Friday, September 30, 2005

This Man Webb

dan webb
It is revelatory that Dan Webb, chief defense counsel for George Ryan, is planning to use as partial defense the pressuring that the feds have applied to Scott Fawell to dump a load of incriminating evidence against Ryan. Indeed, Fawell himself testified yesterday that the feds “have my head in a vise.” To hear Webb, who has the boy-lawyer look of an under-aged cabbage patch doll, scream about Patrick Fitzgerald one would imagine that pressure against such witnesses have never been applied before. Oh?

Not only has it been regular treatment for prosecutors, it was perfected by Webb’s old boss Jim Thompson and brought to a high form of art by Webb as Thompson’s willing assistant. The book “The Thompson Indictment” by Jan Bone [Public Interest Press: 1978] describes the fearsome squeeze applied by Webb to Alderman Paul Wigoda. Webb had a perfect conviction rate in 28 cases, many involving political and police corruption.
Bone: “…Webb’s cases involved flagrantly excessive use of immunized witnesses even by the Thompson office standard—more than 100 by conservative estimate; and the directly related deduction that this promiscuous use of highly questionable legal tool could not help but relieve Webb of at least some of the prosecutor’s rightful burden or proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

I think what gets me is the horror that defense attorneys reserve against prosecutors when earlier these same defense attorneys have utilized the same weapon. This reflects the common idea that courtroom law practice is at bottom a game.

This is the same Webb who was appointed U.S. Attorney by Ronald Reagan, who used it to gain fame--and, after leaving federal employ, a munificent life as a highly paid lawyer, all attributable to his appointment by Reagan, Webb later volunteered while in private practice to be a special prosecuting counsel on Iran Contra, and who delightedly cross-examined ex-president Reagan when he was coming down with Alzheimer’s, applying hot light tactics which caused a jury to gasp and who basked in the favor of the liberal media for his work in humiliating the nation’s 40th president.. Which is why, were he to unaccountably fall into the shark tank at the Shedd Aquarium, Webb would emerge unscathed due to the sharks’ professional courtesy for one of their profession.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Andy Greeley: How Great Thou Aren’t

a greeley
How fortunate we are to have a columnist like Father Andrew Greeley. One who fills us with spiritual reflections every Friday. Like, when the Cardinals were in conclave to elect a Pope, one who ridiculed the notion that the Holy Spirit would guide their deliberation, pointing out that in the Church's history, some men of questionable morals had occupied the papacy. Andy can be forgiven his ignorance since his preoccupation has been with the goal of achieving fame along with making money based on the linkage of his clerical collar with soft porn, but the tie-in with the Holy Spirit (if he had been paying attention in seminary rather than day-dreaming of his Democratic party) is that no matter what earthen vessel occupies the papacy (and I mean there have been some real earthen vessels) no Pope has propagated error on doctrinal faith or morals. That is the extent of the linkage with the Holy Spirit. It is unclear whether he knew it and tried to mislead in his column or didn’t know it. I give him the benefit of the doubt and say the latter. Theology—even layman’s theology—isn’t his game, as he proved some years ago at the City Club of Chicago.

Then, as president, I sought to organize a debate on whither goes the Church post-Vatican II. I signed up Andy to take the supposed progressive position using his connection with my cousin who had been his classmate at Mundelein. Several respected traditionalists Andy vetoed. We finally agreed on a layman, Dr. James Hitchcock of Saint Louis University, an historian. Hitchcock would be on foreign ground and Andy said he was ripe for the debate. I offered Andy some free tickets to bring his supporters; with intellectual disdain he refused them. The crowd should have been Andy’s since he was a Chicagoan; Hitchcock wasn’t known here. But the debate centered on theology and soon it was clear that it was Andy who was at a disadvantage. Hitchcock not only mopped the floor with him, he calmly pounded his illogic, corrected his fallacies, educated him on the origination of church dogma and with gentle reproof sent him back to his John Hancock suite chastened. Since then Andy has declined to appear in public with anyone with whom he disagrees.

Reading Andy’s stuff over the years makes plain he has three absolutes. First is the Democratic party. He has told his friends that he has never voted Republican in his life. Not once. He is like a dead fly in amber: a vestige of the immigrant class when Irishmen were Democrats by blood inheritance. You seldom see Andy write about abortion: that’s because his party has embraced abortion and he regards it unproductive to talk about. The only time recently he brought it up was to link it to a host of other non-related issues: environment, the war in Iraq, the death penalty so that by vote of 3 to 1 the Democratic party could call itself pro-life. After Bill Clinton got in, Andy was sporting a golden saxophone on his black clerical lapel, meaning that he gave the max to his president. That golden saxophone was to notify all that where Clinton disagreed with the Church’s teaching on abortion, you know where Andy stood.

But these absolutes would go topsy turvy had Andy made bishop—or archbishop or Cardinal. You think he’d be a dissenter Cardinal? You kidding? ; As the Daley family chaplain, he knows where the power is in a group. He’d be linked arms with the Curia. He had a chance to go upward with the man they called the Dutchman, Albert Cardinal Meyer, who was entranced with Andy and set him aside as a scholar, presumably a comer. But Meyer died young and John Cardinal Cody came to Chicago. Cody wanted Andy to go to work. That’s when through a mischievous combination of waspish strategy, Cody ran into trouble with an army of liberal priests, then the media. They upturned the old dogma of corporation sole and found that Cody was friendly with an elderly woman step-cousin. The most vile whisperings when around, fueled by the press, until the papers printed her picture: a frail, white haired old lady with deep Irish eyes. But it was very late and the old cardinal was goaded to his death by a charge that was patently untrue. Tied with the first absolute is vindictiveness.

The second absolute: Irishness. Recently he resurrected the old Irish complaint about the English in the 19th century. With an Irish mother myself, I remember those old tales from the `30s. They’re gone now, except for people like Andy. The third absolute: the Church but he boils down its dogma to modishly liberal dissent. Some gentle folk, noting Andy’s disagreements with the Church on its major points (birth control, papal primacy, bishop collegiality, the role of the Holy Spirit on doctrinal infallibility, women priests ) wondered in the past if Andy would skip out and become a layman. I told them: are you kidding? Nothing would take this guy from the clergy: he trades on it as a self-publicized dissenter. You don’t see him pictured on his book jackets with collar and tie ala Fr. Richard McBrien of Notre Dame or Fr. Hans Kung, do you? They’re liberals and dissident theologians who are at least willing to shuck clerical garb so their views are not confused with church teaching. They’re honest in that regard. What sells Andy’s tantalizingly neo-porn novels is not his ideas (they are yawningly libertine); it’s his identity as a priest to write something outrageous.

