Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Professor" Dan Seals About to Start Night Class, But Is Northwestern University Hiding His Politics?

Well, the long-awaited start of 10th Congressional Democratic candidate Dan Seals' night class in Federal Policymaking (MPPA 490-0) at Northwestern University is coming up (appropriately) on April 1, at 7:00 p.m. NU may now be embarrassed, however, that it hired a current congressional candidate to teach such a course, as explained below.

The class itself is at Wieboldt Hall at NU, Room 417. I'd encourage everyone to show up, but I'm assuming that NU would not appreciate those who have not signed up for the class (and, more importantly, not paid) attending just for kicks. TA regulars know that we have been following this escapade with extreme interest since last December, when we noticed that Seals was claiming to be a professor at NU, but had never actually taught a class.

Seals apologists (and there were many) tried to explain that, in the 'academic world,' one supposedly is deemed a professor as soon as one signs a teaching contract, and, hey, he was planning on teaching in April 2008, so what's the big deal? But, the majority of commentors here didn't buy it, mostly for the simple fact that it was clear that Seals was campaigning heavily on a credential (teaching experience at NU) that he didn't actually have, and he never pointed out the caveat in his literature or on the stump.

In fact, a few real professors even chimed in when the Daily Herald ran a story exposing the misleading claim (dare we say lie?) of Seals that he was "currently" an adjunct professor, which was on his website as early as last October. Thanks to our pounding the snot of out this story (and we're not ashamed to say it), even his primary opponent Jay Footlik, the IL state GOP and Northwestern students picked up on it (the NU student blog is priceless). We also had quite a debate over whether Seals was qualified to call himself a "professor," as opposed to simply a "lecturer." Even Seals had to back off on that claim and changed at least some of literature to call himself a "lecturer" instead of a "professor," although he apparently never updated the claim on his website (though he's still yet to teach an NU student).

In any event, the long-awaited day for school to take in is coming right up, but something curious happened since we broke the story and started causing some very uncomfortable questions to be raised to Northwestern administrators. Seems that they have changed Seals' bio on the NU website to OMIT the fact that he is a candidate for Congress.

You can read Seals' original bio from the NU School of Continuing Studies page in the comments section from our post on December 15, 2007 (you have to scroll down through comments almost to the bottom). The critical first sentence is: "Former finance director of marketing at GE Capital, Wilmette, Illinois businessman Dan Seals is challenging Republican Congressman Mark Kirk to represent Illinois' Tenth District in the U.S. House of Representatives."

Here's the current bio, which I just checked on: Dan Seals is a former finance director of marketing at GE Capital, Wilmette, Illinois. Seals has spent time on Capitol Hill, serving as a fellow in the office of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, where his primary focus was on economic development and policy. He is now self-employed as a consultant. Seals earned a master's in international relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and his MBA from the University of Chicago. You can view it by going to the NU School of Continuing Studies website, scroll down to the course description, and click on the "Instructor: D. Seals" link.

Notice the difference? Basically everything is the same except the reference to Seals' candidacy against Mark Kirk. Any guesses as to why Northwestern is all of a sudden so shy about copping to the fact they hired a current candidate for a federal political office to teach a course on federal policymaking? Perhaps they are concerned that Seals' bias is going to leak into his teaching or grading? But, it's a bit late to try to hide it now. Among other issues, what if you were an NU student that signed up for the class based only on the website description of the course and Seals' bio, and found out too late that it was being taught by someone with a certain strong VIEWPOINT on some of the issues? What if you were an active Republican student on campus--might you be worried about being treated fairly or expressing your views at all? And, as we've asked before, does Seals' teaching essentially amount to electioneering on university time? Or even NU endorsing his candidacy?

TA has a call in to Dean Shapiro at the School of Continuing Studies to find out why the bio was recently revised.

This whole thing continues to stink to high heaven, and I hope the voters of the 10th District don't forget about Seals' resume padding escapade come November.

INTERN vs. FELLOW: By the way, I almost forgot to mention that the NU website got it wrong as to Seals' experience for Joe Lieberman (a credential that Seals rarely acknowledges by name nowadays)--in fact, he was never a Presidential Management "Fellow"; he was an 'intern' under a now extinct program. See our previous notation here and the IL GOP discussion of the issue here. I suppose calling yourself an "intern" instead of a "fellow" just doesn't have the same cache that a school like NU is looking for, but what the heck? It's only words, and words to Seals, apparently don't matter.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Which Fake Professor Came First: Dan Seals or Barack Obama?

10th Congressional District Dem candidate Dan Seals likes to draw as many comparisons between Barack Obama and himself as possible. Who would have guessed that this goes as far as claiming to be a professor when he is not?

Turns out that our Illinois junior senator was billed as a law professor at University of Chicago when he was actually only a lecturer, according to Obama fan and frequent cheerleader/apologist Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times. See her article here. Sweet actually seems to imply that it was U of C's fault, not Obama's, for claiming he was a law professor, when he only taught part-time and clearly never held the title of "professor of law." But, Obama himself has claimed that title in the past, and is only now being held accountable.

In Dem circles, this extravagent bit of puffery is apparently not a news flash, but the Clinton camp has recently seized on it as the ammunition of the day.

So, campers, does this remind you of anyone?

Yes, that's right, Congressman Mark Kirk's Dem opponent.... DAN SEALS, who claimed for months, since at least October, that he was a professor at Northwestern University, despite not ever having spent a minute in an NU classroom teaching a student (and still hasn't). The basis for this claim is that he is scheduled to teach a 10-hour night class beginning this April. Sorry, folks, that does not qualify one to claim the title of "professor" at one of the best schools in the country. TA regulars know all about this blatant bit of resume puffing on the part of the Seal Pup, and how we at Team America feel about it, but for the complete background, see here and here, for starters.

Hmm... seems that Seals wants to emulate his idol Obama in every way possible... perhaps he's going to do it right off the same cliff that Obama may be heading towards...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

McCulloch Verdict a Template for a Future Terry Link--Pete Couvall Petition Fraud Case?

In a case that we at Team America have been following with some interest, due to its eerie factual similarities to the allegations of petition fraud that have been leveled against State Senator Terry Link and his right-hand man, "Sneaky" Pete Couvall, long-time political consultant Rodney McCulloch was found guilty of election fraud and perjury by DuPage County Judge Michael Burke.

McCulloch testified that he was a political consultant for 22 years and once worked for former U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert and U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, but he is probably best known for being fired by former U.S. Senate candidate Gen. John Borling for trying to out prurient details of candidate Jack Ryan's sex life with his wife, actress Jeri Ryan. Ryan's campaign was then torpedoed, which then led to Alan Keyes' selection as the GOP replacement candidate, which then gave us Barack Obama as our junior senator. You know the rest of the story, so if you are an angry GOPer and want to blame someone, you can add McCulloch to your list.

In any event, the allegations in the case were that McCulloch collected nominating petitions for Milton Township Assessor Jim Gumm. Gumm then withdrew from the race when forgeries on the petitions were discovered. According to the AP, McCulloch testified that with only four days to collect the necessary 500 signatures Gumm needed, he hired four people he didn't know to pass petitions. He said he never learned their last names and he paid them $1.50 for each signature. A number of witnesses took the stand to testify that they had never signed the petitions. McCulloch claimed in his defense that the 'homeless men' he hired forged the names of voters out of laziness, and McCulloch had no knowledge or intent to defraud.

