Category Archives: politics

>FYI: Strongman form of government for Illinois?

>Some things are worth repeating. In jest, political raconteur, Dan Proft, drives home an interesting point. When you consider the corruption of those in power, and the incompetence of those in the lackluster and sometimes TOO loyal opposition, it seems a top to bottom house cleaning is in order. Dan takes the case in the other direction – admit grassroots failure, hire a despot and go golfing. (Oh! I added the photos. The outfit also comes in “short/squatty” to accommodate the typical Illinois politician. You know, in Illinois, if we say a person has “great stature,” we are speaking figuratively). Anyway, here’s Dan’s take on it.

Illinois should go to a military strongman form of government.

Instead of the pretense of representative democracy, we should submit to one of those charismatic, totalitarian dictators with the Captain Kangaroo get-up who makes people disappear.

After all, isn’t that what the “Chicago 9” are doing?

The Chicago 9 are the nine Chicago Democrats who live within about five squares miles of one another and who control more than $70 billion worth of government and more than 125,000 public sector jobs in Illinois.

[The 9: Daley, Blagojevich, (Lisa) Madigan, White, Hynes, Giannoulias, Jones, (Mike) Madigan, Stroger]It was reported last week that the Chicago 9 had made more than 6,000 private sector jobs in Illinois disappear between May and June. Only four states in the nation lost more jobs during that period.

The Chicago 9 have Illinois’ unemployment rate at a robust 6.8%, nearly 25% higher than the national average (5.5%), and at its highest point since June 1993.

As with your old school despots, the Chicago 9 are not fond of dissent and so over the last decade they have created more than 727,000 Illinois refugees who have sought sanctuary for their families and their pocketbooks in other states.

As a result of this mass exodus, Illinois will lose at least one Congressional seat after the electoral remap in 2010. I say, get rid of them all. Who needs a Congressional delegation when we could have a singular Daley or Madigan or Jones or Stroger do everyone’s thinking and deciding for them?

The Chicago 9 have also been quick to recognize that an educated populace is a dangerous populace. Thanks to an effective two-pronged approach consisting of an adroitly engineered brain drain that has made Illinois the 45th ranked state in the nation in terms of attracting college graduates combined with urban school systems run like Stalinist agrarian co-ops, the Chicago 9 have gloriously created the obedient population on which they may feast with impunity.

Give away some state jobs and a few party posts to the useful idiots; buy off the congenitally compliant corporate class with contracts and prestige appointments; and, Presto! no more need for pesky elections.

We Illinoisans have demonstrated the necessary masochistic tendencies to embrace spirit-crushing tyranny.

The last piece to the utopian puzzle is the consolidation of power by the member of the Chicago 9 who possesses the strongest patronage army and the willingness to don the silliest hat–no Generalissimo is complete without their gold-leaf-laden headwear.

It’s time to stop tinkering around with nine potentates and get serious about living our lives under the command control of the most worthy (worthy in a “might makes right” sense, of course) Chicago Democrat.

Let’s do this.

And I say … Amen!

>OBSERVATION: Let’s face it …

>As you know, this blog is dedicated to “truth, justice and the American way.” In the pursuit of those worthy goals, I occasionally stumble across some things that just make you wounder, like … What do the Chicago Tribune (and Chicago Cubs) new owner, gazillionaire Sam Zell, have in common with bad-boy political pundit and talking head, James Carville, and the delightfully near-sighted Mr. Magoo? Since pictures are worth a thounsand words, allow me to defer to the photographs. I am not sure why I thought this is important enough to put in my blog, or if there is any relevancy, but here it is, anyway. What should we think of this?

>REACT: Denny, we hardly knew ya.

>Illinois Congressman Denny Hastert will step down from Congress before the end of the year. He will leave with the distinction of having served longest in a position he well might never have held — Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. At the time of his ouster in the wake of the 2006 Democrat election tsunami, Hastert was, with only 8 years incumbency, the longest serving Republican Speaker in American history. He also is among the most undistinguished speakers. (Ironically, he beat the record of fellow Illinoisan, Joe Cannon, who many consider to have been the most powerful speaker in American history.)

