October 5, 2022 / by 

 

Brian Williams, Meet Cameron Todd Willingham

Pretty much everyone seems to have waken up this morning still aghast at the wild applause Rick Perry got last night for his boast about the number of people he has executed.

It is disgusting.

But Brian Williams, who otherwise did a decent job as moderator, failed miserably here. How do you ask this question and not mention Cameron Todd Willingham?

Not only did Governor Perry deny Willingham’s appeal for clemency even though an expert arson investigator had rebutted all the solid evidence in the case, Perry fired investigators who were about to provide Willingham’s innocence.

Perry killed an innocent man and then engaged in a cover-up to hide that fact. The story of Cameron Todd Willingham deserves to be a central issue in Perry’s campaign.

Yet Williams–even while he exposed Republicans as blood-thirsty kooks–failed to even mention Willingham’s name.


Obama’s Re-Election Campaign: Destroying the Country to Save It

Much of the discussion about this Jeff Zeleny piece has focused on Obama’s apparent consideration of cutting regulations that “affect the economy.”

The president intends to offer at least some progressive proposals to help regain a fighting posture that he has not had since the health care debate, but a provision is also being discussed to place a new moratorium on some regulations that affect the economy, excluding health care and financial rules. The proposals are likely to infuriate an already unhappy Democratic base. [my emphasis]

Greg Sargent suggests we ought to wait to see precisely what Obama means by this; I agree, not because I have any faith in Obama, but because the syntax of this line is so strange. Does Zeleny mean “moratorium on new regulations”? A “moratorium–does that mean temporary or permanent–on existing regulations”? Who is doing the discussing here, Mr. Passive Voice Journalist?

In short, I think Zeleny has failed his job as stenographer.

Which is why I’m even more intrigued by this passage.

The Republican candidates, collectively and in distinctive ways, continue to cast him as the foil against whom they ran so successfully in 2010: a big-government liberal who has expanded regulations, created uncertainty for business and failed to revive the economy, with millions more Americans out of work than when he took office. They portray him as an unsteady leader who is unequipped to turn around a country in economic crisis. [my emphasis]

Again, the meaning here is unclear: Who is the “they” here? Does Zeleny mean to invoke the themes all Republicans used to run against Obama in 2010? Or just the ones running for President. I’m not sure Ron Paul “ran against” Obama in 2010, though Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry did. Both complained about health insurance reform, but largely in terms of “freedom” and (particularly in the case of Perry the separatist, state’s rights), not regulations. Perry complained about emissions restrictions, which is certainly a regulation, but Obama’s already caved on that front.

Both Bachmann and Perry got caught hypocritically replying on government pork while attacking Obama’s stimulus bill, and it’s fair to say that Perry used stimulus funds to balance TX’s budget, and given the number of government jobs TX has relied on, it’s therefore safe to say Obama’s stimulus created jobs Perry is taking credit for.

And both Bachmann and Perry called Obama a socialist.

But the theme ignores one of the big things Republicans, as a whole, ran against Obama on in 2010: “cutting Medicare” (in the health insurance reform).

Which makes me wonder whether this interpretation of the 2010 election is Zeleny’s … or the Obama team’s?

It seems a critical issue because some seems to have simplified the reasons for the Democrats’ shellacking in 2010, particularly given that voters still largely blamed Bush for the economy in 2010 (though they’re doing so less now).

In any case, if Obama thinks he can embrace policies that will stop two fools who called a President who has coddled banksters “a socialist” from repeating that claim–if Obama believes that spoiling our air and water will make Bachmann and Perry be nice to him–it’s simply not going to work.

But I do worry that’s what he has in store.


Attacking Romney Rather than the People Looting our Economy

This Politico story–“revealing” Obama’s campaign plan to brand Multiple Choice Mitt as “weird”–has gotten a lot of attention in the twittersphere.

Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee.

The dramatic and unabashedly negative turn is the product of political reality. Obama remains personally popular, but pluralities in recent polling disapprove of his handling of his job and Americans fear the country is on the wrong track. His aides are increasingly resigned to running for reelection in a glum nation. And so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent.

[snip]

The onslaught would have two aspects. The first is personal: Obama’s reelection campaign will portray the public Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and, in a word used repeatedly by Obama’s advisers in about a dozen interviews, “weird.”

“First, they’ve got to like you, and there’s not a lot to like about Mitt Romney,” said Chicago Democratic consultant Pete Giangreco, who worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign. “There’s no way to hide this guy and hide his innate phoniness.”

