Thursday, November 30, 2006

One brave, inspirational soldier


The inspirational speech below continues to circulate on the internet since it was delivered several years ago at West Point. I just found it recently while looking for the whereabouts of a former friend, the man who wrote and delivered the speech, Lt. Col. Guy Lofaro.

Lofaro, pictured above as a senior at Pattonville High School in suburban St. Louis, was shot and nearly killed Oct. 27, 1995 when a soldier in training at Ft. Bragg, N.C. went beserk and began firing at fellow soldiers. One soldier died and 17 were injured. LoFaro was nearly pronounced dead and was in a coma for 45 days before recovering fully.

Guy received the Soldier's Medal, the Army's highest peacetime honor for his effort in stopping the sniper. His speech below is posted regularly on military websites by soldiers.

It makes me proud to know that outstanding men and women like LoFaro are doing the hard work necessary to defend our freedoms and liberties. Thank you Guy.

Let me say before beginning, that it has been my pleasure to attend several dinings-in here at West Point and hence, I have some basis for comparison. You people have done a fine job and you ought to congratulate yourselves.

In fact, why don't we take this time to have the persons who were responsible for this event, stand, so we can acknowledge them publicly. I guess I am honored with these invitations because there exists this rumor that I can tell a story. Cadets, who I have had in class, sometimes approach me beforehand and request that, during my speech, I tell some of the stories I've told them in class.

For the longest time I have resisted this. I simply didn't think this the right forum for story-telling, so I tried instead, with varying degrees of success, to use this time to impart some higher lesson - some thought that would perhaps stay with one or two of you a little longer than the 10 or 15 minutes I will be standing here. I tried this again last week at another dining-in and I bombed. Big time. Of course, the cadets didn't say that. They said all the polite things - "Thank you, sir, for those inspiring words - You've provided us much food for thought - We all certainly learned something from you tonight, sir." And I'm thinking - yeah - you learned something all right. You learned never to invite that SOB to be a dining-in speaker again.

So in the interim, I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I would say to you tonight. What can I say that will stay with you? And as I reflected on this I turned it on myself - what stays with me? What makes a mark on me? What do I remember, and why? How have I learned the higher lessons I so desperately want to impart to you? Well - I've learned those higher lessons through experience. And as I thought further, I realized that there's only one way to relate experience - that is to tell some stories.

So I'm going to try something new here this evening. I'm going to give you your stories and attempt to relate what I've learned by living them. I'm going to let you crawl inside my eye-sockets and see some of the things I've seen these past 18 years.

Lesson One

Imagine you are a brand new second lieutenant on a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula. You are less than a year out of West Point, and only a few weeks out of the basic course. You are standing at a strict position of attention in front of your battalion commander, a man you will come to realize was one of the finest soldiers with whom you've ever served, and you are being questioned about a mistake - a big mistake - that you've made.

You see, your platoon lost some live ammo. Oh sure, it was eventually found, but for a few hours you had the entire battalion scrambling. Your battalion commander is not yelling at you though, he's not demeaning you; he's simply taking this opportunity to ensure you learn from the experience. And you do - you learn that people make mistakes, that those mistakes do not usually result in the end of the world, and that such occasions are valuable opportunities to impart some higher lessons.

Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see your platoon sergeant emerge from behind a building. He's an old soldier - a fine soldier though - whose knees have seen a few too many airborne operations. He sees you and the colonel - and he takes off at a run. You see him approaching from behind the colonel and the next thing you see is the back of your platoon sergeant's head. He is now standing between you and your battalion commander - the two are eyeball to eyeball.

Your platoon sergeant says, a touch of indignance in his voice, "Leave my lieutenant alone, sir. He didn't lose the ammo, I did. I was the one who miscounted. You want someone's ass, you take mine." And you learn another lesson - you learn about loyalty.

