Tuesday, August 31, 2004

40 million links between Bush and Swift Boat Vet

The Washington Post reports that Rear Admiral William L. Schachte Jr., the man who claims John Kerry was not under fire when he received his first Purple Heart, is a top lobbyist for a defense contractor that recently won a $40 million grant from the Bush administration. According to a March 18 legal filing by Mr. Schachte's firm, Blank Rome, Mr. Schachte was one of the lobbyists working for FastShip's effort to secure federal contracts.

Mr. Schachte has other connections to the Bush administration. The Washington Post also notes David Norcross, Schachte's colleague in the Washington office of Blank Rome, is chairman of this week's Republican convention in New York. Additionally, Mr. Schachte helped organize veterans' efforts against Sen. John McCain and for George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary.

Monday, August 30, 2004

House Speaker Denny Hastert and the Big Lie

Josh Marshall directs our attention to Lloyd Grove's column today in the Daily News:
On "Fox News Sunday," the Illinois Republican insinuated that billionaire financier George Soros, who's funding an independent media campaign to dislodge President Bush, is getting his big bucks from shady sources. "You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where - if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from," Hastert mused. An astonished Chris Wallace asked: "Excuse me?" The Speaker went on: "Well, that's what he's been for a number years - George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there." Wallace: "You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?" Hastert: "I'm saying I don't know where groups - could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know."

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Encore Booknotes with Jeanne Simon from 1989

From C-SPAN 2/Book TV:
Description: Jeanne Simon was a guest on Booknotes in 1989 to talk about her book, Codename: Scarlett -- Life on the Campaign Trail by the Wife of a Presidential Candidate. The author describes her year on the road when her husband, Illinois Senator Paul Simon, was seeking the presidential nomination. She details her preparation for television interviews and speaking in front of diverse crowds in addition to planning her daughter's wedding.

Author Bio: Jeanne Simon was the wife of Illinois Senator, Paul Simon. Mrs. Simon passed away in February, 2000.

The program is rebroadcast on Sunday, August 29 at 11:00 AM

Over-Achieving Underdogs to appear on "At Issue" on 780 AM

Christine Cegelis and Ruben Zamora to Appear on “At Issue
WBBM 780 AM this Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 9:30 a.m. and again at 9:30 p.m.

Christine Cegelis, the Democratic nominee running for Congress in the Sixth Congressional District of Illinois will appear on “At Issue” with Craig Dellimore this Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. on Newsradio WBBM 780 AM and will be rebroadcast at 9:30 p.m. that evening.

Christine appears with Ruben Zamora, the Democratic challenger to Dennis Hastert, to discuss the dynamics of challengers facing off against two powerful Republican Congressmen. She specifically discusses jobs, international relations and O’Hare Airport Expansion.

Or you can listen right here.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Thursday, August 26, 2004

On the Decline of Civility

In Eric Zorn's discussion of the infamous Ankur Gupta voice mail he links to a blogger who says:
I despise incompetence so actually tend to side with Gupta. *** In my view, all this noise about 'the decline in civility' is part and parcel of lawyers' attempt to keep their profession licensed so as to keep out competition. It is arrogance to believe civility is more the
domain of attorneys than 'normal' people.
I couldn't disagree more.

Civility is more the domain of attorneys than "normal" people. Attorneys are the legal representatives of clients. "Legal representative" isn't a metaphor, it is a literal fact. When Mr. Gupta behaved like a vulgar fool, he did so, literally, in the name of his client. Such behavior can have serious consequences, sanctions are just one example, for the client. It is not the same as when a clerk or bike messenger is uncivil.

A professional -- and attorneys are supposed to be professionals -- does not curse, insult and threaten in the name of a client. Clients don't need an attorney for that and they sure don't need to pay an attorney's hourly rate for that.

In addition, attorneys have responsibilities and obligations to the Court as well as to their clients. Every Illinois attorney, by taking an oath to practice law, commits himself to being an officer of the Court. Furthermore, the Preamble to the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct refers to "A Lawyer's Responsibilities" and states, "A lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system, and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice." RRPC 0.1(1). By being an officer of the Court, and practicing in a profession that regulates itself so stringently, lawyers do have many responsibilities that distinguish them from other people as well as other professionals.

It is not unreasonable to believe that one of the responsibilities is to avoid demanding that a colleague act as a "monkey f*cking scribe."

In fact, the Illinois Supreme Court thinks civility is so important that they convened orientation sessions for new Illinois law students this year exclusively to "speak to them about the importance of civility to their peers and potential clients and administer an Oath of Professionalism."

I just wanted to state for the record that many attorneys -- and judges -- recognize the seriousness of "the decline in civility" in the legal profession.