The dissidents in the Church are all about the same age: Andy’s. They were ordained in the `50s when progressivism in the liturgy began to move into the church. Since then, the excesses had been seen as the frauds they are and the new generation has swung back to orthodoxy. Not Andy who is as charmingly untheological in his prattle for women priests as the Dutch catechism that made the rounds in the `60s. . And when in his old age he starts to wheeze, Andy will be surrounded at his bedside with all the trappings of the hated traditionalism: incense burners and pious women saying their rosaries. For once I’ll be with him for, being the same age as Andy, I want the same end to come to me as well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Hamlet of Charleston

There’s something mischievous, wanton, immature and undignified about a former governor who so loves the limelight after having been gone from it for years that he takes months to decide whether or not he will run again. We’re all supposed to say, “Please, Jim, please.” Well, count me out of that dreary old game. The Illinois Republican Party has a bumper crop of excellent candidates: a policy wonk state senator, a brilliant entrepreneur and market analyst, a tough prosecutor and another state senator from downstate who has an admirable combination of policy expertise and sunny Reagan-like personality. (I discount one wealthy aloof candidate who has made not a dent in the polls despite lavish self-funding and an unannounced female candidate who, as state treasurer, tried to settle a state’s debt on terms exceedingly favorable to Bill Cellini.) To these we are expected to say, hold on while we recycle one who gave us a permanent tax hike, a minor scandal and has an earlier past of secretary of state tenure that is ready for negative research?

The best that can happen is that when Jim Edgar finally says, “Yes, I’m ready!” have party leaders say, “Well, we’re not!” and continue about their business, allowing their party to nominate someone else. After a few weeks as a candidate, Edgar’ll drop scores of popularity points in the polls. You heard it here first.

Monday, September 26, 2005

If Edgar Runs, Who Will be Standing?

As I canvass around nothing has changed my opinion that if Jim Edgar runs for governor, the field will be cleared in the GOP except for Jim Oberweis. If that’s the case, Oberweis can easily make a name for himself by knocking off this liberal ex-gov. I would have said Oberweis could be the giant killer except that someone else used that moniker earlier and it didn’t work: Jack Roeser (no relation) who ran against Edgar as Jack the Giant Killer.

Political Shootout Next Sunday

Next Sunday (Oct. 2) on Political Shootout guests will be Joe Birkett, DuPage County state’s attorney and a Republican candidate for governor, and Mike Noonan, Democratic strategist. Mike ran the successful Lisa Madigan campaign for attorney general against Joe so the show will probably be hot enough to be worthy of its name.

Last night’s show was excellent, with State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) and Becky Carroll, spokesperson for Gov. Blagojevich’s Office of Budget and Management. Brady was superb and let me say Carroll kept right up with him. Highly articulate and thoroughly knowledgeable about state government, she is a true winner for the Blago administration (which ought to use her more in a public response: my unsolicited opinion). Bill Brady showed real courage by standing up for his vote in behalf of supporting the kids of aliens who were born here to go to the U of I. That and refusing to demagogue for the removal of Bob Kjellander (which I once favored but since have changed my mind), a meaningless gesture which is getting kinda old.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

If Something Happens to Blago, What Happens?

With U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald giving everybody the heebee-jeebies—and with him breathing down the neck of Gov. Rod Blagojevich—obviously political analysts are, in their private moments, ruminating as to what happens if something untoward happens to Blago. An initial reaction—that Attorney General Lisa Madigan would be eager to run for governor—has been weighed, evaluated and reckoned right-on, by some. Others, however, pose another scenario.

Those who look at things from Lisa’s own point of view say that she is not interested in running for governor—but for the U.S. Senate. To the obvious suggestion that the Senate post is filled by Sen. Dick Durbin, the response is that the senior senator is rather hapless right now. Given that the Gitmo speech was a horrendous mistake, they say that Durbin may well be convinced that his reelection would be in grave jeopardy in 2008. The obvious catastrophic mistake can be calibrated by the number of ghastly TV commercials that can be made by his opponent: the initial Gitmo talk that compares the American handling of detainees to tactics used by the Nazi and Pol Pot…the commercial showing Mayor Daley assailing Durbin’s remarks as an outrage…and the almost tearful Durbin apologizing on the floor of the Senate. Indeed, since Durbin’s talk can be presented as anti-patriotic, no matter what the temper of the electorate will be about Iraq in three years, he will be at a gross disadvantage.

The argument runs that Durbin may well have decided to pack it in and make some real money in 2008 when he will be 64. Some of her backers see Attorney General Madigan in that legislative role. Indeed, she would be a very formidable candidate. But this doesn’t answer the question: what happens if something happens to Blago? The regular Democratic party may well pick State Comptroller Dan Hynes, who is eager to become governor. But Hynes is not exactly the most electric presence on the block. Don’t overrule the Lieutenant Governor Patrick Quinn getting into the race. He will have nowhere to go and most Republicans (and many Democrats) feel he is a natural demagogue in the tradition of Ralph Nader, Huey Long and Floyd B. Olson. (Olson? Huh?)

For Republicans, running against Blago is to be heavily preferred to running against Hynes. But Hynes could be overcome. What is really scary for many GOPers is the prospect of running against Quinn. Quinn is a populist who can merchandise a campaign on very little money but with a sagacious sense of publicity. Saying he is shrewd on the stump doesn’t convey it very well. Somehow everybody who runs against Quinn seems to come out looking like a bad guy. True, he has many enemies in the Democratic party but has a knack for the grassroots that is truly phenomenal. That’s why Republicans are praying that Blago watches both ways before he crosses the street.

(Oh yes, about Floyd B. Olson. In the 1930s he was the gesticulating Farmer-Labor party governor of Minnesota with a mane of yellow hair who could sow discontent with the system even at a luncheon of multi-millionaires. Far more palatable than Long who was a disreputable sweaty prototype of Boss Hog, Olson was dissatisfied with FDR’s [to him] moderate ways and preparing to run against him in 1936 sweepstakes when he was struck down with cancer. Listening to his early recordings makes one feel that in contrast FDR was a tongue-tied boy).

Saturday, September 24, 2005

See Rahm Run

I cannot tell you how saddened I was to see the name of the inestimable Rep. Rahm Emanuel, congressman, multi-millionaire and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) listed in a plea bargain signed by one Gerald Weslowski, a second-rung employee of the Water Management Department. I hope it will not impede a political career which has been going swimmingly with the body greased for fast action in cutting through the waves.

