Illinois

I make it a practice not to disagree with Jonathan, especially in his own house. And I don't really disagree with his recent piece on public retirement benefits. I will simply register a slightly discordant, but friendly amendment to his remarks. Jonathan is right in almost everything he wrote. He was right to slam Republican efforts to blame public workers or unfunded pension liabilities for states' budget woes. Economic crisis has caused state tax revenues to plummet at precisely the moment that rising numbers of people require costly state-funded services.

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Last month I published a piece suggesting that while the odds of a Republican takeover of the Senate were not high, the possibility could no longer be ignored. My article was not well received. Critics argued that (among my many sins), I had cherry-picked surveys, given credence to the (allegedly) fatally flawed Rasmussen results, and worst of all, ignored Nate Silver’s superior methodology. In the ensuing four weeks, a number of articles arguing roughly what I did have appeared.

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Many states are experiencing hard times. But Illinois is nearly to the point Ray Charles described, pawning its metaphorical clothes to pay the rent. Facing a staggering deficit, Illinois is cutting its Department of Human Services Budget by:    $312.6 million   That cut, which is about eight percent of the department's budget, marks the end of mental-health services for all but the poorest of the poor. Gone too is support for the developmentally disabled. All told, 80,000 people will be affected, say Illinois advocates.

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Click here to read Margo Howard’s assessment of the opening statements in the Blagojevich trial and here to read about the craziness that occurred during the first round of closing statements. Click here for her first, second, third, and fourth dispatches from the actual trial. Oh, thank goodness Sam Adam, Jr. has returned to deliver the defense’s closing, even after Judge Zagel impugned his legal masculinity at the end of the last session.

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Click here to read Margo Howard’s first, second, third, and fourth dispatches from the Blagojevich trial. And click here for her assessment of the opening statements. After two months of testimony, closing arguments in the Blago trial finally began in a packed courtroom (carried by speaker to a larger, overflow room). The line for seats available to the public started forming at 4 a.m. It felt like a Twilight premier for adult dorks.  Before Assistant U.S.

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Imagine a hotel, a bus, or a movie theater that wasn't wheelchair accessible. Or imagine a bank that didn't have provisions for helping customers that were visually impaired. You don't see these things much nowadays, but as recently as twenty years ago, they were common and perfectly legal in many states.

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Liberals did not get a public option in the Affordable Care Act. But that doesn't mean they never can.

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This probably resulted in a good tip: Christopher Wuebben, 22, was delivering a pizza late last week to the suburban Denver home of George Linn, when he heard the man's wife screaming for help, according to Wuebben's boss, John Keiley. "Chris told the woman that he was trained in CPR and knew what to do," Keiley, owner of Johnny's New York Pizza, said on Tuesday.

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As if things weren’t bad enough for Democrats, something I didn’t believe possible six months ago has happened: The Senate is now in play. You don’t believe it, dear reader? Let’s look at the numbers. To retain control, Democrats need at least 50 seats. They start with 45 seats that are safe or not up for election this year, and there are three more races (NY, CT, and OR) that they are likely to win, for a total of 48. (The comparable number for Republicans is 41.) That leaves 11 seats in play.

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Media Maven

Like most great women of mystery, Sarah Palin is at once everywhere and nowhere. On any given evening, you might see the former Alaska governor-turned-conservative-icon on Fox News, chatting up like-minded travelers about the political buzz du jour. Her byline pops up now and again in the opinion pages (supporting McCain, bashing enviros). She periodically hits the campaign trail with favored candidates. She is a prolific and passionate tweeter.

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