Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cut-and-paste over cut-and-run

I just listened to the WBBM podcast of the 6th District debate last Friday between Peter Roskam and Tammy Duckworth and one thing is clear -- outside liberals are at it again.

With at least one local left wing anonymous blog putting out high-pitched liberal shrieks across the blogosphere, some of the national punditry has predictably responded with mindless propaganda like this and this.

They are trying to whip up a media frenzy over Roskam's use of the term "cut-and-run." They are saying that since Duckworth lost both of her legs in Iraq, the phrase was offensive. It's a bogus argument, as the podcast undeniably shows. Roskam said in the debate that the national Democratic party leadership was running on a strategy of cut-and-run and the Sixth District is not in favor of that position. He never directed his comments at Duckworth and in fact made mention of national Democrats like Nancy Pelosi. It's a perfectly valid argument because if Duckworth and a few other Democrats are elected, Pelosi and other far left Democratic members would ascend to leadership positions in the House.

The Tribune's John Biemer, the Daily Herald's Eric Krol, and WBBM's Craig Dellimore apparently agree with my assessment because each wrote or aired stories afterwards that didn't make an issue over the reference. Only the Sun-Times' Scott Fornek, who wasn't at the debate, bit on the story a day later after the Duckworth camp tried to make it an issue.

It's too bad the Duckworth camp can't just try to debate the issues without trying to manufacture a slur. It cheapens the performance of its candidate, which was quite credible. Both Roskam and Duckworth performed well and sharply defined their differences in mostly civil tones. Roskam never will get the credit he deserves from the media because he is a social conservative. He is a graceful debater -- sharp, soothing and respectful. He'd be a star if he were a liberal.

Duckworth did a good job, too, as a political newcomer, largely holding her own. It's disturbing, however, that for the second time her campaign has tried to play the patriotism card in a false manner. The voters of the Sixth will not be fooled so easily.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Silence of the Ham


FLASH! Pat Quinn is now urging Illinois citizens to mail tea bags to the tollway authority to protest the 32 custom-made $15,000 signs plastered over I-Pass plazas that amount to campaign billboards for Rod Blagojevich.

UPDATE. Never mind. Saw that Rod had an I-Pass event today and Quinn a "tea bag" event and just figured that's what the old Pat would have done. Forgot that now his party is in power, Quinn won't take on his ticket mate Rod no matter how many of old Pat's "principles" he shreds.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wyma gone wild

One of the people who gave Rod gifts that he won't reveal is John Wyma. With the millions Wyma has earned off Rod, he can buy a college for Amy and dispense with the need for a college fund.

If ever there was a poster boy for Rod Blagojevich's utter hypocrisy, it's John Wyma. Not even George Ryan had a bag man walking at his side like Wyma with Rod.

Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times chronicled Rod brazenly walking around in Washington a few weeks ago with his super-lobbyist pal at his side. Wyma represents 46 companies that want to influence state government in some way and then turns around and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars from them for Rod. He's like a walking ATM that is constantly filled with client money that Rod uses for withdrawals whenever his campaign treasury gets below $10 million.

Even in Washington, in the wake of the Abramoff scandal, politicians are shedding their ties to lobbyists who raise money for them. Rahm Emanuel of all people distanced himself from a lobbyist fundraiser. Rod, meanwhile, blithely goes about his business, oblivious to even the appearance of impropriety after promising with dirty money in 2002 that he was going to clean up state government.

You won't see or hear much from Wyma if he can help it. His lobbying firm, John Wyma and Associates, doesn't have a website and there are few if any pictures of him publicly available.

You can read about him though. He appears in stories where Blagojevich's spokespeople insist there's no connection between his work for clients and their luck at getting state business.

The company at the time was represented by lobbyist John Wyma, a close friend of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich's spokespeople said the lobbyist's relationship with the governor had nothing to do with the contract award. But Wyma's clients have an uncanny track record of winning state contracts. Decatur Herald & Review editorial, 2006

Rebecca Rausch, a Blagojevich spokeswoman, stressed that campaign contributions have nothing to do with IGOR's deal with the tollway.

