May 11th, 2009

' jules


FL-Sen/Gov: Crist Will Announce Plans on Tuesday, Appears Set to Run for Senate

Buckle up:
Gov. Charlie Crist will announce his political plans on Tuesday and it very likely means he's running for U.S. Senate, Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer said tonight.

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Politico: Crist running for Senate

this is a sweet deal. We get a moderate Republican in the Senate (who supports Obama's economic agenda), and we get an open governor's race. It woulda been a lot harder the other way around. Damn it feels good to be a Democrat!

creepy but cute

More than 100 children killed in Sri Lanka bloodbath

U.N. Tells of ‘Bloodbath’ Occurring in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO (AFP) — More than 100 children were among a large number of Tamil civilians killed in a weekend "bloodbath" in Sri Lanka, the United Nations' spokesman in Colombo, Gordon Weiss, said Monday.

He said the UN had been warning of a bloodbath as tens of thousands of civilians have been trapped in a narrow patch of coastline where the Tamil Tigers are fighting to hold back a massive military assault. "The large scale killing of civilians, including the death of over 100 children, over the weekend shows that the bloodbath scenario has become a reality," Weiss told AFP.


HONG KONG — With the United Nations saying a “bloodbath” is taking place in Sri Lanka, and with the government and Tamil rebels trading accusations over the deaths of hundreds of civilians from artillery attacks, a leading group of aid agencies said Monday that both sides had shown a “wanton disregard for human life” and pressed Japan to intervene in the growing crisis.

“The U.N. has consistently warned against the bloodbath scenario as we’ve watched the steady increase in civilian deaths over the last few months,” Gordon Weiss, the U.N. spokesman in Sri Lanka, said Monday. “The large-scale killing of civilians over the weekend, including the deaths of more than 100 children, shows that that bloodbath has become a reality.”

A government doctor said 378 civilians had been killed and more than 1,100 wounded on Sunday during intensive shelling of the combat zone on Sri Lanka’s northeastern coast, a boggy sliver of beachfront where Sri Lankan troops have surrounded Tamil separatist fighters.
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/has actually run out of words. For ways to help and/or be pissed off more see previous post.

NYC charging rent to working homeless in shelters

Hey, times are tough, working homeless people. Maybe if you didn't have a job you wouldn't have to pay anything to stay here.

The Bloomberg administration has quietly begun charging rent to homeless families who live in publicly run shelters but have income from jobs.

The new policy is based on a 1997 state law that was not enforced until last week, when shelter operators across the city began requiring residents to pay a certain portion of their income. The amount varies based on factors that include family size and what shelter is being used, but should not exceed 50 percent of a family’s income, a state official said.

Vanessa Dacosta, who earns $8.40 an hour as a cashier at Sbarro, received a notice under her door several weeks ago informing her that she had to give $336 of her approximately $800 per month in wages to the Clinton Family Inn, a shelter in Hell’s Kitchen where she has lived since March.

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I don't really have much to say about this except FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

How do they expect people to get out of shelters if they can't save money? This is hitting working mothers with children the hardest, the ones who are struggling to cover childcare costs and work and find a way to save up for a place of their own.

Also, who on ontd_political will be the first to make an asshole comment on this story? It's so hard to figure these things out with lol_kite gone.
cookie monster

(no subject)

Bush May Haunt Republicans for Generations

by Nate Silver @ 2:49 PM

Gallup has some fascinating data out, based on more than 120,000 interviews they've completed over the past four months, on the way that partisan identification breaks down by age:

Democrats, somewhat unsurprisingly, have the largest partisan ID advantage among Gen Y'ers, followed by among Baby Boomers. Republicans do relatively well (although are still at a net disadvantage) among Generation X'ers.
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  • bispo

Meghan McCain a real pain at D.C. dinner

Political blogger Meghan McCain isn’t exactly the toast of D.C. right now.

