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Blagojevich Circus heads for Washington

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

With all the low cunning of an escaped mental patient, the heavily indicted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) appears at a “bizarre” press conference to appoint the formerly respected ex-Illinois Attorney-General Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate to the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Taking to the podium at the end of a bizarre, shambolic press conference in which Governor Rod Blagojevich sought to appoint Roland Burris to the US Senate, Congressman Bobby Rush dared white Democratic senators to block a black man from joining their ranks.

He urged people “not to hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer” and, after saying repeaedly that Burris would be the only African-American in the Senate, said that he believed no senator would want “to go on record to deny one African-American from being seated in the US Senate”.

Roland Burris thought this was a good idea. Who is advising him these days ? He must be sticking it to somebody in the Democratic Party here in Illinois to lend his good name to this charade.


Also commenting on Governor Effing-Golden…

Glittering Eye


The Chicago Way is Incompatible with Gravitas

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

I think most people familiar with Illinois politics expected that eventually some kind of Chicago landmine was going to go off under President-elect Barack Obama – it’s just that few people expected it might happen before the 20th of January.

Likewise, I think most informed watchers expected that Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), perhaps the most unpopular pol in Illinois history, would follow his predecessor, disgraced ex-governor George Ryan (R-IL) to prison someday, few of us anticipated the depths of the grotesque quality of Blagojevich’s grasping venality that would have made Alderman Tom Keane blush. Ryan at least didn’t talk like a thug when he raked in his small-time bribes ( have to wonder if Ryan’s chances for a presidential pardon just improved or gotten worse?).

The real political trouble for Obama can be read here in a post at “The Smoking Gun” regarding today’s indctment:

” ….Blagojevich, 51, and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested this morning on political corruption charges. While the affidavit does not specifically name the six prospective Senate candidates discussed by Blagojevic, Harris, and the governor’s aides, it appears that several are easily identified. “Senate Candidate 1” is Jarrett. “Senate Candidate 2” is Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Emil Jones, an Illinois state legislator, is “Senate Candidate 5.” And “Senate Candidate 6” appears to be J.P. Pritzker, a wealthy Chicago businessman. Additionally, Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff, is referred to in the affidavit as “President-elect Advisor.” (21 pages)”

Aside from Lisa Madigan, Attorney-General of Illinois and daughter of Springfield powerbroker Speaker Michael Madigan, this list is composed of Obama’s  Best Friend, Political Godfather, a campaign Mega-Donor and his future White House Chief of Staff. Holy Cats!

I think this is what some folks used to quaintly refer to as ” The Sleaze Factor“.

Has Anyone Else Noticed That….

Friday, October 17th, 2008

The venerable Chicago Tribune is crossdressing as some kind tabloid/Britney Spearsish online coloring book? WTF?

What jackass corporate suit thought that the Tribune looking more childish than the Sun-Times was a good move ? You know it’s an embarrassment when the Trib’s own website doesn’t even try  to emulate the garish style of the dead tree version.

Obama’s “Brain”

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

A brief sojurn into grubby electoral politics: 

Recall from years ago, the enormous amount of press received by GOP strategist Karl Rove as George W. Bush’s political “Brain” ? A similar role with Barack Obama is played by Illinois Democratic political consultant David Axelrod, except that Axelrod keeps a far lower profile than Rove did and Axelrod has inifinitely better relationships with the working press, notably with the nominally Republican Chicago Tribune where Axelrod was formerly a political reporter and columnist.  Axelrod is also tightly connected to Chicago’s all-powerful Democratic Party boss, Mayor Richard M. Daley, another longtime Axelrod client; and to Exelon/Com. Ed. , the politically powerful Illinois utility that contracts with Axelrod’s public relations firm and whose employees have been among the largest financial donors in Illinois to the Obama campaign.

What kind of campaign can we expect from Axelrod in the general election? Overtly positive themes and public posturing  complemented by covertly delievered and mercilessly negative “stiletto” attacks against key people around John McCain that are not directly traceable to Axelrod. The model for this strategy is the previous Obama senatorial campaign in Illinois, where Obama’s two most formidible, centimillionaire, rivals, Democrat Blair Hull and Republican Jack Ryan were personally destroyed in the primaries when salacious details from their sealed divorce records were mysteriously leaked to the media, which then pressured for their full release, notably in the pages of the Chicago Tribune. Thus, ultimately permitting Obama to run against an out-of-state, clown candidate, religious conservative firebrand Alan Keyes, in the general election.

