Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dick Simpson: "Time for Emanuel to support Cegelis in 6th"

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) should quit playing games and support Christine Cegelis for Congress. Cegelis is running for the second time for Henry Hyde's seat in the suburban 6th District that includes northeast DuPage County and northwest Cook County.

As Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet reported, Emanuel courted Army Major "Tammy" Duckworth to run as the Democratic candidate. He cynically believes that people will vote for her just because she is a wounded veteran of the Iraq War. She has no political platform and no indigenous campaign organization. She is still undergoing physical therapy for her war injuries and she had to get permission from the military to run. She will leave active duty on Dec. 1 to do so.

Apparently the campaign staff and cash would be helicoptered in from Washington because there has been no base built in the district even though nominating petitions are to be filed beginning Dec. 12. David Alexrod has been picked by Emanuel to run her public relations campaign locally.

As a candidate produced a couple of weeks before petitions are to be filed in an election for which she has yet to campaign, running is neither in Duckworth's best interest nor the party's. Emanuel just wants her to run because he can control her and use her in photo opportunities for the party. ***

Cegelis' sin in the eyes of Emanuel is that she has raised only $160,000 this year and has only $50,000 in the bank. Washington insiders believe that only campaigns that raise $1 million win. Emanuel previously tried and failed to get some personally wealthy Democrat to jump in the race. Failing that, he is putting up a war veteran in the hope of winning the sympathy and patriotic vote despite the fact that the majority of Americans now want to get out of Iraq.

The national Democratic Party would do better to send money and support to Cegelis. She, her more than 100 campaign volunteers, and the Democrats and Republicans in the 6th District who voted for her last time, have earned the right to run this race.
Emphasis added.

Friday, November 25, 2005

DC: 2008 Dammit!

From the Rockford Register Star:

Sen. Barack Obama, already portrayed by the Washington press as the Senate equivalent of a rock star, has wowed his Democratic colleagues as well.

National Journal, a respected Washington weekly magazine covering politics and government, asked 101 members of Congress and 137 lobbyists, former government officials and other political insiders which politician has the greatest potential to become president in 20 years.

The answer: the 44-year-old freshman senator from Illinois.

Of the 89 Democrats who responded, 45 percent picked Obama, the Senate’s only black member, National Journal reported in its Nov. 11 edition. The second choice was “don’t know,” at 13 percent.

Some sample anonymous comments from poll respondents: “He’s a laser in a room of lamps,” and “He has the charisma and steady leadership qualities to make it to the White House.”

What is Obama doing to merit this hype?

Thinking outside the box for one.

From Salon:
On Nov. 17, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., introduced a "Health Care for Hybrids" bill that outlines a new approach for boosting fuel efficiency in Detroit. It would offer struggling U.S. automakers a voluntary but potentially enticing deal: relief from some of the high healthcare costs they pay for retired employees (expected to total more than $5 billion in 2005) in exchange for a commitment to reinvest at least half of those savings in the development and manufacture of fuel-efficient vehicles.

The U.S. auto industry has long complained about these healthcare costs, portraying them as an undue financial burden that their competitors in countries with nationalized healthcare systems don't have to bear. Healthcare expenses currently account for about $1,500 of the cost of every General Motors car.
The tying of fuel economy to healthcare has been described as a "stroke of genius":
Typically, the Federal government influences investment decisions through tax credits. But, in order for tax credits to work you have to have something to tax. Companies posting losses -- and the Big 3 are billions in the red -- pay no taxes and therefore receive no benefit from a tax credit.

Senator Obama and Congressmen Inslee have recognized these companies are circling the drain, and with them our national economy and energy security. Their stroke of genius is in connecting the dots: Decreasing oil consumption is clearly a top national priority but it will not happen without a national investment. While the Big 3 have the technology and know-how to build the cars, trucks and SUVs that consumers love while providing the fuel economy they now demand, at this moment in history Detroit simply does not have the financial strength needed to transform its fleet quickly enough to survive.

Berkowitz: Roskam a November Loser

"Peter Roskam, a loser [this month]; he’s got a challenge [in 6th CD primary] apparently from a moderate Republican"

Jeff Berkowitz -- appearing on WBEZ's month-in-review with 848 host Steve Edwards, columnist Eric Zorn, blogger Leigh Anne Wilson -- says that the primary challenge of real estate developer and Glen Ellyn School District 41 board president John Vivoda to Peter Roskam will make him face some issues he would rather not deal with.

Aside: A hearty "Bravo!" to the Jeff and Leigh for their self-evident preparation and thoughtfulness. All too often the professional journalists who appear on the 848 month-in-review seem to have given the segment no thought at all before getting to the studio. If you missed it, check out the show on the 'BEZ archives and listen to Jeff and Leigh put the pros to shame.

Of course that above complaint doesn't apply to a month-in-review enthusiast like EZ.

Charges Dropped Against Neil Steinberg

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
A Cook County judge dismissed domestic battery charges against Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg on Wednesday after prosecutors said it appears Steinberg is complying with a court-ordered alcohol treatment program.

Prosecutors also spoke to Steinberg's wife, Edie, who testified that she wanted the case and an order of protection dropped.

"You are no longer in fear for your safety, is that correct?" Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Kenneth Alpert asked Edie Steinberg in the Skokie courtroom.

"That is correct," she replied.

Neil Steinberg was arrested in September and charged with striking his wife during an argument. He also was charged with interfering in the reporting of a domestic battery.

Last month, the columnist came to court holding his wife's hand and said he hoped the case would be dismissed. At that time, Judge Earl Hoffenberg sided with prosecutors, who wanted more time to see how Steinberg was progressing in his treatment program.

On Wednesday, Judge William O'Brien said that while dropping the charges gives the courts no mechanism to force Steinberg to continue treatment, O'Brien added, "I expect you to take heed of the advice and counsel."

