Thursday, June 30, 2005

Alan Dershowitz continues attack on Norman Finkelstein, DePaul's Holocaust denier

Norman Finkelstein is a DePaul University political science professor who the Anti-Defamation League calls a holocaust denier.

Of course, Norman is a professor at DePaul University, the same Chicago college which suspended Thomas Klocek after defending Israel in front of some Muslim students last fall.

Finkelstein somehow got it in his head that internationally known attorney and Harvard university professor Alan Dershowitz is not the author of The Case For Israel. At least that what Alan says in this article from, let me take a deep breath here, Huffington Post.

From that post:

The University of California Press (UCP) and one of its authors are involved in a fraudulent charade designed to garner publicity for a trashy book by an anti-Semite whose main audiences are neo-Nazis in Germany and Islamic extremists in the United States. The author is someone you've probably never heard of. His name is Norman Finkelstein.

Regular visitors to Marathon Pundit know all about Norman Finkelstein. And DePaul. Thomas Klocek no longer is a professor there. Norman Finkelstein is.

Wounded soldiers cycling from California to NYC in charity ride

Soldier Ride is more than half way done with their coast to coast bicycle ride across America. Yesterday the group passed through Chicago, stopping by Daley Plaza downtown. ABC 7 Chicago has the story.

Their goal is to raise $2 million dollars for soldiers wounded in the War on Terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Some of the participants are wounded soldiers themselves, and some amputees are also riding.

If you are interested in riding, sponsoring a rider, or donating, click here.

When will Soldier Ride be in your area? Find out here.

Tale of the tape: East St. Louis vote fraud

From AP:

In convicting five people in East St. Louis on Wednesday of plotting to buy votes in last November's general election, a federal jury keyed on the cornerstone of the government's case secret recordings in which the five are heard discussing the scheme. Here's a sampling of some of their statements:

``Now what are you going to do with $5 a vote? I'm going to give them $2.'' Charles Powell Jr., head of the East St. Louis Central Democratic Committee.

``Give her ten. Give the girl, the one running back and forth, give her five. And there's a tall guy that voted early. Give him ten.'' Yvette Johnson, a poll worker.

``You pay 'em what you wanna pay 'em.'' Jesse Lewis, a Democratic precinct committeeman.

``We paid everybody.'' Sheila Thomas, a Democratic precinct committeewoman.

``I hear ya,'' Powell, when told by an informant that ``here's the bottom line: $5 a vote ain't gonna get it.''

``We've been doing this 30 years. People are expecting something and when they don't get something, they'll hold it against you.'' Powell.

Saudi Arabia: Lingerie shops will soon employ women

Well, women still aren't able to drive in the Saudi Kingdom, but the Arab News reports that soon women will be able to work in lingerie shops there.

From the Arab News:

The (Saudi) Ministry yesterday announced a timetable for employing Saudi women instead of men in shops selling women’s clothing, underwear and other such items.

Many women’s shops in the Kingdom are currently staffed by men. Recently several women have written articles complaining about the irony of the situation in a country that does not allow women to drive or to be seen with a man who is not a relative.

More on the East St. Louis vote fraud convictions

All from the Belleville News-Democrat:



GOP leaders say probe should continue

Jurors say tapes helped them decide fraud case

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

East St. Louis "$10.00 per vote" trial verdict in: GUILTY!

From the Belleville News-Democrat:

A federal jury on Wednesday found five East St. Louis Democrats guilty of vote fraud.
The defendants were found guilty on all counts following a four-week trial in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis.

Four of the defendants -- Jessie Lewis, Sheila Thomas, Yvette Johnson and former city official Kelvin Ellis -- were found guilty of conspiracy to commit election fraud and election fraud.
Democratic Party boss and former City Councilman Charlie Powell was found guilty of one county of conspiracy to commit election fraud.

The five were charged with paying voters up to $10 a vote to vote for Democratic candidates during the Nov. 2 general election.

The jury deliberated about five and a half hours before returning the verdicts.
"This is a wake-up call for East St. Louis," said juror LaMont Reed Jr. of East St. Louis. "I've seen this corruption all my life."

Judge G. Patrick Murphy, who presided over the trial, will set a sentencing date later.

Read here to learn more about this case.

Only in Illinois: State pays company to clean the inside of salt domes

Marathon Pundit received a press release yesterday from the Joe Birkett people. Joe, currently the DuPage County State's Attorney, is a possible Republican candidate for governor.

From that release:

The Associated Press reported this week that (Illinois Governor) Blagojevich's pay-to-play political machine has struck again--this time at Illinois Department of Transportation salt-storage domes.

"Once again, Rod Blagojevich is rubbing salt in the wounds of taxpayers," Birkett said Tuesday. "What's next, a contact for sandblasting Oak Street Beach?"

An expert quoted in the story said he had no idea why anyone would clean the inside of a salt dome.

The company that received the contract is PWS Environmental Inc, a firm that has donated $25,000 to Rod Blagojevich, in turn, PWS has received a total of $522,000 in state business.

The salt domes can be found throughout Illinois, from Arlington Heights in the north, to Fort Massac at the southern tip of the Prairie State.

Birkett's is offering contributors to his campaign fund honorary sponsorships of these salt domes. Click here if you'd like to be one of an honorary sponsor of a Blagojevich "pay-to-play" salt dome.

And today, AP reports that PWS Environmental Inc., the salt dome cleaning firm, is owned by William Mologousis, brother-in-law of Illinois Department of Transportation finance and administration director Robert Millette.

Only in Illinois.

Jury deliberations begin in East St. Louis vote fraud trial

Entry two today of stories the New York Times won't cover. Jury deliberations have begun in the East St. Louis "$10 per vote" fraud trial. The latest is here from the Belleville News-Democrat.

And scroll here a couple of posts to learn more.

Committee for Rep Lane Evans, D-IL, pays big fine to FEC

More stuff you won't find in the New York Times. From AP, via CBS 2 Chicago:

Democratic Rep. Lane Evans' campaign committee has agreed to pay $185,000 in civil penalties to settle accusations that it illegally used another committee to help fund the congressman's 1998 and 2000 campaigns.

In addition, Illinois' Rock Island Democratic Central Committee will pay $30,000 in civil penalties, according to the consent agreement signed Monday by a federal judge. None of the defendants admitted any wrongdoing in the settlement.

``We're very confident we would have prevailed (in court)'' Evans spokesman Steve Vetzner said. ``It's not worth the time and trouble.''

The Rock Island County Republican Party filed the original complaint with the Federal Election Committee in 2000. The FEC then filed a lawsuit last year in U.S. District Court in Rock Island.

The FEC alleged the Friends of Lane Evans Committee set up the 17th District Victory Fund as a separate entity before the 1998 election and then used most of the $500,000 that it raised to benefit the campaign, which was restricted by statutory limits on campaign contributions.

The FEC said the Victory Fund spent at least $330,000 on voter identification and voter drives that promoted Evans.

Tom Getz, Chairman of the Rock Island County Republican Party, said the alleged activities cost his party the election in 1998.

Officials with the Rock Island Democratic Central Committee did not immediately return calls Tuesday for comment.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Closing arguments delivered in East St. Louis vote fraud trial

Well, very soon (see previous post) is right now. Closing arguments have been delivered in the East St. Louis "$10 per vote" trial.

From AP:

State records showed that tens of thousands of dollars were transferred from the county Democrats to the committeemen days before the Nov. 2 election. Party leaders said it was for legitimate expenses, including rides to the polls for people without cars.

Here, according to Saturday's Belleville News-Democrat, is the toughest obstacle for the defense to overcome.

The most incriminating seemed to be an exchange between McIntosh (an undercover operative) and defendant Charles Powell, the Democratic boss of East St. Louis.

"Five dollars a vote ain't going to get it," McIntosh is heard saying on the tape, and Powell answers, "I hear you."

McIntosh was referring to an allegation that more than $5 a vote was needed to ensure the traditional heavy Democratic majority in East St. Louis for then-St. Clair County Board Chairman candidate Mark Kern, a Democrat. McIntosh is heard saying that Kern, who is white, was viewed as a racist in the nearly all-black city.

However, I've studied this trial closely, and since many prosecution witnesses have given conflicting testimony, this case is not a sure thing for the prosecution.

Summary piece on the East St. Louis "$10 per vote" fraud trial

I've been keeping a good eye on this story, and closing arguments are expected very soon in this trial. Here's a good summary from AP:

THE CHARGES: The chairman of the East St. Louis Democratic Committee is accused of conspiring with three precinct committeemen and an election worker to buy votes in the Nov. 2 election using cash, liquor and cigarettes.

THE PROSECUTION: Saying secretly recorded conversations support the charges, the government argues that the defendants plotted to buy votes with money flowing from St. Clair County Democrats to their East St. Louis counterparts in an effort to elect certain Democrats.

THE DEFENSE: Calls the evidence flimsy and, among other things, accuses key government witnesses of lying and often contradicting each other.

Betsy's Page unloads on Obama

Read all about it here, from Betsy Newmark.

Shelby Foote dies at 88

Shelby, not Ken Burns, made the 1990 PBS "Civil War" series great. RIP.

Bayh says bye to "centrist" Democratic leadership post

Evan Bayh moves closer to the point where he'll announce a presidential run. He was re-elected as to his Indiana senate seat last year, and he's been moving to the left ever since.

From the Indianapolis Star, an excerpt:

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh is stepping down next month as chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, which promotes centrist Democratic policies.Bayh, who has headed the group since 2001, will now have more time to devote to his exploration of a potential 2008 presidential bid.

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who is also considering a run for the White House, will take over the leadership when the group holds its national meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on July 25.

The Democratic Leadership Council was founded in 1985 by Al From, a South Bend native concerned that his party was losing touch with the mainstream.

Bloggers appear before FEC

From AP:

Bloggers who built their Internet followings with anti-establishment prose are now lobbying the establishment to protect their livelihoods from federal regulations.
Some are even working with lawyers, public relations consultants and a political action committee to do it.

"I like to think of myself as just a guy with a blog, but it's clear that 'just a guy with a blog' is different today than it was when I started three years ago," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the Web log "One sign of having arrived is when government regulators start wanting to poke their fingers into what you do."

Moulitsas testified Tuesday at a hearing on a Federal Election Commission proposal that would extend some campaign finance rules to the Internet, including bloggers. He urged the FEC to take a hands-off approach.

I don't agree with Kos on a lot, but I agre with him here.

Monday, June 27, 2005

PC police driving out Indiana professor?

Well, it seems that way. Hat tip to the Volokh Conspiracy, which has been very helpful in getting the word out on the Thomas Klocek case.

According to Ruth Holladay of the Indianapolis Star, William C. Bradford is a veteran of the first Gulf War and served also in Bosnia. He's a Silver Star winner and an Apache Indian.

Since 2001, Bradford has been an associate professor at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis, and Holladay writes, "his expertise is international law, federal Indian law and national security/foreign relations law. He has four degrees, including one from Harvard Law."

But there are problems for Bradford in Indy. Again from Holladay's column:

But he's under fire, he said, because his ideas about the war on terror do not conform to views held by Professors Mary Harter Mitchell, 52, and Florence Wagman Roisman, 66.

It goes on...

Mitchell long has been an anti-war activist. She did not return three calls on Friday.

Roisman said she is a proud member of the left. "I am a person of very progressive politics," she said. "Everybody there would tell you I am the most to-the-left person (on the faculty.)"

In winter 2003, Roisman made news for objecting to a tree with ornaments in the school lobby. After it was removed, she successfully lobbied against a new display -- an Indiana winter scene.

I thought the Left liked art?

Back to Professor Bradford, from Holladay's column:

Bradford wrote a defense of the flag after 9/11 -- one that hung in the school lobby until some faculty objected.

He refused to sign a letter sent by Roisman defending Ward Churchill. He's the Colorado professor who called victims of 9/11 "little Eichmanns."

And as we all know, Ward is not a real Indian.

This is still a developing issue; the column points out that Bradford is still employed by the IU School of Law-Indianapolis, but has been called "uncollegial" in a review. Bradford says the two other professors mentioned in this post, Mitchell and Roisman, have consistently voted to deny him tenure.

I'll be keeping an eye on this story.

Bloggers out careful!

This comes from WorldNet Daily. An Allstate employee wrote an article critical of gay rights and was fired, because, according to WND, a tagline on one Internet site that posted his article mentioned that he was an employee of the insurance giant.

I definitely think Allstate is wrong in terminating the employee, but my blogger friends out there, don't make things tough on yourself by mentioning who your employers is.

File sharing, the symphony's final movement

Looks like the part is over for free music downloads, per the US Supreme Court unanimous decision today.

They kicked the case back to a lower court, but the song is almost over for downloading free tunes.

Rumor Dept: Oh, if you want to see what Noam Chomsky is up to, and you don't want to enrich him by purchasing one of his books, or if you're afraid that your neighbor could see you checking out one of his books at the local library, I've heard that some of Noam's audio books are available for download on those nasty free download sites.

This info comes to Marathon Pundit from anonymous, but reliable sources. Marathon Pundit does not advocate lawbreaking or copwright infringement.

Lincoln Park Zoo rips Chicago alderman's elephant ban proposal--PETA alert!

Here is an update on this post from June 17.

From this morning's Chicago Sun-Times:

Lincoln Park Zoo is telling a North Side alderman that when it comes to her proposed ordinance restricting pachyderms, she needs to pack it up.

Ald. Mary Ann Smith (48th) is set to introduce an ordinance this week that would require any elephant in the city to have at least 10 acres of room -- 5 inside and 5 outside. The circus industry has criticized the proposed ordinance, but it would cover zoo elephants as well.
In a letter sent to Smith last week, Lincoln Park Zoo director Kevin Bell invokes Mayor Daley -- the lead bull of city government, as it were -- in knocking Smith's effort.

"Mayor Richard M. Daley a decade ago moved our zoo to private management in part to ensure that wildlife experts -- not government -- were making the decisions,'' Bell wrote. Smith's proposed space requirement is "not supported by any scientific evidence,'' he wrote.

Smith, who has been advised by animal-rights groups such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, thinks elephants need more space to roam to stay healthy. She noted the July Smithsonian magazine cover story detailing how experts, using global positioning satellites, have tracked some elephants in West Africa walking as much as 35 miles a day in search of water.

At zoo's Ald. Smith, water is brought to the elephants.

I'd like to add, although Smith's proposed ordinance does not ban elephants within Chicago per se, having 10 acres of open space per pachyderm is an impossibilty in Chicago, and Smith knows that.

Alan Dershowitz vs. Norman Finkelstein, cont'd

Steven Plaut has another interesting post at Moonbat Central about DePaul Professor Norman Finkelstein, who is the anti-semitic professor at DePaul who the Anti-Defamation League has called a holocaust denier.

DePaul, of course, suspended Professor Thomas Klocek for defending Israel in front of some Palestinian students.

Norman has a new book coming out, Beyond Chutzpah, which noted attorney and Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz says libels him

Go to the Moonbat Central link to learn more. Arnold Schwarzenegger even gets involved!

Light blogging day

I'm in an all day training session, so there won't be much blogging from me until this evening. I have a number of interesting posts from Sunday, including one from the west coast's version of Jayson Blair, a Scientology post, and the latest on the troubles of Ron Gidwitz.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Scientology in the spotlight

Tom Cruise has brought Scientology into public discussion. His fiancee, Katie Holmes says she's excited to learn more about the religion.

Dan Flynn's Flynn Files has a post on Xenu. Belief in Xenu is a core belief to those who've advanced to the highest level of Scientology. This story is just too bizarre to excerpt--where does one begin?--so just click here to learn more about Xenu, the one time ruler of 76 planets.

From Dan's post:

All religions contain teachings that weird-out non-believers. Where Scientologists differ is that they try hard to obscure some of their stranger beliefs. Tom, believe anything you want, but c'mon: let your freak flag fly.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Shamus Toomey has an article today about Cruise, Holmes and Scientology.

You'll learn it can be pretty expensive to be a Scientologist. From that article:

Scientologists use several methods to get people started, including a device called an E-meter, said to measure stress and root out problems. There are also one-on-one sessions called "auditing."

"Auditing is basically a procedure Mr. Hubbard started to help a person locate problems and stress or pain and discomfort, to relieve themselves of unwanted emotions or sensations," explained Mary Anne Ahmad, director of public affairs for the Church of Scientology of Illinois.

A goal of the auditing sessions is to ultimately be "clear" of what is referred to as the "reactive mind," the part of the mind that is not under a person's control, that works on stimulus-response.

According to church teachings, during times of emotional or physical pain, the reactive mind takes over and records images -- called engrams -- which can later lead to problems that a person can't explain. To become a "Clear" is to erase the engrams and no longer be under control of the reactive mind or its ill effects.

But it's not cheap. Auditing can cost thousands of dollars when done by a professional auditor. Ahmad said costs can be reduced when local church auditors trade services. But members also pay for a series of courses and for literature. Some experts estimate the cost can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Yeah, I've heard that Scientology has indeed helped some people kick drug addiction. But in my opinion, there are safer, cheaper, and more spiritually uplifting ways to kick substance abuse.

Meet Diana Griego Irwin: California's Jayson Blair

UPDATE: It has come to my attention that it's Diana Griego Erwin, not Irwin. Sorry!

Huge hat tip to Third Wave Dave!

Another big hit against mainstream media credibility, Diana Griego Irwin, former Sacramento Bee columnist, is the latest MSM serial plagiarizer. As the New York Times did with Jayson Blair, the Bee in investigating Irwin's columns, and his finding that she made up a whole lot of stuff.

From the Sacramento Bee (free registration is required.) Register just for this article, as this one is a must read. An excerpt:

From Jan. 1, 2004, until her final column on April 26, Griego Erwin wrote 171 columns. The Bee's investigation found 30 names in 27 separate columns that could not be verified during that time period. The people could not be found in voter registration rolls, property records, telephone books, identity databases or through scores of phone calls.

In light of those findings, the review expanded to include a sampling of columns spanning her 12-year tenure with the newspaper, and 13 additional cases in another 10 columns were found.

Many of the columns in question fit a template: essays, often with a surprising O. Henry twist, about a singular person who faces a challenge and surmounts it. Their stories frequently reflect a theme taken from current headlines - wildfires, for example, or prison brutality, school shootings, murderous road rage or a high-profile trial.

Oh, one more detail, Irwin is a Pulitzer Prize winner!

Joliet Herald News Editorial: Even in Illinois, Gidwitz a bad choice

This is from Sunday's edition of the Joliet Herald News, an excerpt:

Illinois governors have come from all walks of life during the state's nearly 200-year history.
Some were soldiers. Some were farmers. Others were abolitionists. One was a doctor, another a pharmacist. Most were lawyers. A few were crooks.

And now that Ron Gidwitz has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2006 gubernatorial election, a new background could be added to that list: slum lord.

Gidwitz is the former president of cosmetics giant Helene Curtis and one-time head of the Illinois Board of Education. But in Joliet, he's better known as part-owner of Evergreen Terrace, the crime-plagued apartment complex that's been a festering sore on the city's near West Side for nearly three decades.

Joliet has tried for years to render this dinosaur of 1970s low-income housing extinct through ordinances, permits and the courts, but to no avail. The city council even once offered Gidwitz and Evergreen's anonymous owners a $2.5 million buy-out for the property. The owners' group didn't bother to respond.

And who can blame them? Under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Mark to Market program, the owners stand to squeeze more federal subsidies than ever out of this rotten apple.

This morning I listened to WBBM Radio "At Issue," Gidwitz was the guest. (The show is repeated tonight (Sunday) at 9:30pm, and is available via web cast here.

Eric Krol, political editor of the Northwest Daily Herald brought up Evergreen Terrace, and the core of Gidwitz' response to Krol's question was that the City of Joliet wants to "put 250 families out on the street, these people need affordable housing."

Which brings me back to this AP arcticle by Maura Kelly Lannan , who was also on "At Issue" with Krol:

"We don't make any money from this project. We happen to be providing, we believe, a service to the community. And it's clear that if we don't continue to supply this, these 250 or so families aren't going to have places to live in Joliet," Gidwitz said.

(Joliet Deputy City Manager James) Shapard disagreed.

"That's utter nonsense and Gidwitz knows it. We have demonstrated to HUD that there is plenty of available Section 8 rental housing in Joliet and the surrounding area," he said.
The city has offered to buy the complex but has not received a response, Shapard said.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The end of the Gidwitz for Governor campaign

Okay, yeah he's still in the race for the Republican nomination to face off against incumbent Governor Rod Blagojevich, D-IL, but it looks like Ron Gidwitz, former CEO of Helene Curtis and ex-Illinois State Board of Education chairman has virtually no chance to win next spring's Republican primary for governor here in the Prairie State.

And I'm writing this just four days after he officially announced his candidacy for the top job in the nation's fifth largest state.

So what's doomed his campaign so quickly? The Evergreen Terrace apartments in Joliet.

According to the Joliet newspaper Herald-News, Ron Gidwitz and his family own about 1 percent of Evergreen Terrace. These apartments have been described by one Joliet official as a "hell hole," according to AP.

Says Joliet Deputy City Manager James Shapard:

There are people that die there with great frequency. They die of bullet wounds, stab wounds. There are children who are raped there. There are young women who are raped there. There are older women who are raped there. There is a considerable amount of drug dealing going on," Shapard said.

Before you jump to conclusions and think that the attacks on Gidwitz come from Democrats (by the way, I have no idea what Shapard's political affiliation is), think again. From the same AP article comes these comments Peter Fitzgerald:

In October 2003, former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-IL, called the conditions at Evergreen Terrace "inhumane" and urged HUD to reject refinancing (of Evergreen). He said Joliet should be allowed to redevelop the property and place residents in better and safer living arrangements.

Fitzgerald said he toured the complex and was overpowered by the smell of urine, saw exposed wiring and broken elevators and heard from residents about problems ranging from rodents to rampant crime.

From the Joliet Herald-News, comes these remarks:

And Councilman Joe Shetina, a longtime Republican, does not believe Gidwitz will survive a GOP primary against any solid candidate, even without Evergreen Terrace hanging around his neck. The apartment complex will be an added drag on his campaign, Shetina said.

"It's a blight, and he's the cause of it," Shetina argued.

Fine, a reasonable person may say, Evergreen Terrace is a wretched place, but Gidwitz and his family only 1 percent of it. What of the other 99 percent?

From that same Herald-News article:

The (Illinois Housing Development) authority's report lists Gidwitz Associates, a limited partnership, as having a 1.01 percent ownership stake in Evergreen Terrace. And members of the family also have interests in Burnham Residential Venture I Corp. and Burnham Residential Venture I LP. The two entities hold a combined 1 percent stake in the complex, according to the state agency's report.

"The Gidwitzes have refused to identify the owners of Evergreen Terrace," said City Attorney Jeff Plyman. "We've asked for that information in a lawsuit, and we believe we're entitled to it. We'll do whatever is necessary to see who profits from this project."

Naturally, Gidwitz is working on damage control, according the Northwest Daily Herald.

Sunday at 9:30 am and pm (CDT) Gidwitz will be interviewed on WBBM-AM Radio's "At Issue." It'll be webcast, too.

Iran's new president

Hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the new Iranian president. For freedom loving people, this is not good news. Of course, the presidential election in Iran was a farce.

Governments of Muslim countries offered cautious congratulations in response to the election, while several Western countries — including the United States — sharply criticized the vote Saturday. There were complaints that the candidates allowed to run for president were decided by the powerful Guardian Council, made up of clerics, who disqualified upward of 1,000 contestants, including 50 women.

For insightful commentary on current events in Iran, visit the blog Regime Change Iran.

If you're interested in sloppy reporting, twisted logic, and anti-Western as well as anti-Semitic ramblings, then you'll love the Tehran Times.

Durbin apologizes to Illinois VFW members

This just in from AP, Durbin spoke with at VFW convention in Peoria.

``Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line,'' the Springfield Democrat said on Tuesday. ``To them I extend my heartfelt apologies.''

Bong-wielding man attacks Wisconsin cop

From AP:

A 22-year-old man was wrestled to the ground in the Germantown (Wisconsin) Police Department Friday afternoon after threatening a dispatcher with a glass bong and a shotgun, police said.

The man walked into the department and handed a threatening note to the dispatcher at a her window around 5 p.m., police said.

Bongs hold a special place in the heart of Wisconsinites; there is the Bong Recreation Area just off Interstate 94 near Kenosha.

Defense asks judge for acquittals in East St. Louis "$10 per vote" case

We'll see how this plays out, once again from the Belleville News-Democrat.

U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy said he will review witness testimony in a three-week-old vote fraud trial this weekend to decide whether to acquit any or all of five defendants.

The defense, which rested its case Friday, contends the prosecution has failed to present enough evidence. Final arguments are set for 8 a.m. Tuesday. A verdict could be reached that afternoon or evening.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Carr told Murphy on Friday there is more than enough evidence, including several audiotapes made by two undercover operatives: Rudy McIntosh and his then-girlfriend Dannita Youngblood. The alleged vote fraud involved the Nov. 2 general election.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Karl Rove: No apologies

As blogged here on LaShawn Barber's excellent site, liberal Democrats are demanding an apology for recent comments by President Bush's political advisor, Karl Rove.

This is what Rove said, courtesy of AP:

Rove, in a speech Wednesday evening to the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, said, "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he said, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."

He added that groups linked to the Democratic Party made the mistake of calling for "moderation and restraint" after the terrorist attacks.

LaShawn sums it up nicely: Karl Rove said what is obviously true: Democrats are soft on terrorism.

Jan Schakowshy, D-IL, is one of the screaming liberals demanding an apology from Rove. Her statement is here.

Tuesday, as reported in the Illinois Leader and here on Marathon Pundit, Jan thought that Dick Durbin shouldn't have to apologize for his outrageous US=Nazis=GULAGS=Pol Pot comments. Of course, Durbin finally did apologize.

Here are Jan's comment on Durbin:

"The Bush Administration and Republican leaders are engaged in a pathetic attempt to make Senator Dick Durbin's condemnation of the use of torture at Guantanamo Bay an issue. As a result of the revelations of conditions at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram prison in Afghanistan, the Republicans owe the American people, our soldiers and veterans an apology for undermining American values such as the Rule of Law, putting our troops at greater risk around the world, and cutting veterans health care benefits when they come home."

(I added the bold-print for emphasis.)

I'm a Schakowsky constituent, so I faxed Jan a letter (identifying myself as a blogger and supplying her with my URL) asking if she stood by that statement, since Durbin finally did back away his controversial comments.

It's only been a little more than 24 hours since I faxed her DC office, so she still may get back to me. But other than receiving a standard form letter, I'm not holding my breath waiting for a response.

Defense rests in East St. Louis "$10 per vote" fraud trial

The defense in the East St. Louis vote fraud trial rested today, a day after (see yesterday's post) the prosecution rested its case. Closing arguments, according to the Belleville News-Democrat, will begin Tuesday.

The trial, a bumpy ride for everyone involved, has been going on for three weeks, so the defense attorneys must be pretty confident of an acquital.

Marathon Pundit will be closely watching the East St. Louis story.

Two charged with voting twice in Milwaukee

More voting trouble in Wisconsin, from AP:

A pair of cousins have been charged with casting two ballots each in the Nov. 2 election.
Federal prosecutors charged Theresa J. Byas, 48, and Brian L. Davis, 36, of Milwaukee, on Thursday, a day after another voter was accused of the same offense and two others of voting while serving parole or probation.

For all the whining from Democrats about the "theft" of Ohio last November, the same people have been oddly quiet about the numerous voting irregularities in Wisconsin last November.

Are you listening, Jim Lampley?

That's not all from America's Dairyland. Several Milwaukee Democratic party activists are facing charges for slashing the tires of vans rented by the Wisconsin GOP last election day. Two of the indicted individuals are adult sons of Democratic "big cheeses," one the son of a Milwaukee congresswoman, the other proud parent is a former Milwaukee acting mayor.

Victor Davis Hanson on "the Hitler Card"

Essentially, according to columnist Victor Davis Hanson, those who feel the need to compare President Bush to Adolf Hitler only endanger the US and its citizens.

Read VDH's Chicago Tribune column here. Free registration required.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Indiana legislator slams Supreme Court's New London decision

Big things have small beginnings, and Indiana State Representative David Wolkins is the first elected official (at least that I've come across) who is urging action in favor of property owners' rights in light of today's bizarre Supreme Court decision in the Kelo case in New London, CT.

From AP:

An Indiana lawmaker is urging Hoosiers to call their legislators and ask them to restrain local governments' power to seize private property for development.

State Representative David Wolkins' comments come after today's US Supreme Court ruling giving local governments broad power to seize private property to generate tax revenue.

Wolkins, a Republican from Winona Lake, says the high court was ``absolutely wrong'' and the ruling ``eradicates'' the rights of homeowners.

Wolkins call for action should be heard loud and Indiana and beyond.

Prosecution rests case in East St. Louis "$10 per vote" fraud trial

The Belleville News-Democrat notes under "Breaking News" that the prosecution has rested it's case in the East St. Louis vote buying trial. Several Democratic Party operatives are on trial for allegedly cooking up a scheme to convince voters to choose the "right" candidate last November. At $10.00 per vote.

Need to know more? Here is a good place to start.

US Supreme Court: Bad decision in Connecticut eminent domain case

In a much anticipated ruling, the US Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, said it is okay for local governments to use the right of eminent domain to purchase (and then tear down) people's homes and businesses for to make way for private development. In short, in my opinion, the US Supreme Court is advocating government assisted land grabs. Very bad.

From AP:

A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in New London, Conn., and other communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling, assailed by dissenting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America, was a defeat for residents of the Fort Trumbull neighborhood of New London whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex.

They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.


This of course is bad news for the Sportif, Ltd bicycle shop on Chicago's northwest side. Alderman Patrick Levar is trying to use the same tactic to tear down a property he claims is blighted, as blogged about here and here. A local developer wants the property so he can build condos there.

I've driven past that property, it is not blighted but is located in an economically strategic area: Two blocks from an interstate highway exit, three blocks from an "el" stop.

Is anyone's property safe?

Busy day at work...

Sorry for the light blogging....

Powerlineblog rips Sun-Times Durbin apologist Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet, liberal columnist and Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, is claiming that comments from Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley forced Durbin to issue that second, tearful apology on Tuesday, as Powerlineblog points out.

This is from Lynn's column:

"Handling an attack from the White House, GOP senators and the rabid right wing was one thing for Durbin's team. A slam by one of the nation's most prominent Democrats -- the mayor of the largest city in Durbin's state -- was another.

This is from Powerlineblog:

Lynn, one more thought. I'm not sure whether you consider Hugh Hewitt a member of "the rabid right wing." You probably do. But you might be able to learn something from his Daily Standard column this morning: "The Durbin effect." You'll see he pays a little closer attention to the words spoken by Senator Durbin than you do.

More about Hugh (from me this time) later today.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Marathon Pundit cited on Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web"

A real honor! The slogan, "One Man with Courage Makes a Majority" comes from James Taranto's excellent daily summary.

Here is the post they cite.

Chicago White Sox sweep second straight series

As I've posted before, there seem to be dozens of political bloggers who are Boston Red Sox fans; it seems only Rich Miller of Capitol Fax and myself are political bloggers and White Sox fans.

The Chicago White Sox have the best record in baseball, and just got done sweeping the Kansas City Royals in a three game series. The Sox swept the Dodgers in three in their previous series.

Next up for the White Sox: The Chicago Cubs and for the second installment of the Crosstown Classic.

East St. Louis "$10 per vote" trial drags on...

The latest on this vastly underreported story is here, from the Belleville News-Democrat. Once again, the judge for the trial had to ask the jury to leave the courtroom, after more "untrue" allegations were brought up in court.

Hey, for $15.00 a day, the jurors are getting a great physical fitness workout.

Several defendants, all St. Clair County, Illinois Democratic operatives, are on trial for allegedly running a scheme to buy votes last November.

But all good things come to an end, as the article stated:

The trial of the five defendants began three weeks ago, and (Judge) Murphy assured the jury the end was in sight.

Huffington Post contributor and elections expert Jim Lampley has yet to issue his opinion on the East St. Louis vote-buying case. He may be waiting for the New York Times to cover this exercise in grass-roots capitalism.

Congresswoman Schakowsky: Bush Administration, not Durbin, should apologize

Some people still don't get it.

Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, is one of the most liberal members of the House of Representives. With Jan, time stopped in 1968. Here is her Dick Durbin statement, which comes to us from the excellent online conservative journal, The Illinois Leader. I believe this statement came out yesterday before Durbin's tearful, second apology.

"The Bush Administration and Republican leaders are engaged in a pathetic attempt to make Senator Dick Durbin's condemnation of the use of torture at Guantanamo Bay an issue. As a result of the revelations of conditions at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram prison in Afghanistan, the Republicans owe the American people, our soldiers and veterans an apology for undermining American values such as the Rule of Law, putting our troops at greater risk around the world, and cutting veterans health care benefits when they come home."

Ah, yes, once again, the evil Republicans are cutting veteran's benefits. Jan, your stealing your lines from the late Paul Wellstone's worn-out playbook.

Moron Schakowsky: Jan is married to Robert Creamer, who was arrested two weeks ago at a "privitization" of social securtity protest. His behavior was unwise, as he is awaiting trial for his involvement in a check-kiting scheme while head of the Illinois Public Action Council.

(Note is acting a bit funny today, the Creamer Marathon Pundit post is a June 16 entry.)

Why does Jan matter in this check-kiting case? As the MSM rarely points out, Jan was on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Public Action council while those Creamer checks were airborne.

Schakowsky, however, has not been implicated in any wrongdoing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Actual Arab News headline: 40 Camel Jockeys Return to Pakistan

Marathon Pundit does not promote ethnic jokes or racial stereotypes, but that is the actual headline above, and this is the actual Arab News story.

Sad to say, the jockeys were all kids.

Breaking News per Fox: Durbin apologizes for Gitmo comments

Must've listened to Mayor Richard M. Daley. This is all it says on Fox

Sen. Durbin Apologizes for Comments on Gitmo Guards

UPDATE 5:30PM CDT: Again courtesy of Fox News.

"More than most people, a senator lives by his words ... occasionally words fail us, occasionally we will fail words," Durbin, D-Ill., said.

"I am sorry if anything I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time. Nothing, nothing should ever be said to demean or diminish that moral tragedy.

"I am also sorry if anything I said cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military ... I never ever intended any disrespect for them. Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line to them I extend my heartfelt apology," Durbin said, choking on his words.

Mayor Daley: Durbin should apologize for Gitmo comments

Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago has a son serving in the army. He's not pleased with Illinois' senior senator, Richard Durbin.

From CBS 2 Chicago:

“If you really believe those men and women in Guatamano Bay are Nazis, then you'd better rethink what America's all about,” Mayor Daley said.

It's all Bush's fault....

Take away Cook County and Chicago, and Illinois is as much as a Red State as Montana. Outside of this northeastern corner of the state (where of course half of Illinois' population lives) there are a few blue splotches, and Champaign County is one of them. From there came Cory Zimbleman, who passed away earlier this month in Tucson, where he was residing.

His obituary is here, and this snippet is almost beyond belief:

He had strong political opinions and followed Amy Goodman's radio broadcast "Democracy Now." Alas the stolen election of 2000 and living with right-winged Americans finally brought him to his early demise. Stress from living in this unjust country brought about several heart attacks rendering him disabled.

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin.

Just think, if Cory only stayed in Illinois, he might still be with us. After all, he'd be a constituent of Richard Durbin.

Billy Corgan takes out full page Chicago Trib ad; he wants to reform Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan, this week released his first solo album. After the break up of popular 1990s band Smashing Pumpkins, ex-frontman Corgan formed Zwan, whose only release was a commercial and critical failure.

After Zwan's implosion, Corgan went solo; today, his new album The Full Embrace was released. In an article with a Corgan interview that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times just two days ago, this telling (or so we thought) passage appeared.

The one thing fans should not expect (in Corgan's upcoming tour) is Smashing Pumpkins songs.

“What’s unfortunate about what we would call a second act of a career is that if you don’t continue to exploit your past or let them knock you around and turn you into what they think you should be, they basically stick their boot in the back of your neck,” Corgan said.

But in this morning's Chicago Tribune, Billy Corgan took out a full-page ad, where he states that he now wants to re-form Smashing Pumpkins.

Does any of this make sense? Probably not. Couldn't he have just e-mailed the ex-Pumpkins?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Follow up: Thomas Klocek free speech case discussed on the O'Reilly Factor

Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor is the highest rated news program on cable. As mentioned earlier this evening, the Thomas Klocek free speech struggle with DePaul University was discussed in the "Factor Follow Up Segment this evening" I taped it, replayed it, and I think I got the transcript right.

The Follow Up segment was about Ward Churchill, the embattled Colorado university ethnic studies professor, whose list of misdeeds are too numerous to mention. But if you need any reminders, then dive in here.

Show host Bill O'Reilly, like many people, is wondering why Churchill still is a professor at Colorado University.

As part of the discussion on the Churchill mess, one of O'Reilly's guests, David Harsanyi of the Denver Post, mentioned:

"But I want to point out there is some hypocrisy here. At DePaul, for instance, there is a professor named Thomas Klocek who was thrown out for saying some pro-Israel things to a Palestinian crowd."

Big night on the O'Reilly Factor.

A big thanks to David Harsanyi.

Methodist military chaplain Kent Svendsen discusses Gitmo on the O'Reilly Factor

Kent V. Svendsen, whose e-mail to the United Methodist Women was posted here yesterday was a guest on the O'Reilly Factor tonight. I just got finished watching it, and in short, he does not support Senator Dick Durbin's remarks, which Reverend Svensden called "very upsetting." Because of the Klocek case, I'm taping the O'Reilly Factor, hopefully, I'll find a transcript of tonight's show online.

Irony: Like myself, Kent Svensden is a Dick Durbin constituent.

Klocek case mentioned on O'Reilly!

On O'Reilly's Fox News show tonight, in conjunction with the Ward Churchill case, the Thomas Klocek story was was briefly discussed, according to a Marathon Pundit correspondent (actually, my mother). I'm working late tonight. O'Reilly followed up with this follow-up with a question on whether Professor Klocek was tenured.

More details to follow.

UPDATE 9:oo PM CDT: It was part of the Factor Follow Up Segment

Update on Ward Churchill

Guests: Craig Silverman, KHOW & David Harsanyi, Denver Post

Ward Churchill continues to hang on at the University of Colorado despite reports that he's committed plagiarism.

Look for a post later tonight, as I watch the late night repeat of the O'Reilly Factor and see what they say about the suspended DePaul professor.

Durbin FBI memo: "Fake, but Accurate?"

Myopic Zeal found this buried in a Fox story.

“One knowledgeable official familiar with the memo cited by Durbin as well as other memos said the FBI agent made no such allegation and that the memo described only someone chained to the floor. Anything beyond that is simply an interpretation, the official said.”

Dan Rather meet Richard Durbin. And Michael "Flush" Isikoff.

The Conservative Voice on DePaul, Klocek & Finkelstein

Malcom A. Kline, Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia, has written on the Thomas Klocek free speech with DePaul a couple of times before.

Well, he's back with more--his latest editorial is in the Conservative Voice. An excerpt:

Essentially, Klocek was fired for making pro-Israel statements to students from two campus groups-Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)and United Muslims Moving Ahead (UMMA)-at a student activities fair. Asnear as we can determine, there are two competing sets of claims of what happened at the fair, those of Klocek and those of the students.

The school's administrators chose to believe the latter set of allegations. Problematic though such an approach may be, it would at least make clear the boundaries of free speech and acceptable conduct at the Catholic university, that is, if that standard were applied across the board. A look at available information from DePaul indicates that such a consistent benchmark is not in place.

Compare, for example, the school's treatment of Klocek with its defense of another resident academic at DePaul-Norman Finkelstein. Finkelstein,a political science professor at DePaul, has called Nobel laureate Elie Weisel the "resident clown of the Holocaust circus." Nonetheless, Finkelstein lectures with the full support of the school fathers at DePaul, although, like Klocek, his students' evaluations of his teaching are mixed.

"Seems like this guy is here just because DePaul needs a nationally known faculty member," one anonymous reviewer writes of Finkelstein on "Unfortunately, he is known for all the wrong reasons." "Uses class to test out speeches he will make at some other university along side other radical professors."

Moron Durbin again

From Brainster comes this blogging from one-time central Illinois resident Third Wave Dave; TWD is a recent Marathon Pundit blogroll addition.

Dave contacted each member of the Illinois congressional delegation, not small task, as the Prairie State has the 5th or 6th largest state delegation in Congress.

Guess what? Each of the 21 Illinois members of Congress agree on one thing. They have no opinions on Durbin's "We're all Nazis, Gulag-ers, etc." comments.

The Illinois Congressional Delegation page is here.

(UPDATE: Thanks to Amy for the heads up, just 21 in the Illinois delegation.)

Commander Paul Galanti's letter to Durbin

Hat tip to Bill Baar's West Side.

Here's a little bio information on Commander Paul Galanti, for more information, click on the link at the bottom of this post:

Paul Galanti was a prisoner of war for nearly seven years in North Vietnam's infamous Hanoi Hilton complex. He not only maintained his sanity, he has managed, since his return in February 1973, to excel in several different fields. He maintains a positive attitude despite having been deprived of "what should have been some of the best years of my life."

"Not so," says Galanti, "the best years are here, now"!

Letter to Senator Durbin:

"As one who was held in a North Vietnamese Prison for nearly seven years and whose definition of torture and bad treatment is somewhat at variance with yours, I deplore your senseless comments about alleged "barbaric treatment" at our terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo."

Your remarks comparing Guantanamo to the regimes of Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot are outrageous. I tried to think of why a rational human being could make such an outlandish statement but I keep coming up short. I thought I'd seen it all when Howard Dean performed his infamous scream in Iowa but your diatribe yesterday eclipsed Dean's moment of Hannibal Lecter lunacy. And your moment of pique will be infinitely more damaging to members of our Armed Forces serving in harm's way."

I noted, when searching for your contact information, that the first item Google came up with was al Jazeera's joy at your comments. You, sir, for having aided and abetted the enemy in time of war, have been relegated in my mind to the status of Jane Fonda and your colleague, John Kerry as contemptible traitors."

I hope not too many of our valiant members of the Armed Forces have to suffer for your stupid comments. Shame on you."This is copied to to the Chicago Tribune's Letters Editor. It is blindcopied to my family members from Illinois and to several military blog groups to which I subscribe."

Sincerely,Paul E. Galanti
Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret.)Richmond, VA

If only Chicago's Lakeshore Marathon had this Finnish line tool....

When Finland comes to mind, if it does at all, it means to most people Nokia and its tech-savvy cellular phones.

Up until the mid-1970s, however, to most people Finland meant: great long distance runners. Now Kenya reserves that great honor in most people's thoughts.

Paavo Nurmi was the greatest of the Finnish runners, winning an astonishing nine Olympic gold medals. Finland's streak of great runners came to an end, when Lasse Viren struck Olympic gold in the 5000 and 10,ooo meter runs in 1976 (repeating the same "double" he achieved in the 1972 games.)

This year, "old" and "new" Finland come together as the World Track and Field Championships will be held in Helsinki in August.

From Innovations Report:

When runners begin the marathon at the Athletic World Championships in Helsinki this August, they will have a high-tech edge, thanks to a Finnish start-up firm.

The race course has been recorded in detail and sent to competitors to help them prepare for the competition. The data was compiled by the FRWD Sport Performance Recorder, a strap-on gadget that measures race route, distance and speed using GPS technology, as well as an individual athlete’s heart rate, altitude and other data.

The accompanying software enables the user to move through two-dimensional or three-dimensional animations of the route, complete with a terrain profile.

“The IAAF has forwarded the FRWD file of the marathon to all participating national teams, so they can get to know the route profile in advance in every detail, including all the slopes, twists, turns and so on,” explains Mari Pajunen, Marketing Coordinator at FRWD Technologies. “This is the first time that an organising committee has ever offered such an opportunity.”

So tech-Finland and running-Finland have come together. Too bad the race director of last month's ill-fated Lakeshore Marathon didn't have this course mapping too, devoloped for the this year's track and field world championships. As blogged about here on Marathon Pundit, that race ended up being 27.2 miles, and official marathons are only supposed to be just 26.2 mile long.

Hat tip to the blog Running at the Mouth.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Rachel Corrie and the other Rachels

For those unfamiliar with her story, Washington State native Rachel Corrie was a pro-Palestinian activist who--sober minds concur on this issue--was accidentally killed in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah when an Israeli Defense Force bulldozer ran her over as she was protesting a housing demolition. Her death was an accident, albeit a tragic one, but accidental all the same. Since her death, Rachel Corrie has become a martyr for pro-Palestinian groups, such as Students for Justice in Palestine.

Rachel was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, which, according to Front Page Magazine's Discover the Network:

1) (Is a) Radical, anti-Israel organization that recruits westerners to travel to Israel under false pretenses and obstruct Israeli security operations
2) Justifies Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians

At a student activities fair on September 15, 2005, the DePaul chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine was handing out flyers that most reasonable people would deem inflammatory. Suspended DePaul professor Thomas Klocek picked up one of those flyers, and regular visitors to Marathon Pundit know the rest of the story. If you don't know it, this is a good place to start.

At least one of those flyers was about the martyr-to-the-cause, Rachel Corrie.

But in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, there are other Rachels you may not of heard about.

In the May 23rd print edition of the National Review, this article appeared in the "This Week..." column:

You may recall Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American radical who was crushed to death when she jumped in front of an Israeli army bulldozer. (The bulldozer was trying to destroy a building suspected of concealing tunnels uses for terrorist weapons-smuggling; Corrie was part of a group that declared "armed struggle" a Palestinian "right.") Corrie has since become a hero of the international Left, inspiring ongoing protests against the bulldozer-making company Caterpillar and now, a play about her life, based on her diary, is being performed at one of London's most prestigious theaters. The British press, predictably, has gushed about the play, and about Corrie's passion and apparent self sacrifice. But as our friend Tom Gross points out, forgotten are the several other Rachels who have lost their lives in the Arab-Israeli conflict--all killed by Palestinian terrorists: Rachel Chari, Rachel Gavish, Rachel Levi, Rachel Levy, Racher Shaho, and Rachel Thaler. Rachel's death was unfortunate, but more unfortunate is a Western media and cultural establishment that lionizes "martyrs" for illiberal causes while ignoring the victims those causes create.

E-mail from a Methodist army chaplain explaining what's REALLY going on at Gitmo

Major Kent L. Svensden is a Methodist minister from Ashton, IL, a small north-central Illinois town. He's also an army chaplain, and has taken issue with United Methodist Women--a sanctioned group within the United Methodist Church--and their initiation of a human rights campaign regarding War on Terror prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, aka "Gitmo."

Svensden sent the below e-mail to the United Methodist Women. Former Illinois State Representative and current Illinois Leader reporter Cal Skinner obtained this e-mail, which comes to us with a big hat tip (again) from Obiter Dictum.

But there is more: The United Methodist Church is not stopping at Gitmo. Already, they're dipping their toe into the divestment campaign against Israel, as this LA Times writer explains:

In addition, the Presbyterians and United Methodist Church have supported shareholder actions against Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc. to end the use of its bulldozers in razing thousands of Palestinian homes. And both the Methodists and the Episcopal Church have launched studies of the divestment issue (against Israel) for possible action.

Caterpillar has been cast as a villain by the Far Left and anti-Israeli crowd because one of its bulldozers accidentally killed pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie. The Corrie incident has figured prominently into the Thomas Klocek free speech battle against DePaul University.

If you know any Methodists, please forward the below e-mail to them. And click here if you'd like to contact the United Methodist Church about their Gitmo and divestment stands.

FROM: Reverend Kent L. Svendsen, Ordained Elder, United Methodist Church / Northern Illinois Conference

Dear Women's Division General Board of Global Ministries United Methodist Church

I understand that you about to start a campaign relating to among other things human rights protections and the detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

I can speak with some authority on the subject since I served as the chaplain to the Joint Detention Operation Group in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from May 2004 until March 2005.
As a United Methodist I have a keen sense of world justice and while serving in Cuba sought to be faithful to our social principles and their concern for social holiness.

So I am not speaking to you as a military chaplain but as an Ordained United Methodist.

I have a great concern for our news media sources today. There was a day when the truth and protecting our nation from harm took precedence over being the first to break a story. Now it seems that accusations, no matter how harmful, no matter the source, no matter the possible consequences, are enough to use them as weapons upon the innocent as well as the guilty.

I am also grieved that there seems to be not only an automatic assumption of guilt when the accusations are aimed at our military and our government, but that any explanation aimed at proving them innocent is also automatically viewed as a "cover up". And that when those who are guilty of violations are uncovered, prosecuted, and punished there is a tendency by some to want to use that as evidence that the violations were policy instead a violation of the standing orders and policy. What the new media and groups like the Woman's Division needs to understand is that accusations cause harm and create damage that a retraction and an admission of error later cannot repair. (I don't think we will ever really know exactly how many died after Newsweek made the false accusation of a Koran being flushed down a toilet.)

There are those who would use accusations such as those recently made against our military as weapons to gain political power. They count on the fact that people will believe something if its said enough times and said by people and organizations they respect. It was the case in the past that our nation's opponents tried to prevent our culture and news sources from reaching their people. After all, the ideas of freedom, democracy, and equality for all doesn't play well in some parts of the world. So since modern technology cannot be stopped and "world news" is now also news to the world there is now a new strategy. They use it to their advantage as a weapon against our nation.

The accusations are flying fast and furious. If your organization would be interested in knowing about my experience. (I cannot talk about the day to day activities in the camp but I can either verify or deny many of the accusations that are being made.)

Here's a list that might help you if your willing to listen to an Ordained Elder who knows the facts rather than accusations made based on speculation. I'll respond here specifically to some of the one's I've heard.

1. The detainees have direct access to the International Red Cross representatives contrary to the accusations that they have no outside contact. Also, all the detainees are allowed to write and receive mail from family.

2. The detainees have their food prepared according to Islamic guidelines. The call to prayer is broadcast for them to go to prayer. Each detainee has the direction to Meccah painted in their cell. They are allowed to practice their religion without interference and are given the religious items they need to do so. They are allowed to observe Ramadan.

3. There are strict guidelines and training concerning human rights protections. If a service member sees a violation they are to report it and if asked to violate someone's human rights they are to consider it as an unlawful order. Those who violate are subject to prosecution.
If you are interested in more information please contact me.

