy and Joe in dead heat

Bet Rod's people aren't too happy with this poll.

New look!

Five minutes and I've changed everything. This should send ripples through the blog world.

The start of something small

I like the interface of WordPress much better than iWeb. So much so I'm going to change it as soon as possible.

Hello world!

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!