Sen. John McCain’s daughter — who writes online for The Daily Beast and will soon release a book about life as a Republican — lost it after getting stopped by security when she arrived at the White House Correspondents dinner Saturday. The problem? She had only two tickets, but brought two friends.

“The security guard sent her to talk to someone to sort out the situation, but Meghan got bratty and nastily told him, ‘We’ll just stand here then,’ like an insolent child,” our source said, adding that after dealing with the guard, “She muttered to her friends, ‘Does he even know who the f--- I am?’ ”

An insider told us, “Those tickets were harder to get than gold dust and Meghan blatantly only had two and thought she didn’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else.”

The vocal McCain “was complaining about everything from the air-conditioning to the wait,” says our leak.

Once inside, the bubbly blond’s mood didn’t improve; she was annoyed at Wanda Sykes’ roast.

“Sen. McCain gave you grief about the new helicopters you didn’t order,” said Sykes, adding, “I think Mr. McCain was a little bitter because he wanted to be in the new helicopters. Mr. McCain, I’m sure if you ask nicely, your wife will buy you a new helicopter.”

While the assembled crowd of politicos, journalists and celebrities roared with laughter, Meghan was not among them.

“I didn’t like the joke about my mom [Cindy],” the young McCain told us after the dinner. “Why talk about her at all? I (didn’t mind the jokes) about my dad, but leave my mom out of it. It really wasn’t in good taste.”

At least one member of the GOP had fun. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin couldn’t make the festivities due to tending to her state’s flooding problem, so she sent hubby, Todd, who had a whale of a time.

Todd happily lapped up the attention from his tablemates and rarely left the side of his date for the evening, Fox News anchor Greta van Susteren.

The two became so close that we caught them hanging out together well past midnight at Capitol File magazine’s annual after-dinner bash.
source: NY Daily News
girls aloud

UPDATE: GI in custody after killing 5 at Iraq 'stress clinic'

what. the. fuck.
U.S. service member kills 4 fellow troops in Iraq
NBC: 'Stressed out' soldier kills self after attack at Camp Libery

NBC News and news services
updated 11 minutes ago

BAGHDAD - A U.S. service member opened fire on fellow members of the military, killing four and wounding several others, at the main U.S, base in Baghdad, officials told NBC News on Monday.

NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reported the assailant took his own life after the violent outburst. The attacker was described as a "stressed out" U.S. soldier.

The military said in a statement that the shooting occurred about 2 p.m. Monday at Camp Liberty near Baghdad International Airport.

NBC News and news services
updated 21 minutes ago

BAGHDAD - An American soldier opened fire in a "stress clinic" at Baghdad's Camp Liberty and killed five American service members, NBC News reported Monday.

Contrary to earlier reports, the soldier did not kill himself but was overpowered and taken into U.S. custody.

Military officials were continuing their investigation and were preparing charges against the soldier in custody.

The military said in a statement that the shooting occurred about 2 p.m. at the base which is near Baghdad International Airport.

The toll was the highest for U.S. personnel in a single attack since April 10, when a suicide truck driver killed five American soldiers with a blast near a police headquarters in the northern city of Mosul.

On May 2, two American soldiers died after an attacker wearing an Iraqi army uniform opened fire near the northern city of Mosul. The assailant was also killed.

Obama admin. has better health care policy in the works?

Health care reform being proposed by the same people that railroaded "Clinton care" in early 1990s. "Remember that what the rest of us call health care costs, they call income."

May 11, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist

Harry, Louise and Barack

Is this the end for Harry and Louise?

Harry and Louise were the fictional couple who appeared in advertisements run by the insurance industry in 1993, fretting about what would happen if “government bureaucrats” started making health care decisions. The ads helped kill the Clinton health care plan, and have stood, ever since, as a symbol of the ability of powerful special interests to block health care reform.

But on Saturday, excited administration officials called me to say that this time the medical-industrial complex (their term, not mine) is offering to be helpful.