While McCulloch was acquitted of forgery, as prosecutors failed to prove McCulloch actually made the illegal signatures, the judge said that McCulloch knew the signatures were improper.

To his credit, Gumm testified that he figured out something was wrong, and then withdrew from the race. According to the Daily Herald, Gumm said he suspected problems the first time he looked through petitions, because the signatures did not appear in sequential addresses by street name, as you would expect if someone had actually gone door-to-door to collect them.

As regular TA readers know, Link's petitions had obvious problems way worse than Gumm's.

So, what does this mean for Link and Couvall? Well, first, the "I didn't know my circulators were crooks" defense didn't work for McCulloch, so Couvall may want to come up with something different. Also, Link still has not admitted the illegitimacy of his candidacy as a result of the forged signatures, so unlike Gumm, who did the honorable thing and withdrew, Link is going to have a lot of 'splainin to do to voters this fall, even if the indictments don't go up to his level.

FRIDAY HOUSE WALK: Check out the picture of the under-construction $1.6 million house that Pastor Jeremiah Wright is moving into for his retirement. Nice digs. So much for his populist railings against rich folk. Hat tip: Wilmette Blog.

SEAL U: Head over to Unincorporated Middle and enter her contest to propose a teaching institution/motto/mascot for so-called Professor Dan Seals.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Terry Link Campaign Finance Disclosures a "Matter of Interest" for State Board of Elections

As regular Team America Blog readers know, we are diligently awaiting more fallout from the Terry Link petition scandal that we publicized months ago. For those of you just catching up, Senator Link was accused by his democratic primary election opponent, Jerry Johnson (formerly Mayor of North Chicago), of submitting fraudulent petitions to the Illinois State Board of Elections (SBE) for the Democratic nomination for the 30th state senate district. See some of our previous posts here and here and here.

Among the signatures Johnson claimed were fraudulent on Link's petitions were several deceased individuals and Charles "Chuck" Fitzgerald, Link's former Republican opponent in the last two general elections. Even better, the Waukegan News-Sun decreed that some of the Terry Link petition circulators engaged in the practice of "roundtabling," which is a scheme where a group of people take old petitions or voter lists to come up with names and addresses, and then pass the petitions around the table among the 'roundtablers' to try to make the fake signatures not look too similar. The evidence of such fraud looked pretty damning, considering that some of the errors on the petitions could be explained only by people making mistakes while copying names out of the phone book(!).

Jerry Johnson's campaign is now pretty much history, as he was kicked off the Democratic primary ballot by Link's right hand man, Pete Couvall, who was until very recently, the vice-chairman of the Lake County Dems. We theorized here that Couvall was getting ready to be thrown under the bus, as the petition scandal is expected to heat up when Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller's office starts handing out indictments. Link's soon-to-be-announced GOP opponent will no doubt make this issue a centerpeice of the race for the 30th district.

Meanwhile, the State Board of Elections has also gotten involved, due to the fact that at least one of the petition circulators, Mr. Davison, admitted that he was paid by Couvall to circulate Link's petitions. Now, there's nothing intrinsically illegal about that. However, campaign finance laws dictate that all disbursements and expenses of a campaign must be disclosed. The testimony given by Davison in the context of the Johnson petition challenge of Link's petitions indicates that Davison received, or expected to receive, money from Couvall for his so-called campaign work. But, when Link's quarterly campaign finance disclosures were made, there was nary a mention of any payments to Mr. Davison.

So, where did these payments go....? Well, the SBE has made inquiry to Mr. Couvall as to the truth of Mr. Davison's statements, as a "matter of interest." Read the letter here. Couvall was then forced to admit he made the payment to Davison, but such was not disclosed by the campaign. Rather, Couvall simply took money from the campaign and then turned around and paid Davison, without disclosing it. Read Couvall's admission letter to the SBE here.

Now, what the SBE decides to do about this infraction is anybody's guess. And, whether this revelation was solely the reason Couvall was eased out of his vice-chairmanship of the Lake County Dems is also not something TA is privy to. But TA's bet is that this is going to have some interesting repercussions way beyond whatever fines or penalties the SBE chooses to impose on Link's campaign, if any. If I were Senator Link, I'd be very concerned about the results of the State's Attorney's petition fraud investigation, hopefully coming out soon.

FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE: A new Gallup poll shows McCain beats either Hillary or Barack, who are essentially tied with each other.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama Thinks All White People Are Scared of Black People: How's That For Moving Beyond The Racial Divide?

Not much time to write today, but I couldn't let this slide: Barack Obama apparently thinks that all white people are scared of black people. In a Philly radio interview discussing his reference to his white grandmother in the "Philadelphia Speech," Obama stated:

“The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity — she doesn’t,” he said. “But she is a typical white person who, you know, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, there is a reaction. That has been bred into our experiences that don’t go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way.” (emphasis mine)

So, let me get this straight--the man who wants to lead us above the great racial divide thinks nothing of broadly stereotyping an entire class of people based only on their race. Swell.

More on this at Backyard Conservative.

HOW TO HOPELESSLY JAM YOUR INBOX: Set up a Google Alert for "typical white person" and watch the alerts roll in. This could be worse than the original problem with Jeremiah Wright that Obama has been desperately trying to talk his way out of for the past week.

FRIDAY FUNNY: Saw this picture over at Flying Debris and wanted to share--it's hysterical.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

ILGOP Calls on Dan Seals to Reject Steny Hoyer's 'Dirty Money' (UPDATED)

Dem Majority Leader Steny Hoyer took a break from his vacation schedule during the current congressional recess to stump for Dan Seals in Chicago today (as we all know, Seals has a hard time holding events in the 10th District). As noted below, the Illinois Republican Party today called on Democratic congressional candidate Dan Seals to reject campaign support from Hoyer after Hoyer blocked a vote on key ethics legislation and then took a lobbyist-financed vacation to Puerto Rico.

The Seals fundraising event, which was held under a shroud of secrecy, wasn't posted on Seals' website or publicized. Perhaps that is because Hoyer's draw is limited to special interest groups. The public interest non-profit Public Citizen reported in 2006 that Hoyer was the number-one recipient of special interest campaign support in the nation.

In fact, Hoyer blocked a bill sponsored by 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk that would kill the pensions for members of Congress convicted on any of the 21 public integrity felonies outlined by the Justice Department. Instead, Hoyer -- attempting to protect his colleagues currently under investigation like William Jefferson -- allowed a watered down version of Kirk's bill come to the floor. The weakened bill only included 4 felonies and Hoyer blocked amendments that attempted to strengthen the bill.

No wonder Seals brought Hoyer in quietly and limited the audience to Democratic partisans and special interest groups. Wonder if he made any money.

TA has been wondering while Seals has been so silent in the media lately. Maybe a focus on events like these is one of the reasons.

