Monthly archives: August, 2009

Scott Fawell, All Smiles Out of Prison, Not Sorry About Anything

When I think about how over-scrupulous I’ve been at times during my life, I have to wonder about the apparent lack of  scruples among some pols and certain others in government.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Scott Fawell turned on Gov. George Ryan “to save the love of his life,” not because it was the right thing to do.

Well, good for him.  Losing any sleep over the six children who were killed in a fiery crash?

Not at all.


Less than a year after his release from the U.S. prison system, Scott Fawell isn’t all that sorry.

Sure, he pleaded guilty and testified against his now-imprisoned ex-boss and mentor, former GOP Gov. George Ryan. But Fawell — Ryan’s onetime chief of staff and campaign manager — says he turned against Ryan to save the woman he loves.

Yes, he understands the public’s perception that the licenses-for-bribes scandal under Ryan led to the deaths of six children in a fiery highway crash. But “do I feel any responsibility?” he says. “No I really don’t.”

And what about all those political friends that Fawell carefully cataloged in lists that the feds seized and used to put Ryan and him away?

They’ve deserted him.

“I’ve been very disappointed in the people that are friends of mine,” Fawell said. “If it was a reverse situation and one of my friends of mine came back, I would have done anything I could to help. You know, that’s friendship. And friendship should go beyond prison.”

Fawell and his co-defendant and fiancée, Andrea Coutretsis, broke six years of silence Wednesday night on WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight.” In a 25-minute interview, they tackled subjects including the despair of leaving their families for prison to the plight of Ryan’s successor, recently indicted ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and Blagojevich’s co-defendants.

Kudos to Carol Marin for landing this interview, and for conducting it so eloquently.

Watch it here.

You know what?  Stick to your scruples. Keep your soul.  Whether you believe in a Higher Power or not, you don’t want to rush in where angels fear to tread.

Nancy Reagan to Son Ron Reagan: I’ll Miss Ted Kennedy

Ron Reagan interviewed his mom, Nancy Reagan, today on Air America Radio regarding the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. It was incredibly, incredibly moving. Ron’s show comes on every day at 5:00 p.m. in the Chicagoland area.

Asking his mother how her and her late husband’s friendship with Ted Kennedy started, Mrs. Reagan responded responded, “Nobody really knew it,” that their friendship was so close. “I think they couldn’t quite conceive of two people in two different parties, how could that become a friendship? Which it, of course, did.

“Yes,” her son Ron replied.

“I think it started when we first got to Washington and Teddy asked Dad, Daddy, if he could bring his mother to the Oval Office. And Daddy, of course, said, ‘Of course.’ Which he did.

“And then after that, he asked him to speak at the Kennedy Library, which he did. And from then on, they developed this friendship.”

“Both of them respected one another,” Mrs. Reagan continued. “It was a very good friendship. It’s what there should be more of today.You know, two different parties. Enough with all this other stuff.”

Ron commented that it would be unusual today, his father and Ted Kennedy, “polar opposites politically,” that a friendship like that could begin and endure for so long.

“But it shouldn’t be,” his mother replied. “It shouldn’t be thought of as unusual. That’s my point. It just shouldn’t. They were two men who respected each other — didn’t agree, politically — but that doesn’t make any difference. You can still respect one another. And they did.”

She continued, “Ted gave the best speech about Daddy that I have ever heard. I forgot what it was, but, oh, it was a good speech. So good.”

“I got to know him better over our association over stem cell [research], because we both worked very hard for that,” Mrs. Reagan went on. “There just was a great, great friendship and respect for one another.”

“I’ll miss him,” Mrs. Reagan said.

The interview is very moving, especially when the conversation turned to President Reagan’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. A subsequent phone call Mrs. Reagan received on her birthday is also very moving.

“It was a good, solid friendship,” Mrs. Reagan said, “We need more of them today.”

Ron asks his mother if perhaps there was an “air of sympatico” between his father and Senator Kennedy because of the attempt on President Reagan’s life, and Mrs. Reagan says she “never thought about it like that. How smart you are!” she says to her son.