Steinberg and his wife declined to talk to reporters as they left the courthouse.

Outside the courtroom, Alpert was asked if the resolution in the Steinberg case was typical.

"He was treated no differently than anybody else," Alpert replied.
Am I reading too much into things when I note that, although the Tribune story and previous S-T stories described Steinberg as a "Chicago Sun-Times columnist and editorial board member," this latest S-T story just said "columnist"?

In any event, let's all hope for the best for everyone involved.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Barack River Times

A letter to the editor critical of Barack Obama gets a response from the senator in The Rock River Times.

If the links are dead, both letters are available here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Barack Obama Imagines an Adult President

Sen. Obama addressed the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations this afternoon.

From your Chicago Tribune:
"The president could take the politics out of Iraq once and for all if he would simply go on television and say to the American people: 'Yes, we made mistakes. Yes, there are things that I would have done differently. But now that I'm here, I'm going to work with both Republicans and Democrats to find the most responsible way out,'" Obama said. "Imagine if he did that, how it would transform the politics of our country."
The full text of Sen. Obama's speech is here.

2008 Dammit!

Radio To Be Thankful For

Every Thanksgiving, the nation's families divide themselves into two camps: 1) those who will be up on Thursday morning preparing mounds of delicious food for their families, and 2) those of us who will wake up just in time to set the table.

The folks in the first group will be able to hear some damn fine radio while they toil over a hot stove for the benefit of the rest of us -- who will have to wait 'till Sunday to listen.

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
Prize-winning radio documentaries from the fifth annual Third Coast International Audio Festival will air from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday (rerun from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday) on Chicago Public Radio's WBEZ-FM (91.5).

Barbara Bogeav of American Public Media's "Weekend America," will host the special. Johanna Zorn of WBEZ is executive producer of the Chicago-based fetival.
An interview with Ms. Zorn is available here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lunch and Obama - $40

Barack Obama will be speaking to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations on "Moving Forward on Iraq" on Tuesday, November 22, 2005.
A central foreign policy issue for the United States continues to be the conflict in Iraq. Nearly three years after President Bush declared “mission accomplished”, more than 135,000 U.S. troops are still deployed in Iraq as that country attempts to find its footing. Please join Senator Barack Obama as he evaluates the United States’ policy toward Iraq, both where we are today and where we are going in the future. ***

11:30 a.m. Registration
12:00 p.m. Luncheon
1:00 p.m. Keynote lecture

The Palmer House Hilton
17 East Monroe, Chicago

Members $30; Nonmembers $40
2008 Dammit!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

6th District GOP Candidate: "Roskam is way, way outside what the district needs"

Is Peter Roskam too extreme for the 6th District?

Some DuPage County Republicans think so.

John Biemer has the scoop in your Chicago Tribune:
A real estate developer and Glen Ellyn School District 41 board president said Friday he is taking steps to challenge state Sen. Peter Roskam in the Republican primary for the congressional seat long held by retiring U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde.

John Vivoda, 47, said he is disappointed and frustrated with the way GOP leaders have rallied around Roskam, a Wheaton attorney, whom he described as too partisan and conservative and "way, way outside of what I think the district needs."

Vivoda said he is building an organization to support his run and collecting signatures to get on the ballot by the Dec. 19 filing deadline. He doesn't expect to get the support of the district's traditional Republican leadership, who he says "winked and nodded at George Ryan forever."

"There should be some choice, some contest on the Republican side rather than an anointing by all the same cast of characters," Vivoda said.

Roskam has been the sole Republican in the 6th District race since July, when state Sen. Carole Pankau (R-Roselle) and former DuPage County Recorder J.P. "Rick" Carney dropped out. That has allowed Roskam to rack up high-profile endorsements, including Hyde's, and $681,451 in campaign contributions as of the end of September.

Two Democrats are in the March primary -- Rolling Meadows software engineer Christine Cegelis and Wheaton professor Lindy Scott.

Patrick Durante, Addison Township GOP chairman and a longtime Hyde aide, said it was "infuriating" that Vivoda was looking to run as a Republican without contacting local GOP leaders in the district. He labeled Vivoda "a spoiler" who would force Roskam to spend money in the primary and hurt the GOP in the general election.

"It's selfishness. It's self-aggrandizement," Durante said. "The guy's going to get blown out."

Vivoda conceded it was "maybe an error" not to approach Durante, "but when I see that he's tied at the hip with Mr. Hyde and they've endorsed Peter Roskam, why bother? Why waste my time and tip my hand?"

Roskam's campaign spokesman declined to comment.
The C Comm Solutions, Inc. website informs us that Vivoda has more than 20 years of experience in the construction industry, and received his Bachelors of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Bradley University.

UPDATE -- Hiram has more.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Denny's Special: The Chickenhawk Slam

Some people have alotta nerve -- but not much for guts.

From the Washington Post:
In his 37 years in the military, John Murtha won two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star with a Combat "V," and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. As a Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania for the past 31 years, he has been a fierce hawk, championing conflicts in Central America and the Persian Gulf.

Yesterday, he was called a coward.

After Murtha stunned the Capitol with a morning news conference calling for a pullout from Iraq because our "troops have done all they can," the denunciations came quickly.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) accused Murtha of delivering "the highest insult" to the troops. "We must not cower," Hastert lectured the old soldier.
Denny "The Coach" Hastert avoided the draft with a medical deferment.

But, oddly, his "bad knee" that kept him out of Vietnam didn't keep him from joining the Wheaton College wrestling team.

Some would say that makes him a "Chickenhawk." Others would use a less charitable term.

Over at HuffPost, Stephen Kaus explains why the Chickenhawk point is valid:
Let me try to explain this. It appears that those who pushed and operated this war were very cavalier with the lives of our servicemen.

