* My Sun-Times column makes it clear that I’m sick of the stupid…
Maybe I’m just stupid, but I find it hard to get too excited about what passes for public discourse these days.
For instance, I probably have more reasons to hate Muslims than just about anyone I know. My wife’s Christian family was literally run out of Iraq by Muslim terrorists. Their house was bombed three times, and a gang of Muslim thugs threatened to take my wife’s brother hostage and make him a martyr by strapping a bomb to his chest.
But I don’t care at all about the Islamic center that some group wants to build two blocks from Ground Zero in New York, partly because I know all too well how the First Amendment was designed to protect unpopular speech and unpopular religions from the majority.
If you want to debate a zoning issue 800 miles away, go right ahead, but you also have to realize that you can’t legally stop it, so turn down the crazy knob, please. This looks more like a pogrom than a debate.
The only gun I’ve ever owned was an old, broken pistol given to me by a relative. I don’t know what happened to it, and I don’t want another one. But Gov. Quinn’s new TV ad blasting his Republican opponent, state Sen. Bill Brady for being soft on an assault weapons ban doesn’t particularly move me.
Maybe that’s because I live in a very safe neighborhood. Maybe it’s because I don’t easily succumb to fear tactics. Maybe it’s because I know gangsters’ weapons of choice are cheap, easily concealed and disposable pistols, which were banned in Chicago for years. Maybe it’s because the ad isn’t particularly well made.
Or maybe it’s because I noticed that two of the three Brady votes cited by Quinn’s TV ad took place in the 1990s. The Democrats have been bludgeoning the Republicans with this subject for decades. Tired, old subjects rarely strike fear into my heart.
My political newsletter is still doing well despite the Great Recession. But I am borderline enraged that unemployment is so high and nobody at any level of government seems to be talking about what to do.
Unlike some of my other positions, I think I’m with “the people” on this one. A recent Rasmussen poll showed that 87 percent of Illinoisans know someone who is unemployed or looking for work. And a solid majority of 55 percent named “economic issues” as their No. 1 priority for choosing a candidate.
Instead, the media want to spend their time yakking about that Islamic center, and Quinn is spending a half-million dollars on that assault weapons ad.
And then there’s Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, who has spent a fortune this summer railing against “mob banker” Alexi Giannoulias.
Giannoulias, on the other hand, has talked about jobs since he kicked off his campaign last year. That issue has kept him in this race, despite all of his obvious problems. You’d think other candidates and pundits would learn from Giannoulias’ survival miracle. They haven’t.
It’s as if nobody even noticed that 500,000 people applied for new unemployment benefits last week alone. People are scared to death out there, and they are completely justified. But I’m thoroughly disgusted that the powers that be are channeling legitimate anger into useless “debates” over stupid “issues” rather than addressing the real problems head-on.
Dishonesty and incompetence must be exposed. The role of government absolutely needs to be debated. I don’t expect or want a one-note campaign here.
But we are in desperate need of ideas about this economy and I’m more than willing to listen if the candidates and the media would simply engage.
Rasmussen’s latest poll has Giannoulias leading Kirk by 17 points among those who put economic issues at the top of their list of things they’re looking for in a candidate.
* 1 in 10 Illinois mortgage holders missed payments: The Mortgage Bankers Association, in their second quarter delinquency report, also found that the percentage of home loans in Illinois that were in foreclosure rose to 6.02 percent in the second quarter, from 5.85 percent in the year’s first quarter.
* Unemployment increases in 8 Illinois metro areas
* Alton jobless rates reaches 13 percent
* Unemployment rate remains above 10 percent in metro-east
* Unemployment ticks upward in Springfield area
* Jobless rate highest for July in McLean Co. since ‘76
* July’s unemployment rate in Boone and Winnebago counties jumped to 15.7 percent, or 27,895 people, according to data released today by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. That’s up 0.9 percentage points from June, but down 0.3 percentage points from a year ago.
* Unemployment rates in West-Central Illinois increase second straight month
* Decatur area finally gets some good news in lower unemployment rate: It was 12.4 percent in July, according to Illinois Department of Employment Security statistics released Thursday.
* The unemployment rate for the five-county Peoria metropolitan area was 10.5 percent in July, up slightly from 10.3 percent in June, but down considerably from 12.8 percent in July 2009.
* Q-C jobless rate remains at 8.4%
* Jobless rate rises in Champaign-Urbana, Danville areas: The Champaign-Urbana metro area – which includes Champaign, Ford and Piatt counties – had a 9.8 percent unemployment rate in July, up from 9 percent a year ago. The Danville metro area – which consists of Vermilion County – had a 12.4 percent rate, up from 11.8 percent a year ago.
* Unemployment declines in some cities but not Illinois Valley: Unemployment increased to 12.7 percent in July 2010 from 11.6 percent the previous July in the Ottawa-Streator Area, according to IDES. Job declines occurred in the sectors of manufacturing (minus 650) and leisure-hospitality (-325). In Bureau County, the increase in the unemployment rate was from 10.2 percent to 11.2 percent. In La Salle County, unemployment was at 13.3 percent in July 2010, compared to 11.9 the previous July.
* Birth Rates Fall Amid Economic Uncertainty: Recent data indicate that Illinois’ birth rate is at its lowest level since the Great Depression, with similar trends appearing in California and Arizona.
* Taxpayers Subsidize Low-Paid Warehouse Jobs
* Cost of Filing for Bankruptcy Increased Substantially
* Brady, Quinn launch dueling TV ads in governor’s race
* Sen. Scott Brown headlines fund-raisers for Mark Kirk’s Senate campaign
* Brown in Illinois to raise Senate money for Kirk
* Senate hopefuls agree on transit needs, disagree on funding