Illinois

The budget impasse seems to hinge as much as anything else on the fate of a series of "riders" -- measures attached the the budget by the House GOP that don't have anything to do with the budget: Top budget staff, after working through the night, returned Thursday morning with a proposed $34.5 billion in cuts, with $3 billion of that to come from the Pentagon. Democrats said Mr.

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Neutralized

The day after I arrived in Chicago to cover the mayoral debate, an Appeals Court removed frontrunner Rahm Emanuel’s name from the ballot. The decision, which reversed findings by the Chicago Elections Board and a Circuit Court judge, ignored more than 150 years of Illinois election law in denying that Emanuel met the residence requirements for a mayoral candidate. Not surprisingly, the ruling drew outrage.

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Over the next few months, the dedicated Reagan fan will have numerous opportunities to celebrate the fortieth president. There are tributes at a NASCAR race in California in late March and at Chicago’s Wrigley Field in early August. The Gipper’s hometown— Dixon, Illinois—will host a “Dutch” ice cream social in September; Washington will throw a gala in May, and London will unveil a statue on July 4.

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It is not surprising that the focus of the fighting around public employee benefits and collective bargaining is in the industrial Midwest. As noted in the Brookings report The Vital Center: “Today’s employee benefit, job, and income security systems, like so many of the nation’s economic and social practices, were forged in the Midwest." These states have the most to gain economically by modernizing the social compact between the worker, the state, and employer (particularly where the latter two are one and the same).

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I've been predicting the Wisconsin stand-off would come down to the success or failure of the recall campaigns.

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How the pick and roll became the hot play in college basketball: When Illinois coach Bruce Weber started his coaching career as an assistant at Western Kentucky and Purdue, hardly any college teams used the pick-and-roll as a central part of their offense. Indiana coach Bob Knight’s motion offense and North Carolina coach Dean Smith’s fast-break offense were the standards. Screening was still used, but more in the confines of offensive movement as part of cuts. Then Stockton found Malone and the Utah Jazz perfected the art of the two-man game.

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Colorado vs. Ohio

In some presidential cycles, an incumbent’s reelection strategy doesn’t matter all that much. When the economy is very strong (1984), the incumbent wins big; when it’s very weak (1932), he loses even bigger. And when a party chooses a nominee seen as outside the mainstream (1964, 1972), it suffers a crushing defeat. It’s possible that one or more of these circumstances could prevail next year. The economy could over- or under-perform current projections; the Republicans could choose a nominee who’s too conservative or lacks credibility as a potential president.

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State governments are facing catastrophic budget deficits for fiscal year2012, and they are suggesting drastic cuts to attempt to fill the gaps. But this proposed austerity may not be necessary, and, moreover, it is almost certainly unwise.

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Here's how Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) explains his big about-face on climate change over the past year: "The consensus behind the climate change bill collapsed and then further deteriorated with the personal and political collapse of Vice President [Al] Gore," Kirk said in a brief interview last week. It was Gore's fault! Once upon a time, Kirk was one of the handful of Republicans who believed in climate change.

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Maybe Rahm Emanuel won't get to run Chicago, after all. Earlier today, an Illinois appellate court ruled, on a 2-1 vote, that he doesn't satisfy the residency requirements to run for mayor. Quick backstory: Emanuel did own a home on the city's north end, but he rented it out when he went to go work as Obama's chief of staff, and now his tenant wouldn't let him move back in. So… he's off the ballot, for the time being.

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