Make Fun of Michael Savage Day

Ted Barlow reminds us it is Make Fun of Michael Savage . It appears the Savage one has decided to sue a bunch of small web sites for making fun of him. So PILE ON!

I’ll come up with some snappy stuff later, but for now, let’s just examine the Savage web site. Go ahead, I dare you. Click the link then come back.

That front page is just stunning, isn’t it.

But even more stunning is the shot where he is feeling up wax ‘Hollywood Idiots’. Dude needs some action.

More later, but I think it is really going to be hard to parody a parody.

Rush-ing Denials

One of the curiousities of the race for the Democratic Nomination for the U.S. Senate race is the presence of Joyce Washington in the race. Washington has a strong healthcare management background, but no experience in elected office. While she has long been active in the community, her first run for office was the 2002 Lieutenant Governor’s race that she lost to Pat Quinn. Not being able to self-finance and not having built a large base through prior campaigns puts her at a significant disadvantage and has raised many questions amongst political watchers curious about the move.

Today, Steve Neal reported what had been rumored for some time, that the Washington candidacy is being pushed by Bobbie Rush to payback Barack Obama who challenged him unsuccessfully in the 2000 primary for Rush’s Congressional Seat. In doing so, Rush is actually helping Dan Hynes by splittling African-American votes between Washington and Obama.

Neal describes the breakdown of African-American votes in the past,

In a statewide Democratic primary, about 30 percent of the voters are African American. When the black community is united behind a single candidate, that person is inevitably a strong contender.

As Rush knows better than anyone, rival black candidacies splinter the vote. In the 1990 Democratic primary for the Supreme Court, black judges Cousins and Blanche M. Manning got just over half the vote. This split helped the late Mayor Michael A. Bilandic win the judicial slot with less than half of the vote. If Rush is determined to spoil Obama’s chances, there is no better way to do it than with a second black candidate.

To make matters shadier, Neal also reports on Rush’s ties to Thomas Hynes, Dan Hynes father,

Rush has a longtime relationship with the candidate’s father, former Cook County Assessor Thomas C. Hynes, who is still the Democratic committeeman of the Far Southwest Side’s 19th Ward. Back in 1992, the elder Hynes provided Rush with critical support in his upset Democratic primary victory over the late Congressman Charles A. Hayes.

Needless to say the above column raised a whole lot of eyebrows amongst African-American clergy in Chicago. And those raised eyebrows were followed closely by calls from Congressman Rush to deny Neal’s report. Rush is saying that he contacted Neal and is demanding a retraction.

Sources indicate Rush is making the argument that the story was planted by the Machine regulars–Daley or Thomas Hynes–to deflect attention from questions concerning Washington’s campaign and whether she is a stalking horse to Obama. By fingering Rush, Rush is claiming, they deflect attention from their efforts.

While it is impossible to determine the veracity of Rush’s claims, the problem with the argument is this key graph from Neal,

Settling an old score with Obama isn’t the only reason that Rush is promoting Washington’s long-shot candidacy. According to knowledgeable sources, this is part of an elaborate scheme to covertly help state Comptroller Dan Hynes, the nominal front-runner in the Democratic senatorial field.

The argument Neal is making implicates both Hynes supporters and Rush and one would assume all involved in creating a stalking horse candidate would not want to be tied to the allegation. Admittedly, barring direct evidence of Washington being a stalking horse put in the race by Hynes supporters, such an allegation has little impact on Hynes or his supporters, but a huge impact in the African-American community where Rush would be viewed very poorly for helping a white candidate over a high quality African-American contender. Where the logic breaks down is why they’d be planting the story if they are trying to divert attention.

The interesting question one is left with is if Washington is a stalking horse candidate, does she realize it.

Posted at Political State Report as well.

Steve Neal Connects the Washington Dots

As hinted about yesterday, the Washington campaign is a bit of an enigma in the race for the Democratic Nomination to the US Senate. Her background is weak,

Washington, 52, a hospital administrator, was the runner-up in last year’s three-way primary for lieutenant governor. Former state Treasurer Pat Quinn defeated her by 108,136 votes. She carried Cook County over Quinn by 849 votes and got about a third of the statewide vote.

As the only African-American candidate in this contest, Washington had the support of Sen. Jones, U.S. Representatives Davis and Jackson, County Commissioner Jerry ”Iceman” Butler and the Rev. Clay Evans, all of whom are backing Obama for the Senate.

Rush had nothing good to say about Washington when she was running for lieutenant governor. As a strategist for black gubernatorial candidate Roland W. Burris, Rush lamented that Washington’s bid might undermine Burris. That wasn’t the case.

