Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Professor" Dan Seals Criticized by Real Professors for His Northwestern Professorship Claim (UPDATED)

The Daily Herald ran a story today (finally) investigating the claims of Dan Seals that he is a "current" adjunct professor at Northwestern University. As regular TA readers know well, this space has been extremely critical of Seals' claims since last October that he is a "current" adjunct professor.

As the article sets up the issue, "In the 10th Congressional District's Democratic primary campaign, candidate Dan Seals of Wilmette has touted his position as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. But he doesn't start that job until April. Are these guys [Seals and other candidates mentioned in the article] stretching the truth? Or are they outright lying?"

The issue is not only whether teaching a single night school class qualifies one to call one's self a "professor" (even an adjunct), but much more importantly, whether a prospective intention to teach at a school some many months down the road is something that a candidate for federal office should be claiming as a "current" credential, more than six months before he actually gains the teaching experience that he is seeking to leverage as a campaign selling point. For the whole backstory, see here and here.

The Herald article gives an analysis by Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois' Springfield campus, and John Jackson, a political scientist and visiting professor at Southern Illinois University's Paul Simon Institute (two REAL professors).

In the article, Professor Redfield said flagrant misstatements or resume-puffing can be costly to candidates at the ballot box. He said voters are more likely to look in that direction than toward candidates' positions on the issues. "They understand about people telling the truth," Redfield said of voters. "If it turns out you fudged on some things, that becomes the issue."

As to the investigation of Seals' claims specifically, the article finds:

Seals, running against 42-year-old Jay Footlik of Buffalo Grove in the 10th Congressional District, at one time said he was an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. But Seals doesn't begin his position as a part-time School of Continuing Studies lecturer until April, a Northwestern spokesman said.

Shrugging it off as a miscue, Seals has started calling himself a lecturer in public forums, though as of Tuesday afternoon, his Web site still listed him as an adjunct professor. "What it might show is I don't know what the proper terms are," said Seals, 36. "The idea that I'm trying to mislead or be deceitful is baseless."

Jackson said the difference between a lecturer and visiting professor isn't great, but Seals should have known better considering this is his second run for Congress. He added Seals should have been clearer about when his employment began at Northwestern.

So, as TA has stated for some months now, the issue ought to be before the voters as to whether Seals' claim gives them pause as to Seals' veracity and character. And, if Seals is making these kind of "miscues" during the campaign, what does that say about his capacity to hold high public office?

Simply shrugging off the issue may work for the primary, if Seals can hold on to his apparent lead. But even if the voters don't catch on in time to give Seals serious heartburn in the primary election, there are many months before the general election to give everyone a chance to really reflect on this issue and what it says about Dan Seals as a candidate.

Professor Jackson sums up the issue pretty well in the article: while all politicians exaggerate, they must be careful not to cross a line in campaign materials, interviews or at public events.

"It's a job application," Jackson said. "And you're not supposed to lie on your job application about what your credentials are."

NEWS UPDATE: Bad News Seems to Come Daily for Terry Link: Today, a News-Sun columnist picks up on Lake County GOP Chairman Dan "The Bulldog" Venturi's call to the Illinois State Board of Elections to investigate the reason why State Senator Terry Link's campaign disclosures did not include payments to some individuals who were identified as having been paid for collecting signatures. Read the recent GOP press release here.

UPDATED 01.30.08: More Mainstream Media Attention on Professor-gate: Today, as pointed out by one of our commentors, the Pioneer Press picked up on the Seals "professor" claim. Read all about it here.

After we challenged the MSM last week to pick up this story (which we first discussed even prior to January 5th), the prize for breaking the story goes to the Daily Herald, as noted above, but we commend Pioneer for also running with the story and we note that Pioneer is a weekly, not a daily. Pioneer also took a cue from the JTA Blog, which TA noted a while back had posted a story on Jan. 16th with statements from Jay Footlik's campaign on the issue, and Pioneer also interviewed Footlik's campaign manager for a statement.

Speaking of the Herald, there was also a Letter to the Editor in today's edition that picked up on the professor scandal. Read the letter here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Is Dan Seals Showing Impaired Judgment in Supporting Eddie Washington?

Every family has their squabbles. Some are better at keeping such dirty laundry within the family, and some less so. For a long time, as a whole, the Lake County Dems seemed to be putting up a pretty united front, apparently all focused on the singular goal of ending the long GOP vise-grip of political control over the county. Sure, every once in a while, some inter-party fights would boil over to the surface, such as the long-standing feud between Waukegan Township Supervisor Pat Jones and State Senator Terry Link. But, for a long time, the Lake County GOP seemed to be the party that was bent on fighting over the soup pot to be in charge of the ladle (I know I've used that metaphor before, but I just dig it).

As we reported some time ago, this dynamic may have undergone a sea change lately, as the Lake County Dems appear to be so self-assured with their recent successes that many have now decided that inter-party power struggles now take precedence over beating their GOP rivals. Nowhere is this as evident in the very public power struggle going on in the 60th District, which mostly is comprised of Waukegan and North Chicago, and which has been represented by Eddie Washington since 2003.

Eddie seems to have fallen out of favor with some of the Lake County Dems lately, especially State Senator Terry Link, who also serves as the Lake County Democratic Party Chairman. It is largely due to Link's chessmaster-like control of the Lake County Dems and his calculated political moves made over the last decade that has resulted in the greatly diminished power and standing of the Lake County GOP, so I try to remember him with a little curse every night before I retire (just kidding, Senator). But, Washington still has a fair number of backers including (surprise) Pat Jones.

Link has put his political muscle behind County Board member Angelo Kyle, and the rhetoric between these two contenders has been extremely heated in the months and now weeks leading up to the Democratic primary on February 5th. While on the one hand, many voters detest Link and his Chicago-style machine politics, many other voters are critical of Washington's record and contend that he has not represented his district well, and is tainted by a wide variety of scandals and accused malfeasance. Link has pulled out all the stops, including paring his campaign signs with Kyle's up in the Waukegan/North Chicago area and sending in his myrmidons to do battle on behalf of Kyle, including 59th Dist. Representative Kathy Ryg (D-Vernon Hills), who was quoted as calling for massive voter turnout on behalf of Kyle to "bury" Washington. There is, of course, no love lost going the other way, and Washington touts the recent editorial calling on Link and Kyle to explain the accusations of petition fraud as set out in the News-Sun, which editorial is provided on Washington's campaign website.

As much as I hate to admit it, it appears the wiser group of Dems (which would include Link in this case) are backing Kyle, even though he has stated that he will not relinquish his county board seat even if he wins election to the General Assembly. One of the good things about primaries is that it forces candidates to take positions and, in the heat of battle, sometimes some very telling comments get into the record, many of which candidates probably wish they could take back later.

As a case in point, one reported quote from Washington, which was made to Elroy Reed, the editor of the People's Voice paper in North Chicago, is as follows: "My god is Allah, My god and your God is at war, and my god is going to win." Washington is a Muslim, Reed is a Christian. See the whole article here. The Reed piece is absolutely scathing. As you may imagine, it's fairly obvious Reed has an agenda... and it's definitely not supportive of Washington. But, even as over the top as the "My god is Allah" quote may seem, Reed is standing by his article, even in the face of a defamation lawsuit brought against Reed by Pat Jones. Washington declined comment to the News-Sun on the lawsuit and will not file a suit of his own, according to the paper.

Among many other issues raised by Reed, including allegations that Washington has a criminal past, Reed states that:

"Eddie has gone through about six paid office staffers, legislative administrative assistants in about three years. They all report intolerable working conditions, verbal abuse and mental stress resulting from working with him. Eddie Washington's legislative agenda has focused on ghetto related matters such as Senate Bill SB0075 where he advocates for persons convicted of felony prostitution to get off with a light sentence of probation. He is the sponsor of a bill, “The Pimp and Whore Bill”, that protects the rights of prostitutes if they are abused by their Pimp. This one drew laughs and "behind the back" conversations about the intellect of Eddie Washington. He became the laughing stock of the House of Representatives. Springfield is still laughing about Washington and the community that he represents."


Washington is also an ardent supporter of expansive rights for illegal immigrants. At this last weekend's Waukegan Leadership Council / Immigrants Rights Forum, one of TA's cub reporters brought back the following take-aways:
  • Washington touted his vote in support of illegal immigrants;
  • Washington opposed giving Waukegan Police the authority to initiate deportation proceedings for illegals who are dangerous felons; Eddie's answer was to let Bush do it;
  • Washington said that we don't need non-federal policymakers and voices commenting on federal issues;
  • He stated, "I haven't taken anything from the Democratic Party over the table or under it."
  • Washington closed out the forum by chanting "power to the people."

However, before you go feeling too sorry for Eddie Washington, you may be glad to know that he has one other remaining friend in the Democratic party: 10th District congressional candidate Dan Seals. Dan Seals appears to be one of the only Democrats to stand by Washington for the primary election next Tuesday, noting at the December opening of the new Washington campaign headquarters that Washington was an early supporter of Seals in his 2006 campaign to unseat Congressman Mark Kirk.