Vote for Change Tour Pre-Sale

I was picked to be part of the second half of the MoveOn PAC Vote for Change Pre-Sale.

Because I will not be taking advantage of this opportunity, I am passing along to you -- both of my readers -- the chance to get tickets (before they go on sale) for the following shows:

On sale now:
Dave Matthews Band / Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals / Jurassic 5 / My Morning Jacket
10/1 in State College, PA
10/2 in Dayton, OH
10/3 in Detroit, MI
10/6 in Ames, IA
10/8 in Gainesville, FL

On sale starting Thursday at 1 PM EST:
Jackson Browne / Bonnie Raitt / Keb' Mo' / Crosby, Stills and Nash
9/29 in Phoenix, AZ

Thursday at 2 PM EST:
Bonnie Raitt / Keb' Mo' 10/6 in Des Moines, IA

Thursday at 3 PM EST:
Bonnie Raitt / Keb' Mo' / Sheryl Crow 10/8 in Jacksonville, FL

On sale starting Friday at 10 AM EST:
John Mellencamp / Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds 10/1 in Wilkes-Barre, PA

Friday at 11 AM EST:
John Mellencamp / Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds 10/2 in Columbus, OH

Friday at 12 noon EST:
John Mellencamp / Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds 10/3 in Kalamazoo, MI

Friday at 1 PM EST:
Dave Matthews Band / Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals / Jurassic 5 / My Morning Jacket 10/5 in Madison, WI

Friday at 2 PM EST:
John Mellencamp / Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds 10/5 in Milwaukee, WI

Friday at 3 PM EST:
John Mellencamp / Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds 10/8 in Miami, FL

Be online at http://www.act.tickets.musictoday.com/ at the time of the presale, credit card in hand, to actually buy the tickets.

On that page, you'll want to click on the "your account" link in the upper-right corner.
On the next page, enter the username ["socalledaustinmayor"] and the password ["keyes"]. You'll also need to use this access code [XLTBWBXCXD].

You will need to supply your own credit card number.

The access can only be used to buy a total of four tickets with from the tour (there's a maximum of two per show). So if one of you buys two tickets to one show (e.g. Dave Matthews Band in Madison, WI), someone else could buy two tickets to another (e.g. John Mellencamp in Milwaukee, WI). Or one person could buy two tickets to two shows -- or no one may buy any tickets -- I don't care I'm not buying any.

I just wanted to pass the opportunity along to whoever is reading this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Computerized Voting

Not only may this happen again, we will probably never know about it.

Update: From Wired News:
A new poll shows growing support for requiring electronic voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper trail.

Just under half of all respondents -- 44 percent -- said they thought computerized voting systems are unreliable, up from about one-fourth of respondents in other studies. And almost three-fourths said the systems should produce a paper record that the voter can review. Sixty percent said they would vote for a presidential candidate this year who supports requiring a paper trail.

A Renaissance Man for Kerry

George W. Bush is three things: steadfast, determined, and resilient. So when people say he’s a deer caught in headlights, they need to remember he’s a steadfast, determined, resilient deer caught in the headlights.

So says Mick Foley, three-time heavyweight champion and bestselling author, on Air America Radio’s Morning Sedition with Marc Maron and Mark Riley.
I am voting for John Kerry. But my job is not to tell people to vote for John Kerry. We’ve got some pretty staunch conservatives out in WWE who are going on record saying they’re voting for Bush. So our deal is to say, ‘Hey, I’ve looked at the issues and this is the choice that’s right for me’ and we’re trying to get voters to look at the choice that’s right for them.

I have a conversation in my mind where a father is putting his son to bed, and we have 40 million people living below the poverty line, 30 million other people that low-wage labor is failing them, and this kid being put to bed says, ‘Daddy, I’m hungry.’ And there’s no excuse for going to bed hungry in the land of plenty. And the father says, ‘Hey, that may be. But at least those two gay people you’ll never meet, in a city you’ll never be in, can’t get married.’ It just seems like our priorities are out of order.
There is more available here.

Update: Yeah, I know, wrestling is fake... but its only "Seinfeld-fake" not "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth-fake".

Keyes v. New England Journal of Medicine

In today's Chicago Tribune, Alan Keyes informs us:
I think it has been proven empirically, that concealed carry laws, allowing law-abiding citizens access to concealed carry actually reduces crime.
"Proven empirically?" Mr. Keyes certainly makes it sound like there is no room for discussion on this issue.

But then why does the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine disagree with nutty uncle Al's bold assertion.

Alan Keyes' Second Amendment

In today's Sun-Times Alan Keyes argued
the founding fathers intended the Second Amendment to allow people to carry the types of weapons "customarily carried in those days by ordinary infantry soldiers."

