Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Illinois Dems contradict each other

Predictably, our partisan hack U.S. Senator Dick Durbin trashed the unambiguously vibrant national economy on the occasion of President Bush's visit this morning to Peoria. He said the misery was being felt in Illinois.
"If you want to know the real state of the economy, don't sit down and talk to the economists," Durbin said. "Talk to the real working families of Illinois and across America who are struggling each day to make ends meet, going deeper in debt on their credit cards bills and wondering if their kids will have as good a chance in the America to come," Durbin said.
However, just a few weeks ago at the time of his inauguration, a man Durbin supports, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, said in a press release the Illinois economy was doing well.

And in his continued effort to improve life for Illinois working families, the Governor has made great strides. 150,000 new jobs have been created over the past three years, giving Illinois the best record in the Midwest and the lowest unemployment rate in state history.
The truth is that the U.S. economy has been in a sustained period of growth and prosperity since 2003 and that Illinois has lagged behind other Midwestern states because of the anti-business policies of Rod Blagojevich. We've already documented here how the Blagojevich administration has for months been disingenuously using raw numbers of new jobs to tout state performance when any high school statistics student could tell you percentages should be used.

The new Democratic congressman from Rock Island, Phil Hare, didn't get the memo. Here's what he said today about the President's visit to Illinois.

"Districts like mine in western Illinois have been disproportionately affected by the president's ill-advised economic agenda," said Hare. "The latest statistics from the Department of Labor show that Illinois ranks 49th in the nation in terms of job growth and economic recovery since 2003."
It would be nice if the news media would ask the Dems to sort out the confusion.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Where are the liberal labels?

What's more difficult than finding a SuperBowl ticket? Finding a "liberal" label in the media attached to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat running for president.

I was briefly listening to the radio Sunday and there was a short ABC news item on Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee running for president. Don't have a transcript, but within a couple of sentences, he was described as a "conservative" Republican who is opposed to abortion and gay rights, as if those positions form the centerpiece of his exploratory candidacy so far.

Just seconds later, a similar mention of potential Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. No mention of his liberalism.

Here's a new AP story out on Huckabee.

WASHINGTON -- Conservative Republican Mike Huckabee, seeking to repeat the success of another former governor from Hope, Ark., said Sunday he is taking the first step in what he acknowledged is an underdog bid for the White House in 2008.
Didn't take long for the label, eh?

And a few paragraphs later, the inevitable appearance of the "staunch" word.

Huckabee is a staunch opponent of abortion rights and gay marriage...
Doesn't AP or ABC have any standards for applying balance to the labeling of Democrats and Republicans? Go wading through the mountain of Obama and Hillary stories recently in the MSM and try to find a story that starts out, "Liberal Barack Obama...."

A better use of your time would be to find that SuperBowl ticket.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Reverse swift-boating

The MSM is spasming to the defense of Barack Obama and the relatively minor news coverage suggesting he may have had much more of a Muslim upbringing than originally thought.

The thunder of the denouncements far outweigh the story's initial coverage. That's about par for the course for the MSM and brings to mind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth saga in 2004.

The MSM mythology of that episode continues to be that the anti-Kerry veterans were largely discredited. To this day, wording to that effect is inserted into nearly every story that mentions the Swifties in major media outlets. The truth is that very few of the Swift Boat charges were effectively rebutted and John Kerry, the man who could have shed light on the matter, refused to release his military records to do so.

MSM members initially ignored the Swift Boat story despite having a large contingent of Kerry's colleagues in Vietnam who bitterly opposed him. That's a story, folks, because Kerry was making his Vietnam service a centerpiece of his campaign. Only after being ignored by the media did the Swift Boat veterans buy TV time and then the MSM entered the fray as Kerry's defender.

The height of that defense was reached in a memorably laughable segment of Nightline where ABC found some Vietnamese official who claimed to have witnessed events in such a way that rebutted a small part of the Swift Boat allegations. The only problem was that John O'Neill, the leader of the Swift Boat Veterans, told Ted Koppel in a live interview that Kerry's own account of the battle in a sympathetic biography contradicted the communist's claims. O'Neill repeatedly pointed this out to a flustered Ted Koppel and chided him for spending millions of dollars finding an obscure Vietnamese official while not once interviewing the Swift Boat veterans.

