Thursday, March 31, 2005


In a posting entitled "Barack in bed with the Grand Wizard?", Chris Rhodes of the Cross Blog links to a story in which the right-wing Illinois Leader chastises Barack Obama for raising money for Robert Byrd's reelection campaign as part of the Democrats ongoing fight to win back the Senate.

The folks at the Leader were particularly concerned about a line in which Obama, the only black member of the U.S. Senate, said that Byrd, a member of the Ku Klux Klan when in his 20's, "understands the history, the importance and the role Senate plays in our government -- at 87 years old, he's the most senior senator." Obama's e-mail also said:
I hope you will give generously to help send Robert Byrd back to the Senate for another term to fight for the Constitution and the freedom of speech we all enjoy.

I don't have to tell you how important every Senate seat is right now. Just last week, the Senate voted 51-49 to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling and Republicans now threaten even more drastic measures such as privatizing Social Security.

Last fall, I had the privilege to write and ask your help to support candidates and help us take back the U.S. Senate. And your response was nothing short of amazing--you raised more than $1 million for seven Senate candidates, providing them with much-needed resources at the end of their campaigns. I'm happy to be part of these efforts again.

A Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate would mean a real change in the priorities of Washington, but more importantly, it would provide significant change for everyday people across America.

Remember, in order to win back the Senate majority, we need Robert Byrd.
Referring to Obama's support for Byrd, Chris Rhodes suggests that "all this hero worship will end once Barack continues with these missteps."

But isn't a strategy of tying Obama to White Supremacists just another misguided attempt to drive a wedge between Obama and the African-American community. It certainly looks like an extension of Alan Keyes' pitiful claim that, because his dad was from Africa and his mom was from Kansas, Obama wasn't "really" an African-American. Both ploys not-so-subtly suggest that there is something illegitimate about Obama's identity as an African-American.

Well, that gambit already failed spectacularly in November -- in part because, by any definition, his wife and kids are "really" African-American. So while I have no doubt that we will soon see right-wing bloggers calling him "BaraKKK Obama," I don't think Obama's support will be undermined by references to "the Grand Wizard" and other inflammatory rhetoric.

So now we know that Republicans are deeply offended by Obama's fund-raising e-mail, but what about Democrats?

You remember Democrats -- the party that nominated Obama, the party that had Obama speak at their national convention and then overwhelmingly voted for Obama?

Via Atrios:
Early Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., sent an appeal over the Internet urging people to contribute to the re-election campaign of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.

In less than 24 hours, more than 15,000 contributors gave $634,000 to Byrd’s campaign, according to the National Journal’s daily Internet publication “Hotline.” The average donation was about $42.25.
Somehow, I think that Obama will survive this "misstep."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


The names of both Democratic candidates, Rick Klau and Janice Ilg, were omitted from the list of candidates for Naperville Township trustee that the township clerk's office faxed to the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Miraculously, none of the four Republican candidates were left off in the list.

From the Naperville Sun:
"I'm disappointed more than anything," Klau said.

Klau said he first became aware of the invitation and questionnaire when they were mentioned by Spitzzeri during an endorsement interview with The Sun's editorial board March 23. Among those present were Spitzzeri and Busche, along with Klau. In the interview Spitzzeri mentioned the Republican candidates attended the March 8 function and provided their information to be posted on the chamber's Web site, but the Democratic candidates had not.

"It's disappointing that it was done in such as way ... to question our integrity and commitment to the campaign," Klau said.

Klau said he and Ilg have always been dedicated to the campaign and made note in the interview that he did not receive the information.

The next morning, he called the chamber office to find out why he and Ilg were never alerted to the opportunity. It was then discovered that their names were not on the list of candidates faxed to the chamber by township clerk's office.

Township Clerk Carol Bertulis was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday.
But the Sun fails to mention a couple of interesting facts about Ms. Bertulis that are proudly posted on the website of the Naperville Township Clerk:
Carol has been a Republican Precinct Committeeman for over 20 years, and has also served two years as Treasurer for the DuPage Federation of Republican Women.
So a Republican official accidentally undermines our two-party system by overlooking -- not just one -- but two Democratic candidates?

Gee, if only I could think of a third incident where an official in Republican controlled DuPage County made it appear that a Republican candidate was running without Democratic opposition, I would swear there was a pattern of misconduct.


"AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."
-- Rev. Jerry Falwell, 7/6/83

Is viral pneumonia God's punishment for hypocritical, bigoted bastards?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect has written a facinating article about an ongoing intra-union fight in Illinois:
In 2002, Congressman Rod Blagojevich ran in a hotly contested Democratic primary for governor of Illinois. Unions were all over the map during the primary, but the SEIU joined AFSCME in supporting Blagojevich, not only with money but, for the first time in an Illinois election, with large numbers of ground troops. The union provided roughly 1,000 precinct walkers in the primary campaign’s final weeks, with an estimated 400 coming in from Wisconsin and Ohio, and Blagojevich eked out a 1-percent victory over his rivals. (The Democratic primary was decisive; state Republicans were too damaged by scandal to mount a serious candidacy of their own.)

