Monthly Archives: August 2010

I THINK … Blago wins big, but only temporarily.

I will now indulge in a moment of “I told you so.” While most pundits and joe blows were calling Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich a nut cake for his high visibility public antics, I suggested that he might just be the shrewdest of the shrewd.

Most folks, and virtually all lawyers, think he should have kept his mouth shut – let his calm and cool attorneys handle public inquires. That’s what all those other indicted politicians did. Oh wait! All those other indicted politicians eventually got convicted and went to jail. Rod dodged 23 bullets and his brother, Robert, all four of the charges against him.

I proffered the opinion that as humiliating some of his pants dropping shticks were, they just might give him a few jurors – at least one – who will hold out for a guy they have come to know “more personally.” As of yet, I have not heard why that one juror was a hold out, but she kept Blago and brother from looking at some serious hard time – at least for the moment.

Trying to influence the jury pool is not invented genius. Former Governor George Ryan tried the same thing with his release of the death row prisoners – which got him a couple of Nobel Peace Prize nominations while he was awaiting trial. Apparently neither the Nobel jury nor the Federal Court jury was impressed. He did not get the Nobel Prize, but he did get six years in the slammer. Ryan was also hoping to get a friendly African-American on the panel since almost all the commuted prisoners were black.

Blago did not fall for any of that. He understood that winning the bleeding hearts of European liberals and the small cadre of domestic capital punishment opponents was not good enough. Maybe he knew that blacks tend to make tough jurors, and if the gambit didn’t work for a pompous white Republican politician, it was not likely to work just because he was a pompous white Democrat politician.

No. No. No. Blago knew that his best chance was to appeal to the Jerry Springer fans. Methinks, Donald Trump did not recognize Blago’s abilities when he booted him off the Assistant show much too soon.

Now, I know the ex-Governor did get convicted on one-half of one count – lying to the FBI – and is now officially a felon. But, after the feds threw everything they had at him and ginned up 24 real criminal counts with hundreds of years of jail time, you have to give the victory to Blago and his equally outrageous father and son defense team for staving off twenty-three and a half counts.

His only conviction was for fibbing to the FBI, not on any of the really serious criminal offenses. Personally, I think that is a pretty cheesy charge, and a five year penalty is a bit extreme. It is what they hung Dick Cheney’s guy, Scooter Libby and Martha Stewart after they could not convict them on the larger charges.

Since anyone under extensive interrogation from the FBI is likely to spin, fib a bit or simply misstate the truth, it is almost impossible not to be convicted. It is a “crime” that never would have been committed if the person was not indicted on real criminal charges.

It seems the prosecutors are determined to re-try the Blagojevich brothers. Why? Because they can. The deck is stacked against defendants to such an extent that convictions are almost unavoidable. THAT is what is so impressive about the jury action. The Blagojevich brothers beat some incredibly long odds – but unfortunately for them, the game is not over. If nothing else, the re-trial will provide some more great politics-as-entertainment for the reality television viewers.

My guess is that the re-trial will make Blago a bit of a folk hero. I know he was not acquitted on any of the charges. But, some seem to feel that enough is enough. The feds used their unlimited resources, but could not convince all 12 members of the jury. In the process they have destroyed the lives and reputations of two people. The humiliated the then Governor by arresting him in front of his family in order to stop what they allege was a rampant crime spree – which apparently the jury did not see. They got Blago booted from office without any presumption of innocence. They have bankrupted two families with children. In our system, prosecution IS punishment.

Okay. So much for the sympathy. I think Blago is as guilty as sin – and I think it is not likely he will pull the same rabbit out of the hat a second time. He may get off on some charges, but I am betting he gets found guilty on at least half. Blago has only survived to fight another day.

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I THINK … the Ground Zero is the wrong place for the mosque, and Obama has failed to show leadership.

Many times, public policy is not as complicated as the political leadership would have you believe. The proposed mosque within a stone’s throw from Ground Zero – which many now consider hallowed ground.

There are two important consideration on the side of the decision-making scale that favors the proposed masque site.

First: It would be wrong to suggest that the attack on the World Trade Towers by Muslim extremists indicts all Muslims and justifies the suspension of their Constitutional rights. We have to always guard against diminishing the power of the Constitution over a narrow or momentary issue.