But Bobbie Rush is backing her. Why? Because Barack Obama challenged him for the US House seat in 2000, though Rush crushed him.

Not only that, but,

Settling an old score with Obama isn’t the only reason that Rush is promoting Washington’s long-shot candidacy. According to knowledgeable sources, this is part of an elaborate scheme to covertly help state Comptroller Dan Hynes, the nominal front-runner in the Democratic senatorial field.

Rush has a longtime relationship with the candidate’s father, former Cook County Assessor Thomas C. Hynes, who is still the Democratic committeeman of the Far Southwest Side’s 19th Ward. Back in 1992, the elder Hynes provided Rush with critical support in his upset Democratic primary victory over the late Congressman Charles A. Hayes.

But Rush repaid this debt when he backed the younger Hynes for state comptroller in 1998. By using Washington to split the black vote, Rush is counting on the Hynes camp to stop Obama.

Whether Washington fully realizes the game being played or not is an interesting question, though my guess is that her ego overcomes the giant flashing warning lights.

What does having two African-Americans in the race do?

In a statewide Democratic primary, about 30 percent of the voters are African American. When the black community is united behind a single candidate, that person is inevitably a strong contender.

As Rush knows better than anyone, rival black candidacies splinter the vote. In the 1990 Democratic primary for the Supreme Court, black judges Cousins and Blanche M. Manning got just over half the vote. This split helped the late Mayor Michael A. Bilandic win the judicial slot with less than half of the vote. If Rush is determined to spoil Obama’s chances, there is no better way to do it than with a second black candidate.

Obama is a serious candidate, Washington isn’t. The shame of it is that Washington may not realize this.

Dan Hynes is one of my two least favorite kinds of candidates in general–he is the kid who gets the boost from the parents. The other I’m not thrilled with are millionaires who jump in with no experience. That being said, this campaign has some very able people who fit those descriptions and I’m not talking about John Simmons. Hynes should be tested in the primary by having to take on real candidates with no gimmicks. If he is as strong as the Machine is claiming to everyone who will listen, release him and let’s see his stuff.

As a parallel, Lisa Madigan seemed incredibly ill-prepared to be AG until we got lucky and she turned out to be a natural against Birkett. We never would have known that in her race against Schmidt. But what if she was a dud–how would we have known? Hynes has only had to gimme primaries and two jokes of general campaign opponents. The good news is Lauzen is gearing up 2006 and well, one can’t make up that kind of stupid.

Admittedly, the general election Republican may yet turn out to be a joke, but you don’t bet the farm on that. And Hynes may be a natural, but I’d rather see that demonstrated instead of just having him annointed.

US Democratic Senate Cattle Call

1. Hynes–rumors are he is having a hard time raising cash–watch for the FEC reports–and that John Doar, political fixer, has been dispatched, but Hynes still has the name and the machine until someone proves differently.

2. Obama–He has the African-American machines behind him except Bobbie Rush and that is a good portion of votes in the primary. Riding high after a successful legislative session.

3. Hull–polisci 101–how to cobble together an effective coalition–aided by cash. He’s been seen in the South Side churches trying to pick off votes from Obama–might be successful because Obama suffers from, well, being too integrated in his behavior. Picking off downstate, goo-goo lakeshore liberals, and lots of non activists with a name recognition assault for the next 9 months. His pain has a name–Hynes.

4. Pappas–hiding, but a natural campaigner with name recognition.

5. Chico–lot’s of cash-another FEC report to watch, but being shut out in the Hispanic community. Makes it tough to win when another guy has more cash and several others have more machine.

6. Simmons–no base, no name, no machine, but $40 million goes a long way?

7. Washington–why is she running again? Obama? Maybe.

8. O’Shea–who? Only appearance is at a conference of conservatives—not exactly the way to Democratic hearts

Taking on Hynes

Dan Hynes is considered the frontrunner for the Illinois Democratic Nomination to the US Senate, but that puts a giant target on his back.

As such expect a ‘solid assault’ on Hynes by the Hull campaign which after having the Daley pull out the rug from underneath Hull’s feet, is under no illusions about this campaign. They are devising a strategy to keep the losing margins in Chicago and the suburbs low.

Add to this a bit of intrigue surrounding two candidates: John Simmons and Joyce Washington. Washington has never held significant office and so her candidacy is a bit of a mystery since she doesn’t have the resources that Hull and Simmons have. One suggestion is that she is the Carol Moseley Braun of the race pulling votes from Obama to help Hynes out. Is this possible? Absolutely. But what would the pay-off be? One thing people forget is that ego is a hell of motive and pushing someone’s buttons to run on the idea of making a dramatic challenge certainly affects one’s clarity of thought. Washington may well want to believe she can win while being pushed by forces using her for not so honest reasons. Cold-hearted political consultants can all point to the weakness they see in even the most level-headed clients when their egos are stroked.

Simmons is the other question–is someone pushing him to get in or is he a stalking horse downstate? I’d have to say that if he is throwing $40 million in his campaign, he believes he can win. Now whether someone has convinced him to run is an open question. Again, ego can cloud many people’s judgments.

The interesting note on Simmons is that Poshard has never heard of him. If I were to run a downstate based campaign in the Democratic Primary and wanted to gather up support Poshard is the second call I make. The first is to unindicted coconspirator Jerry Costello who probably controlls the largest single block of votes in Southern Illinois. The second is Poshard (the third is Paul Simon). Why Poshard doesn’t know this guy is strange given Simmons should have made sure Poshard knew him.

That being said, such a move wouldn’t be that strange by a political neophyte. Why the strong words of support by Costello for Simmons? Simmons bankrolls a lot of Democrats in Madison and St. Clair County so Costello is unlikely to do anything, but flatter him. Simmons’ campaign has every sign of an authentic neophyte being encouraged for future access to his money. Given his ties are very thin, he’ll have a very hard time making headway in labor heavy Southern Illinois.

2020 Democrats

2020 Democrats is asking young people across America to articulate "Visions" for our future – visions of the world they hope to see in the year 2020. 2020 Democrats will accept and post Vision submissions on the website: http://www.2020democrats.org/

2020 Democrats was founded on the belief that, for the Democratic Party to be relevant, it must first articulate a compelling vision for the future of our country – and then stand for the policies that are most likely to turn that vision into a reality. And who better to define a vision for our future than the young people whose future is at stake?

From those who submit "Visions," 150 will be chosen to attend the 2020 Democrats kick-off event, a summer conference in Washington, DC entitled, "Your America: See It In 2020." Conference participants will begin to craft a consensus vision for our country’s future and will then return to their local communities to facilitate a broader conversation among young people about the world they hope to see in 2020. Young people hoping to attend the conference should submit their Visions by July 4th, 2003.

Blair Hull Announces Tomorrow

In Carbondale, Springfield and Chicago. Webcast available above for the announcement and the start of the commercials that are appearing downstate.

He hits Belleville on the 26th and I might have to take it in if I’m not working. He’ll continue on to Bloomington—Ahem-he better be making the Lucca Grill stop, know what I mean out there? John Edwards just made a splash there a few days ago. And he should get the Ala Baldini.

Bring it On Grover…

In a related posting to yesterday, one commenter brought up Grover Norquist and his efforts to organize conservatives in so many states.

Like most political svengali’s Norquist is given a lot more credit than he deserves. Most of the movement would have occurred anyway, though not as fast. In fact, the best thing to credit him with is that he and his allies forced realignment faster in the south and west than did Democrats in the Northeast and Upper-midwest.

Rich Miller covers Norquist’s efforts in Illinois and points out some of the leading followers.

So the question is can Grover bring the Illinois Republican Party into a hard hitting opposition party that takes no prisoners and eventually takes over the state government?

Look at the coalitions. Who is the strongest Republican statewide right now? Judy Baar Topinka and the reason why is that she appeals to moderate Republicans, swing voters and many Democrats. What happens if the Republican Party turns nasty and fights hard? They lose her in a primary and come out with a fire-breathing conservative who loses the general. Fire breathing conservatives are fine in fire breathing conservative states, which Illinois is not.

Getting rid of moderate Republicans won’t work if the state isn’t conservative. It might work for an election where one can control the agenda, but one can’t control the agenda forever.

Of course, Illinois tried unified Republican control and didn’t like it much in 1994. 1996 Madigan pulled the Dems back in control of the House and ever since, Democrats have made gains in state government. Part of this can be accounted for by scandals, but the Illinois Republican Party is moving to the right while the state is constant or slightly moving to the left. You don’t win in a state like Illinois by subtracting the so-called RINOs.

But if Grover cares to try, I know a whole lot of Democrats who are happy to help him out.

That being said, they’ve decided to try and turn Blagojevich into the personification of their problems. Besides Blagojevich having the right loyalties on the North Side (not bad play-by-play there Guv), Blagojevich is showing a hell of a lot more political savvy than I gave him credit. Miller also points out the structural problem for conservatives

By focusing conservative ire on Blagojevich, the activists might finally have something to do besides organize circular firing squads. Outmaneuvering their fellow travelers in an endless game of "I’m the most important conservative in Illinois" seems to be their favorite pastime. Still, it remains to be seen whether the same people forming yet another "new" coalition ? even if it is affiliated with the right’s most successful consensus-maker, Norquist ? will be able to move beyond their self-immolating habits.

