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The [Thursday] Papers

Still catching up from the long weekend, in which freedom was both celebrated and stymied. Fortunately, we got through it by using our handy BBQ Talking Points, and diverting discussions towards Freedom Museum Exhibits We'd Like To See.

1. "During his long career in public service, House Speaker Dennis Hastert has amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune through real estate holdings that belies the humble image of a former small-town high school wrestling coach," the Tribune reports on its front page today.

Gee, where do you think that image came from?

2. Hastert "declined to be interviewed" for the article, because a newspaper has no business prying into the financial affairs of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

A more satisfying response would have been answering a reporter's knock on the door of his 127-acre, $4.5 million suburban estate with narrowed eyes, a pull from an imported cigarette, and the line, "What took you so long?"

3. "A wealth of data in recent decades has shown that once personal wealth exceeds about $12,000 a year, more money produces virtually no increase in life satisfaction," the Washington Post reported on Monday.

Dennis Hastert declined to comment.

4. Would a court of law accept this signature as coming from a man of sound mind and body? It was "written" on one of his "peak" days.

5. The stink got too close to the Daleys and they bailed.

6. It's looking more and more like the Bill Beavers Retirement Plan was a bluff after all. The votes for Todd Stroger apparently are not there. What kind of encouragement is Todd getting from the 80 Democratic Party committeemen who will decide who will replace his father on the ballot? "They are not counting me out," Todd says.

Um, Todd? That means they are. Run along now.

7. James Meeks is "not 100 percent sure" Todd Stroger is the man for the job.

Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins sounds 100 percent sure he isn't.

"Collins said Stroger's legacy aside from being the board's first African-American president and a champion for public health care, will be launching his son's political career if Todd Stroger is slated and wins in November," the Tribune reported on Saturday."

(It's a testament to Todd Stroger's political career that after nine years in the state legislature and five years on the city council, it still isn't considered "launched.")

"It's quite obvious John wielded a lot of power to get elected after having a massive stroke," Collins said, "and to get his son to replace him with absolutely no knowledge of county government."

8. Eerie.

"Instead of democratic transition, China has witnessed a consolidation of authoritarian rule - the strengthening of a one-party regime through organizational learning and adaptation. Since 1989, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been pursuing a two-pronged strategy: selective repression that targets organized political opposition and co-optation of new social elites (the intelligentsia, professionals, and private entrepreneurs)."

- "Will China's Capitalist Revolution Turn Democratic?" Project Syndicate

9. In denying bond to the six Sears Tower plotters in Miami (a seventh is being held in Atlanta), U.S. District Court Judge Ted Bandstra said it was "not relevant that the plans appear to be beyond the abilities of the defendants."

Bandstra put it kindly. It appears more with each passing day that these guys needed a mental health intervention more than a government informant fueling their delusions. Every revelation by the prosecution only ends up serving the defense.

* "The leader of a group accused of plotting to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago and other buildings viewed the attacks as a prelude to the overthrow of the U.S. government and its replacement by an Islamic regime, prosecutors said at a hearing Thursday."

* "The alleged ringleader of a group of South Florida men accused of plotting to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower wanted the blast to divert law enforcement so he could free inmates from a prison to join his terrorist army, federal prosecutors said Friday.

. . .

"The picture that emerged during Friday's hearing in Miami federal court was of an ambitious but inept military-style organization whose members had illusions of grandeur and a taste of intrigue.

. . .

"According to the original indictment that led to their arrests on June 22, the group's ultimate goal was to launch an all-out ground war against the U.S. government by blowing up the Sears Tower.

"In fact, the plan was even more far-fetched."

* "The seven men who were arrested here last week on terror charges were shown Friday on undercover videotapes solemnly reciting oaths of loyalty to al-Qaeda, repeating the words that an FBI informant had given them to say," The New York Times reported on its front page on Saturday.

. . .

"Some of the [defense] lawyers criticized the new evidence presented Friday as a sign that the government had largely concocted other parts of the case and had lured the men into doing more than they would have on their own.

. . .

"The tapes, in fact, made clear the large role that the government informant had played in the case. In one tape, the informant recited what FBI agents said was an authentic Qaeda oath, while the seven men sat on a sofa and chairs in a warehouse that the FBI had wired with eavesdropping equipment. As the informant repeated the words for a second time, each defendant stood and stated his name before they all said in unison that they were committing themselves to the 'path of jihad.'"

* Sources tell a Miami Herald that the plotters are wannabes and appear to be part of just the latest overhyped terrorist case to fall apart under scrutiny.

10. "The hospital where John Stroger was initially treated following his March stroke has launched an investigation into whether Stroger's private medical records may have been illegally released. Sneed is told Rush University Medical Center is looking into the authenticity of documents obtained by Channel 5 that appeared to be Stroger's medical reports. The NBC affiliate received the reports anonymously and turned them over to the hospital for investigation."

If this is accurate - it comes from Sneed, so who knows - it's appalling. What in the world is Channel 5 doing giving these records back in order to assist an investigation into a whistleblower?

11. I've always wondered what the deal was with Brien Comerford. Now I know.

12. "Man Gets 7.5 Years In Death Of Former Time Reporter."

13. Is the mayor's political house crumbling? Fran Spielman's report Friday about the proposed ordinance regulating wages at big box retailers seems to show cracks in the mayor's foundation.

"Just because the mayor was upset about it - let's say he was adamant about it - it doesn't change my mind," Ald. Michael Zalewski said.

"Rich is a day late and a dollar short on this. That might work if the numbers were close. But there are more than 30 votes for this thing. Those people signed on to it. I don't see very many singing off. If he was really trying to stop the issue, he should have gotten involved from the beginning. He chose not to do that . . . he let it get through comittees. Now he gets into it late, and if he loses, he's going to look weaker. He's going to look real weak," an anonymous alderman said.

"In the past, aldermen were afraid that, if they failed to toe the line, HDO and other political organizations out there might flood their wards with political workers to campaign against them. That's no longer the case," another alderman said.

"Why should we even listen to him? His pearl-handled revolver is empty. He's got no bullets left," yet another anonymous alderman said.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Former Channel 5 sources welcome.


Posted on July 6, 2006

MUSIC - December In Chicago Drill.
TV - Don't Weaken Media Ownership Limits.
POLITICS - Another SRO Crisis.
SPORTS - TrackNotes: Mom.

BOOKS - How Stereo Was Sold To A Skeptical Public.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicago Footwork King's Bail Battle.

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