Friday, June 29, 2007

Durbin's Tribune press agents

I've written many news stories. I know news stories. You could say that I've been close enough to some news stories to say they are a friend of mine. And this Dick Durbin earmark item on the Chicago Tribune "Swamp" website, Tribune reporters, is no news story. This makes a press release appear morose and critical by comparison.

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'It's time to fight for our civilization'

From a message board in London in reaction to today's thwarted terrorist attack.

Wake up people. Bush and Blair did not start this. Islamic killers have been at war with the west for decades. How soon we all forget. Our war on terror will not breed more terrorists, sitting on our butts surely will! Learn from Hitler, did giving him land in the 1930s with no challenge keep him from attacking England? It's time to fight for our civilization.

- Jr, Gerrards Cross, UK
Somebody relay this message to John Edwards and the other Democratic presidential candidates.

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Rod P. Blagojevich

Gossip columnist Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times reported this morning that the Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's wife has put state troopers guarding his house on, er, hold.

To pee or not to pee. That is the question.

• To wit: Sneed hears rumbles that the bodyguard detail protecting Gov. Blagojevich's family compound in Chicago has run into a rather difficult problem.

• Translation: It seems first lady Patti Blagojevich does not want the security detail using the toilet facilities in her home, despite the fact the round-the-clock detail would have to vacate the premises intermittently in order to take care of their bodily functions.

• Which begs the question: Where do they pee?

In the parkway.

Over at Rich Miller's website, the governor's office has issued a denial.

However, about three or four years ago, I talked to a state trooper with direct knowledge of the house policy and he told me it was true.

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Dems' blunder on Fairness Doctrine

The Democrats' clumsy attempt to stifle free speech in America will backfire politically. Powerline's John Hinderaker sums up nicely the attempt to reinstate the "Fairness Doctrine" and its political implications.

The Democrats have handed conservatives a golden issue by attempting to bring down talk radio. Congressman Mike Pence offered an amendment to the FCC act today that would bar any use of funds for the re-establishment of the "fairness doctrine," whereby the government would be empowered to dictate the political content of talk radio and broadcast television. (This would obviously be unconstitutional.) This morning, I attended a press conference put on by Pence and the co-sponsors of his amendment, including Minnesota's Michele Bachmann. It was a fun event. It is hard to imagine how the Democrats could give Republicans a better issue than their effort to put talk radio out of business. The Pence Amendment passed this afternoon, but, somewhat surprisingly, 115 Democrats--most of the Democrats present--voted against it. So we'll be able to abuse the Dems on their opposition to free speech for some time to come.
The Chicago Tribune's columnist John Kass gives the most honest assessment you'll find in the MSM about why liberal talk radio has failed.

If liberal talk were compelling, liberals would listen, but they don't in numbers necessary to sustain such programming. They don't have to, since much of the agenda is framed their way in mainstream media -- or did I not read that about 9 out of 10 reporters contribute to Democratic and liberal causes? A recent report found 143 journalists making political contributions from 2004 through the beginning of the 2008 campaign, with 125 donating to Democrats and liberal groups, 16 to Republicans and two supporting both.
If anybody still needs evidence of the MSM's slant, it was found this week when MSNBC's Chris Matthews orchestrated an on-air ambushing of conservative commentator Ann Coulter and then the MSM dutifully interviewed Matthews the next morning to amplify the mugging, complete with a gross distortion of Coulter's comments about John Edwards.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Logic on the Supreme Court

Over at ArchPundit, Larry Handlin is quite impressed with Stephen Breyer's ode to the 1950s and 1960s dissent in today's Supreme Court ruling limiting school districts' attempts to create diversity.

I was more impressed with Chief Justice John Roberts' key point in the majority opinion.

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," Roberts wrote.
Logic like this is lost on liberals.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Polls no match for Dems' campaign dollars

The NRSC did a nice job on this video exposing the Senate Democrats' transparent support for Big Labor legislation that would allow union to intimidate workers. It's funny that these same Dems, like our own Dick Durbin, like to cite polls on the war to point to popular support for their position. That argument evaporates when big campaign dollars are thrown their way, it appears.


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The Illinois AG's slow-motion probe

Is Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan taking a dive for one of the Democratic Party's biggest sources of campaign cash? That's quite a charge, for sure. But let's look at the raw facts:

* Madigan, a Democrat, has been investigating International Profit Associates, a business consulting firm based in the suburbs, since sometime in 2003. Some wars are waged and completed in less than four years.

