Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Zane Smith, 10th CD Dem. Candidate, on TV

"Public Affairs," with Democratic 10th CD Primary Candidate Zane Smith, is airing this week in 35 Chicago metro suburbs on Comcast Cable: in 25 North Shore, North and Northwest suburbs, the show is on tonight in its regular Tuesday night time slot: 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Ch. 19 or 35, as indicated, below; in 10 North Shore suburbs, the show will be on in its regular airing slot at 8:30 pm on M, W, and F on Comcast Cable Ch. 19, as indicated, below.

The show can also be watched within a few days as a webcast on the Public Affairs Cinema Complex [See here].

The show will also air throughout the City of Chicago this coming Monday night, February 6 at 8:30 pm on CANTV, Cable Ch. 21.
Zane Smith, 10th CD Democratic Primary Candidates, debates and discusses with Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter Jeff Berkowitz more than fifteen domestic and foreign policy issues, including the Hugo Chavez "revolution," in Venezuela, public corruption and reform in Washington, budget earmarks, education, spending, taxes, the War, diplomacy, social issues, warrantless phone taps and intercepts, tort reform and much, much more.
The episode of Public Affairs featuring Democratic 10th Congressional District candidate Zane Smith airs tonight at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette

And at 8:30 pm 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.

And Wednesday and Friday night at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.
Public Affairs invited the other 10th CD Democratic Primary candidate to participate in this show, but he did not respond to our invitation. The winner of the Democratic Primary will face Republican and third term incumbent Congressman Mark Steven Kirk [R-Highland Park], who beat Lee Goodman in 2004, 64% to 36% and won by a larger margin in 2002. Mark Kirk won a razor thin 5500 vote margin in victory in 2000 over then State Rep. Lauren Beth Gash [D-Highland Park], when moderate Republican Congressman John Porter created an open seat by stepping down after 21 years in Congress.
A partial transcript of the show will be placed on this blog later today.
The suburban edition of "Public Affairs," is regularly 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 night 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 night 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.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Teresa Bartels' 8th CD campaign, RIP.

Teresa Bartels, whose 8th CD Republican Primary campaign seemed to be lost in space from the get go, withdrew from the race today. Bartels started the race with some candor [See here], conceding how little she knew about the issues, and ended, with the usual babble for withdrawing candidates, about how she couldn’t keep up with the money, etc. Moreover, her campaign went negative in the last week, with bizarre attacks on her three primary competitors at a candidate's forum-- and reliable sources involved in the contest reported to me that the Bartels campaign was apparently behind a negative push poll during the last week.

Her campaign manager [Mike Zolnierowicz, an import from the old, Katherine Harris Florida team, who became famous for over-doing her make-up and for helping to make George Bush President in 2000, and who may be the Republican candidate for the U. S. Senate in Florida this year] and campaign in general was unavailable for comment, which has generally been the case, when they realized they would not get softballs, at least from Public Affairs. Having scheduled three television appearances on my show and canceled three, the campaign proceeded to simply ignore “Public Affairs,” which I took as a complement, and as it turns out, was a favor to my viewers, readers and me.

On Saturday, at a candidate forum in Round Lake, Bartels pathetically went negative on the three other major candidates [David McSweeney, Kathy Salvi and Robert Churchill], and when that bombed-- one would surmise that she started singing the Doors’ famous tune, “This is the end.”

Bartels’ above mentioned three major competitors, hoping to pick up the scraps from her few supporting voters and funders, made the obligatory, complimentary statements, after the Bartels campaign demise.

From the McSweeney campaign:

“Teresa is a bright woman, and she will have a bright future in the political realm.”

Really, doing what? Raising money for others? Perhaps.

From the Kathy Salvi Campaign:

“Teresa waged a strong campaign for the values we share - lower taxes, reduced spending and commitment to pro-life and pro-family values…”

Really, I thought Bartels was supposed to be the “moderate,” in the primary field, while all the time she never would quite say what her views really were.

From the Churchill campaign:

State Rep. Churchill was on the floor in the state house, so lucky him, he was unavailable for comment. However, his campaign manager, Jon Zahm, gave me this on behalf of candidate Churchill:

We wish Teresa, Chuck and their family the very best. Teresa was strong qualified candidate who brought much to the race. We hope to earn her support and the support of those who were backing her in the election.

Well, at least the part about wanting her voters makes sense. Getting them is quite another matter, if Bartels had any.
That leaves the Republican primary voters with three real choices for a candidate to take on first term 8th CD Congresswoman Melissa Bean [D-Barrington]: McSweeney, Salvi and Churchill [To watch my shows with each of these candidates and a debate between Churchill and McSweeney],
[See here].

There are three minor candidates who apparently will remain on the ballot: Ken Arnold, Aaron Lincoln and Jim Mitchell. But nobody is quite sure why they are in the race, except for the fun of participating in candidate forums [Jim Mitchell, for example, waxed eloquent at the last candidate forum about corruption in Cook County and wrongful convictions in Illinois, without making any effort to tie such issues to the 8th CD race]. It takes fewer than 800 signatures, boys and girls, to put yourself on the ballot for a congressional race. 800 signatures and you could go to forums and spout off, too. Does that make sense?
Where do things stand now? If I were a betting person, I would say, if the election were held today, McSweeney would take it, followed by a not so close Salvi and Churchill a close third.

Because of the gender thing [now, of the three major candidates, only one female on the ballot]Kathy Salvi is probably helped most by Teresa’s departure, but not nearly enough to turn the race.

Could the above ranking change by March 21, or before with much early voting? Absolutely, a lot can happen in 50 days. Indeed, perhaps there will be some reaction by the candidates to my show with Congresswoman Bean, which will air in the suburbs next week.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Monday, January 30, 2006

Abortion and the Treasurer’s office: Mangieri on Cable/Web

Tonight’s discussion on Public Affairs features Democratic Primary Treasurer Candidate Paul Mangieri, and it airs at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 throughout the City of Chicago.

For more on Paul Mangieri, his primary opponent and the general election, See here.

The show with Treasurer candidate Mangieri can also be watched anytime as a webcast on the Public Affairs Cinema Complex [See here].

Tonight's "Public Affairs," topics include a comparison of the background and qualifications of the two Democratic Candidates for Treasurer, Senator Obama’s decision to endorse Paul Mangieri’s primary opponent; gay rights, guns and abortion; management of the State of Illinois financial assets, funding the state pensions and advising the Legislature on spending, borrowing and taxing; advising and participating in pension board management of pension assets; pension board public corruption issues, prosecution of financial management crimes, Gov. Blagojevich, Chris Kelly and Tony Rezko: state bond business, skimming off of cash from the state’s 10 billion dollar bond sale, the state’s bonded debt and the blame game; using short-term borrowing to finance operating expenses.
A partial transcript of the show is included, below.
Jeff Berkowitz: So social issues are important, for one reason, in the Treasurer’s office in that the Treasurer has tended, in the past to go on and do things?

Paul Mangieri: Right.

Jeff Berkowitz: Pat Quinn was the Treasurer, he now is the Lt. Governor.

Paul Mangieri: Adlai Stevenson, Allen Dixon…and we currently have a candidate now who is Treasurer and is now running for Governor…

Jeff Berkowitz: That’s right. Good point. Judy Baar Topinka has been the Treasurer for the last twelve years. She is now running for Governor. She is now encountering the issue about her views on abortion…So, let’s talk about that a little bit…You are said to be pro life, and yet are you really pro life?

Paul Mangieri: Well, together, my wife and I have twelve children. I happen to be Roman Catholic.

Jeff Berkowitz: Blended marriage.

Paul Mangieri: Blended marriage, that’s correct.

Jeff Berkowitz: Several kids from her first marriage. Several from yours. And, then a half dozen, since?

Paul Mangieri: Felicia had two. I had four and together we have had six…

Jeff Berkowitz: So, you’re pro life in the sense that you and your wife would not choose to have an abortion, is that correct?

Paul Mangieri: That is correct. I am personally pro-life, and, I know, based upon my conversations with my wife that she has made that choice for herself, as well. That she is pro life.

Jeff Berkowitz: But, you don’t want to overturn Roe v Wade, do you?

Paul Mangieri: No.
I have no interest in that.

Jeff Berkowitz: In fact, you would be opposed to overturning Roe vs. Wade, right?

Paul Mangieri: I would be opposed to overturning Roe vs. Wade, because I recognize that this is America. And, what that decision does is it recognizes every individual’s right to make that choice for themselves.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, you believe in the so-called “woman’s right to choose,” with respect to abortion, right?