See the IL GOP Press release below:

For Immediate Release - March 19, 2008
Contact: Lance Trover 312-201-9000

ILGOP Calls on Dan Seals to Reject Steny Hoyer's 'Dirty Money'

--> Hoyer took lobbyists on Mexican resort vacation after blocking Kirk ethics reform bill
--> In 2006, Hoyer ranked #1 in the nation for special interest campaign contributions

CHICAGO – The Illinois Republican Party today called on Democratic congressional candidate Dan Seals to reject campaign support from U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) after Hoyer blocked a vote on key ethics legislation and then took a lobbyist-financed vacation to Puerto Rico.

According to the National Public Radio's Marketplace on February 20, 2007, Hoyer took a "lobbyist-financed, springtime getaway" to the Rio Mar Beach Golf Resort and Spa in Puerto Rico last May. Hoyer's office confirmed that "more than 60 lobbyists" were scheduled to attend the event. The NPR report came less than one month after Hoyer, the Democratic Majority Leader, blocked a vote on a bill to strip congressional pensions from members of Congress convicted of felonies.

"Steny Hoyer protected felon congressmen on the House floor and then took a lobbyist-financed vacation to Puerto Rico," said Lance Trover, spokesman for the Illinois Republican Party. "We call on Dan Seals to reject any offer of campaign support from Steny Hoyer until Mr. Hoyer allows an up or down vote to deny pensions to congressional felons."

On January 24, 2007, the Washington Post reported that Hoyer blocked an ethics reform bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk that would have revoked the congressional pension of any member of Congress convicted of a felony. Kirk's plan listed 21 crimes, including wire fraud and tax evasion, but Majority Leader Hoyer blocked its consideration. Hoyer is coming to Chicago on Wednesday to stump for Kirk's opponent, Dan Seals.

"Kirk could not offer his bill yesterday -- the vote was taken under a suspension of the rules, which limited debate and blocked amendments," the Post reported. "A parade of Republicans protested the way the bill was handled, objected to last-minute changes in language and said they were being locked out of meaningful participation."

According to the Post, Hoyer opted for "a watered-down version of legislation proposed by Republican Rep. Mark Steven Kirk," which listed only five felonies and would not take effect until 2009 -- potentially shielding Democratic Congressman William Jefferson who is currently on trial for bribery.

According to the Washington Post, Hoyer is one of the top 10 earmarkers in the House for 2008. Additionally, the public interest non-profit Public Citizen reported in 2006 that Hoyer was the number one recipient of special interest campaign support in the nation. "We are lucky to have an independent reformer like Mark Kirk in Congress," Trover said. "When it comes to ethics, Hoyer and Seals represent the Blagojevich wing of the Democratic Party."

UPDATE: I kept trolling the Internet tonight and finally came up with a reference to the Hoyer event. It's on the Il Dem Net site. There is no location given, though; apparently you had to call the campaign to find out where the event was, and no doubt give your identity and be vetted by the Seals crew. And you probably also had to give the Secret Seal handshake when you showed up.

Although there appears to be a link to the Seals campaign site on the page, it doesn't click through to an actual reference to the event. Why so shy, Dan? And why not have the event in the 10th District? Afraid there's not enough hard-core lefties to make it worthwhile?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barack Obama Elevates Race to the Forefront of the Presidential Campaign; but, Has YOUR Minister Ever Made Comments Like Jeremiah Wright?

I listed to Barack Obama's much-anticipated speech on the radio this morning. No one ever said he couldn't give a great oratory. But, will it be enough to stop his slide in the polls and convince people that he does not espouse the views of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, or at least, that he has not done enough to repudiate them?

While it was a great speech as speeches go, I don't think it will get Obama out of dutch with the majority of America voters. First, while Obama did the right thing in confronting his relationship with Wright head-on, instead of dancing around it, his strategy was to embrace the person of Wright but state that he, Obama, strongly disagreed with some of his political views.

In what might be the crucial quote, Obama suggests that many of us in America have heard remarks from our minister, priests or rabbis with which we have strongly disagreed. That's where he lost me. I have NEVER heard the kind of pure venom come out of any religious leader that I would want to associate with. Wright's statements, which have been played in an endless loop since last Friday on the Internet and the news, are not the kind of statements that the vast majority of America is going to brush off as a disagreeable remark that can be forgiven in the overall scheme of a pastor's mission.

Obama also suggested that the visceral reaction that he believes many people had to Wright's remarks on the video are due, in some part, to the notion that the majority of America is not used to religious services of the nature of many black churches. Again, I don't think this holds up. People are not upset because they watched a video of a religious service with music, clapping, dancing and soaring oratory; they are upset because of the words that came out of Wright's mouth; words that no circumstances or "context" can excuse. On the one hand, Obama seems to want to say he is not making excuses, but the subtext of his speech is that Wright has a reason for spewing his hateful words, and that therefore it's OK for Obama to have been associated with this man, and to continue his association.

The other part of this is that Obama seems to be implying that the issue of racial injustice must be confronted in this country, which most people would probably agree with. However, even though Obama almost came right out and said that the success of confronting the problems of race in this country did not depend on supporting him as President, I think the subtext of the speech said exactly that: If we don't elect Barack Obama, the problems of race in this society will continue to get buried and never be solved. That's pretty arrogant.

I don't think Obama had much choice but to make this speech, but the problem in confronting this issue head-on is that now, many people not familiar with Obama already are going to see his candidacy through the prism of race and the struggle against racial injustice, which I think Obama was working very hard to avoid up until now. In other words, Obama has now become a "black" candidate, whereas before now, he had done a masterful job of transcending race and not allowing it to define his campaign. If the campaign survives, I think it's now been defined as such, which is regrettable on many levels, but appears to be a political reality--and one that was self-inflicted due to his tight and unrepentant association with Wright.

More on this later as the dust settles, but for now, consider this an Obama speech open thread.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Was Obama Present at Wright's Church on July 22, 2007? (UPDATED x2)

Barack Obama's camp denies that Obama was present on July 22, 2007 for services at the Trinity church, and was in Miami giving a speech. It is pretty clear that he WAS in Miami in the afternoon, but it's not yet clear whether he could have attended church and then left for Miami. But, it would be a pretty outrageous, easily provable lie to say he didn't attend on that day if it wasn't true, even though he was reported last summer to have attended on that day. Simply because it would be such an easily provable lie (you would think), I am inclined to believe Obama at this point on this one instance, so the powers-that-be will no doubt continue to look for evidence of Obama attending a 'bad' sermon elsewhere. However, the journalist who originally reported on Obama's attendance at that one sermon, Jim Davis, is standing by his story, (at least to the extent that Obama attended a service sometime in July at which Davis was present, although the clarification is a bit muddled. It still seems to allow for the possibility that Obama was at an earlier or later service that day, but we've asked for clarification on the 'clarification' from Newsmax).

So, whom do we believe???

I'm not sure at this point, but this new twist of 'he said, she said' will keep this story going a while more. Davis says that the Secret Service was in attendance when he observed Obama at the church, so you can guess where the next stage of this story is going to head...

Also, Little Green Footballs has a video link to Obama praising Wright effusively at some conference. Take a look here. Then tell me that Obama knew Wright as just "somebody" at church. No way. Hat Tip: Backyard Conservative.