I'm not comparing the substance of the Swift Boat allegations to the Obama allegations. But I'm not buying as sincere the MSM's overheated reaction to the barely aired Obama story.

I suspect part of the fervor is an opportunity to criticize Fox News, which aired the Obama story on a few of its least watched shows. The MSM meme is that Obama never attended a radical Muslim school and that Hillary Clinton's researchers never dug up this information. The MSM evidence that says the original story is false, especially the Hillary part, is less definitive than is being portrayed. That said, if the story is indeed false, it should be rebutted by the news media. But, the real question is, does the media swiftly rebut flimsy allegations against conservatives?

Where was the MSM in 2004 in the months leading to the election when every outrageous anti- George Bush charge was paraded through the morning news shows and "responsible" press day in and day out. If it was irresponsible for Fox News to report the Obama story in a minor segment, what level of fairness did NBC News display, for example, by putting Kitty Kelley on the Today Show two months before the election showcasing the charge that GWBush snorted cocaine at Camp David during his father's presidency based on a source who publicly denied saying it?

The amount of false and skewed reporting on George Bush on a daily basis dwarfs any false reporting done so far on Obama. Anybody who watches David Shuster's reports daily on MSNBC can attest to that. If the MSM wants to go on a jihad against sliming and smearing, it ought to look around, the evidence is everywhere.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Fritchey's folly

Kristen McQueary of the Daily Southtown deserves great credit for unmasking a phony parental notification bill in the General Assembly.

Instead of other media accounts that are suggesting a bill by state Rep. John Fritchey merely fine tunes Illinois' soon-to-be-revived 1995 law that requires minors to advise their parents if they are having an abortion, McQueary correctly notes that the bill effectively codifies the status quo that allows young girls to have the medical procedure without their parents knowing about it.

State Rep. John Fritchey's recent introduction of House Bill 317 is no compromise. If approved, it will do little to change existing Illinois law that allows girls 17 and younger to get an abortion without notifying an adult.

If you think that's OK, fine. But if you've been led to believe Fritchey's bill merely tweaks the 1995 law, think again.
McQueary actually read the bill and notes gaping exceptions that not only add "clergy" as an alternative to notifying the parents, but also a "counseling" option that allows a youngster to be counseled on her choice rather than telling her parents.
Simply put, an adult needs to be notified -- someone with a deeper investment in these girls than a counselor or a doctor. Fritchey's bill should not allow a "counseling" bypass.
Fritchey's bill represents an extremist pro-choice viewpoint that only about 20 percent of Illinois residents hold—that a 14-year-old girl can essentially have an abortion at will without her parents knowing about it.

The 1995 law already is a lenient version of parental notification. It provides automatic exceptions to the notice provision if a girl is a victim of rape or incest and provides further opportunities to bypass the notification on other grounds. It is one of the weakest parental notification laws in the country. More than 40 states have parental notification laws, including every state surrounding Illinois.

Fritchey's bill would lock parental notification out of Illinois and lock parents out of one of the most traumatic experiences in their daughter's life.

McQueary's dissection of the bill is noteworthy because most members of the media fall for Planned Parenthood's spin on parental notification. Planned Parenthood opposes all parental notification measures and knows it is an extremist position in every public opinion poll. But it is able to successfully throw out red herings on the issue that the news media nearly always falls for because of its unfamiliarity with the nuances of abortion law/policy and its overwhelming sympathy to the pro-choice position.

Finally, what irks me most about the parental notification debate is the "slippery slope" crapola dished by the pro-choice community.

The fact is, we are not talking about restricting access to abortion for adult women. We are talking about restricting access for girls. There's a big, big difference.
Implied in that statement is that even within the pro-choice population, the majority of people believe parental notification laws make sense and the Fritchey/Planned Parenthood approach does not.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Barack swift-boats Kerry

Barack Obama showed today he is a fan of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. He mirrored that group's opinion of John Kerry in a statement on Kerry's decision not to run for president again.