First, there was a rush to war that was not necessary for its stated purpose, but could be explained by the neo-cons' near-religious belief that a good ass-whipping of Sadaam would be a panacea for the Middle East undoubtedly synergizing with the President's pique at the assassination attempt on 41. Second, there were too few troops with too little protection. Third, continuing the faith-based theme, there was virtually no planning, it appears, for what to do as occupiers beyond the belief expressed on Meet the Press by Vice-President Cheney that "we will be greeted as liberators."

So, the point is that it is particularly galling when the people who have put American lives at greater risk than necessary have never taken the risk themselves. That is not to say that one must have been in the service to be a war-time leader. It is to say that the leaders who botched this war should have been as concerned about our soldiers' lives as they previously were about their own.
So let's make a deal.

If Denny doesn't lecture John "Purple Hearts, Bronze Star and Cross of Gallantry" Murtha about the military and bravery, then Murta won't lecture Denny about young men in tights rolling around on the ground.

UPDATE -- Well, it looks like House Republicans are following Denny's example. Hastert must apologize for his party's inexcusable attack on a decorated military hero. If he fails to do so, we can only assume that he approves.

From Think Progress:

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) today on the House floor, speaking about Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a decorated former Marine:

Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed in what we were doing is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body – that we will see this through.

Watch in Quicktime

Utterly shameful.

Worm's Career Meets Its Waterloo

From the Waterloo Courier:
Dennis Rodman has put his ink on the dotted line.

Cedar Valley Jaguars owner Eddie Diaz said Tuesday that Rodman, one of the most flamboyant characters in the history of professional basketball, has signed a contract to play two games with the International Basketball League's Jaguars in May. All the Jaguars' home games this season are scheduled for Young Arena in Waterloo.

"He will play two games for sure, the 19th and 20th of May," said Diaz, who has revamped his former Waterloo Kings franchise for a second IBL season. "We are negotiating for him to play two more games.

"I think it will be very exciting for our community."

Rodman built a reputation as a fierce defender and rebounder during 14-year career in the National Basketball Association during which he averaged 13.1 rebounds and 7.1 points per game. He was the league's rebounding champion for seven straight seasons from 1991-92 through 1996-97 while playing for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls.
And if you've always wanted to play ball with Dennis Rodman, the International Basketball League is having free agent tryouts in Grayslake at the College of Lake County on December 4.

Doggin' Durbin

At a constituent breakfast, Sen. Dick Durbin rebutted the allegation that he has become a "vicious attack dog" for the Democratic Party.

From your Chicago Defender:
"I think when you have a government that's dominated by one party, the other party can be voiceless and used and step back and say, 'You're in charge. We'll wait until we get our next chance,' or we can speak up," said Durbin. "And I'm going to speak up, and if I get troublesome, I'm sorry."
Sen. Barack Obama said that no one was more concerned about the "poisonous atmosphere" in Washington than Durbin:
"The difficulty that I think we all face is that there are sharp differences and divisions in our own communities about issues like abortion or issues like the Supreme Court or issues like Iraq," said Obama, D-Ill. "What I found is one way to avoid controversy is to just not say anything about it, but that ends up being a certain abdication of leadership."
So let me try to clarify:
  • There are two political parties in Congress: the Democrats and the Republicans,
  • Currently, the Republicans are the majority party and the Democrats are the minority party,
  • Durbin is a leader of the minority party in Congress, i.e. the opposition party,
  • As a leader of the opposition party, he will sometimes oppose activities and policies that are bad for our nation, e.g. the cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners at U.S.-controlled detention facilities.
  • The use of "vicious attack dogs" is one of the cruel and inhumane treatments of prisoners banned under the Senate resolution sponsored by Sen. John McCain and co-sponsored by Sen. Durbin but opposed by the Bush Whitehouse.
I hope that clears up any confusion.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

So Denny, How Was YOUR Day?

Another big loss for the House GOP

Bad Day For The Right

Wheels: Still Coming Off

Defeat Yet Again

Spending bill defeat historic


Fitzgerald Indicts Lord Black of Crossharbour

Between the ongoing Plamegate-Whitehouse investigation and the George Ryan trial, etc., I had completely forgotten about this Patrick Fitzgerald prosecution.

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
Conrad Black, former chairman and chief executive of Hollinger International, and three other former executives were charged in a federal fraud indictment Thursday involving the $2.1 billion sale of several hundred Canadian newspapers and the abuse of corporate perquisites at newspaper publishing company Hollinger International Inc.

Black, 61, Hollinger International's ousted chairman, was accused in the 11-count indictment of cheating the company's U.S. and Canadian shareholders as well as Canadian taxing authorities.

Black and the others were accused of fraudulently diverting more than $32 million from the company through a complex series of transactions. Former Chicago Sun-Times publisher David Radler pleaded guilty to similar charges involving the $32 million in September.

But the indictment also outlines fresh allegations, including what federal prosecutors described as the fraudulent diversion of an additional $51.8 million in 2000 from Hollinger International's sale of assets to CanWestGlobal Communications Corp.
The story closes with this nugget:
Fitzgerald said in a statement issued by his office that "officers and directors of publicly traded companies who steer shareholders' money into their pockets should not lie to the board of directors to get permission to do so."

He said insiders "whose job it was to safeguard the shareholders made it their job to steal and conceal."
It seems Fitzgerald really, really doesn't care for liars who betray a trust.

"Emanuel Should Support Cegelis"

Andy Ostroy, The Ostroy Report, wonders, "Christine Cegelis got 44% against Henry Hyde in '04 -- so why is DCCC head Rahm Emanuel undermining her '06 campaign?"

Rep. Henry Hyde, the 81-year-old hypocrite Republican blowhard who led the House impeachment effort against President Bill Clinton in the 1990's and subsequently faced humiliation and embarrassment when news of his 5-year adulterous affair became public, will be vacating the 6th Congressional District seat he's held for almost 30 years. In the '04 election, his Democratic challenger, Christine Cegelis, commanded 44% of the vote, more than any challenger since his first run for Congress in 1974.