In exchange for its support, the SEIU won a specific commitment from Blagojevich: an executive order that created collective bargaining rights for the state’s 25,000 home-care workers. For a number of years, the SEIU’s Local 880 had been a legislative advocate for those workers, though it could not represent them in a collective-bargaining relationship absent a legal process to do so. With his executive order, Blagojevich removed those workers from legal limbo, and the SEIU won the vote of the members to represent them at the bargaining table.

On February 18 of this year, Blagojevich signed an equivalent order for the state’s 48,000 child-care workers, decreeing that a representation election be held within 42 days. The SEIU had already collected many thousands of signature cards from those workers (it had 24 organizers collecting those cards since last year), enough to ensure its presence on the ballot. Within a couple of days, AFSCME also assigned organizers -- hundreds of them, from across the nation -- to collect such cards, too.

AFSCME criticized the SEIU -- indeed, it was part of the former’s Article 21 argument in opposing the SEIU’s Article 21 petition -- for obtaining contracts for the home-care workers, and seeking contracts for the child-care workers, that would undercut the standards of other public employees by having no health coverage, no pension benefits, and no workers’ compensation coverage. AFSCME represents state employees who do enjoy such coverage. “We’ve been representing state employees for 30 years,” Illinois AFSCME Executive Director Henry Bayer said last Thursday, “and now SEIU has created a class of employees and signed away their benefits. And Andy Stern says that the AFL-CIO has to enforce contract standards, that that should be a new Article 21 criterion? They came in here and cut our standards!”


Ironically, Illinois is one place where AFSCME and the SEIU have often enjoyed a decent relationship, where both unions are known for having progressive leaders and a good deal of organizing smarts (it’s no accident that both backed Blagojevich). Even more ironically, many of the SEIU’s greatest successes -- most certainly, in organizing child-care and home-care workers -- are the result of its learning to play politics in the manner of AFSCME, which has long used its election-day clout to elect governors who’d recognize public-sector unions. In the past decade, under Stern’s leadership, the SEIU has played the politics-to-organize card expertly, and nowhere more so than in Illinois.
Read it all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


The Sun-Times reports that J.J.J. has lost nearly 50 pounds in nine months:
Jackson -- who often teases that eating healthy on the South Side means switching from Harold's Chicken to J.J. Fish -- sliced his food intake from more than 5,000 to fewer than 2,000 calories a day.

What did he cut out?

"Basically everything white," he said. "Flour, sugar, rice. Anything refined. That's what you have to do."
Note: If you think the title of this post was bad, just be thankful that I didn't base it on this J3 quote: "I got shots in the butt once a week for three months to boost my metabolism."

(S.T. link fixed)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


The Sun-Times covers another Blagojevich news conference in which he promoted his legislation that would ban the sale of violent and sexually explicit games to minors in Illinois.
"These kinds of games teach kids to do the very things that in real life, we put people in jail for,'' Blagojevich said during a news conference Monday at Glenview's Springman Middle School.
No, the game Blagojevich was not talking about wasn't "Hangman" -- he was talking about Midway's new release, "Narc."

Blago apparently finds the Rated M game particularly loathsome because characters can use confiscated dope to change the look and speed of "Narc'' to score more points.
"Just as we don't allow kids to buy pornography or alcohol or tobacco, we shouldn't allow them to buy these games.''
The governor did not confirm that his concern over video games stems from his own inability to distinguish between reality, e.g. alcohol and tobacco, and make believe, e.g. video game drug use.

But we must give the governor his due: In general, there are differences between juveniles and adults.

And those differences are so obvious that even the United States Supreme Court now recognizes them. Just how are juveniles and adults different? In the words of Justice Kennedy, "juveniles are more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures."

But the question remains -- does this susceptibility to negative influences also mean, as Blago implies, that violent video games are training kids to be real-life criminals?

Not according to Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.

O'Hehir looked at academic work in the fields of psychology, criminology and media studies and determined that "while it's legitimate not to like violent media, or to believe it's psychologically deadening in various ways, the case that it directly leads to real-life violence has pretty much collapsed."

Game Over.

(S.T. link fixed)


David Rees: Get Your War Feeding Tube On.

Friday, March 18, 2005


Taegan Goddard's Political Wire provides this nugget about my third favorite senator:
With "rampant speculation" on whether Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) "will run for president in 2008, his Senate campaign made a few notable recent moves," the Wisconsin State Journal reports. "It registered the domain name for the Web site as well as the .org and .net versions. And, no, he's not facing re-election to the Senate that year."


From Chicagoist, a website about Chicago:
You wouldn't know it by reading the papers, but it's likely that tomorrow a few thousand people will march downtown to Federal Plaza to protest the American military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places. The march, organized primarily by the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism has a number of starting points, Senn High School at 6:00 am for the "North Side Long March Against Empire", Michigan and Oak Streets at Noon for the regular, or 2:00 pm at the Adams and Dearborn Federal Plaza for just the protest. ***

March 19, 2005 is the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and this is the second downtown march to mark the date. Last year's protest, held on March 20, attracted about 7,000-8,000 protestors, according to the Chicago Police Department.
Well now you know.


"It wasn't my fault. Honest! I ran out of gas. I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! It wasn't my fault, I swear to God!"

Whose fault was it that a legislative package limiting the frequency of legal handgun purchases failed in committee when an Illinois State Police lobbyist opposed two of the bills? According to Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois State Police's boss, it's the fault of Mayor Daley's staff.
From the Tribune:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich blamed city lobbyists Monday for roadblocks Mayor Richard Daley's gun-control package encountered in Springfield this month as the governor announced he was launching a special state police unit to fight illegal gun-trafficking.
Blagojevich has pledged to back Daley's gun measures, but when several of them came up in a Senate committee, the governor's lobbyists either were silent or, in a few instances, registered opposition to the measures.
Blagojevich said he would have pushed for the bills had Daley lobbyists let him know they were up for a vote.
But state Sen. Ira Silverstein, who sits on the panel that rejected Daley's bills, said the governor's office should have known the bills were up for a vote since they were posted a week in advance.
"That's totally false. That's not true," Silverstein said of the governor's comments. "Everyone is just passing the buck. And the governor has to get more involved. He says one thing up North and another thing down South ... and passing the blame to the mayor's lobbyists is wrong."

Have you ever dealt with an absentee landlord?

You know the type: One who employs someone to manage the property and do upkeep, but who -- because he lives so far away -- never does any follow-up to make sure that the work is being done. And when the two of you finally wind up in housing court, the absentee landlord tells the judge that if only he had known that the place was falling apart, he would have take care of the problem right away.

To my eyes, the Governor is looking more an more like that absentee landlord -- It seems that every time someone points out that things are falling apart down in Springfield, Blagorgeous holds a press conference in Chicago to assure the people of Illinois that he would have done something -- if only someone had let him know about the problem.

Rich Miller has more.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Fans of Arrested Development will want to take a gander at "the complex system of rationalizations whirring away in the mind of a Fox programming executive."


The Sun-Times' Bill Zwecker reports that in her upcoming memoir, My Life So Far, Jane Fonda claims that her ex-husband Roger Vadim
made her seduce other women -- from escort services and bars -- to join them for what Fonda calls his ''cruel and misogynistic'' sex orgies.
Despite Vadim's apparent qualifications, he is not expected to be the Republican candidate for Senate from Illinois.

He died in 2000.


Lynn Sweet's column also explores another aspect of the NYT ad paid for by Crown Publishing Group/Random House, the publisher of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.
At the very bottom of the ad, the last line lists Obama's campaign Web site,
Federal campaigns are banned from taking corporate contributions, either in cash or in-kind gifts.
Jason Gerwig, the spokesman for the Republican Party of Illinois, said, "We hope the FEC [Federal Election Commission] will look at this as it raises serious questions as to whether or not Obama's publisher is using corporate soft money to publicize the senator's Web site."
Wow, if the Illinois Republicans are going after a single line in an ad that refers to an inactive website -- Sweet says no money had come in through the site since the ad ran -- they must really have their own house in order.

Well, not quite.

Sweet also revealed that State Sen. Peter "Just Disgusting" Roskam, the GOPer who visited D.C. to lay the groundwork for replacing Henry "Youthful Indiscretion" Hyde in Congress, might not yet be ready for the big time.

It seems that Roskam has been using his state campaign funds to pay for $40,000 in issue ads on WLS, WIND and WYLL radio. But only money raised under the stricter federal rules can be used to promote a federal candidacy like a run for Congress.


In today's Sun-Times, Lynn Sweet once again sets sail in pursuit of the man that Eric Zorn has described as her white whale.

Because the publisher of Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance bought a full page ad in the NYT to tout the books success, Sweet says "this seems like a good time for me to dig out Obama's May 28, 2004, financial disclosure form and share with you details about the deal."

And what secrets did Sweet dig out of this public document? That if 80% of the 500,000 copies of Dreams that are in print have been sold "it puts Obama's check in the range of $392,000."

While that is no small sum of money, I imagine that Barack Obama is one of the few graduates from Harvard Law School with more than 10 years experience -- much less the former editors of the Harvard Law Review -- who made less than $400k last year.

In fact, the average starting salary for Harvard Law School graduates in the private sector is $125,000.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Maybe it's because of all the cold medicine I'm taking, but I just don't understand why Bush selected Paul Wolfowitz as the new lead singer of U2.

UPDATE: I have been informed that Bush has actually nominated Wolfowitz to be the next head of the World Bank... even though that decision doesn't make any sense either.