Hastert was an accidental speaker, gaining the office only after Newt Gingrich’s successor-apparent, Bob Livingston of Louisiana, was forced to admit some adulterous indiscretions in his past – suffering more from the hypocrisy, after having tossed some sizeable stones at President Bill Clinton on the very same subject.

To me, it is remarkable that in Hastert’s history making tenure, one can hardly find a significant accomplishment. While he may have presided over the Republican majority for eight years, he was never much of a leader on the national scene. Having hardly made a ripple in his own time, Hastert is not likely to endure in historic hindsight – his sole accomplishment being longevity.

In his original acceptance speech, Hastert set forth his priorities in what he called the “four big challenges” — Social Security stabilization, Medicare reform, economic security, tax relief, a leaner and more efficient government; stronger national defense, and improved K- 12 education. (Yeah, I know he called them the FOUR challenges, but hey, the guy was a wrestling coach, not a math teacher.) Regardless how you count them, by his own challenge, Hastert failed across the board. In addition, his promise to lead a more congenial Congress was quashed by some of the most acrimonious partisanship since before the Civil War. Under his leadership, Hastert not only lost the speakership, he lost the Congress.

While Hastert was initially considered a philosophic brother of his predecessor, Newt Gingrich, they differed dramatically in style, strategy and intellectual power. Unlike Gingrich, Hastert eschewed the spotlight. He seemed to consider public communication as more of an inconvenience of his office than an opportunity to advance his, or the GOP, agenda. For Gingrich, the speakership was an ideological soap-box to espouse unbending conviction, for Hastert it was a pragmatic position for collegial compromise. Gingrich risked survival for his great causes. Hastert seemed to have no greater cause than survival. Gingrich is known for changing the course of a nation. Hastert is known for staying the course. If Gingrich was Meet the Press, then Hastert was Let’s Make a Deal.

Even in Illinois, Hastert’s reputation as an old-style “good ole boy” leaves little for the home town boosters to cheer about. His most memorable actions were dubious accomplishments. He is remembered for passing over fellow Illinoisan, Phil Crane, from the chairmanship of the all powerful Ways and Means Committee –a disservice to tradition, Phil Crane and the people of Illinois. It was a decision that ultimately cost the Republicans Crane’s seat.

Hastert again proved himself to be the consummate insider when he joined the corrupt Illinois GOP establishment in attempting to derail the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald as the new U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Illinois. This effort, too, ran against the longstanding tradition of conceding the appointment to the senior senator of the President’s party – in this case Senator Peter Fitzgerald (no relationship to the appointee).

This was not the only time Hastert had crossed swords with the reform minded young senator on behalf of the boys in the back (nee smoke-filled) rooms – led by the criminal administration of Governor George Ryan. Over Fitzgerald’s attempt as fiscal responsibility, Hastert served up sizzling “pork” for Ryan massive Build Illinois rape of the taxpayers. He tried to shut down Fitzgerald’s efforts to bring accountability to the third airport fiasco. He attempted to thwart Fitzgerald’s effort to prevent Ryan from making the new Lincoln library and museum another cesspool of political cronyism.

Hastert also discovered that his throw-back concept of insider leadership was a relic with little relevance for the modern political game when he botched the handling of the Mark Foley “boys are toys” scandal. He mixed collegiality with Pontius Pilate-like washing of the hands to avoid addressing the issue at the time it was brought to his attention.

Most people do not know of Hastert’s record breaking tenure. His loss of the speakership is largely unnoticed because his presence there was largely unnoticed. He will now retire from Congress with most of America never having known he was even there. Hastert’s only enduring image may be his rotund Nast cartoon physique.

When the inevitable book is written about the career of Denny Hastert, it will be a short tome – lots of pictures and don’t wait for the movie. After noting that he was the accidental Speaker, who stayed a relatively a long time, what more can be said?

>REACT: Burned up over the war

>We just past the first anniversary of war protester Malachi Ritscher’s self-torching. You may recall he is the guy who sat on a berm near the expressway, doused himself with some flammable liquid and lit a match. In a so-called “mission statement” he said, “If I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world.”

