Friday, April 29, 2011

Obama falling between the stools

According to this piece from Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest, there are several strikes against President Obama. There is on main one that kept me from voting him in as our first Black President:
Another problem is experience, or rather the lack of it.  While two years in the White House have made him a much more seasoned and experienced figure, there is still a lot about American and international politics that is new to him and to some degree alien to his instincts and values.  Moreover, he came to the White House with next to no experience at running bureaucracies or leading legislative coalitions.  He lacks Lyndon Johnson’s sure sense of what Congress will or won’t do (not to mention Johnson’s legendary ability to build support for his agenda), and he lacks the international seasoning of a George H. W. Bush or Richard Nixon. This kind of experience is what is necessary both at home and abroad to understand the agendas and instincts of various parties and to figure out innovative, forward-looking ideas that can work around entrenched positions and make genuine progress.  Another term or two in the Senate and some time as governor of Illinois might have made Barack Hussein Obama a cannier and more formidable president.  (Bill Clinton had served five extremely educational terms as governor of Arkansas.)
In this piece from Michael Barone (via Instapundit) this quote - "To me that suggests when Mead assesses Obama, at least one question he has in mind is, 'What would Machiavelli do?'" - is certainly in response to this quote:
There seem to be several factors at work that repeatedly push the President into doomed compromises. One is ideology; the President is no socialist or far-left crusader, but he is an urban liberal whose core convictions are on the left end of the center-left. He is smart enough to know that he can’t always or even often get exactly what he wants, but having to govern from a position to the right of his own heart puts him in an awkward position. It is hard to be creative when you are constantly on the back foot.

By instinct, President Obama is not a politician. The President, like many other bright Ivy-educated lawyers, views the world through a legalistic prism, one that underestimates both the power and legitimacy of political considerations in the administration of government. Closing Guantanamo and trying KSM in Lower Manhattan seem both obviously necessary and unambiguously good to the legalistic mind. The ward-heeling politician knows better. This lack of instinctive appreciation for the crooked pathways of the political mindset (a characteristic President Obama shares with Woodrow Wilson) further undercuts the President’s ability to play the political system like a true virtuoso.
OK since if you read the whole thing there are detractors of Obama who compares the President to his predecessor Jimmy Carter, but to another predecessor Woodrow Wilson. President Wilson was a bit too academic to successfully get the Allied Powers on his side in order to prevent another World Ward which sadly happened almost 20 years later. Well at least that was my guess.

Ask Geoffrey: Civil War

[VIDEO] Our local PBS affiliate takes a look at Chicago Civil War history. They start off with a Civil War re-enactors. Geoffrey Baer is known for his various programs on WTTW about Chicago history from the L, to the neighborhoods, to the boulevard system, and even Chicago skyscrapers

Thursday, April 28, 2011

State of Morehouse College address...

Well in addition to seeing Morehouse graduates seek advanced degrees, raise the graduation rate to 80%, and raise $125 million according to a press release:
Franklin said international financial research firms have downgraded Morehouse’s financial outlook from “stable” to “negative” because of the tough fundraising climate and drops in endowment and enrollment.

The College’s six-year, $125-million capital campaign will address fundraising and endowment concerns, though Morehouse’s endowment (which is $120 million) is one of only five HBCUs with more than $100 million.

Franklin also said the campaign, along with increased alumni giving, will allow the College to increase the number of faculty-endowed chairs and raise the compensation level for faculty and staff.

The President said within the campaign period he wanted to build a new student center, see the Morehouse Male Initiative achieve national stature and perhaps start a new master’s degree program in leadership studies.

In the immediate future, Franklin told alumni that the College’s size and character would be the subject of conversations among members of the Board of Trustees. They will talk about whether the College should remain a liberal arts institution or focus on pre-professional programs.

They also will consider whether the student body should remain around 2,400 or be increased to as many as 3,500.

Franklin challenged alumni to be part of the “futuring” of Morehouse. “This is what alums do at great colleges,” he said.
You know I can't say I have a pulse on the higher education system in this country. Morehouse should remain an institution that focuses on liberal arts. I could like the idea of increasing the student body however should the school admit women to the college. Also could Morehouse aggressively recruit more students not only black students but students of different races to the college?

What types of pre-professional programs Morehouse should offer? Should the college consider gearing their students towards teaching skills that well help them be employed? Could this be done without sacrificing academics?

And I also wonder what else Morehouse has in mind as far as character.

Father Pfleger suspended...

And it warrants a post over at the Capitol Fax where it is said that Pfleger has ties with both state & local politicals. He was at St. Sabina located at 1210 West 78th Place in Chicago. He runs a largely Black populated parish and is less of a Catholic priest and more of a evangelist revival minister. It's safe to say he's an activist for his part of the city having not only advocated for Civil Rights, but crusading against violence.

Well those are the good things I'll say about him. One thing I will say about his is that he has a big mouth. And he's conflicted with the church enough times for them to have considered giving him another assignment after being the pastor at St. Sabina for 36 years.

