Monday, January 31, 2011

Beyond Mubarak: ‘Twere Well It Were Done Quickly | The Weekly Standard

Beyond Mubarak: ‘Twere Well It Were Done Quickly | The Weekly Standard
Kristol on the Administration finally figuring out Mubarak's gone but way too slow on moving forward to elections.
But Secretary Clinton still seems to think that orderly implies gradual. Often, in life, it does. But we’re not in that kind of business-as-usual moment. In a crisis like this, moving quickly is often more important than moving in an “orderly” way. After all, an “orderly” transition is far less important than a desirable and orderly outcome. Trying to ensure now that everything is “well thought-out” to the satisfaction of diplomats can easily become an excuse for a drawn-out transition. And that means trouble. The more drawn-out this transition is, the more likely it is to end badly. The best case—the least radicalizing one for the population, the least advantageous for the Muslim Brotherhood—would be a quick transition now to an interim government, with the prospect of elections not too far off, so people can rally to the prospect of a new liberal regime. Uncertainty and dithering is what helps the Lenins and Khomeinis in revolutionary situations. Acting boldly to prevent more disarray and more chaos offers the best chance for an orderly outcome.

Helping Egypt transition to a liberal democracy is something worth doing. It should be the focus of major efforts, public and private, by the U.S. government and our allies. But precisely because it is worth doing, ‘twere well it were done quickly.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

President Obama, say the 'D-Word' - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

President Obama, say the 'D-Word' - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
It's incredible, really. The president of the United States can't bring himself to talk about democracy in the Middle East. He can dance around it, use euphemisms, throw out words like "freedom" and "tolerance" and "non-violent" and especially "reform," but he can't say the one word that really matters: democracy.
No way, that would sound too Bush. More.... very on target analysis from al Jazeera,
In fact, newly released WikiLeaks cables show that from the moment it assumed power, the Obama administration specifically toned down public criticism of Mubarak. The US ambassador to Egypt advised secretary of state Hillary Clinton to avoid even the mention of former presidential candidate Ayman Nour, jailed and abused for years after running against Mubarak in part on America's encouragement.

Not surprisingly, when the protests began, Clinton declared that Egypt was "stable" and an important US ally, sending a strong signal that the US would not support the protesters if they tried to topple the regime. Indeed, Clinton has repeatedly described Mubarak as a family friend. Perhaps Ms Clinton should choose her friends more wisely.

Similarly, president Obama has refused to take a strong stand in support of the burgeoning pro-democracy movement and has been no more discriminating in his public characterisation of American support for its Egyptian "ally". Mubarak continued through yesterday to be praised as a crucial partner of the US. Most important, there has been absolutely no call for real democracy.

Rather, only "reform" has been suggested to the Egyptian government so that, in Obama's words, "people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances".

"I've always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform - political reform, economic reform - is absolutely critical for the long-term well-being of Egypt," advised the president, although vice-president Joe Biden has refused to refer to Mubarak as a dictator, leading one to wonder how bad a leader must be to deserve the title.

Even worse, the president and his senior aides have repeatedly sought to equate the protesters and the government as somehow equally pitted parties in the growing conflict, urging both sides to "show restraint". This equation has been repeated many times by other American officials.

This trick, tried and tested in the US discourse surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is equally nonsensical here. These are not two movements in a contest for political power. Rather, it is a huge state, with a massive security and police apparatus that is supported by the world's major superpower to the tune of billions of dollars a year, against a largely young, disenfranchised and politically powerless population which has suffered brutally at its hands for decades.

The focus on reform is also a highly coded reference, as across the developing world when Western leaders have urged "reform" it has usually signified the liberalisation of economies to allow for greater penetration by Western corporations, control of local resources, and concentration of wealth, rather than the kind of political democratisation and redistribution of wealth that are key demands of protesters across the region.

The Syrians are watching - Features - Al Jazeera English

The Syrians are watching - Features - Al Jazeera English

In one of Old Damascus' new cafes, text messages buzzed between mobiles in quick succession, drawing woops of joy and thumbs up from astonished Syrians.

Suzan Mubarak, the wife of the Egyptian president, had flown into exile with her son - so the rumours went - driven out of the country by days of unprecedented protest against the 30-year rule of her husband.

The news from Cairo brought a flutter of excitement to this country, founded on principles so similar to Egypt that the two nations were once joined as one.

Like Egypt, Syria has been ruled for decades by a single party, with a security service that maintains an iron grip on its citizens. Both countries have been struggling to reform economies stifled for generations by central control in an effort to curb unemployment among a ballooning youth demographic.

Could the domino effect that spread from the streets of Tunis to Cairo soon hit Damascus?

"Perhaps the Saudis will have to build a whole village for Arab presidents once they run out of villas," joked a taxi driver, wondering if Hosni Mubarak would go the same way as Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president who flew into exile in Saudi Arabia after street protests brought down his regime.
The Saudis might be place for a village for exiles. That's what London's for.

Fan photos from The Syrian Revolution 2011 الثورة السورية ضد بشار الاسد

Update: 7 Feb 2012: شكرا لكم لزيارة الصفحة الخاصة بي. إذا كنت في سوريا، شكرا لك على شجاعتك. الرجاء نشر التعليق على أي شيء يمكننا القيام به من جانب الولايات المتحدة لمساعدتك. بارك الله بكم جميعا.

Assad's image superimposed over Saddam's on the scaffold. Found over here on facebook.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mill Race Inn in Geneva to close Sunday - Beacon News

Mill Race Inn in Geneva to close Sunday - Beacon News
As time went on, foot traffic slowed at Mill Race Inn. Roumeliotis, who operates the restaurant with his father, Charlie, added that after looking at the rise in minimum wage, property taxes, corporate taxes and the state income tax, the numbers just didn’t add up.
Expect more of this.....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890 - 20 January 1988)

Some vidieos on his life on the anniversery of his passing.

Make sure to view the last part of this one....

A longish one but a good biography of his life.

Jeff Immelt and the Military Industrial Complex

Allow me to be the first Unitarian Universalist blogger to trot out The Military Industrial Complex with regard to this very Chicago style appointment. All that's missing is for Immelt to declare GE a minority/women owned business.
It is unclear how the administration plans to deal with the ethics challenges created by having a CEO whose income is determined by stock performance leading a panel designed to recommend government policies. G.E. (2009 revenue: $157 billion) is a huge government contractor and is always in the market for new subsidies and incentives.

Immelt’s shareholders certainly had to think that access had its benefits this week when the Obama administration signed off on a plan to allow the company to spin off under-performing NBC to cable giant Comcast.

Though intended to show Obama’s coolness with corporate America, the Immelt pick will likely reinforce the perception in American boardrooms that Obama likes to play favorites when it comes to the economy.

Read more:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Irony in Illinois -

Irony in Illinois -

How ironic that Gov. Quinn's first headline after signing the tax increase bill was to hire an ex-legislator to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (it apparently had nothing to do with her lame duck vote, both of 'em, promise). The pension system now has its newest double dipper. Good to see this reform thing is really taking hold!

-- Craig Wenokur, Geneva

Yep, now who were the other candidates? Any Vets bumped out of the way? Vets clogging the lists was Blagojevich's big problem. Couldn't get past them to hire the politically deserving.

Illinois Senate aims to oust unconfirmed appointees - Peoria, IL -

Illinois Senate aims to oust unconfirmed appointees - Peoria, IL -

Gotta wonder if these guys ever talk to each other. They really give the impression of bumbling about in Springfield.
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Senate President John Cullerton wants to oust some of Gov. Pat Quinn's top appointees — including the state police chief — because the Senate never confirmed them.

The Chicago Democrat has introduced legislation that would limit the amount of time a gubernatorial appointee may serve without Senate confirmation. Currently, directors who have not gotten a Senate OK may serve indefinitely.

But Cullerton's chief attorney, Eric Madiar, said Tuesday that Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken and a dozen other salaried appointees should no longer get paychecks — even without Cullerton's legislation — because their appointments expired when a new General Assembly was sworn in last week. Even Gladyse Taylor, the acting director of Corrections, could be in limbo if Quinn named a permanent director because she wasn't confirmed in previous post.

Rahm Emanuel's tan

I think he's going to need his big brother if he wins. It's a tough town.

Chicago Mayoral Candidates Talk About Bullying
Meeting with reporters after the forum, Emanuel said his family “used to go to Israel all the time. I get quite dark (from being out in the sun.) We moved up to the suburbs in 1968-1969. And the kids said some things on a racial basis, based on because we’d just gotten back from Israel. And they took my bike away. The good news, for me, while they took my bike away and said some things, I also had a younger brother who was bigger.”

Gery Chico for Mayor ads

Some good ads on Rahm's spies at events. A wimpy tactic from a Rahm Emanuel trying to sell himself as the tough guy for Chicago.

Gary Chico's hard truth response to Rahm Emanuel: he took the cash

Chico responds civilly telling us the hard truth: given the chance, Rahm took the cash.

The Presser,


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

CONTACT: Brooke Anderson (312) 852-0081

Time for Emanuel to tell “hard truth”

Chico: Chicago can’t afford a mayor who looks the other way

(CHICAGO) With former president Bill Clinton stumping in Chicago for Rahm Emanuel today, mayoral candidate Gery Chico asked Emanuel to tell the truth about his tenure on the Freddie Mac board, to which Clinton appointed Emanuel in 2000. Under Emanuel’s watch, an Enron-type scandal took place costing taxpayers more than half a billion dollars, according to news reports.

In his latest ad, Emanuel calls for politicians to begin telling the “hard truths.” Today, Chico called for Emanuel to take responsibility for his own hard truth.

“When Rahm Emanuel had the chance to blow the whistle on corrupt activity taking place on the Freddie Mac board, he sat on his hands, looked the other way and took the cash,” Gery Chico said. “It was a character test and Rahm Emanuel failed.”

According to a Chicago Tribune news report, Emanuel was paid roughly $400,000 to attend no more than nine meetings as a member of the Freddie Mac board. During that time, Emanuel was informed by board executives of a scheme to mislead shareholders about profits, leading to an Enron-type scandal that cost taxpayers more than half a billion dollars in settlements and legal fees, according to the report.

That wasn’t the only scandal that brewed during Emanuel’s tenure. According to the Tribune, while Emanuel was on the Freddie Mac board, the Board was also made aware of a scheme that led to a record $3.8 million fine from the Federal Election Commission for illegally using corporate resources to host fundraisers for politicians. Emanuel benefited from one of those parties when he ran for Congress, according to the Tribune.

“Running for public office is not just about having the experience and qualifications to get results for people. It’s about having the guts to do what is right,” Chico said. “In exactly five weeks, Chicago will choose its next mayor. We can’t afford a mayor who looks the other way when presented with corruption.”

Freddie Mac is one of two federal agencies responsible for the nation’s economic crash. Its demise hit the local housing market particularly hard - Chicago has one of highest foreclosure rates in the country.

Rahm Emanuel's Hard Truths ad

Pretty bold commercial from a guy who's cleaned up the way Rahm has from the system. If a near pathological skill to dissemble on camera a qualification for Mayor of Chicago, than this guy wins hands-down.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gaddafi: bring back Ben Ali, there's none better

Revolution shaking up Gaddafi. Via The Telegraph

Also check Michael Totten.
Col Gaddafi was described by President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali as "not a normal person" in a conversation recorded in an American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks. But in a speech on state television he said he was "pained" by what was happening in the country on Libya's north-western border.

"You have suffered a great loss," he said. "There is none better than Zine to govern Tunisia."

The Libyan leader, who came to power in 1969, has reason to be nervous of popular uprisings. Like Tunisia, Libya has a young and relatively well-educated population with high unemployment.