* There are 175 complaints against IPA on file in the AG's office.

* The Better Business Bureau has 425 complaints on file against IPA and says the company has an "unsatisfactory record."

* State AG offices across the country have complaints on file against IPA, which telemarkets and consults nationwide.

* In the last decade, IPA has been sued more than 125 times by disgruntled ex-employees and businesses.

* Madigan took $20,750 in contributions from IPA, including use of IPA headquarters in Buffalo Grove, IL., for phone banks during her successful run for Attorney General in 2002. She refuses to return the money even though heavily investigated Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has returned nearly $200,000 in IPA contributions as have the previous and current AGs of Wisconsin and New York, respectively. It makes you wonder why New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo distances himself from IPA money even though he's not investigating IPA and Madigan feels it is proper to keep the money while conducting an open (and lengthy) investigation.

* Those same IPA headquarters were used for phone banking by John Kerry in 2004 and unsuccessful Chicago area congressional candidate Dan Seals in 2006.

* IPA and its top executives have contributed nearly $1 million to state and federal politicians during the last decade. Nearly 90 percent went to Democrats, including $150,000 to Hillary Clinton, $86,000 to the Democratic National Senatorial Committee, and $23,700 to Melissa Bean, the current congresswoman whose represents the district where IPA resides.

* The conduit for much of the money appears to be Democratic fundraiser/lawyer Myron "Mike" Cherry, who has very helpful to a large number of Democrats, including Madigan, who received $8,000 from Cherry. IPA's longtime lawyer: Cherry.

* Besides the fraud complaints, the company is being sued by the federal government in the "most egregious" sexual harassment case ever filed by the Chicago office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Madigan's office has said publicly that it won't return the money from IPA because it was collected before her investigation of IPA occurred. While that is true, had her staff checked on IPA it would have found the pending sexual harassment case in 2002 and might have noticed that previous Attorney General Jim Ryan had sued IPA in a 1999 case that resulted in a settlement. In other words, this company has been surrounded by smoke for a long time. Most AGs return campaign contributions from firms they are investigating—regardless of when the money was collected.

Her refusal to return the money is giving her investigation the taint of a whitewash. IPA is a very large company (1,800 employees) that is interacting with small businesses across the country every day. When she became Attorney General five years ago, Madigan said she would be a national leader on consumer fraud matters. She has her chance with IPA. It's been four years and counting. An aggressive AG probably would have filed a multi-state lawsuit by now. A person might wonder whether Madigan would be so docile if IPA was heavily entwined with the Republican Party instead of the Democrats.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Hillary and 'Individual H'

The Chicago news media has begun to notice that Hillary Clinton has no standards when it comes to raising campaign money. She'll take it from those accused of serial sexual harassment and defrauding small business owners across the nation and individuals implicated in the indictment of Tony Rezko.

Chris Fusco from the Chicago Sun-Times points out she not only takes money from Democratic lawyer/fundraiser Myron "Mike" Cherry, "Individual H" in the Rezko indictment, she put him on the host committee of a big fundraiser tonight here. And she takes it from a suburban Chicago company Cherry represents that is being sued by the federal government in a massive sexual harassment case, is under fraud investigation by the Illinois Attorney General's office, and whose founder is a convicted criminal.

I've written extensively about the International Profit Associates (IPA) saga. Those posts can be found here.

Here is how the federal government describes the sexual harassment allegations against IPA founder John Burgess, a convicted criminal, and top company officials.

IPA's management, led by John Burgess, created a culture at IPA where sexual harassment flourished. IPA's senior managers harassed women with impunity, sending a signal to lower-level managers and employees that they could do the same. Given the tone set by IPA's senior management, it is not surprising that sexual harassment at IPA was rampant in all departments and at all levels of the company. Women at IPA routinely had to endure a gauntlet of abuse, ranging from sexual solicitations and physical harassment, to sexual comments and offensive sexual materials.
Cherry has acknowledged in other published accounts that he helped raise IPA money for politicians, but was cagey when questioned by the Sun-Times.
When asked whether he solicited donations from IPA founder John Burgess and his employees, Cherry replied, "I am aware generally, including from press stories, that employees of IPA have contributed to candidates in Illinois and elsewhere, but I don't keep specific records on such matters."
Barack Obama has returned $500 in contributions from Cherry and more from others implicated in the Rezko indictment. He previously returned $2,000 in IPA money. Will the news media draw the contrast between Clinton and Obama on this matter?