"And, yes, does that mean that in this day and age people would have the right to have access to the kind of the weapons our ordinary infantry people have access to? With proper training and so forth to make sure that they could handle them successfully, that's exactly what was meant."
Mr. Keyes can be forgiven for being unformiliar with Army Infantry training -- after all he spends much of his time with Republican chicken-hawks -- but today's infantry soldiers are trained to use, "and have access to," the following weapons:
  1. M16A2 Rifle
  2. hand grenade
  3. M18A1 Claymore Mine
  4. M136 Launcher
  5. M16A1 Antipersonnel Mine
  6. M21 Antitank Mine

So I guess this must mean that the founders intended that the Second Amendment protect our right to carry shoulder-fired light anti-tank weapons.

Enforce the gun laws already on the books!

For years National Rifle Association has said that the best way to fight illegal gun use is to enforce the laws already on the books, not pass more laws.

From the NRA's synopsis of Maryland's laws on purchase, possession and carrying of firearms:
It is unlawful for any person to sell or transfer a handgun to any person whom he knows or has reasonable cause to believe is prohibited from possessing a handgun (see "POSSESSION" above) or if the buyer or transferee is:
a. Of unsound mind.
b. Visibly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
c. Under 21.

Machine Guns?!?

Alan Keyes, owner of a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol and a .38-caliber "six-shooter," insists that the Constitution protects machine gun ownership:
Alan Keyes said Tuesday he believes the U.S. Constitution grants properly trained private individuals the right to own and carry machine guns.

"You're not talking about giving citizens access to atom bombs and other things," the former presidential candidate said. "That's ridiculous."

But the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate argued the founding fathers intended the Second Amendment to allow people to carry the types of weapons "customarily carried in those days by ordinary infantry soldiers."

"And, yes, does that mean that in this day and age people would have the right to have access to the kind of the weapons our ordinary infantry people have access to? With proper training and so forth to make sure that they could handle them successfully, that's exactly what was meant."
Let me get this straight: The Second Amendment evolves to encompass new weaponry, but the rest of the Bill of Rights is frozen in 1788? Rhetorical consistency must not be a requirement for handgun ownership in Maryland.

Via Chicago Sun-Times

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Olbermann examines the relationship between Bill Rood, the Chicago Tribune, The Cubs, The Mayors Daley, John Kerry and the Democratic Party

Keith Olbermann addresses the Chicago Tribune's stories of and by its metro editor Bill Rood, which confirmed John Kerry's version of the events in Vietnam of February 28, 1969:
The Daley/Tribune battle has grown so fierce that the city, on inconclusive structural evidence, has threatened to padlock Wrigley Field, home of the Tribune's wholly-owned baseball money-machine, the Chicago Cubs. This is war between Daley the Democrat and the vast Tribune Corporation.

And the Trib's suits ran Rood's historical valentine to Kerry anyway.

News organizations are populated by humans, most of them politically aware, and many of them politically slanted. But news organizations are owned, virtually uniformly, by gigantic corporations that are, almost by charter, conservative. I worked for Tribune -- they're conservative. I worked within baseball -- it's conservative.

So there's the political affiliation back-story to the Rood pieces. The stories wind up being pro-Kerry, and they're printed while the Conservative corporation for which the editors who approved them work, is locked in a steel-cage match with a Democratic mayor who wants to screw their Conservative ballclub. I think the non-partisanship of the reporting passes the smell test.

It looks like a little truth has escaped, swimming upstream against a torrent of internal self-interest that prevails more often than not.
If you -- like me -- are annoyed by Olbermann's use of the word "impactful," please consult this site which asserts, "There’s no simple alternative to impactful."

Update: I have not added "impactful" to this blog's spellchecker.

Tonight: John Kerry on "The Daily Show"

What better place to address the false ads from the phony Swift Boat Veterans for Truth than on a fake news program.

"Daily Show" executive producer Ben Karlin:
All of us [on 'The Daily Show'] are just blown away by the turn the campaign has taken. We cannot believe that this is what is being talked about at this juncture. It's so astounding to us. We are trying to work through our amazement and to conduct a meaningful conversation absent of incredulity, because [the interview] is not going to go anywhere if you just say, 'What the [expletive] is going on?'
From the Washington Post

The Cure for What Ails Ya

In addition to reaching out to younger voters, the Kerry/Edwards '04 hasn't forgotten about the baby-boomers.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Another Vet Stands Up

Terry Musser, a Republican Wisconsin state rep, longtime chairman of the Assembly Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, and the co-chairman of Wisconsin Veterans for Bush on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:
I just think it's wrong.


He was there. He did it. My opinion is that anybody who served anywhere is a hero. And we should not as a nation be trying to tear down people who served and are serving.


