Friday, November 19, 2010

Why be a Libertarian?

To my mind it's hardly a question.  Once I learned the difference between Right and Left, and Democrat and Republican, the realization that I was neither, but was libertarian, was instant.  However to most, the decision remains a choice between one side or the other, attempting to fit themselves into one mold or the other.  In this fantastic video, David Boaz of the Cato Institute explains Liberals, explains Conservatives, and further explains how libertarianism is the root of our country's history.  Enjoy the video, and then ask yourself a question.  Don't ask yourself "why be a libertarian?"  Rather, ask yourself, "why be anything but?"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

So You Want to be an Architect?

A little personal enjoyment on this one since I got out of Architecture early on in my college career in favor of Engineering and eventually Construction Management.  I love being a contractor instead of being on the design side, and this pretty much explains it all.

Combine this video with the Quantitative Easing video I posted yesterday, and Xtranormal is quickly becoming a must-visit website!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quantitative Easing for Dummies

The Fed's printing press, explained by a cartoon.  Awesome.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tom Ricketts Thinks You're a Moron

Over the course of the last year, Tom Ricketts purchased the Chicago Cubs.  He's put about $10 million into stadium renovations so far, primarily to the bathrooms, which he made a pretty big deal about being very proud of.

Now the other shoe is dropping, as Ricketts is asking the State of Illinois, which, if you haven't noticed yet, is broker than some whole countries, for $200 million to make further renovations.  He would like to pitch this to the public to have us believe that it's a zero-sum game:
The family’s plan calls for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns U.S. Cellular Field, to float up to $300 million in bonds. The bonds will be paid over 35 years through amusement taxes that Wrigley Field customers already pay.
In 2009, the Cubs paid $16.1 million in amusement taxes to the City of Chicago and Cook County through the 12 percent levy on each ticket, the team said. The city and county will be guaranteed this amount for the duration of the bonds. Growth in amusement taxes beyond $16.1 million — through increased ticket sales or prices –  will be redirected to pay the bonds. The family says the incremental growth in the tax will cover the bonds.
Since the State doesn't have any money, the State needs to borrow the money, which it will then give to Ricketts.  Ricketts will then repay the money over the course of 35 years.  The problem is that this is most definitely not a zero-sum game.  First of all, the State is collecting $16.1 million a year from the entertainment tax.  This is revenue.  If this $16.1 million is redirected each year to pay off outstanding loans, that is a net loss per year of $16.1 million in revenue to the State.  With a $15 billion deficit, the State can ill afford any losses in current revenue.
Beyond the fact that Ricketts' plan would further aid in bankrupting the State, he's thumbing his nose at the State, and all of its citizens.
To deflect criticism, the family said it will spend about $200 million of its own money to redevelop land around Wrigley Field, which will create jobs and future sales taxes.
Ricketts did not provide specifics Thursday about the development plans outside Wrigley.
Yes, you caught that right.  Tom Ricketts wants the State of Illinois to foot the bill for HIS stadium, so he can turn around and spend his own $200 million buying up and renovating the surrounding properties, putting more money in his own pockets.

I have been a Cubs fan since I was eight years old.  I was excited when a lifelong Cubs fan bought the team away from the Tribune company.  Finally, it looked like we'd have someone that cared about putting a winner on the field, instead of making money off the history of the stadium.  While Tribune might not have cared much about putting a winning team out there, they never went so far as to tell the fans they were mongoloids.

Tom Ricketts just did.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dick Van Dyke Rescued by Porpoises

The point to take away from this story is not that porpoises forged an incredible and instantaneous bond with a human, and saved his life.  The point is, obviously, that old people can fall asleep ANYWHERE.
On screen, Dick Van Dyke has been rescued from untimely death by flying cars and magical nannies. Off screen, the veteran star of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins had to rely on the help of a pod of porpoises after apparently dozing off aboard his surfboard. "I'm not kidding," he said afterwards.
Van Dyke's ordeal began during an ill-fated trip to his local beach. "I woke up out of sight of land," the 84-year-old actor told reporters. "I started paddling with the swells and I started seeing fins swimming around me and I thought 'I'm dead!'"
Van Dyke was wrong. "They turned out to be porpoises," he said. "And they pushed me all the way to shore." The porpoises were unavailable for comment.
Damn ultra-private sea animals.

Gimme a Carton of Low Birthweights

The FDA has announced that they are going to require visual imagery on cigarette packaging to represent the dangers of smoking.  The thought is that putting graphic images on the packaging will further dissuade people from wanting to buy the product.  I'm immediately reminded of late Bill Hicks' priceless rant on smoking, particularly about the warning labels.
You can imagine how thrilled I was...any smoker would find out there's a different warning on each pack.   Mine say "Warning!  Smoking may cause fetal injury or premature birth."
Fuck it.  Found my brand.  Just don't get the ones that say lung cancer, you know, shop around!
It seems to me the FDA just made it that much easier for smokers to find their brand.  Hell, it's going to be even easier now for cigarette companies to market to kids with this.  You don't even have to be able to read anymore to be able to pick the packs that suit you best.  I'll bet these even become collectors items, a la the garbage pail kids.  Let's take a look at which ones might suit your kids the best.


What child doesn't love a good puppet show?  Look kids, if you like puppets, you'll love these cigarettes!  Sure they're addictive, but in a fun, Sesame Street kind of way!