That was quite nice.

Mrs. Reagan also expressed her hope that health care reform would pass.

Listen to the whole interview here:

I have to say, this was one of the most touching interviews I’ve ever heard in my life. I had to pull the car over because my eyes were watering up. Gave me a whole new perspective on Mrs. Reagan, and I appreciate that.

Very moving. Very stirring.

Also, please visit the Ron Reagan show on the Web, and listen to Air America Radio.

Senator Ted Kennedy, the ‘Lion of the Senate,’ Dead at 77

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I never met Senator Edward Kennedy.  A few years back, I took my son to Washington, D.C., for a vacation, and we saw him in a Senate Hearing.  Sen. Richard Durbin was there also.

We were not able to say hello or shake his hand.  The senators were called away for a vote.

I’m just sitting with this right now.  Senator Kennedy has died.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the last surviving brother in a political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died Tuesday night at his home on Cape Cod after a year-long struggle with brain cancer. He was 77.

In nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy served alongside 10 presidents — his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy among them — compiling an impressive list of legislative achievements on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and more.

His only run for the White House ended in defeat in 1980. More than a quarter-century later, he handed then-Sen. Barack Obama an endorsement at a critical point in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, explicitly likening the young contender to President Kennedy.

To the American public, Kennedy was best known as the last surviving son of America’s most glamorous political family, father figure and, memorably, eulogist of an Irish-American clan plagued again and again by tragedy.

The last son has died.  Rest in peace, Senator.  Rest in peace.

Reaganism Failed; So Why Do Republicans Worship Reagan?

One would think that Republicans, purportedly fiscally conservative, would embrace an ecomic policy that favored economic growth.

So why do Republicans rally around the stupid anthem:  “Anything governmetn does is evil?”

Reaganism failed.  Reaganomics quadrupled our national debt.

Ronald Reagan was bad for America.

From Paul Krugman:

The debate over the “public option” in health care has been dismaying in many ways. Perhaps the most depressing aspect for progressives, however, has been the extent to which opponents of greater choice in health care have gained traction — in Congress, if not with the broader public — simply by repeating, over and over again, that the public option would be, horrors, a government program.

Washington, it seems, is still ruled by Reaganism — by an ideology that says government intervention is always bad, and leaving the private sector to its own devices is always good.

Call me naïve, but I actually hoped that the failure of Reaganism in practice would kill it. It turns out, however, to be a zombie doctrine: even though it should be dead, it keeps on coming.

Let’s talk for a moment about why the age of Reagan should be over.

First of all, even before the current crisis Reaganomics had failed to deliver what it promised. Remember how lower taxes on high incomes and deregulation that unleashed the “magic of the marketplace” were supposed to lead to dramatically better outcomes for everyone? Well, it didn’t happen.

To be sure, the wealthy benefited enormously: the real incomes of the top .01 percent of Americans rose sevenfold between 1980 and 2007. But the real income of the median family rose only 22 percent, less than a third its growth over the previous 27 years.

Moreover, most of whatever gains ordinary Americans achieved came during the Clinton years. President George W. Bush, who had the distinction of being the first Reaganite president to also have a fully Republican Congress, also had the distinction of presiding over the first administration since Herbert Hoover in which the typical family failed to see any significant income gains.

And then there’s the small matter of the worst recession since the 1930s.

More here.

Sevenfold = 700%.  Remember that.  The top .01 percent of Americans saw their real incomes rise 700% under Ronald Reagan.  The rest of us?  22%.

Look: Reagonomics was an abysmal failure.

I don’t know if I’ll survive the Bush Recession.  And that thought, that reality, that real fear, keeps me up at night.

Democrats need to grow a pair, as former Governor Howard Dean said recently.

And Reagan-worshipping Republicans need to be voted out of office.

Sen Coburn Tells Women Crying Over Health Care “Govt Is Not The Answer”

Senator Coburn, you are government.  You just promised this woman that your office, an arm of the Federal Government, would help her husband.

You better step up and make it so.

For those accessing through an affiliate site, click through to see this very stirring video.

Michael Jackson Murdered: Gone Too Soon

I was just beginning to appreciate Michael Jackson: his music, his genius, his vision.

I went along with the crowd all too often when I was young.  There’s no way, at mostly-white, very conservative, Notre Dame, in the early 1980s, that I would have really, really listened to Michael Jackson.

I just started listening to Michael Jackson at a gym I belong to.  Before he died.

Before he was killed.  Murdered.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Not only are things looking very menacing for Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, I’ve learned the expected indictment of the King of Pop’s personal physician is causing quite the stir within the Jackson family.

‘‘There’s a lot of finger-pointing,’’ said a longtime family associate Monday. ‘‘Everyone from Jermaine to Joe to Katherine Jackson herself are blaming all kinds of people — including each other — for not stepping in earlier, when it was obvious Michael was being overmedicated, even more than usual.’’

After reports surfaced Monday that the Los Angeles County coroner had ruled Jackson’s death a homicide, ‘‘you could almost hear the squeak of the rope in the noose tightening around Murray’s neck,’’ said the Jackson source.

The metaphor seemed apt, as the coroner’s long-awaited forensic tests determined a fatal combination of drugs given to the music superstar hours before he died included the powerful anesthetic propofol, along with two other sedatives Murray has admitted administering to Jackson.

More here.

Michael, I’m sorry.  With all the family members pointing fingers at each other, let me be the one to say, “Michael, I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry I let my opinion of you be defined by the irresponsible members of the media, always looking for their next lynching victim.

Michael, we miss you, Gone Too Soon.

Sun-Times: Todd Stroger Will Promote You If You Give Him Money

All patronage in Chicago and everywhere else in government must cease.  Now.  No excuses.  No Loopholes.  No exceptions.

The latest from the Chicago Sun-Times about wannabe wunderkind Todd Stroger:

Patronage workers with the Cook County Forest Preserve District are seeing more green these days — in their paychecks.

With people everywhere facing tough financial times, the 28 forest preserve patronage workers who’ve been on the payroll since 2006 all got hefty raises in the following two years, an analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times and the Better Government Association has found. They’re among 38 forest preserve workers who are exempt from the Shakman court order that bans political hiring in city and county government.

On average, the exempt employees were paid $98,071 last year. Nine of them saw their salaries increase 19 percent or more between 2006 and 2008.

Most of the Shakman-exempt employees — 24 in all — have contributed to the campaign funds of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger; his late father, former board President John Stroger; or the 8th Ward Regular Democratic Organization that John Stroger controlled.

The Strogers and the party organization have gotten a total of $49,870 in campaign contributions from the exempt employees since the mid-1990s. The biggest contributor: Deputy Comptroller Alvin Lee ($12,100), followed by district police chief Richard Waszak ($8,050).

That’s their right, says district spokesman Steve Mayberry, who says Todd Stroger never has solicited forest preserve employees for campaign cash.

“It is the First Amendment right of all private citizens … to make political contributions to whomever they please,” says Mayberry, himself a Shakman-exempt employee who has given $3,905 to Stroger organizations.

So this is a First Amendment issue?  Let me exercise my First Amendment rights: This is an abuse. It smells bad because it is bad.

A friend in Chicago tells me if you work for the city, you vote Democratic.  If you don’t vote Democratic, you won’t work for the city for long.

This has to stop.

Sorry, but I do not consider many Chicago Democrats to be true Democrats.  They are people doing favors for a select group with public money.  And that’s wrong.

My friends who defend Todd Stroger will tell me, “That’s just the way it is.  You don’t understand how things work.”

No, I don’t understand.  Patronage makes for extremely expensive government.  It’s a horribly inefficient way to run any governmental body.

And it must stop.

I strongly urge the State Legislature to close these loopholes that allow for “Shakman-exempt employees.”

Justice Dept. Report Advises Pursuing C.I.A. Torture Allegations

We may finally begin to see justice restored in the United States of America.

