Category Archives: denny hastert

>REACT: The Illinois old guard can’t stop justice — hooray!

>I noticed that former Speaker Denny Hastert’s name popped up in the trial of influence peddler Anthony Rezko. It was alleged in sworn testimony that Rezko attempted to use his influence with former White House political guru Karl Rove (thumbing his nose at reform) and former House Speaker Denny Hastert (the chubby guy on the right)to get U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (pictured left) fired. Originally nominated by then Senator Peter Fitzgerald (no relation), prosecutor Fitzgerald wasted no time to being to justice the flagrantly illegal customs of the Illinois political establishment. Rezko could feel the laser sight on his forehead.

Whether the scheme to remove Fitzgerald was ever launched is debatable, but there is some evidence that the plot was real. Despite an amazingly impressive record as a federal prosecutor, Fitzgerald was inexplicably placed on the under achiever list by the Justice Department as part of a mass firing pogrom.

Fitzgerald apparently dodged the bullet because he was investigating the White House at the time, and his firing would have created a seismic public reaction against the President. It would be at least as damaging as Richard Nixon’s firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in the midst of the Watergate investigation. And, you know how much good that did Nixon.

There is no doubt that the Rove/Hastert combo would have sent Fitzgerald packing if they could. They had repeatedly used their influence to protect the corrupt Republican establishment in Illinois. Ironically, this backroom dealing was beneficial to the Democrats, but a disservice to the President – putting Illinois’ electoral vote beyond his reach politically.

Rove has long been the protector of Robert Kjellander, the insider bipartisan wheeler-dealer, who has made millions from his political friendships and GOP party positions – including a stint as Finance Chairman for the National Republican Committee, courtesy of Rove.

Hastert tried everything he could to derail the Fitzgerald appointment in the first place. There is every reason to believe that he would be more than happy to remove him now. Hastert failed only because he could not overcome the highly protected Senate tradition of having the senator of the president’s party pick the U.S. Attorney. The senate lock stepped behind their colleague and their valued tradition.

Reform will never come to the corruption-ravaged and hapless Illinois GOP until guys like Kjellander and Hastert retire from the scene for good — or are taken out by Fitzgerald, the GOP’s number one reformer.

The good news is that Fitzgerald is virually untouchable now. In the last election, even the democrat cadidates for senate had to promise to keep Fitzgerald, including Barack Obama. Of course, if Obama does make it to the White House, you can bet that protecting his friends in the Chicago Democrat machine will trump any campaign promise. Let’s just hope that Fitzhgerald gets in enough indictments before he is ousted for doing too good of a job.

>REACT: GOP offers up another "gimme" to the Democrats

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Well, seems like all the Republican crazies are assembling in Illinois’ 11th Congressional District to give the seat to the Democrats. You have to give the GOP in the Land of Lincoln a lot of credit for ingenuity and perseverance. It is not easy to keep handing over election victories to opposition candidates who are way too liberal for the voters and represent arguably the most scandal ridden political machine in America. This is especially true in such “safe” districts as the 11th.

We have seen the GOP’s genius in turning over the 14th congressional seat to the donkey party — the seat once held by former House Speaker Denny Hastert. And we all remember how a virtually unelectable Barak Obama’s Senate career was launched first by the sexless scandal that knocked out candidate Jack Ryan followed by the incomprehensible stupidity of giving the nomination to kooky Alan Keyes.

Now the handlers of the Republican Party have seized the opportunity to surrender the 11th district seat, once held by Congressman Jerry Weller.

First, the powers that be picked another sprinter for the marathon. New Lenox Mayor Tim Balderman, and choice of the boys and girls in the back room, was handed the nomination only to quite the race before the first mile marker. This gave the local county chairmen (especially Will County Chairman Dick Kavanagh, who has 48 percent of the weighted vote) the chance to hand pick the candidate on behalf of the voters.

Apparently they could not risk retaining the seat with any one of half dozen winnable candidates. Rather, they concocted a silly notion that they would auction the seat off to the highest bidder. Okay. They did not call it an auction, but they said they would only pick a “self-funding” candidate – the guy putting up the most money. That sounds like an auction to me.

So, Kavanagh puts his muscle behind a rich road contractor named Martin Ozinga. Money was so important that the boys and girls in the back room did not care that Ozinga does not live in the district. It’s not a legal requirement, you know, but usually a good idea if you want to win.

They knew the Ozinga family has lots of money to throw around because they saw past donations from him, his father and the company they run. Let’s see … there is some $25,000 to Chicago Mayor Daley, $20,000 to Governor Blagojevich and another $25,000 to the Hispanic Democrat organization, the street army and patronage broker for Hizzoner, the Mayor. They are in the epicenter of the corruption investigation by the U.S. Attorney, as is the Governor. There are also contributions to such Dem candidates as Gery Chico, Paul Vallis and Senator Dick Durbin, just about the most liberal and strident partisan guy in the U.S. Senate. In other words, the GOP backroomers are going to hand the nomination to a guy who’s family is funding everything the majority of 11th district voters loath.