This looks vaguely familiar...oh yeah!  Your baby, too, can be this bad-ass...


A friend of mine has a boxed picture frame that is meant to be filled with used wine corks.  Any takers on the challenge?


What better way to encourage kids learn about Zeus and other Greek mythology than to give them lightning bolts to carry around with them everywhere they go?


Kids love bubbles!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rand Paul vs. Elliot Spitzer

The gloves come off and political fists start flying in this interview.  Spitzer is brutally transparent in his attempt to hang Rand on his across the board cuts by singling out specific federal dollars currently funded to Kentucky, as if any politician in the world would answer this a week after being elected.  Remember when all the Left needed to hear was "we're going to go through the budget line-by-line," as if it was some sort of magic elixir pouring forth through the Chosen One's lips?  Now that it's coming from the mouth of a popular libertarian Senator-elect, however, it's not possible to be specific enough.

Rand is patient, but finally levies the blow everyone dreams about near the end.  If this is a sign of things to come, we're in for a hell of an entertaining few years.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Boehner Mans Up

Well it looks today like John Boehner is starting things off by making himself a man of his word, and over the highly important issue of the raising the debt-limit ceiling, at that.

About a month ago I noted that John Boehner, anticipating the Republican wave, and making his own power play of sorts for Speaker of the House, had either stepped in it, or stepped up, in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, where he outlined the following:
I propose today a different approach. Let's do away with the concept of "comprehensive" spending bills. Let's break them up, to encourage scrutiny, and make spending cuts easier. Rather than pairing agencies and departments together, let them come to the House floor individually, to be judged on their own merit. Members shouldn't have to vote for big spending increases at the Labor Department in order to fund Health and Human Services. Members shouldn't have to vote for big increases at the Commerce Department just because they support NASA. Each Department and agency should justify itself each year to the full House and Senate, and be judged on its own.
I said a month ago that he had either really stepped up, or stepped in it, simply because this is a different kind of day and age in politics.  People are awake, their eyes are open, and they are watching everything.  I said then that "Boehner has got to realize that if they don't act on what he laid out, the retribution will be as swift and as forceful as has been the anti-Democrat wave over the past two years."

It looks like, for the immediate future anyway, we can expect him to act as he says, as he has thrown his stones on the chopping block.
The House Republican leader, Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, will give lawmakers a chance for a direct vote on raising the debt limit, spokesman Michael Steel told the Washington Times.
That would be a break with the recent tactic of burying the debt limit increase in parliamentary maneuvers — a way to shield vulnerable lawmakers from having to take the unpopular vote — and would instantly give leverage to those in Congress hoping to impose immediate spending cuts.
Ed Morrissey at the link at HotAir points out that Pelosi has the chance in the lame duck session to take a suicidal position for Democrats and attach a debt ceiling increase to the lame duck budget.  Nevertheless, Boehner has thrown down the gauntlet, and has followed through on what he said he would do, issuing legislation one item at a time, each item to be voted upon on its own merits, rather than forced through by tying unpopular nonsense to other "must pass" items.

It's a good start, and let's hope it continues!

Goolsbee Goes Down

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute takes apart Austan Goolsbee's ludicrous pro-tax increase video from a week or two ago.  As is the norm for these Center for Freedom and Prosperity videos, take the time to pause and backtrack when necessary to keep up with the statistics and studies that back up what Mitchell is talking about.  He's got a lot more than just some dots on a whiteboard, after all.  Enjoy, and pass it along!

Rand Paul Puts Everything on the Table

Rand Paul is the Senator-elect, and the muzzle is off.  On ABC's "This Week," Paul sat down with Christiane Amanpour and put every federal department on the table for budget cuts, and made his intention to introduce a balanced budget amendment crystal clear.  Amanpour tries her Liberal best to hang him on the issue of entitlements, but Rand handles it very well, with the only real common sense explanation of how to handle cuts to Social Security that's been put out there, and balancing it with calls for cuts at the Pentagon.  It's a great look at what Rand's agenda is going to be once he hits the Senate, and it's fantastic to see Amanpour struggling to attack someone with answers to everything. Excellent interview.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hayek vs. Keynes Part Deux

Back in January, released a now famous video of a rap battle between FA Hayek and John Maynard Keynes.  The video, "Fear the Boom and Bust" set the Austrian vs. Keynesian theories on the economy to a brilliant rap battle, and was a great video to boot. is following that release up with another sometime in the near future and a live sneak peak was on display at The Economist Buttonwood Gathering.  Both videos are below, for those of you that may not have seen the first one.  Enjoy!

Fear the Boom and Bust

The Economist Buttonwood Gathering

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

That Damn Rand Paul

I came across this video on a liberal acquaintance's Facebook page.  The clip is of Rand Paul discussing economic interconnectivity in a post-election interview.  My acquaintance's comment was "easy words coming from a middle aged white man with money, power and legacy."  A friend of her's commented that this was a "damning video."  I hope they, and you, will allow me to explain why there is nothing damning about this at all.

First of all, even from a Liberal's standpoint, I'm not understanding how it's damning that he doesn't believe taxes should be raised on anybody.  We are in a position economically that raising taxes at any level will, not might, will, hurt the economy.  Beyond that, a discussion on interconnectivity is warranted.

Economically speaking the idea of interconnectivity is more true than untrue.  If interconnectivity has decreased over time it's because the government has gotten in the way of it, becoming the primary source of income for many of the poor, rather than incentivizing them to go to work.  Ideas like interconnectivity are economic arguments of efficiency.  Is it more efficient for a poor or middle class person to receive money for services rendered in the private market, or for the government first to tax the higher income person more, collect that money, then distribute back out to the poor person?

The answer to that question is answered within the question.  Of course it's faster for someone to have a job in the private market where he or she is paid every week.  The problem has become that government programs assume by default that the poor cannot rise on their own within the private market, when in many cases, history bears out that the inefficiency created by said government intervention has made it worse for the poor, rather than better.  The Chicago Housing Authority for instance, segregated black poor into the south and west sides, and cut them off almost entirely from the city's normal flow of economic activity, forcing them eventually to rely on government subsidy.  It was not the intended consequence, but it was the consequence, nonetheless.  Now the CHA is rehousing everyone, and is insisting that their tenants be spread all throughout the city, in order that they be more likely to be within the normal flows of economic activity.  They are requiring interconnectivity and promoting efficiency.

Contrary to what the folks at Kos may believe, Rand Paul does not believe that there are no poor people.  There are poor people.  Always have been, always will be.  His intent is to move us away from thinking in terms of the status quo of class warfare.  His intent is to move us away from thinking in terms that the government is the only entity that can possibly be responsible for aiding the poor.  It's an idea of economic efficiency, and an idea of promoting more self reliance within our culture, generally speaking.  And both of these are good ideas.

Greektown Belongs to Us Now

Not to toot my own horn, but, well....I suppose I can pat myself on the back with this one, since I called it WAAAAAY back on July 13, 2009.

As you can see by the map (from CNN), it was a massive red wave everywhere in Illinois except Chicago and down by East St. Louis.  This one really was "State of Illinois" versus "State of Chicago."

In the words of Jimmy Darmody, I think you'd agree that Greektown belongs to us now!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Low Tide on the South Side

In the 2008 primaries, and in the 2008 general election, voter enthusiasm on the left side of the aisle was at a fever pitch.  At my polling place in Bronzeville, even for the primaries I waited in line.  Bronzeville is in a heavily black, heavily Democrat district.  Bobby Rush is our rep and lives about a block and a half away from me.  For the general, I stood in line outside the small church that is my polling place for half an hour before I could get inside, and then spent more time in line inside.  This was first thing in the morning.

What a difference two years makes.

This morning, I strolled into my polling place wondering if they were really even open yet.  I got inside, and aside from me there were a grand total of two voters.  First thing in the morning 2008 versus first thing in the morning 2010.  The highest of high tides, versus perhaps the lowest of low tides for the left.

Surf's up, people.  Ride the wave!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Brett Favre's Open Fly Jeans

Every now and then SNL gets it just right...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Desperate Rickey Hendon Disgraces Himself

Illinois State Senator Rickey Hendon goes pretty routinely by the nickname "Hollywood" for his flamboyancy and over-the-top rhetoric.  Yesterday, in introducing Governor Pat Quinn he went as over the top as it possibly gets.
"I've never served with such an idiotic, racist, sexist, homophobic person in my life," Hendon said before introducing Gov. Quinn. "If you think that the minimum wage needs to be three dollars an hour, vote for Bill Brady. If you think that women have no rights whatsoever, except to have his children, vote for Bill Brady. If you think gay and lesbian people need to be locked up and shot in the head, vote for Bill Brady."
After covering the podium, at a church no less, in this spewed pile of garbage, Hendon received a hug from Pat Quinn, as Quinn waded his way through the verbal filth.  Covered in Hendon's pile of trash, Quinn has proceeded over the past day to distance himself from the comments, though he refuses to denounce Hendon, or even what he said, rather just the nature of the commentary.

Local media outlets have given Hendon the opportunity to explain himself today, with the best interview being this approximately ten minute clip from the Cisco Cotto show today on WLS.  Cisco goes heavy after Hendon, holding him to what he said, driving Hendon at what point to threaten to give up on the interview.

Hendon offers the typical non-apology "apology" wherein he basically says, "Hey guys, sorry if anybody out there didn't have the stomach for what I was dishin' out, but it's all true anyway."

Apparently, in Rickey Hendon's mind, we are living in a world where your voting record propels you to the position of being a hate-driven mass murderer.  This is desperation attack politics at its worst, and it's absolutely a disgrace.

Let's not forget this lunatic is running for Mayor of the City of Chicago, and that back in February, during the primaries, he mounted an unsuccessful bid (big surprise there) for Lieutenant Governor.  In the meantime, he's supposed to be representing the Illinois' 5th Senate District.  East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Lincoln Park, the Loop, the Near West Side, North Lawndale, Old Town, UIC, the Medical District, Ukrainian Village and West Garfield Park all make up this district.  That's a huge and diverse grouping of people for a guy to pretend to represent while he's out trying to advance his career by being a loudmouthed jackass.

Live in one of those neighborhoods?  Horrified by your level of underrepresentation delivered by a bombastic careerist politician?  Why not let him know how you feel?

Springfield Office:
Senator 5th District
627 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL   62706
(217) 782-6252
District Office:
2928 West Madison
Chicago, IL  60612
(773) 265-8611
(773) 265-8617 FAX

Take Your Endorsement and Shove It

From the Democrat candidate for Governor of Rhode Island, Frank Caprio, to President Obama:
“I never asked President Obama for his endorsement and what’s going on here is really Washington insider politics at its worst,” Caprio said. “He can take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I am concerned.”
Caprio today charged that the president is “coming into Rhode Island treating us like an ATM machine. I will wear it as a badge of honor and a badge of courage that he doesn’t want to endorse me as a Democrat.“
How the mighty have fallen.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Alexi Giannoulias: The Would-Be King

Listening to the debate for Illinois Senator last night, it was difficult to pick out who was worse to listen to speak.  Mark Kirk played the professional politician and tap-danced around simple, direct questions, and Alexi Giannoulias came off as an economic illiterate, and a flat out buffoon on every other issue.  I don't particularly like either of these guys, but have enjoyed the fact that Kirk has turned into something of a fiscal hawk over the past couple years, so have been leaning his way in any case, and one statement by Alexi last night finally sealed the deal.  It seems Alexi Giannoulias considers the role of Senator to be something more akin to being a king.

Gentlemen, in the desert of polarized politics, there's one oasis of bipartisan. Both parties have overspent in the federal budget for years and years. And I'm wondering, if you go to D.C., facing these multitrillion shortfalls, where do you look to cut? What one or two places do you look first, and what is sacrosanct, what wouldn't you touch?

Four things. The first is we need to immediately do everything we can to promote economic growth. When people aren't working they're not paying taxes, that's less revenue long term. Again, when people aren't working, when they don't have jobs.

But that's not a budget cut.

But it's important. It's an important-- investment to make. The second thing we need to do-- is enact pay gold legislation, something that the Congressman voted against, to end these deficit-busting budgets that have been-- all too familiar in Washington D.C.

The third thing we need to is let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire. We don't have $700 billion to give to millionaires and billionaires. And the fourth thing is, when the deficit commission comes out with their report in December, we're going to need a bipartisan spirit. We're going to have to take a long hard look at some very difficult decisions we're going to have to make, and because--
Gentlemen-- sorry.

--this country has lived-- within its means for a very long time-- Andy, we're going to have to take our medicine. We need people who are willing to make-- tough decisions.

The bold line above is my emphasis, and is the most important thing Alexi Giannoulias has said in his entire campaign.  We don't have $700 billion to give to millionaires and billionaires.

The man is talking about tax rates here, so he's discussing the topic of how much the government takes from its citizens in order to operate.  But his words reveal him as the statist that he is.  He doesn't conceptualize tax rates as a percentage of what the government is taking, rather as a percentage of what the government is generous enough to allow its citizens to keep.  In his mind, the government owns that $700 billion, and can't possibly afford to give it to those people.

This is not the mindset of a leader in a democratic republic.

This is the mindset of an authoritarian to whom all property belongs.  This is the mindset of a person who believes it is his right to control how much people are allowed to have.

This is the mindset of a king.

And this is not the mindset of someone worthy to represent the State of Illinois in the United States Senate.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Battered Media Syndrome

Many people would be familiar with the term "Battered Wife Syndrome" ("wife" now replaced by "person" apparently in order to be PC toward beat down men who don't need more psychological scarring than is necessary) wherein the violent husband is so abusive, either physically or emotionally or both, toward his wife that she loses all sense of self reliance and becomes dependent upon that abuse, actually needing it in a sick way.  It would seem that Chicago's media has developed its own version of this sickness, a Battered Media Syndrome.

I've written in the past about the way that Emperor Daley has treated the press here in Chicago, mostly to relate it to the way President Obama first began treating the national media after he was initially elected.  Daley's general practice has been to answer softballs, and then verbally bludgeon anybody that would dare to be so bold as to ask him a remotely serious question.
Quite simply, whenever Richard Daley decides he doesn't like a certain line of questioning, he either berates the press for being so stupid as to ask it, or he decides to move on to the next line of more convenient questioning
More recently, we were even treated to Daley descending from the throne long enough to offer to introduce a rifle to a reporter in a place where the sun don't shine.

This abuse of local journalists has been going on for so long that those very same local journalists don't know any other way.  And now that King Daley has decided to run away from the cesspool of debt he has worked so diligently to create, in a time that the local media should be working their asses off to discover what the real, hard issues are that Chicago's next mayor will face, our long-abused media is instead searching out its next source of sickly-sweet beatings.  Doubtless by now most of you have seen the video of CBS's Jay Levine threatening to deck William Kelly, but before I re-post it here, let's have a look at it in the context of Battered Wife Media Syndrome:
In lay terms, this is a reference to any person who, because of constant and severe domestic violence usually involving physical abuse by a partner, becomes depressed and unable to take any independent action that would allow him or her to escape the abuse. The condition explains why abused people often do not seek assistance from others, fight their abuser, or leave the abusive situation. Sufferers have low self-esteem, and often believe that the abuse is their fault. Such persons usually refuse to press criminal charges against their abuser, and refuse all offers of help, often becoming aggressive or abusive to others who attempt to offer assistance. Often sufferers will even seek out their very abuser for comfort shortly after an incident of abuse.
Now let's watch the clip, as William Kelly, albeit with questions that have basically zero bearing on the mayoral race, goes after Rahm Emanuel with questions designed to at least challenge the candidate.

