Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Revised at 1:45 pm on Wed., 3/24/04

Scott Fawell "Comes to Jesus," suggests Carlos Hernandez-Gomez and Treasurer Topinka makes some deals with the Dems?

Jeff Berkowitz: Scott Fawell--

Carlos Hernandez-Gomez: As we tape this, Scott Fawell is going to be arraigned tomorrow [March 19], this may be Scott Fawell's last chance to-- Come to Jesus.

Berkowitz: Will Fawell become a witness against his so-called dad, [Former Governor] George Ryan?

Hernandez-Gomez: He may have to...Fawell is in trouble right now. He is serving a 6 1/2 year sentence...

Berkowitz: He doesn't want another one of those.

Hernandez-Gomez: And, it is going to be longer because he has already been convicted [once]. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, that puts him in an extra, higher sentencing category.

Berkowitz: So, he may not wear the shirt for George [Ryan].

Hernandez-Gomez: He may not.
Berkowitz: Because she [Judy Baar Topinka] made some deals with Democrats to support her?

Carlos Hernandez-Gomez: Of course, she had [Cong.] Bobby Rush and she had plenty of Democrats supporting her [in 2002 against Dem. Tom Dart for Treasurer].
Berkowitz: It [the Machine] is wobbly, but not dead?

Hernandez-Gomez: It is not dead. It is wobbly, that's what I will say.
From this week's suburban "Public Affairs," and next Monday night's City of Chicago edition of "Public Affairs," with WBEZ's Carlos Hernandez-Gomez. (See, below) for airing schedules and for an additional transcript of the conversation:

Upcoming Guests and airing Schedule for the City of Chicago and Suburban editions of “Public Affairs”:

"Public Affairs," airs every Monday Night at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21 through-out the City of Chicago.

This coming Monday night's (April 5) City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs and this week's (Week of March 29) suburban edition of Public Affairs feature Carlos Hernandez-Gomez, Chicago Public Radio's Political Reporter. The Chicago Public Radio station is WBEZ, 91.5 FM radio, and Carlos' reports on politics appear at various times every weekday from 5:00 am to 10:00 am, including on Steve Edward's intelligent, informative and entertaining "848," show, which starts every weekday on WBEZ at 9:35 am.

On "Public Affairs," Carlos discusses and debates with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz the Primary Election winners (such as Obama, Jack Ryan, Daley, Houlihan, Emil Jones, Rauschenberger, Oberweis and the Jesse Jacksons) and losers (such as Hynes, Mell, Blagojevich, Andy McKenna, Jr., Kjellander, Team Thompson, Team Edgar, Rush, Gutierrez and Stroger), whether the Democratic Machine and Republican Establishment are dead or just badly wounded, whether Scott Fawell will have a Come to Jesus moment, whether George Ryan should be trying on orange jumpsuits instead of publishers, and much, much more.

We have included, below, the suburban airing schedule of "Public Affairs," and a supplement to the above transcript of our show with Carlos Hernandez-Gomez.

The suburban edition of Public Affairs airs three times each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Winnetka, Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire and Riverwoods.

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.
Jeff Berkowitz is Host and Producer of “Public Affairs,” and President of JB Consulting Group, Inc. [A legal search firm].

You can contact Jeff Berkowitz at 312-214-6122 or JBCG@aol.com
Jeff Berkowitz: What is going to happen to [former Governor] George Ryan? He has been indicted. Will he be convicted?

Carlos Hernandez-Gomez: He'll be convicted.

Berkowitz: Will he do some serious hard time?

Hernandez-Gomez: Well, he may not go to trial. If I were George Ryan--

Berkowitz: Scott Fawell--

Hernandez-Gomez: As we tape this, Scott Fawell is going to be arraigned tomorrow [March 19], this may be Scott Fawell's last chance to--Come to Jesus.

Berkowitz: Will Fawell become a witness against his so-called dad, George Ryan?

Hernandez-Gomez: He may have to. He may have to. ..Fawell is in trouble right now. He is serving a 6 1/2 year sentence...

Berkowitz: He doesn't want another one of those.

Hernandez-Gomez: And, it is going to be longer because he has already been convicted [once]. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, that puts him in an extra, higher sentencing category.

Berkowitz: So, he may not wear the shirt for George.

Hernandez-Gomez: He may not.
Hernandez-Gomez: the big loser obviously is Dan Hynes. The problem is- what federal office does Dan Hynes go for now...if he wants to go for statewide office, he has Rod Blagojevich ahead of him...and ahead of him[Hynes] is [AG] Lisa Madigan, and that's a problem.

Berkowitz: So, he has nowhere to go- he can go back to his Comptroller office, but after that there is nowhere to go for the foreseeable future, right?

Hernandez-Gomez: for the foreseeable future, I mean, he could be AG...

Berkowitz: He could be AG?

Gomez: At some point, Lisa Madigan might--

Berkowitz: So, knocking at that door would be Tom Dart who backed out of the last AG primary for Lisa Madigan at the request of the Speaker [Mike Madigan].

Gomez: Speaker Mike Madigan, of course.

Berkowitz: So, Dart postponed it and they let him seek the Treasurer's post, which he really didn't care about and then they didn't give him support, right?

Gomez: ...I would say [they] made him the sacrificial lamb. I mean Judy Baar Topinka was the one Republican officer who really survived the Blagojevich led onslaught in 2002 and Tom Dart really had no chance-

Berkowitz: Because she [Topinka] made some deals with Democrats to support her?

Gomez: Of course, she had [Cong.] Bobby Rush and she had plenty of Democrats supporting her.

Berkowitz: Bobby Rush supported her?

Gomez: Oh, Topinka. Yes, he did.

Berkowitz: So, Rush's motto is, "Let's make a Deal."

Gomez: Everybody's motto in this business is "let's make a deal."

Berkowitz: Well, [Cong.] Rush made a deal with Blair Hull, right? Would you say?

Gomez: That's what one would guess. I would opine that yes, it appeared they probably made some kind of deal.

Berkowitz: His [Rush's] brother was put on the [Hull] staff, right?

Gomez: Blair Hull is a very generous man.

Berkowitz: So, Carol Marin interviewed him [Rush] on Ch. 5 [on the night of the election], so she said to Bobby Rush, "You backed Blair Hull, do you feel like you were on the wrong side of history on this one, that is-- on the Senate nomination of Barack Obama. Cong. Rush said, " Oh no, I feel like I did the right thing, most of the voters in my district agreed with me, I ran even with Barack in most of my district." ...

Gomez: I guess you could... in that sense Rush could have been saying Hull was a surrogate for him [Rush] perhaps.

Berkowitz: So, how did he [Rush] do, Carlos?

Hernandez-Gomez: He didn't do so well. Let's just take one of the wards that is in that [First Cong.] district. Barack got 82 % to Blair Hull's 3.9 %.

Berkowitz: I wouldn't call that even. 82 to 4?

Gomez: No, that's not even.

Berkowitz: And, that's typical of many of the wards in his [Rush's] district?

Gomez: Many of the wards in his district...
Gomez: ... the Hispanic Community is politically divided. You have got the independent faction, which Luis [Gutierrez] was a descendant of and you have the party regulars, with which Gery Chico is much more aligned-- if you remember during Council Wars

Berkowitz: But, Luis is now with the regulars, right? I mean he is joined with [Mayor] Daley. Come on, he is not an independent at this point.

Gomez: Not in the sense that he used to be, of course not.

Berkowitz: Not in any sense, He is Daley's boy.

Gomez: I wouldn't say he is Daley's boy, but I think--

Berkowitz: All right, we like [Cong.] Luis Gutierrez and we want him to come on this show, so Luis, we are just having a little banter back and forth here, don't take this too seriously.
Berkowitz: Stroger's toast, right. Stroger's toast, he's gone. He'll be gone in a year, would you say?

Gomez: I wouldn't say he's gone in a year.

Berkowitz: He is not going to resign? He is going to serve out his term?

Gomez: I see him serving out his term.

Berkowitz: You would predict that?

Gomez: I would predict that.

Berkowitz: Because people are saying he will resign and someone will get appointed President [by the County Board]. Isn't that how it works?

Gomez: I believe.

Berkowitz: Wouldn't they look to put someone like John Daley there as President?

Gomez: I do not think Mayor Daley wants his younger brother in control of the County Board.

Berkowitz: So who is next in line if it is not John Daley?

Gomez: I don't know. It could be if John Stroger were to die today, it might be Todd Stroger, it might be his son.

Berkowitz: Really? they might do that?

Gomez: That's a possibility.

Berkowitz: Certainly not Forrest Claypool. He would want to be there, but the Establishment won't-- well, talking about the Establishment, is the Machine dead? Why are we even talking about it.

Gomez: The machine is not dead.
Hernandez-Gomez: ...This was a race where they proved they could not deliver. You can't read the tea leaves. right now.

Berkowitz: They can't deliver. They just couldn't deliver because why, because Barack is African American and a [good] part of their base, or a [good] part of their machine is Black. They couldn't deliver the Black vote, is that right?

Gomez: Yes, I think that is certainly part of it. Part of it is that Barack Obama is a very appealing candidate. This is a guy who got people to vote for him in white wards [of the city of Chicago] where their parents would never have voted for a Black candidate.

Berkowitz: So, he [Barack Obama] is appealing. So, what you are saying is, the machine can only deliver when it has a mope [for an opponent] ... if you are running against a mope, the machine can deliver...but when you are running against a solid individual, a more than solid individual in Barack Obama, give it up, its not going to happen.

Gomez: But, there was a divide among the machine, Jeff, you have to understand. You had Eddie Burke on the south side backing Gery Chico and you had Dick Mell on the north side backing Blair Hull.

Berkowitz: Yeah, Blair got 10% of the vote, Gery got 5% of the vote--

Gomez: And, you also had a split among labor...

Berkowitz: So, you are saying tonight, on March 18th, the machine is not dead.

Gomez: I would say it is on its last legs. I won't say it is completely dead.

Berkowitz: It is wobbly, but not dead?

Gomez: It is not dead. It is wobbly, that's what I will say.
Berkowitz: Let's go over to the Republicans. Losers on the Republican side, who would they be? There have to be some. [RNC rep. from Illinois] Bob Kjellander, is he a loser?

Gomez: I think Bob Kjellander got a lot of bad-- I mean this whole Bear Stearns, $800,000 dollar commission--

Berkowitz: That may be. Is the Republican Establishment a loser in this race.

