Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Updated Wednesday, June 30, revised 9:20 pm: The Top 10 Republican Senate Candidates.

As they break from the post, some of them not even willing to say they are in the race, some of them saying they are not in the race, listed below are the top 10 people to be the U. S. Senate Candidate from Illinois for the Republican Party, come July 15, with those "most likely," to be the party nominee listed first. I am not saying what should be, simply what is- maintaining the Fair and Balanced approach of no endorsements from "Public Affairs." We discuss, you decide. I have simply ranked them based on who I think is most likely to get the nod and I have listed their pluses and minuses.

Next time, I might do what I do as a legal recruiter, especially for corporate in house counsel searches, i.e., develop detailed specifications for the position and see who comes closest to meeting the specs. Of course, to do that right, you have to talk to your client intensively to get the information to prepare detailed written specs. In this case, the analogue to my client would be Topinka, the State Party Chair, and her press spokesman, Jason Gerwig, has declined to speak with me or even return my calls for the last three days. A busy guy, no doubt, what with Judy's foot surgery and Senator Peter Fitzgerald assessing the Party Brass' performance [See, below].

1. State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, the "Natural." Solid on all state and national policy issues. Strong conservative credentials, economic and social. Articulate. Good Family Man. Not the choice of the State Party Brass. Daggers have been flying in his direction since Jack Ryan stepped down. Looks to many like "screening process," for senate candidates set up by Topinka/Kjellander designed to exclude Steve, in part because of Steve's primary statements about Kjellander [RNC member, friend of Karl Rove, tight with Topinka and powerful lobbyist]. Better fund raiser than given credit for. Matches up well with Obama as a debater. Knows and articulates the issues well. Strong surge at end of 2004 Primary for 21% of the vote, third place finish. Big-Time Bob Kjellander Problem. Speaker Hastert could make that go away and make this happen yesterday. Will he? Problematic that Hastert suggested State Party screening process? Did Kjellander/Topinka twist it to their political advantage? Steve could be the broker to unite Hastert and O'Malley segments of the Party. Has good relationship with both.

2. Andy McKenna, Jr., Very decent guy. Very Family Man. Very Lacking in Sizzle. Can self finance and has strong Establishment support. Establishment feels they could access him and trust him as a U. S. Senator to be responsive to their needs. This is something they have not found to be the case with six years of Peter Fitzgerald. Andy, Sr. is very influential in Chicagoland business community with strong connections and ties to the Tribune Company. Andy, Jr. spent too much time in family business, perhaps. Good credentials as a social conservative, more mixed as an economic conservative. Got better during primary as a campaigner, but still a long way to go for a three month campaign. Virtually no political experience prior to 2004 Senate primary. Finished 4th with 14% of the vote in the primary, even though was closest to Jack Ryan in terms of amount spent on Campaign and raised the most funds. Could have problems debating Obama.

3. Senator Peter Fitzgerald, has surprised before. Good Family Man. Has the independent persona that could win over Ds and swing voters, and yet energize the grass roots conservative base. Has a voting record, oddly enough, in the middle-- according to the National Journal-- yet still admired by conservatives, notwithstanding his unwillingness to cultivate grass roots socially. Kjellander Problem. Hastert Problem. Topinka Problem [from doing things such as the tongue lashing Peter gave Judy Baar and others in state Party leadership today for Judy's conflict as Party Chair and potential Gubernatorial Candidate, and the party leaders' failure to back Jack Ryan, especially during the last few weeks]. Many other State Party Brass problems. Probably not willing to spend another 15 million of his [perhaps declining] portfolio value, which is probably the main reason we are here doing this. Might be surprisingly good match-up to Obama as debater. Now much more confident and knowledgeable about the issues, of course, than when he entered the Senate. And, as a result, better with the press. Also, if the liberal press could get over Peter's strong Pro-Life views, they might come to admire his strong streak of independence--sort of Illinois' version of John McCain.

4. Jim Thompson, Great name recognition, although there has been some decay over last 14 years. Could do it easily, but for Hollinger thing. Sung to the tune of "Nobody does it better than Big Jim." Bright, personable and very experienced. Respected Nationally. Did well on cross-examination of Richard Clarke in 9/11 Hearing. Could step right into the U. S. Senate as a person of stature. Probably too moderate for conservative base. Moderate thing could be a big problem in terms of not energizing the base. Might make some of that up with attractiveness to Ds and swing voters. Would be interesting match-up with Obama in debates. Knows his stuff.

5. Tom McCracken, "Natural No. 2," moving up, but perhaps has "issues." Recent Divorce. Articulate, Intelligent, Conservative and significant political experience. Did very well as speaker at Chicago Conservative Conference in May, 2003. Has not lost his ability to shine since he left elected office. Good civic and professional stuff with RTA. Knows and can articulate the issues. Would match up well in debates with Obama. Good lawyer. A trial lawyer? Is that an issue for Tom in the R party?

6. Ron Gidwitz, Could Self Finance easily, very good civics, very moderate, smart, liked and trusted by business community and done a lot in area of education. Lacks sparkle, fading. Has been working with Serafin and Associates, and as a result, much more polished speaker than was, but may not be ready for three month campaign. May not be ready to debate Obama. Has attractive family, good family guy and about to celebrate his 29th Anniversary. Moderate, pro-choice, social views would be a problem for the R base. Liked by party brass. Has raised mucho money for them.

7. Bob Schillerstrom, Chairman of the DuPage County Board and smooth, insider-- but eyes on 2006- probably won't invest his "capital," in this one. Reasonably polished, public speaker. Turned during last year into O'Hare Airport expansionist. Chicago business and Tribune will like that. Tribune will also like his Pro-Choice, moderate views, but those views would be a problem with R base and will be a problem for 2006 primary. If he changes his mind and wants this, could be a sort of compromise, or place-holder choice. That could help him with name recognition and party support for 2006.

8. Jayne Thompson, Has good last name recognition, good appellate lawyer, but why her? Dillard is suggesting she be considered. Perhaps the party elders think it would be good to have at least one woman in the mix, for image's sake, if nothing else. Corinne Wood apparently does not prefer DC to Lake Forest, and even moderates and supporters of Corinne such as Cook County GOP Chairman Gary Skoien have criticized Corinne's 2002 gubernatorial primary effort. Back to Jayne-- Good civics, but not like Ron-includes Library Board. Not enough there there to be a serious candidate unless top 7 falter, and even then, doubtful.

9. Jim Oberweis, Nicer guy than people think, but Sizzle of wrong kind, especially for "W". 25%, 2nd place, finish in 2004 Senate primary; 2nd place finish in 2002 senate primary so has base and must be respected, but not much chance of getting the nod. Still some hangover with Pro-lifers from 2002 Campaign Taliban comment. Smart, got much better as campaigner from 2002 to 2004. Knows the issues. Could debate Obama. Just not his year. Made wrong move, as it turns out, to take on Bush in Primary. But for that, he might have been a contender now.

10.Patrick Fitzgerald, Daley-George Ryan Combine Choice. The Combine would do almost anything to get Patrick out of U. S. Attorney's office, including making him a U. S. Senator. Of course, as a Senator, he might be able to influence Bush to do what Peter did, bring in another Patrick. Also, given that JB Topinka is under investigation by U. S. Attonrey's office, would this be a conflict for her to propose? Perhaps, so. Well, there is always someone else to suggest it. Kjellander? Patrick probably knows, with Peter gone, his days are numbered no matter who wins the Presidency. Could be the intellectual Arnold Schwarzanegger of Illinois Politics. Single, and sociable, I hear. High on integrity [Carol Marin test], but not much known about his politics, or his domestic and foreign policy positions [although, obviously strong on anti-terrorism]. In terms of style, would be interesting debate match-up with Obama. However, his integrity would probably prevent him from even considering an offer to run for the Senate from the state GOP leadership in light of the above.

Dated June 30, 12:30 am.

Correction: In my "Fair and Balanced with Mark Brown," blog entry below, I state Rod McCulloch called in to Bruce DuMont's WLS "Beyond the Beltway," radio program on Sunday night [June 27, 2004] and had a somewhat dramatic exchange with guest and Jack Ryan senior adviser [and Leader President] Dan Proft. McCulloch indicated that he had been shown documents [which included some of the famous Jack Ryan sealed records] by someone who had had a professional relationship with Jack Ryan and who had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Jack Ryan as a part of his being given access to some of the sealed records.

I was mistaken in that Rod did not state on the DuMont show that the person who showed Rod the sealed documents had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Jack Ryan as a part of his being given access to some of the sealed records. What Rod said on the DuMont show was, "I was shown to them [the sealed documents] by people who were close to Jack at one point who had them, themselves." DuMont asked, "So, you were alleging that the information that you leaked to the media when you were working for another campaign originally came from someone who was with the Jack Ryan campaign." Rod responded, "Not with the Ryan campaign, someone who had professional ties to Jack at one point." I think Rod means, by professional ties, someone who knew Jack related to his responsibilities at Goldman Sachs, but I am not sure.

Rod, in his March, 04 written statement,writes, "...I was shown what I was told and believe to be records from Jack Ryan's divorce, that were obtained before the records were sealed."

I don't believe the above affects my blog, below, about the inaccuracies of Mark Brown's column or of Rod McCulloch's March, 2004 statement. However, it does let Archpundit off the hook. I give him the equivalent of a walk, so his batting average on this matter is 0, as in 0 for 0.

As to when the "records," were sealed, I think there is some confusion all around. I have not received the documents that were handed out at the press conference last week, and they may clarify this. A divorce dispute can be settled, but custody issues can continue and custody documents can continue to be created and sealed after the divorce is finalized. Or, alternatively, some custody records can be sealed and not others. Further, documents can be produced subject to a judicial protective order, which may restrict access to the documents to, say, parties, counsel and the Judge. People who receive such documents agree not to distribute or disseminate the documents or information contained in the documents to anyone who is not bound by the protective order agreement. People may refer to such docs as filed under seal, even though multiple copies are floating around. What happened here? I am not sure and at this point it may be moot.

What may not be moot is what was Rod trying to do when he released his "Statement," and was he working with, for or at the direction of others. We will leave that discussion for another day. However, facts relating to that issue could affect the selection of the Jack Ryan replacement.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at Public Affairs.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Updated June 29, 2004 at 11:20 pm

This week's (Week of June 28) suburban edition of "Public Affairs," features Julianne Curtis (R- Wilmette), Candidate for 18th District State Rep., debating and discussing with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz whether the Affordable Housing legislation, which was co-sponsored by Curtis’ opponent, Democratic incumbent Julie Hamos (D- Evanston), is an appropriate and sound public policy, for the 120 villages, or so, that are likely to be affected by it through-out the state.

Other topics debated and discussed include taxes, real estate assessment caps, gun control, background checks, an assault weapon ban, abortion, parental consent, same sex marriages, civil unions, legislation banning housing or employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, the impact of minimum wage differentials across states, the business climate in Illinois and tort reform/pain and suffering damage caps.
Next Week's Guest: Gary Skoien, Cook County GOP chairman
Partial Transcript of Show with Julianne Curtis:

Jeff Berkowitz: Gay Rights, you favor same sex marriage?

Julianne Curtis: ...Like most Americans, I support the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

Berkowitz: You favor civil unions?

Curtis: I don't think we should have them.

Berkowitz: ..You favor laws that ban discrimination in housing and employment based on ...sexual orientation?

Curtis: No, we have a Civil Rights Act, acts against steering, we have acts against--

Berkowitz: So, you don't favor any legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation?

Curtis: No, because we already have laws on the books. We need to be enforcing civil rights.

Berkowitz: Do we, Do we [already have such laws]? somebody who is Gay, somebody who is Lesbian- they could be denied a job and they could go and

Curtis: How can you say--
Berkowitz: ...Okay, so what you do with your colleagues in the State House and Senate wouldn't have any impact on property values here in Winnetka, Kenilworth and Glencoe and so forth?

Curtis: It may well because currently there is a new state mandate that Julie Hamos has pushed through which would have an impact on property values in the immediate vicinity of what is affordable housing.

Berkowitz: What is that legislation called?

Curtis: It is an affordable housing mandate that was passed last year that requires 120 villages across the state of Illinois to have a minimum of 10% public housing--

Berkowitz: By

Curtis: Well, they are measuring it this October...there will be a state list published.

Berkowitz: Is there a time by which they have to have 10%.

Curtis: No, but what they have to do is that they have to have plans in place by next year that demonstrate how they are going to get there.

Berkowitz: to get to 10% [affordable housing]?

Curtis: Yes
Berkowitz: There also is something called the Appeal Act or appeal portion of the Act. It is the [Affordable Housing] Planning and Appeal Act.

Curtis: It is the State Housing Appeals Board that has been instituted and what that means is if a village or community would like to use a particular plot of land for one purpose and it doesn't give any public housing and a developer wants to put in public housing and that developer is denied for whatever reason, that developer and their lawyer friends can go to a state housing appeals board that is now in place and appeal and essentially cry foul that the Village did not let them--

Berkowitz: And, the state appeals board, if it rules favorably to that developer.... the Appeals Board rules in his favor, ruling that the village residents [Say, Winnetka] don't have a housing plan, you are not dong what this developer thinks is appropriate, the Board rules that-- then Winnetka would be required to permit that development as the developer has in mind, including whatever requirements might be for a certain amount of low income housing as a part of that development. Do I have that right?

Curtis: That is the way people are interpreting that law.

Berkowitz: And, you object to that.

Curtis: I object to the fact that state mandates are put down upon villages without local input. There was no referendum on this. There were no village hearings on this. This law has been put through very much under the radar screen.

Berkowitz: Should there always be referenda before the State acts legislatively? Because, they pass a lot of laws. That would be a lot of referenda across the state of illinois.

Curtis: I think something that has such consequences on the make-up and character of the village, of any village......
Julianne Curtis, Republican State Rep. Candidate (Wilmette, 18th Dist.), interviewed on Public Affairs, recorded on June 19, 2004 and as is being cablecast this week (Week of June 28) in the suburbs and as will be cablecast in the City of Chicago on Monday, July 5, 2004 at 8:30 pm on Cable 21.
The suburban edition of "Public Affairs," is broadcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.

The suburban edition also is broadcast every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette and every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.

The show with Republican state rep. candidate Julianne Curtis will also air through-out the City of Chicago on Monday night, July 5 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 *******************************************************************************
Hamos is a six year incumbent, but only two years of that time have been spent representing the 18th District under the 2002 re-districted boundaries. The 18th District currently includes a small portion of Rogers Park, all of Evanston and Kenilworth, east Wilmette, most of Winnetka and a small portion of Glencoe- what Rep. Hamos likes to call a “regional district,” due to its combination of 95,000 North Shore Suburbanites [if Evanston counts as North Shore, or a suburb] with 10,000 residents of the City of Chicago.

So, to close out the story of the evolution of the 18th Dist. into very safe D territory, the Democrats’ decision to modify the 18th from including part to almost all of the People’s Republic of Evanston in the 18th meant that it would be unlikely that a Republican would win the 18th in this decade (Julie Hamos’ old district included the southern portion of Evanston). In 2002, State Rep. Julie Hamos beat her Republican opponent, James O’Hara, 71% to 29 %.

So, boys and girls, I leave you with this. If you want to understand why Lisa Madigan [and not John Schmidt] is Attorney General and perhaps the next Governor, why Rod [Mell] Blagojevich [and not Paul Vallas] is the current Governor, why Richard M. Daley is Mayor, why Dan Hynes is Comptroller, why Jesse Jackson [and not now State Senate President and 23 year state legislator in 1995 Emil Jones] is the Congressman from the 2nd District and why Julie Hamos, a strong candidate and campaigner in her own right, can be expected to win the 18th pretty handily- just remember, "if you don’t have Family in Illinois politics, you don't have anything."
Updated June 29, 2004 at6:30 pm

RNC member Robert Kjellander on Ron Gidwitz, the GOP Senate Candidate Selection Process and the Pro-Life issue:

Reporter: Can you discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Gidwitz as a [GOP Senate] candidate?

Bob Kjellander: Well, Ron is an incredibly successful businessman; he has strong credentials in the public sector on education: former chairman of the State Board of Education, former Chairman of the City College Board up here [Chicago], a terrific fundraiser; he would be a very strong candidate.

Jeff Berkowitz: Would he be acceptable to the pro-life portion, segment- the Republican base of the--

Kjellander: Well, I can only speak for myself, and I am a pro-Life Republican, but I don't believe we have any litmus tests--

Berkowitz: No, but there were no pro-choice candidates who did well in that Republican [Senate] primary.

Kjellander: But, that wasn't the only issue in the primary.

Berkowitz: So, you are saying, notwithstanding those [senate primary] results-you, as an important state [GOP party] leader, would be comfortable with the [GOP] State Central Committee nominating somebody or selecting somebody who is Pro-Choice?

Kjellander: No, you are putting words in my mouth--

Berkowitz: Well, you are not comfortable or you are comfortable?

Kjellander: Look, I am comfortable with the process that--

Berkowitz: Either way, is what I am saying, however the process comes out--pro-choice or pro-life, you are comfortable.

Kjellander: However the process comes out, absolutely, yes. Thank you very much.

Berkowitz: Thank you, Bob.
Comments by RNC member Robert Kjellander, following the June 25, 2004 Topinka/Kjellander press conference.
Dated June 29, 12:30 am, revised at 1:00 pm.

Fair and Balanced with Mark Brown? I don't think so.

Vetting the Sun-Times' Mark Brown: Jack Ryan to Rod McCulloch to General John Borling to Mark Brown to Archpundit- Who is misleading the Public? Looks to be Mark. Why is it I am not surprized? The business people at the Sun-Times inflate their circulation numbers and this columnist doesn't get his facts right. I guess the real news on my blog will be when I find something in the liberalstream media that, upon checking, turns out to be correct.

Checking the facts and assertions relating to the events that led to the demise of the Jack Ryan campaign and the comments, statements, and analyses by Sun Times columnist Mark Brown, Ex- General Borling Campaign Manager Rod McCulloch and blogger Archpundit, Brown is batting 0, McCulloch, at best 0.050 [This is charitable, giving him 50 out of 1000 for getting the cities right, but virtually nothing else] and Archpundit, 0. And, these are the folks who are criticizing Jack Ryan for lies to and misleading the electorate? With accuracy batting averages like that, I would be careful, if I were Brown, McCulloch and Archpundit[sounds like a not so reliable law firm], before I threw any stones. The facial cuts from the shattered glass may not help their appearances.

As discussed below, Mark Brown, Chicago Sun-Times columnist, is 0 for 2 as to the key assertions he makes in his June 28 column, and he omits two items from the column that were very relevant to the discussion and should have been included, making him really 0 for 4; Rod McCulloch, the former General John Borling campaign manager, is 1 for 20 [a weighted batting average] in the assertions he made in his March 11 statement. Archpundit ( is calling for a correction from Jill Stanek of the Illinois Leader. I am not associated with the Leader [although I have written a few guest columns for the Leader, but nothing lately], but it looks to me like Archpundit is clearly wrong on one point and, as to the other, I am not sure who is right, but it appears irrelevant to the discussion we are having.

Going to Archpundit, first:

Archpundit [], in an item dated June 28, 2004 and headed, "Leader Correction Watch
Day 2," writes:

"Still no correction on Jill Stanek’s article in which she essentially calls Rod McCulloch a liar. The article insists the file was never open even though just about every news organization has reported that it was open for a little over a year."

However, the thing of it is, as the guy on Rockford used to say, is that Rod McCulloch called in to Bruce DuMont's WLS "Beyond the Beltway," radio program on Sunday night [June 27] and had a somewhat dramatic exchange with guest and Jack Ryan senior adviser [and Leader President] Dan Proft. McCulloch indicated that he had been shown documents [which included some of the famous Jack Ryan sealed records] by someone who had had a professional relationship with Jack Ryan and who had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Jack Ryan as a part of his being given access to some of the sealed records.

Proft argued that that couldn't be the case, arguing that Jack Ryan had shown documents to Proft and others, required them to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and that Proft and others had the docs in their possession for only about 15 minutes before returning them to Jack [or his aides]. The implication of Proft's argument was that no one was allowed to take possession of the documents for enough time to reproduce them before returning to Jack. So, whether the docs were ever not under seal seems not so relevant to the issue of whether Rod is telling the truth on that issue of whether he actually saw the sealed docs [assuming that Rod is telling the truth as to what the person with the sealed records told him, and assuming that the person with the sealed documents was telling the truth as to how he obtained access to the sealed docs].

Some interesting questions do emerge from the above.

Did the person who showed Rod the docs violate an agreement with Jack? It would seem so. Does Jack know enough about who that person likely is for Jack to file a civil lawsuit and might that suit, through discovery, implicate others and thus have implications for someone or some people in either political party. Of course, the old Deep Throat suggestion applies, follow the money. Rod perhaps got some fame out of this. What did the person who showed Rod the docs get out of this? The usual presumption is that people do these things for fame or money. As the man said, follow the money.

Another question is if anyone, including Mark Brown, edits his columns. In his column of June 28, 2004, Brown lionizes Rod McCullough as a conquering hero, but the column seems to raise many more questions than it answers. For starters, how does a so-called major urban paper print something that, on its face, contains so many factual errors. Isn't it the job of the Sun-Times' editors to catch such things? Or, do I have to do everything in Chicago political journalism?

First, Brown says that McCulloch "swore in an affidavit," about the contents of sealed divorce records. However, the only statement that I have ever seen by McCulloch in this matter is one that is titled Statement by Rod McCullough and has a March 11, 2004 fax stamp on it. It is neither signed nor notarized. That document is linked to in a June 24, 2004 Illinois Leader column by Jill Stanek. Unless Brown has something different, I suggest he retract his statement that McCullough swore in an affidavit.

Mark Brown might also explain how he could have read the McCulloch statement before he published the column and still wrote that column. And, if he didn't read the statement before publishing the column, why didn't he? Now, that's a question one of the Sun-Times' bosses might ask Brown. As I said, the column raises more questions than it answers.

Second, Brown states that McCulloch swore in an affidavit that McCulloch had been shown sealed docs that contained Jeri Ryan's allegations about Jack Ryan taking her to sex clubs and trying to make her perform sex acts in front of other people.

But the Statement by Rod states, "and coerced her to have sex in front of other people."

So, Rod's statement, on this score, was false and Brown's statement about Rod's statement was inaccurate-- unless, of course, Brown has yet another document of Rod's that nobody else seems to have seen. I mean there is a difference between "coerced her," and "tried to make her." Rod did get it right that Jeri Lynn Ryan alleged that Jack Ryan took her to sex clubs in New York, New Orleans and Paris.

Third, Brown doesn't mention that McCulloch's statement asserted that Jeri Lynn Ryan alleged in the sealed record "he [Jack Ryan] forced (her word) her to have sexual relations against her will." As Proft pointed out to Rod in their conversation on "Beyond the Beltway," this sounds like Rod was stating that Jeri Lynn accused Jack of rape, which we now know she did not.

Fourth, Brown doesn't mention in his column that McCulloch asserted in his statement that Jeri Ryan alleged in the sealed records that her husband, Jack Ryan, had a romantic affair with his Executive Secretary. Moreover, Brown does not tell his gentle readers that this allegation does not seem to appear in the records that were unsealed. Rod argued on "Beyond the Beltway," that the Judge was persuaded by the Ryan attorneys at the last minute not to unseal six paragraphs that Rod thinks might contain this and other items. However, Jeri Lynn, who said in the last few weeks she stood by the allegations made in the court documents, also said that Jack, to her knowledge, never was unfaithful. It would seem unlikely that Jeri Lynn would say that if she had alleged in a court document that Jack was unfaithful. Perhaps this is something that Mark Brown will want to take up with his reliable source-- Rod McCulloch.

Fifth, a small point. Brown quotes McCulloch as stating, "I was treated almost as a conquering hero," at a state GOP fund-raiser over the weekend. But, Brown neglects to report who was raising the funds, for whom they were being raised, where the fundraiser was and when it was exactly [weekend is a pretty long time for a fundraiser]. These are some of the basic questions that journalists, in the olden days, used to ask and get answered before they started writing. One reason I ask these questions is that I attended, as a media person- and I perhaps was the only media person there--on Friday night a little dinner and cocktail reception and Summer in the City thing put on by the Illinois GOP, Proprietor- Judy Baar Topinka, for those attending a training program by the State GOP on Saturday for Committeemen, Committeewomen and such as to some of the nuts and bolts of campaigns and assisting and working for candidates. So, is that what Brown is referring to as a fundraiser?

On Friday night, I saw Rod at the Illinois GOP Dinner, but I don't think anyone would say that I or anyone else treated him as a conquering hero. Of course, Rod was quite involved in the events of March, so I spoke to him about those, as I did during March, 2004. I did not attend the program on Saturday, so maybe the mood of the crowd changed and maybe they crowned and treated him as the Second Coming, a la Cong. Davis and Rev. Moon. But, if Brown thinks that, I guess I would ask for a little corroboration on that one. Yet another old journalistic habit Brown seems not to be following.

So, Mark Brown, do you stand behind your column? If so, could you please reconcile with the above? If not, can you please explain how you could make so many errors in one column? Inquiring minds want to know.

Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of "Public Affairs,” can be reached at JBCG

Monday, June 28, 2004

Dated June 28, 1:30 am

An Open Letter to Bruce Dold, Ann Marie Lipinski, John Kass, Eric Zorn, Don Wycliff and Tribune Management.

Leader Media President Dan Proft announced last Friday, in an Illinois Leader opinion piece, that plans to file suit to obtain Massachusetts' Senator John Kerry's, the presumptive Democrat nominee for President, sealed divorce records from his first marriage to Julia Thorne which was later annulled.
"The Chicago Tribune and a Los Angeles Family Court judge have established a new standard for the release of marital and custodial documents," said Proft referring to the recent Jack Ryan decision. "Okay, then everyone in the public arena needs to be held to that standard. John Kerry is the start, but there will be others we will seek to hold to this new standard."

Proft was a senior advisor for the Jack Ryan for US Senate campaign in Illinois. Ryan announced last Friday that he would be withdrawing from the race.

Of course, taking on John Kerry in the Boston courts, can get expensive, real fast. Yes, it is rumored that former State Senator Patrick O’Malley is an owner and backer of the Illinois Leader [O’Malley has declined to confirm or deny that on the “Public Affairs,” television show], and he perhaps has the resources to fund such an effort.

But, why wouldn’t other media jump in to align themselves with the Leader’s efforts. Aren’t they interested in preserving the Public’s right to know.

Hmmmm, I wonder who those other media would be.

The Chicago Tribune argued recently in defense of its motion to unseal the California Court records in Jack and Jeri Lynn Ryan’s child custody/visitation dispute that, “This nation has a long tradition of open courts. There's good reason for that. A court shrouded in secrecy is a court far more at risk to be corrupted or abused, a court that is more likely to favor those who are wealthy, powerful or politically connected.....That standard of openness is all the more crucial when it comes to information regarding candidates for public office. Voters need information about the views, background and character of the people they elect to office. Voters can't make informed decisions about a candidate's positions or character without such information. That's why, as part of their coverage of candidates for political office, reporters seek a wide range of documents and opinions to help voters understand the candidates.”

Well, Let’s see, Senator John Kerry is running for President of the United States of America, including the State of Illinois. So, if all of that Open Court stuff applies to Illinois and to California, which is where the Tribune went to pry the sealed records open, then I would imagine that the Open Court stuff even applies to Massachusetts. And, senator Kerry, if he wins the Presidency, will be president of all the people, including the people and corporations in Illinois. So, that alone should be enough to induce the Chicago Tribune to file a lawsuit in Massachusetts to unseal the Kerry divorce records.

But, if for some reason, the folks at the Trib need more motivation—well, then, I remind them that, the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune, also owns a paper—the liberal Los Angeles Times—in California, and has economic interests through-out the Country, including, as Drudge pointed out on Sunday night, in his radio show of June 27, 2004, a television station in Boston. A rowdy station, I think Drudge said. That should be yet another motivator to the Tribune to file to unseal Kennedy.

And, Dold, will be “standing up,” to his bosses at theTribune and telling them to file suit to unseal Kerry? Presumably Dold has done this already and he will be calling all the liberalstream media and telling them they can pick up his previously written memos on this subject tomorrow. Or, better yet, he will publish them in the Tribune.

And, finally, all of those Tribune columnists and editors who supported the Tribune lawsuit to unseal Jack will also demand that the Tribune unseal Kerry, and do so promptly, as in Monday, June 28, 2004?

Come on, Bruce Dold, Ann Marie Lipinski, John Kass, Eric Zorn, Don Wycliff and Tribune Management. Let’s see if you will rise to the Drudge challenge and show the world you really are consistent. After all, if you are not consistent, then you will be lacking in integrity, which, Mr. Dold argued yesterday is the ballgame.
Don’t let us down, please live up to your mission statement. We are counting on you to stand up to those who are wealthy, powerful and politically connected.

Let’s see, Teresa Heinz Kerry has an estimated net worth of 500 million to 1 billion dollars. She runs a powerful foundation, with lots of economic interests. John is a powerful U. S. Senator. I would say both John and Teresa are well connected. They would seem to quality as your well-defined targets who should not be allowed to hide behind sealed court records.

Further, if Teresa is hiding something in her undisclosed tax returns, and someone finds out, then you have the Kass extortion argument. Same with John’s sealed divorce record. Same with Teresa’s sealed Foundation information.

I, and I am sure your and my readers, enthusiastically await your individual and collective responses. Partial credit will be given. But, only for responses that are consistent. So, please do not give me any of those “foolish consistency,” arguments. Although oft quoted, they are neither logical nor convincing.
Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at

Dated June 28, 2004 at 1:00 am

Speaker Dennis Hastert speaks out on Jack Ryan, Rauschenberger, Gidwitz and Thompson.

[The Speaker suggests, below, lawyers are needed to help with the vetting of Senate candidates; say, I forgot to tell the Speaker that I could find some lawyers/vetters for the State GOP or the GOP Centrral Committee, or I could even do the vetting. I mean, that is my day job—legal recruiting; Combine that with my television interviewing skills and I should be quite the vetter. I might have a conflict, you say? Okay, I will consult with Medill, and see if they will approve it].

Jeff Berkowitz: We are standing here on Sunday, June 27, 2004
and we are speaking with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert. Congressman, thank you very much for joining us.

Speaker Hastert: My pleasure, great to be here.

Berkowitz: As you know, everybody has been abuzz about Jack Ryan’s decision [on Friday] to withdraw and not continue the [U. S. Senate] race. How do you think that will play out? Do you have any suggestions as to whom the candidate ought to be for the U. S. Senate, representing the Republican Party.

Hastert: Yes, I advised Jack Ryan right after the Primary that he needs to get this whole thing out in the open and behind him and then he needed to do that and define candidate Obama. Unfortunately, when he got it out, it was just unacceptable to most Republican voters in Illinois. And, I think he did the right thing by stepping down. But, now, we have to find that new candidate. I suggested that the State Party set up a panel of three or four attorneys; anybody who wants to run should be able to meet their questions and pass that—we don’t want to go through this whole type of situation again. And, then those people would go on and interview with the State, uh—

Berkowitz: Central Committee

Hastert: Central Committee and then that decision should be forthcoming. I hope that [it] is forthcoming in a couple of weeks. The quicker we can get this thing done, the better off we are. That will—beyond the press, we will be able to see who these candidates are. I don’t have any favored person in the race. I know, it—uh, might have to have somebody who can self fund- that can go and spend the money and do this. But, we also have to have somebody who has to be electable by the Republican Party. There are people that ran that race. I think [State Senator] Steve Rauschenberger from Elgin certainly is a good candidate. [3rd place finish in the Primary; 21% to Oberweis’ 25% and Ryan’s 34%] He has been through the political process [12 years as a state senator] . He knows what that is all about. [But] if he is going to run, he also has to show how he can raise that money and how we can support him because you know this is—you know, these races get to be expensive.

Berkowitz: He is looking for, I understand, a five million dollar commitment from the national party to him. Is that something that you think can be done?

Hastert: That is really the U. S. Senate Congressional group; that is not part of my issue.

Berkowitz: …Rauschenberger is somebody you think might be electable but there is the issue of raising the money [to fund the race]—

Hastert: I think he is not only electable; I think he can also do the job when he gets there. But, also, being able to run this campaign is something else you have to look at, as well.

Berkowitz: Now, Ron Gidwitz’s name is being thrown out as someone who probably could self-finance, but [he] has not really run [for elective office] other than for Committeeman in the City [of Chicago]. Would you say—what do you think about Ron Gidwitz?

Hastert: Ron has a long service in the public sector and has done a lot of things and I think he understands what the needs are from the U. S. Senate and I think he would probably be very effective in doing it, so we will have to look at that candidacy, as well. I would do that favorably.

Berkowitz: And, one other name that has come up is Jim Thompson, former Governor Jim Thompson, who has indicated that he is busy with the 9/11 Commission but I don’t know that he has said unequivocally that he would not run. What would you think of that candidacy?

Hastert: Well, you know, I served under Jim Thompson. He did a great job for the state of Illinois; is a very dynamic person; has good name ID; would be able to raise the money and if he would do it, I think he would be one of them that we would have to look at, as well.

Speaker Dennis Hastert, interviewed for a forthcoming segment of “Public Affairs,” recorded on June 27, 2004, after the Speaker spoke at a Congressman Phil Crane fundraiser at the Barn of Barrington restaurant in Barrington, IL.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Dated June 27, 1:30 am.,revised June 27, at 8:25 pm.

Cook county GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka and RNC Illinois Rep. Robert Kjellander, answering questions from the Press on Friday afternoon, June 25, 2004, soon after Jack Ryan announced, by email, his withdrawal from the U. S. Senate Race, and prior to Senator Peter Fitzgerald suggesting that Jack Ryan could have survived the disclosure of the child custody file if the "Republican Party Brass," had not engaged in a stoning of Jack Ryan. To hear Senator Fitzgerald's clip on the Party Brass' stoning, as well as an excellent summary of this week's events regarding the demise of Jack Ryan's candidacy, listen to Craig Dellimore's "At Issue," radio show, tonight [Sunday], at 9:30 pm on WBBM, 780 AM Radio.

Excerpts from the Press Conference:

State GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka: I don’t want to hog all of this, so let Bob [Kjellander] talk.

Jeff Berkowitz: Well, then, let me ask Bob Kjellander. In light of the fact that four of the top [Republican U. S. Senate] primary vote getters were strongly pro-life, do either or both of you think that it would be inappropriate for the selection [of a Jack Ryan replacement] by the State Central Committee to be someone who is pro-choice on the issue of abortion.

Topinka: We are going to consider everyone. There are no litmus tests in this Party.

RNC representative from ILlinois Robert Kjellander: And, I think that is an important point to make. If there were litmus tests in the Republican Party, Judy and I would not be here today. I happen to be Pro-Life; she happens to be pro-choice. The Republican Party is open to all and I think we just have to assess who the strongest candidate to fill the slot on the ticket would be.

Berkowitz: Has [14 year former Governor] Jim Thompson said no to you?

Another Reporter: What is the likelihood that the names that we already know that were running against Mr. Ryan in the Primary will be back again?

Topinka: I am sure they will be in the mix… Some have called; Others I am quite sure would be quite willing to stand. I mean we have former candidates, like Jim Durkin who was great. We have had [former Chicago Bears place kicker and now Illinois Justice] Bob Thomas’ name tossed out at us. We have had lots of names tossed to us already…

Another reporter: Do you feel betrayed by Jack Ryan in any way that he should have disclosed everything to you before this all—

Topinka: I think we are beyond that point. We are moving ahead.

Another Reporter: What about Jim Edgar? Have you spoken to Jim Edgar about his possible candidacy?

Topinka: Yes, Jim Edgar has more than enough to deal with [at this time regarding] the President’s campaign. He will not be a candidate.

Reporter: Are you ruling yourself out?

Topinka: Yes, I like Illinois. I wouldn’t like to commute.

Another Reporter: You didn’t answer the Jim Thompson question.

Kjellander: I’ll answer the question about Jim Thompson. All right. What’s the question?

Berkowitz: Is he still a possibility [to replace Jack Ryan]?

Kjellander: No, I spoke to the Governor and he indicated that he is still absorbed with the 9/11 Commission activities and he—

Berkowitz: He would not accept it if offered, is that what you are saying?

Kjellander: He just said, I am busy- doing the business of the people with the 9/11 commission.

Topinka: All right, thank you very much. Thanks for your help.
Press Confernence, Hard Rock Hotel at Wacker/Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Loop, Illinois GOP Chairman Judy Baar Topinka and the ubiquitous RNC member and lobbyist Robert Kjellander, June 25, 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Dated June 25, 2004, 1:00 am, revised June 27, 11:15 pm.

The Daley Tribune Combine—The longest night [Hmmm, Kass has talked about Mayor Daley having to worry about that guy-- RICO. Wonder if the Tribune also is worried about that guy RICO. Now, this is a Combine even Kass hasn't talked about.

The ABC, Ch. 7 local Chicago news reported on its 10:00 pm Thursday newscast that Illinois Republican leaders in the Nation’s Capitol have decided that U. S. Attorney [for the Northern District of Illinois] Patrick Fitzgerald should replace Jack Ryan as the Repulican Candidate for the United States Senate Seat. ABC forgot to identify who they were referencing as Illinois’ R leaders in the Capitol. I suppose it could be House Speaker Dennis Hastert [who apparently oversaw a 10-0 Illinois congressional delegation vote that favored Jack Ryan withdrawing from the Senate Race]. Speaker Hastert also fought tooth and nail Senator Fitzgerald’s right, essentially, to nominate the U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois [and ultimately Sen. Fitzgerald's choice was Patrick Fitzgerald-no relation to Peter and an outsider from New York].

If Kerry/Obama win, it would not look so good for Obama to go along with Democratic [especially Mayor Daley's] desire to replace U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. After all, Barack has said he favored keeping Patrick in his US Attorney job. If Bush/? Win, it would not look so good for Rauschenberger, Gidwitz, Thompson and/or Hastert to quickly replace Fitz. Rauschenberger is already on record as saying Fitz should stay. And, given Fitz's Record, the other Rs would find it troublesome to oust him-- Fitz is no Jack. So, the boys downtown come up with an even better plan. Put Patrick Fitzgerald up as the U. S. Senate Republican candidate in place of Jack and Mayor Daley’s greatest nemeses, Patrick Fitzgerald and Peter Fitzgerald, are removed in one fell swoop. And, the establishment wing of the Ds and Rs couldn't be happier. You have to admire the chutzpah of the Daley/Tribune Combine. George Ryan is gone, but the Combine lives on. Kass, take note, please.

BTW, years ago, perhaps in 1999-2000, when Jack was thinking of running in the 10th CD primary, maybe even before-- Jack told me he did not know whether he had the necessary mettle or necessary toughness to run and win political office. Now, that is a question I would like to see answered. Perhaps Thursday night's the night. Jack is apparently mulling it over whether to Hold or Fold. Hard to know, using one of Jack's favorite phrases, why he would fold? Doesn't have the necessary mettle? Or, could the Party Brass turn up the heat in the kitchen even more?

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of Public Affairs, can be recached at JBCG@

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Dated June 24, 1:00 am

Gut Check time for Jack Ryan:

Well boys and girls, the liberalstream media is mounting a full court press to get one of their boys or girls installed as the U. S. Senate candidate. They were saddened that they had no real so called “moderate,” to their liking, in the March primary. Yes, there was semi-Pro Choice General Borling, but he was not so good on gun control or even gay rights, and was not a serious candidate. So, the “moderates,” sat the Senate race out. Judy Baar, Jim Edgar, Ron Gidwitz and Corinne Wood were virtually absent. Why would they care whether the winner was Ryan, Oberweis, McKenna or Rauschenberger? Not a pro-choicer, pro gay rightser, pro gun controller candidate among them. Judy Baar may say she is off the charts [meaning quite conservative] on economic issues, but most true R conservatives, e.g., supply siders, not Warren Rudman types, remain unconvinced. Same with Jim, Ron and Corinne—Indeed, they don’t even go as far, in talk, as JBT on economic issues.

Interestingly, JBT, Jim, Ron and Corinne are all mentioned in Wednesday’s Sun-Times as 4 of the 6 possibilities to replace Jack. The Sun-Times article notes that conservatives “can’t stand,” Corinne and no one knows who Ron is, but neglects to note that conservatives do not hold Edgar or Judy in any higher esteem than Corinne. Indeed, I know some who would prefer Corinne to Edgar or Judy.

The Sun-Times couldn’t give a ---- --- who won in the R primary. Sure, they endorsed Jack in the R primary, but we knew they would go with Obama in the General. Perhaps this was a bone for the conservative Huntley on the Editorial Board, but I don’t know if Steve cared about Jack. The Tribune endorsed State senator Rauschenberger but that was more about slapping Jack down than promoting Senator Rauschenberger. I don’t know about the various other papers through-out the state who have jumped on the “Jack down hill slide,” to say that none have any influence, but I would guess that none are “make or break” for Jack to win in November.

The Sun-Times headline has gone already from above the fold “Ryan pushing sex clubs,” to “Ryan digs in.” By tomorrow, the Sun-Times could return to Sex among gerbils, or whatever. The Tribune went from yesterday’s above the fold sex clubs to GOP leaders “felt misled on Ryan file.” Well, Ms. Lipinski, I think “GOP leaders feeling misled,” may not do what you are apparently trying to accomplish, i.e., scare Jack out of the race. Yes, the Trib had some moralisms about their argument that Ryan was not honest about what the sealed records contained and now he has “deeply alienated many of the state’s GOP leaders, who will probably make a decision by the end of the week on whether they will demand that he quit the race… they can certainly turn his race into a lost cause by abandoning him.”

Say what? They can certainly turn his race into a lost cause by abandoning him. Well, they would like Jack to think that, but I don’t think so.

At the Cook County GOP fundraiser tonight, I spoke with a Republican elected official who has dined well at the Tribune endorsement table and he told me Bruce Dold, Tribune editorial page editor, was a “stand up,” guy. So, I inquired, just who has Bruce stood up to? No answer. Really, no answer. I mean, who has Bruce stood up to. George Ryan? I don’t think so. In the 1998 election, the Tribune gave him a pass and even after his corruption rife administration was obvious to the Tribune, they had a soft spot for George because of his “evolution,” on the social and economic issues and on Capital Punishment.

In 2002, when the Tribune should have been able to write about the Daley administration corruption allegations that have popped up in the last few weeks and months ago, they did not. As a consequence, Daley faced no credible opposition candidates in 2003. So, the Tribune raises allegations about the Daley administration in 2004 when it is too late or too early to affect Daley’s election prospects.

Even the Tribune’s own columnist Eric Zorn has discussed the lameness of the Tribune essentially “endorsing,” former Chicago Teacher Union President Deborah Lynch after she lost last week. Gee, Bruce, timing is not just important in politics. It is also important in endorsements and reporting. Best to do them before the election for maximum impact.

Bruce Dold? A stand-up guy? Well, we asked Bruce Dold to sit down with us and answer some of our questions on “Public Affairs,” as have more than 300 guests, from U. S. Senators to Congressman to gubernatorial candidates to state legislators to media personalities. Bruce begged off, saying the North Shore was too far for him to travel to appear on our show. Gee, I wonder if he tells Tribune Publisher Scott Smith that when Scott invites Bruce to a party at his home on the North Shore. And, Bruce made it to WTTW on Wednesday night, as he does with some frequency. Hmmm. Could it be that Bruce prefers the non-follow-up questions like the one he got last night on WTTW on how the Tribune filed the motion to unseal because he did not know what was in the records and the whole judicial system rests, apparently, on making sure Jack’s record did not stay sealed.

Bruce Dold, a stand-up guy? Well, we’ll see if we ever get him to sit down with us. However, I won’t hold my breath.

Former State Senator and Gubernatorial Candidate Patrick O’Malley was at the GOP fundraiser last night and told me that Jack Ryan could survive this if he has the guts to stand up to the above referenced folks. Pat pointed out that Jack could self-finance. Cook County Board Member Tony Peraica, who was a D before he became an R, was there tonight and he essentially said the same thing as Pat O’Malley.

One would think Jack Ryan would have the guts to stand up to Illinois GOP leaders Edgar, Topinka, Cross, Watson, Dilliard and Ray Lahood. Am I leaving any “Leaders,” out. Let’s see, Edgar has not won an election since 1994 and no conservatives who I know think he could win a Republican Primary in 2004. We are told he did not run in 1998 or 2004 because of the MSI scandal and his heart and he wanted to make some money and relax. What has changed to make him a party leader now. Polls that say he is popular? So is everybody’s grandpa. That is because nobody really thinks grandpa will run.

Topinka also could not win a Republican Primary for Governor or Senator. For those positions, unlike Treasurer, people want to know her views on social issues, domestic economic policy, foreign policy, etc. We have invited her on our show to discuss these items in her role at State GOP Chair. Although she appeared twice a few years ago as Treasurer, she has not “had time,” to discuss these issues with us.
A party leader? I don’t think so.

Cross and Watson? Unlike Topinka and Edgar, these folks are Leaders, but like Topinka and Edgar, they bring no money or votes to Jack, so they can’t really abandon him.

Dilliard, a party leader? Cutting deals with Ds to break the R caucus? This guy is going to lecture Jack? I don’t think so.

Ray Lahood. As Senator Fitzgerald said, Ray who?

So, there you are folks. When the Tribune threatens that the Illinois Party Leaders could abandon Jack—hard to see why that would worry him or anyone else. With respect to those leaders, there is no there there.

Therefore, as to the Edit Board and Illinois GOP threats to Jack, as FDR said, the only thing Jack has to fear is fear itself. And, I don’t see anyone out there, including the Party Leaders, who has a better chance of winning the U.S. Senate Race, sex clubs and all, than Jack does.

That could be why Senators Fitzgerald, Frist and Allen, who have the most to gain by keeping the Illinois seat Republican, say they are still backing Jack. The Trib, Sun-Times and so called State Party Leaders, who are playing their power games about punishing people who budged in line, are not really focused on keeping the Senate Seat. Rather, it appears that these folks are trying to hang on to their old establishment power when they should be trying to get a grip on reality. Kind of reminds me of Old Europe. So, which of the party leaders most resembles Chirac?

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Updated June 22, 2004 at 11:20 pm, revised at 1:00 am on June 23. Connecting the dots: The Senate to Obama to the Tribune to Jack Ryan to Racy Bars to Edgar to Topinka to Flannery to staying on message to job tours (remember McKenna's jobs tour- does Barack owe Andy a royalty?)to Hillary to single payer to heart and soul [Beach Boys?] to Galesburg to the Sixth Circuit to Ashcroft to Iraq and coming full circle, back to Congress.

Excerpt from a Barack Obama [Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate] Press conference held at an Obama Fundraiser, the Chicago Chrildren's Musuem, Navy Pier at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, June 22, and excerpt from the talk given by Barack Obama at the Fundraiser. And yet another award from this blog to the Chicago Tribune.

Six questions were asked at the Press Conference: Five dealt with Jack Ryan's recently disclosed child custody records and one dealt with sustantive issues. I was one for two on asking about substantive issues; my colleagues were 0 for 4. Another great day for the media. Credit goes again to the Chicago Tribune for steering the media to the enlightening discussion of the meaning of an accusation that a senate candidate stepped into a "sex club," or "racy bar," how he dealt with disclosure of same, and yes, whether the Tribune's fair haired boy, Jim Edgar, would be a more formidable candidate than Jack Ryan.

Coincidentally enough, Jim Edgar and his marching partner, Judy Baar Topinka, two of the strongest critics of Jack Ryan in the last few days, seem to be the most frequently mentioned selections by the liberalstream media to replace Jack should he decide not to continue to run. Perhaps not a coincidence that neither Jim nor Judy could be expected to win a Senate primary election. Says something about what the liberalstream media really think about democracy. Now, there is a constitutional amendment they may favor: one that gives the liberalstream media the power to select U. S. Senators. Why bother with elections when editorial boards could do it so much more efficiently?
Jeff Berkowitz: Are sex clubs going to be an issue in the race between you and [Republican U. S. Senate Candidate] Jack Ryan?

Barack Obama: I have made it clear though-out this campaign that my focus is going to be on the issues that are going to actually help the families of Illinois. What I am hearing from voters is that they are concerned about health care; they are concerned about rising tuition [costs] for their kids; they are concerned about making sure they have job security; they are concerned about the situation in Iraq; these are the issues we are going to focus on; we focused on these issues in the primary. We are going to continue to focus on them in the general election.

Mike Flannery [2 CBS News}: Do you think these disclosures would disqualify Mr. [Jack] Ryan from being a candidate? Should they disqualify him?

Barack Obama: I am not going to make those judgments. The voters are going to make those judgments. All I can do is make sure that I am focusing on getting the message [out]that we can bring about some change to improve the lives of the voters in Illinois. We have been consistent in that. What worked in the primaries is going to work in the General [Election]. And, that is, staying on message about the issues that people really are concerned about. I just came from a jobs tour downstate, and as I mentioned up there [at the fundraiser], the stories are heartbreaking. People feel that the middle class is shrinking...
Barack Obama:...if I am on message and if Mr. Ryan is on his message, then I think the voters are going to have a stark choice in this election and we feel confident that we can be victorious...
Jeff Berkowitz: Barack, back to the issues-- Healthcare, you said you want to talk about have said before, I believe, that you favor universal health care. Your opponent has accused you, I believe, of saying you favor a single payer, Hillary Clinton type, health care style system.

Barack Obama: Right.

Berkowitz: Do you disagree with that?

Obama: Absolutely I disagree with that. I am on record as saying that I don't agree with single payer and this continually gets repeated and at the last news conference that Mr. Ryan was at down in Springfield when somebody asked how are you basing this notion that he [Obama] is in favor of single payer, Mr. Ryan responded I know what is in his heart and soul. Well, I don't pretend to know what is in his [Ryan's] heart and soul. All I can do is look at what he has stated publicly about his position on the issues and I ask that that the voters and the media evaluate my positions in the same fashion.

Excerpted comments by Barack Obama at the fundraiser held on June 22, 2004 at the Chicago Children's Museum.

Barack Obama: We have [here] one of my dearest friends who helped put this together, Cecile Kieth Brown...I should point out while I am on the topic that Cecile Kieth Brown's father is Damon Kieth. Some of you may know that he is a judge on the Sixth Circuit [Federal Court of Appeals] who has stood up to [Attorney General] John Ashcroft and this administration...and I want you to make sure that your father knows that folks in Chicago appreciate him.
Obama: You travel down to Alton that has lost jobs and schools are underfunded. You have got teachers that are being laid off.... and young people moving out because they see no hope in their a parent, I can't imagine the feeling of desperation if you can't give a future to your child. And, you go up to Galesburg and you meet folks who not only have been laid off but who are confronting a federal bureaucracy that has set up transitional assistance programs that don't work so that people are involved in training programs for jobs that don't exist...when I talk to young men in places like Galesburg and Peoria who are about to be shipped over to Iraq...we have 535 members of Congress and only one of them has a child in the military and they are making decisions...
Updated June 22, 2004, 2:30 pm. A sad day for the Chicago Tribune. The last year: a look back.

The Chicago Tribune is starting to remind me of a tobacco company. I mean, I am all for the free market and a free press. Nevertheless there are some companies I wouldn’t choose to work for and there are some records I, as a media giant, wouldn’t use my resources and reputation to unseal. Not unless I was lacking in, how should I put it? Character?
Jeff Berkowitz
June 22, 2004
"My campaign is going to be about making life better for the poorest of the poor," Ryan told me Monday morning as we sat at a conference table in the starkly furnished Gold Coast office suite that for the moment served as headquarters for his three-person campaign…
"It's going to be about making ours an equal opportunity society and giving everyone a chance at the American dream. Today a student at a public high school on the South Side of Chicago doesn't have a prayer in the new information economy if he's going up against the student going to New Trier High School or a Barrington High School. And that's not right."
His goal is "to empower Americans, turn this into an opportunity society and give every person a real, real chance at the American dream," he said. "We can't continue to ignore the lack of investment in our schools and the failure to provide equality of opportunity for all people--Latino, white and African-American."

To this, the proper response of Democrats is "uh-oh." Jack Ryan is just the sort of polished, non-strident do-gooder Republican who will find support in the moderate middle while flattering the mainstream right with his non-unctuous compassion for the dispossessed: Ryan won the Chicago Conservative Conference Senate straw poll Saturday by 11 percentage points over eight potential rivals.

His true counterpart in the Democratic primary field is state Sen. Barack Obama, a progressive candidate whose bona fides also make him very attractive to moderates. Both men are Harvard Law graduates with impressive community service records and huge political futures.

Now that I know Jack, I'm very sure that, soon enough, you will too.
Candidate Ryan is not confused about who he is
Eric Zorn
May 20, 2003
Ryan file a bombshell
Ex-wife alleges GOP candidate took her to sex clubs
Above the fold Headline to Chicago Tribune article by John Chase and Liam Ford, June 22, 2004
The measure of Jack Ryan's character is that he continues to invoke his child to advance the increasingly flimsy idea that he has higher priorities than his own ambition.
Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, June 22, 2004
And what would be the measure of the character of the Chicago Tribune, which didn’t just report this story of allegations made in a divorce lawsuit, which was resolved between the parties years ago. No, No, No. Mere accurate reporting, that is not the Tribune’s mission, not at all. Ask Ann Marie Lipinski, the Tribune’s Editor. The Tribune’s mission is to speak for those in society who are weak and powerless, or so they say.

The Tribune, by bringing the lawsuit [with WLS- Ch. 7 TV], blessed the idea that four year old divorce/child custody “allegations,” with no hint of allegations that involve anything criminal, should, at least for now, be the focus of the
U. S. Senate Race in Illinois.

It appears to any reasonable person that The Tribune does not want this U. S. Senate race to be about such things as school choice and the mode of education which best serves low-income minority students. Nor about which foreign policy best promotes the interests of the United States. Nope, allegations of “racy bars in three different cities,” as Tribune hero and State Senator Steve Rauschenberger put it. That’s what the Tribune and its columnist Eric Zorn think this Senate race should be about. Racy bars and divorce/child custody allegations.

Of course, Eric Zorn dresses it up in a great morality play, but that is what it comes down to. Perhaps someday, someone at the Tribune or the liberalstream media will own up to why they drove so hard to bless the effort to make the Senate race about “racy bars.” But not today.

Today, the Publisher of the Chicago Tribune, Scott Smith, can say, perhaps with a straight face, see- see, this is why the Chicago Tribune is a great paper. This is what we can accomplish by filing lawsuits to open up Child Custody files. This is the character of a great Media Giant. This is our Mission.

Yes, Scott. That is the character of the paper that you publish. How very Winnetka. Bringing the ethos of a Village of twelve thousand to a state of twelve million. And, yet another benefit to the folks at the Tribune- this gets Da Mayor off the front page for a few days. Cool.
Jeff Berkowitz, June 22, 2004.
Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at

Updated June 22, 2004 at 2:30 am

Apparently Eric Zorn has concluded Jack Ryan will drop out of the race, and then we will have a real race between Barack Obama and who- why Jim Edgar, of course, the darling of the liberalstream media in Illinois.

Zorn, in his blog ( asks:

Would Edgar accept a draft?

--In May of last year he formally declared he wouldn't run for the Senate seat being vacated by incumbent Republican Peter Fitzgerald, saying his "heart wasn't in" serving in the Senate.

--Our [Zorn's] story then said:
Edgar said he came to his decision for a "variety of personal reasons," including his new career of teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, work at a public affairs firm and serving as a director on several corporate boards. He said his elective career was "a long time to kind of be in the fishbowl," but he disputed as a factor possible attempts to link him to former Gov. George Ryan's scandal-tinged tenure as secretary of state....

--Edgar said he would not rule out a future bid for office but said he had no plans to run again. Conventional wisdom at the time was that Edgar, now 57 and heading up the Bush campaign in Illinois, simply didn't have the appetite for an 18-month campaign. Now that it would be only a little more than four months of glad-handing and begging and weathering political and personal attacks, the popular and socially moderate former governor might just give it a shot.

--That would be a race, concludes Eric Zorn.

Berkowitz sees this somewhat differently:

Eric Zorn contends we are to believe that Edgar will accept a Senate nomination appointment because he can handle a four month campaign, as opposed to the 18 month campaign he faced before this “opportunity arose.”

Ignored by Eric are a few items on the other side of the ledger:

--Edgar’s heart problem. Even if only for four months, hard to run for the U. S. Senate without giving your heart a workout. I doubt if Brenda will be comforted by Zorn’s assurances that four months is a lot better for Edgar’s heart than 18 months. If he does run, it would be the most low octane run ever. Advantage Obama.

--The liberalstream media [and Illinois Dems, these days] prefer their liberal candidates to be consistently liberal and preferably Democrat. In short, they prefer real Dems. Socially moderate only goes so far with them.
Advantage Obama.

--Edgar in his 8 years as Governor and last four years has done what in terms of studying foreign policy issues? or even domestic national policy issues. Yes, he could learn, but four months isn’t a lot of time. Advantage Obama

--Edgar, who Zorn refers to as popular, last had his popularity tested the way it counts, in an election, about 10 years ago. Since then, we have heard a lot about MSI and SOS- George Ryan connections. Yes, Edgar has done reasonably well in more recent polls, but those polls don’t reflect what can happen when Axelrod offers the voters, on Barack’s behalf, an MSI/Edgar/SOS wrap. Advantage Obama.

--Edgar, who said he wanted to be the Education Governor, never did anything to improve the quality of Education in Illinois. Indeed, his only education “accomplishment,” was to adopt Dawn Clark Netsch’s tax swap after he trashed it during the campaign. Another George Ryan “evolver.” Axelrod would again have fun with that, and the Republican base isn’t crazy about tax swaps. Advantage Obama.

--Edgar’s “socially moderate,” views are viewed by the Republican base as pro-abortion, pro-gun control and pro gay rights. The Republican base in Illinois in 2004 is much different that it was in 1994. Thus, Edgar could no longer get out of the Republican primary for Governor or U. S. Senator. With the appointment, he doesn’t have to. That’s why the liberalstream media are so enamored with the idea. So, if Edgar is the top of the ticket, the Republican base is demoralized and stays home. Advantage Obama.

--BTW, the last point is, of course, similar if Topinka is appointed to replace Jack Ryan, should he withdraw-or should she try to run for Governor in 2006. Topinka, with her known “socially moderate,” views and her untested economic views, is anathema to the Republican base. Like Edgar, she could not get out of a Republican Primary for Governor or U. S. Senator, if her life depended on it. Yes, the Rs will support her for Treasurer because, last time they looked, the Treasurer did not have a lot to say about abortion policy, gay rights and gun control. Being a U. S. Senator or Governor is a bit different. The Rs will stay home in droves if JBT is the Republican candidate for either. Advantage Obama.

Let’s see, I am just getting started and it is Obama- 6, Edgar- 0. That would be some race?

I don’t think so, Eric. More like Game, Set and Match. Of course, the liberalstream media would be happy. They couldn’t lose either way.

Jeff Berkowitz is host and producer of “Public Affairs,” and can be reached at

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Updated June 20 at 3:00 am: Two Chicago alderman discuss the Wal-Mart issue at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21 on "Public Affairs," on Monday night in the City of Chicago:

The Chicago City Council blocks Wal-Mart from coming into Ald. Brookins' Ward-- Defending Small Businesses or Keeping Hope, Growth and Jobs out of the City: We discuss, you decide.

This coming Monday night's "Public Affairs," program (airing at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 through-out the City of Chicago) features Chicago Ald. Howard Brookins (21st Ward) and Chicago Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th Ward), debating and discussing with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz whether the Chicago City Council should permit a Wal-Mart to be placed in Ald. Brookins’ Ward, whether there are potential candidates to take on Mayor Daley, whether corruption in Chicago government is swept under the carpet by the City Council and whether Chicago parents would like to have School Choice/School Vouchers. A partial transcript of this show is included in the blog entry, below, dated June 15, ll:30 pm.
Updated June 20 at 3:00 am: This week's suburban edition of "Public Affairs," (week of June 21) features Carlos Hernandez-Gomez, Chicago Public Radio [WBEZ- 91.5 FM Radio] political reporter. Hernandez-Gomez visits the set of "Public Affairs," and talks with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz about public corruption in the City of Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley and his dad (Mayor Richard J. Daley): Like father, like son?; successors to Mayor Daley and the battle between Blago/Emil and Speaker Mike.

The suburban edition of "Public Affairs," is broadcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.

The suburban edition also is broadcast every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette and every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.

This show will also air through-out the City of Chicago on Monday night, June 28 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21. A partial transcript of the show is included, below, at the blog entry dated June 18, 2:15 pm.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Updated June 19, 2004, 10:23 pm.

Connecting the Dots: Curtis to Hamos to Jeff Schoenberg to Lee Daniels to Speaker Mike to Justice Greiman to Hot Rod to Dart to Lisa to RFK to Schmidt to Vallas to Daley to Hynes to Emil to Jack to Danny to the liberalstream media to "Public Affairs,"-- the wonder of pols and connections.

Republican Julianne Curtis “takes on,” Democratic State Rep. Julie Hamos and as usual, you can’t understand political races (AG, Gov, Comptroller, 2nd Cong. Dist. and the 18th Dist.) in Illinois, even on the North Shore, unless you understand it’s, “All in the Family.” Please read on.

The week after this coming week's (Week of June 28) suburban edition of "Public Affairs," features Julianne Curtis (R- Wilmette), Candidate for 18th District State Rep., debating and discussing with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz whether the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act, co-sponsored by Curtis’ opponent, Democratic incumbent Julie Hamos (D- Evanston) is an appropriate and sound public policy. Other topics debated and discussed include gun control, background checks, an assault weapon ban, abortion, parental consent, same sex marriages, civil unions, legislation banning housing or employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, the impact of minimum wage differentials across states, the business climate in Illinois and tort reform/pain and suffering damage caps.

Hamos is a six year incumbent, but only two years of that time have been spent representing the 18th District under the 2002 re-districted boundaries. The 18th District currently includes a small portion of Rogers Park, all of Evanston and Kenilworth, east Wilmette, most of Winnetka and a small portion of Glencoe- what Rep. Hamos likes to call a “regional district,” due to its combination of 95,000 North Shore Suburbanites [if Evanston counts as North Shore, or a suburb] with 10,000 residents of the City of Chicago.

In the early 1990s, the district that has become the 18th was fairly evenly split between Ds and Rs and included the Northern portion of Evanston. During the 1990s, Jeff Schoenberg, a strong Democratic candidate and campaigner, beat a series of weak Republican candidates, and the District became increasingly Democratic, with the numbers generally running 60-40 by the end of the decade. This numerical Democratic advantage reflected (1) the fact that Lee Daniels, when the Rs won the redistricting coin toss, had sliced the District too thin for his Party, (2) the growing strength of then State Rep. Jeff Schoenberg, (3) the changing demographics and the infusion of Democrats into the North Shore and (4) the cumulative impact of a string of weak Republican state rep. candidates in that District.

Then, adding to the above, the new 18th was made even more Democratic in 2002 by Illinois House Speaker and Illinois Democratic State Party Chairman Mike Madigan and his [and his staff’s] skillful line drawing when the Democrats won the coin toss. Speaker Mike, of course, knows Rep. Hamos’ now husband, who is now Appellate Justice Greiman, pretty well, going back to when Justice Greiman was himself a state Rep. and an Assistant Majority Leader in the House under Speaker Mike. In Illinois, political activism seems to be a prerequisite for becoming a judge in the state court system, especially in the Democratic Party- although the Rs may be no slouches in this area, too. Anyway, if you are a state Rep., it always helps to have friends in high places when it comes time to draw new district boundaries. And, they come no higher in Illinois than Speaker Mike. As Hot Rod is learning.

BTW, the strong relationship between the Illinois Supreme Court, the Democratic Party and trial lawyers explains why, of course, caps on “pain and suffering damages, “are unconstitutional,” in Illinois.

So, to close out the story of the evolution of the 18th Dist. Into very safe D territory, the Democrats’ decision to modify the 18th from including part to almost all of the People’s Republic of Evanston in the 18th meant that it would be unlikely that a Republican would win the 18th in this decade (Julie Hamos’ old district included the southern portion of Evanston). In 2002, State Rep. Julie Hamos beat her Republican opponent, James O’Hara, 71% to 29 %.

Also, in 2002, State Rep. Jeff Schoenberg wanted to run for State Treasurer. Democratic State Rep. Tom Dart wanted to run for Attorney General. Speaker Mike wanted to clear the field for his daughter, Lisa Madigan, then a 4 year state senator and all of 8 years out of law school, to run for AG. As JFK said in defense of making Robert F. Kennedy his AG, they needed to beef up his resume. So, too, with Lisa. Thus, Tom Dart was “given,’ the opportunity of a clear primary for Treasurer. An offer he couldn’t refuse, so to speak. Of course, to clear the Treasurer’s D primary for Dart, a very safe State Senate seat, the 9th, had to be created for Schoenberg. No problem. Indeed, in 2002, Schoenberg ended up not having a Republican opponent, which is a story unto itself.

Of course, John Schmidt, who started to run for Governor in the Democratic Primary, reversed direction and ran for AG in the Primary, spoiling the Speaker’s plans a bit. Lisa did win handily, but it did require some muscle by the Speaker, which the press noted, and the Speaker retaliated by boycotting the press, which takes us to the present spat between Rod and Emil on the one hand and the Speaker, on the other. Since the Speaker needs the press now, it looks like the boycott may be over. Of course, if the Speaker can undermine Rod, then he and a press that will increasingly admire Lisa can help her become Governor—and, finally, the Speaker can rest his tired muscles.

So, boys and girls, I leave you with this. If you want to understand why Lisa Madigan [and not John Schmidt] is Attorney General and perhaps the next Governor, why Rod [Mell] Blagojevich [and not Paul Vallas] is the current Governor, why Richard M. Daley is Mayor, why Dan Hynes is Comptroller, why Jesse Jackson [and not now State Senate President and, 23 year state legislator in 1995, Emil Jones] is the Congressman from the 2nd District and why Julie Hamos, a strong candidate and campaigner in her own right, can be expected to win the 18th pretty handily- just remember, "if you don’t have Family, you don't have anything."