To all of us who knew Rahm in his early formative years, when he was busily salving himself up for speed in Mayor Daley’s party, tossing competitors aside, his acceleration to his current lofty height has been edifying. We knew it had to do only with his wish to participate in public service as the slim former ballet dancer (decidedly un-gay) nuzzled us in friendship as he manuevered upward in the style of Sammy Glick, the anti-hero of Budd Schulberg’s classic novel, “What Makes Sammy Run?” the decidedly amoral operative who, unburdened by talent, hits the big time in Hollywood. Rahm was a tightly coiled spring of hunger and ambition in the early 1980s, working on fund-raising commission who wanted oh so desperately to become known, telling me candidly he was powerfully adept at raising what he called “Jewish money.” I replied I am neither Jewish nor moneyed but he looked at me with moist eyes and said it was true but I would do. I had been introduced to him by Mark Hornung, then editorial page editor of the Sun-Times as Hornung’s close friend. Later when Hornung needed a friend (he’s always had one in me) he was abandoned curtly by Sir Rahm—as we all were when he went to the White House and had no further use to him.

Well do I remember him from the days in which a few of us appeared on Bruce DuMont’s popular Thursday night WBEZ radio program “Inside Politics.” Rahm would call me at Quaker Oats beginning on the Monday of the week the program aired: “Can you get me on the air, Tommeee?” I would say that I would see what I could do but that Bruce made the final determination. On the few times Rahm would be a guest there would be callers on the line saying they admired him. On one notable occasion, he urged the Democratic party to become more moderate, more centrist stating with candor, “the only way I’m going to get to the White House is by wearing a tux and serving drinks.” Then suddenly he disappeared from Chicago, taking a job in Little Rock, Arkansas to work for the governor there. We knew we had seen the last of him since we didn’t have the national media exposure he desired—but it was fascinating to read about him as he twirled and danced through the chairs, moving from fund-raiser to political adviser with an office next to Stephenapoulis and then next to that of His Eminence William Jefferson Clinton’s itself.

One by one they left Clinton in the second term but Rahm stayed true, the common butt of every critic during the Lewinsky years. The entire cabinet expressed its scorn of Clinton as did Vice President Gore but Rahm stayed on message, his stomach never turning as news of the stained blue dress came out. He did TV stand ups in defense of his chief and would not allow independence of thought to get in his way. And at the end, he had made a fasts friend of Bob Rubin, the multi-millionaire treasury secretary at whose knee Rahm learned how to be an investment banker. In his very first effort lo! he showed all his critics who thought he was not a man of depth and made several millions. Then he ran for Congress in the district vacated by Rod Blagojevich where his Democratic opponent was a very resourceful woman candidate. Rahm’s loyalty to the Daley cause came into play here and he needed help in foot soldiers in that urban district.

It was touch and go with the Sun-Times’ Steve Neal describing Rahm uncharitably as so slippery that were he to lose his footing on the way up to the speaker’s rostrum he would slide to his place. Then, fortuitously, an over-age Polish Democrat described him in a way that Rahm utilized as an anti-Semitic slur. Skillfully Rahm cycled it, recycled it, won the Democratic primary and went on to the Congress. There it was quick work to re-tune his fund-raising list, land on Ways and Means and armed with a trust rolodex become chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Never let it be said that there is no gratitude in his soul for with Daley under attack, Rahm Emanuel went to the City Club of Chicago to say that his chief was too busy with governmental duties to even recognize that others had mis-used patronage to serve vile partisan ends.

Alexander the Great wept because at age 40 he had no more worlds to conquer. Not so with Rahm who became an expert on the economy. Now there is a brief blip. The plea filing of Weslowski says that regularly his colleagues in the Water Department were earning taxpayer’s salaries while handing out literature and “going door-to-door …on behalf of certain political campaigns and candidates, the selection of which was determined by cityi officials and communicated to [Donald] Tomczak [the second in command of the department].” Indeed, “once a particular campaign was communicated to Tomczak, Tomczak typuically called a meeting of the defendant and other department employees to notify them of the particular political campaign they would be supporting and to discuss the intended work plan.

“These coordinated meetings, which typically lasted approximately one hour or less occurred on city premises during the normal business day and typically involved 5 to 10 Department employees. Following the meetings, defendant was aware that Tomczak’s political coordinators, who were Department employees, contacted individual Department employees to obtain `volunteers’ for the field activities. On behalf of Tomczak, defendant participated in certain field activities with Department employees on behalf of the campaigns affiliated with Jeff Tomczak [Republican States Attorney in Will county], judicial candidate Amy Bertani, United States congressional candidate Rahm Emanuel and others.”

When asked about his great help from Daley’s Water Management Department, Rahm widened his eyes with surprise and gasped that he had had no idea of such assistance. These things elude a man so interested was he in serving the commonweal.

Father Mac

Those of you who know me well understand that for years I was a biographer, chronicler and disciple of Father Ignatius McDermott who died at age 95 on New Years’ Eve 2004. Starting as a spiritual and physical care-giver to the down-and-out on Chicago’s skid row, he hit his stride at age 80 (which means I have at least three years to go) as the institution he founded, Haymarket Center, became a world-wide known haven for those afflicted with addiction. Thanks to him, the poor can receive treatment every bit as good as those given to millionaires at the Betty Ford clinic. This is by way of informing you that the annual dinner dance at which he presided will be held without him but nevertheless with his presence ever-luminescent on the evening of Tuesday, October 4 at Drury Lane Oak Brook, the dinner to begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $50, in line with his wish that it not be priced out of the reach of ordinary folk. For reservations call Ray Soucek, Haymarket president, at (312) 226-7984 extension 387 and tell him Tom asked you to call.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Real Story of the Gipper

george gipp
This is the second—and last—installment on the revisionist history of Notre Dame from the book “Shake Down the Thunder: The Story of Notre Dame Football” by Murray Sperber, an Indiana State English prof who accidentally discovered a ton of research in a basement at Notre Dame—producing a book that, while ignored, gives a new perspective on Knute Rockne and Notre Dame football.