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Hillary-backed hit site?

Peggy Noonan believes this website is linked to Hillary Clinton's oppo research people. It's impossible to tell for sure because the author is hiding his identity. My guess is that Noonan is right. The site spends a lot of time attacking Barack Obama.

But there is another side of the Clinton campaign, and I found some of it this week. It is a new Web site called It is rather mysterious. It does not divulge who is running the site, or who staffs it. It is not interactive; it has one informative voice, and its target audience seems to be journalists and free-lance oppo artists.
And it reads like The Warrior's Id. Hillary "took on" a journalist this week and "beat him into submission." Bloomberg has "stripped himself of allies" in "New York's cutthroat politics." "Expect stormy days ahead for Bloomberg," who will wind up "lonely." Republicans "will attempt to rip him to shreds." "A May surprise announcement will be met with mounds of research accumulated over the next 11 months."
In tone the site is very Tokyo Rose.
Encouraging readers to send in "confidential tips," its primary target and obvious obsession is Barack Obama. "Senator Barack Obama (D-Rezko) is busy lately lying about President Bill Clinton" and "attacking entire communities." "We have written extensively on Obama, and his indicted slumlord friend Antoin 'Tony' Rezko. We have repeatedly warned David Axelrod, Michelle Obama and Barack Obama that this story is not going away." The Obama campaign is "still posing as innocents incapable of doing anything unsavory even as evidence mounts that unsavory is their favorite dish." "Dirty Obama Smear" and "Obama's Dirty Mud Politics" are two recent headlines.
This appears to be the subterranean part of Hillary's campaign, the part that quietly coexists with the warm, chuckling lady playing the jukebox with her husband. It coexists with the Maya Angelou part, the listening tour part, the filmed parts.
It is the war room part. I suspect the site is a back door to that war room.
Maybe a Chicago reporter can ask Hillary about it Monday when she comes to town.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

The forbidden Obama memos, part I

Because Barack Obama has tied himself in knots trying to proclaim he's above distributing "negative research" on his opponents in the Democratic primary for president like the Hillary-Punjab memo, we'll help him out.

Here's a memo for the news media his staff COULD have sitting in the computer, waiting to be mass emailed.

TO: News Media

FROM: Barack Obama campaign

RE: Hillary Clinton (D-Grope, Fleece)

This isn't complicated, ladies and gentleman. When Barack says he's different from Hillary, he means it. There is a stunning example, right in his own state.

When Barack learned a company he had taken money from, International Profit Associates, suburban Buffalo Grove, was run by a convicted criminal, was being sued by the federal government for massive sexual harassment, and was under investigation for fraud by the state Attorney General, and awash in other fraud complaints, he returned the $2,000 immediately.

Even Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, whose entire fundraising operation is under federal investigation, returned the IPA money.

Hillary, meanwhile, not only refused to return the $150,000 plus she collected from IPA executives and even in one case their high school kid, she continues to take money from IPA's lawyer.

The pending federal lawsuit alleges that more than 100 women were sexually harassed and 40 of them sexually assaulted. A federal lawyer called it the most egregious case ever filed in Chicago by the EEOC. Yet while this lawsuit was pending and the allegations public, Hillary decided to take an IPA corporate jet for political purposes. Not that we have to connect dots on this part, but Bill Clinton spoke at an IPA company event and praised the accused founder of the company and key subject of the sexual harassment allegations.

Oh, and John Edwards took $6,000 of IPA money — good for 15 haircuts — and apparently has followed Hillary's lead in keeping the tainted money.

There's more. Much more. This is a start. (Hopefully we'll be able to tell you about other differences between Barack and Hillary if our candidate doesn't muzzle us).
Barack does have a case to make about his campaign behavior compared to the other Democratic candidates. It's a story that is not being told because of Obama's misguided campaign tactics.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Defeatism = 14 percent

Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin take a bow. When you openly root for your country's defeat in time of war, this is what you get, the scorn of the American people.

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Staying in touch from Ohio

Iraqi war vet and Illinois GOP political operative Drew Veeneman is a graduate student of political studies in Ohio, but he's staying in touch with the political scene here.