He spoke for other Arab leaders in his caution over the rioting and looting that Mr Ben Ali's flight had unleashed. "Tunisia, a developed country that is a tourist destination, is becoming prey to hooded gangs, to thefts and fire," he said. He described conditions there as "chaos with no end in sight".

Tunisia And The Lessons Of The Iranian Revolution | The New Republic

Tunisia And The Lessons Of The Iranian Revolution | The New Republic

I remember Carter bungling a response to the Iranian revolution. Let's hope Obama's more deft.

Khairi Abaza writes,
And so, just like Iran in 1979, Tunisia now finds itself at a crossroads: Will it head down the path of democracy, or will there be a takeover by Islamists? In 1979, Europe and the United States missed an opportunity to stand with liberals at the time of the Shah’s overthrow, leaving them at the mercy of the Islamists. Now, the West must avoid repeating this mistake in Tunisia by clearly identifying with the liberals, and their demands for democracy and better governance.

The worst thing the West could do would be to support a cosmetic change in which another authoritarian figure replaces Ben Ali and makes only small concessions to ease popular discontent—granting the people some new liberties, while maintaining the authoritarian structures of the state. Such a move would signal to the Tunisian people that the West is not actually interested in promoting democracy in Tunisia, and would likely set the stage for the Islamists and their international sponsors to emerge as the strongest opposition. In the end, Tunisia would likely fall to the Islamists, another form of authoritarianism.

Some in the West have long argued that because of the lack of a viable liberal alternative, supporting authoritarian regimes in Arab countries is the only political choice against the Islamists. Now, in Tunisia, as people flood into the streets demanding democracy, we see that this is not the case. It was not the case in Iran in 1979 either, but the West was so invested in the Shah that it failed to strongly back the liberal opposition. We don’t have to repeat that error today.

Rahm Emanuel has Daley's will to power, with an eye for the bottom line | In Other News | Crain's Chicago Business

Crain's profile on a guy who declined the West Side NAACP's forum.Rahm Emanuel has Daley's will to power, with an eye for the bottom line | In Other News | Crain's Chicago Business

What Crain's found Daley and Emanuel both share,
While each certainly is willing to accept backing from ward bosses and other machine figures—Mr. Emanuel got to Congress with huge precinct help from then-top city water official Donald Tomczak, who later was convicted of federal corruption charges—neither is entirely a machine man. Instead, their main political weapon is money.

Read more:
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Some pretty effective ads I think if she could ever get them out there. Not the consensus candidat, but the peoples candidate: I like that. Citizens for Patricia Van Pelt Watkins

NAACP West Side Candidate Forum

Via Arlene Jone's and her facebook page,
WESTSIDE NAACP Candidate Forum. Patricia Van Pelt Watkins response to a question from the Lawndale News asking if she would do like Mayor Washington and take a pay cut.
Doc Walls on getting the City's Contractors to take a furlough pretty good point.

29th January 2011, Global Day of Action Against Executions and in Support of Political Prisoners in IRAN To trade unions around the world

29th January 2011, Global Day of Action Against Executions and in Support of Political Prisoners in IRAN To trade unions around the world
In the past few weeks, the Islamic regime in Iran has dramatically stepped up the arrest, imprisonment and execution of political activists. There are growing concerns that if the regime is not stopped, it will commit even more horrendous atrocities.

Within the first 10 days of 2011 alone, the regime executed nearly 60 people on various charges. Many political activists have received heavy prison sentences, and three have already been executed.*

At the same time, the regime has stepped up its persecution of worker activists, dreading protests by workers following the introduction of a programme of austerity and elimination of subsidies. One labour activist, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, worker of a polyethylene pipe-manufacturing company, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison and 10 years’ deprivation from social activity. Also, Reza Rakhshan, leader of Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Union, has been imprisoned since late December. Meanwhile, Mansoor Ossanlou, Ebrahim Madadi, Reza Shahabi and Gholamreza Gholamhosseini, of Tehran’s bus workers’ union, are all still in jail for their trade union activities.

In protest against this rising wave of executions and persecution, a number of organisations from around the world, which campaign against executions and in support of political prisoners, as well as the Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran, have called for a global day of action on Saturday 29th January.