Kerry was saying he was in Cambodia, and you have some of the other ones saying he wasn't in Cambodia. It's like, who do you want to believe. I was in the Central Highlands. They could have sent us into Laos. I wouldn't have had a clue. There are no signs saying, 'Welcome to Thailand,' 'Welcome to Vietnam.'

Just imagine going up and down any river how easy of a target you are. He was there.
Via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Ode on a Grecian/Zorn

I'm not sure if Eric Zorn blogged about it as a joke or not, but there was a movement to have Modern Pankration at the Athens Games. Modern Pankration is a combat-sport very much like the mixed-martial arts (MMA) featured in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the like.

Although the word "pankration" can be loosely translated to "all strength" or "all moves" and MMA is often called "no-holds barred fighting" the following are prohibited by the rules of pankration:
  1. Strikes directed at: a) Joints (within 3 inches distal and proximal), b) Throat or Neck, c) Spine (cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, sacrum and coccyx), d) Groin and Inner Thighs
  2. Biting
  3. Eye-gouging
  4. Fish-hooking
  5. Clawing, scratching, pinching or grabbing of the skin
  6. Grabbing the openings or straps of the headgear or trunks
  7. Grabbing of hair
  8. Grabbing fewer than three (3) fingers or toes
  9. Any throw which locks the knees or is designed to, or which results in, an athlete being thrown onto their head or neck
  10. Any technique which severely compresses or hyper-extends the spine
  11. Grappling heel hooks
  12. Dynamic application of joint locks or chokes which deny an athletethe opportunity to submit before injury occurs
  13. Avoiding engagement
  14. Failure to defend
  15. Feigning injury
  16. Unsportsmanlike Conduct, including use of profanity, excessive "celebration", taunting or any behavior deemed unsportsmanlike by tournament officials.

In a further concession to modernity, the fighters no longer compete in the nude.

In which I blockquote Patrick J. Buchanan...

Pat Buchanan says that if the neocons "can ignite a new war [in Iran], the country may forget how they bungled the old war. In escalation lies vindication."

In "Where the Right Went Wrong," Buchanan observes:
Terrorists are picadores and matadores. They prick the bull until it bleeds and is blinded by rage, then they snap the red cape of bloody terror in its face. The bull charges again and again until, exhausted, it can charge no more. Then the matador, though smaller and weaker, drives the sword into the soft spot between the shoulder blades of the bull. For the bull has failed to understand that the snapping cape was but a provocation to goad it into attacking and exhausting itself for the kill.
I liked things better when I always disagreed with Pat Buchanan.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Another ringing endorsement

Jim Durkin -- who ran against Dick Durbin in 2002, back when Republicans fielded Senate candidates from Illinois -- on nutty Uncle Al:
I don't think labeling individuals in the state as terrorists because they don't believe with him on a social issue is a way to endear middle-of-the road individuals. *** I'm pro-life. Right now, he's extremely conservative, and the tone of his campaign is extremely conservative.
From the Lincoln Courier

Friday, August 20, 2004

Alan Keyes meets "South Illinois"

From the Tribune:
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes finished a booming stemwinder of a speech to his party's State Central Committee here on Thursday, then stepped away from the podium to find only a couple of people in the group rising to shake his hand.

That's largely how things went for Keyes--and for the party--for much of Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair, formerly a raucous event in the heady days when the party controlled most of the apparatus of state government.
From Sun-Times:
Imported GOP Senate nominee Alan Keyes tried Thursday to maneuver around political cow patties at the Illinois State Fair, where party loyalists rallied behind him while the GOP's moderate wing still was sizing up his archconservatism.

A modest fairground turnout, just a fraction of the size of a Democratic toast to Barack Obama a day earlier, heard Keyes belittle his senatorial rival for spurning offers of a half-dozen debates and present a fiery defense of his controversial views against abortion, gun control and the federal income tax.
Reading the accounts of Mr. Keyes' downstate performance and the natives' reaction to it, I am reminded of the differing approaches to mental illness in urban and rural areas.

In contrast to urban areas, rural people know the "crazies" in town, their stories and their families. They know whether a particular fellow is harmless or not and they often treat them with a level of kindness and politeness unseen in the big city because they don't want to embarrass the person or rest of the family -- "they're good people... but that Billy is just not right in his mind."

It seems to me that many of the down-staters are treating Alan Keyes like the nutty uncle of the IL-GOP. They respond with politeness and even kindness -- they wouldn't want to embarrass the rest of the Republican family by calling attention to his obvious madness -- but they clearly recognize that he is "touched in the head."

Right now folks downstate – or as Mr. Keyes calls it "south Illinois" – are trying to determine whether Mr. Keyes’ extreme beliefs and behavior are symptomatic of a deeper madness in conservative branch of the IL-GOP family tree.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

"Poor taste"

Minneapolis' Star Tribune rejected this ad for "poor taste."