There is also an article about my work in Cuba which was published in the July issue of Esquire magazine.

Kent Svendsen, Chaplain (Major) USAR

Happy Fathers Day

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

New blog: Bloggers for Censure (referring to Durbin, of course)

Hat tip to Pam M. of Blogmeister USA.

Coloradan Mike Mikkelsen has started a new blog, Bloggers for Censure.

Says Mike:

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has made some outrageous statements about the character of our very nation. Such statements from a sitting U.S. Senator are unacceptable. We the people have the right to hold him responsible by censure or resignation as a representative of this greatest nation on Earth.

Contact Mike at

Marathon Pundit has a major softspot for Coloradans, as Patrick Brown of Denver founded Run for Bush, one of my "partners in crime" during Election 2004.

Newt Gingrich calls on US senate to censure Durbin

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in this press release available on US Newswire, is calling on the US Senate to censure Senator Richard Durbin, D-IL.

An excerpt:

By his statements equating American treatment of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay with the behavior of the evil regimes of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Pol Pot's Cambodia, Senator Richard Durbin has dishonored the United States and the entire U.S. Senate. Only by a vote to censure Senator Durbin for his conduct can the U.S. Senate restore its dignity and defend American honor.

Senator Durbin's comparison, sadly, is despicable.

U.S. Senators should be clear about the gravity of Senator Durbin's comparison. Nine million innocent human beings were murdered in Hitler's death camps, nearly three million perished in the gulags under Stalin, and more than one and a half million were slaughtered in the killing fields of Cambodia at the hand of Pol Pot. And while not a single terrorist has died in detention at Guantanamo, Senator Durbin sees fit to liken our American service men and women to the terrifying murderers of three evil despotic regimes.

Petition demanding Dick Durbin's registration now online

A Lake Villa, IL resident has established an online petition calling for Democrat Dick Durbin's immediate resignation.

It reads...

On June 14, 2005, while speaking from the floor of the United States Senate in Washington D.C. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois unjustly compared the United States military forces in charge of Gitmo to the brutal, murderous, and barbaric regimes of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot.

We, the undersigned, strongly disagree with Senator Durbin’s disgraceful characterization of our U.S troops. We believe that Mr. Durbin’s disparaging statements were patently false, and not representative of the overwhelmingly heroic and courageous behavior of our military forces at Gitmo, and elsewhere in the world.

We believe that our troops are the finest and the most courageous military force that has ever existed in the history of the world. Mr. Durbin, through his original remarks, and his subsequent refusals to modify his statements, or apologize to our troops, has committed a blatant act of treason in a time of war, is guilty of sedition, and has openly taken sides with the enemy combatants, with whom we are now at war, thereby endangering our troops, and emboldening the enemy that seeks to destroy our nation.

For all of these reasons, we the undersigned do hereby demand that Dick Durbin immediately resign from his position as United States Senator of Illinois.

Ankle Biting Pundits posts powerful letter in favor of censuring Durbin

The letter is here and his a must read. Ankle Biting Pundits made it's weekly choice of it's "Buffoon of the Week," and of course it's Illinois' senior senator, Richard Durbin.

Follow up on the Chicago City Council attempted land grab

On June 6, I posted this message about Alderman Patrick Levar's overstepping his powers by abusing eminent domain to declare a Chicago bicycle shop "blighted," so a developer can tear down the bike shop, Sportif, Ltd., and put up expensive condos in its place

En route to a business appointment Tuesday night, I drove past Sportif, and discovered why the developer, Demetrius Kozonis, wants Sportif's property--of course at his price, not Sportif's.

1) Sportif is located just two blocks from the Lawrence Avenue exit ramp of I 90/94

2) Equally close is the Jefferson Park el train station

So, my initial response, I firmly believe, was correct. The developer, Kozonis, is using the alderman to muscle down Sportif's selling price; that is if indeed, the bike shop wants to sell .

Oh, Alderman Patrick Levar, a corpulent fellow, may want to visit Sportif and buy a bicycle. He could definitely benefit from a good daily workout. A cheap shot against Levar? Perhaps, but he's the bully here, not me.

This is not, the only idiocy that's been emitted from the Chicago City Council this month. Alderman Mary Ann "10 Acres per Elephant" Smith, as noted in a Friday post, essentially wants to keep Ringling Brother and Barnum & Bailey Circus out of Chicago forever.

I'll remember all of this nonsense the next time I drive into a pothole on one of Chicago's streets

Iranian presidential election may be headed for a runoff

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a moderate (or so they say) candidate for president of Iran, has a slight lead as ballot counting is taking place there today. A hard liner (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) and a reformer (Mehdi Karroubi) are in a close race for second.

Since it appears very unlikely Rafsanjani will get a majority of the votes, a runoff election will take place Friday, which will decide who will be the next Iranian president.

Real power, unfortunately, will lie with unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is a hardliner. The security apparatus and the courts are controlled by hardliners too.

Drop in on the bravest blog on the Internet, Regime Change Iran, for updates and analysis of the Iranian elections.

UPDATE: 8:45 PM CDT: According to the Tehran Times, next week's runoff will be between the so-called moderate , Rafsanjani, and the hardliner, Karroubi.

Friday, June 17, 2005

FIRE's David French on Klocek's defamation suit against DePaul

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, was one of the earliest supporters of suspended professor Thomas Klocek in his free speech struggle with Chicago's DePaul University. FIRE's president, David French, posted his thoughts on the Klocek case on the FIRE site this afternoon--below is that post in its entirety.

Thomas Klocek, the DePaul professor who lost his job without due process after arguing with several students about the Middle East at a student activities fair, has now sued DePaul. Much of the suit focuses on claims that DePaul defamed Klocek, in part by providing the public with false and misleading information about his health. Klocek also claims breach of contract.

In this case, DePaul has shamefully taken a single encounter where the facts are in dispute (the students and professor present radically
different versions of the event), and has transformed it into a veritable festival of repression. First, DePaul suspended the professor without a hearing. Second, DePaul attempted to justify that suspension by attacking the professor's speech, not his conduct. When Klocek publicly protested his treatment, DePaul changed course, claiming that the problem was his conduct, not his speech. What mystifies me, however, is the absolute confidence with which DePaul is stating the facts of its (new) case when there never was a fact-finding hearing on the incident. How does DePaul know what Klocek did or did not do? Even more disturbing, in communications with other individuals, DePaul's president referred to mysterious "personal health issues that we discovered were impacting his effectiveness in the classroom."

Just to be clear, in earlier statements, a DePaul official told the
student newspaper that Klocek had "'an otherwise positive career of 15 years,' and explained that he is a very well read, intelligent instructor who made an error in judgment.

There had been no previous student complaints regarding Klocek's conduct and he had a positive relationship with the university." So is this case about speech or conduct? Is it about in-class performance or an out-of-class incident?

DePaul must be held to account for its conduct. I look forward to seeing the university explain its changing stories to a judge.

Durbin backs down...a little bit

Just off the AP wire:

On Friday, Durbin tried to clarify the issue. "My statement in the Senate was critical of the policies of this Administration, which add to the risk our soldiers face," he said in a statement released Friday afternoon. "I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings: Our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support."

In my opinion, three words: Not good enough.

PETA alert! Chicago alderman wants 10 acres per elephant in Chicago

When I lived in Chicago, Mary Ann Smith was my alderman. Too bad I'm no longer a constituent, because she'd be hearing from me.

Ald. Smith has been "working with animal rights groups," according to the Chicago Sun-Times, in developing an ordinance that would require any elephant brought into the city (that means by circuses) to give each elephant 10 acres of wandering space (half indoor, half outdoor). Smith tells the Sun-Times meeting this requirement would be "difficult." Many circuses have 10 or twenty elephants.

Chicago, obviously, does not have much in the way of open space. Cities with 3 million people tend to be that way.

Smith apparently doesn't have the guts to propose a bill banning elephants in the city. Doesn't matter. If the bill passes, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus will never put the Greatest Show on Earth on in Chicago again; they'll put the show on in the suburbs.

(Personal note: My eight year-old daughter and I got to see the circus last November and we had a great time. David, the star clown, called me onto the stage to participate in a comedy routine. The circus is great.)

PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals hates circuses with animals, and of course is very supportive of Smith's backhanded way to keep elephants out of Chicago. PETA wants everyone to be a non-leather wearing vegetarian, too. And a whole bunch of other things. If you have to know, visit PETA's web site.