In their effort to hang onto Hyde's seat, the GOP is pushing state Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton), a Tom Delay protege, who'll likely face the winner of the Democratic primary to be held in March. Head-to-head against Roskam, you'd think Cegelis would stand a terrific shot of capturing another 7% and winning the election, right?

Apparently, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (ILL), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, doesn't think so.

Yesterday I wrote about Emanuel, his progress at the DCCC, and his rough and tumble qualities that the party desperately needs right now in battling the Republicans. But today I write about something quite puzzling about Emanuel. Rather than throw his political muscle and DCCC money behind Cegelis -- a 51 year old single mother and businesswoman -- Emanuel is instead recruiting Army Maj. Ladda "Tammy" Duckworth, a Hofffman Estates resident, who lost both her legs in Iraq. She has not yet accepted his invitation to run for Hyde's seat. "She expressed her interest. That's where it is," he said. Duckworth is undergoing physical therapy and faces many medical challenges as a result of her injuries. With no political experience, and having serious health issues, it's a mystery why Duckworth appeals more to Emanuel than the candidate who almost whipped Hyde's philandering ass last year.

One explanation is that Emanuel has not been happy with Cegelis's fundraising efforts. Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, Cegelis raised $159,885 and has $48,973 cash on hand. That's not good enough for Emanuel, so he's begun looking for an alternative. What's troubling is that Emanuel's main function as DCCC head is to raise funds for viable candidates who are struggling financially, and Cegelis is about as viable as they come in the 6th District race. Again, she captured 44% against a 31-year, 16-term Republican legend; in my book that makes her the Democrats' best shot and Emanuel should embrace her with everything he's got.

Emanuel also seems hellbent on recruiting fantasy candidates who fit a certain high profile: military vets, law enforcement, athletes. In doing so, he seems to be chasing what he believes to be a winning Republican strategy. Is he onto something here? Perhaps. But these backgrounds don't in and of themselves make one fit for public service. It's quite possibly style over substance, and that would be a disaster for our side.

Winning Hyde's seat is very much within reach for the Democrats. Roskam, a former legislative assistant to scandal-plagued former House Leader Tom Delay, was himself investigated in 1992 by the Illinois Attorney general and the IRS for possible campaign finance abuses. Like his former boss, he's no pillar of morality. It's shouldn't be too hard to mount an effective campaign against him.

Let's hope that Emanuel, rather than possibly chasing down a fantasy, puts his immense clout and financial support behind candidates who have experience and can win, and not just those who look good in uniform. Until I see otherwise, Christine Cegelis, who's been endorsed by Howard Dean and Sen. Richard Durbin (IL), seems very worthy of that support.

via OpEdNews.com

UPDATE -- Michael at SoapBlox Chicago is disgusted:
This is typical. Democrats in the district support Cegelis in her run against Hyde. Rahm and the DCCC look at her bottom line and write her off as a candidate, further undermining her fundraising in the 2006 race. Democrats in the district say Cegelis has invested in a strong volunteer organization and campaign infrastructure for 2006. Beltway folks ignore them, opting instead for a "war hero" candidate with no experience or organization. Locals like what they see, giving in small amounts, leading to over 1,300 contributors - three times Roskam's number - to Cegelis this year. The DCCC doesn't care how many supporters she has, but would rather look tough, playing within the GOP "Democrats are weak" frame, by supporting a candidate who may not even live in the district and seems poised to support, in DLC fashion, the Iraq war - a unpopular position in DuPage county, especially among Democrats and Independents.


Did anyone tell these guys that according to the latest polls Bush is at 31% approve and 67% disapprove in Illinois? Did anyone show these guys the results from the 2005 elections where anyone who supported Bush or his war was voted out of office? Did anyone explain to these guys that being just another pro-war Democrat in DuPage doesn't look tough, just stupid. You know, looking at it this way, I don't think anyone has told Rahm or the DCCC any of this stuff. ***

Maybe you should write him and tell him that what ever they hell he has against Cegelis, he should get over it. Maybe suggest that he should start helping the candidates like Cegelis who are positioned to lay into their Republican opponents. Maybe he should rethink spending his time and resources recruiting out of district candidates for costly primary races while the GOP sits back leisurely raises more money.

Maybe you just need to point this out to him:

Congressman Rahm Emanuel:
Washington, DC
1319 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
phone: 202-225-4061
fax: 202-225-5603

3742 West Irving Park Road
Chicago, IL 60618
phone: 773-267-5926
fax: 773-267-6583

Email Page

Democatic Congressional Campaign Committee:
430 South Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
Phone Number: 202-863-1500
Email Address: dccc@dccc.org

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Half-wit Pride

Do you need an efficient way to let the world know you are a moron before you even open your mouth?

Problem solved.

1000 Words

If you are the governor and you are trying to convince the state -- and nation -- that you care about Illinois' children by signing a bill that will guarantee healthcare for the state's kids, you should try to avoid having an AP photographer catch you giving your own daughter a sour look for stealing the spotlight.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Plan B - Wing-Nut Fundamentalism Applied to Your Family

From your Chicago Tribune:

Top officials at the Food and Drug Administration already had decided not to allow over-the-counter sales of a controversial "morning-after" contraceptive months before the agency's safety review was completed, according to documents and accounts from several FDA officials contained in a new critical audit of the agency's actions.

The Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative agency, concluded Monday that the FDA did not follow its normal procedures in handling the application to allow women easier access to the emergency contraceptive pill, which is sold under the brand name Plan B.

Nearly two years after a scientific advisory committee recommended that the emergency contraceptive be made available to women without a prescription, the FDA has yet to make a final decision.