The Tribune reports on the IL-GOP's search for a replacement for Henry Hyde:
Although veteran U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde promises he has not made a decision about retiring after this term, Illinois Republicans are planning their next race around him while senior aides on Capitol Hill say his departure is a certainty. ***

[S]tate GOP officials are eager for his announcement because retaining his 6th District seat is a top priority for the struggling party.
So who are IL-GOPers looking to?

Peter "Just Disgusting" Roskam.
State Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton), who has indicated interest in running for Hyde's seat if the veteran retires, was in Washington Tuesday meeting with the congressman and holding talks with officials of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
On the Democratic side, Christine Cegelis is raising cash and working to build on her 44% showing in the last race for the 6th District seat, regardless of her opponent.
"I've been gearing up my campaign as if I'll be running against a Republican replacement," she said.
And, as you know, early money will be very important in this race...

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


The Southern Illinoisan follows up on the latest stunt from Alan Keyes:
To alleviate some of the debt he acquired during his unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, Alan Keyes is now hawking copies of his last year's debates with Barack Obama - in "top quality DVD or VHS."
The e-mail sent from said, "all products are offered as premiums available for minimum suggested, non-deductible donations" and that ordering the debate videos will "help ensure that Alan and his family are not left with the burden of remaining campaign debt."

But it seems that the actual copyright holders would like to have a say in the matter:
ABC Channel 7 News Director Jennifer Graves said she was shocked to hear about Keyes' distribution of her station's program.

"This is the first I have heard of this," Graves said. "I'm going to have to make some phone calls around the newsroom, and then I think I will be calling our lawyer."
Although, neither the Southern Illinoisan story nor explained how a campaign that used so little paid media acquired much debt, but previous Senate races show that campaign debt may arise from Keyes' unique campaign expenses.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs has his own theory about where the money is going:
"Given the fact that Alan Keyes suffered the greatest electoral defeat in Illinois Senate history, I can't imagine why anyone would give him any money. *** However, given the recent announcement of the retirement of Sen. Paul Sarbanes, I can only presume any proceeds from the sale of these videos will likely follow him to Maryland for a fourth senate contest."
Either that or legal fees.


Lynn Sweet says we should expect Rep. Henry Hyde to announce that he will not seek another term in the next few weeks. But that Hyde intends to serve out his term.

Sweet also takes a look at the upcoming race for the 6th District seat:
Hyde won the 2004 election with 55.8 percent of the vote against Democrat Christine Cegelis of Rolling Meadows, who is campaigning full time and raising money for a 2006 contest. Democrats believe Hyde is vulnerable.


While Hyde's district is reliably Republican, Democrats have made some inroads in recent years and the new Democratic Congressional Committee chairman, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), sees the district as competitive for Democrats.
Archpundit -- who posts that Christine "ran a hell of a campaign and the groundwork was top notch" -- notes that support from Emanuel and a clear position on social security reform tampering will be the keys to this race.

Well, that and money...

So here's the plug for today's Cegelis fundraiser:
"Going for the Green"
Fundraiser for Cegelis for Congress

Date: TODAY, Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Location: Cactus Bar and Grill, 404 S. Wells, Chicago
Time: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Includes: two hours open bar plus nacho/taco buffet
Special Guest: Candidate Christine Cegelis
Suggested Donation: $50

AP says that Christine's 44% in the last election "on a relatively low budget" was "amazing." Help Christine's campaign do even more amazing things by hitting the open bar donating to the Cegelis campaign.

Friday, March 11, 2005

WYCLIFF: JOURNALISTS HAVE "DUTY AS PATRIOTS" interviews Don Wycliff, public editor of the Chicago Tribune:
[T]he reason my job here at the Tribune is called public editor is that I'm not supposed to be neutral in the strictest sense. When my job was created in 1991, the editor who appointed the first public editor wanted some involvement in the newsroom's practices and involvement in making it better, in terms of corrections and those sorts of things. You can't be neutral about that. You can't be neutral about the fact that you want the organization you are working for to be a better organization.

I take the same stance about this company that journalists do about the government. It's their duty as patriots to expose the working of the government to the American people so they can make an intelligent decision. Even if at times the things they're exposing make government officials unhappy. If we do stupid things here, if we make questionable decisions, then I don't think I'm being disloyal to my organization by criticizing them. (emphasis added)


"This is one more nail in the coffin, so to speak, no pun intended, to ensure that you have the right person.'' -- Tom Cross

Today's Tribune, Sun-Times and Daily Herald all cover the death penalty bill, sponsored by House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), that was narrowly approved by the House Judiciary Criminal Law committee:

[T]he bill would create a unique two-tiered standard for murder convictions. Juries would be instructed to weigh whether a defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt when rendering a verdict. But in deciding whether the death penalty is warranted, juries would have to apply a tougher standard, concluding beyond "all doubt" that the defendant was guilty. If unable to reach that consensus, juries would have to impose a life sentence. (Trib)

"What this bill does is create some uniformity around the state ensuring that if we're going to sentence somebody to death that you have everything in place, that the jury's convinced and that there's no doubt," Cross said. (D.H.)