UPDATE: Here's some more on the issue of Obama's schedule and whether he attended church that day. Looks like Obama's camp is sticking to its guns that Obama was in Chicago that morning, but did not attend church. Now, given this flap, the question of whether the reporter, Jim Davis, bollixed up the dates may overshadow the point of the story in the first place, as to whether Obama attended a fiery sermon or not.

UPDATE x2 Monday 3.17.08: First, happy St. Paddy's Day evening, and drive home safely, if you're out and about. Second, check out the Fox News report on the tweaking that the Trinity Church website is undergoing. According to Fox:

The Web site for the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago had described its congregation as “unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian” but has made changes to the “About Us” section. The section no longer contains the “Black Value System.” It has been replaced with videotaped testimonials by church members. The explanation of the Black Value System still exists on the church’s Web site, but it has been moved from the “About Us” section to the bottom of the home page, where it says “Click here to read about the Black Value System.” The Black Value System urges members to follow a list of 12 concepts such as a commitment to the black community, commitment to the black family and dedication to the pursuit of education and excellence. The system also urges black families to be strong in order to “withstand warping by our racists competitive society,” and says God will provide followers the strength to become “soldiers for black freedom and the dignity of all humankind.”

I find the timing of this VERY peculiar, especially in light of the recent press statement by the church defending Pastor Wright and the doctrine of the church, and also the speech that is anticipated in Philadelphia tomorrow in which Barack Obama will try to 'explain' his church to the rest of us. Can't wait for that, especially as to what this particular church thinks is the "Black Value System." Considering the Trinity Church at least initially seemed quite unapologetic for its beliefs, but is now rewriting its webpage, you have to wonder if perhaps the Obama campaign is coordinating, or at least being consulted on, this revamp, before this story gets any more out of control.

So, after coming out and very strongly condemning the words of Pastor Wright, why is Obama vacillating back to being an apologist for these viewpoints? Is it perhaps because he knows it is inevitable that somebody, somewhere, is going to come up with evidence that ties him to viewing/cheering on a nasty Wright sermon, perhaps? Or does he really think he can toe the line on this and explain to white voters that black preachers are just different? See some real-time reaction data for viewers watching Wright sermons here, and see if you think America is going to buy it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Controversial Wright Church Defends Itself While Obama Supporters Look for More Distance (UPDATED)

While on one hand, Barack Obama's supporters continue to try to put distance between Oh-Oh-Obama and his controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright and his hate-speech, the church itself is defending itself and its former minister. Read the church's statement here.

The funny thing is, the issue is not really whether or not Wright's statements are abhorrent. Obama has already admitted they are. Let's remember that Obama came out quickly and stated:

"Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue."

So, once again, the question is not whether or not Wright is a vile, venomous preacher--Obama has clearly repudiated the statements that are the subject of controversy over the past view days. The question boils down to whether we really believe Obama could have been a member of this church for 20 years, been married there, had both kids baptized there, and still be blissfully ignorant of Wright's true agenda.

Thus, the issue is squarely now whether anyone can peg Obama to his presence at one of Wright's fiery sermons, and thereby catch Obama in a lie. The Chicago Tribune may be ready to forgive Obama for his association with Tony Rezko, since Obama (in a transparent attempt to redirect attention from the Wright controversy) finally appeased the Tribune editorial staff with a lengthy interview, but they will find it a lot harder to let Obama off the hook once he is finally caught.

Obama has already somewhat hurt his credibility by stating that "The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation." But, as early as February 2007, Obama had already dis-invited Wright from delivering the invocation for the announcement of his presidential campaign. Obama reportedly told Wright, ‘You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we’ve decided is that it’s best for you not to be out there in public.’

Is it obvious to you that "rough" is a very polite way to say racially charged hate-speech? So, it seems that Obama's statements that, for 20 years, he had no idea that Wright was a radical race-based hatemonger, but rather, that except for the few videos we've happened to see on YouTube, Wright was always teaching people to love each other, seems a huge stretch. The good news is, the Trinity church itself (as you might expect) doesn't think there is anything wrong with its teachings, and is out there defending its dogma while Obama is now trying to condemn it. This makes a certain amount of sense, as the videos that I have seen don't seem to show a lot of people looking on in shock and horror as Wright launches into his racial and anti-American tirades. No, it seems pretty obvious that not only were the parishoners in that church not surprised by Wright's fiery statements, that's what they came to hear, and that's what they EXPECTED (otherwise, why would they be clapping and cheering?). Would the Obamas have been the only ones to walk out in horror had they managed to hit Wright on one of these supposedly rare hate speech days when he was not (according to Obama) preaching the gospel of love, as he usually did? If they had, you get the impression from the videos that they would have been among only a few.

If anyone doesn't think this thing hasn't gone genuinely viral on the Internet, the main Fox News article cited above had almost 1000 comments by itself, as of 9:00 on Sunday night. The article about the church firing back had around 600 comments.

Well, get strapped in, campers, as we have five or so weeks to continue discussing this until Pennsylvania, assuming Obama lasts that long.

UPDATED: Obama on Wright: He's Just This Guy, You Know? Well, Obama continues to back away at the speed of light from a man whom he has identified as his moral compass and who provided religious, if not political, guidance (although with Wright, it is almost impossible to separate the two) to Obama and his family for over 20 years. In Indiana yesterday, Obama said the following, according to Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Most recently, you heard some statements from my former pastor that were incendiary and that I completely reject, although I knew him and know him as somebody in my church who talked to me about Jesus and family and friendships.”

So, let's analyze this statement. First, Wright is Obama's 'former pastor'. Well, yeah, but he's a former pastor only because he retired from his full time preaching job at the Trinity Church. It's not quite the same in my book as repudiating the personal religious/moral relationship that Wright had with Obama personally, or as if Obama actually quit the church and that's why he's a 'former pastor." And, it's not as if Wright was some kind of cancer that the church had been trying to eradicate for years. He WAS that church. And, his replacement, Otis Moss, can be seen running up and apparently clapping Wright on the back in a video that shows one of Wright's most incendiary moments.

Next, he knows him as "somebody in my church." Come on, Barack. He's not just SOMEBODY. He was the center of that church and built it into a religious and political powerhouse in Chicago. According to the church's own statement over the weekend, "Dr. Wright has preached 207,792 minutes on Sunday for the past 36 years at Trinity United Church of Christ." He's not just the radical old guy that cornered you after church at coffee hour and wanted to talk to you about the history of racial divides and struggles in this country. He was the LEADER. He was YOUR leader, Barack. As you have said yourself, good judgment is a hugely important trait for a prospective leader. What does following Wright, or perhaps worse, being duped into thinking Wright was a goody-goody all these years, say about your judgment???

But, again, the issue is no longer whether any of us folks think Wright is good, bad or indifferent. Obama has clearly repudiated Wright as a bad, hateful man, someone Obama utterly rejects. But Obama has stated that this is all news to him, and had he only known, things would have been different....Well, as as soon as someone finds that video with you (or even your wife) clapping at one of the speeches where Wright is selling his usual hate-filled message, it's all over for ya, buddy. The Blogosphere is already zooming in on Obama's purported attendance at a July 22, 2007 Wright sermon in which he made some of his trademark statements. See more on that here. That's a good start, but not nearly as effective in this day and age as some good video. We'll see if any turns up.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Obama Repudiates Wright Statements, But Has He Created His Own Trap? (PLUS REZKO AND OTHER UPDATES)

As we reported below, Barack Obama has been subjected to a firestorm for his association with the minister of his church, Jeremiah Wright, and the incendiary statements made by Wright from the pulpit. See below for the background links. Obama came out quickly and made a pretty strong repudiation of Wright's statements and distanced himself as much as possible from Wright, athough Obama previously has discussed his close relationship with him. See here for Obama's statement.

It was a smart political move for Obama to move quickly on this, as Wright's hate-filled sermons have been getting heavy play on YouTube. But, I wonder if Obama may have fallen into a trap of his own devising. In attempting to distance himself from Wright and his hate speech, Obama stated:

"...Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he’s been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn. The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation."

Okay, well you know what this means. The various powers-that-be are going to be trying to get their hands on records that somehow show exactly which Wright sermons Obama ever attended and heard in person. Who knows if this kind of information is available (i.e., did the church keep attendance records, contribution records, etc.), but if it is, they will match up dates of attendance with the DVDs that are available of Wright's sermons, or any other records (disseminated text records?) to see just what kind of damning statements Wright may have made in Obama's presence. Obama has bought himself time for now, but may have created a bigger problem for himself than he realizes, depending on what evidence can be uncovered.

I don't know much about Wright, but from the videos I've seen, I find it hard to believe he gave a lot of warm and fuzzy 'come to Jesus' sermons. Was Wright always a different man in Obama's presence? We shall see soon. But even if so, doesn't this also call into question Obama's judge of character, considering he was supposedly so close to Wright? Is Obama essentially claiming he had NO IDEA that Wright held these views?

I don't think we've heard the last of this by any means...

UPDATE: REZKO GATE- >> Well, interestingly enough, Barack Obama chose today (yes, a Friday, of course) but more importantly, the same day the Pastor-gate story is taking the Internet and MSM by storm, to finally 'come clean' about his relationship with indicted political maven Tony Rezko. Anyone see any coincidence here on the timing?

Obama reveals a bunch more details about his relationship with Rezko, including the fact that Rezko raised about $100,000 more for Obama than Obama previously admitted. Also interesting is that Obama thinks he is exonerating himself when he states that it was Rezko's idea, not Obama's, for Rezko to buy the vacant lot next door. Huh? Of course it was "Uncle Tony's" idea. And do ya think Uncle Tony might also have implied that he would refrain from developing that lot for as many years as it took for Obama to save up to afford to buy it (if ever), and offer to let Obama use it as part of his property as much as he wanted in the meantime? Naw, never happened...

Does anyone think that Obama's latest attempt at misdirection will take the heat off the pastor story? I don't. You know why? Because the Rezko connection is not easy to understand, and most importantly, there's NO VIDEO. On the other hand, there's lots of video out there available of the firely pastor Wright spewing his venom all over the Internet. And, it'll be there for an awfully long time, perhaps forever, but quite probably longer than the Rezko story lasts.

One last word on the pastor- does anyone really think that the Obamas belonged to that church for 20 YEARS and never had an idea that their pastor was a white-folk hating, blame America zealot? If so, we can only shake our heads and wonder how the U.S. will survive if we elect a president that is such a poor judge of character.

THOSE LIBERALS CAN BE VICIOUS: Some advice to Dem candidates.... don't claim to be a champion of liberals, prgressives, gays, etc. and then don't deliver-- they will crucify you. Check out this uber-liberal blog post I found while researching what the other blogs were saying on this scandal. It does an EXCELLENT job of deconstructing Obama's 'repudiation' statement. I think they started off mad at Obama because he did not come through on supporting gays rights as they thought he should, and somebody took a LOT of time to tear holes in his statement you could drive a Mack truck through. After reading that post, I am really starting to wonder if this could be it for Obama.

Coming Your Way Soon: More Taxes, More Pork

That giant sucking sound you hear is more money being vacuumed out of your wallet. Congress was voting fast and furiously on a variety of bills yesterday (even Barack Obama decided to show for a change), and one of the things they did was to pass a budget plan, which although not a final budget, gives us a direction of where Congress is heading. Among the casulties in the fiscal bloodbath, are most of the Bush tax cuts (only some of which may be renewed), a moratorium on earmarks that both John McCain and Mark Kirk have supported (but was pretty much shot down), and an end to the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax (known as the AMT, not the ATM--except perhaps that's how Congress looks at it).

All this fun to look forward to is on top of rising (and already sky-high) gas prices and a slowing economy. If you have the misfortune to live in Cook County, you can enjoy that new 1% sales tax addition (now the nation's highest), and new property transfer tax, which is on top of the RTA bailout tax that Lake and the other Chicago-area counties are also subject to. No wonder Palatine wants to secede.

Let me get this straight... in a slowing ecomomy, the solution is to take more spendable income OUT of people's wallets and put it into the government's... for what? The stimulus package plan clearly shows that many in the government understand that the way to grow the economy is to get money into people's hands and let them spend (although you can argue about the merits of this particular effort all you like), but I think it's a better plan to let people keep more of their money in the first place, not dole it out in laughably small checks after the government has taken it (and expend time, money and resources in having to administer it). Maybe it's just sour grapes since TA sure won't be getting a check, although the TA family pays way more in taxes than many who will get a check (and some will get a check that pay no taxes at all).

Well, have a good weekend, everyone! I have to go bill some client for something so I can make some money to afford all the new domestic spending that the Dems think I need. Or that someone needs, anyway.

OBAMA AND THE MINISTER: Check out this must-read piece in the Wall Street Journal about Obama's minister, Jeremiah Wright. I don't want to spoil the article for you, but if Obama gets tarred with Wright's views on race, it's over. The man that Obama has a relationship like an "old uncle" is also a charter member of the "blame America" club, and appears to think we are to blame for 9/11 by ending WWII with the use of nuclear weapons. Still trying to figure that one out. Read more from CNN here. Be sure to watch the video of the preacher at work. Also some more on Fox.

14th CD Update: Well, in the aftermath of Jim Oberweis's defeat against Bill Foster in Illinois's 14th Congressional District, the NRCC has announced that it probably won't be fronting Oberweis any cash for the general. This is quite a change from a month ago when the NRCC was pretty rosy on Oberweis's chances. TA wonders if this is the first public sign of pressure on Oberweis to bow out of the race, although with a self-funded candidate like Oberweis, there is not a lot of financial pressure the Beltway folks can apply. But, even if he did call it quits (which I doubt his ego will allow), who would step up to run in his place? We still need someone in the 11th, for cats' sake.

WE HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE, AND IT'S NOT THE FAR RIGHT: I will be doing more on this in the future, but in the meantime check on this moderate GOP blog I came across, RealRepublicanMajorityOrg.

