Friday, September 28, 2007

Congratulations to the Chicago CUBS

What a great day. Finally. Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs. The Chicago Cubs clinched the National League Central with a 6-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Although I am a South Sider, my heart always belongs to the Chicago Cubs.

Ray Hanania

National Taxpayers United blasts County Commission Joan Murphy for proposing to raise taxes

Tax Accountability 2007
407 S. Dearborn, Suite 1170 * CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60605
(312) 427-5128 * Fax (312) 427-5139 * Web Site <> * E-mail <>

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jim Tobin (312) 427-5128
September 28, 2007 (773) 354-2076 (Cell)


CHICAGO—The chairman of Tax Accountability 2007 today charged that Cook County Commissioner Joan Murphy (D-Crestwood) has broken the Illinois Taxpayer Protection Pledge she signed, with two witnesses, on January 11, 2006.

“Commissioner Joan Murphy has decided that being a stooge for Board President Todd Stroger (D) is more important than the promise she made to taxpayers and voters,” said Jim Tobin, President of Tax Accountability 2007. “On January 11, 2006, she signed the pledge, saying, ‘I Joan Patricia Murphy, pledge to the taxpayers of Cook County, that I will oppose any and all efforts to increase any taxes,’ and she added in writing, ‘with the exception of the cigarette tax.’ Well, she might as well have added, ‘with the exception of any taxes Todd Stroger wants.’”

“The proposed 267% hike in the county’s portion of the sales tax, which Murphy introduced, and which will be considered and voted on next Monday, Oct. 1., would raise the county’s portion of the sales tax from 0.75% to 2.75%, a 267% increase that would funnel close to $1 billion new taxpayer dollars into an already corrupt system,” said Tobin.

“Joan Murphy’s tax increase, at the behest of Todd Stroger, would raise the total sales tax to 11% in Chicago, hurting low-income and minority families, and will encourage consumers to do their shopping elsewhere. Local businesses will suffer.”

“I urge the Cook County Board to vote NO on this gigantic sales tax increase, and I urge Joan Murphy to reconsider her vote, and to take the side of the taxpayers she pledged to protect.”

For a copy of Commissioner Murphy’s signed tax pledge please call (312) 427-5128.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bill Wirtz passing -- end of a legacy

Bill Wirtz died, losing a battle against cancer.

Although he was always criticized because of his ownership of the blackhawks, I hate sports so had no reason to dislike him. Actually, I liked him very much.

I had a chance to work with him and his son, Rocky, who shared the same birthday if I am not mistaken (October 5). During my sabbatical from journalism, I helped the Wirtz family's company, Judge & Dolph, fight back oppressive policies being rammed through the legislature by the California wine industry.

I got to meet both Bill and Rocky. Both great people.

My condolences to the Wirtz family for the loss of their father, grandfather. And condolences to the media hypocrites who will say how much they loved him: who are you going to pick on now?

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pera campaign in Southwest SIde Congressional district takes off on the Internet

Tuesday, Sept. 24 2007
Mark Pera already a hit with the netroots

The Mark Pera for Congress campaign started this week with a bang.

First, Mark visited his cousin U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California, in her home district for a successful weekend fundraising trip.

Upon his return Monday, the Internet was bursting with news about his campaign in IL-03 against Congressman Dan Lipinski.

That coverage translated into almost $9,000 via Act Blue in less than 24 hours.

Mark’s campaign has also been added to the influential Blue Majority group on Act Blue, which is also backing Democratic candidates Al Franken, Darcy Burner and Donna Edwards. For more information, visit click here. With that boost, we once again made Act Blue’s Top Five list alongside Presidential candidate John Edwards and Senate candidates John Warner and Jeanne Shaheen.

If 2006 was any indication, a candidate like Mark, who is receiving this tremendous netroots support, will fare well in his bid to unseat Congressman Lipinski on Feb. 5

Please take a look at the following entries below. As always, feel free to contact the campaign with your questions. Let me know if you’d like to make arrangements to talk with Mark.