Conservatives in Illinois argue that the party simply isn’t conservative enough creating a pattern of one-upsmanship that pushes candidates farther and farther to the right. Hence, the Illinois Circular Firing Squad Team continues marching on–in circles.

Movement Conservatives in Denial

The greatest part of the Illinois Circular Firing Squad Team’s spat is that one side is right and the other one is far right. Rimshot please as I welcome myself back.

But seriously folks, the mantra of social conservatives goes something like, "If only the Republican Party would throw off the yolk of the horrible liberal, corrupt moderate Republicans the Illinois GOP would wipe the floor with the Democrats."

The only problem with that is that social conservatives are on the wrong side of just about every social issue in the State of Illinois. Don’t believe me?

From the Trib’s recent poll,

57 percent support a bill outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians including 51 percent of downstaters and 46 percent in Southern Illinois. Overall 25 percent oppose such a law and in Southern Illinois that percentage was 30. Even in the most socially conservative portion of the state, a plurality supports such a law, and many are simply agnostic.

The whole argument that the great moral, but silent majority was against such horrors as equal treatment for human beings should have been thrown out the window when Normal approved an ordinance banning discrimination. For goodness sakes, the oxymoronically named Jesse Smart was thrown out of office for his homophopic rants on Oprah in the only slightly more progressive than Normal City of Bloomington. Many people may not be comfortable with homosexuality, but the current of tolerance and justice overcomes that discomfort.

The ERA has brought back Southern Illinois’ perpetual nightmare, Phyllis Schlafly, to argue against the bugaboo of gender integrated restrooms and other horrors, but how does the state feel? That Phyllis is whacked–well we already knew that, but that her position on the ERA is whacked…
65 percent approve statewided with 17 percent having no opinion.

In Chicago the for and against is 72-16, Cook County 68-17, Collar Counties 61-23, and downstate 62-18. I’ll be looking for Phyllis at the urinal near me soon.

And finally, gun control. 62 percent favor stronger restrictions on gun sales and 31 percent were against. Cook Suburbs 77-19 and downstate 54-37 with Southern Illinois only below 50 at 48-43. I have a different view on gun control–that the State of Illinois can’t be any more effective without federal regulation, but the general sense in Illinois is for tighter restrictions.

The poll does show concern over expansion of gambling which is often a favorite issue of movement conservatives, but not solely their issue.

Illinois is a moderately liberal state. The moderate wing of the Illinois Republican Party gets that. Movement conservatives don’t and that is just fine because they are putting on a hysterical show for the rest of us.

Economic issues used to dominate in Illinois and thus union and minority voters against business dominated the arguments with swing voters trying to balance the differences. Social conservatives were in both parties as those who remember the ERA defeat will attest, Democrats often were obstructing passage as much as Republicans. Illinois was then a true swing state. But now that the national parties have realigned over social issues and Illinois is a moderate to liberal state on social issues and trending Democratic unless the Illinois GOP wants to concentrate on moderate candidates. Given Movement Conservatives show little interest in compromising, they will quickly find themselves locked out of power.

When Is Luck Not Chance

The Skeptical Inquirer (content not on-line) ran an article about how most lucky situations are actually not chance, but people taking advantage of chance.

Rod Blagojevich can’t be this lucky, so he must subscribe to this theory. I have been critical of his plan to sell bonds for pension liabilities and invest money at a higher rate than the current interest rate. That criticism still stands because the benefits fo the deal are being taken right off the bat instead of over the life of the deal.

The second criticism of the deal just fell apart. I, and many others, were concerned that the state might not get the interest rate or might not invest wisely. It is certainly possible that the state won’t invest wisely, but not in the likely category, especially since the State of Illinois just got fantastic interest rates on the bonds. Rich Miller argues this is just the next example of how G-Rod surprises everyone,

I’m not a superstitious person, but I’m starting to believe that Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s life has been blessed by a kindly leprechaun, a lucky star or an influential guardian angel. Take your pick.

He was elected to the Illinois House after a new legislative map gave state Rep. Bruce Farley (D-Chicago) the opportunity to be kicked upstairs to the Senate by Blagojevich’s politically powerful father-in-law.

He moved up to Congress two years after the supposedly unbeatable Democrat Dan Rostenkowski was defeated by a no-name Republican in a fluke election.

He won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination against a field of candidates that simply couldn’t or wouldn’t compete on an "A" level.