Gomez: I think it is somewhat. If you look at the fact that Andy McKenna, Jr. was being courted nearly two years ago to run against Peter Fitzgerald--

Berkowitz: Right, and got a lot of Establishment money [and he spent a few million dollars of his own] and he came up with what, 13% of the vote?

Gomez: And, if you look at his Finance Committee, it was all Team Thompson, Team Edgar.

Berkowitz: So, Rauschenberger would be a winner because he got about 21% of the vote

Gomez: With almost no money and no TV. I mean, he really is [a winner].

Berkowitz: And, Jim Oberweis is a winner because he got about 24 % of the vote and certainly with no support from the Establishment.

Gomez: Yeah, but he spent a lot more money than Steve Rauschenberger.

Berkowitz: He is still a winner. He is a base. He's got a base. You got to have a base to be a power in politics and he's got himself a base, don't you agree.

Gomez: I would say that. But, I would say that as to Steve Rauschenberger, had he had money, he would have been very dangerous in this race.

Berkowitz: Yeah, well, you know-- if we had some ham and we had some eggs, we could have some ham and eggs. Isn't that the saying?

Berkowitz: Well, so the winners in this race: Barack Obama, obviously a big time winner. Emil Jones, a big supporter of Barack's, another big time winner. The Jacksons [Senior and Junior], supporters of Barack, big time winners. Houlihan, he is a winner because so many people are dead from the machine and he doesn't need the machine, he may be a challenger to Lisa Madigan for Governor if that comes up soon. Right?

Gomez: Jim Houlihan?

Berkowitz: Yeah

Gomez: Really?

Berkowitz: You don't think?

Gomez: I have never thought of it, to be honest with you.

Berkowitz: Why is he doing all of this stuff about school financing and all that?
Berkowitz: Any other winners and losers that you want to comment on, here?

Gomez: I think a winner certainly is Jack Ryan. He is certainly a winner. He is someone who really came from the outside without much of an original base, and got out there early, before any of the other Republican candidates were out on TV, and got his attractive person out there, and he has a great story.

Berkowitz: But, what about the sealed records. Let me cut right to the chase, here. Jack does have a great story...if there is no issue of sealed records, this would be one of the most interesting races in the country, if not the most interesting. You have two very articulate individuals running for the Senate-- Barack Obama, on the Democratic side; Jack Ryan, on the Republican side. Jack Ryan, a conservative. Barack Obama, a liberal. So, you have a choice, not an echo, to use an old phrase. But, the question is-- will we see that or will we see the sealed records issue come up and block that, block it from being a race of issues?

Gomez: Well, I don't see Barack Obama as a guy who would make that an issue. But I do think the Tribune is trying to get those records, and those records are going to come out.

Berkowitz: As we speak here on March 18 [in Chicago], next week there will be a hearing, the Chicago Tribune has filed a petition in a California court to open up those records, right?

Gomez: They have indeed.

Berkowitz: So, there is a hearing set and it is a little odd because Bruce Dold, the Tribune Editorial Page editor, talks about what I just said-- this would be a great race, there would be an articulation of issues and wouldn't that be great, and then his paper [ he is a part of it] is out there trying to do what, smut it up.

Gomez: You can't certainly take one reporter and blame them for what their news organization did. I wouldn't go that far. You can't take one reporter and blame them for what their news organization did.

Berkowitz: One reporter? No, I am saying that the Chicago Tribune filed this thing. It is not a reporter. It is the Tribune. Bruce Dold is a part of it. I mean, you either are or you aren't.

Gomez: Yeah, but he is the Editorial page editor. Does he really have authority over the Managing Editor.

Berkowitz: So, it’s those guys, those bad guys, the Publisher? and others who want to smut it up?

Gomez: I am not saying they are bad guys, I mean--

Berkowitz: Okay. So, predicting to the end. How do you see this playing out? Will the records come out? Will they block it from being a [race of policy] issues. What's going to happen here?

Gomez: They are going to come out. One way or the other, they are going to come out.

Berkowitz: And, if they come out, will Jack survive that and will the [race be] a clear articulation of conservative/liberal issues.

Gomez: It depends on what is in those files?

Berkowitz: You don't want to speculate.

Gomez: I don't want to speculate. Let's be fair.
Berkowitz: The issues that will dominate this race...If it is Jack Ryan, as it is and Barack Obama, as it is, give me the two or three issues that will dominate.

Gomez: I say, it has got to be the economy. The Economy, the economy. The economy.

Berkowitz: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs?

Gomez: You are going to have Jack Ryan saying...his three priorities are keeping America safe, good education and good jobs...
Berkowitz: So, you don't see any bias on Ch. 2, Ch. 5, Ch.7, it's all straight coverage?

Gomez: I think the political guys are pretty much fair to everybody...

Berkowitz: Ch. 11, you think they are pretty fair...Is it fair and balanced.

Gomez: I think most of the panels they have are-- when they are talking about a particular issue they normally have a Dem and a Republican...

Berkowitz: Well, we saw the election night coverage [on the major stations]. We saw Corinne Wood who is certainly a notable personality and a frequent guest of "Public Affairs," so we certainly like Corinne and respect her and we saw Jim Edgar [in the election night commentary], long time Governor--but that would be representative of the moderate wing of the Republican Party, what conservatives did you see on TV...Pat O'Malley wasn't there. Joe Morris, the conscience of the Conservatives in Illinois, he wasn't there. You know, this is the problem [of media bias] when you think about it. On Ch. 11, whom do they have as a regular [public affairs] person who is conservative. Do they have one? ...What is the culture at Ch. 11. It is a liberal culture, wouldn't you say?

Gomez: I don't know if it is a liberal culture. I'm there--

Berkowitz: Chicago Public Radio. Is it a liberal culture there? You're there.

Gomez: I don't know if it is a liberal culture.

Berkowitz: When you dine there, do people just as frequently say conservative things as they say liberal things?

Gomez: I think people say a plethora of things.

Berkowitz: Anybody who you could identify as a conservative on Chicago Public Radio?

Gomez: It is not my job to explain someone's ideology and I don't think that's fair or responsible.

Berkowitz: Anyone on National Public Radio who you could identify as a conservative? We have Tavis Smiley-- he's not a conservative, right? We have Jim Lehrer [on PBS], he is not a conservative, right?

Gomez: I don't know Jim Lehrer personally. We've never talked. As a matter of fact, as far as I know, he doesn't vote.

Berkowitz: Okay, so you don't see any bias anywhere?

Hernandez-Gomez: I see some bias in places. I just don't think it is my place to judge other reporters. My job as a reporter is to report and to report the best I can and to inform people as best as I can.

Berkowitz: So, you think you are pretty fair and balanced. You don't have any liberal bias or conservative bias?

Hernandez-Gomez: I don't think I do.
Carlos Hernandez-Gomez, interviewed on Public Affairs, recorded on March 18, 2004, and as is being cablecast this week in 34 Chicago Suburbs. The show will also air throughout the City of Chicago on Monday night, April 5, on Cable Ch. 21 at 8:30 pm.

Blogger Archpundit misses the mark on Jack Ryan and School Vouchers.

Blogger Archpundit (archpundit.com, archives, March 23, 2004) claims that Jack Ryan’s [school voucher] proposals are unlikely to be very helpful [to minority voters]. Archpundit argues that this is because “small scholarships,” only help in Catholic schools, of which there are limited spaces.

There are several things wrong with Archpundit’s argument. For starters, when I have spoken with Jack Ryan, interviewed Jack Ryan and heard Jack Ryan speak with others, he has not suggested “small scholarships,” a “pittance,” or only giving “an amount to cover [the cost of attending] Catholic schools.” So, where does Archpundit get the idea that Jack is proposing a “pittance,” for school vouchers? I don’t know. I have never heard Jack Ryan speak about school vouchers in that way. But, if Archpundit has heard Jack Ryan speak that way, I hope he will tell us about that.

In May, 2001, I interviewed Jack Ryan for a “Public Affairs,” episode that aired later that month and clips of that show were aired again on Public Affairs in December, 2003. When the show was originally taped in May, 2001, the operating cost for the Chicago Public Schools (“CPS), was about $7,000 per year per student and the total cost per student, including capital costs, was about $9,000 per year per student. Currently, the corresponding figures are $9,000 and $11,000 per student, respectively.

In my May, 2001, interview, I asked Jack Ryan if he would support a $7,000 school voucher for every student in the City of Chicago and he said he would [It was my choice to use the operating cost figure, not Jack Ryan’s]. Although I have interviewed Jack more recently and he has said he still supports school vouchers, I did not ask if he would support the current higher figures for school vouchers [$9,000 or $11,000], but I have no reason to believe that he would not, and surely he does not appear to be wedded to dramatically lower school voucher figures, as Archpundit suggests.

On “At Issue,” [WBBM, 780 AM Radio], this Sunday, Jack Ryan suggested giving students who choose to accept a voucher less than the public school’s full cost of educating that student [including capital cost?], which addresses the argument that vouchers drain the public schools of funds, as such a voucher program would leave the public schools with more money for each kid who remained in the public schools than would be the case without school vouchers. Ryan was only given about the last minute of the show to discuss school vouchers, so “his proposal,” was not stated in detail, but he did refer to the students who left with the vouchers, as leaving, “say, $3,000,” behind, which is consistent with the numbers I discuss, above.

Moreover, when I have made similar school choice, school voucher proposals to State Senator Barack Obama over the years-- at least some of the time, Obama said he would consider whatever is on the table, including school vouchers, to improve what he agreed with me are “admittedly intolerable,” inner city public schools. However, when he became a U. S. Senate Candidate, Barack Obama modified that answer to exclude school vouchers as something he would consider to improve educational choices for those students who currently are in the CPS.

Further, Barack Obama gave no indication that the problem he had with my school choice, school voucher proposal was the $9,000 or $11,000 figure I was proposing per student. Instead, he argued that the ultimate result of initiating a voucher program would be “to reduce the options available for the hardest to reach kids.” [See Berkowitz “Public Affairs,” June 27, 2002 and July 24, 2003 interviews of Barack Obama, linked on the U. S. Senate Candidate link at the EricZorn.com home page]. Barack Obama did not elaborate on his support for that argument.