Patrick Corcoran
Media director
Mark Pera for Congress
(847) 687-7579

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blagojevich extends property tax relief to

CONTACTS: September 20, 2007
Abby Ottenhoff 312/814.3158
Gerardo Cardenas 312/814.3158

Gov. Blagojevich Provides Expanded, Permanent Property Tax Relief to Benefit 76% of Cook County Homeowners

Governor uses amendatory veto to permanently extend and expand the 7% solution

CHICAGO – Standing with Cook County Assessor James Houlihan in front of the home of Mike and Linda Vacala, a Cook County family hit hard by skyrocketing property assessments, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the permanent extension and enhancement of the 7% property tax solution. These changes will result in significant property tax relief for the vast majority of Cook County homeowners.

The Governor announced that he will provide the relief through an amendatory veto of House Bill 664, a property tax relief bill that provided some, but not enough relief for Cook County homeowners. If the vetoes are accepted by the General Assembly, at least 76% of Cook County homeowners will see lower property tax bills. Before the vetoes, fewer than half of Cook County homeowners would have seen property tax relief from House Bill 664, while many large office buildings, including the John Hancock Center and the Prudential Plaza would have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced property taxes.

“Forty-nine out of fifty aldermen said this bill wasn't good enough. The Cook County Board said it wasn't good enough. And Assessor Houlihan said it's not good enough. I agree, we can do better and with the changes I’m making today, over 75% of Cook County homeowners will see significant property tax relief,” said Governor Blagojevich.

Elected officials throughout Cook County, including Assessor Houlihan and the Cook County Board have criticized House Bill 664, calling for more property tax relief for homeowners. In July, 49 out of 50 Chicago Alderman signed a letter calling the House of Representative’s efforts to provide property tax relief, “nothing more than a disingenuous attempt at property tax relief [that] will result in most homeowners seeing increases as great as 40%.”

“It's my belief that the Expanded Homeowner Exemption should be available to everyone and that it be permanent, reliable and simple,” said Cook County Assessor James Houlihan. “I know we can find a solution which works better than this legislation but also understand the critical timing in getting something done to make sure that the tax bills go out on time.”

Governor Blagojevich made two primary changes to House Bill 664: increasing the Expanded Homeowner Exemption (often called the 7% solution) for Cook County homeowners to $40,000 per year from its current $20,000 maximum; and making the increased exemption permanent. The Expanded Homeowner Exemption is the mechanism that currently helps slow the growth of rising property tax bills to 7% per year; it expires this year.

The Governor did not change several new exemptions included in the legislation to reduce property taxes for vulnerable populations statewide, including returning and disabled veterans, seniors and persons with disabilities:

1) $5,000 homestead exemption for returning Veterans (only for the year they return from active duty);
2) $2,000 homestead exemption for disabled persons;
3) $5,000 homestead exemption for veterans with service-related 75% disability;
4) $2,500 homestead exemption for veterans with service related 50% disability;
5) $500 increase in seniors homestead exemption (to $4,000 in 2008)
6) $500 increase in general homeowners exemption in 2008 and 2009 (to $6,000).

In 2003, the General Assembly originally passed a three year property tax solution called the 7% Expanded Homeowner Exemption. This law increased the Homeowner Exemption from $4,500 to $20,000. The Homeowner Exemption is an exemption that most property tax owners can subtract from the taxable value of their home (Equalized Assessed Value or EAV) when calculating property taxes.

Homeowners who utilize the expanded exemption slow the growth in the taxable value of a home to approximately 7% per year until the next assessment, rather than increasing it all at once. Under the original 2003 legislation, 76% of homeowners in Cook County realized cash savings. In the first year under the original 7% solution, Cook County residents saved on average between $400 and $900 on their property tax bills.

Without the amendatory veto, House Bill 664 would have phased out while simultaneously reducing the 7% solution over the next three years from $33,000 in the first year to $26,000 in the second, to $20,000 in the third, and terminating the exemption in its fourth year. This could result in the doubling or tripling of a homeowner’s property tax bill.

Under House Bill 664, not only do homeowners get less relief as with the amendatory veto, but large office buildings could see big tax breaks. Because House Bill 664 phases down the Homeowner Exemption (from $33,000 to $20,000) the tax burden is shifted to homeowners, while owners of large office buildings would see their property taxes go down.

House Bill 664 also contains several other protections for homeowners that were not affected by the amendatory veto. These include:

Creates the “long-time occupant homestead exemption.” Creates a 10% cap on Equalized Assessment Value (EAV) increases for those who have owned their home for at least 10 years and have annual household income of less than $100,000. Creates a 7% cap on EAV increases for those with less than $75,000 income. This provision does not have a phase-out, nor does it have a cap on the amount of the exemption. However, most people have not been in their homes long enough to qualify.