 Negative political advertising is reliably effective, something known since the days of Murray Chotiner running Richard Nixon’s California races, but the information age imposes “blowback” costs when it is used too openly by a candidate. Axelrod’s long courtship of the media will permit similar “fingerprint free” attacks against the GOP to work unless McCain’s campaign is smart enough to start doing social network analysis of key media people crossreferenced with Obama Campaign functionaries and Axelrod associates.

It’s also noteworthy of how little escapes Axelrod’s attention. The conservative intellectual and writer, Dr. Stanley Kurtz, has been digging into the UIC archives on Senator Obama’s extensive political relationship with Dr. William Ayers, the 60’s radical and unrepentant ex-Weatherman terrorist, now a professor of Education at UIC where he is a leading advocate of politicizing teacher certification programs along Leftist lines (Ayers is the son of the late, prominent Chicago business leader, Thomas Ayers, former chairman/CEO of Commonwealth Edison and board member at he Chicago Tribune). Kurtz was invited to be a guest last night on Dr. Milt Rosenberg’s highbrow Extension720 WGN-AM radio show and discuss his research and Rosenberg’s switchboard and email system was instantly flooded and essentially shut down by an orchestrated wave of Obama supporters ( here is the Obama Campaign action alert).  While something of a local legend, Rosenberg’s radio show is, in the national media scheme of things, a fairly obscure program. Sort of a conservative NPR, except a lot smarter and writ small.

I would expect the ante be upped against Obama critics to include nuisance suits and worse  if the fall campaign tightens.


It appears that the Obama-Ayers-Annenberg story, which I expect will soon feature the infamous pic of Ayers trampling a U.S. flag in an alley, is making it on to the MSM radar. Michael Barone does a superb job as political anthropologist here, explaining the ” Chicago Way” to Americans in more normal communities:

Obama Needs to Explain His Ties to William Ayers

….Ayers was one of the original grantees of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school reform organization in the 1990s, and was cochairman of the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, one the two operational arms of the CAC. Obama, then not yet a state senator, became chairman of the CAC in 1995. Later in that year, the first organizing meeting for Obama’s state Senate campaign was held in Ayers’s apartment. Ayers later wrote a memoir, and an article about him appeared in the New York Times on Sept. 11, 2001. “I don’t regret setting bombs,” Ayers is quoted as saying. “I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Ayers was a terrorist in the late 1960s and 1970s whose radical group set bombs at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.

You might wonder what Obama was doing working with a character like this. And you might wonder how an unrepentant terrorist got a huge grant and cooperation from the Chicago public school system. You might wonder-if you don’t know Chicago. For this is a city with a civic culture in which politicians, in the words of a story often told by former congressman, federal judge, and Clinton White House counsel Abner Mikva, “don’t want nobody nobody sent.” That’s what Mikva remembers being told when he went to a Democratic ward headquarters to volunteer for Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s, and it rings true. And it’s a civic culture in which there’s nobody better to send you than your parents.

Read the rest here.

Welcome Rezko Watch Readers!

Monday, June 9th, 2008

A big thank you to blogfriend Pundita for sending Rezko Watch readers my way!

Generally, local poltics are not my primary interest but for Rezko Watch readers outside of Illinois who are interested in the background of Chicago’s unique brand of politics, they might want to check out the following sources:

American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley – His Battle for Chicago and the Nation by Adam Cohen, Elizabeth Taylor

An excellent, highly detailed, social and political history both of the city of Chicago as well as the rise to power of the first, legendary, Mayor Daley, and his iron fisted rule over the Democratic Machine. The Shakman Decrees have changed he rules of the game  in the city of Chicago but the current Mayor, Richard M. Daley has adapted and is, in some ways, even more powerful than his larger than life father.

Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago by Mike Royko

This book is a shorter but far more colorful and grittier read. Penned by the late Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko, it is filled with a cast of infamous Chicago characters such as Ed Kelly, Tony Accardo, Paddy Bauler, Cardinal Cody, William Dawson, John D’ Arco, Tom Keane, Charlie Swibel, Benjamin Adamowski and Saul Alinsky. Incidentally, Mayor Daley reportedly hated Royko for writing this book.

Chicago: City on the Make: 50th Anniversary Edition, Newly Annotated by Nelson Algren

One of Chicago’s great writers, as well as a friend of Royko’s, Algren painted a bitter picture of the Machine at the zenith of it’s power and corruption.

For contemporary coverage of the underworld of Chicago politics, I recommend former City Hall beat reporter turned columnist for The Chicago Tribune, John Kass. Kass is well versed in the current array of ward heelers, mobbed-up businessmen, buffoonish aldermen, ex-gangster disciples, crooked cops, shadowy fixers and Outfit soldiers under the latest Federal investigations (it’s a lot to keep track of).

” Chicago ain’t ready for reform!”  – Alderman Paddy Bauler, 1955.

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