"From his earliest days in Vietnam to the Presidential Election in 2004, John Kerry has fought his country and his ideals. I am proud to call him a friend and a colleague in the United States Senate, and know that he will continue to serve his country with honor and distinction in the years to come."
Obama is either a straight talker or a bad proof reader. (Credit/Jeff Berkowitz).

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Say no to Declaration of Defeat

Republicans in the Senate need a spine stiffener to prevent a Declaration of Defeat to be shoved in the face of our troops as they attempt to preserve our freedoms.

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More on Webb

The best presidential speechwriter in my lifetime, Michael Gerson, weighs in on the Jim Webb rebuttal to the State of the Union address last evening and found it a mess, too, although many in the MSM liked it because it bashed Bush.

Whenever a politician puts out to the media that he has thrown away the speechwriters' draft and written the remarks himself (as Webb did), it is often a sign of approaching mediocrity. This was worse. Senator Webb made liberal use of clichés: the middle class is "the backbone" of the country, which is losing its "place at the table." I am not even sure there is a literary term for a mixed metaphor that crosses two clichés. And Senator Webb's logic was as incoherent as his language (the two are often related). No "precipitous withdrawal"—but retreat "in short order." Fight the war on terror vigorously—except where the terrorists have chosen to fight it. It is, perhaps, a good thing that James Webb earned a job as senator. As a speechwriter he would starve.
Gerson also has strong thoughts on U.S. Senators who think it is wise to tell our troops headed to Iraq that their new mission is doomed.

Perhaps the most compelling argument of the day was not made by President Bush or Senator Webb—and it was made in five words. Earlier in the day, General David Petraeus testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. When asked if he could get his job done in Iraq without additional troops, he replied: "No, sir." When asked if a congressional resolution of disapproval of the "surge" could encourage the enemy, he said, "That's correct, sir." Under these circumstances, it is hard to imagine what impulse of arrogance could cause Republican senators like Warner and Collins to actively undermine the operational judgment of a skilled commander in the field, at the beginning of a decisive military campaign. The next week or so will test the proposition: does the military chain of command end in the Oval Office or on the Senate floor? I live in Virginia—but I have never voted for either senator from Virginia to be commander in chief.
So Hillary, Barack and Dick know more about military strategy than Petraeus?

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Caught in his own Webb

Democrats thought they'd put a "tough guy" on the air tonight to respond to President Bush's State of the Union address. Newly elected Virginia Senator Jim Webb, a military man, and a novelist, tried to be cute about his plans in Iraq and ended up contradicting himself in consecutive sentences.

''Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos,'' said Webb. ''But an immediate shift toward strong regionally based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.''
In other words, a flowery way to say, "retreat."

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Durbin wades into the muck

Our senior US Senator will do a "live chat" on the leading hate speech/left wing website this evening after President Bush's State of the Union speech. He will be on DailyKos, whose founder had these nice things to say about men who had just been burned alive by terrorists in Iraq.

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 mercenaries. 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.
Our tax dollars at work, changing the tone in Washington. You'd like to think a reporter in Illinois would call him on this, but I'm not holding my breath. Do you think the media would be silent if, a few years ago, Peter Fitzgerald held a live chat on an Ann Coulter website?

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A new wave of newspapers?


Journalists everywhere will be watching with interest the launch today of The Politico, a start-up multi-media newspaper in Washington DC.

With newsrooms shrinking rapidly because of an industry descent, The Politico represents a new generation of news organizations whose product will be heavily showcased online.

The Politico was able to convince several dozen experienced journalists to jump ship and join the new venture, including a few heavy hitters from the Washington Post and Time.

If this experiment works, look for others to follow. This new model will be a place where reporters can jump to avoid the inevitable pink slips from major metropolitan papers. Here's the intro by the top editors:

It is an odd moment, to be sure, in the larger context of our profession. Layoffs are the norm at many news organizations. Buyouts and involuntary reassignments, accompanied by vague and ominous all-newsroom memos about more wrenching changes ahead, are the fashion at others. To be optimistic about the future in this climate of gloom is an act of will.