But the proposal is not without its critics:

Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine and DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett testified against the measure, saying the proposal could hopelessly complicate capital trials. *** Birkett, a possible contender for the 2006 GOP nomination for governor, predicted the bill would open up a Pandora's box of legal complications. He said some jurors might say that nothing is ever completely certain, even facts that appear obvious, and that prosecutors might overreach in the sentencing phase. (S.T.)

"We certainly have no objections to the quest for certainty, but this is an open invitation for defense attorneys to argue anything they want," DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett said. (D.H)

Devine said legislators should start talking about whether to abolish capital punishment. "We're living in a hypocritical situation, and this is only going to add to the hypocrisy," Devine said. "If people are truly concerned about the death penalty, and I understand that there are many different views on it, I think we should have that debate. And I think we should decide, Are we going to have a death penalty?" (Trib)

And it seems that death penalty proponents and abolitionists may both be using this bill to advance their respective positions:

Some critics suggested the bill, pushed by Cross and four other pro-death penalty lawmakers, was a surreptitious way of weakening the moratorium, which Cross denied. (S.T.)

Although Cross supports the death penalty, proponents of the bill were mostly against it. One lawmaker admitted he was only voting for the bill because it emphasizes the futility of trying to create a foolproof system of capital punishment. I'm going to vote 'yes' on this bill because I think it does add to the hypocrisy, I really do," said Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago), chairman of the committee. (Trib)

Adding further confusion to this situation is the assertion by Joe Hoffmann, law professor at Indiana University, that "no doubt" doesn't actually mean "NO doubt."

Having no doubt "is not the same thing as saying there's a 1 in 4 billion chance, or if aliens could have come down and planted the evidence against the defendant that you want to say there's doubt. *** Jurors aren't that stupid." (D.H.)
But the meaning of "no doubt" isn't a matter of juror "stupidity." As this article shows, even intelligent citizens can be confused -- or even mislead -- when it comes to questions of very extreme probabilities.

So give the article a look and see if you have the math skills necessary to properly calculate the probability of someone's guilt.

And then remember that it is exactly those calculations that are necessary for a jury of your peers to properly determine a defendant's absolute guilt or innocence, i.e. "no doubt." Anything less is not "actual certainty" but merely "an illusion of certainty. "

I think you will conclude that 1) an actual "NO doubt" standard is the proper standard for the State meet before killing people, 2) the degree of certainty required for a "NO doubt" standard is unobtainable in a real world, courtroom setting, and therefore 3) the State should not engage in killing people.

Some may accuse me of over-thinking this, but when it comes to making previously living people irrevocably dead, I don't think you can give the issue too much thought.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


"The leader can never close the gap between himself and the group. If he does, he is no longer what he must be. He must walk a tightrope between the consent he must win and the control he must exert." -- Vince Lombardi

The Financial Times has more on the Democrats decision to not try "off-cycle" redistricting in Illinois, even though the Republicans did it in Texas -- it resulted in four incumbent Democrats losing their seats -- and are considering doing it again in Georgia and California.
"This is a bad precedent that doesn't seem to be stopping," Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said yesterday.
Sometimes the best way to stop a fight is to start hitting the other guy.
Mr Emanuel said he did not like the idea of changing the rules "in the middle of the game". But he had been pushing for Democrats in his home state of Illinois to consider the move, to retaliate against Republicans.

Illinois Democrats met this week to discuss the matter and "there wasn't really a consensus for going forward", he said, adding that they wanted to put the institution of Congress ahead of party politics. Concern about such a frontal assault on Dennis Hastert the Illinois Republican who is speaker of the House and a chief architect of the state's current map was also a factor.
The Christian Science Monitor profile of Emanuel sure makes it seem that it wasn't his choice to back down from this "off-cycle" redistricting challenge:
"I don't think anyone can tell you, 18 to 19 months out, what is going to happen," says Emanuel. But, he continues, "I am telling you what I told the caucus the day that they asked me to do this: 'Minimize our defensive posture, maximize our offensive posture.'"
Amy Walter, House-watcher for the Cook Political Report, said of Emanuel:
"He does come from a background of being a real political animal. There's a segment of the party that feels [the Democrats] need to start punching back. The party has been taking it on the chin since 2000. And then Tom DeLay beats them on redistricting and the Democrats lose seats in the last two elections."

Now, with Emanuel in place, she concludes, the message is "no more Mr. Nice Guy."
Illinois Democrats: It looks like we have ourselves a fighter -- now lets let him fight.


"This is about winning campaigns. I come from the Vince Lombardi school: 'Winning is everything.'" -- Rep. Rahm Emanuel

Well, not everything.

From Roll Call (via dKos):
Illinois Democrats on Capitol Hill said Wednesday they have essentially shut the door on revisiting the state's Congressional map as a means of retaliation for GOP-led redistricting efforts elsewhere in the country, citing a lack of consensus here and back home on how to proceed.