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Jake G -  Moving beauty

Roxana Saberi Freed From Iranian Prison

TEHRAN, Iran — An American journalist jailed for five months in Iran was freed Monday and reunited with her parents after an appeals court suspended her eight-year prison sentence on charges of spying for the U.S.

Roxana Saberi, a 32-year-old dual Iranian-American citizen, met her parents outside Evin prison Monday evening after the court cut her jail term to a two-year suspended sentence, her lawyers said. While they awaited her release, her mother, in a headscarf, smiled while her father looked overcome with emotion.

"She was reunited with her father and mother. They left for their house," her lawyer Saleh Nikbakht told The Associated Press. He said Saberi was free to leave Iran immediately.

Her Iranian-born father, Reza Saberi, said he planned to return home with his daughter in the next few days. The family lives in Fargo, North Dakota and her parents have been in Iran for several weeks seeking their daughter's freedom.

Iran's about-face clears a major snag in the Obama administration's efforts to engage Iran in a dialogue after decades of shunning the country. Washington had called the charges against Saberi baseless and repeatedly demanded her release.

Saberi, who grew up in Fargo, moved to Iran six years ago and had worked as a freelance journalist for several organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp. She had gone on a hunger strike in prison recently to protest her jailing but ended it after two weeks for health reasons.

She was jailed in Evin prison, where many political prisoners are held, since January.

On Sunday, a court heard an appeal of Saberi's conviction and sentence and her lawyers emerged saying they were able to defend her and were optimistic her sentence would be reduced.

The United States, several European countries and human rights groups had been advocating for Saberi's release.

"They (Iranian officials) surely must have felt the weight of international pressure," U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota told the AP after hearing she would be released.


Great news!


Afghan Schoolgirls Mass Hospitalization Spurs Poison Investigation

Afghan Schoolgirls Mass Hospitalization Spurs Poison Investigation

Doctors were investigating whether dozens of students were poisoned at a high school in northern Afghanistan on Monday after 61 girls went to the hospital complaining of sudden illness, officials said.

Dr. Khalil Farangi said the 61 students and one teacher from Hora Jalaly high school in Parwan province northwest of Kabul complained of symptoms like irritability, weeping and confusion. Several girls also passed out.

The mass hospitalization comes about two weeks after a similar incident in Parwan, where dozens of girls were hospitalized after being sickened by what Afghan officials said were strong fumes or a possible poison gas cloud.
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Shaky Pakistan Is Seen as Target of Qaeda Plots

Shaky Pakistan Is Seen as Target of Qaeda Plots

As Taliban militants push deeper into Pakistan’s settled areas, foreign operatives of Al Qaeda who had focused on plotting attacks against the West are seizing on the turmoil to sow chaos in Pakistan and strengthen the hand of the militant Islamist groups there, according to American and Pakistani intelligence officials.

One indication came April 19, when a truck parked inside a Qaeda compound in South Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal areas, erupted in a fireball when it was struck by a C.I.A. missile. American intelligence officials say that the truck had been loaded with high explosives, apparently to be used as a bomb, and that while its ultimate target remains unclear, the bomb would have been more devastating than the suicide bombing that killed more than 50 people at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September.

Al Qaeda’s leaders — a predominantly Arab group of Egyptians, Saudis and Yemenis, as well as other nationalities like Uzbeks — for years have nurtured ties to Pakistani militant groups like the Taliban operating in the mountains of Pakistan. The foreign operatives have historically set their sights on targets loftier than those selected by the local militant groups, aiming for spectacular attacks against the West, but they may see new opportunity in the recent violence.

Intelligence officials say the Taliban advances in Swat and Buner, which are closer to Islamabad than to the tribal areas, have already helped Al Qaeda in its recruiting efforts. The officials say the group’s recruiting campaign is currently aimed at young fighters across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia who are less inclined to plan and carry out far-reaching global attacks and who have focused their energies on more immediate targets.
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Pakistan: How Did We Get Here?