Paul Mangieri: I believe that that matter should be left to a woman in consultation with her physician.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, you’re not really pro life in the sense that many people use it; when somebody says, I think downstate [Ed. Note: and upstate, as well], if they say they’re pro life, most people understand that to mean they would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned. They might want to see that decision returned to the state legislature and they would like the legislature to make abortion generally illegal, except maybe for the life of the mother, or some other exceptions, [e.g, rape and incest] I got that right?

Paul Mangieri: I think you have that right. Therein lies the problem, at times, because people tend to take an overly simplistic approach.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, why are you saying you’re pro life? Because, you must know, you’re a politician. You know what it means and that you’re using it a way that doesn’t generally fit with the political vernacular, with the political lexicon.

Paul Mangieri: Because I state how I feel and that is how I feel. It’s an individual choice and personally, if people ask me what are you, and I feel as though I’m pro [life]--
Jeff Berkowitz: ... They would say "he [your opponent] is pro choice; they would say you’re pro life. There’s a difference." But, in general, you’re pretty close [to each other] on that issue. I mean, you may favor parental notice with judicial bypass, right?

Paul Mangieri: Sure.

Jeff Berkowitz: He may not.

Paul Mangiere: Correct.

Jeff Berkowitz: There may be some other things. But, you’re certainly not what somebody would call one thousand percent pro life, because of that Roe v. Wade difference.

Paul Mangieri: Once again, I believe it’s an issue that government should not have an interest in. And, it should be an issue that should be left to a woman in consultation with her physician and those members of her family, should she choose.
Paul Mangieri [D-Galesburg], Democratic Primary Candidate for Treasurer, recorded on January 22, 2006 and as is airing on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs tonight, Jan. 30 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21. The show can also be watched anytime, video streaming on the Public Affairs Cinema Complex [See here], show labeled as Paul Mangieri, January 22, 2006].
Transcript drafts prepared by Amy Allen, who also does research for “Public Affairs,” and has her own political blog [See here].
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Paul Mangieri, Dem. Candidate for Treasurer, on Cable/Web

Tonight's "Public Affairs," show in the City of Chicago features Paul Mangieri, candidate for State Treasurer in a contested Democratic Primary. The show airs throughout the City of Chicago on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV] at 8:30 pm . The show can also be watched anytime as a webcast on the Public Affairs Cinema Complex [See here].

Mangieri, 47, is Knox County State’s Attorney from downstate Galesburg and he has been endorsed by the Illinois Democratic Party [State Central Committee]. Mangieri has the support, among others, of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, State Senate President Emil Jones and Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Alexi Giannoulias, 29, Mangieri's opponent, has been endorsed by U. S. Senator Barack Obama, Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Cong. Danny Davis, and the challenge to Alexi appearing on the ballot, backed by the Illinois Democratic Party, was dropped recently.

State Senator Christine Radogno [R-Lemont] running in an uncontested primary, will be the Republican nominee for Treasurer in the general election.

A Win-Win: Senators Kerry, Kennedy and Obama- and Judge Alito.

Like the famous elephant for whom the issue is not whether he can dance well, but that he can dance at all, so with Democratic Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy’s [Massachusetts’ Bobsey Twins] filibuster vote this afternoon [scheduled for 3:30 pm CST]. The filibuster effort won’t succeed [See here] and watch here,"Stalling Tactics" , but it is a political marvel that Kennedy and Kerry could muster as much support as they did.

The conventional wisdom is that this is too little, too late by the Dems to stop Judge Alito from being confirmed as the Supreme Court Justice to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. It is expected that the Republicans almost surely have 62-64 votes to shut-off debate and break the filibuster effort [and they only need 60]. Moreover, it is expected that Judge Alito will be confirmed tomorrow with probably 58 votes [but possibly as many as 62], and, of course, he only needs 50 to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.

Lincoln Chafee, the very liberal Republican Senator from Rhode Island, who will not support a filibuster, is the only Republican Senator likely to vote against Judge Alito’s confirmation [Although, Olympia Snowe, one of the two quite liberal Republican Senators from Maine, could surprise and turn on Alito]. And, it is expected that at least four and maybe five, or so, Democrat Senators will support Judge Alito’s confirmation, including Ben Nelsen [D-NE], Tim Johnson [D-SD][who does not want to be tossed out of office by the voters for opposing Bush judges, as was his former fellow senator from South Dakota, Tom Daschle], Robert Byrd [D-WVA] [for whom liberal Illinois Senator Barack Obama has been out raising money for Bryd’s Senate re-election efforts] and Kent Conrad [D-ND].

Bill Kristol, of the Weekly Standard and Fox, commented today on the Fox News Channel, that the filibuster effort is being driven by Senator Kerry’s concern that Al Gore might be getting ahead of him in the 2008 Presidential sweepstakes. This concern resulted from Al Gore’s recent speech about warrantless NSA wiretap/intercepts, which attacked President Bush for exceeding the scope of his power under the Constitution and the law, as 2000 Democratic Presidential nominee Gore would put it. Senator Kennedy, who views himself as somehow the moral leader of the Senate [See here] and here, is, as usual, doing the bidding of the far left wing of the Democratic Party.

Sitting in his five star hotel in Davos, Switzerland, Senator Kerry got reports of the success of Gore’s efforts to revitalize his standing on the Left, and thought to himself “This cannot be.” White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan laughed and remarked at a press briefing last week, this was the first time a senate filibuster was led by a “yodeling U. S. Senator from Davos.”

And yet, maybe Senator Kerry had the last laugh, or last yodel:

…[T]his is what is really stunning, he [Kerry] has forced …or induced three quarters of Senate Democrats to vote this afternoon against closure; he has got senior Democrats who said it’s a bad idea to try to filibuster: Diane Feinstein of California; Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader; Pat Leahy, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and [possible presidential primary candidate] Joe Biden. Senior Democrats have reversed themselves because of the pressure that Kerry and Kennedy have succeeded in generating from the left wing of the Democratic Party, on these senators…For all their attempts to be moderate, the left wing of the Democratic Party dominates [See here, the hard left and the hard right often dominate their important party decisions].

Bill Kristol, commenting on a Fox News Channel report, January 30, 2006.

But, the junior Senator [and perhaps 2008 VP candidate] from the State of Illinois [Senator Obama], while voting yes on filibuster and no on Judge Alito, is not entirely comfortable with Kerry’s and Kennedy’s political gambit. Could this be a case of Senator Obama trying to have his cake and eat it, too—that is, vote against Judge Alito but inoculate himself from the problem that Presidential candidates from the Senate often have, taking some bad votes?

These last minute efforts, using procedural maneuvers inside the beltway, I think, has been the wrong way of going about it. And, we need to recognize because Judge Alito will be confirmed that if we are going to oppose a nominee, that we’ve got to persuade the American people that, in fact, their values are at stake and frankly, I am not sure that we’ve successfully done that.

Senator Barack Obama [D-IL], speaking on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Sunday, January 29, 2006, and as video streamed, in part, earlier today on the FNC web site.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Friday, January 27, 2006

West Wing lead in on Sunday night to Roeser/Rauschenberger/Berkowitz

Jeff Berkowitz will join Steve Rauschenberger, State Senator and Lt. Gov. running mate to Gubernatorial Candidate Ron Gidwitz [R-Chicago], as a guest this coming Sunday night on Tom Roeser’s Political Shoot-out, WLS 890 AM Radio, from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

For those who find West Wing a little too Left Wing for their tastes to keep up with it, it airs on NBC-5 in the Chicago Metro area from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Upset with something Berkowitz said on his show, Public Affairs? Something he wrote on this blog?—Tom Roeser’s show on Sunday night is your chance to fire back. A free fire zone, so to speak. Also, you can help shape the show by calling in with your questions and comments—312-591-8900. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Communists [no collect calls, please] and others are, of course, all welcome. If you can’t get the program on your radio, you can listen on the web [Go here

I don’t know the topics—they are determined by Mr. Roeser, with some incisive suggestions, no doubt, by his wife Lillian. However, an educated guess is that the questions will consist of various Statewide, including downstate, issues, possibly selected from the following questions, some of which are holdovers from what I suggested in this blog before I was on the show in December.