We could easily insert William Kelly into the description of BMS as the party who is attempting to offer assistance to the locally battered media.  He's someone outside the normal Chicago-Mayor-beats-down-unruly-reporter relationship, who is trying to help the media pull itself up by its bootstraps and regain some self respect by asking something, anything challenging.  But the media, so very desperate for that abuse that it is so used to, that it now so desperately craves, becomes aggressive and abusive to the party offering assistance.  After threatening the attempted helper, the abused slinks away with its new abuser, practically groveling for his comforting platitudes about "change."

CBS 2, NBC 5, ABC 7, WGN, FOX 32, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times, this is your time to stand up and be counted for.  You've been a battered little bitch of a wife for 21 years.  You don't know any differently than to sit down and shut up, and only to speak when spoken to.  But you have a chance now to affect the right kind of change for the City of Chicago by being a better media in a time of transition, to shed light on what needs to happen for this City to turn the corner into a new day.

Will you step up and seize the moment?  Will you break free of this disease, this Battered Media Syndrome?  Or will you continue to timidly sidle up next to a new abuser, hoping for brief flashes of meaningless comfort?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Charlie Crist Misses the Mark

As if his ludicrous, careerist political odyssey over the past year or two in a vain attempt to become a senator weren't embarrassing enough for him, there's always the first pitch at a baseball game...sometimes there just are no words.

Hat Tip: Cisco Cotto

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Is the Illinois Governor Recall Amendment Fake Reform?

Last week I posted a copy of the proposed amendment to Illinois State Constitution to insert a procedure to recall the governor. There are multiple pros and cons to the amendment that are discussed in the amendment notification booklet itself, that are pretty self explanatory, but there is one issue that has jumped out as a hot topic of discussion: the caveat requiring approval of the recall procedure by both parties:
The recall of the Governor may be proposed by a petition signed by a number of electors equal in number to at least 15% of the total votes cast for Governor in the preceding gubernatorial election, with at least 100 signatures from each of at least 25 separate counties.  A petition shall have been signed by the petitioning electors not more than 150 days after an affidavit has been filed with the State Board of Elections providing notice of intent to circulate a petition to recall the Governor.  The affidavit may be filed no sooner than 6 months after the beginning of the Governor's term of office.  The affidavit shall have been signed by the proponent of the recall petition, at least 20 members of the House of Representatives, and at least 10 members of the Senate, with no more than half of the signatures of each chamber from the same established political party.

Kristina Rasmussen of the Illinois Policy Institute calls this fake reform:

Basically the argument is that this is far too stringent of a requirement for recall, that it doesn't put enough power into the hands of the people.  Kristina argues that it should be easier to initiate a recall, that we should do it the way it's done in other states.  In most cases I would tend to agree, however given the political landscape in the State of Illinois, I am leaning toward agreeing with this caveat.


First and foremost, let's look at the initial requirement that at least 100 signatures for recall be gathered from each of the 25 counties.  For anyone determined enough to spearhead a recall campaign, that's going to be an easy step, and actually lends itself to being a precursor to pressuring the representatives into going along with supporting the recall.  As to capturing the representatives, let's look at that requirement.

Basically it's saying that a recall will require 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the House to approve the affidavit.  Currently the House has 119 seats, with 69 Democrats, 48 Republicans and 1 vacant seat.  This means a recall is approved by the House with 14.5% support by seated Democrats, and 20.8% support by seated Republicans.  Next we go to the Senate, where we need 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans.  The Senate has 37 Democrats and 22 Republicans, meaning a recall is approved in the Senate with 13.5% support from seated Democrats and 22.7% support from seated Republicans.


To begin with, 20 people out of 119 and 10 people out of 59 are not exactly difficult coalitions to put together, but allow me to go back to my aforementioned point of the State's political landscape.  I like to think of Illinois as two states.  There is the State of Illinois, and there is the State of Chicago.  For the most part, the State of Illinois is largely center-right and trends Red, while the State of Chicago is as Blue as it gets.

Taking a look at the makeup of the House bears this out.  Of the 69 Democrats in the House, 30 are listed as being in the City of Chicago, with another 6 being from towns with different names, but that may as well be within city limits anyway:  Maywood, Skokie, Evanston, Cicero, Blue Island, Calumet City.  36 of the 69 Democrats in the House come from the State of Chicago.  By comparison, the State of Chicago has produced 1 Republican Representative.  This means the rest of the State of Illinois trends Republican by a margin of 47 to 33.

The State Senate breaks down similarly.  Of the 37 Democrats, 17 are from the City of Chicago, and another 2 qualify as State of Chicago: Evanston and Burbank.  The State of Chicago produces zero Republican State Senators.  This means the rest of the State of Illinois trends Republican 22 to 18.


One of the cons of Recall listed in the amendment booklet is that the party not holding the governorship would use the recall procedure to play political games, leading to an endless string of recall proposals.  Given the divide between the State of Illinois and the State of Chicago, this would be very likely to be the case.  If a Republican governor were elected by the State of Illinois, how long would it be before the Machine revved its engines and began a State of Chicago only recall process?  They'd have the Democrats without even thinking about it.  The reverse process would also take place.  If the Machine put a State of Chicago governor into office, it would not be long at all until the Republican State of Illinois fought back via the recall process.  We'd be looking at an intrastate political civil war pitting Democrat Chicago against the Republican rest of the state.

