Thursday, December 29, 2005

REACT: Bye bye Berghoff's

Gads! First Chicago loses Meigs Field, then Marshall Field's ... and now the landmark Berghoff's restaurant. Chicago is fast joining the sterile homogenized urban cities that are morphing all over the world.

Sometimes the loss is sad, but understood. Many past institutions simply lost their public appeal. They could no longer survive in modern society. The old theaters that created the original "theater district" were good examples of that. The Woods. The Roosevelt. The State and Lake. We almost lost the flagship Chicago Theatre -- a close call about which I know a lot.(Check out the old news clips is you don't believe me.) Same for Montgomery Ward's.

As a guy devoted to a preservationist tradition, the Meigs/Field's/Berghoff's triple whammy is hard to accept.

I guess what really makes me ornery is the fact that we are lost these institutions because of callous decisions. The people in charge have no devotion to tradition or the feelings of those of us who paid homage (and no little money) to those traditions. We are the jilted lovers, with all the pain and anger.

As a free market conservative, I must respect the owner's right to make the decisions (except in the case of Meigs since WE are the owners, not the mayor.) In terms of Field's and Berghoff's, I have no legal recourse, nor would I want any. However, I see nothing un-conservative about never offering my patronage to Macy's nor that new catering business that will take over the Berghoff's space.

I would hope that there are enough of us jilted lovers to bring down Macy's downtown store. If you recall, I have previously expressed my hope that the Macy's takes the tube, and the building becomes a residential loft conversion. As for Berghoff's, hopefully the catering business will collapse as a response to the callous decision to close the venerable restaurant, and a new owner will re-establish some versions of the old place. Of course, that may not be possible if the heiress/owner vandalizes the place in the name of modernization.

Despite their solicitous words and sad tones, I hope the Berghoff family understands that their fame has been transformed into infamy -- and their sorrowful words are meaningless.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

REACT: Kwanzaa schmanzaa

Today marks the first day of the now widely recognized holiday of Kwanzaa. Perhaps this bad idea will evolve into something good. I hope so. Unfortunately, Kwanzaa was conceived as a pseudo celebration of separation.

It was invented in 1966, at the height of the highly racist black separation movement, by a guy named Maulana Karenga, who is described as a "cultural nationalist." For those who understand liberal euphemisms, the guy was a black racist. Of course, liberals think of that term as an oxymoron, since in their view only whites are capable of racism.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not against an invented holiday. Hallmark does it all the time – and I am sure the folks at the greeting card company are thrilled with Kawanzaa.

The problem with Kawanzaa is that it is what it is -- an artificial attempt to maintain America as a two society nation. Since most blacks are people of faith, and overwhelming Christian, the imposition of this new holiday is a cynical effort to suggest that Christmas is more of a white thing. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas takes on a whole new meaning.

I would think that our strong black Baptist churches would be up in arms over trumping the Christmas season. It is sort of a reversal of the ancient times when Christians trumped Pagan holidays to eradicate them. That's how we got December 25th as the official, albeit dubious, birthday of Jesus. Now we have this neo Pagan effort to return the favor, and black pastors are either ignoring it or embracing it.

The promotion of Kawanzaa by the nation's best known, if not the most reverent, black pastor, Jesse Jackson, suggests that he values his secular role in maintaining his flock outside the mainstream more than he desires integration into a common culture. He is truly the political descendent of Mr. Karenga insofar as using accusations of racism in order to prevent assimilation.

Having said all this, I am resolved to the reality that Kawanzaa will be around, promoted by wolf-ish racists in sheep’s wool. However, since the vast majority of people celebrating Kawanzaa are good and descent, it is my hope that this holiday will, by popular celebration, rid itself of the malignant intent of the founders and early advocates. After all, Thanksgiving did not start out on such a high note, either. It was invented, and eventually made a national time of good will by Abraham Lincoln.

I think that is already happening to Kawanzaa. Maybe Hallmark will be more influential in defining This new holiday than Jesse Jackson, et al. Let’ hope so.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

OBSERVATION: To whom it may concern: Merry Christmas!

Shhhh. I am about to give away a big secret. I know this will come as a shock to many people who follow current events in the media.

Okay! Here it is. Put your ear closer so I can whisper. “Christmas is a Christian holiday.” You didn’t hear that? I said … "Christmas is a Christian holiday." Not yet? OKAY. “CHRISTMAS IS A CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY!!!” So there. I said it. Yep, it is also a national holiday -- even in the god-loathing season of political correctness.

We all get a lot of time off from work to celebrate Christmas. I know we have piled on Hanukah, a Jewish holiday of second or third level theological relevancy, and we even invented that silly Kwanzaa thing to make sure we maintain our segregated society. We can sort of edge in Ramadan. But still … the official holiday is Christmas. And furthermore, the brightly lit shrubbery in so many bay windows is a … CHRISTMAS tree. It is not a holiday tree any more than the Jewish Menorah is a holiday candelabra.

Frankly, I think it is cool to have a season of love and caring incorporating all the religions --- and any atheists who care to be loved (not easy).

The political correctness Nazis are doing there best to emulsify our heritages into some sort of gray blob of secular celebration – squeezing out the rich colors and nuances of our ethnic differences. The major assault has been on religion. It is still kosher (if you will) to celebrate each others traditional foods, costumes and secular customs. But when it comes to sharing each other’s religions, we act as if church-going is a criminal activity.

Political correctness makes the simple things needlessly difficult. I am Christmas guy, but like most of us, I am very okay with a little common sense and etiquette. I send “happy holiday” cards to my list because we have many friends not of the Christian faith. If I meet a fellow Christian, I offer a hearty “Merry Christmas.” If I meet a Jewish friend, I offer a “Happy Hanukah.” If I do not know, then I wish them a, “Hey, have a great holiday and a Happy New Year.”

It is not courtesy, however, that underlies the attempts to de-Christian my holiday. There is nothing inappropriate, or offensive, in offering Christian symbols – even religious ones – as an expression of the season in commercial locations and government venues. Christmas carols should be heard in any public venue, and I don’t mean just Jingle Bells and I Saw Mother Kissing Santa Claus. And not only do I not take offense at having the nativity scene stand alongside a Menorah, I think it is wonderful. It is exactly the kind of respect and sharing that creates our sense of an overarching culture, bring our differences into harmony.

The public arean was never meant to be the fallow ground that separates us, but the common ground that unites us. Political correctness? Bah! Humbug!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

OBSERVATION: Rahm Emanuel is not politically correct.

As I wrote the earlier item on congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, I came to realize that Rahm Emanuel needs a name adjustment. Since his party is leading the fight to eradicate any traces of religiosity from the public commons, I think he needs a name change. "Emanuel," the name given to Jesus Christ as the arrival of God, seems totallly inappropriate.

Rahm may well have a messianic complex, and thinks he is God's gift to the world, but still not proper to present himself in public with such an obvious religious name -- and a Christian one to boot (which is exactly what the PC Nazis would like to do). He should not be listed on the congressional role call, least our highly vulnerable ungodly athiests have siezures.

Maybe Rahm Godless would be ok. Or, Rahm Faithless? Oh! I got it. Rahm (Happy) Holiday.

REACT: Dems have no shame.

Regarding Iraq, I suspect the Democrats are about to be, as my mother used to say, “too smart for their britches.”

They may be too quick to bury Bush, and lay their future on anti war sentiment. The enormous success of the Iraqi election and the likelihood of improved reports from that liberated nation, and maybe even a modest troop reduction, will wreak havoc on the viciously strident and ruthlessly partisan strategy reflected in such Democrat hardliners as Peolsi, Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy, screamer-in-chief Howard Dean, and the congressional races point man (Should I have said “person”?), Rahm Emanuel.

As the Dems political cheerleader in Congress, many of the most partisan party activists see in Emanuel a shrewd and effective money raiser and candidate recruiter. There is no question of his brittle partisanship, and his myopic ambition to win elections at all costs. The approach, could backfire --- and hopefully will.

The most prominent case in point is the “recruitment” of Tammy Duckworth to knock off the other Democrat primary candidates for the Illinois’ congressional seat being vacated by Henry Hyde. Emanuel and Durbin have successfully lobbied a female double amputee war veteran to enter the race. It took gobs of financial IOU’s, pre-programmed national exposure by the more than cooperative George Stephanopoulos, of ABC television, and whatever else Emanuel could promise within the edge of reason and law.

One can respect Duckworth’s duty to country, and the price she paid, and still reject her as a candidate on the basis of qualification and process. She is neither a resident of the district in which she plans to run, nor has she had any experience that would naturally suggest any credibility for public office. It is irrefutable that Emanuel’s only interest in her are her missing legs, and opposition to the war in which she lost them. He hopes that she will be, to use the expression, the poster child of anti-war, anti-Bush sentiment.

In her announcement, she says that only a person on the ground can understand Iraq. That is nice rhetoric, but an absurdity of the first magnitude. I will buy that when we put students in charge of the urban school systems. More significantly, it reveals that Emmanuel is going into the next election cycle with a one-issue strategy. He does not care that Duckworth is dangerously clueless on taxation, budgeting, education, and the million other issues that face the Congress.

Since this is a seat in Congress, and not a tryout for the Special Olympics, Emanuel may find that voters are not only too smart to be taken in, but totally offended by the crass cynicism and myopic vision of his political strategy. In producing the huge sign-up bonus for an experientially unqualified candidate, Emanuel insults the electorate by assuming mindless gullibility and superficiality. This is one case where the public can prove Lincoln correct when he opined that you cannot fool all the people all the time.