And the mainstream, I mean, liberalstream media and bloggers are now busy obsessing on what terrible people are Jack Ryan and Cong. Danny Davis, while many of the above referenced nepotism pols are lionized. Sometimes it is good not to be a part of the “in-crowd.” But, not being mean-spirited, a Happy Father's Day from "Public Affairs," to Mike, Tom, Dick, Richie, Jesse and all the rest.

The suburban edition of "Public Affairs," is broadcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.

The suburban edition also is broadcast every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette and every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.

The show with Republican state rep. candidate Julianne Curtis will also air through-out the City of Chicago on Monday night, July 5 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21

Friday, June 18, 2004

Updated on June 18, 2004, 2:10 pm: Carlos Hernandez-Gomez, Chicago Public Radio [WBEZ- 91.5 FM Radio] political reporter visits the set of "Public Affairs," and talks about corruption, Mayor Richard M. Daley and his dad (Mayor Richard J. Daley): Like father, like son?

Carlos Hernandez-Gomez:...The Mayor's become...

Jeff Berkowitz: The Mayor's become___?

Hernandez-Gomez: more and more autocratic since his most recent election--

Berkowitz: The Mayor's become___ what else?

Hernandez-Gomez: Well, I think--

Berkowitz: Let's fill in the blank, here...A fill in the blank quiz. He [Mayor Daley] has become more and more autocratic. Would you go a little further.

Hernandez-Gomez: Well, I don't know if I want to go further. I think--

Berkowitz: Has he become an embarrassment to the City of Chicago?

Hernandez-Gomez: I can't say that, Jeff, and it is not my place to say that.

Berkowitz: Whose place is it to say that?

Hernandez-Gomez: I think it is the People's place to say that.

Berkowitz: Okay, so you are a member of the 4th Estate, right? But, it is not your place to express that kind of a viewpoint?

Hernandez-Gomez: Well, it is not my job to express viewpoints, but I think you can accurately say- use the word autocratic and while the Mayor may disagree, you can look at certain things he has done and say, yes, he has become more autocratic: trying to put a casino in and not talking to the City Council about it- the way he did last year; tearing up Meigs field without having any sort of--

Berkowitz: He has no opposition. He has appointed 20 of the 50 City Council members to their positions. They are pretty beholden to him, would you say?

Hernandez-Gomez: Certainly the ones he appoints, I mean--

Berkowitz: There is only one entity or one force for the Mayor to worry about, right? and what would that be? Come on.

Hernandez-Gomez: Well, I mean [pause]

Berkowitz: What would you be worried about if you had this corruption all around you and your name was Mayor Daley?

Hernandez-Gomez: I think the Mayor is so-- and we don't know that the Mayor has ever himself taken a dime, and I don't know that he has and I don't believe he has. I think he is probably too smart to have done it himself.

Berkowitz: So, you think he is clean.

Hernandez-Gomez: Well, I don't want to say that someone is clean or not clean-- it's not-- I don't want to do--

Berkowitz: Well, you just said, he [Mayor Daley] didn't take a dime-- so, doesn't that mean clean? What are you going to say? He took a penny?

Hernandez-Gomez: But, Jeff, if you are willfully ignorant of what's going on--

Berkowitz: Then you are not clean. And, he [Mayor Daley] may be willfully ignorant? Is that what you are saying? He may be willfully ignorant. He may not want to know some things so he has deniablity, is that what you are telling me?

Hernandez-Gomez: Well, that is the way it worked with his father...[Former Ald.] Tom Keane once told a reporter...the way it was with the first Mayor Daley was-- I don't want to know....But, if you get caught, you are on your own, and that's the way it is.

Berkowitz: So, you think that is what this Mayor Daley, Mayor Richard M. Daley, may be saying?

Hernandez-Gomez: I don't know about that-- that's stuff from what his father did.
Carlos Hernandez-Gomez, taped on June 16, 2004 and as will be cablecast in the suburbs on "Public Affairs," during the week of June 21, 2004 and through-out the City of Chicago on Monday, June 28, 2004 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Dated June 17, 2004 at 12:40 pm; revised at 2:50 pm

Who knows better? Government or the individual? Free to Choose?

Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty, Free at Last.

Larry Handlin ( responds on his site today to my blog entry of last week on gun control (See June 11, 2:30 am, revised June 12, 12:45 pm, below) by listing a litany of constitutional, public policy, and paternalistic arguments that in large part consist of an implicit argument that (1) Government (a collection of people) knows better than the individual as to what is best for that individual and (2) Government makes fewer mistakes in implementing its decisions than does the individual. I am neither a libertarian nor an anarchist, but I do think that neither of Larry’s implicit arguments should be taken as gospel. Let’s look at the specifics of Larry’s blog entry.

Perhaps most importantly, Larry focuses almost his whole argument on the efficacy of “waiting periods,” ignoring the example I gave of a woman in danger, facing an adversary of greater physical strength, being prohibited, by law, from possessing and using a handgun [the great equalizer] in the City of Chicago to defend herself. She can't possess a handgun in the City of Chicago now, in 24 hours, or ever. Same with the People's Republic of Wilmette. Now, that, I think, is particularly a Woman’s issue [although also, if a little less so, a Man's issue] and I wonder where Larry and other so-called Women’s rights' activists stand on that. At a minimum, it merits a response from Larry.

As to Larry’s argument about why “waiting or cooling off periods,” are appropriate to purchase guns, Larry leads with his public policy arguments: (1) people, if left to their own stupidity, will think that they can learn how to shoot guns safely in 72 hours. Larry tells us they cannot; (2) people stupidly underestimate how the element of fear will distort their aim (3) people cannot make appropriate decisions for themselves in 24/72 hours whether a gun would be good for them, they need government to require more time for them to get over their anger or whatever else might be distorting their short-term judgment; (4) Far more effective means of personal safety are available to those in danger; and (5)a FOID card in Illinois takes a couple of weeks to obtain, and that is prudent policy.

Well, Larry, it may be that learning how to shoot guns safely, in a defensive posture, is harder than most people realize. On the other hand, some people may pick it up in a shorter time period, and given the offensive threat, they might be making a rational decision to take that risk. You may argue that the new, inexperienced gun owner may shoot an innocent bystander. I could argue than the perp, who may or may not own his gun legally, may shoot an innocent bystander. But, if the perp thinks that the good woman “may” have a gun because she can respond to his threats by buying one, he may decide to leave her alone, and no one gets shot; neither the intended victim nor the "innocent," bystander. Another example of a positive benefit of a “defensive use,” of a gun that may not make the 5:00 news.

As to the aim distorted by fear, I think the dead victim might be willing to take a chance that the sight of a gun will scare him off, or perhaps if he is wounded in the leg, that might suffice to slow him down, if not stop the threat, until help can arrive.

As to waiting periods as a societal anger management tool, I think I will go with the individual’s decision as to how to best manage anger, as opposed to a governmental “one size fits all,” decision.

As to your argument that there are far more effective means of personal safety available to those in danger, that was apparently not true for the woman who was shot dead. She had a protective order, that didn’t work. The police were called, that didn’t work. Perhaps you would argue she should have stayed hidden in a shelter, cowering in the corner and never left until the danger subsided. Perhaps she tried it and didn’t like it. In any case, who are you to dictate how people live and provide for their own safety?

Finally, you argue simply, “that is the law.” It takes several weeks to get a FOID card. I am unencumbered by any knowledge of the legislative intent or the administrative operation of the FOID law, but perhaps that is how long it took originally to do background checks and perhaps that part of the law has not caught up with new technology. If so, perhaps we should re-examine the law to see if we want to change the procedures to obtain a FOID card. Old technology should not dictate individual rights. In any case, your argument does not apply to those who already own a FOID card and who want to purchase a more suitable gun in 24 hours to defend themselves.

As to your constitutional argument, I am not an expert on that part of constitutional law, but assuming arguendo that the 2nd Amendment has never been ruled an individual right, and that currently that is “The Law of the Land,” I remind you that for almost 100 years, or so, slavery in this country, under its Constitution, was, regrettably, "The Law of the Land," and for more than 150 years, “separate but equal,” was, regrettably, under the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution, the "Law of the Land." So, I am sure reasonable arguments have been made, can be make and perhaps ultimately will be made successfully that the "Law of the Land," is that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right.

In short, Larry, it is all about being Free to Choose. As in schools, as in so many areas of our life, the fact that an individual, from time to time, will make a mistake cannot be the primary justification for governmental action. This is because, as I am sure you would concede, the government also makes mistakes from time to time. So, the question is who [Government or individuals acting freely] will make fewer mistakes over time, and which mistakes can be more readily remedied. You, of all people, should be more skeptical of the heavy arm of government always doing the "right thing."

Remember those words: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty, Free at last.

Yes, at that time, it took the heavy arm of the Federal Government to stop the oppression of the heavy arm of certain state and local governments. Even William F. Buckley, the true voice and conscience of Conservatives, in an interview he did with me, recently [published on this Blog] acknowledged that conservatives mistakenly underestimated the need for the Federal Govenment to accelerate the acceptance of Civil Rights in the South.

But having passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, etc., it is time to step back and let individuals exercise their hard earned individual rights. Let those parents in the City of Chicago have a chance to take their kids out of failing schools. Let them have their $10,000 fully funded school voucher and let them exit the failing public schools for a private alternative that works. Don’t demean these people by calling them too stupid to exercise the same school choice that Rev. Jackson, Speaker Mike Madigan and Gov. Blagojevich did or currently do.

Same thing with the low-income person who cannot rely on the judicial system, the police or a private shelter to protect herself. Let her purchase a gun for defensive purposes. As in school choice, don’t demean these women [and men] by telling them you know better than they do what is best for them.

It is time, Larry. Letting Go can be hard, but try it. Let Freedom Ring.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at