Why so much money to “the other side,” you ask? No mystery there. Road building and public works construction are among the seediest enterprises in the state. It is pay-to-play.

So, take your pick. The Ozinga family gives these guys tons of money because he believes in their philosophy and governing style (Ugh!), or he gives it to get to the front of the line for those lucrative, rip-off-the-taxpayers contacts (Arrrrrgh!). Either way, not something the voters can feel good about.

Of course, this kind of skullduggery cannot be performed in public. As soon as the opportunity to blow this election presented itself, a lid of secrecy was clamped down on the process. Potential candidates were sworn to silence, and even they were not provided a lot of information about “the process.” It was sort of a “silent auction,” if you will.

Despite all this, there was a chance, ever so slight, that Ozinga could win. Politics is full of surprises. The GOP could not afford that risk. So … some of the ideologues on the right have a great idea. They want to mount a write in candidacy. Since they would present a much more acceptable candidate to the voters, it is very likely that they can get a bunch of votes away from Ozinga — the coup de gras.

The conservative thinking has three motivators. First, to punish (well deserved) the leaders for picking Ozinga. Second, to actually win the seat with a candidate more like the district voters (hope springs eternal). Third, to assure Ozinga’s lose because they see no difference, and then can come back in two years to reclaim the seat with a true believer. The fact that reclaiming public offices has not been a GOP strong suit appears to be lost on them

So, there it is. The perfect political “storm” to achieve the virtually impossible — losing a safe conservative Republican congressional seat to a tax-and-spend, super liberal candidate who is a leader in the corrupt Illinois Democrat party. The 11th district could soon be represented by the type of politician most of the voters would not want living next door – and one of them doesn’t.

FOOTNOTE: The nomination will be made official on April 30. So there is a chance — ever so slight — that the GOP will come to its senses and nominate a more likely winner. Ozinga accepted the recommendation of the bosses with this statement: “After much prayer and careful consideration – and at the urging of Republican leaders, 11th District voters and my family – I have decided to run for Congress to be a positive part of the process of returning to the foundational truths established by our forefathers.” Where was the “fundamental truths” of our forefathers in those donations?

>OBSERVATION: Illinois GOP about to give away another congressional seat?

>Is it possible? Can it be? Is the almost non-existent, largely irrelevant and obviously dysfunctional Illinois Republican party about to give away one of their few remaining major offices.

I am referring to the buzz in the Land of Lincoln’s 11th Congressional District that the local county chairmen have pretty much decided to give the congressional nomination to public works contractor Martin Ozinga — solely on the basis that he is as rich guy who can finance his own campaign. This obsession with a self-funder is taking on the proportions of political madness.

The appointment of a candidate was necessitated by an earlier fiasco. Seems like the hand pick guy won the nomination, then proceeded to exit rather than face the glare of public scrutiny. This left retiring Congressman Jerry Weller with egg on his face, and the local GOP bosses holding the bag.

In their myopic lust for a candidate with deep pockets, the local leaders decided that issues do not matter. Of course, philosophy has never been much of a consideration in Illinois politics. Now even electability takes a back seat to spreading around money.

After Denny Hastert blew the 14th Congressional District by imposing dairyman Jim Oberweis, a self-funding candidate with less shelf appeal than his ice cream, you would think the party operatives would want to hold on to the 11th. But noooooooo! You would think that they would notice that self-funding doesn’t necessarily lead to victory at the polls. But nooooooooo!

I really don’t know Ozinga personally. Maybe he is a splendid guy. Can’t say. However, it does not take much of a look to know his appeal to the Republican majority in the 11th will be less than enthusiastic. One might say he is unelectable. So there … I said it.

For many years, there has been a lot of “smoke” surrounding the Ozinga name. And why not? Public works and road building have operated at the underbelly of political life. It is an industry that has been associated with mob influence. Not sure why, but the boys with funny middle names seem to has a fascination with trucks. The entire sleazy public works construction business is personified by Bill “Mr. Roads-to-Riches” Cellini (pictured), the taxpayer-made mega millionaire who keeps coming up as a person of interest in various federal indictments. Ozinga, himself, will have some explaining to do regarding past business practices that have surfaced in the press.

Ozinga is the classic pay-to-play guy. Why else would this “good Republican” and his family give tens of thousands of dollars to Rich Daley. Tens of thousands of dollars to the Hispanic Democrart organization currently under investigation by the feds. Tens of thousands of dollars to the prince of pay-to-play, Governor Blagojevich. Money for Dick Durbin, Gery Chico, Paul Vallis … and on and on. My mother always counseled me that if what a person says is different than what a person does, what they DO is all that matters.