Consider this. Without the unfortunate injury, her selection would have been considered profoundly stupid. Emanuel, himself, would have scoffed at the idea.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

SIDEBAR: McCarthy remembered

Note: SIDEBAR is the term I use when talking about my personal experiences that relate in someway to news of the day. In news reporting, it refers to a secondary feature, usually in a "box," that highlights a facet of the primary news story. It is borrowed from the legal profession, when judges and attorneys stand to the side of the public "bar" (judge's bench) to engage in an unrecorded private discussion.

Some of the most delightful moments I can recall were private dinners with Gene McCarthy, the former U.S. Senator from Minnesota, when he visited Chicago. His claim to public fame is much to narrow to describe him. For sure he mounted a presidential campaign that drew attention to the political vulnerability of President Lyndon Johnson – who sought refuge in withdrawing from the 1968 race.

While McCarthy’s anti-war sentiment was more on procedure than purpose, he became the personification of the anti-war, pacifist movement. He was the Pied Piper of the hippie peaceniks.

In private, he would confess that he was neither anti-war nor a zealous reformer. His opposition to Viet Nam was based on his belief that the conflict was not Constitutionally sound. He felt we entered without the proper authorization, and that the war was expanded solely by Presidential decisions without the oversight of the Congress.

On matters of reform, he was even more surprising. He completely rejected prevailing reform views found popularized in the press. While seemingly a very honest and principled politician, McCarthy was a product of the old school. I recall one particular conversation in which he rejected the reformer appellation. “You know, Larry,” he said, “if you purify the pond the lilies die.” He said there was always a need of a bit of sediment in the system.

On another occasion, McCarthy compared reformers to a priest in his home town, who urged parishioners to express their devotion by making more use of the vigil candles. He even installed additional banks of the red glass holders to accommodate more use. “Eventually,” said McCarthy, “the good farther burned the church down.”

“That is what unbridled reformers tend to do,” he added. “They will burn down the whole place.”

His descriptions of his colleagues were tinged with a certain Irish sarcastic wit. When I inquired about Jimmy Carter, he alleged that the former president learned most of what he knew in the Navy on board submarines, and unfortunately there was only room for very small books and Reader’s Digest.

He did not give a much better assessment of Ronald Reagan. He just saw him as entirely too ignorant to be president. Ditto Jerry Ford. Ditto Richard Nixon. All fell victim to McCarthy’s acerbic wit.

He lost the wit, however, when talking of the Kennedy’s. There was no gentleness, or Irish kinship, in his hatred of the Kennedy family. When talking of the Kennedy family, there was none of the poetics or humor. There was only an unabated bitterness. He blamed the Kennedys for preventing his nomination as the Democrat candidate. His loathing for Bobby Kennedy was not tempered by the New York senator’s tragic death. He considered him an unprincipled opportunist who made his play for the presidency only after McCarthy had brought down Johnson. He was not wrong.

On total, one got the impression that McCarthy held himself to be of more substantial presidential timber than any who succeeded where he had failed. And yet, there was a charming aristocratic air about the man. When talking about issues, and things other than his political colleagues, he was fascinating --- a compendium of knowledge and insightful correlations.

He was at his best, however, when he played the story teller or the poet. Whether at the dinner table with my wife and me, or before a modest audience, he was on stage. He would, at no obvious provocation, recite long verses from memory. I recall at one event, he held stage for more than forth-five minutes on a single poem.

Seeing all the press attention and adulation he received in death, I could not help by wonder where the press had been these many years as he lived in virtual public oblivion.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

REACT: Congressman in GOOD scandal?

First, I have to say upfront that Congressman Bobby Rush and I come from opposite ends of the political spectrum on most issues, but I still like him as a person.

Recently I read about his financial problems, which lead to the potential seizure of his family home in Illinois and his vacation condo in Michigan. Perhaps his church project and the significant demands of office were draining too much money. However, I saw something praiseworthy where others seemed to have seen only scandal.

When you consider California Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham (a conservative Republican – ouch!) taking in a whopping $2.4 million in bribes and the Illinois’ “stash the cash in my bag” political culture, it is refreshing to find a public servant who is in trouble for NOT having enough money. It almost makes him a normal guy. I am sure Bobby has had his share opportunities to accept envelops filled with “Ben Franklins.” To his credit, he appears to have resisted temptation. I’ll take some temporary personal finance problems over ill-gotten gains any day. Good for you Bobby!!.

REACT: Iraqi hostages among their "friends?"

The report of a bunch of westerners associated with Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams being captured by ruthless criminal Iraqi terrorists seems to confirm the lunacy of the left these days. First and foremost, what on earth were these people doing there in the first place? There is a war going on, being waged by people who HATE westerners -- and especially hate infidel Christians. I know there are many people moved by a sense of moral mission willingly face danger, and even death, when the cause is noble. I have enormous respect for those people. They are the saints among us.

Teams is not of that ilk, however.

For whatever their stated intention, Teams appears to be part of a propaganda industry dedicated to demonizing America, its people, culture, and causes. Teams spokesperson Kryss Chupp was quoted as describing the work of Teams as purely humanitarian. “We’re not a proselytizing organization,” she alleged. Very noble, but very untrue.

The same article quoted the group’s official reaction to the kidnappings. They said, “We are angry because what had happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. government (sic) due to the illegal attack on Iraq and oppression of its people.” One can only imagine what that official statement might have sounded like if they did proselytize. Their web site further supports the murders of Iraq over the liberating allied army. Yes, I said “liberating” because that is the view of the vast majority of Iraqi citizens. Teams is in league with terrorists, and in opposition to U.S./Israeli/U.N. efforts to rid the world of them.

It is particularly outrageous that they should advance the lies that this war is illegal, and the vast majority of the people of Iraq are being oppressed by America, and its allies. I have very little sympathy of anyone who would be so morally corrupted as to aid and abet the murderous terrorists, and psychopath tyrants, at the expense of our troops (including my grandson and youing cousin), and the many innocent civilian victims (Christian, Jew or Muslim) of unimaginable terrorist brutality and cruelty.

While the express humanitarian purposes, their mission is to publicize the propaganda of the enemy – to parrot the Anti-American rhetoric of the terrorist network. They now rest in the bosom of their allies. The hostages should be pleased to be “hosted” at the “invitation” of their oppressed compatriots – safe from the protection of the country they so disparage.

I sincerely hope and pray they will be rescued, perhaps by the military forces they so despise. I would revel in the irony. I also hope and pray that after experiencing the “hospitality” of their “friends,” they will see the light. Should they not survive, perhaps the lesson will be learned by others. We should be reminded that “those who will not recognize evil cannot fight against it” – perhaps they cannot even survive it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

OBSERVATION: How bad is the GOP hurting?

Taking into consideration the public opinion reports, the results in the recent state elections and the general reporting, one could easily presage big trouble for the GOP in the 2006 mid-term elections. Not as well covered by the press are the equally abysmal polling results for the Democrats. Despite the ebbing enthusiasm for Bush II, the Democrats are hard press to convince the public that they are any better. If there is any conclusion to be drawn, it is that a "plague on both houses" is the prevailing sentiment. This suggest little chance of a Democrat bust out in the by elections.

While the press made much of President Bush losing two state governorships, it failed to adequately point out the fact that both seats belonged to Democrat incumbents – and New Jersey was a long shot going in. There is not a lot to suggest that the voters were swinging away from the GOP.

The upcoming election season of 2006 may not be all that great for the GOP, but we should not place too much to emphasis on current issues. Historic trends must first be considered. If the GOP loses in 2006 far exceed "normal" off year outcomes, THEN we can begin to look at true voter shifts.

REACT: She's baaaaaack.

The good thing about Hurricane Katrina, it seemed to have knocked Cindy Sheehan off the media "must publicize" list. But, just when I was putting her non-presence on my Thanksgiving list, she re-emerged as the biggest turkey of the day. She is back in Crawford, Texas hoping to spoil President Bush's holiday dinner.

I like what George Will had to say about her. He opined that she is a Republican plant, designed to make the anti war claque look both nasty and stupid. Those were not exactly his words, but the point was made.

Outside of the media desire to bring down the President, one is hard pressed to see the news value in her crusade. Despite her national exposure and photo ops with the likes of Jesse Jackson, she is hardly able to muster enough protestors to sell out a small town high school play. Let's face it. For all the media hype it receives, the anti war movement is pathetic --- even more so BECAUSE of all the media hype. Without the benefit of much press attention, an old geezer like Billy Graham can fill a coliseum just by promising to show up.

With web sites, book deals and even talk of a movie, the mournful Cindy is the Martha
Stewart of the disloyal opposition. She even got herself arrested, too. A badge of honor to the strident left.

Like the ant at a picnic, Sheehan does not amount to much in reality, but there is an annoying pestiness about her. For me, she has one redeeming value, however. She serves as a convincing example of the liberal bias of the major news media.

SIDEBAR: Political stridency (case in point #2)

Note: SIDEBAR is the term I use when talking about my personal experiences that relate in someway to news of the day. In news reporting, it refers to a secondary feature, usually in a "box," that highlights a facet of the primary news story. It is borrowed from the legal profession, when judges and attorneys stand to the side of the public "bar" (judge's bench) to engage in an unrecorded private discussion.

The most recent incident of right wing political stridency run amok (previous blog item) reminded me of another incident ... or maybe several more incidences … of the damage done to good old conservatism by the extremists in our own house.

As most every knows, I am a very hard-line pro-lifer. That did not prevent me from being attacked by one of the religious vigilantes.

Several years ago, I was leading a fight to reopen Chicago's lakefront Meigs airport after Mayor Richard Daley shut it down and painted an "X" on the runway. The effort to reopen was successful, much to the chagrin of the mayor. So, five years later, Hizzoner bulldozed the runway like a vandal in the middle of the night. But, that is another story.