All of us think we remember George Gipp but that’s because we remember the man who played him and went on to political immortality, Ronald Reagan. Reagan played Gipp the way Mrs. Rockne wanted him to be played, as a “gosh, gee whiz” kind of kid. After studying the university records, Sperber comes up with quite another profile. Born in the rough mining town on Michigan’s Upper Penilnsula, Gipp was discovered by Jess Harper, Rockne’s predecessor who offered him a baseball scholarship—a job at Notre Dame to pay his way. Gipp didn’t have enough high school credits so he had to make up the deficit during his first year and at summer school. Gipp was 21 years old when he arrived on campus. He found out that his job as a waiter in Brownson Hall wouldn’t cover the full amount of the tuition so he embarked on what his fellow students called his “own private job plan.” He earned money by shooting pool and cards with pool and card sharks in downtown South Bend. He was so skillful a gambler, he quit his job waiting on tables after one semester and moved out of the dormitory into a room, then a suite of rooms at the Oliver, South Bend’s best hotel.

Rockne’s almost full-time job was to protect Gipp’s secret life from the priests at Notre Dame and the media (which wanted to believe he was a clean-cut kid). But Gipp showed very little proclivity in academics, his transcript showing that for two of his first four school years he received no grades whatsoever (Gipp died in his fifth year). As a sophomore, he arrived on campus late—Oct. 14—missing the first two football games. Although he played varsity football, his transcript for the 1918-19 academic year is blank. While he was an overage warrior and a non-student card and billiard shark at that, Gipp was probably (for those who saw him play including Father Ignatius McDermott) the greatest college player of his time. But the priests caught up with him and he was expelled from Notre Dame in 1920.

By that time he was a national phenomenon and Army’s head football coach at West Point, Douglas MacArthur—yes the same Douglas MacArthur who would be a five-star general later—sought to get Gipp. Gipp disdained the military life, else he would probably have become an Army star and, who knows, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff one day. Rockne manuevered to get Gipp re-admitted all the while Gipp lived at the Oliver in comparative luxury. According to Sperber, Gipp did not confine himself to games of chance with cards and pool but bet on his team and on his own game performances.

Gipp’s fame ultimately came from dying at the height of his game. How did he die? Supposedly from pneumonia during the great flu epidemic. That’s correct so far as it goes but Sperber discovered documents from one Grover Malone, a Notre Dame player with Gipp who offered eyewitness info. “[A]fter the Indiana game in 1920,” Sperber writes, “Gipp visited him in Chicago and they went `on a rip-roaring three-day drunk’ When Malone finally put his friend on the train for South Bend, he noticed that he was coughing. By the following Sunday in Evanston, Gipp’s cough was much worse and Rockne kept him out of most of the Northwestern game.” Gipp’s fatal illness was a combination of strep throat, pneumonia and infected tonsils.

A romantic story has Gipp, born a Protestant,converting to Catholicism on his death bed (indeed one of the most famous lines in film has Reagan saying, “win one for the Gipper.” A Notre Dame priest gave him conditional baptism and absolution as the player was semi-conscious. Later Gipp’s sister, writing to his fiancee, said, “we could denhy it openly” (meaning his conversion) but that would hurt his pals at Notre Dame. She said Gipp would say, “oh, let them [Notre Dame] go ahead with it. It makes no difference to me.” But in 1930 when Rockne wrote his autobiography which spelled out his own conversion to Catholicism, he saluted Gipp’s “embrace of the faith.” Although Gipp’s mother, a hard-line Protestant disputed the story, Rockne’s autobio gave the legend wings.

Rockne himself never lived easily under the same roof as the Notre Dame priests. They were always accusing him of trying to short-change the university with side-deals to make money. He signed up as a radio spokesman for Studebaker, the car company headquartered in South Bend; he put on football seminars all for extra cash. On the other hand, Notre Dame had nothing to kick about—Rockne brought it fame.

Like Gipp, Rockne met death in a romantic way, in an airplane flying to California which developed ice on its wings and crashed in western Kansas. Rockne was flying to Hollywood in response to a $50,000 offer to make a film on football—and he really didn’t fill in Notre Dame on the deal. The legend followed him in death, particularly the story that when his body was found in the crash, his hand was gripping a rosary. But his old friend, Dr. Michael Nigro,. a Notre Dame grad, prepared the body from crash site to burial and never mentioned this. Nevertheless the legend has never died. In Chicago the funeral party met the cortege at the Dearborn street station and transferred it to the LaSalle street station, fighting a crowd of 10,000 qwhich wept when the train left for South Bend. With salutes from President Herbert Hoover and the King of Norway and the emotion-laden tributes of thousands of newsmen including Will Rogers who called him “a national hero,” Rockne and the image of Notre Dame soared never to be forgotten. And no revisionist history will ever change it.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Shake Down the Thunder

touchdown jesus
Got time for a story that isn’t politics?

Well, maybe it is, sort-of. Notre Dame University has just picked a new president. It reminds me of a time long, long ago in the 1930s when in my highly WASP Chicago neighborhood to be a Catholic was definitely politically incorrect. Catholics then identified with three activities:
(a) pasting your ear to the radio on Sunday afternoon to hear Father Charles E. Coughlin broadcasting on station WXYZ Detroit (I was too young to understand what he was talking about but was thrilled because he antagonized the Protestant kids in my neighborhood),

(b) ruminating about Al Smith, the only Catholic to run for president who was defeated in a landslide by Herbert Hoover and

(c) listening to the fortunes from a cow college in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame was built up as a tiny college which was showing the big universities how to play football—with a purported heroic coach, Knute Rockne.

Well, things have changed. Catholics got their president in 1960 (JFK was not all that great) and have the same chance of being nominated as anyone else. Father Coughlin, while silenced by the Church, is recognized as rather strange (with much of his philosophy articulated by Pat Buchanan and his group which is definitely a minority in the Republican party) and Notre Dame has become a kind of modernist mother house of Catholicism. But still the yen for the golden dome persists.

The legend is so strong that even a well-researched book on ND football which punctures the myths is ignored. I discovered it some time ago. Let me give you the highlights of “Shake Down the Thunder: The Story of Notre Dame Football” by a professor of English at Indiana State, Murray Sperber [Henry Holt: 1996]. Sperber visited the campus and told authorities he wanted to write about ND football. They sent him to the archives and in a basement he uncovered box after box of dusty correspondence to and from Rockne. The correspondence was explosive. It didn’t dent the reputation of ND very much nor Rockne but cast it in a realistic manner. Sperber wrote it up. The book has languished. But to me it fills in great gaps.

