A View From the Cheap Seats

March 16, 2010

Fixing Illinois


By Rich Trzupek

The “Party of NoTM” unveiled a few badly-needed common sense solutions to fix what ails one of the worst state economies in the nation, which, given the state of the nation’s economy in 2010, is saying a lot.

House Republicans, in conjunction with the Illinois Policy Institute, announced a proposed program that, while it can’t fix everything that ails the state, is at least a good start. Among the features of the plan:

– Holding the line on spending, which has increased by more than thirty nine per cent over the last decade (adjusted for inflation) while Illinois population has increased by less than seven per cent. Clearly, the days of the big-spenders in Springfield are drawing to a close. We can’t afford their largesse any longer.

– Reforming the state’s regulatory structure. Once one of the most business-friendly states in the union, Illinois has become one of the most difficult places to start up and maintain a business, owing to all of the regulatory impediments introduced during the Blagojevich years.

– Requiring a supermajority before any tax and fee increases can be passed in the General Assembly. Past history has shown that Illinois citizens can not trust either party if that party has been comfortably in power for too long. This measure would ensure that the loyal opposition has the ability to rein in the entrenched power structure.



“O” My


By Rich Trzupek

You know what you don’t see around so much anymore? The Seal of the President of the United States. Oh, we’re not quite ready to put the Great Seal on the endangered species list or anything, at least not yet, but it’s use has been somewhat diminished over the past thirteen months.

Use of the Seal dates back to the 1850s and the Millard Fillmore administration, with the current design (absent a few later modifications) having been adopted during the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes in the 1870s. It has been a symbol of the power of the Chief Executive and the democratic foundations of the office for decades. Presidents come and go, but the Seal endures as an emblem of the highest elected office in the land.

Then, soon after Barack Obama took office, a very odd, most unprecedented event took place. The White House began substituting the Seal with another, powerful symbol: the ubiquitous red, white and blue stylized “O” that was the trademark of the Obama campaign.

“Branding” is the term of art and Obama’s strategists did a first-rate job of branding their candidate in 2008. The O was everywhere, a new, hip symbol of a new, hip candidate – a bright sun rising on a stylized field of red and white rows that replaced “amber waves of grain.”

Every candidate tries to create a powerful symbol during a campaign. George W. Bush’s “W” was an easy way to distinguish father from son, for example, in order to establish George W. Bush as his own man, rather than a prince in a political dynasty.


Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due

Filed under: Iraq,Politics — trzupek @ 9:10 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


By Rich Trzupek

Last week, Vice President Joe Biden (finally!) acknowledged that the men and women fighting in Iraq have been victorious in the war on terror. Hurrah! However, Biden attributed their success to a most incredible source: the Obama administration.

Last week, the Hair-Plug In Waiting had the audacity to say this: “I am very optimistic about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration.”

Really Joe? How exactly does that work? How can an administration led by two guys who steadfastly opposed the increased commitment of American troops in Iraq – aka: “the surge” – claim credit for a victory that those leaders did everything in their power to avoid?

When the surge was first proposed, then Senator Barack Obama vigorously opposed the move, saying that the move had no chance of establishing stability in Iraq. In an interview held in 2007 Obama said:

“We can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops – I don’t know any expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to privately that believes that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.”


Healthcare Reset


By Rich Trzupek

The President appears to have surrendered on health care, finally acknowledging what everyone else has figured out: that Congress simply doesn’t have the votes to pass a health care bill in anything like its current form. During his State of the Union address, Obama somewhat petulantly complained that he hadn’t done a good enough job of explaining the two thousand plus pages of legislation, as if that would have made all the difference.

Aside from those who hang out on the far left, Americans instinctively distrust big government and a giant, unexplainable health care bill is about as scary a prospect as one could imagine. Poll after poll showed that Americans didn’t want anything close to what the Democrats were proposing.

Looking deep into their two-page playbook, liberals immediately blamed their failure to pass a health care bill on Republicans. “They’re the party of no,” they cried, a description that, while not altogether accurate, does have some relevance.

The GOP has never said “no” to health care reform, they’ve just said “no” to what would effectively be government control of our health care system. In this case the Republican party undoubtedly reflects the will of the majority of the American people, who have been yelling “no” louder and louder since this debate began.


Wrong Trial, Wrong Place


By Rich Trzupek

The decision to try 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed in a civilian court in New York City was ill-considered to begin with. Now that everyone from Congress to the Mayor of New York is piling on to criticize, it’s time for the Obama administration to make some tough decisions.

There are all kind of problems with holding the trial in New York and just about everyone, with the prominent exception of the administration, seems to understand that. Start with the estimated cost, $200 million, which prompted Senator Evan Bayh (D – Indiana) to observe: “If there’s somewhere we can try them without spending that money, why spend the money? We’ve got a lot of other fiscal problems.”

Happily there is such a place: Gitmo. But, the President seems bound by his promise to close Gitmo – er, eventually – so that sensible location would appear to be out of the question.

But hey, what’s $200 million in this age of multi-trillion dollar government spending? $200 million is background noise. The security nightmare that would surround this trial were it held in New York should be obvious to everyone. It would be a circus in New York, with the star performer being the guy who planned the World Trade Center attacks. Think that might draw the attention of other terrorists? You might as well draw a bulls-eye on New York and send engraved invitations to Al-Queda.