Via Twin Cities City Pages

"The central question for a journalist in the Plame case"

Don Wycliff, the Chicago Tribune's public editor asks

Was "outing" Valerie Plame--in violation of federal law and at real potential risk to her life and health and that of any of those she worked with--such an important public interest that I would have promised some White House political shark to go to jail if necessary for the privilege?

It's not even a close call. I don't think anyone can reasonably argue that the American public is better off for knowing of Plame's CIA connection. (But that never was the point for the alleged leaker in the Bush administration anyway, was it?)


To the extent that [journalists] argue we should be exempt from the normal obligations of citizens -- to testify in a case like the Valerie Plame outing, for example -- we invite the anger of our fellow citizens and encourage their contempt for the shroud in which we wrap ourselves, the 1st Amendment.

That's not to say that there aren't cases that would justify a promise to go to jail to protect a confidence, and would merit every dime a newspaper or other journalistic entity could spend defending that promise.

The Wen Ho Lee case, in which a judge Wednesday held five reporters in contempt of court, may be one of those. But I suspect that if we were more discriminating about such cases up front, we would find ourselves at the barricades less often afterward.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Broken clock... twice a day...

Fox News Channel's fair and balanced Bill O'Reilly says the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is "way out of line":
I believe Jim Rassmann when he says that Kerry saved his life by pulling him out of a Vietnam river while under fire. Rassmann is a former Green Beret, a former police officer and a long time registered Republican until earlier this year. If he says John Kerry is a hero, nobody should doubt it. Rassmann has earned the right to be trusted and insulting his testimony is way out of line.


It is absolutely wrong for Americans to condemn Kerry's war record because he demonstrated provable valor. However, those who distrust him do deserve to be heard although facts not emotion should be demanded.

I think the Swift Boat political advertisement calling Kerry a charlatan is in poor taste, and if this kind of thing continues it might well backfire on the Kerry haters. Most Americans are fair minded, and bitter personal attacks do not go down well with folks who are not driven by partisanship.
Emphasis added.

via Salon's Right Hook.

Prepare for the Scare

NPR's On The Media interviewed Bob Harris of This Modern World regarding the politicization of Homeland Security.

Click here to listen.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

IL-GOP thinking: "Beguiling, but stupid."

The Economist:
The Illinois Republicans are not just guilty of tokenism. They are guilty of last-minute scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel tokenism. The local party has been undergoing a sort of collective mental breakdown ever since Jack Ryan's Senate candidacy collapsed in June over a sordid sex scandal.
via Talking Points Memo


Do us all a favor and consider nominating Archpundit (http://www.archpundit.com) in the Washingtonpost.com's best political blog competition as "Best Outside the Beltway."


Simplified: Kerry's Position on the Iraq War

I voted to give President Bush the authority.
Then President Bush f*cked it up.
Thanks Daily Howler

Putting "Race" back into the "Illinois Senate Race"

I thought that the IL-GOP escorted Alan Keyes into our fair state to take race of the table.

I must have misunderstood, because Keyes now proposes slavery reparations in the form of an exemption from income tax. And his opponent Barack Obama proposes programs that would benefit all Americans -- regardless of race -- who are struggling.

Keyes on Monday said he supported reparations for descendants of slaves -- an apparent switch in his position.

Keyes suggested descendants of slaves should be exempt from paying federal income taxes. But in a March 27, 2002, transcript of his show "Making Sense," Keyes -- who wants to abolish the federal income tax for everyone -- suggested that reparations were an insult.

"You want to tell me that what they suffered can actually be repaired with money?" Keyes asked at the time.

Keyes, through a spokesman, said late Monday he does not support reparations if other people's money is used. "If you couldn't get the income tax abolished totally, that [exemption for slave descendants] is incremental progress," spokesman Bill Pascoe said.

Obama said Monday he did not support reparations. Instead, he said he favored "investments" that would benefit all Americans who are struggling. "Things like early childhood education, job training, college scholarships, provide opportunity to all people," Obama said. "I'm just in favor of investments for people in need and struggling."
This misunderstanding has to be my fault because, as we've been told ad nauseam, Alan Keyes is 1) a man of principle and 2) a brilliant communicator.

Quote from the Chicago Sun-Times.

The hand of Alan Keyes' God

Alan Keyes on May 7, 2004:
Now, you think it's a coincidence that on Sept. 11th, 2001, we were struck by terrorists an evil that has at its heart the disregard of innocent human life? We who have for several decades killed not thousands but scores of millions of our own children, in disregard of the principle of innocent human life -- I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a warning. I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a shot across the bow.