In a review of 67 applications that the agency received over the prior decade to allow over-the-counter sales of a drug, the GAO found that the FDA had not previously overridden a favorable recommendation by its scientific advisory committee. ***

Liberal critics have charged that the agency is dragging its feet for political reasons. Many social and religious conservatives oppose wider availability of morning-after pills. ***

The GAO report found evidence that a decision not to allow over-the-counter access was made within the office of then-Commissioner Mark McClellan early in the process, by late 2003.

The GAO report quoted two FDA officials who said they were informed that the application would not be approved as early as six months before the announcement, just after a December 2003 meeting in which a panel of outside experts voted 23-4 for approval. The two officials said Galson and another high-ranking FDA official informed them that the determination had come from McClellan's office. McClellan now heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Also, the minutes of a Jan. 15, 2004, staff meeting showed that Galson told reviewers that a decision not to approve was "recommended." FDA staff members who were present provided documentation that they were told a decision not to approve already had been made, according to the GAO report, which did not detail what form that documentation took.

The FDA staff safety reviews, each of which recommended approval, were not completed until April 2004, the GAO said.The agency said Galson had told investigators he was not sure what decision he would make until shortly before he announced it in May 2004, but he also said he was "90 percent sure" he would turn down the application as early as January, the report said.

The rationale Galson gave--insufficient evidence on how over-the-counter access to the drug would affect the behavior of young adolescents--was "novel and did not follow the FDA's traditional practices," the GAO said.

And your Sun-Times reports that the FDA's scientific advisory committee "cited assessments that easier access [to Plan B] could halve the nation's 3 million annual unintended pregnancies."

That means that there have been almost THREE MILLION unintended pregnancies in the nearly two years since the FDA's scientific advisers recommended that Plan B be made available without a prescription.

That's three million (3,000,000) unintended pregnancies because conservative fundamentalism overrides medical science in this GOP FDA.

That's three million couples who's lives were unnecessarily turned upside down by political games played at the expense of America's families.

It's their fundamentalism forced on our families.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Dan Savage: Rise Up, Straight People!

Dan Savage, who's Savage Love columns can be found in your Chicago Reader, warns hetros that the fundamentalists want to control their sexuality as well.
Straight rights update: There were two disturbing developments in the battle over straight rights last week.

First: Target. We know the store fills its ads with dancing, multiculti hipsters giving off a tolerant, urbanist vibe and runs hipster-heavy ad campaigns positioning Target as a slightly more expensive, more progressive alternative to Wal-Mart. Well, as John Aravosis revealed on Americablog.org last week, Target's politics are as red as their bull's-eye logo.

The chain allows its pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control and emergency contraception to female customers if the pharmacist objects on religious grounds. What's worse, the company claims that any of its employees has a right to discriminate against any of its customers provided the discrimination is motivated by an employee's religious beliefs. Read all about it at http://www.americablog.org/ and www.plannedparenthood.org.

Second, more troubling news from Tucson, Ariz., where a 20-year-old rape victim called dozens of pharmacies in town before she found one that stocked emergency contraception (EC). "When she finally did find a pharmacy with it, she said she was told the pharmacist on duty would not dispense it because of religious and moral objections," reported the Arizona Daily Star.

Emergency contraception, the story continued, "prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of a fertilized egg. The sooner the emergency contraception is taken after intercourse, the more effective it is."

Don't just sit there, heteros. Defend your rights! Don't shop at Target, and write 'em and tell them why you're going elsewhere. (Go to Target.com and click on "contact us," then "Target Corporation.") As for Fry's Pharmacy in Tucson, the shop that wouldn't dispense EC to a freakin' rape victim, the fundamentalist pharmacist claims its her "right" not to do her fucking job.
Well, you have a right to free speech. Call Fry's at 520.323.2695 and ask them why the fuck a pharmacy that won't dispense EC keeps the drug in stock. Do they do it just to torment rape victims? ("Oh yeah, we've got EC - but you can't have any. Don't you know that Jesus wants you to bear your rapist's child?")

Rise up, straight people, and demand your rights.
With Christmas right around the corner, the folks at Target may be particularly interested to hear from you.

Is Torture Justified?

A letter to the editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
The naive bleeding hearts who oppose Vice President Dick Cheney's efforts to secure an exemption to the ban on the use of torture when interrogating those who are a threat to our security need to wake up to reality. This is the post-9/11 world. If some evildoer needs to be squeezed a little to obtain information that will potentially save American lives, we need to do it.

The torture of Lewis (Scooter) Libby should begin this minute and continue until he gives up every neocon-man, war profiteer, misguided zealot, shock-and-awe peddler and lying politician who participated in the conspiracy to manufacture this war in Iraq.

—Gerry Mitchell, Minnetrista, MN
via Altercation.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

If Scooter Says He Loves You...

"I don't think I'm ever going to believe anything I am told from the intelligence community... if it's not checked 15 or 20 different ways." -- New York Times reporter Judith Miller on NPR's On The Media.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Obama: America's First Green President?

Sen. Obama's common sense plan for shifting the source of our nation's auto fuel from the Middle East to the Midwest should make him very popular in corn growing states like Illinois, Indiana and...

Oh, I don't know...

Indiana Senator Richard Lugar and Illinois Senator Barack Obama have introduced legislation that would require all vehicles sold the the United States to be built as flexible fuel vehicles within 10 years.

Flex-fuel vehicles run on regular gasoline and E-85, which is a blend of ethanol and gasoline.

The senators believe alternative fuels will lessen our dependence on foreign oil, while giving a boost to agri-business in Indiana and Illinois.

The bill would require 10 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. to be flex-fuel capable within 18 months of the bill`s passage.

The requirement would increase by 10 percent in each subsequent year, so all new vehicles would be flex-fuel within a decade.
2008 Dammit!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

One of the Good Ones

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed a pattern in its postings -- I think most Republicans suck.