Essentially, the bipartisan cooperation requirement means that the State of Illinois and the State of Chicago have to play nice.  It puts a check on all out political posturing for its own sake, and requires that there be an actual legal and/or ethical reason for initiating the recall process.  I don't call this fake reform, I call this smart reform, and given that the recall amendment does not replace the impeachment process, but rather supplements it, I like the idea of voting for this amendment.

I'm Voting Republican

A little morning ridicule for Republicans from some folks who believe government is the answer to everything. They manage to run the gamut from supporting "soulless corporations" to using black people to backhandedly call all Republicans racists.  If you had something like a junior high level education, or were named Bill Maher (oops, no difference), this might be funny.

Hat Tip: SGP on Facebook

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Boehner Steps In It Up

Well if nothing else, I guess we can say that John Boehner has stepped out of the spray tan booth long enough to notice which way the political winds are blowing:
Most spending bills come to the floor prepackaged in a manner that makes it as easy as possible to advance government spending and programs, and as difficult as possible to make cuts.
Again, this is not a new problem. But if we're serious about confronting the challenges that lie ahead for our nation, it's totally inadequate.
I propose today a different approach. Let's do away with the concept of "comprehensive" spending bills. Let's break them up, to encourage scrutiny, and make spending cuts easier. Rather than pairing agencies and departments together, let them come to the House floor individually, to be judged on their own merit. Members shouldn't have to vote for big spending increases at the Labor Department in order to fund Health and Human Services. Members shouldn't have to vote for big increases at the Commerce Department just because they support NASA. Each Department and agency should justify itself each year to the full House and Senate, and be judged on its own.
This is probably the most common sense idea I've seen pass through the lips of anyone residing in Washington, DC in quite some time.  Boehner should realize that while this is a phenomenal idea politically, that he did just stick the GOP's neck out onto the chopping block.  Ace sees hope:
Still, it's a good sign that Boehner is thinking about new ways to do business. We aren't going to translate the conservative/tea party wave into anything concrete if Congress simply continues to play by the same old rules that have perpetuated the go-along, get-along ways of doing business.
Maybe, just maybe an old bull like Boehner is starting to see the light.
There should be one gigantic caveat to that statement, though.  Boehner has got to realize that if they don't act on what he laid out, the retribution will be as swift and as forceful as has been the anti-Democrat wave over the past two years.

Illinois Turnaround Plan

The Illinois Policy Institute is one of my favorite organizations in the state for the work they do every year in compiling the information necessary to hold our state government accountable for its actions.  You might think of them as an Illinois-focused Cato Institute.  They promote Health Savings Accounts (which, if tax policy were correct, would be the best path to free market healthcare reform) and an Illinois Honest Taxation Pledge, and compile a Legislative Vote Card in order to simply convey who voted for what.  Probably my favorite item that they produce, however, is the yearly Illinois Piglet Book that outlines all of the pork barrel projects passed in our state budget.  They've even produced a subsequent report on the recently issued Capital Improvement budget entitled "If You Build It, Debt Will Come" that highlights billions in wasteful government spending on supposed capital improvements (land acquisition and construction projects).

This year, continuing on their fantastic work, the Illinois Policy Institute has launched the Illinois Turnaround Plan, that clearly outlines just how bad our state's financial situation really is, and provides solutions for how we can right the ship.  Their broad spectrum positions are:
- Stopping out of control state spending
- Expanding government transparency
- Reforming our bankrupt state pension system
- Removing government roadblocks to transparency
The plan itself is excellent and well worth the read, and as their promotional video says, real reform has to come from the ground up. Good ideas gaining support in the electorate will drag the politicians onto the right path eventually.  Give the plan a read (embedded below), and visit the website for updates on where members of Illinois Turnaround will be speaking next.  Tonight they are at PJ Klems in Lyons at 5:30, and feature the following current candidates for office in Illinois
Roger Keats (R) - Candidate for Cook County Board President
Tom Tresser (G) - Candidate for Cook County Board President
Tony Peraica (R) - Candidate for Cook County Commissioner, 16th District
Jeff Tobolski (D) - Cook County Commissioner, 16th District
Also invited but not confirmed are Toni Preckwinkle (D) - Candidate for Cook County Board President, and Joe Berrios (D) - Cook County Assessor.
Illinois Turnaround Plan Handbook

Rand Paul's Medicare "Lie"

Andrew Sullivan catches a new Rand Paul campaign ad being run to clarify Paul's views on Medicare, and flies off the handle at what he perceives as it's hypocrisy.  Before we look at the video at explain why, as usual, Sullivan is a scatterbrained moron, let's take a look at what said moron had to say:
Seriously, when Rand Paul is attacking the first ever serious cuts in Medicare in the health insruance reform bill, why on earth should anyone believe the Tea Party's fiscal resonsibility message one iota? They're total frauds - Christianists and obstructionists in fiscal conservative clothing.
Now, let's take a look at the video shall we?