I know very little about what goes in the Catholic Church. It isn't going to affect me whether or not Pfleger is about to remain with his South Side congregation. I'm not likely to attend or even work at Leo High School on 79th Street so whether or not he takes that assignment won't affect me either.

It's just safe to say that obviously there are those who have strong opinions about Pfleger.

April Fools Comes Late to the Sloop?

April Fools Comes Late to the Sloop?

There's more about this at Curbed Chicago. It seems this was a hoax by a group with an agenda and they took aim at a company that owns a power plant that already operates in the city. A clean power ordinance was stalled recently in the Chicago City Council that would've forced this company to switch from coal to natural gas.

One way I suppose to at the very least bring attention to a subject. Although to be honest I know very little about whether or not coal or natural gas is much cleaner fuel.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Joe Walsh wants to organize the tea party to be active in state government

Tea parties and conservatives need to organize in many areas of our state and not just to run for the state legislature. There needs to be some on Chicago's city council or even the Cook County board. Unfortunately the three Republicans that I know about didn't win the recent municipal election. Especially those two who were in run offs earlier this month.

Not to confuse the tea party with the Republican Party, but when the new Chicago City Council is sworn in next month there WILL be no Republicans represented on that august body. NONE!

Freshman Republican 8th District US Rep. Joe Walsh, he defeated Mellissa Bean last year, is calling on Tea Partiers to focus on state politics. While just in time for 2012, it could've been done last year. I'm reading the comments at the CapFax post I just linked to and this one is right on the button:
Speaking of which, those commentators who kept mentioning redistricting hit the nail on the head. Last election was the moment when the Tea Party really needed to get a foothold somewhere in state politics. By losing every level of redistricting they have put a stranglehold on themselves.
I would also say they need a presence in the state's most populous city at the very least as well. Unfortunately I would image it would be very difficult to gain political victories in Chicago. But yeah now is the time to organize if it means that Illinois could use some new ideas.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why Republicans May Be Skipping 2012 Presidential Run

You can read one take from the NY Times' Caucus blog which notes a number of well known names in the Republican party from Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (he bowed out of the Presidential sweepstakes yesterday), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, even current US Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.

Of the five bullet points offered by The Caucus. Here's one offered by Richard Viguerie's Conservative HQ. Not sure how you who read this blog view this source, but it makes some sense I suppose:
However, I suspect that on a short list of real reasons why Gov. Barbour opted out of the presidential race is that he realized his basic philosophy of government and of governing are out of sync with the Republican primary voters in 2011 and 2012.

President Obama, America’s financial crises, and the Tea Party, all arriving at about the same time, have radically changed American politics for the foreseeable future. If this were the 1990s and America wanted a strong, competent caretaker-president, Haley Barbour would be your man.

Today, however, most Americans see people like Barbour (one of America’s largest, most powerful and successful Washington lobbyists) as a major reason we find ourselves in our current financial pickle. For most of the last 30 years, if you wanted to expand government, spend more taxpayer money, regulate business so that your Fortune 500 company received an advantage over your business competitor – Haley Barbour was your man who would make it happen. 
Do you agree or disagree with this assessment?

The higher education bubble

Instapundit - authored by law professor Glenn Reynolds - has been on the case of the "higher education bubble". This article I found from that blog takes a look at student loans in-depth.

They especially take aim at the "for-profit" schools that you may see on TV commonly during the day when you watch those courtroom & talk TV programs. They spend a lot of money on advertisements and promote the fact that they help their students find jobs as well as help them finish school early.

That's not to say the non-profit schools will escape the wrath. One charge against them is that these mainstream universities can merely continue to raise tuition at will basically because they can. Also this article looks at the unwillingness of universities to hire PhD for tenured track positions.

Whatever conditions there are at universities around the nation, I do sincerely hope my alma mater, is taking a look at this situation. Let's hope dear old Morehouse isn't making the mistakes listed in that article.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Obama's Awful '70s Show Echoes Jimmy Carter

Obama's Awful '70s Show Echoes Jimmy Carter

Well there are those who are comparing President Obama to President Jimmy Carter and as the link above indicates they're not just looking at similarities in style. The link from Daily Beast looks at how similar conditions are in the early twenty-teens as they were in the late 1970s. You will have to click the link for those bullet points.

The excerpt below takes aim at the political similarities between Obama and Carter. Mostly this excerpt focuses on Jimmy Carter. Unlike Obama currently, Carter had control of both house of Congress during his four years in the White House
Ask yourself if the following story does not sound like another president we could name The gregarious Massachusetts pol, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, could hardly have been more eager to work with a Democratic president after eight years of Nixon and Ford. But when they first met, and O’Neill attempted to advise Carter about which members of Congress might need some special pleading, or even the assorted political favor or two with regard to certain issues, to O’Neill’s open-jawed amazement, Carter replied, “No, I’ll describe the problem in a rational way to the American people. I’m sure they’ll realize I’m right.” The red-nosed Irishman later said he “could have slugged” Carter over this lethal combination of arrogance and naivety, but it would soon become Carter’s calling card.
Turning his back on O’Neill, his party and its primary constituencies, he accepted the Republican argument that the only way to solve the country’s economic problems was to attack the deficit. He would later explain to a group of political scientists after leaving the presidency, "A lot of my advisers, including Rosalyn, used to argue with me about my decision to move ahead with a project when it was obviously not going to be politically advantageous, or to encourage me to postpone it until a possible second term and so forth. It was just contrary to my nature...I just couldn't do it. Once I made a decision I was awfully stubborn about it.”
Via Instapundit!

