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Tuesday, March 5

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The Mechanics

Illinois Thu Dec 03 2015

NRA-Backed IL Congressmen Offer "Thoughts & Prayers" to San Bernardino ...Or Not

In the hours after the mass shooting in San Bernardino on Wednesday, dozens of elected officials took to Twitter to offer "thoughts and prayers" to the victims of the attack and their families. Many people responded by challenging congressmen and senators to actually do something, not just think and pray. Igor Volsky, contributing editor at Think Progress, took it a step further, calling out several legislators who offered condolences but had taken campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association.

The only Illinois congressman called out by Volsky was Rep. Peter Roskam (R, 6th), who received $2,000 from the NRA in 2014, $3,000 in 2012, $2,000 in 2010 and more going further back.

But according to, several other congressmen and women from Illinois have benefited from NRA contributions -- six of whom are still serving in Washington. Here's a look at how they reacted to the San Bernardino shooting.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

Election 2016 Wed Nov 18 2015

Republicans in Disarray, but Democrats in Despair

GOP dissarayNate Silver is one of America's sharpest political analysts, so when he writes a piece like "Maybe Republicans Really Are In Disarray", it should raise some eyebrows. Silver doesn't come to a definite conclusion, but he does lay out a logical explanation of why "disarray" might be the right term to describe the current standing of the Republicans nationally. I would add that it could easily be extended to the situation in Illinois, where Governor Bruce Rauner seems to be alienating his own party, and where at a glance it would seem increasingly likely that Senator Mark Kirk will lose next November.

Silver, though, also argues against the disarray argument, by making a fairly simple point: excluding the presidency, Republicans are winning a lot more than they're losing. Even here in Illinois, with Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the General Assembly, the reality is that the Republicans hold the governorship, one U.S. Senate seat, and eight of 18 U.S. House seats. The voting profile of the state would suggest that the Republicans should be doing far worse here.

So are the Republicans in disarray? I think the answer has to be yes. But does it matter very much? Maybe not. As bad as things may seem for the Republicans, they're nevertheless the majority party in the country, based on control of both houses of Congress, a large majority of governorships, and most state legislatures.

The party with the worst problems right now is the Democratic Party, and we can even see this playing out in Illinois.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry

National Politics Wed Sep 16 2015

Don't Bother, They're Here

Illustration by DonkeyHotey.

It's unclear at what point the clown car metaphor became too undersized, and a clown stretch minivan, with attached elephant trailer, more apt for the traveling circus that has become the Republican presidential nomination contest. What's clearer is that there are more GOP candidates than living Americans who can name them all.

The paper today said that someone named Gilmore, or Fillmore, or Milhous, was not invited to any of tonight's debates. Looking up from my coffee, I announced this with all the seriousness and sorrow I could muster. My wife, looking as if I had asked her to name the last three finance ministers of Kyrgyzstan, said "Who?!"

"Exactly," I replied.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Smith

Op-Ed Wed Mar 11 2015

Sifting Through Senator Kirk's "Chicago Will Become Detroit" Threat

By Dave Stieber

Last week Republican Senator Mark Kirk said that the citizens of Chicago should "re-elect Rahm or Chicago could end up like Detroit." Now the on the surface the comment seems to just imply that for whatever reason Senator Kirk believes that Rahm Emanuel will be more able to help with our city's finances than his challenger Chuy Garcia. It is odd that Senator Kirk believes this, because since Mayor Emanuel took over our city's bond rating has dropped five times. Clearly the mayor is great at raising money for his own re-election campaign, but raising money to help the city... not so much.

So let's go a little deeper into Mark Kirk's comments threatening that if Garcia is elected Chicago will become like Detroit.

Continue reading this entry »


Republicans Wed Apr 30 2014

Cinco de GOP

Illinois GOPThe Illinois Republican Party is celebrating Cinco de Mayo tonight with a fundraising event at Hub 51, 51 W. Hubbard St.

Party Chairman Jack Dorgan and lieutenant governor candidate Evelyn Sanguinetti will be on hand, along with Jovita Carranza, Joseph Galvan and Jay Reyes. Doors open at 5pm. Tickets are $50, with sponsorships available for $250 or $500.

Andrew Huff

Elections Tue Feb 04 2014

The Elephants for a Day Are Coming. Are You One of Them?