He has become something of a hero to a small cadre of anti war zealots, who consider his action sort of … well … noble. The anniversary was marked by a couple dozen people who gathered in the federal plaza to memorialize his flame out. Interestingly, I did not see any holding the customary memoral candles.

According to one of his sisters, Ritscher was “a casualty of the war.” She denied reports that her brother suffered from mental illness. WHAT? She denied that he was short a few cards in the deck when he lit that match?

Certainly, his death was tragedy. If we are motivated to use his death as a call for action, it should not based on his opposition to the war, it should be to address whatever madness caused him to kill himself. He may have chosen the war has his excuse, but it was not his reason. Hundreds of thousands of people have protested the war … and millions are burned up over it – figuratively only. But, Ritscher is the only person who thought that turning himself into a human torch was a meaningful means of influencing American policy. In that regard, his death was in vain. His impact nil. The opposition movement is so large that his contribution is imperceptible. My god, Cindy Sheehan was only marginally relevant, and she was in the press for months. The only result of Ritscher’s act of desperation is one less voice in the opposition choir.

It does not take professional analyst to know Ritscher suffered some sort of mental illness. No one ignites themselves for any rational reason whatsoever. To oppose violence through an excruciatingly violent act is not the work of a sane person. Not debatable.

I have always believed that suicide, for any reason, is the ultimate selfish act — without even the opportunity to beg forgiveness. It is illegal. It is immoral. Under the pretense of caring about humanity, Ritscher cared nothing about the feelings of his loved ones. He cared nothing about men, women AND children who had the misfortune of witnessing his horrific death. He cared nothing for all the good he might have done in the world in the years to come. He wanted to check out, but wanted to leave a little guilt trip in his wake – since he was leaving nothing else. His only contribution was to end any further contributions.

Jennifer Diaz, one of the organizers of the small memorial said his act “speaks for itself.” We can all agree on that, but not likely will we agree what it says. She concluded by saying that Ritscher had “made himself into an icon.” No, Jennifer. He made himself into a Roman candle.

>SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT!! Skullduggery in Chicago Olympic bid.

>Rumors abound that not only is Chicago Mayor Richard Daley attempting to bamboozle the International Olympic Committee to award the 2016 games to Chicago to save his political posterior in the wake of the unending string of scandals, but he is secretly attempting to introduce new events to the IOC which are designed to ensure that Chicagoans and Illinoisans win a disproportionate share of gold, silver and bronze medals. Other Illinois officials have joined in the effort to lobby the IOC

They have secretly proposed the introduction of a series of Olympic “civic” events. Due to my dogged sleuthing (even out doing The Drudge Report), I am now able to reveal the details of this plot. Here are the events they have proposed.

Job Placement I (cronyism): This event is simply judged on the number of political pals placed on the public payroll. Contestants are judged on not only the number, but also the rank and pay scale of the placed employees. Yet to be settled is the inclusion or exclusion of lucrative contract holders. Some argue that this is already incorporated in the Public Trough Feeding event (see below). With its long and colorful history of raw politics, Chicago has obvious advantages over other contenders. Several of the strongest players were previous winners of the World Shakman Cup.

Job Placement II (nepotism): This event is similar to Job Placement I except it deals only with the number of family members placed on the public payroll. With major politicians claiming so many “cousins,” qualification verification is expected to be difficult. Cook County President Todd Stroger is already in training and could be a strong contender. However, he will be hard pressed to challenge the long established Irish politicos, who literally invented the sport. The Mayor is pushing to have his brothers judge this event.

Under the Table Kick-Back: Government employees, in performing their civil duties are judged on how much money they can secure from citizens in need of services, permits, etc. Volunteered bribery, while quite lucrative, is excluded from the competition. The stack-o-cash qualifying event requires participants to secure the greatest amount of cash in the shortest amount of time – and no bill more than $100.

Official Corruption Marathon: This is the big kahuna of the proposed new events, with all-star competitors. Winners will be judged on the number of scandals that occur directly under their administrative rule. Indictments and convictions will be especially useful. Mayor Daley, himself, would have been a run-away favorite for the gold in this category, but Governor Rod Blagojevich is making a serious effort for the top medal. Many thought this event would be a Democrat sweep. However, Republican jail-bound Governor George Ryan looks like a potential medal winner. The Nobel Prize nomination is not expected to hurt his chances for a corruption award. He is also the only contender actually convicted of corruption. This could put him in contention for a gold medal. However, it is no small irony that the gold medal in this event will not be won according to the rules, but will most likely be stolen by the person most adroit at breaking the rules.