When street renaming goes wrong?

According to Unknown Chicago on this date in 1924, the Chicago City Council wanted to honor former US President Woodrow Wilson who had died earlier that same year in February:
Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, died on February 3, 1924.  He'd been an icon of the Progressive movement and had led the country through the First World War.  The Chicago City Council wanted a suitable way to honor him.
Well, the city had little issue renaming 12th Street to Roosevelt Road in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt not long after he had passed away. The Chicago City Council wanted to rename Western Avenue to Woodrow Wilson Road. Alas there was some issue made by property owners especially with the expense in renaming the street. Eventually the City Council renamed Woodrow Wilson Rd. back to Western Avenue as it is today.

There is already a Wilson Avenue, but it wasn't named for the late former President. Hence Western Avenue was briefly renamed Woodrow Wilson Rd.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Officers Help Woman Threatening Suicide In Loop

Officers Help Woman Threatening Suicide In Loop « CBS Chicago

Well at least in the case, the woman was helped to safety. Good job by the police. This woman was distraught over the death of her son. She was about to step in front of an L train. I'm glad that on this day she was saved.

I hope everyone out there had a safe Easter.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trump for President

While a successful businessman I now see Donald Trump as an entertainer thanks to his foray into "reality TV". He's got The Apprentice where he "fires" people who fail to complete a given task. It can be fun to watch, but at times it's a bit lame.

Anyway, Trump is making a foray into politics now thanks to his celebrity as the host of a "reality TV" program and as a successful businessman. Recently he's taken a lot of shots at Obama and at that on the issue of whether or not he was born in this nation. Personally I would rather he takes shots at our President for the direction this country is going and Trump should leave the birth certificate question alone.

BTW, did you know Trump hadn't voted in a primary since 1989:
The New York City Board of Elections says Donald Trump hasn't voted in any primary elections for more than 21 years.

The board says the last time the possible Republican presidential candidate voted in a primary election was in the 1989 primary for mayor. That's when Rudy Giuliani beat businessman Ronald Lauder.

He also skipped the 2002 general election.
His lawyer Michael Cohen said Saturday that "for one of the greatest international businessmen who travels all over the country and the world, his voting record is very, very good."
Meh, that doesn't really matter to me all that much. I just know there are those out there like CBS News who might care about this. I think Trump has more baggage than this.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rehabber wants to grow grapes, make wine in sweet home Chicago

[VIDEO] This is a fascinating idea. Turning an abandoned, boarded-up landmark home into an urban vineyard to grow grapes and make wine. In addition to teaching people how to make wine. I'm giving great credit to the young man well he's not so young any more who wants to make that a reality.

BTW, here's more about this historic landmark referred to as the Raber House located at 5760 S. Lafayette Ave.
Bill Lavicka's renovations have always been unusual. The veteran rehabber and owner of Historic Boulevard Services has trucked four buildings intact from one site to another, converted small churches into homes, remade entire Near West Side blocks and showcased his quirky aesthetic by topping spires and balusters with bowling balls.

But the next remodel he has his heart set on raises the bar on unusual. Lavicka wants to turn a boarded-up Washington Park mansion, one of the city's last surviving examples of a multiacre country estate, into a winery.

And he doesn't want to import the grapes.

He wants to plant about 5,000 vines in the yard — what's now three or so bombed-out-looking blocks along the Dan Ryan Expressway just south of Garfield Boulevard.

Complicating matters, the vacant land and long-neglected mansion are owned by the city of Chicago. For nearly two years, Lavicka, 66, has been trying to persuade the city to sell 40 to 50 lots that were once part of the John Raber estate to him for $1 each, plus commit to streetscape and road improvements, and subsidize part of the renovation in some way.

Ald. Willie Cochran said Wednesday that he is "confident this deal will get closed," saying the winery would be approved along with an adjacent urban farm and new park with a baseball field. But details remain to be ironed out, and those will have to wait for the new mayor's input, he said.

The project, Lavicka said, has taken longer to plan than it would take to remodel.

"I probably like the buildings more than wisdom would allow, or should allow," Lavicka said as tears began to fill his eyes. "I can take an old building and fix it up, and everybody else goes by for years and years saying knock it down."
I hope this can happen. I'm all for finding creative ways to revitalize urban areas. Just another plan for an urban farm in an area with land that well real estate developers haven't discovered yet.

Via Bill Baar!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Morehouse Economist Find HBCU Graduates Do Better In Labor Market Than Non-HBCU Graduates

Found this via none other than Morehouse's official website. This is bound to be an ego boost to both the students and faculty. I should find this study and see how it's justified:
Graduates of historically black colleges and universities do better in the labor market long term than non-HBCU grads, according to a new article by Morehouse economist Greg Price and two fellow economists from Howard University.