Emanuel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, echoed the sentiment that Democrats wanted to send a message by taking the high road.
Kos asks
Who is getting this "message"? There are only two types of people getting the message. To political junkies like us, the message is, "We're losers." And to their Republican colleagues, who are on a redistricting tear across the country, the message is, "We're patsies."

The idea wasn't to validate what DeLay has done. The idea is to fight fire with fire -- to show Republicans that their actions have repercussions. But once again, the GOP gets away with murder while the Dems cower under the bed in fear.
I sincerely hope that Rahm hasn't transferred mid-semester from the Vince Lombardi school to the Halas school, i.e. "This season will be another rebuilding year."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


It's no secret that I would love to see Christine Cegelis represent Illinois' 6th congressional district -- the seat currently occupied by Hank Hyde.

Christine posted an insightful diary on Daily Kos last night about last year's campaign and her next run at the seat.
In September of 2003 I made a decision that would forever change my life. I had spent some time soul searching about the direction of the country and how it would affect the lives of my children and others in their generation. It seemed critical to me that we needed a better Congress. We needed a Congress that was willing to protect the environment, invest in our future through education, new technologies, and economic development. My current Congressman, Henry Hyde, did not seem willing to vote for any legislation that furthered these goals.

So I decide to run for that seat (IL-06). I received two pieces of advice: don't run if don't have $500,000 of your own money to put into the race, and don't run if you don't plan to run twice. I didn't have the money but I did make the commitment to run twice.
Rick and Carl also made guest appearances in the comments. Rick says we can expect a highly interactive Cegelis site shortly:
We will use most of what the system [a CivicSpace-powered site] has to offer, including an event calendar, individual blogs, threaded forums, and configurable mailing (so anyone with an account can decide how the campaign should communicate with them).
They also plugged this Cegelis fundraiser that will be taking place next week:
"Going for the Green" Fundraiser for Cegelis for Congress
Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Location: Cactus Bar and Grill, 404 S. Wells, Chicago
Time: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Includes: two hours open bar plus nacho/taco buffet
Special Guest: Candidate Christine Cegelis
Suggested Donation: $50
(emphasis added)

Remember: It's not too early to hit an open bar for two hours start working on the next election!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


That is easily the most misleading headline ever posted on this blog.

From chief executive officer Tony Farrow today made a special delivery to U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois): he returned the Senator's campaign Web site address,, based in Ottawa, Canada and a leader in web backordering and secondary market sales, rescued the site address when it expired and was available on the open market.

"Websites are important vehicles to provide information to constituents and to boost participation in the political process," Obama said. "In the wrong hands, a web address can be used to mislead and misrepresent a public official's record. That is why I am extremely grateful that allowed me the opportunity to renew my domain and ensure that the information on the page reflects my values and beliefs."
More campaign domain news: says that is registered to Avenet, LLC. -- the company behind Rod's campaign web site.

But the really interesting news from is that is still available.


I was still bleary eyed when I directed my browser to Google this morning.

When I saw that they had replaced one of the "o"s with an ankh, I figured today must be the birthday of Anubis, Lord of the Dead.

Nope. An actual search on Google revealed that today is International Women's Day.

The Voice of America headline says "International Women's Day Observed Around the World," but I have to admit that it took me -- a resident of "the World" -- by surprise.

To make amends, I am once again presenting you, dear reader, with the opportunity to donate to Christine Cegelis' congressional campaign.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


The Sun-Times reported on VA Secretary Jim Nicholson's first official visit to Illinois since taking the job nearly five weeks ago:
Appearing in Yorkville and at the Elgin VFW, Nicholson and his staff spoke with about 60 veterans Friday as he traveled with U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert in Hastert's district. VA officials and workers nearly outnumbered the veterans, who were handpicked by their organizations to meet with Hastert and Nicholson. A few uninvited veterans showed up at the Yorkville American Legion and were allowed to sit in the back as long as they didn't ask any questions, they said.
That's right Illinois vets, just smile for the cameras and keep your damn mouths shut.

But what about Barack Obama and Dick Durbin, the men who invited Nicholson to Chicago -- where the majority of the state's nearly 1 million veterans live -- before he took office? What about the Democratic Senators who have been pursuing equity for Illinois vets since a Sun-Times series three months ago revealed that Illinois vets have received nearly the lowest disability pay in the country?

They were shut out of Hastert's carefully choreographed meetings with Nicholson.
"We are disappointed that these brave veterans are still waiting for the answers they deserve and that Secretary Nicholson will not have an opportunity to speak with more of the veterans who are hurting all across Illinois," the senators said in a statement.
But Hastert explained that he and Nicholson had no choice but to bypass Chicago:
"Those senators have to worry about the whole state," Hastert said. "I can only bring him into my district. That's where I can go."
Denny Hastert can only go to his district? Can that possibly be true?

