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

Recently in oddities Category

After all these years, The Worm is still in foul trouble.

Former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman, fresh from a trip to North Korea, is on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Sunday morning to talk about his new "friend," Kim Jong Un.

In Rodman's first post-Korea interview, he drops several Rodmanesque bombs, including the assertion that Un wants to call President Obama to talk not going to war with the U.S. and Rodman's suggestion of a basketball summit:

"He wants Obama to do one thing: Call him," Rodman told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week." "He said, 'If you can, Dennis - I don't want [to] do war. I don't want to do war.' He said that to me."

"[Kim] loves basketball. And I said the same thing, I said, 'Obama loves basketball.' Let's start there," Rodman said.

Rodman, when questioned on Un's and North Korea's horrendous human rights record and general animosity toward the United States and Western allies offered this defense:

"I don't condone that. I hate the fact that he's doing that. ... I didn't talk about that. ...I saw people respected him, his family. ... "[He's] only 28 -- 28. He's not his dad. He's not his grandpa. He is 28 years old. ... He's very humble. He's a very humble man. ... He don't want war - that's one thing he don't want. ... He loves power. He loves control, because of his father, you know - stuff like that. But he's just -- he's a great guy. He's just a great guy. You sit down and talk to him."

Rodman, who closed his interview with "don't hate me," said he wasn't defending the North Korean dictator following his trip last week - a trip he hopes to repeat soon. But he also made an effort to equate the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of North Koreans in concentration and work camps to the U.S. prison system:

Stephanopoulos: "It sounds like you're apologizing for him."

Rodman: "No, I'm not apologizing for him. ... He was a great guy to me. He was my friend. I don't condone what he does. But as a person to person, he's my friend. ... What I did was history. ... He's a friend to me. That's about it."

[Via Politico]

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman speaking at a basketball game in Pyongyang. Flamboyant former NBA star Dennis Rodman has become the most high-profile American to meet the new leader of North Korea, vowing eternal friendship with Kim Jong-Un at a basketball game in Pyongyang. AFP PHOTO / KCNA

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Jenna Bush Hager, a contributor for The Today Show, announced publicly Wednesday morning that she and husband Henry are expecting their first child.

But former President George W. Bush stole the show from the first daughter.

Displaying a lot of the good humor that he was famous for, President Bush spent several minutes gushing about becoming a first-time grandparent. He also debated the names his grandkids might call him.

"Sir," he said to laughs, before pointing to "Happy," which Jim Baker's grandkids apparently call him. Or "Popsicle," which is what Jenna calls him, seemingly to his chagrin.

Either way, the Bush political dynasty is growing yet again.


Sure, it was a bruising election with plenty of smear campaign dirtiness. But this is too much.

Ceramic figurines of President Obama called "caganers" are pictured during their presentation in Gerona on Wednesday. Statuettes of well-known people defecating are a strong Christmas tradition in Catalonia, dating back to the 18th century as Catalonians hide caganers in Christmas Nativity scenes and invite friends to find them. The figures symbolize fertilization, hope and prosperity for the coming year.

This begs the question of what would have happened had he lost.

The tradition dates back to the 18th century and no public figure - from Pope to president - is safe from the treatment.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

While the ongoing saga of Jesse Jackson Jr. - now working on a plea deal according to reporting by Michael Sneed - will cause tongues to wag about the continuing questionable state of Illinois political malfeasance, we are far from alone.

The feds, according to Sneed's report, are targeting Rep. Jackson's use of campaign funds. And we have our share of governors either in prison or who know their way around a cellblock. We have politicians fond of hiring relatives and blowing off ethics inquiries. We even have judges who's, well, state of mind is in question.

But at least they're all still alive.

The same cannot be said for Earl K. Wood, Charles Beasley and Mario Gallegos.

Mitt Romney talks with secret service agents as he boards his campaign plane in Bedford, Mass., on election day. Hopefully "goodbye" was somewhere in the discussion. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DUNAND

As a contender for President of the United States, Mitt Romney has been living with one trapping the office offers: Secret Service protection.

From the time he accepted his party's nomination, he became Javelin - the Secret Service's code name for the Republican contender. He was afforded 'round-the-clock agents to keep him safe on the campaign trail.

But now he's simply Citizen Romney again. No campaign. No speeches. No town halls. So when does the Secret Service toss the Javelin? How soon after an election is over does the also-ran lose his right to the men in black suits?

Slate's Explainer blog says not long - maybe a week. While a former president can expect 10 years of protection after leaving office, a losing candidate really doesn't warrant anything by law. Security details will stay with them for a few days as the campaign winds down, but it's at the discretion of the Service.

In case you're curious, the Obamas, Bidens and Ryans have their own Secret Service code names - they can chose their own, as Paul Ryan did, or have them assigned - as well:

  • Paul Ryan: Bowhunter
  • Janna Ryan: Buttercup

  • Mitt Romney: Javelin
  • Ann Romney: [not reported]

  • Joe Biden: Celtic
  • Jill Biden: Capri

  • Barack Obama: Renegade
  • Michelle Obama: Renaissance
  • Malia Obama: Radiance
  • Sasha Obama: Rosebud

From the Slate post:

For a few days. The Secret Service is authorized by law to protect major party presidential candidates beginning 120 days before the general election, but the statute doesn't say when that protection should cease. It appears that the service makes this decision on case-by-case basis. Historically, agents have stuck with a defeated challenger for about a week after the election, not waiting for the Electoral College vote or inauguration. If the incumbent loses, he is entitled to protection for 10 years as a former president. (Presidents who served before 1997 are guarded for life.)

The Secret Service is charged with protection details for presidents, vice presidents, political candidates, foreign dignitaries and other high level officials. And that all-encompassing coverage comes at a cost - estimated at $40,000 daily for a presidential candidate, according to Salon.

The Secret Service breaks down it's protective mission - and the techniques and philosophy behind its job - on its site:

In general, permanent protectees, such as the president and first lady, have details of special agents permanently assigned to them. Temporary protectees, such as candidates and foreign dignitaries, are staffed with special agents on temporary assignment from Secret Service field offices. All current former presidents are entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection. However, as a result of legislation enacted in 1997, President George W. Bush will be the first president to have his protection limited to 10 years after he leaves office.

Protection for Presidential Candidates

In regard to presidential campaign, the Secret Service is authorized by law (18 United States Code ยง 3056) to protect:

Major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses within 120 days of a general presidential election. As defined in statute, the term "major presidential and vice presidential candidates" means those individuals identified as such by the Secretary of Homeland Security after consultation with an advisory committee.
The Secret Service provides protection for major candidates, unless declined. The Secret Service has no role in determining who is to be considered a major candidate. The Secretary of the Homeland Security determines who qualifies as a major candidate and when such protection should commence under the authority of Title 18, United States Code, Section 3056. This determination is made in consultation with an advisory committee comprised of the following individuals:

  • Speaker of the House
  • House Minority Whip
  • Senate Majority Leader
  • Senate Minority Leader
  • One additional member chosen by the committee

APTOPIX Kenya Obama.jpg
Milka Chepkoech Chepngabit poses with her hours-old baby boy Brayan Obama Chepkoech in a post-delivery ward of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga hospital in Kisumu, western Kenya on United States' Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Chepngabit decided to name him after President Barack Obama before the child was born, after she had been discussing the U.S. elections with her family and friends and was frequently using the president's name. Brayan is one of four boys with the name Obama born in the hospital on Tuesday, in addition to a girl named after the President's wife Michelle. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)