The article, which was spotlighted in a blog on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website, was published in the current edition of The Review of Black Political Economy.

Their findings consider the returns of earning a baccalaureate degree from an HBCU relative to a non-HBCU for black Americans. Their findings counter the results of a 2010 study that concluded long-term returns of graduating from an HBCU were negative.

“Our results lend support to the idea that HBCUs continue to have a compelling educational justification, as the labor market outcomes of their graduates are superior to what they would have been had they graduated from a non-HBCU,” according to their article.
Here are links to the research:
Reading a little into that shall prove to be very interesting.

Ward Room: Why Rod's Not The Problem

Count me as one of those people who wanted to throw the book at our former Governor. I would have little feeling if he was convicted in a retrial. But I suppose Edward McClelland at the Ward Room wouldn't be incorrect in making this assertion:
No, I don’t think so. In fact, I think Blagojevich’s trials are a distraction from the real problems of corruption in Illinois. The political class wants us to believe that Blagojevich was the bad apple in barrel, when really, the entire barrel is rotten. Rod Blagojevich didn’t corrupt Illinois politics. Illinois politics corrupted Rod Blagojevich. When he was governor, there were no limits on campaign contributions. To survive as a politician, he had to raise tens of millions of dollars, and he did so by selling every office at his disposal.

This year, thanks to Blagojevich, a new law went into effect limiting individual campaign contributions to $10,000. Rahm Emanuel has already used his fund-raising genius to find more than one loophole in that law. First, Emanuel’s ex-campaign manager set up a fund of anonymous donors to help him dominate the City Council. Then, he began charging $50,000 a ticket for inaugural sponsorships.

And, as I asked Conn, “Who’s done a better job of enriching himself and putting family members in big government jobs? Rod Blagojevich or Michael Madigan?”

Emanuel and Madigan are just as compromised as Blagojevich, but they’re too smart and too disciplined to get into his kind of trouble. Blagojevich was brought down by envy and vanity. The mayor-elect and the speaker don’t indulge in such emotions. They don’t indulge in any emotions at all, as they methodically amass more money and power than Blagojevich ever achieved.

Blagojevich is not the problem. He’s a symptom. And he’s a useful scapegoat to distract attention from Illinois’s more successful power brokers.
There was on good conclusion about Blago and how he found himself out of office as Governor in 2009. He wasn't a good Governor and in trying to play that Chicago Politics game he didn't have the temperament where he wouldn't get caught. Unlike apparently Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel or Speaker Michael Madigan or perhaps other players in Illinois politics past or present.

If the whole barrel is rotten, what can be done about it? Blago can't merely be the only representation of it.

Dying man breaks ‘no snitch’ code, accuses friend from gang - Chicago Sun-Times

Dying man breaks ‘no snitch’ code, accuses friend from gang - Chicago Sun-Times

Last year the Sun-Times had a cover story on a young man who was shot and even as he was dying he essentially refused to tell police who has shot him. He said he knew who did it and he still isn't telling who did. And that makes this particular story unusal.

Although when you think about it, if you're dying and you tell the police who killed you. Then it's not like anything worse will happen to you. Now the ones you leave behind on the other hand who could break this "no-snitching" cycle well that's another story.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The decline of the majority-black district, and what it means

I suppose I'm on a roll today as far as race is going. Now we move on to the decline "majority-minority" congressional districts. So this issue is covered at the Washington Post's The Fix Blog (via Newsalert).

Black Capitol Police staff complain about discrimination

I could make this about having a Black President and Black people in America still can't get a fair shake even in policing the US Capitol. Well that would've been a stretch I know. Article from The Hill via Instapundit:
In a press conference, members of the U.S. Capitol Black Police Association announced they intended to file a classwide request for counseling with the Office of Compliance, which will “initiate a process that will in all likelihood lead to yet another discrimination complaint” filed against Capitol Police, according to association member and Capitol Police Lt. Frank Adams.

Cited as reasons for the action are reprisals, hostile work environment and discrimination committed against black employees by the Capitol Police, the Capitol Police Board and the senior employment counsel for both, Frederick Herrera.

“The United States Capitol Police Department continues to project a model culture of discrimination as reflected in a ‘modern day version of a 19th Century Southern Plantation in law enforcement,’” Adams said.

The U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2001, current and former black Capitol Police officers and employees filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court, citing discrimination by the Capitol Police Board. Blackmon-Malloy v. U.S. Capitol Police Board has yet to be resolved, but the number of plaintiffs has been whittled down in the intervening years due to deaths or plaintiff settlements.
EDIT: I just read the Wikipedia page on this agency and it noted that there had been a shooting at the Capitol in 1998 where the Capitol Police had lost two of their officers. One of those fallen officers, Jacob Chestnut, just so happened to be Black. He was said to be the first Black to lie in honor at the Capitol.