Allows any county or municipality to abate taxes on property owned by the surviving spouse of a fallen police officer or rescue worker who died in the line of duty, provided the spouse has not remarried.

Creates Property Tax Reform and Relief Task Force, to study report about the property tax system in Illinois and alternative funding methods.

Creates a uniform property tax valuation for generators of wind energy. This will make local taxes more predictable for wind power developers and will deter counties from using tax policy to compete with each other for siting.

Cook County is the only county currently taking advantage of the 7% solution; other counties may opt-in to the legislation.

House Bill 664 becomes effective as soon as the legislature acts to concur with the veto.

- 30 -

Thursday, September 20, 2007

No opportunity to respond to the racists and irrational writers on the Northwest Side

I write a column in the Arlington Heights Daily Herald once each month on the first Monday thatr analyzes issues facing Americans as a result of Sept. 11, 2001, trying to better understand the Middle East conflict. The Daily Herald is one of the ONLY newspapers in the United States that runs a column on a regular basis that is written by an Arab American on Middle East issues. There is no other regularly written column -- there are many published in response to events.

But the response to the columns is not only discouraging, it exposes what I believe is a fundamental flaw in American society -- the intolerance of divergent and diverse voices and specifically the growing hatred and racism against Arab Americans and Muslim Americans.

What I get in response to my column is often a smattering of vicious hatred and racism from letter writers. I don't mind the fact that Muslims (who are mostly non-Arab) criticize me because I questions their failure to stand up and speak out against extremism in the Islamic community and the growing Islamic driven terrorism, but I do fault readers of the Daily Herald who are non-Arab and non-Muslim who are consumed by vicious racism.

These hateful letters are easily viewable online, although my own column in the Daily Herald is not viewable online, at least not now that the web page has been redesigned. Maybe it will be viewable in the future.

But here are some letters published in the Daily Herald recently followed by my responses to what I see as ugly, hateful vicious personal attacks by individuals who are racist and bigots and who ignore the substance of my columns and instead focus on the streotypes of my community. The columns they are responding too are published at the end, after the letters and responses:


Hanania wrong about 9/11 lessons (Published 9/19, and 9/20 2007)
By conjecture, innuendo and assumption, along with a dose of Monday morning quarterbacking, Ray Hanania tries to say that "we" have not learned much since 9/11. We have learned something about Hanania. By using the phrases "sounded Arabic enough," "Officials seem intentionally unclear," "citizen terrorism vigilante" and "personal argument that was most likely driven by racism," he displays his ability to accuse others of shortcomings he harbors within himself.
Don Parker

[Hanania Responds. The column was about how Americans complained about six Iraqis who were working for the United States military to train our American soldiers to fight in Iraq. They were targeted with hatred when they boarded an airplane and the plane was postponed and they were "investigated" because a woman overheard them speaking Arabic -- even though the woman could not speak Arabic -- so how did she know it was Arabic? The point is that Americans like her, and this writer, never learned anything from Sept. 11, except their own vicious hatred of Arabs and Muslims. Don Parker owes me an apology for his stupid and insulting comments.]

Hanania gets it wrong, again, published 8/31/2007

Ray Hanania's recent column, headlined "U.S. must be fair to achieve peace in Middle East, " confuses two separate issues and repeats many of the false claims he made in his April 2 column.

One must also take into consideration the similar item he wrote in the Jerusalem Post that same day headlined "Keeping Israel safe from Qatar".

He frames his column by stating that President Bush has proposed increasing aid to Israel and "has also proposed giving $20 billion to six Gulf Arab states including Saudi Arabia, our chief Arab ally in the war on terrorism."

He has it backward. Bush proposed the advanced arms to the Arab states, and the aid to Israel was proposed to offset the increased threat these sales posed to Israel. Israel wouldn't need any of these increased arms if we weren't giving some of our most advanced arms to countries officially at war with Israel.

Hanania, in his Jerusalem Post column, mocks the ability of the Gulf states to attack Israel from the Arabian Gulf. Israel may not be worried about Qatar directly attacking, but these arms could fall into the hands of Hamas or Hezbollah.