As a class project, he analyzed one of Governor and then Lt. Governor candidate Steve Rauschenberger's mail pieces in 2006 and had some cogent analysis.

The campaign message specifically fails to meet the purpose. The message, "A Voice for the Middle Class Families. . . A Vision for Illinois," lacks a degree of benefit oriented language ideal for persuasion. This message may have been taken directly from polling data without proper word-smithing. The middle class is a common demographic term, but it is ill suited to selling points. You don't rally around the middle class. Bill Hillsman, famous media consultant of Northwoods Advertising, explains the importance of stressing benefits, not features. "People don't buy polished carbide high-speed quarter inch drill bits because they want quarter-inch drill bits. People buy quarter-inch drill bits because they want quarter-inch holes." The middle class is a feature, a demographic.
You can stay in touch with Veeneman at his new blog, Trenches of Democracy. It's worth a look. He plans to return to the political wars here in a few months once he completes grad school.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Does the media CAIR?

I know there a lot of things to keep track of in this complicated world, but you'd think the U.S. news media would make at least a token attempt to keep up with events.

This week, the terrorist linked group Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) put out a report on alleged discrimination against Muslims and the Chicago news media, including the Chicago Tribune, ABC 7 Chicago, WBBM-radio and others portrayed the report as if it was written by the PTA.

Not a single media outlet mentioned that CAIR is so suspect that even liberal U.S. Senators like Dick Durbin, Barbara Boxer and Chuck Schumer know to stay away from it. It's not just Illinois media. Ohio reporters failed to cover the Ohio governor's recent overture to CAIR.

To recap, here's what Durbin and Schumer have said about CAIR:

Durbin: "[CAIR is] unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect."

Schumer: "we know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism"…"intimate links with Hamas"
And, if that wasn't enough, the U.S. government just named CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator because of its link to the terrorist group Hamas.

I don't know what the problem is in newsrooms across America. This stuff is all on the Internet. Terrorists are those people who want to kill all Americans and non-Muslims and take over the world. Shouldn't the news media be labeling these people?News outlets don't hesitate to label conservatives.

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Obama: Weakness on display

The real damage of the drip, drip pelting on Barack Obama's head is not the tarnishing of his branding as a different type of politician. It's his weakness as he backpedals from every small blow.

In real time, it is showing that Obama doesn't have the street gritiness quotient we want in our commanders-in-chief. If he apologizes for something he didn't even do wrong, as Eric Zorn notes, how will he deal with an array of international leaders that include some cagey characters, to put it politely.

It may appear right now that there's isn't a sane Democrat in the country, as they all funnel to the left of the political spectrum like a golf ball on one of those Oakmont Country Club greens. However, a sizable number will snap out of their leftist haze when the primaries near. Democrats are mostly looney, but they weren't nuts enough to nominate Howard Dean four years ago. They are keeping their antennae pointed near enough to reality to make sure to nominate someone who won't be roadkill for a Republican on the issue of national security.

Notice how Hillary Clinton is slowing drifting ever so slightly to the right and will do so as long as she believes Obama and John Edwards are neutralized.

Some might hypothesize that Obama is showing strength by acknowledging "mistakes" by his campaign staff. That trait might play well with some of Oprah's audience but it won't play well with the security moms and dads out there who intuitively sense we better have someone who can dial up the Clint Eastwood stare when necessary.

If Obama wants to apologize, he ought to say it was a mistake to pledge that his campaign wouldn't dare point a reporter toward the sleaze that permeates the Clinton campaign. His current campaign posture is that of a man who remains busy trying to deflect his own boomerangs.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Tribune props up climate police

In today's Chicago Tribune, reporter Michael Hawthorne elevates a shadowy unelected organization as the arbiter of our future economic and environmental health.

In a story that says the city of Chicago is not meeting its own goals to reduce carbon emissions, Hawthorne sets up the Chicago Climate Exchange as the oracle of all that is right and proper in the future world order.

As part of his high-profile agenda to transform a gritty, smog-choked metropolis into a tree-lined showcase for green initiatives, Daley enrolled the city in a network of corporations and governments that pledged to curb emissions of greenhouse gases by 4 percent during the last four years. The network, called the Chicago Climate Exchange, is widely seen as a proving ground for a mandatory national system being debated in Congress.
Hawthorne goes on to recite the global warming religion like a good disciple.

