A View From the Cheap Seats

May 19, 2010

Radical What?

Filed under: National,Politics — trzupek @ 3:26 pm

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – MAY 19, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

Last week’s exchange between Attorney General Eric Holder and Congressman Lamar Smith during a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee sums up the Obama administration’s struggles with today’s foreign policy realities pretty darn well:

“In the case of all three attempts in the last year, the terrorist attempts, one of which was successful, those individuals have had ties to radical Islam,” Congressman Smith said. “Do you feel that these individuals might have been incited to take the actions that they did because of radical Islam?”

“Because of… ?” Holder replied.

“Radical Islam,” Smith repeated.

“There are a variety of reasons why I think people have taken these actions,” Holder said. “I think you have to look at each individual case.”

Smith tried again: “Yes, but radical Islam could have been one of the reasons?”

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Failing To Address Failure

Filed under: Illinois,Politics,Uncategorized — trzupek @ 3:24 pm

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – MAY 12, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

There’s a run on winter-wear in hell today, because I find myself in complete agreement with the Chicago Tribune. A May 6 editorial in the Trib chided House lawmakers for failing to pass a vouchers bill that would have allowed parents to get their kids out of some of the worst schools in the state and into a school of their choice. In a typical Mike Madigan tactic, the vote wasn’t recorded, but the enterprising fellows at Capitol Fax took a photo of the tally board before it could be officially disappeared.

Among your representatives in Examinerland, only Tim Schmitz (R-St. Charles) voted for the measure. Democrats Fred Crespo and Paul Froelich, along with Republican Randy Ramey all voted against and everybody should remember those votes.

There are a couple of reasons, neither of them good, to vote against voucher programs. One is, as Democrat representative Kevin Joyce observed with surprising candor, is that this is a “union issue.” By that, Joyce of course means it’s a teacher’s union issue. If parents can get kids out of failing schools, the teachers at those schools are going to have to find other employment.

Obviously, we can’t have that. Protecting teachers’ jobs at schools that don’t work is far more important than, you know, the kids they actually teach, or creating jobs at schools that do work courtesy of freedom of choice. The Democrat-preferred solution to Illinois’ educational woes, as it is to every problem, is more money. Just a few more bucks and everything will be both hunky and dory.

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May 9, 2010

The Bills Are Coming Due

Filed under: Illinois,Politics — trzupek @ 7:05 pm

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – MAY 5, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

Last year, the Civic Federation, a non-partisan organization that watches government spending, supported the idea of a state tax hike in order to close the state of Illinois’ massive budget gap. Actually, “gap” isn’t a good enough word. “Chasm” describes the difference between revenue and spending more accurately. But, I digress.

Anyway, having argued for a tax hike last year, the Civic Federation pulled back from that position this year for one very good, and very simple, reason: they don’t trust the Democrat-controlled General Assembly to rein in spending. The more that you feed the beast that is big government, the hungrier the beast gets for more tax dollars. Kudos to the Civic Federation for pointing that out.

The organization came to this conclusion in their report analyzing Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed 2011 budget. The first three paragraphs of the Executive Summary are worth repeating:

“The Civic Federation opposes Governor Pat Quinn’s $52 billion FY2011 recommended operating budget for the State of Illinois because it is unbalanced and does too little to address the State’s fiscal crisis. The Governor’s recommended budget borrows billions to pay for operations while continuing to ignore the massive backlog of unpaid bills, which will make the State’s financial condition worse.

Although the Civic Federation is encouraged that Governor Quinn has signed significant pension reform legislation and recommends some reductions in spending, we cannot support his FY2011 State of Illinois operating budget because it does not effectively stabilize state finances or substantially reduce the State’s $12.9 billion deficit going into FY2011.

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Hate Speech Just Ain’t What It Used To Be

Filed under: Illinois,Politics — trzupek @ 7:00 pm

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – APRIL 28, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

Sometimes those anti-government protesters go too far. Take this quote, for example, that was uttered in front of a frenzied crowd that roared their approval:

“They can run, but they can’t hide. We’re gonna be over there this afternoon, and we’re gonna find you. And if you try to leave town without doing your job, we’re gonna chase you. And when you come back home, we’ll be there.”

Surprising, isn’t it, that a quote like that didn’t get a lot of play in the mainstream media? That’s just the sort of inflammatory rhetoric that they are constantly accusing the right of spouting and the kind of sound bite that they desperately scour tea-party rallies in search of, almost entirely in vain. So why wasn’t this bit of anger called out by CNN, MSNBC and the like?