Not according to the Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet. She reported:
During the 1999-2000 cycle — Hastert’s first term as speaker — he campaigned for 126 House candidates in 36 states, making, all told, 655 events and collecting about $20 million.
What about more recently? During the week of Oct. 25, 2004, Hastert visited at least eight states -- New York, Maine, Virginia, Missouri, Washington, Texas and North Dakota -- for 16 Republican candidates.

Need more proof? Let's check with the Illinois Republican Party who say:
Hastert maintains a travel schedule that keeps him on the go from breakfast fundraiser to evening reception and so far this year has taken him to 89 congressional districts, including constituencies as far away as Alaska and Maine.
It's been a while, but if I remember my high school geography correctly, Chicago is closer to Elgin than either New York or Texas. And I am almost certain that Chicago is closer to Yorkville than Alaska or Maine.

So Hastert can leave his district for something that really matters to him -- like stumping for Republican congressional candidates. It seems that Hastert can travel to the ends of the continent for a truly noble cause like GOP fundraising. It seems that Denny's always got a bag packed for the important stuff.

But Hastert just couldn't make the long voyage to Chicago for something as trivial as allowing Illinois veterans to ask Bush's VA Secretary why our vets are not receiving their disability pay.

I guess Illinois veterans and their families can thank Denny Hastert for one thing: He's made it crystal clear what he thinks of their concerns relative to his partisan politics.

So smile for the cameras Illinois veterans -- but keep your damn mouths shut.


Sgt. Joel Gomez, graduate of Wheaton-Warrenville High School, was paralyzed from the neck down when his Bradley fighting vehicle tumbled off of a 200 foot cliff into the Tigris River in Iraq.

If you are like me, you assumed that when an American fighting man is severly injured while serving overseas, the U.S. government -- especially an administration which repeatedly wrapped itself in the flag and surrounded itself with soldiers during its reelection campaign -- would make sure to care for this soldier. That it would make certain that his most basic needs are met.

Well, we would be wrong.

Sgt. Gomez lives in a tiny apartment with his 54-year-old disabled mother, and is cared for -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- by his 68-year-old father. The Daily Herald tells us:
His 68-year-old father has to wheel Gomez up and down a grass embankment through a sliding-glass door. His wheelchair is too bulky for him to maneuver, so he spends most of his time in bed. Limited movement and the inability to pay for daily nursing care has resulted in multiple bed sores.
Clearly Sgt. Gomez needs a new home.

But his housing needs won't be met by the administration that sent Sgt. Gomez to Iraq. Nope, this disabled veteran's housing needs, if they will be met, will be addressed by an adhoc group of Illinoians working under the name of The West Suburban Foundation for Disabled Veterans.

Tonight the WSFDV hosted a chili feed fundraiser at the Wheaton VFW.

That's right proud American, if Sgt. Gomez is going to get a wheelchair accessable home, he is going to get it one $10 bowl of chili at a time.

I have no idea how the thousands of other veterans severely injured serving our country in Iraq will finance their new battle -- an uphill battle for the secure and dignified life they deserve -- but you can help Sgt. Gomez by sending a donation to:

West Suburban Foundation for Disabled Veterans
20 Danada Square West, Suite 281
Wheaton, IL 60187

Friday, March 04, 2005


Yet another indication that the Iraqi occupation may not be going well. From the Tribune:
U.S.-led coalition forces fired on a car carrying a freed Italian hostage as it approached a checkpoint in Baghdad Friday, wounding the former captive and killing another person in the vehicle.
The person killed, Nicola Calipari, was an Italian intelligence agent who threw himself over freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena to protect her from U.S. fire. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Calipari had been at the forefront of the negotiations that freed Sgrena.


As you know by now, Senator Robert Byrd violated Godwin's Law when he compared the Senate Republicans' threat to disallow filibusters to the methodology of a certain German Chancellor. Byrd said, "Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal."

Reuters reported that Republican leaders, ever the guardians of rhetorical decency, were outraged by the comparison. Sen. Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum of Pennsylvania, a member of the Republican leadership, said in a statement, "Senator Byrd's inappropriate remarks comparing his Republican colleagues with Nazis are inexcusable." And Republican Party Chairman Ken "What's a Guckert?" Mehlman said, "Senator Byrd's invocation of Hitler's Germany ... is reprehensible and beyond the pale."

But the ever resourceful Wonkette has found that the Congressional Record indicates that neither party has a monopoly on statements that are "inexcusable," "reprehensible," and "beyond the pale":
"Now, forgive me, but that is right out of Nazi Germany. I don't understand...why all of a sudden we are passing laws that sound as if they are right out of Nazi Germany."-Sen. Gramm, R-TX, September 5, 2002 (speaking in opposition to a Democratic tax plan)

"That, Mr. Speaker, is a modern-day equivalent of the Nazi prison guard saying 'I was just following orders.' It was all legal in Nazi Germany at the time."-Rep. King, R-IA, September 8, 2004 (speaking in opposition to a legal ruling on abortion)

"We certainly have all seen the rejections of Nazi Germany's abuses of science. As a society and a nation, there ought to be some limit on what we can allow or should allow."-Sen. Sessions R-AL, October 11, 2004 (speaking in opposition to stem cell research)

