Saturday, June 30, 2007

Jessica Hopper doesn't like the cover of the new Common record either.

P.S. ... What is the Chicago skyline doing on this album cover? Common is a New Yorker now...

Clinton's negatives

Via Sullivan, a new Mason-Dixon poll finds 52 percent of Americans wouldn't consider voting for Hillary Clinton. That's awfully high -- high enough to put electability concerns back on the table.

P.S. ... One word of caution. As we've seen with polls on Romney's Mormonism, "wouldn't consider" doesn't really mean wouldn't consider. This number can come down, especially if Clinton were facing a particularly unappealing Republican candidate in a general election. Someone like Romney, say...

Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday weird sign blogging


Friday catblogging

Of course!

Steve Rhodes puts his finger on it:
Watching Chicago Tonight last night, it dawned on me as state Sen. Kirk Dillard was describing taking a bus tour or something with state Sen. (and Rev. and Democrat) James Meeks what was behind his participation in a Barack Obama TV ad: He's running for governor.
(Link in original.) I hadn't thought of this; it sure makes sense...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Immigration: White House loses another one

Immigration bill dead again. And the vote wasn't that close -- 46 in favor of cloture vs. 52 against, which may seem like a fairly tight margin until you recall that the yeses needed 60.

It's another humiliating legislative defeat for the White House, though those have become sort of the norm.

But in this case it's also a loss for the Democratic leadership, who have not exactly shown a preternatural ability to get things done, either. But my sense is that the defeat is probably less damaging to Democrats, because the issue was really much more corrosive to the Republican base, as anyone who listened to talk radio at all in the past month can attest.

Political implications for '08 probably swing in favor of Dems, too, since it's a lot harder to make a 30-second attack ad about an unpopular bill that didn't pass.

I'm even optimistic about the policy implications of this bill's death. No matter who is president in 2009, that person will be more practical and pragmatic than Bush, meaning the next time immigration reform is taken up we'll get a less overarching, more realistic plan for reform. And hopefully one that relies less on guest workers.

UPDATE [6/28 1:20pm] ... As long as we're on the subject, let's note Sam Brownback's spineless flip-flop mid-vote today. Principled leadership!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fact-checking Paris Hilton

Here's Paris Hilton speaking to Larry King:
I was walking in there assuming I was just going to get community service. That's what my lawyer said at the time. So when [the judge] sentenced me to that much time in jail, it was shocking, because that doesn't happen ever.
False! It happens to about 20 percent of similar offenders...

Dick Cheney has me thoroughly confused

This video of White House spokesman Dana Perino stumbling and stammering around Dick Cheney's nonsensical claim that the Office of the Vice President is "not an entity within the executive branch" is funny, by which I mean funny-ridiculous. It also makes use of a valuable new rhetorical weapon for the Bushies, which is feigning confusion.

The fig-leaf (if it is even that) on which Cheney hangs his argument is that the OVP also has some legislative branch duties. Therefore he shouldn't have to be careful handling government secrets or something, I guess. Here's a bit of the audio from the questioning:
REPORTER: He can argue that he's part of both [executive and legislative branches], but he can't possibly argue that he's part of neither. It seems like he's saying he's part of neither.

PERINO: Okay. You have me thoroughly confused.
Yes, wow, that question was pretty hard to follow. But I guess "you have me thoroughly confused" is a better answer for Perino than "There is no possible justification for Vice President Cheney's claim."

P.S. ... Just asking, but is Perino using her gender a little bit here to get out of answering uncomfortable questions? She is far from a ditz or a Monica Goodling figure, obviously, but maybe that makes worse. Would a male press secretary be able to evade questions by saying "You have me thoroughly confused"?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

If you want to know what I think you should do, it is go download this Spoon song "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb" right away, and listen to it about six times consecutively...

True crime

Did you see the tattoos on this guy's face? Terrifying.

Curtis Allgier was already locked up in Utah; while being transferred to a hospital for an MRI he stole a police officer's gun and shot a cop in the head. He carjacked a Ford Explorer outside the hospital, then on his way out of town stopped at an Arby's for some reason. A customer at Arby's wrested Allgier's gun away from him and he was recaptured.

It's an incredible story even if the guy didn't have crazy Nazi tattoos all over his face. But he does.

UPDATE [6/26 11:36am] ... Here's an interview with Allgier's wife Jolene from last year, before this incident. About the crazy face tattoos, she says:
He did not tattoo to self-mutilate. He is very athletic and has an amazing body. It all comes down to opinion. He had the balls to put his beliefs on his entire body and that’s more than I can say for anybody. People hide behind some fake bullshit and pretend to be someone they’re not.

Stay classy, Blago

Rep. John Fritchey blogs about the governor's latest ham-handed attempt to play "hardball":
So in the latest effort to attempt to work with Democratic House members, the Governor's office was behind an anonymous flier that was distributed to attendees at yesterday's Pride Parade. [...]

Did anybody in the administration really think that it was a good idea to try to assail the state's only openly gay legislator, Rep. Harris, for cutting housing resources for HIV/AIDS patients? Via a flyer at the pride parade?

But it has indeed resulted in phone calls. And let's just say that those people that have contacted Rep. Harris and myself were very unhappy. And not with us.

The frosting on the cake is that the Governor's office, directly and through another legislator, denied having any knowledge of the flier. Without wanting to put anybody in a bind, let me just say this. They're lying.

More than one group that receives state funding has indicated that they were contacted by the Administration and asked to assist in the effort. I'm believing them. [...]

And more to the point - in the big picture, what was this possibly going to accomplish? That we would file a motion to reconsider the GRT resolution? That being anonymously blindsided would encourage us to work more closely with the Administration?
So remind me again, what are the procedures for impeaching a governor? Just askin'...
Some images from "The Darjeeling Limited," a new Wes Anderson movie that will be out in the fall...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Alberto Gonzales: I can handle things. I'm smart, not like everybody says. ... I'm smart, and I want respect.
Trapper John of Daily Kos on the immigration bill:
[B]y creating a steady flow of temporary workers with no ability to stay in the country for more than a couple years, and no practical ability to fight for better wages, the number of jobs that "Americans won't do" will grow dramatically. And they include a host of the jobs that sustain and nourish the middle class. The construction trades. Cosmetology. Culinary arts. [...] [B]y busting open the labor markets for these jobs, and opening them with no restrictions to folks from countries with much lower costs of living, we will strangle the middle class lives of the millions of Americans who have proudly earned their paychecks with their skills.
(via Kaus)

Grossest fish ever?

Seriously, we do not want Asian carp getting into Lake Michigan.










Lipinski's primary challenger

ArchPundit calls attention to a primary challenger to pro-Iraq war, socially conservative Democrat Daniel Lipinski in IL-03. He notes that it's a solidly Democratic district, and links to a post by Kos about this race, which points out that:
There's no reason that a pro-war, anti-abortion, and anti-stem cell research, carpetbagging beneficiary of gross nepotism should be representing this particular district.
Other districts, sure, but not this one! Anyway, as ArchPundit notes, Pera's real opponent here may be Mike Madigan.

Here's the website of Lipinski's challenger, Mark Pera. One to watch.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Asian carp blogging

Matt Yglesias defends Barack Obama from the charge (in The Hill) that his requested earmark to keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes is "quirky." It's not! My aunt is a lobbyist for the Illinois Nature Conservancy, and she sees this as a key environmental issue for Illinois. Asian carp would profoundly mess up the Great Lakes ecosystem, and they want in. It's a good earmark.

UPDATE [6/25 11:52am] ... My friend KG sends me a link to this CNN video of what commenter Kelly Mahoney describes below as possibly "the grossest fish I've ever seen."

There is no such thing as selling out

Miles Raymer has a good column in the new Chicago Reader called "In Praise of Selling Out" about the music industry's new realities. It's a solid survey of the changing norms and a good read. I wanted to call attention to Raymer's "to be sure" graf, which is where he acknowledges the opposing argument:
If you remember the days when it was tantamount to treason for an indie rocker to sign to a major label, you might feel like commercialization is eroding a vital but intangible spirit and polluting the noble ideal of art for art's sake.
This is a true characterization of a certain viewpoint, I think. Raymer's rebuttal is basically pragmatic -- a musician's gotta live -- but there's a more conceptual problem with that "noble ideal," too.

It is this: Art and commerce are not opposing forces. Art could not exist without commerce. Period. There is no contradiction in an artist who wants to make money because the reality of art is that it exists in the world as something that is bought and sold.

And here's my "to be sure" graf. Even though that "noble ideal" is premised on a false dichotomy, that doesn't mean art and commerce will always have the same ends. Sometimes there will be a tension there; what is more popular is not always better. It's more accurate to say that commercial popularity is one scale among several on which art can be a success or a failure.

See, that "noble ideal" stuff is Plato-talk, and me I'm more of an Aristotle guy. The world is not a place of abstract, inflexible principles, it's a place filled with competing virtues...

Fluorescent Adolescent

My favorite song from the latest Arctic Monkeys record:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Some people on the internet are not polite

The dude who posted spoilers of the final Harry Potter novel says he wasn't just being a dick, oh no, he did it for religious reasons:
Yes, we did it.
We did it by following the precious words of the great Pope Benedict XVI when he still was Cardinal Josepth Ratzinger.
He explained why Harry Potter bring the youngs of our earth to Neo Paganism faith.
So we make this spoiler to make reading of the upcoming book useless and boring.
Actually even that justification doesn't feel sincere to me. I bet this guy doesn't care one way or another about what the pope said.

You can feel free to click on the link above, though; it doesn't go to the spoiler, nor is the spoiler linked from there. It's just a post about the fact that a(n alleged!) spoiler exists. No links, don't worry. Because seriously, that guy is a dick.

What the "chipmunk" knows

I am stealing this one from Jake, it only gets funnier on repeat viewings. Here it is, "Dramatic Chipmunk": UPDATE [6/21 8:21pm] ... Also, who has a vote about what animal this actually is? We know it isn't a chipmunk. I thought maybe hamster, Jake says prairie dog, who has a vote?

AMillionMonkeys heads north


Well it's not exactly been a secret -- publicprivate a.k.a. Ms. AMillionMonkeys has been posting about it -- but I haven't said anything in this space yet and I guess now is as good a time as any.

Big changes are coming for me and Laura. On Saturday I walked across a stage and received a diploma that certifies me to practice the science of journalism. (Seriously, my degree is an MSJ, Masters of Science in Journalism; I am basically just like a doctor or a microbiologist or a nuclear physicist.)

And in just over two weeks I will be a resident of Wausau, Wisconsin, writing for the Wausau Daily Herald, a fine newspaper full of fine journalists and interesting people. I start there on July 8.

My job might reasonably be described as "reporter/blogger/argument-starter." I'll be writing stories about opinion in the community, getting conversations started on a blog of my own and drawing out readers' viewpoints on the paper's Web discussion boards. The truth is I am incredibly excited about the position, and I consider getting paid to blog somewhat akin to being a selected to be a professional bourbon taster or chicken-wing eater or astronaut or something.

Laura and I are both excited about the move. Wausau is a lovely town in central Wisconsin, featuring all the Wisconsin things you'd want such as cheese curds, fried fish, cheap beer, gorgeous woods. I am hoping to take up skiing and also to renew my long-dormant love of disc golf.

But of course, so much of this blog over the past few years has been about Chicago and Illinois politics specifically that I'm a bit sad to be leaving that stuff behind. (Unless Blagojevich is indicted in the next two weeks, I won't be here to see it!) Sure, I can read the Capitol Fax and Illinoize and the Tribune and my fellow Chicago bloggers from Wisconsin, but it will not be the same.

AMillionMonkeys will not die -- never! -- but I am expecting that it will change shape somewhat in the coming months, since I will obviously be putting most of my energy into the blog that will be my day job. I'm hoping to recruit some new contributors for AMillionMonkeys and turn this blog into more of a group affair. (Which, by the way, are you interested in blogging here? Please do email me, I would love to hear from you.)

So that's my news! We now return you to the regularly scheduled poll-watching, Lil-Wayne-YouTube-clip-posting and Paris-Hilton-defending you've come to rely on from AMillionMonkeys!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rogers Park Bench hits all the right notes in discussing Todd Stroger's hospitalization for prostate trouble. These are: a.) Stroger should have disclosed his condition to the public, b.) it wouldn't -- and actually really shouldn't -- have made a difference in the election even if he had, c.) Stroger is a corrupt hack and a walking joke, and d.) we wish him well anyway, health-wise.