Of course, you can call and ask any of the below questions or whatever you like. As with University of Chicago Ph. D. prelim questions in economics over the years, most of the questions on Political Shoot-out stay the same each week, only the answers change. And you are Free to Choose, so to speak:

• Did Sen. Brady win the first Republican Guv. Debate, in Naperville?
• Should Gidwitz drop out now?
• If he does, does that help Judy more than Jim?
--Will the liberals stay home if the choice is Rod v. Jim? Or will they lobby harder for an assisted suicide law?
• Has Joe helped Judy? Can he?
Has Steve helped Ron? Can he?
• If Ron drops out, does Steve also do so?
• Has Steve been an unused resource by the Gidburger campaign? Will that change?
• Does Brady’s success help Judy?
Is Edwin Eisendrath idealistic enough and pragmatic enough to beat incumbent Guv Rod Blagojevich and his 20 million reasons [dollars?]for supporting him?
• Does Rod’s ability to deliver pork and other budget goodies make it impossible for Eisendrath to get the pol support he needs to win?
• Is Eisendrath on a fool’s errand? or could he upset Rod?
• Will Becky Carroll call in on Roeser to defend her boss?
• Will Eisendrath and friends be able to raise 6 million, or so, and is that enough to beat Rod.
• If Brady helps Judy, does that help Brady? Is that question Zen-like?
• Can Jim rally his conservative base and also move to the center to expand his vote?
• Will Pat O’Malley lead a conservative third party movement if Judy wins the primary?
• Will the conservatives stay home if the choice is Judy v. Rod? Or will they lobby for an assisted suicide law?
• Is Stroger’s goose cooked?
- How is Carol Marin working out as the latest addition to Chicago Tonight's fair and balanced hosts? interviewers? contributors? whatever?
• Is Cook County ready for Reform? For Claypool?
-- Could Republican Cook County Board Member and County Board President Candidate Tony Peraica beat Stroger if Claypool can't?
• Will Claypool v. Stroger become all about race?
• Who is to blame if it does?
• Can Alexi beat Mangieri?
• Is abortion an issue in the State Treasurer’s race?
• Did the Governor’s All Kids health insurance legislation cement his re-nomination and re-election? If not, will passing a capital improvements state budget cement Rod’s re-election. Can he do so?
• Does Tom Roeser still think the Republican activists should let RNC member Bob Kjellander be?
• Is Senator Obama a likely VP pick in 2008? A possible candidate for President, notwithstanding his statements on Russert to the contrary?
• Will the media climb all over Rod if he persists in not debating Eisendrath?
• Is Eisendrath beating Rod, like a drum, on the issue of reform?
• Is Ed Eisendrath the best friend of the Illinois GOP?
• Who raised, last summer, one million dollars, in one evening, for their school voucher- school choice foundation?
• Will Dick Kay really retire? Before the Primary? After the Primary? Never?
• Is John Kelly another Dan Lipinski plant in the 3rd CD to drain votes from Dan Lipinski's Dem. Challenger, prosecutor John Sullivan?
• Is John Ascot a credible Democratic primary challenger to Cong. Danny Davis in the 7th Cong. District?
• Is Cong. Bean vulnerable in the 8th CD?
• Did Rahm Emanuel find a stronger opponent [Maj. L. Tammy Duckworth] for Sen. Peter Roskam than Christine Cegelis or Lindy Scott in the 6th CD General Election?
• Is Roskam worried about Major Tammy Duckworth, who has the Support of Senators Obama and Durbin, as well as Emanuel and Axelrod? Is Roskam just plain worried?
• Is Sen. Obama’s Halo tarnished?
• Is Roskam still doing a Rose Garden Strategy?
• Can Cong. Kirk be beat in the 10th CD?
• Who will win the 10th CD Dem. Primary? Zane Smith?
• Can Cong. Evans be beat in the 17th CD?
• Will Zinga win her 17th CD R primary?
• Has Daley turned the corruption eruptions around?
• How is Bob Sirott working out at as a weekend anchor at NBC- 5 News ? 500K? 300K? 200 K? Inquiring minds want to know.
• And, of course, much, much more.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at JBCG@aol.com *******************************************

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Update on Senator Obama’s vote on Judge Alito

I had been quite critical [See here] of the Democratic junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, when I wrote on Tuesday:

Senator Barack Obama, a man about whom I had written glowingly and stated, prior to his election, that he transcends race and politics, had no choice [on the Alito confirmation vote]. Given the above political situation, he had to vote not to confirm. What was so disappointing, however, was the almost complete lack of thought, intelligence and style in the… statement that Senator Obama released on his Alito vote.

I learned after writing the above that Senator Obama planned to release a more detailed statement and analysis than had been circulated to the press about his decision not to support the confirmation of Judge Alito’s nomination to the U. S. Supreme Court. Senator Obama's press office tells me that such a statement will be made available to the media at about the same time that Senator Barack Obama takes to the Senate Floor to deliver his remarks on this matter to his Senate colleagues.

Further, I have just been informed by the Obama press office that Senator Obama is expected to make his remarks [Watch here] within the next twenty minutes. I look forward to receiving those thoughts of the good Senator and I, of course, will amend and revise my comments on the Senator’s explanation of his vote on Alito, if appropriate.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

The Great Debate: A big Brady and Oberweis win.

I am not saying Brady would necessarily make a good Governor. But I believe he won the debate in terms of making inroads with voters who were watching and for now, many either decided...
The first of the Republican Primary Gubernatorial so called debates was held Wednesday night at North Central College in Naperville[broadcast live throughout the Chicago metro area and beyond on the local CBS station] and the topics were generally restricted to business issues, purportedly because the debate was sponsored by the Illinois and Naperville Area Chambers of Commerce, along with CBS 2 Chicago, the Naperville Sun, National Federation of Independent Businesses and North Central College.

It now looks like there will be four more of these Republican Primary Gubernatorial debates with all four candidates participating[assuming they all stay in the race], as current frontrunner Topinka has said she will do four more. Of course, what happens if Oberweis pulls ahead of the pack, will he decline to participate? I don't think so. Not his style.

If you watch the debate [or the tape] as the average citizen might, while doing a few other things and not taking notes, you can determine who the real winners were—in terms of attracting voters to one candidate, or the other. In that sense, State Senator Bill Brady [R-Bloomington] was the big winner. Pundits like me had been writing this guy off, saying he appeared to be in the race primarily to drain conservative votes from Oberweis and help Topinka.

That is, Senator Brady doesn’t really seem to have a downstate base, even though he is from there and he is a virtual unknown upstate. Also, not much liquid net worth to finance his campaign or many contributors to help him out. And, he doesn’t seem to have much support from his colleagues in the General Assembly. Finally, like Judy's Lt. Gov. running mate, Joe Birkett, Sen. Brady appears to be a Kjellander toady, fitting nicely into the Kjellander-Edgar-Topinka Combine conspiracy theory [Kjellander is an RNC Committeeman from Illinois, whose ethics are questioned by most Illinois Republican conservative activists].

But, overcoming all of the above, Brady had a big night[Perhaps coincidentally, Brady and Oberweis were the only two to show up at lunch for the City Club of Chicago debate, and both did well, there]. So, maybe the Kjellander-Edgar-Topinka Combine conspiracy is baseless. Maybe the guy is a player in his own right and maybe he can meet Oberweis’ ante and raise him a million or two. Outside of his anti-voucher views, Brady is a pretty consistent social conservative, and like Oberweis, he took the tax pledge easily.

On Wednesday night, Brady was the John McCain straight-talking express. Spoke well about abolishing the State Board of Education [which is everybody’s favorite bureaucracy target, including Blago’s] and creating a business climate that would attract employers which would create jobs and health insurance for low and middle income people through the private, not government, sector. All of this is a big hit with Republican primary voters. Moreover, he said it well. It sounded like he know what he was talking about and he looked good—really, this guy is no Jack Ryan when he it comes to looks, but he will pick up some female voters on that alone.

Brady showed a good sense of humor and some apparent spontaneity by positioning himself between Topinka [too much experience] and Gidwitz [too little], calling himself, with a big smile, the Goldilocks candidate—just “the right amount,” of experience. A virtuoso performance.

I am not saying Brady would necessarily make a good Governor. But I believe he won the debate in terms of making inroads with voters who were watching and for now, many either decided they were leaning to vote for him or to keep looking him over.

A close second, in terms of being a winner tonight, was Jim Oberweis. And, I think Jim did well. It was just that Brady had to come from further down on the ladder than Jim, and Brady did. Nevertheless, Oberweis did well. He hammered on the reform message consistently and did it well on education [merit pay], corruption [likened himself to Patrick Fitzgerald- both independent outsiders?] and even on immigration, got perhaps the biggest round of applause of the night when he hammered the Governor for subsidizing mortgages for illegal immigrants [he argued the subsidized interests rates were better than what the government offers veterans].