So, the problems that Archpundit raises about vouchers and Catholic schools don’t really apply to the vouchers that Jack Ryan is proposing and supporting. Moreover, Archpundit’s statement that there are limited spaces in Catholic schools is technically true but has little meaning for this discussion. Indeed, economics is defined as the allocation of scarce [or limited] resources among unlimited wants. So, any economic good, e.g., spaces in a Catholic school, a Montessori school, or an Archpundit school, is “limited.” What else is new?

Also, Jack Ryan has said that there are currently [that is, as of today] 40,000 spaces available in Catholic Schools, and I have no reason to doubt that figure. However, why take the static approach of Archpundit. If you give CPS parents purchasing power of $9,000 - $11,000 per student, there will be hundreds of thousands of new spaces in all sorts of private schools opening up to serve those parents’ kids in time for the fall, 2004 academic year. Indeed, those who oppose school vouchers, e.g., public school teachers’ unions, don’t worry that there will be too little competition from private schools, but too much.

Finally, as everyone knows who watches “Public Affairs,” I am fair and balanced. While I may support school vouchers, I endorse no candidates, Democratic or Republican, and therefore I am not endorsing either Barack or Jack. And, of course, I am not authorized to speak on behalf of Jack or Barack. I simply don’t like to see erroneous information tossed around, and I would also correct, and have corrected, those who make erroneous statements about Barack. I have had Barack on my show about seven times in the last five years, or so, (including his appearances as both a State Senator and as a Democratic Primary U. S. Senate candidate) and Jack twice in the last three years (as a potential Republican Primary U. S. Senate Candidate and as a Republican Primary U. S. Senate Candidate) and I look forward to multiple appearances from both as the general election campaign proceeds. Who knows- we might even discuss school choice, school vouchers.

Jeff Berkowitz can be reached at JBCG@aol.com

Monday, March 29, 2004

Tonight's guest on the "Public Affairs," show in the City of Chicago [8:30 pm, Ch. 21, Monday, March 29] is Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune columnist. Zorn discusses and debates politics, the Senate races and School Choice and school vouchers with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz. As the show was taped on March 6, 2004, it demonstrates what I think Yogi Berra used to say-- predictions are difficult to make, especially when they are about the future. I will add they are even more so when the predictions air after the event being predicted. Included, directly below, is a partial transcript of the show's discussion relating to the Senate Primaries. A partial transcript of the discussion relating to school choice is included several entries below this entry, with the entries for March 24, 2004.

Jeff Berkowitz: We are taping on March 6 and...it will air after the March 16 primary so I am sure people will be interested to know what your prediction was

Eric Zorn: this is great--

Berkowitz: So, make the prediction and then when they watch the show they will know if you got it right. So, who is going to win the Demorcratic Primary [for the U. S. Senate seat]?

Zorn: I look at the polls right now as we sit here and I see Dan Hynes trailing Barack Obama by a percentage that is I think a smaller percentage than the organization bonus that Hynes will have. Hynes is well organized through-out the state. I think you have to look at those polls, and there is a lot of undecideds, and anticipating again a light turn-out, I 'm thinking you have to add 7 to 10 points to whatever Hynes is polling--

Berkowitz: 7 to 10 points. I thought more like 5 to 6 points, or 4 to 5 points--

Zorn: Now, if those poll numbers change-- I think Obama has to go into the election with a greater lead--

Berkowitz: [you are saying] he [Obama] has got to be winning by 7 to 10 points [in the polls] in order for him to win.

Zorn: by 7 to 10 points in order for him to win, I think--

Berkowitz: and he is not now. So, make a prediction, over-all, who will win the Democratic primary?

Zorn: I will predict Hynes and Ryan.

Berkowitz: Hynes and Jack Ryan.

Zorn: Jack Ryan. George is out of it. That is my prediction. Of course, this is going to look verry silly, if I am wrong and prescient, if I am right.

Berkowitz: Well, I predicted several weeks ago, in a show that will air the night before the election, that Jack Ryan will win in the Republican Primary and Barack Obama will win in the Democratic Primary, and I will stick with that. We are fair and balanced, so this is not [necessarily] my preference, it is simply a prediction based on those four major factors: money, an organization, a base and a [clear] message. Did I get ir right? Are those the four major ingredients to determine who will win an election?

Zorn: I would think so. I hope you are right. I think Barack Obama is the most impressive of the candidates.

Berkowitz: So, you would like Barack to win? You don't mind saying that.

Zorn: I don't mind saying that. I agree with the Tribune's editorial board on this one and the editorial board of the Sun-Times and several other papers around the State that Obama is the class of the field and I think he is gonna-- my prediction, here is another prediction for you. If Obama has won, and I think he is going to win in the fall, pretty easily-- I think within twelve years, or so, maybe less- he will be on the national ticket. He is that impressive a guy.

Berkowitz: And, on the Republican side, you predicted Jack Ryan would win. Who would you like to win? It may be Jack, I don't know.

Zorn: You know. I like Jack Ryan. I have met him, spoken with him--

Berkowitz: Interviewed him--

Zorn: I have interviewed him and I think he does much better in an up close one on one interview than he does speaking. I think he is a little stiff, a little bit too mannered when he speaks. I don't think he presents all that well as a candidate in front of an audience. The guy who I am most impressed with because I think he is a really intelligent guy-- I don't agree with him on a lot of issues but I think he is intelligent, a lot of integrity-- he is State Sen. [Steve] Rauschenberger. I am very impressed with him. I don't quite understand why he is getting no traction apparently in the primary.

Berkowitz: No money. We just said you have got to have money, and he has no money. Maybe you don't understand why he is getting no money. Is that your point?

Zorn: Well, yes, that is part of it. I wonder what has happened to the Republican base. The Republican Party in Illinois has a relatively promising, bright legislator and they are not supporting him. I think it speaks to the level of disorganization and the problems that exist in the Republican Party in Illinois in general, which is why I don't have any hope-- I should say hope is the wrong word-- I don't have any projection that Jack Ryan can beat anybody who he runs against.

Berkowitz: Even if he wins the nomination.

Zorn: Well, I think he is going to win the [primary].

Berkowitz: But, you don't think he [Jack Ryan] will win the General Election because the party is in such disarray, is that your point?

Zorn: I don't think the Illinois Republican Party can do it for him.

Berkowitz: Well, you know-- people build parties, right?

Zorn: People do, I don't think--

Berkowitz: Rudy Guilliani built the Republican Party in New York City.

Zorn: Is there any sense out there that the Illinois Republican Party is about ready to be built? I mean, where is Judy Topinka?

Berkowitz: Well, somebody has to face up to the schism on abortion in the Republican Party.

Zorn: Schism. Is there a big one?

Berkowitz: There is a big schism.
Interview of Eric Zorn on "Public Affairs." Recorded on March 6, 2004, and as will be cablecast on Monday night, March 29 at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21 Through-out the City of Chicago.

Your pledge dollars at work: The Selling of Chicago Tonight, aka the Bob Sirott show, or perhaps as Narcissism Tonight

Have you noticed that Chicago’s Public TV station is getting more and more into ads. It started with devoting more time on its shows to ads for its “corporate sponsors,” and to making the ads look more like, well, ads. But, today I noticed a trio of ads in between WTTW's Sunday programming about Chicago Tonight ("CT"), itself. And these are not promos telling you whom Phil Ponce might be interviewing on the next show or which portion of Crain’s the people from Crain’s will be reading to Sirott on the next show. No, not at all, these are ads that attempt to take CT and its anchor, Bob Sirott, into the modern age of glitzy advertising.

One CT ad has what purport to be adoring fans of CT talking about how wonderful CT is. The comments by adoring fans talk about how CT gives in depth perspectives, usually has a panel of three and gives in depth coverage of local issues. Although that ad says CT, it is clear it is not referring to Bob Sirott and his gadgets, but to Ponce and his panelists, who now generally are allocated only about one sixth to one third of the CT show. That is, the Ponce public policy issue segment has been reduced to a nightly 10 to 20 minutes, at most, and that only occurs if it is a slow day for sports. The rest of the CT time now goes to movie reviews, theater reviews, gadget reviews, Crain’s reviews, food reviews and hot sports reviews- apparently somebody high up at WTTW thinks the commercial market just isn’t filling the bill in such areas as sports and movie reviews and WTTW needs to plug these gaps in the market.

Another ad for CT has adoring fans of Phil Ponce talking specifically about Ponce, with comments about his good, educated questions and how Phil never lets “them,” slide. But the CT ad that really emphasizes just how far CT has fallen is the one consisting of the top dozen fawning fans of Bob Sirott [The Dirty Dozen?]. Let’s take a look at a transcript [unofficial] of the ad:

Male Fan 1 in a Building:
The host, Bob Sirott-- I think he is great. I think he is one of the best broadcasting personalities in the City of Chicago.

Female Fan 1 at a Department Store:
I have been watching Bob for a long time and I think he is a great asset [Asset? Isn’t that a CIA term of art?].

Male Fan 2 at a Department Store:
He is just very easy to watch.

Male Fan 3 in a building:
He is not afraid to ask questions.

Male Fan 4, getting off a bicycle: Yeah, I love Bob Sirott. Bob Sirott’s cool.

Female Fan 2, sitting down in building. I lovvvvvvve watching Bob Sirott.

Male Fan 5, walking down the street: Bob Sirott, Chicago Tonight

Male Fan 6 in a car: Bob Sirott

Male Fan 7, standing in a building: Bob Sirott

Female Fan 3, standing in a building: Bob Sirott (This young lady must be a big, big fan of CT, or somebody is paying her a lot, as she also shows up in the Ponce ad)

Male Fan 8, standing in building: Bob Sirott

Male Fan 9: I like [inaudible]

Female Fan 4, standing in a building, and making her second appearance in this ad. He [Sirott] has a wonderful personality, and he is very nice to look at.

The ad ends with the graphic--- We like him, too. Chicago Tonight.

Well, Well. So, the show that once was the place to turn each night for a serious one half hour discussion of public policy issues now has reduced the time for that discussion to 10 to 20 minutes and ends an ad about its host, Bob Sirott, with an adoring fan, stating—


So, Ch. 11[WTTW] has this promo for Sirott and his CT to convince everybody that if they want to be cool, they should watch Sirott. And, Ch. 2[CBS] has the jingle, “I’m a “2” watcher to convince everybody that, notwithstanding the low ratings of 2 News-- if they want to be cool, they should watch Antonio and Diane [After all, management decided these two were worth at least a few million dollars per year]. And, more importantly, the “2” watcher jingle is supposed to convince all that despite what everybody thinks, people really are watching 2 News.