Hanania also has apparently never looked at a map or he would see that Saudi Arabia is barely five miles from Israel at its closest point, with air bases along that border. The advanced ships could be used to blockade the Israeli port of Eilat.

These weapons aren't just a danger to Israel. Look at the recent disclosure that 190,000 assault rifles that we supplied to the Iraqi army are now in insurgent hands being used to kill U.S. troops.

The militaries of these states are never going to be strong enough to defend against a concerted attack by Iran or Iraq without U.S. assistance. Look at how fast Kuwait, with all its American weapons, fell in 1990 to Iraq. The Saudi military is intentionally fragmented to protect against a military coup against the royal family. Al-Qaida is reported to already have infiltrated the Saudi military. These regimes are not totally stable, including Egypt, which could be taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood. In a few years U.S. troops could be battling against these very advanced arms.

Which leads to the point against the arms deal regarding the Saudis specifically. With allies like these who needs enemies? The Wall Street Journal and New York Times report that between 40 and 50 percent of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia. The Saudis refuse to stem the border flow of these terrorists. State-sponsored Wahabi imams preach terror acts in Iraq.

Finally, I want to respond to Hanania's claim that "terrorism does not have an ethnic face."

Tell me, Mr. Hanania, how many Christian or Jewish suicide bombers have there been in the last year? The last five years? The last 10 years? They have been almost exclusively Muslim extremists. That is not American bigotry on the matter: that is plain fact.

Steven Peck

[HANANIA RESPONDS: Steven Peck is also driven, in my opinion, by ignorance of facts and by racism against Arabs and that is apparent in his last line. His letter is nearly the length of my own column, and therefore deserves a response. The fact is that 99 percent of serial killers are white men, does that make White people serial killers? Was Tim McVeigh a Muslim? Was Andrew Cunanan a Muslim? There have been numerous instances of American soldiers who have been convicted (although unished with a slap on their hands) for murdering innocent civilians in cold blood, including the case of the 7 Marines who gang raped an Iraqi girl and then murdered her and her family to hide the rape. They were White, too. As for suicide bombers, is there a difference between a suicide bomber and a person who takes an innocent life using a weapon and then runs and hides? Yet somehow, Peck wants us to believe that everything Arab and Muslims is bad when the reality is that racists like Peck drive this country's fanaticism and undermine our ability to fight the terrorists. The facts of the column which weighed the ridiculous arguments against provide arms to our clear allies, the Saudis and the Gulf State nations. Saudi Arabia has stood by America in the War on Terrorism, helped hold down the price of oil and is a frontline state aganst rising Islamicist fanaticism, yet people like Peck, maybe ignorant of world affairs, close their eyes to the facts and they, not I, get it wrong. What is really pathetic is that while I argue for fairness and justice, Peck argues that Americans should NOT BE FAIR in the Middle East.]

The columns:

Sept. 2007 Column
Six years after 9/11 and we remember and we discriminate
By Ray Hanania

Maybe it’s the lies that led this nation into Iraq that are behind the apparent confusion some Americans have about how to respond to the terrorism threat.

Are we fighting the war in Iraq to "save" the Iraqi people, or are we there to fight terrorism?
Nowhere is that more apparent than at our airports.

American Airlines Flight 590 was about to depart San Diego on a redeye flight for Chicago when a woman on board called police complaining of a terrorist threat after hearing six other passengers, all men, speaking "Arabic."

Forget the fundamental problem here, for a moment. If she could speak Arabic, she would have known what they were saying and not called police. So, how did she know they were Arabs?
Sounded "Arabic enough," apparently. A vague complaint is enough to force a pilot to delay a plane’s departure and put six innocent men under police scrutiny, again.

Turns out the "terrorism suspects" were six Iraqis working for Defense Training Systems, a military contractor. They had been training American Marines at Camp Pendleton.

It also seems one person with two children on the plane got into an argument with one or more of the Iraqi men. Maybe the same woman who complained?

Officials seem intentionally unclear in their public statements. And they should be. Incidents like this where innocent citizens who happen to be speaking Arabic, or something similar, are filing lawsuits and winning, after long, difficult battles.

Local police question the men, who had been screened, processed, questioned and had their bags check when they boarded the plane, along with everyone else including the "citizen terrorism vigilante."

