Chicago Sun-Times
Staff reports on all things politics - from City Hall to Springfield to Washington, D.C.

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When Michelle Obama said in Chicago Wednesday afternoon that "Hadiya Pendleton was me," saying that she could empathize with the slain teen because of their similar backgrounds, Rush Limbaugh got his hackles up.

Specifically, he took the first lady's statements to the obvious next step, saying that her emotional and powerful speaking out against the violence epidemic in Chicago and the broader U.S. was actually a broadside against democracy, capitalism and the American way of life.

Here's Michelle Obama's full speech:

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Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, was on Meet The Press on Sunday in a debate session opposite New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. During an exchange with host David Gregory, LaPierre took to task the Obama administration for what he defined as a poor record enforcing federal gun laws in dealing with gangs in Chicago:

WAYNE LAPIERRE: I mean, let me give you the real sad thing though. Let me hold up a mirror right now to the whole national news media and the White House. I just got the TRAC data from Syracuse University of enforcement of federal gun laws. Last time I was here, I brought it from 2011; it just came out from 2012.

Do you know where Chicago ranks in terms of enforcement of the federal gun laws? Out of 90 jurisdictions in the country, they ranked 90th. Why doesn't NBC News start with, "Shocking news on Chicago. Of all the jurisdictions in the country, Chicago's dead last on enforcement of the federal gun laws?" Why doesn't the national press corps, when they're sitting down there with Jay Carney and the president and the vice president, why don't they say, "Why is Chicago dead last in enforcement of the gun laws against gangs with guns, felons with guns, drug dealers with guns?

DAVID GREGORY, HOST: And you support those as felonies, being charged as felonies?

LAPIERRE: Absolutely. And we want them taken off the street. I mean, if you're the president and the vice president, and the attorney general, and your job is to enforce these laws against the-- I'm talking about drug dealers, gangs, and felons that are walking around with guns in the street, and you don't do it? You bear some responsibility. It is a tragedy.

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Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk is helped up the US Capitol steps by Vice President Joe Biden (2nd from right) and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (left), U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is at far right, as many other Senators line the Capital steps on Thursday morning January 3, 2013. | Jon Sall~Sun-Times

When Illinois' junior Sen. Mark Kirk returned to the Senate last month, it was a triumph for friend and foe alike.

On both sides of the aisle, Kirk was applauded after making his climb back up the Capitol steps to return to office - ne easy task, as Lynn Sweet reported on Jan. 4.

Now Sen. Kirk is talking about just how difficult that return was. In an op/ed column he wrote for the Washington Post, Kirk talks about the struggle it's been since his stroke - the fear he felt the day it hit, the fight to get back and how he's changed as a person and a senator as a result of being stricken.

Kirk, who writes that he was always a "glass half empty guy," before his stroke says he's become much more positive and optimistic as a result of surviving not only the stroke, but the rehabilitation:

I'm different from what I was. My left leg and left arm might never work like they once did, but my mind is sharp. I'm capable of doing the work entrusted to me by the people of Illinois, but I am forever changed.

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Countless digital memory cards were filled with images from the Inauguration Day coverage of Barack Obama for his second term.

Two of the cooler pieces of photographic coverage came from The New York Times and the Washington Post. The Post used a photo technology called Gigapan, which we've gushed over before from the 2009 inaugural, to allow viewers to burrow in to the inaugural crowd face-by-face - tagging along the way. The Post has optimized versions of the Gigapan image for you to check out on desktop computers as well as a mobile experience.

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The Times chose to focus on the viewing gallery over the entire crowd with a graphic build to tag the famous names and faces behind and beside the president during his speech. Click through to find the Chicago and Illinois contingent, including Rahm Emanuel and wife Amy Rule.

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Read David Gregory's full interview transcript from President Obama's appearance after the jump.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza // Click to embiggen


Yes, the image that spawned a world-conquering meme is getting new life thanks to a White House visit by the gold-winning U.S. women's gymnastic team. It's a fantastic, fun photo and one that now will surely spawn a new meme: "Obama is not impressed."

If you can come up with some great Obama-inspired "not impressed" images, let us know. Maybe we'll run one in this space.


Nate Silver hit The Daily Show on Wednesday to discuss his uncanny use of math in regard to predicting the 2012 election.

But on Friday he's all ours. Or, at least he'll be a guest of the Humanities Festival - sorry, sold out.

Neil Steinberg, yet another sad scribe who couldn't gain one-on-one access to the, as Stewart called him, Lord God of the Algorithim, did manage to find out how the Festival scored the get of gets:

So hats off to the Chicago Humanities Festival, for scoring one of the better "gets" of the year, when the elusive Silver returns here Friday for a lecture at the University of Chicago, "Nate Silver on Baseball and Politics: The Numbers Don't Lie." A happy coincidence?

"It's not a coincidence," said Matti Bunzl, the festival artistic director. "We have been following him for years. The way the election was shaping up, it was so clear it would be very close, so much of the discourse would turn on polling, all issues. The fact that he has completely exploded, that we could not foresee But we assumed that he would play a pivotal role in the election, and it played out exactly as we anticipated. We assumed that by now he would be a household name." Bingo.

Silver did stop by to talk to Charlie Rose on October 30, though, and discuss his math, his politics - he claims not to vote - and all the hubbub surrounding the mild-mannered statistician as the election headed toward the boiling point:

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney talked to ESPN's Chris Berman at halftime of the Monday night game. Obama predicts the Chicago Bears can win the Superbowl.

Obama is ready for a Bears Super Bowl. And while both men have had their share of fumbles with political football in this election, he knows who the real commander in chief is when it comes to getting the ball on the ground:

"Best defense in the league right now," Obama said at halftime during the New Orleans Saints win over the Philadelphia Eagles. "You saw (Sunday's) game. (Charles) Tillman may be defensive player of the year the way he's playing."


Tillman forced four fumbles Sunday in the Bears 51-20 dismantling of the Tennessee Titans and has already been defensive player of the month once this season.

Comedian Chris Rock adds to the odder celebrity endorsements rolling our of late with his choice of a president white America can believe in - Barack Obama. Or Barry, if that helps.

Rock offered his take on race relations in this piece for Jimmy Kimmel Live.