He then faced a not exactly energetic Republican nominee, Jim Ryan, who shared the same last name with the disgraced GOP incumbent, George Ryan, in a year when the Republican Party was bitterly divided after a nasty primary and spiritually broken from a years-long corruption scandal.

And then, last week, word leaked that the office run by his most probable 2006 opponent, GOP state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, had been hit with a federal subpoena relating to alleged campaigning on state time.

You just can’t get much luckier than he has.

This is not to imply that Blagojevich got where he is today solely on the basis of good fortune or his in-laws. Whatever you may think of him, you have to at least grudgingly admit that his successes during his first legislative session showed that his tenacity is impressive, his energy is almost boundless, his deliberate calculation might make Machiavelli blush and his charm is often disarming. Yes, he’s been handed a slew of lucky breaks, but he has taken full advantage of almost all of them.

In general, he generates his own luck

You may remember a few months ago when the Republicans and many others, myself included, cast a skeptical, even hostile eye at the governor’s plan to float $10 billion in long-term bonds, skim $2 billion off the top as "profit" and use the money to make scheduled pension payments, and then invest the rest at a hoped-for 8.5 percent to pay off the bonds. Too risky, the bond houses would hate it, the idea would hurt our credit rating, etc., etc., etc.

It’s still early, but, so far, the governor’s pension bond "scheme" has performed above even the governor’s allegedly overly optimistic expectations.

The governor hoped to get a 6 percent rate on the bonds and figured he could probably sell only up to $6 billion right away. Instead, all $10 billion was gobbled up last week by hungry investors at an interest rate just a hair above 5 percent.

It is now conceivable, even probable, that the lower interest rate will allow the governor to skim off another several hundred million dollars and use that cash to pay off much of next fiscal year’s scheduled pension payments ? thereby closing a huge upcoming budgetary hole. The wizards at the Office of Management and Budget are currently examining just that scenario.

Add that dough to at least $600 million from a recently approved federal bailout, plus the possibility that some of his other supposedly harebrained ideas might outperform expectations (sale of the Thompson Center, state takeover of a riverboat license, etc.), and if the economy continues to grow a little (which it usually does during a presidential election year), the next budget deficit might not be nearly as bad as some predict (earlier estimates ranged from $2 billion to $3 billion and beyond), which could allow him to once again pass a budget without raising taxes or expanding gaming.

I can’t improve on the column’s clincher,

But no matter how much his perpetual campaign style of governing might continue to irritate, I’m not going to make the same mistake that Washington, D.C., people consistently made with another similarly charmed politico, Bill Clinton.

I am through betting against this man. Call it luck, call it skill, call it whatever you want. The percentages just aren’t there.

If the 2008/2012 rumors are true for G-Rod, the Governor just smiled with that comparison.

Rich Miller Notes the Illinois Circular Firing Squad is back

Just in case anyone was wondering whether the Illinois Republican Party had gotten its act together, never fear, the Party has circled up and is ready fire aim,

THERE THEY GO AGAIN (excerpt) Last year, conservative Republicans seized on the opportunity to install one of their own as state party chairman when the incumbent chairman, Lee Daniels, was hobbled by a major corruption scandal and when the party’s gubernatorial candidate was too weak to convince the conservatives to allow him to appoint a replacement who was more acceptable to the dominant moderates.

Well, the Right is at it again. Parts of it, anyway. Failed congressional candidate John Cox has called on current Republican Party Chairperson Judy Baar Topinka to step aside while the federal investigation of her state treasurer’s office is completed. Failed gubernatorial candidate Patrick O’Malley chimed in that the party needs to clean its act up.

In the past, the party post has mostly been a fundraising job, but a conservative element wants to use the position to promote its ideology and create more opportunities for conservative candidates in Illinois. Many hard right activists were disappointed with Topinka’s elevation to the party job. Topinka strongly favors gay rights and is mostly pro-choice. So those conservatives want to replace her with someone more to their liking.

It’s a sound idea, if you take their point of view. But Illinois trends toward more moderate, even liberal Republicanism, and that predominant faction will fight to the death to keep the Right out of the potentially high-profile chairman’s position. A hard rightward turn is viewed as disastrous, particularly in the wake of last year’s overwhelmingly Democratic election results. . . .

Jeff Trigg points us to a Trib article where David Keene points out the obvious about the Illinois Republican Party

"There really is no Republican Party in Illinois," Keene said. "It’s all collapsed around [former Gov.] George Ryan."

Jeff Trigg also points out the problem with blind party loyalty. I agree and I posted on Rita being a scum bag back in the day . I believe Ross at the Bloviator joined me, but I don’t have a permalink