Independent grassroots organization of progressives, liberals and moderates promoting an activist democratic agenda in the state of Illinois.

Bad News from Prop13Land

Digby reports:

California is in deep trouble. The state's bond rating is now the worst of all 50 states. They are furloughing workers. The place is coming apart at the seams.

And why? Because the anti-tax zealots have achieved their goal -- a government that is held hostage to conservatives whether in the minority or the majority ---conservatives who will ensure that the government can never function in a way that gives the citizens confidence that it can actually work.

It's useful to think a little bit about that as we see the federal government likewise rigged, and increasingly dysfunctional. Conservatives masquerading as centrists having veto power when the government needs to raise revenue or spend it on anything that might make government seem like a useful institution for anything other than war, prisons and (sometimes) police, is a recipe for chaos.

Recall is to Reform What Amputation is to Weight Loss

I'm sorry but Don Rose lost my vote in his attempt to show why Tom Geoghegan is the best candidate for IL-05 the moment he laid the following egg:

Feigenholtz disappears when key reform votes come up, such as the bill to permit recall of public officials. (Fritchey voted "no.")

Let's repeat: Recall is not reform. It's a bad idea that undermines the democratic process and hands the initiative over to unelected (albeit well financed) interest groups. Just ask the people in California.

We've got enough problems in Illinois. Anyone smart enough to oppose recall is the very person we ought to support. It's almost a recommendation in itself.

Daschle's Loss is Dean's Gain?

Warm news on an otherwise chilly day from Steve Benen:

It's way too early to know who might replace Daschle at HHS, but I've received quite a few emails about Howard Dean's availability.

Investigation-Shy Republicans

From the party that gave us Joe McCarthy and Ken Starr, suddenly they're turning squeamish when it comes to investigations? They actually thought they could make the following a condition for approving designee (now Attorney General) Eric Holder in the U.S. Senate:

Shortly before the [confirmation] vote, the tone of the debate turned sharp as some Republicans pushed for a pledge from Mr. Holder not to prosecute intelligence agents for using harsh tactics during interrogations.

Aren't these the same people whose standard refrain used to be 'if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to fear'?

Meanwhile over at DOJ, they're practically dancing in the halls on account of this return to the rule of law:

Hundreds of department employees packed the hallways and stairways to welcome Holder. To loud cheers and applause, he pledged to remake the department by "taking it back to what it once was and always has to be."

Privatization of Public Assets

From the account in the Sun-Times of today's 5th Congressional Candidates Debate:

"Privatization of public assets is like selling off your furniture in order to pay your mortgage," Fritchey said to loud applause from the 500 observers who turned out on Super Bowl Sunday.

Actually it's more like selling off one of your bedrooms in order to pay your mortgage. Once you do it, it's kind of hard to get that bedroom back.

Tribune's Freedom Museum to Close Down?

The article says the museum will "vacate its location in the Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue and begin to operate a 'mobile museum' that will go to schools and Chicago neighborhoods".

It always seemed an unnatural mix.

It's Morning in Illinois

Gov. Pat Quinn: "The ordeal is over".

One of the most frustrating things about Blagojevich's tenure as governor was just how little got done in Springfield. You'd think with Democratic majorities in the legislature and a Democratic governor, we'd be able to advance a progressive agenda a bit further. Instead what we got was constant bickering and stalemate.

That's why the best news about Blagojevich's departure is that it gives us a second chance to get things right. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias said it best:

"Today marks a new beginning. For the first time in six years, we will have a governor who values collaboration over combativeness and public service over lip service."

These are not favorable circumstances but they're an opportunity to move finally in a positive direction.

Putting an End to Chicago Tribune Moral Superiority Gloat Syndrome

Reading the pathetic dribble from the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board is a painful exercise even on a good day. But what can you say about a piece that begins with this:

We write human history in red blood and raw courage.

Is this Stephen Crane come back to life? Then look at how they lecture Democrats for daring to support the Democratic candidate for governor in 2006:

Do you remember all those honorable Democratic leaders denouncing Blagojevich's bold hypocrisy? Criticizing his perpetuation of business as usual in Illinois? Telling voters to think seriously about how they invest their votes?

Neither do we.

But before we get too swept away by the flood of indignation, it's worthwhile to look at the Tribune's own recent choices for governor, thoughtfully put together by Michael Miner in 2006:

... Four years ago it endorsed Jim Ryan, though in 1995 the same editorial page had declared that no one involved in the prosecution of Rolando Cruz -- which Ryan led -- "deserves ever again to enjoy a position of public honor or trust." Four years earlier the Tribune endorsed George Ryan for governor, though the "ongoing scandal" in Ryan's secretary of state's office was "deeply troubling" and his Democratic opponent, Glenn Poshard, was "thoughtful, engaging and honest."

The Tribune's lead editorial this Tuesday was headlined "George Ryan, convicted felon." It recalled the 1994 catastrophe, when six of the children of Duane and Janet Willis died in a highway accident caused by a steel bracket falling off the dilapidated rig of "illicit" trucker Ricardo Guzman. It recalled Ryan's angry insistence that Guzman had been legally licensed by Ryan's secretary of state's office. And it recalled election day 1998, when Ryan was elected governor "on the strength of that lie."

Alongside the editorial was a cartoon. Six tombstones bore the names of the Willis children, and from one came word, "He's guilty. Pass it on . . ."

But when a pro-Poshard ad in 1998 tried to link Ryan with those deaths, the Tribune editorial page cried out, "Blame him for those deaths? This is about as cruel as politics can get." It told Poshard "to examine his conscience."

Do you think they'll climb down from their seat of righteous indignation and reflect on their own behavior for a change?

Neither do we.

Welcome Gov. Quinn

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Illinois Senate votes to remove Gov. Blagojevich from office.

Second Day in DC

TOP: Barely visible on the far-off 'Jumbotron' -- notice our cheap seats -- is the face of President Obama giving his inaugural address. BOTTOM: Later in the day, the President and Mrs. Obama appeared at the Inaugural Ball.

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