But it's not an irrational act. We believe that this moment of anxiety and upheaval in our business is also one of creative possibility. The publications best positioned to take advantage of this potential are no longer the general audience, mass-market news organizations that dominated the previous generations. The future, we are betting, belongs to those who organize themselves around specialized coverage and speak in fresh and revelatory ways to a specialized audience. Robert Allbritton, our publisher, has made this bet his own, and he plans to support our approach for the long haul.
This experiment will have some time to prove itself because it is being financed by Allbritton Communications, a chain of TV stations in the East and South.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Right out of the box, Hillary lies to America


Because it's been six years since Bill Clinton was in office, I was not mentally calibrated for the stone cold lying that characterized the Clinton years.

Hillary shocked me back to the future with her performance this evening on national television.

First a spokesman on MSNBC's Hardball and then Hillary herself in a taped excerpt from an NBC interview with Brian Williams said that her decision to announce her exploratory candidacy for the president hastily this Saturday had nothing to do with Barack Obama's announcement a few days prior. It had already been planned for Saturday, both Hillary and her spokesman said.

Brian Williams: This is not exactly how or when you planned to announce this. How else are you going to have to adjust to counter the presence of this Obama campaign, which is a surprise?

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.: Well, you know, Brian, this is exactly how I intended to do this. Once I made up my mind that I was going to contest for the presidential nomination of my party, I wanted to do it on the Web, I wanted to do it before the president's State of the Union, because I wanted to draw the contrast between what we've seen, over the last six years, and the kind of leadership and experience that I would bring to the office.

Williams: So you had always planned to announce before the president's State of the Union address?

Clinton: That was our plan, yes.
There's no way that Hillary wanted to enter the fray this early. Even the liberal panelists on Hardball didn't buy that one.

Her first major round of interviews and a flat-out lie. Ah, it's all coming back to me now.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

'Experts are Idiots'

Unintentionally, ESPN has been helping teams win championships with its incredibly inept prognosticating. In the just completed major league playoffs and World Series, ESPN "experts" were wrong 37 of 39 times picking three playoff rounds involving the St. Louis Cardinals.

Then, this week, all eight ESPN experts picked the New Orleans Saints to beat the Chicago Bears. All eight were wrong, of course.

That means in 45 of 47 games or series' I was following closely, the ESPN experts got it wrong.

That should tell people a little bit about the worth of "conventional wisdom."

Both the Cardinals and Bears players said afterwards they used the ESPN picks as extra incentive to win their championships. Someone at the World Series waved a memorable sign that read, "Experts are Idiots." Who can argue?

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Madigan does her job

It took her a long time, but Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan did the right thing and asked a federal court today to get the ball rolling on reinstating a dormant state parental notification law.

A month ago we noted here that it had been three months since the Illinois Supreme Court paved the way for the move by writing so-called "bypass" rules that give underage girls the judicial right to bypass the notification in certain circumstances.

We said that Madigan, as Attorney General, had a duty to seek reinstatement of the dormant 1995 state law that had been halted by the federal court because it lacked the bypass rules.

Today, we applaud Madigan for doing her job even though she is not personally in favor of the law she is defending. She made the tough decision an Attorney General sometimes has to make. She will pay a price with her political base—left wing groups such as Planned Parenthood who have given Lisa large campaign contributions and who adamantly oppose parental notification.

The only caveat to this is a strange request Madigan made as part of the federal court filing. She asked the court for an unspecified delay in lifting the injunction until a Madigan appointed "special master" could make sure Illinois courts were ready to implement the new rules. It appears to be an unusual request because the Supreme Court rules are quite straightforward. We will be watching to make sure this is not a stalling tactic.

Also deserving credit for bringing the parental notification issue to the forefront is a former client, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett. It was Birkett who spoke out loudly on the issue and organized a statewide petition drive that was delivered to the state Supreme Court shortly before the court reversed course and wrote the rules.

The real winners will be parents in Illinois who, once this law is activated, will be notified if their 14-year-old daughter is seeking an abortion.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Barack to call McCall?

Our Abraham Lincoln wanna be, already stung by his association with indicted businessman Tony Rezko, is jumping right back into sketchy waters.

