Wednesday, February 28, 2007
But Al and Tipper have done us all a great favor. They have brought to light the greatest scam since, well, global warming. We're talking about "carbon offsets."
Until the other day, I had no idea what these were. Let's deconstruct the terminology for a second. Carbon of course is the byproduct of civilized modern society. Emissions from cars, factories, airplanes, etc. An offset means for every unit of carbon unleashed into the environment, an equal unit is replaced by planting a tree or reducing emissions somewhere else.
As Frank Luntz would phrase itâ€”It's a pollution gift card! It allow energy hogs such as the Gores to assuage their guilt by buying some mystery credits that will be cashed in on the other side of the planet. With apologies to It's a Wonderful Life, every time Al Gore buys another flat screen, a poor farmer in Tibet gets another sapling.
I realize I'm not a scientist and that all the carbon goes into the same global atmosphere. But isn't this offset business leading us to country with even more SUVs and some continents elsewhere with a whole lot of trees?
The whole point of offsetting is for a person to strive to be "neutral." Carbon neutral, that is. We are headed for nation of plusses, minuses and zeroes. Will the rating be stamped on driver's licenses? Is a ubiquitous logo coming to signify the vaunted neutral status? Will the Swiss finally feel less isolated?
And what about the suddenly most powerful people on the planet: the carbon offset bureaucrats. They will hold in their hands the power to make us all neutral. They will decide how many points to assign to each offset and how the offset business is doled out. And who will enforce the offsetters? Who will go around and determine if the saplings are planted? And who will regulate how much profit the offset companies can make? We don't want any green gouging.
While we are at it, why don't we create corruption offsets? Because we don't want to upset the planet's harmony, every time a public official such as an Illinois governor is indicted, a McCain-Feingold program must be put in place in Vietnam. If a state senator in New Jersey takes a bribe, a Freedom of Information Act must be enacted in Kurdistan.
We could go on here with other undesirable behaviors but I think you get the picture. A nightmare is on the horizon: A society that allows you to buy off your bad behavior in order to create a massive economy of bureaucratic offsetters.
I am not worried about climate change. But thanks to Al Gore, now I'm terrified of carbon offsets.
Barack Obama apparently believes that these patriots, who were wounded, imprisoned and tortured by our enemies during the Vietnam War, should not have been able to voice their opinion in the last presidential election.
Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), who was chairing the meeting, told Fox that he found his answers to Kerry "somewhat unsatisfying" and said that "The swift boat ads were of a different degree, even in the ugly arena of politics. They were extraordinarily well publicized, that there was essentially a fraud being perpetrated on the American people. It had a profound impact on the election."Obama made these remarks yesterday at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing of Sam Fox, a Republican, who is the nominee for Ambassador to Belgium. Fox gave the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth $50,000 in 2004.
I'd like to know what part of the ad, which was the centerpiece of the campaign, he finds fraudulent?
If anyone forgot why Gore lost the election in 2000, they were quickly reminded of his political ineptitude. Anyone who is trying to lead a global energy conservation movement ought to expect scrutiny of his own habits. Hell, he hasn't even installed solar panels yet.
In coming months, we are going to hear plenty from the political left about what we should be doing about global warming. From the right, we are going to be hearing more about "green-pocrisy" from left-wing celebrities and politicians.
Our own governor Rod Blagojevich, a hypocrite's hypocrite, already has amassed an impressive dossier in the genre.
Seizing on polling data no doubt, Blagojevich hopped on the green-wagon last month and already is blaming George W. Bush for federal inaction.
Now, despite inaction by President Bush, we must deal with it. By committing ourselves to action in Illinois, we can help minimize the effects of climate change and ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a healthy world full of opportunity."
Blagojevich made some of his green comments amid the revelation that his global warming advisory committee that he announced months previsiously has not even met yet.
What about his personal stewardship of planes and automobiles since he's been governor?
We all remember Chuck Goudie's multi-part expose in 2004 where he showed that Blagojevich took a virtual army of security personnel and SUV vehicles on trips to Boston and California. Only after the story aired did our ever environmentally sensitive governor say that maybe he ought to cut his security staff in half.
Goudie's work didn't prompt a green epiphany in Blago-world. An audit released last month showed that Blago's managers are wearing out the state airplane fleet between Chicago and Springfield at an unprecedented rate.
The Legislative Audit Commission ordered the audit in August 2005 in response to an Associated Press analysis of air fleet use in the first two and a half years of the Blagojevich administration.Of course if Blagojevich cared about reducing carbon emissions he'd be paying attention to travel like this, which he could easily modify or curb.
That analysis found Blagojevich's administration had taken more than 3,000 more flights than were taken in the same period under his predecessor, and that some of his top Cabinet directors flew nearly once every two and a half days -- all at a fraction of IDOT's cost to offer the service.
It's not enough of a "carbon offset" that the governor himself never seems to go to Springfieldâ€¦or anywhere else for that matter.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Why don't newspapers post all the background documents the reporter used to write the story right alongside the text?
Hewitt was talking about a story today in the Boston Globe focusing on an intercepted Mitt Romney strategy document, a 77-slide Powerpoint presentation. (Can't any of the Republican candidates for president secure their internal plans?) The paper published one of the 77 slides and reporter Scott Helman summarized the remaining material in his article.
