Sunday, December 30, 2012

Good riddance 2012!

DEZEMBER 2012, December 2012
DEZEMBER 2012, December 2012 (Photo credit: eagle1effi)
It is a thrill to put 2012 behind us. As years go, this year was a disaster.

I just wish it were as easy to turn the page on politics and gun violence as it is to turn the page on the calendar. It seems we have experienced an all-time low in repulsive behavior on those two fronts.

Since I've been paying attention, I have never observed more petty, abhorrent, vile behavior as during the 2012 GOP election season. Fox News'  outright lies would have been humorous, had the stakes not been so high. Still, they had the trust of large numbers of people who actually believed them. The entire staff under the moniker of 'media' accomplished near decimation of an already suffering communication industry. Who can trust the media now, after all that has been done to destroy journalistic credibility by what we now know to be an admitted farce?

The GOP campaign, led by corporate giants with nearly unlimited amount of cash thanks to the wrong-headed conservative U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision tried to steal the election through no-responsibility campaign ads. Fortunately their candidate for president was a buffoon with little to no campaign smarts and zero integrity. His handlers weren't much better. I'm so grateful that enough of the public woke up in time to cast ballots for the incumbent.

But even more disheartening than the election debacle was the horrific gun violence in 2012 where 16 mass shootings resulted in 88 dead. The last one--on December 14--the needless slaughter of 26 innocent people, including 20 precious, little first-graders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, may be and should have been the final straw to break the back of an undisciplined society gone awry.

The incident of worst-nightmare proportions brought a President to tears and so affected the general public that cries for better gun laws have begun to echo across the nation. Still, that is little consolation for the tiny unsuspecting east coast town that lost its innocence.

Changing the way the country looks at gun violence could be a start in the long road to help the healing. An end to gun violence could help if that were the end of the story. But it isn't!

Sadly, some of the same voices that supported artificial news during the presidential campaign are the same ones that now cry for more guns, not less. The National Rifle Association, which many fail to realize is little more than the marketing arm of the gun manufacturers lobby, has some of those same Fox News devotees squarely in its sites. They see no reason guns shouldn't be placed in the hands of school teachers to keep the students safe. Never mind that it didn't help at Columbine High School or at Ft. Hood where weapons actually belong and are issued to all the soldiers there.

It is unbelievable to me that anyone could believe that more guns could keep people safe from gun violence. That is like saying that keeping water in a toddler's bathtub will deter drowning.

I'm sick to death of the excuse that guns are for protection. Too often guns purchased for protection simply result in injury and death during a heated argument, or in an instant of despair resulting in suicide, or perhaps an accident by a curious child. Responsible gun owners should lock their weapon securely. So what kind of protection is that? Gun owners want it both ways, but it doesn't work that way. Protection from bad guys would require access to a loaded gun. Protection for family members requires locking away and securing the gun and ammunition.

Though this is a discussion that will likely span the entire new year, at least it is has begun. It is a topic that is long overdue, which is reason enough for optimism in the coming new year.

So once again, we wipe the slate clean. A new beginning with high hopes where anything is possible is upon us. Our future begins now. What we do with it is our choice.


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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ending gun violence must start with open discussion

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten ame...
The United States Constitution
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Like so many people across the country I am sickened by the recent school shooting tragedy in Newtown, CT that slaughtered 28 people, including 20 innocent young children.

The number of gun-related deaths in this country makes is inexcusable. It has gotten to the point that people are afraid. I'm afraid.

I don't buy the fact that everyone should carry a gun. In fact, if I hear one more person say that if those teachers or the principal was armed, this wouldn't have happened. I am at a total loss to reconcile that kind of thinking. Less guns are needed on the streets and in public places; not more. Guns are hideous! The people that use every excuse as to why they have a love affair with them are worse.

No longer can I tolerate that whole second amendment rights tirade. The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution was written long before the kind of carnage assault rifles can create was conceived. Guns were meant to create peace and protection; not devastation and death. Yet that is the ugly reality. The second amendment is at best, outdated. People think nothing of updating their bathroom fixtures, but the laws we must live by, not so much.

Shouting gun control from the highest rooftops has no affect. There has to be a renewed discussion about not just changing the laws, but changing the attitudes.

I've found that good and decent people who think they are doing the right thing by arming themselves to protect their homes and families may in fact be a big part of the problem. The following is eye-opening and should be seen by every law-abiding citizen that supports carrying a weapon.

Concealed Carry Permit Holders Live in a Dream World

Varying views about how to end gun violence include polar extremes with every argument in-between. Some want the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution amended and brought up-to-date. Some believe every person should be armed. Others believed guns should be banned completely. With such a disparity of views about this important problem, one or none of those may be the answer. It may be a combination of them, or one that hasn't yet been proposed. But one thing is for certain--the discussion has to happen. Too much blood of innocent victims has been shed. All sides need to come together to solve this problem and return the United States to the a peaceful and caring nation our forefathers tried to create.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No I will not pay taxes on my two cents worth on taxes

Wait just a damn minute!

Let the tax rates expire; going over the fiscal cliff; the wealthiest two-percent; closing loopholes; blah, blah, blah. Here is the issue. Middle Class Americans pay enough taxes. In fact, for some of us, it is unbelievable how many taxes we pay. Property tax; income tax; personal property tax; death tax; marriage tax; utility tax; ENOUGH!

The tax code is ridiculous 
My poor husband freaks out every year when he has to do our taxes--and we are simply retired folks living on a pension. Our taxes are easy. We can't afford to buy anything, so we don't have many deductions--just our home mortgage. People structure their finances around the money they will get back from their taxes each year. Why is this such a difficult issue? Why do we get a refund anyway? Shouldn't we simply pay the proper amount of taxes all year? Have taxes ever decreased; we know they always increase.

Should we rewrite the tax code? 
What a stupid question? Of course we should rewrite the tax code. No guideline should be 71,684 pages in length, yet that is what the 2010 tax code was. As we say on Facebook, WTF!

For me, the ultimate slap in the face was the implementation of a utility tax. I recall the first time I heard about it. I was writing for a newspaper, covering a local community. They said they wanted to implement a utility tax to make enough money to repair a flooding problem. They claimed the tax would be temporary. Oh yeah, right. It didn't take a rocket scientist to predict that was never going to happen. They would be permanent alright. They are!

When we retired, I learned that no only do we have to pay utility tax, but we are paying personal property tax. This was a new one on me--that was ruled illegal where I used to live.

Too many taxing bodies have their hands out 
Today, we pay taxes on everything. Each unit of government, and there are way too many of those, plays the game of how much can we soak you before you have had enough? I'm crying Uncle! I suppose it is a sign of the times. People want instant gratification. No one wants to plan for their future anymore. We are living for today. Government is the same way. But, they are spending our money!

