It’s been real, but now it’s time to relax. Have a great holiday week and I’ll see you sometime after New Year’s.
Before I go, I want to thank you for everything this year. All of you, from subscribers, to commenters, to readers and advertisers. Have a great break one and all!
If you need someplace to go to satisfy any holiday urge to converse, I’d suggest Illinoize:
*** UPDATE *** My last Sun-Times column of the year, “Pundits lose grip on reality when dealing with the Internet,” is here.
What is it about the Internet that makes some political pundits, columnists and reporters so goofy? It seems like almost every time I read a mainstream media story about political Web sites and bloggers, the pieces are full of ill-informed junk.
(By the way, many thanks to the blog My Left Nutmeg for the kind words about the piece.)
* I just heard from a respected Chicago reporter who said he, too, is having difficulty getting responses from Barack Obama’s press staff.
That’s not a good idea for many, many reasons.
* Meanwhile, Lynn Sweet has an interesting blog post today, “The Obama backlash. It’s started.”
While Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is vacationing in Hawaii–might be the last quiet time for years, poised as he is for a 2008 White House run– a body of anti-Obama material is surfacing–centering around his record and his religious beliefs and yes, his middle name, Hussein. It’s a backlash–and a foreshadowing of what is to come.
* I excerpted some bits from Carol Marin’s piece below, but here’s another one.
Like most politicians, Obama was not averse to bringing home the bacon. According to published reports, Obama secured $100,000 in Illinois FIRST funds from then-Gov. George Ryan. The money went to the Museum of Science and Industry for an exhibit on the concept of time.
So, we got Barack and Rezko and Barack and Ryan. Since he didn’t speak up during the fall campaign, we got Barack and Blagojevich. And he just got Mayor Daley’s endorsement. Not to mention Alexi.
Obama’s position on the Iraq war was pretty much summed up by his comment, cited at Alex Cockburn’s Counterpunch, as follows:
“On Iraq, on paper, there’s not as much difference, I think, between the Bush administration and a Kerry administration as there would have been a year ago. There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who’s in a position to execute.”
* And then there are the wingnut oddballs who somehow manage to retain their mainstream media credentials, yet write utterly ridiculous claptrap.
So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father’s heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?
Is that even the man we’d want to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency, if Hillary Clinton offers him the Vice Presidential candidacy on her ticket (which he certainly wouldn’t turn down)?
We know this situation all too well, but the AP has a story about Chicago nepotism today.
Chicago politics seems to practice the royal form of succession.
“It’s our political culture,” said University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson. […]
Politics as the family business doesn’t just happen in Chicago. On the national scene there are the Kennedys and the Bushes. Tennessee has the Fords, Indiana the Bayhs, and Minnesota the Humphreys.
Simpson said the practice of appointing relatives to political posts can deny the voters their right to choose the best candidate.
Names are like brands, so voters see, for instance, “Lipinski” on the ballot and they go with the brand they’ve trusted for years. I really don’t see much of a way to stop this until the people catch on. Suggestions?
* NBC5: In what he called one of the toughest votes — and one that could become a presidential issue — Obama voted against a bill allowing gun owners to claim self-defense when using their own gun in their own home. He said he worried it would take away local governments’ right to regulate themselves.
The State Journal-Register’s online comment section has been a joke for quite a while. They’ve allowed way too many cranks and morons to post and now the place is way out of hand. In frustration, the online editor has announced a stand-down day.
…So, in celebration of the holiday spirit, here’s the plan: For one day — Wednesday — sj-r.com will host the first-ever “Peace and Goodwill Reader Comments Day.”
From 7 a.m. Wednesday through 7 a.m. Thursday, the only comments that will make it onto the site will be ones that follow that old saying from mom: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
That means no being critical, cynical, sarcastic, whiney or otherwise Scrooge-ish. We’ll still allow some debate on the issues, but you’re going to need to be really, really nice to each other. As always, the decisions of our screeners will be final.
Depending on how this goes, we may host more of these “Peace and Goodwill” comment days throughout the year. I’d be happy to hear your feedback — as long as you’re nice about it.
Question 1: Since they didn’t open comments on the declaration, I’ll let people comment here. What do you think of this idea?
Question 2: We’ve managed to run off most of the really strange ducks from our blog, but we still get pretty intense in debates. So, would you like to see a similar one-day event like this here?