The paper gives us a link to one slide from 77, thus not delivering on its primary mission of informing the public. Rather than putting the presentation out there for the readers to peruse, the paper wants us to believe that Scott will faithfully summarize the contents.Hewitt is dead on. In the days I was a reporter, stories weren't posted online therefore I never was accountable for how fairly I was quoting from reports, documents, court files, etc. Now, in the land of millions of bloggers and online sites, if the issue is important to somebody, chances are the source documents will show up. And if they are being twisted or distorted in newspaper accounts, somebody will point it out. So as they say in the pr biz, how about getting in front of the story, or in this case, the trend?
The paper wants its reporter to be the trusted intermediary of the news, but by filtering the story, the exact opposite effect is achieved: The paper loses credibility rather than gaining reputation for delivering news.
Who made the decision not to publish the 77 slides? What were they thinking? When will the paper figure out that a news organization's job is to deliver the news, not its reporter's view of the news?
Ironically, the online posting of source documents was what exposed Dan Rather and CBS' 60 Minutes in the "Rathergate" journalism scandal. A "memo to file" relating to George W. Bush's National Guard service was exposed by online conservative bloggers Little Green Footballs, Power Line and others as a typographic fraud. The lesson there for journalism is not that is folly to post source documents; rather it is folly not to vet them first.
If reporters and editors know all the source documents will be posted online (Rathergate notwithstanding), I guarantee the balance and fairness of stories will improve. And there's a business reason to do so, as well. As readers become more sophisticated in their search for information, they will gravitate to sites that give them more of it.
News sites have begun posting source documents such as lawsuits and court filings sporadically. But they have a long way to go. Only a small percentage of source documents make it online next to the published articles.
Increased accuracy, accountability and site traffic. Seems like a slam dunk to me.
Hooning claims that the university committed to 110 scholarships last year and thus began awarding them to veterans. He says the university changed its mind in the middle of the program because of cost and told him to start terminating most of the scholarships. The university, through its spokesman Tom Hardy, is claiming that the 110 scholarship figure always was meant to cover three years and that van der Hooning overcommitted the scholarships in the first year.
Hooning, in his interview with Ruberry, paints his superiors as cynical and anti-military. Hardy denies those charges. Obviously, that rhetoric will get sorted out in court.
In the meantime, this looks like an opportunity for Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to find some emergency money somewhere and make good on any commitments to veterans that were made. Rod made several impromptu commitments of state funds to groups last fall when he was campaigning for re-election, including $1 million to rebuild a church. This is an opportunity for him to show that he truly cares about the troops.
Monday, February 26, 2007
But he can be beat. Many of Durbin's pluses are also minuses. He's more vulnerable than he looks now.
Eric Krol of the Daily Herald gives us the early line on several possible self-funders. The Republican Party apparatus in Illinois is so battered by three straight thrashings at the polls that it believes the only way to defeat Durbin is with a stealthy wealthy candidate. Probably so.
An existing political figure in Illinois such as state Sen. Bill Brady, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis or several others probably would have great difficulty raising enough money to avoid being trampled by Durbin's huge war chest. Then state Sen. Jim Durkin got the endorsement of both Chicago newspapers but lacked money to air a single TV or radio commercial against Durbin and got beat 60-38.
If one of those political figures wanted the job bad enough and entered the race soon and began campaigning hard, they could become a credible candidate. They should remember the lesson of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a rather nameless congressman who entered the race for governor when it looked like he had little chance. Events changed rather dramatically in the meantime and all of sudden he squeaked by a tough primary and emerged as a favorite in the general election.
The political climate will undoubtedly change for the worse for Illinois Democrats. Massive corruption investigations will produce indictments this year against top cronies of Blagojevich and possibly Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Durbin hasn't exactly distanced himself from either.
As for the national ticket Obama factor, a shrewd Republican can turn that against Durbin. Obama says people are tired of partisan bickering and small politics. There's nobody in politics who is more partisan and small than Dick Durbin. His opponent should use Obama's words against Durbin. Find Durbin's catalog of floor screeds and ask Obama is this what he has in mind when he talks about a new tone of gentility?
Illinois voters no doubt tilt left but they don't like a partisan robot and Durbin makes the Roomba look independent.
That's the attack part of the equation. That Republican self-funder must have a compelling personality and story to counterract a lack of governmental experience. And they would have to be acceptable to the Republican base and have an issue or two that would have breakthrough Perot-like cross-over appeal, such as advocacy of a flat tax.
There may be nobody out there to fill the template. I'm not so sure, however. Call it the Audacity of Hope.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
My best supporting actor is the Ariens SS322 snowblower (above, center). While the glittery and gawky (above, left) people were walking down the red carpet in California, I was taking the Le Grand Orange (yes, named after Rusty Staub) out to my long L-shaped driveway for about the seventh time this month.
Only in Hollywood can they swoon over the great climate overstater while we in the Heartland are being hit with yet another snowstorm topping off one of the worst winter months ever.
The only thing weirder would be if someone praised President Bush from the podium at the Academy Awards tonight.
I don't think adding my opinion that Hillary came out on top adds much to an episode that won't mean much in a couple of months. But then Barack couldn't just take his early campaign Oscar-let and go home. Curiously, he interfered with a dying story and not in a way that helped him. He told the New York Times that it was his communications staff that uttered the snarky comeback to Hillary's insult and that he, Prince Barack, didn't approve of it.
Lynn Sweet's column today in the Sun-Times had the details.