A thinking person, rather than the goober Sullivan has degenerated into, would understand that this ad is saying Rand Paul is against the $500 billion in Medicare cuts because it is a part of the Obamacare boondoggle as a whole.  No Obamacare means no Medicare cuts.  No Obamacare is far more fiscally responsible than Obamacare.  See how that works?

Aside from that, Sullivan also seems to think that this ad makes Rand Paul an outright liar.  Taken from Paul's debate with Jack Conway, Sullivan was actually impressed by the following:
Mr. Paul said he would raise the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare — he did not say to what age — and the deductibles for Medicare, casting these steps as the responsible approach.
This is where paying attention to the words being used comes in handy.  Paul's ad says he is against raising deductibles on seniors specifically.  Watching the debate, this is exactly in line with what Paul discussed.  Raising deductibles and the retirement age on younger people, keeping it the same for seniors and people long invested in the program.

Perhaps Sullivan would do well to start paying attention, or perhaps he's just lost that particular mental capacity.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rand Paul Debates Jack Conway

And dominates across the board.  From Fox News Sunday, with Chris Wallace, a pretty good way to start your Monday.  Time for the Left to start digging for more crazy extremist behavior, I suppose.  Enjoy!

HT: Cubachi

Friday, October 1, 2010

Song of the Week

My song of the week this week is a fantastic brand new tribute to our troops.  Ever since I was introduced to what was their first hit, What a Day, and shortly thereafter their second major release album, Development, I have consistently enjoyed Nonpoint.  They are heavy rock without being too heavy for my liking, and since they're kind of a niche style, their shows never get so big that they border on being unenjoyable.  For their newest album, Miracle, lead singer Elias Soriano describes his inspiration for his tribute to our troops, Frontlines:

"When I wrote the concept for Frontlines, I wanted to make sure the focus was on the commitment of what our soldiers do for us. The weight they carry, and the intensity they hold steadfast to protect people they don't even know." 
"I say this with as much meaning as I could possibly have," says Soriano. "God bless the men and women of our military, and thank you for allowing me to be what I am, and do what I do. Every single one of you are the reason I'm free to do so."

Nonpoint will be donating the proceeds of the digital sales of Frontlines to the USO and Soldiers Angels Foundation.  I've got three videos here.  The first is one Soriano put together because he was moved by the imagery he was seeing, and couldn't wait for the official video to be released, the second is the band's official video, and for fun (albeit low quality) the third is a video I took on my phone from their show in Dekalb on Tuesday.  Give it a listen, and if you like what you hear, give it a download for the troops!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Illinois Governor Recall Amendment

Below you will find a scanned copy of the proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution being put before voters this November to add a procedure to recall the governor.  Obviously this comes in the wake of the Blagojevich scandal, after the former governor was impeached after being indicted on over 20 federal offenses.  If you are a registered voter, you will likely already have received this.  Since I could not find it in an electronic format elsewhere, I scanned in my own copy and uploaded it to Scribd.  If you haven't already received this information, you can read it here, or hit the link and download your own copy of this highly important proposed amendment.
Illinois Governor Recall Info

On the Rutgers Suicide

ABC News has the written story and the video from their broadcast.  The stories are dramatically different.  The print story is a reporting of the news, using facts and interview quotes to convey what just happened.  ABC's broadcast, on the other hand, tells another story altogether.

ABC's broadcast team decided to make this an issue on two fronts.  First, they lightly touch on the callousness of kids, and then they go into a much more in depth discussion on persecution of homosexuals resulting from that callousness.  But is this really the issue at hand in this story?

While certainly it will be argued that our general cultural anti-gay sentiment was a driving factor in creating such a level of shame in Tyler Clementi's mind over having his encounter broadcast live online that he would decide to jump to his death from the George Washington Bridge, I don't really feel like this was the proper topic of discussion in ABC's broadcast.  At least not quite so immediately anyway.

Following the facts in the story, it looks much more like Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, intended to watch him on webcam no matter what was happening.  Ravi has a count against him for attempting to spy on Clementi several days before September 19th in the same manner during a different encounter.  This, to me, points much more to the "callousness of kids" discussion, accompanied by a discussion on invasion of privacy and how our ever-more-interconnected electronic lives are eroding our cultural expectations of privacy.

The facts here are that a stupid kid pulled a stupid stunt with his stupid friend and hurt his roommate tremendously.  The fact that Clementi was having a homosexual encounter, while very likely a leading factor in Clementi ending his life due to much much higher level emotional and cultural issues, was not the immediate issue at hand here.  General respect for other people was.  The discussion of acceptance of homosexuality was going to take place around this event, no matter what.  But by making it the lead topic, ABC really overshadowed what needs to be discussed here.