"I-Pass usage dramatically increased in recent years," she said. "After the tollway partnered with Jewel-Osco . . . I-Pass usage increased from 38 percent in 2002 to 74 percent in 2005. After tollway IGOR contract went from $150,000 to $7 million without competitive bids.

"I don't think John is different from any other lobbyist in Illinois," (Deputy Governor Brad) Tusk said, pointing out that firms hire lobbyists because they have the skills to advise them on how the process works.
Chicago Sun-Times after revealing that Wyma represented a company that saw its contract dramatically increase without competitive bids.

Wyma did not immediately return a phone call to his office on Friday. DCEO spokesman Andrew Ross said Wyma had nothing to do with getting the schools the money. Two music schools that use a close associate of Gov. Blagojevich as their lobbyist got $1.5 million in state grants last year, a dramatic increase from previous years, state records show. (AP, Feb. 2006)

Abby Ottenhoff, a spokeswoman for Blagojevich, said campaign contributions play no role in contract decisions. She said the present administration has often been unfriendly toward managed-care providers such as WellCare. "The idea that they have any advantage defies common sense," she said. Chicago Tribune, Feb. 2006 after WellCare, a health care firm received $75 million in state business after donating $100,000 to the governor.

Blagojevich campaign spokesman Doug Scofield added that WellCare's contributions will "have no impact" on the administration's decisions. More Wellcare coverage.

"We did not know that John Wyma was a lobbyist for Gtech, never had a discussion with him regarding keno and simply did not know," said Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch. After it was revealed that Wyma signed on with Gtech about the time the governor was floating Keno proposal in January of this year.

Becky Carroll, a spokeswoman for the governor's budget office, said it's "ridiculous and absurd" and "beyond premature" to assume GTECH would get the keno deal. More Keno coverage.

Becky Carroll, a spokeswoman for the governor's budget office, said Lehman has "decades of history" of doing business with the state, both for Republican and Democratic administrations.

"Because of their experience and expertise we have continued to work with them as we have with many other firms, all of whom have their own lobbyists," she said. "We choose firms based on their experience and expertise, not who they know or don't know."

"Every firm is connected to someone," she added. "If you are going to scrutinize one firm, then go through dozens and dozens of firms that do this kind of business."
After Joe Birkett pointed out Lehman Brothers had received more than $1.3 billion in state bond work at the tollway without competitive bidding and Wyma received at least $400,000 in compensation.

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Governor Rod, uncut -- a hit


6,030 viewers and counting -- uncut Rod wrestling with the truth. Here's what he looks like without his tainted money TV commercials or staged photo-ops.

UPDATE -- Andy Shaw from ABC 7 Chicago just did a piece on the YouTube political angle and focused on the Rod video.

The governor's shaky performance last week in defending a $1,500 birthday gift to his daughter Amy from a friend whose wife got a state job was summarized on ABC7 by Paul Meincke and posted on the ABC7 website. But now you can see the entire news conference, as recorded by the rival Topinka campaign, on the internet site called YouTube.

"You are seeing him stumbling around, not quite seeming to grasp the import of it and why it might resonate with voters," said Steve Johnson, Tribune internet critic.

"We believe when you look at the full press conference and see the governor's demeanor, the way he was so uncomfortable and so unsure of what he was saying, I think that brings context to the issue," said John McGovern, Topinka campaign.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Decoding Blago's check talk

More than 3,000 people watched at least one of two YouTube videos of Rod Blagojevich's childlike adventure with the truth the other day when asked by reporters to explain the $1,500 check to his seven-year-old daughter.

For those who might have been confused by some of Blago's answers, here's what I think they meant:

Why does he continually say that Mike Ascaridis "is like a godfather to my children."
This is vintage slick Rod. A "godfather" might be expected to give larger gifts to his children. Since Mike Ascaridis is not Amy's godfather, Rod is trying to muddy things up in the public's mind by saying "like a godfather," knowing that some people will think he's really the godfather.

Why did Rod suddenly say the check may have been for his other daughter's baptism?
I suspect the Blagojevich camp is kicking itself right about now because it could have made up a more believeable lie from the start. Had they noticed the check was written in early August, the same time as their youngest daughter Annie's baptism, they could have said the check was for Amy's birthday AND Annie's baptism. Even though the check was written to Amy Blagojevich, they might have muddied it up enough to cause some in the public to actually buy it. However, the Blagojevich camp said emphatically to the Tribune when the story broke that the check was for Amy's birthday and college fund. And there's this original disclosure that further rebuts the baptism story.

I suspect there has been discussion in Blagojevich's inner circle about floating the baptism answer out there anyway and somebody shot it down because it completely contradicts the first answer. But Blagojevich, cornered by the media, decided to dangle it out there anyway. Of course this is all public relations. The real game is over at the U.S. Attorney's office where they know a lot more about the check than any of us.

Why doesn't Rod just tell the truth?
Because there's nothing in the truth that will sound good to the public or it would have been fronted by now. For example, if Mike Ascaridis had given Amy other large birthday checks, Blago's people would have made them public right away.

Why did Rod blurt out that he told Lon Monk to find Beverly Ascaridis a job?
On this question, Rod is completely exposed because he knows Beverly Ascaradis already talked to the feds about the check and presumably about the circumstances surrounding her employment. His instinct probably would be to say he knew nothing about her job but the feds may already know otherwise. Thus, on this point, he has to come at least partly clean.

What is the biggest unanswered question?
Whether there are more checks written to Amy Blagojevich. Also, there's the question of where the $1,500 ended up.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Caught in his own web


Rod's slippery answers on the videos below include a fascinating rambling where he tries to suggest that the $1,500 check to Amy Blagojevich was also for the baptism of his other daughter, who was born four months earlier.

The problem with that answer is his campaign and Mike Ascaridis already have said it was a birthday check. And that it was made out not to the younger daughter Annie but to Amy, the seven-year-old (at the time).

Also, there's the troublesome matter of the disclosure form above. This is Rod's original 2003 disclosure form pertaining to gifts. This was filed before he was questioned by the feds and before he amended it to include Mike and Beverly Ascaridis.

Note the reason for the three gifts: "baby/baptism gifts, meals." Those reasons disappeared in the amended forms. So the form above seems to further undercut Rod's newly created argument that the Ascaridis check was for Annie because he specifically spelled out those gifts here and didn't mention the Ascaridises.

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Rod's 15 minutes are priceless


I was going to write a long post on why Rod's answers today indicate he's probably not telling the truth about the $1,500 check. However, after watching these two videos of him answering about 15 minutes of questions today from the news media, I think the video speaks louder than anything I can write.

The first is about 10 minutes. The second is about five minutes.

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From miles away, liberals try to sway us

UPDATE: Eric Zorn's responds to my post. The response is stronger than the column. I still think he should keep his dangerous views out of my district and I'll keep my rabid opinions out of his.

In this election season if you are a liberal journalist you must do your part in order to stay in the club. You must bash Peter Roskam.

Eric Zorn is trying for a gold membership card with his second column criticizing a congressional candidate in a district far from his own. He has the right of course to write about what he chooses. Yet he pulls out the local card himself while chiding a Roskam mailer that quotes a Nevada newspaper.
First of all, no disrespect to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which I'm sure is a fine paper, but its assessment of various legislative proposals dealing with the controversial issue of immigration reform is hardly the last word, particularly in Illinois.
OK, so what the LasVegas Review says about immigration is not relevant to Illinois, but what Chicago resident Eric Zorn says about my congressional district miles away is relevant?