In the absence of federal action, city and state governments across the nation have adopted their own initiatives to deal with emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are accumulating in the atmosphere and raising the Earth's average surface temperature. Many experts think that if steps aren't taken soon to reduce emissions, or at least slow their growth, the planet's climate could change radically.
Apparently, there is no room in the Tribune story to point out that a lot of scientists think the entire premise that man is causing global warming is much in doubt, despite an almost total media blackout of that viewpoint. A newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin, was an exception today.

Hawthorne's story goes on to refer to the Chicago Climate Exchange throughout the story as a hammer against the city. I'm sure the giant PR firm Edelman is pleased it got the front page placement in the Tribune this morning, complete without an opposing viewpoint. In other words, a press release.

What the real issue here is money, self-interest, and the news media. The CCE and the global warming/religion/cult/industry has an enormous financial infrastructure behind it, and it's growing exponentially by the day. Will the news media ever examine the financial self-interest of groups like CCE? It's hardly a trivial story, considering that some real journalists have already discovered that the carbon exchange industry is rife with fraud.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Jolie embraces CAIR

Psycho actress Angelina Jolie is embracing the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that even Dick Durbin steers clear of. John Ruberry has written about CAIR often.

Little Green Footballs has the Jolie story.

Left-wing actress Angelina Jolie has refused to allow Fox News in on her press coverage. But in one of the more unsavory and perverted travesties to come out of Hollywood in recent memory, her new film on the Islamist murder of Daniel Pearl will be screened next Thursday in Los Angeles—in an event sponsored by unindicted Hamas co-conspirators CAIR, and supported by Cafe Intifada and several other far-left groups.

It's another appalling example of the leftist-Islamist convergence, and an incredible dishonor to Pearl's memory. And from all appearances, the film is a "progressive" disaster; they've apparently turned the story of Pearl's brutal beheading at the hands of Islamic terrorists into a moonbat parable on "global truth and understanding."
All that's missing is a global warming angle.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Governor stays home, plays catch

While the Illinois General Assembly continues to struggle in overtime to come up with a state budget, the governor, according to this unconfirmed blog posting, was playing catch outside his NW side house.
I totally saw Gov. Blagojevich today. He lives about a block from where I work, and he was playing ball with a couple of kids in his yard. It's easy to tell where he lives, though, as there are always about 5 black unmarked police cars parked around it with secret service guys giving you mean looks. Once I walked past it and was followed for a few blocks because I was lingering around for too long. I learned to walk past it and not to look any of them in the eye. They're seriously scary. I wanted to wave to the guv but I didn't want to attract the scary mens' attention.
This is just a few days after the governor's spokeswoman scolded the General Assembly for not working hard enough.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bumper sticker?

Chilling interview (via Little Green Footballs) with the ex-wife of a British jihadist. John Edwards, close your eyes.


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When fighting terrorism was chic

Al Gore, for the war on terrorism and Saddam Hussein before he was against it.


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Monday, June 11, 2007

Stuck in Springfield


The paralyzed amusement park ride known as state government in Illinois continues to leave citizens hanging upside down without a state budget. The Democratic in-fighting continues at Capitol Fax, with chronic truant Governor Rod Blagojevich, from his special tax break hideout in Chicago, continuing to implore legislators to get to work in Springfield.

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The next debate question

Michael Barone perfectly framed the difference between Republicans and Democrats right now: Dems think our biggest threat is global warming and Republicans, Islamic jihadism.

He who defines the issues tends to determine the outcome of the election. When pollster Peter Hart asked a bipartisan focus group which candidate could best protect the nation, several people mentioned Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, one mentioned Barack Obama, and no one mentioned Hillary Clinton. Evidently these people, unlike international elites, see the threat as Islamist terrorism and not climate change.

We know which seems more threatening to Republican and Democratic primary voters. But what about independents, who favored Republicans in 2002 and 2004 and Democrats in 2006? The answer may tell you which side wins in 2008.
In the next presidential debate, the moderator ought to ask this question and not allow any candidate to duck it.

Which of the following two issues do you regard as the greatest threat to America in the coming decade: global warming or Islamic jihadism?

I would love to see Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards squirm trying to answer that one.