Founded by a small French religious order, the Congregation of the Holy Cross (of which Holy Cross university is not a part), in 1841 it was a sleepy traditionalist Catholic school in a backwater town throughout the 19th century. The priests chose boxing as the manly sport then, followed by baseball. In 1899 they thought they’d try football and sent a team to Chicago to play Englewood high here. Their teams got progressively better. By 1902 or so the Holy Cross fathers were sending the team across the country to play other colleges in order to raise money . By 1909 they beat Army. And it was not a fluke. By 1912 they were winning regularly and began to capture the headlines with a Michigan State victory.

What helped galvanize the spirit of Notre Dame was discrimination. A forerunner of the NCAA, the IAA, rejected Notre Dame for membership expressly because it was Catholic. The good fathers used the ostracism to get the team to play harder. The fervent discrimination against Notre Dame was played up by Ring Lardner, then a sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune. Catholics started to follow the team and want to send their kids there. Joe Gargan, a cousin of Joseph P. Kennedy went, although old man Kennedy was not swayed by sentiment and sent his own kids to Ivy League Harvard.

The most important thing to know about Notre Dame is this:

Everything you have heard about it is wrong. The N.D.-Rockne legend was polished to a high gloss by Bonnie Rockne, the coach’s widow who did the biography and owned title to the script that Warner Brothers did, “Knute Rockne—All American.” Warner Brothers had to conform to the little old lady’s specifications. She had to approve the case. She approved Pat O’Brien as Rockne, after having been serenaded by O’Brien who pointed out that as a Marquette University athlete he played against Rockne’s team. And she lingered a long time before picking Ronald Reagan to play George Gipp. At a meeting I had with Reagan in 1979, a year before he ran for president, Reagan told me he made countless trips to woo her approval. Everything in him wanted to play the Gipper. She finally approved. So much for the largely fictitious Rockne-Notre Dame legend.

First, disabuse yourself that Notre Dame football greatness began with Rockne [1888-1931]. It began earlier with a head coach predecessor, Jesse Harper who put together brilliant teams, including one captained by Rockne, a Norwegian immigrant who was reared in Logan Square. Second, forget the fable that Rockne was such a brilliant chemist and potential budding scientist that he had to conduct a séance with himself in order to decide whether he should stay with science and become a physicist or be a football coach. Rockne major in pharmacy and graduated magna cum laude in 1914 but he was just that, a pharmacist. Third, discard the notion that no corners were ever cut by Rockne. In college, he picked up extra funds to help pay for tuition by paying for pay in semipro and professional games, a no-no with the IAA. In that wild and woolly era most good college athletes did the same thing.

Fourth, Rockne did not rocket to the top of coaching overnight. After graduation, he was hired as an assistant by Harper primarily as a track coach and assistant football coach. The priests made him teach chemistry in the prep school because they felt otherwise he would not have enough to do. Rockne got his first break when Harper resigned, to take over a family ranch in Montana. Rockne got $3,500 in salary, $1,500 less than Harper had earned. Harper had spotted George Gipp and recruited him. Fifth, the NCAA insisted that college athletes not be paid. Rockne got around this by devising “athletic scholarships”—free tuition and board (as did a lot of other coaches). Sixth, Rockne never did refer to the team as “the Fighting Irish”; the appellation was conferred by a student publicist, Arch Ward (later to become sports editor of the Tribune).

Seventh, Rockne did not invent the forward pass. That was done years earlier by the coach of St. Louis University. Eighth, you heard that Rockne was a publicist’s dream. Yes but that was because he was his own publicist. He may well have pioneered the knack of hiring .poorly-paid sports reporters to referee games for pay during the Depression, arguing that if they want to earn a few bucks ref-ing they must write about Notre Dame during the week. The idea took off immediately. Walter Eckersall, Chicago Trib sports writer who invented the All American team was a Rockne employee as a referee. A letter from Ekersall to Rockne asks Rockne for suggestions for All American candidates from Notre Dame.

Favorable press comment plus superb coaching by Rockne and a fast-rising backlash among the nation’s Catholics for outward discrimination made Notre Dame and Rockne the Irish heroes. Example: One of the best fashioners of sports prose was the New York Herald Tribune’s Grantland Rice. He was the first sportswriter to earn a six figure income. Not as a sportswriter: that’s not what I said—the first sportswriter to earn a six figure income. Sitting in the press box during a game with Army, Rice was dawdling at his typewriter, looking for a theme. The student publicist, George Strickler, told the reporters in the box that he had just seen the movie “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” with Rudolph Valentino. Nobody cared. Then Rice asked the kid., “what’s it about?”

“You know,” said Strickler. “The Bible. About the Four Horsemen.”

Rice was not conversant with the Bible so Strickler game him and the others a brief tutorial on the Four Horsemen. Notre Dame beat Army that day but not by all that much. However, Rice had his theme. His story blasted off the sports page and onto the front page of the New York Herald Tribune, then one of the preeminent newspapers of the day. The story began like this:
“Outlined against a blue, gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher,Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.”

With that story, Notre Dame became immortalized in U.S. sports history.

Now we get to George Gipp. But let that be for the next installment Friday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Would Edgar’s Entry Be a Blessing to Oberweis?

The best thing that happened to dairy mogul Jim Oberweis since the invention of butter brickle may well be the entry of Jim Edgar, the pro-abort, pro-gay rights liberal into the Republican governorship race, some Oberweis strategists say. Some competing Republicans may drop out in deference to Edgar, but Oberweis makes it plain that he will stay in and give the party a choice between the Old Guard Thompson-Edgar-Ryan hybrid which enabled the state to bypass the Reagan revolution. As the Oberweis people see it, far from being a slam-dunk for the Old Guard, the electorate would have a clean-cut choice between an ex-Governor who made permanent a tax hike and a new-style supply side conservative who believes in cutting taxes and spending.

There’s little doubt that a few of the other so-called conservatives would melt away if Edgar got into the race. None are saying this flat out but indications may well be that State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger may drop along with Joe Birkett. Rauchenberger has been mentioned, albeit without his concurrence, as a possible running-mate for Edgar. Birkett’s people seem to believe that their fund-raising has been on hold while the Hamlet of Charleston, Ill. dawdles in making up his mind. Let’s say that Edgar is not exactly a decisive type. He’s been teasing the GOP for months about his indications although now it seems more likely than not that he will run. He is said to be entranced with the fact that key Democrats have approached him with funding offers to go against Blagojevich.