Perhaps it has something to do with who said it: Henry Bayer, director of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union. Bayer and thousands of AFSCME members rallied in Springfield last week in order to urge lawmakers to – can you guess? – raise taxes.

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April 21, 2010

Grab Bag

Filed under: Illinois,Politics,Religion,World — trzupek @ 1:57 pm

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – APRIL 21, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

– Not sure which is more remarkable: the flurry of radical proposals that USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is churning out on an almost monthly basis, or the way the mainstream media is completely ignoring what she’s been up to. In little more than a year, Jackson has developed new air quality standards that will make it just about impossible to build a new fossil-fuel fired power plant in this country, set up an Ocean Policy Taskforce that will prove more effective than anything at stopping off-shore drilling and is steadily working on a rewrite of storm water regulations that will impact the cost and availability of a whole new host of consumer products previously untouched by EPA’s grasping hands.

If they are seen through to fruition, all of these initiatives will be costly to consumers and drive even more jobs overseas to nations that don’t have a similarly dazzling array of well-intentioned, but ultimately pointless, rules. Veteran readers of the Cheap Seats know that your humble correspondent does battle with the EPA in the day job on a daily basis, so I have certain, well-earned bias against that particular agency. But, Jackson’s EPA is a bureaucracy on steroids. Privately – very privately – many EPA staffers have been shaking their heads in disbelief as well, for they understand that if Jackson has her way, there’s going to be very little industry left for them to regulate.

– Last week Trey Parker and Matt Stone, aka: the last two guys in Hollywood with any guts, took a shot at radical Islam. No, that’s not right. In the April 18 episode of South Park, Parker and Stone were merciless in exposing the cowardly hypocrisy of those who enable the intolerance of the jihadists out fear of violent retribution. The response from the jihadis was predictable. How dare Parker and Stone attack Islamic intolerance and violence. They must be killed! The situation might be termed ironic, if it wasn’t so pathetic.

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April 15, 2010

Socialism? You Bet

Filed under: National,Politics — trzupek @ 9:12 am

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – APRIL 14, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

I love letters to the editor. This week we got a great one, in which the author quite sincerely, if dubiously, decries the fact that so many Republicans and conservatives want to hang the “socialist” tag on Barack Obama, his administration and his allies in a Congress controlled by fellow Democrats. That charge, our correspondent says, is wholly unfounded, mean-spirited and inflammatory. The president is simply investing in America. This is, of course, the kind of argument that a great many of the president’s supporters make all of the time.

Obama has spent money and increased national indebtedness to a degree that knows no parallel in American history outside of the monumental effort that was World War II. That’s deeply troubling, especially when we consider what it means for our children’s futures, but government spending in and of itself does not create socialism. Socialism is a matter of institutions; who controls those facets of a society that allow it to function: private individuals and enterprises or government? If the answer is predominantly the former, then you have a nation based on individual liberty and capitalism. If the answer is mostly the latter, you’re part of a socialist system, whether you’re willing to admit it or not.

After America and the Allies won World War II, the country was left with a massive debt, but it was a debt burden that Americans willingly shouldered because the investment was dedicated toward a specific, one-time only purpose and because it did not create any permanent institutions that would hinder or control free enterprise in the long run. In 1941, there is no way that Americans would have invested in the war, or would have approved of taking on massive debt to fight the war, if they believed that doing so would have created more dependence on government. The independent, “frontier” spirit still ran strongly through the veins of the average American back then.

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April 7, 2010

Amnesty – The Game Changer

Filed under: National,Politics — trzupek @ 9:48 am

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – APRIL 7, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

President Obama has done what many believed was impossible: he rammed a health control bill down the throats of the American people despite their objections, in seemingly complete disregard for the consequences, which would seem to include massive Republican gains in the House and Senate come November. Obama is a political animal, groomed for office in that most partisan of political zoos, the state of Illinois. How can this move possibly make any sense for the president or his party?

It may, but in only one circumstance: if Democrats obtain access to a heretofore unknown and uncounted voting bloc that can tip the balance of the electorate in their favor, no matter conventional wisdom circa 2010. There are, by best estimates, about eleven million illegal aliens residing in the United States today. By and large, those illegal aliens are poor and relatively uneducated. They desperately want to be citizens of the United States, so as to reap the undeniable benefits of citizenship in this great nation. As citizens, they would fall under the protection of the government, which – as we all know – won’t do a single thing that might let a single citizen fall through the safety net that we are obliged to provide.