So, the question is- Who is imitating whom?

I don’t know. Antonio and Diane are nice to look at, if that is your thing. Sirott is nice to look at, if that is your thing. And, their adoring fans [or whoever those folks are in the ads] seem to be telling us—that [the looks of the anchors] is the important thing about those programs. So, I am calling it a draw. CT is now up there with 2 News. Or, perhaps, more accurately, CT is now down there with 2 News.

As I said, your pledge dollars at work. What do you want? You got a tote bag. You think you should also have quality programming without silly ads that fawn all over those appearing on WTTW, too? Very demanding of you. Hold on, before you run off, could you pay this Check, Please?

You may contact Jeff Berkowitz by email: JBCG@aol.com

Friday, March 26, 2004

Pete Giangreco (consultant to Barack Omama and Principal with the Strategy Group) clashes with Joe Morris (Chairman of the United Republican Fund of Illinois and supporter of Jack Ryan):

Jeff Berkowitz: Let me throw out a quote to you Pete Giangreco and see if you agree..."the Bush administration and its allies are right wing wrecking crews, part of an unholy alliance between Government and Wealth, who are engaged in the deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America," true or false, would you agree with that statement, Pete Giangreco.

Pete Giangreco: I don't think I would choose the words, but there does seem to be an unholy alliance among powerful interests and a President of the United States [George Bush] who seems to take up their cause instead of the cause of people and I think that's replete in the actions of this administration, whether it is in tax policy with lots of tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and just, you know, that gets paid for by everybody else.

Berkowitz: So, you agree with the part about an alliance between government and wealth?

Giangreco: Well, I think so, I mean, I think, you know-

Berkowitz: What about the deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America? A little too harsh, would you say?

Giangreco: That's too harsh. That's too harsh. Look, just because they are wrong doesn't mean that they are evil.

Berkowitz: Now, that [quote] comes from Bill Moyers, speaking to a Take Back America conference of Democratic liberal activists in the summer of 2003. Bill Moyers, of course, appears regularly on Ch. 11... [The program NOW, produced and hosted by Moyers, is on WTTW, a Public Television station, virtually every Sunday at 12:00 pm], that is Bill Moyers.

Giangreco: You can understand the anger of people like Bill Moyers when they see what George Bush has done to this country in 3 years, I mean, really taken it in the wrong direction-

Berkowitz: You can't filibuster too much, let's let Joe Morris into this conversation.

Giangreco: But, I mean, you lose three million jobs on one hand, and, you know, an ominous threat to civil liberties on the other, there is a lot to dislike about what this administration has done.

Berkowitz; Joe Morris, an unholy alliance between government and wealth?

Joe Morris: Well, I think outrageous, demagogic rhetoric coming both from Pete Giangreco and Bill Moyers, let it not be forgotten that Bill Moyers was the Chief of Staff for Lyndon Johnson when Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States [1963-68]

Giangreco: So, I don't get any points for disavowing that last part.

Berkowitz: I'll give you two points for that

Morris. And, it should be noted that Pete Giangreco is a paid lackey of Barack Obama, full disclosure requires that, so he is paid to badmouth [President] George Bush and Republicans.

Giangreco: I would do it for free and I am doing it for free now.

Morris: I will defend them voluntarily. This kind of rhetoric is typical of the kind of campaign that Democrats have to mount in the 21st Century in order to try to win. They have to mount campaigns of hatred and extreme attacks because if you simply lay out the facts, the facts support the return of the President for a second term in the White House and the facts support the general trend of what a Republican administration has meant to this country. Pete's telling an untruth when he says there is a loss of 3 million jobs;

Giangreco: it's true.

Morris: The fact of the matter is economic data today show, in fact, jobs growing in the United States

Giangreco: Let's talk about falsehoods. This is an administration who promises, Secretary [of the Treasury] Snow promises 200,000 new jobs, starting in October [2003]. In December, there was 1,000 new jobs created, 12,000 in February [2004]. This administration keeps promising and promising. They said we will do 2.6 million new jobs between now and the election and then they pull back from that because they saw that its not happening--

Morris: Pete, you--

Giangreco: Hang on, Hang on- it's not happening for a lot of reasons. Some things that are in control of the President and some things that aren't. You have a Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers that says that outsourcing is a good thing. That that's a part of free trade that is good. That's their view of the world. That's the corporate view of the world that means if we can Walmart everything at low cost- you have higher corporate profits and what it results in is the destruction of the American middle class.

Berkowitz: Joe Morris--

Morris: What Pete wants us to forget is that Bill Clinton and his other client, Bill Daley [Brother of Mayor Daley, Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton Administration and point man for President Clinton to get NAFTA through the Congress] were among the great advocates of NAFTA. NAFTA was certainly a bi-partisan proposal but what Pete and his ilk want to do is take all the credit for anything that derives from NAFTA and blame anything bad that happens with NAFTA and free trade on Republicans. The cold hard facts are that job decline started at the end of the Clinton Administration and that George Bush had to assume the Presidency at a time when all leading and trailing economic indicators were turning down. And, the fact of the matter is that leading and trailing indicators at this moment are turning up and that's why Democrats are panicked and things are looking good--

Giangreco: It's not a point of

Morris: Excuse me, may I finish a sentence.

Berkowitz: Let him finish and then let me ask a question.

Giangreco: He has finished several.

Morris: Things are looking good for the American economy as we look ahead to November which means they are looking bad for Democrats.

Giangreco: Joe hasn't been to Galesburg, Illinois where they just lost 200 jobs to Mexico.

Berkowitz: Let me ask a question because I want to frame issues and let you two gentleman go at it . One thing you both just sort of touched on and I want to ask Joe Morris: Pete has implied that oursourcing is a bad thing. And, I guess he would say "offshore sourcing," which is actually more of what we are talking about [is also a bad thing], so let me ask you, Joe Morris, are out-sourcing and off shore-sourcing [bad things]. When technology enables us to do certain things, [such as] allow a U. S. hospital to transmit x-rays to India for diagnosis and they can do it cheaper [than in the U. S] and send the results back to the U.S.-that is going on in the United States. Is that a bad thing?

Morris: Of course, it is not a bad thing.

Giangreco: See, I disagree.

Berkowitz: Let Joe explain and then you will get a chance.

Morris: Bill Clinton and Bill Daley can't be wrong all the time. And, they were right when they promoted free trade through-out the 1990s and promotion of free trade is a good thing for the American people because it means more jobs, more income for Americans...

Giangreco: But, free trade only works for Americans when it is fair trade. And, this Administration has fallen down, particularly in a couple of areas. No. 1, they refuse to repeal the tax incentives where we use taxpayer dollars to actually give to corporations to ship their Headquarters overseas. The Bush administration didn't create this recession but he is making it worse. Secondly, ...

Berkowitz: Point blank, are you opposed to NAFTA and would you like to see NAFTA repealed, and speaking for Barack Obama, do you think he would agree with you?

Giangreco: Well, speaking for Barack Obama, he clearly would like labor and environmental [standards] so we can bring people in other countries up to our level, not bring it down.

Berkowitz: Would he [Democratic Senate Candidate Barack Obama] have voted against NAFTA?

Giangreco: I think he would have changed the bargaining position of this Administration, which is to roll over and play dead for this "worship at the alter of free trade," here when we should be gathering the industrial nations and forcing China to stop breaking the trade laws that we are a part of. I mean let's talk about vigorous and fair trade. They are for rolling it over because it is good for corporate interests.

Berkowitz: ...Joe, I know you are not working for the [Republican Senate Candidate] Jack Ryan campaign, but you are familiar with Jack and his ideas. Would he be generally in accord with the views that you have taken here on trade.

Morris: I think he would. I think all of the evidence shows that free trade is good for American workers, not just American corporations- but the people who stand behind American corporations and every other player in the American Economy, shareholders, workers, everybody.

Berkowitz: Exports create jobs-- is [that] what you would say?

Morris: Exports create jobs and so do imports because we do things with imports and I think if you listen carefully to everything Pete Giangreco just said, two things jump out: No. 1, he conceded that George Bush didn't create the recession, it is something he inherited, and the second thing is that he didn't directly answer your question about what Barack Obama would do on the vote on NAFTA

Giangreco: He would like to renegotiate

Morris: I think he would vote against NAFTA

Berkowitz: Let's go on to National Security. Point Blank, Pete Giangreco, is the United States safer today than they [we] were on September 12, 2001.

Giangreco: I don't think you can say that-- No, I mean--
Berkowtiz: ...Are we less safe [now] than we were on Sep. 12, 2001? Your answer is we are less safe?

Giangreco: I think we are because we are facing--

Berkowitz: And, you think Barack Obama would agree with you on that?

Giangreco: I don't know what Barack would believe on that one...

Berkowitz: Joe Morris, are we safer now than we were on Sep. 12, 2001

Joe Morris: No question about it. We are safer because we know a lot more about what the threat is and we have taken direct action in both domestic matters that is creating a structure of Homeland Security and direct action overseas taking down the Taliban and the home that it supplied to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. And, in taking down Saddam Hussein, [we made it] so not only is the United States safer but the Middle East is safer and the Middle East is safer because we are now looking forward to a generation where American Presidents of both parties for the next 50 years are going to follow in the wake of the beachhead that George Bush has created in the Middle East--

Giangreco: I think that is a pretty naive answer, Joe--

Morris: an American military presence in the MIddle East. We have had an American military presence for half a century in Korea and an American military presence for more than half a century in Europe and those American military presences have helped keep peace. That's going to happen in the Middle East and that's a beachhead.

Giangreco: I don't disagree with Joe but I don't think anybody is going to follow George Bush's blueprint which was a complete botching of the Israeli- Palestinian situation where they disengaged for months and months and months.

Berkowitz: Let's go to the current--

Giangreco: and said we don't want-- and fumbled that and that's creating more problems in the middle east

Morris: fumbled how? because unlike Barack Obama, George Bush won't cave in to Palestinian-Arab terrorists.

Giangreco: No, I think--

Berkowitz: Wait a second, let me just clarify that. What do you mean by that? Why do you think Barack Obama would cave in to Palestinian terrorists?

Giangreco: You are making up a record that doesn't exist? Have you heard him say that?