Obama repudiated the hardball tactics of his own staff. And he made it seem he was clueless about a major story dealing with his own campaign.And....
In a front page New York Times interview published Friday, Obama suggested that his marching orders to stay on the high road were ignored, quite a public flogging.
Obama, who is rarely without a cell phone or BlackBerry, seemed curiously removed from a major political story dealing with his campaign.Obama and his staff obviously need to synch their BlackBerrys. The larger point is more troubling from a strategic perspective. Why did Obama hang his staff out to dry for a cheap attempt to tell the Times that he doesn't like the rough stuff?
He told the Times the clash erupted as he was flying back to Chicago from Los Angeles on a red eye. Then, he was busy getting a haircut and taking his kids to school.
Later that day, he was back in a plane, presumably with aides who could have delivered the news.
Folks may well have been ready to move on by the end of the week. But Obama, in a baffling strategy, made a surprising call -- to the New York Times.
The story had already played out more or less in his favor and all the Obama topper did is make himself look unpresidential. If communications director Robert Gibbs popped off without following protocol, Obama should have scolded him privately and let the story fade away in his favor.
A leader has to make these judgments every day. You can't singe your staff every time you see an opening for a cheap pander in the New York Times. That kind of move doesn't shout out strength, and with a logo like this, hard-nosed opponents like Hillary, McCain and Giuliani looming, I can't imagine al Qaeda is quaking in its caves over the prospect of an Obama regime.
Obama is positioned well in the Democratic primary right now. His problem is that any external event: a terrorist act, heightened tension over Iran, god forbid a successful surge, will expose his muddled internationalist, head-in-the-sand, views on radical Islamic terrorism and burst the babble of his celebrity candidacy.
In the meantime, Obama also is exposed on his "above-the-fray" posture. Hillary's camp is going to snare him continually in that trap of his own creation. He needs to give himself some room to maneuver politically by issuing a statement clarifying what he means by staying above it all.
Hillary still has made the biggest mistake in the raceâ€”her panicked early entry. Her positioning on the war slightly to the right of Obama, however, is probably a long-term asset. Barack is on the wrong side of historyâ€”it's just a matter of when events expose his naivetÃ©.
Friday, February 23, 2007
What about Hillary?
We're talking about money from executives at a company with a checkered past, International Profit Associates, headquartered in suburban Chicago. In today's front page story in the Washington Post about Bill Clinton's nationwide speaking tour that has raised millions, IPA is mentioned as a company that has been good to both Bill and Hillary Clinton over the years. According to the NY Times, IPA's execs have given Hillary's political organizations more than $150,000.
In the last several years, however, a series of revelations have caused politicians, including Blagojevich, to return most of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions given by IPA. The Chicago Tribune, in an editorial last year, discussed why:
The campaign also learned that (company founder John) Burgess pleaded guilty to patronizing a 16-year-old prostitute and that two business partners at International Profit Associates had criminal records.The background of IPA and Burgess is even more sordid. Burgess was disbarred as a lawyer and has an attempted grand larcenary conviction, and IPA has left behind a long trail of consumer complaints and state investigations, published reports show.
More recently, the 1,800-employee firm has been at the center of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of 101 women staffers against 50 male employees, including Burgess. Oprah Winfrey had some of the women on her show in September to talk about sexual harassment in the workplace.
Hillary certainly knew this because the N.Y. Times did a lengthy profile on Burgess last year and quoted her campaign as saying that the issue of returning the contributons "will be reviewed."
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has collected more than $150,000 in contributions from executives of International Profit Associates, some as recently as September, and spoke at a company event in 2004. As a group, company officials and their spouses are one of the largest sources of contributions to Mrs. Clinton's re-election campaign.In light of today's Post story, it's time to ask if that review is complete.
Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Clinton all say they were not aware of problems with the company, known as I.P.A., or with Mr. Burgess when they took the money, though some problems were documented as early as 1997 in newspapers, magazines and on the Internet.
Other politicians have returned money to I.P.A. upon learning of Mr. Burgess's history, among them Rod Blagojevich, the Democratic governor of Illinois, and Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat running for attorney general of New York. Mr. Cuomo gave back $20,000 in 2002, when he was running for governor, and Mr. Blagojevich returned $125,000 the same year. Just last month, Wisconsin's governor, Jim Doyle, and attorney general, Peg Lautenschlager, said they would return $35,000 in I.P.A. contributions.
A spokeswoman for Mrs. Clinton said her campaign "will be reviewing" the I.P.A. contributions.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Barack Obama's bizarre software company-like logo might not make it past the primary if the candidate does.
The Chicago designer who created the international orb of peace and harmony said it might be replaced if Obama wins the primary and has to rely on non-left wing voters to win.
Mr. (Sol) Sender said he is unsure if the logo will remain intact if Mr. Obama wins the Democratic nomination.I'd say so. Otherwise, could you imagine the contrast on the nightly news when John McCain or Rudy Giuliani stood behind a stars and stripes banner and Obama stood behind that.
"I'm sure if he gets the nomination new things will be done," Mr. Sender said.
We're not saying the two piles are connected. Not yet anyway.
If the governor's administration starts to collapse under the weight of more corruption indictments, the governor's campaign fund will be struggling to keep up with the already staggering legal bills. And with a sinking ship, there won't be many insiders who will want to give money to a governor on the way out.
However, that pile of pardon requests will be sitting there, some of them from defendants with powerful and rich advocates.
We know from the governor that the administration "does things right" so we're not suggesting anything here.
But just in case, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald ought to keep a close watch in case a flurry of pardons go out and flood of money comes in about the same time. Blagojevich saw the President (Clinton) he served under in Congress perfect the routine. We don't need a rerun in Illinois.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
They too, want an audience with Obama. They won't be giving him money. They want to know if he's still the same person they endorsed in 1995 when he first ran for state Senate.
This fascinating link is courtesy of Bill Baar. It is a discussion board post one month ago by Carl Davidson, a longtime fringe leftist who claims to know Obama well. To put Davidson's philosophy in perspective, read this account of a meeting of the reconstituted radical group SDS where he said his Vietnam era generation was "the last generation that believed in America." Bernardine Dohrn, the Weather Underground terrorist who now teaches at Northwestern University, sent her regrets (seriously).
Anyway, here's what Davidson said on the discussion board about Obama. He recalled the good old days, when Barack and the far left Chicago New Party were on the same page:
I'm from Chicago, too, and known Obama from the time he came to the New Party to get our endorsement for his first race ever. I've been in his home, and as an IL legislator, he's helped or community technology movement a number of times. He said all the right things to the ACORN and New Party folks, and we endorsed him, but I noticed too, that he seemed to measure every answer to questions put to him several times before coming out with it.I wonder if the Obama camp will publicize this meeting. It promises to be more interesting than the one in Hollywood.
He spoke at our first antiwar rally. He spent most of his speech detailing all the wars in history he supported, then finally made a distinction between just wars and 'dumb' wars, and going into Iraq, which was still six months down the road then, was a 'dumb war,' and he flatly opposed it. Good, that put him on our side, and some of us organized a fundraiser for him for his Senate race. But a friend of mine, and also an Obama campaigner, at that first rally, nudged me and asked, 'Who was that speech for? Certainly not this crowd.' Now we know.
After he visited Iraq when the war was on, he turned. Now we had to set aside whether it was right or wrong to invade, now we had to find the 'smart' path to victory, not Bush's 'dumb' path. Also, in dealing with Iran, we had to leave on the table bombing their nuclear sites. For this, a lot of the local antiwar activists started calling him 'Barack 'Obomb 'em'. He wasn't listening much to us anymore, but to folks much higher up in the DLC orbit. He had bigger plans.
To be fair, I read a recent speech he gave to laid-off workers from a plant closing out in Galesburg, IL, around globalization, corporate responsibility, the safety net, the third wave, and so on. It was very good. Save for not mentioning the war, I probably couldn't written a better one myself.
Giving the current crisis and developments in Congress, he may move back to our side on the war, and get as far as, say, Murtha's position. But right now he's not in the 'Out Now' camp, not as good as Murtha, and a triangulator par excellence. I've watched him do it up close. The press and his publicists put him in our camp, but if you look at his speeches and votes since his trip to Iraq, I think you'll find he has a way to go. Our peace groups here are sending a bunch of us to visit him soon, and get on his case. Perhaps he's still a work in progress, as Jesse Jackson says, but he still has a way to go to get back in my good graces, and those of many more of us here also.
Carl Davidson, Chicago
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Titled, "Obama walks red carpet with Hollywood bigwigs" the 1,347-word story couldn't help but include the elusive "l" word, right?
Nope. The hunt continues.
In the months ahead, this kind of political video will explode in popularity as a swift, effective way to make a point.
Monday, February 19, 2007
To the acclaim of many, Barack Obama's campaign unveiled his new age round logo a couple of weeks ago. To me, it looked like a symbol more befitting a United Nations (logo at right) committee. Or one for a new piece of software.
However, to be fair, before criticizing it I waited to make sure I wasn't misjuding the orb. Perhaps what it lacked in political punch could be forgiven if it had special powers like hovering over the planet emitting cosmic peace rays. It doesn't and now I'll be heardâ€”the logo is way too worldly and, well, weak.
Considering that many voters ultimately might reject Obama because they believe he is not tough enough to handle a war on terror, is an Oprah like logo the way to go?
There's a reason we haven't seen many round political logos over the years.
The Los Angeles Times today published an incredibly weak hit on Obama. It sets up the premise that he took too much credit in his autobiography for his community activism at a Chicago housing project when he was 24 years old. It quotes a disgruntled woman and Obama's former opponent for Congress, Bobby Rush.
Rush, the article admits, hasn't even read Obama's book. And other activists at the time say this:
No one disputes that Obama was active in organizing Altgeld residents. Several who worked directly with him say that he was the most effective organizer they had seen â€” a surprise, given his youth. "He was our motivator" said Callie Smith, now 50, who was active in Obama's group. "We did all the work, but he was our inspiration."A cynic would suggest that the Times knows the attack is weak and in some ways makes Obama look good. It gives the paper license to resume its fawning campaign. I'm trying not to be cynical on a Monday, but other explanations for this are escaping me.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
I was impressed by McCain Friday at a small gathering of Illinois conservatives I attended. Although I won't get into specific conversations because the session was not for attribution, it was clear that on many core issues McCain and conservatives are in agreement.
It is no secret that McCain's problems with conservatives mainly stem from his advocacy of campaign finance reform and his reputation for pandering to the national press, which most conservatives distrust.
My biggest complaint with McCain has been the latter issue. However, his recent firm stand on behalf of winning the war in Iraq has given me a new perspective on McCain. Without flinching, he is throwing away his beltway bonafides to do the right thing. That's worth a lot these days as politicians of both parties try to straddle all dimensions of the war issue without regard for the propaganda fodder they are giving our enemies.
Another observation on McCain: he's clearly not the celebrity candidate any more. He's not that good at sound bites and while he is a decent communicator, he's not smooth. What he has is a sincerity that stands apart from most of the top presidential candidates. Whether that quality will be decisive is hard to say. There's a long way to go.
If the American people choose McCain it will signal they have left the mind warp they are in right now and have become serious again about the threats that face us.
Some conservatives at that meeting will not support McCain because of issue differences. I have not decided who our best nominee is. I am convinced that having such a serious, tested patriot in the race is in the best interest of all Americans, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Here's what JFK, the most popular Democrat of the last 50 years, said, upon taking office in 1961:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.Here's what Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said today:
"The passage of this legislation will signal a change in direction in Iraq that will end the fighting and bring our troops home," she vowed after the vote, in which 17 Republicans joined 229 Democrats in a wartime rebuke to the president.I hope Nancy and her band of Defeatocrats are happy that every news outlet in the Muslim world will trumpet her great statement of "support" for the troops as they secure Baghdad.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I wasn't planning to write about the death last week of 81-year-old Eddie Feigner, the world's greatest (fastpitch softball) pitcher ever.
That is until sport columnist Kirk Wessler of the Peoria Journal Star wrote an interesting column bragging about hitting a double off Feigner in 1981 or 1982.
Well, Kirk, I tripled off Feigner, and almost killed him, all in the same game.
A little background. As Kirk noted in his column, Feigner was known as the King and his barnstorming act as the King and his Court. For decades, Feigner and three teammates would face full nine-man teams in exhibition games before packed stadiums across the country.
Feigner was so good that he regularly struck out the finest hitters in major league baseball in other exhibitions. As Wessler noted in his column, in 1964, Feigner struck out Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Maury Wills, Harmon Killebrew, Roberto Clemente and Brooks Robinson in order. All but Wills are enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame. I remember as a kid watching Feigner and his act on the Wide World of Sports, a much-watched TV show that aired every Saturday.
Fast forward to 1986. Feigner was 61 years old and I was playing fastpitch softball and working as a reporter for the Daily Herald. Our team in Highland Park was probably the best in the Chicago area and we were selected to play the King and His Court at Thillens Stadium on the northwest side of Chicago.
Because he was 61 years old and playing games every night, there wasn't much juice left in Feigner's pitches that night. We were hitting the ball fairly hard and because he had only two fielders other than the catcher, most balls were falling for hits. I hit a triple to the abandoned outfield in one of the early innings.
I came to bat later and it was time for Feigner's trademark blindfold trick where he pitched with his eyes covered. A fielder put a blindfold on Feigner and stood next to him for protection. The catcher told me not to hit the ball back through the middle. I said to myself, "OK, I'll hit the ball to the right side."
Easier said than done with the trick balls Feigner used. The softballs were lighter than regular softballs so they curved more. I swung easily trying to hit the ball to rightfield but the dancing ball darted toward my hands at the last second. My swing was not hard but the contact was perfect. Right back at Feigner's forehead.
Luckily, the fielder stuck his glove in front of Feigner's face and stopped the ball inches from contact. Feigner whipped his blindfold off and stormed toward me, screaming '"f- you, the interview's off" at the top of his lungs in front of the crowd of 1,200, including many adoring young fans. The interview he was referring to was one I had pre-arranged with him after a lengthy phone interview several weeks prior. I was writing a profile for the Daily Herald.
I wrote the profile anyway and was thankful he gave me a first-hand demonstration of his legendary temper, which Kirk also noted in his column.
Despite that outburst, it was an honor to play in a game with such a legend. Anyone who has played fastpitch softball knows how good he was. In my profile, I noted that Feigner had already registered 921 no-hitters in his career.
The King is dead, but far from forgotten.
What is so audacious about announcing that you're running for president? Any idiot can run for president. Dennis Kucinich is running for president. Until he was imprisoned, Lyndon LaRouche used to run for president constantly. John Kerry ran for president. Today, all you have to do is suggest a date by which U.S. forces in Iraq should surrender, and you're officially a Democratic candidate for president.And...
Obama made his announcement surrounded by hundreds of adoring Democratic voters. And those were just the reporters.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The magazine's recent profile of Barack Obama is an eye-opener for those who are interested in the teachings of Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ through the words of his close friend, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
This is as openly radical a background as any significant American political figure has ever emerged from, as much Malcolm X as Martin Luther King Jr. Wright is not an incidental figure in Obama's life, or his politics.Previously, from the right, there has been commentary about the church from MSNBC's Tucker Carlson and Illinois Review's Fran Eaton. She was also quoted in this Chicago Tribune story earlier this month.
