Daily archives: June 6th, 2008

Rezko a problem for the GOP also

Republicans are salivating with news of Rezko’s conviction. According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Republicans opened their state convention vowing to link Governor Blagojevich to all Democrats across the state, including the presumptive Democratic nominee, U.S. Senator Barack Obama. They’re pulling out all the stops, but saying nothing new.

For example, they’re going to run around screaming, “Hussein!” Obama’s middle name, very common in the Arabic world, simply means “good” or “handsome.” According to a wonderful analysis of the name at Salon.com:

Barack Obama’s middle name is in honor of his grandfather, Hussein, a secular resident of Nairobi, Kenya. Americans may think of Saddam Hussein when they hear the name, but that is like thinking of Stalin when you hear the name Joseph. There have been lots of Husseins in history, from the grandson of the prophet Mohammed, a hero who touched the historian Gibbon, to King Hussein of Jordan, one of America’s most steadfast allies in the 20th century. The author of the beloved American novel “The Kite Runner” is Khaled Hosseini.

But in Obama’s case, it is just a reference to his grandfather.

Yes, attacking Barack’s middle name sounds like a great game plan.

Republicans plan to play up Rezko’s conviction and attempt to link Rezko to every Democrat running for office in Illinois.  According to Rick Pearson at the Chicago Tribune, however, Rezko did business across party lines:

Still struggling to recover the relevance it lost amid the corruption investigation and conviction of former GOP Gov. George Ryan, the state GOP also finds itself beset by longtime internal strife. A cadre of conservatives trying to advance their agenda under a reform mantle has clashed repeatedly with old-guard moderates seeking to maintain their control.

Another convention panel recommended former prosecutor Patrick Brady of St. Charles to succeed the embattled Robert Kjellander as the state’s Republican national committeeman, a critical post for fundraising and to serve as an Illinois liaison with the national campaign of presumptive GOP presidential contender U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Kjellander, who is retiring at the end of his term this year, has been a source of controversy over his consulting activities with the state during the Blagojevich years and his own relationship with Rezko.

Illinois Republicans are a shrewd lot. Mess with them, and they’ll import Alan Keyes again to save the day.  Just pray Keyes wasn’t caught in a photo-op with Rezko during his brief stay in the Land of Lincoln a few years ago.

Oil prices: Neck high by the 4th of July?

Oil prices jumped $11 a barrel to a new high above $139 a barrel. An analyst from Morgan Stanley predicted prices could reach $150 by July 4. According to WTAE in Pittsburgh:

A falling dollar and growing tensions in the Middle East are also pushing prices higher.

Light, sweet crude for July delivery has traded as high as $136.62 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices hit a previous record of $135.09 a barrel on May 22.

There’s more bad news:

Congressional auditors said that if oil and natural gas prices stay as high as they’ve been in recent months, the government could lose as much as $53 billion over the next 25 years in energy royalties because of an adverse court ruling.

The Government Accountability Office said the soaring price of crude oil and natural gas also means the windfall that companies will enjoy from the court ruling also could increase by billions of dollars.

The impact on the American economy will be staggering. Prices in all areas will rise even more, while the value of the dollar continues to fall.

Currently, $1 American will buy €0.6342.

Thanks, George.

Guard Destroys Million-Dollar Painting

A security guard at the Carnegie Museum of Art told police he “didn’t like” the $1.2 million painting he allegedly destroyed.

The suspect — Timur Serebrykov, 27, of Pittsburgh — is being held in the Allegheny County Jail on a felony charge of institutional vandalism, police said.

According to a police affidavit, surveillance video from May 16 shows Serebrykov defacing Vija Celmins’ “Night Sky #12” at the museum on Forbes Avenue.

The affidavit said there was an “obvious large vertical gouge” in the middle of the piece.”I did it with a key… I didn’t like the painting… I’m sorry,” Serebrykov told Detective Daniel Sullivan, according to the affidavit.

Very strange.

Berwyn makes history

Berwyn, IL,  recently joined 13 other cities in Illinois when city officials unanimously decided to include “sexual orientation” to its human-rights ordinance:

The decision brings Berwyn in line with a statewide law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in areas of housing, public accommodations and employment, which was passed in 2005.

According to the Windy City Times:

The decision brings Berwyn in line with a statewide law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in areas of housing, public accommodations and employment, which was passed in 2005.

The moment was, typically, full of irony:

[Former board chair Ted] Korbos, one of the organization’s founding members, said that one of the vocal opponents of the sexual orientation clause from 14 years ago showed up to the recent city council meeting, but left in a huff when even Republican alderman approved of its inclusion last week.

Fourteen years ago, one of the main arguments given for voting down the clause was that state law did protect against sexual orientation discrimination. Korbos told Windy City Times that it is “ironic” that today, current Illinois law became an argument to update the Berwyn ordinance.

“It really paved the way,” Korbos said.

And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut, master of irony, would have said.

R. Kelly has a mole on his back

R. Kelly actually had an expert testify about the mole on his back:

R. Kelly‘s mole returned to the forefront of his child pornography trial on Thursday, as a forensic video analyst testified the blemish on the R&B star’s back is not identical to the dark mark seen on the man in the sex tape.