With this letter, we are inviting you to lend your support to this Global Day of Action in every way you can: by publicising the event, joining the protest in a city near you, sending messages of support, speaking at the event, etc. Please let us know of any act of solidarity you are planning in support of this day. Speakers are most welcome. Please bring union banners, placards, etc.

Together, we can stop this regime of executioners and worker persecutors!

Free Them Now!

Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran

16 January 2011

*Ali Sarami, Ali Akbar Siadat and, on 15th January, Hossein Khezri

Historic Bars of Chicago

A book for over taxed Illinoisans to find spots to drown our sorrows.

The theoretical half-life of Bill Foster’s political career - Courier News

The theoretical half-life of Bill Foster’s political career - Courier News
Of course, when talking about his future, he naturally expresses it in mathematical terms.

“There is a question you must answer: what fraction of your life do you want to spend in service of your fellow man?” he said.

You work for yourself for a certain fraction, Foster said. You work for your family for another fraction.

So has he filled the numerator in his dedication to others?

“Science does not provide the answer,” he said.
Science didn't answer but thankfully the voters of Illinois's 14th district did. Foster's fraction of time devoted to our betterment mercifully's ended.

State Rep. Monique Davis at the center of a legal battle over unpaid rent, penalties -

State Rep. Monique Davis at the center of a legal battle over unpaid rent, penalties -

Great, and this from the spokesperson for the Teachers Unions in Springfield.
Taxpayers could be left holding the bag in a legal feud involving the Chicago Board of Education, Cook County and state Rep. Monique Davis over more than $1 million in unpaid rent, taxes, interest and penalties.

In a recent filing in claims court, the city's Board of Education alleges that Davis has not paid rent to Chicago Public Schools for eight years, failed to pay taxes on her lease with the county for more than 20 years and has time and again fought eviction from a South Side office building that has housed her legislative offices since 1988.

The Board of Education is suing the state and Davis, seeking $617,683, a tally that includes more than $100,000 in unpaid rent, compounding interest, penalties, utilities payments and court costs. Meanwhile, the Cook County treasurer's office last week referred Davis' case to the state's attorney in an effort to recover about $456,000 in overdue leasehold taxes, fines and interest dating back to 1988.

Iranium: New Documentary Film About Iran

H/T to RBO

More here:

Pajamas Media » High Drama, Low Comedy in Illinois Tax Follies

Pajamas Media » High Drama, Low Comedy in Illinois Tax Follies

Rick Moran on Illinois politics as tragicomedy/

Sunday, January 16, 2011

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie's (D-Chicago) pinching shoes

I listened to this comment from Flynn and considering how she had just stuck it to Illinois wage-earners with a retroactive tax hike they'd see taken out of their next pay check, who in the world's shoes did she think this spending increase was going to "pinch"? Voters want cuts in spending. Not a tax hike followed by spending increases. That's going to pinch the spenders in Springfield, maybe, sometime. but the pain's hitting wage earners now. Leader Flynn seemed oblivious.
For instance, the caps allow the budget to grow by about $700 million between fiscal 2012 and 2013. If Medicaid and pension costs climb at their typical rate, their growth alone will require something like $1.1 billion in additional money, so other spending would have to be slashed.

“You’re talking about a shoe that is definitely going to pinch,” said House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago.

Tax hike brings no money, more problems to Illinois cities

Tax hike brings no money, more problems to Illinois cities
City leaders are also concerned about losing their businesses to bordering states.

Dennis Pauley, mayor of Rock Island, said his city — located on the Iowa border — will not lose any money from the state funding, but is worried that businesses would pack their bags and move next door because of the corporate income tax increase.

State Rep. Pat Verschoore of Rock Island said he voted yes on the tax hike so the state could pay off its deficit. The Democrat said he doesn’t think a lot of businesses would actually leave the state within the four-year time span of the temporary tax increase.

Because Danville sits just west of the Indiana border, Eisenhauer said the tax increase stiffens corporate competition with the Hoosier state.

