Editor's note: This is the fourth and last story in a series of articles being filed from Iraq by River Cities' Reader political columnist and Chicago-based journalist Rich Miller. The previous three stories can be found

Editor's note: This is the third in a series of articles being filed from Iraq by River Cities' Reader political columnist and Chicago-based journalist Rich Miller. The previous two stories can be found

As I've told you before, I spent much of my childhood on a farm in rural Iroquois County. One of the chores I thought was completely pointless back then was mowing the ditches.

It was dangerous work.

This seems like a good time to rate the various U.S. Senate candidates. Let's start with the Republicans.

• Jack Ryan - A handsome multi-millionaire with three Ivy League degrees, quit his investment-banking career and went to work as a teacher in an inner-city school.

The media missed the mark on Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka's press conference not long ago.

Topinka summoned reporters to issue a public demand that the governor call a special session to deal with the budget problem.

Editor's note: River Cities' Reader political columnist and Chicago-based journalist Rich Miller is spending a month in Iraq. This is the first in a series of articles he's filing presenting an alternative viewpoint on the postwar effort there.

I generally sympathize with the pro-hunting folks, but the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance is engaging in either deliberate lies or abject incompetence these days.

The alliance's Web site (http://www.ussportsmen.

A costly mistake by the parents of a 4-H club member has turned into some bad publicity for Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Representative Shane Cultra (an Onarga Republican) wants an apology from the governor over his remarks last week about the State Fair animal-doping controversy.

Pharmacists and road-builders have to wait months for their state-government reimbursements, but Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has managed to find the cash to green-light $200 million worth of pork-barrel projects.

In yet another example of how obsessed Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is about his public image, even during "the worst fiscal crisis in the state's history," the governor is requiring state employees to videotape and review local TV-news broadcasts about him seven days a week on state time.

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