A senior Obama adviser was even more cutting, suggesting that the Republican’s personal awkwardness will turn off voters.

“There’s a weirdness factor with Romney and it remains to be seen how he wears with the public,” said the adviser, noting that the contrasts they’d drive between the president and the former Massachusetts governor would be “based on character to a great extent.”

Now, no matter how reprehensible this campaign strategy is (particularly for the way it feels like Mormon-bashing), and for all Politico probably feels it has “won the morning” by printing it, both are missing something.

This campaign has already been in place.

A significant chunk of the tweets the Michigan Democratic Party sends out, for example, focus on Romney–showing Obama leading him, playing up GOP opposition to him, dissing his fundraising, recalling his stance on the auto bailout, branding his appearance in MI his “hypocrisy tour,” pitching other states’ anti-Mitt swag. While it has gotten better of late, for a while the MDP focused more on Romney-bashing than on Rick Snyder-bashing–which of course meant no one was attacking Snyder’s plan to tax seniors to pay for a tax cut for businesses.

Now, I understand MI may have a particularly driving reason to do this. Not only might Mitt’s ties to MI give him a critical edge over Obama that could flip a crucial swing state. But even at the primary level, MI’s cross-over voting might mean if Democrats support Romney, it could make a significant difference in him winning the Republican primary.

Yet, again, this early focus on Mitt has distracted from where I would like Democratic messaging to be targeted–not only on Snyder, but on the businesses that have looted our country. I would suggest this might explain why MI Dems have such little confidence in their party right now.

Obama may feel like he needs to call Mitt names to win re-election. But if that’s the sole purpose of the Democratic Party between now and then, it will leave a vacuum precisely where the most important messaging needs to be.


DSK Case Collapse: Lawyers, Phone Calls & Money the Shit Hits The Fan

It is not often you see the total implosion of a major criminal case in quite such a spectacular fashion as we have witnessed with the Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) case in the last 24 plus hours. As I said Thursday night when the news first broke of the evidentiary infirmities in relation to the putative victim were first made public in the New York Times; there is simply no way for the prosecution to recover, the criminal case is dead toast.

Today, the letter from the Manhattan DA’s Office to DSK’s attorneys detailing the Brady material disclosures gutting their victim’s credibility was made public. It is, to say the least, shocking. But what has transpired since then has been nothing short of stunning.

As expected, DSK had his release conditions modified to OR (own recognizance) and all restrictions, save for not leaving the United States, removed. If you do not think that is a crystal clear sign of just how much trouble the prosecution is in, then you do not know criminal trial law.

But the process of dismissing the case cannot take too long, DSK’s attorneys simply will not sanction that and, trust me, they have already mapped out an attack strategy should they need it. My guess is there will be a blitzkrieg should there not be a dismissal by next Wednesday. and if they did not have enough ammunition as of last night, the clincher was revealed late Friday night.

Once again, the breaking story comes from the New York Times:

Twenty-eight hours after a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York said she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, she spoke by phone to a boyfriend in an immigration jail in Arizona.

Investigators with the Manhattan district attorney’s office learned the call had been recorded and had it translated from a “unique dialect of Fulani,” a language from the woman’s native country, Guinea, according to a well-placed law enforcement official.

When the conversation was translated — a job completed only this Wednesday — investigators were alarmed: “She says words to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing,’ ” the official said.

It was another ground-shifting revelation in a continuing series of troubling statements, fabrications and associations that unraveled the case and upended prosecutors’ view of the woman. Once, in the hours after she said she was attacked on May 14, she’d been a “very pious, devout Muslim woman, shattered by this experience,” the official said — a seemingly ideal witness.

Little by little, her credibility as a witness crumbled — she had lied about her immigration, about being gang raped in Guinea, about her experiences in her homeland and about her finances, according to two law enforcement officials. She had been linked to people suspected of crimes. She changed her account of what she did immediately after the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn. Sit-downs with prosecutors became tense, even angry. Initially composed, she later collapsed in tears and got down on the floor during questioning. She became unavailable to investigators from the district attorney’s office for days at a time.

Now the phone call raised yet another problem: it seemed as if she hoped to profit from whatever occurred in Suite 2806.

Game. Set. Match. There is so, so, much more of course (really, read the whole sordid set of facts) that absolutely guts any possibility of proceeding with the woman as a criminal victim against DSK but, seriously, that part of the equation is just done and over.