But I don't think all Republicans suck.

The details are being finalized.....The event is on schedule.

The sternos for the chicken wings pan are all set, the fryer is turned on, my dad is really out of breath from blowing up all the balloons....and the really loud 80's rock is set up in the jukebox....

Come on out and bring your friends to the People for Parrillo fundraiser for Jake Parrillo, Village Trustee in Frankfort.

How many folks do you know if public service? Not many? How many under the age of 30? Even less, right? Here's a chance to lend a hand with Jake's campaign.

He has an 'evil' ex-mayor who will stop at nothing to toss Jake out of office and install his own patsy! Your $30 will go a long way to making sure that doesn't happen.

Details are below:
Saturday, Nov 12th
8-11 PM
McGees on Webster
People For Parrillo Fundraiser
$30 all you can drink, eat
Free Ketchup!

Get there early, as you'll do more damage at the bar and on the wings, eh? Bring your friends and co-workers, please!!!
The fact that some Republicans don't suck is what makes the sucking of the vast majority of Republicans suck so damn much.

So feel free to go support Jake -- and remember that at a Republican fundraiser ketchup is a vegetable!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Industrial Strength Bad Taste

Why did Sen. Obama pledge to block high-level Environmental Protection Agency nominations to extract an EPA commitment to regulate lead paint exposure during home remodeling?

Why wasn't the Bush EPA's offer to ask home renovation and remodeling companies to adopt voluntary protective practices enough?

Because industry reps like the National Association of Manufacturers treat poisoning children with lead as a joke.

Terminated Vote: Rise of the Machines

We all know that anyone who questions the flawlessness of Diebold electronic voting machines has to be a conspiracy nut, so let's all ignore the LA Times report that Arnold Schwarzenegger -- the freaking Governor of California -- was turned away by the electronic voting machines:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up to his Brentwood neighborhood polling station today to cast his ballot in the special election — and was told he had already voted.

Elections officials said a Los Angeles County poll worker had entered Schwarzenegger's name into an electronic voting touch screen station in Pasadena on Oct. 25. The worker, who was not identified, was testing the voting machine in preparation for early voting that began the next day.
Don't worry about Arnie though:
The poll worker told the governor's staff he would have to use a "provisional" ballot that allows elections workers to verify if two votes were made by the same person. McCormack said the poll worker did the correct thing.

The governor, however, was allowed to use a regular ballot.
Yep, another Republican man of the people.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Durbin: Chalabi Is No Honored Guest

The hyper-blog The Huffington Post has the text of Sen. Durbin's "impassioned statement, focusing on the imperative need for a thorough, unblinking investigation into the misuse of pre-war intel":

Mr. President, I also would like to note that something curious is happening in Washington today. There is a man by the name of Ahmed Chalabi who is visiting Washington.

Mr. Chalabi is under active investigation. He is under investigation for the charge that he leaked intelligence, including the fact that the United States had broken a crucial Iranian code and that he turned that information over to the Baghdad station chief of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

Of course if that happened, Mr. Chalabi endangered American troops and American security. As a result of this charge against Mr. Chalabi, on May 20 of last year, his residence was searched by the Iraqis with the cooperation of American forces in Iraq to see if evidence could be found.

Now, that's a serious charge -- that we would somehow jeopardize the security of America’s troops and our national security and whether this man leaked sensitive information and the fact that he's under active investigation by the F.B.I. is proof-positive that we're taking this seriously.

So where can we find Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi this week? Well, we'll find him in Washington. He has an appointment to sit down and break bread with Treasury Secretary Snow and the secretary of state, Condoleezza rice, and then a little later this week he's going to give a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

Does this sound like a man under active investigation or a man who is being actively lauded by this administration?

I don't understand this. While the Department of Justice is actively investigating this man for wrongdoing that could have endangered American troops and American lives, the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury are hosting him like some dignitary.

The whole speech is here.

Headache for Ice Cream Man

From your Chicago Public Radio:
Two undocumented workers living in Chicago's northwest suburbs say Oberweis Dairies paid them less than half the state's minimum wage to clean its stores.

Rosa Ramirez and Jorge Ibarra filed a complaint late last week with the Illinois Department of Labor.

Illinois gubernatorial candidate Jim Oberweis chairs the dairy company, and has taken strong stances against illegal immigration in his campaign.

Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, says, "If someone like Oberweis, who's demagogued against illegal immigrants, is using their labor for his company, it just shows that as a nation we're living with a lot of hypocrisy."

Meanwhile, Oberweis says the complaint is politics at its worst, especially as the race for governor heats up. He denies the allegations and says Oberweis Dairies has done nothing wrong.

He also says the cleaning subcontractor who hired Ramirez and Ibarra should be held solely responsible for any possible wrongdoing.
I am sure we all share Oberweis' disgust at the very idea that someone would use the issue of illegal immigration for political gain.


In the Interests of Balance

Because this blog tends only to feature only the liberal, reality-based view of Bush's invasion of Iraq, I have decided to present the opposing view.

From Harper's: A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Friend Indeed

In Newsweek, Jennifer Anniston discusses "Seven Things I’d Rather Talk About... Than the Men in (or Out) of My Life", and here is her number six:
The state of the world. How about that indictment?! And why did it take so long to respond to the crisis in New Orleans? Everything is imploding. It all seems to lead back to our dear president.
Brad Pitt just looks dumber and dumber with each passing day.

Novak: Novak's Argument is Claptrap

Is the pressure of Plamegate getting to Robert Novak?

Thinkprogress' exegesis of today's Novak column -- available in your Chicago Sun-Times -- certainly points in that direction:
Novak Debunks Himself

Kate Michelman revealed that a Pennsylvania spousal notification requirement ruled constitutional by Judge Alito required her to seek notification from her husband who had abandoned her before having an abortion. From the 11/3 edition of NPR's All Things Considered:
The state forced me to obtain permission from the man that deserted me and my three daughters.
Robert Novak devoted an entire column this morning to debunking Michelman's claim:
[Michelman] raised the prospect of women chasing after a deserting spouse, desperately trying to find him in order to fulfill notification requirements. In fact, the Pennsylvania law in question would have exempted Michelman from spousal notification in such a situation.
But Novak debunks his own argument in paragraph 6:
As an abortion-seeking woman searching for the husband who has abandoned her, she would only have had to provide a signed (not notarized) statement that "her spouse, after diligent effort, could not be located."
The law, as cited by Novak, requires a woman to make a "diligent effort" to locate her husband, even if he abandoned her. That's what Michelman had to do. Novak spends an entire column attacking her for sharing her story.

Novak notes that Michelman could have, in the alternative, signed a statement saying that after "diligent effort" she couldn't locate her husband. He emphasizes that that the statement wouldn't have had to be notarized. The message, it seems, is that this is nothing a woman can't get around by lying.


Is that Novak's answer to everything?

Even a Broken Clock, etc.

George W. Bush accidentally told the truth while visiting Brazil.

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
Eyeing three coming presidential elections in Latin America, Bush said citizens must choose ''between two competing visions'' for their future.

One, he said, pursues representative government, integration into the world community and freedom's transformative power for individuals.

''The other seeks to roll back the democratic progress *** by playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor and blaming others for their own failures to provide for the people,'' he said.
The story did not indicate whether Bush's statement, translated into Portuguese, was interpreted by the Brazilians as irony or hypocrisy.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Environmental Round-Up

DJW wants you to get the blues for a greener Illinois:
Illinois Sierra Club fundraiser Sunday at Kingston Mines in Chicago

Sunday night the Sierra Club Political Committee for Illinois is having a party ay Kingston Mines at 2548 N. Halsted from 5 to 8 pm, with Charlie Love and the Silky Smooth Blues Band performing.

Tickets are $35 and a few legislators will speak as well, including Kathy Ryg, Sara Feigenholtz, Mattie Hunter and John Cullerton.

The money goes to the state Sierra Club political committee, which is actively involved in electing environmental candidates, so if you are free Sunday night (short notice, I know), come on out.

For more, check out Jack Darin's Sierra Club blog here.
Barack Obama wants the EPA to stop the poisoning of our children. From the AP:
Sen. Barack Obama said Friday he will block all of President Bush's nominees to key positions in the Environmental Protection Agency until it issues long-overdue regulations limiting people's exposure to lead paint from house remodeling.

EPA spokeswoman Eryn Witcher said the agency will issue the regulations before the end of the year. Obama's office said the senator will reconsider if he gets a promise from EPA in writing. Senate rules and privileges effectively allow any senator to block a nomination. ***

Nearly 5 million households carry the risk of lead exposure if home repairs and renovations aren't carried out carefully, EPA says. About 1.4 million children under the age of 7 could be affected. ***

Before settling on the regulatory route, the Bush administration last year looked at asking home renovation and remodeling companies to adopt protective practices voluntarily, at the urging of Stephen Johnson, then the deputy administrator and now head of EPA. ***

"I find it unbelievable that the EPA would continue to drag its feet despite the fact that their own analysis found that these rules could prevent 28,000 lead-related illnesses each year," Obama said.

And your Chicago Tribune says that the Endangered Species Act is, well, endangered:
Congress is taking steps to rewrite the Endangered Species Act for the first time in the law's 32-year history to make it more friendly to landowners and builders, a move decried by conservationists and welcomed by developers.

Environmentalists view the act as a signature accomplishment that has been vital in protecting the nation's natural heritage, from bald eagles to whooping cranes. But critics of the 1973 legislation have long charged that it shows more concern for the northern spotted owl and snail darter than for workers and property owners.

The House passed a bill to significantly rewrite the law in September, and the Senate is expected to adopt at least some of those changes. The House bill would require, for example, that the government pay developers if the act prevents them from building, and it would eliminate the government's ability to designate a creature's "critical habitat" where building is forbidden. ***

"This is a reckless bill that would have profound consequences on protecting the nation's endangered species," said Robert Dewey, vice president of government affairs for Defenders of Wildlife. "As a general matter, it hardly matters what you do if you don't protect their habitats."
And the efforts of the DC GOP and their corporate masters to use our nation as their toilet brings us back to the Sierra Club fundraiser and DJW:
I think we tend to send too many dollars and other resources to D.C. to essentially complain about the Republican extremists running the show and play defense, when we could be supporting the progressives helping to run the Democratic governments in states and cities across the nation (especially in the Capital of Blue America), so this state Sierra Club funder is consistent with that thought.
So head on over to Kingston Mines and get your jam-on.

UPDATE: From the AP

The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it would propose regulations by the end of the year to limit people's exposures to lead paint during home remodeling.

EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock told Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in a letter that EPA staff are working diligently to propose a regulation by Dec. 30.

Obama said last Friday that he would block high-level EPA nominations until he received that commitment. In response to EPA's letter, he removed a senatorial "hold" Monday on President Bush's nomination of Susan Bodine to become EPA's assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response. ***

"Too many children have needlessly suffered from lead-paint poisoning, and we've already waited far too long to take action to protect them," Obama said, citing EPA figures estimating that lead paint from home remodeling leads to illnesses in 28,000 people each year.

I find it interesting that Obama -- one of the newest members of the Senate -- seems to understand how to control the adjenda, despite being in the minority party, far better than so many in the party's leadership.

2008 Dammit.

Amen and Amen

Cathleen Falsani, religion writer for your Chicago Sun-Times and the Religion Newswriters Association's 2005 Religion Writer of the Year, can no longer stand by silently:
I'm reluctant to appear unduly partisan, at least not in print.