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Best NL pitchers hunt here

A recent Sports Illustrated profile on San Diego Padres pitching ace Jake Peavy noted that Peavy and Astros' ace Roy Oswalt have a special bond with Illinois.

As if those setbacks weren't enough, there is this too: He is, without corrective lenses, nearly blind. "Can't see a lick," confirms Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt, one of Peavy's closest pals. Oswalt found this out two winters ago when he and Peavy, both avid hunters, were navigating through Pike County in western Illinois on their way to a weekend in the woods chasing white-tailed deer. Oswalt would steal glances at Peavy, who was hunched over the wheel and squinting into the darkness as his truck swerved unnervingly along the winding roads. "I made him pull over, and I drove," says Oswalt. "Then -- and I hadn't been driving more than 20 minutes -- I hit a deer."
It looks like Peavy and Oswalt might become Illinois landowners.

Peavy can't imagine how life could get any better. He is the top dog of arguably the best staff in baseball -- San Diego's 2.94 ERA at week's end was 40 points lower than that of any other major league club -- and the Padres, through Sunday, were tied with the Dodgers atop the hypercompetitive National League West. Back home in Alabama, he and Katie are building, on 200 acres of land they recently purchased, a new cabin along a beautiful man-made lake. He and Oswalt are also talking about buying a chunk of land in Illinois on which they can chase the region's famed whitetail.

Insert Cubs' joke here.

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Friday, June 8, 2007

Obama impaled by own sword

As we've mentioned here before, Barack Obama's pronouncement that he is above politics as usual is ending up a disaster. He's raised the bar on himself with the press and the resulting bad stories are destroying any benefit he gained by pledging to be cleaner than his opponents.

The Chicago Tribune started asking questions about a couple of individuals mentioned in the Tony Rezko indictment, and Obama immediately declared he was donating $16,500 in donations from the men to charity, the Trib reported this morning.

The two contributors whose money is being turned away from the Obama campaign have not been charged with any crimes, but both businessmen have been linked to Rezko deals that are the subject of federal indictments. The campaign announced the actions following inquiries by the Tribune about the contributions.

Federal prosecutors describe both men -- without identifying them by name -- in court papers outlining charges against Rezko. The Tribune confirmed their identities through sources familiar with the ongoing federal corruption probe. Civil suits over the same transactions also identify them by name. Both are well-known business leaders.
Meanwhile, his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, merrily keeps more than $150,000 from a company that is a hotbed of alleged fraud, headed by a convicted criminal and other men accused by the U.S. government of rampant sexual harassment.

And that same company's lawyer, Myron "Mike" Cherry, is similarly mentioned in the Rezko indictment and Hillary shows no signs she will give money back from him.

Obama needs to wake up and start pointing out where his opponent is getting her money or he'll face more mornings like this one.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How NYT would have covered 9/11 capture

A look at the wayback machine, circa 2001, if the U.S. government under George W. Bush had captured the 9/11 plotters. This would have been run on page 37 of the New York Times.

NEW YORK, September 1, 2001 — Yesterday's widely hailed arrest of a dozen alleged terror plotters was overblown for political reasons, some experts are suggesting.

The experts, including unnamed national security veterans (Joe Wilson, Richard Clarke) and law enforcement sources (Patrick Leahy), say the terror plotters were nowhere near pulling off their grandiose plans to fly airplanes into U.S. landmarks. They lacked money and their plan, including the use of small box cutters, probably had no chance of ultimate success, according to the experts.

Public officials led by U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton are saying that the well-publicized press conference announcing the arrests was an attempt by the George W. Bush administration to build a mandate he lacks following the tainted 2000 election that put Bush into office.

And Arab-American groups like the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the U.S. was irresponsible for trying to link the Muslim men arrested to terror organizations.

Joining in the chorus were organizations like, which quickly launched an internet ad saying that "Our president is trying to gain legitimacy by scaring us." Cable pundits like Keith Olbermann devoted hours of broadcasting to the issue.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Rudy dominates; McCain strong

Mitt Romney gave a strong performance tonight in New Hampshire, but the night belonged to Rudy Giuliani and John McCain.

Giuliani had range. He was a master of the facts, such as when he counterpunched on immigration by picking out small details of the bill. He was warm and compassionate with the audience. And he effectively fought through the CNN framing of the questions, a move that many conservatives appreciate because few know how to do it effectively.