"He also said that imposition of the Kyoto Protocol 'would deal a powerful blow on the whole humanity similar to the one humanity experienced when Nazism and communism flourished.' And that was the chief economic advisor to Russian President Putin. The world has certainly turned on its head that we Americans must look to Russians for speaking out strongly against irrational authoritarian ideologies."-Sen. Inhofe, R-OK, October 11, 2004 (speaking in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol)
Now that we have established that each political party is guilty of analogizing the actions of the other to Hitler and the Nazis, can we all agree to retire this offensive -- and utterly ineffective -- rhetorical device.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


In interviews with the Tribune, in addition to providing a few answers, Matthew Hale's parents have a few questions of their own.

Russell Hale, the man who's basement is the global headquarters of little Matt's hate group, wants to know, "Why does everybody think that it's Matt?"

Gee, that is a tough one to answer.

Evelyn Hutcheson assures readers that, "My son is not dumb. Wouldn't he be dumb to have somebody kill the judge's family just before his sentencing?"

Sure, if only there were some indication that her son is incredibly dumb.


In an interview with CNET, Bradley Smith, a commissioner at the Federal Election Commission, says that the golden age of political blogging and online punditry is passing. He warns that bloggers and web-news organizations may risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's web site if the Commission extends the controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.

In 2002, the internet was exempted from campaign finance laws by a 4-2 vote of the FEC, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision opining that "[t]he commission's exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines" the purpose of the campaign finance law.

Commissioner Smith warns:
The judge's decision is in no way limited to ads. She says that any coordinated activity over the Internet would need to be regulated, as a minimum. The problem with coordinated activity over the Internet is that it will strike, as a minimum, Internet reporting services.

They're exempt from regulation only because of the press exemption. But people have been arguing that the Internet doesn't fit under the press exemption. It becomes a really complex issue that would strike deep into the heart of the Internet and the bloggers who are writing out there today.


It's going to be a battle, and if nobody in Congress is willing to stand up and say, "Keep your hands off of this, and we'll change the statute to make it clear," then I think grassroots Internet activity is in danger. The impact would affect e-mail lists, especially if there's any sense that they're done in coordination with the campaign. If I forward something from the campaign to my personal list of several hundred people, which is a great grassroots activity, that's what we're talking about having to look at.
If you have read this far, you will want to read the entire interview.

And if you would like to join me in giving the finger to these restrictions, consider donating some cash to Christine Cegelis' campaign via my So-Called Virtual Funraising Party.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


If you ever doubt that a dynamic city like Chicago needs two strong, vital daily papers, remember that the Brahmins in Tribune Tower dropped the ball and failed to carry this story.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


On Monday, Federal Judge Joan Lefkow arrived home to find her husband, labor lawyer Michael Lefkow, and her mother, Donna Grace Humphrey, shot to death in the basement of her home. It has been less than a year since white supremacist Matthew Hale was convicted of trying to have her murdered for holding him in contempt of court.

The Sun-Times reports that Hale is currently held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in the South Loop "under tight control, usually reserved for terrorists, to keep him from sending out violent edicts from prison." And the Tribune characterizes the federal prison's measures as "special administrative measures taken against suspected terrorists."

"Special administrative measures taken against suspected terrorists"

Sounds strict. But NBC's review of the Bureau of Prisons' measures taken against convicted terrorists -- the 1993 World Trade Center bombers -- paints a different picture.

They wrote letters to other suspected terrorists and brazenly praised Osama bin Laden in Arabic newspapers. *** [A]t least 14 letters went back and forth between the World Trade Center bombers and a Spanish terror cell.

And these letters weren't written before the September 11, 2001. They were passed out of the federal Supermax prison after Osama bin Laden's 9-11 attacks succeeded in carrying out the prisoner's plan of taking down the World Trade Center buildings.

World Trade Center bomber (Class of '93) Mohammed Salameh was permitted to send out a letter in which he wrote: "Oh God! Make us live with happiness, make us die as martyrs, may we be united on the Day of Judgment."

And who did Salameh send this February 2003 love letter to? Mohamed Achraf, the spiritual leader of the "Martyrs for Morocco," who is currently awaiting trial for leading a plot to blow up the National Justice Building in Madrid.

In July 2002, nearly a year after the 9-11 attacks, the Al-Quds newspaper was able to publish a contribution that Salameh sent from his Supermax prison cell. In that letter Salameh declared, "Osama Bin Laden is my hero of this generation."

And what did federal prison officials say while these transmissions were going back an forth between prison cells and terrorist cells?
"We have been managing inmates with ties to terrorism for over a decade by confining them in secure conditions and monitoring their communications closely," said Harley Lappin, the Bureau of Prisons director, in October 2003.
We should all be mindful of this record of "tight control, usually reserved for terrorists" when prison officials assure us that Matthew Hale was unable to communicate his hateful designs to his followers.


Blog Archive