"Last time, when the Democratic party wouldn't help me out, when nobody knew who I was, guess who was there for me?" Seals said. "He's a good man to have in the trenches." (News-Sun article dated December 10, 2007, available in News-Sun online archives for a fee).

A good man to have in the trenches??? Maybe if the goal is to promote a religious war. Not only does Seals come down on the side of "peace" in a war between Israel and Iran, but he also supports an elected official that is willing to say, "My God is Allah, My God and your God is at war, and my God is going to win." Of course, Seals' endorsement of Washington was made before the Reed article came out, but as far as we can tell, Seals has not repudiated his support of Washington. In fact, Washington's endorsement of Seals is still touted on Seals' website. Washington's checkered past and sometimes bizarre legislative initiatives (anyone recall his ill-advised push to re-name the Amstutz Expressway?) also should give voters reason to question the wisdom of this alliance from Seals' perspective.

We're all judged by the company we keep, folks, and if Seals stands by his endorsement of Washington, it appears the voters of the 10th District have some serious questioning to do as to Seals' own judgment.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Harping On Dan Seals: Come Clean and Tell Prospective Voters You Have Not Taught One Student at Northwestern University (or, tell us when you have!)

HOT UPDATE: By popular demand, here's a link to the Dan Seals mailer that landed all over the 10th District this past Friday. No word as to whether Seals also sent it to his home district (the 9th). For those of you of legal drinking age, TA suggests you may read the mailer with a bottle nearby, and do a shot every time you read the word "change". Just make sure you do it on a night you don't have to go to work the next day. Seals doesn't have that problem, of course.

ORIGINAL POST: I was lucky enough to get a Dan Seals mailer today. It's the first one I've seen, but I'm sure I'm not on the top of Seals' mailing list, so I can't say with certainty that there have not been more.

In the mailer, the campaign claims "Seals is a lecturer on public policy and government at Northwestern University."

At least he is now a "lecturer" and not an "adjunct professor." But that was never really my biggest gripe, anyway (see here for the background on 'professor-gate').

But, because this is really driving me bananas, I have to say this once more, but only once (at least, once more before the primary).


Clearly, the statement in the mailer that "Seals is a lecturer on public policy and government at Northwestern University" is meant to burnish his thin credentials with making people think he teaches at Northwestern. HE DOES NOT. YET. The only evidence of his alleged teaching credentials we can find is that Seals is scheduled to teach a night class beginning in April. He had stated that he 'is currently' an adjunct professor since last October, but has yet to walk into a Northwestern classroom or teach a student.

Am I the only person who thinks that the average Tenth District voter, if they knew the claim Seals was making, and knew the truth about exactly what his experience is, would feel that Seals has lied? If Seals wants to make the argument, as some of his defenders have, that 'technically' since Seals is assumedly under contract to teach a class, he has every right to call himself a professor (or lecturer, or whatever) NOW, without explaining that he has yet to teach a student, I guess he can make that statement, but he better be ready for the backlash of people who feel misled and betrayed.

Sadly, if no one in the mainstream media who has the ability to demand an answer from Seals confronts him with the question, no one in the Tenth District that is not a Team America fan will have the opportunity to decide whether to support Seals, given these circumstances. Because Seals sure isn't defending himself on this blog, although his sycophants have tried. Even other blogs that have noted this story have yet to get a straight answer out of Seals.

I think this goes to Seals' credibility and honesty as a candidate. Am I the only one who thinks these traits are important in a congressman?

I know that reporters from the Chicago Tribune, the Daily Herald and the Pioneer Press frequent this blog. How about it, guys? Your papers have each endorsed Seals over Footlik. It appears that we have a serious claim that Seals is misrepresenting himself, which has been backed up by the Footlik campaign itself. Do you have any interest, any interest at all, in fact-checking this claimed credential? Or does Seals just get a pass?

Everyone- thanks for all the comments since I originally posted this last night, and I'm glad to see that I'm not completely alone in this issue driving me nuts. Some have suggested taking this to NU, but I'm not sure that's really the issue. NU alumni might not be happy that their school is allowing Seals to publicly take this position, but that's between you folks and the school, and your NU donations.

Some of Seals' supporters keep wanting to explain to me how in the 'academic world' calling yourself a professor the second you sign a teaching contract is A-OK, but that's not the point either.

The point is simply this: by not explaining to people that he has never taught an NU class, and won't for some months, Seals is unfairly and improperly hijacking the reputation of NU to gain respect with the voters and get their votes by making them believe he currently is a professor of public policy when he's yet to enter a classroom. Some may say, oh, it's only a little fib, or it's 'mostly' correct, or call it any thing you want. I still believe that if the average voter in the Tenth finds out, they will be extremely upset with Seals and he will lose credibility and votes. If they ever find out.

So, what do we have in the papers this morning? Lots of coverage of Seals, but nothing on professor-gate. See here an article on Seals' fundraising (which we reported on Thursday) in the Daily Herald. The Herald article states that Seals has engaged in meet-and-greets and other avenues in pursuit of voters but has not sent any direct mailings. "We've done no paid advertising. We have a lot of support and we've done a lot of events," Seals said Friday to the Herald (emphasis added). So what, the mailer I got last night and posted on was an illusion? I'm pretty sure the "PAID FOR BY DAN SEALS FOR CONGRESS" note on the mailer would qualify this as "paid advertising." What, did Seals FORGET about this major mailer that would seem to have gone out to just about everyone?

Here's another Herald article about the Dem candidates' positions on so-called universal health care. It's obvious the Herald knows how to do research when it wants to. What's the problem with investigating professor-gate?

Usually the newspaper guys are falling all over each other to break a story. I know one reporter from a major paper that has made some calls on this issue. We're all waiting to see it print, guys...

UPDATED x2 01.26.08 10:30 a.m.: A BETTER PRESS STRATEGY: OK, I have concocted a different approach to get some media attention. Despite what I said above, I am going to keep pushing this thing as much as I can. SOMEONE will eventually have to write about it. Whoever does will break the story wide open, and it appears to me that breaking a story is what really makes a newspaper reporter's day.

So, there you have it. Somebody's going to write about it. Do it first and you get the glory. Have at it.

Congressman Mark Kirk Again Crushes Competition in Fundraising; Still at the Top Nationally

The fund raising reports for the candidates in Illinois' Tenth Congressional District are in, and once again, incumbent congressman Mark Kirk handily outshines the Democratic competition for this past reporting period (October 1, 2007 through January 16, 2008). Kirk's numbers as reported to the FEC are:

$493,740 in contributions
$213,534 in expenditures

$1,789,961 cash on hand

$2,320,933 raised this election cycle (including interest and other income).

See Kirk's report here.

In contrast, Democrat Dan Seals reported:

$333,041 in contibutions
$204,746 in expenditures

$627,167 cash on hand

$913,210 raised this election cycle

See Seals' report here.

Finally, Jay Footlik, the other Democratic contender who must defeat Dan Seals in the Democratic primary on February 5 to win the right to take on Kirk in the November general election reported as follows:

$133,748 in contributions
$414,415 in expenditures

$133,351 cash on hand

$422,841 raised this election cycle

See Footlik's report here.

The quick analysis of all of this is that Kirk is crushing Seals in fundraising (who appeared to have a fairly disappointing fundraising period), but in turn, Seals is pretty much crushing Footlik. Kirk has the luxury of banking his money, given the fact he has no primary opponent, and Seals is spending more money than he probably wanted to (interestingly, his report seems heavy on campaign payroll) in order to defend his presumptive front-runner status on the Dem side. Footlik, of course, is spending everything he has (and then some, it appears) on advertising to play catch up with Seals in name recognition.

So what does all of this mean? Just based on the numbers, and the polling data released so far by Seals, Seals appears to have the primary in the bag. But, stranger things have happened, and Seals could stumble within sight of the finish line, either by some scandal being revealed in the press, picking his nose in public, or perhaps the Seals voters being too complacent and not turning out for the actual vote.

Assuming Seals wins, however, he needs to seriously ramp up his fundraising to compete with Kirk. Seals lost valuable months since the last election by waiting until Jay Footlik had announced his campaign before Seals jumped in (as to why Seals delayed and what was he doing during that time period, continue to watch this space...) and now needs to play a massive game of catch up with our congressman Mark Kirk.

Seals is no doubt expecting the DCCC to ride in on a white horse and make up the millions of dollars in comparative deficit that he will appear to have based on his own lackluster fundraising effort. But, given that the Dems will be defending a large number of newly-acquired seats this year, as well as helping vulnerable veterans such as Melissa Bean, it remains to be seen if the DCCC plans to single-handedly match Kirk's impressive war chest (and then some), which will be necessary for Seals to have a hope of competing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lake County GOP Alleges Senator Terry Link Violated Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws

The Lake County GOP has issued a press release alleging that State Senator Terry Link failed to properly disclose several payments to campaign workers who passed Link's petitions. As TA readers know, Jerry Johnson, Link's former democratic challenger, alleged that many of Link's signatures were forged, and included dead people. The press release is below. More on this as it develops.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Contact: Dan Venturi, Chairman


Based on the most recent campaign finance disclosures filed by State Senator Terry Link’s campaign, it appears that expenditures for paid campaign workers were not disclosed. Kenneth Davison testified before the State Board of Elections, that he would receive roughly $100 for each 200 signatures obtained. Together, he and Jerry Knight collected nearly 2,700 of the 3,378 signatures on Link’s nominating petition. Knight and Davison are currently under investigation by the States Attorney’s office in connection with these petitions.