Illinois’ powerful “mainstream press” which has canonized every liberal since John Peter Altgeld (the same group that has praised Dick Ogilvie, magnetic as a lead nail for giving the state the income tax, and who certified the late Paul Simon as an intellectual when as a non-lawyer member of the Senate Judiciary committee he advised Supreme Court nominee David Souter to visit an Indian reservation in order to prepare himself for the High Court) believes early polls which show Edgar leading Gov. Blagojevich. The mainstreamers have a fall-back position if Edgar declines: State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka who plays her accordion at gay rights rallies. But this two-pack a day girl could be out of breath early and her flirtation with Bill Cellini would be a drawback. Oberweis strategists reason that once Edgar gets in the field, it will show the disparity between his aspiration and equipment and he will be lagging badly in the primary.

Now the Oberweis people could be wrong—but something tells me that they have it pegged right. At any rate, they’re praying for a Jim Edgar return to the lists as the mainstream media-sponsored savior. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Guests on “Political Shootout”: WLS Sunday

Appearing on my "Political Shootout" program Sunday on WLS (8-9 p.m.) will be State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), who was just endorsed for governor by the Conservative Summit and Becky Carroll, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Management and Budget.

They’ll tackle everything from Gov. Blagojevich’s state programs to the charges Jim Oberweis’ grassroots coordinator Jim Leahy made about Brady’s voting record.

Did Roberts Fudge with Specter?

National Review Online has an article by Edward Whelan which says that John Roberts applied a good deal of deft linguistic judo in dealing with Sen. Arlen Specter at his confirmation hearing. Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D. C. said that Roberts out-foxed Specter in response to the Senator’s question as to what it would take to overrule Roe v. Wade. Specter suggested that the stare decisis would have to be super in order to be overrule. Roberts confirmed it but added also that there would be two successive hurdles to overcome. First there would be Planned Parenthood v. Casey on whether or not to re-visit Roe and then the precedent in Roe, modified by Casey, on what abortion regulations are allowable as well as the standard of review to be applied to them. “Roberts’ phrasing cleverly obscured the point that it is far easier to go over two hurdles in succession than over a wall that is the height of the two hurdles combined.”

All right if you say so, Whelan. But as for me, I’d sure prefer a jurist giving flat-out answers. Yeah-yeah, I know Bork did and didn’t get confirmed but I hope the pro-life strength in the Senate gets to the point someday that people up for confirmation to lifetime appointments can say what they mean flatly without playing games. Often when our guys tell us with a wink and nod that they’re playing games, we learn the games have been played on us.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Immigration Looms As Big Issue in GOP Governor’s Contest

The smashing victory of State Sen. Bill Brady as the Conservative Summit endorsee has led some supporters of Jim Oberweis who placed second to play the I-Card issue against the young Bloomington legislator.

Jim Leahy, grassroots coordinator for Oberweis and executive director of the Republican Assembly of Illinois spoke out with great passion on my WLS radio show last night and has been calling other radio talk shows to point out that Brady was a co-sponsor (for three days until he took his name off) of SB-1623 the Matricula Consular legislation which was signed into law by Gov. Blagojevich. That legislation, sponsored by a number of Democrats including Senate President Emil Jones, allows Hispanic aliens to use the card as a valid identification to get loans and obtain other benefits . Leahy seemed to indicate that Brady had second thoughts about co-sponsorship of the bill but nevertheless voted for it.

Thus does immigration—the I Card issue—become the first skirmishing issue between Oberweis, a staunch foe of illegal immigration, and Brady who generally is seen to reflect a more moderate view of the issue. Oberweis has long trumpeted a get-tough stand on illegal immigration and has been getting enthusiastic support on the issue from grassroots conservatives. A random check of calls on most conservative-oriented local talk shows seems to validate the Oberweis campaign assessment that it is a strong issue indeed for any candidate who applies it. Oberweis himself is quick to say that his use of the issue in a television commercial two years ago when he ran for the U. S. Senate was unfortunate, magnifying the issue to a point where it appears to be a racist-tinged assault on all immigration which is not what Oberweis had in mind. Oberweis was in support of a so-called CLEAR bill which would restrict illegal immigration. The commercial, which featured a helicopter flying over Soldier Field seemed to portray the view that the state was being inundated with illegals.

The Brady-Oberweis battle seems to take center stage and leaves other Republican candidates seemingly in the dust. The issue presents a somewhat ticklish question for Brady and Oberweis, two Roman Catholics. While church social policy is by no means as dogmatic on illegal immigration as it is on abortion, there is no question that most U.S. Catholic bishops are somewhat malleable on immigration, for many reasons having to do with traditional views toward open immigration. The fact that most Hispanics are Roman Catholic has not been overlooked by most bishops.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

What's RSS?


RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication", which is a format for distributing and sharing web content. offers a variety of FREE RSS feeds that include headlines, summaries and links back to the full articles on

What do I need to use RSS?

You will need a news reader also known as an aggregator, which displays RSS content feeds for you to use and read.

If you do a search for "rss readers", "rss newreaders" or "rss aggregator" with any internet search engine, you will have a number of options from which to choose.

Here are some links to several popular news readers:

  • NetNewsWire (Mac)
  • BottomFeeder (Mac)
  • Amphetadesk (Mac)
  • SharpReader (Win)
  • FeedDemon (Win)
  • FeedReader (Win)

    Once you've obtained a new reader, you can subscribe to one of our feeds by simply adding the url to the feed.

    How do I know if a site has RSS?

    Many sites, including, display a small orange icon with the acronym RSS or XML to alert you a feed is available. Below is a link to feeds.

    Tom Roeser Free Content Full Feed
  • Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Conservative Summit Wowed by Brady

    brady hs
    State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) cut through his opponents’ strength like a hot knife through butter and won the Conservative Summit approval for governor easily today, triumphing over one who has been purportedly the right-wing’s sentimental favorite, Jim Oberweis.

    The day-long meeting at the Inverness country club in Mundelein was the most thoughtful session conservatives put in since 1996 when they endorsed then State Rep. Al Salvi, who today as a wealthy personal injury attorney hosted the session (and who took no part in discussion over the candidates). The day began with a presentation by Brady which, even his supporters acknowledged, wasn’t his best. But the tall youthful candidate’s JFK handsomeness, his ability to conduct a conversation with the group rather than lecture them, his 12,000-watt smile and his stunning self-confidence plus his thorough espousal of conservative social and economic issues, easily convinced the group. Attending the conference were leaders of key coalition groups that form the conservative base: right-to-lifers, gun rights enthusiasts and libertarians, a cross section of the right-wing base. The initial tally by secret ballot read Brady 19, Oberweis 10, Rauschenberger 6 and Birkett 1. Because Joseph Morris, a co-convener, said the rules required 2/3rds support for endorsement, a second ballot was taken giving Brady 22, enough for endorsement. Then the group cast a voice vote in support of a unified ticket, endorsing Brady for governor, Joe Birkett,, Du Page states’ attorney, for attorney general, Jim Oberweis, Aurora dairy owner and stock analyst for secretary of state and State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger for either treasurer or comptroller.