AP is running a story saying the Obama campaign is poised to reach out to former New York politician Carl McCall, whose name is closely connected to Rod Blagojevich's corruption scandal.

Although McCall has not been indicted, it would be a surprise if he hasn't been questioned by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office in connection to the pension probe that already has produced indictments of Rezko, top Democratic fundraiser Joe Cari, and Blagojevich fundraiser/appointee Stuart Levine. McCall's name shows up on a fundraising schedule the day Blagojevich, Cari, Levine and Chris Kelly took the infamous Shakedown Shuttle corporate jet trip to New York in 2003.

McCall and Cari were raising money for Blagojevich and soon thereafter received state pension work. Both have left the company they worked for, HealthPoint, after the scandal became public. McCall and Cari also were the subject of similar bad publicity in California when HealthPoint got state pension work soon after Cari and McCall inspired campaign contributions showed up in the coffers of a gubernatorial candidate who controlled pension funds. The Cari-McCall connection is more fully explained here.

McCall also had a bumpy road, ethically, when he ran for governor in New York in 2002 and was defeated by George Pataki.

McCall's connection to Obama might be through Barack's confidant John Rogers Jr., who runs Ariel Capital Management, a company that recently kept its Blagojevich pension work despite poor performance after unprecedented lobbying. McCall serves on Ariel's board of directors.

If Obama says it was a mistake in retrospect to have associated so closely with Rezko when it was known that he was under suspicion, is calling on McCall a walk down that same road?

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Surge is working?

Early reports from Iraq indicate Al Qaeda is scattering out of Baghdad and the Mahdi army is in disarray. The trick, of course, is to sustain this success so when the bad guys try to come back the Iraq Army can handle them.

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Was this Berger's target?

Here's an interesting theory on the target of former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger's sticky fingers in our National Archives. More on TWA Flight 800 here.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Obama on wrong side of history

It might be that Barack Obama will be nominated and elected president. If that doesn't occur, it won't be because he lacks "experience." It will be because the American people realize he is on the wrong side of history.

A fashionable politician in 2007 must have an iPod and a harshly anti-war stance, complete with utter disdain for President Bush and his policies. Barack has all that although he tries to be soothing about it. No matter how many times he likes to say he's against the partisanship of Washington, his 95 percent Democratic voting record is proof that it's more shtick than balm.

Take a step out of the conventional wisdom cauldron, which is wrong more often than a monkey stock picker. Do we really believe that 10 years from now Islamic extremism will have faded peacefully into the background, making Bush's incursion into Iraq look like an overreaction to 9/11? No, more likely there will be more horrific terrorist attacks on our soil and a long, drawn out war to eradicate the terrorists. Along the way, more wake-up calls for a forgetful population that will put in perspective tactical blunders in Iraq.

If the latter scenario occurs, Bush is going to look a lot smarter than the 2007 fashionable politician, including Barack. Obama's performance the other evening on Nightline and other outlets was an exercise in reciting talking points. "Redeployment." "Diplomacy." "Political, not military solution." I thought this guy was different!

And the tone in Washington: Obama only needs to look at the Senate floor transcripts of his seatmate from Illinois, Dick Durbin, to follow the history of the Democratic Party's unrelenting criticism of President Bush from the start of the war. It was a political tactic, the kind that Obama professes to oppose. Right for the country and right on history? Check back in 10 years. What will look like the better strategy—The Bush push forward or the Barack backpedal?

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

60 Minutes surprise

I long ago stopped watching 60 Minutes. Its liberal melodrama disguised as journalism was too maddening.

This evening, while watching the end of the New England-San Diego playoff game, I decided to stay put after a teaser said 60 Minutes had an exclusive interview with President Bush and a piece featuring the parents of the Duke lacrosse players accused of sexual assault.

I was pleasantly surprised by Scott Pelley's interview with GWB. He asked the obligatory liberal mantra questions about WMD, etc., but did so in a respectful, not snarky way. He also got access to the president just moments after he talked to families of fallen soldiers. The White House should continue to allow the president to do these kinds of interviews. He's very effective and human. A much better setting for him than formal addresses.