The Featherbed Beer Run: Government workers are judged on the most unproductive hours on payroll. Extra points can be gained by being totally away from the work environment while being paid. Back room card games, sports events and motel trysts are among the more popular work day escapes. The event gets its name for the propensity of government to employ needless workers, and the ubiquitous beer guzzling that takes on shift. There is a major loss of points for being the subject of the semi annual newspaper expose on malingering public workers. Instead of the traditional Olympic medal, the winner of this event will receive a gold brick.

Education Dodge Ball: The winner of this event will be determined by the number of public school children who will go uneducated. While drop-out rates are significant, the big point gainer is actually graduating an uneducated student in the “social promotion.” Overall winners will have to do well in the “phony truant report” event. The medals in this event are almost certain to fall to the major American cities. Look for Chicago, once declared to be the worst school system in America, to be a top contender for the gold.

Public Trough Feeding Frenzy: This is one of the few proposed events where well-connected private citizens will compete. Contestants will be judged on both the number of contracts and the total cumulative value. Extra points will be given as part of the ‘Inferior Work Rip-Off” event. Inferior work resulting in permanent injury or death of innocent people can boost the point score significantly. Look for Tony Rezko and Bill Cellini to duke it out for the gold in this one, with Bill Kjellander picking up the bronze.

Airport Demolition Smack Down: This is likely to be a relatively exclusive event. Spectacular as it can be, there are very few contenders – especially if military bombings are eliminated from the event, as Mayor Daley demands. He is arguably the world’s leading civilian airport destroyer, and would mostly likely pick up the gold.

Taxpayer Raping: Always popular with the political contestants. Here public officials are judged not only on the sheer level of taxation, but on creativity as well. Hidden taxes, in the form of mandates, will garner extra points. Misuse of taxpayer money also can produce additional points. More points for tax increases which do not improve services, and even more if services are reduced in the face of the tax increase. Many consider higher taxes for fewer services to be the Holy Grail in this event. For those anticipating a salacious contest please be aware that the name is only symbolic.

Jailhouse Torture Tournament: In this event, contestants will be judged both on the number of people they can torture in the shortest time and the effective use of torture devices. Special emphasis is on creativity and effectiveness. Yet to be decided is whether contestants will be allowed to use any device, as an indication of creativity (the City Hall preference), or be limited to such devices as electric generators, billy clubs (a long Chicago sports tradition), rubber hoses, brass knuckles. Maximum pain with minimum physical evidence is important. There is some controversy over anal penetration events. It is more a matter of esthetics than effectiveness. John Burge is a local favorite for the gold, but some say there are many more currently unknown contenders.

Minority Profiling Relay: Another of the so-called “law enforcement events,” it will require contestants to carry innocent minority individuals through the judicial system – from driving tickets to false imprisonment. Special points are given for false arrests and advancing cases that have no merit whatsoever. Sub-events, such as “evidence planting” and “prosecutorial abuse,” will be key to victory. Contestants with racial profiling experience are expected to dominate this event.

Cops as Robbers on the Run: This law enforcement event is strictly for police officers. Winners are determined by the amount of cash and the cash value of merchandise stolen from the public. Additional points are given for pocketing evidence form the scene of a crime, and even more for stealing evidence out of the police lock up. While accepting bribes for not issuing tickets is included, such low level corruption will not take a medal.

Mafia Marksmanship: Though the Mob has been out of practice in recent years, it was felt that, with Chicago’s Capone reputation, there should be a least one event honoring so many great Chicago personalities. Only “made” mobsters, with funny nicknames, are eligible. There are two major events. The first requires the accumulation of “intimidation money.” Extra points for money extracted as a result of severe beatings, with permanent injury good for bonus points. However, killing the victim is a disqualifier. Rules forbid accidental killing, and planned killing falls into the second major Majia event – and will be much more exciting for the audience. It measures the number of hits. Wounding does not qualify. The Whack Job event is judged on the importance of the decedent, the method of extermination and creative body disposal. Team Hoffa could be real contenders. Flawless from hit to disposal. On the other hand, Team Spilotro lacks Olympic stature. Nice hit, but botched burial. Didn’t they know that every two-bit amateur killer buries the bodies in Indiana? The names of the judges in this event are being withheld since the first three named are now missing – perhaps to Olympic training.

Rejected Events: A number of City Hall’s recommended events did not make it past first review by the IOC. The proposed Friend Shedding event was to judge contestants by the number of friends cut off in the face of scandal. The rapidity of such excommunications was to be a major consideration. However, this event was vetoed by the Committee because it appeared to have been proposed solely to insure Mayor Daley a gold medal. The same fate befell the proposed Official Public Temper Tantrum event — for the same reason.

In a similar vein, the Nutty Official event, proposed by Governor Blagojevich, will not be considered due to his pre-emption of the field. The Governor tried to convince the Committee that being recognized as a gold medal nut would be good for his career. To draw a comparison, the Governor explained how having almost every member of the legislature vote against his tax package was his greatest legislative victory. However, the IOC determined that the very idea to be a bit nutty.

The IOC also rejected Todd Stoger’s suggestion of a medal for Not So Bright Offspring of Powerful Politicians. They did not feel it was a very bright idea. In fact, they were not ever sure what the event would be. On the same basis, the OIC summarily rejected former Governor Ryan’s proposal for an event designed for Nobel Prize Nominees Currently in Jail.

State and city officials are lobbying hard against the proposed Convicted Public Official event. In this event, contestants would be judged on the number of public officials they have indicted and convicted. More points for higher-ranking officials. Though his would undoubtedly bring the gold to Illinois, city and state official believe the competition would generate too much enthusiasm among prosecutors, and could deplete the state and local governments of most of the current public officials. Mayor Daley argues that this event would be a set up for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who, according to the Mayor, is not even his cousin.

Finally, the IOC rejected City Hall’s suggestion for a Snow Removal Race noting that this was the summer Olympics. The Mayor countered that he has several cousins with snow making equipment who would cover the course in several feet of snow. “Nobody knows how to do a snow job better then we do,” the Mayor argued.

>REACT: Daley plays the race card … and it’s a joker

>

In his attempt to bully support for a new Grant Park location for the Children’s Museum, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley deals the race card from the bottom of the deck. He accuses the citizens living in the highrises adjacent to the proposed location of being racists, who do not want “black or brown” kiddies to be drawn to their Loop neighborhood.

How low can the mayor go?

He blatantly calls tens of thousands of his citizens “racists,” when in fact that region of the city is populated by some of the most tolerant individuals in Chicago, including a bunch of “black and brown” parents. I would remind the mayor that this is the 42nd ward, not the old 11th.

The Mayor fails to note that the new Museum site is adjacent to the Chicago Park District field house named after his father. It is a field house, which hosts summer camp and other events for thousands of children – including many of those black and brown youngsters. Far from protesting the interracial kids’ programs and events, the neighbors include their own children among the enrollees.

If Chicago is a racially confrontational city, it is largely due to the historic race baiting tactics of the political machine. Using concocted racism as a straw man, the mayor actually promotes what he feigns to oppose.

This baseless accusation comes from a man whose family has presided over the most racially divided city in America, whose early elections were advanced by engendering racial fears over the possibility of a second black mayor, and who has successfully driven the low economic black and brown people out of the city to be displaced by suburban yuppies.

This shameless effort is designed to divert public attention away from the very legitimate reasons to deny the Children’s Museum the proposed site. It is the long-standing Grant Park covenant of keeping the lakefront as open space for the benefit of all the people, and to resist the eroding imposition of commercial venues.

Ironically, it is the mayor who has sold out to the mostly white upper crust of Chicago society. The overly costly Millennium Park was an elitist concept that gave more than ample opportunity to provide “naming rights” to the hoi polloi. It is a “park” that maintains 24 hour security guards to make sure the common folk do not bicycle, skate, run, walk dogs or trod on the sod – pleasures usually associated with urban parks.