Oberweis’ one mistake was when Brady took a good shot at Oberweis for as Brady said, “trying to round up illegal immigrants from a helicopter.” Jim tried to shout back that “we all know that is not a good idea,” or something like that. It would have been a good line for Jim [conceding that the helicopter ad, if not the concept, was a bad idea]. However, the mike wasn’t turned on, making Jim sound like he was talking out of turn.

At any debate, the candidates need to know the rules. If the mike is off when it is not your turn, either don’t say anything until it is your turn, or shout it really loud. In political debates, it is often not what you say but how you say it, or how you don’t, that counts.

Topinka was a distant third. Part of that was inevitable. When the frontrunner steps out on the stage with all of her challengers, in a live, 6:00 pm broadcast, throughout all of Metro Chicago, and beyond, that’s a loss right there. Suddenly, the challengers are all equal to the frontrunner, at least for the first five minutes. And, Topinka probably had to do this, so I am not faulting her or her handlers.

But, then, as Flannery pointed out in his 10:00 pm CBS-2 News analysis, she didn’t demonstrate the kind of debating skills and knowledge voters expect from someone who has been touted as holding statewide office for twelve years. It sounded as if both Brady and Oberweis had a better handle on job creation, taxes, education, health care, immigration—you name it—than Topinka. Further, she either often stopped speaking with time remaining, or maybe it just seemed that way. In other words, it sounded as if she had more time than she did ideas or answers. Not good.

And, a really distant last was Ron Gidwitz. Anybody who has spent time with Ron knows he is a terribly nice, intelligent and accomplished person who has helped the State GOP as a tireless fund raiser for Republican candidates of all stripes. But, like State GOP Chairman Andy McKenna, Jr. who also flopped badly as a U. S. Senate primary candidate in 2004 [spending about five million dollars for about eighty thousand votes and a fourth place finish out of four serious candidates], Ron appears to have no business getting into this line of work—running for an elected office.

Gidwitz has been working at public speaking, etc. for a few years, practicing in a variety of venues, e.g., City Club of Chicago, promoting and developing his Students First organization and foundation, etc. And, he was getting better, marked improvement. He was on my show a number of times and I could see the improvement.

But, at the Wednesday night debate and in a few prior appearance on this campaign trail, he seems to be getting worse. Even his running mate, Rauschenberger, at the end of a recent joint press conference, cracked, “when you average us out, a guy whose hair is on fire [Rauschenberger] and a guy who is a little bit stiff [Gidwitz], we’re Okay.“ No, Steve, not okay. You can’t have a stiff running for Governor.

A reliable source told me that Gidwitz skipped the City Club of Chicago debate at lunch on Wednesday so that he could use the time to prep for the Naperville debate. If so, that was a really dumb idea. And, if any handler or confidant told him to do that, that person should be fired summarily. If anything, Ron should have been told to go to the City Club of Chicago debate to warm up for Wednesday night's gala, to practice his stuff, in front of a live audience.

You can’t mock up a live audience. You need a live audience to practice for a big debate. There were only a hundred people, or so, at the City Club of Chicago lunch, a few cameras and a few reporters. Just what you need for a warm-up. A real event, but lacking the hype of Wednesday evening’s debate. Go there and practice. Go for a walk. Discuss a movie. Hell, go to a movie. What were they thinking?

A few of Ron’s lines from the Debate: We need to have more taxpayers paying taxes as opposed to more taxes. We need to balance the needs of plaintiffs against the needs of defendants [for tort reform]. We need to prioritize our budget items. I know what Ron means by these statements. And, he might be right on each. But, I doubt very many people watching on TV knew what he meant. And, even if they did, nobody will vote for him for that kind of stuff. And, most importantly, his delivery was way, way off. Stammering, no rhythm, cracking voice.

So, in sum. A great night for Brady. A good night for Oberweis. Both of their campaigns pick up steam. Topinka treads water. She doesn’t want to continue on tonight’s path. That, I can tell you.

Gidwitz? Either the candidate can’t do it, or he has the wrong team. He needs to radically transform himself or change his team, drastically and pronto. Or, cut his losses. Financially, and to his ego. Get out quickly and sign up with one of the other teams. And, don’t blame me. I don’t make the rules. I just call them as I see them, to quote my favorite sportscaster.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Senator Obama: Transcending politics? Not on the Judge Alito vote.

Links added and revised at 9:00 pm on Tuesday night and at 11:15 am on Wednesday morning
Obama to Vote No on the Nomination of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court.

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today released the following statement on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito Jr. to the United States Supreme Court:

“While I certainly believe that Judge Samuel Alito has the training and the qualifications necessary to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, after a careful review of his record, I simply cannot vote for his nomination."

“The Judicial Branch of our government is a place where any American citizen can stand equal before the eyes of the law. Yet, in examining Judge Alito’s many decisions, I have seen extraordinarily consistent support for the powerful against the powerless, for the employer against the employee, for the President against the Congress and the Judiciary, and for an overreaching federal government against individual rights and liberties."

“By ruling this way so many times over a course of so many years, Judge Alito simply does not inspire confidence that he will serve as an independent voice on the U.S. Supreme Court."

“I do hope that if he is confirmed, he proves me wrong. I hope that he will uphold the best traditions of the Supreme Court as a bastion of equality and justice on behalf of every American citizen.”
U. S. Senator Barack Obama [D-IL], Press Release, January 24, 2006 [Emphasis Supplied]
What a sad day for Senator Obama. No matter what he has said about running for President or VP in 2008, Barack Obama clearly needed to keep his options open with the hard left in the Democratic Primaries and the national funding vineyards. As my gentle readers know, it is often all about money. Senator Obama, over the last year, has proven to be a prodigious national fund raiser, for himself and for his allies.

None of the Democratic potential presidential candidates, save Senator Feingold [D-WI], voted to confirm Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts [See here]. That would have been way too risky for most, in terms of coming out of a presidential primary intact, in light of the Democratic far left activists’ disproportionate impact on a significant number of Democratic Primary outcomes-- not completely unlike the Republican far right activists' disproportionate impact on a significant number of Republican Primary outcomes [although that is clearly not the case in Illinois’ current Republican Gubernatorial primary, in which moderate Republican Judy Baar Topinka has outsmarted, at least so far, the larger, but less cohesive, conservative movement.]

The considerations by Senators Feingold and Obama for the Alito vote were similar to that of the Roberts vote, except more so. With Judge Alito having a fairly conservative fifteen year judicial record, even though it was not one in which outcomes were determined by the identities or "relative power," of the parties [as Senator Obama suggests] , there was no way Feingold could take a chance with the Democratic activists, notwithstanding his previous demonstrated streak of independence.

Given that Feingold decision Obama was not going to be a lone Democratic presidential/VP candidate dissenter and support Judge Alito's confirmation [Despite what his Republican critics say, Senator Obama has historically been a cautious politician]. Indeed, it is looking like no more than five, if that, Democratic Senators will vote for Judge Alito [At the moment, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska is the only Democratic Senator to state publicly his support for Judge Alito]

The Democratic hard left is calling in its chits; Senator Durbin is cracking his whip, notwithstanding his protestations to me at his January 6, 2006 press conference [see here] that he went into this confirmation hearing with an “open mind.” Gimme a break. Senator Whip Durbin will give a break to Democratic senators in Red states with tough, upcoming re-election contests, perhaps, but that is about it. Every other Democratic Senator had better toe the line.

Senator Barack Obama, a man about whom I had written glowingly and stated, prior to his election, that he transcends race and politics, had no choice. Given the above political situation, he had to vote not to confirm. What was so disappointing, however, was the almost complete lack of thought, intelligence and style in the above statement that Senator Obama released on his Alito vote. Indeed, Obama's statement on Judge Alito is a further deterioration in the quality of reasoning and writing exhibited in Senator Obama's longer statement seeking to explain his no vote on Judge Roberts [See here].

Senator Obama argues Judge Alito’s judicial record demonstrates:

[C]onsistent support for the powerful against the powerless, for the employer against the employee, for the President against the Congress and the Judiciary, and for an overreaching federal government against individual
rights and liberties.

An overreaching federal government? What do you know, Senator Obama has suddenly become a libertarian. Set a place for him at the CATO Institute funder.
[See here]. Cato could sure use Senator Obama's fund raising ability. What a power couple that would be.