Clinton campaign endorses Celine Dion

Julianne Shepherd on Hillary Clinton's horrible new campaign song:
DON'T BLAME ME I VOTED FOR "GEORGIA... BUSH."
(I really did, in the write-in ballot for "choose Hillary's campaign song." Even linked to a rapidshare of that shit in case her campaign-song lackeys hadn't heard it. Apparently it wasn't as compelling as THE SUFFOCATING NOSE-VOICED SOMNAMBULISM OF A CERTAIN BILLIONAIRE QUEBECOIS. Ha.)
For masochists only, here is the Celine Dion song that is the new Clinton campaign song. But really you're much better off with the Lil Wayne song J-Shep recommended:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Will Republicans vote for a Mormon?

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza looks at what he calls "Romney and the Mormon Question," calling attention to this Post/ABC poll finding 30 percent of Republican-leaning voters say they are "less likely to vote for a Mormon."

Cillizza hasn't reached a conclusion yet on whether or not this is important. Looking at the numbers, I'd say it's no big deal. About half of the "less likely" Republicans -- so 15 percent of all Republican voters -- say they'd never, ever vote for a Mormon under any circumstances. This really isn't that large a slice of the electorate. What's more, this number has actually declined by about 11 points in the last three months, indicating that when Republican voters say "no chance" they may not really mean no chance.

Right now if I am betting money on who gets the Republican nomination, I am putting it on Romney. (And yes, I'm remembering Fred Thompson in my calculations.) This is probably good news for Democrats...

Monday, June 18, 2007

The self-regarding Justice

Turning from Paris Hilton to SCOTUS, I enjoyed Jeffrey Rosen's piece in the new TNR, "The arrogance of Justice Anthony Kennedy" (subscription only). Its central assertion is that Kennedy is a pretentious blowhard who makes judgments based on airy abstractions rather than facts; that he relishes his role as the Court's swing justice and the power he derives from the position. Sounds about right! Rosen:
From the beginning, Kennedy's performance on the Court has been defined not by indecision but by self-dramatizing utopianism. He believes it is the role of the Court in general and himself in particular to align the messy reality of American life with an inspiring and highly abstracted set of ideals. He thinks that great judges [...] have both the power and the duty to "impose order on a disordered reality," as he told [a] Kennedy Center audience. By forcing legislators to respect a series of moralistic abstractions about liberty, equality, and dignity, judges, he believes, can create a national consensus about American values that will usher in what he calls "the golden age of peace." This lofty vision has made Kennedy the Court's most activist justice--that is, the justice who votes to strike down more state and federal laws combined than any of his colleagues.

Kennedy often complains about the "loneliness" of his position, which stems from the fact that he has no reliable public constituency: Both liberals and conservatives tend to view him as a self-aggrandizing turncoat. "Oh, I suppose everyone would like it if everyone applauded when he walked down the street," he said in an interview. "There is loneliness."

But, when it comes time to hand down decisions, Kennedy shows little ambivalence about the centrality of his role in our national drama. His opinions are full of Manichean platitudes about liberty and equality that acknowledge no uncertainty. "Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt," he wrote in his decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 opinion upholding the core of Roe v. Wade. "Preferment by race, when resorted to by the State, can be the most divisive of all policies, containing within it the potential to destroy confidence in the Constitution and in the idea of equality," he intoned in a 2003 dissent from the Court's decision to uphold affirmative action in law schools. Kennedy does indeed agonize before reaching his decisions, and he has dramatically switched his vote in high-profile cases. Yet he seems to agonize not because he is genuinely ambivalent or humble but because he thinks that agonizing is something a great judge should do, to show that he takes seriously the awesome magnitude of his task.
I would have guessed that Thomas voted to strike down the most laws. But there you go.

Paris Hilton blog item of the day

Q. When Paris Hilton, having served her full sentence, is released from prison, will she have paid her debt to society? If not, what should she do to demonstrate personal growth?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Still more Sopranos

Publicprivate sends me this article that seems to advance the "Tony is dead" theory. Some of it we've been over, but this tidbit is new:
Moreover, he said the man in the "Members Only" jacket could be interpreted as a symbolic reference to membership in the mob. "Members Only" also was the title of the episode in which Tony's demented Uncle Junior shoots him in the gut.
Think this is a stretch, or no?

Impeach the governor!

Sun-Times:
Another Democrat there went so far as to contact the Legislature's research arm to learn about the rules of impeaching a governor, though later maintained there is no plan to initiate impeachment proceedings against Blagojevich.
Why not? Let's not give up so easily...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Servants and a servant class

Conservative John Derbyshire this week wrote a hopefully-not-premature autopsy of the immigration bill that included the interesting question: "Is Hispanic the New Black?" Derbyshire writes that he has heard it suggested that:
[S]ome portion of America’s white elites ... would prefer to have its lawns mowed by small, polite, brown people, rather than large, surly black ones, even if the price is the same in both cases.

I think there is something in that, but more than I have yet heard discussed.

... [T]here are probably a lot of black American women who wouldn’t mind working as maids in prosperous white households, as used to be commonplace. I’m willing to bet, though, that there are large numbers of white people who would much rather not have a black maid. Not, again, because they fear a black maid would harm them, or be lazy or dishonest, but just because they would not feel comfortable in a master-servant relationship with a black person, after all the guilt-trip propaganda of the past 40 years.

What’s more, I think I’m one of those white people.
Derbyshire tells a story of feeling uncomfortable once getting a shoe-shine from a black man in London. This reminds me of something my brother, the Haahnster, once said to me, which is that he couldn't imagine ever paying another man of any race to shine his shoes, precisely because of the unpalatable master-servant relationship implied. Boy, I know what he means! I am barely even comfortable riding in a cab or, like, getting a haircut.

Derbyshire may not be all that interested in social equality (see his "guilt-trip propaganda" language), but for those of us who are, isn't this sense of discomfort kind of a good thing? If a category of people, whether it's African-Americans, Hispanics, or other, is serving as a de facto servant class, that is probably a pretty good sign that something is structurally wrong.

To be sure, no social change happens overnight, and a classless society is neither possible nor, ultimately, desirable. But that sense of discomfort should serve as a reminder that something isn't right -- there shouldn't be a class of people whose job is to shine our shoes. If, as Derbyshire says, the shoe-shine stands in Manhattan are populated mainly by Latinos these days, well maybe it is time for white elites to start feeling uncomfortable having Latinos shining their shoes, too.

Paris Hilton, victim

The LAT looked at 1,500 similar cases (DUI + probation violation) since 2002. They found that:
Had Hilton left jail for good after four days, her stint behind bars would have been similar to those served by 60% of those inmates.

But after a judge sent her back to jail Friday, Hilton's attorney announced that she would serve the full 23 days. That means that Hilton will end up serving more time than 80% of other people in similar situations.
Hilton is also believed by the LAT to be the first early-release inmate ever sent back to jail.

Not important, I know. And I don't especially mind if Paris Hilton is treated unfairly, either. But it's still interesting.

(via Kevin Drum)
SCAM searches for a smoking gun in the Trib's series on the making of Obama's campaign, finds that Obama "placed a high premium on working well with others"...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

MC Hammer on the war

The rapping isn't very good, but the message is right on. What's interesting here is that Hammer identifies himself as a strong Bush supporter -- "I support you sir and we got no beef/ I'm just a rapper you're commander in chief" -- while still calling for the president to end the war. In this way at least, Hammer's diplomatic approach could have more effect on public opinion than, say, Conor Oberst's.

But of course it won't have any effect at all if it doesn't get radio airplay, and it's hard to see this song taking hold on any of the radio stations I listen to. Still, though, hand it to M.C. Hammer for saying what he feels.

(via TNR)
Did somebody in Albania steal George W. Bush's watch? Kevin Drum has photos; judge for yourself.
Y tu, Battlestar Galactica creator Ron Moore? Don't you start idolizing David Chase now, I don't want Battlestar to get smug and self-satisfied...

(via Maureen Ryan, again)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Scenes from a failed no-confidence vote

TNR's Eve Fairbanks adds some color:
As Joe Lieberman walked into the chamber near the end of the vote, Harry Reid, [Chuck] Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein hustled over to work him. But his mind was made up: Thumbs down, accompanied by a quick slap to Schumer's arm, as if to say, "You know how I do." He does by now, but that doesn't mean he has to respect it. As Lieberman turned away, Schumer rolled his eyes.

Clash song blogging


Isn't Mick Jones presented with one of the easiest decisions ever? "If I go there will be trouble/ If I stay it will be double"? Then I'd say the best course of action is to "go"! Obviously!

Today's topic A is the Sopranos

[NOTE: Spoilers follow, to the extent that this episode of the Sopranos can be "spoiled."]

Everybody is mad at David Chase today, and for good reason. So I think now is the perfect time to point out that I was annoyed at Chase's hey-look-at-me writing style before it was cool.