The second thing that supports the advocates of the project is the law, it would seem. There is nothing in the plans for the project that runs counter to legal requirements.

Just because the law is on their side, however, does not mean the mosque should be built so close to Ground Zero (see ariel view). In fact, these two seemingly formidable arguments are outweighed by obvioius wrongness of the plan. The problem stems from the fact that the overwhelming reasons NOT to build on that site are emotional and moral, while the arguments in favor or technical and legal.

The most disturbing part of the public debate is that the Muslim community, under the leadership of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, knows full well that the location is contentious. They know that it is an unnecessarily painful tribute to those who lost loved ones, and the millions more who sympathize with the bereaved.

In recent days, it was announced that Imam Rauf will be travelling as a goodwill ambassador of the United States to the Middle East courtesy of our own State Department. According to Department spokespersons, the Imam is a voice bridging any schism between Muslims and non-Muslims.

At the same time, others report some of Imam’s more provocative rhetoric and allege that he is a supporter or at least sympathizer of radical Muslimism. His supporters say that the Imam must maintain a balance in order to be effective. This is nonsense. If he cannot speak out against the wrongness of the murderous terrorists in every instance, he served no benefit as a conciliator. Rather, he only serves as an apologist for our enemies.

There is also the history of Muslims building mosques at the sites of great victories. So, is the determination to build this house of worship in the missing shadow of the Trade Towers an opportunity for conciliation and understanding – a bridge, if you will — or is it some cultural celebration and symbol of victory to be telegraphed to the Muslim world.

The fact that the motivation is controversial suggest that the project should be relocated. Failure to do so gives credence to the more sinister motivation. If the local Muslims want to produce goodwill, it is obvious that respectfully changing the site would have the most positive impact. If they persist in pursuing the Ground Zero site despite the public reaction, it is obvious that they are not seeking to establish goodwill but to force their own will for their own parochial purposes.

I am at a loss to understand why New York Michael Bloomberg gave the mosque his full support and endorsement. Governor David Paterson was more correct in proposing an alternative site, which he would help to secure.

But what about the President.

Obama stuck with the technical legal position in saying the Muslims have a right to build the mosque at the chosen site. He deferred in expressing any opinion on the wisdom or morality of the decision. In ducking the most important issue, the President missed an opportunity for leadership. If he can call in a cop and a professor to the White House to settle a minor confrontation, certainly he could have called in the Imam and expressed his presidential displeasure with the current plan. He could have cancelled the Imam’s taxpayer paid trip to Mecca.

Obama’s call for tolerance and understanding for the Imam and his mosque begs the questions why the American president chose to side with international Muslimism over the suffering of the American victims, their families and the majority of the President’s constituents.

If Obama, Paterson and Bloomberg had joined together to negotiate an alternative site, I feel quite confident that the issue would have been resolved early on. Why they didn’t is the lingering question. Minimally, it is a shortsighted lack of leadership. More disturbingly, it was the obvious new found influence the Muslim world enjoys with the Obama administration.

I THINK … WikiLeaks and its founder need to be shut down.

It is reported that WikiLeaks is about to release another 15,000 top secret government documents to undermine the American war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course the White House is chagrinned, calling the action “irresponsible.”

My son not doing his chores before going to the beach – that is irresponsible. Giving out military secrets in war time, to aid the enemy and cause the deaths of American combatants and undercover operatives, is waaaay beyond “irresponsible.” It is treachery. It is treason.

WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange (pictured), has made himself an “enemy operative” – a terrorist by proxy. His actions will result in unnecessary allied deaths. No doubt about it.

As readers may know, I am not a fan of capital punishment. I am one of those seamless cloth pro-life types. However … my conscience does not ache over deaths of evil people that result from acts of self defense, whether it is stopping a home invader or in defense of the nation.

With that being said, we should declare Assange and his organization an active enemy and take him out. He is no more a journalist than Tokyo Rose was a legitimate news analyst. Shooting him is not my first choice, of course, but not off the list of possibilities. How about arrested. Kidnapped. Sent to CIA obedience school. If eliminating enemies is not a “responsible” role for our military or CIA, I am not sure what they are supposed to be doing.