Read for yourself, but the column contains the weak argument that it is unfair to characterize Duckworth's position on immigration as being in favor of "amnesty." That certainly is a matter of opinion that is widely debated. In the realm of political argument, Roskam's mailer is hardly a stretch.

Zorn had nothing to say about an earlier Duckworth mailer that was flat-out wrong. She accused Roskam of mailing a piece he didn't mail and said he questioned her patriotism when not a word of that mailer came even close to doing so.

I'll just have to get used to outsiders who are keenly interested in who represents me. The "A" list of hard-core Hollywood liberals already have given Duckworth money and they live thousands of miles away. They are backed by the "A" list of Democratic consultants, who live hundreds of miles away in the other direction.

Heck, the candidate doesn't even live in the district. It's nice they all care so much about my well-being.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Search continues for Illinois governor

Where's Rod Posterboards

Not much new to report today -- Rod Blagojevich is still holed up in his NW side house, afraid to talk to the press about the $1,500 check to his daughter. On Channel 7, reporter Andy Shaw settled for an interview with Deputy Governor Brad Tusk, who defended the administration's illegal prescription drug program and flu vaccine debacle where millions of taxpayer dollars were squandered for a pr stunt.

Tusk wasn't asked about his 2003 trip to New York/New Jersey, where he presumably occupied one of the seats on this plane next to the governor, and soon-to-be felons Stu Levine and Joe Cari. What did he hear? Has he talked to the feds?

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Who is politicizing parental notification?

There is a mad scramble on the left to ascribe politics to the Illinois Supreme Court's decision this week to write judicial bypass rules for the state's dormant parental notification law.

Planned Parenthood's president Steve Trombley made the remarkably bizarre statement that the court was trying to get the religious right fired up in advance of the upcoming election.

Trombley said the court acted "to revive a controversial issue two months before the election to re-energize the evangelical Christian base in support of the Topinka-Birkett ticket."
The politicization of this issue occurred 11 years ago, not this week. That's when the more heavily Democratic court defiantly refused to write the bypass rules, which give teenagers the right to go around notice requirements to get an abortion if they have been abused by their parents. Then Attorney General Jim Ryan, who I was working for at the time, told a federal court that he could not defend the law without the court's bypass provisions, which had been contemplated in the law.

Even though Jim Ryan is pro-life, he put his personal position aside and did his job as the state's top lawyer -- despite criticism from pro-life groups. I'm assuming the current Attorney General Lisa Madigan will be just as professional and resist criticism from pro-choice groups by going into federal court to lift the injunction that has been in place since 1995.

As for Trombley's comment, parental notification is supported by up to 80 percent of voters and every state surrounding Illinois has a notification law. When Gov. Edgar signed the bill in 1995, he noted the majority of pro-choice Illinoisans support parental notification.

It's Planned Parenthood and Trombley who are way out of the mainstream on this.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Check around -- no Rod in sight


Mike Flannery asked the question this evening -- where's Rod? It has been 10 days and counting since Rod made an appearance before reporters in the Chicago area.

Why is he ducking? He doesn't want to answer questions about the $1,500 check written to his 7-year-old daughter just a few days after the check writer's wife got a state job under questionable circumstances.

He didn't clear up the confusion on his downstate stealth tour late last week where he purposely avoided notifying most of the media of the trip. He took few questions and those he took, he failed to answer. Here are my questions.

We are in the middle of a governor's race and the news media shouldn't allow him to get away with such blatant hiding. They ought to camp out in front of his NW side house on Thursday. That's the day his babysitter -- the one he appointed to the Civil Service Commission -- won't be able to watch the kids because she is deciding a key case in the massive hiring fraud scandal in his office.

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RealClear success story


Once upon a time, I lived in a rural part of Illinois where dairy farmers arose before dawn every day (no weekends or holidays off) to tend to their work.
Reflecting that same work ethic are Tom Bevan and John McIntyre who tend not to cows but to political news. Before the sun comes up they take the news as it is born and put it on, a website that has become a must-read for hundreds of thousands of political junkies across America. And they write insightful commentary and appear on politicial shows, as well.