During the earlier battle, I received an irate call from what I had always perceived to be a pro-life friend. He screamed into the phone, threatening to never associate with me or my activities again. (Listening to him at the moment, I considered that a blessing). In fact, I have not seen nor heard from him since (definitely a blessing).

One prominent personality in my Save Meigs coalition was Richard Phelan, fromer president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Despite his Catholic upbringing, and the plea of his fellow communicants, Phelan personally ordered the restoration of abortions at the county hospital. Needless to say, I was among those who thought excommunication was not inappropriate. However, those were the days of Cardinal Bernadine, who was more interested in his civic public relations than Catholic doctrine.

I explained to the caller that Phelan was the attorney for a group of pilots how had sued the mayor over the issue. But, that was not a suitable response. Having my airport cause supported by Phelan was unacceptable, period. It apparently was my obligation to myopically confront the former board president in the most hostile manner at each and every opportunity. For the caller, society had only one issue.

Finally, in frustration, I told the caller that if he could bring evidence that they were performing abortions at Meigs airport, I would cease my campaign to have it reopened, and disassociate myself from the scorned Mr. Phelan.

As a postscript, I should add that the caller was not one of the highly visible anti-abortion activists, but a ubiquitous fellow traveler. Never the guy on the podium, but the one always yelling from the rear of the room. You know the type, I am sure.

Friday, November 25, 2005

SIDEBAR: Political stridency (case in point #1)

Note: SIDEBAR is the term I use when talking about my personal experiences that relate in someway to news of the day. In news reporting, it refers to a secondary feature, usually in a "box," that highlights a facet of the primary news story. It is borrowed from the legal profession, when judges and attorneys stand to the side of the public "bar" (judge's bench) to engage in an unrecorded private discussion. Don’t you just want to slap a friend around when they go stupid on you.

I was recently dressed down by a conservative colleague for my friendship with President Clinton’s former Democrat National Chairman David Wilhelm. My compliment of Wilhelm brought on a venomous attack from the erstwhile ally, a guy who does not know David at all. The irrational hatred of the former President, and the relationship between him and David, was enough to not only personally slander my friend from the other side of the aisle, but to suggest my own disloyalty to the cause for merely associating with the guy --- and even worse, liking him personally. My sin was nothing more than the temerity of saying something truthfully nice about a person on the strident right hate list – or in this case an associate of a person on the strident right hate list. I could not have been more berated if I had complimented Hitler on population planning at a Bnia Brith meeting.

Let me first clear the record. I think Bill Clinton was a morally and ethically challenged, to say the least. His only chance at a legacy is to become the First Hubby of the first woman President. There is no doubt he tarnished the very important moral authority of the White House. His foreign policy was a disaster, and he produced no great memorable programs. Clinton is doomed to be remembered in history more for his erection than his election.

He had three saving graces, however. First: He is what you might call a “charming rogue,” and we tend to like charming rogues. I always figured if Hillary did not kick him out of HER house, no reason for the country to kick him out of the White House. Perhaps that sounds heretical to my blood thirsty brethren. But as a devoted conservative, I think removal from office should be reserved only for the most heinous acts. Bad character and lying are not sufficient. I mean, how many could survive in office against such a standard? I do favor a recall method, however, since it is the people who decide, not the politicians. Then the standard of removal is no higher than public opinion as reflected in the voting booth – as was the case in California.

Second: Clinton was confronted by an overly exuberant GOP, looking less like savvy politicos and more like prune-lipped school marms. The fact that Clinton was not removed from office was more the fault of the Republican lynch mob perception than grassroots support for the Prez. Please understand, I think the impeachment was well deserved for his perjury, if not for his oval office cigar habit. The problem was the removal from office. That is where the GOP and the public departed.

(I had occasion to offer solicited advice to the House Judiciary Committee at the time. I suggested that the House and Senate GOP announce UPFRONT that they did not intend to remove Clinton, but only would impeach him as an appropriate black mark on his already questionable legacy. Without fear of removal, the public would have clamored for the impeachment. I would have removed the Dems most popular argument. Under such a scenario, I think the courts may well have gone beyond pulling Clinton’s law license and really indicted him on the perjury charge – resulting in a possible post-term conviction. But alas, my free advice was given equal value)

Third: If we conservative can get past the personal animus, we have to admit that Clinton governed more to the center than the left, except for a few egregious, and (mercifully) failed, programs pushed by the browbeater-in-chief, Lady Hillary. He did a few things we right wingers could even applaud. The manifest disappointment of the left should be our gauge on those issues.

For the most part, however, I was outspoken critic of Bill Clinton, as a President and as a person. So, what does all that have to do with David Wilhelm. That is the point. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Let me say that David is most certainly a Democrat partisan – even more than I am Republican. He and I can look at the same clock and not agree on the time of day, at least on most issues. On the other hand, David is one of the most descent human beings I have known – especially in politics. He is respectful of other opinions. A surprisingly mild and soft spoken guy. He has a heart of gold. I knew him before he was THAT David Wilhelm … and after. The experience did not corrupt him – literally or figuratively.

It bothers me that so many people see politics as a blood sport. Modern times seem to require the casting of every person into the friend or enemy camp. There are no subtleties, no nuances. You are saintly or evil. In fact, hardly anyone fits into those categories. Most people are a blend of good and evil, right and wrong – even the person you see in the morning mirror.

You may have noticed, I referred to my attacker as an “associate” and David as a “friend.” That was no accident. I much prefer the company of a good person with whom I have broad policy disagreements (and great debates) over that of a hateful ally. So the next time you may spot me having diner in a restaurant, the person across the table is more likely to be David Wilhelm than that other guy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

OP ED: Governor Ryan: The $10 million baby.

Illinois Governor George Ryan and his crew were bully politicians with a well known penchant for ruthlessly destroying the lives of the disfavored, while shamelessly enriching the lives of a rather sleazy band of insiders. Their lack of principle, absence of ethics and contempt for the public good have been established beyond any question. The only issue to be resolved is if their skullduggery rose to the level of punishable crime. In some cases, even that has been proven.

Now, we come to learn that this once powerful ne’er-do-good enjoys the pro bono (for the “public good?”) services of a major law firm at the expense of the partner’s profits, and the many clients who will have to make up some of the loss. Ryan already has consumed more than $10 million dollars in free legal services from Winston and Strawn, and the final figure is expected to be double that – not including appeals, if he is convicted. In the meantime, a lot of honorable citizens of modest means and minimal clout will find it impossible to be represented by lawyers willing to do pro bono work on their behalf.

Ryan’s attorney thinks the jury should know of his law firm's generosity, least they think the former governor has a stash of cash. The Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer wisely suggests that to give that information to the jury is to beg the question, “why?” Good question.

It will be interesting to see if the Internal Revenue Service also will give the former governor a financial gift by not seeking the taxes due on the Winston and Strawn donation of services. For commoners, the provision of such services is a taxable event. But, that is another potential news story. But, maybe the press will also give Ryan the professional courtesy of not inquiring. No end to the potential gift list.

Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Clause – even for naughty old men.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

OP ED: Liberals about to lose in court.

Despite right-wing panic, George Bush knew he had nominated a solid conservative in Harriet Meirs. It did not play out that way. The lack of judicial record and experience that was believed to be a benefit backfired into a disadvantage. Instead of befuddling the opposition of both philosophic wings, it united them in fear – each thinking she would sell out to the other.

Not willing to make that mistake again, the President chose the only kind of candidate he will nominate, a strict constructionist conservative pro-lifer – currently Samuel Alito. Unless the Democrats are willing to block every Supreme Court nominee for the next three years, they have no chance of a pro-abortion justice. The Senate minority is disingenuous in saying there should be no “litmus test” while placing an absolute prerequisite on the question of one specific decision.

The battle may be long and ugly. The pledge not to filibuster is likely to be broken by desperate Democrats, and the Senate may have to change the filibuster rule to re-establish the simple majority “consent” envisioned by the founders (not a bad reform in its own right). The current Democrat position is nothing less than minority dictatorship – attempting to force the nomination of THEIR candidate by obscene obstructionism and character assassination.

Despite short term desperation tactics, the Court will soon shift decidedly to the right. The liberal allusion to “balance” is a public fraud – an arrogant euphemism for liberal dominance. The Supreme Court has nine members so that there is never a “balance” on any issue. The Court is not in balance today, it is a precariously liberal court about to become a conspicuously conservative Court – and the ramifications go well beyond the issue of abortion.

Though seemingly unrecognized, or openly confessed, abortion is not a winning issue for liberals. Most Americans disapprove of abortions, as a practice. Most Americans disfavor various extreme forms of legal abortions. Under the new court, the practice will not be extended. Via various legal challenges, it is more likely that the most egregious and unpopular abortion practices and laws will be trimmed, to say the least.

After time and legal evolution, it is even likely that Roe v. Wade will be overturned in a restoration of moral underpinning (as it should be). One hundred and fifty years ago, the Democrat-controlled Supreme Court declared that blacks had no rights as citizens. The Dred Scott decision was eventually overturned by moral enlightenment – and Republican appointments to the Court.

Even the overturning of Roe v. Wade will not ban abortions, as fear-mongering liberals peddle the argument. It simply de-federalizes the issue, leaving the states in the business of setting legal standards based on local values. If abortion is so popular with the masses, one presumes that states would legalize the procedure. Of course, if I were a pro-abortion liberal, I would not presume the assumption … nor the outcome.

Friday, October 28, 2005

TIDBITS: What a difference a week (or so) makes

I take a bit of time away from my blog rambling, and the world turns.

1. My prediction that Harriet Miers will be confirmed is out the window. Frankly, I underestimated the zeal of a good portion of the right wing lobby in opposition. I am not sure it was warranted, but it had its effect. I am also not sure it was a good strategy in the long run. It is my belief that Bush will not sway from his intent to name a conservative strict constructionist to the Court.

2. The Sox and world champions. Even as a Cub fan, I admire the quality of the team. They reflect everything good about baseball. In a day where sports is a brutal industry, it is good to see a team who seems to think the game of baseball is just that, a game -- something to be fun for players and fans. One cannot argue that they are a high performance team, too. They dominated the season and routed some pretty good teams in post season play. This was a solid, well deserved victory by a team that played excellent baseball with great dignity. I would even dare to say that outside of NOT snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, they played baseball like the beloved Cubs. Congrats from Wrigley Field.

3. Gas prices in surprise drop? Methinks it has something to do with those embarrassing high profits the gas giants are reporting. It does not take an economist (which my degree says I am) to figure out that those power powerhouses gouged the public. Katrina, Iraq and SUV's provided a good excuse, but it is now obvious that there was another significant driving force in the price surge -- greed. I am a free market guy, but we have to know that the oil oligopoly is not necessarily a free market force. Of course, if one result is the collapse of SUV sales, the world will be a better, and safer, place.

4. Some things did not change in my blog absence. I impolitely referred to Governor George Ryan's I-want-to-be-your-friend-while-I-dump-on-you protégé as a sleaze. Well, he has now completed his time in the witness stand, and he never demonstrated any other trait. Humility, veracity, honestly and dignity eluded him to the end of his tortured testimony.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Despite all the controversial and sensational news of natural and political disasters, there is an underlying peacefulness in the public limelight. There is a bit of lost acrimony that is only evident by its absence.

Eureka!! I got it!! I have not seen nor heard recently from that eccentric peacenik scold, Cindy Sheehan. Could it be that her 15 minutes of fame is up? Or, does the major news press have sufficient other grist for the bias mill? Is there nothing new to report in her screeching?

Probably an element of truth in each of those considerations. Methinks, however, there is yet a more valid explanation for her disappearance from the public spotlight. It was increasingly evident that the more exposure she got the more embarrassment she caused the strident left. As the public got to know more about her oddball opinions and her lust for cameras, it became obvious she was not simply a grieving mother. As reality set in, it was apparent that she was a strident, mean-spirited, egotistical (and a bit loony) person caste unprepared and unsuited for the level of fame bestowed upon her.

Once she was no longer useful to the anti-war Bush-bashing left-wing portion of the press, they dropped her like a hot bomb over Baghdad.

Well, for whatever reason, my day is elevated by the absence of her name and face in my morning newspaper. Now, if only the press could give up ritual of daily Jesse Jackson sightings I could enjoy my morning tea and crumpet without an accompanying rise in blood pressure.

REACT: Fawell shameless

The chief prosecution witness against former Illinois Governor George Ryan is his former top staffer and alter ego, Scott Fawell. Fawell, who is spending a few years in jail for his side of the official crimes, likes to have it both ways. He provides testimony to nail his old boss, while expressing his unabated friendship and affection for the old codger. He provides damning evidence, but upon cross examination attempts to undermine his own testimony by helping the defense.

Of course, Fawell claims that his "testimony under duress" is for the love of a woman. She will not face jail time if he 'fesses up. It makes for nice theater, but I contend that it is the reduction in Fawell's OWN time in prison (which is part of the plea agreement) that drives his testimony.

Having had dealings with Fawell, it has been my long time impression that at the bottom line his only concern is Scott Fawell. The strong bond to the ex-Governor and to his paramour existed only while he was on the receiving end of the relationship. He is, and has been, a ruthless and smarmy character. His performance on the stand is a perfect example. His whiney claim, that he is only telling the truth about is knowledge and involvement in massive public corruption because of the "pressure" exerted by the feds, in and of itself attests to a guy with no sense of higher calling. He is a sleaze trying to appear noble, and you and I have no reason to buy it.

Any more backsliding on the stand, and I would hope that the feds pull him aside and tell him the deal is off. Maybe he should be rewarded like the old wanted poster promise -- a reward for the "arrest and CONVICTION" of the culprit. Under that provision, you would see a very different Fawell. He would be spinning his testimony to make sure Ryan hit the steel bar hotel. He is just that kind of a guy.

OBSERVATION: Some thoughts on the Sox winning season

1. What about those Cub fans? The Sox victory is a natural reason for Chicago to officially celebrate. Of course, it brings to a boil the long standing schism between the fans of the south side team and the fans of the north side Cubs. And that is the whole point. The Sox are a south side team, and the south side is a completely different culture than the north side. Mayor Daley looks as natural in a Sox cap as he does in a bright green tie.

The Sox are a local team. The Cubs are a national team, with fans from sea to shining sea. This is due to the fact that the Cubs are more than a team, they are a mystic. And more than a little credit for their national fame has to do with their early telecasts on a WGN-TV, which went national with the sports broadcasts.

The Sox play baseball, in some years better than others. When they are winning, more seats get filled (although it takes at least a World Series to completely fill their stark stadium. The Cubs are a sports/social phenomenon. Win or lose, a ticket to Wrigley Field is hard to come by. This is a reality that Sox fans simply cannot comprehend, and it is not easy for Cubs fans to explain it. You just have to feel it.

With the Sox heading to the Series this year, there is a lot of snubbing of the old proboscis at the ever-loyal Cubs fans. They assume that Cubs fans are frustrated or jealous. Whether the outcome of the City Series, or the number of players in the All Star Game, or the relative ranking of the teams during the year, or entrance into post season play, Sox fans are quick to boast when they are ahead and silently sulk when they trail. Their sports self esteem, like ticket sales at the tacky-named U.S. Cellular Field, rises and falls on victory alone. Cubs fans, ensconced in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field just love the game, the team, the environment in which the game is played, and the zany fans.

Cubs fans do not begrudge the Sox their victory. They simply do not care. It is like being in a restaurant seated next to a family celebrating a birthday. Good for them. We might even applaud at the end of the birthday song, but there celebration is neither a source of jubilation or chagrin. It just is.

2. The Governor is capless and Soxless. Of course, when Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich wrote in Sporting News that he would never wear a Sox cap, not even if they played in the World Series, I am sure he never expected the team to get there during his administration – or his life time. Not a bad sentiment for a dyed in the wool Cubs fan. Unfortunately, it was a hapless statement fraught with political incorrectness when made by the elected leader of ALL the people, and was elevated to a major faux paw by the Sox unexpected winning season.

Just what does a savvy politician do in a situation like that? Well, the Governor’s response can be seen in the post season publicity shot. Proving him to be the things politicians are made of, he parses his statement by keeping his word on the cap, but dons a Sox jacket. Now everyone can see a desperate man twisting in the wind. The look on his face tells it all. But wait! He knows there is no escaping the embarrassment of the moment, and the scorn of the south side, so he does the publicity stunt with his sweetly innocent daughter at his side. He might was well be wearing a sign that says, “Don’t pick on me because my young daughter is here.”

Now, if that is not bad enough, ponder this. The Governor’s spin meisters put out the word that his anti-Sox comment in the press was not of his authorship. It was ghost written by a reporter for the publication – although they concede that he read and signed off out the article before publication.

Having transformed a bad comment into a public relations disaster, it is now questionable if Governor Blago can even get a ticket to any of the home games. He may not even receive the traditional invitation that automatically goes to the state’s chief executive for such events. Of course, if I was Jerry Reinsdorf, and I were of a mind to zing the Governor for his comments (and that would not be beneath Reinsdorf), I would make a very very public invitation to the Governor, and watch him squirm for credible reasons not to attend, or shame him into attending, and smugly grin as he is boo’ed by assembled crowd. Sox fans are like that. In truth, if the situation was reversed, Cubs fans would do the same.

3. The rich get richer. Jerry Reinsdorf will get a nice windfall from the World Series. Seems like, when no one was looking, our politicians pulled a fast one on the public. Those of us who footed the bill for that monstrosity called U.S. Cellular Field will get none … nada … of the revenues generated by the World Series. In a move that can only be described as a “gift” to the team owners, we taxpayers agreed to relinquish proceeds from any World Series tickets. Now that was damn generous of us. Perhaps, like Governor Blagojevich, those who made that decision on our behalf assumed that a Sox World Series would never happen in our life times. So, when you Sox fans see a beaming Mayor Daley standing next to grinning Jerry Reinsdorf, you will know that the glee is brought on by more than civic pride. That is not Jerry’s arm around the Mayor, it is his hand on the public wallet in his pocket.

4. The “Sold Rush” on the south side. There are many media stories about the demand for Sox tickets. There is confusion, and a couple of predictable stories of the “unfairness” of the process. Big shots getting tickets as the faithful get shut out. Well, all this consternation should come as no surprise. We should be more tolerant of the situation. It is a bit like the lack of preparedness for Hurricane Katrina. Not only is the Sox winning season a generational event, but no one in charge at … gulp … U.S. Cellular Field has ever had any experience with a situation where there where more demand for seats than seat available. They should have hired some of the Cub officials, who have to face high demand all the time.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

OP ED: Dems in a pickle over Miers nomination

Despite all the apprehension on the right, President Bush has outmaneuvered the liberal Democrats with a brilliant double nomination strategy for the two overlapping vacancies of the Supreme Court.

In appointing the brilliant and super qualified Chief Justice Roberts, Bush was able to trump the Democrat’s ideological concerns with superior qualifications. This resulted in the approval of a Chief Justice as conservative as anyone the President could have chosen. With Roberts, Bush left the Senate Democrats with little to work with (or against, in this case).

In his second nomination, Bush selected a person not easily targeted as an extreme right winger. This time the Democrats are not trumped by intellect or constitutional track record, but by a confusing lack of information. The very fact that Harriet Miers is not only without a clear conservative record, but even has some "liberal" indicators in her long resume, is putting off the Democrats more than scaring the hard line conservatives.