The criminal charges will be dismissed, the only question is why they have not been already. My guess is twofold, first, Cy Vance and the Manhattan DA’s Office are trying to maximize whatever insulation from liability they can and, second, they are trying to decide how to proceed as to the woman who was formerly the “victim”. By this I mean ascertaining whether she will be detained and deported, arrested and prosecuted, or rolled to be a state witness on substantial crimes involving the current DSK case and/or the drug gang she appears to be involved with. But those are pretty much the options at this point.

That accounts for the phone calls, money and shit hitting the fan portion of the post title homage to the late, great, Warren Zevon. That leaves the lawyers, and whoo boy do we have some lawyering to talk about.

First off, lost in the sturm und drang of the criminal case machinations is that the victim’s original lead legal team, the seemingly media slick PI attorney Jeffrey Shapiro (who, early, was literally all over the network morning shows, CNN and MSNBC), and well respected civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, both very abruptly left the case on or about June 8.

The new lead attorney, Thompson Wigdor, appears to have been involved from early on for the victim, but were very much in the background. The firm seems to be involved in mostly worker, employer and union cases. They used to be called Thompson, Wigdor & Gilly until partner Gilly, and an associate under him, got the firm all sanctioned up for dishonest and fraudulent misconduct on the court in another case. Gilly and associate left Thompson Wigdor, notably, at almost precisely the same time Shapiro and Siegel suddenly withdrew from representing the victim and Thompson Wigdor took over primary representation, i.e. on or about June 7-8.

There are no definitive statements from either Shapiro or Siegel, but the circumstances beg the question whether Shapiro and Siegel bailed because they realized how screwed up and dishonest their client was turning out to be. Quite frankly, were i in their shoes, that is exactly what I would do. The better question is what in the world is Ken Thompson and his firm doing at this point.

Thompson is not only still on board with the victim, but immediately following DSK’s release hearing, Thompson stood on the courthouse steps and doubled down on the crazy behind his client in one of the more amazing press conferences I have ever seen in my life. Thompson vouched for a client that had just been established to be completely without credibility or veracity, brutally attacked Cy Vance and the Manhattan DA’s Office, misrepresented critical areas of fact and flat out promised his client would be personally addressing the press with a full statement. No attorney in his right mind would put a client such as this one, who is already completely impeached with not just false statements, but flat out perjury, in front of the press and on the public record. It is insane.

Between the DA’s Office of Cy Vance and the battery of attorneys that this supposed minimum wage maid had in tow, there is some of the oddest and most questionable lawyering imaginable afoot. I have some further thoughts on this, and how it may fit into the even larger picture dynamics surrounding Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but that will wait until a few more things sort out. One thing is for sure, this is a long ways from being over; stay tuned.


Netroots Nation: Marcy Wheeler Introduces Guest of Honor Russell Feingold

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As most of you know by now, Netroots Nation 2011 is in full swing in the beautiful hamburg of Minneapolis Minnesota. Earlier today, our own Jane Hamsher appeared front and center with Dan Choi on a DADT panel. Tonight FDL takes center stage again, in a big way, with our own Marcy Wheeler having the distinct pleasure of introducing the guest of honor for the main festivities for the evening, Senator Russell Feingold.

Russ Feingold is a hero, and for good reason, to progressives. Russ was one, if not the only one, of the Democratic Senate, make that Senate as a whole, who really stood up for civil liberties in the face of the bipartisan onslaught that has occurred over the last decade, both under George Bush and Barack Obama.

So, please join me, Firedoglake, Netroots Nation, and the progressive enterprise as Marcy Wheeler welcomes one of us: Senator Russell Feingold. The video is a live stream of the event, I am not sure when Marcy and Russ will be up.


Obama Misses the Lesson in NY-26

Congratulations to Kathy Hochul, who rode a disciplined campaign against Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare to victory in a Republican Congressional district tonight.

There’s a lesson here. Republicans voted on Ryan’s shitty plan. Which allowed Democrats to highlight how shitty it, and Republicans, are. And … Victory!!!

Obama, however, seems to be missing that lesson:

I want to extend my congratulations to Congresswoman-elect Kathy Hochul for her victory in New York’s 26th Congressional District. Kathy and I both believe that we need to create jobs, grow our economy, and reduce the deficit in order to outcompete other nations and win the future.  Kathy has shown, through her victory and throughout her career, that she will fight for the families and businesses in western New York, and I look forward to working with her when she gets to Washington.

One corner of real America just made it very clear they don’t want anyone messing with Medicare. And yet Obama’s off negotiating just that, rather than making it clear that Republicans want to hold Medicare hostage along with the rest of the government.


Bankster-Coddling Party Suffers “Electoral Meltown”

Everyone knew that Fianna Fáil was going to lose Friday’s election in Ireland. But the results (still coming in because the Irish hand count their paper ballots and have an instant runoff voting system) are pretty stunning. Here’s how Fianna Fáil did in Laois-Offaly (both Mr. EW’s home district and that of outgoing Taoiseach Brian Cowen) in 2007 (these graphics are from the Irish Times):

And here’s how they did Friday:

And Laois-Offaly is going to be one of Fianna Fáil’s stronger districts (Cowen’s brother, Barry, will likely take one of the five seats). In Dublin, FF went from holding 13 seats in parliament to just one, that of the former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. And the Green Party, which had been in coalition with FF, will lose all 6 of the seats it held.

Now, it’s not clear that Fine Gael–which will rule with Labor–will be all that much better than FF with regards to coddling banksters. Rising Taoiseach Enda Kenny has promised to renegotiate the bailout, but unless and until he threatens to default, Ireland will still be taking money from retirees to pay off the banksters.

But what will be interesting is the presence of more further left members of Parliament. And Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin’s President, will have a seat in the Republic’s parliament for the first time. He’s been getting a lot of press for his populist criticism of the bailout:

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams says a good government requires a good opposition, vowing his party would oppose the “swingeing, anti-citizen, economically-illiterate measures” being proposed by the establishment parties.

So it’s not clear whether this “electoral meltdown” will have an effect on the banks. But it sure is interesting to see how political accountability works in a system with more than two parties.


Illinois Supreme Court Rules For Rahm Emanuel Ballot Inclusion

Monday’s decision by the Illinois Court of Appeals to strike Rahm Emanuel from the ballot for the Chicago Mayoral election set for February 22 caused quite an alarm. The Court of Appeals decision appeared on its face to be quite well reasoned and well taken in light of the wording of the statute at issue. Mr. Emanuel immediately (by Monday night) filed an emergency Motion for Stay and Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Illinois Supreme Court has just issued its opinion on the Emanuel emergency appeal and, in a decision authored by Justice Thomas, has reversed the Court of Appeals and fully reinstated Rahm’s eligibility for the ballot and office of Mayor of Chicago:

Thus, from April 1867 through January 24 of this year, the principles governing the question before us were settled. Things changed, however, when the appellate court below issued its decision and announced that it was no longer bound by any of the law cited above, including this court’s decision in Smith, but was instead free to craft its own originalstandard for determining acandidate’sresidency. See No. 1–11–0033, slip op. at 6-8 (dismissing the foregoing authority in its entirety). Thus, our review of the appellate court’s decision in this case begins not where it should, with an assessment of whether the court accurately applied established Illinois law to the particular facts, but with an assessment of whether the appellate court was justified in tossing out 150 years of settled residency law in favor of its own preferred standard. We emphatically hold that it was not.

….

All of that said, and putting aside the appellate court’s conclusion that Smith is not binding in this case, the appellate court’s residency analysis remains fundamentally flawed. This is because, even under traditional principles of statutory analysis, the inevitable conclusion is that the residency analysis conducted by the hearing officer, the Board, and the circuit court was proper.

….

Second, this court has twice stated explicitly that related provisions of the Election Code and of the Illinois Municipal Code are to be considered in pari materia for purposes of statutory construction. See Cinkus v. Village of Stickney Municipal Officers Electoral Board, 228 Ill. 2d 200, 218 (2008); United Citizens of Chicago and Illinois v. Coalition to Let the People Decide in 1989, 125 Ill. 2d 332, 338-39 (1988).

….

So where does all of this leave us? It leaves us convinced that, when determining whether a candidate for public office has “resided in” the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment, the principles that govern are identical to those embodied in Smith and consistently applied in the context of determining whether a voter has “resided in” this state and in the election district 30 days next preceding any election. Thus, in assessing whether the candidate has established residency, the two required elements are: (1) physical presence, and (2) an intent to remain in that place as a permanent home. Once residency is established, the test is no longer physical presence but rather abandonment, the presumption is that residency continues, and the burden of proof is on the contesting party to show that residency has been abandoned. Both the establishment and abandonment of a residence is largely a question of intent, and while intent is shown primarily from a candidate’s acts, a candidate is absolutely competent to testify as to his intention, though such testimony is not necessarily conclusive.

….