Bevan and McIntyre formed RealClearPolitics in 2000 and in the past year or so the site has begun to soar to new heights with a new sponsor and new partnerships, like the ones announced this week with Fox News and Time.

I met both of them in Washington a couple of years ago. Both are savvy, gentlemenly and wickedly smart. They have taken an idea and nurtured it into one of the most indispensible stops for politicos on the internet and have figured out how to make money at it. The Sun-Times technology page profiled both the other day.

McIntyre, 37, of Evanston, and Bevan, 36, of Lincoln Park, founded RealClearPolitics in 2000 as an online water cooler of opinion, news, polls and political analysis aimed at political junkies, policy wonks and politicians of all stripes. The site has become the daily stop for many political fans, including the nation's top political columnists.

Bevan, a history major, and McIntyre, an economics major, first met as undergrads at Princeton University in the early 1990s, but didn't really get to know each other until the late 1990s when they became roommates in Chicago. McIntyre was a trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, while Bevan was a strategist with ad agency Leo Burnett.
We need all the Midwestern voices possible on the national political scene. Here's to their continued success.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

If Carol Marin doesn't get it, can electorate?

Carol Marin made this point today in her column in the Sun-Times.
There is no question that Blagojevich has a big lead over Topinka in our Sun-Times/NBC5 poll and every other one I've seen. No question he has loads more money, tons more TV advertising and frankly, a far better strategy.

He's been pro-active, she reactive. And though you'd have to live on Mars to believe he's ended "business as usual," voters 18-39 have nonetheless bought into Blagojevich's energy and message.
I've seen this point before in each of the last three governor's races: George Ryan in 1998 and Rod Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006 were the better campaigners and had the better strategies.

Well, both George and Rod cheated. George Ryan, as we've seen, used government help on his campaigns and raised lots of questionable money. Rod is under multiple federal investigations for all the questionable money he's raised the past five years.

That money has allowed Rod to paper the airwaves with ads that demonize Judy Baar Topinka and attach him to George Ryan. He did the same thing to Jim Ryan in 2002.

It may have been a winning strategy for George Ryan in 1998 but nobody would say it looks like a winning strategy today with a trip to prison on the horizon. It won't be too many years before they say the same about Rod.

What is disappointing that someone as smart as Carol Marin buys into it -- equating a TV ad blitz with tainted money as a "better strategy." And she speaks of Rod's "energy."

Rod has displayed the energy of a 400 pound man the last few months. He is ducking the news media and barely leaves his house except to go to a fundraiser.

He's trying to buy another election and he could get away with it if the news media he is playing for a fool acts like one.

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Quinn diminishes his career

For those who wondered over the years whether Pat Quinn's act was real, they got their answer the other day.

Quinn, unlike his ticket mate Rod Blagojevich, actually agonizes over questions of ethics and "doing the right thing."

I have talked to a couple of people close to Quinn and they report that he is distressed by the massive corruption surrounding Rod. He has a choice: shut up and try to be Lt. Governor for four more years or speak his conscience. He made his choice in dramatic fashion the other day, as the Daily Herald reports.

SPRINGFIELD รข€” Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn defended his running mate's integrity Thursday, saying he saw nothing wrong with the governor's 7-year-old daughter getting a $1,500 check from a family friend whose wife just got a state job.

"He's always been a person who's honest and one of integrity," said Quinn, appearing at a Capitol news conference. "I have confidence the governor does the right thing all the time."
Quinn's disengenious comments casts a shadow over every reform stance he took over his long career. We really shouldn't be too surprised -- Quinn was silent when Blago was giving no-bid bond contracts to his cronies after Quinn railed on the issue for years when Republicans were doing it.

And he claims to be a champion for veterans and hasn't said a word about the rampant, unlawful abuses against veterans in hiring matters under Blagojevich.