Morris: Sure, I have. Barack Obama speaks in the language of moral equivalency of Israelis and Palestinians.

Giangreco:That is not true. Joe, Joe- what you are saying is patently false. You can't prove what you just said.

Berkowitz: Pete, let him finish and then you can respond.

Giangreco: He [Barack Obama] is a staunch supporter of Israel, as much as George Bush and as much as you are. And, as much as I am, because it is the only democracy--

Morris: What is Barack Obama's position on the wall of security.

Giangreco. I don't know the answer [to that]. But, he is a strong

Morris: What is Barack Obama's position on whether Israel should give back the Golan Heights to Syria?

Giangreco: He has been to the Golan Heights. I don't think he supports that.

Morris: You don't think so.

Giangreco: Why don't you tell me? Since, you seem to be projecting to our audience that you know everything about Barack Obama's record when clearly you know nothing. You know even less than I do.

Morris: I would like to hear Barack Obama speak clearly to those issues:

Giangreco: I would like to hear you speak clearly about it.

Morris: He [Obama] continually side steps those questions.

Giangreco: No, he doesn't. He was very articulate ... when he spoke- can I have a minute- when he spoke in front of 5000 people on why he thought that the Iraq War was the wrong war at the wrong time. He spoke very eloquently about where American force should be directed. [It] should be focused on Al Qaeda, on chasing down terrorists, on standing with our allies and he is committed-- he is an internationalist, he is not an isolationist. He is someone who believes in projecting American power, but for all the right reasons. This administration, Paul O'Neill said it, Clarke has said it, people who have been part of this administration, was fixated on Iraq, before 9/11, it made us less safe as a country, it has made us less safe afterwards because we still have not dealt with the real threat to America, which is Al Qaeda.

Morris: Pete is trumpeting a big lie--

Giangreco: No, I am trumpeting what Republicans have said.

Morris: Well, Richard Clarke is no Republican. He was a Clinton holdover in the Bush Administration...

Joe Morris and Pete Giangreco, interviewed on "Public Affairs," in a program recorded on March 25, 2004 and which will air in the suburbs during the week of April 5 and through-out the City of Chicago on Monday night, April 12 at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21. For a "Public Affairs," schedule of suburban airing days, times and Channels, please see the blog entries, below.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune Columnist and Blogger, pays off on his losing wager regarding the timing of the George Ryan Indictment and appears on "Public Affairs," to debate School Vouchers and school choice with show host, blogger and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz. Berkowitz and Zorn also discuss the "evolution" of George Ryan, the Democratic and Republican U. S. Senate primaies and whether the Illinois GOP is ready to be rebuilt. The show was recorded on March 6, 2004 and it is being cablecast this week in the suburbs and will air this Monday night, March 29, at 8:30 pm through-out the City of Chicago. See suburban airing schedule of “Public Affairs,” on Comcast Cable, in March 22, 2004 entry, below.

A partial transcript of the show is included, below.

Jeff Berkowitz: … The thing I have to say… is that Eric Zorn is one of the fairest people in discussing ideas that I know and where do they go to see your rhubarb patch where these issues are discussed?

Eric Zorn: Well, there is Ericzorn.com/rhubarb which has a very good discussion between George Clowes and me on this topic …

Berkowitz: This topic meaning this very discussion of school vouchers that we will be having tonight, and there are various other discussions [in the rhubarb patch], pro and con, for gun control, etc…The point is… Eric Zorn is a very fair guy…he is somebody who thinks about ideas- I think he is somebody who likes to carry ideas out to their logical conclusion. You agree with that?

Zorn: I do. Totally. Totally.

Berkowitz: I learned to do that at the University of Chicago. You learned to do that at the University of Michigan,

Zorn. Yes.

Berkowitz: Where you were a creative writing major, an English major.

Zorn: English major.

Berkowitz: But also creative writing…
Berkowitz: …The one thing that we have to thank George Ryan for is that because George was indicted [in Dec., 2003], Eric Zorn is here to talk about school choice and school vouchers… I have this backpack, which was nicely personalized with the name, “Public Affairs,” and provided to me by my [older] daughter and here is of course the real [larger] backpack. Now, the backpack has acquired a lot of symbolism during this show. Indeed, it has spread around the City [of Chicago]. …You know the topic of this show is “Free to choose, “ which comes from Milton Friedman [the Godfather of School Vouchers and Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics who taught graduate school economics for many years at the University of Chicago] who has written on that topic. In a free market, people are free to choose. Very simply put. So… that is roughly $11,000 per student [per year, being spent] in the City of Chicago Public Schools, on average. If you take out the capital costs, it is about $9,000 [being spent, per year, per student in the CPS]. …We won’t count the capital costs, we’ll take our $9,000 …and $9,000 is put in the backpack…so we go to each parent of every child in the CPS; if they have two kids, they get 2 backpacks, they get $18,000 per year…so how is that a problem?…

Zorn: What’s wrong with this idea? When I look at the [school] voucher idea, I see this utopianism on the part of people who are advocating this [idea]…
The World Church of the Creator, Matthew Hale, what if he starts an Academy… teaching White Supremacy, does my $9,000 send my kid there…

Berkowitz: In large part, you are given freedom to make mistakes, I think we can set up some regulations that would say when you are out of bounds. Matthew Hale’s school might be one of them…
Zorn: …Why are schools on the North Shore such good schools? Why are the public schools up there good?

Berkowitz: A variety of reasons. One, the kids get a better environment for learning.

Zorn: Where

Berkowitz: In the home…

Zorn: Okay, Good.

Berkowitz: That’s one. They have parents who, on average, read to their kids more before they go to school, at ages 0 to 6..,

Zorn: This has nothing to do with the schools, yet, and I agree with you and I agree with you on those points…you ask why aren’t kids reading in these [CPS] schools? Because their parents are letting them down.

Berkowitz: …I can’t change that.

Zorn: Why does the school change that?

Berkowitz: Didn’t you ever hear the saying, “Allow me to work on the things that I can change; The ones that I can’t, I won’t worry about…I can’t give everybody a good, family home with two parents who have time and are willing to spend time with their kids. I can’t do that and you can’t do that and we are not doing that in the CPS. I want to give people a choice to find the best mechanism to compensate for the fact that they don’t have that. Right now, we say to people—

Zorn: These parents don’t care enough about their kids

Berkowitz: Excuse me

Zorn: to read to them and you expect they are going to go out and comparison shop to find good schools. Why? What gives you that faith in those parents?

Berkowitz: If you worked two crummy jobs—

Zorn: Well, then, how are they going to find a school for their kids?

Berkowitz: It is lot easier to find a school than it is to spend two hours a night reading to your kids.

Zorn: You want to know why I am against school vouchers? It is that I think rather than it doing what you want it to do which is to raise the level of all of these kids—I think it is going to leave [behind] some kids, certain kids, kids whose parents aren’t on the ball enough to get them into the right schools. I think it is going to leave them way behind, it is going to—

Berkowitz: They are behind now. How are they worse off [under school vouchers]? Are you afraid—

Zorn: Because, take this baseball [Zorn picks up the baseball on the “Public Affairs” set table]. They may have a baseball at some public school now, but because Jeff Berkowitz has got to give his $9,000 to all of the kids that are going there now, and half of them leave—we don’t have a baseball anymore, it’s gone [Zorn throws the baseball off the set]

Berkowitz: No, No, Eric.

Zorn: You have taken away money for extra-curriculars. You have taken away money for—

Berkowitz: We are taking away [the tax revenue equal to] their operating costs [for each kid who leaves]. We are not taking the [the tax revenue equal to] their capital costs. Their [tax revenue equal to their] operating costs [for each kid who stays there] stays there. If it costs $9,000 to operate that school for that kid, and we take away the $9,000 for the kid who left [and there is one fewer kid who has to be taught], I don’t see how the school is worse off, because they still have [the tax revenue equal to] as much as they had to pay for their total capital costs, and fewer kids [and the same tax revenue to cover the operating costs of each kid who stayed]…
Berkowitz: …You keep worrying that this could happen, that could happen—do you understand that there was a school, Dodge School [in Chicago] that had 10% of the kids reading at grade level. Now, the CPS administration wanted to close it. I don’t know if they did—the parents didn’t want it closed because they knew that they were just going to send them three miles down the road to another school [a public school] that was performing as poorly [as Dodge], Nobody said to them [the Dodge school parents],”you have $9,000 and you can go try to find a parochial [or non-sectarian private] school. We respect your ability to do better than we did.” But, you don’t respect that, Eric.

Zorn: What is the parochial school doing? What is the public school not doing? ….When I talk to voucher advocates, I say to them—what is it that you think the [public] school is not doing? What is the school not doing that you think that the school should be doing? Why does the private school do better?

Berkowitz: It doesn’t even matter. We could study it forever.

Zorn: Why does the private school do better?

Berkowitz: We could study it forever, but the main thing is that [we know] it is doing something better because the kids are performing better.

Zorn: But, you have to look at the mechanism—why are the kids performing better? Here is my

Berkowitz: Why do I have to do that? If an auto company does better than another auto company--

Zorn: Because you want to basically rip down public education

Berkowitz: I am not going to rip down anything.

Zorn: It will, It will destroy it. This is something you want to turn into a private system. This is your whole thing of privatize—

Berkowitz: I am trying to help kids and you are trying to preserve a decadent system that is falling apart, that is not performing—

Zorn: Why is it falling apart?

Berkowitz: I don’t know. I don’t care.

Zorn: You don’t even want to perform an analysis.

Berkowitz: I didn’t ask an auto company when it went out of business why it couldn’t produce cars as well as Toyota. You want to go ask that auto company? Just let them compete.

Zorn: You see a house on fire and you say let’s privatize the fire department.

Berkowitz: I am not privatizing anything. I am giving the kids money. Don’t you care about these kids?

Zorn: I care about the kids.

Berkowitz: Not enough to give them any choice.

Zorn: You don’t care enough even to try to ask the question- what is the school not doing?

Berkowitz: We could study that forever. I want change now. It is March 6. I want change on March 7. I don’t want to make it better in 20 years.

Zorn: But, you are going to take these kids and put them into these private schools- what you are going to do is you are going to end up- you are just going to transfer some of these problems over to these other schools—these schools aren’t going to do as well

Berkowitz: No, it is working in Cleveland, It is working in Milwaukee, it is working in Colorado.

