Let’s start with Sen. Joe Biden’s recent remarks about Obama. Biden is gearing up for his own Democratic presidential bid.
â€œI mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.â€
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 weâ€™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.”
“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 alreadystarting.
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.
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.
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 gruesomemanner. Apparently, he’s still got the mojo.
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 stateâ€™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 Illinoisâ€™ 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
* Guv signs bills targeting â€œwannabeâ€ 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.
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.
* 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.”
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.”
Long before Bears kick-return specialist Devin “Anytime” Hester tied an NFL record with a 108-yard return (of a botched field goal, no less) against the Giants, he was a magic man with the Miami Hurricanes.
Bears fans, you must check out this truly awesome video from Hester’s college days. Colts fans, this is one reason why your team’s gonna lose. Whiny, always-wrong hater columnists, bite me.
A couple of months ago, I went out with one of my best friends from grade school. We lived near each other on farms in rural Iroquois County, which is directly south of Kankakee.
Anyway, we spent quite a bit of time jostling back and forth over whether Chicago should be kicked out of Illinois. He said, only half-jokingly, that we ought to string a barbed wire fence around the city.
The evening came to mind after reading some comments this morning under a State Journal-Register story about Barack Obama’s Springfield presidential announcement and how the Prairie Capital Convention Center would be the backup site (the Old State Capitol will be the primary site). The first comment set off quite a fight.
Obama has no connection to spfld..stay in chicago with the majority of liberals, lincoln would turn over in his grave, he better be charged full price for the rent of the pccc!@!!!
Other comments included this one:
I dont know why he is paying attention to springfield when he hasnt before.
He is just using you, he is a liberal senator from chicago who will use the small midwest town backdrop as a hook, he is from chicago and that is where his roots are. He served his chicago district for 8 years, bomke was my senator in sangamon county.
Today’s question: Why do you think so many downstaters seem to hate Chicago and don’t consider it part of Illinois? Does racism explain some of it? Backwardsness? Or is it just the natural outgrowth of intense regional conflict over limited resources? Something else?
[This was originally the Question of the Day, but I changed it.]
Attorney General Lisa Madigan has released her annual list of top 10 consumer complaints. From a press release issued late yesterday afternoon:
Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced that for the first time in the history of the Illinois Attorney Generalâ€™s Top 10 Consumer Complaint List, identity theft complaints topped the list, exceeding the other categories by far. Madigan attributes the dramatic increase in consumer complaints concerning ID theft to her officeâ€™s new Identity Theft Hotline, announced in February 2006.
Madigan also announced that her officeâ€™s Consumer Protection Division received a record number of consumer complaints in the last year. In 2006, the Consumer Protection Division received 32,724 consumer complaints, a more than 18 percent increase over the 26,652 consumer complaints received in 2005. This increase follows a nearly 11 percent increase in consumer complaints in 2005.
And here’s the list:
CATEGORY - # OF COMPLAINTS
1. Identity Theft - 5,237
2. Credit - 3,444
3. Construction/Home Improvement - 3,204
4. Telecommunications - 2,782
5. Promotions and Schemes - 2,261
6. Financial Services - 1,695
7. Motor Vehicles/Used Auto Sales - 1,486
8. Mail Order - 1,475
9. Business to Business Fraud - 815
10. Motor Vehicle/Non-Warranty Repair - 790
Question: Have you ever been tempted to call the AG’s consumer complaints tip line? What’s your story? Without names, of course.
Speaker Madigan has introduced his legislation to move the spring primary up six weeks, from March to the first Tuesday in February. Madigan said earlier this month that he wanted the state to play a larger role in the presidential election and felt the move would benefit Barack Obama’s candidacy. The Post-Dispatch has reaction. Initially, Senate President Emil Jones was skeptical, but he’s moving off the dime a bit:
Since then, Jones has endorsed the idea in concept but not Madigan’s bill in specific.
“Conceptually, it benefits the people of Illinois to have an early say in who the presidential candidate is. However, we’re still reviewing the bill,” said Jones spokeswoman Cindy Davidsmeyer.
Madigan’s bill would affect more than just the presidential races. It would move the entire primary election forward, including all federal, state and local races. States like Iowa, in contrast, hold an early presidential caucus, separate from the primary election, to vote only on the presidential races.
“While some states do have two primaries in presidential years, the notion of that kind of change is complicated,” said Steve Brown, spokesman for Madigan. “Let’s not make it too complicated for voters: Have them come to the polls once and let their voice be heard.”
Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson, R-Greenville, while in favor of a larger state role in selecting the next president, said he worried about lengthening a campaign season that he says is too long already.
The Southern Illinoisan editorialized against Madigan’s idea and against the whole frontloaded system in general.
The “problem” isn’t Illinois’ date being too late. The problem is other states being too early.
If anything, the caucuses and primaries should take place later. Many voters are sick of the pre-election hype already. Others aren’t paying attention.
Political-beat reporters don’t help with their constant badgering, asking potential candidates when they will declare their intentions like a bunch of kids on a family vacation asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, wants to move Illinois’ 2008 primary election from March 18 to Feb. 5 - in part, to boost the chances of state Sen. Barack Obama.
The primary date shouldn’t be changed to help - or hurt - a person.