Poll: When Midwesterners think of the Midwest, majority think of Illinois

This image above was provided by the Capitol Fax. The poll was conducted by the Midwest Initiative at Monmouth College. There's this data in addition to other data regarding our nation's Midwestern nation including what values they attribute to the Midwest, satisfaction of living in the Midwest, whether the Midwest is going in the right direction, or even how the Midwest fares in the global economy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Marathon Pundit: Pushback against public-sector unions in Michigan from Democrats

Speaking of Ruberry one his posts today discusses what's going on in Detroit.
Yes, Michigan has a Republican governor, but Detroit's steadfast mayor, Democrat Dave Bing, will implement reforms in the troubled city that will right-size spending there.
What's going on is that Detroit's Mayor Bing and the head of Detroit's schools, Robert Bobb, are taking measures to address Detroit's fiscal problems. Especially included in that is addressing the costs of Detroit's public employees. Especially the teachers who operate in a school system with shrinking enrollment.

Tea Party Activists To Rally In Daley Plaza

I went to this event last year, this year a similar event will take place. John Ruberry talks about recent tea party rally around the nation and mentions today's event to take place at Chicago's Daley Center.

The article from whom I stole this blog post title from CBS Chicago, talks about some of the racial accusations against the "tea party".
Last year, the NAACP passed a resolution condemning “explicitly racist behavior” in the Tea Party movement and called on people to “repudiate” what it described as racist elements of the Tea Party.

A CBS News poll in April of last year found 52 percent of Tea Party members believe too much has been made of the problems facing black people. Far fewer Americans overall — 28 percent — believe as much. Among non-Tea Party whites, the percentage who say too much attention has been paid to the problems of black people is 23 percent.

The original NAACP resolution, submitted by the group’s Kansas City branch, said the Tea Party movement has “displayed signs and posters intended to degrade people of color generally and President Barack Obama specifically.”

A counterprotest group describing itself as “community members, youth and others of faith” will attend the Tea Party rally in Chicago Monday, and will display a 40-foot banner that points out the “disproportionate” amount of federal budget that is spent on the military and the wars.

The Tea Party movement generally unites on the fiscally conservative principles of small government, lower taxes and less spending. Beyond that, the ideology of the people involved tends to vary dramatically.
Ruberry notes that at a Tea Party rally in Oregon, some counter protesters referred to him a black speaker as an Uncle Tom for even speaking at the rally. Although we never see the speaker you can go to to see the video of this black counter protester.

SouthernAvenger: Atlas vs. Avatar

[VIDEO] So, Jack Hunter his to say about Atlas Shrugged Part 1. It was released in select theaters recently:
The movie adaptation of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" champions capitalism, denounces corporatism and exposes bias and hypocrisy on both Left and Right.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

YouTube Blog: Mashups, parodies and lip dubs: Ask a legal expert...

YouTube Blog talks about Fair Use and how YouTubers are able to take clips from other media sources without being sued for copyright infringement.

Another "original" YouTube cited fair use in one of his videos. I used "original" to say that he posted videos people watched starting a short 8 years ago. Man it's unbelieveable how long ago that was.

Texas University Endowment Storing About $1 Billion in Gold Bars

Personally I think this is kind of awesome. It's not like the investments consists only of cash in banking accounts. This story is from Bloomberg:
The University of Texas Investment Management Co., the second-largest U.S. academic endowment, took delivery of almost $1 billion in gold bullion and is storing the bars in a New York vault, according to the fund’s board.

The fund, whose $19.9 billion in assets ranked it behind Harvard University’s endowment as of August, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers, added about $500 million in gold investments to an existing stake last year, said Bruce Zimmerman, the endowment’s chief executive officer. The holdings are worth about $987 million, based on yesterday’s closing price of $1,486 an ounce for Comex futures.

The decision to turn the fund’s investment into gold bars was influenced by Kyle Bass, a Dallas hedge fund manager and member of the endowment’s board, Zimmerman said at its annual meeting on April 14. Bass made $500 million on the U.S. subprime-mortgage collapse.

“Central banks are printing more money than they ever have, so what’s the value of money in terms of purchases of goods and services,” Bass said yesterday in a telephone interview. “I look at gold as just another currency that they can’t print any more of.”
Hat-tip for this article goes to Instapundit who made the general comment, "I find their lack of faith in Bernanke disturbing". Makes you wonder since Harvard has a billion-dollar endowment almost do they even invest in gold themselves. They could certainly afford it.

BTW, go Longhorns. :P

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Egypt dissolves Mubarak's former ruling party

A consequence of the upheaval taking place in that Middle Eastern republic since earlier this year:
An Egyptian court has ordered the dissolving of the country's former ruling party and the confiscation of its assets, meeting a major demand of the protest movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The Supreme Administrative Court has announced the verdict on Saturday, ordering the National Democratic Party to disband and hand over its assets and offices to the state. Lawyers had raised a suit demanding its dissolution, accusing the party of corruption.

The move was the latest concession by Egypt's military rulers to demands of the protest movement, coming days after the ousted Mubarak and his sons were put under detention for investigation on allegations of corruption and involvement in the killing of protesters.
Is this a short term solution? It seems like it although we do hope that other political parties and other future leaders of Egypt won't do whatever it was that Mubarak did to cause such a chain reaction of upheaval.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The student loan scheme graphic

An interesting history and lots of connections between government, Sallie Mae, or even collection agencies. I'm sure all this information is verifiable especially the laws with regards to discharging student loans, wage garnishment, withholding IRS refunds, even typical consumer protections when it comes to debt collections.

Another connection between the tuition & fees charged by the colleges. No incentive to keep tuition low.

Although I uploaded the graphic to the blog I had to link it to a larger size thru a third party image site. Although to be clear this isn't my creation. Click the image for a larger, more legible resolution.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The politician as a celebrity...

At least as far as Chicago is concerned. Well this is the conclusion of our NBC affiliate's Ward Room blog as to why there aren't celebrities in politics in my fair city:
First of all, celebrities like to start at the top. Think of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Minnesota Sen. Al Franken. The Machine required political aspirants to start at the bottom, often as doorbell ringers. Daley didn’t like self-made candidates, because their money made them independent of his organization. He’d worked his way up from precinct captain, and he expected everyone else to do the same. Even gold-medal winner Metcalfe had to start at the ward level.

“The rich guys can get elected on their own money, but somebody like me, an ordinary person, needs the party to get elected,” Daley once said. “Without the party, only the rich could get elected to office.”

In Chicago, politics is an all-consuming career, not a retirement hobby for bored millionaires. Look what happened to investor Blair Hull when he ran for the Senate. After using his fortune to build an early lead, he was tripped up when his divorce file was leaked to the press by an aide to Dan Hynes, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful political families. Hull lost the election to Barack Obama, who’d paid his dues as a state senator from the South Side. Obama then showed he was a real pro by tipping off the press to the embarrassing divorce file of his opponent, investment banker Jack Ryan. Career Politicians 2, Millionaires 0.

In addition, politicians are the celebrities in Chicago. We don’t have a lot of tycoons or movie stars. Who was our contribution to Celebrity Apprentice? Rod Blagojevich. As Slate put it:

The star power of Chicago politicians may also contribute to the city's continuing problems with corruption. Incumbents tend to be big personalities who get celebrity coverage in the local papers—which sometimes translates into ethical leeway from voters. (In cities like Los Angeles and New York, local politicians take a back seat to the media celebs.)
I know someone stated that point once. That Chicago's politicians are celebrities. Being larger than life gets you the attention, but being boring keeps you in the background. Who knows perhaps in some instance not being larger than life might be very smart.

Does one have to be similar to Big Bill Thompson - the last Republican Mayor of Chicago - to prove to be larger than life? He was largely hot air if nothing else and certainly was quite the character.

Or could one be similar to our state House Speaker Michael Madigan? He doesn't strike me as a very exciting man, but his political acumen can certainly make him larger than life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lee Bey took pictures in Detroit

Photo by Lee Bey
Blogger and architecture "geek" Lee Bey takes a brief trip to Detroit and takes pictures of the architecture of that Great American city:
I was in Detroit last weekend participating in Art X Detroit, a five-day festival of art, music, dance and discussion.

Fortunately, I squeezed-in a Saturday morning photo stroll of the city's downtown, taking stock of the wealth of buildings that remain despite Detroit's well-recorded decades of decay, demolition and disinvestment. The city has a fine collection of vintage downtown architecture, much of which can hold its own against any Chicago or New York has to offer. And while many sit vacant, scores are being reused, bringing life and vitality to the city's core. The above six-story building, completed in 1891, is a former conservatory of music and is among the first generation of tall buildings on Woodward Avenue. And it's still impressive after 120 years.
You should go there and see the other building he took pics of in Detroit. Some of these buildings are impressive. Hopefully something to rebuild a city around.

The pic about from Lee Bey is of a former conservatory building on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Well actually is coincidental that the pic I posted here is exactly what Bey was talking about in that quote I provided.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

VIDEO: AlJazeera on the anniversary of the American Civil War

[VIDEO] So apparently this year is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of one of the most devastating conflicts in our nation's history. And it started at Ft. Sumter, South Carolina.

They note the debate over what caused the Civil War. They talk to Southern historians who claim that slavery was merely a side issue. The was in fact over federal taxation and an oppressive federal government.

What do you think?

BTW, Of all places I find this news courtesy of a foreign Arabic network although the video you see is all in English. ;-)

I was an Early & Often subscriber...

Click image for website
When the service was first offered I took advantage. In their subscriber section they frequently linked to my other blog, The Sixth Ward, during the course of not only the run-off campaign but also the municipal elections as well. It was a great idea but unlike Rich Miller at the CapFax I was never under the impression that this was permanent:
I’ll do my best to avoid over-heated rhetoric here, but I never thought their service would work because I never really understood their business model. The subscriptions were based on a single election cycle, not the actual doings of government. Government is how I survive. Campaigns most certainly help, but government is where the subscribers are. Plus, when Rahm Emanuel avoided a runoff, the campaign cycle was radically shortened and their business model was hurt even worse. Also, the Chicago media rarely covers legislative campaigns. They do cover city campaigns, however, including aldermanic races. There was simply no gigantic hole which needed to be filled.

Anyway, I was hoping it would work. Really, I was, mainly because I’ve long thought that a subscriber service was possible for Chicago. I still do. Just not the way they did it. But, nobody asked me.
There are surely some geeks out there who very much want to follow the minutiae of what's going on in Chicago's city government. Believe me right now there are problems that are worth covering throughout all of our city's outlets. This could be a basis for a new business model for this website.

Four years ago there was this site called Aldertrack. It tracked the city elections in 2007 and the creator was a part of the municipal election coverage at E & O. Then he wanted to evolve his site to track zoning issues but that aspect of that site didn't last. There is some potential in that.

Right now we'll just have to depend on the coverage by either the Chicago News Coop, Chicago Tonight, and other more established Chicago media outlets from newspapers to TV. The CapFax (well Capitol Fax) is a subscription that caters to state government although they do cover the counties and municipalities from time to time. Those of who read this blog already know that. :P

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chicago News Report: CTA passenger fights with thief, pickpocket

Chicago News Report: CTA passenger fights with thief, pickpocket

This story gives me pause. One reason why I would often loathe having to take the L in the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully nothing has happened so far hopefully nothing well. If something did I would be totally loathe to put it upon myself to fight with any potential criminal.

If you take the L at night (although you should be on guard at all times if you're out there) you should be very careful. For example don't stay on the phone texting or surfing out there and especially on an L platform.

Besides, a woman was killed because some knucklehead decided to steal an iPhone and because this elderly lady was in the way she was knocked aside by that crook. I do hope they find him too.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

VIDEO: Marc Sims drives around Roseland

[VIDEO] Marc Sims, a cable access personality was driving around in the Roseland Neighborhood. One minute he's driving on Michigan Avenue the next he's on 111th driving near Alex Haley Academy, then he's on State St. then he's on 115th, then he near Fenger High School, then he's on Halsted, then he's at Julian High School on 103rd then back to Vincennes.

Just note that while you're hearing sights and sounds of this part of the far south side, you will also hear him babble for over 17 minutes.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Ward Room: Turning Illinois blue

It seems if you simply wanted to draw a map of Congressional Districts that favors the Democrats it's not that easy. Especially if Republicans are better distributed throughout the state.
The map does raise a valid question, though. As a Blue State, should Illinois have a majority Democratic delegation? That was the rationale that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay used when he convinced the Texas legislature to redraw congressional districts to erase a Democratic majority. And that will certainly be an argument Democrats use when redrawing Illinois’s map. With majorities in the House and Senate, and control of the governorship, Democrats can design a map without Republican input. They’ll undoubtedly make sure the district we lose this year contains a Republican congressman.

The Democrats’ dilemma is that it’s more difficult to draw a Democratic map than a Republican map. That’s because Democrats are packed into urban areas, where they deliver huge majorities for their congressmen. Danny Davis, Bobby Rush and Jesse Jackson Jr. all won with over 80 percent of the vote in 2010. The winningest Republicans – John Shimkus, Aaron Schock and Donald Manzullo – won with 71 percent, 69 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

From a mapmaker’s perspective, those big Democratic majorities are wasted votes that could be used to help Democrats win in swing districts. But it’s impossible to draw those voters into swing districts without producing a gerrymandered map that makes it impossible for anyone to figure out who represents them in Washington. Also, diluting those districts too much would violate the Voting Rights Act, which guarantees minority representation. In short, Republicans are more efficiently distributed. That’s why, even in years when Republicans won the most seats in Congress, Democratic congressional candidates won the most votes nationwide.
I can live without "gerrymandering" personally. Why can't we just draw districts will little consideration for political demographics?

I can understand somewhat creating districts for racial or ethnic minorities to insure that they can elect a representative to a city council, county board, state legislature, or Congress. At the same time I hope this doesn't lead any potential political map maker to be real creative and create illogical districts.

Government shutdown averted

Well while I couldn't follow the progress (or I thought, lack thereof) I find out before I go to bed that there will be no shutdown, and after a lot of drama a deal was reached:

Congressional leaders agreed late Friday to a compromise that will keep the federal government funded for the remainder of the fiscal year — averting a government shutdown less than an hour before it was set to start.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) announced the deal just before 11 p.m. The agreement came together in a few frantic hours at the near-deserted Capitol, with a midnight deadline looming.

“I’m pleased that Senator Reid and I and the White House have been able to come to an agreement that will, in fact, cut spending and keep our government open,” Boehner said at an impromptu news conference, mentioning Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

Shortly after, President Obama read a statement from the White House, pointing out that the Washington Monument, seen lit up over his shoulder, would be open as usual on Saturday.

“Today, Americans of different beliefs came together,” Obama said. He said the cuts would be painful but necessary to maintain the country’s fiscal health. “We protected the investments we need to win the future.”

To keep the government running through Friday, lawmakers approved a short-term spending measure overnight — the Senate at 12:20 and the House at 12:40 — and said the final agreement should be approved next week.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Obama carefully courts black votes with Sharpton

Well we already know the President is running for re-election. We also know that he doesn't have much time before there is a federal gov't shutdown on his hands. Now he needs Al Sharpton to help him with the black vote:
Yet on Wednesday, President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a foray into racial territory by speaking in New York at the Rev. Al Sharpton's national convention -- an early step on the tricky path that Obama must navigate in order to engage black voters who are crucial to his re-election.

On the one hand, there's nothing unusual about a president fulfilling a campaign promise made to a staunch political ally whose radio show is broadcast in 40 cities each weekday. Nor is it odd for Obama, who has spoken to other civil rights groups, to connect with Sharpton, a frequent White House visitor whose fame flows from his aggressive brand of black advocacy.

Aside from the timing of Obama's speech -- two days after his re-election bid was made official -- Wednesday's events at the National Action Network gathering are heavily political. Obama's top campaign aide, David Axelrod, is to address a special plenary, followed by the secretaries of education and housing, the attorney general and the EPA administrator.

Obama remains highly popular among blacks. In 2008, 95 percent of blacks who voted chose Obama. In a Gallup poll last week, 84 percent of blacks approved of Obama's overall performance, about the same percentage as six months ago.

So why all the attention now?

It's actually harder for Obama to reach out to black voters than it would be for a white president, said Mark Anthony Neal, an African-American studies professor at Duke University, "because there's a narrative that he's catering to a black constituency."

"Obama needs Al Sharpton as a certain kind of surrogate for black voters," Neal said. "Symbolically, his willingness to speak at the convention is a subtle message to black voters that he is paying attention to their concerns.

"Because that's the other side of the narrative ... there is a heavy critique of Obama among black voters for not being cognizant and attentive enough to issues affecting the black community."
Just wonder how much of the Black vote he'll receive in 2012. Well I wonder if a significant number of Blacks would even consider voting Republican or any other party for that matter.

Via Booker Rising.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The third Batman movie may not be filming in Chicago...

But at least Chicago will be the real world stand-in for Metropolis:
The Dark Knight Rises" will film in Pittsburgh starting this summer. Chicago will not be featured in the third installment in director Chris Nolan's franchise.

Chicago starred as Gotham City in 2005's "Batman Begins" and 2008's "The Dark Knight." The films brought an estimated economic boost of more than $50 million to the city.

Maybe the Man of Steel scared off the Dark Knight?

Nolan is producing "Superman: Man of Steel" about the same time as the new Batman movie.

Richard Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office, told the Chicago Tribune it would have been "challenging" for the filmmakers and the city to handle both films.
I look forward to seeing how Chicago will turn into Metropolis. In The Dark Knight the city looked less like Gotham and more like...Chicago. At least in Batman Begins, Chicago looked like Gotham City.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

I will be voting again today...

But I had just voted over a month ago. It's all good because this run off election starting at 6 AM will be it for the Chicago municipal elections for the next four years. In February voted already had made their choice for not only Mayor, but City Clerk and Treasurer. And for many, the choices for any of those city offices wasn't hard. In fact the incumbent was the only one running for City Treasurer.

In 14 city wards, no candidate was able to garner at least 50% plus 1 to avoid a run off. So there are run offs elections starting at 6 AM Tuesday. I

live in one of those wards. Look no further than The Sixth Ward to find coverage of the campaign in the 6th ward. In fact I was just made aware of this [VIDEO] from Progress Illinois (P.I.) Monday night. Interviewing both incumbent Ald. Freddrenna Lyle and her challenger Roderick Sawyer.
BTW, Progress Illinois is sponsored by the SEIU. The SEIU had put out several mailers attacked Sawyer based upon his statements on video gaming. Mainly saying that he supports it and also stating that he's failed to pay back taxes. Of course this is not to say P.I. is biased towards any candidate in any run off election this year.

This election is important since there will be a change in regime at Chicago's city hall. We know what to expect with outgoing Mayor Daley, but who knows what the future will hold with a Mayor Emanuel. He talks a good game but I want to see what he will implement going forward. So in the 14 run offs to be decided this morning and into the evening, voters will determine who will represent their communities during the term of the Emanuel administration.

Let's hope that we will have made the correct choices going forward.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Pilgrim Baptist Church to be reborn from ashes of 2006 fire

Pilgrim Baptist Church to be reborn from ashes of 2006 fire - Chicago Sun-Times

Since this historic church went down in flames in early 2006, I've written a lot about this building. In addition the church were involved with scandals involving none other than our Ousted governor who pledged money to Pilgrim only for the money to not be accounted for. It was in fact sent to a school that leased space in the building. In fact, there were concerned about whether or not a government in this country could directly give money to a religious institution.

Well it looks like a new effort is beginning to bring this church to light, and they're not waiting for gov't funds to rebuild. Certainly good news for a building that was designed by the famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan. Let's hope this succeeds.




Friday, April 01, 2011

Unknown Chicago: Chicago history's foolish decisions

Rod Blagojevich is counted amongst the 13 fools of Chicago history. There were other foolish decision made since the Chicago area had been settled which includes everything from military, politics, business, even religion. For Rod Blagojevich being the last of Chicago's 13 Fools the caption under his photograph.
Rod Blagojevich (2008)
No explanation necessary.

Also today is April Fool's Day. Enjoy, just don't be a fool. :P