Hoechst has a similar situation, since Alton sits across the Mississippi River from Missouri.

“We are creating a very anti-business climate in this state,” he said.
Same fears along borders with Indiana and Iowa.

Daily Herald: Wisconsin business appetite worries Lake County towns

It's gotta be the same alongside Indiana.
As Wisconsin’s governor aggressively seeks Illinois businesses following a hefty corporate income tax increase here, leaders in some Lake County towns near the border are voicing concern.

Fox Lake Mayor Ed Bender said he couldn’t blame a local sand-and-gravel company if it moved one block north to Wisconsin to save on taxes. In Antioch, Mayor Larry Hanson it now may be more difficult to fill a business park off Route 173.

Read more:

Quinn, former state rep. say job not traded for tax-hike vote - Chicago Sun-Times

Quinn, former state rep. say job not traded for tax-hike vote - Chicago Sun-Times
During her final days in office, former state Rep. Careen Gordon scored a lucrative state job after casting an important vote that helped pass Gov. Quinn’s controversial 67 percent income tax increase.

Gordon (D-Morris) and a spokeswoman for the governor said there wasn’t any deal to trade Gordon’s vote for the $85,886-a-year seat on the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

“There was no quid pro quo,” Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson said Saturday. “Bottom line, she was appointed because of her extensive background in criminal justice. . . . She was just the ideal candidate.”
How stupid Democrats must think we are in Illinois. Was there even a list of candidates for the job? No Vet with preference to bump her on the list?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Where did the 2009 Tax hike dollars go in Illinois?

They went to friends of politicans. That's where. Via Chicago Daily Observer.
There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of dirty little secrets in Springfield. But the one of which I know the most, is the Capital Bill. Did everyone already forget that we raised taxes and fees in ’09? It wasn’t income tax. It was sales taxes, license plate fees, and the fool’s gold of video poker. This is funding the Capital Bill. Did you know the Capital Bill is $31 Billion? Did you know that none of the money went to pay our overdue bills? Nope. The money went to new “projects”.
United Neighborhood Organization is getting $98 Million. Sounds like a nice organization. I decided to google them. Their home page is It states that it is “Modeled after the Saul Alinsky style of community organizing.” If you don’t know who Saul Alinsky is, google “Saul Alinsky Marxist”. The CEO of UNO is a gentleman by the name of Juan Rangel. He also happens to be one of Rahm Emanuel’s campaign co-chairman.

Belmont Club » Is Democracy Cool Again?

Belmont Club » Is Democracy Cool Again?
The Freedom Agenda is respectable again. After years of laughing at the idea that spreading democracy was America’s most useful foreign policy weapon and touting grand bargains with the worst regimes in world, even the New York Times sees in the departure of Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali the startling idea that Arabs will not necessarily tolerate tyranny forever.
Let's hope the administration doesn't bungle this one. It may be like Venona, the case for make wikileaks public was pretty strong.

Reince For RNC Chairman

Food stamp surge in Illinois - Chicago Sun-Times

Food stamp surge in Illinois - Chicago Sun-Times

With the tax hike, the job loss and resulting poverty's only going to get worse. Just start counting the newly empty storefronts in your neighborhoods.

The St. Ailbe Church food pantry on Chicago’s South Side went from providing food to roughly 2,000 people a month in 2009 to about 3,000 people a month last year, said director Sammie Wayne. “It’s people ages 25 to 90, and they are asking for more help.”

Requests for help with food, from pantries and SNAP have risen even more dramatically in Chicago suburbs.

“We have a food pantry in Hoffman Estates that’s our fastest-growing pantry,” said Maehr.

There have been double-digit increases in the number of people receiving food the last two years at the Peoples Resource Center pantry in Wheaton, said Melissa Travis, director of food services. “It’s completely the economy,” she said.

In addition to the long-term poor, those seeking help at the Wheaton pantry include more “people that never thought they would use a food pantry, that sort of forgotten middle class that had a pretty good- paying job, and suddenly they don’t have that income,” Travis said. “They’re struggling.”