Having said that, though, I have to ask: Was the series' ending really left as unresolved and up-in-the-air as everyone seems to think? What I saw was a suspicious, out-of-place guy enter the cafe, sit down at the counter while watching the Sopranos at their table, then get up to enter the bathroom. I don't have TiVo so this is just my memory, but it seems to me that the show's last image had Tony looking up at something, maybe startled. Tribune critic Maureen Ryan asks the million-dollar question:
[W]hy did that suspicious-looking guy go into the bathroom? Was that moment a tribute to "The Godfather," which had Michael Corleone famously retrieving a gun from a bathroom before a big hit?
To me the answer is pretty clearly yes. I think Tony got hit.

What do you say?

UPDATE [6/11 11:37pm] ... Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax Blog feels the same way I do, see comment #1 on this thread:
Pretty positive that Tony was whacked and the dark screen indicated that Tony was wrong about there being an afterlife (the insight he gained while tripping on peyote in Vegas).

What did Bobby say? "You never hear it coming." Sudden blank screen with no preceding sound. He’s dead.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hizzoner

In one of the first scenes in Hizzoner, Neil Giuntoli's extraordinary play about Richard J. Daley, an aide tells the mayor that he'll be waiting just outside the door if hizzoner needs anything. As the aide hovers, Daley gives a barely perceptible nod, no words but a clear message: "Go."

It's a subtle moment for a character not known for subtlety, but what it says about Daley's style and self-understanding sets the tone for what comes after. He is boss, obsessively and unreflectively.

As a little graduation gift to myself, Laura and I saw the play, which has been running for months already, last night at the Prop Thtr. Giuntoli wrote it and also stars as Daley, inhabiting the character in a way that is authentic and immersive. He gets the angry, hot-tempered outbursts and the bureaucratic coldness, he gets the South Side Irish Catholic accent so thick it borders on a brogue, and most impressively he gets the underlying insecurity of the political boss.

Such is Giuntoli's commitment that when the script calls for Daley to have a coughing fit, the actor hacks and wheezes and turns his face red to the point that my dear wife told me she wondered if she'd have to get up and perform CPR.

The play largely centers on 1968, the year of Daley's monstrous "shoot to kill" order during the rioting that followed the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his authoritarian handling of the Democratic Convention. But it's a complex portrait of the mayor, not a propaganda tract: We also see humanizing details like Daley's delight at plans to build the Hancock Center, his religiosity, his love of the White Sox. Giuntoli fills the performance with small, telling details -- pauses, double-takes, orders written down on notecards -- that carry the complexity of that head-nod from the first scene.

Some of the play's best moments are between Daley and a childhood acquaintance named Billy, whose character serves as a surrogate for all Chicago's working people. When Billy gets critical of his old friend Dick, Daley brusquely instructs him that "it's Mayor Daley to you."

It must be said that few of the other actors come close to matching the intensity of Giuntoli's performance; but then, it's obvious Giuntoli is especially close to the material.

That boyish delight over the Hancock Center is another one of the play's key moments. It is a great building, and the audience shares Daley's enjoyment -- there's a laugh when, in true second-city style, he predicts that it'll make everyone forget all about the Empire State Building. But of course Richard J. Daley's (like Richard M. Daley's) overemphasis on big buildings and monuments was also one of his great shortcomings as a mayor. And that's the strength of Giuntoli's performance: We see hizzoner for all his serious flaws and shortcomings, but we also come to see the city through his eyes.

MORE:
Eight Forty-Eight interview with Giuntoli
NPR interview with Giuntoli
John Kass on Hizzoner
Tribune review of the play

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Something everyone can enjoy: Babes with Books.

Obama's money, pt. 2

Politico:
Two major Clinton donors, speaking on the condition their names not be used, said they thought it likely that Obama would raise more than Clinton this quarter. Others close to Clinton claim Obama could top $40 million, which could be an example of artful expectation-setting.
(Emphasis added.) Well it could be, except that it's completely obvious and utterly artless. $40 million! Why not say $100 million? $500 million? I mean, if the idea is to set expectations too high for Obama to meet them...
I think all the same things about Paris Hilton that you do. Still, when I look at this photo, the emotion I experience is sympathy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Laura has posted some good links lately, like this one to a site of a guy who strapped a camera to his cat to find out where the cat went all day. The pictures are great fun. She also linked to this hilarious phone sex pranks site, in which a NYC-based comedian calls phone sex lines with ridiculous pretend-fetishes like "I'm into Jewish mother stereotypes" or "I'm into old-timey barbers."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

