By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Wednesday morning odds and ends

A few items for your consideration:

  • Why didn’t the Illinois legislature use the last few weeks to pass an emergency bill taking away Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s power to fill the Senate vacancy, and then do it again over his veto? Given that failure, I can’t imagine how anyone can stop Blago’s choice, Roland Burris, from being seated.
  • Lobbyist Vicki Iseman’s libel suit against the New York Times may be a classic case of a story that’s accurate but not true. No doubt the Times was accurate in reporting that anonymous former aides to John McCain had worried eight years ago that he might be having an affair with Iseman. But when you put it that way, you can understand why she’s suing.
  • Adam Reilly does a nice job of deconstructing Boston Magazine editor James Burnett’s weirdly obsequious interview with Mike Barnicle. But I’d love to hear from Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, a longtime Barnicle nemesis with whom Barnicle now claims to have kissed and made up. That would be pretty damn interesting.
  • D’oh! When I recently wrote that I like Globe columnist Bob Ryan on New England Sports Network, I didn’t realize his show, “Globe 10.0,” had been canceled. You certainly wouldn’t know it from the NESN Web site. Truth be told, I only watched it during baseball season. But it was good! Really!

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  1. O-FISH-L

    Give Gov. Rod Blagojevich credit. As slimy as the Chicagoans are, the only way Blago could maintain control over the appointment and make a veto proof pick was to select a minority, which is exactly what he did. The cowards in D.C. won’t dare oppose this for fear of being labeled racist. The only thing better for Blago would be if Burris were both gay and black. Then any opposition to the pick would bring the damning racist/homophope duality.This raises the question of why in the world Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg suddenly dropped her Jewish surname? As criticism of Caroline mounts, surely some of the pundits would have been less aggressive if they risked being branded as anti-Semitic. Now, by running from her name, Kennedy has declared “open-season” on herself, not to mention millions of Jewish kids who are left wondering if there is something to be ashamed of. Did Caroline not realize that the name would have provided thick insulation and a sense of authenticity?

  2. mark

    Dan,The US Senate has the final say on who they seat. They have stated that they will not seat anyone nominated by the governor, so Mr. Burris will not become a senator from Illinois.

  3. NewsHound

    Even though the governor is accused of serious wrongdoing, it is hard to blame him further for fulfilling his duty to select a Senator.All of us in this country, and most particularly elected politicians who have taken an oath of office, must continue to respect the basic premise that anyone charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty.We are living in a melt down of our free capitalistic process and we certainly don’t need to witness further erosion of our civil rights or other Constitutional rights such as already convicting a governor that certainly appears to have committed a crime. Further, the mere behavior to have caused widespread suspicion is serious. But, it also appears the Feds did more than necessary to contribute towards public scorn of Blago, and calling out the press is the same as calling out the dogs as this turned into a media frenzy. Perhaps deservingly so.Doing the right thing in appointing what we see as a most decent, willing and competent person to serve their state and country in the US Senate should be accepted.As a person with his background, experience, education, demeanor, courtesy, respect, interest in public service and government, any attention to his color, race, the governor’s prior behavior, etc. is a violation not only to the appointee, but to all of us as citizens. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, he is too worthy a person to be overshadowed by irrelevancies. I don’t care how many people in the Senate have white or black skin. If I were a senator I would vote for him to be seated. We need to pick the flowers, not the weeds.If he or any other senator turns out to be a weed, throw him or her in federal prison. Otherwise, respect the good, able and willing people.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Mark: Don’t be so sure about that.

  5. O-FISH-L

    Mark and News Hound, not to split hairs, but what convinces you that the Senate has the authority not to seat Burris? Everything I’ve seen and heard indicates that the Senate can’t block him from being seated, but could act to remove him, which would be a mess. They could also bar him from the Democrat caucus.Of course race is an issue here and picking a black man was a brilliant stroke of strategy by Blago. Supporters of Burris are already asking that he not be lynched. Priceless.Now the only question is if they removed Burris after a few hours service, does he still qualify for the lifetime Capitol gym membership, full Senate pension, etc.? Maybe he’ll split the pension with Blago!

  6. NewsHound

    Yes, very interesting. Blago’s action, based on his skill level, was a streak of genius since his appointee apparently is super clean, decent, well qualified, and of color. I think we all know color should not be the issue and if we have a right to get into Blago’s mind, certainly can see his good-evil intent: an appointee too hard to refuse. Good trick! What more can we expect from a sleaze – still innocent of course.Blago beat them at this game.But, from everything I’ve seen, Mr. Burris is a supberb appointee and while he would serve the State of Illinois, we all benefit from quality in Washington.If they do throw him out of the Senate the Senate will most likely take a vote, if necessary, that will set lifetime pension qualifications for service beyond several hours of service, and Blago may buy him a year’s membership at the local Y as a courtesy.