An Ethernet cable. Carrie Underwood's career. What Derrick Rose does to people at the top of the key. That Nissan with the really stupid commercials. They're all crossovers. And the next big crossover is coming our way.

They'll go by a lot of different names. You can call them Grand Old Party Crashers, or One Trick Pachyderms, or maybe just Those Meddling, Conniving Democrats.

They're the Elephants for a Day. And they're diabolically plotting to pull Republican primary ballots this March even though they're not really Republicans.

And maybe you're one of them.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry / Comments (2)

IL-GOV Wed Jan 08 2014

Will the Term Limits Amendment Get Bruce Rauner Elected Governor?

illinois state capitol - photo by Matt TurnerIt was Friday night, around 6, at the Washington Blue Line stop. A man -- let's call him Fred -- approached me with a clipboard and asked if I would like to sign a petition to place a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the ballot.

The people around us didn't seem too familiar when Fred launched into his spiel. They will be. Fred was their first contact with what may well become the hottest issue of the 2014 election. Not only might this question have huge effects on Illinois government over the long term, it could also lead to the election of a conservative multimillionare Republican as our next governor.

The entity behind the proposed amendment is The Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, and its chair is Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner. Rauner has already put up $250,000 of his own money to push the amendment, plus $749,000 of his own money to his campaign committee. Both the committee formed to support the amendment and Rauner's committee have also racked up numerous donations of $100,000 or more, including several from out of state donors.

Much has been said and written about Rauner trying to buy the gubernatorial election. Some people have also written about how the term limits push may greatly benefit Rauner's campaign. What's been harder to find is a more detailed evaluation of the proposed amendment itself, precisely how the amendment can help Rauner get elected, and how Rauner's opponents might effectively try to hold off his multifaceted strategy.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry / Comments (4)

GLBT Mon Dec 10 2012

Inclusion Wins and Woes: Interview with Caitlin Huxley, President of the Log Cabin Republicans of Illinois

By Rachel Angres

With the recent Lambda Legal lawsuit filed against the Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of 25 gay couples who wish to be married in Illinois and the Supreme Court's clandestine meetings over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8, the path for legalizing same sex marriage in Illinois is far from clear. Proponents of same-sex marriage are in most cases liberal organizations and individuals, with one exception: The Log Cabin Republicans.

Log Cabin Republicans of IllinoisThe Log Cabin Republican Group is a national grassroots organization made up of conservative to moderate libertarian Republicans in the LGBT community and their "straight allies," who fight for equal rights. Based on their motto that "inclusion wins," LCR members share the common understanding that the GOP is stronger without alienating its LGBT members along with their friends and family through antigay ideologies and policies.

I recently spoke with Caitlin Huxley, president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Illinois, about the organization's role in the GOP and its position on DOMA and civil unions.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (1)

Republicans Tue Sep 04 2012

Do Major Romney Donors Like Rahm More Than the Chicago Republican Party?

chicago republican partyOn Sunday, the Chicago Republican Party called on Rahm Emanuel to cancel the speech he will give tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. In a statement, Party Chairman Adam Robinson wrote that it would be inappropriate for the mayor to leave Chicago while the city was still dealing with a looming Chicago Teachers Union strike and a seemingly never-ending murder epidemic, and demanded that he "provide immediate, visible and specific leadership to address the twin crises facing our city."

Originally, Rahm planned to arrive in Charlotte on Tuesday and stay through Friday. But yesterday, he announced that he would cut his trip short and return to Chicago on Wednesday night -- denying that his new plans had anything to do with public pressure.

While the Chicago GOP makes a valid point about the mayor's priorities, there might be another underlying reason why the group is so eager to attack him: Rahm Emanuel gets more time, money, and attention from the rich donors funding Mitt Romney's presidential campaign than they do.

Continue reading this entry »

Jason Prechtel / Comments (2)

Election 2012 Thu Aug 30 2012

Campaign of Division?

In a speech in Chillicothe, OH earlier this month, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, "Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago, and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America."

Ahead of Romney's speech at the Republican National Convention tonight, Overbites Productions decided to head to Division Street (get it?) to ask Chicagoans what they thought of Romney's statements -- and whether they'd ever heard of him, for that matter.

