Thursday, December 29, 2005

Story of the Year: The National Democratic Party Discovers the Illinois 6th District

When the Blogfather asks invites you to contribute to his Blogginois year-in-review, you do your best despite being hundreds of miles away and trapped behind a dial-up internet connection. Mr. Zorn asked that we narrow our focus to "state and metro-Chicago topics" and my top story of the year fits the bill.

The National Democratic Party Discovers the Illinois 6th District

For a Democrat living in the 6th District, like me for instance, the political story of the year is that the Democratic Party's leadership have focused their brilliance and cunning on our district. But while that has been big news in the district, it has been something less than good news for the district's long-time Democratic activists.

In early 2005, 6th District Dems heard rumors that the DCCC was taking a serious interest in the 6th District race. Naturally, we expected that the DCCC would get behind Christine Cegelis, the Democratic candidate that garnered 44% in the last election. But the DCCC insisted on being coy. They told the Cegelis supporters that they would have to raise $100,000 by June 30 FEC filing and then the DCCC would support Christine's ongoing grassroots campaign for the 6th District seat.

But while the DC Democratic leaders were assuring the Cegelis team that it would have their backing if it met their fundraising benchmarks, they were simultaneously undermining the Cegelis campaign by courting other potential candidates to run in the 6th District Democratic primary. The DCCC leadership was sending feelers out to multi-millionaire Democrats who would be able to self-fund their own campaigns.

And what happened when the Cegelis team met the fundraising goal set by the DCCC? The DCCC raised the fundraising target.

The Cegelis team was now told that, because the Republican's Crown Prince, Peter Roskam, had raised vast sums, they would have to prove themselves by meeting a new goal in the next fund-raising cycle. Never mind that Roskam raised so much money only because the House Republican leadership -- including Majority Leader Tom "Mugshot" Delay and Speaker Denny "Denny Boy" Hastert -- was fundraising for him. And, of course, the Republican corporate PACS raised money for Prince Pete too.

But while the GOP culture club of corruption and cronyism was lining up behind Roskam, the DC Dems were letting big donors know that they were looking at fielding another candidate for the primary. That's right true believer, just when the DCCC told the Cegelis team that they needed to raise unprecidented sums of Democratic money, they let big money donors know that they were considering fielding another candidate. Well, you know what happened next -- the big Democratic donors decided to keep their metaphorical powder dry and Christine's fundraising calls suddenly fell on deaf ears.

And the DCCC leadership then turned around and used that fundraising drought -- if you can call raising over $160, 000 by Sep. 30 a "drought" -- as their excuse reason to parachute a candidate in from outside the district.

And the 6th District will only get more attention from the national leadership of both parties in the New Year. It'll sure be interesting.

Monday, December 26, 2005

My Christmas Vacation

Am I reposting so many excerpts from Hiram Wurf just because I'm lazy?

No -- It's because his stuff is so damn good and I'm lazy.

In the Illinoize comments, Hiram questions the inferences Rich Miller drew from this poll.
I do have criticism of the first three points Rich makes about the poll. Here they are:

1st Point: "Just 28 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in her district knew who Christine Cegelis was. Remember, this is after her high-profile race against Hyde and a strong effort to keep her campaign going in the months since then. Cegelis has burned through a bunch of money in the past year to keep her name out there, but just over a quarter of Democratic primary voters recognized her name in August."

Christine's race was "high profile" after the 2004 general election vote - not before. There was one debate during the campaign to a restricted audience. Hyde refused to engage Christine during the 'race' limiting her media exposure. Christine had no money in the race (spending under $200,000).

Rich also writes "Cegelis has burned through a bunch of money in the past year to keep her name out there" - As of last reporting period it was about $100,000 spent since last election I think - add it to the $200,000 from the prior campaign and you still have a substantially underfunded candidate spending in the neighborhood of $300,000 for an election and a roughly one-year post-election effort.

2nd Point: "48 percent of those same likely Dem primary voters knew who Peter O'Malley was, even though he had never run for office before. O'Malley dropped out of the Democratic primary race a couple of months after the poll was taken (the poll was not conducted by or for O'Malley's campaign)."

O'Malley's a great name normally - you might even know one (I know one named Tim) - but I've never met a Cegelis that wasn't Christine. Having Pat O'Malley as a notable state politician who served ten years in the Senate and ran for governor in the 2002 Republican Primary makes for greater confusion in name recognition. Sure he was an out of district Republican and not a Democrat - but he also notably bucked his party from time to time - making him seem like an 'opposition' candidate. I'm not disparaging Peter O'Malley when I say that he wasn't able to run hard in the race (which is why he dropped out) - it defies belief that more people really knew Peter than Christine - even though Peter had run once, years before, for Dupage County Board. I'm not sure Peter even gathered petition signatures - and if he did I doubt it was many.

3rd Point: "Before he dropped out, the poll showed that O'Malley was leading Cegelis 26-19 (or 22-16 excluding "leaners") in the primary. Even with that high margin of error, a seven-point lead is still pretty solid - about an 86 percent probability that O'Malley was ahead and the result wasn't due to sampling error."

I've showed the error in point two. Put simply, since Peter wasn't running much, hadn't advertised much if at all (with what money?) and had significantly less overall press than Christine (given that she had run the election before), it's hard to imagine it could possibly be true.
Hiram's reflections are, of course, always Wurf While.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Whoa Mamma, bin Laden!

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
Osama bin Laden's niece, in an interview with GQ magazine in which she appears scantily clad, says she has nothing in common with the al-Qaida leader and simply wants acceptance by Americans.

''Everyone relates me to that man, and I have nothing to do with him,'' Wafah Dufour, the daughter of bin Laden's half-brother, Yeslam Binladin, says in the January edition of the magazine, referring to the al-Qaida leader.

''I want to be accepted here, but I feel that everybody's judging me and rejecting me,'' said the California-born Dufour, a law graduate who lives in New York. ''Come on, where's the American spirit? Accept me. I want to be embraced, because my values are like yours. And I'm here. I'm not hiding.''

Dufour, a musician who adopted her mother's maiden name after the Sept. 11 attacks that have been blamed on bin Laden, appears in several provocative photos in the magazine.

The pictures are likely to be considered obscene by conservative Muslims in and outside of Saudi Arabia where women are required to be veiled.

Asked if she would like to perform her music in the Middle East, Dufour says her mother, Carmen Dufour, would be too afraid that ''someone would want to kill me.''

''Listen, I would love to raise consciousness. Maybe women could hear the songs and realize that I'm doing my dream and hopefully they can, too,'' she said.

Yeslam and Osama are among 54 children of the late Saudi construction magnate Mohammed bin Laden and his 22 wives. The extended family includes several hundred people.

Binladin, who received Swiss citizenship in 2001, has condemned his half-brother ''for his acts and his convictions.'' He intentionally spells his name differently from his half-brother.

In the interview, Dufour says she would not date a fundamentalist Muslim and that she cried hysterically when she witnessed the attacks on New York while staying with her mother in Geneva.

Wurf's Analysis of Cegelis for Congress '04

In his latest exegesis of DuPage demographics And politics, Hiram Wurf looks back at the 2004 version of Christine Cegelis for Congress:
Christine Cegelis' 2004 campaign against Congressman Henry Hyde in the 6th Congressional District (encompassing DuPage and parts of Cook County) showed that demographic change combined with an unpopular president (and a disastrous U.S. Senate candidate) had worked wonders.

While some Democratic nay-sayers have pointed to Christine receiving fewer votes than John Kerry in the district (a 3% gap) - that misses the point (see below). DuPage voters have been increasingly willing to vote for Democrats at the top of the ticket, but votes trail off for those lower down, where funding for Democrats (and name recognition) has been virtually non-existent. There was no reason that Christine Cegelis should have name recognition with her limited campaign dollars. There was every reason that Henry Hyde, the congressman since 1974, should win based on name alone.

Christine coming up with over 44% of the vote was earth shattering for DuPage.

It proved votes were there for a Democrat at the congressional level with adequate funding - something voters in Hyde's district hadn't seen since before he was elected. After his first election, Congressman Hyde had always won by over 60% and as much as 75%, with the exception of the challenge he faced in 2000 against Brent Christensen, a lawyer with labor union and airline ties, who had lived in the district 33 years and spent $250,000. The 2000 election also was a referendum on Hyde's leading role in the unpopular Clinton Impeachment proceedings - something that was history in the minds of most voters by 2004, if it was remembered at all. ***

While it took Brent Christensen $250,000 to get 41% of the vote in 2000 (3% less than Al Gore in the district, and 6% less than Gore and Ralph Nader combined), Christine spent only $197,000 and got 44% of the vote in 2004 (3% less than John Kerry). Less money yielded a better percentage of the vote with less of a spread between the congressional candidate and the presidential candidate (most of the 3% Nader vote was likely Democratic).

Christine Cegelis' campaign sent a message: Democratic positions and values can win in the 6th Congressional District.
You really oughtta read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Season's Greetings

I will be spending the Holidays in the land of dial-up internet and won't be doing much, if any, posting.

So now would probably be an ideal time to talk trash about me in the comments.

DCCC Head: Trust Me

Lynn Sweet, of your Chicago Sun-Times, has Rahm Emanuel's explaination for not voting on the year's most important budget bill.
Emanuel said in a statement, "Anyone with a family understands the choices you have to make all the time between your family and your professional responsibilities. You try to strike that balance as best you can. I have absolute confidence that my constituents understand that balance."
Actually, to "understand that balance" one must know what is being balanced.

On one hand we have Rahm's profesional responsiblities. Those include his obligation as a Representative to vote on bills and his obligation as a party leader to round up Democratic votes against Republican legislation designed to undercut the nation's poor and powerless -- legislation like the massive GOP budget bill that will slash $39.7 billion from social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and child-support collection -- a GOP bill that passed by just six votes.

On the other hand we have: "Family stuff... Trust me."

Now, I'm sure that Rahm had important family business to attend to -- and he may get another chance to vote against the GOP's anti-family budget bill thanks to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi -- but "Trust Me" ain't no explaination.

UPDATE -- It looks like Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who missed the vote too, was also absent due to a "family situation." Fellas, we know it is tough being in Congress and raising a family, but try to remember how much tougher it is for the families and seniors undercut by that GOP budget bill you didn't vote against.

Different Strokes, Etc.

P.J. O'Rourke interviewed in the Telegraph.
You see, the real reason I became a communist was to impress girls. Back then, all the pretty ones were revolutionaries. One of the things that's gone wrong for the Left is that their girls just aren't cute any more.
I guess I just don't share Mr. O'Rourke's taste in women.

And one of the things that's gone wrong for the Right is that their girls used to be men.

Stevens to Durbin: You Won't Like Me When I'm Angry.

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
A spending bill containing money for the military also included a provision to allow arctic oil drilling -- an addition by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) that has infuriated senators of both parties. The move would force lawmakers to vote for the package or be accused of withholding support for U.S. troops and storm victims.

"I hope the good lord will help me keep my temper," Stevens, the one wearing the Incredible Hulk necktie, said just before Democrats and two Republicans blocked a vote on the package.

Tossing a glance across the aisle at Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who had denounced the drilling measure, Stevens grumbled, "I asked for his apology once; I wouldn't accept it now."
Describing Steven's stunt, Democratic leader Harry Reid said, "Our military is being held hostage by this issue, Arctic drilling."

But that really should come as no surprise.

The military and the Incredible Hulk have a long and complicated relationship.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


David Sirota has been combing your local paper for clues as to why Rep. Rahm Emanuel missed the most important budget vote of the year:
In the Sun Times' story about how Emanuel encouraged Democrats to vote for the GOP's disgusting immigration bill, reporter Lynn Sweet reports that she called Emanuel's office for a comment on Tuesday, and was told that Emanuel is "on vacation." The budget vote, remember, was very early in the morning on Monday - so it is technically possible that Emanuel started his vacation afterwards - but then, why did he miss the vote? And more interestingly, why did he miss every House roll call vote on that Monday? Was he on vacation?

The Washington Post reports that when asked, Emanuel's spokeswoman said "Emanuel had a family obligation." Is that code for "on vacation?"

This is a really important question that Emanuel needs to answer - and I should say, it is still possible he had a good reason, and if he does, then I will stand down (though it better be a pretty compelling reason considering Republican Rep. Joe Barton managed to make the vote 4 days after being hospitalized for a heart attack). Democrats should know whether the guy who is supposed to be leading the charge to take back the House was loafing around on vacation when the most important votes of the year were being cast - votes where, the more Democrats who vote for against the bills, the more vulnerable Republicans have to vote for it and potentially open themselves up to criticism on the campaign trail.

So we're waiting, Congressman Emanuel, for a real explanation. Because it's time to know whether vacation is more important than stopping a bill that slashed an incredible $40 billion out of Medicaid, child care assistance, and other key priorities. It's time to know, in short, whether Democrats are serious about taking back the majority, or just playing lip service to the concept.
Can either of this blogs readers answer Sirota's question about Rahms whereabouts in the wee small hours of Monday morning?

Computers Don't Invade Privacy and Guns Don't Kill People

Local boy, Judge Richard Posner, has an op-ed piece in the Washington Post in which he calls for an Orwellian program of surveillance on U.S. citizens -- your email, your documents, your phone conversations, your bank records and just about everything you say or do -- regardless of whether there is any suspicion of wrongdoing or not.

Posner's argument -- that so long as the data is gathered by government computers, there's no privacy invasion -- is stunning.
The collection, mainly through electronic means, of vast amounts of personal data is said to invade privacy. But machine collection and processing of data cannot, as such, invade privacy. Because of their volume, the data are first sifted by computers, which search for names, addresses, phone numbers, etc., that may have intelligence value. This initial sifting, far from invading privacy (a computer is not a sentient being), keeps most private data from being read by any intelligence officer.
So Posner claims that there cannot be an invasion of privacy because the actions in question are not executed by a sentient being but, rather, by a computer.

Does anyone think that Judge Posner would argue that there cannot be a homicide where the actions in question are not executed by a sentient being but, rather, by a time-bomb?

Of course not.

Posner -- and common sense -- would recognize that the illegal death caused by the homicide was in no way dependant on the instrumentality through which it was executed. And in the same way, common sense tells us that "the collection and processing" of "vast amounts of personal data" is an invasion of privacy, regardless of the device or devices used to gather the information.

And the fact that the nation is embroiled in an ongoing "war on terror" doesn't change that determination.

Guns are unquestionably a vital tool in the war on terror. And -- in a limited sense -- it's true that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." But those two facts do not mean that we cannot and should not limit the government's use of firearms.

In the same way, just because data collection is a vital tool in the war on terror and -- in the same limited sense -- "government computers don't invade privacy, governments invade privacy", that doesn't mean that we cannot and should not limit the government's use of computers to gather the personal data of U.S. citizens.

Are You Ready For Some Football Metaphors?

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

In your Chicago Sun-Times, Lynn Sweet reports that Rep. Luis Gutierrez accuses Rahm Enamuel of forcing Dem teammates to lie down instead of even trying to block a "vicious and vile" Republican immigration bill.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an architect of Democratic immigration policy, is accusing Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the House political operation, of cajoling Democrats facing tough re-election races in 2006 to vote for a controversial GOP-authored immigration bill. ***

Friday, the House approved an immigration bill by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) that most Democrats regarded as anti-immigrant and needlessly punitive. It is unlikely to survive in the Senate. The measure was approved 239-182, with 36 Democrats voting with the GOP majority.

"As painful as it is for me to come to this conclusion, after careful examination of all of the events last Friday I have come to the conclusion that indeed the chair of the DCCC either asked, encouraged or cajoled people to vote for the Sensenbrenner bill," Gutierrez told me.

"And that is the conclusion I have come to. And that is what I believed happened. And I think that as Democrats we have to stand courageously for what we believe in and not look for what is expedient," he said.

The Hill, a newspaper covering Congress, ran a story Tuesday about how members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and their allies were "furious" that Emanuel and Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) were lobbying incumbents who were GOP targets next year to vote "yes" on Sensenbrenner.

Emanuel and Hoyer voted no.

I got a call Tuesday from Josh Hoyt, head of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Triggered by the Hill story, Hoyt said the group is holding a press conference this morning in Chicago to criticize House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Emanuel for "taking the lead into turning immigrants into a political football." Hoyt told me that Gutierrez sent a letter to Emanuel excoriating him for his tampering.
The Hill has more this morning:
The bill, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and opposed by the CHC and many Hispanic groups, would expand detention facilities and border controls, and would impose work-force restrictions on employers seeking to hire illegal immigrants.

[Congressional Hispanic Caucus] members had been speaking passionately against the bill all last week.

"The Sensenbrenner bill is a vicious and vile attack on our nation’s hardworking immigrant community," Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said Wednesday. "This horrible piece of legislation is not only ill-conceived and fundamentally flawed, but it also will not fix our nation’s broken immigration system."

All the CHC members voted against the bill save one, Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.), a Frontline member who voted to back the bill after being lobbied on the House floor by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the House Democrats’ campaign operation, and by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House sources said. ***

“Mr. Salazar was certainly in one of the most difficult positions because this bill did damage to his community,” [Cecilia Munoz, vice president for policy at the National Council of La Raza] said. “It was pretty clear he was pressured by the DCCC in very hard-hitting way. ***

Emanuel had said privately earlier in the week that he did not wish to spend money defending Democrats who had voted against the enforcement bill, a House source said.
Well, sports fans, I am sure that a cynic could identify some lesson for Illinois 6th District primary voters in that story, but its all just too subtle for me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rahm: AWOL or just MIA?

David Sirota has questions:
Oh, you've been hearing it everytime you tune into politics: Democrats in Washington saying they are serious about taking back the House. And yes, we would all like to believe them. But there is, after all, one essential, minimal, base-level indicator to seriousness - whether Democrats will even bother to show up to vote on the most critical legislation. And all you had to do was look at the most critical vote of the year early yesterday morning to suddenly realize that Democrats might still be oh so comfy in the minority.

The vote was on the GOP budget bill - you remember, the one that newspapers note "cuts $39.7 billion from social-welfare programs like Medicare, Medicaid and child-support collection." It passed by 6 votes. What's so outrageous about that? Well take a look at the official roll call and you'll see that 6 Democrats didn't show up to vote. They are:

Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA)

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL)
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA)
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)

Yes, you read that right - one of those missing six was Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) - the guy who heads up the Democrat's House campaign committee. You know, the committee that is supposed to be most seriously focused on developing a message and a record that helps Democrats win back the House in 2006.

Before we rush to full judgment, let's remember that it is possible that some of these 6 House members had really good reasons for not being there. But boy, they better be good reasons - and at the very least, we at least deserve to hear from these 6 Democrats exactly why they missed the vote.

Because ask yourself this question: do you think Tom DeLay and the Republicans would allow themselves to lose a critical vote because their own members didn't show up? And do you think if they did lose a vote, they wouldn't demand an explanation too? That answer to those questions - and the different answer might get from Democrats - - is the difference between a party that is really serious about winning, and a party that perhaps is not.
Perhaps Mr. Emanuel was busy rehabbing his knee in preparation for the celebrity touch-football playoffs.

"You gotta keep 'em separated"

Two items from the Revealer remind us that a wall between church and state is best for both state and church:
Dorothy Day -- Terrorist
Turns out progressive Catholicism is alive and well. Evidence of liberal theology's efficacy comes from *** the FBI, which as part of its duties in the WOT, reports The NYT, has been monitoring the Catholic Worker movement made famous by Dorothy Day. Not that the Catholic Workers are "radical Islamists" or even vegans (another group under FBI surveillance); rather, according to the Feds, they embrace a "semi-communistic" ideology.


That's so cool and J. Edgar old-school. The only thing more dangerous is a semi-communisticalifragalistic ideology. Fortunately, Mary Poppins has already been renditioned to Guantanamo.
More Deaths
The Washington Post reports on a possible Republican-sponsored bill, which passed the House on Friday, which would criminalize giving assistance to illegal immigrants.

If the bill becomes law, it would affect a number of non-profit and religious organizations such as Humane Borders, No More Deaths and the Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program, which help the thousands of immigrants who cross the border each year not add to the number -- already in the hundreds -- of those who die en route.

Among the "outrageous acts" that the bill would make illegal, would be the sheltering ("harboring") of migrant workers in churches or homes, and possibly even helping dying or severely ill immigrants receive medical attention.

Monday, December 19, 2005

We're Number One! We're Number One!

Patrick Fitzgerald, your U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, has been named The National Law Journal's 2005 Lawyer of the Year.
Besides handling the [Valerie Plame] leak investigation, Fitzgerald, as the U.S. attorney in Chicago, earlier this year brought fraud charges against Conrad Black, accusing the former publishing executive at Hollinger International and three of its other executives of illegally diverting almost $84 million from the sale of the company's newspapers and other publications. Fitzgerald announced four new charges against Black last week: racketeering, obstruction of justice, money laundering and wire fraud.

Also this year, Fitzgerald's office charged two Chicago executives in a widespread corruption scandal with fraudulently rigging the hiring and promotion of favored job applicants by conducting false employment interviews and falsifying application scores. ***

Fitzgerald, famously press shy, is known to keep cool under pressure. Dean Polales, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago who served as counsel to Fitzgerald until last February, said that his former boss is positively "mellow."

"Even in the pressure-cooker situations, I have never seen him get upset. I've never seen him bark at anyone," said Polales, who now practices white-collar criminal defense with Chicago's Ungaretti & Harris.
And he's soooo dreamy.

Cross-posted at Illinoize

Friday, December 16, 2005


Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act

Damaged Justice

From your Chicago Tribune:
Lawyers for Philip Morris USA contributed $16,800 to help elect a judge who cast a deciding vote in Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court decision favoring the tobacco giant.

The judge also received $1.2 million in campaign money from a group that filed an amicus brief supporting the cigarette-maker.

Yet no one suggested that Judge Lloyd Karmeier recuse himself from a closely watched case in which he voted with three others to strike down a $10.1 billion judgment, handing a huge victory to Philip Morris. ***

[T]he judge's election backers were pleased with Thursday's 4-2 high court decision.

"Karmeier's election changed the vote," said Edward Murnane, president of the nonprofit Illinois Civil Justice League, which contributed $1.2 million to the judge's campaign and filed an amicus brief supporting Philip Morris.

"Even though he wasn't the (sole) deciding vote, if Gordon Maag had been elected" the outcome might well have been different because the decision required a majority of the seven-member court, Murnane noted.

Chief Justice Robert Thomas, who was elected to the court in 2000, recused himself because he is being represented in another matter by one of the attorneys representing the smokers.

Murnane said that even though his organization's money played a role in electing Karmeier, "we never tried to influence him on how he should act in a case. I've never talked to him about any case, even after the fact."
Even if you agree with the decision -- and I think I do -- you have to admit this does not create confidence in our judicial system.

He Knows When You Are Sleeping, He Knows When You're Awake...

US agency secretly spies on home soil

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Busted! D.C. Astroturfing

You gotta get up pretty early in the morning to fool Rick Klau, the Chair of the Naperville Democrats and all around great guy:

Memo to DNC: Go get some coffee

The reactions to my comments about Tammy Duckworth’s campaign sure have been interesting. As expected, some of the comments (and private e-mails, of which there have been a number) express support for Christine and dismay at the DCCC’s handling of the race, a few have expressed support for Major Duckworth, and a few even addressed the substance of what I was writing about: the ham-handed efforts by a couple of local party officials to restrict Duckworth’s ability to solicit support at party functions.

And then there was this comment left earlier today by “Lisa”, who says she lives in Melissa Bean’s district and lays out why she thinks Duckworth is the right candidate. Interestingly, the IP address associated with Lisa’s computer is owned by the Democratic National Committee headquarters:

OrgName: Democratic National Headquarters
Address: 430 S. Capitol St. SE - 2nd Floor
City: Washington
StateProv: DC
PostalCode: 20003
Country: US

Next time the DNC wants to leave comments here (and they’re certainly welcome to!) but don’t want people to know that it’s the DNC, maybe they should use a Starbucks hotspot so the IP address won’t immediately identify the DNC…


Update: The DCCC is located on the 2nd floor of the building, so it’s entirely likely that this comment is from the DCCC and not the DNC…

Mr. Klau,

I doff my hat to you.

UPDATE: Kos and Matt Stoller at MyDD chime in

Gapers Block on 6th Dist Race

Cinnamon Cooper at Gapers Block takes a look:
Roni at Goddess Musings has been posting occasional updates on how Christine Cegelis' campaign to win District 6 is going. Cegelis ran last time against Henry Hyde (maybe you've heard of the Hyde Amendment) where she got 44% of the vote without support from the Democratic party. She seems like a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination, but she's not.

Apparently "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" only works in politics if the bootstraps are handed to you by Daddy Warbucks.

A Local Look at the 6th District Democratic Primary

From the Pioneer Press' Schaumburg Review:
With only a few more days to file petitions for the March primaries, some who promised to shake up the mid-term elections have yet to turn in their paperwork.

Notable by their absence are two Hoffman Estates residents -- Army Maj. Ladda "Tammy" Duckworth, an Iraqi war veteran, and village Trustee Fred Crespo.

Duckworth, who lost both her legs when the Blackhawk helicopter she piloted in Iraq was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, Rolling Meadows computer consultant Christine Cegelis and Wheaton College professor Lindy Scott are the three Democrats expected to seek the 6th District U.S. House seat being vacated by longtime U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde, R-6th.

At least for the time being, it appears that one of Duckworth's assets -- her military experience -- is a liability. Before she can run in the primary, or even talk about her candidacy, Duckworth must be released from active duty. While she has filed documents to do so, she has not yet been released, according to Lori Goldberg, of Jasculca/Terman & Associates, a Chicago-based public relations firm that is helping Duckworth.

Friends of Duckworth say her active-duty status will change later this week and that a formal announcement of her candidacy is expected this weekend from the combat veteran.

As of Tuesday, Goldberg said Duckworth had no comments to make.

"She is not at all allowed to talk about politics until she is released from active duty, which is something that may happen soon," she said.

Goldberg indicated that Duckworth's friends have collected enough signatures for her to file next week, if the opportunity presents itself. Both Cegelis and Scott submitted their petitions Monday.

But even if Duckworth gets on the primary ticket, she will have to defeat Cegelis before she can get to the November election. Cegelis ran unsuccessfully against Hyde in 2004, but garnered 44 percent of the vote to Hyde's 56 percent, forcing the tightest race in decades in the highly Republican district. And she has another advantage -- taking a page out of the U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean, D-8th, playbook, she hasn't stopped campaigning for two years.
A story about the 6th Dist. Primary that focuses on voter support in the district rather than about money from D.C.?

Brother, you ain't ever gonna work in big-league journalism writin' stories like that.

Good Night and Good Luck in 2008

More George Clooney his presidential pick -- Barak Obama:
“Of course he doesn’t want to right now; he just wants to be senator for Illinois,” Clooney told the paper. “But he could attract the two groups who rarely show up to vote — young people and blacks. He’s the guy to get behind.”
Clooney on war regrets:
“I hate it when smart men and women are saying, ‘Well, if I knew then what I know now,’ ” Clooney told the Sunday Times of London. “The fact is: I knew it then and I don’t have national security clearance. . . . Basically, the Democrat leadership was scared [of criticizing Bush] and it’s too bad, because it’s come back to haunt them.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Narcotic Abuse Can Affect Your Judgment

If you were a fat, balding junky with a boil on your butt and three failed marriages would you get into a name-calling contest with anybody?

Rush Limbaugh would.

Showtime for Arrested Development?

From Reuters:
Will the pay-TV environs of Showtime be a friendlier place for the Emmy-winning comedy "Arrested Development," which just got canceled by Fox?

Word around town this week is that Showtime is in talks to pick up the comedy about a chaotic family. Sources stressed that the talks are still exploratory and that it would be a big financial commitment on Showtime's part to pick up the show in its current form with a large ensemble cast that includes Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Portia de Rossi, Jessica Walter and Will Arnett.

"Arrested" was an instant hit with critics following its debut on Fox in late 2003, but the show never pulled in much of a crowd, even after it won the Emmy for best comedy series in 2004. Last month, Fox threw in the towel, cutting its episode order for "Arrested's" third season from its initial 22-episode ticket to 13.

Representatives for Showtime, and the series' producers 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV declined comment late Tuesday
"Hello, Comcast... How much would it cost to add Showtime to my subscription? That much? Well... Okay."

Equality is Job One

John in DC from AMERICAblog says, "Regarding that Ford thing? We just won."
The Ford Motor Company today released the following letter (below) clarifying that whatever did or did not happen behind closed doors with the American Family Association (AFA) two weeks ago, the company is NOT backing off of its support for the gay community or gay advertising (in contrast to what was reported over the past two weeks).
The letter from Ford:
December 14, 2005

Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign
Neil Giuliano, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
Craig Bowman, National Youth Advocacy Coalition
Jody Huckaby, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Alexander Robinson, National Black Justice Coalition
Jeff Montgomery, Triangle Foundation

Dear Friends:

Thank you again for taking the time to speak with us on Monday. In my view, it was the start of a valuable and healthy dialogue, and I was pleased to be there on behalf of Bill Ford, Chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Company.

My intention was to be as direct and forthright. You deserve no less. I appreciate your candor in return. I'd like to take this opportunity to review the information we shared face-to-face and to tell you how our thinking has evolved.

You asked us specifically to reaffirm our principles of nondiscrimination and inclusiveness. We agreed, without any reservations, and issued a statement immediately after the meeting in which Bill Ford did so personally. We pointed out that Ford Motor Company and its brands value diversity among all of our constituents and pride ourselves on strong and clear values - respect for our customers, communities, employees, suppliers and dealers; acceptance of our differences; inclusion of different people with different perspectives; and integrity. That commitment is unchanged and we believe it is reflected in our policies, practices and marketing.

You asked us to comment on reports that we had placed creative restrictions on the way our brands could speak to gay and lesbian audiences. We expect our brands to create advertising that supports their brand image and is appropriate and effective in connecting with the intended audience. That is unchanged. But we do not have to deal with this topic in the abstract. The best answer to your question will be in the ads themselves. I would ask you to judge our intent by what you see.

You asked directly whether Ford Motor Company will continue to support nonprofit groups and events in the GLBT community. While we will still support certain events, I know you understand that the business situation will limit the extent of our support in all communities in 2006. We will continue all of our workplace policies and practices in support of Ford GLOBE members and supporters. That is unchanged.

You asked directly for us to have Jaguar and Land Rover reverse its plans and advertise in gay and lesbian targeted publications in 2006. As we said, Jaguar and Land Rover made a business decision about their media plans and it would be inconsistent with the way we manage our business to direct them to do otherwise. It is clear there is a misperception about our intent. As a result, we have decided to run corporate ads in these targeted publications that will include not only Jaguar/Land Rover but all eight of Ford's vehicle brands. As we have said, the content will be appropriate and effective in connecting with the intended audience. It is my hope that this will remove any ambiguity about Ford's desire to advertise to all important audiences and put this particular issue behind us.

Finally, you expressed your strong objections to our having even met with one of your harshest critics. We meet every day with people and organizations on many issues, and, as a business, do not wish be drawn into those that detract from our effectiveness in the marketplace. That said, we expect to be measured not by the meetings we conduct but by our conduct itself. Our record on tolerance and inclusion speaks for itself and I am proud to be judged on that record at any time.

In closing, thank you again for your candor and professionalism. We listened and learned, and hope that you continue to understand the values and commitments of Ford Motor Company. I look forward to hearing from you at any time.


Joe Laymon
Affirming fairness and equality is just good business.

Cegelis Beats Roskam

3,817 to 2,741

The New 2006 Ford Analog

Under Pressure From KKK, Ford Pulls Ads From Black Media


NPR Bias?

Jeffrey Dvorkin, NPR Ombudsman, says the network has interviewed more think-tankers on the Right (239) than on the Left (141) in 2005.
There may be other experts who are interviewed on NPR who present a liberal perspective. But they tend not be based in universities and colleges and are not part of the think tank culture. That seems to be where most conservative thinking on the issues of the day can be most easily found. Journalism in general -- including NPR -- has become overly reliant on the easily obtained offerings of the think tanks.
NPR's 2005 think tank score sheet:
Brookings Institute - 102
Hoover Institute - 69
American Heritage - 59
Manhattan Institute - 53
Center for Strategic and Intl. Studies - 39
Cato Institute - 29
Heritage Foundation - 20
Lexington Institute - 9

via Romenesko

Quakers: Threat or Menace?

NBC reports that the Donald Rumsfeld's DOD has been so successful in its Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Ladin, that it can now turn its attention to peaceful U.S. citizens:
A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn't know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a “threat” and one of more than 1,500 “suspicious incidents” across the country over a recent 10-month period. ***

The DOD database obtained by NBC News includes nearly four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, including some that have taken place far from any military installation, post or recruitment center. One “incident” included in the database is a large anti-war protest at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles last March that included effigies of President Bush and anti-war protest banners. Another incident mentions a planned protest against military recruiters last December in Boston and a planned protest last April at McDonald’s National Salute to America’s Heroes — a military air and sea show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Fort Lauderdale protest was deemed not to be a credible threat and a column in the database concludes: “US group exercising constitutional rights.” Two-hundred and forty-three other incidents in the database were discounted because they had no connection to the Department of Defense — yet they all remained in the database. ***

[T]he DOD database includes at least 20 references to U.S. citizens or U.S. persons. Other documents obtained by NBC News show that the Defense Department is clearly increasing its domestic monitoring activities. One DOD briefing document stamped “secret” concludes: “[W]e have noted increased communication and encouragement between protest groups using the [I]nternet,” but no “significant connection” between incidents, such as “reoccurring instigators at protests” or “vehicle descriptions.”
That's right -- the Department of Defense is making a list of the names and cars of Americans who dare to speak out against the war.

Would someone please remind our friends in the Department of Defense that they are supposed to be fighting for freedom.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Consider the Source

"[A] mother should be home with her kids; gender roles are not switchable."
-- Tom Roeser

Funny, I don't remember Tom's blog-post condemning welfare-to-work because it prevents poor women from staying home with their children.

Bush On The Constitution: "Just A Goddamned Piece Of Paper"

From Capitol Hill Blue:
Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

"I don’t give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!"

“If a coke dealer has your ID -- it doesn’t look so good.”

Radar Magazine reports on a videotape in which a self-described downtown D.C coke-dealer relates his late-night run-in with First Daughter Jenna Bush -- he shows off her wallet and college ID as souvenirs -— and insinuates that the two shared more than just drinks.

Even if this story is true, it is still not too late for Parillo to save Jenna from herself.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Black Ink v. Trib Inc.

Black Ink Monday, a coordinated protest by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), is a response to Trib Inc's recent elimination of editorial cartooning positions at several of its newspapers.

The site has 100 cartoons on the subject by 100 different cartoonists.

Here’s the press release.

Oceans 11, Obama 08

This interesting nugget was burried in a story from The Australian on George Clooney's emergence as a high-profile anti-war critic:
"The Democratic leadership was scared, and it's too bad because it has come back to haunt them," Clooney said.

In what appeared to be a snub to Senator Clinton, Clooney said his choice for president was Barack Obama, a brilliant young senator who sprang to prominence with a powerful speech to the Democratic presidential convention last year about his mixed-race roots.

Most Washington analysts agree that Senator Obama, who like Clooney is 44, has a strong chance of becoming America's first black president, but expect him to wait until 2012.

Obama: "Ownership Society" = "Social Darwinism"

At the annual meeting of Florida Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama observed that the party of "Intelligent Design" isn't opposed to natural selection when it comes to organizing our society:
Republicans controlling the federal government practice Social Darwinism, a discredited philosophy that in economics and politics calls for survival of the fittest, according to a Democratic U.S. senator.

Sen. Barak Obama of Illinois, a fast-rising Democratic star, told Florida party members that only a philosophy among Republicans of sink or swim explains why some Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans still live in cars while Republicans in Washington prepare next week to enact $70 billion in tax breaks.

"It's called the 'Ownership society' in Washington. This isn't the first time this philosophy has appeared. It used to be called Social Darwinism," Obama said late Saturday at the Democrats meeting at Walt Disney World.

"They have a philosophy they have implemented and that is doing exactly what it was designed to do. They basically don't believe in government. They have a different philosophy that says, 'We're going to dismantle government'," Obama said.

Republicans running the federal government believe, "You are on your own to buy your own health care, to buy your own retirement security ... to buy your own roads and levees," Obama said, referring to flood barriers that gave way in New Orleans during Katrina last August.

Obama, the only African American now in the U.S. Senate, gave the keynote address at the annual meeting of Florida Democrats.
Your Chicago Tribune also covered Obama's keynote address:
[Obama accepted] an invitation to deliver the keynote address Saturday evening, despite repeated assertions he has no intention to seek higher office in 2008. But his mere presence in the Fantasia Ballroom at the Disney Contemporary Resort triggered a question among many in the crowd: Could he change his mind?

"It is time for us to lead. It is time for us to put aside whatever party identity crisis we've been having," Obama said, urging party activists to get motivated for the political fight ahead. "Don't let them tell you that we don't know what we stand for as Democrats. We know who we are and we know what our legacy is."

The message resonated with Francine Simmons, a Tampa stay-at-home-mother who was attending her first Democratic event. After more than two decades as a Republican, she said she has grown frustrated with Republicans over the war, the deficit and what she perceives as a lack of compassion for average Americans.

"He makes you feel that each of us can make a difference," Simmons said after Obama's speech. "He makes me feel empowered."
08 Dammit!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Grammy Nominees for "Outstanding Soul, Spoken Word, or Barbershop Album of the Year"

Gaper's Block notes that Barack Obama's conversation with Air America's Al Franken -- the most controversial Grammy team-up since Elton John and Eminem -- is available on the Senator's website:
As you know, Senator Obama has been nominated for a Grammy. He and fellow nominee Al Franken sat down for a confab about that and some other stuff on Franken's Air America show yesterday, recorded with a live studio audience at the Steppenwolf. Hear the proceedings -- hilarious and otherwise -- here.
Holiday tip: A CD of that interview would be the perfect gift if you happen to be Fran Eaton's Secret Santa.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

OneMan's Thoughts on 6th District Race

OneMan, who in his secret-identity is a vice-chair of a Republican Township Organization, gives his two cents on the 6th District Democratic Primary and the DuPage County Democrats who are "very angry" at the DCCC's decision to bring in a candidate from outside the district:
I think part of this [anger] is coming from how Tammy Duckworth is getting DCCC support and the local DuPage Democrats who have been taking it on the chin for the last billion years or so are rightfully bent out of joint a bit that the DCCC is now stepping in and trying to push their candidate.

The DuPage Democrats who have seen Christine Cegelis around at their events for some time now feel comfortable with her, know where she stands and likely know her personally. They likely feel a bit put off with the fact that she ran last time and may have helped lead to Hyde not seeking a second term and the thanks she (and they) get for this is a new candidate who they really don't know pushed by an entity that likely didn't give a crud about DuPage county for the last 20 years.

Heck that would tick me off.
OneMan's superpower is his ability to see through P.R. and B.S.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ford Bows Down to Homophobes

If you're like me, you think that Ford's pandering to homophobic bigots is stupid and shameful. And perhaps, like me, have wondered if a manufacurer who names their automobiles the Freestyle, the Mustang, the Ranger and the Explorer might need to deal with some sexual identity issues of its own.

I mean, come on -- their police car is the Crown Victoria!

Anyway, despite your annoyance with Ford, you may not have actually done anything about it. After all, you're not gay...

Well, Dan Savage, who's "Savage Love" column is available in your Chicago Reader, reminds us that the goofs behind Ford's decision are not just anti-homosexuality, they are anti-sexuality:
So what can you do? Gay or straight, you should at least pick up the phone and let local Ford dealers know that you won't even consider buying a Ford after this. Why should straight people care? Because the same AFA fucks that have successfully intimidated Ford on the gay issue are also attacking straight rights — they’re the same assholes who have successfully intimidated retailers like Target into denying women access to morning-after pills. They’re the same assholes trying to convince the Feds not to release a vaccine for two strains of HPV , the virus that can cause cervical cancer in women. The HPV vaccine — already tested and 100% effective! — could save thousands of women’s lives every year. The AFA is fighting it.

Here’s a list of Ford dealers (use the link to find your local dealer). Call them, tell them you’re pissed — and remind them that the AFA’s boycott of Disney didn’t go anywhere. Tell them that when the AFA threatened Kraft, Kraft told the AFA to go fuck themselves. But Ford? The “Built Ford Tough” boys collapsed into a puddle when the AFA assholes threatened them with a boycott. So let Ford know what you don’t buy cars from companies that caves to right-wing hate mongers. And when the local dealers tell you that they didn’t make this decision, tell them that’s too bad. Tell them to scream and yell to Ford HQ and get this decision reversed, or you will never, ever consider buying a Ford.

And corporations can reverse themselves. Microsoft caved to right-wing Christian bullies, and then reversed itself. Tell ‘em Ford can too. Tell ‘em Ford better.
A list of DuPage County Ford dealers is available here.
A list of Chicago Ford stores is available here.
And the full Illinois list is here.



In the fall of 2003, Jonathan Rauch, of the National Journal and REASON, discovered that candidates have only 14 years to become president:

With only one exception since the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, no one has been elected president who took more than 14 years to climb from his first major elective office to election as either president or vice president.

"George W. Bush took six years. Bill Clinton, 14. George H.W. Bush, 14 (to the vice presidency). Ronald Reagan, 14. Jimmy Carter, six. Richard Nixon, six (to vice president). John Kennedy, 14. Dwight Eisenhower, zero. Harry Truman, 10 (to vice president). Franklin Roosevelt, four. Herbert Hoover, zero. Calvin Coolidge, four. Warren Harding, six. Woodrow Wilson, two. William Howard Taft, zero. Theodore Roosevelt, two (to vice president). The one exception: Lyndon Johnson's 23 years from his first House victory to the vice presidency.

Besides, "12AMA" looks really, really stupid.

2008 Dammit!

via: Taegan Goddard's Political Wire

Obama: Iraq Policy Must Be Balanced

As the latest move in my ongoing effort to make this blog the exclusive province of news about Barack Obama, here is the Peoria Journal Star's account if its editorial board's meeting with Sen. Obama:
[T]he Illinois Democrat said there are two dynamics in play that need to be balanced. America's presence there attracts insurgents, he said, but without the U.S. military's help, the resulting chaos could also cause more insurgents to relocate to the area.

"We have this tricky job of making sure we have enough presence there to maintain order as the Iraqis are trained," he said, "but that we send strong signals to the Iraqi political community that we want to hand over our responsibility for dealing with the insurgency."

Obama also reiterated his opposition to a complete and immediate withdrawal of military troops as some liberal groups have called for, but said the United States should begin formulating a strategy where withdrawal would take place in phases after next week's Iraqi parliamentary elections.

"Iraqis have to step up and take control of their own country and I don't think we can be there in perpetuity," he said.

Obama also said America should adhere to the outcome of the election, even if it's adverse to what the Bush administration is hoping for.

Obama leaves for his first trip to Iraq on Jan. 4. The 10-day journey will also include stops in Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Israel.

The freshman senator said he's hoping the first-hand experience will help him separate the truth from the spin in the vast amount of information being thrown about regarding the Iraq war.

"There are times when you feel like you're getting a (public relations) power point presentation and you just have an instinct this is not good, solid information," Obama said about occasional private briefs presented to senators by military officials. "There are times, on the other hand, where the people who come in give you information that sounds accurate and measured and is sufficiently complex where you say, OK, this makes sense."
Kudos to the PJStar for recognizing that the disconnect within the Democratic party is between Democratic elected officials who want something less than a full and immediate pull out and "some liberal groups" who want every American soldier out of Iraq tomorrow.

There actually isn't much of a difference in the positions of most Democrats in Congress. Among D.C. Dems, the distinctions are primarily ones of emphasis.

UPDATE -- Apparently Sen. Obama is talking to every editorial board in the state about Iraq. Here is The State Journal-Register account their meeting:
Obama, who opposed U.S. entry into Iraq, said he deliberately has avoided calling for an immediate withdrawal of the troops.

"I think that this is one of those situations where having, I think, made big blunders going in, it's important for us not to make big blunders coming out," he said.

Even so, he favors starting "a phased withdrawal process" of troops next year. The process would be based on what happens with the elections, he said.

"What we're engaged in is a difficult balancing act here," he said.

"Having gone in, how do we step back but ensure that there's not such a vacuum that either chaos occurs or jhihadists take over critical areas that can make huge problems elsewhere? The irony, of course, is that there really wasn't a terrorist problem before we went in. There is now."

Obama acknowledged that U.S. involvement in Iraq could reach "the point of diminishing returns."

"There may be a point in time in which you just say, we've gone as far as we can go on this policy," he said. "This problem cannot be solved. That's a hard assessment to make."

Still, he added, the United States could help broker agreements among the various factions in Iraq "so they at least are not at each other's throats."
And if there is just one thing that American politicians can teach the world, it is how to keep from being "at each other's throats."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Update -- Trib. Inc.: 1, MoveOn: 0

From the CJR Daily:
Inside the comfort and warmth of the Crowne Plaza hotel near Times Square, Tribune Co. executives droned on to stock market analysts about more job cuts they anticipate in 2006, using the almost Orwellian language of "greater efficiencies" in news-gathering, "focus on cost management" and "redeploying resources." Outside the hotel, frozen MoveOn activists who had gathered 45,000 signatures opposing the company's already announced job cuts in newsrooms were forming a plan.

Huddled on the sidewalk outside the hotel were Adam Green, civic communications director for MoveOn, a few placard-clutching volunteers, and Todd Gitlin, media activist and professor at Columbia's Journalism School. Green and Gitlin made a few remarks for the clutch of reporters and photographers who tried to keep their hands warm scribbling notes and avoiding gawking Times Square tourists. Then it was time to crash the party.

Picking up two cardboard boxes containing the 45,000 signatures and heading through the doors to the hotel -- followed dutifully by a couple photographers and reporters -- Green headed off for his rendezvous with destiny. Sort of. Met at the foot of the escalator by a security guard, Green identified himself and headed up, trailed by a couple of security guards. Once the group hit the second floor, where the conference was being held, a few more security guards -- who refused to identify themselves -- pushed the procession right back toward the "down" escalator, and into the lobby. There, they were met by even more security guards who, apart from being in a pretty bad mood, seemed to relish a little bit of action. They kicked the group back outside, where it regrouped on 49th street. ***

MoveOn activist Noah Winer actually managed to make it past the security phalanx and into the conference, where he "made a mini-speech and tried to present a petition with 45,000 signatures protesting the job cuts." In a wish-we-had-been-there moment, Winer asked Tribune Chairman Dennis FitzSimons, "Many of us are wondering why you're cutting the ability to deliver news your readers want. Will you meet with some of those consumers? They're outside." Needless to say, Winer didn't get a response.

But as tells us in an update, Winer tracked down FitzSimons after the meeting, "ask[ing] repeatedly if he would meet with "his customers." FitzSimons looked at him, and said,


It's not surprising that FitzSimons wouldn't give Winer the time of day -- after all, it's pretty obvious at this point that neither quality journalism nor engaging critics of its business tactics is high on Tribune Co.'s list of priorities. However, cutting newsroom staffs -- from Los Angeles to Chicago to Baltimore to Orlando to Hartford -- is.
via Romanesko

More Trib Inc stories.

Tribune Review

Newsday, a Trib Inc. paper, says that MoveOn will "confront" Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons with 45,000 signatures protesting deep staff cuts at his newspapers.
Todd Gitlin, a professor at Columbia University's School of Journalism, said the MoveOn effort has "the potential to be effective," but only if there are shareholders sympathetic to its message.

"We know how they think they can raise profits - by hollowing out and crippling the [journalistic] enterprise," he said of media executives. "Maybe there will be stockholders who think otherwise."
So maybe this plea will do some good.

Or maybe not.
Tribune Co. execs say that by year-end, the company will have cut 4% of its workforce and will likely cut another 4% in 2006. Tribune Publishing president Scott Smith says the publishing side of the company will likely cut another 800 jobs in 2006 on top of the cuts from this year.
Some folks have asked -- feciciously, one hopes -- whether the Trib jobs are worth saving. After all, aren't they just another brick in the MSM wall, man?

Yeah, the Trib sometimes gets things wrong -- and sometimes gets things shockingly wrong -- but the city and nation need all the good journalists they can get. Or, at the very least, we need quality newspaper men and women who can recognize one of the most important stories of the year when they see it.

Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell wonders why the only your Chicago Tribune and five other big papers put the 9/11 commission's report card on Page One.
"The San Francisco Chronicle had the most lavish treatment, with a huge replica of a school report card included," he writes. "The others were: San Jose's Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Houston Chronicle, on the other hand, carried the headline: 'Concerns Over Face Transplant Grow.'"
That day's Sun-Times' Page One -- including the glorious quote, "We're not teenagers who got knocked up in the back of a car" -- is available here.

George Bush Doesn't Care About Blacklisted People

Is Barack Obama on a Bush Administration blacklist?

The San Jose Mercury News takes a look:
The State Department has been using political litmus tests to screen private American citizens before they can be sent overseas to represent the United States, weeding out critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, according to department officials and internal e-mails.

In one recent case, a leading expert on conflict resolution who's a former senior State Department adviser was scheduled to participate in a U.S. Embassy-sponsored videoconference in Jerusalem last month, but at the last minute he was told that his participation no longer was required.

State Department officials explained the cancellation as a scheduling matter. But internal department e-mails show that officials in Washington pressed to have other scholars replace the expert, David L. Phillips, who wrote a book, "Losing Iraq," that's critical of President Bush's handling of Iraqi reconstruction.

"I was told by a senior U.S. official that the State Department was conducting a screening process on intellectuals, and those who were against the Bush administration's Iraq policy were not welcomed to participate in U.S. government-sponsored programs," Phillips said.

"The ability of the United States to promote democracy effectively abroad is curtailed when we curtail free speech at home, which is essential to a free society," he said.

In another instance of apparent politicization, a request by the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, to arrange a visit by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who lived in Indonesia when he was young, was delayed for seven months. The visit never occurred. ***

Current and former officials involved with the State Department's overseas speakers program said potential candidates were vetted - via Internet searches, for example - for any comments or writings that criticized White House policy.

"There's definitely a political litmus test. You don't have to be a Republican, but you better not have said anything against them," one official said.

The official said he knew of no blacklist of banned scholars. "But there certainly is a 'white list' of those who can go," he added. ***

The effort, known as the "U.S. Speakers/Specialist Program," is part of a public diplomacy effort to change negative foreign opinions of the United States. It's overseen by Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes, although the questionable practices reportedly began before she took up her post in September.

Using political views to screen candidates appears to violate the speaker program's charter, which is to present a "range of responsible opinion" in the United States to overseas audiences, not to hawk a particular administration's policies. ***

In the case of Obama, after the request from Jakarta came in Jan. 12, political appointees in the International Information Programs bureau argued in e-mails that a Republican senator should be sent as well.

That's standard State Department practice when individuals go out to discuss American party politics. But the Jakarta U.S. Embassy had asked for him to speak about diversity, not politics.

Approval for department officials to contact Obama was delayed until June 13.
Maybe next time Obama should ask Richard Lugar to come along in the role of Republican chaparone.

O ye of little faith...

Some doubters have asked what Barack Obama has been doing as a Senator to merit my hopes that he runs for President in '08.

Well doubters, he's only doing his part to end partisan bickering while simultaneously trying to save your skeptical ass by keeping Soviet-era weapons from the international arms blackmarket.

From the Scripps Howard News Service:
Just days after the 2004 election, two Midwest politicians who seem as publicly diverse in politics and persona as any two of the breed can be exchanged private messages that violated the shrill principles of partisan name-calling and political negativity that have made Washington what it is today.

Barack Obama, the dark-haired Democratic freshman from Illinois whose face was on the cover of Newsweek before his posterior was in his Senate chair, wanted to talk with Sen. Richard Lugar, the snow-haired Republican icon from Indiana who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Obama wanted to explore the possibility of serving on Lugar's panel.

Lugar, meanwhile, had just sent Obama a letter of congratulations in which he encouraged Obama to join his committee. The Indiana veteran was motivated by more than just good-neighbor policy. Obama had campaigned by strongly supporting the Nunn-Lugar program, co-authored in 1991 by then-Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and Lugar to secure and destroy vulnerable former Soviet nuclear, chemical and biological weapons _ before terrorists steal or buy them on the black market.

The message swap led to a Washington odd-coupling that may be as close to a beautiful friendship as things get here in Casablanca-on-the-Potomac. ***

For Lugar has taken Obama under his wing, onto his jet plane and into his confidence in ways that are rare in Washington under any circumstances _ and which border on the unprecedented given their political divergence. In August, they traveled together to Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. ***

In Russia, Lugar and Obama toured sites of nuclear, biological and conventional weapons _ and were detained for three hours by Russian authorities at the Perm airport who acted as though they were back in the bad old days of the Cold War. In Donetsk, Ukraine, they saw what looked like a junk yard, but was in fact a poorly secured arsenal of thousands of tons of live munitions, land mines and shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles.

Back in Washington, Lugar and Obama introduced a bill creating a new program designed to bring the principles of the Nunn-Lugar program to efforts to at least secure conventional weapons such as those shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles by which a terrorist could down a jetliner. This is a homeland-security sort of bill that America urgently needs to become law.

Lugar and Obama cleverly titled their bill: "Cooperative Proliferation Detection, and Interdiction Assistance and Conventional Threat Reduction Act." If you think this is a title only a senator can love, you are right. But perhaps you haven't figured out why. It is because these senators know how Washington works: After the bill passes, we will all simply call it the "Lugar-Obama program."
Obama and Lugar explained the "Lugar-Obama program" in Sunday's Washington Post:
Our bill would launch a major nonproliferation initiative by addressing the growing threat from unsecured conventional weapons and by bolstering a key line of defense against weapons of mass destruction. Modeled after the successful Nunn-Lugar program to dismantle former Soviet nuclear weapons, the Lugar-Obama bill would seek to build cooperative relationships with willing countries.

One part of our initiative would strengthen and energize the U.S. program against unsecured lightweight antiaircraft missiles and other conventional weapons, a program that has for years been woefully underfunded. There may be as many as 750,000 missiles, known formally as man-portable air defense systems, in arsenals worldwide. The State Department estimates that more than 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by such weapons since the 1970s. Three years ago terrorists fired missiles at -- and missed -- a jetliner full of Israeli tourists taking off from Mombasa, Kenya. In 2003 a civilian cargo plane taking off from Baghdad was struck but landed safely. ***

The other part of the legislation would strengthen the ability of America's friends and allies to detect and intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction or material that could be used in a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon. Stopping weapons of mass destruction in transit is an important complement to our first line of defense, the Nunn-Lugar program, which aims to eliminate weapons of mass destruction at their source.

We cannot do this alone. We need the vigilance of like-minded nations, and the existing Proliferation Security Initiative can enlist their help. But while the Proliferation Security Initiative has been successful in creating cooperative arrangements, many of our partners lack the capability to detect hidden weapons and interdict shipments. Our bill would address that gap. ***

A thorough, multifaceted nonproliferation strategy is essential to fully defend the American people. The Nunn-Lugar program has provided a solid foundation, valuable experience and measurable results. With the Lugar-Obama legislation, we could take the next critical step forward to reshape, refocus and reinvigorate our country's nonproliferation mission.
The Bush administration should get behind this legislation because it looks like the Lugar-Obama program would address many of the failing grades that the 9-11 Commission gave the Bush Administration's efforts in the War on Terror.

So let's hope Georgie is clever enough to copy from the smart kids and get his grades up before it is too late.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Obama Talks to Trib About Alito

Barack Obama spoke with your Chicago Tribune about Iraq and the United States Supreme Court:
Obama said his decision to oppose the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. was "the most difficult vote" of the year. He said he has not decided whether to support the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito but added he is "disturbed with the pattern of his case law, primarily because it never surprises."

Gov. Rod Blagojevich sent a letter Monday to Obama and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), urging them to consider memos Alito wrote two decades ago that Blagojevich said "threatened" abortion rights.

Obama said he is more troubled by Alito's record as a federal appellate judge.

"I'm very cautious about attributing a lot of weight to statements that were made 20 or 30 years ago," Obama said.

"There's an amazing consistency in which he is ruling for the more powerful against the less powerful, across the board," Obama added. "And, that concerns me. That makes me suspicious."
Make no mistake -- if you're reading this piss-ant blog, you are one of "the less powerful."

More: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick points out that when given the chance, Alito has always ruled in favor of greater police and government power:
In his 15 years on the federal bench, Judge Samuel Alito has yet to rule on a case substantively involving the war on terror. But Alito's votes in pending and future war on terror cases can be fairly accurately predicted. They lurk in dark alleys, near his decisions about criminal rights, immigration cases, and government power. Alito's record in none of those areas bodes well for people who worry about the Bush administration's push for unchecked war powers. ***

The courts, and specifically the Supreme Court, have been willing to push back against the executive's relentless power grab, albeit by a sometimes narrow margin. If Judge Alito is unwilling or unable to talk about his positions in this area of law, we should assume, based on his record, that he would rubber-stamp the administration's citizen detention, habeas corpus, and torture policies. If that is the case—and his confirmation becomes a referendum on the acceptability of such policies—he would, and should, fail to be confirmed by a large bipartisan majority.

TNR: 2008 Dammit!

Ryan Lizza senior editor at The New Republic agrees:
The well-known curse of the Senate is that it both elevates politicians to within striking distance of the White House and burdens them with the baggage of a complicated voting record and the stench of the Beltway.

This is why Barack Obama must run for president in 2008.

Obama, you may remember, is the lanky 44-year-old from Illinois elected to the Senate last year. He is the most promising politician in America, and eventually he is going to run for president. The case for running now is not that it is the perfect moment for him to run. It's not. It is just that it may be the best chance he will ever get.

The main objection to an Obama run is his obvious lack of experience. He needs at least a full Senate term before he is taken seriously, the argument goes. On the one hand, each day spent in the Senate gives Obama more experience and stature for his inevitable presidential campaign. But each day also brings with it an accumulation of tough votes, the temptations of bad compromises, potentially perilous interactions with lobbyists, and all the other behaviors necessary to operate as a successful senator. At some unknowable date in the future, remaining in the Senate will reach a point of diminishing returns for Obama. The experience gained by being a good senator will start to be outweighed by the staleness acquired by staying in Washington.

There's no way for Obama to know when he will reach this point. That uncertainty makes 2008 look like his best opportunity. He can be certain that 2008 will be a year with a wide open primary on both the Republican and Democratic sides in which neither a sitting president nor vice president will be running, a rare event in presidential politics that lowers the bar of entry for all candidates.
The full story has been liberated here.



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