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, political committees are required to file Reports of campaign contributions and expenditures on form “D-2.” The deadline for filing the latest D-2 report was January 22, 2008. The reports are accessible for public view on the Illinois State Board of Elections Website,

Neither Jerry Knight nor Kenneth Davison appears on the expenditures portion of the D-2s filed by “Friends of Terry Link” and/or by the Lake County Democrat Central Committee. A check of the D-2 forms filed by other Democrat candidates whose nominating petitions contain signatures provided by Knight and Davison including, Angelo Kyle, Jim Parks, Richard Keller, Mary Ellen Vanderventer, Diane Hewitt, Michael D. Jacobs, or Cynthia Purim Haran, also do not include expenses for the so called “circulation” of petitions.

According to Senator Link’s report, a staff salary was paid to Vice-Chairman of the Democrat Party, Pete Couvall for $2,500. The payment occurred in late September which coincides with the dates on the petitions provided by Knight and Davidson. Senator Link is required to reflect the actual expense to Knight and Davison or the in-kind contribution if Vice-Chair Pete Couvall provided the benefit to Senator Link.

The Lake County Republican Party is calling for the State Board of Elections to review the D-2s submitted by Senator Link and the Lake County Democrat Central Committee and demand accurate reports that reflects all receipts and expenditures, as required by the State Board of Elections reporting laws.

Daniel Venturi, Chairman of the Lake County Republican Party, stated “Senator Link continues to run from his association with these individuals who are currently under investigation by the State’s Attorney’s office, but he cannot hide from the election disclosure laws.”

Mark Kirk Out In Front On Stimulus Package

The Chicago Tribune reported today that Congressman Mark Kirk has called for temporarily re-instituting a Depression-era government corporation that would help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

The Tribune article is here. It states:

"Kirk's plan would temporarily resurrect the Home Owners' Loan Corp., created in the 1930s to acquire and refinance mortgages for Americans facing foreclosure in the Depression.The corporation issued bonds and used the proceeds to buy troubled loans from banks at a discount. It then rewrote the terms of the loans to make payments more manageable. Banks lost money but didn't lose everything. More than a million homeowners kept their houses."

Kirk's proposal is also mentioned briefly at

Once again, Kirk is out there leading. What are the ideas proposed by Dan Seals and Jay Footlik? I don't remember the specifics offered by Seals and Footlik in response to the (surprise?) first question asked by Carol Marin earlier this week on Chicago Tonight, but that may be because they didn't offer any specifics. I think I recall Seals saying we needed to do something quickly, and that was targeted and temporary, but I don't recall what the proposed solution was, if he had one.

Dan Seals: From Professor to Social Worker??? (UPDATED)

Well, Dan Seals' resume keeps expanding even while he stands still, apparently. The Chicago Sun-Times endorsed Seals over Democratic primary opponent Jay Footlik today, and cited not only his experience as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University (neglecting to mention that Seals has not taught a class yet, and won't until April, if it in fact ever happens) and also cites his experience as a "social worker." Is this something that Seals has kept mum about in his background so far, or did I just miss it in the morass of other claimed 'accomplishments' that Seals offers up?

UPDATED: TA commentors have offered the following theories on what the Sun-Times was really trying to say:

Option 1: Dan Seals is a social worker

Option 2: George Seals (his dad) is a social worker

Option 3: Mrs. George Seals (his mom) is a social worker.

Based on the way the article is written, any of the three above choices could be correct. Does anyone know the truth? Does anyone know how long the Sun-Times will still be around?

The Sun-Times also offers this funny caricature of the three candidates, including incumbent Congressman Mark Kirk:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jerry Johnson Withdraws As Write-in and Will Run Against Terry Link as an Independent (UPDATED x2)

This just in... Team America has learned that Jerry Johnson plans to announce that he is withdrawing his candidacy as a Democratic write-in for the 30th Senate District seat currently held by State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan). He instead plans to file as an Independent in the November 2008 general election.

As an Independent candidate, Johnson will have to start all over with a new set of election petitions and needs more than twice as many signatures as he did to run in the Democratic primary (which was 1,000). The exact number of signatures is a function of the total number of persons who voted at the last regular General Election within the district (not less than 5% nor more than 8%). The actual number of signatures required is compiled by the State Board of Elections. If my math works out, Johnson needs at least 2068 signatures, based on the last election vote totals, but don't hold me to this number.

Johnson has apparently figured out (correctly) that he simply didn't stand a chance as a write-in against Link in the Dem primary.

The really interesting question is whether the Lake County GOP will run a candidate against Link in the general. While you can expect Link to be a target based on the petition scandal and other issues we have discussed here, his resources and strength as a candidate can't be understated, and the GOP would run the risk of splitting the anti-Link vote with Johnson as an Independent. But, given the hits that Link has taken (and which continue to develop as Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller continues his investigation), Link may never be in a more vulnerable position. So, it seems unlikely that the GOP would give up this chance if they can find any credible candidate to run against Link. Watch this space for more developments as they come in...

UPDATED 1/23/08: I should have mentioned yesterday that Jerry Johnson will be able to start circulating petitions on March 25, 2008 and must turn them in by June 23, 2008 (basically giving Johnson only 90 days to come up with twice as many good signatures as he needed to qualify for the Democratic primary, and which the State Board of Elections ruled he failed to do previously, which is why he finds himself in this pickle now). If you happen to be interested in the rules for running as an independent in Illinois, you can look at the State Board of Elections Candidates' Guide, here.

ALSO- IN FOOTLIK/SEALS NEWS: The Tribune has what I guess is intended to be a deeper look at the Footlik-Seals primary battle, but Team America readers are pretty well-versed in everything it covers. The only thing that caught my eye was a statement by Seals that "To me, the difference [between me and Jay Footlik] is in our credentials and credibility in delivering change."

Excuse me, Dan, YOU have more credibility in delivering change??? Exactly what have you done for the 10th District in the last two years that has changed anything? You have done nothing except decide to run for office (which took some time to do...more on what Seals was doing in between November 2006 and his announcement to run of office in summer 2007 later....) and then run for office.

The only other information in the piece was that Seals admitted working for "a social activism website" (which TA readers know is ""), but claims he was working as a "business consultant" rather than as "Director of Business Development" which is what his bio on ThePoint website claimed until it was taken down. Seals also failed to explain that he only worked there for about three months, as far as we can tell. The article also notes that Seals works for Avondale Consulting, which TA knew, but hasn't been able to find out exactly what this firm is or does, besides have a nice website. The Avondale website gives no information as to when Dan Seals joined as a "principal." Hmm, that usually implies ownership of the company in some degree. Do any TA sleuths want to take a crack at peeling back the onion on this one?

Finally, I read the article twice to make sure, but Seals does not raise his claim of being an "adjunct professor" at Northwestern University in any way, shape or form in the article. Wonder why?

UPDATED x2: BREWING STORY ON OBAMA: Looks like the "squeaky clean" reputation of Barack Obama is now really coming under some pretty intense scrutiny, thanks in large part to the Clinton campaign (and Hillary's newfound best friend, "uncle" Tony Rezko), but also due to the intrepid research of the Chicago Tribune and other local sources. Since the question of whether Barack Obama will be at the top of the Dem ticket for the Nov. 2008 election, and how that may effect local Illinois elections, is of intense interest, you can bone up on the latest at a variety of sources, including the Trib, Capitol Fax Blog and the Wilmette Blog. Also, Backyard Conservative points out a huge Sun-Times headline and article. It goes on... check out Marathon Pundit for a story on Barack Obama's wife's connections to Wal-Mart (through her service on the board of a Wal-Mart supplier), while he fired shots at Hillary for serving on the Wal-Mart board.

Jay Footlik: Is He Running for Congress in 2008, or Is It Really for 2010?

Even though I said I wasn't going to, I watched the "interview" (can't call it a debate, in my opinion) last night on "Chicago Tonight" between Jay Footlik and Dan Seals, the two Democratic hopefuls who seek to defeat Congressman Mark Kirk this fall.

Or is Jay Footlik's real target not this fall, but fall 2010? Or is it really something else altogether than trying to wrest Mark Kirk's 10th District seat from him, where so many have failed before, including Dan Seals?

In watching the interview last night, I was struck once again by how NICE Jay Footlik takes pains to be, which forces Dan Seals to also be NICE, which about made me want to vomit (Carol Marin's total softball questions and virtually no follow-up only facilitated the nicey-nicey atmosphere; hey, can we all grab a latte after the show, guys?).

I have to say that I am no fan of negative campaigning. Number one, it's not fun to watch or be involved with; number two, it generally doesn't go over well on the North Shore (I've been involved in some negative campaigns and I think going negative turned out to be a mistake in at least one case, although in another, the opponent was (and still is) so slimy we had no choice); and number three, it tends to turn off the public and give everyone in politics a bad name.

If you look at Hillary and Barack going ballistic on each other lately, while it makes for some fun from the sidelines (at least if you are a Republican), when it's your party that's doing the interparty mudslinging, it's not so much fun to watch (look at Chris Lauzen and Jim Oberweis beating the snot out of each other in the race for Denny Hastert's seat in the 14th CD).

So, while I don't condone negative campaigning, you do have to do something to exploit your opponent's vulnerabilities if you really expect to have a shot at winning, especially when there are few differences between the candidates' positions, and what differences there are, are "in the family" as Footlik put it last night. Footlik has lobbed a few small grenades at Seals (like his real estate mailing of several "affordable" houses in the 10th District, as a dig to Seals' statement that he cannot afford to move into a district of millionaires), but has not capitalized on the professor-gate issue (save for an interview given by Footlik's campaign manager to JTA), nor has Footlik really gone after Seals for his lack of experience, especially in foreign policy (Seals speaks JAPANESE, and that's his idea of foreign policy experience???--really, that's what he touted last night to Carol Marin).

So, is Footlik really serious about this race? Does he expect to lose and bow out gracefully, endorse Seals and then go off to whatever job awaits him? Or, perhaps, does Footlik plan to hang around in his rental house, have his second child and settle in for a few months to see if Kirk hangs on, and when he does, will Footlik announce right away as the next guy to try to take down Mark Kirk? What do y'all think?

ON THE STATE SCENE: Here's some good analysis on the GOP strategy and chances against the state Dems, given the debacles in Springfield on the budget and RTA funding, as well as our not-so-popular governor Bag-O'-Chips. Hat tip: Capitol Fax Blog.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

So Much for Moderation: Dan Seals Embraces Left Wing Endorsements and Agenda (UPDATED)

Today, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin came out and endorsed Dan Seals, over his Democratic primary opponent Jay Footlik. This endorsement was no shock, considering that Durbin backed Seals last election and the timing was likely geared to boost Seals' appearance at the local Dem convention today. Footlik's campaign has yet to get any traction (his inability to effectively emphasize Seals' negatives like professor-gate and millionaire-gate have torpedoed any chance he might have had), although based on my personal observation, and those of most objective observers who have attended the recent debates, most seem to think that Footlik is by far the smarter and more polished candidate. Of course, Seals may be more concerned about Footlik than he has publicly let on, which would also explain why Durbin's endorsement was solicited at this time.

Dick Durbin, as powerful a senator as he is, may not be doing Seals a favor when the general election comes around, however. The voters in the 10th District are a notoriously independent lot, and considering that Durbin is ranked as the #1 most liberal U.S. Senator, between accepting Durbin's endorsement and that of 9th District congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (ranked #18 among the House's most liberal representatives), Seals has wholeheartedly accepted the mantle of the Dem machine candidate and the lovechild of the left wing liberal party base.

While that will likely win Seals the primary (fueled by the left-wing liberal base of the Dem party), that may not go over all that well in the general, given that the 10th District has increasingly shown its collective desire for a moderate candidate, a role that Mark Kirk has successfully filled for four terms. Add to that Seals' affinity for equating himself with Barack Obama, who is rated the most liberal of the senators running for president, it's pretty clear what the voters would be getting if they place Seals in office. It'll be fun to watch Seals try to steer back towards the center after the primary is over. The many hours of video captured of Seals' positions will be coming back to haunt him, I would predict...

This endorsement also pretty much eliminates any illusions anyone may have had that the 10th Dems were not pulling for Seals all the way. At some point, someone must have convinced Lauren Beth Gash that the 10th Dems should at least give Footlik some space to promote his candidacy to 10th Dem members, but it is now pretty clear that this was just window-dressing. Could you imagine being poor Jay Footlik and showing up to the 10th Dem convention, only to learn that the keynote speaker, Dick Durbin, had just held a press conference to announce he'd endorsed Seals? I can't imagine a much worse slap in the face to Footlik, and then for him to have to go on stage to do his stump speech after that? Ugh.

Footlik's a big boy, with Washington D.C. experience, so I am sure he can take it, but this is another great example of the stranglehold the Dem power brokers try to keep on their party at all levels. Just try being a challenger like Footlik, or even an incumbent that has fallen out of favor with the Machine like Eddie Washington in the 60th District.

(YET ANOTHER) FOOTLIK-SEALS DEBATE EVENT: I keep forgetting to post something on the upcoming "Chicago Tonight" Candidate Forum that will be televised Monday, January 21st 2008, at 7:00 p.m. on Channel 11 (WTTW). Carol Marin moderates. At this point, unless Seals makes a complete ass of himself (would Ms. Marin dare to ask about Seals' claimed professorship?), it simply amounts to some extra free advertising. Even though I would say Footlik has "won" every debate, he simply hasn't been able to capitalize on his stronger attributes as a candidate. So, tune in if you like, but I will probably be re-arranging my sock drawer or doing something else more worthwhile.

JAY GRODNER UPDATE: Jay Grodner, a self-described "radical liberal" who was accused of "keying" the car of Marine Sgt. Michael McNulty, has pled guilty. El Rider over at Flying Debris has a good post up with relevant links, so check it out.

UPDATED 01/21/08: Here's the additional newsfeed re the Durbin endorsement from the Sun-Times, the Daily Herald, and the News-Sun (see first link for the Tribune article). As expected, all of the articles reported the buzz, but no one really caught on to the insult made to Jay Footlik by timing the Durbin endorsement of Seals to occur just before the event where Durbin was the keynote speaker. Democrats, take note of exactly who is running your party (hint: it's not you, it's the Machine).

And the Caption Contest Winner is...

It was a very tough decision among all the excellent entries for the funniest caption for this Dan Seals picture. I really tried to pick not only one I thought was funny, but really meshed well with the "say what?" look on Seals' face. And the winner is...

"I have to go to Ellen's house? Can't she just mail her donation like the rest of the kooks?"

As submitted by frequent TA commentor "Badge of Honor." BOH is another refugee from Ellen's Blog, and I found BOH's comment especially funny in light of Ellen's recent post about the party she threw at her house for Dan. It remains to be seen if this celebration was a bit premature depending on how the primary battle with Jay Footlik comes out, but we shall see...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Daily Herald Recycles Chicago Support for Dan Seals (UPDATED)

As if poor Democratic 10th District candidate Jay Footlik didn't have enough problems, it appears that the Daily Herald is trying to double-team him by reprinting letters to the editor signed by fans of Dan Seals that they have already published.

A few weeks ago, the Herald ran a letter written by one Eric Tobiason, a Chicago resident who thinks all of us on the North Shore ought to be like people in Chicago, whom he believes all support Dan Seals. Exactly why we up here should give a flying fig who people in Chicago think should be our congressional representative escapes me. And, this particular letter caught my attention just because it was an example of where a lot of Seals' support is coming from, e.g., Chicago, the 9th congressional district a la Jan Schakowsky, etc. I ranted briefly about this letter when it was first published on January 8, 2008, in the Herald.

Apparently, however, either the Herald thought the letter was so fantastic that it was concerned that some reader might have missed it, or they just aren't being too careful about what they publish nowadays, because it appears they re-ran the SAME LETTER by Mr. Tobiason again in this Saturday's edition. The wording appears off in a few instances, but it's obviously the same letter, down to the same story about sharing lockers with Seals (that must've been a treat). I guess they at least had the decency to write a different headline for today's version.

Generally, most newspapers try to balance (at least subconsciously) the number of letters among competing candidates. Does this mean the pro-Seals letters in the hopper were so few that they had to dig into letters that they had ALREADY used???

To be sure, that's probably not what happened, and it was just a mistake. And, clearly, everyone makes mistakes, even Team America. But, you would think the Herald would have a bit better quality and editorial control than this. Especially when it's such a daffy letter. I really am shocked that someone didn't pick this up over there.

BTW, I'm still waiting for that article exposing the Professor-gate issue. How 'bout it, guys?

UPDATED: As commentor "Barbara" explained, it appears as if the "recycling" that I stated the Herald did on the Seals letter by Tobaison may only have been an "online" artifact, as opposed to reprinting the letters in the paper editions due to separate geographical editions of the Herald using the same letters at different times (see the comments for Barbara's explanation). I guess the slight differences in the letters would have to be explained by editing, rather than slightly different versions of the letter being submitted by the author and printed at different times by the paper. But, in any event, the letters get double-billing on the Internet, with different titles, and at the very least, it gave me the opportunity to point out the ridiculousness of the Tobaison letter encouraging all us north shore-ers to vote the Chicago way, for their chosen candidate. Thanks for the schooling on the editorial process, Barbara, and I hopefully won't get fooled again (on this issue, anyway).

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dan Seals Photo Caption Contest

It's Friday, so let's have a little fun...

Every once in a while, Rich Miller of Capitol Fax Blog finds a daffy photo of some politician and runs a photo caption contest. We're going to steal his idea and use a photo provided by Publia over at the Wilmette Blog (thanks Publia!!!!). The idea is simple--try to make up a funny caption for the photo, and snark is heavily encouraged, but keep it clean.

My starting caption:

"Barack Obama said WHAT? Quick, issue a press release saying I like pistachio ice cream too!!!"

Oh, well... so Much for Red to Blue

Concerned (yet snarky) commentor "Rob_N" pointed out that the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program only targeted OPEN congressional seats, not ones that are held by current candidates that have not announced retirement or otherwise are not expected to compete for the office again this election. We had posted this morning that the DCCC program did not pick up the 10th District, which seemed like a pretty positive development for Mark Kirk. So, it seems that we can't draw any conclusions from the DCCC not including the 10th District in this program.

Oh, well. Thanks to "Rob_N" who pointed that out and for keeping ol' TA honest.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Jay Footlik Accuses Dan Seals of Resume Padding (Finally!)

The 10th District primary battle between Dan Seals and Jay Footlik may finally be going nuclear. Footlik's campaign was cited today in a JTA blog article accusing Seals of padding his resume to include his claimed credential as a Northwestern University professor, even though the single night course Seals is scheduled to teach does not begin until April 2008, well after the primary.

As regular TA readers know, our astute commentors figured this out last December, and we recently followed up to try to confirm whether or not Seals ever had ANY teaching experience at Northwestern that would allow him to claim that he is a "current" adjunct professor at Northwestern, as his on-line biography at his website claims, and as he has claimed at numerous public events and to the MSM. We came up with nothing that evidenced that Seals had any teaching experience at Northwestern whatsoever... unless you count a class that isn't scheduled to begin for some months yet. But, as Seals was making this claim as early as last October, it seemed to us to be a serious misrepresentation of Seals' credentials as a candidate.

The response from the Seals campaign given to the JTA is telling:

“These types of baseless political attacks are why people are fed up with Washington and ready for change,” said Liz Smith, Seals’ communications director. “Dan is running for congress to put an end to this type of politics.”

and further:

“They are making hay out of something that isn’t an issue in this race and why are they doing it? Because they are desperate because they are so far behind,” one person close to the Seals campaign told me. “It says more about their campaign than the Seals’ campaign.”

Well, sorry, kids, I have some shocking news for y'all:

CREDIBILITY is an essential point of any campaign. We send people to Congress to represent our interests. Any betrayal of that trust is one of the worst sins a politician can commit.

Seals has destroyed his credibility with the voters by misrepresenting his credentials. It IS an issue, since not only did Seals put it out there, he CAMPAIGNED on it to bolster his credentials. Seals knew his creds were thin to begin with, so it appears that the temptation to do that extra bit of resume padding was just too much.

TA's sources hear that some MSM are now getting interested in this story. Let's see how events unfold for the Seal Pup in the next few days. Wonder if the local media will finally pick up this story and inform their readers?

Also wonder if the Chicago Tribune has ever retracted an endorsement based on the discovery that a candidate misrepresented his credentials? Maybe there's still time to make the Daily Herald think twice...

ALSO- note in the JTA article the hat tip to Team America, which 'sources close to the Seals campaign' describe as a "right wing rag." Thanks, guys, I didn't know you cared... ;-)

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: Well, I guess I was giving the MSM too much credit with my endorsement predictions. The Daily Herald drank the Seals Kool-Aid even more so than the Tribune. Well, it'll be interesting to see if Professor-gate ever makes it to a page in the MSM. Wonder if the print media is at all concerned about following leads and checking credentials anymore. Sigh...

Tribune Wimps Out and Gives Seals the Endorsement... Or Does It?

Well, turns out TA's optimism that the Tribune would have some guts and take a chance endorsing Footlik was a bit misguided. Newspapers don't generally like to endorse candidates they see as having little chance to win, and maybe the Seals polling numbers made them a bit reluctant to throw in with Footlik. The Trib went with Seals, but there's not much in the endorsement Seals can really use, aside from simply saying "I'm endorsed." See the article here. The part on Seals/Footlik reads:

10th District: Business executive Dan Seals of Wilmette put a real scare into Republican Rep. Mark Kirk in 2006, winning 47 percent of the vote. Seals is back, but he faces a Democratic primary challenge from Jay Footlik, who worked in the Clinton administration on domestic and foreign policy issues and has a deep knowledge of Mideast affairs. There isn't a great deal of difference between Seals and Footlik on policy. They're both smart, well-prepared candidates. Voters, though, might have reason to question either candidate's long-term commitment to them. Seals still lives a couple of blocks outside the district -- he says he can't afford to move into the 10th. Footlik just recently returned to the area, renting a home in Buffalo Grove. Seals gets the edge, based on a better grasp of local issues and concerns. He is endorsed.

A couple interesting issues: while the Trib calls both "smart" and "well-prepared", since that goes for both, it really doesn't help voters make a choice (and more or less takes the compliment away from Seals in terms of something he can use in his literature... so what if you're smart and well-prepared if the other guy is too?). There's not a great deal of difference on foreign policy, either, so no help there for voters. And the kicker is that the Tribune found the residency issue important enough to bring up again, and while they didn't mention Seals' idiotic "millionaire" quote, they paraphrased Seals as stating he can't afford to move into the district.


It still flabbergasts me that Seals never took care of this issue long ago and simply removed it as an issue from the campaign. Not only has it eviscerated his ability to use the residency issue on the attack against Footlik, it still continues to dog him. No matter how many times he says it shouldn't be an issue, it's obviously not going away, and the Tribune certainly thought it was important enough to specifically mention in the brief space allotted to discuss the race. So, not only did it cause Seals to make a stupid comment to try to justify his lack of commitment to the District, it's now managed to ruin what could have been a nice news bite from the Trib to use in Seals' campaign literature.

Voters will question exactly what it means that Seals "can't afford" to move into the District. Does that imply Seals thinks he will never be able to afford to move into it (you would think a successful business executive would be taking a pay cut to work in Congress, not going there for the paycheck)? Who would vote for someone that had no intention of living in the district where his constituents lived?

And voters will rightly question why they should vote for someone who apparently isn't successful enough as a "business executive" to be able to move into the District, especially as Jay Footlik pointed out in his snarky real estate mailing of 'affordable' housing to Dan Seals (see the discussion under the updates here), that one need not be a "millionaire" to live in the District.

Of course, the Trib did say Seals had a better grasp of local issues (considering he's being compared to a guy that hasn't actually ever lived here, was raised in Skokie, and just recently moved in to a rental house, that's not much of a compliment). And, Seals was "endorsed," not "weakly endorsed" or "reluctantly endorsed," so I guess Seals has that going for him.

All in all, I hope the Daily Herald shows a little more gumption in its expected upcoming endorsements. And, if somehow Footlik manages to eek out a win against Seals in the primary, if I were him, I'd be house-shopping the day after the primary to buy an in-District house so as to take this away as an issue in the general election against Mark Kirk. Maybe after this latest housing debacle, Seals will finally find some money somewhere and move across town into the District so as to finally eliminate this as an issue, but he hasn't been that smart so far.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

10th District Newspaper Endorsements: Team America's Prognostications

It's a bit early to try to call the 10th Dem primary between Jay Footlik and Dan Seals. Despite the polls released by Seals that show him with a huge lead in name recognition, I still have reservations about those polls and how they were conducted. And, even with the election only a few weeks away now, there is still plenty that can happen that would make those numbers meaningless.

For example, I am one of those people that still tend to think that newspaper endorsements matter, at least among a certain segment of the electorate, especially the undecided voters that in political parlance, tend to "break late." So far, the only major area newspaper group to do an endorsement (unless you count the Waukegan News-Sun, which more or less endorsed Dan Seals even before he announced he was running for re-election) is the Pioneer Press, which endorsed Seals. We criticized the Pioneer Press endorsement earlier, noting among other issues that the endorsement was made without the benefit of the recent debates and seemed to tout Seals mostly as the most 'winnable' candidate, rather than the best candidate.

But, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald will both endorse Footlik over Seals. Based on Footlik's performance in the debates, and also before the Tribune editorial board, which video was made available some weeks ago, it is clear that Footlik is the candidate with much more depth and ability to articulate and address the issues. Seals tends to repeat the same points he raised in the last election, and his appreciation of these issues has all the depth of a kiddie wading pool. If the MSM has been paying any attention at all to issues raised on this Blog and elsewhere, they also should have some pretty serious concerns about Seals and his work history, and especially his dubious claims to be a "current" professor at Northwestern University when he doesn't start teaching until AFTER the primary.

Seals may have done well against Kirk and have a bigger base and more name recognition, but that's not what newspaper endorsements should be about in my opinion--it should be about who is the better candidate to (potentially) represent the people of the 10th District in Congress. Tribune endorsement in the 10th is expected tomorrow; not sure about the Herald.

As to whether these endorsements will make or break the primary race, who's to say?, but I can guarantee that it will breathe new life into Footlik's campaign if he walks away with one, or especially, both endorsements, and stems the tide of Seals' self-proclaimed inevitability as the primary winner.

SPEAKING OF ENDORSEMENTS: The Tribune ran its first set of Congressional endorsements today, and Dan Seals must be seething. Mark Kirk was mentioned twice as an example of great bi-partisan cooperation on important issues in the Chicago area, both with Dan Lipinksi and Melissa Bean, and Kirk doesn't even face a primary opponent!

I was also remiss in not noting earlier that Steve Greenberg received the Trib's endorsement over his primary opponents Ken Arnold and Kirk Morris. Way to go Steve!

Mark Kirk Still Concerned About Saudi Arms Sale

Lots of heated rhetoric going around as the primary election in Illinois is fast approaching, the nation is preparing for Super-Duper Tuesday, and the world is waiting to see what direction our country is going in. Everyone involved in politics is doing their level best to paint their opponents as the devil, and their guy (or gal) as a saviour. And there's plenty of flak to go around on both sides of the aisle, and at every level- national, state and local.

On the national level, probably the big story of this news cycle (which nowadays lasts about 15 hours, if that) that has a 10th District tie-in, is that President Bush is moving forward with a massive arms package to Saudi Arabia and other allies, including the supply of JDAMs, or "smart bombs." Congressman Mark Kirk has been a critic of this move, mainly due to what he sees as a lack of safeguards that such advanced weapons will not somehow fall into the hands of Israel's enemies somewhere down the line. Read about the issue here.

Kirk has stated that he opposes the proposal in its present form. "The administration must guarantee to Congress' satisfaction that selling JDAMs to Saudi Arabia will not harm U.S. forces or our democratic ally Israel," he told the Associated Press. "At this time, I do not have enough information to support the sale." Read more here.

Dan Seals, who has many times stated that he is a strong friend of Israel, doesn't seem to have a position up on his website, or a press release, or anything approaching an actual viewpoint. He may be still be celebrating his victory over Jay Footlik at Ellen Beth Gill's house.

Israel, as everyone knows, is not only concerned about this, they continue to be very concerned over Iran's nuclear program, even though the uber-liberals in this country are doing their very best to treat the NIE report as a magic bullet that assures them that everything is A-OK over with the jolly mullahs and their nutzo president. While I used to think that Israel would go it alone against Iran to prevent their nuclear program from threatening Israel, here's a sobering report that seems to indicate that Israel's military is not capable of doing the job without help.

I don't claim to understand everything about how American Jews look at the Israel security issue, but from what I can pick up on the blogs, there are those that are extremely concerned about Israel's security from foreign aggressors, and another group that criticizes these folks as "one-issue" Jews, since the pro-security group tends to vote for the likes of Mark Kirk. They seem to feel betrayed that the security-oriented group doesn't vote for traditional Dem platform ideas like universal healthcare, and instead are more concerned that Israel doesn't get blown off the map.

Some are mad that Jay Footlik is running against Seals, as Footlik's hawkish Israel stance tends to make Seals look weak on Israel by comparison--after all, Seals needs to pander to the 10th Dist. peacenik crowd at the risk of losing his base.

I think that if Seals does win the primary, he will suffer immensely against Kirk head-to-head on the Israeli defense issue. Kirk's Israel creds are impeccable, and Seals hasn't actually ever accomplished anything except talk. Oh, he did visit Israel once, and he apparently has been boning up on his Jewish political keywords such as “tikun Olam.”

Footlik offers a more interesting challenge on Israel as an issue, but given that Seals has a more extensive base and fundraising ability, as a general election opponent, Footlik also has plenty of deficiencies to overcome before November.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Can Dan Seals' Anti-War Rhetoric Still Energize Voters? (Scroll down for Monday Morning Update)

After listening to one entire evening (last Wednesday) of Jay Footlik and Dan Seals go at each other in the first of three debates this past week, and watching a bunch of video clips from Seals "coffees" and other events, I am more convinced than ever that Dan Seals is a one trick pony, which of course is to slam the Iraq War (and, by association, the administration of President Bush). Seals' campaign strategy, which was clearly revealed this past week in his debate statements (though it was never really in doubt) is to continue to beat the same anti-war drum that he beat incessantly last election.

Last time, it almost worked. Almost. As we have pointed out on many occasions here, even in the most favorable anti-Republican and anti-incumbent sentiment we have seen in recent history, and with nationwide anti-war sentiment at its peak, Seals still couldn't seal the deal.

Seals seems to think that if he came this/close last time, all he has to do is repeat his same message from last election, add in some real DCCC money early enough to make a difference, and it's a guaranteed recipe for success.

The big problem, though, is that (while something could always turn south, and we all know not much has gone right with the war so far) the war is going a lot better, to the extent that it's pretty much an afterthought with the Democrats on the presidential campaign trail, and the Republicans hardly mention it at all, except for McCain.

No less a biased news source than CNN reported recently as follows:

The war is going much, much better than it was a year ago -- even a few months ago. You might even say we are winning. I fully accept that anytime our young people are dying and civilians are being killed in the midst of combat, it is difficult to even talk about winning or losing. But fatalities for troops and civilians alike are way down.

The Iraqis, no matter how much they have stumbled and failed in the political process, are finally reopening their shops, their schools, and their neighborhoods. They are taking more control of their own country, and long-awaited reconciliation between warring factions is slowly, haltingly getting under way.

Iraq is certainly not at peace, but it is undeniably much more peaceful than it was.

Read the whole article here. The ironic part is, the point of the CNN article was essentially that the candidates should all be paying more attention and discussing it more on the campaign trail. Ah, now THAT sounds a lot more like the CNN we all know. But, the grain of truth that even CNN can't ignore is that the strategy we have now may well lead to eventual victory, and that spells bad news for any Dem that has made the war his or her centerpiece of a campaign. Even the most ardent anti-war candidates are saying little more than we need to accelerate the troop withdrawal (sound familiar, 10th District debate goers?) Seals even muffs this aspect of the issue, as his main emphasis on troop withdrawal seems to be to encourge those lazy, incompetent Iraqis to fix their government. Seals apparently thinks they have no incentive to improve their country while American troops are still there.

Danno still hasn't figured out that the war is continuing to diminish in effectiveness as a political campaign strategy, and even though he is starting to try to address local issues, like transportation, his lack of knowledge and familiarity with the issues is proving to be a serious handicap. As we noted here earlier, Seals' solution to our transportation issues here in Lake County is to obtain more federal funding, not even realizing that the federal funding that DOES exist and is waiting to be used is in jeopardy due to the failure of the DEMOCRATIC-controlled state government to provide federal matching funds. Mark Kirk, as we know, is all over this.

When is Seals going to realize that the pony he rode last election is tired and ready to be put in the barn... or won't he realize this until it's too late? Ellen's team hasn't figured this out, and if anything, is trying to double down on the Iraq strategy. Take a look at her comments in introducing Dan Seals at some event this afternoon. (Note that she has now rewritten history and decreased Kirk's margin over Seals to 3 percentage points, from an actual 6%). She also labels it a "party" for Dan. Are they celebrating victory over Jay Footlik already? Maybe they ought to recall what happened to Barack in New Hampshire when he got a little too confident after Iowa.

UPDATED x1: Here's a late evening update- apparently Seals just released a new poll, showing he's still around 58% (I assume name recognition) and Footlik up only slightly from 6% to 10%. Can't find any more information other than what Archpundit has up; nothing on the Seals website. I assume we'll hear more about this soon. Wonder if Footlik has any polling information showing any different numbers, but we can probably assume not, or he would have released it by now. Can't believe that "meshugana" mailing didn't at least move the name recognition numbers a little more. I know I'll likely never forget it...

Monday Morning Update: Not much in the papers so far this morning, but I wanted to mention that it seems like almost every day for the past couple of days, my Google Alert for Jay Footlik has been lighting up like a Christmas Tree (sorry for the simile, yes, I KNOW Footlik is Jewish, already) with letters to the editor in support of Footlik. See a couple here and here.

A good "letters" campaign to show support and get people thinking that there is a groundswell of support for the candidate is essential in any grassroots campaign, and so far, Footlik appears dead-on with timing and numbers of letters. Haven't seen as much from The Pup's supporters yet, except for this ironic letter that I've already mentioned, from a typical out-of-district Seals supporter who thinks we need to know that people from Chicago all support Seals and that Seals has a nice mom.

I would probably be remiss if I didn't mention that Pioneer Press has already endorsed Seals. The endorsement was published in the Highland Park paper, but not sure where else. Figures. The interesting things to me about the endorsement was, first, that since the endorsement came our on Jan. 10th, it's clear no one from the paper bothered to keep an open mind and go to any of the three debates between Footlik and Seals last week before making a decision; second, according to the Pioneer Press, we should vote for Seals because he's the best chance to win against Kirk, not because he's the best person to represent the 10th District; and third, the Pioneer Press continues to perpetuate the alleged credential of Seals as an "adjunct professor" at Northwestern, which I think we have thoroughly discredited. It appears to TA that Seals knows he's caught, as he called himself a "LECTURER", not a "professor" at the Wednesday debate last week, and I understand he didn't mention it at all in the next two debates. I am still prodding the MSM to take a look at this issue before the rest of the newspaper endorsements come out, but we'll see what happens this week, maybe.

Finally, the latest Seals strategy appears to be to paint Footlik as a closet Kirk insider. Seals' people practically accused Footlik of being a plant right from the get-go this summer, but now they are spreading stories of Footlik practically high-fiving the Kirk supporters who went to check out the Footlik-Seals debates last week. I was at the first debate at least, and I consider myself a Kirk supporter (though not attached to the campaign) and I didn't get a high five. For added laughs at Ellen's check out failed former congressional candidate Lee Goodman (who actually got more votes than Seals did in the last election) whining about how he was not allowed to video the League of Women Voters debates.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Video from the 10th District Dem Debate: Jay Footlik sez Dan Seals hasn't done squat; Seals sez, hey, I look like Barack! (UPDATED x2)

Here's a few highlight clips from last night's debate between Jay Footlik and Dan Seals or, at least, what will have to pass for the highlights. Both candidates were so boilerplate in their message, and so careful to take the high road, it didn't make for much theater, and also didn't do much to showcase the differences between the candidates.

In any event, here is a clip of what passed for the big 'heated exchange' of the night, where Seals criticizes Footlik's involvement in SAFE, a not-for-profit alternative energy initiative that Footlik claims credit for founding, and Footlik's response to Seals challenging him to name anything specific that Seals has ever actually done to promote alternative energy. The fireworks (such as they are) are near the end.

The second clip is Seals invoking Barack Obama as his idol, literally. If Seals wins, and Obama is the Dem presidential nominee, we can look forward to months of "me too!" campaigning by Seals. It'll be a simple game plan. "What, Barack is for [fill in blank]? I'm for [blank] too! Did I mention people mistake me for Barack sometimes?" That'll be loads of laughs.

Meanwhile, Mark Kirk will continue to campaign on his resume of achievements for the 10th District, any of which were noticeably absent from the resumes of the debaters last night (since they have none). What has Seals been doing for the District for the last year anyway, besides campaigning and fluffing his resume?

UPDATED 01.11.08 5:00 p.m.: Sorry nothing much to report today. I didn't attend last night's League of Women Voters debate between Footlik and Seals, but I heard it was a real sleeper. It went on...and on... and on... If you really want to torture yourself, Chicago Public Radio apparently has a audio file up here.

One of TA's Cub Reporters reports that Footlik is clearly the better candidate based on the technical performance in the debate, but many people continue to have serious doubts that he can win, unless something scandalous breaks about Seals in the MSM (hint?).

Our reporter opines that Footlik should've been way more pointed in his attacks. He didn't go after Seals enough. While they each did bring up the idea of the STAR line, neither had a knowledge of transportation issues because both called for more federal funding without talking about the state's failure to provide a local match.

Seals continued to be vague about social security and promotes changing the "pay outs". The only specifics he gives are ideas related to means testing. Both favored amnesty. Seals said the idea of a border fence is "silly."

Both favor universal health care. Seals supports extending medicare for the universal coverage while Footlik favors extending the FEHB program.

Finally, our reporter noted that "The crowd seemed really bored." So, there you have it.

Friday Laugh: Seals Internet supporter Bored Now posted a 10th District update this afternoon that is a good read to see how the Seals fans would like to think this race is unfolding. The funny part is that Bored Now assumed that the video clips that we cited above were posted by SEALS SUPPORTERS! Hahahahahah! I guess someone had a really different opinion of how Seals came across in those video clips. They weren't posted because TA thought they would showcase Seals's (or Footlik's) strengths as a candidate.

Have a great weekend!!!

Remember that Seals and Footlik have their final go-round at Arlington Heights library tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. I'm sleeping in.

UPDATED x2 01.12.08 1:00 p.m.: Our friend Ellen Beth Shrill live-blogged the Footlik-Seals Arlington Heights debate, just in case anyone cares. I don't. These two guys ran out of talking points halfway through the second debate, so I think we're done with this whole business.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Live Blogging at the 10th District Stevenson Debates (UPDATED WITH POSTGAME ANALYSIS and news coverage)

Okay folks, we're here at the 10th District democratic debate hosted by Stevenson High School. This is my first experiment at live bogging, so bear with me.

So far, the 8th District debates have ended. I managed to miss it because it seemed to have ended a little early. I hear Steve Greenberg did a great close, but haven't had a chance to hear much else yet because I have been getting set up online.

So far, the only celebrity I have seen is Mrs. Footlik. She's sitting right up front. At least she's not wearing a big hat to block my view.

I see that Ellen Beth Shrill is sitting in my row a few seats down. Just one big happy family here..... More to come!!!!

7:00 p.m.: So far, the TV cameramen are from CLTV and ABC-7. Print media include Pioneer Press and Tribune.

7:17 p.m.: Some guy next to me with a Footlik sticker on his suit is being very pushy about trying to move people around so he can get all his family members/friends/hired bodies in together. Hope they have showered because they pushed in right next to me....

7:20 p.m.: Daily Herald showed up.

7:25 p.m.: The room is pretty packed. I hear that the 8th District one was also full, though.

7:30 p.m.: Footlik stickers way outnumber Seals stickers on people. Maybe you get a free pack of gum outside if you put one on. I got in too early, probably.

7:31 p.m.: The men are here, waiting to make their entrance. Footlik is much taller than I thought. Oh, wait, it's not Footlik, it's one of the high school teachers standing next to Seals. Jay is there now. He needs lifts.

7:33 p.m.: Some guy who looks like he's part of Footlik's group is WEARING a Footlik sign on his chest. Major squid points for that guy.

7:36: They're finally on stage. Each one gets 3 minutes. How many times can each guy say "I'm not Mark Kirk, George Bush is Baaaaad!"

7:37: I'm counting how many times each one says "change."

Seals: Can't wait to say goodbye to the Bush administration, and his friend Mark Kirk. We must change the way Washington works. We have an honest disagreement with how to bring about change, do you want someone who is a Washington insider or someone who knows how it works but is not an insider. Seals is now a "LECTURER" not a professor.

Footlik: Your generation reclaimed its voice and has shown the power of your influence. I want to hear your ideas about how to get this country back on track. His life story now. He went to work as a child actor to make ends meet with his family. Footlik's speech is pretty much memorized but is fairly fresh and focuses on his life and career. Now we're into the Clinton era. He helped co-found SAFE. He thinks we need independent real experienced leaders in Washington. His list of concerns... long, war, oil dependency, lack of health care, you have to go back 40 years to find a worst time. It's Bush's fault and Kirk is also to blame.

Footlik has more supporters in the room.

7:45: First question: Why has Mark Kirk won 4 times, why should he be replaced?

Seals: Mark Kirk has voted with Bush 90% of the time; it's not independent leadership. He opposes Bush only when he's concerned about politics.

Footlik: Kirk votes with Bush way too often; we have an opportunity to knock out Kirk, it's a Democratic district. To neutralize his accomplishments, to enact CHANGE, you need someone like me to meet Kirk toe-to-toe with experience.

7:47: Second question: Health Care: everyone needs it, Kirk has never done anything to help. His plan is different than medicare, and it's the best way to accomplish universal health care.

Seals: Kirk voted against house version of SCHIP. Tells a story about a woman in Waukegan who has cancer. 47 million americans have the problem of being underinsured. Seals says keep your insurance if you like it, but there should be an affordable alternative. three, health care should be portable. Get businesses out of health care.

7:50: Third Question: How must school education and no child left behind be changed?

Seals; Fund no child left behind, reform the bill. Kirk voted to cut Pell grants; should make cost of college tax deductible for those under a certain income. People have crushing debt coming out of college.

Footlik: He has the support of the largest teachers union and the local one; they supported Seals last time but has switched and he's really proud of it. He has a lot of experience on college loans because he's still paying. 8.25% loans are strangling our competitveness. Invokes JFK. Fund No Child Left behind.

Rebuttal by Seals: note on endorsements. He loves the Illinois Federation of Teachers; he has the cook county chapter and 30 other groups. It's a wonderful thing to be loved by so many. Thank you, thank you.

7:55: Next question: Alternative energy? What's your solution? Harness the power of goose poop???

Footlik: Bad that Bush is sending are people to die over in Iraq when the Saudis are making tons of money; Footlik helped to found an organization called SAFE which is to decrease dependance on oil. It helped to push through fuel efficiency standards. Encourgae wind, solar power, bring more federal R&D money home.

Seals: SAFE advocates drilling in the Arctic. Let's invest in alternative sources. Pull tax credits to big oil companies and put money into alternative fuel sources. Good for jobs, national security.

Footlik: Rebuttal: Outrageous that Seals attacks him for starting SAFE which has started a debate on the energy issue, name one thing that you've done to actually do anything to create change and help the energy. Seals is mad that he can't rebut.

