Monday, February 18, 2013

Jesse Jackson, Jr. deservedly disgraced

English: Sandi Jackson and Jesse Jackson
English: Sandi Jackson and Jesse Jackson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some of the dastardly deeds of Jesse Jackson, Jr. have finally been noticed and acted upon--at least some of them. Good! Too bad he will likely never pay for all he has done.

The disgraced congressman from Illinois second congressional district has now been indicted for misusing campaign funds to the tune of $750,000. The actual indictment is shown here. Jackson's shame is also shared by his wife the former Chicago alderman, Sandi Jackson. As a result, the two of them could end up in jail, the place for plenty of other Illinois political figures before them.

If only the former congressman would learn his lesson. If only his situation could serve as an example to others who believe they are better than the rest of us and thus deserve more than the rest of us. If only the world could see that working hard is the way to get ahead, not gaming the system.

Sadly, that will likely never happen.

From what I have observed, and I have written about it numerous times in this very blog, Jesse Jackson, Jr. will stop at nothing to get what he wants, despite who or what gets in his way. He plays the game to win. He ignored all the rules and made them up as he went along, never considering that he wouldn't always come out on top.

He is in my view, a classic narcissist, which is a personality disorder that showcases ego and makes a person pre-occupied with all things self. Such personality types have seemingly filled our government at all levels. It has to be a real kick for people like Jackson to have tens of thousands of virtual strangers throw money and support your way in a campaign, but politics only feeds the disorder. Jackson and his famous father seem to share similar entitlement DNA. The difference is that Jesse Jackson's issues have been tempered with performing some outstanding work on behalf of others at times. I wish I could say the same thing for his son.

I know Jesse Jackson, Jr. had the potential and likely still does to be an excellent public servant. If only he could have gotten beyond serving himself first.

Watching Jesse Jackson, Jr. compromise all principles in his effort to sacrifice  the homes of landowners and farmers in eastern Will County where the state has been trying to cite an airport that has no logical purpose. The airport is evidence that he would stop at nothing. This is a man who cannot admit he is wrong. Yet, it was wrong when Jackson, the good Democrat, joined the efforts of the late Republican Congressman Henry Hyde, the man who was behind President Bill Clinton's impeachment. Hyde wanted to build an airport far away from O'Hare as a means of curtailing and possibly replacing it. He and Jackson teamed up with then Governor George Ryan, to form a trifecta of support for the ill-fated project. Hyde is dead; Ryan is currently under home confinement as he finishes his 6 1/2 year prison sentence for corruption; and Jackson--well he awaits his fate after his indictment. So much for Illinois' airport scheme...

The really sad part about Jackson is that he got people to believe him--to buy his snake oil--even though pathological lying is a symptom of narcissism. He lied to the U.S. Congress about the potential benefit of an airport in the cornfields and he lied to his constituents. He lied to south suburban mayors and clergy who still don't realize it was all smoke and mirrors. He got them to believe the hype--that an airport 40 miles away from Chicago was going to be their salvation.

It is too bad Jackson didn't enlist their support for some kind of real economic development project that might have helped them. In all Jackson's years in congress, some of the towns he represented remain the poorest in the state. It is too bad Jackson didn't use his talents and skills to make something happen that was doable and beneficial rather than merely to look at becoming an airport kingmaker to benefit himself.

When it came to the proposed Peotone Airport, Jackson would say anything to get it built. Never forget, he did it for himself. So many people over the 40-year history of the project have tried to get the unneeded, unwanted airport built. Remember Illinois is a pay-to-play state. Politics there isn't for the good of the people; it is for the good of the politicians who can wield contracts and control votes and campaign cash. No one has been able to build another major airport in Illinois, because right and reason really does trump wrong and foolish. In the end, the project will never be built because it really has no purpose. Air travel is never going to grow so much that O'Hare will be inadequate. It can always be expanded if need be.

I have no idea how long it will take for others just like Jackson to accept that, but one day, the beleaguered project will finally fade away. Jackson breathed the last dying gasps into it. His life will have to take a new turn now.  

The momentum he started more than a decade ago will have to slow at its own pace, but I predict it will, providing someone else doesn't follow in his footsteps. There is always someone willing to put themselves first in Illinois.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Sorrow of loss; lives remembered

These times are hard.

Not only is the world seemingly falling apart around us, but my personal world isn't faring much better. So many people I have known and cared about are dying.

The sadness I feel is like a brisk wind on a hillside, eroding me. I have long believed that what eventually kills us is the act of living. With living comes pain.

I'm almost starting to regret having worked at a job I loved; I was a local reporter in a small town for more than 20 years. I got to know so many people that I likely never would have met otherwise. I had the privilege of really getting to know them, their families, their life stories. I grew to love many of them, who have become lifelong friends.

My interviews were generally so much more than merely a question and answer session. They were usually an emotional, conversational experience for both of us, that included sharing intimate details of life. So much more was said than what could ever have appeared in print. 

My goal was to capture the essence of a person's story, why and what they cared about, as well as what inspired them. To write about them, I wanted to get to know them. Ultimately it was the detail that grew out of those conversations that made the story. More often than not, the exercise resulted in friendship. 

When my husband and I retired and moved away, it was hard to leave all those friendships behind. I have stayed in close contact with many. 

A funny thing happens when you leave a familiar place. Memories remain indelible, unchanged by time or circumstance. It is as though time is irrelevant. I imagine people and places to remain exactly as they were when I last saw them, though the reality is that time has its way with us all.

Time and reality can be cruel. So many of those people have died in recent weeks and months. There are almost too many to count. Just before Christmas, there were five deaths of people I had known and cared about. So many good people have left behind families who grieve for them and sadness to those of us whose lives were touched by them. 

Despite the pain of my own sorrow, I'm grateful that I knew them. I didn't just write about these folks, their life story danced with mine. The dance will stay with me forever, etched in a moment of time. 

So many good souls...