One of the problems with NOT taking Assange out of action is that it gives license to others. I think if Assange and his cohorts were to be brought to justice, or even suddenly “disappear,” we would have a lot fewer copycats.

The “professional left” as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dubs them, will be outraged at my suggestion. Since they are nothing more than the cheering squad for American failure in the Middle East (and anywhere else on earth), I could care less. The sooner we render the radical left … oh, I mean the professional left … irrelevant to American policy, the sooner we can again become a great nation.

For those who wince at my suggestion, let me hear what you would do in this situation. I hope it is more than wagging a scolding finger as if Assange’s actions are nothing more serious than a high school prank. He is not an irresponsible bad boy. He is a dangerous anti-American operative.

I am not sure exactly when the media secured the expanded “right” to reveal American secrets. There is a distinct difference between a legitimate whistleblower uncovering wrong doing on the part of government officials and a traitor. Whistle blowing is quite different from stealing and revealing top secret strategic and tactical information that can harm our position in world affairs, undermine our ability to wage war and literally take the lives of those who serve this nation with honor and courage.

I THINK … Robert Gibbs reveals the truth about White House ambitions, perhaps unwittingly.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has stepped into the political doo-doo if you follow the reports of the mostly leftish press.

What most of my political colleagues call the “radical left,” Gibbs more politely calls the “professional left.” I actually like his term better. “Radical left” is a tautology – meaning that the adjective is unnecessary because both words mean pretty much the same thing. Now, “professional left” expands the understanding. Not only are the lefties “radical” America bashers, but they are “professional” – it is the self employed occupation — or should I say preoccupation – that drives them rise up in opposition to America .

Gibbs went on to say that these professional lefties would never be satisfied unless kooky anti-war Congressman Dennis Kucinich was made Secretary of Defense and the White House imposed a Canadian-style health system. In his lament, Gibbs, perhaps inadvertently, mocks the anti war movement and all but confesses that the Canadian health system is not suitable for free market Americans. Further, he slaps down the folks who thought Barack Obama was their guy – the radical left or progressives, as they euphemistically call themselves.

The pundits on the left argue that Gibbs is tone deaf for attacking the President’s base. This is how out of touch they really are. The professional left (I like the sound of that) is no more Obama’s base than the John Birch Society is the base of the GOP. The radical left, loud as they may be, is still the fringe.

Entirely too much public debate centers around the level of Obama’s socialism – or fascism, as I prefer. This diverts attention from the real issue – the real concern. The Obama forces are “autonomatrons” – and by that I mean they seek autonomous power. They lean left, because that is the more traditional road to the consolidation of power. What the Obama White House is seeking is the rigging of the structure to ensure permanent empowerment by the liberal wing of the Democrat Party – or, to put it another way, themselves.

Never forget that Washington is now being ruled with Chicago style governance. If Chicago was a nation, it would be a fascist banana republic. The government model is not dissimilar to that of China, where one party rules with leaders chosen by an elite bureaucracy.

The Chicago crowd has the White House, with Obama as the figure head. The power behind the throne rests with a troika of David Axelrod, Rahm Emmanuel and Valerie Jarrett. All three of them (and I have known them all personally to some degree) see the acquisition of power as the primary rule of politics.

Over in the Senate, you have the significant influence of another take-no-prisoners partisan Democrat right out of the Chicago Machine – Senator Dick Durbin. If Senate President Harry Reid is defeated and the Dems hold onto the Senate majority, Durbin will likely take over that extremely powerful position.

If Nancy Pelosi retains the speakership, two branches of government will be in the hands of those who think – to paraphrase Civil War General Philip Sheridan — the only good Republican is a dead Republican. Though not from Chicago, she comes out of a similar power-based political environment.

The point is that ideology and philosophy are not what drives these folks. They manipulate for power. What the Gibbs’ comments reflect is the White House’s recognition that the loony left is not only not their base, but largely irrelevant to their ambitions.

Under the marquee of liberal doctrine, the Chicago folks are carefully crafting policies of permanent empowerment. The White House programs should not be measured and debated on the liberal/conservative scale, but on the individual freedom/oppression gauge.