    Speaking to the group were, in addition to Brady, Oberweis, Rauschenberger, and Birkett. Former governor Jim Edgar, Charleston, was invited but declined, sending a letter that explained he has not yet made up his mind to run. Chicago businessman and philanthropist Ron Gidwitz and State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka were not invited since their views on social policy are not consonant with the conservatives.’ The battle, clearly, was between Brady and Oberweis and in a sometimes heated debate, advocates for all the candidates weighed in.

    A key argument for Brady centered on Brady’s Irish Catholicism as a key factor in wooing residual Reagan Democrats from the south suburbs of Cook county. A Birkett supporter responded that the prosecutor was also an Irish Catholic but it didn’t dent the crowd which was clearly taken with Brady’s physical attractiveness. Oberweis’ pledge to cut taxes was a great factor in his winning as many votes as he did but the negatives brought up by the group centered on his reference to pro-lifers as akin to members of the Taliban, a derogatory reference he made in an earlier campaign for the U.S. Senate and which he has steadily disavowed since. Perhaps this was not as determinative a factor as the fear, expressed by one Hispanic attendee, that by a loosely-focused campaign against illegal immigration, Oberweis certified that he had no chance to get any chunk of the Hispanic vote.

    The argument centered for a time on the importance of a gubernatorial candidate being a good debater since a central issue is sure to be corruption. The group was reminded that there is a possibility of Gov. Blagojevich’s being indicted, that he might determine it is not to his advantage to run for reelection and that Lisa Madigan could well be thrust to the forefront of a reform ticket. The rationale for this argument was that Birkett, who did surprisingly well against her as attorney general, would be best able to play the role of the prosecutor against either Blagojevich or Madigan. This possibility cut no ice with the group. When the complaint was voiced that it was picking just another pretty face (that of the charismatic Brady), the group determined Brady has the kind of appeal and devastating charisma to get elected.

    Two central arguments raged over Rauschenberger. When he made his presentation he stressed his pro-life record but seemed to dismiss his vote in behalf of state policy supporting abortifacients. He declared that this vote was “one of several thousands I have cast.” Some members of the Summit used that statement to proclaim that he did not recognize the importance of the drug which to pro-lifers is akin to abortion. Another dealt with his having been endorsed for reelection as a state senator by a gay-rights group which Rauschenberger explained as having stemmed from his support of HI-AIDS legislation but which explanation was viewed by some members of the Summit with some suspicion. Oberweis was criticized as “mistake-prone” and Birkett as unable to raise necessary funds by reason of the fact that he is still some $600,000 or so in debt from his last campaign. The Rolando Cruz trial was cited by one as symptomatic of a potential lack of support from Hispanics.

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Lisa in the Wings

    lisa madigan
    News that Gov. Rod Blagojevich may well be “Public Official A” in the teachers’ pension scam could easily change the political landscape of Illinois. Blago may get indicted—or even if not, may be so critically wounded he will not be able to put up much of a fight no matter how much money he has. This would lead to him either vacating the lists for re-nomination or getting red hot competition within the Democratic party. You must imagine that there is enormous pressure on Attorney General Lisa Madigan to run against him for governor. My guess is that she will do it. At the outset she may appear to be a tough competitor for Republicans in the general—but that is not necessarily the case. Her disadvantages are for all to see including a stridently liberal social philosophy and heavy reliance on her old fashioned clout-heavy father.

    Her entry into the race and likely victory as Democratic nominee would help the case of Joe Birkett to run for governor. Birkett ran against her for AG in a terrible year for Illinois Republicans—2002—and received 47 percent of the vote with a poorly funded campaign. As a prosecutor, Birkett is without peer and it will take a prosecutor to take the case against the entire Chicago-based Democratic ticket. Any thought that Rolando Cruz would be a serious factor against Birkett in 2006 with the preponderance of the Democratic party reeling under scandal is short-sighted. Birkett’s stock will rise with the entrance of Lisa Madigan into the race. If Blago stays in the race and has no primary opposition probably Jim Oberweis, an outstanding candidate, would be tops.

    Lyndon Baines Bush

    Make no mistake: I believe George W. Bush has been a great president. First, he responded to 9/11 with vigor and perspicacity in taking the fight against terrorism to its source, the Middle East. Second, he has been brilliant in defense of life by naming to the judiciary those with firm commitments to social conservatism. Third, he has understood that tax cuts are essential in order to trigger prosperity and jobs. Fourth, he appreciates the need for lessened regulation on business and in our lives. But as with all great presidents, there is something to be desired. Lincoln could possibly have won the Civil War without trampling under civil liberties as much as he did. FDR showed us that a president can restore confidence (although his solutions were dismal failures). Reagan believed in tax cuts at the outset but was convinced to backwater and hike taxes midway through his first term. And now we get to the downside of George W. Bush.

    This president who has refused to veto any bill, who has not applied a brake to spending, has just done it again with New Orleans. I regret to say that he has assumed more blame in government’s response than he deserves, letting the incompetent mayor and governor off the hook. And he has begun a woeful precedent by assuming the entire burden of the rebuilding of the city by the federal government to the tune of $200 billion. The precedent is disastrous. The next act of God calamity to hit any section of the country will have to be assumed by the federal government else they will shout sectional favoritism. The only up side is the fact that the Red States of the south will not be alienated by the Republicans and will continue in the fold for the next presidential. But a danger could be continued estrangement of Bush’s non-southern fiscal conservative base.

    I have listed four great philosophical achievements by Bush and one downside. Now it’s imperative for conservatives to oppose the Bush spending. Already Bill Clinton has urged repeal of the earlier Bush tax cuts because the deficit will worsen. That is one step that should not be taken. Conservatives must act as Lyndon Baines Bush’s best friends by raising a storm over spending, urging he utilize the veto pen, pressuring him to roll back his LBJ-style grandiose plans and restore the semblance of prudent stewardship.

    Saturday, September 10, 2005

    If he runs for president in '08, Rudy can't fail

    Hurricane Katrina may have changed the dimension of the nation's politics for 2008. With George W., we voted for him because he would take the fight against terrorism to its origination point: the Middle East. I salute that strategy and believe that Iraq will be democratized with great dividends for our international security.