Democrats understand this. Eleven million new voters dependent on the tender mercies of government are Democratic voters, by definition. The Dems will use charges of racism and claims of equity to push their immigration agenda forward, but the stakes here should be clear. If the Democrats get those voters, they will establish a dominant presence that will take decades to undo, if it can be undone at all.

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April 2, 2010

Redistributing The Wealth

Filed under: National,Politics — trzupek @ 10:43 am

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – MARCH 31, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

It’s nice to hear a Democrat congressman speak to the truth, even unwittingly. Talking about the healthcare bill last week, Montana Senator Max Baucus got straight to the point: “Too often, much of late, the last couple three years the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.”

Time to redistribute the wealth, in other words. “Mal-distribution,” if it’s a word, is an interesting choice of words. “Mal” has Latin roots. It means “evil.” Assuming that Baucus actually understood what he was saying – and that’s admittedly a stretch when it comes to Democrats – Baucus believes that the accumulation of money and other assets, the capitalist system in other words, is inherently evil and needs to be reformed. Wouldn’t it have been nice if Baucus had made this position clear before he cast a vote in favor of Obmacare?

When conservatives described the health care bill in terms identical to those Baucus used, they were vilified in the mainstream media. How dare anyone accuse the president and his party of socialism! The bill would make the health care system better, not redistribute wealth through government fiat. The truth, which should have been blindingly obvious to anyone this side of Nancy Pelosi, was that conservatives were spot on. The American people knew it and, it would seem, so did an empty Democratic suit like Max Baucus.

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Greek Fire

Filed under: World — trzupek @ 10:39 am

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – MARCH 24, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

Chaos in the nation of Greece, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the European Union, ought to give thoughtful Americans pause. The economic mess that the Greeks have gotten themselves into, which is nearly as bad as the economic mess in that the General Assembly and Democratic governors have gotten Illinois into, serves as an object lesson as to what happens when legislators create government mandates and entitlements that are simply unsustainable.

In Greece, the government can no longer ignore all those past due notices, as will happen in the United States down the road, and the citizens of that ancient nation can not bear with the thought of losing all the government-provided goodies they have gotten used to.

Part of the problem the Greeks have is an aging population. There are less productive young people to pay for the government programs that support increasing numbers of retirees. In Greece, you not only get to retire in your fifties, you are guaranteed a comfortable pension for the rest of your life when you do.

That model is not unlike what has been happening in Illinois, by the by. A compliant, short-sighted series of General Assemblies have gleefully created generous pension programs for some public employees and forced municipal units of government to fund the same kind of programs for others. Those of us in the private sector, who are in charge of our own retirement plans, are thus forced to set money aside for own golden years and those of an increasing number of public sector employees.

Pension woes are not all that ails Greece of course. Greeks became addicted to government over the decades and, as inevitably happens, government grew in size, power and, most of all expense. Sure, you can make the productive people pay more taxes in order to pay for all the great things that big government does, but eventually that becomes counter-productive. At some point, people get fed up working their butts off to pay for a growing class of freeloaders. Why bother? The well runs dry and government wakes up one day to find that there is no money left to pay for all the programs that it has put into place.

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March 16, 2010

Corruption Squared

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – MARCH 17, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

It’s hard to believe that anyone could pick worse candidates than the party that gave Illinois gubernatorial candidates like ex-governor/current convict George Ryan and the unbearably bland Judy Barr-Topinka, but Illinois Democrats are giving the GOP a run for their money this year. First they gave us disgraced former lieutenant governor candidate Scott Lee Cohen and now comes troubling revelations about their Senatorial candidate, state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. One has to wonder: does anybody check a candidate’s background these days?

Giannoulias is a protégé of the current president, which should have set off an alarm bell or two. When you’re tied into the Obama/Axelrod crowd, the chances of having a few skeletons hanging out in your closet rise exponentially. In 2006, Obama had this to say about Giannoulias:

“He’s one of the most outstanding young men that I could ever hope to meet. He’s somebody who cares deeply about people.”

When somebody tells you that an Illinois Democrat “cares deeply about people,” you are well-advised to check to make sure that you still have your wallet. Giannoulis is no exception. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Giannoulis stands to make $10 million off his role as owner of Broadway Bank, even though that bank is almost certainly about to go under.

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