Breaking news from The New York Times:

The Justice Department’s ethics office has recommended reversing the Bush administration and reopening nearly a dozen prisoner-abuse cases, potentially exposing Central Intelligence Agency employees and contractors to prosecution for brutal treatment of terrorism suspects, according to a person officially briefed on the matter.

The recommendation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, presented to Attorney General Eric H. Holder recent weeks, comes as the Justice Department is about to disclose on Monday voluminous details on prisoner abuse that were gathered in 2004 by the C.I.A.’s inspector general but have never been released.

When the C.I.A. first referred its inspector general’s findings to prosecutors, they decided that none of the cases merited prosecution. But Mr. Holder’s associates say that when he took office and saw the allegations, which included the deaths of people in custody and other cases of physical or mental torment, he began to reconsider.

With the release of the details on Monday and the formal advice that at least some cases be reopened, it now seems all but certain that the appointment of a prosecutor or other concrete steps will follow, posing significant new problems for the C.I.A. It is politically awkward, too, for Mr. Holder because President Obama has said that he would rather move forward than get bogged down in the issue at the expense of his own agenda.

The advice from the Office of Professional Responsibility strengthens Mr. Holder’s hand.

The recommendation to review the closed cases, in effect renewing the inquiries, centers mainly on allegations of detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Justice Department report is to be made public after classified information is deleted from it.

President Obama, it’s time to lead and let justice be served.

1979 Family Reunites as Pittsburgh Pirates Rout Cincinnati Reds

Members of the 1979 world championship Pirates together with the World Series trophy before Saturday night’s game. From left to right, top row, Omar Moreno, Bruce Kison, partially blocked by Chuck Tanner, Kent Tekulve, Bill Madlock, wife of the late slugger Willie Stargell, Margaret Stargell, Don Robinson, and Rennie Stennett,, Bottom row right to left are Dale Berra , Mike Easler, Grant Jackson, Steve Nicosia and Phil Garner.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Often, when the Pirates have some commemorative event for a championship team, then win the game later the same day, all kinds of intangible, inspirational connections get made.

To be sure, plenty of those were heard after the 12-2 rout of the Cincinnati Reds last night before 32,570 at PNC Park: It brought a season-best five-game winning streak, and it followed a moving ceremony to honor 22 members of the 1979 Family, highlighted by Chuck Tanner, 80 years old and recovering from heart surgery, getting warmly embraced as all huddled around their World Series trophy.

It was, as pitcher Zach Duke would describe it, “A great moment, for us and for the city.”

For Ryan Doumit, it was more.

And not just because he busted out of a 4-for-34 funk with a home run, double, single and three RBIs.

Flash back to a few minutes before 7 p.m., as Doumit, Duke and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan came up the tunnel steps on the way to Duke’s warmup. Near the bat rack was Tanner, who is more than just an acquaintance to Doumit, having once pleaded his case to management that Doumit should be the everyday catcher by pounding his fist on a meeting-room table during spring training of 2008.

This time, Tanner grabbed Doumit by the elbow, caught his full attention and gave him an old-fashioned earful.

As always with Tanner, it was all positive.

How cool to see all those wonderful faces together again, holding that magic trophy.

One more time, sing it Sister:

Read more:

Cowboys Should Have Hired Hank Hill to Design Stadium

From ESPN:

Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher was firm in his stance Saturday that the jumbo videoboard at Cowboys Stadium presents “a lot of issues” and the NFL’s competition committee that he co-chairs is expected to have a conference call in the near future to discuss the problem.

Titans backup punter A.J. Trapasso hit the large video screen that hangs over the field during the third quarter of the $1.2 billion stadium’s inaugural preseason game Friday night. There was confusion because the officiating crew apparently did not see the ball strike the board. Fisher threw his red flag, asking for a replay, even though the play was not reviewable.

“It wasn’t [reviewable] last night … not sure about the future,” Mike Pereira, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, said via a text message.

The Cowboys would have been better off letting Hank Hill design the stadium.

More here: