Friday, November 30, 2007

More on "Governor for a Day"

The Illinois Republican Party cleverly started a "Governor for a Day" contest to keep the spotlight shined on Rod "Skates" Blagojevich's public relations gem of attending a pro hockey game while legislators were in Springfield trying to rescue his failed state budget.

The winner of Governor for a Day will begin the day at the hour of their choice. From then, they will be ushered to a salon for a haircut and massage. Following their time at the salon they will be treated to a first-class lunch which will be followed by a tour of the City of Chicago including visits to the Sears Tower and other Chicago landmarks. Ensuring they are treated just like our current governor, the winners will end their day by attending a Chicago Blackhawk's game.
These additional agenda haven't been approved yet by the State Party:

A quick trip to federal prison in Wisconsin to scout the back-door entrance route to avoid the media.

A trip to the mailbox to open a new real estate commission check. Experience the Secret Santa like excitement Rod and Patti must feel not having any idea who the check is from or what it is for!

A special visit by a friend bearing a $1,500 birthday check to your child. This also will be a surprise because that friend never brought such a gift before!

A mystery subpoena!

A special visit by your closest friends where you play an exciting new game. You sit around a table and ask a series of questions before guessing who is wearing a wire! (An advanced way to play is to turn the heat up in your house to 90 degrees and wait to see whose chest sparks first).

I hope the State Party spices up their promotion with these additions, eh, Lance?

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Conference calls before dawn?


One line in Mike Flannery's story about Governor "Skates" Blagojevich made me scratch my head.
So, when he's not there, where is he working? Mostly at his home on the Northwest Side of Chicago. Insiders report that the governor is often up before dawn, making conference calls from a small office there, and sometimes from a political campaign office a few blocks away.
I've been on a lot of conference calls, but none before dawn. Who's Rod calling—campaign contributors in Serbia?

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From the Sandy Berger catalog...

....a gift idea sure to be a hit in the Clinton dirty tricks office.

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The disarming Mr. Hyde

Henry Hyde was the perfect prototype of a Congressman: smart, articulate, distinguished, polite. I wrote that once at the Daily Herald when I covered one of his races in the 1980s. Later, I moved into his district and have been there since.

Upon his passing today, the national and local media will focus today on his legislative accomplishments, his abortion position and his role in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. They will give scant notice of one of his greatest attributes—his ability, as a conservative, to counteract the mostly liberal press.

Until the impeachment mess, which turned the national media against him, Hyde was treated with much more respect by the media than the average conservative. I'd say in some cases his coverage was in the vicinity of fair.

Hyde was served well by capable aides—Patrick Durante and Sam Stratman—among them. But his good press largely flowed from Henry's combination of smarts and disarming style. I have had conservative clients listen to Hyde's radio interviews to pick up a few pointers. When the media invariably asked their pointed questions on abortion or another social issue, Hyde never demonized his opponents or the media. He acknowledged their point of view and treated them with respect. He always never pandered, standing firm on his principles but expressing them in non-aggressive language. He was always more informed than his interviewer or adversary so he came out ahead on both substance and style.

He was without peer, among conservatives, in dealing with the press. His frequent appearances throughout his career on the WBBM AM 780's half-hour public affairs show "At Issue" should be required listening for conservative candidates.

His successor, Peter Roskam, has watched Hyde closely over the years and displays some of the same rare skills. He also never wavers on his principles but communicates in a dignified, soothing, thoughtful manner.

Henry Hyde, the great disarmer. That is what I'll remember most about my congressman.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Governor Puck-off

CBS 2 Chicago's Mike Flannery did a long piece tonight about our work-at-home governor, who apparently believes they built those majestic multi-story state buildings in Springfield and Chicago for someone other than the state's chief executive.

Apparently, that middle-finger salute to us wasn't enough for Governor "Skates" Blagojevich, who picked this evening to attend the Chicago Blackhawks hockey game at the exact time the Legislature was debating and ultimately defeating a transit bail-out bill.

Then, a third middle finger gesture topped off the report in the form of a horrendously overplayed statement from Skates' Minister of Disinformation, Abby Ottenhoff, who had the cold steel to describe the report as sleazy journalism.

I bet even George Ryan cringed.

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Quinn for

Blogger John Ruberry at Marathon Pundit has been instrumental in making sure that the University of Illinois honors its pledge to award scholarships to veterans. Pat Quinn is now following Ruberry's lead. Quinn should have been this vocal when his running mate, Rod Blagojevich, was bypassing veteran's preference rules to hire his political cronies. Of course at that time Quinn had to keep quiet because he wanted to be the beneficiary of Rod's dirty money to get re-elected.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Manhunt ends: CBS locates governor

We finally are going to find out what our Governor does all day. CBS 2 Chicago is promising to tell us (h/t Rich Miller) what Rod Blagojevich is doing when he's not answering federal subpoenas, raising campaign funds from state contractors, counting his wife's real estate commissions from state contractors, or cashing $1,500 checks from the spouses of state workers.

To prime viewers for the Mike Flannery news report, here's an encore showing of a Jim Ryan 2002 campaign commercial that questioned Rod's work ethic.


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Monday, November 26, 2007

More sunshine on IPA

Florida's largest newspaper, the Miami Herald, gave major treatment to the story of fraud complaints against the controversial business consulting firm International Profit Associates and noted that the Florida Attorney General has turned over the information to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Florida's attorney general has registered 28 complaints against IPA and passed those concerns along to its Illinois counterpart, which is investigating the company. While IPA has been sued by individual clients in the past, this is the first time that former customers have banded together in court.
That was Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum's first mistake—if he wants anything done about IPA. Madigan, a Democrat, has been investigating IPA, a political donor, for more than four years without producing any results. And the Democratic Attorneys General Association, the political action committee of Democratic AGs, took one of its largest campaign donations, $50,000, from IPA last year in the midst of Madigan's "probe."

Getting anyone in Illinois interested in IPA fraud complaints will be difficult. The New York Times and now the Miami Herald have delved deeply into the IPA matter but not the Chicago media. That is puzzling to say the least considering that IPA is headquartered in suburban Buffalo Grove and it has showered Illinois politicians with hundreds of thousands in campaign donations. IPA also has given Hillary Clinton more than $150,000. For all my posts on IPA, go here.

There are active communities of victims who vent their frustrations with IPA here, here and now at the bottom of the Miami Herald story.

A friend recently asked me if the Illinois media freeze on IPA was related to the IPA radio and TV ads that seem to air constantly on Chicago stations. Seems like a fair question.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

More bad news for press

Another bad week for the Illinois press. The publisher, editor and managing editor of one of the best downstate newspapers, the State Journal-Register in Springfield, resigned on the same day, presumably part of more cost-cutting by New York-based parent GateHouse Media Inc.

And, just a little while ago, the suburban Daily Herald posted a story telling readers it can't shoot photographs of the state high school football championship games in Champaign this weekend because of a dispute with the Illinois High School Athletic Association. The Herald is left to solicit photographs from its readers.

While the final resolution of this matter may ultimately come from the courts, the Daily Herald has an obligation to report the state championships as completely as we can. So we will include photos from state tournament events in our print edition by whatever ethical means available.

That means you'll likely see images provided to us by the Associated Press, and quite possibly from fans of Driscoll, Lake Zurich, Glenbard North and Naperville North. Readers, feel free to send us your best shots to
Sadly, the Daily Herald's plight this weekend appears to be the future of journalism: fewer photographers, reporters and editors.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rudy's gift

He's the best politician I've seen at deflecting and turning around tough questions in a natural, relaxed and non-defensive manner. Nobody does it better than Rudy. Listen to how easily he swats away ABC reporter Andy's Shaw's question about Bernie Kerik.

This skill will serve him well if he faces Hillary Clinton in the general election. He ought to engage the press often in these forums and challenge Hillary to do the same.


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Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Democrats' DMZ

Tonight's presidential debate was a perfect example of the MSM's subtle protection of Democrats. CNN moderators, in a two-hour debate, talked little about global warming, radical Islamic terrorism or the surge in Iraq. All are very difficult issues for Democrats to answer once you get past the slogans. Global warming would seem to be a Dem-friendly topic but the proposed solutions are radical, unnecessary, and unpopular with the American people.

These all are issues front and center in the news every day. Why not at this debate?

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Winning invisibly

Military history/commentator Victor Davis Hanson says our recent military successes in Iraq are comparable to key turning points in American military history.

Nevertheless, we may be witnessing one of those radical, unforeseen reversals in America's wars that have often changed our history.

The White House was burned by British forces in late August 1814; a little more than four months later, the British were routed at New Orleans. During the Civil War, the Union army was on the ropes in July 1864 yet outside Atlanta by September. The Germans were driving through France in March 1918, but fleeing toward the Rhine by August. The communists took Seoul in early January 1951, yet were pushed back across the Demilitarized Zone a little more than three months later.
Yet, the turnaround is largely invisible to the American people.

But that dramatic turnabout in Iraq is rarely reported on. We know as much about O.J.'s escapades in Vegas as we do about the Anbar awakening or the flight of al-Qaeda from Baghdad. When we occasionally do hear about Iraq, it is just as likely through a Hollywood movie — In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, Lions for Lambs — preaching to us how the U.S. was mostly incompetent or amoral in fighting a hopeless war.

The Abu Ghraib prison scandal of 2004 warranted 32 consecutive days on the New York Times' s front page. Congressional appeals for timetables and scheduled withdrawals, amid cries of "fiasco" and "quagmire," were regularly reported this summer. Now, though, there is largely silence in newspaper headlines about the growing peace in Anbar province.
Now that things are going well in Iraq, the news media is interested in global warming scare stories, SCHIP scare stories, and the "looming" recession, an agenda oddly identical to the Democratic Party's.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ohio's tool

I've already reported that Democratic state Attorneys General are not quite the same "consumer crusaders" when a company plops down $50,000 in their 527 political action committee.

When researching this, I read a few articles about Ohio's new Democratic Attorney General, Marc Dann. When it comes to partisanship, he puts New York's Eliot Spitzer to shame. Dann was raising money for the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA), the political 527 committee, before he was elected AG. One of his first actions as AG was to sue those nefarious public villians, charter schools, in an obvious suck-up to teachers unions.

I'm trying to figure out who Dann hasn't sued since he took office, other than International Profit Associates, the high-pressure consulting company riddled with fraud allegations that gave DAGA the $50,000.

Oh, and he's a hothead and possible religious bigot. He was caught on tape recently cursing a reporter and intercepted emails show he doesn't appear to have much respect for Christians.

Ohio has this guy at least another three years. I wonder if residents are starting to realize there is no chance they can expect straightforward, non-partisan law enforcement from their chief legal officer during that time?

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O'Hare's 'voodoo' economics

For those who like to rate the Chicago news media's biggest mistake over the years, it just may be the over-the-top boosterism for expansion of O'Hare International Airport.

The Chicago Tribune's corporate chieftains decided a few years ago to push the project by harassing every politician who opposed it. Many buckled and switched positions in favor of expansion. One who didn't, U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald, explicitly warned that nearly every aspect of the expansion was unwise and unworkable. He was particularly harsh on the economics.

Over the weekend, the Tribune revealed that the FAA wasn't inclined to lift flight caps at O'Hare, a huge blow to those who still insist the plan can work. Within the story is the Tribune's narrative about the shaky economics, stated exactly as Fitzgerald predicted several years ago.
But so far, the airlines have not agreed to pay for the second portion of O'Hare expansion, citing concerns about construction delays and spiraling costs.

The Daley administration initially said the massive airport project would be finished in 2013. Lacking airline agreements and still fighting airport opponents in court over the relocation of a nearby cemetery, the city has not set a date for the project's completion. The extension of flight caps would severely complicate Chicago's effort to pay for the O'Hare expansion, which is behind schedule and at least $400 million over budget.

The city's financial arrangement with the airlines for O'Hare's expansion is based largely on a "pavement before payment" strategy. The city has taken major responsibility to pay the costs for the runway-expansion project up front, mainly by going deeply into debt by selling a higher percentage of bonds than is customary under a traditional airport expansion project.

The airlines, in turn, were expected to reimburse the city, predominantly through increases in landing-fee revenue and passenger ticket taxes, when the new runways came online, allowing a significant increase in O'Hare flights.
But, if increased flights are allowed at O'Hare, how could United and American survive after tacking on large ticket price increases? I guess only after continuing to squeeze out discount carriers who would undercut those high prices.

The entire plan is built on a shaky house of cards that is crashing down.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dem AGs take $50K from investigated firm

There are 31 Democratic state Attorneys General and more than a few of them, like Andrew Cuomo of New York, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Marc Dann of Ohio, and Lisa Madigan of Illinois, fashion themselves as activist crusaders for consumers and small businesses.

Last May, the New York Times gave them a front page hot tip ("Rubbing Shoulders with Trouble, Presidents") about a controversial Illinois company whose business consulting services are the subject of hundreds of complaints from small businesses across the land. Surely, the sultans of scam-busting would pounce.

What did the Democratic AGs do? They waited a few weeks and, instead of investigating, took a huge campaign donation from the company, International Profit Associates, through their 527 political action committee. As the complaints continue to pile up, those "aggressive, activist" AGs, at least when it comes to IPA, are deep at sleep.

Madigan has said publicly that she has been investigating IPA since 2003. That's four plus years without a result. Considering she has more than 170 complaints within her office, and there are another 400 plus on file with the Better Business Bureau and hundreds more in AGs office across America, that inaction is hard to explain.

Madigan has directly taken $20,750 in donations from IPA, which include the use of IPA headquarters in 2002 to do phone banks when she was first seeking the office. Her spokeswoman said last year that Madigan would not return IPA money because it was taken before her "investigation" began. I don't know for sure that Madigan is a member of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, but it is highly unusual for a company under an investigation from a Democratic AG to be giving money to the political arm of the national group of Dem AGs.

Another one of the Dem AGs, Cuomo of New York, returned money from IPA last year prior to the NY Times article, as did many other major politicians across the country. Some other politicians, most notably Hillary Clinton, refuse to return IPA money despite the company's checkered past, which, in addition to the fraud allegations, include a massive pending sexual harassment lawsuit, the criminal past of its main founder, and the mentioning of its longtime lawyer in the high profile Tony Rezko indictment.