Given the record before us, it is simply not possible to find clearly erroneous the Board’s determination that the objectors failed to prove that the candidate had abandoned his Chicago residence. We therefore reverse the decision of the appellate court and affirm the decision of the circuit court, which confirmed the Board’s decision.

So there will be no mistake, let us be entirely clear. This court’s decision is based on the following and only on the following: (1) what it means to be a resident for election purposes was clearly established long ago, and Illinois law has been consistent on the matter since at least the 19th Century; (2) the novel standard adopted by the appellate court majority is without any foundation in Illinois law; (3) the Board’s factual findings were not against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (4) the Board’s decision was not clearly erroneous.

Appellate court judgment reversed; circuit court judgment affirmed.

Well, although I found the Court of Appeals decision persuasive, the Illinois Supreme Court certainly did not. And they ruled unanimously in Mr. Emanuel’s favor (although two, Justices Freeman and Burke, concurred on distinguished grounds). That will end this debate once and for all. Welcome Mayor Emanuel.


Rahm’s Ballot Eligibility Case Appeal and White House Interference

right[Updated Below]

The decision Monday by the Illinois Court of Appeals to disallow the candidacy for Mayor by Rahm Emanuel as well as his name on the official election ballot stunned many people, and left Emanuel, his political supporters and Wall Street and Hollywood financial bag men scrambling with the ballots set for printing today and the election on the near horizon on February 22. By late Monday night, the Emanuel campaign had already filed an Emergency Motion For Stay Pending Appeal and Expedite Consideration of Petition For Leave To Appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court. A copy of the filing is here.

Within less than eight hours of Emanuel’s late night filing, at the crack of dawn on ABC’s Good Morning America, Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama’s most senior and trusted advisor, was delivering a direct message on behalf of the White House commenting on the case and declaring they viewed Emanuel legally eligible:

I think that he believes that [Rahm is] eligible and I believe that he believes that Rahm will pursue his appeal in the courts.

I do not know about you, but I cannot think of any instance in which a White House and President, especially one so intimately related to one side of the issue, has so directly stepped into a state and local court proceeding at such a critical moment with its opinion on the ultimate legal determination.

Perhaps, under different circumstances, this would not be a notable event. However, when the President’s closest advisor weighs in with such a statement as to what the law should be, right as the sensitive matter is being presented on an emergency basis to a state supreme court, it is of highly questionable discretion and ethics. The impingement on the local situation is only exacerbated by the close ties Obama has to Emanuel, Chicago, the Daley political machine behind Emanuel (A Daley now serving as Obama’s Chief of Staff) and Illinois. It was an unnecessary and completely inappropriate meddling in a state and local judicial matter that the Obama White House had no business engaging in.

Jarrett’s imposition of the White House thumb of comment here is even more telling when juxtaposed with the consistent position she and Obama insisted on taking, and still maintain, with relation to the court process in the legal challenges to the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Obama, Valerie Jarrett and the White House have consistently refused to take a position on how the DADT constitutional litigation should be decided in public statements and appearances and, in fact, are STILL officially supporting the disgraceful policy in courts under the guise that law must be supported and courts left undisturbed to decide the matter unfettered. Apparently such ethical and moral restraint does not apply when it comes to their friend and political crony’s local election litigation.

Which brings us to the law Mr. Obama and Ms. Jarrett are so positive stands for the eligibility of Emanuel. You have to wonder if either one of these trained lawyers bothered to actually read the law, because the statute, on it’s face, reads directly contrary to the position they take with such certainty. As Adam Bonin delineated yesterday, the election law at issue reds different than most assume and is quite clear:

So let’s take a look at the actual statute which governs this ballot requirement:

Sec. 3.1‑10‑5. Qualifications; elective office.

(a) A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office unless that person is a qualified elector of the municipality and has resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment, except as provided in subsection (c) of Section 3.1‑20‑25, subsection (b) of Section 3.1‑25‑75, Section 5‑2‑2, or Section 5‑2‑11.

“And has resided in.” Well, that’s a bit different from “has a residence in,” which I think was our assumption as to what the law required….

Emanuel didn’t meet that test, but there’s this statutory exception:

10 ILCS 5/3-2

No elector or spouse shall be deemed to have lost his or her residence in any precinct or election district in this State by reason of his or her absence on business of the United States, or of this State.

The Court found this provision inapplicable as to Emanuel. Yes, they say, it means that he didn’t lose his “residence” in Chicago to qualify as a registered voter, but it doesn’t mean he “resided in” Chicago during the interim either.