And it was a good interview for CBS. Tough questions were asked and answered. For my money, Pelley would have been a far superior choice than Katie Couric for evening anchor.

Then, the next segment was sympathetic to the families of the boys accused in the Duke rape case. This goes against the grain for CBS — a prosecutorial injustice story where the victims are well-to-do white families instead of minority families. Of course it has taken the national media many months to finally jump on board a case that appears to have been completely without merit from the start.

At least on this Sunday, 60 Minutes seemed like a fair and balanced newsmagazine.

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A good man in Washington

The state of the Redskins is almost as important to Washingtonians as the state of our nation. There's lots of hand-wringing these days over the decline of the 'Skins this year, particularly the defense.

Defense guru Gregg Williams is getting lots of the abuse. Redskins' fans ought to lay off — they are lucky to have him. Years ago, I played baseball in college with Williams and I can tell you he's a born leader. He's smart and demanding, even prickly, but dead serious about producing positive results and the first person to congratulate someone who performs well.

Long considered one of the best defense minds in pro football, the former Buffalo Bills head coach will be a big winner next time around. The only question is whether it'll be for the Washington Redskins. I'd like to see him on the sidelines for the Bears some day if the 'Skins are dumb enough to let him slip away.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Democrats: Cheerleaders for defeat

The president of the United States, the man we elected to protect our national security, continues this evening the difficult task of trying to defeat global terrorism in a post 9/11 world. He will outline a new strategy for winning the war in Iraq.

George W. Bush is the person who is making those decisions and despite making the inevitable mistakes every American president has made in times of war, an honest person would say GWB is sincere about his intentions to protect us.

It would nice this evening if the Democrats would leave the political posturing at home and give us some indication they too want to see a victory in Iraq.

From the time the war started, the vast majority of national Democrats, including our Senator Dick Durbin, have hyper criticized every move by the President. It started two weeks after the invasion of Iraq when critics said the effort was bogged down.

Today, Senator Durbin, before the President had a chance to outline his policy, was criticizing Bush for changing course. That's exactly what Durbin and others have been urging Bush to do for months. It's clear that success in Iraq, to Democrats, is an outcome they never want to occur because of the negative political implications.

The Democrats are not paying a political price right now for their duplicity because the national media is a wholly owned subsidiary of their point of view. Day and night, the national media pumps forward anti-war reporting with a barely hidden glee.

Check this evening after the speech and count how many Republican defectors are interviewed (lots) compared to Democrat defectors (probably none). Since Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman has differed with his own party on the war, you can't find him on national TV. But he understands the equation in Iraq.

"In war, there are two exit strategies. One is called victory. The other is called defeat."
Which side are the Democrats on?

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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Media ignores Clinton's document burglar

Sandy Berger W Clinton
While journalists were debating the merits of Barack Obama's fitness level, important new findings were made involving the theft of crucial documents related to the 9/11 commission.

In essence, a new report from a House oversight committee says that former Clinton national security advisor Sandy Berger's stunning theft of documents from the National Archives was much more sinister than (barely) reported by our intrepid national media.

"My staff's investigation reveals that President Clinton's former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger compromised national security much more than originally disclosed," (Tom) Davis said. "It is now also clear that Mr. Berger was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to compromise national security, apparently for his own convenience.
Contrary to prior "reporting," Berger may have destroyed original highly classified documents, not just copies of originals.

Just about every press report on this matter has relied on statements from Berger and his spokespeople — statements that were mostly lies. The news media never exposed any of this because it collectively was not interested in a story that didn't bash Bush and, indirectly, helped him because it unmasked the Clinton's administration's softness on terrorism.

There, that rant out of the way, we can get back to Barack's pecs.

After all, I'm sure the MSM years from now would similarly yawn if it became known that Condi Rice was stuffing after-action reports in her bra.

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Monday, January 8, 2007

The unspoken prosecutor in the hall

There's not much to say about Rod Blagojevich's inauguration today in Springfield. Our heavily investigated governor strode the podium with his family and stood a few chairs away from the man assumed to be his criminal defense lawyer.

A scandal ridden governor must be resourceful, Governor Rod learned from his predecessor. He can't stand around all day waiting for the indictments. He must have a diversion.