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Republicans Tue Aug 21 2012

Chicago Young Republicans Parody "Call Me Maybe"

chicagoyoungrepublicans_callmemaybe.jpgThe Chicago Young Republicans have made "The CYRs Are Calling, Baby," a parody video of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" to get local folks to volunteer to make campaign calls for Mitt Romney.

Beyond the free pizza and beer mentioned in the video, the CYRs are holding contests for phone bank volunteers, who can win such prizes as an iPad, sports tickets and restaurant gift cards for meeting call goals.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

Mark Kirk Tue May 08 2012

Sen. Mark Kirk Shares Video of Rehabilitation

Fifteen weeks after suffering a stroke that partially paralyzed the left side of his body, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk shared video on his YouTube account today of himself learning to walk again at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. He's enrolled in an intensive walking study for stroke patients. With ongoing training, the senator says he hopes "to climb the 45 steps that my staff counted from the parking lot to the Senate front door to fight for the people of Illinois."

Andrew Huff

Elections Sun Oct 31 2010

No Friends in Politics: Doherty v. Mulroe on the Northwest Side

This article was submitted by David Jordan

It's personal.

Two sons of Irish immigrants, mutual childhood friends from the old neighborhood, are in a close, nasty fight for a state Senate seat on Chicago's Far Northwest Side.

John Mulroe (next to the young woman) at a party in the North Austin neighborhood in 1979. Photo courtesy of Brendan Egan

Like me, both Brian Doherty - for the past 19 years the city's sole Republican alderman--and his foe in the November 2 election, John Mulroe--appointed to the seat in August after a long-serving fellow Democrat resigned from it--graduated from St. Angela School, in the North Austin neighborhood on the West Side. I am SAS '74, Mulroe is '73 and Doherty, '71.

Neither candidate for 10th District senator--Doherty, 53, a standout amateur boxer as a young man, who started in politics as a volunteer to a Northwest Side state representative 30 years ago; Mulroe, 51, a mild-mannered but tough and tenacious accountant-turned-lawyer, who is a relative political neophyte--is pulling many punches in the bout, which has been heavily financed by both party organizations.

Both candidates, like me, are from big Irish Catholic families.

Mulroe was the third of five children, all boys. The family, like mine, lived for several years in a two-bedroom apartment in a two-flat with relatives occupying the other flat, near tiny Galewood Park, a North Austin neighborhood hangout for countless youths, including me and several of my nine siblings.

Mulroe's father, a longtime laborer with Peoples Gas, often carted a gang of us kids in his station wagon to various sporting events.

On the campaign trail, Mulroe often recounts how he began his work career at age 13 as a janitor's assistant at St. Patrick High School, an all-boys Belmont Avenue institution, where I was a year behind him, just as I had been at SAS, where he later was a director of the St. Angela Education Foundation.

In the 1980s, while Mulroe was working days at Arthur Anderson as an accountant, he attended Loyola University law school at night. Then he served as a Cook County prosecutor for six years before, in 1995, opening a small, general legal practice in an office that is a block from Doherty's aldermanic office, down Northwest Highway in the Edison Park neighborhood, where the senator and his wife, Margaret, live with their two sons and two daughters.

Similarly, Doherty, the third of nine children, was a presence in my youth. My father, the late Jack Jordan (SAS '38), St. Angela's longtime volunteer athletic director, became close to the future alderman while working as a manager for the Chicago Park District boxing program.

At the time, the future alderman was in the midst of his amateur boxing career, in which I remember seeing the slim Doherty out-pound heavier boxers on his way to a 19-2 record and Park District and Golden Gloves championships.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (21)

IL-GOV Wed Oct 06 2010

March of the Morons: Brady on Evolution and Creation

Darwin_ape.pngI have one question that I believe should be used to disqualify people from running for executive office. It is, "Do you accept the theory of evolution?" Anybody who says no should be disqualified. No, it's not a religious test that would violate the Article VI prohibition. It's a moron test. We could also ask, "Are you a moron?" but then we'd be less likely to get an honest response. This way we could actually root out the morons.

This has nothing to do with conservative/liberal, Democrat/Republican. Evolution is a fact--in fact, it's more than a fact. It is a theory built upon literally millions of facts. Believe whatever other thing you want, but denying that evolution took place--maybe not exactly how science now conceives, but that it took place in some way--is absolutely no different than denying gravity. Newtonian physics got the mechanics of gravity wrong, but that didn't make gravity itself wrong. If you think "the jury is out" on evolution, you're not particularly bright, willfully ignorant, or poorly educated (which may not be your fault, but still--probably shouldn't be elected to executive office).