Lesson Two

It's a few months later, and you are one of two soldiers left on a hot PZ on some Caribbean island. There's been another foul up - not yours this time, but you're going to pay for it. It's you and your RTO, a nineteen-year-old surfer from Florida who can quote Shakespeare, because his Mom was a high school literature teacher, and who joined the Army because his Dad was a World War II Ranger. The last UH-60 has taken off on an air assault and someone is supposed to come back and get you guys. But the fire is getting heavy, and you're not sure anything can get down there without getting shot up. You're taking fire from some heavily forested hills. At least two machineguns, maybe three, maybe more, and quite a few AKs, but you can't make out anything else. You and your RTO are in a hole, hunkered down as the bad guys are peppering your hole with small arms fire. Your RTO is trying to get some help - another bird to come get you, some artillery, some attack helicopters - anything. But there are other firefights happening elsewhere on this island involving much larger numbers. So as the cosmos unfold at that particular moment, in that particular place, you and that RTO are well down the order of merit list.

You feel a tug at your pants leg. Ketch, that's what you call him, Ketch tells you he got a "wait, out" when he asked for help. The radio is jammed with calls for fire and requests for support from other parts of the island.

"'What we gonna do, sir?" he asks. And all of a sudden, you're learning another lesson. You're learning about the weightiness of command, because it's not just you in that hole, it's this kid you've spent every day with for the last five months. This kid you've come to love like a kid brother.

There is only one way out and that's through the bad guys. You see, you are on a peninsula that rises about 100 feet from the sea. The inland side is where the bad guys are. You figure you are safe in this hole, so long as they don't bring in any indirect fire stuff, but if they come down off those hills, onto the peninsula, then you're going to have to fight it out. And that's what you tell your RTO: We either get help or, if the bad guys come for us, we fight. He looks at you. You don't know how long. And he says only four words. Two sentences. "Roger, sir. Let's rock." Appropriate coming from a surfer. Then he slithers back down to the bottom of the hole. Staying on the radio, your lifeline, trying to get some help. You are peering over the edge of the hole, careful not to make too big a target.

You're thinking about your wife and that little month-old baby you left a few days ago. It was two o'clock in the morning when you got the call: "Pack your gear and get in here." You kissed them both and told them to watch the news. Hell, you didn't know where you were going or why, but you were told to go, and you went.

Then all of a sudden it gets real loud, and things are flying all around and then there's a shadow that passes over you. You look up and find yourself staring at the bottom of a Blackhawk, about 15 feet over the deck, flying fast and low, and as it passes over your hole you see the door gunner dealing death and destruction on the bad guys in those hills. It sets down about 25 meters from your hole, as close as it can get.

You look up and see the crew chief kneeling inside, waving frantically to you, the door gunner still dealing with it, trying to keep the bad guys' heads down, who have now switched their fire to the bird, a much bigger, and better, target. You look at Ketch and then you're off - and you run 25 meters faster than 25 meters have ever been run since humans began to walk upright. And you dive through the open doors onto the floor of the Blackhawk. There are no seats in the bird since this is combat and we don't use them in the real deal.

And you are hugging your RTO, face-to-face, like a lover, and shouting at him "You OKAY? You OKAY? You OKAY?" But he doesn't tell you he's OKAY since he's yelling the same thing at you - "You OKAY? You OKAY? You OKAY?" And then the pilot pulls pitch and executes a violent and steep ascent out of there and had you not been holding on to the d-rings in the floor and the crew chief not been holding your legs, you might have fallen out. Then you're over the water, you're safe, and the bird levels out, and you roll over to your back and close your eyes - and you think you fall asleep.

But then you feel a hand on your blouse, and you open your eyes and see the crew chief kneeling over you with a headset in his hand. He wants you to put it on so you do. And the first thing you hear is, "I-Beamer, buddy boy. I Beamer."' You were in I-4 while a cadet, and that was your rallying cry. And you look up to where the pilots sit and you see a head sticking out from behind one of the seats. He's looking at you and it's his voice you hear, but you can't make out who it is because his visor is down. Then he lifts it, and you see the face of a man who was two years ahead of you in your company. He tells you that he knew you were there and he wasn't going to leave an I-Beamer like that. And you learn about courage, and camaraderie. And friendship that never dies!

Lesson Three

It's a few years later and you've already had your company command. You're in grad school, studying at Michigan. You get a phone call one night, one of the sergeants from your company. He tells you Harvey Moore is dead, killed in a training accident when his Blackhawk flew into the ground.

Harvey Moore. Two-time winner of the Best Ranger Competition. Great soldier. Got drunk one night after his wife left him and took his son. You see, staff sergeants don't make as much money as lawyers, so she left with the lawyer. He got stinking drunk, though it didn't take much since he didn't drink at all before this, and got into his car. Then had an accident. Then got a DUI. He was an E-6 promotable when this happened, and the SOP was a general-officer Article 15 and a reduction one grade, which would really be two for him because he was on the promotion list.

But Harvey Moore is a good soldier, and it's time to go to bat for a guy who, if your company command was any sort of a success, played a significant part in making it so. And you go with your battalion commander to see the CG, and you stand at attention in front of the CG's desk for 20 minutes convincing him that Harvey Moore deserves a break. You win. Harvey Moore never drinks again. He makes E-7.

And when you change command, he grabs your arm, with tears in his eyes, and thanks you for all you've done. Then the phone call. And you learn about grief.

Lesson Four

And then you're a major and you're back in the 82d - your home. And one day some SOB having a bad week decides it's time to take it out on the world and he shoots up a PT formation. Takes out 20 guys. You're one of them. A 5.56 tracer round right to the gut. Range about 10 meters. And you're dead for a little while, but it's not your time yet - there are still too many lessons to learn.

And you wake up after five surgeries and 45 days in a coma. And you look down at your body and you don't recognize it - it has become a receptacle for hospital tubing and electronic monitoring devices. You have a tracheotomy, so there's a huge tube going down your throat and you can't talk, but that thing is making sure you breathe. And there's a tube in your nose that goes down into your stomach - that's how you eat. And there are four IVs - one in each arm and two in the veins in the top of your feet.

There is a tube through your right clavicle - that's where they inject the high-powered antibiotics that turns your hair white and makes you see things. But disease is the enemy now and it's gotta be done.

And there are three tubes emerging from three separate holes in your stomach. They are there to drain the liquids from your stomach cavity. It drains into some bags hanging on the side of your bed. And they've shaved your chest and attached countless electrodes to monitor your heartbeat, blood pressure, and anything else they can measure. They have these things stuck all over your head as well, and on your wrists and ankles.

And your family gathers around, and they are like rocks, and they pull you through. But there's also a guy, dressed in BDUs, with a maroon beret in his hand, who stands quietly in the corner. Never says anything. Just smiles. And looks at you. He's there every day. Not every hour of every day, but he comes every day. Sometimes he's there when you wake up. Sometimes he's there when you go to sleep. He comes during his lunch break. He stays an hour, or two or three. And just stands in the corner. And smiles. No one told him to be there.

But he made it his place of duty. His guard post. You see, it's your sergeant major, and his Ranger buddy is down, and a Ranger never leaves a fallen comrade. And you learn, through this man, the value of a creed.

Lesson Five

And every four hours two huge male nurses come in and gently roll you on your side. The bullet exited through your left buttock and made a hole the size of a softball. The bandages need to be changed. Take the soiled wads out and put clean ones in. And a second lieutenant comes in. She seems to be there all the time. She's the one changing the bandages. And it hurts like hell, but she, too, is smiling, and talking to you, and she's gentle.

And you know you've seen her before, but you can't talk - you still have that tube in your throat. But she knows. And she tells you that you taught her Military Art History, that now it's her turn to take care of you, that she's in charge of you and the team of nurses assigned to you, and she won't let you down. And you learn about compassion.

Lesson Six

And then it's months later and you're still recovering. Most of the tubes are gone but it's time for another round of major surgeries. And you go into one of the last, this one about nine hours long. And they put you back together. And you wake up in the ICU one more time. Only one IV this time. And when you open your eyes, there's a huge figure standing over your bed. BDUs. Green beret in his hand. Bigger than God. And he's smiling.

"It's about damn time you woke up you lazy bastard," he says. And you know it's your friend and former commander and you've got to come back with something quick - something good. He's the deputy Delta Force commander, soon to be the commander. And you say, "Don't you have someplace else to be? Don't you have something more important to do?" And without skipping a beat, without losing that smile he says "Right now, I am doing what I consider the most important thing in the world." And you learn about leadership.

So there you have them. Some stories. I've tried to let you see the world as I've seen it at various points in time these 18 years. I hope you've learned something. I certainly have.

Thanks for your time. "Rangers Lead the Way!"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where did Darryl Strawberry land?

One of the weirder items of the week is this online article that reveals that former New York Met and Yankee superstar and longtime bad boy Darryl Strawberry is living in......suburban St. Louis.

About the last place anyone would suspect. Darryl explains why.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wisconsin part of Blago's multi-state cartel

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's investigators are undoubtedly racking up hefty frequent flier mileage untangling the nationwide Rod Blagojevich fundraising cartel.

Tentacles of the operation spread into New York, New Jersey, California, and Wisconsin, as highlighted here. The Wisconsin connection was highlighted here in a report recently released by the Wisconsin state Board of Ethics, which ruled that the governor there didn't violate ethics laws by accepting Bears tickets at Soldier Field in 2003.

Careful readers of the report will note that on page 11, it says that since indicted Bear Stearns executive Nicholas Hurtgen and Blagojevich fundraisers Tony Rezko and Milan Petrovic entertained the Wisconsin governor that day at a favorite "combine" outpost, Gene and Georgetti's steak house.

Hurtgen has a status hearing on Wednesday in U.S. District Court. He long has been considered a probable cooperating witness, although thus far he is pleading not guilty. His wife is a partner in a company that flew Blagojevich around in the 2002 campaign. Bear Stearns months later was given the largest bond deal in state history, $10 billion in 2003. For these reasons and others, it is believed that Hurtgen's testimony could be very damaging to the Blagojevich administration.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006


Before the Barack Obama presidential coronation train gathers too much momentum, look for Hillary Clinton's operatives to invisibly start dumping dirt on the Boy Wonder Senator.

A prime target will be the huge gift that indicted businessman Tony Rezko bestowed upon Obama by buying his adjacent property.

Look for a Senate ethics complaint to be filed by the hidden hand of Hillary.

It is an entirely appropriate line of inquiry, as the transaction was an enormous favor to the Obamas. In retrospect, Barack, after the negative media coverage, said it looked bad. This is the same guy who lectured Kenyans about corruption in their country at the same time he was endorsing the trio of Rod Blagojevich, Alexi Giannoulias and Todd Stroger and taking favors from Rezko, who was known to be under intense federal investigation.

Only in Illinois.

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Why won't media ask Quinn about $15,000?


As Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn continues to rail against utility companies, he fails to get a single question from the media about the $15,000 in utility money he benefitted from a week before the election.

Rod Blagojevich
and Quinn ran as a team and Ameren sent Blagojevich $15,000 on Oct. 30. That money helped run TV commercials that got Quinn elected.

Yet Quinn continues to whine and complain about utility rate increases and utility executive pay and the news media dutifully reports on his press conferences without mentioning the hypocritical contribution.

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Showdown turns into rout

After a weeklong vacation in Florida, I headed to one of my favorite spots: a state playoff high school football game.

I went to Champaign Saturday afternoon to watch my hometown Wheaton-Warrenville South Tigers thrash Chicago Mt. Carmel 44-21.

Everyone was expecting a tight game from two of the most storied prep football schools in the state, but Wheaton's talented group of seniors, led by Purdue-bound running back Dan Dierking (featured in Sports Illustrated recently), completely outclassed the school that produced Donovan McNabb and Simeon Rice.

It was the fifth state title for WWSHS, which regularly produces entertaining teams with wide open offenses that remarkably make few mistakes. This version of the Tigers was perhaps the best ever with a 2,000 yard runner in Dierking, talented receivers, a good quarterback and an electrifying backup running back (Jim O'Brien) who scored nearly every time he touched the ball in the playoffs, including twice against Mt. Carmel.

High school football is refreshingly simple and free of pretense and also of TV timeouts, which fatally interrupt the flow of play in college and pro football. I won't watch either without DVR.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Myth of the suburban women's vote

Blogging will be light or non-existent for the next week or so. In the meantime, a close look at the vote in the governor's race is intriguing if you look at the suburbs.

By far, the biggest difference between Rod Blagojevich's 2002 victory over Jim Ryan and his win this month over Judy Baar Topinka is in the collar counties. The conventional wisdom fed to us by the Illinois media is that a Republican statewide candidate will do much better in the suburbs if they are pro-choice and moderate.

Guess again.

Pro-life conservative candidate Jim Ryan did much better than Judy Baar Topinka in the collar counties of DuPage, Lake, Will, Kane and McHenry. Ryan won 58-39 percent and came away with a 147,338 vote plurality over Blago in the collars. Topinka barely won in the collars, 47-42-11 over Blagojevich and Whitney and only took away a 32,325 margin. The 115,000 difference in the collar county margins from 2002 to 2006 was by far the biggest geographical difference between the two elections.

2006 Pluralities

The anecdotal evidence is that the women's vote was pivotal in the suburbs. Exit polls and polls taken before the election showed a wide gender gap in Blagojevich's favor. That wasn't supposed to be the case according to the conventional wisdom because Topinka and Blagojevich were similar on many social issues. That conventional wisdom was further destroyed because Blagojevich didn't run TV ads on abortion against Topinka and did against Jim Ryan.

So what was the real reason suburban women turned on Judy? Probably because of the overall bombardment of a 5-1 advantage in TV ads. Rod's tainted money was able to buy a message of education and health care while simultaneously and falsely making Judy look like a crazy woman. The suburban results certainly show that voters are no longer knee-jerk Republican in the suburbs, but they also show that they aren't particularly ideological or tied to any party. They will sway according to the party and candidate that reaches them most often and most effectively.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Great commercial

With apologies to Elizabeth Roskam, Chuck Goudie, Eric Zorn and many others, this is hands down the best ad of the political season.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Newspapers need to fight back

Besides the Republican Party, newspapers were the biggest loser Tuesday night.

Nowhere was that more evident than in the governor's race, where Rod Blagojevich bet and won that his $20 million in TV ads would obliterate the hundreds of hours of toil, research and column inches newspapers expended publishing stories about his administration's corruption.

If it wasn't clear before, it is now: A unrebutted TV ad is at least 100 times more powerful than a powerful newspaper story.

Never in the history of Illinois has a governor been more disdainful of newspaper reporters and editors. The administration treats them like minor annoyances that need to be swatted away occasionally. Traditionally, the governor's office has tried to court and manipulate the print press in order to gain favorable coverage that ultimately would drive radio and television stories. Not these people -- they know they have enough TV commercials in the bank to overcome nearly any onslaught of newspaper coverage.

What can newspapers do to fight back? As a former newspaper reporter and editor, it pains me to see the industry so clearly dying in plain sight.

Newspapers need to fight fire with fire. They must grasp the concept that their medium is far weaker than TV. So they need to use TV to help them drive their own message.

I'd suggest that newspapers all pitch in money to form a consortium that might also seek private funding. The consortium would be used to run TV advertising in political campaigns in races where candidates are stretching the truth the most. The ads would center on "truth squading" of negative TV ads.

Newspapers would form the basis of the critique ads by first publishing "ad watches" that critique the negative ads. Papers used to do this but most have given up. The duty must be taken seriously and whoever performs the critique must be given time and resources to do it right.

Then, the consortium would run the ads in selected races based on some type of objective selection process that identifies the need for intervention. The ad watches and TV ads could all be featured on a nice website that gives the issue an internet presence.

Without some kind of push back, newspapers will continue to die and TV stations will continue to get fat off the campaign contributions of candidates such as Rod Blagojevich.

I'd welcome any other suggestions on how newspapers can avoid their growing irrelevance.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Whitney hit on YouTube

The first and only negative "ad" targeting Rich Whitney.

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Had enough?

For those who are captivated by the TV ads of Rod Blagojevich, here are some of the comments from Illinois newspaper editors who are trained not to be fooled:


In sum, Gov. Blagojevich has disgraced himself and the state. Nothing he may have accomplished in office can erase that taint or entitle him to another term. Voters must send a strong message that Illinois will no longer tolerate the corruption his regime has fostered.

The scent of scandal constitutes more than smoke. It's a five-alarm fire.

On top of that mismanagement, the Blagojevich administration is the target of at least two federal investigations, one of which has already resulted in the indictment of a top Blagojevich fundraiser. And the head of the FBI in Chicago says that investigation remains hot.

His 2002 pledge to end "business as usual" in state government has gone up in flames: The U.S. Justice Department has issued subpoenas to no fewer than six state departments; his top fundraiser faces federal charges of cooking up a shakedown-and-kickback scheme of massive proportions; his administration is under federal investigation for hiring practices; and reporters have extensively documented the governor's record of handing contracts and appointments to campaign donors.

The guy has let down the people of Illinois in every way imaginable. Instead of the ethical government he promised, his administration is the subject of a sweeping federal corruption investigation.

Illinois voters should run, not walk, away from a candidate that close to corruption.

Now a trail of indictments is working its way toward the governor's office, forcing him into the last refuge of the political scoundrel: claiming ignorance of what goes on in his own administration.

Governor, these questions are not going away. Nor are the FBI agents and Department of Justice prosecutors who are unraveling your fundraising machine and your patronage hiring.

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Monday, November 6, 2006

What to expect in DuPage County

Because it is likely that DuPage County returns will be pivotal in the 6th District race for Congress between Republican Peter Roskam and Democrat Tammy Duckworth, expect a lot of shouting and screaming if Roskam wins.

That's because a group that calls itself non-partisan but is run by partisan Democrats has already been laying the groundwork for a cry of vote fraud. I wrote about this group previously and took the Tribune to task for sanitizing the group's partisanship.

Overall, the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project pines for the good old days when Democrats could steal elections at will. I heard an official for the group say on WBBM's At Issue recently that he would prefer old-fashioned paper ballots. Despite the massive vote fraud problems in the city of Chicago and indictments in the East St. Louis area for vote fraud, one-half of the articles posted on this group's website are focused on DuPage County. It's curious that the group is targeting the county with the most spotless record of running elections, that, oh, happens to be the center of Republican power in the state.

Anyway, here's what the group thinks about the election ahead. This is posted on its website.

The next regular open meeting will be Wednesday, November 15th at the Goose Island Brew Pub, 7-9 pm. We'll start sorting through the November 7th "train wreck" nationally and here in Illinois, assessing how electronic voting machines impacted the election and what immediate steps we can begin to work toward pulling the plug in 2007 and beyond. Bring a friend or neighbor who's interested in helping fix the many problems to IBIP.
In other words, the election will be screwed up no matter what the results. How convenient for those looking for a built-in excuse for results that don't go their way.

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National wave more like a ripple

The national media has been foaming at the mouth for weeks about a Democratic takeover of Congress. My general consumer advice is to discount the MSM's optimism. There will be Democratic gains, but the GOP will hold the Senate and maybe the House.

The most level headed information and opinion can be found here. One of my favorite analysts, Jay Cost, says that well-known prognosticators Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook are overstating their own data fairly dramatically. His theory is that they'd rather make sure they catch any big wave and if they miss, they'd rather err on the Democratic side. He has the numbers to back up his theory.

If you think Cost is blowing smoke, consider this -- on election night 2004, I stopped watching network news and instead went to Cost's blog, which was correctly predicting Bush victories in Ohio and Florida and was saying why based on the early returns. Cost had predicted wins in those states days before the election by analyzing new registration patterns. While most of the MSM was waffling on those two states, he was very sure of himself and was spot on.

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Hallmark of socialism is planning


NEWS FLASH! That's right, as we speak, Comrade anti-Capitalist Rich Whitney is having a press conference in Springfield to name his Politburo, er, transition team.

If you are going to have a planned society, might as well start now.

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Quinn a statewide fraud


Illinois "reformer" turned mute Pat Quinn, in order to avoid talking about the "gathering storm" of corruption indictments about to hit his running mate Rod Blagojevich, has been ripping utility executives for high pay.

The media has been playing along with Quinn's phony haranguing, giving him big headlines. Why do I say phony?

Just a few days ago, Ameren, one of those utilities, sent $15,000 to Rod Blagojevich's campaign so it can run more commercials to get Blagojevich and Quinn re-elected.

High pay for executive is bad, Pat, but money for Rod's campaign that benefits you is OK?

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Saturday, November 4, 2006

Will Illinois go for Comrade Whitney?


It looks like Green Party candidate for Governor Rich Whitney has been less than forthcoming about his past. Would up to 14 percent of Illinois citizens support him if they knew he was an 18-year member of the Socialist Labor Party of America and the organization's "national editor" for four years?

This letter in the alternative Illinois Times unearthed the story. An officer of the SLP criticized Whitney for skirting around a party affiliation question in a televised interview with the Illinois Channel.

Fact is that the 51-year-old candidate and 10-year veteran of the Green Party belonged to the Socialist Labor Party for 18 years, from 1975 until 1993. There's nothing wrong with being a Socialist, at least I don't think so. There's nothing wrong with changing your mind about being a Socialist. However, there is something wrong about a candidate asking for your trust while concealing the truth when asked: "What is your history? What party have you identified with over your adult life?"

Green and yellow really do go together.

Robert Bills

National secretary

Socialist Labor Party of America
Bills is right. Whitney was knee deep in the SLP. For those who aren't familiar with SLP's philosophy, it can be summed up as favoring a revolutionary movement in America to remove capitalism and replace it with socialism. Here is a passage from a resolution Whitney sponsored in 1989 at the organization's national convention.

Capitalism has not triumphed over socialism, nor has it proved to be a superior system. Its real battle with socialism has yet to be fought. And capitalism's own disintegration is increasingly demonstrating that it must give way to a higher, superior form of social organization—socialism—if the human race is to survive and flourish.

Fraternally submitted,


My, the Rockford Register-Star must really be proud of its endorsement of Whitney right about now.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Will Rod take the Fifth about Fifth Third?

Does the Rod Blagojevich family regard state government as its personal ATM?

There have been stories in this campaign about Rod's wife receiving questionable $113,000 commissions and his daughter getting a mysterious $1,500 check.

What about Rod's brother, Robert Blagojevich?

Once Rod became governor, Robert's employer, Fifth Third Bank, got a turbo boost in state business.

One of the biggest boons was a no-bid exclusive contract to provide ATM services at the newly redesigned tollway oases. That same pile of no-bid oases contracts already has been subpoenaed by the feds because of ties to Blagojevich's top fundraisers Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly through companies such as Subway and Panda Express. Another contract in that pile went to the official pizza of the NY Yankees, Famous Famiglia, a company with a corporate connection to convicted felon Eddie DeBartolo Jr. ABC 7's Chuck Goudie did a three-part series on the Famous Famiglia contract in early 2005.

Although I don't have the paperwork on it, the State Board of Investments also gave Fifth Third its first ever investment contract right about the same time Robert Blagojevich reportedly was leaving the company, in late 2003 or early 2004.

That contract was brought to the state board by the board's general consultant, Marquette Associates. That same firm was prominently mentioned in Milwaukee papers because bond house Bear Stearns executive Nick Hurtgen was publicly urging the Milwaukee County Board to hire Marquette and the board balked because it felt it opened the door to potential steering of pension business through a general consultant. Hurtgen, of course, has been indicted in Illinois in connection to the Health Facilities Planning Board scandal and was the top executive at Bear Stearns when the Blagojevich administration handed it the largest no-bid bond commission in state history, $10 million.

Here's the amount of state business that Fifth Third has done in the last several years, according to the state comptroller's office:

FY02 = $71,000

FY03 = $1.1 million

FY04 = $515,000

FY05 = $2.4 million

FY06 = $5.8 million

FY07's = $8.3 million (projection)

While nobody has uncovered any documentation that Robert Blagojevich was directly connected to any of the state business that occurred while his brother was governor, it would defy belief that Rod did not know that Fifth Third got these contracts while his brother was there. Did he try to influence those contracts directly or indirectly? And did Fifth Third directly or indirectly reward Robert Blagojevich for the increased state business?

Is this just another coincidence like the one where Chief of Staff Lon Monk's sister just happened to be a high-ranking official of a company that got a huge no-bid health care contract.

If the governor ever stops hiding behind his false and illegally funded campaign commercials, maybe he can answer a few questions about his brotherly love.

And maybe Chris Kelly can chime in, too. I'm told he knows something about at least one of the contracts.

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Slamming the troops sounds familiar

Most commentators say John Kerry meant to slam President Bush and not the troops with his recent comments and their reasoning is that it would be stupid to do the latter (insert joke here). However, they ignore that Kerry has slammed our troops several times, including after returning from Vietnam and more recently in reference to the Iraq War.

And, the comments Kerry made about the troops being uneducated mirrors almost exactly what Rod Blagojevich privately thinks of our troops. Over the course of the last four years, I have talked to dozens of people who have brought me information about the Governor. One extremely reliable source is someone who talked to the Governor on numerous occasions and told me several times that Rod consistently disparaged members of the military as low achievers.

I suspect that at least privately, the sentiment is shared by more than a few liberal Democrats.

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