In recent weeks, the danger that the Taliban pose to regional and global security in Pakistan has been discussed at great length, both by intellectuals and policy makers. This greater interest has mirrored the greater threat that the Taliban have been presumed to pose as they have grown stronger and made dramatic inroads into the "settled" areas of Pakistan. To truly understand this threat, however, we have to step back and ask a few basic questions: how did we get here? How have the Taliban been so successful in their seemingly relentless push for greater control of Pakistan? And what is required for the Pakistani state to defeat them?

There have been three basic components of the growing Taliban problem: political, military, and geopolitical.
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Pete Sessions: Obama Hurting Economy To Consolidate Power; Wait What??? Obama wants himself to fail?

Pete Sessions: Obama Hurting Economy To Consolidate Power

Rep. Pete Sessions, head of the House Republican committee tasked with electing more GOP members, has a unique theory as to why unemployment continues to rise: Obama wants to wipe out capitalism.

Deep into a New York Times item Monday about rising jobless numbers comes a theory that the Times gently refers to as an "argument" that "may indeed face an uphill fight."

Sessions told the Times that Obama's plan is to "diminish employment and diminish stock prices." By doing so, Obama "intended to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not to kill it" as part of a "divide and conquer" strategy to consolidate power.

The Times then follows with another understated gem: "Polls offer little evidence that Americans are prepared to accept those arguments."

So is Obama part of some communist sleeper cell intent on destroying America? For Sessions, it's nothing new to think of politics in terrorist terms -- only in the past Sessions has argued that the Republican Party ought to emulate terrorists, not that Obama already does.

The GOP, Sessions famously argued in February, ought to model its "insurgency" after the Taliban. "Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban," he said.

"And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that's not what we're saying. I'm saying an example of how you go about is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with."

Asked to clarify if he was indeed suggesting House Republicans model themselves after the Taliban, he said: "I simply said one can see that there's a model out there for insurgency."

A Sessions spokesman didn't immediately return a call. An NRCC spokesman stood by the remark:

"The Chairman was simply reiterating what many members of the Democratic Party have echoed over the past several weeks, which is that one-party dominance in Washington has further damaged our economy and undercut our country's free enterprise system."

(no subject)

M.T.A. Approves Smaller Fare and Toll Increases


Updated, 1:33 p.m. | The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted on Monday to rescind a “doomsday” package of severe fare increases in March 25. As part of a financing deal approved by the State Legislature last week, the base subway and bus fare will rise from $2 to $2.25 on June 28 — instead of $2.50 — and the authority will avert layoffs. Commuter railroad fares will rise on June 17. And tolls on the bridges and tunnels operated by the authority will rise on July 12.

The threshold for obtaining a 15 percent bonus on pay-per-ride MetroCard will rise to $8 from $7. The cost of a seven-day unlimited-ride MetroCard will rise to $27 (instead of $31) from the current price of $25. The cost of a 14-day MetroCard will rise to $51.50 (instead of $59) from the current price of $47. The cost of a 30-day MetroCard will rise to $89 (instead of $103) from the current price of $81.

A vast majority of commuter rail tickets on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad will increase between 9.75 percent and 10.75 percent. Cash and E-ZPass tolls on the M.T.A. bridges and tunnels will increase by about 10 percent.

Seeming tired and worn-down after months of wrangling, leaders of the authority said the smaller fare and toll increases were still painful. “There’s nothing to be happy about,” the authority’s chairman, H. Dale Hemmerdinger, told reporters after the board voted.

Mr. Hemmerdinger called the resolution “a very bittersweet solution that comes with additional pain,” noting that the authority still faced a $200 million budget gap that will result in service cuts — though the cuts will likely be less draconian than previously envisioned.


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Credit Cardholder's Bill Of Rights Hits Floor Tuesday: Read It

Credit Cardholder's Bill Of Rights Hits Floor Tuesday: Read It

The Senate takes up the Credit Cardholder's Bill of Rights on Tuesday, a package sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) that seeks to rein in certain abusive credit card practices.

The bill comes more than a week after the financial industry dealt homeowners a blow by defeating an effort by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to allow owners to renegotiate mortgages in bankruptcy court. A dozen Democrats opposed the initiative, as did every Republican. The White House declined to push for the bill and it fell 15 votes short of the 60 needed to cut off a filibuster.
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(no subject)

As a follow up to this post

Gay Porn Actor Will Be Allowed To Graduate From Christian College


John Gechter, the student who was suspended after his Christian college discovered that he was appearing in gay porn, has struck a deal in which he will be allowed to graduate.
Gechter was about to make his final appeal to the provost when he struck a deal with GCC late Tuesday. “(GCC) offered me a deal that if I withdrew, they would let me transfer a few courses that I need to graduate,” Gechter explained. “I’ll be able to transfer those credits to GCC and I will still graduate with a GCC degree.” Gechter’s tenure at GCC officially ended on May 5 after he withdrew from the college. He said he plans to move to New York City in the next few weeks, where he will be headlining a play, “Love for Sale,” and also be taking his two bio-chemistry courses this summer. “(The play) is one of the doors that porn has opened for me,” Gechter admitted. “I’ll also be looking at universities in the city, which there are plenty of.”
"Love For Sale." Heh. Gechter says he had considered suing the school for damages if he had been indefinitely suspended.


Alleged incest compared to Austrian case

Argentine woman says she had seven children by her father

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - An Argentine judge is investigating a woman's accusation that she had seven children with her father during decades of incest starting when she was 8.

Armando Lucero, 67, denied the allegations as he was escorted into court Monday to testify in a case that has drawn comparisons to that of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man convicted of holding his daughter captive for 24 years and fathering her seven children.

"No, no," Lucero responded to journalists' questions about the accusations against him.

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(no subject)

Will Supreme Court Possibility Pam Karlan Regret These Comments On Abortion?


"I'm gonna probably regret this in a moment when I say this," Pam Karlan says in this video uploaded back in 2007. Karlan, of course, is the openly gay Stanford Law School professor who's said to be among President Obama's top picks to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court. And in this era, the confirmation process includes web searches, which means anything ever recorded will probably enter the public fray. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT HAS TO DO WITH ABORTION!


She's....fierce. O__O

'No Jews' policy employed at Austria hotel

A Jewish couple with five children had tried to make a reservation by email at the Haus Sonnenhof hotel in the Tyrolean village of Serfaus, in western Austria.

But the owner, Irmgard Monz, reportedly emailed them back to say that while rooms were available she was "no longer willing to take in Jewish guests because of bad experiences in the past".

The family, from Vienna, told the Austrian daily Tiroler Tageszeitung that they planned to tell as many friends and relations as possible about the incident.

They will be taking their summer holiday elsewhere, the unidentified man said.

"I don't want to spend my holiday in such a racist nest, and I will inform all my friends about what is going on in Tyrol," he told the newspaper.

The affair caused shock and dismay in the region, which in recent years has become popular with orthodox Jewish tourists, who are welcomed at hotels offering kosher food.

Hotel owners in the area said the apparent display of anti-Semitism was "bad for the image" of Serfaus.

The mayor of Serfaus condemned the hotelier's response as "unacceptable" and the head of the local Jewish community, Esther Fritsch, said: "It's terrible."

Staff at the Haus Sonnenhof hotel were unavailable for comment.

The story emerged as masked neo-Nazis disrupted a memorial ceremony marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp on Sunday.

A group of men dressed in black shouted "Heil Hitler" and performed Nazi salutes at the ceremony in Ebensee, in central Austria, before running off.

Survivors of the concentration camp had come to mark the 64th anniversary of their liberation from the camp.

misc - microphone

Mad Pride

Listening to Madness
Why some mentally ill patients are rejecting their medication and making the case for 'mad pride.'