  7. Bill H.

    I believe that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule that Mr. Burris, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing and who has been lawfully appointed by a governor who has yet to be indicted, let alone convicted, must be seated. But the larger question is, are there any indications that Burris will not make a good U.S. senator? I have heard of none, so I think he should be seated.

  8. O'Rion

    The Iseman suit is interesting. Does she really want to be deposed? Would the NYT be willing to settle?Viki seems willing to put it all on the line here. Will the Times? * A story to follow is rumor of change –that word again– at mega- station WBZ/1030. And not for the better!

  9. O'Reilly

    It’s be great if we could get through one post without O-FISH-L impugning racial, ethnic and sexist bigoted motives on everyone and their brother. While he’s right that Roland’s race was a factor in Blago’s choice, his rant about jewishness and Kennedy and gayness and whomever is altogether too much, too often, and too goddamn bigoted. It’s clear he doesn’t like Kennedy but why does he think trying to cast her as an anti-Semite advances his argument with the least bit of credibility? Not once but over and over again. And how exactly is that assertion germane to this post. O-FISH-L is a hater, an angry hater (of Jews, gays, blacks) who is stuck in a paradigm of categorical thinking.

  10. O-FISH-L

    O’Reilly, there’s no hatred here, just a strong dislike of phonies of all stripes. Meanwhile I’m still awaiting an answer as to why she has suddenly dropped Schlossberg? Do you have one?In its most basic form, anti-semitism is defined as discrimination against Jews. What truer example than to renounce one’s Jewish surname before becoming a candidate for office?Singer Michael Jackson, who is not seeking a Senate seat, has endured endless criticism for attempting to appear less black, yet it’s somehow hateful for me to note that this self-styled Senator is trying to appear less Jewish? Spare me the self-righteousness.Thanks for agreeing with me on Blago at least. Happy New Year!

  11. Peter Porcupine

    Mr. Fish – I have a reason why she ‘dropped’ the name – it isn’t her legal name!When this whole ‘anti-Semeitic’ red herring was first raised, I did some research and found that she had never changed her name when she married. MILLIONS of women don’t! The MEDIA began to refer to her as Schlossberg, with their usual cavalier attitude towards fact.OT, I have an acquaintance who retained her maiden name over 30 years ago. When filling out her wedding license, the City Clerk shouted at her – Do you understand you are taking an irrevocable legal step? That after you sign that form, the only way to CAN change you name is in a court of law? That your CHILDREN will have a different last name than you???? (Actually, he was wrong about that, as she could have chosen to use her own surname as theirs). She calmly kept her own name, and decades later, her husband and now adult children are profoundly grateful she did so, as she is politically active, and when she writes or rants, nobody automatically associates her with that nice business owner or car mechanic… There are DOZENS of reasons why the lady is underqualified, and making mention of them is appropriate. But attacking her for her decision to retain her own name is not So out THAT in your sexist pipe and smoke it!Oh, and Happy New Year to you as well!

  12. O-FISH-L

    Peter, apparently I’m not alone. Those sexist pigs at the DNC didn’t get the memo either!

  13. NewsHound

    Obviously, Kennedy is a valuable brand name. For anyone seeking a seat in the U.S. Congress, Senate and maybe someday as president, it just might be perfect. Is there a better name? She and hubby were separated a few years ago, not divorced, so why confuse issues? What more would one expect from a Kennedy?It’s an okay name for bloggers, journalists and journalism professors, too.

  14. Rick in Duxbury

    Silly me. I thought “brands” were for soap and automobiles and “policy” was what we were supposed to use for deciding on our leaders.

  15. mike_b1

    Rick, so it was “policy” that gave us Bush? Not likely.

  16. raccoonradio

    The change at WBZ for those who haven’t heard is the sacking of weeknight overnight talker Steve Leveille in favor of reportedly nationally syndicated talk out of St Louis (live/local overnight? No more), the legendary Lovell Dyett,sports reporter Tom Cuddy, and talk host Pat Desmarais. Budget cuts atCBS radio.