McCain was on his game, too, fighting for his life with the base of his party that is outraged with the immigration bill he helped draft. McCain played his service to our country very adroitly this evening and, other than a few rambling moments, and overuse of the phrase, "my friends," came in second.

Romney again was very smooth and knowledgeable but seemed a bit forced at times trying to inject a talking point of looking to the future and being optimistic. It eventually will be an effective theme for him once he incorporates it more naturally. And even though Romney always looks the part of president, Giuliani and McCain both looked more mature and sage.

Mike Huckabee is a likeable figure and clear communicator who gave perhaps the best answer of all the debates when he defended his faith in a question on evolution.

CNN's debate presentation was only slightly better than MSNBC's, with questions heavily tilted toward liberal themes such as abortion, evolution, gays in the military and health care. The candidates did a good job of not following moderator Wolf Blitzer's Democratic leaning tone by ignoring parts or all of his most snarky questions.

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The Teddy-Blago connection


I'm sure Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will dismiss this with another checkmark in the "coincidence" category.
ITEM: On the same day last June Illinois was losing a Honda plant to Indiana, Blagojevich was cavorting on the East Coast. One of his stops was a fundraiser for him hosted by U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, according to the Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet.
ITEM: A recently released audit by the Illinois Auditor General revealed that Ted's son, Ted Kennedy Jr., received a $183,954 "marketing fee" (page 32) for his "work" in FY 2006 promoting a hedge fund to the Blagojevich-run State Board of Investments.
Two years ago the Boston Globe wrote about another fundraising-fee situation that had people wondering out loud what Kennedy's firm, The Marwood Group, did for its $200,000 marketing fee.

In Illinois, the State Board of Investments is the smaller of the two pension agencies. The larger one, the Teacher Retirement System, is at the epicenter of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's Operation Board Games investigation, which already has produced indictments of top Blagojevich cronies Tony Rezko, Stu Levine, Nick Hurtgen, Joe Cari and Ali Ata. Hurtgen's indictment was thrown out by a federal judge but Fitzgerald's office is seeking to reinstate it. The feds have described the investigation as a "gathering storm."

The SBI has no need to hire companies who pay third party marketers. The board hired a politically connected investment management firm, the Marquette Group, which is supposed to survey the investment world for investment recommendations to bring to the board. In other words, SBI already has a middle man.

Oh, and by the way, SBI underperformed its investment goals in 2006 according to the audit.

Here are some other reasons to look closely at SBI:

--Soon after Blagojevich became governor, SBI invested money for the first time with Fifth Third Bank, a company that was employing Rod's brother, Robert Blagojevich, at the time in a high ranking investment position.

--Hurtgen was "called out" by the Milwaukee newspaper after trying to insert the Marquette Group as an investment manager to the Milwaukee County Board. The insertion was criticized by board members as a recipe for corruption because the investment manager as great power in screening the thousands of investment firms to bring to the board.

--SBI withdrew underperforming investments in Ariel Capital Management, then reinstated some of them under heavy political pressure from Democratic insiders, according to Crain's Chicago Business. Ariel, headed by John W. Rogers Jr., has contributed more than $100,000 to Blagojevich's campaign fund.

There are more tentacles here. I'll explain in a future post.

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Monday, June 4, 2007

Governor announces regular work schedule!


After more than four years in office, there's an exciting announcement from Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich: He's going to keep a regular work schedule, just like the other 49 chief executives.

I guess we can finally retire this 2002 commercial.


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Saturday, June 2, 2007

No left-wing fable too old for Trib's Swamp

There are two standards when the MSM wants to allow stories in and out of the news flow. Sometimes a story is not newsworthy because "it's too old" or "it's already been covered." Those, coincidentally, are stories reporters and editors don't want to cover.

When it comes to stories the MSM wants to cover, like bashing President Bush over the Iraq War, there are no stories too old or too covered. They simply are picked up again and again as news and rerun right through the news cycle.

The Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau blog "The Swamp" is a reliable conduit for Bush hater news, as we've pointed out before. The Swamp is at it again with the tale of Elaine Johnson, the South Carolina mother of slain Iraq War Army Spc. Darius Jennings, and claim story that President Bush disrespected her and other soldiers' families at a private meeting in 2003 where they were given Presidential coins. According to Johnson, Bush told them not to sell them on eBay.

The Swamp's Mark Silva a couple of days ago picked up this account from NPR radio, which interviewed Johnson and other anti-war mothers who might assume the Cindy Sheehan mantle because God forbid we must have one like her available at all times to the conservative hating left-wing press.

Johnson, of course, suffered a great loss and we all respect that. She's welcome to speak out against the war whenever and wherever she chooses. However, the media has some obligation to cover the large number of mothers and family members of slain soldiers who don't agree with Johnson's views. We rarely hear from those folks in the MSM.

Johnson, however, is another matter. She has been all over the news media since 2003, when she first was interviewed by a newspaper as blasting the President after her son's death. She has been featured all over the left wing blogosphere and MSM since, saying essentially the same thing—over and over again.

She is trotted out at will, as a club against the President and the war. Her story is particularly satisfying to Bush haters, I guess, because she claims in the meeting with soldiers' families she dressed down the President for not being able to articulate the reason we are fighting the war, the reason her son was in the particuarly helicopter he was in at the time of his death, and the eBay story.

I don't for a second believe the eBay story as Johnson is telling it. From what I've read, she's never been a fan of GWB and has a more intense hatred of him after her son died. It wouldn't be unusual or unreasonable to believe she is twisting the story of her meeting to fit that hatred. However, it makes no sense for the President to conduct a special meeting with family members of slain soldiers and then proceed to demean them in a flippant manner.

My criticism is not really of Johnson, it is of Silva. How, exactly, is a story that has been told time and again since 2003 become news in 2007? Again. Because NPR repeated it? (By the way, it would be nice for NPR while it is using family members as props to bash Bush that it gets the date of Jennings' death correct. Talk about disrespect).

Common sense would tell anyone that the eBay story is a gross embellishment. Silva knows that the White House has a policy not to comment on presidential conversations with family members so he is "covered" by not obtaining a rebuttal. In essence it's a green light to smear at will. How about finding someone else who was there, Mr. Silva? Nah, that would too much work and the result would likely be troubling mitigation that might ruin a good Bush bash and spoil his regalement in the left wing blogosphere, where the eBay story is once again merrily circulating.

When Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama are attacked in the MSM, outlets immediately come to their defense to present mitigating facts or to correct false impressions left by the story.

When Bush is attacked, any cheap shots are not corrected, they simply are spread. Then regurgitated every few months by lazy, ideological reporters.

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Friday, June 1, 2007

The lights were blinking red


One of the most obvious hotspots of corruption in the Rod Blagojevich administration was further exposed by the indictment yesterday of the executive director of the state agency in charge of authorizing multi-million dollar borrowing deals.

You could look at the 2004 Blagojevich consolidation of seven state agencies that previously handled borrowing in one of two ways: good government, or a way for a corrupt administration to tightly control millions of dollars in no-bid consulting contracts under one roof.

The evidence strongly points to the latter. A longtime Tony Rezko-Blagojevich crony, Ali Ata, was installed as executive director of the newly constituted Illinois Finance Authority in early 2004. He left just over a year later under a cloud of scandal. His indictment yesterday alleged he was scheming with Rezko to falsify documents intended to help Rezko secure business loans.

Illinois' auditor general already weighed in on the consolidation and said it was a disaster, including lax oversight over contracts and more than $200,000 in illegal bonuses to employees. Ata left after that audit and the agency was about to give him a sweetheart consulting contract of more than $150,000 when the Chicago Sun-Times revealed the scheme and caused it to be withdrawn.

If I were a reporter or federal investigator I'd be looking very closely at those 2004 actions by the new agency. With Ata as executive director and Tony Rezko's next door neighbor in Wilmette (graphic below), David Gustman, as board chairman, the lights were all blinking red for millions of dollars in insider deals. Gustman, a partner at the law firm Freeborn & Peters, has not been implicated in any of the corruption investigations as far as we can tell. However, his firm at about the same time was getting some nice no-bid work from the Blagojevich administration, including legal work on the aborted sale of the main state government building in Chicago, the James R. Thompson Center.

I guess it's possible that the Freeborn & Peters' state work was coincidental to Gustman's appointment as board chairman. And just another coincidence that the board chairmanship of such a money-laced agency happened to be occupied by a man who lived next door to Rezko, a man already indicted for extracting finder fees from other state agencies.

Just in case these weren't coincidences, I'd keep looking if I were a prosecutor or reporter.

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