Mike Bates

Latest from Mike Bates

On the Chicago Sun-Times's Web site today, it's reported that former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has applied for unemployment benefits. Stroger had been earning $170,000 at his job, and his former employer is appealing his eligibility. Not mentioned, of course, is the fact Stroger is a Democrat.

A little more than four years ago, Stroger was endorsed by then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as "a good progressive Democrat" who will "lead us into a new era of Cook County government." He certainly did. His tenure was marked by scandal after scandal after scandal. Still, Stroger was constantly on the prowl for new talent to bring to government. So impressed was he with one restaurant busboy he encountered that the man ended up with a $61,189-a-year county job. The guy sure must have known how to handle a glass of ice water.

The new civility demanded by liberals suffered a setback at Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Saturday morning forum this week.  As televised on the WORD Network, featured speaker Democratic Wisconsin state Sen. Lena Taylor told a cheering audience that Gov. Scott Walker (R) "got our state for sale like a two-bit. . . "  Taylor's PUSH appearance was reported by, among others, the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago's ABC 7 News, and the Huffington Post.  None found Taylor's slur worthy of mention.

From the video:

TAYLOR:  It's not acceptable that in this bill where my governor lies and says that it's for his budget, when he's already received all the concessions he needs from workers that he is really just giving away.  It's not that our - he says that our state is open for business, he got our state for sale.  Ooo.  Ooo.  Ooo. He got our state for sale like a two-bit. . .  OK, hmm, hmm, you know what I was going to say.  And it's not acceptable.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) isn't alone in having trouble understanding how the government is organized.  In a Sunday article posted on the Chicago Sun-Times's Web site, staff reporter Mary Houlihan credits the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) with running the House Committee on Un-American Activities.  That would have been quite an accomplishment, given the fact McCarthy never served in the House of Representatives.

Houlihan writes of photographer Milton Rogovin, who died last month.  After military service during World War II, Rogovin "organized a chapter of the optometrists’ union and served as librarian for the Communist Party of Buffalo."

Then the inevitable happened. In October 1957, Rogovin was caught in the net cast by the House Un-American Activities Committee helmed by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It was the waning days of the Communist witch hunt, and the experience would change Rogovin’s life.

Today on CNN's Newsroom, anchor Kyra Phillips reported on "Confession: A Roman Catholic App," available from iTunes.  Describing herself as  a  "woman of the cloth," Phillips claimed the app meant ". . .you don't have to go to church. You don't have to go see the priest. All you do is you go on to this app. . ."  She also said the app is endorsed by the Vatican.

She was wrong on all counts.  Designed to assist Roman Catholics in examining their consciences while preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the app doesn't end the requirement to go to church (in most situations)  and see a priest.  Moreover, while the developer does indeed claim an imprimatur from the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, that doesn't signify Vatican endorsement.

This year, MSNBC celebrates Presidents' Day with Chris Matthews's February 21 documentary “President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon.”  The Impeached One has become, says MSNBC in its press release, "a hero to peoples across the globe."

It'd be great if Matthews questioned Clinton on a matter that, at least for a time, was a subject of considerable interest to the MSNBC host:  the former president's personal behavior.  On February 2, 2007, Matthews interviewed Ann Lewis, who served as Clinton's Director of Communications and then White House Counselor.  In 2007, she was senior adviser to Hillary Clinton's campaign. Part of the interview:

MATTHEWS:  Is Bill Clinton going to be a problem in this campaign?

LEWIS:  Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS:  Is he going to behave himself?

LEWIS:  Bill Clinton has been around—in the first place, he‘s been around the world saving lives.

MATTHEWS:  Is he going to behave himself?

LEWIS:  He‘s going to do what he does best.

MATTHEWS:  Is he going to behave himself...

"Postscript: Sargent Shriver" appears on The New Yorker's Web site today.  In it, senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg writes:

In 1972, when George McGovern’s original running mate, Senator Thomas Eagleton, had to withdraw, Shriver defied the family pecking order by taking Eagleton’s place on the ticket. The Democrats had their problems that year, but Shriver wasn’t one of them. He was a magnificent candidate.

It's doubtful that the late Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill (D-MA), who knew a thing or two about campaigning, would have agreed.

On CNN Newsroom today, anchor Fredricka Whitfield reported on President Barack Obama campaigning for the re-election of Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.  She had this exchange with Dan Lothian, White House correspondent for CNN:

WHITFIELD: And so, Dan, the White House thinks this is fairly risk free given that it was a fairly risky move for the president to campaign for Martha Coakley back in the day when she was pushing for the late Ted Kennedy's seat?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Risk free in this particular race right now, but you're right. Back in January, when the president made that last minute visit for Martha Coakley, it had been widely viewed she ran a lackluster campaign. The president came at the last minute to help her pull off a win.

How risky was it for Barack the Bold to hit the trail for Coakley?  A Research 2000 poll taken days before Obama's January 17th appearance had Coakley over Republican Scott Brown by a 49% to 41% margin.  Only 14 months earlier, Obama had won Massachusetts with 62% of the vote.  The last time Massachusetts voters elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate was 1972.

On the 2:00 PM segment of CNN Newsroom today, anchor Don Lemon concluded with a message for President Obama.  Prefacing his comment with the obligatory, "This isn't about Republican or Democrat. It's about being an American," Lemon got to the point:

I'm not a pollster, but here is what I hear in the barber shops, the grocery store, the gym, the gas station, hey, CNN, guy, what's up with our president, man?

What is he waiting on? What is he afraid of? Just this morning at the coffee shop, a man walked up to me and he said, Don, I didn't support President Bush's policies, but I respected his confidence to carry them out no matter what the opposition.

The same guy went on to say, the Republicans are never going to like Obama. Why does he keep trying so hard to please them? Mr. President, I don't the answer. I hope you do.

On Tuesday, Fox Chicago News anchor Bob Sirott suggested that Rick Sanchez might land at the Fox News Channel. In his "One More Thing" commentary, Sirott pointed out that most people had never heard of Sanchez until CNN fired him last week.  Still, Sanchez could bounce back:

Some believe Rick Sanchez's career is is over, but others think it's just beginning, and now that he's a nationally known hot button subject a network that likes controversial personalities will hire him. Can you say FOX News Channel?

At CNN, it's all Christine O'Donnell all the time.  News readers there seemingly can't get their fill of Delaware's Republican senatorial candidate.

Today, the American Morning program covered in each of its three hours allegations from a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint that O'Donnell misused some campaign funds.  Yet when Vice President Joe Biden was fined $219,000 in July for actual FEC infractions, not allegations, American Morning didn't devote anywhere near as much air time to the story.

It's been a challenging week for President Barack Obama.  His vacation ended.  He was forced to rebuke questioning reporters with a cutting, "We're buying shrimp, guys."  And now Reuters global editor-at-large Chrystia Freeland, accurately described recently by Media Research Center president Brent Bozell as "a deeply devoted Obama groupie," is referencing what Obama-endorsed former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) termed testicular virility.

On today's CNN Newsroom, anchor Ali Velshi suggested a second stimulus might be needed, an idea Chrystia clearly liked:

FREELAND: Well, I think you're absolutely right. I mean, look, he is a Democrat. If you talk to Democratic economists -- one of them, for example, Laura Tyson, who was a senior economist in the Clinton White House, came out with a very strong op-ed piece over the weekend saying we need a second stimulus. I think that is the consensus among Democratic thinkers right now.

And, yes, I think the president should probably have the balls to say this is what I believe in and push it. It's true, that would be publicly difficult, but this is not a moment for milquetoast measures. Things are really rough.

When former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) passed away this week, Fox Chicago News's political editor Mike Flannery described the late Ways and Means committee chairman as 'a giant of Chicago politics, remembered and beloved for negotiating legislation that helped create projects all over the state."  Rostenkowski did indeed bring home the pork.  But Flannery also writes that the congressman "was as responsible as anyone but Ronald Reagan for the 'Reagan tax cuts' of (the) early '80s."

In an accompanying video on Fox Chicago's Web site, Flannery recalls (at about 4:30) speaking to Rostenkowski and House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill (D-MA) in the first days of Reagan's presidency.  They said that Reagan had been elected and "we're going to give him what he wants.  He told us the number one thing is this tax deal and they said we're going to work with him."

Recovery summer just keeps getting better and better.  News outlets such as MSNBC.com announce "New jobless claims drop sharply."  Although the unadjusted data reflect an actual increase, the media are reporting a seasonally adjusted drop of 21,000 in jobless claims.  

This morning CNNMoney.com reports "Jobless claims slide in latest week."  The article starts:

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell last week, according to a government report released Thursday.

There were 454,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended July 3, down 21,000 from an upwardly revised 475,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said.