I THINK … our government is getting scary with seizure of children based on politics

Here is the situation. There is an illiterate couple in New Jersey who had the poor judgment to give their kids, ages 4, 3 and 2, offensive Nazi names. When the oldest turned 4, they went to a local bakery to get a decorated cake … “Happy Birthday Hitler.” The bakery refused and the story spread across the Internet and news media. Adolf eventually was provided a birthday cake, but just before the nannies of government removed him and his siblings from the family home.

Now, the government has announced that they will not return the kids to the parents, but rather are putting them in foster care – almost guaranteeing them severe trauma and lifelong “issues.” Of course, being named Adolf Hitler Campbell, Joycelynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honzlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell could also create “issues” for them. So, it seems, the kids will have “issues” one way or the other.

I think the biggest problem is the birthday boy, A. H. Campbell. He gets the full name of the Antichrist. Apart from a formal name change (which seems inevitable for these kids), maybe he can soften it by not using the middle name (a common practice), or by becoming Al Campbell. Joycelynn can simply not use the middle names, which makes Joycelynn Campbell a rather fetching name. If you are unfamiliar with the Nazi-esque Honzlynn Hinler, you are not alone. Some think it is an off-the-mark reference to Heinrich Luitpold Himmler. That would be akin to my parents naming me Larry Patrick as a reference to a Chinese dynasty. But after Adolf Hitler and Arian Nation, you can see the basis for the assumption.

As stupid, offensive and inconsiderate as the names may be, does that justify making them wards of the state? Given this Hobson’s Choice, I still think taking the kids is the worse of two bad options. If I were in the middle of this, I would give the kids back to their parents and maybe counsel them into changing the names for the benefit of the kids. I think that is doable.

After all, one can see how giving children unpopular names can damage them for life — limit their potential. (Why did the name Barack Hussein Obama suddenly jump into my head?)

Now the plot thickens.

Authorities now claim they are not returning the kids because of family violence. They refer to a letter the mother gave a friend in which she accused her husband of being a dangerous person. She has since recanted the accusations, and now claims Mr. Campbell is quite the ideal hubby and daddy.

The fact that the government rationale came AFTER the authorities took the kids is chilling. They exceeded their authority, both legal and moral, in the first place. Instead of issuing an apology, the authorities are trying to belatedly justify their actions. That is a classic abuse of government. Does it strike you as ironic that in revulsion to the children’s names, the New Jersey authorities are acting like … oh … Gestapo?

In my modest investigation, I could not find any previous problems with the parents or the kids. The latter seem rather healthy and happy – obviously too young to know their names are time bombs set to go off in the high school years. (Imagine some young Jewish princess announcing to her parents that she is going to the prom with Adolf Hitler.)

When you see how many truly endangered kids are NOT taken away by the state – often with tragic and fatal results – it is hard to imagine the justification for the removal of the Campbell kids. Show me kids in serious danger, and I will be the first to take them away from the parents, but not over matters of political opinion or stupidity – whichever defines the Campbell situation.

I say, give the kids back to the parents.

Footnote: This idea that kids should be removed from parents for political reasons is not new. You will recall the case of Elian Gonzalez, the young Cuban boy that created a national controversy when Florida relatives wanted him to stay in American even though he had a father, his only parent, in Cuba. After a lot of debate, we did the right thing. We sent the boy home to be with his father. A lot of my conservative friends got cranky because I joined the side of Elian’s dad. As a father, I have a very strong belief that family ties trump politics – even offensive politics.

I THINK … the death of Dan Rostenkowski takes away one of the great political characters.

With the death of Dan Rostenkowski, or Rosty, as many of us knew him, a giant of a man has left the political stage. That can be said both figuratively and literally. The six foot, four inch former chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee towered over most members of congress in stature and in power. He was known around the congressional campus only as “Mr. Chairman” of “THE Chairman.” Even though there are scores of members of Congress with that title, anyone who was anyone knew who “Mr. Chairman” was. That’s power.

I have known Rosty long before he was called by title only. But even in his pre-Ways and Means chairmanship days, he was a formidable member of congress. Lots of congressmen get into fights over legislation, but Rosty was one of the few that could step in and settle them.

He was an old style Chicago Machine politician, as was his father. He had a gruff ward heeler demeaner at home, but could hold his own with any President or head-of-state passing through Washington. He was a laborite, but with scores of CEO buddies.