The mole has emerged as the surprise crux of the singer’s defense in the three weeks since testimony began. From the onset, his attorneys have told the jury that the caterpillar-shaped mark along Kelly’s spine would clear him of the crime.

Ugh. There are many things I didn’t need to know about R. Kelly, and I certainly didn’t need to know, nor could I have cared less, that Kelly has a mole on his back.

He could’ve had the bloody thing removed in his doctor’s office sometime over the past six years this trial has been delayed.

In addition to Kelly claiming he’s not the guy, the defense is also claiming the girl is not the girl:

Shonna Edwards, 27, said she was formerly in a singing group with her cousin, who prosecutors allege is the underage girl in the tape. The group toured throughout Europe in the late 1990s, she said.

“Was the female in the [sex] tape your cousin?” asked defense lawyer Ed Genson.

“No, she definitely wasn’t her,” Edwards said.

Similar words from an uncle later on.

On the other hand, the fiance of the prosecution’s star witness reportedly wanted $300,000 to keep her quiet:

Jack Palladino — a private investigator best known for being hired by Bill Clinton to track down women he’d been linked with — testified Thursday that the fiance of the prosecution’s star witness wanted a $300,000 payoff to keep the witness quiet.

The star witness, Lisa Van Allen, testified Monday that she had engaged in threesomes with R. Kelly and the underage girl who allegedly appears in a sex tape with the singer.

So, R. Kelly’s not the guy, the girl is not the girl, but Lisa Van Allen might have kept quiet about the whole thing for a few bucks? Everyone’s bending over backwards to drag each other further into the mud.

Mr. Kelly may be innocent — and he is, right now, innocent until proven guilty. But we need to remember what this is really about: the awful reality that an underage girl may have been horribly violated. If she was, we don’t need another sexual predator driving around the south suburbs of Chicago looking for his next conquest.

The Oberweis Reality Tour: Bush on Steroids

The way Jim Oberweis sees it, he just needs one more chance to explain himself to the voters. After a past unsuccessful bids for the United States Senate and Illinois governor, Jim simply feels he hasn’t had the chance to really tell the voters who he is. So, he’s going to try to explain himself again to the voters as he makes an attempt to unseat Congressman Bill Foster in the 14th Congressional District.

Before we take the “Oberweis Reality Tour” together, let’s first listen to Jim:

“The opportunity is there,” Oberweis said during a visit to The Courier News. “If we can explain to voters where we are on the issues … I believe I’ll win. I do believe my views represent the majority of views in the 14th District. But we didn’t do a very good job of communicating our views.”

Jim doesn’t want this fall’s campaign to turn ugly and negative. He wants to tell you who he really is.

“It became well-known that my opponent was going to portray me as a George Bush clone,” Oberweis said. “I didn’t think there was any way they could possibly do that. I was wrong.”

So, Oberweis was just misunderstood.

I don’t think so. The reality is, Jim Oberweis is George Bush on steroids, and the voters in the 14th Congressional District need to watch out.

Let’s start with Oberweis’ Final Solution on immigration: send back the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants immediately. Perhaps he’ll even throw in a carton of milk for the bus ride back. According to the ArchPundit:

Oberweis staked out the hardcore send back 12 million people immediately and no exceptions kind of policy and not only embraced the position, but embraced fairly radical anti-immigrant activist organizations.

Most amazing is that John McCain, long a reasonable voice on the immigration debate embraced Oberweis as McCain’s flip flop to the dark side of several issues continues.

Oberweis is a Board of Director for NumbersUSA which is one of the leading right wing anti-immigration groups.

He’s spoken at Illinois Minutemen meetings such as this one on May 6, 2006 mntmn017.wav

And despite railing on the businesses using undocumented workers, Oberweis Dairy never wondered why the company cleaning for them could afford to do the work they were doing. Turns out the contractor were paying below minimum wage for undocumented workers.

According to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, two undocumented workers brought a complaint to the Illinois Department of Labor against Oberweis Dairies for violating Illinois and federal minimum wage laws and failing to fully pay its employees:

Meet Rosa Ramirez and Jorge Ibarra — two undocumented workers who live and work in northwest suburban Chicago. Rosa, who is 41, and Jorge, who is 34, were both hired on May 1, 2005 to clean three Oberweis Dairy stores. The stores are located at 9 East Dundee Road, Arlington Heights, 1405 Palatine Road, Hoffman Estates, and 30 South Roselle Road in Schaumburg.

In fact, according to the ICIRR, these workers were paid less than half of minimum wage to clean Oberweis’ Ice Cream Stores:

“Mr. Oberweis has exploited these workers twice,” says Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “First he exploited them for cheap labor, and then he exploited them by demagoging their illegal status for cheap votes. We have asked that the Illinois Department of Labor conduct a full investigation into Mr. Oberweis’ employment practices. No one likes a hypocrite,” Hoyt continued, “and Mr. Oberweis’ hypocrisy just shows how our economy is powered by the labor of undocumented immigrants like Rosa and Jorge.”

So, we need to deport 12 million people, but, in the meantime, it’s okay to hire them to do our dirty work?

Who’s cleaning your toilets, Mr. Oberweis?