That plain language limits the reach of the “business of the United States” exception to “elector[s]” or their spouses; it makes no mention of “candidates.” Further, as we have noted, we must interpret statutes “as a whole, with each provision construed in connection with every other section.” Section 3-2’s “business of the United States” exception is housed not only in the Election Code, but in a portion of the Election Code dealing exclusively with voter qualification, in fact in an Article titled “Qualification of Voters.”

In other words, “Rahm, you can vote for anyone you want in this election … except you, because you can’t be on the ballot.”

Adam is exactly right. And one other thing should be pointed out, the exceptions contained within the clause “…except as provided in subsection (c) of Section 3.1‑20‑25, subsection (b) of Section 3.1‑25‑75, Section 5‑2‑2, or Section 5‑2‑11”, ALL pertain strictly to voting rights, NOT office candidacy eligibility rights.

The full decision by the Illinois Court of Appeals is here, and it is extremely well reasoned and supported. The judge, Thomas Hoffman, authoring the opinion has long been considered by litigants across the spectrum as fair and the leading intellect on the court. The exceptions Rahm Emanuel seeks to rely on are, by their wording and designation, only applicable to voting rights; not the right to run for and hold office. Yes, you can certainly convolute and extrapolate around that; but it is not the natural logic path as convincingly demonstrated by Justice Hoffman and the majority in the Illinois Court of Appeals.

Perhaps the law is unfair to individuals under the circumstances attendant to Mr. Emanuel; it is certainly easy to understand how a person could take that position or consider it silly. However, if this crystal clear law is “silly” or “unfair”, then it should be amended or repealed; not just blithely ignored and convoluted for one powerful and connected man, Rahm Emanuel. Yet that is exactly what Mr. Emanuel and the Obama White House think he is due.

UPDATE: This morning, the Washington Post has caught on to the the issue here and provides additional details about the coordinated effort by Barack Obama and the White House to intentionally inject themselves into the state and local election ballot challenge in order to selectively help their friend and crony, Rahm Emanuel.

President Obama launched his political career in Chicago by maneuvering to keep a rival off the ballot in a state Senate campaign. Fifteen years later, he is reaching back from the White House into the city’s bruising political ring – this time in an effort to shield former aide Rahm Emanuel from losing a ballot dispute of his own in a hotly contested mayoral race.

The president called Emanuel, his former White House chief of staff, on Monday after an Illinois appellate court declared him ineligible to appear on the ballot because he does not meet the city’s residency requirement. On Tuesday morning, Obama sent senior adviser Valerie Jarrett out on the television circuit, where she told an ABC interviewer that the president “believes that [Emanuel is] eligible.”

Emanuel grabbed the baton from his former boss. His lawyers invoked Obama’s name repeatedly in legal briefs filed Tuesday with the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that the appellate ruling would also make the president ineligible to run for a city office in his home town. And Emanuel told supporters that he was inspired to push ahead by the president’s history of ignoring critics in the “birther” movement.

This is literally a stunning and ethically bereft power and intimidation play by Obama and his White House. Why other members of the major media are not also questioning and reporting on this inappropriate attempt to influence a local judicial determination is anybody’s guess.


“Austerity” Merriam-Webster’s Word of 2010

Merriam-Webster has made “austerity” it’s word of the year for 2010.

Topping the list is austerity, defined as “enforced or extreme economy.” Lookups for austerity peaked dramatically several times throughout the year, as people’s attention was drawn to global economic conditions and the debt crises in Europe, but lookups also remained strong throughout the year, reflecting widespread use of the word in many contexts. “Austerity clearly resonates with many people,” said Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, who monitors online dictionary searches. “We often hear it used in the context of government measures, but we also apply it to our own personal finances and what is sometimes called the new normal.”

I’m so cynical my first response was to wonder whether Pete Peterson had bought off the dictionary company like he did the Washington Post. But M-W says the list is based off of top online dictionary searches. Which is why some of the other words are perhaps more interesting:

4) socialism

5) bigot

7) shellacking

9) dissident

Remember, these reflect actual searches of the online dictionary. That suggests a significant proportion of the people still inclined to actually look things up in the dictionary chose (or needed) to refer to the dictionary to figure out what socialism actually is. And did Obama’s use of the term “shellacking” send journalists and Obama fans to the dictionary to find out just how badly Democrats got whupped at the mid-terms?

Use this thread to predict what words will make up next year’s list.

Copyright © 2022 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/elections/page/5/