Zorn: Those are test programs. They are marginal test programs.

Berkowitz: They are all working. They are all working. You want to start with the whole program? Let’s start with the whole program.

Zorn: I will stipulate. You take some kids and put them into private schools—you give them money and put them into private schools. That will work. That will work. You know why? Because the private schools have more flexibility. We should give schools more flexibility. They have more parental involvment.

Berkowitz: It will cause more competition. Then the public schools will have to have more flexibility.

Zorn: No, that’s not true.

Berkowitz: Okay, we are going to continue to speak as the credits roll but I very much want to thank Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune columnist and once again where can they find your column?

Zorn: Chicago Tribune newspaper, itself; ChicagoTribune.com/Zorn and my web log [Blog] is ChicagoTribune.com/Notebook and it links to your

Berkowitz: to my [political and media analysis and buzz blog which is Jeffberkowitz.blogspot.com]—Eric’s Blog is very much worth reading—you will see daily entries there [as you will on mine] and you will want to keep up with it. Okay, back to school choice and school vouchers…Don’t you have a little concern that maybe you are wrong- that we should take this backpack, give people the $9,000, let them choose, maybe I an right, maybe kids will learn how to read and write and do better than they currently are. Or, we could spend a lot of time talking about why I think those schools will do better; maybe it’s the competition, maybe it’s the flexibility, maybe its the threat that if they [the schools] don’t perform, they know the parents will go somewhere else. Lots of reasons, Okay. But, the main thing is—Let these people go. Give them some freedom.

Zorn: The risk of doing it wholesale is way too high. My concern is not that these kids—

Berkowitz: Free at last, Free at last. Thank God almighty, Free at Last.

Zorn: Not true. You may leave kids in schools that are much worse off.

Berkowitz: How are they worse? They have more money per kid.

Zorn: Because all of the kids whose parents were involved—

Berkowitz: They could all go. Why would they stay [if the CPS schools were worse than the private schools.]

Zorn: Because their parents aren’t with it enough to read to them or teach them their ABCs.

Berkowitz: You have such a low opinion of people in the inner city.

Zorn: No, you are the one who agreed that they don’t even read to them.

Berkowitz: You have to get out more. You [almost] live in the inner city. You need to get out there.

Zorn: They don’t even read to them, Jeff. They don’t read to them, so you expect them to find the right schools for them. You are going to have these little inner city schools whose parents don’t give a darn about them who are going to bring down the level of these schools and you are going to leave kids behind and those are the kids I really care about.

Berkowitz: So, keep it the way it is now. It is doing so well. Two out of every three kids not learning how to read. Great. Don’t try anything else. This is so out of character for you. I am so disappointed.

Zorn: No, its perfectly in character.

Berkowitz: You are so much better than this. You are doing this just to give me a tough time.

Zorn: No, I’m not. I am absolutely sure of this. I know that what you are—[end of show].

Eric Zorn, interviewed on the Public Affairs,” show which was recorded on March 6, 2001, and is being cablecast on Comcast Cable this week (Week of March 22) in the suburbs and will air through-out the City of Chicago on Monday, March 29, 2004. See suburban airing schedule of “Public Affairs,” on Comcast Cable, in March 22, 2004 entry, below.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Cong. Jan Schakowsky debated and discussed the issues with "Public Affairs," host Jeff Berkowitz in a show that was recorded on March 6, 2004. The show was cablecast on March 22, at 8:30 pm through-out the City of Chicago. A partial transcript of the show is included, below.

Jeff Berkowitz: Social security, it is a Ponzi scheme. Folks, if you are working today…as the money is taken out of your paycheck, presumably for social security, you may think it is going into a fund- but, no, the government is lying to you- it is not going into a fund…what you are doing is—it is going to pay somebody else who is now retiring and is going on social security, so you are giving money to somebody else who worked and paid money to give to somebody else. But, the thing is, when FDR started the thing [social security]

Cong. Jan Schakowsky: What is your point—

Berkowitz: It is a Ponzi scheme

Schakowsky: Absolutely not, as it takes the money in—

Berkowitz: As [WTTW’s] Phil Ponce made clear [at the WTTW- City Club of Chicago Republican Senate Candidate debate], it is not a Ponce scheme, it is a Ponzi scheme.

Schakowsky: And that money, that credit, that is owed to future retirees, is as good as gold. Social Security has never, never missed a payment to senior citizens.

Berkowitz: As good as gold? Well, let me challenge you on that…
When it started out, about 43 people were paying, that is 43 people were saying—here, you can take some of my income to pay one [retring] person, on average. Well now, due to a variety of demographic changes, we are heading toward a system where 2.5 people are paying for one [retiring] person [on average]. Do you see a problem there that is not Republican, not Democratic. You can’t have a system where first 43 people [per recipient], pay-- then 2.5 people [per recipient] pay and say, “not different.”

Schakowsky: If you want to sit down with the Trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund, they will explain it very clearly to you, Jeffrey.

Berkowitz: Oh?

Schakowsky: That program, with minor adjustments, is going to continue to pay retirees those benefits.

Berkowitz: What would those minor adjustments be?

Schakowsky: Well, we might want to consider lifting the income level of people who pay into social security, instead of cutting it off at $87,000.

Berkowitz: Oh, raising taxes again. So, here is the solution? [Currently], if you make up to $87,000, you continue to pay taxes [to that level]. If you make $127,000, you are not [currently] paying any additional social security taxes on that amount earned between $87,000 and $127,000 [the additional $40, 000].

Schakowsky: Republicans right now are raiding this IOU fund—

Berkowitz: So, you want to raise taxes?

Schakowsky: No-- to give it only to the wealthiest Americans. And, I have nothing against wealthy Americans—

Berkowitz: So, that is your solution [to Social Security], raising taxes. Other than that, what would we need to do?

Schakowsky: I am talking about putting money into the pockets of people who-

Berkowitz: Telling that guy or lady who is making $127,000, $120,000 or anything over $87,000 [in a year] that Jan Schakowsky is going to raise your taxes. You are. Tell them that.

Schakowsky: No.

Berkowitz: Tell them that. It is Okay to do, but I think we need to tell people what we are doing.

Schakowsky: Jeffrey, the President of the United States has made a decision to give tax breaks (looking at the whole picture) to those who earn the most money. You could put it another way. I’m going to give tax breaks-

Berkowitz: He [the President] gives them [tax breaks] to everybody. You got one. Everybody who pays [income] taxes got one.

Schakowsky: I am going to give tax cuts to people who are actually going to go out and spend the money. I am going to put money into infrastructure development. You know what, you asked me how we are going to create jobs; we are starving the states right now.

Berkowitz: …Okay, so you are going to raise [federal income] taxes to give money to the states. People are going to pay money to the federal government, who will then give it back to the states. Why don’t they just give it to the State government [directly]? It doesn’t get better as it goes through Washington, D.C.

Schakowsky: We ought not be advantaging companies who move off shore, who take jobs with them—and [we should] look at closing the tax loopholes.

Berkowitz: …If we would lower the taxes they pay, they would stay here. But, they are competing with companies in countries that pay lower taxes, so they go off shore to pay lower taxes

Schakowsky: And continue and continue a race to the bottom where everybody in the world—

Berkowitz: A Nancy Skinner line…

Upcoming Guests and airing Schedule for the City of Chicago and Suburban editions of “Public Affairs”:

City of Chicago:

Public Affairs airs every Monday Night at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21 through-out the City of Chicago.

Tonight, Monday night, March 22, Cong. Jan Schakowsky (D- Evanston, 9th CD) debates and discusses domestic and foreign policy issues with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz. Topics include Social Security, Taxes, Haiti, Iraq, the Israeli Fence and prescription drug benefits, as well as Jan’s endorsement of State Sen. Barack Obama for the United States Senate in today’s Democratic primary in Illinois. A partial transcript of this show will be added to this Public Affairs blogsite later today or tomorrow.

Monday, March 29, Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune Columnist, pays off on his losing wager regarding the timing of the George Ryan Indictment and appears on "Public Affairs," to debate School Vouchers and school choice with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz. Berkowitz and Zorn also discuss the "evolution" of George Ryan and whether the Illinois GOP is ready to be rebuilt.


This week, March 22- 26, Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune Columnist, pays off on his losing wager regarding the timing of the George Ryan Indictment and appears on "Public Affairs," to debate School Vouchers and school choice with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz. Berkowitz and Zorn also discuss the "evolution" of George Ryan and whether the Illinois GOP is ready to be rebuilt.

Next Week, March 29- April 2, Carlos Hernandez-Gomez, Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ-91.5 FM Radio) Political Reporter, debates and discusses the Winners and Losers (principals, supporters and bystanders) from the U. S. Senate Primaries, the Democratic Machine and the Republican Establishment, media bias, Cong. Luis Gutierrez, Cong. Bobby Rush, the Latino Vote and the BarackObama-
Jack Ryan U. S. Senate Race.

The suburban edition of Public Affairs airs three times each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Winnetka, Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire and Riverwoods.

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.
You can contact Jeff Berkowitz at 312-214-6122 or JBCG@aol.com

Saturday, March 20, 2004

The Libertarian Party of Illinois is holding a debate this evening (Saturday, March 20th) among three of their candidates who are vying for the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination.

Public Affairs, being fair and balanced, is not endorsing the Libertarian Party (or any other Party) or their candidates (or any other candidates) but we thought we would let you know that the Host of Public Affairs, Jeff Berkowitz, is moderating the debate this evening. Berkowitz is going to try to have a free flowing discussion, dialogue and debate with and among the candidates, as opposed to the boring League of Women Voters format, i.e., "same question, timed answers for each of the candidates," that characterized so many of the U. S. Senate candidate "debates or forums," in the recent Illinois Democratic and Republican Primary races.

The event is being held at the Ramada Plaza-O'Hare,
6600 N. Mannheim Rd.
Rosemont, IL 60018
(847) 827-5131

Dinner is $90 and is at 6:00 pm

The debate is from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm and I am told by the Illinois Libertarian Party's Executive Director, Jeff Trigg, that "they won't charge you anything to watch, but that doesn't mean they won't try to hit you up for money." I suppose their philosophy might be stated as, "Free to Choose and pretty much free to watch."

You can find out more information about the event at www.il.lp.org

Coloring the News with Dick Kay on Chicago Week in Review

Joel Weisman: If you are Mr. [Jack] Ryan, what is your game plan?