Because the death penalty moratorium already was spoken for, Blagojevich focused his speech on the next best media popular issue, universal health care. No mention about how it would be paid for, but no matter, he has something to talk about until U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald ushers in the Pat Quinn era.

The state's real problems—finances and ethics? Not a word.

There was a lot of blather about helping the regular people out there, just a few days after his administration threw them under the bus for a big campaign contributor.

Courtesy of the State Journal-Register, here are a few photo highlights of the day. (The SJR is not responsible for the captions).

Why am I here, Mayor? Because this
time I'm going to collect the legal fees in advance.

I promise to answer the subpoenas
to the best of my ability, so help me God

I swear I'll continue to talk
about corruption except
in the Governor's office

Mommy, is that another
$1,500 check?

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Friday, January 5, 2007

Whose faker—ComEd or Pat Quinn?

Anne Leary has it right about today's breathless Tribune story that "unmasks" a fake grass roots organization as a front group for ComEd. Duh.

Did anybody really think those commercials appeared because a couple of neighbors were talking over the fence and decided to spend a couple of million dollars?

I know where ComEd is coming from. And I'd say ComEd has a point that long-range energy policy of the state shouldn't be decided by populist politicians who know they can always grab a headline by bashing a utility.

What about Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, who predictably is quoted in the story as saying ComEd is being deceptive running the TV commercials. Where does he really stand?

Quinn said the ads give the appearance that a grass-roots group is behind them. "It's corporate money trying to hoodwink the public," he said.
This is the same Pat Quinn who has built a career criticizing political corruption yet he ran on a ticket headed by a governer under nine separate state and federal corruption investigations.

And it's the same Pat Quinn who just gained re-election on the strength of that governor's TV commercials. The parent company of the same utility Pat Quinn just ripped helped fund those commercials with $20,000 in donations to his ticket mate since 2005 and $59,000 overall.

Another downstate utility kicked in another $15,000 to Quinn's ticket mate during the recent stretch run a few weeks ago leading to Quinn's re-election.

You tell me who is the bigger phony — ComEd or Pat Quinn?

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Thursday, January 4, 2007

FOIA and Kabuki theater

God bless the Better Government Association in its lawsuit against Governor Rod Blagojevich to compel release of criminal subpoenas of his office.

The BGA is using as ammunition a legal opinion by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan that says the subpoenas are public information under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

This whole exercise is a bit of Kabuki theater. Madigan, with her party in control of the General Assembly and her father as House Speaker, ought to pass an amendment strengthening the FOIA law. Then she could file the lawsuit herself.

As it stands, FOIA is toothless, giving no governmental agency the right to enforce violations of the act. When Jim Ryan was Attorney General he attempted to pass such an amendment and got it through the House before Senate President James "Pate" Philip killed it in the upper chamber.

I had a discussion once with Daily Southtown columnist Phil Kadner about FOIA. A longtime advocate of stronger laws, Kadner hailed Madigan's appointment of a "public access counselor" who delivers advisory opinions on FOIA matters. I argued that while the step was better than nothing, it wouldn't be particularly effective.

I think the proof is that despite the existence of the public access counselor, the Blagojevich administration has been more hostile to FOIA than any other governor in recent Illinois history according to the reporters I talk to. The result is that he just refuses to turn over most documents he doesn't want reporters to see.

Madigan has been on the side of openness in the FOIA battle as have other AGs. I'd like to see her take her advocacy to the next level by championing FOIA reform.

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Nothing to apologize for

ArchPundit is missing the mark badly in his criticism of conservative bloggers and their attack on AP over its Iraq reporting.

Arch is premature in saying the bloggers ought to apologize because AP is now reporting that its mysterious source named Jamil Hussein does indeed exist.

Even if he does, it doesn't mean that Hussein was accurate in his portrayal of some 61 spectacular events in Iraq that AP has attributed to him. The most prominent of those events was an alleged burning alive of six Sunnis at a mosque that nobody else seems to know anything about.

There have been countless major distortions of the truth by the media in its Iraq war reporting. It has been crystal clear for some time that the MSM is aggressively opposed to the war and will highlight all that is bad in Iraq and downplay all that is good.