I gave Quinn credit for speaking out early and often against George Ryan corruption but it looks now like it was simply partisan rhetoric, not real concern.

Republicans were roasted by the news media for not speaking out against George Ryan earlier. So far, Quinn has gotten a pass. Considering his long history speaking about corruption, that lack of questioning is a puzzlement.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

What about the check, mate?


Rocket Rod Blagojevich has not spoken to the news media since the Chicago Tribune revealed the FBI is deeply interested in a $1,500 check written to his seven-year-old daughter a few days after the check writer's family accepted a state job under questionable circumstances.

Today, he exits his northwest side Chicago home and is doing all he can to stay away from questions about the growing controversy. He is flying around the outer edges of the state, bypassing Chicago and Springfield, to announce a bogus state FOP endorsement.

Rod has taken great pains to underpublicize this little fly-around and we wonder if he is using a stealth aircraft like the one above since Stu Levine's corporate jet was not available. I would imagine that state FOP hack Ted Street also wants to avoid questions like: What the hell is a law enforcement organization doing endorsing a guy under nine separate state and federal corruption investigations, including the check caper?

Rod will be in Rockford at 12:30 p.m., Quad Cities at 2 p.m. and Marion at 4 p.m. The state's two largest media markets -- Chicago and Springfield -- are on Rod's no-fly list today because more aggressive questions would await him there.

Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Blago's Big Fat Silence continues

Eric Zorn has the best name so far for the $1,500 check scandal: "My Big Fat Birthday Gift." He also has the latest roundup.

As Rod continues to duck reporters, he sends his campaign spokeswoman Sheila Nix out there every day. She's tried yesterday to get the press interested in some diversionary issue and failed. She's trying to resurrect the same issue today and failing again.

Last night on TV I caught Nix saying that the public only knows about the check because of the disclosure law Rod authored. That's about as far off-base as the third baseman when David Ortiz is batting. The gift section of that law has existed for years, well before Blagojevich was governor. I filled it out when I was a state employee and, no, I never declared a gift.

And, of course, Rod only added Mike and Beverly Ascaridis to the gift section of his disclosure form AFTER he was interviewed by the FBI. He didn't reveal the amount of the gift or that it was directed to his seven-year-old daughter. So Rod gets no credit for belatedly following the law and then stonewalling the public about further details.

Blagojevich also said through Nix yesterday that Judy Baar Topinka and Joe Birkett ought to be investigated because they declared no gifts. Very strange logic indeed, which, if carried through, means nearly Rod's entire administration ought to be investigated. I briefly checked the gift disclosures and found that Blago's top aides Brad Tusk, John Filan and Abby Ottenhoff all claimed no gifts. I only checked those three -- I'll assume most if not all of his cabinet accepted no gifts. I guess it would be redundant to ask Nix to call for an internal investigation of the Blagojevich administration to add to the nine already underway.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Questions piling up for Rod


Everybody has questions for Rod Blagojevich and the $1,500 check written to his seven-year-old daughter for her "college fund" from the husband of a woman who just was hired by the state. Rich Miller has questions and reader activity over here, and ditto Eric Zorn over here. Nationally, the laughter is barely stifled. Zorn sums up why answers are needed.
It looks like a malodorous example of business as usual from the earnest mop-top who campaigned four years ago as a reformer.
Of course Rod says over here that it is an outrage he has to answer these questions and has relegated the duty to a spokeswoman and a lawyer. I wonder if he'll stand up and tell U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald it's outrageous his office is exploring the same topic?