Dick Kay: Well, my game plan is to try to sew up every conservative vote that I can
-- and to try to broaden that base and to become more moderate for the general election. You know, he is conservative enough to win the Republican nomination in the Primary, but Illinois has been going Democratic in recent years and even Republicans who do win or who have won were moderate and I think he has to come closer to the center.

Weisman: And, how does he do that?

Kay: Well, I mean, given his stands, I don’t know how he does it because he is talking about making the tax cuts permanent; he is talking about eliminating the capital gains tax, he is talking about school vouchers or school choice, he is pro-life, I don’t know how he comes to the center, I just don’t.
Chicago Week in Review, WTTW, March 19, 2004
Well, what was Dick Kay saying- that a true conservative cannot win statewide and that only moderate Republicans have won in recent years?

Let’s see, wasn’t Senator Peter Fitzgerald a true conservative? At least, he ran that way in ’98 against then incumbent Senator Carol Moseley Braun, a true liberal, and Peter Fitzgerald won.

George Ryan ran as a true conservative in ’98 for governor and won. George said he was pro-life, against increasing taxes and spending, for capital punishment, against casino expansion, for the Second Amendment, etc.

Yes, George was thought to be less pro-life and less pro-Second Amendment than Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Glenn Poshard, but nobody viewed him as the moderate-to-liberal he turned out to be until he “flipped” on virtually every public policy issue that came before him after he was elected governor in 1998.

Yes, Jim Ryan, who was sort of a conservative, ran for governor and did not win in 2002. But, nobody in his right mind would blame Jim’s loss on his being too conservative for the general electorate.

For starters, any Republican running for office in 2002 could not possibly put enough distance between George Ryan and himself, and that certainly was a problem for a guy like Jim with the same last name as George and who looked a little like George’s son.

Indeed, anytime Presidential Candidate Bush came to town, W’s staff sent George R packing- out of state, if not out of the country, in an effort to achieve that separation of George W. from George R.

Also, Jim Ryan was thought to be lukewarm on pro-life issues, although, when asked, he said he would make no apologies for being pro-life [which, by the way, infuriated the pro-lifers].

For conservatives, Jim Ryan was not good on vouchers, not good on spending or taxes, not good on gay rights, not so good on guns, and not a good campaigner. And, he had all sorts of problems that related to his days in law enforcement [both as State’s Attorney and Attorney General], which had little to do with whether he was a conservative.

Bruce Dold, Tribune Editorial Board honcho, was on the Chicago Week panel, and Bruce surely knows about those problems. But he was neither asked nor said anything about them.

Perhaps that was because it is the Tribune party line that a Republican has to be pro-abortion rights [or pro-choice, as the Tribune prefers to say], pro-gun control, and pro-gay rights to be a thoroughly modern Republican candidate with a chance to win statewide.

Nor would anyone seriously argue that DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett didn’t win because he was too conservative. Instead, his loss for attorney general had more to do with his demeanor, his baggage, and the fact that his father wasn’t Speaker Mike.

And, Treasurer Topinka won in 2002 because she was a moderate? Please. She won because she apparently cut some deals with Democrats, has great name recognition, had not had major scandals in her office come out, at least not by the time of the election, and nobody cares a great deal about whether the treasurer is pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control, etc.

Further, Treasurer Topinka told us just a few days after this election, “…We are a more conservative party. I mean I am not that moderate. I mean I am not liberal by a long shot. I am moderate on social issues; but you try me on money and I am off the map…” [WBBM 780 AM Radio’s At Issue, March 21, 2004]

We could waste time and talk about Al Salvi’s and Kris Cohn’s Secretary of State runs, Chris Lauzen’s and Tom Ramsdell’s Comptroller runs, but their losses had little to do with political philosophy, and I imagine Dick Kay would agree with that proposition.

Finally, Senator Fitzgerald chose not to seek re-election for the reasons he gave, as well as perhaps his lack of interest in spending another $15 to 20 million of his somewhat depreciated personal asset portfolio.

Further, it would be hard to blame Senator Fitzgerald’s low polling last year on his conservatism, as his voting record in the Senate was more that of a centrist than a conservative.

Based on the above, there is virtually no support for Dick Kay’s statement that conservatives can’t win statewide [or haven’t won statewide recently] in Illinois.

As to Kay’s statement that he has no idea how Jack Ryan can come closer to the center, I am sure Dick doesn’t.

But, if Dick Kay had listened to Jack Ryan a little more carefully during his campaign, Dick might have realized that Jack is not as far from the center as Dick thinks.

Jack Ryan spoke frequently about competing across all ethnic groups, all socio-economic groups, and for Democrats and Independents during the Primary election.

Jack Ryan spoke about going after the traditional Democrat base [often low income and often minority] who have kids in failing public schools, and Jack suggested those parents should have more choice than they have now - as a means to escape those failing public schools. Sounds pretty centrist to me, Dick.

Indeed, Judy Baar Topinka, whom Dick Kay would no doubt label as a “moderate,” has said, “Oh, I think folks are liking that [school vouchers and school choice] fairly much… and Obama, you know, has been… against school choice, and you know… I think that kind of is a problem for him.” [WBBM 780 AM Radio’s “At Issue,” March 21, 2004]

Jack Ryan spoke about how taxing capital gains hurts the poorest of the poor because that tax chokes the growth of jobs, and, in particular, entry-level jobs. Sounds pretty centrist to me, Dick.

Jack Ryan spoke about how not making the tax cuts permanent is equivalent to a tax increase - something that liberals [as good Keynesians] used to be against during either a recession or during the “coming out of a recession,” time period. So, Ryan argues that raising taxes now would retard job growth, not accelerate it. Sounds pretty centrist to me, Dick.

In summary, Jack Ryan is well positioned to move even further toward the center, to the extent that a good chunk of him is not already there. Now, if we can just persuade the Chicago mainstream media to move toward the center from its current left of center location, we will call that progress.

Jeff Berkowitz is Host and Producer of “Public Affairs,” and President of JB Consulting Group, Inc. [A legal search firm].

You may reach Jeff Berkowitz by email: JBCG@aol.com

Friday, March 19, 2004

Embedded liberal media bias? Or, a slip of the tongue. We discuss, you decide.

What is peculiar about this short discussion of Jack and Barack?

Ellen Warren: They [Barack Obama and Jack Ryan] couldn’t be more different in terms of their beliefs—just run down the list, they are absolute flip sides—they are black and white.

CLTV interviewer: Literally?

Warren: Literally. Two attractive, smart well-spoken candidates, well educated and very agile politicians. They have very, very different beliefs. Ryan is quite, quite conservative and Obama is quite liberal and you know, a clear choice, and if it really, really comes down to some debates, really comes to the issues, you know we are going to be a very, very informed electorate.

Ellen Warren, Chicago Tribune, providing election night commentary, on CLTV, on March 16, 2004

Warren, when she wants to emphasize something, seems to use a repeat word. So, Ryan, who indeed is quite conservative, is described as quite, quite conservative. But,
Obama, who indeed is quite liberal, is described as quite liberal. Two "quites," for Jack, but only one "quite," for Barack. Hardly seems "fair and balanced."

Perhaps a slip of the tongue. Maybe Ellen Warren just “forgot,” or misspoke when it came to emphasizing just how liberal Barack Obama is. Or, perhaps, the above is reflective of the liberal culture that permeates the media. How often during the next eight months will Jack be described in the media as an "an arch conservative," relative to Barack being described as an "arch liberal." Or, how often will Jack's supporters be described as being on the "far right," relative to the frequency with which we hear about the "far left," supporters of Barack Obama. I don't know—but Public Affairs will be watching and listening. And, we will let you know what we see and hear.

By the way, from doing a quick spot check of tapes, it seems to me that CLTV, including Ellen Warren, provided some very thoughtful analysis and commentary on election night, perhaps more so than its larger, more technologically capable competitors. We will be bringing you some analysis that I think backs up this assertion. Sometimes, as Klee said and Hull showed us, less is more-- at least when it comes to artistic content and money spent.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

“He [Barack Obama] ran a great campaign, he is an unbelievably talented individual,” said Dan Hynes in his concession speech on Tuesday night. Yes, Dan, he did and he is. Of course, the winning style, cadence and focus of the Obama Campaign had something to do with Obama Campaign Guru, David Axelrod. But, it is the talents of which Dan Hynes spoke that define Barack Obama. Dan hit the nail on the head. Barack Obama is an unbelievably talented human being. He so overwhelms you with his articulateness that you fail to see his charm. Or, he so overwhelms you with his quick grasp of the crowd and its tone that you fail to see his substance. Or, he so overwhelms you with his substance that you fail to see his ability to connect. On and on it goes. Just when you think you know the breadth and depth of the guy, he pulls out something new.

Having had Barack on my show seven times, or so, in the last six years, and having seen him speak at numerous forums, debates and endorsement sessions, and having interviewed him numerous times, I am only surprised at one thing: that none of us, except for Blogger Bert Caradine but not excepting Pam Smith, spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, seemed to see this landslide coming. Pam told me on the morning after that Barack’s landslide was not forseen by the Obama campaign. However, looking back, Pam thought Obama’s victory was due to his broad based appeal, which in turn was based on his jobs, health care and education programs. And, she said, television ads [and the 5.5 million dollars in funds raised] were crucial for voters to become aware of Barack’s talents and programs. All of which is true, as I am sure Pam knows her candidate quite well.

But I called Pam because I was trying to figure out why I missed it. Why did I cautiously predict a five-point margin of victory for Barack, with some concern that I could be wrong because who could know the power or the strength of the Machine, on a matter that should be very important to it.

Of course, the answer is simple. I underestimated the ability of Illinois Democratic Primary voters to see and act on (1) what we saw- every time we saw Barack Obama speak, (2) what we learned about his time in the state legislature, especially about the legislation he helped pass when the Democratic Party became the majority in the Senate last year and (3) what we knew about his likeability and charisma.

I also underestimated the desire of voters to seek out leaders who have ideas and understand the impact of those ideas. As Joe Morris, the conscience of Conservatives in Illinois and the President, again, of the United Republican Fund of Illinois, argued to me—Barack perhaps won big because he was the only Democratic Senate Candidate with a current affiliation with the University of Chicago, as a faculty member at the Law School. That is a university that stands for, more than any other, the proposition (and book title) of one of its mid- 20th Century English Professors, Richard Weaver: Ideas Have Consequences.