As I sit in the comfort of my den I surely can't tell Arch or anyone whether the six Sunnis were indeed spectacularly burned alive. I can tell that the reporting, in aggregate, is tilted. I am glad there's a skeptical blagosphere to question the questionable reporting.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Flip (Sheila) and Flop (Abby)

Operating without the cover of a multi-million dollar television advertising campaign, communicators for Governor Rod Blagojevich can't keep their stories straight — even on the same day.

One spokeswoman just told the Springfield State Journal Register that mum is the word when it comes to federal investigations of the administration.

Abby Ottenhoff, spokeswoman for the governor, said her office has "refrained from discussing investigations at the request of the entities that are conducting the reviews."

"Our concern is protecting the integrity of the U.S. attorney's investigation," Ottenhoff said.
Several hours earlier, the Daily Herald printed a Q and A with Deputy Governor Sheila Nix, who was far from tight-lipped about the investigations. She even predicted that U.S. Attorney's Patrick Fitzgerald's massive probes will result in zero indictments in the governor's office.

Q. The governor will serve his second term as all of these corruption investigations into his administration continue. What do you think the impact of that will be politically?

A. We talked a lot about this during the campaign. One of the things the governor was effective in communicating is that while there are these things going on, we're still getting a lot of work done. You know, a lot of these things that are out there and that people are talking about and are being investigated were really as a result of the information that we found from the inspector general that we appointed.

Q. Are you confident there will be no more indictments in a second term?

A. Yeah, I don't feel like we've had any indictments.

Q. (Top Blagojevich fund-raiser) Mr. Rezko was indicted.

A. There's been nobody in the governor's office, you know, that's even implicated in any wrongdoing.

Q. So you're confident no one will be indicted?

A. Yes.
Sheila and Abby ought to share cell phone numbers and talk occasionally. Flip-flopping on the same day is quite a way to start the new year.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Blago appoints hack at McPier

Continuing a legacy of appointing political hacks as head of McPier, Governor Rod Blagojevich appoints a man who raised money for him and who recently described new U.S. House member Peter Roskam as racist for opposing illegal immigration.

So much for appointing a true professional to the $195,000-a-year position.

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2006 not a total loss

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For Republicans in Illinois, 2006 was not a year to remember. The only consolation for a Redbird fan living in enemy territory was the shiny gold thing on my right in this photograph, taken over the weekend in suburban St. Louis. A cellular phone company is taking the World Series trophy on a tour of its various St. Louis area stores.

It was not as big as I thought, but well made. Couldn't tell how heavy — started to pick it up until I got the evil eye from a security goon.

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Monday, January 1, 2007

Holiday stifles pension attention

There's always a holiday season story that gets less attention than it deserves. This season, it was a Dec. 21 Crain's story by Steven Strahler that revealed that the Rod Blagojevich controlled Illinois State Board of Investment put clout above the interests of state pension contributors.

(Crain's) — A state pension fund has decided to postpone dropping minority-owned money manager Ariel Capital Management LLC for poor investment performance, after lobbying by two state senators and a former aide to Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
ISBI originally yanked the business because clout-heavy Ariel's stewardship of pension money was below par.

Strahler deserves credit for finding the story but he missed a couple of elements. He failed to note that Ariel is a huge campaign contributor to Blagojevich. According to state records, the investment firm has given about $600,000 to pols over the years. More than $100,000 has gone to Blagojevich, according to an October 2005 Sun-Times story.

Another intriguing sidelight is the Carl McCall connection. McCall is a board of director at Ariel and has strong ties to Joe Cari, the indicted Democratic fundraiser whose plea agreement stands as one of the most damning statements to date concerning Blagojevich's fundraising operation. Steve Rhoads outlined the McCall-Cari-Blagojevich connection in an excellent Chicago Magazine story in December 2005.

McCall is listed on the schedule of the "Shakedown Shuttle," the 2003 trip Blagojevich took with two fundraisers who since have been indicted and with at least one other who is under heavy federal scrutiny.

Clout in Illinois never takes a holiday.

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