Was the complaint prompted by fear of terrorism? Or fear driven by a personal argument that was most likely prompted by racism?

Get in an argument with an Arab, even one serving our military, and you can always play the "terrorism trump card." Call the police and the lives of the Iraqis are disrupted. They are embarrassed and humiliated.

One of the Iraqis said he was angry. Here he was, an American himself of Iraqi heritage, helping the American people protect their American soldiers in Iraq, and this is how he is treated?

I hope he doesn’t believe the United States sent their soldiers into Iraq to protect the Iraqi people from the savagery of the late dictator Saddam Hussein?

Clearly, as was demonstrated this week on American Airlines Flight 590, some Americans could care less whether Arabs are helping us or hurting us.

It reminds me of the quagmire that one Crusader commander faced in the siege of Beziers, a French town of Muslims and two groups of Christians, Catholics and Catholics of a condemned sect, called Cathars. Unsure of how to distinguish between the "good" Catholics and the bad Catholics in the siege, the Crusader general told his men, "Kill them all, God will know His own."

That may have been the solution for Crusaders. It certainly is not a good policy to prevent terrorism in today’s day and age.

If we Americans still can’t figure out which Arabs are "good" and which Arabs are "bad," then our problems are sure to worsen.

We Americans have not really learned anything since Sept. 11, 2001, have we?


August 2007 Column
America must be fair to achieve MidEast peace
By Ray Hanania

Apparently, it doesn’t matter to some that Saudi Arabia and several "moderate" Arab countries like Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and others have stood by the United States in fighting "terrorism."

All that matters to some congressmen, who happen to be of Jewish heritage, is Israel.

President Bush has proposed increasing foreign aid to Israel by 25 percent, giving the Jewish State $30 billion over the next decade. Bush has also proposed giving $20 billion to six Gulf Arab states including Saudi Arabia, our chief Arab ally in the War on terrorism.

Iraq is in turmoil and the Arab nations have stood with the United States against the interference of two nations, Arab Syria and non-Arab Iran. Nearly 100 American soldiers are dying there every month.

Bush has declared Iran a major threat. Should we wait until Iran invades and occupies Saudi Arabia or the other Gulf Arab states to react?

But a coalition of congressmen, led by Jewish American Congressman Tom Lantos, denounced the funding plan because he and his allies in Congress support Israel above American interests.

And Americans continue to wonder why Arabs in the Middle East "hate them," are angry at them, or distrust America?

The reality is American foreign policy is based on double standards, hypocrisy and even lies. It assumes Arabs must be too stupid to recognize these contradictions in American foreign policy.
Arabs and Israelis are again at a crossroads. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has once again tried to jump-start the Middle East process, exploring a comprehensive peace proposal offered by the Arab countries through the Arab League.

They are willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist (again – they’ve done it several times to no avail), and to negotiate the return of land occupied by Israel in the 1967 war four decades ago.

On the table is the difficult issue of the Palestinian Right of Return, which Arab countries and most Palestinians will compromise, if only Israel would show a willingness to give the victims of the 1948 and 1967 wars a modicum of respect and justice.

International laws gives refugees the absolute right to return to homes and lands they owned prior to the creation of Israel. Given today’s realities, however, Palestinians are willing to compromise if Israel acknowledged that right. They would settle outside Israel in Arab lands and the proposed Palestinian State.

Israel has indicated it will explore all these issues. After nearly a decade, the two sides might return to the peace table.

Instead of contributing to this effort to move the region towards peace, a handful of extremist, fanatic supporters of Israel led by Lantos wants to prove to the Arab World, once again, that the United States can’t be respected and that Americans are not just.

When will Lantos and other members of his pro-Israel coalition standup for what’s best for the Middle East and for the United States instead of always making Israel their number one priority?

As Americans, we have to stop separating terrorists on the basis of race, ethnicity or nationality. Terrorism does not have an ethnic face. We need to support policies that are driven by justice and fairness, not partisan politics and selfish agendas.

To win the War on terrorism, and bring peace to Palestinians and Israelis, we must reinforce trust in the Arab World by being just and fair.

Monday, September 17, 2007

BP Media rep responds to column referencing BP's dumping of wastes into Lake Michigan

In fairness to BP ...

Dear Ray,

We have read with interest your article/column entitled, “The ‘Zambranos’ of our American Lives,” which was posted as part of the September 6, 2007 online edition of the Southwest Herald News.