Miers’ donation to Al Gore, and the support of some narrow gay issues, has many of my fellow conservatives armed and on standby -- and a few in full assault. In risking some conservative consternation, Bush has adroitly put the left in full disarray. The likes of Jesse Jackson are taking on the usual, and predictable, "shock and dismay" attitude. That would be the case for any appointment short of Jesse's son – and even then, the reverend would probably be suspicious of his offspring.

Senate Leader Harry Ried, however, has all but endorsed the appointment -- even taking some credit for the recommendation. Liberal as he may be, Ried is a pro life Democrat, so the litmus issue is not of great concern to him. That attack on Miers as intellectually and experientially deficient is spurious. It is coming from the strident left, as part of their package of criticisms, from judicial elitist, such as Robert Bork, who bifurcate society between their ivy-covered peers and the poor uneducated masses. Miers is as qualified as many of those who went on to great Supreme Court careers.

Oddly, this is an appointment the Democrats could defeat. If they were unified in opposition, there are enough wary Republicans to force her out of contention. Without an unbroken line of Democrat opponents, however, many wavering Republican senators will find it safer to go along with the President and the Senate leadership. Of course, the Democrats are not foolish. If they were to expend their political capital to defeat this woman candidate, they would be less likely to defeat the next, or the third, if that were to be the case. And they fully understand that the next appointments would not be fraught with doubt. They would be front line conservatives. For the Democrats, and especially for the major asses, such as Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer (alluding to their party’s donkey symbol, of course), the hope in the unknown Miers is better than the certainty of those others on Bush’s short list.

Liberal America must now recognize that they have been out foxed, out flanked, out classed, out done --- and now are outside the judicial halls. They know that the "new" Court is going to be far more conservative than the old. They were not wrong to mortally fear the potential of a President George Bush in the shaping of the senior courts. Upon confirmation of the next justice, Miers or not, the battle is won by the political right. If there should be another appointment for Bush, the seminal victory will be a generational rout.

As far as her "evolution" on the Court -- the great fear of many conservatives -- I take heart and hope in the fact that as the freshman justice, she will be “evolving” under the leadership of the solidly conservative and highly persuasive Chief Justice Roberts. For all his conservative leanings, the late Chief Justice Rehnquist can best be described as the “head” of the Supreme Court, not its “leader.” Historically, he may have been among the least persuasive Chief Justices in bringing colleagues to his view.

I believe Miers will be confirmed, since the Democrats do not seem to have even a winning strategy to be implemented. And, I suspect that Justice Miers will be mostly the conservative we all hope her to be. We may not like each and every vote. But on the matter of strictly interpreting the Constitution as opposed to legislating from the bench, I think she is there -- and will stay there.

Monday, October 03, 2005

REACT: Edgar out? He was never in.

I win a number of bets, and unlimited bragging rights, for my never-wavering contention that former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar would not run (see blog item August 26). I will say it with confidence, the outcome was never in doubt. His only true deliberation was when and how to say “no.” He did it in grand public relations style -- which is his greatest talent, anyway.

I never thought of Edgar as stupid (politically, that is) or nuts. He is a cunning political operator, with a keen sense of his image and poll numbers. In terms of public policy and issues, the Ken-doll-grown-old Edgar was never considered the sharpest knife in the drawer. Truth be known, many issue activists and lobbyists on both sides of the philosophic divide thought of him as a bit … well … let’s just say under informed. (More about that some other time.)

If there was ever any doubt in my mind that Edgar would reject the petitions of the politicians, it evaporated with his arrival at the Illinois Issues forum (which I attended) just before his weepy press conference. He was not in the room more than five minutes when my original opinion was confirmed -- at least in my own mind. He passed through the crowd with his insider-known disdain for the masses. Rarely smiling, and giving all (except a few of his former syncopates) an icy brush off. This was Edgar the person without any hint of Edgar the campaigner -- who could produce a forced gregariousness every few years for the sake of votes. The aloof Edgar was not a man about to run for public office.

Since his concern for good government and the welfare of his Republican party goes no further than his own ambition and ego appeasement, there was no self-motivation for Edgar to make an early decision for a greater good. If the former governor had no intention of ever running again, why the prolonged pondering? Simple. Ego.

As I noted in that earlier blog commentary, Edgar suffers from "the phone doesn’t ring as much anymore." This is his third public pensiveness. In each case he ran the publicity mill as long as he could before giving his predetermined reply. Nyet! Nein! Nope!

This play for publicity is not an Edgar invention. Former Illinois Governor Richard Ogilvie was courted to run for mayor of Chicago every four years. He would encourage speculation and drafts, then puff on his pipe ponderously for weeks as pundits speculated, the press reported and potential candidates awaited in the wings. Every twitch of his eyebrow was the subject of speculative meaning. Again, I never lost a wager by placing my marker on “no.”

Edgar said he is through running for public office, and that IS the truth -- but don’t be surprised if yet again some season speculation arises, and the old war horse again entices the phones to ring and the reporters to write. After all, this is man who convincingly said, “I never say never.”

LMAO: Oy Vey! to oy vey … and other foolish things

LMAO #1 I love New York, oy vey.
Somehow, the borough of Brooklyn, New York convinced the state Department of Transportation to erect a huge exist sign that features the Jewish expression for disappointment or dismay -- as in “a tree just fell on my car, oy vey.” In that spirit, I am going back to my old blue collar neighborhood and ask for a similar sigh saying, “holy shit.” Maybe the exit near the high tech industrial district can say “omg.”

LMAO #2 A curse on the tax folks, the Dutch seem to be spellbound. A court in Holland recently decided in favor of granting witches a tax deduction for training and education in the occult arts. This is a nation already know for popularizing the most salacious pornography and promoting wide spread drug use as a means of recreation. Since almost all the Dutchmen I know in America are highly dedicated Christians with fundamentalist moral values, I can only assume the righteous immigrated to the United States, leaving behind the hedonists to run the country. On the other had, I would not mind learning more about the spell they put on the court. Could come in handy.

Monday, September 26, 2005

UPDATE: Cindy off to the clinker.

You ever get the feeling you're watching a Saturday Night Live parody of a war protest. The arrest of the mourning-after mother, Cindy Sheehan, is almost that funny.

It is widely reported that she took up her position in front of the White House for the sole purpose of getting arrested -- or, more accurately, for the sole purpose of getting lots of publicity for getting arrested. But, give her credit, she accomplished her mission.

Hey! Is that a big grin on her face? Yes! Yes! Cindy Sheehan is smiling -- one of those really self satisfied smiles. She is one smug happy lady. And, why not? She just got the gift she had hoped for. A real arrest. She is now a bone fide member of the great Civil Protest Society of America. She has proven herself so dedicated to "the cause" that she will endure the swift sword of justice. Not that it is a terribly sharp sword.

She will suffer about as about as much as getting picked up for a DUI. A trip to the station, then out on the streets awaiting a trial date. Maybe a fine, no jail time. Actually, she will be treated much better than a drunken drive ... even though her actions are likely to kill a lot more people.

Perhaps she will come out of the police station with a couple of self inflicted bruises, and a tale of the brutality of the cops. Remember, she is the one who cautioned about the coming violence during her camping out vacation outside the Bush ranch. I say cautioned, but her delivery suggested a certain hopefulness. I am not talking people getting killed, or badly hurt -- she just could have used a bit of rough stuff to further her woe-is-me victim charade.

Well, it is good to know she can smile. Quite a difference from all those other photos of people getting arrested -- crouching down, looking angry or scared. Then there are the folks who hid behind hats and newspapers. Not Cindy. She knows a good thing when she sees it. You go girl!! Directly to jail ... do not pass "Go."

P.S. I could have made some wise crack about that police hand between her legs as the sources of that smile, but that would be beneath my dignity.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

SIDEBAR: Barenboim to leave Chicago Symphony

Note: SIDEBAR is the term I use when talking about my personal experiences that relate in someway to news of the day. In news reporting, it refers to a secondary feature, usually in a "box," that highlights a facet of the primary news story. It is borrowed from the legal profession, when judges and attorneys stand to the side of the public "bar" (judge's bench) to engage in an unrecorded private discussion.

Internationally renowned musician and conductor Daniel Barenboim will surrender his baton at the Chicago Symphony.

I am way too much of regular guy to have more than a passing interest in the goings on in the hoi polloi world of the symphony. I do enjoy classical music of the type that most snobs consider schmaltzy. I like Liszt ... sway to Strauss ... like Beethoven basically ... Mozart mostly ... Hayden religiously ... and I think Rachmaninoff rocks. However, I am cool to Copland ... boycott Bartok ... and Mahler makes me moan.

None of this takes anything away from the professed genius of Barenboim. In fact, I have no frame of reference with which to comment or pass any sort of judgment on his talent. I can only accept the written word of music critics that he is, in fact, a talented genius.

Hence, this is not about Barenboim the music maker, but Barenboim the man -- at lease from my anecdotal acquaintanceship with him as a short term neighbor. You see, for several months he lived across the hall from us, in an apartment often used by great figures from the symphony and the Lyric Opera. We had the pleasure of friendly hallway encounters with such people as Eve Marton and Boris Godunov. Among the most frequent residents of the neighboring apartment were Maestro Bruno Bartoletti and his wife. He was musical director for the Lyric Opera. They were two of the warmest and most charming people on earth. Every music superstar we met was a wonderful neighbor.

Let me stress that we were not looking for social interaction with these celebrities, but did enjoy a gracious “passing in the hallway” relationship – maybe a bit more personal with the Bartolettis, who doted on our younger son and took a professional interest in our older and very gifted opera singer son.