I think that's a way of Providence telling us, "I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?"
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were a warning from "Providence"?

Doesn't this mean that Keyes thinks that the 9-11 terrorists were on a mission from God?

via the Chicago Sun Times

Friday, August 13, 2004

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Virtual Senate Debate on WBEZ

Tomorrow, Fresh Air will feature interviews with both Barack Obama and Alan Keyes.

WBEZ, 91.5 FM will carry it at 11 A.M.

Top Chicago Journalists Agree: Obama Should Legitimize Keyes

This morning, both of Chicago's page-two columnists, John Kass of the Tribune and Mark Brown in the Sun-Times, feign 'disappointment' that Obama is not going to wallow with Keyes in six debates.

Naturally these daily columnists are disappointed -- Keyes relationship with the press is purely cooperative. The media provide him with a forum for his views and he provides them with bizarre statements and shocking quotes to publish. It is a system that has worked well for both parties.

But for this process to work -- for yet another iteration of Keyes' reactionary views to be 'newsworthy' -- someone has to take Keyes seriously as an Illinois Senate candidate. By refusing to engage Keyes in six debates, Obama merely shows that he is not going to be the first person outside of the IL-GOP central committee to take Keyes' candidacy seriously.

So of course the media-types are upset with Obama -- those post-debate columns would have just written themselves.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Dear God, NO!

From Carpetbagger: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's biographer claims that White House lawyers have interviewed Thomas "as a possible choice to be the next chief justice."

Help stop it.

President Bush's nominee to head the CIA

Keith Berry reveals U.S. Rep. Porter Goss' history of covert operations.

UPDATE: Link to original story.

Jack Mabley on Alan Keyes

"A voice that could bring in pigs from the next county."

Jack notes that Keyes would likely be unable to identify the next county.

BREAKING: Keyes leads among Republicans!

A taste of Capitol Fax:
According to the poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, *** Republicans side with Keyes over Obama 67-27, but Obama beats Keyes with Democrats 92-4 and with independents 64-30. Obama leads Keyes in Chicago 79-16; in suburban Cook 74-20; in the collar counties 62-34; and in downstate 56-38.
And I have to think that Keyes' slim lead among Illinois Republicans slips lower each and every time he compares himself to Honest Abe.

Why Keyes? Revisited

From Dawn Turner Trice's column:
Mary B., of Chicago, sees something sinister in the GOP's selection of Keyes: I think Keyes' selection is much more Machiavellian than "Oh, God, who can we get?" Beyond neutralizing the race issue, I think they want to use Keyes to destroy the future of Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Barack Obama. The national Republican Party is scared of anyone, black or white, with the kind of appeal Obama possesses. I think we are going to see a very dirty campaign on Keyes' part.
The more I see of Keyes just attacking Obama -- e.g., comparing him to a slaveholder -- and utterly failing to address actual issues like healthcare and jobs, the more I think I was right about the origins of his candidacy.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Because WBEZ does not carry "Day to Day"...

From NPR's Day to Day:
Illinois Republicans are scrambling to find a senatorial candidate to run against Democratic rising star Barack Obama. NPR's Noah Adams talks with the vice-chair of the Illinois GOP about their political strategy and their top contenders.
Mary Alice Ericson on Barthwell: "She's articulate."
Mary Alice Ericson on Keyes : "He will have to establish a residency before he can sign his papers of candidacy -- but it's not hard to do that."

Why Alan Keyes?

The Illinois Republican leadership, and Dennis Hastert in particular, are lining up behind Alan Keyes as the GOP candidate to oppose Barack Obama for Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat. Why?

Not because they think that Keyes would be a good representative for Illinois.
Keyes lives in Maryland and has no connections to Illinois.

Not because they think that Keyes will defeat Obama in November.
Obama is riding high in the polls and his stellar keynote performance at the Democratic National Convention has only increased his appeal to Illinoisans of both parties.

Not because they think that Keyes will help Republican candidates further down the ticket.
No one in their right mind thinks that Alan Keyes will help get out the vote for GOP candidates downstate.

Then why?

To stop Barack Obama.

No, not at the Senate level. The GOP clearly indicated that it has written off that Senate seat when it proposed a carpet bagger like Keyes as its candidate. Instead, the Republican leadership in Washington have recognized that Obama may be the future of the Democratic party and have decided to use a Keyes candidacy to thwart Obama’s political ascension.

As the Republican candidate for the Senate, Keyes would be entitled to debate Obama. But for Keyes and the Republicans, the function of the debate would not be to put forth their ideas and attempt to sway Illinois voters. The election is unwinnable for the Republicans and they recognize that.