Then there is the tea party
For years I've told my friends, "We should have a tea party." I never meant we should become crazy mirrors of the Ku Klux Klan, as the current national tea party has done. What I meant was that there should be an effort to follow the guidelines of our ancestors--to insist there be no taxation without representation. Taxation in this country is insane because spending other people's money is just so easy. Government officials are no longer leaders; they are merely spenders.

There is no right or wrong political party 
Both political parties at all levels of government are guilty of creating an environment where the rich have it all and the rest of us struggle to get by. I no longer consider myself to be a member of the Middle Class. My future as an aging baby boomer is not financially pretty. I feel as though I am being taxed to death. When I consider a service, such as satellite television, for example, I'm actually shocked when the bill arrives. The final bill never resembles what I was quoted. State, local, and federal taxes make my bill unrecognizable. And then there is the phone bill, which is probably the best example of how not to run things. There are fees for things I don't even understand on what has become a multi-page two-sided document. Why is a telephone bill more than one page anyway? What are all those crazy charges?

The optimum word when talking taxes is SIMPLIFY! 
It is my favorite word of the day because it defines so succinctly what has to be done. The complexities that are compounded regularly must end.

Simplifying the tax code is necessary without prejudice against the poor or in favor of the wealthy. I don't advocate Herman Cain's 999 plan by any stretch. I don't want an across the board rate necessarily, because all issues have a gray area. They should be accounted for, but with the proper motive--the benefit of the majority of people. That does not mean loopholes to drive a car through just so rich folks can grow their wealth at everyone else's expense. That means using reasonableness and common sense wisdom.

That probably means the end of Grover Norquist, who has his own agenda. The only agenda should be for funding government necessities, cutting waste, eliminating unnecessary perks, and adding fairness. Taxes don't have to be a necessary evil. They can be useful tools to make all our lives better. Shouldn't that be what we all strive to accomplish?

Friday, November 16, 2012

No sympathy for Jesse Jackson, Jr. from airport landowners

The once-promising political career of Jesse Jackson, Jr., seems about to crash and burn, amid allegations of scandal, financial impropriety, and controversy.

The son of Civil Rights activist Jesse Jackson, seemed to have all the tools needed to become an excellent lawmaker. It is too bad he squandered them on himself and his lavish lifestyle rather than for the benefit of the people who needed him--the people who elected him to serve their needs.

Now, according to local, regional, and even national reports, Jackson is the target of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe into his financial dealings, and more.

All this is very odd, given that just days ago Jackson handily won re-election in a near landslide victory in his bid to retain his job as congressman in the 2nd Congressional district. Despite Jackson's whereabouts being a secret for months prior to the election, either his constituents were overly loyal to him or they simply voted along racial lines. Most assume the latter, since Jackson has little to show for his years in congress. Racism in some of the poorest black neighborhoods on Chicago's south side is well known. Jackson did little to change that and in fact tried to use it to his advantage.

Jackson spent his entire political career grabbing for the brass ring. Instead of trying to make a name for himself by working hard and revitalizing one of the poorest regions of the country and solving real problems there, Jackson's efforts centered on his own need for self aggrandizement. Often times, it was at others' expense. This was evidenced by the biggest promise he made to his constituents--his effort to solve their economic woes by supporting the construction of one of the biggest projects in Illinois history--Chicago's third airport.

An effort by chambers of commerce on Chicago's south side in 1985 culminated in 1992 when a committee of leaders from Illinois and Indiana as well as the City of Chicago rejected what has become known as the Peotone Airport, so named because its close proximity to Peotone, a small rural town in eastern Will County, about 40 miles south of Chicago.

Two years later, the project was revived by then Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, who once lived in the southern suburbs. At the time there were only two pockets of support for the project--the south suburbs and the western suburbs that bordered O'Hare International Airport. O'Hare neighbors considered a new airport as their solution to O'Hare expansion, which they opposed.

In 1995 the point man who would bridge the gap between the two regions was an energetic, articulate new south suburban congressman, Jesse Jackson, Jr., who filled the unexpired term of U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds who had been arrested in a sex scandal involving an underage campaign worker.

It wasn't long before Jackson glommed onto the project, making it the centerpiece of his congressional career. He lobbied several Illinois governors who tried to hold onto the prospect of trying to duplicate the state's prized economic engine--O'Hare Airport--even at the expense of that prize, the project never really gained footing. The City of Chicago was on the other side, opposing a new airport. Jackson formed his own airport authority with the hope of controlling, managing, and building an airport.

The longtime and sometimes raucous opposition didn't daunt Jackson nor his supporters. Jackson also ignored the growing problems of his district in order to seize the opportunity to land the big project. He promised that the airport would be a boon to their economy, would lift people from poverty and provide thousands of jobs. They believed him.

Jackson continued singing the same song to his constituents and his colleagues in congress, always painting a rosy image and coloring facts. Then he saw an opportunity to help his cause and better his career--a seat in the U.S. Senate--vacated when Barack Obama was elected 44th President of the United States.

That is when Jackson's problems began. In addition to an extra-marital affair, one of the many investigations into his financial dealings involved suspicion that he offered a huge sum money to ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich in return for appointing him to Obama's senate seat. The emissary who apparently made the offer--Rughuveer Nyak--was arrested by the FBI last June.

Incidentally Blagojevich was arrested on several counts of corruption in December '08 and is currently serving time in a federal prison in Colorado. Blagojevich's predecessor, George Ryan, who also worked with Jackson on the proposed build-the-airport project is also serving time in a federal penitentiary for his corruption while in office.

In 2011 the Congressional Ethics Committee found probable cause to continue to investigate Jackson.

Shortly after Nyak was arrested, in June 2012, Jackson disappeared from public view. He wasn't at his campaign office in Chicago nor was he tending to his duties in Washington. It was later learned that he had a medical condition. Apparently Jackson is suffering from a bi-polar disorder and gastro-intestinal issues related to a previous weight-loss surgery. The public learned after months of not knowing of his whereabouts that he spent some seeking treatment at Mayo Clinic.

There is little sympathy for Jesse Jackson, Jr., by residents of eastern Will County, where lives have been upended for decades because of the turmoil suffered at Jackson's hand.

The people of what had been the 11th congressional district despised Jackson's efforts to claim their area as his own fiefdom. They have been pawns in his game or airport roulette. At their expense, his efforts were somewhat legitimized when the state legislature redrew the 2010 redistricting map. The boundaries of the 2nd congressional district were moved to include much of Will and Kankakee counties.

It is too bad the man is ill, if he really is ill, but it is also too bad that his actions have destroyed lives, land, and hopes of so many. It is too bad Jackson didn't use his skills for good rather than evil.

For that, he needs to pay restitution, even if it is with his own freedom.
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Watch out when they push 'jobs'

Barack Obama, Carol Henrichs 
It is Election Day Eve. It has been a never-ending election season, and yet, in many ways, it is hard to believe we are finally here. As a supporter of four more years for President Obama, I have personally spent months commiserating with like-minded voters and debating and debunking the merits of a Mitt Romney administration.

I have made lots of new friends and probably lost some too.

For me, this election comes down to a continuance of the last 25 years I have spent fighting the State of Illinois’ proposal to build an airport south of Chicago—an airport that is unnecessary, isn’t approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, is opposed by the airlines and the local residents and governments that would have to live with it, and just plain doesn’t fit into the rural area where it is proposed.

I have heard all too often the term “jobs.” This project started as a Republican initiative back in the 1980’s. It is now favored heavily by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., a Democrat. The line has been blurred between the two. “Jobs” has been the promise--jobs for the poorest suburbs in the Chicagoland area. Trouble is, that would likely not be the result, for a multitude of reasons.

This project has taught me that “jobs” is often nothing more than a political buzzword used by politicians to make it look like they are actually doing something for someone. “Jobs” can also mean total degradation of the environment, whole communities, and destruction of private property, not to mention people’s lives.

That is what I see when I hear Mitt Romney talk about creating “jobs” on day 1, if he is elected. In the context of Romney-speak when he talks about drilling on federal lands, it makes me cringe. When he talks about renewing an energy policy that puts people to work, what he is really talking about is profits for oil, gas, and coal companies at the expense of the natural resources it would destroy. There has to be a balance between the quality of life of people living in the areas rich resources with extracting those from the earth. Romney doesn’t understand that balance. All he understands is profit.

To me, this election is about the intangibles that translate into profit and people. It is always a delicate balance. I just don’t think Romney gets that.

What about the ecosystem that sustains mankind? What about the endangered species that are about to vanish from the earth—species that one day could prove to be a cure for human illnesses? What about the indisputable climate change that has raised temperatures to new heights, caused droughts in the country’s mid-section, and ramped up the effects of storms, like Hurricane Sandy. What about the global conditions that have not yet been felt. The buzzword “jobs” pales in comparison. Survival always trumps jobs numbers. Mitt Romney knows nothing of these complex problems.

Then there are women’s issues. I wrote my first pro-choice letter to the editor years ago. Choice isn’t about the pros and cons of abortion. Nobody likes abortion. Choice is about private, personal decisions being made by a woman with guidance from her family and physician. It is not the concern of the government, let alone to be mandated by government.

There are so many other reasons that a Mitt Romney administration scares me to my core.

Beyond these issues, I could never vote for a candidate whose policies were so opaque, for a candidate who changed his position to accommodate each audience he spoke to, or one that is so beholding to his religious views that he would impose them onto others. Mitt Romney is an elitist that doesn't seem to understand truth, transparency, or compromise. 

It is why I am voting for Barack Obama for President. I am not unhappy with the man who has governed this country for the last four years; he is a man that was able to bring the economy back from the brink after eight of the most trying years of my political lifetime. I am excited to hear Barack Obama speak about “all people.” This should be a country of opportunity for men and women, no matter the age, race, religion, sexual preference, or geographic boundary. I am encouraged by his ability to bring people together, to be able to sort through the layers of complex issues. I love that he has been so tolerant, keeping a steady hand, even when all odds were against him. He has even been able to get things done, despite the bullies in the U.S. House who have thwarted his every initiative. I am proud that he has looked beyond his own personal view to support gay marriage and to follow through with “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” He really is a trustworthy leader, who understands people, of this country and beyond, and can relate to them. Barack Obama gets it. I love his demeanor and how he has handled difficult times with good humor and compassion. I am proud to call him my President.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Barack Obama must win a second term

Official photographic portrait of US President...
US President Barack Obama 
I feel confident that Barack Obama will win a second term in the White House. I say that partially because I cannot imagine any other scenario. Like so many others, I have watched this race with Mitt Romney intensely. I've studied the debates; read all the pundits; and engaged every way possible. There should be no contest. On character alone, Obama is head and shoulders above his challenger. Obama wins on substance, temperament, intellect, diplomacy, integrity, and just about every other way.

I have not, however, donated money to the campaign, for two reasons. 

First, I stand by the principle that elections should not be bought. The Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that basically threw out any monetary restrictions in campaign finance is immoral and unethical, in my opinion. I plan to support any effort in the future that will negate this blunder by the corporate-heavy, prejudicial court. 

Probably more importantly, I just don't have money to throw into the political arena. Paying bills and taking care of necessities is a much more responsible avenue in my fixed-income household. I'm at least grateful there is enough to pay for the necessities. 

Just because I am not throwing money at my President does not mean I don't support his candidacy. In fact, any of my Facebook friends will attest that I am a big Obama supporter. I have literally devoted hours in an effort to debunk the lies, distortions, and misrepresentations from my 'friends.' If I got paid for the 'writing' I've done on the subject, my personal economic situation would be greatly improved. That however, is not, nor has never been my goal. I have long endeavored in support for causes that I believe in, not because of what I could get out of it, but for what I could put into it. 

While I definitely do not agree with every policy or decision, I have been proud of the leadership in the White House. I cannot say the same thing for challenger, Mitt Romney. To me, Romney epitomizes everything that appalls me. Born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, he really doesn't stand for anything. Despite his participation in his church, he doesn't appear to me to be a moral character. That is another topic for another time.

While Mitt Romney may have done some good things in his life, I'd be willing to bet he benefited by them. He is the kind of man whose deeds are the main course; while any other benefit to anyone else is merely a side dish. He is a bully, void of empathy. He has harmed countless people for his own gain. To me, that is the lowest form of human behavior. I certainly don't want that type of person leading our country.

I've been amazed at how many people simply hate Obama. It is painfully obvious that irrational feelings of hatred stem from varying levels of racial bias because Obama's father was African-American. The election of this President has caused bigotry to rise to the surface, largely by fringe groups of white, Christians who still judge people by the color of their skin, but even by some who don't admit their prejudices. I find it incredible and frightening that in 21st Century America there are still people so filled with racism--a racism so ingrained in them that it colors their views and perceptions. It is so appalling.

Mitt Romney is the stereotypical white, rich guy that probably never knew the joy of getting his hands dirty. A man of privilege for his entire life, he doesn't know what he is missing. 