Would it be too much to ask for the good Senator to provide us with a little analysis? Maybe at least a few cases that Senator Obama might discuss and for which he might explain how the cases should have been decided, based on the precedent, the laws and/or the Constitution—as opposed to the identities of the parties to the lawsuit-- which I would have thought was not the way he taught University of Chicago Law School students to decide cases.

This dribble, that the good Senator did release, about the powerful and the powerless, etc. is really unbecoming for him, but it is becoming part of his standard fare . It suggests that the Senator thinks we are a nation that should be governed by the whims and desires of that segment of the population that the Senator thinks are "good" and not our laws and the Constitution.

Further, Sen. Obama is implying judges need not listen to oral arguments and read the briefs. Instead, Obama's line of argument suggests judges should simply look at the biographies and backgrounds of the parties, and decide the case by determining which party has the more compelling life story, based on the judge’s own criteria. Is that the brave new American Judiciary Senator Obama envisions?

I know the good Senator does not believe that, but then why release an item that sounds like it came from Robert Redford in “The Candidate.” As you may recall, that movie was about a senate candidate who started out as an idealist and found himself, during the campaign, talking about representing the tall and the short, the fat and the thin, the smart and the dumb—but not apparently—the powerful and the powerless.

As I said, a sad day for Senator Obama, who, at least today, does not transcend politics, and becomes yet again, just another pol.

Of course, we would be happy to have Senator Obama come on our show and discuss and debate the issues, as he used to do, but I won’t hold my breath.

It appears, unless the Democrats can pull a rabbit out of their collective hat or get up the numbers and their nerve to do a filibuster, and notwithstanding the havoc that the Bobsey Twins from Maine or the man from Rhode Island who calls himself a Republican Senator might wreak on their Party, Judge Alito will squeak by. [See here] And the next time an ultra liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg type is nominated to the Supremes by a Democratic President, the Republicans will deferentially provide a 90 plus, or so, vote. What can I say, chivalry is not dead. Dying perhaps, but not dead.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cegelis/Scott on Cable/Podcast; Lynn Sweet fumbles

"Public Affairs," airs tonight throughout the City of Chicago at 8:30 pm on CANTV, Cable Ch. 21. Tonight's episode features as guests Democratic 6th CD Primary Candidates IT Consultant and 2004 6th CD Democratic Nominee Christine Cegelis [D-Rolling Meadows] and Wheaton College Professor Lindy Scott [D-Wheaton]. The show can also be watched anytime as a webcast on the Public Affairs Cinema Complex [See here], show labeled as Cegelis & Scott, January 8, 2006].

The third candidate in the Democratic Primary, Severely injured, Iraq War Veteran Major Tammy Duckworth [D-Hoffman Estates], was said to be unavailable for our taping. Her campaign told me that candidate Duckworth might agree to do a show in the future. Major Duckworth and her controversial financial and in-kind support from the Democratic Party establishment, including such noteables as DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel, Senators Durbin and Obama and media guru David Axelrod, was the topic of some discussion during the show.

See here for more about the show with Cegelis and Scott, including the topics discussed and links to the candidates' websites.

One interesting aspect of the show, discussed below, is Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet’s characterization of candidate Lindy Scott as anti-abortion rights [ See here ]. That could be true by Sweet’s benchmarks, but I doubt by many others.

Professor Lindy Scott does not want to overturn Roe v. Wade and he doesn’t think abortion should be illegal. He would like to encourage, in a variety of ways, pregnant girls/women to choose not to have an abortion. And, Scott favors parental notice legislation with “Judicial bypass.” Yes, Professor Scott favors a ban on partial birth abortion--but, one that makes an exception for the Life and “serious health,” of the mother. Maybe that sounds to Lynn Sweet like someone who is opposed to abortion rights, but to most people? Not so much.

Moreover, Lindy Scott is opposed to making abortion illegal in part because he likens such a law to laws prohibiting manufacture, sale and comsumption of liquor, as was the case once upon a time in the United States. The evangelical Wheaton College Professor argues that, as was true with prohibiton at that time, so many people would violate an abortion ban- as to make it ineffective or inapproprite. Also, he says such a ban on abortion would be unfair: Rich people would go to another state or country to purchase an abortion procedure, while the poor could not afford to terminate their pregnancies, or at least not legally.

Much, if not all, of this information of candidate Scott’s views on abortion could have been gleaned from this blog [See here] or from my prior show with Prof. Scott, which was and is available as a podcast [See here, show labeled Lindy Scott, Nov. 13, 2005]. Of course, it also could have been obtained by asking a number of questions to Lindy Scott. Professor Scott indicated to me that Sweet only asked him about parental notice, at least with respect to questions on the subject of abortion. Well, whatever Lynn Sweet did, she didn’t get it right as to the essence, or the details, of 6th Cong. Dist. candidate Lindy Scott on abortion.

What’s the point of writing about politics in a major newspaper if you are not going to get it right? Also, I read Lynn Sweet almost every day that she appears in the Sun-Times and I watch her almost every time she appears on Public TV’s and WTTW's Chicago Tonight, where she can be seen from time to time. And, I like Lynn Sweet.

Doesn't it seem as if turnabout is fair play. Isn't it time Lynn Sweet starting reading and watching Public Affairs regularly? If she does, next time she writes about a candidate's or office-holder's views, she should get them right. You can make book on it.
Overturn Roe v. Wade?

[Ed. Note: Yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in that case, a decision that Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter [R-PA] calls a “super dooper precedent,” a term I seldom encountered at the University of Chicago Law School].

Jeff Berkowitz: People are wondering between the two of you and we will get to the third candidate, as we talk, is there a lot of difference between the two of you [as to the issues]? One of the issues that has come up: Lynn Sweet, for instance, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, [wrote, See here] that Lindy Scott opposes abortion rights and that is a major difference between you and the other candidates. So, Lindy Scott, do you oppose abortion rights? It didn’t seem to me that Lynn Sweet got that right.

Lindy Scott: I don’t think she understands it very well. I do take a position that I am pro-woman and I try to cherish life. So, I would urge government to do things that would make choosing life easier, such as funding prescriptions, funding birth control. I would also do much more funding of day care centers, so that young women could choose to have their child and continue their education or continue their job.

Jeff Berkowitz: But, you don’t want to do anything to overturn Roe v. Wade or to take away a “Woman’s right to choose,” right?

Lindy Scott: No.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, in that sense, you are Pro-Abortion rights, right?

Lindy Scott: I am in favor of keeping the choice as it is, but I would urge women to choose—

Jeff Berkowitz: You would urge them to choose differently, that is to choose not to have an abortion—

Lindy Scott: Yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: But, you would still give them that right, however you are going to do that, and Christine Cegelis is shaking her head vigorously that she, of course, agrees: You hold Roe v. Wade sacrosanct, would that be right?

Christine Cegelis: Well, I agree with Lindy that one of the things we are not doing well is helping women make the right choice. And, that’s because we are not helping them with birth control, we are not making birth control available enough. Certainly, one of the things we have often talked about is that emergency contraception really should be available over the counter to limit the amount of unwanted pregnancies. But, also, as Lindy pointed out, we are not doing enough funding for things like child care. Having raised two children on my own and having been a working mother, I can tell you that is very difficult to deal with the child care situation, and it has actually gotten worse, since I have had my kids.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, you think fewer women would have abortions or choose to have abortions if they thought there would be more assistance from the government with child care, is that your point?

Christine Cegelis: Absolutely, if child care was more available and less expensive.

Jeff Berkowitz: Lindy Scott, Professor Scott is shaking his head yes, so you are in agreement?

Pro-Death Budget Cutters? Suggests Evangelical Professor Lindy Scott.

Lindy Scott: It is said that the Pro-Life people who voted to cut all the safety net, the food stamps, the foster care- all the money there that they just cut recently is really Pro-Death. It is really urging people to choose abortions over giving—giving birth.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, you would go that far to call people who wanted… what actually are you talking about when you say cutting food stamps—talk about that—is there a federal effort to cut food stamps?

Lindy Scott: Forty billion dollar cut.

Jeff Berkowitz: Did that cut food stamps?

Lindy Scott: Yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: Would it cut spending or would it cut the rate of growth of spending.

Lindy Scott: Cut the rate of growth but still the same thing.

Jeff Berkowitz: Well, what was the percentage growth before and what is the percentage growth after?

Lindy Scott: More people will lose access to food stamps. More children will lose access to their school lunches.

--Scott back tracks on Pro-Death Republicans?