Instead, Keyes would attempt to use his considerable rhetorical abilities – the man is repeatedly described as “the winner” of the Republican presidential debates – solely to back Obama into a corner or to make him slip-up. Keyes role in the debate would be merely to elicit sound-bites that could be mischaracterized and taken out of context. Keyes would win the debate, not by gaining Illinois votes, but by wounding Obama.

While such a cynical ploy would be utterly transparent and a complete disaster if the candidate had any interest in winning the election at hand, but that is no longer the goal of the Republican party. They know they can’t beat Barack Obama in this Senate race. But they can use this Senate race to lay the groundwork for attacking Obama in the future.

Twelve years from now the people of Illinois may still remember that Alan Keyes was brought into the state to use the debates to attack and defame Barack Obama, but will the nation at large?

Will voters across the nation know the origin of a quote taken out of context by FoxNews?
Will they know that the twelve year old statements were made during a “debate” where one party’s only goal was to mischaracterizes his opponent’s position?
Will they know that the candidacy of his opponent was merely a cynical ploy to lay the foundation of a smear campaign against Obama?

All of the above is mere speculation, but it is the only explanation I can muster for the sudden high-level support of Alan Keyes as Republican candidate for the Senate from Illinois.

UPDATE: Jeffrey Dubner of the The American Prospect Online
Beyond name recognition and a monomaniacal candidate happy for a soapbox even in the face of certain defeat, Illinois Republicans have found a candidate who can attack Obama in ways a white candidate could not. Keyes has a long history of going after Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other outspoken black Democrats. *** In Keyes, the Republican leadership may have found a candidate who will relentlessly pursue Obama, who can drag him into what will seem like intra-racial warfare, and who -- most importantly -- can be disavowed as an idiosyncracy entitled to his own views. I'm beginning to think they made the right choice.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

IL-GOP's best hope against Barack Obama

First, lets look at the facts facing the Illinois Republican party:

  1. The GOP cannot win the race for Illinois' U.S. Senate spot.
  2. The GOP is willing to consider nearly any candidate -- Ditka and Keyes (but not Oberweis) -- to avoid a blow-out victory by Barack Obama.
  3. The GOP seems to believe that Barack Obama might be vulnerable to a challenge by another African-American, see: Keyes and Andrea Grubb Barthwell.
  4. The GOP needs to broaden its appeal to women.
  5. The GOP CANNOT win the race for Illinois' U.S. Senate spot.

So what is the IL-GOP to do? I say: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

No, I am not saying the GOP should fold up its tent and get out of Barack Obama's way.

Instead, I propose that they offer up their own African-American Harvard law grad who works for the University of Chicago. I suggest that they nominate a candidate that Barack Obama has worked with in the past and for whom he has expressed nothing but the deepest respect. I propose that the Illinois Republican Party take a page out of the Shaw brothers' play-book.

The Illinois Republican Party should nominate Michelle Obama for the United States Senate.

Let us now take a look at the qualities that Michelle Obama would bring to the Senate race for the IL-GOP:

  • Like Jack Ryan, Michelle Obama has a Harvard law degree and no legislative history for the Democrats to attack.
  • Like Mike Ditka, Michelle Obama would be a very charismatic wild-card and the "Obama" name is recognized state-wide.
  • Like Andrea Grubb Barthwell, Michelle Obama would appeal to African-Americans and women, constituents to whom the GOP needs to reach out to effectively challenge Barack Obama.
  • Like Steve Rauschenberger, Michelle Obama has worked with Barack Obama in the past and he has great respect for her and her abilities.
  • Unlike other Republican hopefuls, Michelle Obama has experience regularly debating with someone as intelligent and well-spoken as Barack Obama.
  • Unlike other Republican hopefuls, Michelle Obama could draw votes from Democrats and undecided voters.
  • And perhaps most important of all, Michelle Obama is happily married,so she will not suffer the fate of Barack Obama's previous opponents, i.e., embarrassing revelations from a messy divorce file.
I have heard Michelle Obama speak on many occasions during this election cycle and the Illinois Republicans would be fools not to try to put such a bright, charismatic and talented person at the top of their ticket.

What is the worst that could happen? That she join the countless others that have turned down the opportunity be the GOP Senate nominee? At this point, what's one more rejection?



Goldberg asks the musical question:

Why is Rolling Stone covering Abu Ghraib, but not the New York Times?

Monday, August 02, 2004

"This is a Gross Overreaction"

Larry Johnson, a former counter-terrorism official at the CIA and State Department, calls the Bush administration "irresponsible" for raising the terror threat level. Johnson says intelligence suggests attacks on U.S. financial institutions have been considered -- not that they are in the works.

The administration's terror allert was provoked by the recovery of targeting documents that indicated that, at some point in the past, terrorists had studied the buildings in question. Johnson spoke with NPR's Steve Inskeep.