Here's how author Ben Wallace-Wells describes a Wright sermon in the Rolling Stone piece:
And there is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a sprawling, profane bear of a preacher, a kind of black ministerial institution, with his own radio shows and guest preaching gigs across the country. Wright takes the pulpit here one Sunday and solemnly, sonorously declares that he will recite ten essential facts about the United States. "Fact number one: We've got more black men in prison than there are in college," he intones. "Fact number two: Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!" There is thumping applause; Wright has a cadence and power that make Obama sound like John Kerry. Now the reverend begins to preach. "We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training of professional KILLERS. . . . We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. . . . We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. . . . We care nothing about human life if the ends justify the means!" The crowd whoops and amens as Wright builds to his climax: "And. And. And! GAWD! Has GOT! To be SICK! OF THIS SHIT!"Over the last few days, there's been lots of coverage on the teachings of the Mormon church and its relation to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. After the Rolling Stone article, maybe the media will zero in on Obama's church.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
So Rod had to act as host to a real presidential contender, Barack Obama, serving pizza at the mansion to the thousands who came to hear Obama speak in Springfield Saturday. Blagojevich was out in the cold with them, and, according to some reports, endured booing when his name was announced.
He tried to break through today with a press release about reducing greenhouse gases in Illinois in coming years, to ride the wave of favorable coverage on the issue of global warming. But as is usually the case with this governor, there's little substance behind his showiness. After criticizing the Bush administration for doing nothing on global warming, it was revealed his own climate panel hasn't had a single meeting since it was announced last year.
And, he unveiled his plan on a day when the state was being ravaged by blizzard, described by WGN's Tom Skilling as the biggest February snowstorm in seven years.
Monday, February 12, 2007
If Fitzgerald loses, it would give Blago's people something to say when the corruption indictments start flying against them in Illinois. They could say that Fitzgerald, also the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, is overzealous, and use that as a public defense.
Fitzgerald has lost few high profile cases in his career but it looks like there's a chance he might lose the Libby perjury case. A parade of witnesses for both sides is laying out a confusing picture for jurors.
The MSM has lost interest in the case because Republican "villian" Karl Rove and other top officials were not indicted and because many top reporters are being grilled on the witness stand and are showing noticable lapses of memory, and, in some cases, are giving answers that appear less than truthful.
This blogsite is covering the case better than any media outlet. I wonder if Blagojevich's people have it bookmarked.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
I just looked at the post announcement stories from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and AP. The word "liberal" doesn't appear in any of those stories.
We noted here recently that in the miniscule coverage given Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee when he announced his exploratory candidacy for president, the wire story described him as a "conservative" in the first word of the story.
Can a representative from the MSM explain this to me?
I have met and briefly talked to Obama a few times and he is as advertised, personable, charming and charismatic. He's without doubt the most sincere of the Democrats' big three of Clinton, Obama and Edwards.
It takes great courage to run for President, yet it is clear from the speech today Obama is not a courageous leader, nor a particularly creative one. His laundry list of challengesâ€”poverty, declining unions, living wage was straight from a 1960s liberal playbook with not a new idea in sight. Then he complained about the "smallness" of our politics and proceeded to say "let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America."
Most strikingly, he almost completely avoided the challenge of his generationâ€”defeating the gathering storm of Islamic extremism.
All of us know what those challenges are today -- a war with no end, a dependence on oil that threatens our future, schools where too many children aren't learning, and families struggling paycheck to paycheck despite working as hard as they can. We know the challenges. We've heard them. We've talked about them for years.Maybe Obama doesn't believe terrorism is the challenge of his generation or maybe he didn't want to say something that is not music to the ears of his left-wing audience in Springfield or in the Democratic primary. Either explanation is unsettling.
Despite the hype, Obama is hardly in the mold of the last presidential candidate liberals swooned over: JFK. He's much closer to George McGovern. Here's what JFK said in 1960 when he announced his candidacy for president. He was not afraid to confront the challenge of the day and assert it was America's duty to defeat it.
For 18 years, I have been in the service of the United States, first as a naval officer in the Pacific during World War II and for the past 14 years as a member of the Congress. In the last 20 years, I have traveled in nearly every continent and country--from Leningrad to Saigon, from Bucharest to Lima. From all of this, I have developed an image of America as fulfilling a noble and historic role as the defender of freedom in a time of maximum peril--and of the American people as confident, courageous and persevering.And more JFK from that speech:
The Presidency is the most powerful office in the Free World. Through its leadership can come a more vital life for our people. In it are centered the hopes of the globe around us for freedom and a more secure life. For it is in the Executive Branch that the most crucial decisions of this century must be made in the next four years--how to end or alter the burdensome arms race, where Soviet gains already threaten our very existence--how to maintain freedom and order in the newly emerging nations--how to rebuild the stature of American science and education--how to prevent the collapse of our farm economy and the decay of our cities--how to achieve, without further inflation or unemployment, expanded economic growth benefiting all Americans--and how to give direction to our traditional moral purpose, awakening every American to the dangers and opportunities that confront us.George W. Bush had a similar view of America when he announced his candidacy for President. This was of course pre- 9/11.
America must seize this moment. America must lead. Because America's greatest export to the world is, and always will be, freedom.Obama, instead, urged a rapid retreat from Iraq and separated that from the fight against terrorists. That's a distinction that Democrats have been making for several years for purely political reasons, the type of politics Obama says he despises. Regardless, the previous truth of the Iraq-Al Qaeda link doesn't matter. The reality is that the two are extricably linked now and if Obama can't see it he's hardly the best choice to lead the country the next four or eight years.
The closest he came to addressing America's leadership in the world was this tepid internationalist statement.
But let us also understand that ultimate victory against our enemies will come only by rebuilding our alliances and exporting those ideals that bring hope and opportunity to millions around the globe.Obama also curiously avoided mentioning America's defeat of fascism and communism when listing how our country always met the challenge of the day.
The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we've changed this country before. In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard a King's call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.Some commentators complained that Obama's speech today lacked substance. I disagree. It told Americans plenty about Obama's internationalist, pacifist worldview and his lack of new ideas on the homefront.
He's a compelling figure with a message that's far from compelling. Instead of tackling problems head-on like JFK, Lincoln and GWB, Obama's avoidance style is more reminiscent of McGovern or Bill Clinton.
Friday, February 9, 2007
Most amazing to me was a front page Washington Post story today quoting from an inspector general's report saying that a top Defense Department official and punching bag of the left, Douglas Feith, misstated intelligence leading up to the Iraq War.
Instead of quoting from the report, the reporters quoted from a harsher report issued by far left Democratic U.S. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. Here is the online correction just posted by the Post.
CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLEThat's a whopper. Veteran reporters are not supposed to make mistakes like that. The more damning language was picked up by wire services and cable outlets all day, so the mistaken language had considerable reach.
A Feb. 9 front-page article about the Pentagon inspector general's report regarding the office of former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith incorrectly attributed quotations to that report. References to Feith's office producing "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" and that the office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda" were from a report issued by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in Oct. 2004. Similarly, the quotes stating that Feith's office drew on "both reliable and unreliable reporting" to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq "that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration" were also from Levin's report. The article also stated that the intelligence provided by Feith's office supported the political views of senior administration officials, a conclusion that the inspector general's report did not draw.The two reports employ similar language to characterize the activities of Feith's office: Levin's report refers to an "alternative intelligence assessment process" developed in that office, while the inspector general's report states that the office "developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers." The inspector general's report further states that Feith's briefing to the White House in 2002 "undercuts the Intelligence Community" and "did draw conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence."
Earlier this week, Dennis Byrne wrote an excellent column about another partisan Washington report the originated from a left wing group that purported to show that scientists within the federal government "felt pressured" to express skepticism about man-made global warming.
Byrne's column is worth reading in full, but in summary he notes the entire survey is a fraud because of a ridiculously small sample size and nakedly unfair grouping of answers.
Yet, because the report was showcased in a congressional committee run by liberal bomb-thrower Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, it was treated as a legitimate story. It wasn't difficult to find the phoniness in the report but the MSM was not interested in that angle.
And if anything makes Bush look bad, some in the media will show up. Like NBC's Brian Williams, for example, who intoned on his nightly newscast: "The question in Washington was this: did the Bush administration...try to cook the books on the topic of global warming?"What do both stories have in common? They were both harsh attacks on President Bush. Yes, journalists can make mistakes, but why are they always to the detriment of Bush?
There's more. Blagojevich's state police director was quoted in the Bloomington Pantagraph that it's hard to quantify the extent of ID theft and other internet crimes.
State Police Director Larry Trent said his office does not know the extent of Internet crime in Illinois but instances of identity fraud and online theft are occurring more frequently.Had someone just clicked onto Madigan's website, they would have found the statistics had already been compiled.
"The internet is fertile hunting ground for criminals who victimize from across town or across the globe," he said. "We don't know how bad Internet crime is but we believe that it is huge."
So much for intergovernmental cooperation.
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Also, let's count the number of times this weekend the MSM describes Obama as liberal. I doubt it will take long.
While "serious" journalists stroke their chin and ponder their "failure" in questioning the Bush administration in the "run-up" to the Iraq War, perhaps they ought to shift their focus to their real-time failure to play it straight in the "run-up" to the 2008 election choosing our next Commander-in-Chief.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Today, Blagojevich announced a task force to fight child predators on the internet and to combat other crimes such as identity theft, the number one consumer complaint according to Madigan's office. The new unit would mostly by made up of Illinois State Police personnel.
The Governor's plan has four main components: creating a centralized Internet Crimes Unit (ICU) under Illinois State Police authority, increasing penalties of Internet crime, designing the ICU Web site to serve as a "One-Stop-Shopping" center where the public can report suspicious online behavior and get information about Internet crime and safety, using the most advanced law enforcement technology available. In addition, the ISP has entered into a partnership with NetSmartz and is putting state police officers into school classrooms around to the state to teach kids how to be safe and smart on the Internet.Well, the AG's office already has a similar unit in place and it includes ISP personnel. From a press release about a year ago:
The ICU is comprised of ten officers, seven computer forensic investigators, and eight crime analysts. This makes the Illinois ICU one of the nation's largest state teams dedicated to fighting Internet crimes. The goal is to create a unique enforcement group capable of educating the public, gathering information from the private sector, coordinating investigations with other bodies and agencies of law enforcement, de-conflicting investigative efforts, researching crime, proactively searching the Web for criminal activity, and then performing the required forensic work to further investigative efforts and assist prosecutors in jailing offenders.
Chicago â€“ Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced that a task force created by her office's High Tech Crimes Bureau to combat the online exploitation of children has created a strong network of law enforcement partners to coordinate statewide investigations and prosecutions and has made great strides in educating Illinoisans about the dangers of child predators on the Internet.Maybe, just maybe Blagojevich and Madigan are coordinating the activities of the two unit. I'd hate to think that Blagojevich just yanked the ISP from Madigan's task force to steal a publicity weapon from his colleague of the same political party.
Madigan said 73 law enforcement agencies now belong to the Illinois I-CAC task force, including the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Corrections, 51 local police departments and 11 State's Attorneys Offices. The law enforcement partners have agreed to assist with investigations of child predators within their jurisdictions, no matter what other agency or jurisdiction referred the complaint.