We would like to provide clarification on some details in the column and provide you with additional information on the environmental efforts at BP’s Whiting Refinery. In your column, you stated, “We beat up on BP when they tried to dump more hazardous waste toxins into the already over-polluted Lake Michigan.”

BP’s Whiting Refinery does not and will not dump hazardous waste toxins into Lake Michigan. The water that BP returns to Lake Michigan is just that – water. It has been treated and is more than 99.9 percent ordinary water.

BP recognizes that it is a steward of the lake, and we are committed to meeting the growing energy needs of the community while minimizing the environmental impact of our operations.
We are balancing the challenge of meeting the increasing demand for energy with our environmental responsibilities - and we believe it is possible to achieve both goals.

BP is making investments in the U.S. to provide heat, light and mobility – all which are critical to sustaining the standard of living we have come to expect. For example, in addition to the refinery modernization, which will increase Whiting’s motor fuel production by as much as 620 million gallons per year, BP is investing billions of dollars in alternatives like solar, wind and biofuels.

In order to provide information on the Whiting refinery modernization to the media and the general public, we have developed a website on the project. We hope that you will access this site at You can also learn more about BP’s commitment to the environment by visiting


Jason Dananay

Jason Dananay
Account Supervisor, GolinHarris

[HANANIA RESPONDS: I invited BP to put a rep on my radio show next week to talk about it.]

Sunday, September 16, 2007

One important fact that you overlooked in your article is that 9/11 was
an inside job. Check the facts and educate yourself:
Dudley L.

[HANANIA RESPONDS: Please Dudley ... there are so many other important things to think about ... to even waste your time on that garbage is ridiculous ... really, don't embarass yourself please ... all it does is play into Dick Cheney's hands when a bunch of kooks start screaming that it was an inside job and we destroyed the World Trade Center buildings

Thanks for writing
Ray Hanania]

Saturday, September 15, 2007

re-assessing Steve Brown on Madigan's staff

I have to say that since the first email I received from Mike Madigan's key consultant Steve Brown, I have to re-assess my views and give him much more respect than I have. Steve not only has a great sense of humor, but he clearly seems to show that he recognizes the ongoing battle between journalists and government officials and have a thick skin ... if everyone in public life had his ability to address the right of people to question and challenge their public servants, we would have a far better world ... so, I humbly offer any apologies to Steve for having assumed he would be like the political types I always encounter -- no sense of humor, arrogance and belief that they are always right -- and recognize that Madigan is lucky to have Steve on his staff

That doesn't mean we won't disagree, but Steve shows that his ability to engage in a discussion with civility suggests his points may deserve more credit than I have given him

Ray Hanania

Friday, September 14, 2007

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan's flak responds to column ...

Friday 9/14/07
Hate to bust up the myth, but the $1 million waste was caused by the guy calling the special sessions, not the Speaker. Regular session days after May do not get per diem.
I realize you are doing opinion pieces, but you might want to do it on the square.
Have a great weekend!

Thanx & Keep'n Touch
Steve Brown

-- Hey Steve

still at the trough?

that's a nice spin on your part, but the fact that you stand in his way as he tries to reform the state contributes for something ...

It's kind of like President Bush in reverse, isn't it. He runs the country and the legislature is lame ... Blagojevich runs the state and you guys find courage to stop him ... too bad the Democratic congress doesn't have the moxxy you guys have

come on the radio show sometime and we can buzz about it :)

Ray Hanania

[Notice when you reads the column that Steve Brown interjects arguments I didn't make ... and avoids the ones I did make -- like the FACT that legislators get all kinds of perqs ... so why should they care if the state spends more money? Here's the column:


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Great first radio show on WJJG ... more on Sen. Craig's slippery foot

We had a great first show Wednesday on WJJG AM 1530 Radio. About 30 callers, guests included Congressman Dan Lipinski, WLS TV's Sarah Schulte, mob and White Sox author Rich Lindberg, and Washington DC Pulitzer Prize columnist Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune joining in to discuss everything from the War in Iraq, to the Calabrese trial to the presidential elections.

I have to laugh at Sen. Larry Craig's attempts to wihdraw his no infamous guilty plea in the alleged sex case at the Minneapolis Airport bathroom. Police charged Craig with trying to solicit sex from an undercover police officer who was in a bathroom stall next to one Craig was in at the airport. Craig allegedly slipped his foot under the stall and then waved his hand along the floor under the stall wall.


