Tag Archives: Dick Durbin

Ryan Watch

More members of Illinois’ congressional delegation have weighed in on the possible commutation of George Ryan’s prison sentence. All are in the No category:

* Jesse Jackson, Jr. (Democrat)
* Judy Biggert (Republican)
* Debbie Halvorson (incoming Democrat)

Democrats Bobby Rush and Dan Lipinski didn’t return phone calls to the SouthtownStar, the paper reports.

The Devils in Durbin’s Details

A collection of noteworthy points, details and arguments from the Durbin-Ryan-commutation imbroglio that I haven’t yet had a chance to point out.

* “If Ryan is released early, he will have spent less time in prison than two friends convicted in the case – Ryan’s aide, Scott Fawell, who did the dirty work, and businessman Lawrence Warner, who profited from the dirty deals,” the Sun-Times notes in an editorial today.

* “Let’s also look at one of the main assertions on Ryan’s behalf, that he’s been punished enough in part because his government pension has already been taken away,” Mark Brown writes today.

“What they fail to mention is that he had already collected about $800,000 from his ridiculous $197,000-a-year pension before he was sent off to prison. How many of you can expect to collect $800,000 from a pension in your entire lifetime? Not many. It’s not our fault if he spent it all.”

Continue reading

10 Questions for Dick Durbin

UPDATE DEC. 2: Some of these questions have now been asked and – sort of – answered. Let’s take a look (from various news sources).


Well, Durbin did it.

1. Why not just wait for Barack Obama to become president and ask for him to commute George Ryan’s sentence? You certainly have more influence with Obama than George W. Bush. And Obama certainly is more familiar with Ryan’s case.

“Durbin said he did not ‘think it would be appropriate’ to wait to ask President-elect and fellow Illinois Democrat Barack Obama to issue a commutation when he takes office since clemency actions normally come during the final days of an outgoing presidency.

Define “appropriate.” And, actually, presidents act on pardons and clemency requests throughout their terms; there is usually a flurry at the end of a term because it’s the last chance they get to exercise their power. And wouldn’t it be more appropriate if the new president from Illinois acted on this case? And will someone ask where Obama stands on this?

Continue reading

Dick’s Folly

Has Dick Durbin lost his mind?

It’s hard to think of any other explanation for the news today that he is considering asking President George W. Bush to commute George Ryan’s sentence.

“Let’s look at the price he’s paid,” Durbin told reporters.

Um, Dick, let’s look at the price we’ve paid.

“His family name has been damaged.”

Oh waah!

“He is at an advanced moment in his life and been removed from his family.”

On a soft, six-and-a-half-year sentence imposed by a federal judge. All appeals denied.

“He has lost his economic security.”

He doled out taxpayer money to his cronies in a series of dirty deals.

“The question is whether continued imprisonment is appropriate at this point.”

The question, Senator Durbin, is why you aren’t giving your personal consideration to those among the thousands of Illinois prisoners who aren’t actually guilty, or who deserve a measure of this nation’s compassion. Or even those who are guilty but are remorseful for what they’ve done – which Ryan still isn’t.

This is a neat game you are playing, senator. You can hardly decide against asking Bush to set Ryan free now, can you? But even if you decide against it, you have signaled to the president that you’ll give him cover. The U.S. Senate’s second-highest ranking Democrat thinks it’s okay.

Continue reading

College Dropouts

One of the latest popular parlor games being played by the media is the one that imagines what happens if the presidential election ends up in an Electoral College tie.

That’s obviously a pertinent question, but the bigger question is: What is it going to take to finally abolish the Electoral College and actually institute, you know, a democracy whereby the people elect the president? Wasn’t 2000 enough?

Some Illinois politicians think so. Retiring Peoria congressman Ray LaHood, a Republican, told a group of junior high school students last week that the Electoral College is “antiquated.”

In fact, LaHood’s opposition to the Electoral College dates at least as far back as 1997, when he told a House committee that “I believe the Electoral College is merely a relic of times past, running counter to the democratic process.”

And a week before the 2000 fiasco, LaHood joined with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, in jointly proposing amending the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College. (While the 2000 election was still unsettled, Hillary Clinton also called for abolishing the Electoral College.)

Likewise, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a close Obama associate, tells Chicago Life that he is “the lead sponsor of the effort to abolish the Electoral College”; his expanded thinking is contained in a recent Huffington Post piece.

Continue reading