Update: Scott Rosenberg points out that (according to this New York Times article)

the casing of buildings started even before 9/11. Maybe these were al-Qaida's alternate plans for the 9/11 attack itself. Maybe they were considering a follow-up. Maybe the plans were shelved, maybe they weren't. As far as we know, the new information is specific about location but tells us nothing about timing. Which is why the timing of the current warning -- aimed for maximum damping of any post-convention Democratic bounce -- smells so fishy.

Update II: This morning's NYT:

Reports That Led to Terror Alert Were Years Old, Officials Say

Mr. Bush's Wrong Solution

This news does nothing to bolster the confidence Americans need that the administration is not using intelligence for political gain.

Last Update: from the Washington Post:

More than half a dozen government officials interviewed yesterday, who declined to be identified because classified information is involved, said that most, if not all, of the information about the buildings seized by authorities in a raid in Pakistan last week was about three years old, and possibly older.
"There is nothing right now that we're hearing that is new," said one senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the alert. "Why did we go to this level? . . . I still don't know that."

NYT Mag looks at the South Dakota Senate race

"Hunting Mr. Democrat" from this week's New York Times Magazine:
In 1986, when Daschle was in the House and running for the Senate, Bill Janklow, a Republican populist just finishing two terms as governor, challenged Abdnor in a primary to decide who would face down Daschle. The irascible, domineering, occasionally gun-toting Janklow is among the most colorful politicians South Dakota has ever had. He might have beat Daschle but never got the chance; Abdnor, the conservative favorite, won the primary, then lost the general election. Daschle has been senator ever since.

In 1996, Thune ran an upstart campaign for the House, defeating Janklow's lieutenant governor in the primary and a former Daschle associate in the general election; he promptly gained a leadership spot in his freshman class. With term limits in fashion, he vowed to quit after six years -- a promise that conveniently put him in line to succeed Janklow in 2002. Thune's rise hardened the Abdnor-Janklow rift. ''For the first time in a long time,'' Thune said, ''Bill had to share the stage with somebody, and there were a lot of people in his camp who found that not to their liking.''

The feud was made more intense by the nature of South Dakota politics. With fewer than 800,000 people, South Dakota has only four high-profile positions -- governor, one House member and the two Senate seats -- and the state's most ambitious men fight hard to gain power and to keep it. So in 2002, instead of Thune replacing Janklow as governor, it was Janklow who replaced Thune, winning the House seat Thune had vacated. By this time, though, Janklow and Daschle had become good friends and tacit allies. In the 1990's, when Daschle stood accused of misusing his influence in the investigation of a plane crash, Janklow came to his defense. Last year, Daschle stuck his neck out for Janklow when the governor-turned-congressman stood trial for manslaughter after killing a motorcyclist in a traffic accident. ''I think he's a very truthful person,'' Daschle told the jury. Janklow was convicted nonetheless and sent to prison.

Daschle's mutual survival pact with Janklow has worked to his benefit. As Geisler said, ''It's the Republicans that keep electing Daschle.'' This is something Thune's Washington friends fail to grasp. ''I don't think the national Republicans have ever had a very good understanding of South Dakota,'' Thune said. ''They look at the voter registration numbers, and this looks like a Republican stronghold, and on the presidential level they are right. But if you drill down a little deeper, and look at the success Democrats have had out here, it is clearly a state that is up for grabs.''

Now, with Janklow out of the way, Thune is trying to consolidate the Republican Party to reclaim Jim Abdnor's old seat. But Janklow's people don't think much of Thune; they are suspicious of his genial ways and his West River connections to the religious right. ''Quite honestly,'' said one Janklow associate, ''a number of people within the Republican Party think Thune's a lightweight.''

"Lightweight'' is not an expression anyone would use to describe Tom Daschle.

Obama on health care

From the Rockford Register Star:
QUESTION: Do you think it’s time for a national health care system?

OBAMA: No. I think what we need is to build on programs that are successful. Like KidCare in this state where for less than half what George Bush’s tax cuts cost for the top 1 percent, we could provide health insurance for every child. We can let 55-year-olds to 64-year-olds buy into Medicare for a relatively modest amount. We can make COBRA actually work by providing more subsidies to people when they lose their jobs so they’re not suddenly confronted with $1,000-a-month health premiums when they’re unemployed. Those are all areas we can make an impact on now, but we also have to focus on cost containment.

One of the most frustrating things that I think happened in this last legislative session was this prescription drug bill that’s going to cost $500 billion but is not providing full benefits to seniors because there wasn’t a mechanism in place to allow seniors to join the Medicare system. That hurts seniors and taxpayers. It’s the worst example of big government and George Bush pushed it.


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