From my previous work in the Illinois Attorney General's office I can tell you the IPA matter is ripe for a multi-state investigation spearheaded by Madigan because the company is headquartered in her state. The $50,000 donation appears to be IPA's attempt to break up any momentum for such a wider probe. It's hard to argue the strategy is not working.

And where has the MSM been during all this? About as active as the AGs. It's not like the issue is too inconsequential to cover. When Republicans formed the Republican Attorneys General Association 527 committee in the 1990s, there were plenty of major national stories about how corporations were attempting to evade enforcement actions from the AGs by giving them campaign contributions.

One more question. Who, exactly, solicited IPA for the 527 donation at a time when it was clearly known that the Illinois AG was investigating the company? Was it an Attorney General? Was it Ohio's Marc Dann, who, as a candidate for AG was soliciting donations on behalf of the 527 during the same week the IPA contribution came in, this article says.

Many questions remain unanswered. Journalists?

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Special Illinois legislation

Did you see this?

Introduced today by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, HB 1123 allows Illinois governors and other public officials unfettered access to penitentiaries to start their sentences and prohibits gang media coverage of such. The legislation was inspired by her husband's incarceration. She consulted with her former seattmate, current Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, as well. Referred to Rules Committee.
The sad part about the language above I just made up is that it's plausible in Illinois.

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NY Times gives victory page 19 treatment

The biggest issue of the last several years in America—certainly Iraq. The NY Times reported today that our biggest enemy in Iraq, al-Qaeda, has been driven out of the country's biggest city. Page 1? Try 19.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Media's ‘flawless' suicide

Wonder why newspaper circulation is plummeting and the MSM in general is losing influence faster than a liberal whines "Swift Boat?"

Look no further than how the news media is covering Hillary Clinton. Every three seconds or so, some lame pundit is declaring that Hillary is running a "flawless campaign."

Translated, that means Hillary is so far removed from media scrutiny that she rarely speaks to them; thus, she rarely misspeaks. She also is raising exhorbitant amounts of money and thus, the news media projects, she will be able to drown out all the noise about the questionable nature of much of that fundraising.

The MSM merrily says that Hillary is playing the political game well. That's fine and it's true but the odd part is that Hillary's game is to neuter the MSM. Thus the MSM is grinning about its own demise.

I find it beyond strange that in the Democratic presidential debate last week, the media "elite" team of Tim Russert and Brian Williams wouldn't ask Hillary about her enormous fundraising scandal involving Norman Hsu. I guess not having to answer such a question fits into the media's definition of running a "flawless campaign"—even if it's the MSM that fails to ask the question.

So the media fails to do the only thing that can help stop its industry slide—make itself relevant. A strange strategy, indeed.

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When America wins, Democrats lose

Michael Yon, the journalist I trust most in Iraq, was interviewed at length the other day by Hugh Hewitt and makes the following observation:

HH: Is it fair to say that the good guys are winning decisively?

MY: Very fair at this point. If you would have said that back in February, I would have had to say absolutely not. But right now, it's very fair, and I believe, accurate.
Yon, as I've pointed out before, is far from an administration shill. He was the first person to say Iraq had turned into a civil war a couple of years ago. He now is more optimistic than he ever has been.

This would be very bad news for Democrats if the MSM highlighted their statements about how all is lost in Iraq. Because that won't happen, Republicans will have to force the message out through new media and 527s.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Deterrence and George Ryan

The personal story today for George Ryan and his family is not something I want to see. It's sad to see a 73-year-old man surrender maybe his last years to prison, separated from a wife he truly seems to love.

What I find most fascinating about the George Ryan story is not the death penalty moratorium phase of his career. No matter how many times some liberals deny it, it was a smokescreen to deflect political criticism. It actually worked, albeit only slightly. For a Republican curmudgeon governor to go to prison for corruption without a torrent of scorn—that's some moratorium spin at work.

No, what I think is most interesting is that the next Governor watched the George Ryan saga unfold—hell, campaigned on it—and now finds himself on the precipice of exactly the same fate. That is a more compelling personal story to me. I don't think George Ryan's fate is shocking. His public career was riddled with corruption allegations so much so he campaigned for governor as an old time politician.

Rod Blagojevich was going to be different, he said. There is a debate raging on whether the death penalty is a deterrent. The real debate ought to be whether one federal corruption prosecution of an Illinois governor deters another. It doesn't look like it, does it?

For those who do want to know about the human side of George's visit to Oxford on Wednesday, I recommend Burt Constable's excellent column today. Burt is misguided politically and has poor taste in baseball teams, but he is a good guy and an excellent columnist.

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