Must be the first name: 9/11 "artist" Kerry Skarbakka tries to spin his way out of a mess

I blogged on this yesterday morning about Chicago "artist" Kerry Skarbakka, who stages mock falls off buildings as some sick tribute to the September 11, 2001 WTC tragedy.

Well, according to NBC 5, Kerry, like his quasi-namesake Senator John Kerry, is singing a different tune, out of both sides of his mouth of course.

From NBC 5:

Skarbakka, 35, captures photographs of himself in mid-fall -- off of ladders, bridges, cliffs, and now, buildings. On Tuesday, he repeatedly jumped off the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago while wearing a harness under a business suit.

A reporter from New York thought Skarbakka's stunt paralleled 9/11.
Skarbakka, who lives in Brooklyn, said Thursday that his words were taken out of context.

"I'm sitting here reading forum submissions from people who hate me so badly, they want me to die the worst death ever. I've never received this before. These poor people that are suffering --their pain, their wounds that have been opened by something that was caused by a newspaper, not by me; I did nothing wrong. I was doing a performance piece that had nothing to do with 9/11."

But NBC 5 has "the goods" on Kerry S. This is what Kerry told NBC 5 Chicago reporter Amy Jacobson on Tuesday.

"The series really began as a response to the events of Sept. 11. This is really my way, as an artist, to respond responsibly to what I think is a really important change in our world," he said. "I'd like to say, and I'd like to be understood that the work resulted from that experience. The idea became ... it was born."

Kerry S. has been getting all kinds of nasty calls and e-mails, as well as death threats. That needs to stop. But Kerry S. needs to come clean as well, and stop being, well, Kerry-esque.

Durbin could've been Kerry's running mate?

I follow politics closely, especially in Illinois, and this is the first I've heard of this twist on Election 2004. From the same Chicago Tribune article referenced in the previous post.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was so impressed with Durbin's skills that he confided to a Chicago fundraising audience not long ago that he badly wanted to pick Durbin as his running mate but passed him over because he didn't think the nation could tolerate two Roman Catholics on the ticket.

Dick Durbin was never on any published "short list" of running mate choices that I saw. Okay, yeah, maybe Kerry was seriously considering Illinois' Durbin and never told anyone, but I'm pretty sure it's just another instance Nuance-boy's twisting of the truth.

And sorry Senator Kerry, America is long past the time where one, or even two Roman Catholic candidates on a presidential ticket is viewed as a negative.

Here are some more reasons why Kerry is probably lying:

1) Kerry was going to win Illinois anyway

2) Durbin (see previous post) like Kerry has no substantial legislative record to speak of.

3) Durbin is a drip

Moron Durbin

Or more on Durbin....(Brainster uses "moron" within this context a lot.)

The Chicago Tribune had an extensive profile on Democratic Senator Dick Durbin in today's edition.

If you're interested in learning about what legislation the Illinois Democrat has had turned into law, you won't find anything in this article about that. Could it be, just possibly, that Durbin has no legislative accomplishments?

Here is a telling excerpt from the Tribune article:

Durbin has spent most of his adult life in and around legislatures. During college and law school at Georgetown University, he worked for Sen. Paul Douglas of Illinois. Later, he became parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate, counsel to the state Senate Judiciary Committee and an aide to Lt. Gov. Paul Simon before winning election to the U.S. House in 1982.

Note no private sector experience. Oh, he may have worked at a law firm for a few years, but no, I hate to say it "real job." No real public sector CEO jobs either. No "Governor" or "Mayor" Durbin. He's in love with the process of the legislature, or stopping the process.

And he represents a party that has no concrete ideas, other than opposing the elected Republican majority.

In short, Durbin is worthless.

Iranian presidential election today

This could end up being one of the big stories of 2005, as Iran seems to be on the cusp of revolution. (Very wishful thinking on my part, but the status quo there can't hang on forever.) Balloting is taking place now in Iran to choose the next president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The best blog out there to keep an eye on the election and its aftermath, is Regime Change in Iran. This blog is very likely the bravest blog on the Internet.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

East St. Louis "$10 per vote" trial update

The East St. Louis vote fraud trial carries on. Votes were allegedy for sale at just $5 a head, but shrewd haggling got the bidding up to $10 per vote.

It's a crazy one, as one witness, a former ESL cop, claimed not to know what a "snitch" was. Months earlier, the same cop bragged on videotape that he was a snitch. That was yesterday.

Today, a prosecutor asked the judge for permission to declare one of his witnesses "hostile" because her in-court testimony didn't match earlier under-oath versions of what she says happened.

Last two links come to us from the Belleville News-Democrat.

There are other memory gaps in East St. Louis in regards to the votes-for-sale trial, as this post explains.

Durbin has no sense

Well, one of my senators is Richard Durbin. Best known, if known at all, outside of Illinois as an obstructionist.

When he came to the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board in 2002 seeking the Trib's endorsement, they questioned the Springfield Democrat on his role in blocking the approval of President Bush's judicial nominees. His answer to the Trib was something along the lines of, "Well, that's what the Republicans did under Clinton." Some leader, the Tribune sarcastically retorted in it's op-ed endorsing his challenger, Republican Jim Durkin.

Some of those judicial nominees are just now getting getting approved by the senate.

Well, Durbin---what does he stand for, by the way? -- has joined the anti-Gitmo catcallers, by coughing up this quote, which the White House called "reprehensible."

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime _ Pol Pot or others _ that had no concern for human beings," Durbin said.

On Fox & Friends this morning, E.D. Hill commented that she's shocked about the "lack of intelligence this man (Durbin) possesses. He has no sense of history."

I'd like to take a bit past that, and add, Durbin has no sense.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's husband, already indicted, arrested at protest

I'm picking up on some odds and ends that I've been meaning to post, but I wanted to focus on the Klocek/DePaul case since the defamation suit was filed on Tuesday.

This comes to Marathon Pundit via Obiter Dictum:

The notorious Robert Creamer, husband of Jan Schakowsky and erstwhile IPAC (Illinois Public Action Council) head, was arrested last week on charges stemming from a "demonstration" at which he was present, protesting privatization of social security. He was detained over night after allegedly having crossed a police line and assaulted someone.

Terry Armour of the Chicago Tribune has more details here, as he writes that Creamer "charged officers as Bush's motorcade pulled up."

Creamer, for those who don't know, was indicted last year because he was allegedly kiting checks while serving as Executive Director of the Illinois Public Action Council. His wife, Congresswoman Jan, D-IL, does matter in this case--she was on the IPAC's Board of Directors while this hubby was running the show.

Jan, a Democrat from Evanston, is also known for her far-left views

Chicago "artist" stages fall from museum roof, "inspired" by 9/11

From AP via CBS 2 Chicago:

A performance artist wearing a business suit and safety harnesses jumped repeatedly from a museum roof to create photographs that recall scenes from the World Trade Center attack, but his spectacle was scorned by some onlookers and victims' relatives.

Collaborating photographers snapped away as Kerry Skarbakka fell more than 30 times from the five-story Museum of Contemporary Art on Tuesday. The photographs will be retouched to erase the pulleys and wires that kept Skarbakka from hitting the pavement.

Skarbakka, 34, said he started thinking about falling after watching on television as workers jumped to their deaths from the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

``I was so distraught, I needed some way to find an artistic response,'' he told the Chicago Sun-Times. Now, he says he sees falling as a metaphor for life.

And I see Kerry Skarbakka as a metaphor for bad taste and obnoxiousness. I'm not the only one to agree. From the same article:

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it ``nauseatingly offensive,'' and some who lost family and friends at the trade center agreed.

``What kind of a sick individual is he? Tell him to go jump off the Empire State Building and see how it feels,'' Rosemarie Giallombardo, whose son Paul Salvio died in the terrorist attack, told the (New York) Daily News. ``He's an artist? Go paint a bowl of fruit or something.''

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Thomas Klocek Defense Fund

I posted this about a week ago or so, but here it is again, From the American Thinker:

Defend Professor Klocek

Several weeks back, we described the almost unbelievable situation surrounding De Paul Professor Thomas Klocek, who lost his job at the Catholic university for the "crime" of daring to argue with some Muslim and Palestinian students in a cafeteria about some inflammatory anti-Israel flyers the students were distributing.

So much for free speech rights for Professors at De Paul who dare to defend Israel.
Despite much commentary in the blogosphere about Professor Klocek's case, so far De Paul has offered nothing to Klocek in terms of restoring his position, back pay, health insurance. or even an apology for slandering his good name. A legal defense fund has been created for his lawsuit against De Paul.

You can contribute by sending a check to:
The Thomas Klocek Defense Fund
c/o Cole Taylor Bank
P.O. Box 88481
Chicago, Il. 60680