Jeff Berkowitz: So, would you go so far as to call Republicans who may have favored that, that cut in the rate of growth of food stamp spending—would you call them Pro-Death?

Lindy Scott: I would say it is not a consistent Pro-Life position.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, you are retracting that Pro-Death characterization? It is a little too harsh?

Lindy Scott: They are not favoring life, yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: You are shaking your head [Christine Cegelis], you hear anything you disagree with?

Christine Cegelis: I agree with him. I think we need to have a social safety net.

Jeff Berkowitz: And you agree, Professor Scott, with what Christine was saying about making contraception more available as a way of dealing with the abortion issue?

Lindy Scott:
It should be covered by insurance.

--Parental Notice? Now, here’s a difference, but not as much as it appears.

Jeff Berkowitz: You favor parental notice, right?

Lindy Scott: Yes, I do.

Jeff Berkowitz: And, Christine Cegelis, you oppose that.

Christine Cegelis: I do.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, we have found a difference, right?

Lindy Scott: I do believe in the legal bypass, in case of incest, things like that, but yes, any surgery involving a minor, my daughter, my son—I think parents should be involved in it.

Jeff Berkowitz: But, you would have judicial bypass exceptions for rape and incest?

Professor Lindy Scott: Yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: You [Christine] don’t think parents should be told about their minor daughter having an abortion by their doctor. You don’t think the law should require that.

Christine Cegelis: I think that’s a better way to put it. I don’t think the law should require it because the law often gets things like this of such a personal nature wrong and Lindy has hit on the reasons: incest, rape. It happens far more than we would like to admit. And, if there is a strong judicial bypass—I think if that is going to happen, then it needs to happen on a state by state level, because that is where you know for sure

Jeff Berkowitz: Does that mean you would favor it. If it were available, I know you are running for federal office. But, to the extent you could promote a parental notice law in Illinois that had a judicial bypass set up, set up well so that if you had a rape or incest problem, the female would be able to go ahead with the abortion w/o notice to the parents in that case. If that were the case, would you then say you favor that kind of parental notice?

Christine Cegelis: I don’t know that I would favor it, but I would not oppose if I really felt it was well done, but, you know, again, I’ve seen so often that the government gets this wrong.

Bans on Partial Birth Abortion:

Jeff Berkowitz: Partial birth abortion. You’ve said—

Christine Cegelis: In the case of the health and the life of the woman

Jeff Berkowitz: You would favor a ban on partial birth abortions, as long as there was an exception for the life and health of the mother.

Christine Cegelis: That’s right.

Jeff Berkowitz: The woman, you would say, some would say, the mother. Would you say the mother?

Christine Cegelis: I would say the mother.

Jeff Berkowitz: And Lindy, last time you were a little bit, what’s the word- vague on that- because you said you would favor an exception for the life of the mother—

Lindy Scott: Life of the mother

Jeff Berkowitz: and serious health.

Lindy Scott: Serious health of the mother.

Jeff Berkowitz: Has to be serious health as opposed to just health. You would make that distinction.

Lindy Scott: Yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: Again. Does that make sense to you, [Christine Cegelis]?

Christine Cegelis: No, not really. Because, again, when government tries to get into that, you know we are splitting hairs about what is the health of the mother.
Democratic 6th CD Primary Candidates Christine Cegelis [Rolling Meadows] and Lindy Scott [Wheaton] , recorded on January 8, 2006 and as is airing on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs tonight, Jan. 23 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21. The show can also be watched anytime as a webcast on the Public Affairs Cinema Complex [See here], show labeled as Cegelis & Scott, January 8, 2006].
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Saturday, January 21, 2006

“We need an idea guy in our [Republican] leadership.”

If there is one thing that really bugs me, it’s political TV show hosts who don’t let their guests complete their answers to questions. HA!
Quotable Quips:

Chris Matthews: Are you going to bring back the zeal of 1994 [Ed. Note: The Republican Revolution, Contract with America]?

Cong. John Shadegg [R-AZ]: I’ve got the zeal.

Matthews: Is Newt Gingrich a reformer or a problem for the Republicans? [There is that “Reformer,” word again that we hear from time to time in the Illinois GOP: Certainly we hear it from former Senator Pat O'Malley and Lt. Gov. candidate Steve Rauschenberger but not so much from Team Topinka-Edgar-Birkett. Remember when Gov. Edgar said last fall there is no schism in the Illinois GOP between reformers and non-reformers. See here].

Shadegg: Well—

Matthews: Is [former House Speaker] Newt Gingrich news?

Shadegg: Well, Newt Gingrich was a reformer when he took power?

Matthews: How about now?

Shadegg: I quite frankly don’t listen to Newt Gingrich a lot right now. He is a very bright guy. But let me make a-

Matthews: You’re afraid of the guy, aren’t you?

Shadegg: No-

Matthews: He’s trouble, isn’t he?

Shadegg: We need an idea guy in our leadership.

Matthews: Right.

Shadegg: And, neither of my opponents are idea guys. We had an idea guy in Newt Gingrich. We had an idea guy in Dick Armey [a former Professor of Economics]. I happen to disagree with Newt on some of the positions he has taken-

Matthews: You know what is funny in Washington. There are some people who are really smart at advising other people and they are no good at advising themselves.

Shadegg: That might be Newt Gingrich.

Matthews: I think so. Anyway, thank you very much Cong. John Shadegg, running for, a candidate for House Majority Leader, an old zealot’s guy from 1994, bring back the Compact…
Cong. Shadegg [R-Arizona], on MSNBC’s Hardball with Host Chris Matthews, January 19, 2006, discussing his contest with Cong. Roy Blunt [R-Missouri] and Cong. John Boehner [R-Ohio] for House Majority Leader.
"Public Affairs" Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Leader Cross on City Desk with NBC-5's Ahern

Tom Cross, Republican Leader in the Illinois State House, taped City Desk on Friday afternoon. Mary Ann Ahern, general assignment reporter at NBC-5, sat in for City Desk’s regular host Dick Kay, for the second time since Kay has been on vacation [the Kay vacation started in December; Kay is expected to return in February and then decide whether he is retiring]. Ahern, who interviewed Cardinal George on City Desk in December, has some background as a political reporter.

When asked by Ahern about the Republican Primary for Governor, Leader Cross noted that State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka is leading in the polls and that Blagojevich is vulnerable in the general election.

Although State GOP leaders, e.g., State GOP Chairman McKenna and Leader Cross profess neutrality in the Primary, they usually find a way to give Judy a boost, whether it is to point to Judy’s proven ability as a vote getter—citing her three wins in her state-wide Treasurer general election races, her general popularity, or as today, her lead in the polls. You might say it is a non-endorsement, endorsement. And, in the event that Topinka-Birkett started trending south, you get the impression the non-endorsement, endorsements might become endorsement, endorsements—so to speak.

One thing notable about Leader Cross’ shot selection today was the absence of discussion of what many Republicans like to call the culture of corruption in the Illinois Democratic Party, which those pols argue exists, among other Democratic strongholds, in the Blagojevich, Stroger and Daley administrations. This is odd in that it is said the public corruption issue plays well with middle-class suburban voters, said to be a demographic that interests Republican State House Leader Cross.

The Republicans who bring up the State of Illinois corruption issue tend to be the Republicans who say that the real schism in the Party is between the Reformers and the non-reformers. The Republicans who repeat that line with ease are people like former Senator Pat O’Malley, Lt. Gov. candidate and State Senator Steve Rauschenberger and Gubernatorial candidate Jim Oberweis. The Republicans who stumble over the line are former Governor and Topinka backer Jim Edgar; National Republican Committeeman, Edgar friend and Topinka ally, Bob Kjellander; and the Thompson-Edgar progeny, e.g., Topinka Campaign Manager Terry Barnich.

The Democratic national leaders make a point of never leaving home without their chant of the argument that there is a Culture of Corruption in the National Republican party. You have to wonder why not all Republicans want to flip that argument around when doing Illinois politics. Perhaps we will get to ask that question to Leader Cross some day. We tried to ask that and other questions today, after the Ahern taping, but alas, Leader Cross said no dice [and probably no keno].