A problem with the story is the numbers are, according to the Department of Labor, "seasonally adjusted" with a statistical technique designed to accommodate fluctuations in the job market.  DOL's release paints a more sobering picture:

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 463,560 in the week ending July 3, an increase of 22,560 from the previous week.

Today on CNN, Rick's List host Rick Sanchez was, as he likes to say, all over and drilling down on a story of major import.  No, nothing about the dismal unemployment numbers we're seeing this recovery summer.  Despite repeated teases on the topic, he didn't get around to it.

Sanchez was all over and drilling down on the latest Mel Gibson antics, despite pushback from his audience:

SANCHEZ: Some of you are tweeting me, in fact I'm reading these as I go telling me, why are you covering the Mel Gibson story? That's not really news. I'm thinking, it's not? Mel Gibson, one of the most renowned actors, who is very politically involved, caught on tape in the past saying things about Jews and about women?

When did Mel Gibson become very politically involved?  In a 2006 Entertainment Weekly interview Gibson said, "Everyone always presumes I'm a Republican. I'm not." A check of Federal Election Commission records shows no political contributions from Mel Gibson.  Years ago, he wrote a letter endorsing a candidate in the California GOP lieutenant gubernatorial race, but even then noted: "I don't often support political candidates."

Maybe it's the sheer joy of celebrating recovery summer along with The Anointed One and Plugs Biden.  Perhaps they're just Blagoed out. Whatever the reason, most of the mainstream media failed to report something intriguing said by the usually most quotable former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  From an FBI tape recorded last November and appearing on Fox Chicago News's Web site, Blagojevich spoke of president-elect Barack Obama:

BLAGOJEVICH I thin-, you know, it's really, I get that I'm a big boy and I can handle that, but it's really f***ing galling, this guy is more Tony'd up than I am. And it's almost like they f***ing conspi-, made a concerted effort and they got the Chicago media to f***ing make me wear Rezko more. To f***ing dilute it from him.

Blago's disillusionment with Obama stemmed from a rebuff conveyed by a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) official used by the president-elect to let the Gov know of Obama's interest in Valerie Jarrett filling his Senate seat.

Today ABC News's The Blotter Web site carries the story "Blagojevich On Trial: 'Give Us The F***ing Money.'"  The article reports in part:

(Tony) Rezko is a central figure in the government's conspiracy case. His relationship with Obama was highlighted this week when Joseph Aramanda, the owner of a Chicago pizza business, took the stand to detail how Rezko arranged for him to receive a $250,000 "finder's fee" from a state teacher's pension system investment deal, and then instructed him to use the money to make a $10,000 contribution to Obama's presidential campaign. Prosecutors say that Aramanda never performed any work on the deal, and that most of the money was funneled to Rezko, who used it to pay off debts.

Aramanda may still be involved in pizza, but his primary gig now would appear to be the executive Federal position he currently holds.  As noted in a Chicago Tribune piece earlier this week:

These days Joseph Aramanda manages a U.S. Census Bureau Chicago-area office and its 1,000 employees. But it was in a different capacity that he showed up for the government Tuesday at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse — witness in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Quite a coincidence, huh?  Aramanda, testifying with an immunity deal after his $10,000 funny-money gift to The Anointed One, just happens to land a more than decent Federal job.  How'd he get it?  According to the Associated Press:

Today's Chicago Tribune reports "Ex-lawmaker waives tuition for supporter's family: Molaro OKs $94,000 despite children not meeting requirements."  It begins:

The movie "Prince of Persia" hit theaters this week.  And although it's based on a decades-old video game and set in the sixth century, reviewers across the nation have identified a very contemporary link: The Tea Party.

McClatchy Newspapers's Connie Ogle writes that Alfred Molina, in the role of Amar, "plays a sort of cross between Han Solo with dental-hygiene issues and a Tea Party supporter."  According to the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips, the character "spews anti-government and tax rhetoric straight out of a tea party rally."  The Catholic News Services's John P. McCarthy notes: "Only the anti-government chatter of a mercenary sheik named Amar (Alfred Molina) elicits a few chuckles, since it echoes the contemporary Tea Party movement."

On Fox Chicago News Friday evening, reporter Tera Williams did a piece on Chicago's gun buyback program scheduled for today.  The city gives prepaid credit cards for weapons turned in.  This year it's paying $100 for each assault weapon, $75 for guns and $10 for BB guns, air guns and replica guns.
Williams questioned several residents on the effectiveness of the program.  One man told her (at about 1:47 of the video), "It's a good way to start."  Williams replied: "Something's better than nothing, right?" while nodding her head affirmatively.