Thought more than a 40 year association with him, there are two periods that stand out.

In the early 1980s, as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, I was leading a long and seemingly hopeless effort to save the Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. On the eve of the successful conclusion of that fight, things when off track. The developers, led by attorney and political insider, Marshall Holleb, needed an Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG). These were being held up by the Reagan Administration, specifically by then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Sam Pierce.

Since he was already a supporter of my effort – politically and financially — I traveled to Washington to seek Rosty’s help with the UDAG, After I explained the situation, Rosty asked his secretary to get Vice President George Bush on the line. Rosty made the case for the UDAG, then closed with this memorable line: “And tell the President, if he can’t give me this piddley UDAG to save the Chicago Theatre, he’ll have one pissed off chairman during the next round of tax reforms.”

The UDAG was granted, the Chicago Theatre was saved – and as a bonus I got the Vice President Bush as the headliner for my next City Club annual dinner.

A decade later, I was on opposite side of the partisan divide from Rosty, handling the congressional campaign of little-known Michael Flanagan. Mike was the David taking on the political Goliath. Even though Rosty was hammered by a serious of indictments for misusing public funds and public employees, he was considered a shoo-in. On the eve of the election, Associated Press lead off with a headline that Rosty was in a “cake walk” election. I told former WLS-TV political reporter Andy Shaw that we would take it by 10 points. No one took me serious. Flanagan won by ten.

Rosty’s defeat also exposed a bit of the unholy bipartisan central power structure in Illinois. On the morning after the election, Governor Jim Edgar hosted is traditional Republican victors breakfast. With Flanagan behind him on the stage, the Guv lamented the defeat of his “good friend” Dan Rostenkowski. But why not? Edgar was openly supporting Rosty throughout the campaign. Edgar would eventually aid and abet the return of that seat to the Democrats in the person of Rod Blagojevich, followed by Rahm Emmanual.

To the surprise of many, even after his election defeat, Rosty was as friendly to me as ever. That would seem impossible in today’s politics-as-blood-sport culture. In those days, partisanship was more like a boxing match. You were expected to fight hard to win partisan battles, but when the bell rang, the dukes were dropped and civility resumed. Rosty understand that culture, and he lived it.

For good or bad, Rostenkowski was the personification of the Chicago Machine. He was partisan. He loved “pork.” He was tough. He didn’t always play by the rules.

No matter if you were working with him, or against him, you had to love the guy. He will be missed.

I THINK … killing people because of alleged racism is … racism.

If you believe the spin, Omar Thornton killed 8 white co-workers at a beer distributorship in California because he was subjected to prolonged racism from his employer and colleagues. He left a recorded message to that effect, but failed to cite examples – just random ranting.

In fact, the most heinous act of racism was perpetrated by Thornton, himself. He killed 8 people because of their race … period. There were pattern of racism evident in the company, and no complaints from his African-American co-workers.

Oh! And what led to his termination? Video recordings and other evidence that he was stealing beer and reselling it privately. I suppose that was his way to bring justice to a honky society.

Balderdash!

You can argue that Thornton was insane, or you can argue that he was a malicious mass killer. What is beyond debate in a civilized society is that he is the guiltiest of all. His excuses, and those offered up by his girl friend and family, should not be taken seriously.

Black, white or green, Thornton was a killer, a psychopath and ablight on society. His only modicum of decency was to serve as judge, jury and executioner in ending his own life – saving society the trouble and expense of prosecution.

On the larger scale, it is about time that the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world stop placing their need for publicity above common sense and common decency. They enlarge the racism by pandering to paranoid sentiment and give post mortem license to the actions of people like Thornon. To give credence to Thornton’s excuse, they widen the racial divide the purport to rue.

The Jackson/Sharpton brand of racism was seen in the aftermath of the wrong verdict on O.J. Simpson, the controversy surrounding the Tawana Brawley “rape” case (pictured with Sharpton), the defense of racist Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and their statements in support of the provocative behavior of Harvard Professor Louis Gates, Jr. that led to his arrest. These two “ministers” will find and promote racism whenever there is personal advantage.

We will know when we have arrived at a post-racial America when the likes of Jackson and Sharpton have no more appeal and no more relevancy — and I believe we are closer to that day than the fawning media yet knows.