Seals: now we're talking about teachers. Did I miss the question? He has experience as a teacher. He changed the "district" in 2006. No one wanted to step up and make change in 206 but he did. Big round of Seals supporters applauding.

Next: Which is a bigger concern: Iran or Pakistan?

Seals: Not an either/or question. In Pakistan, big question is safeguards on nukes; Iran is lead by an evil, evil man who has threatened ISrael and others. Control Pakistan; separate Iran from China and Russia; must be willing to talk to them; Bush admin refused to talk.

Footlik: Clearly the more dangerous threat is Pakistan. They already have the bomb, increasing uncertainty, do more than the administration and Kirk has done. Kirk has given blank checks to Pakistan. Instead of building up one person, should have put money to democracy. While Iran stopped nuke program, didn't stop uranium enrichment. Now Footlik is starting on the Israel kick. Need diplocatic sanctions, etc to get Iranians to stop.

Last moderated question: Not experience an attack on US soil by terrorists. What has Bush administration done well?

Footlik: Nothing. Our troops have done will in Afghantisan but we're loosing ground and taken our eye off the ball in Iran. Lists long examples of trouble spots. Footlik has a much better command of foreign issues. Bush is now in Israel for first time, which is shameful. NIE report underscores that we still don't have reliable intelligence 6 years after 9/11.

Seals: Has done a few things well. Gone after financial resources, went overseas to fight terrorism. Problem is, they went to the wrong country. Likes the 9/11 commission recommendations. Zion plant- if it was hit, we don't have a coordinated emergency response issues. Restore fight in Afghanistan. Help countries with high unemployment for young men which are trouble.

Audience questions: How does your experience help you to work in a non-partisan manner?

Seals: Worked with Kennedy and Santoram, so he can work with anyone. Need to be willing to work and listen and talk. That's what's missing most. You have to demand that your rep works with most sides. that's how you get CHANGE.

Footlik: I have actual experience !!!!! I worked with SAFE!!!!! He's also been working with people in Washington, the Balkans, for thelast 15 to bring people with diverse backgrounds together.

Q: Social security and medicare: How would you secure medicare and social security trust funds?

Footlik: We have an obligaton between generations; gradually raise cap of taxes into SS fund. Increase gradually. Put some estate taxes into SS fund. Medicare gets right and obligation to negotiate lower drug prices. Invest in preventative medicine, cut out excess paperwork.

Seals: If we act now, we can avert crisis. Eliminate caps, roll back Bush cuts, change how we pay out. Look at not paying out benefits to wealthiest americans because they don't need them. Spread out costs along wider population.

Q: Human Rights conditions- should they be a factor in trade relations with foreign countries.

Seals: Human rights should be a factor in all relations. It's the right thing to do. Cites waterboarding, this administration steps on human rights.

Footlik: Free trade, but it must be fair trade. Workers must have good conditions and environment is important. Toxic imports are bad. Tainted pet food is bad.

Q: (GAG ME): would you advise a president Obama to meet with the Iranian president?

Footlik: No, but we should put everything on the table and discuss it. There should be consequence for failure to respond.

Seals: Yes, we should talk to our enemies and get them to change. Iranian president is crazy but ot the real power. Talking to the leader is not capitulating to the leader. Talk to China and Russia to cut out sweetheart deals and prevent a war.

Q: What's the first bill you'd sign?

Seals: Exit war in Iraq. Supports repsonsible phased withdrawal. Put pressure on Iraqi government to solve their own problems. Helps us to free out troops for other places.

Footlik: Healthcare crisis: Iraq will be going on for a while, supports withdrawal, but healthcae needs to be solved. Lots of ideas to cut out waste.

Q: Who is your political role model?

Footlik: JFK. He was a political leader and had passion and Footlik revered him growing up. He's inspired people everyhere and inspired him to this day.

Seals: Big fan of Barack Obama. People ask him if he's Barack. He's fighting for change and trying to change Washington, that's what he's fighting for as well.

Q: Two biggest local goals for Tenth District:

Seals: Transportation. Long commutes are bad. More funding, help people that are going to other suburbs. Two, impact aid- funding schools, has been cut.

Footlik: Impact aid; defray costs of educating those children of military; two, environmental concerns on Lake Michigan. BP is good, but he voted for Tom Delay's big tax breaks for big oil.

Q: Your plan for subprime crisis?

Footlik: Invokes James Carvell. Invest in education, give them tools to compete in global economy. Reinvest in R&D with more federal money. Subprime- Mark Kirk votes against giving relief. Do more to protect those given loans and help them out.

Seals: It's not the people's fault, the predatory lenders get people to sign up for loans they canta afford. Notin favor of a bailout, though. Regulate in front end. Segway into stuff about small businesses for some reason.

Last Question (whew!): Which founding father's endorsement's would you covet?

Seals: Alexander Hamilton. Not well known but wrote Federalist Papers and founde the economic system. Overcame humble beginnings and challenges.

Footlik: Thomas Jefferson: had incredible foresight and created the govermment which we are proud of.


Footlik: Substantive differences between me and my opponent. He's a fighter. The voice of the district is not in line with the district. We need big changes and I can do it. I have the experience, I've lived and worked in the middle east, I will hit the ground running on the first day. I've been working for Dems since I was a young boy. I know how to wage a tough campaign. He got a girl and another one on the way. Plugs his website. He's the only candidate that can beat Mark Kirk.

Seals: We do a lot of grass roots work. He was in Vernon Hills and some guy asked if he was Dan Seals. He came up to Seals and started crying ab out his son going to Iraq. Wanted Iraqis to do more to hold up their end of the bargain. Seals- wants you to get involved, no matter what candidate you support. We all deserve better than what we have. Pundits say young people don't matter, make sure your voice is heard. We (I) need you if we're going to have change.

That's it for now. Analysis later after my fingers rest.

POST GAME ANALYSIS: Well, there were no fireworks tonight, no "macaca" moments, no one called the other guy a "meshugana." A couple dorky expressions on Dan Seals from time to time, but that was it. Both candiates were pretty well prepared, and both presented themselves well. In fact, one person whose judgment I respect and who saw the 8th District GOP candidates go at it said the 10th Dem candidates were head and shoulders above the GOPers. Too bad for the good guys.

So who "won"? Technically, Footlik had the debate edge. He was more energized, had a message to get out, and he did it, and he talked up his experience as much as he could. He invoked the word "change" the prerequsite number of times and tried to illustrate with his experience how he could effectuate change better than Seals. He also used more personal stories and overall seemed to have more effective answers to the questions, but only by a modest margin. Both tried to remember that they were talking to students and tried to be both appreciative of the student effort and interest without being overly patronizing about the important of young voters.

Substantively, Seals talked about the war quite a bit, Footlik much less so. When given the opportunity to talk about priorities, Seals grabbed the war, but Footlik grabbed healthcare. I tended to think Footlik's message was more well-rounded and more effective.

Strategically, I think Seals won, or at least, didn't loose. Seals made no major mistakes, gave a solid presentation well suited to the Dems in the audience and didn't pick his nose. Footlik, on the other hand, took the high ground in all his attacks and stayed on message with his experience, but only in a few instances tried to connect the dots and argue that Seals's lack of Footlik's breadth of experience would be a serious disadvantage in the general race, or in Washington. In my opinion, Footlik's only chance is to convince to voters of the 10th District that Dan Seals couldn't do the job last time, in an unprecedentially favorable Dem environment, and that Jay is the only one that can beat Mark Kirk. Jay actually said those words once, but it was in the context of his experience, not Seals's strategic chances as a candidate.

All Dan Seals had to do tonight, and all he has to do until Feb. 5th, is not screw up, and his greater name recognition will get him the win. Unless Footlik is ready to go nuclear, and has the money to get the message out that Dan's time is finished, Footlik may as well hang it up. As far as having the money, Footlik may be saving his sheckles for the last couple of weeks, but he may have picked all the low-hanging fruit he can from his national contacts, and can't raise the money Seals can in the 10th District. If that's the case, Footlik is really cooked. We won't have campaign disclosures until after the primary, so it will be an academic issue at that point--the results will be what counts. CAVEAT--all of this assumes that Jay Footlik is actually trying to win. If all he is doing is running to establish name recognition for another run, either in the 10th or somewhere else, or if he thinks this will get him a job somewhere in the political or consulting realms, then Footlik will NOT go nuclear, he will continue to take the high road to nowhere, and he will already be preparing to move on and get back to DC as soon as the Feb. 5th primary is over. Oh, and if Footlik has any poll results that show better data than the one that Seals did some weeks ago, Footlik better release it fast.

UPDATED 01.10.08 6:50 a.m.: Here the Daily Herald story covering both the 8th and 10th Congressional debates. Not much detail there. I watched the 10:00 news last night on ABC-7 (whose cameras were at the debates) but I didn't see any coverage. It may be on today or on the website at some point. We will have a few highlight clips up here, hopefully soon, but honestly, the entire debate wasn't worth watching if you've already read the feed, above. Pioneer Press has a pithier story.