…Let’s add another one.
Question 3: Should I delete more of the aggressive-type comments?
Rep. Paul Froehlich’s item about the future of the Republican Party set off quite a debate here yesterday. Today, the Green Party responds.
Rep. Paul Froehlich in Tuesday’s commentary piece, “Map to the future of the Illinois GOP” (Dec. 19) rightly calls for the Illinois Republican Party to focus more on issues of justice and equality. However, when he refers to these ideals in terms of attracting the increasing minority vote, I suspect he is talking more about a branding initiative than adopting deeply held values. And that I find disturbing.
Justice is not something that can be merely portioned out to a target audience of desirable voters, such as the Latinos or African Americans. Justice and equality are deserved by everyone, regardless of who they vote for or if they vote at all. This includes equal marriage, equal wages, access to health care for everyone, and fairness in education funding. It also means each person having a voice in our political system that is not drowned out by wealthy corporate interests.
Rep. Froehlich, justice and equality begin not with a party, but with an individual. And you can demonstrate your commitment to these ideals by throwing your weight behind bills like HB 750, which would reform education funding, and personally refusing corporate campaign contributions.
Fortunately, Froehlich and others needn’t wait for the Illinois GOP or the Democrats to change their ways. The Illinois Green Party, which was created because the two major parties had largely abandoned their commitments to social justice and equality, earned enough votes in the last election to automatically be placed on the ballot in 2008. So many Illinoisans WILL have the opportunity to vote for candidates committed to these values running under Green Party banner.
JBT was appointed to the RTA board yesterday. I like this quote.
â€œIt is a step up,â€ maintained Topinka after Cook County suburban commissioners voted her into a spot on the Regional Transportation Authority. â€œTransportation is no step down. It is what drives this economy.â€
“I sat on the Senate Transportation Committee for many years,” Topinka said in a brief interview. “I think it’s a very interesting appointment.”
Topinka has had a long friendship with former Rep. Bill Lipinski (D-Ill.), who headed the House Transportation Committee and who ensured funding for several area mass-transportation projects, including the CTA’s Orange Line to Midway Airport. Lipinski now serves as a transportation lobbyist.
Topinka said it was too early to say how her appointment would affect efforts to make the RTA more Chicago-focused in relation to suburban transportation needs.
“I’m just really new at this and I’m going to look at this all over,” she said.
As a former legislator, Ms. Topinka â€œhas knowledge of state government that will be helpfulâ€ as lawmakers consider plans to boost RTA funding, said County Commissioner Tony Peraica, one of those who voted to select her for the post. â€œI wanted someone who would be more actively engaged. I think Judy will be,â€ Mr. Peraica said.
Meanwhile, Gary Skoien and David Harris are vying for a seat on the Metra board.
Mayor Daley, up for re-election in a few months and doing all he can to lock up as big a majority as possible, jumps into the Obamarama fray.
Mayor Daley has decided to abandon his long-standing tradition of remaining neutral in Democratic primaries and endorse Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential race, City Hall sources said Tuesday.
“Here you have not only an Illinoisan, but a Chicagoan who is a major contender for the highest office in the land. . . . When in our history have we ever had a favorite son this close to [the White House]? Why not get on board early?” said a Daley confidant, who asked to remain unnamed. “Hillary Clinton has been a great senator, a wonderful civic leader. But logic dictates that a Chicago mayor would be behind the Chicagoan who has taken the world by storm. Beyond that, this man has tremendous potential. The world sees that. It stands to reason that the mayor sees it.” […]
As Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported this week, Bill Daley has signed on as a senior adviser to Obama, who is expected to formally enter the presidential race next month.
Sources said the mayor’s decision to embrace Obama was made before his brother reserved a seat on the senator’s bandwagon. The mayor and Obama have been meeting about the subject for months, huddling for 2Â½ hours at City Hall as recently as last week.
No word yet on whether Senator Obama will be endorsing Daley.
Meanwhile, Obama’s sister says a decision will be made soon.
Sen. Barack Obama will decide this week in Hawaii if he’ll seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, his sister said Tuesday.
“He’s going to make his decision here and announce it to us. Then he’s probably going to officially announce his decision once he returns,” Maya Soetoro told The Associated Press.