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Obamarama - Benefitting from the pack mentality? *** Updated x2 ***

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2007

Let’s start with Sen. Joe Biden’s recent remarks about Obama. Biden is gearing up for his own Democratic presidential bid.

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

His comments weren’t way over the top (if you listen to the audio, there should definitely be a comma after “African-American”), but some of the reaction has been. As Democratic blogger Atrios predicted today…

Volumes could be written about all that was wrong with what Biden said about Obama, but I believe we’ve just witnessed the shortest presidential run in history.

The problem for Biden is that while in South Carolina to speak to a Rotary Club meeting, the Delaware Senator described his home state this way:

“…a slave state that fought beside the North. That’s only because we couldn’t figure out how to get to the South - there were a couple of other states in the way.”

And then there’s this Biden quote

“You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.”

Reporters and bloggers are a lot like Pavlov’s dogs. They regularly replicate story memes that are guaranteed to attract attention. In many reporters’ and bloggers’ minds, widespread attention of their reporting or posts validates their existence. CNN’s debunking of the madrassa-jihad weirdness, for instance, was universally heralded as a great piece of journalism, even though it was really just basic stuff (with a souped-up travel budget). But the attention the story attracted was more important in many ways than the actual content.

The growing meme on Obama is that the bigots and the right wing are out to smear him. Couple that with the obvious recognition rewards for helping debunk those smears, and, for now at least, there is a strong incentive for reporters and bloggers to get into the act.

So, Biden’s latest comments might provoke some unhelpful reportorial and bloggy type pokes through his remarks and Senate votes on racial issues. It’s already starting.

What is happening with Obama is almost completely the opposite of Hillary Clinton’s treatment. She cracked a little joke the other day about “evil men” and the media and the blogs analyzed it to the point of bizarre superfluity.

Reporters, pundits and Hillary-hating bloggers seem to amplify every attack on her, often devising their own when others aren’t available. Part of the reason for this is that reporters, pundits and bloggers have tagged her as supremely calculating, so they believe they must parse every word to discern what she “really” means. The “best” of these are then praised by other pundits/bloggers/Drudge who share the same “insight” into Hillary’s character. That recognition, of course, just provides additional incentive to concoct more silly stories, columns and blog posts.

Meanwhile, Obama has been hammered on liberal blogs for not being tough enough on the right wing, but today many are noting approvingly this Washington Post blog story that he is apparently still holding a grudge against the much-hated (on the left) Fox News for broadcasting the ridiculous madrassa-jihadist story and never fully retracting or apologizing for it.

…the Obama camp has “frozen out” Fox News reporters and producers in the wake of the network’s major screw-up in running with the erroneous Obama-the-jihadist story reported by Insight magazine.

“I’m still in the freezer,” one Fox journalist said, noting that the people at Fox “suffering the most did nothing wrong.”

Perhaps in an attempt to make up for the madrassa stories and/or to jump on the “Obama is being smeared, we must report” bandwagon, Fox News has a new story on the Biden controversy which claims that the Delaware Senator had “fighting words” for Obama.

And finally, our old buddy Rush Limbaugh has apparently dropped the “half minority” label for a catchier version: “Halfrican American.”

Hey, Barack Obama has picked up another endorsement: Halfrican American actress Halle Berry. “As a Halfrican American, I am honored to have Ms. Berry’s support, as well as the support of other Halfrican Americans,” Obama said.

He didn’t say it, but — anyway, there are those out there — greetings.

I’m telling you, folks, and I am not making this up, the man is a twit.

*** UPDATE *** Hotline blog: Biden Calls Obama To Clarify

Rush, apparently, feels no need to do the same.

And if this is not an unseemly analogy, I don’t know what is. “How Obama is Like Barbaro.” Just so there’s no confusion of what I mean: They just killed the horse.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Too funny. Instead of talking about his brand new presidential campaign today, Biden is now being forced to constantly praise Obama to the heavens with every breath. No soup for him.

Back in ‘04, the big joke was that Obama had some sort of supernatural power, or that he was being watched over by a very powerful political god. Everyone who stood in his way was vaporized, often in a gruesome manner. Apparently, he’s still got the mojo.

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


Job opening *** Updated x1 ***

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2007

I haven’t done this sort of thing in the past, but I think I’ll do more as they come up. SEIU is looking to replace Marrianne McMullen. It’s a sweet-looking gig and the pay is decent. But the application deadline is coming up soon, so if you’re interested you’d better get a move-on.

Position title: Communications Director, SEIU Illinois Council

Responsibilities: Provide communication leadership and support in the state’s highest priority organizing, contract, political and legislative campaigns. Serve as primary media contact for SEIU Illinois, with functions including story pitching, message formation, matching journalists with appropriate SEIU sources and preparing those sources. Facilitate work among and training of all communication staff at Illinois’ five major locals. Oversee writing and production of political materials for state council-endorsed candidates. Assist locals in developing and implementing communication strategies in support of their organizing, contract and legislative campaigns. Maintain and update state council website. Compose and coordinate email activism through regular Get Active alerts.

Requirements: Minimum 10 years professional communications experience, with an emphasis on media relations. Related degree, labor movement and political campaign experience preferred.

Salary and benefits: Commensurate with experience, plus full family health, dental, vision and paid leave benefits.

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Starting date: March 15, 2007

Application process: Please send cover letter, resume, three references and three work samples to Kathleen Benton, SEIU Illinois, 111 E. Wacker Dr., Suite 2500, Chicago, IL 60601.

Application deadline: Friday, February 2, 2007.

*** UPDATE *** The Illinois Restaurant Association is looking for a new president. No details yet, but a search committee is being formed. Colleen McShane is leaving after 14 years with the group.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2007

Predict Mayor Daley’s final vote percentage in next month’s election.

Bonus Question: Springfield-area residents should predict Mayor Davlin’s final percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Lottery and gaming dreams discussed *** Updated x1 ***

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2007

Filan explains why he wants to lease out the state lottery.

The governor’s idea to lease the Illinois lottery didn’t generate much enthusiasm from state lawmakers last year, but the state’s chief operating officer pushed the idea anew Tuesday, arguing that Illinois must relieve itself of the risk posed by the lottery.

“I think revenue is at risk,” said the state’s new chief operating officer, John Filan, during an appearance before the Union League Club of Chicago. “I’m concerned lottery revenues will go down, not up, over time. I want to pass that risk on to the private market.”

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has suggested that a long-term lease of the lottery could generate new money for schools, but lawmakers are skeptical.

“I think they’re grasping at straws to come up with some plausible explanation as to why they want to sell a state asset, use the money now and not worry about it down the road,” said Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) who said he has requested hearings on the lottery proposal when lawmakers return to Springfield early next month.

Rep. Brent Hassert (R-Romeoville) questioned why private companies would give a “whole boatload of money for the lottery” if they’re looking at the same risky market.

Filan and the administration claim that current state law ties the state’s hands in expanding the lottery’s revenues. For instance, they’re limited on how much money they can spend on advertising and they can’t pay incentive sales bonuses to vendors or sales people.

The governor’s proposal, as far as we’ve seen, assumes that the General Assembly will remove those restrictions from a private company. I wouldn’t bet on that. As Rep. John Fritchey has noted, the plan also seeks to reduce the number of payouts, another not so popular idea.


Speaking of betting
, Rep. Lou Lang unveiled yet another gaming plan yesterday.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has agreed not to interfere with a new gambling-expansion bill if it advances in the legislature this spring, the measure’s sponsor said Tuesday.

Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat who previously pushed for additional Illinois casinos, said Blagojevich recently told him he would decide the merits of Lang’s latest proposal if and when it reaches his desk.

Blagojevich, a Chicago Democrat, in the past has publicly discouraged lawmakers from even sending him such legislation, by threatening a veto.

“The governor assured me that he was not going to say or do anything that would get in the way of my attempting to move this legislation,” Lang, chairman of the House Gaming Committee, said at a Chicago news conference. “That is what he told me, and that is what I expect will happen.”

Wanna take odds on the governor keeping his word?

*** UPDATE *** Mayor Daley’s response, via Chicago Public Radio.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Reform and Renewal… Part 46,397

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2007

Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

A Chicago drug-testing company with a long-standing no-bid state contract is under state and federal investigation amid allegations it billed the state for drug tests it never performed.

The company–K.K. Bio-Science Inc.–came under scrutiny following an Oct. 27 report in the Tribune detailing how Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s wife, Patricia, earned more than $113,000 in real estate commissions from the company’s owner and president.

Remember that one? Here’s a refresher

When questioned by a Tribune reporter, Anita Mahajan denied her friendship with the Blagojeviches and said didn’t know who Patricia Blagojevich was until someone brought it up at the first closing.

“I didn’t hire her,” Mahajan said in a brief interview from the balcony of her Chicago townhouse. “I didn’t even know who she was until closing. That’s when I heard she was the governor’s wife. I try not to get involved in politics.”

Eventually, her lawyer told the Trib that the couple have been “friends for a long time” with Mrs. Blagojevich.

The governor’s office flatly refused to give the Tribune or any other reporters documents related to the company last year, claiming it would be an “unwarranted invasion of privacy.”

Anyway, back to today’s story.

K.K. Bio-Science abruptly closed down Jan. 19, giving its employees no warning. Company representatives then spent the next week tossing records and office equipment into trash bins, said other building tenants.

“They threw away an incredible amount of stuff,” said Paul Leslie Beals, who works across the hall at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. “I counted at least five Dumpsters in the hallway. There was a printer in there that one of my colleagues took. There were all kinds of files and documents. Somebody said they even saw some checks in the trash. They were throwing away everything.”

Gov. Blagojevich’s spokeswoman, Abby Ottenhoff, declined Tuesday to address the specifics of the investigation.

Mahajan’s bank has also lent millions of dollars to none other than Tony Rezko. What a coinkydink.

Meanwhile, back at the DeFraties hearing

An administrative law judge halted testimony Tuesday in the case of two state workers accused of breaking government hiring rules.

Anthony Dos Santos ordered Blagojevich administration lawyers to hand over copies of job applications they claim were improperly handled by Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey.

DeFraties and Casey were personnel officials at the Department of Central Management Services. Gov. Rod Blagojevich fired them last spring for allegedly manipulating the hiring process. The hearing will determine whether they get their jobs back.

Blagojevich lawyers want to introduce handwritten logs that, according to DeFraties’ subordinates, show some applications got special treatment. The logs contain as many as 1,200 names.

And

The documents issue arose Monday during the testimony of CMS employee Marc Longmeyer. He said he would get job applications from DeFraties and Casey that had been graded and put into a computer database ahead of other applications. Longmeyer kept a written list of the names - nearly 500 of them - that came from DeFraties and Casey. The list was submitted as evidence.

Draper, though, argued that if the list was going to be used to impugn his clients, he was entitled to the application forms for he people on it. Attorneys for the state produced six application forms Tuesday, but Draper said that wasn’t enough.

He repeatedly complained that information was withheld from his clients that they need to defend themselves.

CMS Director Paul Campbell testified Tuesday that he signed off on termination proceedings against DeFraties and Casey based partly on a report from the inspector general’s office. However, Draper said the report has never been turned over to him or his clients.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2007

* Editorial: Taxpayers being robbed by vacant LDC site

* Guv signs bills targeting “wannabe” Irish judges: Hoping to stop lawyers from adopting Irish names to run for judge, Gov. Blagojevich has signed a bill requiring candidates who have changed their names within three years before running to have a “formerly known as” under their name.

* Editorial: Lend more support to ID theft victims

* Final certified Chicago election ballot

* City ward supervisor kept Land Rover in city garage

* Daley calls shakedown lawsuit just election-year politics

* More demands for Stroger cut more of his own budget fat:

And one commissioner said board members deserve more than what they’re getting to run their offices and shouldn’t have to cut their staff at all.
“You explain that to the doctors and nurses you’re going to lay off,” said Commissioner John Daley, referring to cuts that have been proposed to fill a $500 million budget deficit.

* IL National Guard among nation’s worst in inventory for equipment

* Aldermanic free-for-all in 2nd ward

* Peotone residents airport expansion Bill of Rights: “I wish this wasn’t needed,” said Dugan, who called herself an airport proponent. “There have been a lot of problems with how the state has handled things.”

* Center for Tax & Budget Accountability claims state owes Cook Co. $243 million in Medicaid

* Sun-Times Editorial:

Time to get the state code on the right side of the law: The Criminal Law Edit, Alignment and Reform Commission, led by former Gov. James Thompson and former Appellate Court Justice Gino DiVito, spent 18 months carrying out the mission described by its name. The group has presented a plan to streamline the code, cut redundancies and inconsistencies, drop unconstitutional provisions and end the confusion that, as DiVito put it, “has led to lengthy and expensive disputes, retrials and delays.”

* Daley refuses to fire “cooperative” official; it would hint at retaliation

* Tribune Editorial: Coming up short…on education funding

* At fatal Riverside teen-crash site, Sandoval backs stronger driving law

* Local officials discourage Dupage Co. sales tax vote

* Carol Marin: Who can fix the County Dems?

- Posted by Paul Richardson   18 Comments      


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