How could anyone think he could lead a country where only one percent of the population is like him? Romney's role on the national stage should be limited to that of economic adviser, because that is what he knows. But as the leader of a country that is so diverse, a Romney presidency would be worse than what was experienced under the George W. Bush administration. I never dreamed anyone could be worse than Bush, but I believe Romney would be. While he may be a good business manager, running a country is far more complex and requires skills he does not have. A country is all about its people--something Romney is not very good at. 

Running a country is not about simply descending the stairs from a perch in an ivory tower, writing a few pink slips, and then retreating to the country club to joke about it with friends. 

I am sickened at how the marketing of Mitt Romney has influenced so many people--including many of my friends and family. How can people be so blind as to fall for the faux facts, targeted policies aimed at the audience, plans that change with the wind, and his refusal to answer questions? Where is the substance in this man? 

Mitt Romney has turned the leadership of the country into a game. He wants to win it and he will win at any cost. This isn't about leadership of the country we all hold dear; it is about winning. 

What appalls me the most is that people are not just allowing it but are encouraging it. They have convinced themselves that he is what they see in front of them. In reality what they see is an actor--a made-up for the camera robot with no heart. Funny, they voted for George W. Bush because they thought he was a nice guy, only to learn how wrong they were. These are people who lack the depth of understanding to vote for the person that will do the best job managing our country as just one of many in an increasingly  complex world. I just don't think Mitt Romney is up to the task. 
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Family garage sale bonds siblings

Last weekend, we had a garage sale. That's me in the background, overseeing the 'stuff' in our garage.

It was an extravaganza, but not just because of the usual garage sale activity, but because my husband's two sisters joined us. Betty lives right around the corner from us. Thank goodness, because she and her husband John brought lots of goodies to sell, not to mention their own tables and even a crock pot filled with sloppy joes to eat.

Jean lives in Indiana. She packed up a rental car and drove some 600 miles just to partake.

Family garage sales have always been a good time for us. Not only do we get rid of extra 'stuff' around the house, often times to one another, but we get to visit with each other and socialize with those who come to visit. And, we even made a few bucks.

This weekend was no exception. It was really fun to get together. It had been quite some time since we were all together in one place. In fact, it was during our last family garage sale, several years ago. Only that time, brother Steve was also here. We missed him this time.

I recall the first time we did this. It was just after we lost my mother-in-law, one of the saddest days I've ever known in my life. Betty and Jean lost their mom, and it was a stressful time for all of us. I adored my mother-in-law and felt her loss almost as deeply as they did.

Dividing a household can be a time of great stress. It has also been known to cause bickering among siblings as mementos and precious items are divided among those who are left. That didn't happen with us. Mom was so organized. She wrote the names on the backs of pictures, for instance, that she wanted each of her children to have. She knew who cared about what because she paid such close attention to those details. She listened when we talked. She pretty much got it right too. We knew how hard it would be to sell those pieces of her life that meant so much to us. There were no fights among us--no animosity, jealousy, or pettiness. We pretty much agreed on everything. There were plenty of tears along the way, but the three of us girls along with our husbands, all named John, by the way, made the most of a bad situation. We had a pajama party of sorts at Mom's house for the last time, as we priced items long into the night.

I'll never forget how hard it was to watch someone carry away the dining room table that had held so many happy family memories. It was indeed hard. But we tried to make the most of it. We convinced ourselves that a new family would make their own family memories, just as we had. We ended up laughing about one thing or another as the memories kept us going.

I think that experience, which was overall a positive one cemented our friendships and strengthened the bonds of our family ties. I suspect that is why we enjoy our family garage sales so much.

It is always good to whittle away the excesses. There is no pain associated with it now. There is only joy; joy at being together, not to mention the joy of cleaning out the clutter.

It was an exhausting weekend, but one I wouldn't trade for anything.
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

C'mon media--do your job! Ask questions!

Chicago media is all abuzz over the fact that the State of Illinois has issued yet another airport layout plan to the Federal Aviation Administration. How is this a news story?

Airport sentiment near Peotone!
What is wrong with the media? Instead of asking real questions, newspapers have merely stated the obvious--printed the press release. After covering this project for 25 years, doesn't the public deserve better than merely printing what some government PR guy throws out there? Isn't it time to ask some real questions?

IDOT submits airport layout plans to the federal government as frequently as some people change their socks. 

In its zeal to put this news out there, the media failed to note that IDOT's new plan is merely a resolution for its own blunder in 2007 when IDOT submitted dueling airport layout plans to the federal agency. 

One was IDOT's own plan, created out of a 1994 decision by Gov. Jim Edgar for state sponsorship of a new airport at the Peotone site, two years after it was rejected by regional consensus. The map submitted was the result of numerous revisions of the reduced, readjusted, and overall massaged airport layout plan that had been rejected two years prior because there was no regional consensus on the project.

Perhaps that is the question the media should be asking--how does the state plan to achieve a regional consensus for the Peotone Airport?

The other configuration the state submitted in 2007 was for the layout plan conceived by the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission (ALNAC), the self-appointed airport authority spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. with a little help from the state’s consultant EarthTech, formerly TAMS.

At that time, the FAA rejected both plans and told IDOT to come back with just one. So, apparently it took five years for the agency to whittle down the differences in the two nearly identical plans,  in order to submit one of them. 

Perhaps the real news is: why does it take so long for the State of Illinois to draw a map when they have had their crayons for decades. But the media didn't bother to ask that question either.

Some news outlets wrongly make the claim that the submission of another airport layout plan is somehow a sign that Gov. Pat Quinn is moving the airport forward. Like most of what has fueled the Peotone  Airport since its inception, this is a mighty big assumption. The fact is that the project has been on the drawing board since 1985. Every governor since Big Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar, George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich, and now Quinn has given it lip service, so how is this newsworthy? Yet, the reality is that the Peotone Airport is nothing more than a stack of yellowing papers on a shelf.

One component of the state's layout plan is the general aviation component of the Peotone Airport. How does the state plans to reconcile the existence of Bult Field, a privately-owned FAA-sanctioned general aviation airport, into which lies inside the Peotone Airport fence?

Back in 2008, IDOT reportedly assumed that Bult Field would be acquired and incorporated into the proposed airport. It is expected that existing facilities at Bult Field would serve the General Aviation (GA) needs at SSA (South Suburban Airport). Major improvements have been made to Bult Field since it was developed in October 2004. The cost to acquire that airport would drastically increase the cost of developing the proposed airport. How does the state plan to acquire and pay for a private airport for its own purposes? Is Bult Field even for sale?