Bill Brady thinks it's okay to teach Creationism in schools. By doing so, he betrays his claim that he accepts "both" creationism and evolution. Accepting both as equivalent to be taught is like saying you accept "both" the theory of electromagnetism and fish are delicious. I don't care about any of the rest of his politics. How can you vote for a person like that? Creationism in schools? Really? We want the US to create well-educated kids prepared to tackle the most significant problems of the future--not to mention stay on the cutting edge of science--and we're going to allow school districts to teach Creationism? How stupid is this guy?

Apparently immensely.

Continue reading this entry »

Ramsin Canon / Comments (25)

Republicans Tue Oct 05 2010

Dirty Dealings: Infighting & Incriminations Among the Chicago Young Republicans & Chicago GOP

This article was submitted by Michael Volpe.

On June 17, 2009, the Chicago Young Republicans (the CYR) held one of their monthly happy hours. It was a typical night of drinking, networking, and talking politics. When Jeremy Rose, then president of the CYR, woke up the next morning, he thought his biggest problem was the hangover he had from the night before. He didn't know it yet, but the events of the night before would eventually lead to the destruction of his reputation, the end of his political aspirations, and would lead some to call him a "sexual predator."

That night, he and a few others all went back to his place. According to a complaint by an unidentified woman, on the walk home, Rose attempted to put his arm around her and made other sexual advances that made her uncomfortable. Back at his place, Rose continued with more touchy feely behavior that made her even more uncomfortable, and she attempted to leave. Rose attempted to prevent her from leaving, first by taking her cell phone away when she tried to call a cab, then by sitting on her lap when she attempted to leave. Finally, another woman present grabbed her and the two left together.

Nearly two weeks later, the victim sent a formal email of complaint to the head of the Illinois Young Republicans. Rick Veenstra, a high ranking member of the Illinois Young Republicans and an attorney, investigated the matter, contacting the victim as well as Rose. Rose eventually apologized to the victim and the CYR implemented stiffer rules on sexual harassment. Furthermore, Veenstra's report was filed with the CYR where it remains. The victim left the state to take a job and considered the investigation satisfied. All involved assumed the matter was closed with Veenstra's report.

In fact it was, until a special meeting of the Cook County Republican Party apparatus, including its 80 ward committeemen, on June 28, 2010. The meeting was supposed to be about the communication, or lack thereof, between Cook County Republican Chair Lee Roupas and the chair of the Chicago Republican Party, Eloise Gerson. Instead, Gerson used the occasion to accuse Rose of being a sexual predator, to demand his resignation as executive director of the Cook County Republican Party, and to accuse Roupas of ginning up what she characterized as nonexistent problems in an attempt to sweep Rose's actions a year prior under the rug.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (9)

Republicans Fri Apr 16 2010

Chicagoland Tea Party Profile

Local blogger Carl Nyberg attended a Tea Party rally and wrote up some profiles of the folks there.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

Immigration Sun Apr 11 2010

Democrats Target Immigration Reform - How Far Will They Go?

Immigration rally

Immigration activists wave American flags at a recent rally.

Immigration rights activists held a large rally Saturday at the Teamsters Local 705 hall in Chicago. Activists were calling on Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform, and hoped that with the health care bill passed, that immigration reform would be next on the Democrats agenda in Washington. The loud and raucous crowd had immigrants from all over the world including South America, Asian, Africa and Europe.

It seems that immigration will be the next big issue for Democrats. The rally was joined by Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate majority whip and the second most powerful senator in the country. While one speaker urged Congress to ignore "cynics like Rahm Emanual who say that now is not the time for immigration reform," it seems as though they may not have to as Emanual is now stating that he supports taking action on immigration reform sooner rather than later.

Continue reading this entry »

Matt Muchowski / Comments (9)

Republicans Thu Mar 11 2010

IL GOP Attempting to Form Patronage Army?

I stumbled across this website, a few days ago, and was pretty stunned.

Republicans often criticize Illinois Democrats for running a patronage army of loyal state employees. However this website is encouraging loyal republicans to be given state jobs as well.

Of course new administrations are able to appoint people to implement their vision for the state, to implement the policies that they campaigned on and were elected to enact. What is odd about this website is its tone, a confidence that the GOP will win Springfield back, and a gleeful lust for 6 figure jobs. In particular the site exhibits a tendency towards the corrupt and a disdain for "the awshucks-we're-sorry-for-having-principles-types."

When you click on the Jobs List, it lists different state departments that the Governor is able to appoint heads of. What is disturbing is the partisan descriptions for the jobs. Is the head of the Historic Preservation Society a partisan position?

The site implies that Republicans would only be interested in jobs enforcing Human Rights because, "Check out the pay scale here!"

It describes Homeland Security as "the new patronage place to be." A scary thought that our security and safety be entrusted to partisan hacks instead of trained and specialized experts.

It describes positions on the Illinois Gaming Board as though it were a casino, "Great spot to meet people and make money, come to work every once and a while, too!"

In what should be a scary comment to organized labor, the site claims that the GOP will, "rebuild [the Department of Labor] and remake it so that it is more efficient. Get on board and help."

The site is run by a woman named Jenifer Sims. It is unclear if she has any connections to the Brady campaign, the state GOP, or if she is just a crank writer. Attempts to gain quotes from the Brady for Governor campaign and the Tea Party Patriots were made. Neither gave any quotes.

Matt Muchowski

Democrats Mon Mar 01 2010

Why I am More Powerful than the Next Lt. Governor

Because, for one thing, the lieutenant governor in Illinois has virtually no power outside waiting for the governor to be in a position not to be governor anymore.

The Lieutenant Governor shall perform the duties and exercise the powers in the Executive Branch that may be delegated to him by the Governor and that may be prescribed by law.

That's it in terms of explicit duties.

So how do I have more power than the Lt. Governor?

In the Democratic party, the voters elect the folks who will serve as state central committeemen and committeewomen (the elect one of each gender from each congressional district). These are the folks who will decide who is going to replace Scott Lee Cohen as the Lt. Governor candidate.

On the Republican side, however, the central committee members are elected using a weighted vote of the elected precinct committeemen within the congressional district based off of the number of Republican ballots cast in the last primary in that precinct. So therefore I have about 50 votes to decide who will be elected one of these committeemen. This is the same group that decided that Alan Keyes for Senate was a good idea...

There is a move afoot to change the process on the Republican side (SB 500), but for now it is what it is.

So thanks to the rules of the Republican party, I have more power than the Lieutenant Governor.


Republicans Tue Feb 02 2010

Well That's...Unexpected

How often does a Polish president endorse a gubernatorial candidate? At least once apparently:

On Friday, former Polish president Lech Walesa endorsed Andrzejewski, claiming that Andrzejewski's outsider campaign was similar to the Solidarity Movement Walesa is known for. In a state with a large Polish population, conservatives have said the Walesa backing carries a lot of weight.

Daniel Strauss

IL-GOV Thu Jan 14 2010

The Always Entertaining Dan Proft

As I've said before, I like Dan Proft. He's entertaining and sincere, even if he is essentially a bundle of right-wing talking points and crackpot ideology. When he quoted Steve Martin's line from The Jerk: "I, too, was born a poor, black child", it was to mock his opponents for phony, exaggerated "I know poor people too" tales. The thing about Steve Martin's line was that in that movie he was born to hardship in a black family. He wasn't being insincere to score points. Proft just made the typical lazy connection between being black and living a hard scrabble life: (go to exactly 4'20". Dude.)

But Proft scores points with me for sending this out in an email to his email list:

As you may have figured out, I was in fact not born a poor, black child. The point of my comment was to highlight the inanity of these faux Horatio Alger stories my opponents tell of how they grew up as penniless street urchins in one-horse towns and beat the odds to become somebody. It is patronizing pabulum.

Every single one of us, me included, has lived a charmed life.

Even more to the point, the future of our party and our state will turn on the policy choices we make not the socioeconomic backgrounds of the policy-makers.

Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter had very similar socioeconomic backgrounds and much different policy ideas; the same is true of Jay Rockefeller and Steve Forbes on the other end of the spectrum.

Proft is absolutely right. Friedrich Engels was a rich kid. Mussolini was working class. Ideas and plans are what matter. Identity and narrative politics have infested our civic discourse to the point that people often vote with or against somebody even if they agree with them on practically all policy matters just because of how they make them "feel". You can say it's just human nature, but it is intensified by how the media covers politics.

What Proft wouldn't be ready to concede of course is that this has benefited conservatives more than the Left since the era of Nixon. The white working class and the black and Latino working class have shared interests that have been set against each other by generations of conservative demagogues--the kind of political language that associates poverty with being "a minority", when the typical poor person in America is a white woman. And of course, no single person has benefited more greatly from identity politics than poor crucified Sarah Palin.

Proft's refusal to join the play-pretend game is really refreshing. Too bad it's in service of a play-pretend ideology that is as thoroughly discredited as any comprehensive utopian jibberish. Ironically, it is Dan' belief in the magical, mystical power of the Free Market Unicorn that grounds his political rhetoric so firmly in reality.

(And, by the way, Dan still has not answered my question.)

Ramsin Canon

Republicans Mon Dec 21 2009

GOP seeking out candidate against Mike Madigan

If you've read American Pharoah, a biography of the late great Mayor Richard J. Daley, there were tales of the machine running a paper Republican against a Democrat. Not saying that's the case here, but that's what this story reminded me of:

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the Illinois GOP has launched a public hunt for one Patrick John Ryan, who has filed as a Republican to run against Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan next year.

In a press release Monday entitled "Has anyone seen Patrick John Ryan?" the GOP notes that though Mr. Ryan filed as a Republican, he lives in Mr. Madigan's home 13th Ward and pulled a Democratic ballot in the past three primary elections.

Yet, the release adds, Mr. Ryan "is now a Republican who believes in less government, lower taxes, true ethics reform and the need to end business as usual" in Illinois.

Given all of that, "Will Patrick John Ryan call (312) 201-9000 to discuss this historic opportunity?" the GOP asks. "We look forward to providing him the necessary support to win this election."

I saw that very press release in my e-mail this morning. It was just the most unusual thing I have ever seen.

Could this mean that the state Republican Party might out anyone who just so happen to run against powerful Democrats who aren't running very serious campaigns?


Federal Government Tue Nov 17 2009

How Much Is Your Congressman Worth...

Well, it can vary by quite a bit within Illinois. Let's look at the top and the bottom of the list.

Bill Foster from Batavia is worth someplace between $6.6 and $28.8 Million. Foster was quoted in the Beacon News as saying "he'd prefer the reports offer more specifics to give a clearer picture of net worth. 'I'd be perfectly happy if they gave more detail,' he said."

Nothing is preventing you from doing that Congressman....

Then at the other end....

Bobby Rush, who lists no assets or liabilities and lists a net worth of $0.

Perhaps he should get some tips from Bill Foster. But seriously, should we be concerned that the Congressman lists no assets?


State Politics Mon Oct 19 2009

VIDEO: Bob on more spending

This video from the Bob Schillerstrom for Governor campaign is straightforward. It makes it plain that he wants the state to stop spending. I just found this to be the goofiest video ever. Could you imagine SNL writing a skit like this?

Well of course I can be wrong on this. What do you think of this vid? Is it effective or might you find it to be goofy?

Levois / Comments (1)

State Politics Fri Sep 04 2009


I like Dan Proft. I mean, I disagree with practically every single one of his dearly held beliefs, find his analysis of political events cleaved to a broken ideology, and probably hate whatever is his favorite food. But, he definitely believes what he believes and doesn't hide it.

He used to address his campaign emails, "Dear Unapologetic Conservatives." More recently, his emails have read, "Dear Conservatives, Republicans, and Independents Looking For Reform." Proft is an opinionated guy who has had an extremely entertaining on-going feud with boyish Tribune columnist Eric Zorn (it involves the phrase "put-down books for first graders"). He also is not particularly fond of Carol Marin. Please watch the below video (h/t Josh).

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

Republicans Fri Aug 07 2009

I Don't Think That's Why the GOP Opposes Cash for Clunkers

I have to admit, I don't pay nearly as close attention to national politics as I probably should. The reason for that is because national politics are boring, and for the most part feel like a play-pretend game where very little changes after enormous energy and resources have been poured into pretending they are going to change. But that's just me (actually, it's not just me, it's also the tens of millions of Americans who have dropped out of civic participation, but that's besides the point. Wait, that's the whole point.) Whew! That might be a new record for digressions.

Anyway, when I read things like what's below, I despair a bit. I'm as opposed to conservatism as anybody you'll meet. It's reactionary, deceptive in practice, and defends the status quo against change. I hate conservatism. I tend to be more forgiving to conservatives, and, for the most part, I do believe that most conservatives actually believe the things they say--or at least, they convince themselves of these things. Impugning one another's motives is as old as politics, but has become particularly pernicious since the advent of identity politics in the 1970s, when who you were and what you felt became a political matter.

I ask you, neighbors, will we make progress when we make claims like:

GOP Wants Cash for Clunkers to Fail Because It's Helping Mainstreet America Economically. But It's Too Late.

Mark Karlin is a friend of Mechanics, but, come on. I don't think this is why the GOP hates Cash for Clunkers. I think that if this had been a Bush program they'd be crowing about how successful it's been and how it's been a great boon to automakers and whatever, and, sure, I think there's some intellectual dishonesty in their arguments. But I don't believe that Republicans want it to fail because it's helping America economically. I think they actually believe it isn't helping American economically. I don't know if that belief is right--probably it isn't--but that probably is what they honestly believe.

Mark goes on:

Reason number 5 is that the "cash for clunkers" program is so popular with Mainstreet Americans that it makes them feel more positive about the national government. My God, it's kind of like a tax break, but coming from the Democrats, but it benefits middle Americans, not just the tiny percentage of super wealthy, and it boosts the economy by increasing production -- not by just tossing 2 trillion dollars into the Wall Street gambling casino that only produces embossed paper shares that have little anchoring real value and gambling debts from the likes of derivatives.

I'd be more sympathetic to this if the national Democrats ever had the nerve to come out and make the argument that the government is good themselves. But they rarely do, and even when they do, they qualify it so much that it is essentially meaningless. They pretend like tiny tax cuts to the middle class are the solution to every problem, thus reinforcing the idea that taxes are necessarily bad. Also, while TARP was a Bush program, President Obama hasn't exactly been the scourge of Wall Street, has he? CoughHamilton ProjectCough.

There are plenty of GOP operatives and high ranking corporatists who collaborate with that leadership to create narratives that, in their heart of hearts, they don't actually believe. I got bad news for you Democratic activists out there: you've got them, too. In fact, some of them work for the President. Many of them are in Congress, or work as Committee staff. There's no doubt in my mind that the Democratic Party is a party that prefers progress and social mobility and is at least mildly hostile to the status quo; but it's frustrating to constantly fight for symbolic victories at the margins.

I have to believe that disarmament will be more effective than this constant narrative arms race that makes our political battles into viscerally hateful death struggles where we claim to know what's in each other's souls.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (27)

Republicans Thu Jul 09 2009

Kirk Enters Senate Race; Can He Survive Primary?

Poor Mark Kirk (R-IL10). Conservatives aren't crazy about him, considering a defector on cap-and-trade and coloring him as a Democrat-lite--or worse, a "coward". But Democrats aren't exactly fond of him, as Progress Illinois argues, he's "no moderate". So which is it?

The open primary system makes the life of a moderate difficult, if not impossible. And given that Illinois' Republican Party has shrunk, particularly in the interior Chicagoland suburbs, it means that the more ideologically committed Republicans--the more conservative ones--are disproportionately (to the population) represented in the primary electorate. That's not necessarily bad; a primary isn't meant to get the temperature of the population, it's meant to get the temperature of the party. If the party's temperature is further right (or left) than that of the population, so be it. On the one hand, Kirk would probably be Republicans' best shot at taking the Senate seat; Kirk has a good reputation in his district for constituent services, and while he's no progressive he's no reactionary and probably in line ideologically with lots of Illinoisans. On the other hand, he would be instantly alienated by his party's conservative activist base, particularly the strong abortion activist organizations in the collar counties and central and downstate Illinois county organizations that may not be willing to ignore his carbon cap'n trade cap-and-trade vote and friendly posture to GLBT issues.

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Ramsin Canon / Comments (8)

Illinois Wed Jun 17 2009

Legislators Need to Move Beyond Denial

The state of the Illinois budget continues to be at the first stage of grief, denial. What we are denying is that some form of tax increase is inevitable.

What Illinois has, and would have no matter who is governor, is this: (1) a structural deficit, because our current tax structure just doesn't generate enough to fund the total state budgets and pension obligations at the rate we spend; (2) years of avoiding this through creative accounting such as fund sweeps and, in effect, using the pension funds as a credit card; (3) an overall tax system that is regressive, and arguably one of the more regressive in the nation; and (4) a huge revenue shortfall due to the recessionary economy, which has dramatically lowered revenues from income, from sales, and from the transfer of real estate. This last is what tipped the deeply troubling into the truly alarming.

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Jeff Smith / Comments (4)

State Politics Fri May 29 2009

What's Not to Like About the "Phony Reform" Bill

It appears that at least for today the Illinois House has not acted on HB0007, the shell bill being used to carry the key campaign finance reform provisions of the ethics package. Because hardly anyone in Chicago has actually seen what is being debated and reported on, I have included here in several places the link to the actual bill.

I traded e-mails with my state rep, Julie Hamos, today, trying to keep up on what's going down, and advised that I'd probably vote against the bill if I was there, if it was a pure up-or-down. Often, any progress is better than none, but if Cindy Canary says a bill is "phony reform," I'd be pretty reluctant to give it my stamp of approval, because Ms. Canary lives and breathes the real thing, rip-snortin', no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-it-is passion for The Change We Need around here. And sometimes a half-measure is not half a loaf, it acts as a block to real reform, sometimes while making matters even worse.

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Jeff Smith

Democrats Thu May 14 2009

If I were James Meeks

Here is the first speech I would give after announcing that I was going to run for governor:

I am a man of faith, I am the pastor of a large church in Chicago, a large Christian church. I know however there are people of faith who do not support my canidicy because of my views on some social issues.

I want to take this opportunity to reach out to them and point out how the faith we share can point us in a new direction as a state...

I am reminded of the word of the profit Ezekiel 16:49

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy"

-- Nothing there about the sins we more commonly associate with Sodom, but "she did not help the poor and needy", the same sin this state has been guilty of for to far long....

We have children in this state who are underfed, undereducated because of the neighborhood they were born in. We fail these children as a state and perhaps more importantly as Christians. I call on all of you to work with me to solve this problem. Christ spoke much more about how we treat the least among us than and of the issues that divide us.

You may feel uncomfortable with my stands on other issues, too comfortable to support or vote for me, fine I can accept that.

But what I can not accept as a Christian and as a leader in this state is a desire to ignore these issues and do nothing. That is why I decided to run for Governor as an independent, not to attract voters because of party labels but to attract voters who agree that something needs to be done. That the status quo can not be maintained, that we need to act as a state more like the Samaritan and less like the Pharisee.

Don't know if he is going to run for governor, but if he does, I would toss the gauntlet down and toss it hard.


Republicans Thu Jan 29 2009

Sen. Frank Watson Classes Up the Joint

Most affecting and sincere words of the day from senior Senate Republican Frank Watson (Greenville).

Ramsin Canon

State Politics Sun Jan 11 2009

So Who Do We Run?

As a Republican I have been thinking a bit about what our ideal candidate would look like and I have to admit I am of two very different minds.

Option One:

A statewide known entity, ideally a pro-choice woman: Judy Baar Topinka.

Yes, I think Judy Baar Topinka might be an answer. Yes, I understand that she would face a real primary battle but that being said I think this state may have a bit of 'buyers remorse' when it comes to Judy thanks to Rod, something we might be able to take advantage of.

Yes, a portion of the Republican party thinks Judy is the 3rd horseman of the RINO apocalypse. Yes, I wish she would be a better campaigner, but we don't have a host of other options.

Option Two:

A wealthy unknown or known who has been vetted in some way shape and form to avoid a Jack Ryan, Blair Hull surprise.

If you assume that Burris is going to be seated (and at this point I think it is going to happen) then you would assume that he is going to run for a full term. With Bobby Rush's recent statements it would be hard for a mainstream Democrat to challenge him when it comes time for the full term. Burris may face a primary challenge, but it will be a B-lister at best.

If we got a wealthy unknown, they could self fund and could use that as a tool against Burris in the general election.

Burris is going to face some fund raising challenges and could end up being in the unusual situation of being a sitting senator at a significant financial disadvantage. Who will have the 'taint' of political fund raising in this state.

We can have a candidate who would could say I will not take more than $150 from anyone running against someone who owes significant money to folks from previous state races.

I think a fresh face would be a good idea but if not I wonder what Jack Ryan is up to these days?

OneMan / Comments (2)

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Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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