Then there was Barenboim. All due deference to him as a musician, I can only say that the pejorative phrase "pompous arrogant insufferable jerk" seems to pop into my head whenever I see his name. This is a guy who would not so much as acknowledge a passing hello in the hallway. Even such a common courtesy would earn a scornful look, as if you had gotten a cell phone call during Debussy – and your ring tone was something from Led Zepplin. If Barenboim was about to enter the elevator, and saw someone coming down the hall, he would actually press the door closure button before they could enter.

I am not an anti-smoking zealot, but his late night cigars wafted smoke into our kitchen enough to put our noses and ceiling smoke detector on alert. The problem was somewhat ameliorated by the building management providing an air purifier.

Barenboim did not have one apartment. He had two. While he and a lady friend seemed to be ensconced in the luxury two-bedroom corner unit, his wife, kids and servant or nanny (as it appeared) were crammed in a one bedroom apartment down the hall. On those rare occasions when we actually saw him interacting with his family, his brutal authority over the family was, shall we say, discomforting -- bad enough to conjure up feelings of pity for the wife and kids we never got to know.

At least Mrs. Barenboim could still say "hi" in the hallway -- unless HE was with her, of course.

They eventually moved out of that apartment, and we moved to a higher floor in the building. The up close and personal Daniel Barenboim vanished from our daily life, thank goodness. The only aftermath is my insignificant, but self satisfying protest. While I still enjoy a good classical CD, I will not purchase any where Mr. Barenboim is conducting or playing.

REACT: Sheehan and Jackson find common bond

There they are. Anti war protester Cindy Sheehan and serial activist Jesse Jackson in the very same newspaper photo, brought together by a deep common bond. No! I am not speaking of their opposition to the war in Iraq or their mutual genetic aversion to George Bush. I am referring to their lust for the lenses.

The photo captures them in their best crafted poses -- a smiling Jackson surrounded by cameras and Mrs. Sheehan drapped on his shoulder giving the photogs her well rehearsed vulnerable look. It is almost too intimate to observe, as each tenderly shares their most precious possession, the limelight.

If there were Academy Awards for "theatrics as news," these two would win hands down. In their case, paparazzi have no challenge in seeking and shooting their prey. In fact, I can even imagine charges being filed against Jackson and Sheehan for harassing those otherwise annoying shutter buggers in "turn about is fair play." I can see Jackson and Sheehan ambushing the photogs at ever opportunity, chasing cameramen down the street and jumping in front of their lenses without warning.

While Jackson is the experienced camera hog, Sheehan has one advantage. She is focused (no pun intended) on one issue. Jackson, like an ambulance chasing attorney, shamelessly shows up for every news event that garners more than three cameras.

To that extent, Jackson has made so many appearances on so many issues that his messages are becoming an irrelevant white noise (again no pun intended). Even worse for the good reverend, he is becoming more of a comedic character. Even his son, Congressman Jesse Jackson, makes fun of his father's publicity craving -- noting recently that he (the junior Jackson) had only had five press conferences in 10 year, but his father has that many a day.

On the other hand, Jackson has an advantage over Sheehan. As the war issue ebbs, as surely it will one day, Sheehan will disappear like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland (leaving for last that perma-pout instead of the enigmatic smile). The omni-issue Jackson will continue to find cause in every camera.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

REACT: Christians and gays at it again

Just read an item about a Christian school in California that booted out a kid because his "parents" are a gay couple. Methinks the school officials should learn a bit more about being Christians.

Let us respect the right of the Christian school to proffer the belief that homosexuality is an immoral life style for the moment. Rather, just focus on this issue.

I see nothing Christian about booting a kid out of school because his PARENTS do not perfectly represent the life style of the faith. They are punishing the child for the perceived "sins" of the parents. Punishing the innocent is not a good thing to do, in my judgment -- and does not seem consistent with my understanding of Christianity.

In addition, I would think the school would be happy to have that young soul within the bosom of the faithful every day, instead of exiling that youngster to the totally secular world. Because it is likely that the child loves both parents, the example of the school can only drive the youngster away from Christianity in the belief that all the faithful are as bigoted and shortsighted as the local school leaders.

Thirdly, it is obvious that the parents were faithful enough to send their child to a strict Christian school. One must assume that they value Christian doctrine and religious education. In setting aside the Christian admonition to “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” these school officials can only alienate the person from the body of the faithful. They are guilty of both judging others and acting hatefully against the perceived sinner.

Should Christian schools expel kids of parents who do drugs, commit adultery, drink, smoke, or maybe not even be Christians believers? What level of parental orthodoxy or moral precision is necessary to assure a young person a proper education within a loving Christian community?

This is not an abstract issue for me. My 12-year-old son attends a Christian school where at least one child is parented by a gay couple. Rather than boot the kid out, our school has no problem with the situation. The administrators, teachers, parents and children all seem quite comfortable in welcoming and interacting with the child and the parents. Of course, it is the subject of discussion, but only in that it is newsworthy. I have sensed no prejudice or malice in the observations.

How is it that some Christians can be so zealous in their Christian belief that homosexuality is toally immoral by the word of god, and yet be so oblivious or rejecting of Christ's clear admonition not to judge others? From whence do THEY get the right to pick and choose from the buffet of moral mandates? In deciding which moral transgressions are to be followed, and which are to be ignored, they arrogantly supersede Christ -- imposing themselves as the godly decision maker.

Christianity teaches that we are ALL sinners. This means that every parent in that school, and the very people who expelled that student, are, themselves, sinners. By what yardstick of relativism to they then determine which "sins of the father(s)" requires punishment of the child, and which are exempt.

I have to say, whatever anyone thinks about the gay issue, I deeply believe that our school has out “Christianed” the one in California by a long shot. We may hold varing beliefs on the quesiton of homosexuality, but we are not about to judge others in our midst -- or to treat them in a hateful manner.

Friday, September 23, 2005

OBSERVATION: The new Spanish-Indian war

The Spanish proved to be fair weather friends. Based on a narrow and selfish view of themselves and the world, the Spanish elected a government with an anti-American bias, and then proceeded to make an ignoble retreat from Iraq. I cannot help but wonder if there is any connection between that and the recent installation of Indian warrior Po'Pay in a place of honor in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Po'Pay's claim to fame is the brutal slaughter of about 400 Spaniards?

OBSERVATION:Supreme Court -- balance schmalance

With the ascension of John Roberts to the tallest of the tall-back chairs of the Supreme Court, all attention is now focused on President Bush's nomination to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. If he sends the the Senate a person even slightly to the right of Justice O'Connor, the Court will likely course to the starbord for a generation to come.

In response to this potential, the liberal legions have lockstepped to the cadence of the "preserve the balance" drumbeat. It is their claim that somehow the court is currently in balance -- perhaps a bit of a conservative lean. For the sake of public debate and their own credibility, however, they will proffer a currently balanced Supreme Court that serves the public best by remaining without a teeter.

Of course, when President Clinton held authority over Supreme Court appointments, the word "balance" could not be found in their vocabulary. The liberal mission was to correct the "imbalance" by securing seats for only leftist jurists -- and that is exactly what they did.

The left wing's balance argument is no more valid than their argument that the person nominated must support certain icon planks of the liberal agenda. They argue against a "litmus test" so long as they can be provided with up front assurances of fixed philosophic postions on self-selected issues -- and they see no inherent hipocriscy in the illogic of it all.

Of course the liberal's view of balance would put the Court even further to the left of the national philosophic fulcrum. Since they see themselves as the natural ruling class, however, the norms of a less enlightend populace are not to be favorably considered in conjucntion with liberal superiority ... the arrogance of that notion buffered by their claim of noblis oblige.

Of course, we all want a balanced Supreme Court. The problem is our philosophic definition of IMbalance. Liberals assert that the old Court was in some sort of balance, or at least as far right as is tolerable. To appoint a jurist to the right of anyone would creat an imbalance.

On the other hand, I personally think the Supreme Court has been effectively imbalanced for almost my entire life. To appoint a strict constructionist conservative would go a long way to finally correct much of the imbalance.

It my impression, and hope, that the President will appoint to the right without consideration to the languashing liberal voices that demand adherence to their own self-defined version of balance. This is his among Bush's greatest potential legacies. I trust he will seize the opportunity.

Despite the fickle popularity polls, it is clear from the 2000 election that Bush was given a mandate to move the Court to the right. Democrats campaigned hard, using the next President's likelihood of naming several justices as a centerpiece issue. The public clearly took notice of that potential and overwhelmingly endorsed Bush in person, and conservative principles in general. The only way Bush can keep faith with the public, is to use that mandate to send the Senate another conservative -- maybe even more like Scalia or Thomas. Contemporary popularity polls, and the threatening barks of the left, should not trump the manifest will of the people. Bush has no re-election to compromise principle with political practicality.

Of couse, since this is the seminal moment for the left, we can expect their most brutal partisan attacks on the nominee. They are not looking to advise and consent. The Senate liberals want nothing more than to appoint by default. There only hope is to make the President believe that only a candidate acceptable to them will avoid a political donnybrook that will further sink his political fortunes.

In his next appointment, Bush will affirm his legacy with a philosophic nomination, and will fight to the mat to achieve confirmation, or he will succumb to the illusionary benefit of acquesence to the wilting assault of the left. I am betting on Bush to do what is right -- in every sense of the word.

OBSRVATION: What is with Cindy Sheehan?

I have been involved in public issues for two score, and like to think of myself as one of those who can respect opinions I do not share -- and even like the people who express them.

I generally support President Bush on the rationale and necessity of the war in Iraq. I have many good friends who disagree. I have had many a civilized debates with such friends, leaving the discussion with the same friendship and respect with which I entered it.