Maybe reporters should ask IDOT what it plans to do with an airfield that airlines are opposed to and say they will not use. How does the governor plan to entice the airlines to get on board with his newly-reported support for a Peotone Airport? 

Instead of addressing the myriad questions surrounding the state's arguably longest-running boondoggle, the media has opted to report, practically word-for-word, the state's press release. It was only later in the story that throwing $70 million toward land purchases was mentioned. 

Isn't that more important? Isn't it actual news that the governor of the cash-starved State of Illinois that has been bullying landowners near Peotone for decades wants to continue the process. To me, that is much more newsworthy than merely jumping through a procession of legal hoops to prepare a Master Plan for an airport that may never be built anyway.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Parade Route

Politics often provides such a clear distinction between the candidates.

It was at a parade that I met Barack Obama, the Democrat running for a second term as President.

The following picture of the two of us posing in front of my house was taken Beecher, Illinois back in 1994 when Obama was campaigning for  a seat in the U.S. Senate.

I was a small town reporter taking pictures of the Fourth of July parade. We lived along the parade route, so I often combined business with pleasure. I recall being totally excited and amazed that a candidate for the U.S. Senate was walking in our little, small town parade. I had no idea at the time that the man with whom I took this picture would become the 44th President of the United States.

Obama obviously loved campaigning. He loved being around people. He enjoyed meeting them. His huge smile was evidence of how much fun he was having. He reached for as many hands as reached out to him. He was friendly and took time to talk with folks along the parade route. In fact, there were many times he had to run to catch up after being sidelined by questioners and interested future constituents.

Then there is the other side. A video was made of Paul Ryan, the Republican Vice Presidential running mate of Mitt Romney, who is challenging Obama.

I could go on about Romney, but this is a story about parades, so the object is Paul Ryan, the same man whose speech at the Republican National Convention was picked apart by fact checkers the following morning.

Watch how Paul Ryan greets the people along the parade route.

There is no doubt in my mind which man I would rather see lead this country.
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Newspapers need to step up

MSNBC's Chris Hayes, "Getting Past the Fa...
MSNBC's Chris Hayes
 (Photo credit: thecommongoodusa)
One of the best show on television, for anyone who cares about current issues and events, is Up with Chris Hayes, on weekend mornings

I find this young man to be energetic, optimistic, enlightening, and highly intelligent. I've seen more of him lately, what with all the political goings on as we move closer to the November 6 election, which to me translates into hope for the future of journalism. I had feared that our best days were behind us. I find Chris Hayes' the MSNBC contributor whose off-the-cuff analysis in many cases, is downright genius.
I tuned in to UP recently where the discussion, while centering on fact checking spurred by the Paul Ryan speech at the Republican National Convention, morphed into a talk about news media, journalism, one-newspaper markets, and how it all relates to politics. It was a fascinating program. With a guest panel that included various journalists, like Bob Herbert from and who also writes a column in the New York Times, the discussion made me feel like I was at home. I wanted to jump into the television to join in; I would have loved to relate my experience, working at a local newspaper that cornered the market in the small town where I lived. With no competition, I wanted to explain how often times I had to fight for a story that didn't follow the deeply-engrained thinking. I usually won, except for twice when the owner pulled a story that he thought to be politically damaging even though it was true. He was a Republican; I was a Democrat. Another one told the truth about a school election. He couldn't afford to harm those people. They were all friends and advertisers.

Small local newspapers with no competition worked when a town was small enough that everybody knew one another. It worked when the local gossip mill was as informed as the morning headline. But when the town started to grow it became a different story. About the time when the townsfolk realized they really should start locking their doors at night, it was also time to bring competition to the news market. But that didn't happen.

"WATCH YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER^^" - NARA - 535653 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Objectivity, which was never the priority anyway, ceased to have a chance. What happens is people are so concerned with the obvious changes in their town that they never even considered the below-the-surface needs that they have come to take for granted--like the lack of objectivity in their newspaper. When they finally did notice, the local newspaper was among so many other pressing problems that it became relegated to bottom rung of the priority ladder. As the town grew, more and more people became subscribers, it certainly not for the news value. Folks kept up with shopping ads, little league scores, and the latest obituaries. They were unaware of how things had always been and they didn't care. Often times, they continued subscribing to the newspapers from where they came from, recognizing that the local newspaper was nothing more than an extension of the good ole boy network that ran the town. The news was completely skewed and self-serving to its owners. As long as the small paper's owners didn't lose business, they didn't feel a need to change policies. The status-quo worked for them.

It never worked for me. I have long said that a lack of objectivity in the local newspaper contributes to the decline of understanding, information, and ultimately the politics of a region. This allows the local leaders to completely take advantage of the public for its own gain. News is force-fed in the form of one-sided opinion and commentary through what was once a valuable resource that exposed such behaviors. Today, they are contributors. The political leanings of the owner of a newspaper has become evident in all his editorial decisions. He has the ability to sway the better part of an entire populace, if they aren't paying attention. 

The problem has only been exacerbated by the economic downturn of the newspaper industry, which further denigrates what newspapers used to be--a trusted source of fact. With the focus shifting from the readership to merely selling advertising, newspapers as we have known them have ceased to exist.

I always believed that the local newspaper, an information and education resource, is the basic form of communication in a community. It must be balanced to cover the community it serves, but with a much broader perspective. If the perspective of editorial content remains too narrow, readers are left uninformed or worst, misinformed.

In the town where I worked, most of the people have a narrow focus, believe and rarely question what their parents and grandparents believed. They go about their daily lives unaware of what they are missing. They are confidant that all is well as they live in a bubble away from all outside influence. That is until something happens to burst that bubble. Where I lived, it was a state-sponsored proposal to build a huge airport, displacing some of the region's best farm fields with concrete and asphalt.

That bubble and its naive sense of well-being makes whole populations completely vulnerable to outside forces that recognize their innocence and take full advantage of it.

It is my hope that newspapers can retain their profitability if they recognize their value is less profit-oriented, and more of a social and education necessity.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watching RNC painful; reminder of lessons learned

Mitt and Ann Romney on December 22, 2007, at a...
Mitt and Ann Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I felt great anticipation; I knew this was going to be painful.

That statement might refer to sitting in a dentist's chair awaiting a root canal. Or it might be the moments just before the start of the Republican National Convention. I knew it would hurt, but I didn't realize how much.

For me, the agony was in reliving the past. I have a little understanding of the political process, due to my long history battling Illinois politicians over their foolish notion to build a third Chicagoland Airport 40 miles south of the city near rural Peotone, Illinois.

I know how feudal it can be to try to have a decent conversation with politicians who have their minds set and their marching orders in hand. I know it can be infuriating when they refuse to listen, even though that is, or at best should be, part of their job description. I know truth is often buried beneath surface rhetoric; sometimes it is buried so deeply that it cannot be recovered. I know there are mean-spirited people with humongous egos who talk down to everyone around them. I know there are always questions that will go unanswered. I know that perspectives can be skewed, the thought process rarely strays from the pre-approved talking points, and the opposition is the enemy.

I learned these things at the hand of the GOP in Illinois. This may sound confusing to some who may recognize that the loudest voice on behalf of the Peotone Airport is U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. The Peotone project may appear to be a Democrat-inspired battle.

Although it may no longer be widely known, the Peotone Airport began with the Republicans in the Illinois General Assembly. It was definitely a GOP airport. In fact, for years I kept an article in the top drawer of my desk from the Chicago Sun Times, Oct. 1988. The headline read, "Du Page plum for GOP pals // Political ties bring profits in airport expansion," The article detailed an aggressive plan, by the DuPage Republicans who at the time were the leaders of the state. They planned to expand the DuPage Airport, located at the edge of the county. This is the same county as O'Hare neighbors and foes, the municipalities of Bensenville and Elk Grove Village.

The DuPage Airport was a completely self-serving project, paid for by taxpayers to the tune of $90 million. That was not chump change in 1988. I have long maintained that this project was a model--a how-to method--to build a third airport. Remember, the Peotone plan was hatched by the DuPage GOP as a means of  resisting expansion at O'Hare--or so they thought.

Though Jesse Jackson, Jr. happened to be a Democrat, he brought his own skill set to the table. He was a community activist of sorts who knew how to turn everything he touched into a racially-charged issue. He was a shoe-in as a congressional representative. And he had a rebel-rousing, well-known black activist father. DuPage Republicans didn't have much experience with race relations, since DuPage was predominantly white in 1988. This would need to be a numbers game. The more people to sign on the better.  If it worked, Jackson could make a really big name for himself. That was very appealing to him. His strong dislike for then Chicago Mayor Richard Daley gave him a kind of kinship with his GOP pals. He teamed up with the late Congressman Henry Hyde, a DuPage GOP kingpin. Hyde died and Jackson became the front man of the project, while still cooperating with those DuPage GOP. He made the project his obsession, still wanting to make that name for himself.

Given that kind of base, watching the shenanigans at the RNC was all pretty predictable.

I heard governors talk mostly about themselves and their accomplishments despite their facts being largely exaggerated at best. Much of what they said failed this morning's fact checking. It was easy to recognize the pattern when I heard it. The main point they wanted to get across was based on their need for self aggrandizement.

If all these wonderful statistics were true and the governors who spoke turned their states into such job havens, why wouldn't those great benefits fall under the umbrella of Obama's economic policies? If their states were doing so well, wouldn't the numbers for the whole country look better? Trying to look at only a partial picture is a pretty typical political move. I know it to be one the GOP uses all the time. Politicians are largely one-trick ponies. They learn one trick and use it over and over and over again, even when it ceases to work.

Nikki Haley's harangue about Obama suing South Carolina over Boeing was only half the story. She forgot to mention that all those new jobs from Boeing in South Carolina, a right to work state would have saved Boeing lots of money that it was paying its workers in Seattle, who incidentally got laid off. That is another typical political move--cherry-picking information, using only what makes you look good and hoping no one notices.

It is really nice that after all these years, that Ann Romney really loves her husband. Perhaps if he bought me fancy cars, beautiful homes, and all the riches I could ever ask for, I'd love him too. Well, maybe not because to me, those things don't translate into love. I'm not sure she convinced everyone to love her husband just because she does. Or do I trust him just because she does. Perhaps she is really naive because I don't trust people that tell as many lies as he does.

Gov. Chris Christie's keynote address was a barn-burner alright. It was the best speech of the night. He really is a great speaker. Trouble is he forgot that he was supposed to talk about Mitt Romney. Instead he merely set the stage for his own run for the White House in 2016. Politicians are such self-serving egomaniacs.

And then there was Mitt Romney. The one thing he has going for himself is that he lacks that whole ego thing.   Romney doesn't have enough personality even for his own ego. He seems unfeeling, unemotional. I suppose that is a defense mechanism that is necessary when you do as much harm to people as he has during his economic life at Bain.

I don't care what his wife thinks of him. I don't trust anything he says because it has become quite clear that what he said yesterday may not be what he says tomorrow.

Just the other day, I saw a videotaped piece where Mitt Romney said he didn't invest in the Cayman Islands to save money on taxes; that he didn't get any tax break for his offshore investment. Liar! That is the only reason to invest in the Cayman Islands.

Even if he didn't lie about everything he touched, or released his tax returns, I would still disagree with Romney's philosophy of running the government like a business. Businesses are profit driven. I don't think that should be the objective of government. Making money is not what it is all about. Government is about people. Mitt Romney doesn't seem to have a sense of how to deal with people. I hate that he doesn't want to answer questions. That is also a part of government that I feel is very important.

I'm anxious to see if there is anything redeeming about Paul Ryan's speech tonight, although I feel like I'm about to sit in that dental chair again. I suspect the pain is going to escalate as the convention wears on. All I can say is, thank goodness, the RNC has been shortened by one day.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. should appologize to eastern Will County

Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s original congressional photo
Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s original congressional photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sympathy has begun to build for Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., who is being treated at Mayo Clinic for a bipolar disorder--we are told.

Jackson had been virtually missing from view for weeks until it was finally learned that he had a serious medical condition that required him to stay in the hospital.

According to news accounts., he has had visits, not only from members of his family, but also former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Each indicated that Jackson has a ways to go before returning to work, if he does return to work.

For what is now adding up to months, Jackson has been absent from the U.S. Congress. For the first several weeks, it was unknown just where and why he was gone. Wild speculation about rehab from drugs and alcohol, running off to a mistress, and other sordid explanations were rampant; they were all denied by family members.

Apparently Jackson is suffering from severe depression associated with his condition.
Illinois State Capitol
Illinois State Capitol
(Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

I can only wonder. Does Jackson's depression have anything to do with guilt about his behavior toward the innocent landowners in eastern Will County--the same folks which he has targeted for years. Following in a path laid out by his predecessors, Jackson tread on the people of eastern Will County as he pursued a pathetic idea--a third Chicagoland airport--that had been rattling around the Illinois General Assembly, in real estate circles, and in the leadership of the south suburbs since the 1960's. Jackson made it his own. It is unclear whether he believed the things he said about the vast economic potential of the project or if he simply was playing a role similar to that of a used car salesman or sleazy televangelist.

