|Governor and Ego pictured together|
Sunday, April 30, 2017
I never understood the attraction of this place.
I never understood the attraction of this place.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
A confession: I’m much less afraid of Trump than I was a year ago. His rhetoric, his unfettered far-right agenda, his love of violence, and his loathing of constitutional limits during the campaign were indeed things to be terrified by. They still are. But those of us who were worried that the Constitution might not hold, and that liberal democracy was teetering on the edge of implosion, have so far, mercifully, been proven wrong.
The Founders turn out to have constructed a system designed to confront exactly this kind of despotic figure — and it has held up well, even with total GOP control of House and Senate, even in this dangerously liquid, hyperdemocratic modern world. The press has done its job of fact-checking, exposing, and opposing those in power (yes, Mr. Bannon, that is one part of its function in a democracy). The courts have resisted strongly. The opposition has seen a dramatic uptick in political and civic engagement. Even Trump’s own congressional party has splintered, impervious to the charisma of their hood ornament. The American public has not been swept up in a nationalist fervor and has tilted against much of Trump’s agenda — on health care and immigration in particular.
Yes, the Trump base remains invested in their antihero. In the poll of polls, he hasn’t dropped below 40 percent for more than a fraction of his time in office. And yes, he still taps into the most powerful currents in the world right now. But his overall popularity is still shockingly low for a newly elected president. And his sad lack of substantive legislative achievements has revealed the talk-radio politics of the far right are incapable of forming a coherent governing agenda.
I keep thinking of how Obama kept predicting during his eight years of frustration that at some point the “fever would break” on the right. It never did. But history is an ironist. It turns out that the only way the fever could ever have broken is if the GOP actually got complete control of the government and … couldn’t do much of anything. The bluff has been extravagantly called. It’s one thing to rail against the “disaster” of Obamacare; it’s quite another, it turns out, to replace it.
All the right’s political power, we can now see, depended on being in permanent opposition, and never having to actually implement something. Their tax cuts for the very wealthy are tone-deaf; their resuscitation of the Laffer curve surreal. They’ve got nothing on health care but a return to the highly unpopular status quo ante. And they are caught between Trump’s desire to borrow even more to finance his tax cuts and the GOP’s resolute insistence throughout the Obama years that the debt was an existential threat. It’s quite amazing to watch this unfold and unravel in real time.
And here’s the thing: My suspicion is that if Clinton had become president, the fever would not have broken at all; it would have intensified. Her incompetence and indecision would have given the GOP even more political oxygen; a Republican House would have stymied her even more effectively than it did Obama; her unfavorables would have gone through the roof; and it could have been an ugly death spiral for the Democrats. (The latest polls showing considerable dissatisfaction with Trump nonetheless show that in a rematch, he would actually do better today against Clinton than he did last November.)
Instead, we have a manifest and brutal exposure of the stark promises Trump made, and of the incoherence and shallowness of so much of the Republican agenda. I still would never have risked putting this menacing clown into the Oval Office. But in the long run, if catastrophe doesn’t strike, it might even be better for the future health of our politics that Clinton is not president. Maybe the American people are not so crazy after all.
Here’s the scorecard of Trump’s first 100 days.
The Clinton counterfactual also makes me worry about Emmanuel Macron and France. He’ll almost certainly win — but his victory could well be pyrrhic. Why? Because his persona, background, and agenda are almost designed to polarize France still further, and thereby empower the reactionary right still further. He is not a centrist candidate on the core issues — the EU, immigration, Islamist terror, and national identity. He actually wants to accelerate European integration, he has attacked the notion that mass Muslim immigration is a problem for France, he embraces Angela Merkel’s impulsive invitation to more than a million Syrian refugees to come and live in the EU, he has called Islamist terrorism something to be lived with (even as France remains in a state of emergency), and he favors more Western involvement in tackling the chaos in the Middle East.
He is also a walking stereotype of the very globalist elites that many French have come to see as the enemy. A cute, cosmopolitan former banker who favors continuing many of President Hollande’s policies (but with more emphasis on the free market), he cannot help but be seen as the globalist candidate par excellence in a France increasingly drawn to nationalism. Forty-six percent of the vote in the first round went to candidates who were skeptical of free-market economics and the EU.
So we must fervently hope that Macron is able to have a successful presidency. Because if he fails — and he has no party in the assembly to lean on — Le Pen is waiting again in five years’ time. If the white regional working poor in France see no improvement in their lives, if the idea of traditional France continues to evaporate, and if the economic and social divide between the cognitive elite and the working poor deepens further, then what we are seeing now may be a pale version of the backlash ahead. Maybe I’ve read too much Michel Houellebecq, or maybe I’m too persuaded by the analysis of Christopher Caldwell, but I worry about the growing barometric political pressure in France. A Macron victory may not prevent, but merely postpone the deluge.