I don't want to paint one political ideology or another with a broad brush, and I am reticent always to judge the quality of anyone's faith (or heart), that of a president or anyone else.

But there comes a time when silence is immoral. Now, I believe, is that time.
If you have ever found anything on this blog of any interest, please, please, please read Falsani's entire column.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

What About the Children?!?

If you're like me, you thought that Gov. Blagojevich's crusade against dirty video games addressed the single most burning issue facing the Land of Lincoln -- the issue that would propel him back into the governor's mansion governor's office in the Thompson Center.

But Republican Steve Rauschenberger has identified an even bigger threat to Illinois: naughty T-shirts.

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, a candidate for governor, squeezed into the latest Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt flap Wednesday by threatening to lead a boycott if the retailer doesn't pull a new batch of suggestive shirts.
At a Chicago news conference, the Elgin Republican -- who in recent months has held news conferences on meatier but drier issues -- alternately called the $24.50 shirts "offensive," "degrading," "an abomination" and "crap."

The shirts, part of the ongoing "attitude" T-shirt trend popular with kids, feature lettering and logos with a slew of sexual double entendres. Some are more blunt.

"Who Needs Brains When You Have These?" asks one shirt, its lettering at chest level. Another reads "Freshman 15" and then lists a series of men's names. The shirts get more suggestive from there.

"I don't pretend to be the bellwether of what's cool, but I know there is nothing cool about disrespecting women or disrespecting one's self," said Rauschenberger, 49.

Rauschenberger said he'll introduce a Senate resolution this week calling on Abercrombie & Fitch to stop selling the shirts. If that doesn't work, he said he'll organize family groups to boycott Illinois stores. ***

Two of Rauschenberger's three announced challengers in next spring's GOP primary -- Aurora dairy man Jim Oberweis and state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington -- weighed in on the shirt flap. North Side businessman Ron Gidwitz took a pass.

"Every parent and friend in Illinois should remind our youth that modesty in conduct and appearance are a virtue," Oberweis said.

Brady spokesman Dan Egler said making the shirts an issue was fine, but he noted that people on the campaign trail are instead talking about restoring Illinois jobs.

Meanwhile Wednesday, the Oberweis campaign said it has hired J. Matthew Barber, who was in the news this summer when he sued his former employer, Allstate Corp., claiming he was fired because he posted anti-gay essays online. Barber is now Oberweis' DuPage County coordinator.
While it certainly is easy -- and fun -- to mock the gubernatorial candidates' pandering, it really isn't cool to disrespect women. But as long as there are people stupid enough to pay $24.50 for a T-shirt, there will be people stupid enough to buy degrading T-shirts... and corporations willing to sell such T-shirts.

What baffles me is the number of parents who buy their daughters clothing that explicitly carries the message: "I'm a Slut." Unfortunately, I don't think that there is anything that any Illinois governor can do about such shockingly poor parenting.

But, in the spirit of bipartisanship, I propose that the leaders of both parties unite and form a joint commission to combat the looming threat of Grand Theft Auto T-shirts.

Update: Rauschenberger, an Alan Keyes supporter, called these T-shirts "crap" -- by contrast, the lefty blogs call them a "corporate-driven attempt to start a trendy kind of sexism".

And there is no reason they can't both be right.

Bush Approval Rating -- 35 Percent

From CBS News:
Most Americans believe someone in the Bush Administration did leak Valerie Plame's name to reporters – even though Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald indicted no one for doing that. Half of the public describes the matter as something of great importance to the country, and this poll finds low assessments of both the President and the Vice President – with the President's overall approval rating dropping again to its lowest point ever.
Yes friends, Bush's ratings are in free fall.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Sen. Obama Honors Rosa Parks

"The woman we honored today held no public office, she wasn't a wealthy woman, didn't appear in the society pages. And yet when the history of this country is written, it is this small, quiet woman whose name will be remembered long after the names of senators and presidents have been forgotten."

Obama to appear on The Daily Show

Here's the deal: Sen. Barack Obama will appear this Monday at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

But, you may ask yourself, how would a cutesy doofus convey that information? For the answer, let's turn to Jeff Zeleny of your Chicago Tribune:
Obama bows at altar of 'Daily Show'

He's opened his heart to Oprah Winfrey. His name has been the butt of a Top 10 list on David Letterman. And like every other senator, he has shared his ideas with C-Span.

Never before, though, has Sen. Barack Obama genuflected on the hottest altar of political comedy: "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."

But the junior Democratic senator from Illinois has accepted an invitation to appear on the Comedy Central program next week, show spokeswoman Renata Luczak told the Tribune. It will be broadcast Monday at 10 p.m. in Chicago and repeated three more times.

Politicians of all stripes eagerly await their chance to sit on the couch of "The Daily Show." Obama was first invited more than a year ago after he won his Senate race. But he did not agree to do the show in New York until now.

So let us review the facts:

  • Sen. Obama was issued an open invitation to appear on "The Daily Show" over a year ago,
  • Sen. Obama declined to accept the invitation,
  • Mr. Zeleny himself reported that Sen. Obama skipped an appearance on "The Daily Show" to visit the United Nations in July,
  • Sen. Obama recently accepted an additional invitation from "The Daily Show",
  • gen·u·flect is defined as: 1) To bend the knee or touch one knee to the floor or ground, as in worship; or 2) To be servilely respectful or deferential; grovel.
But despite those facts, including those presented in the article itself, Mr. Zeleny for some reason decided to present the story as if Sen. Obama went to Comedy Central begging for the chance to appear on their program.

Does any one really think that is what happened? No matter what you think of Sen. Obama, there is no denying that the nation's only black senator doesn't have much of a problem attracting the attention of television cameras.

In the future, let's hope that the Mr. Zeleny and the Tribune leave the fake news stories to "The Daily Show."

(Thanks for the reminder TG)


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