Now, faced with bi-partisan censure and his promise to resign with whatever dignity is left, CXraig wants to hang on to his job hoping he can changed what he started. Remember, Craig pled guilty in the hopes of avoiding any public knowledge of the incident. Like that would happen. The fact that he was dumb enough to believe that something so outrageous can remain a secret forever only reinforces the calls to have him leave office immediately.

Get out, man.

But Craig insists that he withdraw his guilty plea and fight the charges, hoping that somehow he can reverse the growing public opposition. Let's face it, incumbent politicians never leave office voluntarily, and even in such disgusting circumstances as those surrounding the Craig controversy.

Shame on you Senator!

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lipinski, Kirk on Iraq, and Clarence Page on Presidential race on Radio Chicagoland

This weeks inaugural broadcast of Radio Chicagoland will feature guests:

1-2 PM: Congressmen Dan Lipinski and Mark Kirk discuss the Iraq war.

2-3 PM: Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Clarence Page talks presidential politics, Washington D.C. and more.

The call-in number is 708-493-1530.

WJJG 1530 AM Radio
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2007

Watch for next week's listings

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, September 7, 2007

Launching radio show Wednesday

I'll be back on radio every Wednesday beginning Sept. 12, from 1 to 3 PM, hosting a live call-in show with guests, interviews, talk, discussion and debates on WJJG 1530 AM. It has a great signal in the Chicagoland area that they recently expanded.

Check out the web site at for call-in information or email me at

The show is sponsored by the Southwest News-Herald, where I write a weekly column. The web page there is

I originally hosted a live call-in show at WLS AM Radio on Saturdays and Sundays for almost 10 years from 1984 until 1994

The focus: Everything under the sun and the moon :)