Then there is Cindy Sheehan, the crusading mother of one of our fallen heroes. I would rather spend eternity tied to my old school desk while tormentors scratch the blackboard than to listen to her shrill voice screeching out inanities. Her camera-petrified dropping face is an assault to my eyes. The intelligence quotient of her argument is as close to zero as is humanly possible.

She brings out my least generous side. I even wonder if her son's enlistment was not a means of getting away from "mommy dearest," and if the flight of her husband was not a rational act of self preservation. Oh, I know these are terrible thoughts, and I am at a lost to know why she so readily conjures them.

It is not as if I have to deal with her real person on a day-to-day basis. I need no military enlistment or divorce to keep her at distance. I am fortunate to only have to turn the page or change the channel to have her removed from my presence.

As I ponder my own reactions, I know that part of it is my belief that she is now overtaken by her own ego -- caring no longer for the cause, those other soldiers, the truth, or even her son. She has defined her whole being in her narrow mission. Everything else is a pretext.

Virtually no one in authority agrees with her "pull out now" position. Certainly not those of us who believe that the war was necessary, weapons of mass destruction not withstanding. But, even those who originally opposed the war reject instant withdrawal. They, too, understand that abandonment now would create not a safer world, but rather would give reign to an orgy of political violence, the collapse of Iraq into a terrorist anarchy, destabilize the middles east, wreak havoc on the world's oil-dependent economies and increase acts of terrorism within these United States.

While I take comfort in the fact that her pleas will go unheeded by the rationale and responsible world, the fact that she would give aid and comfort to our enemies maybe at the root of my uncharacteristic animus. Or maybe my realization that her egotistical malevolence or pathetic stupidity will only embolden the madmen to step up their killing efforts. To the extent she gives hope to those maniacal killers, she will cause more of our soldiers ... and more innocent civilians ... to be brutally and ruthlessly slaughtered.

The war in Iraq will ... and must be continued. Cindy Sheehan's only contribution will be to increase the number of American soldiers returning home in body bags, and the number of unsuspecting men, women and children blown to bits.

Maybe the fact that I have a grandson in the front line in Iraq ... maybe that is why I find her so very offensive. I do not want him to be one of Cindy Sheehan's victims. I wish she would have the decency to go home in silence ... and stay there.

LMAO: Getting into jail is not difficult for some

A guy goes to the Cook County Courthouse to find his attorney. When confronted at the security station, he glutches and asks the guards to track down his attorney on an upper floor. When they check with the courtroom, the guards are advised that there is an outstanding drug-related arrest warrant for the visitor. He is then detained and searched. The guards discover more than $45,000 worth of herion on his person. Now this guy REALLY needs to see his lawyer -- and probably a good shrink to deal with his diminished mental capacity.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

OBSERVATION: No wonder some think blacks look alike

There is an old thing about all blacks looking alike through caucasian eyes. Well, artist Simmie Knox is not helping matters, and he is black.

Let me preface my observation by saying that I think Simmie is one hell of a portriat painter. If I were famous enough or rich enough to have an official protrait, I would ask Simmie to do it. For one thing, his portriats actually look like the real people ... only even better. That is what I want ... realism, but better.

Anyway, when researching the background of U.S. Representative Josepth Rainey (R-SC) and Senator Hiram Revels (R-MS), the first blacks to serve in those respective bodies, I noticed that the recently dedicated portrait of Rainey looked a bit familiar. When I checkout our Revels old portrait, my confusion was understandable.

Check out Rainey on the left (being admired at his dedication this week) and Revels on the right. One gets the sense that Semmie was not going for originality when casting the setting for his study of Rainey. Same pose. Same chair. Same table. Same flag.

They are so similar (maybe that's what Simmie stands for) that you can play "pick out the ten differences." I'll give you some hints. Different ties ... one has crossed legs ... and the hair length ... and a window. I can't find anymore. Can you?

SPIN: Bias by omission?

In covering the unveiling in the U.S. Capitol of a portrait of the first elected Black Congressman, Joseph Rainey, of South Carolina, the Chicago Sun-Times (September 22) noted the attendance of Congressional Black Caucus members, fairly well known as a Democrat lobbying group, and the ever camera ready Jesse Jackson, a Democrat. It then quoted a Democrat congressman noting that Rainey is the first “person of color” to have a portrait installed among the hundreds of paintings on the House side of the Capitol.

Since most might assume, from the reporting and “prevailing wisdom,” that Rainey was a Democrat, I searched perused the story for that pro forma information. When I did not find it, my gut instinct predicted that Rainey was a Republican, and the omission made to keep the story in line with current liberal mythology. I found an online biography that confirmed my suspicion. Rainey was a staunch Republican.

I am not a terribly cynical person, but the article begged for the inclusion of the partisan designation as a relevant biographical fact. It is almost unheard of for the media to not identify a legislator’s affiliation, making the omission that much more glaring. It is not something that can be simply overlooked, or thought irrelevant to the article. This exception to newspaper tradition gives credence to existence of a subtle and pervasive or media bias.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

UPDATE: Chicago schools ... the BAD news

A while back, this blog took exception to the rosy spin placed on a very modest improvement in SOME national test scores by Chicago public school students. The "good news" was trumpeted on front page headlines. City and school officials engaged in a round of reciprocal back patting.

As a former school consultant, I questioned the rosy analysis.

Well, the Chicago Sun-Times (September 19) reports a "harsh reality" -- most notably that only 54 percent of kids entering Chicago high schools will graduate in four years. Not get this! Most of the kids who DO graduate and move on to the city colleges (not talking Harvard here) will have to take remedial classes to make up for educational deficiencies. Up to 74 percent will need remedial English. Image that! The public schools cannot even teach kids to read and write. A whopping ninety-four percent will need remedial math. And, of course, civics and social studies are totally hopeless.

Much blame goes to the teacher unions and their policy of "social promotion," which is nothing more than moving an uneducated kid to the next level. Up and out ... all the while the education bureaucracy sucks up the taxpayer dollars under the guise of really educating our future generation. Kids in Chicago earning a B average fall into the D range on national tests. Grades and diplomas mean nothing.

Arne Duncan, the head of the Chicago school system, admits that they are not preparing most kids for any life after high school ... work or college.

Interestingly, the high school drop out rate, and student statistics, are not much different than there were in 1970s, when I began beating up on the education establishment for the abuse … yes, abuse … of our children.

REACT: The naked law

There has not been a lot of news coverage, but the Nate Kinsella story should be a major story. Or ... it should never have been a news story at all.

Seems like Nate, a 20-something a drummer with a rock band, was playing one of those outdoor concerts off in the suburbs of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. His group was one of the acts for a Christian rock festival.

At any rate, his band was playing in sweltering heart, and like many other performers and religious rockies, the boys in the band shed most of the outer clothing. Nate, however, overwhelmed by the heat of the moment, weather not withstanding, briefly shed his briefs -- providing the Christian revelers with everything the Lord had provided him.

This led to his arrest, even though no complaints were pressed, and his musician colleagues and goodly number of the godly audience, objected to his arrest. Nonetheless, the local constabulary took Nate into custody and charged him with indecent exposure, assault (for wringing his sweaty boxers over the audience) and disturbing a religious meeting. The latter two charges were dropped in a lapse of bad judgment by the police.

Well ... here is the rub (as Shakespeare said). Young Nate is now going to stand trial where his max sentence is up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine. In addition, if convicted, he would forever more be required to register as a sex offender.

Hey! This was a rock concert for god sake ... literally. We show nudity and sex to little kids on prime time television. Our whole culture promotes hedonistic entertainment (not that I am entirely complaining here). We have live stage shows featuring naked choirs, the full monty and simulated sex -- and I am not talking about porn houses. What Nate did was not a sex crime by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I cannot see where it should have been a crime at all. Well ... ok ... maybe a misdemeanor ... $50 fine.

Not only is this a gross injustice to Nate, it is an injustice to every victim of a serious sexual assault. It trivializes the violent crime. If Nate has to bear ... or bare ... the scarlet letter, then how can we ever trust that some registered as a life long sex offender is anything more than a prankish fraternity guy at a toga party or ... a rocker doing his shtick.

I hope the Bartlesville prosecutors are sane enough to simply drop the charges -- and that the police chief will advise his men and women to focus on real crimes. I am way no softy when it comes to crime ... just that I think there ought to be a crime committed. Just because a law is on the books, does not mean the book as to be thrown at every violator regardless of circumstances. Indecent exposure applied to a 45-year-old pervert flashing kiddies on their way to school is one thing. Nate au natural for a few moments at a rock concert is quite another.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

OBSERVATION: End Stereotyping ... just accept that Republicans are mean and Democrats are stupid.

When you start adding it all up, it appears we have come to a national consensus, at least as the news media reports it, that Republicans cause bad things to happen because they are malicious and evil. They hate minorities and the poor. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is due to an insensitive, uncaring, evil George Bush.

On the other hand, Democrat leaders are merely victims of those who betrayed their trust. The MASSIVE scandals that are rolling over Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and now rising to the ear lobes of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, are only the result of two well intentioned guys who were soooo busy doing the public good that they were oblivious to the shenanigans of there most senior aids, closest friends and even immediately family. That is the spin.

Uh huh!

SIDEBAR: Governor Ryan saw it coming even before he took oath of office

Note: SIDEBAR is the term I use when talking about my personal experiences that relate in someway to news of the day. In news reporting, it refers to a secondary feature, usually in a "box," that highlights a facet of the primary news story. It is borrowed from the legal profession, when judges and attorneys stand to the side of the public "bar" (judge's bench) to engage in an unrecorded private discussion.

As Governor George Ryan stands ready to be tried on a number of counts of criminal activity relating to his tenure as Illinois Secretary of State, I am reminded of a prescient conversation I had with top political insider, John Glennon. It was between the time Ryan was elected and sworn in as Governor. I had invited Glennon to get a "read" on the new regime. He reported to me his most recent meeting with Ryan.