There is no amount of self-funding that will get the rock solid Republicans in the 11th District, especially the conservatives, out of their house to cast a ballot for a guy who talks like a Republican at home and then funds their most loathed political leaders at the office. It appears that Republican stay-at-homes and crossovers were a significant factor in the loss of the 14th District. They were cited as the reason Democrat candidate Debbie Halverson got more votes in the primary than did the 11th District GOP slate — and she was uncontested.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Can the GOP learn it?

It is said that those who the gods are about to destroy, they first drive mad. If that is the case, don’t stand too close to any Illinois Republican leaders these days.

FOOTNOTE: Did you pay attention to the map of the 11th congressional district? Districts are to be “compact and concise,” according to the law. None of those old time gerrymandered misshapes, sayeth the Supreme Court. So what is that “fishhook” hanging down from the middle of the 11th? In approving a lot of politically drawn congressional maps, the high court makes a mockery of its own ruling. So, what else is new?

>REACT: Hastert loses his seat.

>Anyone who has every watched classic Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy flicks is familiar with Stan’s oft stated lament, “It’s a find mess you got us into this time, Ollie.”

Well, I say to Denny Hastert, “It’s a fine mess you got us into this time, Denny.”

You will recall from my earlier blog, I am not a great booster of the accomplishments of the former Speaker Hastert. Or shall we say, the lack there of. His allegiance to the corrupt and ineffective Illinois brand of good-ole-boy, backroom politics cost the GOP the Phil Crane seat way back when, and his own speakership along with the whole dang Congress more recently.

As if that was not enough for one career, now cometh the special election in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District –a race to replace himself. In an all too clever ploy, Hastert resigned to force a special election and presumably give a “leg up” to his anointed success. In a much more clever ploy, Governor Blagojevich called for the election to be held on a Saturday when everyone knows Republicans are at the country club playing racquet ball and debating martini mixology.

In promoting … nay … ramrodding Jim “The Milkman” Oberweis as his personal choice, Hastert must have assumed the 14th District was a “Mickey Mouse” seat for the GOP – a reference that suggests any Republican, even Mickey Mouse, would be elected. And why not, the pachyderm party has held that seat since Moses descended from Mount Ararat … uh … Mount Sinai. Ararat is where Noah beached the ark, right?. No matter. You get my point.

Actually, Oberweis is a great guy personally, but an abysmal candidate. For a variety of reasons, he has less personal shelf appeal than his ice cream. Candidates are supposed to be charmers in public and jerks in private. Oberweis has it backwards.

What makes former wrestling coach Hastert’s Olympic arm twisting on behalf of Oberweis so egregious is the fact that everyone else seemed to know that the guy is not candidate material. The previous three successive election day drubbings should have been a clue.

Looking at the numbers, it appears that defections from the GOP were as responsible for the loss as much as the advance of the Dems. He lost in the GOP precincts, including his own. Ouch! (<– I stand corrected. Bill Pascoe, of the Oberwies campaign informed me that his candidate carried his own precinct quite handsomely. My error. Ouch!)

Some say a fair share of blame has to go to the campaign team and the National Republican Congressional Committee for a poorly strategize and executed campaign. Many viewed the last minute desperation television ads as counterproductive. They seemed to seal Oberweis’ public image as a strident and pugnacious bully. There is not much worse in a campaign than spending tons of money to lose votes.

I cannot judge the culpability of the on-the-ground team and professional advisors, but those ads ended with the statement, “I am Bill Oberweis, and I approved this message.” So, I guess that is where the buck … millions of them … stops.

Because of the way this special election was (mis)handled, there is an automatic rematch in the November General Election. You know the old adage, if you do the same thing, you get the same result. There seems to be only two ways not to do the same thing. You either have Oberweiss step aside for a new candidate, or you credibly change the Oberweis persona. Note the word “credibly.” This is no simple task in the short time between now and November.

If there is to be a new candidate, it has to be a N-E-W candidate. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Hastert and Associates will use their influence to put a new brand name on the same can of peas.

When Denny left Congress, he said he would still stay active in Republican causes. I take that more as a threat than a promise. If he really wants to help the GOP, he might consider a more complete retirement.

As for Oberweis, he is a good and decent person, a great business man (love the ice cream) and a savvy investor. As far as politics is concerned, he can have a great future and do a lot of good for America… as a funder of good candidates and good causes. He can be the producer, not the leading man.

Footnote: Check out the photo of Oberweis and Hastert again. Don’t ya just love the angelic face and the halo effect? How can a face like that lose an election?