No immigration bill

The immigration bill is dead, for now at least. That's good news! Here's what I think it means:
    1.) No guest worker program to drive down wages on the labor market.
    2.) No "amnesty" cudgel for Republicans to beat Democrats with next year.
    3.) Newly vulnerable pro-immigration-bill Republicans? Lindsey Graham, for example, seems a little testy lately, and I notice his Senate term is up next year. Is there a pro-labor, anti-amnesty conservative Dem in South Carolina who might challenge him? What about a hard-right primary challenger?
What else comes out of this bill's failure?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Good point, this. Although really, William Jefferson's outrageous corruption is pretty much sui generis. Hard to draw any strong connections between the $90k in his freezer and the national Democratic party.
Tom Breihan on the new Dizzee Rascal LP, which I cannot wait to hear.
Matthew Yglesias attacks the immigration bill from the left:
Say unemployment is low in the county where I run my business. That means a tight labor market. That means valued employees asking for higher wages. Wages above the prevailing rate. And I need to give it to them. And that's how working people obtain prosperity in this country. Well, welcome to the United States of Guest Workerdom where if you ask for a raise, I just tell you "no" and if you quit I import a foreign worker to do your job at the old old (i.e., prevailing) rate. If my business does well, I'll expand my operation and hire more and more people, but no matter how tight the labor market gets I'll never to raise wages since I can always complain that nobody wants to do it at the prevailing rate.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Bush approval rating, finals week edition


From Pollster.com.

Could the immigration bill be the cause of this latest downturn?

Here's the reasoning: Something like one-third of all Americans still, in the face of all available evidence, support the president's disastrous war and general approach to foreign policy. This leads me to believe that these 30 percent or so just don't care much about the actual facts of foreign policy -- they care about militaristic nationalism, period, who cares about consequences.

But immigration is a domestic issue. And conservatives hate the immigration bill Bush wants to pass -- amnesty and all that. Even conservatives who will never believe the Iraq war was a mistake may be turning against Bush now because they're horrified by this pending immigration bill compromise. Whatever it takes, I guess.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Surgeon General should be a real doctor

I know it's always a bad bet to overestimate George W. Bush's ability to plan ahead, but my guess is that the White House knows what it's doing nominating a homophobic ideologue to the office of Surgeon General.

Conservatives are in revolt over the immigration bill (btw, I wish more liberals were, too) and the war certainly isn't getting more popular. The nomination of James Holsinger feels like Rovian base-stroking politics to me, like a calculated attempt to divert attention from immigration. Hey, conservative base, look over here!

One way for Democrats to deal with this tactic -- sometimes the best way -- is not to rise to the bait. Deny Rove the confrontation he wants. But in this case I think Dems should fight hard to keep Holsinger from being confirmed. With every passing year, the old culture-war wedges become less salient.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Obama's game

This NYT story about Barack Obama's pickup basketball games is quite entertaining, but man it is not shy about drawing one-to-one comparisons between the senator's on-court game to his political career. But the tone is light, and at least reporter Jodi Kantor cops to what she's doing upfront:
From John F. Kennedy's sailing to Bill Clinton's golf mulligans to John Kerry's windsurfing, sports has been used, correctly or incorrectly, as a personality decoder for presidents and presidential aspirants. So, armchair psychologists and fans of athletic metaphors, take note: Barack Obama is a wily player of pickup basketball, the version of the game with unspoken rules, no referee and lots of elbows. He has been playing since adolescence, on cracked-asphalt playgrounds and at exclusive health clubs, developing a quick offensive style, a left-handed jump shot and relationships that have extended into the political arena. [...]

The men -- and it is generally men -- who play with Mr. Obama are not, they will have you know, the paunchy, lumbering type. "Most of the guys who played in our little circle are former players in college or pros," said Mr. Robinson, who is still Princeton's fourth-leading scorer of all time. "They're real high level."

Mr. Obama cannot match their technical prowess, say those who played regularly with him. But he is fiercely competitive, and makes up for his deficits with collaboration and strategy. "He's very good at finding a way to win when he's playing with people who are supposedly stronger," Mr. Nesbitt said.
(Emphasis added.) Good at finding a way to beat "people" who are supposedly stronger...hmmm...I wonder if there's an analogue to that in his political life... Nah! Can't think of one!