Blago spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff continued to dig deeper late today with a "fuller" explanation of the gift giving history between Rod and Mike and Beverly Ascaridis. She was trying to say that Rod gave lots of gifts to the Ascaridis family that would make the $1,500 look reasonable.
...The Governor regularly takes Mike to Cubs games, especially during the Cubs' playoff run in 2003, when the Governor, Mike and Amy attended game after game together. When Mike and Beverly were married, the Governor and the First Lady gave them a check.
Sorry, Abby, claiming credit for Cubs tickets when the campaign probably paid for them does not count (the campaign paid $3,707 for Cubs tickets for supporters in 2003 and Rod paid only $590 out of his own pocket). And suggesting that Rod and Patti gave the couple a check at their wedding doesn't count either. Go back to your boss and try again with these 10 questions:
1. Specifically, what were the gifts you received from other names on your state disclosure statement: Betty Bukraba, Tony Rezko, Chris Kelly, John Wyma, Lon Monk, Dick Mell and Robert Blagojevich? Were there other "college fund" checks? Do you think it is appropriate to take gifts from state employees, a commission member in a sensitive position and a lobbyist who has made millions of dollars representing companies doing business with the state?

2. What did Mike Ascaridis give Amy Blagojevich on her 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th birthdays?

3. What was the date on the check from Mike Ascaridis? Was it on Amy Blagojevich's birthday or was it 10 days later as stated as a possibility in the Tribune article? If it was 10 days later, how did a best friend miss her birthday by that many days?

4. How do you explain that Beverly Ascaridis had no idea her husband had given the "birthday" check to Amy Blagojevich at the time it was given?

5. Do you feel comfortable taking such a sizable gift for your daughter's college fund from a family whose apparent income is less than one-half of yours?

6. Why did you amend your state "Economic Interest" statement one-month after your interview with federal law enforcement officials to add various gifts, including from Beverly and Mike Ascaridis? Did the feds ask you about gifts?

7. Did you have anything to do with Mike Ascaridis' choice of lawyers, prominent plaintiff attorney Joe Power, a major contributor of yours? Did you recommend him?

8. Considering the turmoil this episode has caused your friends, do you think it was a wise decision to accept such a gift from a man whose wife had just accepted a state job apparently under questionable circumstances?

9. Have you ever given a child from a non-relative's family a $1,500 birthday gift?

10. Do you think Illinois citizens will believe your explanation that an apparently unprecedented $1,500 check to your daughter was a birthday gift and not a payoff for a job obtained through your administration within two weeks of the check -- especially considering the US Attorney has already noted widespread hiring fraud under your watch.

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Clueless on the left

This venomous editorial today comes from the ultra liberal Boston Globe.

THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY of the Sept. 11 attacks is a day of remembrance and special sadness for the nation, and all those who knew any of the 2,973 victims. Yet in the long run, the reaction of the Bush administration may prove more harmful to the national interest than even these horrific attacks.
The New York Post's Ralph Peters sees it differently.
In this vile political season, with those on the left suggesting that our president's a worse threat to civilization than Islamist terror, the rest of us should just review what's happened - and what hasn't:

Islamist fanatics have not been able to stage a single additional attack on our homeland. For all its growing pains, our homeland-security effort worked. In this long war with religion-poisoned madmen, the most important proof of success is what doesn't happen - and we haven't been struck again. Wail as loudly as they can, the president's critics can't change that self-evident truth.
Unlike the Boston Globe, I believe our national interest is to prevent future 9/11s.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/11 and Jack Buck

One of the more poignant moments in the days after Sept. 11 was this poem, written and recited by legendary broadcaster Jack Buck in St. Louis. His hands trembling from disease, Buck pulled some crumpled sheets from his pocket and read the poem, which on its own is no enduring piece of literature. But the raw honesty of a sick man trying to capture the Midwestern mood was priceless and one of hundreds of healing moments seen nationwide. Buck died less than a year later.
"Since this nation was founded ... under God
More than 200 years ago
We have been the bastion of freedom
The light that keeps the free world aglow
We do not covet the possessions of others
We are blessed with the bounty we share.

We have rushed to help other nations
... anything ... anytime ... anywhere.

War is just not our nature
We won't start ... but we will end the fight
If we are involved we shall be resolved
To protect what we know is right.