Of course, none of this has to do with whether I agree or disagree with Barack’s philosophy, ideology, proposals or programs to make this a better society. But, it has everything to do with whether voters in the Democratic Party agree with Barack on these items, and more importantly, whether they like the fact that their nominee for the U. S. Senate is fluent in the world of ideas.

The answer to these questions is not just perhaps. Or, possibly. Or, even, probably. It should have been-- You bet! Mencken was wrong: somebody did go broke underestimating the taste of the Illinois people. Yes sir, I went broke, sort of, because I was part of what Eric Zorn charitably called a “three way near tie for second place,” in his blog bowl (See www.chicagotribune.com/notebook). And, this less than stellar placement was due to my being way too cautious in my projection of a Barack Obama win. Well, at least, now I understand why I was way too cautious. And, to think, I criticized Dan Hynes, and his handlers, for running a too cautious campaign. Well, what do you know; Dan and I have something in common, after all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Airing Schedule for upcoming Suburban and City of Chicago editions of “Public Affairs”:


This week, March 15-19, Cong. Jan Schakowsky (D- Evanston, 9th CD) debates and discusses domestic and foreign policy issues with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz. Topics include Social Security, Taxes, Haiti, Iraq, the Israeli Fence and prescription drug benefits, as well as Jan’s endorsement of State Sen. Barack Obama for the United States Senate in today’s Democratic primary. A partial transcript of this show will be added to this Public Affairs blogsite later today or tomorrow.

Next week, March 22- 26, Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune Columnist, pays off on his losing wager and appears on "Public Affairs," to debate School Vouchers with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz. Berkowitz and Zorn also discuss the "evolution" of George Ryan and whether the Illinois GOP is ready to be rebuilt.

The suburban edition of Public Affairs airs three times each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Winnetka, Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire and Riverwoods.

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.

City of Chicago:

Public Affairs airs every Monday Night at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21 through-out the City of Chicago.

Monday, March 22, Cong. Jan Schakowsky (D- Evanston, 9th CD) debates and discusses domestic and foreign policy issues with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz. Topics include Social Security, Taxes, Haiti, Iraq, the Israeli Fence and prescription drug benefits, as well as Jan’s endorsement of State Sen. Barack Obama for the United States Senate in today’s Democratic primary in Illinois. A partial transcript of this show will be added to this Public Affairs blogsite later today or tomorrow.

Monday, March 29, Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune Columnist, pays off on his losing wager and appears on "Public Affairs," to debate School Vouchers with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz. Berkowitz and Zorn also discuss the "evolution" of George Ryan and whether the Illinois GOP is ready to be rebuilt.

You can contact Jeff Berkowitz at 312-214-6122 or JBCG@aol.com

Buzzzzz: The National Republican Party, the Ryan files and the Senate Primary.

All right, boys and girls, it is election eve. Time to reflect on the State of the Republican Party, in Illinois, that is. Although it comes as a surprise to some establishment Rs, the National Republican operatives in D.C. have not lost interest completely in Illinois, especially as to the chance of keeping the junior U. S. Senate seat Republican. While there are at least five open southern senate seats that have priority over Illinois, Jack Ryan caught the eye of the National Republican operatives. The organization, money, base and message came together nicely for Jack and he appeared to be someone who might give the President a boost and perhaps a shot in November. Jack, unlike say, Jim Oberweis, was seen as someone with a shot at winning back Reagan Democrats and Independents, and therefore of possible value to the President’s re-election effort.

Of course, there was some concern as to whether Jack Ryan would be “responsive,” to the needs of the establishment—in the same sense that Cong. LaHood (R- Peoria) and Speaker Hastert would see Andy McKenna as “responsive.” See blog entry, below. Nevertheless, Jack is no Senator Peter Fitzgerald, which to “base,” Republicans is both a plus and a minus. Senator Fitzgerald was not viewed as an unmixed blessing by the party faithful.

State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, because of his inability to self-fund or raise money, was not given much serious thought by the National Rs, notwithstanding his impressive understanding of policy issues and his ability to articulate that understanding. The President will have a lot of money but, like most Presidents, he doesn’t like to share his toys. The Senate Campaign Committee is not interested in spending time with long shots, let alone putting their hard earned cash behind them. After all, these are Republicans, and some have actually learned the value of a dollar.

Andy McKenna, Jr. has the appropriate friends and contacts among the business and establishment community, especially those long-standing relationships that come through his father, to be a possible fit with the National Rs. And, of course, he is decent, reliable and very respectable. However, that sounds more like an old bank than a new politician and this is not 1998, with the Illinois Republican Party facing a damaged Democratic Senate opponent. In Obama or Hynes, you have—and Rs shouldn’t kid themselves here, you have a very formidable opponent, and most of the other indicators are shouting, Advantage D. So, to win a general election in Illinois, the Republican candidate is going to have to have a lot of sizzle, aka charisma. That, Andy lacks. You can take the boy out of Indiana, but it is hard to take the Indiana out of the boy. I mean, look at some of the contributions of Indiana to the Republican Party—Lugar and Quayle (both much smarter than people know). And even on the Democratic side, a wonderful DLC guy, Evan Bayh—but, collectively, those 3, or 4, if you include Andy, don’t have enough charisma to fill an eye
dropper. Jack Ryan, on the other hand, has it in buckets.

In short, the National Party was just starting to get comfortable with a Jack Ryan candidacy. After all, these guys are mostly conservative, so it takes a while for them to get used to a new pair of socks, let alone upstarts like Jack, who actually seem to care about the poorest of the poor. That is not a group that many Rs count among their strongest constituencies or even part of the re-alignment that is so trendy for Rs to discuss these days.

So, when General Borling, perhaps unintentionally and unwittingly (as he claims), or perhaps as part of a grand plot (as others accuse), unleashed the dogs of war [in the form of 2nd Lieutenant, First Assistant and Borling Campaign Manager Rod McCullough, a former John Cox guy from the 2000 10th Cong. District race]—about 10 days ago in the first sneak attack and then last Thursday in the second barrage, the D.C. operative calls starting coming into Chicago, IL. These were from people who generally don’t call to find out how the Cubs are looking in spring training.

The callers seemed to be looking for information as to how the “locals” thought the Jack Ryan “sealed file,” issue would play out and, at the same time, trying to “damp the controversy down,” a bit. As to the latter, they wanted to make sure that the Jack Ryan candidacy did not implode, if there was nothing to the rumor and innuendo. On the other hand, if there were underlying facts that might be difficult to deal with —well, that defense the National Rs wouldn’t take on.

When the stuff hit the fan last Thursday night, some of the Cook County establishment were across the border, so to speak, at the DuPage County Lincoln Day Dinner listening, coincidentally enough, to Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who was subbing for former Bush Senior Adviser and trusted counselor, Karen Hughes. All the Republican glitterati from DuPage, such as they are, including such noteables as Pistol Packing former State Senate President Pate Philip and Quick Draw former AG candidate Joe Birkett were working the crowd, or being worked, as the case may be. Gillespie, who likes to attack Democrats for planning what he calls "the dirtiest campaign in modern presidential politics," was there to rally the troops, energize the base and open some wallets. And, he did okay, on all fronts.

The Rod McCullough statement and news reports of same, which broke the afternoon of the DuPage dinner, were pretty much ignored by those at the Dinner. Perhaps these folks had been on their way to the dinner and missed the news reports. The Borling/Jack flap almost ignited when Borling tried to break through Jack Ryan’s wall of aides and talk to Jack. Borling, who was in the military for 37 years and a POW for more than 6 years at the Hanoi Hilton and who claims he can do more push-ups than his younger competitors, literally went stomach to stomach with a very large Ryan aide—and the General backed away from the brink of combat, apparently deciding discretion was the better part of valor. Stomach to Stomach, how very, very Un-Republican.

When I caught up with Oberweis and McKenna after the DuPage dinner and asked them what they thought of that afternoon’s revelations, they said they had not heard the news directly and weren’t going to comment on “those rumors.” Indeed, that was essentially the response of Illinois Republican Party Chairman Judy Baar Topinka when we caught up with her on her way out of the Dinner. She referred to these items as simply smears and rumors that didn’t warrant any discussion. On the other hand, Oberweis had a “private chat,” or two with the General that evening.

How odd then that JBT was apparently receptive, shortly thereafter, to the suggestion that a triad, or is it triumvirate, of JBT, party co-chair and JBT underling Mike McGlynn and insider, confidant of Blago, RNC Rep. from Illinos and $809,000 bond deal gorilla Bob Kjellander would somehow determine the fate of Jack, either before the election or after he was elected, if the sealed file matter continued to hound Jack. Now, Tom Roeser said on his show, “Political Shoot-out,” on Sunday night that McGlynn is a good guy. Perhaps he is, but he is also a part of the Notre Dame mafia endorsing Andy McKenna, Jr. And, McKenna, Paul Caprio aside, has not turned on the conservative base. Also, Roeser is the guy who said recently that Jack Ryan can’t take a punch. Perhaps, but at some point very soon, they won’t just be punching Jack. Assuming Jack wins the primary, things would have to get a lot tougher and bleaker than they are now for Jack Ryan, and friends, to turn over the keys to the nomination to that crowd—who many in the Republican base view as almost the political equivalent of the Axis of Evil.

Well, with about 14 hours until the polls close, as I have been saying since the end of last May, this primary race is still Jack Ryan’s to lose. Rauschenberger could catch him, but I wouldn’t bet on it. It is possible, but the State Senator would need an impressive ground and air [phone bank] game from his state legislator network, the likes of which the Repubican Party in Illinois has not seen before. Oberweis? Not so much. The trouble that Oberweis has is that if he is to win, he has to peel votes off of Jack, and those votes, if peeling, find Rauschenberger the preferred alternative. Oberweis is vanilla, and the Jack votes prefer strawberry, if Jack's neopolitan won't do.

Can Jack win in the General? That question is for another day. But one clear winner in this election season is not even on the ballot. That person wins if Jack Ryan wins in the Primary. That person wins if Rauschenberger wins in the Primary. McKenna or Oberweis, then not so much. And, perhaps that person wins even if the Republicans lose in the General. Who is that masked person? We’ll talk about that, perhaps, after the Primary.

You can contact JEFF BERKOWITZ at 312-214-6122 or at JBCG@aol.com