  17. O-FISH-L

    The firing of Steve LeVeille and to a lesser extent, Lovell Dyett, seems to be another significant setback for liberal talk radio.For years, part-timer Dyett has carried the urban-liberal standard while LeVeille presided over incessant Bush-bashing and anti-war rants for many of his 25 hours a week across 38 states, parts of Candada and as Larry Glick used to say, “two fishing villages in Mexico.” LeVeille was an early, ardent supporter of Obama so perhaps he will land on his feet with a federal post or maybe Patrick will take care of him locally. I’m sure Massport, the Pike or NASA has room for another spokesman.When LeVeille wasn’t talking politics I found the show tolerable, but lacking the talent and wit of his predecessors like Bob Raleigh, Lou Marcell and Glick. That said, I will miss the overnight local programming.

  18. NewsHound

    To Rick in Duxbury: Sorry to say, but of course brand names are used in selecting national political figures. A well qualified, even perhaps better candidate, will have a very difficult time standing up against the Kennedy hood ornament.And your point is absolutely correct. We as a civilization should have much more substance than choosing U. S. senators by brand name.Other brand names: Taft, Roosevelt, Adams, Harrison, Bush, etc. But right now the best brand name in American politics is Kennedy. Where would Rep. Patrick Kennedy be if his name was Issac Gojevich? Or Caroline if her name were Jane Williams, the daughter of a retired postal worker in Seneca, New York? And, even the name Kennedy is not good enough. It has to be one of the Kennedy’s. Of course, Dan probably knows more about that.

  19. Dan Kennedy

    NewsHound: Actually, Ted, Caroline et al. have been trying to claim for years that they’re related to me. But they’re not.

  20. NewsHound

    Dan: I don’t blame them It’s still a good brand name and it is still in your best interest they preserve or improve what remains of its current integrity. I’ll be watching your friend Emily to see if she has commentary on Caroline exploiting her family brand name.Or better still, maybe Andy will express a view on 60 Minutes. I think he’d be all for it, but betting on a horse is probably a surer thing.

  21. Tunder

    O’Reilly,The only way to deal with a tool like O-Fish is to ignore him. This is the 2nd post he has tried to derail with the Schlossberg red-herring (and the pathetic crocodile tears for those “poor Jewish children” who wonder if they have something to be ashamed of). He has proven to be a pathetic Rush, Sean mouthpiece over and over.Of course, that being said, he won’t go anywhere…

  22. io saturnalia!

    Too bad about the ‘BZ news; though I wasn’t aware that Dyett was still on the air (I don’t listen that frequently, since I work nights), I remember him as competent and, as someone pointed about, one of the only black perspectives on Boston radio. I like Leveille’s show on the occasions I listened to it, and it’s sad to see another forum for local callers — besides the inane sports talk rants from WEEI’s listeners, I mean — disappearing.That said, to me the biggest loss is Tom Cuddy, a knowledgeable sports reporter who’s funny without being buffoonish. I guess there’s no room for that in Boston, though.

  23. O'Reilly

    Thanks for sorting through the bits and pieces of news and quotes and sources to tell us this story. This type of news analysis is one of the things the blogosphere does best, at least when you’ve got an intelligent, well informed analyst doing to the blogging. In this post, you’ve become the reader’s reader. It really is an excellent post.

  24. O'Reilly

    the previous comment was intended for the subsequent post (on layoffs)

  25. Dunwich

    A couple of points on Leveille’s “liberal talk.” He continually made it a point that he hadn’t voted for a Dem candidate–for Pres– in a generation. And would not be voting for Kerry–for Sen– in the future. He also made a dreadfully stupid prediction in ’06, claiming the Dem’s would fail to win back Congress when it was obvious that they would-easily! Nobody other than a GOP hack–or Shawn Hannity– was saying this. I’m convinced it was said not out of ignorance, but contempt for Democrats(Steve’s unaffiliated,and spouse of a GOP Op’). So I didn’t hear much “liberal talk” O’Fish, but I am sorry to lose his voice, whatever came out. WBZ, is no where near what it was.

  26. mike_b1

    Now that I’ve had a chance to peruse Boston Magazine’s redesign, I have to ask, Why?The old design left something to be desired, certainly, especially the back of the book and the thumbnail treatment of wanna-be celebrity events.But the new design looks like a horrendous attempt to rip off Vanity Fair, with its use of full page photos, lots of fonts (what happened to the rule of thumb of no more than 3 per page?), and emphasis on form over function. VF can get away with it because it’s subjects are models and beautiful actors…when you have George Church and Catherine Elton to choose from, egad!Memo to Boston Magazine: It’s called “readability,” guys. Form follows function, even in a glossy consumer rag. It’s a lesson well worth learning.

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