I predict it will be signed into law and I think for 2008, that’s a good thing. For other years (that is, when Barack isn’t running for president), I’d rather have nice weather for elections, as I don’t like walking in the cold, so if it was up to me, I’d move the primary to June or September. And I’d imagine most campaign workers would agree with that sentiment (ignoring the speculation on how cold weather might impact election results).
You can read Madigan’s bill by clicking here. Please, if you have a question about the specific legislation, try reading it first before commenting or simply asking others to do your homework for you.
Ald. Arenda Troutman says the white powdery substance the feds found in a ziplock bag in her office was dietary fiber, not drugs.
Ald. Arenda Troutman (20th) said today she doesnâ€™t use drugs and is â€œbetting my lifeâ€ that the white powdery substance found in her home was not narcotics, but a dietary fiber she uses to cleanse her colon.
Troutman charged that federal agents who found the powdery substance during a raid on her South Side home and ward office already know the results were negative and that theyâ€™re keeping the information quiet to continue to smear her.
â€œI canâ€™t understand that you donâ€™t know by now if that was a drug or not,â€ she said after chairing a City Council Committee hearing. â€œThatâ€™s been over three weeks ago and you mean to tell me with all the technology we have today that they have not let the press know? Theyâ€™ve let you guys know everything [else] to this point.â€
The feds say that the tests haven’t come back yet, but, regardless of whatever else you may think of her, she has a good point here. It shouldn’t take three weeks to see if it was cocaine or heroin.
Meanwhile, a group of 30 Chicago organizations that are critical of Mayor Daley released a “Report Card for Change” yesterday, and found that one particular alderman, who recently described himself as a “buffoon” (a year or so after he denied he was a buffoon), was raking in cash from developers.
Real estate interests contributed $1.7 million — more than any other industry — to the campaign coffers of 20 Chicago aldermen over an 18-month period, and 13 percent of that money went to one politician: Ald. Burton F. Natarus (42nd), a study shows.
Natarus, whose booming, development-rich ward includes the Gold Coast and downtown areas, was the No. 1 earner in three categories of the dozen industries surveyed by a coalition of community organizations:
Real estate interests gave $1.75 million to the 20 top-earning aldermen and Natarus got 13 percent of that money. Business services gave $313,052 and 19 percent to Natarus. Retail and wholesalers gave $661,889 and 13 percent to Natarus. Ald. Danny Solis (25th) also got 13 percent. Entertainment sports and gambling interests gave $114,657 and 27 percent of it to Ald. Shirley Coleman (16th).
The AP takes a look at each of the 28 state-job applicants who allegedly received special treatment from Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey and finds a whole bunch of holes in the administration’s case. Here are just a few of them, but go check out the entire list:
1. Ascaridis, Beverly, 56, Chicago, applied for Senior Public Service Administrator on 4/12/04: Resubmitted application doesn’t appear on Casey’s log, so it’s unclear how the government believes Casey or DeFraties knew about it or intervened improperly; never promoted to SPSA; now a public service administrator for the Department of Natural Resources. News reports in September revealed that Ascaridis got the job shortly after her husband, a lifelong Blagojevich friend, gave a $1,500 gift to one of the governor’s daughters.
2. Baksys, Mary, applied for Public Service Administrator on 11/29/04: Never appears on Casey’s log, never hired. […]
8. Dirksen, Julie, 64, Springfield, SPSA, 2/4/04: Initial application marked “incomplete;” awarded a job exempt from all hiring rules, so never needed CMS evaluation; now an SPSA for the Historic Preservation Agency.
It’s amazing that they’re trying to make those two take the fall for Beverly Ascaridis. Beyond chutzpah.
An attorney for the Blagojevich administration said Monday that the case against Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey should focus on what they did, not on what others in state government might have done, to promote certain people for state jobs.
“This is really about the conduct of Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey,” said attorney Joseph Gagliardo in opening statements at a Civil Service Commission hearing where the two fired workers are trying to get reinstated.
“Any attempt to blame others for their misconduct does nothing to mitigate their responsibility.”
Carl Draper, attorney for DeFraties and Casey, said the administration lacks “proof that anybody got any favorable treatment.”
Draper has suggested DeFraties and Casey are scapegoats of an administration engulfed in a federal hiring scandal. U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said last year that serious allegations about hiring problems exist throughout the Blagojevich administration.
Draper said no rules or laws prohibited DeFraties’ and Casey’s actions. He added that administration officials asked for applicants to be graded ahead of time to fill some positions quickly and that they acted in ways similar to members of prior administrations.
Even so, Marc Longmeyer, a grading supervisor under DeFraties, said some applications coming directly from the offices of DeFraties and Casey were graded and placed on an online database ahead of other applicants.
In January, the group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety named Illinois one of four “best performance states” for passing at least two of 15 laws it says are proven to reduce highway deaths injuries.
“Illinois has been very consistent in its passage of key laws,” says Judie Stone, president of the safety group.
* Cook County jail medical execs get axed; protests against budget cuts continue:
Jerry Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, told commissioners: “There’s nothing left to tax, ladies and gentlemen. The taxpayers deserve better solutions.”
* Editorial: Guv gave hook too quickly to Madigan’s mortgage plan
* Editorial: Selling the lottery not a long term solution for schools: “We’d prefer the governor spend his incredible energy devising a fairer way to pay for schools. The overreliance on property taxes is unfair, especially to those who live on fixed incomes.”
* Mark Brown: Burke’s 1st rival in 36 years isn’t taking the hints