Technorati Tags: Illinois
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Madigan's point was that the Tribune and by extension the MSM checks out rumors before printing them and therefore anything that appears there is fully vetted and safe for the eyes of the public.
In suggesting the New Media is sloppy and negligent, he cites the Barack Obama madrassa story and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth saga. I noted a few days ago that's the exact same argument other liberal commentators have been making.
As I pointed out, the madrassa story was not aired all that widely and when at least parts of the story were shown to be dubious, it was the New Media that helped shoot it down. On the spectrum of unfair stories and smears that appear every week across the country, this one barely registers.
On the Swift Boats, Madigan has his facts jumbled and wrong, which destroys the overall point of his op-ed piece.
The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth with their sneaky attack on Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the last presidential contest were info-pimps.Well, Charles, they did say so and there was nothing sneaky about it. On May 4, 2004, at a press conference in Washington, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth presented a letter signed by 200 Swift Boat veterans opposing the candidacy of John Kerry. Almost every one of Kerry's commanders signed the letter. Eighteen of the veterans stood up, one by one, and outlined why they opposed Kerry.
It would have been a lot easier if they had just said, "We hate his guts because he was anti-war and let his comrades down," and let it go. Betrayal is really bad enough. You don't have to pretend there is "news" involved.
What they did was the opposite of sneaky. The only sneaks were members of the MSM, who treated the event as if it didn't happen. There's was virtually no coverage. Can you tell me with a straight face, Charles, that if a similar group of George W. Bush's National Guard colleagues stood up at a press conference in Washington the event would have been treated with the same yawn?
The irony of the snub was that it made the Swift Boat veterans a bigger story. Had the MSM covered the issue honestly, perhaps the matter would have gone away after a short while. What happened, of course, was that the Swift Boat veterans figured out a way to go around the MSM by producing a commercial and writing a book and using those vehicles to tell their story on cable news networks. That prompted a flood of donations to the veterans' website, which allowed them to make more commercials.
Once that happened, the MSM suddenly became interested but only as Kerry's "protector." The New York Times wrote a ridiculous story that traced every last Republican link to anyone in the group. Absurdly, they made a big deal of saying the company that produced the Swift Boat commercials also produced the famous "tank ad" ridiculing Michael Dukakis riding in a military tank, complete with helmet. Had the New York Times done an ounce of real research they would have known the company was picked because one of the veterans is related to an official with the company.
Then, Nightline and other media outlets took turns attacking the Swift Boat narrative. Only small bits were discredited, yet many media outlets to this day blithely state that the Swift Boat veterans' credibility was destroyed.
It's reminiscent of the MSM mythology that the Willie Horton ads in the 1988 presidential campaign were unfair to Dukakis. Like the Swift Boat ads, the Willie Horton ads were devastating because they were simple, believable and true.
There was no trickery in the Swift Boat ads. Most of them featured former military men speaking to camera about their dislike of John Kerry because of his false accusations against them after the Vietnam War. The ads used Kerry's own testimony before Congress to amplify the point. These were not rehearsed actors. The emotion was real.
The larger point that Madigan misses in his op-ed is selectivity. He says that the Tribune's work product is fact-checked at multiple levels and bloggers sometimes just throw stuff out there. That's true. It's not that the Tribune makes tons of factual errors. It's that the Tribune and other MSM outlets makes judgments every day on which stories to cover and they do so with a mostly liberal world view.
That's why Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and other conservative outlets do so well. Because the MSM shuts out half the "news" and the marketplace has found a way to provide some balance.
And to Madigan's point about the MSM not blindly following each other, perhaps he doesn't remember the Dan Rather/George Bush national guard story. When 60 Minutes aired yet another vapid story questioning George Bush's service, using an interview with a partisan Democrat as ammunition and a "letter to file" resurrected from the filing cabinet of a dead man, the rest of the MSM didn't bat an eye. They didn't critically question the story; they simply picked it up and aired across the country on front pages.
Just a few little ol conservative bloggers proved that the entire story was false. This was no little madrassa story that got limited play. This was a major hit job on a sitting president on the eve of a presidential election.
In that case, CBS was not only was horribly biased â€” devoting months of research to a story that has been done dozens of times and never has gone anywhere â€” it also got it wrong. CBS is not alone in its high profile bias â€” it is displayed every morning on the pages of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and other major newspapers and TV networks.
Madigan is selective in his memory and his facts are wrong on the Swift Boat veterans. In trying to make his point, he made mine.
Friday, February 2, 2007
In his first term, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich led the nation in criminal investigations and number of gas guzzling SUVs escorting him on out-of-state trips.
Today, our environmentally sensitive governor blasted the president of the United States for not warming up to global warming and touted his record of eliminating greenhouse gases despite the cross-country battalion of Chevy Suburbans.
SPRINGFIELD - "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations has just reconfirmed what we already know â€“ that global warming is upon us. The global community is acknowledging the problem and here in Illinois, despite inaction by President Bush, we have begun to address it.Yes, the Governor has started to eliminate greenhouse gases. He no longer takes corporate jet trips like this, because the people who made it possible have been indicted.
"Last fall, I announced a new global warming initiative to combat global climate change that builds on steps we're already taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Illinois Climate Change Advisory Group I created will begin its work this month to recommend strategies to cut greenhouse gases statewide.