Either way, Jackson placed his own potential political spotlight far above the innocent people forced to deal with his political games. He wasn't even accountable to them until he convinced the Illinois General Assembly to right the wrong he did. When the legislative maps were redrawn, Jackson finally became the congressman of the district that included the airport footprint. Even before he got that done, Jackson played with the innocent people of eastern Will County as though they were merely the pawns in his life-altering chess game.

Most people would be conflicted by trying to better themselves at the expense of hundreds and perhaps thousands of innocent people. Perhaps Jackson really knows that his efforts to build a South Suburban Airport are futile and that the project itself is unnecessary.

I'd like to think that what he has done to people that were completely undeserving of his assault, has caused him angst. His accountability would humanize him.

Jackson has staked his entire political career on this one big issue. Who knows what might have occurred, had he pursued other, perhaps smaller, but more achievable projects?

An airport is the ultimate. The model of O'Hare International Airport, if duplicated, could be the one big development that would satisfy any politician's dreams. Starry-eyed at best, any objective view will show that O'Hare in the 1960's will not / can not be duplicated. That was a one-time bonanza, never to be repeated.

I'm sorry. I don't want to see anyone suffer. I feel empathy for my fellow human beings. Perhaps that explains why I got involved in the State of Illinois' battle to take private land for an unproven publics works project in the first place. The more I became educated about the lunacy of pursuing the building of another airport in the 1980's, the more suffering I have seen at the hand of state and local government. There has been untold suffering.

Perhaps this hospital stay is a good time for Jackson to take account--to consider all of the things he could have done--rather than pursuing the development of an unneeded airport. He should think about the harm he has caused to innocent people, their families, and their neighborhoods. Most of the damage was done before Jackson even represented the people of eastern Will County. Now he is their congressman. He should make amends, apologize to them. He should leave them alone, and stop beating the dead horse that is the Peotone Airport.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

George Ryan's appeal denied by federal court

English: Former Illinois Governor George Ryan        Ex-Illinois Governor George RyanDespite his lawyer's best efforts, George Ryan, Illinois' disgraced governor, serving a 6 1/2 year sentence in federal prison, will not be leaving jail before next July when his sentence is concluded.

Ryan's lawyers, led by another former governor--James Thompson--filed an appeal based on the Supreme Court's ruling last year on the "honest services" laws. The laws, as applied to public officials holds that a public official stands in a fiduciary relationship with the public. Honest services fraud is committed by breaching those fiduciary duties in the course of that relationship. The laws relate to theft, accepting a bribe, or concealing a financial conflict of interest. In 2010 the court narrowed the fraud to bribery and kickback schemes.

Appealing Ryan's conviction was a long shot at best, and it is the last in a series of extraordinary efforts to keep Ryan out of jail. The legal wrangling commenced as soon as he was convicted in 2006.
To see more stories related to George Ryan, just type his name into the search engine at right!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Setting the record straight--the South Suburban Airport has NOT been approved by the FAA

Contrary to what has been printed in The BlackList Pub, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has NOT approved the building of a South Suburban Airport. The project will likely never be built, despite recent misinformation from IDOT Aeronautics Director Susan Shea and reported in Chicago newspapers.

For All Points-Of-The-View.

The following is the first sentence of a post in The BlackList Pub entitled, "Congressman Jackson Work Ignored As IDOT and FAA confirm south suburban airport WILL be built!"

"During Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr's medical leave and stories about his legislative record and November elections, The Sun Times and other local and national media have went to great lengths examining the impact of his legacy, so I found it interesting how The Sun Times and other media recently ran an extensive story featuring a top IDOT official confirming that the FAA is indeed approved the building of a South Suburban Airport with absolutely no mention of Congressman Jackson," writes Mark S. Allen, the author of a post in The BlackList Pub, which I assume is a blog serving Chicago's black community.

The tone of the article is the writers' frustration that Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is being ignored for all his hard work on the proposed airport.

While Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s hard work is debatable in itself, a bigger problem is that the writer assumed what he read in the Chicago Sun Times, (see below) recently to be accurate information. It was not!

Fact is, the proposed airport--the Peotone Airport--has NOT been approved by the FAA as The BlackList Pub reported.

The misunderstanding came when IDOT Aeronautics Director Susan Shea reported erroneous information to attendees of an economic forum whose members happen to be rabidly in favor of the project. A Southtown Star reporter simply quoted Shea in a story without verifying the truth to her statements. The story was picked up by the Chicago Sun Times, which owns the Southtown Star. The result was a second story refuting the first. The second story quoted IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell when he explained that FAA approval is a long way off. Ironically Tridgell is a former transportation reporter for the Southtown Star.

Read the complete explanation here.

Watching the process of a third airport during the past 27 years, I've seen much of this misinformation passed along from person to person like an old-fashioned game of Telephone--you know--where one person tells another person something and they tell another, and so on, always embellishing the story along the way.

That is what has happened here. It might explain why the project didn't end years ago. Rumors, lies, and innuendos have kept propping it up. Thank goodness the Internet allows a better accounting of who says what and to whom.

All the while, the people who live in the vicinity of this proposed airport continue to be victims of all those lies and innuendos, usually at the hand of government officials and their employees.

Mr. Allen should write a retraction in his publication stating that the proposed airport has not been approved by the FAA.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chicago Sun Times shows how bad news travels fast; wrong news travels faster!

Chicago Sun Times              Chicago Sun Times 
Two of the many things that are wrong with journalism today is a total disregard for correctness and a new ambivalence toward an informed public!

Both examples were evident when the Chicago Sun Times attempted to report on the Peotone Airport.

Steve Metsch, a Sun-Times Media reporter, who writes for the Southtown/Star, which is owned by the Chicago Sun Times, covered a meeting Friday, July 27, of at the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp. The resulting story was entitled, "Top IDOT official says third airport will be built."

He quoted Susan Shea, IDOT Director, Division of Aeronautics when she said, "To the naysayers, this is it. The FAA would not tell us this is the preferred place. This is where it's going to be," Shea said. "...I's going to be such an economic engine for the community out there, for the state. It is going to happen. It's just a matter of when. It's not a matter anymore of if."

The proposed airport being decidedly imminent would be pretty big news since it is a project that has been languishing on the IDOT radar screen for more than 27 years, if it were true.

Trouble is, it isn't true, as evidenced by Monday's story in the Chicago Sun Times refuting it entitled, "Despite report, Peotone Airport isn't a done deal yet."

Because the Peotone Airport has long been a hot topic, any news about it is often picked up by other media outlets across the country. The Peotone Airport is a national story, mostly because with a negative spin, such as its receiving the Golden Fleece Award, one which highlights government's wasteful spending. The Peotone Airport has been compared with IDOT's other failed accomplishments, the downstate Mid-America Airport, which has sat virtually empty for years.