Glennon said that Ryan surprisingly seemed less than excited over the prospect of becoming governor -- an office for which he lusted for most of his adult life. It was an office that seemed lost to him when outgoing Governor Jim Thompson hand-picked Jim Edgar as the successor over the all-but-begging Ryan eight years earlier.

Glennon said that Ryan told him that now the governorship may not be worth the problems. -- that it would not be an easy or happy term in office. Ryan expected to be dogged by the truck- license-for-pay, which had almost blown his campaign against Democrat Glenn Poshard. Ironically, it was the public boost Ryan received, in the former of a disclaimer of culpability by the then-U.S. Attorney that took the wind out of Poshard's accusations of gross criminality in the Secretary of State office. Poshard turned out to be right, and the intercession of the U.S. Attorney remains an example of the coziness of past prosecutors with the most powerful political figures.

Glennon said that Ryan specifically lamented the trucker scandal as the source of his future grief. Glennon tried to offer assurances to the Governor-elect, with a hint of a question, "This issue will not hit you personally. Right?" In response, the politically savvy Governor simply shrugged his shoulders in uncertainty.

Glennon felt that the Governor-elect, with the advantage of specific knowledge and keen political skills, saw the distant possibility of scandal. In fact, he said Ryan even alluded to the possibility of a shortened stay in the Executive Mansion by saying "if" instead of "when" he completes his first term.

Now Ryan stands ready to fulfill his hinted prophesy. Accused and indicted, his trial begins. In another twist to the unending succession of indictments, Glennon also is among those indicted by the feds.

OBSERVATION: Private sector trumps public sector ... again

Everyone who knows me, knows I am a let-the-private-sector-solve-the-problem-first kind of a guy. I could not help to go "ah ha" when I read two articles in the same newspaper on the same day.

Seems the government owned and operated Nationtional Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) is planning to get another human being or two on the moon by 2018. On the other hand, the newly formed private company of 4Frontiers Corp** has announced plans to have an ENTIRE HUMAN SETTLEMENT ON MARS, for goodness sake, in the early 2020s.

Of course, they first intend to build a model of their moon village on earth, and charge admissions to experience it. Hmmmmm. Could this be a fancy public relations scheme for popularizing yet another theme park? Will the real Mars village have rides?

**Would someone please advise the people how name things to avoid that number upfront. It screws up the alphabetizing. I know it is the new wave of techno sounding names, but it annoys me ... so there!

**Would someone please advise the people how name things to avoid that number upfront. It screws up the alphabetizing. I know it is the new wave of techno sounding names, but it annoys me ... so there!

UPDATE: Blame game gets more players

As I suggested in a previous blog item (September 10), the voluntary George-Bush-is-responsibile-for-the-entire-Katrina-disaster-disaster committee has been loosing ground as the facts start coming in. I have been noticing that articles, editorials, editorial cartoons and letters to the editor are starting to reflect some of the eggregious lapses and errors-in-judgment of Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin. (By the way, if you were create fictional names for characters in a satire of this mess, could you do better than the clueless Governor Blanco, the every gripping Mayor Nagin and a lost and bewildered sheriff named Compass.)

Even the old budget issues seems to be shifting focus. Example: It is not repored that $500,000 appropriated by the Republican Congress to study and develop an evacuation plan for New Orleans was diverted by Democrat officials and bureaucrats to study of the Causeway bridge that crosses Lake Pontchartrain. In the budget process, the beef turned to pork. Ironically, the central goal of the study was to assist in the development of an emergency evacuation plan.

You may not have read about this scandalous and deadly miss use of funds since too much of the press still operates as a liberal Dem public relations medium.

OBSERVATION: Death on decline

Well ... finally some good news. According to a recent American Cancer Society study, death rates are declining across the board, due to improved treatment for such killers as heart disease and, of course, cancer. Talking the study to its logical conclusion, by the year 2048 Americans will no longer die. I was of the assumption that the death rate among humans is 100%. It is good to know, however, that fewer of us will die each year.

Of course, these findings are sure to enflame the science versus religion debate, since not dying will preclude the faithful from going to heaven. Unless, of course, the religious commit suicide. In that brave new world, would suicide then become a religious rite ... right ... which ever?

This futurist thinking is just too much of a brain strain for a Sunday morning. Besides, I have to go to church ... maybe.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

SIDEBAR: How Chicago corruption works up close

Note: SIDEBAR is the term I use when talking about my personal experiences that relate in someway to news of the day. In news reporting, it refers to a secondary feature, usually in a "box," that highlights a facet of the primary news story. It is borrowed from the legal profession, when judges and attorneys stand to the side of the public "bar" (judge's bench) to engage in an unrecorded private discussion.

I grew up in Chicago, spending my life under the Daley family "machine." One of the reasons corruption is difficult to pin on the big guys is that after 75 years, the system is so subtle and smooth that it operates more on understandings than direct communication from the top. Everyone knows how the system works, and what is expected of them, without seeking traceable orders. You know, and yet you don't KNOW.

Let me illustrate from one of own experiences. My public affairs/lobbying firm had an engineering consulting firm as a client. The firm had previously done work for Cook County, but had "fallen out of favor." I arranged a meeting for the firm with then County Board President George Dunne. The meeting with George was most cordial. He spoke very encouraging to my clients, and made sure they knew that I was his friend and they were lucky to have me representing them. Actually, I had very little interaction with Dunne, but it was customary to do the lobbyist a favor by boosting him or her with the clients.

After the meeting, Dunne's secretary pulled me aside, and said I should go see Mickey Segal, the head of Near North Insurance, and a well recognized go-to guy for top Democrats and Republicans alike. I inquired why he wanted to see me. The secretary explained that he had is reasons. It was odd, since I had never been invited to visit him before, and knew him only superficially. In fact, I would not have thought he even knew who I was -- and how did he know I was seeing President Dunne?

A couple days later, I kept an appointment with Segal. This was the first time I had ever been to his office. It was huge, and one could hardly miss the life-size naked plastic female sculpture work. I was later told that it was his wife. Geeez, glad I did not know that before the meeting.

Anyway ... Segal assured me that his invitation had nothing ... but nothing to do with whatever business I had with Dunne. I still wondered how he knew of the meeting, and yet was so clueless as to the purpose of the meeting. I let it pass.

Rather, he wanted to talk about Dunne's upcoming fundraiser. He said he was sure with my many friends, I would really help "our buddy George." He even suggested that he thought it would be really great if I could raise $20,000. He was sure I knew someone who could handle that size contribution ... he was very sure.

Dunne was also 42nd ward committeemen, and the funds were to be donated there. It is sort of a secret slush fund the committeemen could keep outside of public scrutiny. It was widely believed that Dunne had millions stashed in his. Now, if Segal really knew me, he would have known that I would need about 200 of my friends to raise $20,000. But, I had the distinct impression that he had a certain donor in mind. Maybe an engineering consulting firm?

At the conclusion of our brief meeting, Segal again reassured me that his request had nothing to do with my business with Dunne -- whatever that was. He had assured me so many times, that I could think of no other reason for the request. He patted me heartily on the back and expressed confidence that I could find someone .... someone with a spare $20,000 to donate to the Dunne committeeman fund.

Now ... did I suspect that there WAS a link between my client's potential and the $20,000 "contribution" to the Dunne committeeman fund? Duh. I told you I was raised in Chicago. I did not suspect it, I was sure of it. I had no doubt the money and the meeting was linked. You have to admire the smoothness of the operation, however. I even imagined what I would be asked by a defense lawyer in court -- and this was long before we had a real U.S. Attorney kicking over rocks to expose the critters below.

Imagine the Defense attorney line of questioning ....

Mr. Horist, did George Dunne send you to Mr. Segal?

Ah .... no ... but ...

Never mind the buts .... just answer the questions. Did Mr. Segal say the money was in return for getting your client some business?

Ah... no ... but ....

No buts! Did Mr. Segal even know what your business with Mr. Dunne was about?

I am sure he did.

Sure! sure! How could you be sure.

You just know.

Ah! I see, Mr. Horist, you "just know" such things. Did Mr. Segal say anything to indicate he knew about your business with Mr. Dunn?

Ah ... no.

But, YOU knew. You could tell. Mr. Horist. Did you know Mr. Segal was a fundraiser for Mr. Dunne before you visited him?


So. You knew of his activities in that area?


So, Mr. Horist, you are saying that Mr. Dunne sent you to see Mr. Segal ... even though he did not. You knew he raised money for Mr. Dunne and others on a regular basis ... but his request to you was because of your meeting with Mr. Dunne. Mr. Segal assured you repeatedly that his request had nothing to do with whatever the business of your meeting with Mr. Dunne ... business that Mr. Segal did not even seem to know about. Is that about right, Mr. Horist?

Well.... yeah.

Mr. Horist, I suggest that you are a bit paranoid, have no basis to claim a link between the money and your business with Mr. Dunne. Maybe, as a Republican, you just want to damage the reputation of these fine upstanding men. It seems to me that Mr. Segal went to extremes to assure you that there was no link, and yet you are convinced that the money was in exchange for a contract -- without one single shred of evidence to support your suspicions. I have no more for this witness, your honor.

Yeah. That is how it would go.

I advised the client of the meeting, and said I would not participate in any money exchange. If they wanted to contact Mr. Segal, they could. I would withdraw representation. They did and I did. Not long after, I learned that the firm had secured a nice piece of county business. I bumped into one of the principals at a social function, and asked if they had made a political contribution through Segal. He smiled and winked as he advised me that it was not a good idea to discuss political contributions.

Immediately, I KNEW they had. But then, I am just a paranoid Republican.