It is an interesting time that we live in right now.  Daily we become more and more connected at a more and more immediate rate.  For people like Dharun Ravi, a young man who has been raised in this culture of interconnectivity, rather than adjusting to it, this interconnectivity culturally means that the people around him have no expectation of privacy.  He likely felt little to no remorse for the act of invading his roommate's privacy, and was acting to invade that privacy no matter the result.  In this time of an ever eroding expectation of privacy, and an ever eroding respect for one another, we should learn from what has happened here that we need to begin working at showing each other that respect.  It's something that used to be a person's default position in life; to respect the privacy of those around him.  It wasn't something we needed to try so hard for.  It seems we need to begin trying just a little bit harder.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Future is Now

Arthur C. Clarke makes predictions in 1964 for what is, almost to a T, our present.  Phenomenal.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Song of the Week

In honor of the fact that I recently found out that the next iteration of Guitar Hero is going to require us to play through all 20+ minutes of this entire song (awesome), I give you Rush's 2112.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The GOP's "Pledge to America"

Give it a read below.  Early commentary seems to range from "it's a good start but needs work" from NRO to "ridiculous and laughable" from Erick Erickson at RedState.  In any case, let's get started picking it apart shall we?
GOP Pledge to America

Monday, September 20, 2010

Art, Music, Pop Culture 09-20-10

AMPC today examines the concept of art brut, more commonly thought of as outsider art, with some early examples of the style created by insane asylum inmates, songs by a band I want to hate with every fiber of my being but can't help loving, and a look at how Art Brut affected the culture of the art world in general.


From Wikipedia:

Interest in the art of insane asylum inmates had begun to grow in the 1920s. In 1921 Dr. Walter Morgenthaler published his book Ein Geisteskranker als Künstler (A Psychiatric Patient as Artist) on Adolf Wölfli, a psychotic mental patient in his care. Wölfli had spontaneously taken up drawing, and this activity seemed to calm him. His most outstanding work is an illustrated epic of 45 volumes in which he narrates his own imaginary life story. With 25,000 pages, 1,600 illustrations, and 1,500 collages, it is a monumental work. He also produced a large number of smaller works, some of which were sold or given as gifts. His work is on display at the Adolf Wölfli Foundation in the Museum of Fine Art, Bern. A defining moment was the publication of Bildnerei der Geisteskranken(Artistry of the mentally ill) in 1922, by Dr Hans Prinzhorn.
People with some artistic training and well-established artists are not immune from mental illness and may also be institutionalised. For example, William Kurelek, later awarded the Order of Canadafor his artistic life work, as a young man was admitted to the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital where he was treated for schizophrenia.[2] In hospital he painted, producing "The Maze", a dark depiction of his tortured youth.[3] This 1953 work was used as the cover of the 1981 Van Halen rock album Fair Warning. His experience in the hospital was documented in the LIFE Science Library book The Mind, published in 1965.

A French artist by the name of Jean Dubuffet became interested in these works and went on to coin our term of the day:

French artist Jean Dubuffet was particularly struck by Bildnerei der Geisteskranken and began his own collection of such art, which he called art brut or raw art. In 1948 he formed the Compagnie de l'Art Brut along with other artists, including André Breton. The collection he established became known as the Collection de l'Art Brut. It contains thousands of works and is now permanently housed in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Dubuffet characterized art brut as:
"Those works created from solitude and from pure and authentic creative impulses – where the worries of competition, acclaim and social promotion do not interfere – are, because of these very facts, more precious than the productions of professionals. After a certain familiarity with these flourishings of an exalted feverishness, lived so fully and so intensely by their authors, we cannot avoid the feeling that in relation to these works, cultural art in its entirety appears to be the game of a futile society, a fallacious parade." - Jean Dubuffet. Place à l'incivisme (Make way for Incivism). Art and Text no.27 (December 1987 - February 1988). p.36 Dubuffet's writing on art brut was the subject of a noted program at the Art Club of Chicago in the early 1950s.
Dubuffet argued that 'culture', that is mainstream culture, managed to assimilate every new development in art, and by doing so took away whatever power it might have had. The result was to asphyxiate genuine expression. Art brut was his solution to this problem – only art brut was immune to the influences of culture, immune to being absorbed and assimilated, because the artists themselves were not willing or able to be assimilated

In deference to the origins of art brut, let's take a look at a few works from that initially discussed monumental collection created by Adolf Wolfli (images from Katy Elliot):


Part of hipster culture is latching onto things one largely deems ironic.  This is why we see hipsters wearing clothes that are largely outside mainstream fashion, while also appearing largely sloppy, drinking PBR or Schlitz in an ironic revolt against both the rise of more expensive craft beers, and the commercialism of Miller and Budweiser, or riding single speed bikes.  Mostly their dedication to irony and their disheveled nature make them laughably annoying to me.  I'm really just a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, and I prefer my craft beer.  So when a friend of mine introduced me to the band Art Brut, I was more than confident I would hate them.  They are, almost by their very definition, a hipster band.  Born out of hipster-punk culture, they even name their songs ironically after old pop songs, such as "Pump Up the Volume," "I Will Survive," and "Blame it on the Trains."

But then I listened, and like John Cusack and Jack Black in High Fidelity realizing the demo tape from the skate punks who tried to rob their store (the Kinky Wizards) is amazing, I could do nothing but sit with a blank stare on my face as I absorbed how good Art Brut really is.  I hate myself for loving you, Art Brut.  And now, that you may begin your own self-loathing journey into the odyssey that is this band, I give you "I Will Survive" and "Emily Kane."


Art brut, as a term, is one that I had not been taught in my art classes during my education, but even with a limited knowledge of art history, it is easy to see how its concepts have driven the art world in general away from one of rules and structure, and toward one of the far more free form and sometimes deconstructive types of art we are familiar with calling modern and postmodern art today.  As artists fought to break free from the rules of realism in art, the concept of raw art has been a driving factor in creation over the years, from Cubism to Dada, Constructivism to Futurism.