    But next it'll be important to have a president who can slash through red tape and make us secure at home. The Katrina thing wasn't Bush's fault, but what was needed was a president who could pull the trigger domestically, knock heads together with the state and local governments and deliver resources quickly. That spells only one name for future president. In an ideal world he may not have been my first choice, but it's Rudy Giuliani.

    Giuliani played no role in taming Katrina, but as I saw New Orleans turn into an open sewer, all I could think of was what Giuliani would do. Threats to our country demand a Prince of the City: a prince fearless enough to write his own rules to establish order. And a prince emblematic of Machiavelli's book of the same name, one who can bluff winningly, who can engender fear and respect. As one conservative Republican woman in Temecula, Calif., told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt: ''All that [meaning pro-life, pro-abortion] doesn't matter if we're not safe." By which she meant Giuliani, the indomitable ex-mayor of New York, the hero of 9/11. With Giuliani, the signal would be transmitted to all: He's determined that we will be safe at home.

    The Twin Towers disaster and Katrina were different, but what Giuliani did in New York was to direct the city while instructing the entire country as to what was happening and how he was going to fix it. Giuliani seized the day. He is running first in the 2008 Republican sweepstakes.

    They say he's a sinner, and I believe that. His personal life has been, up to his third marriage, awful. He slept on the couch at Gracie Mansion, vomited by his solitary self after chemotherapy for prostate cancer, wife No. 2 not caring enough to inquire about him. Now he's cured and is a wiser but sadder man. I like my presidents humbled somewhat.

    Fortunately, I am not alone in my high regard for Giuliani. The most recent Pew poll, which maps the political landscape, has Giuliani topping all contenders across a broad swath of public opinion. He rates highest among enterprisers, those who want to promote business (90 percent); social conservatives (75 percent); pro-government conservatives (69 percent); the "upbeats" who view the future positively (69 percent); taking with him a majority of the disaffected people who have felt depressed about the country's future (53 percent); doing nicely with disadvantaged Democrats (37 percent), and falling just short of a majority with liberals (47 percent). He has done this without the visible trappings of a campaign.

    There's only one guy in modern times who started with such an advantage: Dwight D. Eisenhower. When Eisenhower announced for president, few knew anything about him other than he was a man of decisiveness. On June 4, 1944, he looked at his watch and the weather reports and said, ''We'll go.'' Did we ever.

    And as for those who say that Giuliani is too liberal, I say: Wait for the change as the campaign unfolds and he won't have to romance just New York City. His critics forget the magical fluidity that is politics. Ike started out as an FDR man, JFK an America Firster, LBJ a segregationist, Nixon a Red China-basher.

    Reagan was originally a pro-choicer who co-founded Americans for Democratic Action. George H.W. Bush, who was called "rubber George" in the House, wanted the feds to control population and was an enthusiastic pro-choicer. And remember, George W. was a supporter of humble, stay-at-home foreign policy.

    One more thing: Let 'em pair Giuliani, whose words spout like bullets from a machine gun, with a veep who talks slow, with the vowels dripping syrup on hominy grits swimming with butter: Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who brilliantly handled Hurricane Katrina. Manhattan and Mississippi. Yeah: I like that.

    Saturday, September 3, 2005

    Daley could take state Democrats down with him

    Let me be the first to make this statement: I think the Daley corruption in Chicago issue could wipe out the entire Democratic ticket next year -- and affect some national congressional races for the Democrats as well.

    It is the most grotesque occurrence in modern Chicago history. Under Mayor Richard J. Daley there was only one scandal: in 1960 when eight Summerdale District cops were off-hours burglars, which added up to $100,000 in stolen TVs and other appliances. Daley hired O.W. Wilson, an incorruptible police superintendent who replaced ''clout'' captains and the scandal was over.

    Compare that to the fact that Richard M. has been interrogated by the FBI, and had by his side a criminal lawyer. More than 20 people have pleaded guilty in connection with the Hired Truck scandal. Payoffs there were widespread, with thousands of dollars worth of city property stolen -- and last month two city officials were charged with rigging the city's hiring system.

    This Daley admits he didn't stem the corruption. No one has been found who hired Angelo Torres to run Hired Trucks, and the entire city has grounds to believe that nothing -- and I mean nothing -- government does is on the level.

    That's the first bad sign for the Democrats, and a big one.

    Here's No. 2: Consider that the entire Democratic ticket that will run next year is from Chicago: Gov. Blagojevich, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Secretary of State Jesse White, Comptroller Dan Hynes (presumably, they will pick someone outside Chicago for treasurer, but don't bank on it). The two legislative leaders, House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones, are from Chicago.

    No. 3: All the while, the governor's mansion in Springfield stands empty because the governor prefers Chicago.

    No. 4: The 2006 off-year election is expected to draw low voter turnout.

    No. 5: When corruption hits a party, its own voter turnout trails off.

    Reason No. 6 is a straw in the wind: On July 30 Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) introduced an amendment to the highway bill to ''keep Cook County corruption out of the Will County regional airport [Peotone]'' since federal procurement standards would be involved. A circumspect guy like Weller wouldn't have dared to do that before the scandals loomed.

    No. 7: Earlier this week, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, spoke at the City Club to defend Daley. That wouldn't have been necessary in Daley's pre-corruption days. And although the media here didn't pick it up, the counterpart committee, the Republican Campaign Committee, issued a statement that Emanuel was trying to justify corruption. Emanuel's frantic defense of Daley is not unlike Ron Ziegler's initial, halting defense of President Richard Nixon when the Watergate scandal started to bloom. The GOP is determined to tie a can to Emanuel's tail: He is a defender of Daley corruption. Imagine a Democrat running in a swing district like Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Emanuel wants to come in and raise money for him. Would he risk his opponent linking him with Daley's foremost apologist for corruption?

    I've just enumerated seven strong signals of corruption that the Democrats may well lose Illinois. But won't George Ryan's trial trump them? Compare Ryan's hoary old scandals to the string of firecrackers popping daily from the City Hall, and I think I know where the focus will go.

    These signals tell me that the Republicans should nominate a governor who isn't part of the old Thompson-Edgar-Ryan Republicrat hybrid. That would mean no Jim Edgar -- but unless he's lost his mind, Edgar won't ditch a $600-grand-plus income for $150,000 to go back where he started. The Republicans should pick a candidate who has been as far away from politics as is possible to find -- either from the far-far suburbs or Downstate. This rising tide of Daley corruption will sink Democrats' boats. Which is the way it should be after arrogant one-party rule since 1931.