By Alissa Quart | NEWSWEEK
Published May 2, 2009
From the magazine issue dated May 18, 2009

"We don't want to be normal," Will Hall tells me. The 43-year-old has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, and doctors have prescribed antipsychotic medication for him. But Hall would rather value his mentally extreme states than try to suppress them, so he doesn't take his meds. Instead, he practices yoga and avoids coffee and sugar. He is delicate and thin, with dark plum polish on his fingernails and black fashion sneakers on his feet, his half Native American ancestry evident in his dark hair and dark eyes. Cultivated and charismatic, he is also unusually energetic, so much so that he seems to be vibrating even when sitting still.

I met Hall one night at the offices of the Icarus Project in Manhattan. He became a leader of the group—a "mad pride" collective—in 2005 as a way to promote the idea that mental-health diagnoses like bipolar disorder are "dangerous gifts" rather than illnesses. While we talked, members of the group—Icaristas, as they call themselves—scurried around in the purple-painted office, collating mad-pride fliers. Hall explained how the medical establishment has for too long relied heavily on medication and repression of behavior of those deemed "not normal." Icarus and groups like it are challenging the science that psychiatry says is on its side. Hall believes that psychiatrists are prone to making arbitrary distinctions between "crazy" and "healthy," and to using medication as tranquilizers.
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A good friend of mine was diagnosed with depression and other mental illnesses in about the 8th grade. She says that pills made her feel numb and gain weight, and she wants to be a dietician to help others who might have these sorts of problems.

Well, ontdp, what do you think?

Administration Plans to Strengthen Antitrust Rules

Administration Plans to Strengthen Antitrust Rules

President Obama’s top antitrust official this week plans to restore an aggressive enforcement policy against corporations that use their market dominance to elbow out competitors or to keep them from gaining market share.

The new enforcement policy would reverse the Bush administration’s approach, which strongly favored defendants against antitrust claims.
It would restore a policy that led to the landmark antitrust lawsuits against Microsoft and Intel in the 1990s.

The head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, Christine A. Varney, is to announce the policy reversal in a speech she will give on Monday before the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy research organization. She will deliver the same speech on Tuesday to the United States Chamber of Commerce.

The speeches were described by people who have consulted with her about the policy shift. The administration is hoping to encourage smaller companies in an array of industries to bring their complaints to the Justice Department about potentially improper business practices by their larger rivals. Some of the biggest antitrust cases were initiated by complaints taken to the Justice Department.

Ms. Varney is expected to say that the administration rejects the impulse to go easy on antitrust enforcement during weak economic times.
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' if you want beef then bring the ruckus

Because we've gone far too long without a little Illinois political drama

Madigan Reconsidering Illinois Senate Race

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is reconsidering the possibility of running for the Senate in 2010, according to several sources familiar with her thinking.

Madigan, widely considered the 800-pound gorilla in the state's politics, had previously flatly ruled out a Senate bid in 2010 -- insisting that all of her attention is on the governor's race next year.

But, with Gov. Pat Quinn (D) riding high after having replaced disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and a new poll conducted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee showing her cruising to the Senate seat, Madigan is at least entertaining the possibility of running to join the world's greatest deliberative body. Madigan would likely still start as the favorite in the governor's race but even those close to her acknowledge that the path to the Senate is less cluttered.

If she runs, she would drastically shake up the current Democratic field. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is widely seen as the current frontrunner but would likely struggle to keep his support from the party establishment in the face of a Madigan candidacy. (Madigan's father, Mike, is the powerful speaker of the Illinois state House.)

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For those who have let the epic scandals of yore be forgotten, Madigan is Blago's onetime archrival and the Senate Candidate #2 who he plotted to appoint in order to keep her from primarying him in '10. She also filed a motion to have him impeached immediately following the corruption charges, although that was shot down. She's kinda badass but also kinda suspicious in that Chicago familial mafia politics way.