OBAMA NOT OPPOSED TO LENDING A HELPING HAND: Barack Obama, the candidate to end politics as usual (or was that Blago?) wasn't adverse to using his political influence to help friends or even his wife to go after some big federal bucks. The Chicago Tribune reports:

"Obama released on Thursday a list of all his requests for earmarked federal spending in 2005 and 2006. He already had released a list of spending requests made in 2007. In among them was a request for $1 million in federal funding in 2006 for a new pavilion at the University of Chicago Hospitals, where his wife, Michelle Obama, was a vice president at the time. The request was not ultimately included when Congress passed spending legislation that year, according to the Obama campaign."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Barack Obama Tied In Again At Rezko Trial

The AP is reporting that Barack Obama's name has come up again at the Rezko trial, as Susan Lichtenstein, who was general counsel to Blago, indicated that Obama was consulted about who should be appointed to the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. True, it appears that several other officials were also consulted, and there is no testimony thus far that Obama was involved in any way in the later scandal concerning the Board, but it seems like the Rezko trial is apt to keep Obama's name in the news, perhaps in some surprising ways, for weeks to come.

The more this goes on, the more Obama is in grave danger of being irrefutably tied in to the Springfield/Chicago culture of corruption that has pervaded Illinois, despite Blago's self-styled "reformer" mantle. See more here. Many people have already questioned Obama's need to run to Kenya to lambast corruption, all the while turning a blind eye to what was happening right under his nose. The more his name gets mentioned in all of this mess, the less credible his 'politics of change' message will become. And, if Hillary fails to exploit this truth, McCain sure will.

This post from Taylor Marsh (a Hillary supporter) is a few weeks old now, but her thoughts pretty much sum up what I'm trying to say:

"Look at Obama's record coming up in Illinois politics. At every turn it represents the antithesis of the politics of change and hope. It is at its heart a story about old time, Chicago style political games and money backing from a man now under federal indictment for a "pay to play scheme on steroids." That's not to say Obama isn't gifted or that political opportunism and old style hardball is wrong. It's just not what he's selling today. *** I do not think Barack Obama can win, regardless of his unmistakable talents, especially since he's campaigning as something other than what he is, which his record proves and offers the Republicans a treasure trove of gifts."

The Treasure Trove of GOP gifts that Marsh speaks of are well laid out in her post; it's worth a read for those seeking the real scoop on Barack.

If you still don't understand how Obama was originally tied in to Rezko as a result of the shady property deal concerning Obama's new home (after Obama belatedly revealed that he toured the property with Rezko before buying it), take a look here (photos of the Obama house and side yard). Don't feel bad that you don't understand it, though, lots of news outlots are now publishing "Obama-Rezko" primers to help people walk through this mess.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Permanent Office Furniture Might Not Be A Good Investment For Bill Foster in IL-14

The big news over the weekend was Democrat Bill Foster's upset win over Jim Oberweis in former Speaker Denny Hastert's district, IL-14, for the special election to fill Hastert's unexpired term.

There's no question that this gives the Dems a boost, and they will play it up for all it's worth, and them some. The media is, of course, happy to cooperate. The immediate reaction from the Dems was to chortle with joy and rub their smarmy hands together in anticipation of another win by Foster in November, as well as the hope that this win is a preview of the national sentiment to break Democratic.

But, not so fast. Let's debunk a few theories while Rahm Emanuel is still probably sleeping off the champagne hangover.

First, Bill Foster won a victory last night with 52,010 votes to Oberweis's 46,988. While he should be pleased, he might worry that in November, 220,000 additional voters will come to the polls -- 121,000 of them Republicans in a district that went 55% for Bush last time. Here are the numbers: in the 2004 Presidential Election, 279,000 IL-14 people voted: Hastert (R) 191,618, Zamora (D) 87,590. Zamora (D) was crushed in IL-14 in '04 with 25,000 more votes that Foster received last night. Recall that Foster won yesterday with only 98,000 people voting, beating Oberweis by only about 5,000 votes. With 220,000 more voters coming in November, Foster might not want to buy permanent furniture for the office just yet...

As to the notion that IL-14 is a weather vane for the upcoming November elections, I would not read too much into that, either. The fact is that Oberweis has a lot of negatives as a candidate, from his hard-line positions on issues like immigration, to the fact that he is viewed by many as a perennial candidate who is trying to buy his way into office any way he can. Those are challenges Oberweis must overcome in November, but the challenges that Jim Oberweis personally faces as a candidate have little to do with the situation in IL-8 for Steve Greenberg or IL-10 with our own Mark Kirk.

Also, Oberweis went into the battle with Foster right from an extremely negative primary battle with state senator Chris Lauzen, the memory of which will fade by November... and, perhaps Lauzen will even bring himself to endorse Oberweis in the name of party unity. As to Emanuel's attempt to tie Kirk's changes in with Oberweis, Rahm might want to remember that the Chicago Tribune supported Foster, a situation that is extremely unlikely to occur in IL-10.

And, of course, everyone wants to talk about whether Obama's endorsement of Foster had any effect. It seemed to me that the ad buy for the Obama endorsement was not heavy, and I really question how many people even saw it. But, did people vote for Foster because they are dying to get to the polls in November and vote for Obama, and this was a temporary "fix"? That, too, seems a bit of a stretch. For an opposing view by a professional Obama-supporting spinmeister, convicted felon Bob Creamer (husband of congresswoman Jan Schakowsky), look here. I think the more interesting question is what's going to happen to Foster if Obama DOESN'T endorse Foster in November, as more details about Foster's messy divorce and other issues come up, along with Foster's penchant for stretching the truth in his campaign ads. Obama, if he is the Dem candidate, will be taking care to vet his endorsements pretty carefully, lest his brand of "change" in politics be tarnished by association with the wrong candidates. Foster already had Creamer and Jan Schakowsky out going door-to-door for him. Great team to have in your corner on a "change" platform (not). Obama might want to drop Foster an e-mail to revise his field team a bit if he wants to keep that endorsement.

Oh, and one more interesting aspect to Foster's win- since Foster will now be an incumbent in November (which obviously carries some advantages), this is now a "defend" district for the Dems--along with IL-8, where the Dems will spend heavily to once again stave off defeat for Melissa Bean (who won last time with 50.1%, if I recall correctly), there will be millions spent by both parties in the IL-14 race in November. With all of these expensive defensive races to fund, notwithstanding the DCCC cash hoard, they will still have to think long and hard about making a serious run for Mark Kirk in the 10th, who will have millions of his own, and an outstanding record with which to defend his seat. Jerry Weller's seat open in IL-11 is also a tempting target, which will likely be a much higher priority for DCCC than going mano-a-mano against Kirk.

So, while the Dems are likely to crow about their temporary victory in IL-14, the legitimacy of applying the results in this race as predictors of any other, especially IL-10, seems to be a big stretch.

OH, AND SPEAKING OF THOSE OBAMA COATTAILS: All the Dems are just falling over themselves in anticipation of Obama being at the top of the ticket in November and carrying them all to victory. That happy fantasy assumes, however, that Obama continues to get a pass from the MSM and nothing more damaging comes to light than what has already been revealed about his ties to Tony Rezko, etc. We tend to believe, however, there is a lot more to unvocer and discuss about Obama's real past. Whether the MSM has covered it until now, we can be pretty well assured that camp McCain isn't going to let Obama's political past go unnoticed. Check out some great research and commentary by Rick Moran (a Libertyville native!) on Obama's political upbringing here in the political garden of Illinois/Chicago.

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE... The Swamp has a link to Saturday Night Live's latest spoof on the "3 a.m. call" issue. It's definitely worth a view.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Barack Obama's New Politics Doesn't Trickle Down to Endorsed Candidate Bill Foster

Political endorsements are a double-edged sword. While they can be used to promote a candidate, particularly when the endorser is a popular figure like Barack Obama, they can also come back to bite the endorser when the endorsee reveals faults that suddenly make him or her a political liability.

Take Obama's recent endorsement of CD-14 Dem candidate Bill Foster. As soon as we heard the ad, we knew it was a harbinger of things to come this election season, as every local Illinois Dem pol will be begging for Obama to do an ad or show up at an event. Bill Foster was no exception, and the unusual timing of this Saturday's special election to fill the remainder of former Speaker Denny Hstert's term gave the Foster camp a nice opening, which was to say, essentially, 'if you like Barack Obama's message of change, you can cast a vote for that kind of change right now, by voting for Bill Foster.'

A good message, but there's a problem...

Foster's GOP opponent, Jim Oberweis, was reportedly successful in having Foster's latest ad, in which Foster wrongfully claims that Oberweis wants to eliminate employer-paid healthcare, pulled from Chicago-area media. As reported at the state GOP website,, "A false and misleading attack ad produced by union allies of Bill Foster was taken off the air and replaced by a different version after television stations were shown that its major claim was false. WMAQ/NBC-5 was the first TV station to replace the ad, and others are expected to follow."

The GOP website also posted this statement from the Oberweis campaign: "It's more than a touch ironic that just one day after Bill Foster's campaign released its much-touted television advertisement featuring Barack Obama, the so-called master of the 'New Politics,' Bill Foster's 'Old Politics' union allies are being forced to take off the air a false slash-and-burn attack advertisement that libels Jim Oberweis," said Oberweis for Congress spokesman Bill Pascoe.

Given that everyone expects Obama to be handing out endorsements left and right in Illinois, whether or not he is the Dem presidential candidate, he better be darn careful about vetting those whom he endorses. We think the Foster debacle reflects pretty poorly on Obama, who has campaigned on his 'new politics' message, and when you have a message like that, you can't afford too many more instances of backing candidates with dirt in their past, or who become an embarrassment in the course of the campaign.

For his part, Obama will have to fend off local Dems like Terry Link who probably think they are owed all the help Obama can spare to boost their local campaigns, in thanks for their past contributions and support. But, if the Lake GOP has anything to say about it, Link is one candidate that Obama will have to think long and hard about associating with during this campaign, lest the petition fraud scandal and other questionable issues related to Link rub off on Obama as the endorser.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lake County Dems Ramrod Terry Link Back Into Chairman’s Job as Pete Couvall Prepares to Get Thrown Under the Bus

Last night, both the Lake County Democrats and Republicans held their county conventions. On the surface, the results seem quite similar—GOP Chairman Daniel Venturi was re-elected without an opponent, and so was long-time Dem Chairman Terry Link. The behind-the-scenes look, however, shows marked differences in the parties’ political philosophies and integrity.

On the Dem side, the Waukegan News-Sun reported that Terry Link was voted back into the chairman’s job, stating that “The election was cast by a quick voice vote designed to overwhelm any nay votes.” The article does not mention whether there was a strong chorus of nays, or any at all. Given that Link faced opposition in the primary, and backed Lake County Board member Angelo Kyle against incumbent State Representative Eddie Washington (who won the contentious primary battle), you would think that a fair number of negative shouts would have been heard. Without anyone willing to stand up to Link as an opposition candidate, however, any scattered nays made as a protest vote would have been ineffectual anyway. The Daily Herald also had a story on the Dem convention.

Over at the GOP convention, current GOP Chairman Dan Venturi was also re-elected without opposition, although a call from the floor for a roll call vote necessitated doing an actual ballot. Unlike the Dem methodology of stifling dissent, however, no attempt was made to slam through a voice vote. Rather, the request for a roll call vote was honored and the balloting took place, even thought it ate up about a half hour in the middle of the convention. No “nay” votes were cast against Venturi, although a small percentage of the overall votes cast were “present” votes. These votes, we assume, were in the nature of protest votes by some that were unhappy with Venturi’s past term leadership or Venturi personally. However, as the disgruntled Dems (if there were any) also must have realized, unless someone else is willing to stand up and volunteer to do what is essentially a thankless job, in the belief that they can do it better, there is not much to be said for a token protest. The remainder of the GOP convention featured a recorded message from 10th Congressional District Congressman Mark Kirk, and rousing speeches from several other GOP candidates, including Steve Greenberg, Dan Duffy, and Tim Stratton.

The most interesting story to come out of last night’s conventions, however, is that Pete Couvall, Terry Link’s right-hand man, was not re-appointed to his position as Vice Chairman. As regular TA readers know, Couvall is right in the center of the Terry Link petition scandal. Couvall was the one who hired the two primary petition circulators, Jerry Knight and Kenneth Davison. Not only did the names of dead people appear on these petitions, an examination of the petitions themselves strongly implies that many names were copied right out of the phone book. Couvall notarized all of the petitions circulated by these two individuals. And, Davison testified that Couvall paid for the petitions to be circulated.

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller is in the midst of an investigation into the allegations of petition fraud. There appears to be little doubt that both Davison and Knight will be indicted; the question then becomes if they will roll over and implicate Couvall as the mastermind behind the petition scam.

Based on last night’s actions, it appears to TA that the Dems expect that Couvall will be in the spotlight as the State’s Attorney’s investigation concludes. By removing Couvall from his vice-chairmanship now, the Dems appear to be attempting to distance themselves from Couvall in the event that he goes down, and try avoid the embarrassment of having to remove him at that point. It also allows Terry Link to further distance himself from the scandal and blame it all on Couvall. Couvall, being a devoted soldier, will no doubt take the fall.

There is no denying that Link has done a splendid job for the Lake County Dems in making substantial inroads in what was recently a solidly Republican county. Well, the Lake GOP has Link in its cross-hairs, and it’s payback time. While the Lake GOP prepares its announcement of the candidate that will be appointed to run against Link, it also knows its best bet to fend off any outside help coming to Link’s aid (did anyone mention Barack Obama, perhaps?), is to make him so radioactive that anyone with any brains will avoid Link like the plague. The petition scandal is a rare political break, which the Lake GOPers have vowed not to squander.

The Lake GOP is also helped by the continuity of Venturi continuing as chairman, as at least part of the Lake Dems’ success can probably be attributed to Link and his team having more than a decade to slowly build on their successes to get where they are today. We can only hope the Lake GOP as a whole has gotten the message that a unified party is the only way to beat back the Dems and be able to make some real changes in Springfield (hopefully before Blago and the Democratic General Assembly mortgages the state into bankruptcy).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Seven More Weeks of Sunlight on Dem Candidates and Agenda

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, taking about transparency in government, once said "sunlight is the best disinfectant." I think that for the Democratic candidates, the sunlight of seven more weeks of primary battle after Hillary Clinton's big win in Ohio, along with Rhode Island and what seems to be the victory in Texas, is going to do wonders for further shedding light on the smoke and mirrors campaign of Barack Obama.