January 27, 2010

Pollution Is The Cure

Filed under: Environment,Illinois,Politics,Science — trzupek @ 10:33 pm


By Rich Trzupek

One great thing about global warming is that it causes everything, including cooling according to many environmental groups, and earthquakes, according to Danny Glover. Another great thing about global warming is that you can use it as an excuse to do, or not do, just about anything. Case in point: global warming serves as the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s (MWRD) latest excuse for not disinfecting waste water entering the Chicago River.

There is an old adage in the world of environmental science: dilution is not the solution to pollution. We now have the MWRD corollary: pollution is the solution to pollution.

Now I can not say whether all the extra bacteria that MWRD introduces into the river threatens the waterway. District representatives say no and perhaps we should take them at the word. It is interesting to note, however, that practically every other sewage treatment operation in the country feels it’s important to disinfect their wastewater. But to claim that disinfecting wastewater would cause global warming? Please.

The theory, such as it is, is that disinfecting would require the district to use additional electricity, which in turn would increase MWRD’s carbon footprint by almost 100,000 tons. There is a flip side to that equation however, one I doubt factors into the district’s calculations. When biological matter dies and decays, it often creates methane, a global warming gas twenty one times more potent that carbon dioxide. Do that math and I doubt if MWRD’s spurious argument even holds up.


January 22, 2010

Earthquakes And Political Shakes

Filed under: Politics,World — trzupek @ 10:51 pm


By Rich Trzupek

It was in interesting week…

Everyone’s prayers are with the people of Haiti. The scenes of devastation and carnage are truly horrific, and we should all be proud – once again – of the valiant efforts of our men and women in uniform to bring aid and comfort to that troubled, impoverished nation. The administration is to be commended for utilizing the best trained, best equipped, most professional military force in the world during this time of desperate need in the Caribbean.

It is ironic though: a fair bit of the world, so quick to criticize America for acting unilaterally with regard to any number of issues, always looks to us for leadership at times like these. Nobody’s shouting “imperialist” today, but given them time. (Actually Hugo Chavez says the US is in the midst of a “military occupation” of Haiti, but I’m only counting reasonably sane people here). Once Haiti is forgotten, global-government types will begin shouting “imperialist” anew.

Speaking of Haiti and criticism, Evangelist Pat Robertson drew quite a bit of fire for implying that last week’s earthquake was a result of nineteenth century pact with the devil that Haitins supposedly made in exchange for escaping French colonial rule. Robertson deserved the criticism. There is a time to evangelize and there is a time to help the victims. To his credit, Robertson apologized and he has been actively raising money for Haitian relief. Still, this isn’t the first time that Robertson has inserted his foot squarely into his mouth.


Big, Front Page News

Filed under: Media — trzupek @ 10:28 pm


By Rich Trzupek

I’m going to hold off on my traditional year-end wrap up column for a week or two because I’ve got some other news that just won’t wait. Besides, having just lived through glorious year 1 O.E. (Obama Era) what could I possibly poke fun at?

As many of you know, I have long been a critic of the way the mainstream media covers science in general and environmental topics in particular. The laziness and almost criminal stupidity of some journalists when technical topics are at issue disgusts me and many of my fellow scientists.

Climategate was the straw that broke this particular Polish camel’s back. After personally reviewing the leaked e-mails and data files from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, I was disgusted by the slipshod coverage of the scandal in the mainstream media, as outlet after outlet tried desperately to sweep the issue under the rug. But for the internet and Fox, it is very likely that the vast majority of Americans would still be in the dark.

Enough is enough. The parable of the talents is one of my favorites and, in my case, I happen to be a scientist who was blessed with the gift of being able to express myself with the written word. And so, over the Christmas break, I decided to go national.


January 14, 2010


Filed under: Environment,Global Warming — trzupek @ 7:16 pm


By Rich Trzupek

God knows why, but Scandinavia has not been kind to Barack Hussein Obama. In the future, the President might be well-advised to stick to the more southerly portions of Europe when making his travel plans.

First we had the spectacle of the leader of the free world running off to Copenhagen in hopes of securing the Olympics for Chicago, only to see the Windy City blown out of the competition in round one.

Then, of course, the President flew to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in recognition of all of Obama’s remarkable accomplishments during his first twelve days in office. That embarrassing episode left even many of this President’s strongest supporters in the media cringing.

And now we have this – what are they calling it? – oh yeah: “accord.” It’s not a treaty, not an agreement – it’s an accord. Perhaps calling it the “Copenhagen flim-flam” would have been too embarrassing, if not more accurate.


The Customers Always Write

Filed under: Humor,Media — trzupek @ 7:10 pm


By Rich Trzupek

Time once again for some highlights from my inbox, which – after neglecting it for a few weeks – was more full than ever after running a couple of climategate columns. Whenever one talks about global warming, one does generate some “heated” debate.


By the by, any future correspondents out there should note, that while writing to me may result in me sharing your thoughts with our fine readers, I will not use your name unless you specifically tell me that is OK. This is unlike our policy for Letters to the Editor, which always require a name, but in the Cheap Seats almost anything goes.

Let’s start with my personal favorite:

You’re an idoit (sic) and I wish you would stop writing this crap in the Examiner. Isn’t there enough out there already?

This publication would be so much better without your faux news (wing nut) commentary.

People know were to find politics (it’s everywhere).

I buy this publication to read what’s up in our community … not your moranic (sic) outdated views.

My view from the cheap seats.

Comment: I am torn between two clever observations: 1) I may be an idiot, but at least I know how to use spell check, and 2) I wish my wife would stop e-mailing me.

Fortunately for my fragile ego, I do get some positive reinforcement from time to time too, like this fellow:


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