If the story Shea tried to tell was true, it isn't hard to imagine that the initial story would have news value. That explains why it was picked up by Chicago TV news, and in local papers across the state. I saw it online at Yahoo News!

Trouble is, the initial story was picked up. The retraction was not.

This situation isn't new. IDOT has been counting on the media to do their public relations work for their pet project since a new airport was envisioned in 1985.

That is why opponents have had an uphill battle trying to fight the project. Despite having truth on their side and the project having a lack of merit, it is difficult to compete with a well-oiled public relations machine. The government uses the media every chance it gets.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gun debate goes on and on and on...

AURORA, CO - JULY 23:  Two daughters of movie-...
AURORA, CO - JULY 23: Two daughters of movie-theater-shooting-victim Gordon Cowden's embrace one another at the makeshift memorial built across the street from the Century 16 theater July 23, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Two of Cowden's teenage daughters were with him in the theater when he was killed. Twenty-four-year-old James Holmes is suspected of killing 12 and injuring 58 others Friday during a shooting rampage at a screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises.' (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
What happened last weekend in Aurora, Colorado was everyone's worst nightmare. Like most others who have watched the details of the tragedy unfold, I thought about how I have been going to movies all my life. It has always been a relaxing, enjoyable, peaceful experience. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine that someone could walk up and down the aisles shooting innocent people.

That kind of horror often plays out in movie theaters, but on the screen, not in the audience. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live through such horrific violence, or what would be worse to die because of it.

Turning an American iconic activity into a bloody horror has enraged me. But I am even more horrified that so many people refuse to place any kind of blame on the relative ease of this 24-year old killer to obtain weapons of mass destruction. We went to war with a country over such a thing! But so many people, the very people that condoned the unjust war in Iraq that was based on lies by the George W. Bush administration, defend the right to own semi-automatic weapons and magazines that hold hundreds of shots. Their argument is based on self defense. I have to ask what is wrong with these people?

A quick Internet search of the subject, revealed multiple sources that make the claim, "more guns, less crime." In fact, that is the title of a book written by John Lott. The NRA has embraced his work and in the summer of 2003 recommended the book and its analysis to then Attorney General John Ashcroft in a letter signed by 18 state attorneys general. They sang the praises of Ashcroft's position on the Second Amendment. And so it goes...

I can't help but remain skeptical because it only seems to me that violence is much more a part of life today than it has ever been before. In my unskilled, unstudied opinion, guns seem to be at the very heart of it. Never before has this country seen the kinds of mass killings that we are seeing on a seemingly regular basis. Shootings resulting in multiple deaths have occurred in fast food joints, the workplace, college campuses, elementary and high schools, shopping malls and now at movie theaters.
A little further research revealed a working paper written by Mark Duggan from the National Bureau of Economic Research at Cambridge, Massachusetts, who looked into the relationship of guns and crime. His paper was entitled: "More Guns More Crime." At the time of his research, Mark was a student at the University of Chicago in the Dept. of Economics.

His paper was an in-depth analysis--than a cursory Google search. Those first results were obvious bias sources. One article on Google can be recreated literally hundreds of times by different sources. Such is the case with gun advocates.

Duggan noted his paper one item that stood out for me. He said he used statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) because the NCHS data gave a more accurate source of homicide data than the FBI. He noted that between five and eight-percent of homicides are not reported in the FBI state-level data each year.

Another paper published by Ian Ayres and John J. Donohue III is entitled, "Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis.", students at Yale and Stanford respectively.

"While certain facially plausible statistical models appear to generate this conclusion, (Lott's book "More Guns Less Crime") more refined analyses of more recent state and county data undermine the more guns, less crime hypothesis," said Ayres and Donohue III.

Donahue also wrote, "The latest misfires in support of the 'More Guns, Less Crime' hypothesis," in the Stanford Law Review, 2003.

The discussion has gone on for years, with no resolution. Fire power is getting faster and more lethal while political leaders continue to back away from the very subject. Who can blame them? The country is as divided about guns as it is on a host of other topics, especially in this election year.

So, the argument between gun and non-gun advocates continues, while more and more potential future victims of gun violence go about their happy lives. Potential killers keep going to gun stores and ordering their Glocks on the Internet. One day the two will meet. Bang, somebody will be dead!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jesse Jackson, Jr. out of touch

, member of the United States House of Represe...U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson

The Rev. Jesse Jackson told NBC Chicago today that his son was slowly regaining his strength.

"Worse than we thought it was at first," was how Jackson categorized his son's unknown ailment. When asked what the problem is, Jackson said it was "inappropriate" to comment on what is wrong with his son.

That is exactly the opposite of what Illinois' senior senator--U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin--had to say.

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, of Illinois.U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin

In a recent statement at a city event, Durbin expressed that as a public official Jackson has a responsibility to tell the public what is going on.

"If there is some medical necessity for him not to say more at this moment then I will defer to that," Durbin said, but added that Jackson will soon have to report on what it is he is struggling with.

A press release from Jackson's office merely said he had checked himself into a medical in-care facility to deal with "physical and emotional ailments." Both Jackson's father and his wife,  a Chicago alderman have refused to provide any detail as to what Jackson's ailment really is.

Jackson has now been on medical leave for a month.

During a similar time frame that Jackson disappeared from public view, Jackson's fundraiser pal--Raghuveer Nayak--was arrested by federal authorities in connection with allegedly unscrupulous business practices. Nayak became known during the Blagojevich scandal when Nayak was said to have made an offer on Jackson's behalf to purchase the open U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.

Jackson's attorneys say his disappearance is not connected to Nayak's arrest.

The only thing that is certain about Jesse Jackson, Jr. is that he is not among the most adored public officials.

The comments section of news stories written about his alleged illness is riddled with allegations, innuendos, and flat out attacks against him. According to the many negative statements, few believe that he is recovering from an illness or that his absence is unrelated to an ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation into his alleged attempt to buy a senate seat .

Editorials have been written about how Jackson owes answers to the people who hired him.

I couldn't agree more.
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Goodbye CNN!

U.S. Supreme Court building.
U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I remember a time when CNN was my go-to source for information. I felt that like it is advertised, CNN was the most trusted name in news.

No more. Yesterday, on one of the biggest political news stories--the U.S. Supreme court ruling on the Affordable Care Act--CNN got it wrong, horribly wrong.

I recall another time when the stakes were even higher that CNN got it wrong. It was in 2008 when CNN and several other news outlets reported, "Al Gore wins Florida," another story where the public was misled. We had to rely on time and hindsight for the real facts behind this convoluted truth.