We pretty much know what we're getting with Hillary, love her or loathe her. As she herself has noted, the GOP knows her better than she knows herself, and more likely than not, every scrap of dirt that can be gathered on her has been gathered, and most of it is known, although there's always more to learn it seems, especially as to hubby Bill.

However, with Obama, there seems to be a lot below the surface of a nice smile and a good speech that no one has really investigated. With the Tony Rezko trial underway (sure to shed light on the Illinois culture of corruption which molded Obama's political formative years, if not in fact revealing some more embarrassing direct Obama connections to Rezko), issues about his campaign saying one thing to the Canadian government on NAFTA and another on the stump, and Obama's new apparent trick of ducking questions and then ending press conferences (remind anyone of Blago?), the press can smell that there is more there to reveal than they have sniffed out already--or at least, that's what they think, and they will now pursue these loose ends relentlessly.

What the press hath builteth up, they shall now teareth down. Exhibit 1: See the editorial in today's Chicago Tribune.

Meanwhile, GOP candidate John McCain has wrapped up the presidential nomination for the Republicans. That means that while the Dems continue to battle each other for the heart and souls of the liberal base of the party, which prevents either from sliding to the center, McCain is going to spend the next seven weeks rallying the GOP base and solidifying his support. President Bush is expected to endorse McCain today, and while you might say that will further annoy Dems, the ones that hate Bush already are in the Obama or Clinton camp, so there is little risk to McCain and a lot to gain from the GOP base (a fair number of whom still like Bush).

MEANWHILE, on the local front, Obama has stepped up to do a TV ad for 14th CD candidate Bill Foster, who is running against Jim Oberweis. This is no doubt a harbinger of things to come in Illinois, where Obama (win or lose) will likely endorse every Dem candidate from Dog Catcher on up. But, I wonder if Obama risks diluting his brand by endorsing everyone under the sun. He'll probably have to hire more staff just to give local Dem hopefuls the brush-off, as EVERYONE is going to want Obama to do an event for them. I think that, especially if Obama is the Dem nominee, he's going to be a bit busy to do that much on the local scene. But we'll see.

KIRK NEWS: Congressman Mark Kirk continues to be very visible in the news, speaking out most recently on the need for enforcement of a 2003 law that requires hospitals to reveal their data on infections during hospital stays. Haven't heard much out of challenger Dan Seals lately.

THE 52nd WILL BE A RACE: The Daily Herald reports that the Dems will appoint Rich Garling, a relatively new Island Lake trustee, to run against incumbent GOP representative Mark H. Beaubien Jr.

Beaubien didn't have an opponent last cycle and is pretty well-entrenched in his district. The Herald article listed property taxes, efficient roads and environmental protection among Garling's top issues. That puts Garling in the interesting position of having to run against his own party, considering the Dems have a virtual lockdown on state government and have failed miserably in each category Garling mentions. That's going to be a real fine line to walk, and one that Beaubien should be able to exploit. Not to mention, for a Republican, Beaubien has a pretty liberal voting record (but one that reflects his district). So, one wonders exactly what Garling's pitch to the district is going to be.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

As Goes Ohio, So Goes the Nation?

It's 10:00 p.m. Tuesday and they have called Ohio for Hillary Clinton, and it looks by about a 20 point margin. Regardless of how Texas goes, which we won't know until much later tonight, it seems, I think the issues that Hillary won on in Ohio are important: she mainly won by winning over working class people who are worried about the economy, and (ironically) NAFTA was a huge issue (ironic, of course, because it was one of Bill Clinton's big legacy points). Plus, Obama outspent Hillary from what I hear, although I'm not sure what that margin was.

If the economy and not the war is the key issue for both candidates in November, I like the GOP chances...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mark Kirk's Libertyville Town Hall Well-Attended; Will Address GOP County Convention (UPDATED)

Over the weekend, 10th Congressional District Congressman Mark Kirk held a well-attended Town Hall meeting at the Libertyville Village Hall. TA wasn't able to make it, but reportedly the room was filled to capacity. Aside from one or two Seals spies, the crowd was lively, engaged and supportive. Among other issues, Kirk highlighted the subprime loan crisis and discussed his plan to re-establish the Home Owner's Loan Corporation, which we've mentioned here previously. Kirk also had a telephone town hall meeting last week, and this Wednesday, he is expected to address the Lake County GOP with a recorded message from Washington at the GOP County Convention.

SPEAKING OF THE COUNTY CONVENTION: I heard over the past couple of days that the Daily Herald was calling around to collect some statements from Lake County GOP Chairman Daniel Venturi and Dem Chairman Terry Link to see if there was any trouble brewing that was worth reporting. Read the article here.

The more interesting angle of the story is not on the GOP side, however, but on the Dem side, and more for what is left unaddressed. Dem Chairman and State Senator Terry Link is going for his 9th term as chairman. Although Link faced a Dem opponent in the primary, Jerry Johnson, who was booted off the ballot after a sucessful challenge by Link's minions, Johnson apparently was not interviewed for the article. The centerpiece of Johnson's challenge was Johnson's accusations of petition fraud against Link, which we've covered extensively over the past few months. Johnson previously announced his intention to run as an Independent against Link in the fall election.

The Herald article also noted that the petition fraud issue was under investigation by the Lake County State's Attorney's office, but it states, "That investigation has not led to any charges." True, the investigation has not lead to any charges YET. However, the real story on the Link investigation is just getting started, as the wheels of justice grind slowly, as always. TA is not so naive to think that Link might end up with an indictment out of this, but I think there is a good shot that the two men who are in the crosshairs of the investigation, Kenneth Davison and Jerry Knight, might end up in trouble. This won't make Link look too good and will surely be fodder for the fall election campaign.

The Herald article also did not offer any reaction from any Dem elected officials as to whether they were on record as supporting Link's re-election to county chairman. Now THOSE questions might have been worth asking and the reactions printed just to see our elected officials squirm. How about it, Susan Garrett, Kathy Ryg, Michael Bond, Karen May, and the rest. Do YOU all support Terry Link unconditionally? How about our congressional wanna-be, Dan Seals?

In the light of Link's petition taint, his recent contentious primary challenge, and his failed attempt to back County Board member Angelo Kyle in a bid to oust State Rep. Eddie Washington, you would think that SOMEONE out there in Dem land would have the guts to run against Link, but perhaps not. They are all just too scared to step out of line.

UPDATED: RESUME PROBLEMS-- Haven't heard much on Dan Seals' resume puffing issues lately, although I've heard Kirk refer to it on the stump. Check out this story on the chef of the Dinner: Impossible show on Food Network, who just got canned for fabricating part of his resume, including cooking for the royal family. Yet another example of what some people fail to understand--in the real world, people get fired for lying on their resume. But, the people of the 10th District are supposed to hold their prospective elected officials to a LOWER standard....?