We have been challenged by a cowardly foe
Who strikes and then hides from our view.

With one voice we say, "There is no choice today,
There is only one thing to do.

Everyone is saying -- the same thing -- and praying
That we end these senseless moments we are living.

As our fathers did before ... we shall win this unwanted war
And our children ... will enjoy the future ... we'll be giving."

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Thursday, September 7, 2006

Non-resident Duckworth mails non-truths


Sixth Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth already has gone to the Rahm Emanuel school of political fabrication. In her first mailer to my home, she said that state senator Peter Roskam was "lying" and "questioning her patriotism" in an earlier mailer saying her position on illegal immigration amounts to amnesty.

First, Peter Roskam didn't mail the piece she was referring to. The House Republican Congressional Committee did.

Second, I've read the piece three times and it doesn't come close to questioning her patriotism and many reasonable people believe her position does constitute amnesty.

Hmmmm. She doesn't live in my district. She is funded mostly from California and New York. Her first mail piece falsely accuses my state senator of lying, mailing a piece he didn't mail, and questioning her patriotism. Just the type of person I want representing me in Congress.

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George and Rod


10 reasons why George and Rod are similar....


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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

George Ryan through the years


NBC 5 in Chicago has been at the forefront of George Ryan corruption stories over the years. Starting with the intrepid Paul Hogan (left), who since has passed away, and continuing with indefatigable Phil Rogers (right), the station has a priceless archive of exposes posted online.

I was watching the clips recently and was struck by Hogan's reporting of a scandal when George was Lt. Governor. It was the so-called World Trade Center Association scandal where the insiders who ran the quasi state entity under George's control were handing out contracts to themselves.

After days of reporting on this, Hogan finally caught up to George at an event downtown. He gave the same type of blustery non-answer denial that he gave in the early days of the licenses-for-bribes scandal eight years later. The year was 1990.

It is remarkable that George escaped politically and from law enforcement officials. How things would have been different had Patrick Fitzgerald been on the scene in 1990.

As for George, 16 years later, he was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison and he still had little defense for his actions. His lawyers were so empty-handed they resorted to high cholesterol as a reason for leniency. I wonder if Rod watched the coverage.

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Monday, September 4, 2006

Media flunks the match game


I'll say this as gently as I can -- the Illinois news media needs to do better.

What am I talking about? The media's analytical skills when it comes to the George Ryan saga.

This week, the former Governor could be sentenced by a federal judge, and, if the past is any guide, the news media will spend as much or more of its time asking Judy Baar Topinka whether she believes the news will hurt her.

Sure, Topinka is a Republican, just like George. And they once danced the polka together. Those associations pale in comparison to the deep and significant similarities between George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.

George Ryan's governorship collapsed under the weight of corruption investigations and then indictments in his former Secretary of State's office. Rod Blagojevich's governorship is on the verge of a similar collapse as U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and state prosecutors have nine separate corruption investigations underway and bombshell indictments as soon as this week.

It is one of the most stunning ironies in Illinois political history that Rod Blagojevich, elected because he said he wouldn't be like George Ryan, is giving Patrick Fitzgerald the rare opportunity to take down two consecutive governors from the same state.

In 2002, Jim Ryan used to say Rod Blagojevich was just George Ryan with better hair -- an old time politician in a blow-dried package. That was four years ago. That analysis looks a lot more precise than the one from some reporters who suggest polka partners are a closer match than a pair of Public Official A's.

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Friday, September 1, 2006

Post rips Joe Wilson

One of the only MSM outlets to admit the Joe Wilson "Plamegate" saga was completely overblown is the Washington Post. I was in Washington in 2003 when Wilson's story was wall-to-wall, including in the Post.

But the Post actually followed the facts in the story and when it was apparent Joe Wilson had been less than truthful, it turned on him. Most of the other MSM just ignored it and kept breathlessly reporting on Wilson as if his claims were valid. Today, a Post editorial lowers the boom.

Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.

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