The Chicago Way…

Do you remember that scene from The Untouchables where Sean Connery schools Kevin Costner about how to take down Al Capone:

Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I’m saying is, what are you prepared to do?

Ness: Anything within the law.

Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.

Ness: I want to get Capone! I don’t know how to do it.

Malone: You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way! And that’s how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?

Well, I was reminded of that when I saw a clip of Robert Gibbs on Morning Joe earlier this week:

“The NRA is continually trumpeting they increased their membership by ‘x’ amount in this month. The president has the most exciting campaign apparatus ever built. It’s time to turn that loose. It’s time to turn that loose for something more than just an election. If the NRA’s got a list, then Obama for America has a bigger list and it is time to get activated again.”

And this is moved along by a number of stories trying to “win” the morning:

President Barack Obama’s remaining campaign apparatus will relaunch Sunday as a tax-exempt group to support his second term agenda, a senior Democrat familiar with the plans confirms to POLITICO.

The new organization will be separate from the Democratic National Committee, with Obama’s 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina serving as the national chair of the group. [snip]

The Obama campaign seems to have already heeded Gibbs’ advice — a Thursday email under Messina’s name asked supporters to stand with the White House on gun control.

Yep, I’m fired up, ready to go and ready to bring it. How about you? Have you called your CongressCritter yet?

What else is Open Thread worthy?


37 replies
  1. 1
    Dennis G. says:

    All of which reminds of this clip from the 2008 campaign, especially that line:

    I’m always best as a counterpuncher. You know, if someone comes at me, I will knock ’em out. If not, then I’ll try to understand their point of view. That actually serves me well. I give the benefit of the doubt, I try to understand their point of view. If I perceive that they try to take advantage of that, then I will crush them.

  2. 2
    Donut says:

    Transforming OFA into a bona fide democratic/Democratic policy advocacy machine is something I have hoped for since 2008. So glad the President has made the decision (so it seems) to continue taking on the vast right wing Wurlitzer. Done the right way and with buy-in from major parts of the base, this could transform the way presidents do politics. Could be pretty awesome.

    And fuck politico for this horse shit about Obama rejecting Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Bill Burton’s influence being weak. Always gotta get their “Dems in Disarray” meme a little push.

  3. 3
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Funny you should put this up right now. I had literally (LITERALLY, do you hear me, Mr. Vice-President?) just seconds earlier read Messina’s email from earlier today and indicated my support. I think using that huge OFA database for big policy issues like gun control is smart on a lot of fronts. It not only leverages a lot of committed grassroots people and gives us ownership on causes we believe in, but if they do it right, these names will be crucial in 2016 for (likely) the Dem nominee, and (definitely) for whatever kind of center or institute the Obamas establish for their post-Presidency careers.

  4. 4
    Arundel says:

    Someone else might have mentioned it in comments, I didn’t see it in a FP main post, please forgive if this has been gone over.

    There’s this terrible soulless husk of a human being, a person named Erin Burnett who has a show on CNN. (I think she used to work for Goldman Sachs and her husband works for Chase now? I’m unclear about how many millions they’ve raked in being useless parasites.) But I’m sure she leaves that all behind when she puts on her journalism-lady face, hosts assorted right-wing wack-jobs, and repeats the GOP talking points of the day with maximum cruntiness and spite. Truly, a dreadful person. I think it was Alex Pareene who gave a thoughtful précis of Burnett’s career, saying that her tv persona is one of “condescending asshole”, which is quite right.

    Anyway! Erin Burnett defended that unbelieveably horrid and insane and vicious and threatening NRA ad that brought the President’s kids into it. (She’s a crunt, sorry, a nasty piece of work.) Saying that criticism of that hideous NRA ad was hypocritical because Bill Clinton once held Chelsea’s hand walking to the helicopter in the 90’s. No, this wasn’t a simple example of parental affection, it was “using” his kid for political advantage . Therefore, to an utter creep and utterly monstrous person like Erin Burnett- who has a show on CNN- the NRA were utterly right in mentioning the president’s family in their sick ads in the most menacing way. She defended it last night. Erin Burnett is the worst. Why a cretin like this gets a primetime show on CNN.. wait, I know the answer.

    She is just rotten.

  5. 5
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Arundel: With the exception of Maddow’s and Hayes’ shows, I avoid cable news like the plague.

  6. 6

    @Arundel: Before she was on CNN she was on CNBC. That should tell you all you need to know about that idiot.

  7. 7
  8. 8

    @freelancer (iPhone): Lawrence O’Donnell’s show is okay, although he does grate on me at times with his smugness.

  9. 9
  10. 10

    I’ve just been watching O’Donnell’s show, and one excellent thing he did tonight was to run a segment about gun industry people on the NRA board who profit from gun deaths in this country.

  11. 11
    redshirt says:

    Chicago is awesome, by the way. The whole museum/public greens/Soldiers Field by the lake is incredible public space.

    Remember when the “Public Space” was something to be proud of?

  12. 12
    TR says:

    ” And *then* what are you prepared to do?”

    As for me,to the very best of my ability I’m not spending any money in a place of business that supports Individuals(Politicans) or Corporations that don’t have my interest at heart.

    How dedicated are you?
    I have rejected friends & family that have a Right Wing philosophy. It’s been all good now that I don’t have to listen to their fear,anger & ignorance.

    I know this may be hard for some to understand, Boycott,Boycott,Boycott.

    You can find Boycott on that there interwebs.

  13. 13

    the shooters weren’t criminals. It’s not about the criminals. It’s about seemingly normal people being normal right up until they slip over some edge we don’t see. And guns all around. And violence both heightened and downgraded at the same time. So we either learn how to see who”s “normal”, on a continuing basis, or we decide that the choices available to “normal” people are perhaps too broad.

    Many gun fans point out that Britain, without guns, has a higher crime rate. Our gun homicide rate is 90 times higher. ( Our crimes must be special – maybe guns? And much of that so-called crime – pickpockets and street fights- I don’t care about. Heck, I don’t care about our gang shootings; I consider them all volunteers.

    I care about crazed people that desire public punishment and subsequent notoriety. I’ll be magnanimous here and say that gun owners and crazy aren’t the same thing, but we, as a society, can’t let them overlap. So the availability, the trade and commerce of guns deemed dangerous must be difficult. For seemingly normal people. Reaching out for these guns MUST attract notice in proper areas.

    By outlawing all sales of certain guns, we freeze the market. Owners own, but are stuck with what they have. Since I don’t believe pasty-white young gameBOYS have good links to an underground gun market, they will not be able to find many guns. I bet we can identify misfits through their efforts to find theses guns – since they start as misfits within a secure society and try to delve into the hastily created underground.

  14. 14
    PurpleGirl says:

    While The Untouchables comes from 1987, there was a similar line of dialogue to that of Malone/Ness in a Star Trek from 1967. Not an exact line of dialogue and not a famous one but similar. The episode was A Piece of the Action (2nd season, episode 17) wherein an alien culture used a book about Chicago in the 1920s as the model for reforming their own culture.

    ETA: It’s the same episode where Kirk introduces Fizzbin.

  15. 15
    Older_Wiser says:

    The next 4 years are going to be exciting and we should have the advantage of winning many of the arguments important to this country while the RW bullies its way into oblivion as they define themselves as the enemies of peace and justice. Never give up on hope.

    And yes, I got the memo and have signed on.

  16. 16
    kay says:

    I’m going to the relaunch- organizing meeting on Sunday in DC so I’ll write about it.
    I was going to the inaugeration anyway (with one of my sisters) and then some of us from Ohio got invited to the meeting.
    I imagine it’s more than “people who were active in Ohio” but I only know about the OH group.

  17. 17
    Keith G says:

    @Donut: No shit, right?

    President Barack Obama’s remaining campaign apparatus will relaunch Sunday as a tax-exempt group to support his second term agenda

    All during HCR debates I was yellin’ at Obama (through my TV) to get his freeking rear in gear and use his grass roots support.

    Better late than never; still, I wonder if 2010 would have been a bit different had they been able to keep that infrastructure of active support in place from 2008 onward.

  18. 18
    kay says:


    It’s difficult, though. Parties are huge organizations and they’re complicated. It’s not just a matter of “a list”. If you don’t ( or can’t) synch the OFA list and objectives with the existing state Party structure you’re talking about building a new policy arm alongside The Democratic Party.
    Just on guns, as an example, there will be Democratic candidates in 2014 who will distance themselves from Obama. Ted Strickland in 2010 was endorsed by the NRA, and the state and national Party were working to re-elect him.
    The Party (state and national) often won’t sign on 100% in terms of candidates versus issues.

  19. 19
    kay says:


    You have to pick and choose, and there’s often a political calculation. As another example, labor thought they had a winning issue in union-busting in OH (true) but they didn’t want a partisan face on it (Obama). Good call by labor, IMO.
    So OFA did voter protection alongside labor’s push to protect collective bargaining in 2011. They were aligned, but labor was the public face and OFA was behind the scenes working on what they know, which is the mechanics if turn- out and voter protection.
    I think that’s what it looks like when it WORKS :)

  20. 20
    WereBear says:

    Obama’s mistake was trusting a national organization to follow through on mutual goals. It’s kind of like assuming your surgeon also wants to take out the thing you’ve agreed upon.

    I am very pleased with this turn of events (got my own email yesterday!) and see it as an encouraging sign of President Obama, Term II: The Buttkicking.

  21. 21
    Bob h says:

    The President also has the 82nd Airborne, if the NRA gets really out of control.

  22. 22
    dan says:

    Malone: What’ll you have Normie?

    Peterson: Well, I’m in a gambling mood Sammy. I’ll take a glass of whatever comes out of that tap.

    Malone: Looks like beer, Norm.

    Peterson: Call me Mister Lucky.

    Also, too, Cheers.

  23. 23
    dan says:

    @dan: That’s the Boston way.

  24. 24
    Keith G says:

    @kay: I understand the point you’re making in the two comments above. They explain a contemporary reality.

    One of the reasons I began supporting Obama in 2007 was because he seemed committed to confronting contemporary reality. Dare I say he seemed committed to change that reality. He now seems to be turning this type of activism after all other avenues have underperformed. I thought this should have been his first choice.

  25. 25
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Uh, there’s something else going on besides banging on the drum. Remember entitlements?

    It is the center ring in this Circus.

    But almost as soon as the echo of Obama’s inaugural address fades and he becomes a lame duck, Democrats are going to have to face a central and unresolved question about their political identity: Will they become a center-left, Democratic Leadership Council-by-a-different-name party or return to a populist, left-leaning approach that mirrors their electoral coalition?

    Read more:

  26. 26
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    Yeah, I’m open to the idea, and I’ll happily go and listen but I am also aware that in 2014 there will be Democratic candidates in Ohio House districts who will be running like hell from Obama’s gun provisions. So the question will be how to coordinate the issue advocacy with the candidate campaigns and the state Party (which has a real strong identity in Ohio) and the national Party (I don’t deal with them personally, ever, so I don’t know what their posture will be on this).
    I have seen it work. Ohio did a coordinated campaign in 2006, 2008 and 2012 between candidate campaigns and the state and national Party, (but that’s different than issue advocacy) As I mentioned I think labor are very good are navigating these sorts of straits on issue advocacy. I have seen labor succeed at it twice, up close, with a minimum wage campaign (we won) and Issue Two in Ohio (we won). Unsurprisingly, due to their long history with Democrats, they work well with others :)
    It all gets very complicated. There were all kinds of problems here in 2010 with our candidates and some of those were not “problems” but deliberate political calculations made by individual candidates. You’re familiar with that, where the candidate is almost excused on an issue because there’s a recognition that they won’t win with it in a given district.
    Just to use Strickland as an example, he was a terrible candidate for 2010 in Ohio because he was a House member whose (former) district, his “base”, included an awful lot of people who weren’t crazy about Obama. I don’t think he was able to garner the kind of support he needed in urban areas to off-set that, and that soft support was partly due to his career as a certain kind of “pick up truck” Democrat. Nothing wrong with that, but bad for that cycle. Then it was compounded by Strickland’s pick of Lee Fisher for Senate candidate because Fisher didn’t have the right base of support to align with Obama either.
    An example of when it’s a “good fit” (easy) would be Sherrod Brown and Obama. There, Obama turned out his base and Brown turned out his base. Each brought voters, and those voters fit together to make a majority.
    Anyway, should be interesting. If anyone can make it work, they can, right?

  27. 27
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    I thought this should have been his first choice.

    I think what gets lost a bit is this: Obama is a Democrat. I know that sounds like stating the obvious, but I was not surprised that he tried, attempted, to fit his campaign model within the perhaps more traditional model of the Democratic Party. He is, after all, a Democrat. He came up thru the Democratic Party, in Chicago, no less :)

    I got the same feeling with George W Bush. That there was some idea that he was something other than a Republican, something other than a known political entity. I “get it” with Obama because of the “red states, blue states” thing, but I never understood it with Bush, who was a third generation Republican politician. I used to laugh when Bush and his supporters would insist he “doesn’t look at polls”. My ass. Bush was as political an animal as exists. Obama is too. I don’t mean that as a negative. I’m comfortable with politicians practicing politics :)

  28. 28
    WaterGirl says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I got a message from Jim Messina a week ago, but nothing today. Is it something you could cut & paste here?

  29. 29
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    I think my frustration comes in when I hear this complex thing reduced to slogans like “herding cats” (which you don’t do so this isn’t directed at you).
    There are real reasons the cats won’t stay herded. A LOT of times the “factions” have differing objectives and positions. That’s legit. It’s not disarray or disorganization and it’s not personal. It’s a divergence of interests. All of that has to be accommodated in a state like Ohio, or any 50/50 state, because we need every single freaking Democrat and leaner :)

  30. 30
    Original Lee says:

    Just called my rep and let them know I was in favor of background checks and gun registration. I think the poor intern has been getting a lot of phone calls, because I had time for one sentence, she said thank you, and hung up.

  31. 31
    ruemara says:

    I’ve gotten OFA emails since the day after the election. I participated in a survey on what they should focus on back in December. OFA has never shut down, it receded until needed. I don’t know where the meme came about that OFA was non-functioning.

  32. 32
    Joshua says:

    Except Ness didn’t send Capone to the morgue, tax law sent him to prison. Just saying.

  33. 33
    MJ says:

    Thx for the reminder. I just called my Congressional Rep (Jeffries) and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand.

  34. 34
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Keith G:

    One of the reasons I began supporting Obama in 2007 was because he seemed committed to confronting contemporary reality. Dare I say he seemed committed to change that reality. He now seems to be turning this type of activism after all other avenues have underperformed. I thought this should have been his first choice.


    By the way, the whole “knife to a gun fight” imagery of The Untouchables strikes me as being in poor taste with regard to this particular debate.

  35. 35
    General Stuck says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    OFA was involved, informing democrats via email what was happening and what could be done. But it is a ludicrous notion to turn OFA into some kind of pit bull attack dog, or whatever along those lines, onto fellow democrats. That belies Obama’s entire basic strategy for getting HCR done, and only with dem votes that would be successful. This was a different approach than Clinton and other dems that tried to steam roll dems in congress, and it failed miserable. Dems are not like republicans that way, they are finicky about separations of power via the branches of government, and will rebel every single time when a president of their party tries to bully them like GWB did with his GOP congress. Does not work for dems like that.

    Now is different, the unique and powerful politics of HCR is done, and republicans are players again running the House, and the issues are clearly defined in ideology between the parties. OFA can go full pit bull with the nutters, but not on their own side.

  36. 36
    JoyfulA says:

    @kay: Make sure it includes politics from the Senate on down. That’s what is so lacking since the Dean DNC days.

  37. 37
    Bob says:

    But they always forget this quote from that movie:

    I have foresworn myself. I have broken every law I have sworn to uphold, I have become what I beheld and I am content that I have done right!

    And that’s what they all say.

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