Under the civic delirium of Millennium Park, the mayor provided space for a commercial restaurant — and yet another opportunity for the politically favored. The Harris Theatre was then allowed to intrude into the people’s commons – again for the glory and entertainment of the Windy City elite.

Another issue is traffic and parking. The mayor flips off this legitimate concern over congestion with “this is a city” — what every the hell that means. Development in that section of town is already overtaxing the transportation infrastructure. Perhaps his motive in jamming more people-attractions in that small area is to help the Grant Park garage fulfill its failed mission to finance the park.

The Children’s Museum is a wonderful thing. My family has enjoyed it over many years. There are innumerable sites where it can serve the public. How about on the south edge of Grant Park, for example? Or, to the west of the McCormack complex? Or hey! How about on underused Northerly Island (see Meigs Field).

The new 42nd ward alderman, Brendan Reilly, opposes the site, and as tradition would have it, professional courtesy should prevail in the City Council. However, it appears that the mayor is willing to throw out that tradition along with the long-standing covenants and traditions protecting the lakefront. Reilly may get his toes stomped on by the compliant City Council, but in the long run, he will have been the voice in the wilderness.

>OBSERVATION: What’s wrong with the Right

>I recently wrote a friend about what appears to be the shattering of the old conservative coalition that dominated American politics for a generation – and the unique ineptitude of the Illinois conservative movement within the Republican Party. Like all coalitions, The “Reagan majority” relied on the obfuscation of fault lines between the component factions. Like a marriage, coalitions generally start out overlooking “minor differences.” Eventually, those differences become points of contention.

The Illinois conservative movement is unique in that the old Reagan coalition is not shattering, it was never formed. Reagan proffered the 11th Commandment, which forbade speaking ill of fellow Republicans. In Illinois, the GOP establishment and the largely GOP conservative wing maintains a state of constant warfare – and to make matters worse, the personality driven right-wing leaders have a penchant for tossing hand grenades into each other’s foxholes. The Reagan revolution that routed the old left never got a foothold in Illinois — his ancestral homeland.

To fully comprehend the sad state of the GOP in Illinois, just seek an answer to this question. How is it that the GOP continues to lose in the face of the unprecedented number and severity of corruption scandals besetting the Democrat machine?

The result of all the internecine warfare is that many solid conservatives — and I include myself in that description — are feed up with the strident right pontificating over all-or-nothing-at-all litmus test issues and self proclaimed moral righteousness.

I am pro-life. I believe that the protection of individual human life is a VERY conservative position. However, I think the flag burning amendment is the work of statists in defiance of conservative philosophy. I see no problem with civil unions for gay couples, since ALL marriages are civil union under the law. Let the churches be free to bless the unions or not with the ritual of “marriage”. I think we should bestow swift citizenship on the vast majority of the technically illegal immigrants by developing a system to quickly matriculate the good guys — and toss the crooks and gang bangers back across the border from a speeding car.

While it is obvious that the Illinois GOP continues in its long history of ineffectiveness, we cannot look to the conservative movement for help in Illinois. It is largely in the hands of egomaniacal miscreants. Nowhere in the nations, is the conservative movement so damaged by its own malignant leadership. They are political terrorists primarily engaged in tribal turf battles against the imagined ideological apostate within their own ranks.

The gross failure of the GOP and the in-house conservative movement to achieve relevancy for at least three decades has had enormous ramifications on the national scene. If either the GOP or the conservative establishment had been even modestly effective, we might have a Republican governor, Republican county board president, control of the legislature, and a couple U.S. Senators … and no Richard Durbin or Barak Obama. Obama has reached presidential ranking more to the folly of the GOP (remember Alan Keyes) than to the impressiveness of his resume or the power of his backers.

I would see myself as some sort of ideological malcontent if it were not for the fact that I have had the true pleasure in working with conservatives in other states. By comparison, one can only conclude that the Illinois conservative movement is some horrific political mutant. My criticism does not apply to all Illinois conservative leaders, by any means, but is focused on those who have earned it by their incompetence and malevolence. Add this to the Keystone Kop-like floundering of the GOP establishment and the pandemic corruption of the Democrat machine, and you can see why many see Illinois as one of the more putrid cesspools of American politics.