In any case, the Ahern interview with Cross is well worth watching, and you can do so, in the Chicago Metro area Sunday at NBC-5, starting around 9:40 am and running, with some breaks, until about 9:56 am, or so.
"Public Affairs" Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Eye on Senator Dick Durbin [D-IL]

With Senator Dick Durbin [D-IL] announcing today, to no one’s surprise, that he would oppose Judge Alito’s confirmation, it is timely to take a look at the Q and A portion [Runs about 12 minutes] of his January 6, 2006 press conference [See the Public Affairs Cinema]. At the press conference, I asked the Senior Senator from Illinois [And Senate Democratic Party Whip], among other questions, what he would have to hear at the confirmation hearings to cause him to vote to confirm Judge Samuel Alito [See here for a general discussion of the press conference].

Senator Durbin’s answer was also no great surprise, but worth watching. Although Senator Durbin does not quite say it, it sounds as if this vote, for him, is in large part about finding, protecting and broadening the constitutional right to privacy. At the press conference, he places the privacy right in the context of the Terry Schiavo and recent Ariel Sharon medical situations, and for political purposes that might be one of the issues on which the Democrats have their sights focused for the November, 2006 election—once they get past public corruption, reform, Jack Abramoff and national security warrantless intercepts, that is.

But, the reality is that the Alito confirmation vote, for the Democratic Party, is in large part, about abortion, which is where the funding for many Democrats and the hard left focuses. That is interesting in that Senator Durbin said, until 1989, or so, [that is, for more than the first half of his adult life and political career] that he was Pro-Life, i.e., opposed having abortion generally legal, which is where he suspects Judge Alito is and will end up, judicially, and that is what bothers Senator Durbin and his Democratic Senate colleagues, supporters and funders the most.

Of course, Judge Alito says he will decide cases dealing with abortion, without reference to his own personal views of same, but the Democrats generally do not believe that. Moreover, in general, Supreme Court nominee Alito says he will place a heavy emphasis on the wording of the Constitution and statutes when he decides cases before the Supreme Court. In short, he says, essentially, he will strive to be a strict constructionist and not a judicial activist.

This attitude does not sit well with Senator Durbin and many other Democrats. They would prefer somebody who will try to interpret or extend the Constitution in a way that protects “the little guy or little woman.” The Democrats want a justice who will protect the powerless and who has heart, as Senator Obama is wont to say. [See here]. The Democrats also say they want justices on the Supreme Court who will vote in favor of the individual, often the plaintiff-- not the Corporation [or its individual shareholders, who of course have the ownership interest in a Corporation], often the defendant.

When you hear Senator Durbin discuss his confirmation vote, it almost sounds as if he is approving a proposed Congressperson, as opposed to a Justice. That is, Senator Durbin wants to know which positions a Justice Alito would take in his judicial opinions, for whom the judge would decide cases that may come before him and whether those decisions would match up well with Senator Durbin’s preferences.

Of course, all of those items are appropriate questions and concerns for a party slating committee deciding who they would like to endorse for political office. But, for a Supreme Court nominee? Not so much.
"Public Affairs" Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Questions about School Choice? Get some answers.

Interested in education? Want to learn more about alternatives to the status quo?
Want to have a serious discussion about school reform and education in general? Public Affairs is not affiliated with Illinois School Choice Initiative or with the Heartland Institute, but we think both provide interesting forums for those who want to challenge themselves and others on education and other public policy issues. From time to time, we will include notices of such events, sponsored by organizations who are rooted in a variety of perspectives.

If you have questions about School Choice, the Illinois School Choice Initiative has the answers:

Illinois School Choice Initiative

Cordially invites you...
to attend its 2006 Educational Choice Speaker Series:
A monthly luncheon series featuring national school choice experts

January 19, 2006
12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m.

(Registration begins at 11:30)

The Metropolitan Club
The Michigan Room
233 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60603

Keynote Speaker: Dr. George Clowes, associate editor and former managing editor of School Reform News, a publication of The Heartland Institute.

$30 for Heartland members*$35 nonmembers*RSVP to Zwahy'yah by Jan. 16
at 312-377-4000. (If you plan to register or pay at the door, please add $5 to each registration price)

public school choice * private scholarships * public charter schools
contract schools * small schools * vouchers * tuition tax credits

Giving parents an array of educational options

Coming Attractions:

February 16th

The Metropolitan Club
The Michigan Room
233 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60603

Keynote Speaker will be Kenneth Johnson, board president of Milwaukee Public Schools

The Illinois School Choice Initiative is a grassroots project of The Heartland Institute, a 21-year-old nonprofit research and education organization based in Chicago. The mission of the initiative is to lay the groundwork for a successful school choice campaign in Illinois. For more information, please visit Heartland's Web site at http://www.heartland.org or email Phylicia Lyons at lyons@heartland.org.

Eisendrath [another Vallas?] debates school vouchers with Berkowitz

Jeff Berkowitz: ...[I]f you were surprised to see, with that change, under a voucher system, all sorts of new private schools emerge to provide choices, then you would consider school vouchers and school choice?.

Edwin Eisendrath: Well, look--

Jeff Berkowitz: Just give me a “yes” or “no” to that.

Edwin Eisendrath: Yes.
Edwin Eisendrath, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate who seems to think ideas have consequences, and goverment, at least in part, is about ideas and formulating good public policy. More and more, in substance, if not necessarily in style, it appears that Eisendrath is the second coming of Paul Vallas. If that thought takes hold, watch out Rod.
You can watch, on a podcast or on videostreaming, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Edwin Eisendrath debate and discuss school vouchers and many other public policy issues with show host Jeff Berkowitz. Please go to the end of the partial transcript, below or go here for the details on how and where to watch the show, and also to review some partial transcripts of the show.
Another partial transcript of the show is included below
Jeff Berkowitz: What would you do to make the schools better, if you were Governor?

Edwin Eisendrath: Well, let’s start with-there are all kinds of funding issues that we need to put on the table and talk about. There are all kinds of sort of common sense reforms that school districts can implement
, ranging from network effects between schools, to better teacher training, to helping empower principals in ways that they have not been in this state. Better training for principals. Better support on the management side. The state has to be a more active participant than they have been. In Illinois, as you know, the difference between what the state pays and what the locality pays in Illinois is forty-ninth in the nation. Forty-ninth.

Jeff Berkowitz: Well, you know, there are some people who say if you have greater local control and less from the state—and you study it across the states, as some people have, you will find that the quality improves, the greater the contributions from the local government, the less from the state government.

Edwin Eisendrath: I’d want to see that study because Illinois’s local contributions are the highest, save one, in the country, and our schools are nowhere near the best.

Jeff Berkowitz: Well, some are. Some are very good. We tape in Skokie, we’re near the Northshore, schools are quite good there, right?

Edwin Eisendrath: I know. I’m sorry. Where you have very wealthy communities. They can afford great schools. Up on the north shore, we have some of the best schools in the country. That’s absolutely true. But, you know that, that’s not, by itself, enough for this state. I would argue that having the best schools in the richest districts and miserable schools everywhere else-

Jeff Berkowitz: We spend a fair amount. In the city of Chicago, as you may know—did you teach in the city of Chicago?

Edwin Eisendrath: I did, for five and a half years—I did.

Jeff Berkowitz: The Chicago Public Schools, for five and a half years-
After you went to Harvard. You know, when you came out of Harvard, you were probably viewed as not qualified to teach in the Chicago Public Schools.

Edwin Eisendrath: I was absolutely viewed as not qualified.

Jeff Berkowitz: Right. So, you had to go to National Louis [University] to get a master’s degree to become—isn’t that ludicrous? Don’t you think you were qualified to teach coming out of Harvard?

Edwin Eisendrath: I think I thought I was and I was probably wrong. But, I’m not sure that what I learned in graduate school helped me so much,
but I got to be a good teacher by the time I left. Which is why we need to change the way we train teachers. There has to be more hands-on training—classroom management, the actual techniques of teaching.

Jeff Berkowitz: But, you’ve said you’re opposed to school vouchers and school choice, right?

Edwin Eisendrath: I’m opposed to funding by vouchers. You can have choice within a public system; you can let people move in a public system. But, I do think, because of the way people live, the patterns of living, when you go to a voucher system for schools, what you are really doing is, particularly given the way the funding formula works, you are really taking all of that money out of public education.

Jeff Berkowitz: But Chicago Public Schools currently spend about eleven thousand dollars, per kid, per year, now, that’s averaged across K-12, I understand that, but that’s the average expenditure, if you take the five billion dollar plus budget and divide it by the four hundred thirty-five thousand students, you come up with eleven thousand dollars, per kid, per year. Now, why not take that money, eleven thousand dollars, give it to the parents and say, “If you’re happy in the public schools, stay there. If you’re not, go to a private school of your choice.” How would they be worse off?

Edwin Eisendrath: Many would be worse off-

Jeff Berkowitz: Having that choice?

Edwin Eisendrath: The choice-- it is a false choice. The schools don’t exist; they don’t exist in neighborhoods where kids can go to them. So, again. This is why governing is not for the faint of heart, because you have to be willing to say to a guy like you who’s smart and has done his work and is able to present something as, “Wouldn’t it be great if people had this choice?” You’ve got to be able to say, “You know what-- that choice doesn’t exist. That’s nonsense.”

Jeff Berkowitz: What do you mean?

Edwin Eisendrath: Because there are no other schools for them to go to.

Jeff Berkowitz: That’s what a free market’s about. You know something about a free market.

Edwin Eisendrath: There isn’t a free market.

Jeff Berkowitz: You’re right, because they don’t have the purchasing power right now. There’s no sense in a private school locating next to a public school in Chicago, and the parents say, “Hey, I can go to that private school and lose the eleven thousand dollars in purchasing power that I have, or I can go to the public school.” Now, that’s no choice. That’s no choice.

Edwin Eisendrath: But, actually, the facts are different from that. Because Catholic schools do pretty well in Chicago, and they have forever. And, they’ve existed side-by-side public schools-

Jeff Berkowitz: They do well, but, increasingly, it’s a problem because they no longer have the low price labor. They no longer have the nuns and the priests who provide services at a lower price. They have to compete in a competitive market [for teachers].

Edwin Eisendrath: And, they do. It’s a viable, wonderful school system.

Jeff Berkowitz: If the public schools are as good as you say they are, why don’t you see if they can compete on a fair, level playing field?

Edwin Eisendrath: Well, first I didn’t say the public schools were good. On the contrary, I said they have a long way to go.

Jeff Berkowitz: But you’re saying they’re not good because of money, and I’m saying--

Edwin Eisendrath: No, I said there were a number of reasons, including the way we train teachers, principals, and the money problems are statewide.

Jeff Berkowitz: We can’t spend this whole show on vouchers-

Edwin Eisendrath: Please don’t tell me I said schools are wonderful when they aren’t, or put words in my mouth like that. That’s just not what I said.

Jeff Berkowitz: No, you are saying that for some reason, let me re-word that, re-phrase that, you’re saying public schools, for some reason, not that they’re good right now, but that the concept of public schools is such a good concept that you don’t want to give people that choice to go to a private school—I, for the life of me, don’t know why you’d say that choice is good within the public school system, but not good if you have a private school and a public school to compete. That’s the point I was trying to argue.

Edwin Eisendrath: I think that if that were the option, I would be in favor it. But there is not—there is not a choice. Because those private schools, not only do they not exist, but they would never exist for most of the students.

Jeff Berkowitz: If you became-

Edwin Eisendrath: You end up defunding education for the students who can’t move.

Jeff Berkowitz: If you became convinced I was right and you were wrong, which is possible, that in a free market, with five billion dollars worth of purchasing power for private schools possibly to get, there would be many more private schools than currently exist. So, if you were surprised to see, with that change, under a voucher system, all sorts of new private schools emerge to provide choices, then you would consider school vouchers and school choice.

Edwin Eisendrath: Well, look--

Jeff Berkowitz: Just give me a “yes” or “no” to that.

Edwin Eisendrath: Yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: Yes, you would. Okay. Thank you.

Edwin Eisendrath: But more than that. I’m not an ideologue. I’m a very practical guy and I look around the country for what are the best practices that have real results for children. And, we’ll bring them here, we’ll pilot them here, and we’ll try to grow them here. So, I’m always open to being shown that I am wrong and that there is a better way of doing something. Always. On any issue.
Edwin Eisendrath, running for Governor in the March 21, 2006 Democratic Primary in Illinois. The show was recorded on December 27, 2005 and it is airing at the Public Affairs Cinema [the Public Affairs Cinema is also airing a five minute interview with Eisendrath, taped just before Thanksgiving [See here]. The Cinema also archives a dozen recent, other Public Affairs episodes, each of which is available to be watched here. The "Public Affairs," show with Eisendrath [except for the last two minutes which were edited out] can also be viewed by going directly to the Illinois Channel’s Campaign 2006 link and clicking on the photo of Eisendrath under the heading "Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates." [See here]
Transcript drafts prepared by Amy Allen, who also does research for “Public Affairs,” and has her own political blog [See here].
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Blagojevich SOS Keynoter: Illinois keno, RIP ?

Slight revisions made and links added on Wednesday night at 9:45 pm.
Although I saw a few fat ladies at the State of the State today, none of them were singing.
As Rich Miller [of Capitol Fax] and today’s Illinois Lawmaker’s [WTTW] host, Jim Tichenor, both noted in their post-game discussion of today’s noon-time, Governor Blagojevich, State of the State speech, the forty-five minute, or so, oration was perhaps more notable for what the Governor didn’t say than what he did. Miller commented, “he [Blago] didn’t mention keno once; his great plan to fund part of this construction program of his was never mentioned. I think it is a big sign that this program, this idea may have to be taken off the table.”

Miller also had noticed, before the speech, the absence of a keno mention in the Governor’s prepared remarks [See here, have a drink on Rich]. And in Miller’s hard copy Capitolfax of this morning, Miller noted the political difficulties of getting the requisite number of Republicans and Democrats to sign on to the Governor’s proposed capital budget, and especially one that includes keno as a part of the financing package.

The Governor’s capitol budget proposal, presented in his usual sketchy format, appears to be for 3.2 billion dollars to be spent on roads, public works, mass transit and school construction. The school construction is supposed to be for about a half billion dollars, and it is to be financed by the annual keno revenue, or a portion thereof.

Of course, don’t dismiss keno just yet. The Governor contends he has the legal power to bring keno to Illinois by executive fiat, without authorization from the legislature, so maybe he thought it unnecessary to discuss keno in his State of the State. And some of Blago’s former campaign insiders, now big time lobsters, stand to rake in very big bucks from the introduction of keno to Illinois.

However, any bonding program requires 60% approval by the Illinois Legislature. Thus, for that part of his plan, the Governor needs some Republican support, even assuming he can keep on board all of the Democrats from the Democratic controlled state senate and state house, which seems dubious at best.

For example, the fairly influential and powerful State Senator Miguel del Valle [D-Chicago], wants a lot more state education spending and he was a big booster of the tax swap, net state tax increase/education spending increase [SB755] legislation earlier last year. Of course, that legislation never really came close to passing the legislature, and it would not have been signed by the Governor, had it done so.

Nevertheless, Sen. del Valle followed Miller on Illinois Lawmakers this afternoon, after the Governor’s State of the State, and Sen. del Valle re-iterated his opposition to keno, asking what is the point of trying to protect working class citizens from what he views as troublesome payday loans [as the legislature thinks it did last year], only then to have the State encourage parents to gamble away their weekly earnings in neighborhood outlets? As the good Senator indicated, gambling in casinos in designated geographic areas is one thing, keno down the street in the family neighborhood, quite another.

Further, the whole capital budget program is being touted, and even reported, as a “job-rich $3.2 billion construction program,” with the Blagojevich Administration promising 230,000 jobs. However, that jobs argument rests on the old, generally discredited, Democratic priming the pump, Keynesian view of the world, and indeed, the argument tries to transplant a dubious national fiscal/economics jobs policy to the State of Illinois.

As to the deficiencies of Blagojevich's [and perhaps the Tribune's] pump priming job creation theories in the context of the federal Transportation bill, See my criticism of Senator Obama's adoption of that job creation theory. For a contra view, See Team Obama's response.

Sadly, many Republicans, like their Democratic colleagues, both nationally and in Illinois, can’t resist the “pork offering,” that goes with the "priming the pump," jobs argument. And, they realize that voters may focus on the jobs “created,” by the spending program without noticing the jobs that are “lost,” due to the increase in taxes and sale of bonds to finance such governmental efforts.

That is not to say that some of the government programs being suggested are not worthwhile on their own, i.e., public roads or private toll roads from time to time are an appropriate expenditure. However, they should be justified on the benefits of the project as measured by users relative to the economic costs of the project, not by some mythical job creation numbers. And, we sure don’t need any more “roads or bridges to nowhere.”

In any case, does all of the above mean that Gov. Blagojevich’s keno plan is Dead on Arrival? Not at all. As Yogi said, it ain’t over till its over. And, although I saw a few fat ladies at the State of the State today, none of them were singing.
"Public Affairs" Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com