John Ransom
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True story:

Once while working at a hotel in Chicago many years ago, I checked in an alderman and his mistress in one room, a couple of union guys who asked about the alderman and his mistress in another room and some polite law enforcement officers in still another room within a few hours of each other. It was hard to know who was watching who.

But somebody was watching someone for sure. 

So let’s say I learned a few things growing up in Chicago watching politics and crime in real life. The ways of the Obama administration are something I’m used to. That’s partly why I dislike his administration so much.    

This much I know: When the Illinois Combine has a problem, they usually make it go away. Like either forever or at least until paroled for good behavior.

For the uninitiated, the Combine is a term used to describe the GOP and Dem insiders who run the state of Illinois with a little help from some ham-handed friends, like asphalt contractors, garbage collectors, teachers’ pension funds and Teamsters.

The Dems run Cook County and the GOP runs downstate.

They stage a few fights here and there just to keep it looking like politics. But really, in the words of Michael Corleone from the Godfather, “It's strictly business.”

That’s why Obama tapped Illinois Republican, former congressman Ray LaHood, long-time Combine member and benefactor of paving contractors everywhere as his Transportation Secretary. LaHood can probably over-estimate the amount of cement and labor on a given road project without even looking at a calculator. He knows the business.

Chicago veteran political columnist John Kass, who covers the Combine for the Chicago Tribune, wrote about LaHood as LaHood was being installed as US transport and asphalt vice regal:

As Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich plays the dancing monkey for America's journalists, another Illinois political story is being ignored:

Ray LaHood, the Republican Combine congressman from Peoria, has been smoothly installed as secretary of transportation in the reform administration of President Barack Obama.

In political terms, Blagojevich is a pimple compared with LaHood, who will have billions of federal dollars to dole out in state grants for contracts for roads, bridges, airport modernization -- all the sugarplums the guys behind the guys dream about.

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John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.