Ray Hanania

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Blagojevich expands GI Bill

Gov. Blagojevich expands the G-I Loan for Heroes program to help more veterans and active
duty personnel afford homes
$15 million in additional funding follows program’s
success; more than 100 veterans and active duty members
helped in first four months
NORMAL – Officials from Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Administration today announced $15 million in additional funds to support the G-I Loan for Heroes program that helps qualified veterans and active duty personnel afford to buy a home. Launched last May as a $15 million pilot mortgage program, the G-I Loan for Heroes has already helped 115 Illinois veterans and active duty members secure low-interest mortgages and closing cost assistance during the program’s first four months.
“The brave men and women who have served, or continue to serve our country make huge sacrifices in order to preserve our freedom. They deserve to know that when they come back they will have a safe and secure home for their family and the chance to achieve the American dream of homeownership,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “This additional funding from the Illinois Housing Development Authority is in response to the success we’ve had so far with the G-I Loan for Heroes program. I believe it is our responsibility to ensure we continue to support the needs of our current and former service men and women.”
Of the 115 homebuyers who have purchased a home or reserved a loan under the G-I Loan, approximately 85 percent are veterans. The homebuyers range from 21 to 72 years of age and are located in 69 cities and 34 counties across the state. The average size of the first mortgage loans is $103,000 while the second mortgage loans average $25,300.
The G-I Loan offers a low-interest rate first mortgage for 80 percent of the purchase price and an interest-free second mortgage for 20 percent of the purchase price, up to $40,000. Effective
interest rates for the combined mortgages could be as low as 5.125 per cent in some cases. The mortgages are 30-year, fixed interest rate loans providing long term security for homebuyers. Participants under the program may also receive a grant up to $2,500 to help with closing costs and free homeownership counseling, which is compulsory. The G-I Loan offers the opportunity for affordable, secure financing to help veterans and active duty service men and women make good financial decisions.
Illinois is the first state in the nation to provide a comprehensive homeownership package to qualifying former and current service men and women who are working hard to provide for themselves and their families.
“Illinois is fortunate to have a Governor who will take the initiative to introduce new programs to assist hardworking residents. Governor Blagojevich saw that more needed to be done to help veterans and active duty members with their homeownership needs. Taking action to replenish the G-I Loan for Heroes program with another $15 million further demonstrates the state’s commitment to helping our veterans and active duty personnel afford to buy a home. It also shows that Illinois continues to lead the nation in affordable housing ideas,” said DeShana L. Forney, IHDA Executive Director, who made the announcement on behalf of the Governor.
“The fact that it took less than four months to grant $15 million in loans to our veterans and service members, proves that there is a significant need for this type of program and I am so pleased that Governor Blagojevich has added an additional $15 million for the G I Loan for Heroes program. I am proud to see Illinois continue to set an example of how to honor those who serve by providing this one-of-a-kind homeownership package. Our veterans and active duty service personnel served this country bravely. When they return home we owe it to them to provide the best options, benefits and programs that we can,” said Tammy Duckworth, IDVA Director, who also made the announcement along with IHDA’s Executive Director.
The state’s affordable housing agency, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) administers the program on behalf of the state. IHDA will use the proceeds from the sale of tax exempt bonds to fund the program.
Veterans and men and women currently on federal active duty in the Armed Services, including National Guardsmen, and the Reserve Forces may qualify for assistance in buying a primary residence even if they owned a home in the past. Active duty service personnel need to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify for the G-I Loan.
Prior to the G-I Loan for Heroes program, the only home buying assistance Illinois veterans and active duty members had was to apply for the federal VA loan which has a zero down payment policy but offers market interest rates.
Under the G-I Loan program, credit qualified applicants need to contribute $1,000 of their own money toward the down payment on the purchase of a single-family home, condominium or duplex. Income and purchase price limits also apply and vary from county to county. To qualify in McLean County, a veteran or active duty service man or woman with a family of three or more must have a household income of no greater than $84,525 and the purchase price of the home can not exceed $237,030. County specific income and purchase price limits are available upon request.
Many families of active duty service personnel struggle to survive while their active duty family member is away serving their country. Often, service men and women are forced to let go of their higher-paid civilian jobs during deployment, which can make homeownership unattainable.
Bradley Schwermin, a 27-year-old veteran honorably discharged from the Marine Corp. in 2005 was able to buy his first home in July thanks to the G-I Loan. His four years of service that took him to Iraq and Okinawa in Japan has meant he’s had to wait a little longer to own a home. Schwermin moved into his three-bedroom condominium on Hunt Drive in Normal at the end of July and is now able to enjoy the stability of homeownership while working as a customer service and sales representative and studying for a Bachelors Degree at Illinois State University.
“Illinois has some of the best benefits in the country for veterans,” said Schwermin. “But after coming home from Iraq, the most frustrating part was seeing other young people in their mid-twenties like me being able to afford a new home. I am glad to hear that the Governor believes that veterans also deserve the same opportunity. If it were not for the G-I Loan, I would never have been able to become a homeowner before I turned 30 because of the time I spent in the Marines.”
To apply for a G-I Loan, veterans and active duty service personnel should contact one of the IHDA-approved partner banks to see if they qualify. The list of partner banks is available at or by calling 312-836-5244 to receive the list by mail.
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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Don't mind public discussion/debate with ArchPundit-dude!

as long as he stays civil, if he can.

Her's the link to his recent post:

The point is Blagojevich HAS THE RIGHT to everything he has done, calling special sessions, introducting legislation. ANYONE can introduce legislation through a specific process, not just legislators.

Has Blagojevich done something wrong in trying to push through his agenda the way he has? The issue will be decided in a legal court. I think Blagojevich will win and when he does, it will be a major blow to the repressive politics of the Madiganiacs who rule the state.

Keep it civil and show you have some class, as I always respected your postings in the past "Archie."

As for Madigan taking at shot at Blagojevich, he didn't really support Blagojevich's re-election as enthusiastically as he has supported other candidates and we all know that. He gave Blagojevich a rough time, so you know exactly what I was referring too. But you can ignore the facts of Madigan's laying back.

And even if Blagojevich did not articulate a program during an election, he articulated his mission and agenda in specific and broad strokes and people voted for him because they trust his judgment and instincts and his commitment to doing what's right. So when he does unveil a new program after an election, at least he's not like most other politicians who promise not to increase major taxes before an electiona nd then turns around and does it with ghusto.

Civil, Archie. Civil.

By the way, I didn't compare Blagojevich to Washington. I compared the battle led by Madigan against Blagojevich to the battle led by super sleaze dcarksider Ed Vrdolyak against Washington. Don't change comments.

-- Ray Hanania