Friday, April 28, 2017
|THE HEAT IS OFF|
Just when they got a favorable report card, CSX trains are again blocking 111th and Sacramento this morning. Motorist on there way to work are being forced to drive around the gates, emergency vehicles are blocked and CTA buses were turning around. When does this end?
Considering the circumstances, this was a weird pick.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Illinois House members Tuesday approved a bill that would expand taxpayer-funded abortions and protect abortion rights in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
However, the vote fell far short of what will be needed if Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner follows through on a promise to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. The House vote was 62-55. A veto override requires 71 votes.
“Call their state representatives,” Feigenholtz said. “Make sure their legislators are supporting HB 40. This is going to be the most important piece of women’s legislation in this general assembly.”
Unless the woman is in her mother's womb, of course. Then, Illinois will be an abortion sanctuary state, thanks to my State Representative Fran Hurley. Fran is
The Senate took part in a rare White House briefing on Wednesday to hear what senior leaders described as "an urgent national security threat" posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
The hour-long secret session for all senators was held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, and included a brief appearance from President Trump who made short, introductory remarks.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also took part in the session. His presence is an indication that military options for dealing with North Korea likely were discussed.
New steps by the administration will include the imposition of additional economic sanctions.
"The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Remembering The Lost Troops Of Operation Eagle Claw, The Failed Iranian Embassy Hostage Rescue Mission
By JARED KELLER on April 24, 2017
In the early hours of April 25, 1980, President Jimmy Carter made a sober announcement to the nation: An attempt by U.S. military forces rescue the 52 staff held hostage at the American embassy in Tehran since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, had ended in a catastrophic failure without even engaging the enemy.
According to Carter, equipment failure aboard several of the eight RH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters launched from the USS Nimitz led the president to abort the mission. But during the strike forces’ withdrawal, one of the Sea Stallions collided with an EC-130. Five airmen and three Marines were killed in the ensuing explosion.
“There was no fighting; there was no combat,” said Carter. “We were all convinced that if and when the rescue operation had been commenced that it had an excellent chance of success … To the families of those who died and who were wounded, I want to express the admiration I feel for the courage of their loved ones and the sorrow that I feel personally for their sacrifice.”
The botched rescue operation is widely credited with costing Carter re-election in a crushing defeat to former California Gov. Ronald Reagan during the 1980 presidential election. (Mark Bowden, the journalist best known for the story that became “Black Hawk Down,” authored a remarkable timeline of the operation of Operation Eagle Claw in a 2006 issue of The Atlantic).
But as our friends at Soldier Systems point out, their sacrifice was not in vain. In fact, it led to the development of the modern special operations capability we know today.
In May 1980, the Joint Chiefs of Staff commissioned a Department of Defense’s Special Operations Review Group to evaluate the underlying causes of the botched rescue mission, examining every stage from planning and organization to mission command and control. Led by former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. James L. Holloway III, the so-called Holloway Report concluded that the “ad-hoc nature” of Eagle Claw’s organization and planning created too much room for error.
“By not utilizing an existing JTF organization,” Holloway and his fellow senior military officers wrote, “the Joint Chiefs of Staff had to start, literally, from the beginning to establish a JTF, create an organization, provide a staff, develop a plan, select the united, and train the force between the first mission capability could be attained.”
Within a few years, the Holloway report catalyzed not only a sweeping reorganization of the Department of Defense but the creation of the United States Special Operations Command, a unified command apparatus to ensure that a lack of inter-service communication didn’t yield another unforced error for special operators downrange.
Despite the perception of Operation Eagle Claw as a failure, the sacrifices of those eight American servicemen were not in vain. The botched mission “pointed out the necessity for a dedicated special operations section within the Department of Defense with the responsibility to prepare and maintain combat-ready forces to successfully conduct special operations,” as airman Luke Kitterman wrote Monday.
Without that failed mission, we likely wouldn’t have elite units like Delta Force, Army Rangers, Navy SEALs on the front lines of the Global War on Terror. Those eight servicemen may have died without firing a shot, but without them, U.S. special operations wouldn’t be what it is today.
Monday, April 24, 2017
SPRINGFIELD - Planned Parenthood is back in Illinois news, as next week Democrats in the Illinois legislature say they are planning to move forward on a bill that will - among other things - require state taxpayers to pay for abortions. What abortion supporters call "health care choice."
Governor Rauner says he will veto HB 40 if the measure makes it to his desk, despite telling abortion-promoting Personal PAC he wants all women and girls to have access to aborting their babies.
Also, Illinoisans discovered that their Republican governor and his wife gave $50,000 to sponsor a Planned Parenthood event coming up this week.
Here's what the Susan B. Anthony pro-life group has found about Planned Parenthood: