Tags: Rahm Emanuel

Oh, Thank Goodness! Another Crisis!


It was the first major quote of the Obama presidency, uttered just days after he won by the man who would become his first chief of staff, and it is the defining mantra of this presidency: “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste.”

Someday we’ll have a president more interested in preventing crises than winning them.

Tags: Barack Obama , Rahm Emanuel

Gene Sperling, You’re No Rahm Emanuel


Oh, Woodward, you big tease.

See, now this is a threat against a reporter:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel allegedly grabbed a reporter by the arm in order to communicate “a threat of physical violence” in the course of an interview that went south during the presidential campaign.

“I’ve never experience anything like this in my career from an American public official,” Buzzfeed’s Michael Hastings, author of Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Barack Obama’s Final Campaign, said on Current TV. “He grabbed me by the arm and wouldn’t let go while his bodyguards approached me. And clearly trying to intimidate me with a threat of physical violence. It was abusive.” Hastings provided Current with audio of the conversation.

But you would never see someone like Rahm Emanuel, with such obvious rage and temper issues, such an uncontrolled bullying attitude, working in the Obama White House.

Wait a minute…

Tags: Bob Woodward , Gene Sperline , Rahm Emanuel

Meet Lenny McAllister, an Intriguing GOP Name in Chicago’s House Race


The upcoming U.S. House election in Illinois’s second congressional district represents a steep challenge for Republicans; the district gave 90 percent of its vote to Barack Obama in 2008 and was until recently represented by Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr., who managed to easily win reelection in 2012 even though he was under criminal investigation and on medical leave.

But Jackson announced his resignation on November 21, and now a special election will occur on April 9, with turnout expected to be much lower. While the district scores a D+32 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index, it does have some less heavily Democratic sections, stretching from 53rd Street on the city’s South Side through the south suburbs of Chicago, all the way to Kankakee County.

Five Republicans have filed papers to run for the seat; the best known is probably Lenny McAllister, a former local radio host and syndicated radio commentator.

“Who am I? I think first I would define myself as a child of God,” McAllister begins. “Somebody that is a leader, that doesn’t follow conventional politics. I am a Republican, but I am definitely not of the current stereotype. I am a Republican who embraces conservative principles and understands where conservative principles can apply to urban and suburban voting populations in a way that the Republican party has not been successful in engaging those voting blocs over the past 30 years. Yet at the same time, I am a Republican not afraid to talk about issues of race, issues of social economics, not afraid to talk about issues that have been impacting the youth, the poor, and the working classes of America.”

McAllister contends he’s uniquely qualified as messenger for the GOP, citing his past work hosting a radio show on WVON and writing op-eds for the Chicago Defender, and his current appearances on American Urban Radio Network, a group of about 400 African-American and urban radio stations across the country.

“To be able to have a platform that talks to different segments of America, there’s a unique opportunity for Republicans to be able to show folks that our values can be effective in an urban district, particularly one that’s been suffering for so long,” McAllister says. “It’s been so gerrymandered, there hasn’t even been legitimate Republican competition in this district in some time. No offense to any of the [past] candidates, that’s just numbers. We have an opportunity in 2013 to change that, to change the tone within the Republican party and to change the attention that both sides of the aisle give to districts like this one, and to start working better together.”

When asked about former representative Jackson, McAllister says he sees a personal tragedy and a political tragedy. “My prayers are with him and his family. I have worked with his older sister Santita, at WVON, I have worked with his brother Jonathan at Chicago State University. I have grown fond of that family. I may not agree with every single issue that they stand for, but there a human tragedy to this and a political tragedy to this. There are children involved with this, so that is where my focus is with that.”

“Regards to the political tragedy, you have a gerrymandered district where there is no political competition. The power of incumbency entrenches people so deeply, that it’s hard to get them out in a primary, and there’s no competition in the general election. These become small kingdoms. Once you’re in, people expect to stay in.”

The results of gerrymandering and the culture of “small kingdoms” spurred McAllister’s enthusiasm for term limits.

“I know that there is a representative in New York who is trying to repeal the presidential term limits. We need to do the exact opposite,” he says. “What we need to term-limit the House to no more than six consecutive terms and the Senate to no more than two consecutive terms. Nobody needs to be in either chamber for more than 12 years. If we can transition the political acumen in power in the president of the United States once every eight years, why can’t we do the same to the House of Representatives and the Senate every twelve years?”

On the recent strike by Chicago’s school teachers, McAllister expresses frustration at how the interests of the students was lost in a high-stakes contract fight.

“One of the questions I asked was, which many thought was a rather bold one to ask was, ‘In a summer when were shootings and a high rate of violence, where black youth gunned down in their neighborhoods, sometimes in broad daylight, where were the African-American leaders within the teachers’ union to say, “this could be deadly for our kids to keep them out of school longer?”’” he laments. “I understand the need for unions in the 21st century. I feel like unions can still have a proper role in places of business in the 21st century. But I think that unions such as teachers’ unions need to understand the model is different, and the expectations must be different.” He said he is intrigued by a recent proposal by the American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten for a type of “bar exam” for teachers to set standards for teacher quality.

Asked about the performance of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, McAllister sees a mixed record so far. “I think he understands that we’re going to have to do things differently in how we spend money, how we negotiate contracts, and in regards in how we prepare the workforce. There’s an initiative [of his] that was just announced today in the Sun-Times that’s similar to an initiative I’ve had, which is that we have to prepare more minorities for tech positions so they can get good jobs and be part of the resurgence of America and our economy. We’re talking about apprenticeships that target specific workers, whether it’s minority workers, minority students coming out of high school, or generally people who have not had the opportunity to transition to new work, to prepare them to get back into the workforce.”

But McAllister finds Emanuel’s time as mayor disappointing in its response to high crime rates, particularly shootings and violent crime. “I would like to see an increase in response to the violence we’ve had for the past year plus. I think he and Police Chief [Garry] McCarthy – the work that’s been put in place, it is well-intended, [but there's] more that could be done so that the violence stops. Not just adding police on the ground, but also going after economic policy so that kids at 12 and 13 see alternatives to violence so they’re not picking up guns at [ages] 16, 17, and 18. I’d like to see that effort ramped up more.”

Finally, McAllister sees a great need to take the abstract debate about the debt and put it into tangible terms for Americans who are focused on their immediate economic anxieties.

“When we start talking about spending, we have to bend back the curve, but as we’re doing that, we have to talk about jobs. It has to be tied together. Because if we’re going to bend back the spending, if we’re going to increase the ages for Social Security or Medicare, we have to make sure that there is an incentive for Generation X and Generation Y to want to work longer at a job that is going to be rewarding. . . . My candidacy is specifically designed and focused upon reintroducing the poor and the working poor of this district to the American Dream.”

He offers a simple argument against the current rate of government spending: Look closely at the results we see around us today.

“Spending is not bringing the jobs right now,” he says. “Spending has continued to increase during the course of Obama’s presidency, and the unemployment rate, starting in 2008, has boomed, to the point where we’re all starting to feel good about 7.8 percent unemployment, even as people continue to jump out of the workforce. Six percent unemployment was [considered] a problem just five years ago! We need smart spending policies in place, that allow employers to feel good to create jobs, and to feel that those jobs will still be there three, four, five, ten years from now and they won’t be in bankruptcy court.”

Tags: Jesse Jackson Jr. , Lenny McAllister , Rahm Emanuel

Obama: Abandoning His Old Ally and His Own Reforms in Chicago


Today’s Morning Jolt spotlights the morning’s bad news about an angry mob storming our embassy compound in Yemen, the hard questions being asked about remarkably thin security at our consulate in Benghazi, and then this update on Chicago:

Obama: Abandoning His Old Ally and His Own Reforms in Chicago

From my notes for yesterday’s more heated than usual appearance on Kudlow, briefly discussing the Chicago Teachers’ Union strike.

Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday that “every issue we’re talking about is the core thrust of Race to the Top,” President Obama’s signature education reform.

Obama’s former chief of staff is trying to enact Obama’s reforms in Obama’s home town, and the president is silent and has no comment. This is a humiliation for the president. The Chicago Teachers’ Union has demonstrated who calls the shots in the symbiotic relationship between the teachers’ unions and the Democratic party, and the president is proven to be unable to speak up for his own purported agenda.

It’s not looking like we’ll see resolution anytime soon, either:

Chicago teachers stayed away from public schools for a third day on Wednesday in a strike over Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s demand for tough teacher evaluations that U.S. education reform advocates see as crucial to fixing urban schools.

With more than 350,000 children out of school, the patience of parents and labor negotiators began to fray as hopes of a quick resolution to the biggest U.S. labor strike in a year were dashed.

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who is based in Chicago, appeared at the site where negotiations were supposed to take place on Wednesday and said that he had met with both sides separately to urge them to settle.

“Both sides are dug in. They can’t hear each other,” Jackson said.

And if Jesse Jackson can’t bring these folks together . . .

Tags: Barack Obama , Chicago , Education Reform , Rahm Emanuel

The ‘Choice’ of Chicago School Teachers, and Parents


Meanwhile in Chicago, the city that generated our president, teachers have walked off the job, leaving the public schools in chaos. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expressing his great frustration that “this is a strike of choice. Because of how close we are, this is unnecessary. The issues are not financial.”

Funny word, “choice.” It’s something that the striking teachers have, but that most Chicago parents don’t.

Two years ago, Illinois state legislators rejected “a school voucher bill that would have enabled up to 30,000 children to escape the underperforming Chicago public schools to attend a private school of their choice” — what would have been one of the largest school-choice programs in the country.

Look, Rahm Emanuel inherited these problems. I’m sure the public-school teachers of Chicago didn’t get their entitled, arrogant, irresponsible attitudes and views overnight. These sorts of views probably took root over the past decade . . . say, from 2001 to 2009, when Arne Duncan was running Chicago’s public schools, with rather disappointing results.

Arne Duncan, of course, is the Obama administration’s secretary of education.

Tags: Arne Duncan , Barack Obama , Rahm Emanuel

A Hostile Workplace? Under Rahm? Unthinkable!


In the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt . . .

Stunning: Female Staffers Feel Snubbed by President Who Calls Women ‘Sweetie’

The Washington Post reports, “Friction about the roles of women in the Obama White House grew so intense during the first two years of the president’s tenure that he was forced to take steps to reassure senior women on his staff that he valued their presence and their input. At a dinner in November 2009, several senior female aides complained directly to the president that men enjoyed greater access to him and often muscled them out of key policy discussions.”

Much of the stir comes from Anita Dunn telling author Ron Suskind that the Obama White House “actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.” Then she denied she said that, and then Suskind played a tape of her saying that, so . . . that’s pretty much all you need to know about Anita Dunn, along with her fondness for Mao.

Now, if there really was a hostile environment to women, that’s terrible. But I’m just going to go out on a limb and offer the insane theory that if you had to pick the group of people most prone to complaining that they’re being ignored and disrespected, you would probably pick a bunch of Democratic political staffers, lawyers, academics, apparatchiks and wonks, no? You’re telling me that if you had gone to the staffers who were African-American, or Jewish, or gay, or not from Chicago, or some other demographic distinction, and asked them, “Does the president listen enough to you and people like yourself, or are you sometimes snubbed?” it wouldn’t be that hard to generate some tales of indignation and woe? For a bunch of these folks, their entire worldview is based upon the patriarchy and the establishment keeping them down, and they can’t suppress those instincts of victimization just because they voted for the new boss. I suspect that upon entering the White House, a lot of folks find that their egos simultaneously swell and get more fragile. Then they’re put in a high-stress environment, where any error reflects badly on the munificent Sun-King, working extraordinarily long hours, convinced that the future of the country and/or liberalism depend on every move they make. Throw in a walking harassment-lawsuit-waiting-to-happen like Rahm Emanuel in a key role of leadership and you have the single most combustible working environment since the Hindenberg.

Still, this brouhaha is a useful marker of how our national expectations are changing. There as a time when Americans would be surprised if the White House wasn’t a hostile workplace for women. Then there was a time when Americans would be surprised if the White House as a hostile workplace for women. And at the current rate, in the near future, Americans will respond to reports like this by asking, “What’s a workplace?”

Michelle Malkin: “Seems like only yesterday the White House was basking in the glow of worldly feminists effusing over the president’s Grrrl Power governance. . . . Unfortunately for the rest of us, Obama compensated by elevating extremist radical women like Kathleen Sebelius, Jane Lubchenco, and Carol Browner — all of whom have employed Beltway business-as-usual tactics to run roughshod over the rule of law. In the end, Obama’s gals will be brass-knuckle boys to secure their agenda and power. It’s not just a “hostile workplace” for a few grumbling women left out in the cold. It’s a hostile workplace for all American taxpayers and job creators.”

Garance Franke-Ruta, a senior editor at The Atlantic, finds Treasury Secretary Tim Geither had some harsh words for his one-time White House colleague and Council of Economic Advisers chief Christina Romer, calling her “of no value on policy issues” of “financial rescue.”

Hey, hey, Timmy, take it easy on her. It’s not like you corrected that infamous chart on how the stimulus would affect the unemployment rate.

Back in 2008, I examined the 100 percent-sexism-free Democratic primary.

Tags: Barack Obama , Rahm Emanuel

Even the Worst Political Hacks Are People, Too


In the Jolt, some thoughts on the egregious mockery of Trig Palin over at Wonkette.

What the crew at Wonkette are arguing is that children are fair game. They deserve it, if you’re angry enough at the parents. The author, Jack Stuef, could just have easily written about Sarah Palin. He could have argued about her policies or any one of a million topics. He chose her child.

I hope when I reached my angriest, I’m not like this, and I hope you’re not like this either. I think it’s probably a good sign if you still see the other side as human beings, and you refrain from dismissing entire sections of the population as “parasites,” as Andrew Sullivan said of people who work on Wall Street this weekend. Here’s an example: Early in Obama’s first year, NBC did an hourlong prime-time special, entitled, “Inside the Obama White House.” Those who feared an hour of propaganda found plenty to object to in the program. But there were two moments that stuck with me. The first was David Axelrod, talking to Brian Williams about living several states away from his adult daughter who has, in his words, “profound problems with epilepsy,” and showing a painting she made that he keeps in his office. Then Rahm Emanuel talked about working in Washington while his wife and three children remained back in Chicago, not seeing them for weeks at a time. Apparently, even fire-breathing Rahm had days where he came into Axelrod’s office and talked about the difficulty of being away from his family for so long.  (This section of the program can be found here.)

Now, regular readers of this newsletter know that derision and mockery of David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel are pretty much standard fare. In their professional lives, Axelrod cynically exploited a way-too-friendly media to elect a fundamentally unprepared man to be president; if Rahm Emanuel were not protected by the “D” after his name, the table-stabbing, fish-sending anecdotes would be cited as evidence of him being a raving maniac, not merely a passionate, foul-mouthed operator.

But in those moments, you can see two men, working long hours and away from their loved ones and wondering if they’re making a mistake and sacrificing what matters most. They’re fathers and husbands. Human. With vulnerabilities and regrets and doubts. Somewhere in Chicago, there are children who miss their dads, kids who have never given you or me any reason to dislike them.

What’s striking about this is that we have people – quite a few people, I increasingly suspect – in the political world whose entire interaction is based on sticking it to the other side. This is what matters most to them. Vengeance, or lashing out, against their political foes is preeminent in their hierarchy of values, outranking everything.

Tags: David Axelrod , Political Discourse , Rahm Emanuel

Patience, Aspiring Mayor: Rahm Was Not Built in a Day.


In today’s Morning Jolt, a look at a Chicago election now turned upside down:

Let’s Get Ready to Rahm-ble!

Let me get this straight: Rahm Emanuel’s dreams of moving from the right hand of the president, as White House chief of staff, to a position of real power, mayor of Chicago, because of a small, insignificant detail like . . . the law? How can that be the Chicago way?

The Chicago Sun Times says the hometown fight isn’t over: “Rahm Emanuel was thrown off the ballot for mayor of Chicago Monday by an appellate court panel. But Emanuel ­— who has led the other candidates in fund-raising and in public opinion polls — cautioned he won’t get off the ballot without a fight. ‘I have no doubt, at the end we will prevail at this effort,’ Emanuel told reporters at the Berghoff Restaurant. The Chicago Board of Elections planned to start printing ballots without Emanuel’s name unless Emanuel’s lawyers can get a ‘stay’ of the appellate court ruling. Emanuel’s lawyers filed their request for a stay just before 5 p.m. Monday. ‘We . . . order that the candidate’s name be excluded (or if, necessary, be removed) from the ballot,’ Judge Thomas Hoffman wrote in the opinion upholding the requirement under the state’s municipal code that candidates for mayor in Illinois must have ‘resided in’ the town where they are running for a year before Election Day — in this case Feb. 22. Hoffman was joined by Justice Shelvin Marie Louise Hall.”

Ed Driscoll calls the sudden turn of events, “Schadenfreudemania, served deep-dish Chicago style . . . But given that it’s Chicago, who know what will happen with the appeal. We’ll know it’s over if and when President Obama’s office Fed Exes Rahm another Luca Brasi-style dead fish.

Publius, at Big Government, thinks this amounts to a mere legal speedbump: “Rahm supporters shouldn’t fret too much. The Illinois Supreme Court will sort this out and reinstate Rahm. The Illinois Dems still have the receipt from when they purchased the court.

But Warner Todd Huston at RightWingNews sees logistical headaches: “First of all, it seems pretty sure that his name will not be actually printed on the ballot no matter what the Ill. Supreme Court does with this case. The ballot printing deadline is supposed to be next Monday, January 31 and it is highly doubtful that the Ill. Supreme Court can hear the case and make a decision in time to get his name printed on the ballot.

Michelle Malkin says the ruling will shake up “Crook County,” and Emanuel had a commanding lead heading into the election less than four weeks away. “Just wondering: Will all of Rahm’s Hollywood hot shot donors and other $100,000 Club members get their money back? . . . Rahm gave a short statement to the press (no profanity delay buttons were necessary today). An appeal is on the way. He brushed off suggestion that politics played a role in court decision and said: ‘I have no doubt in the end we will prevail.’ Then, he cackled.”

One of my Chicago readers observed, “I’m glad this was announced today. It will cut down on coverage of the Bears’ loss to Green Bay.” And as MikeTSlapshot quipped, “Jay Cutler to Rahmbo: Thanks, buddy!”

Tags: Rahm Emanuel

Ordinary Folks vs. Rahm Emanuel in Chicago


With the holidays approaching, it might seem that the campaign season has slowed. But it is quite a temporary respite.

Chicago has its mayoral-election “primary” on February 22; if no one gets 50 percent (a possibility with the crowded field,) the top two finishers face off in a general election in November April. The key question right now out in the Windy City is, “Does former congressman and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel qualify as a resident of Chicago?” If Emanuel is a resident, he is the front-runner and likely the next mayor. If he isn’t, it’s a wide-open race.

Some of the more recognizable names in the small army of candidates include former U.S. senator Roland Burris; Rep. Danny K. Davis, who represents the state’s 7th district; and Carol Moseley Braun, a former U.S. senator from Illinois who preceded Barack Obama. Of course, if you’re just looking for a candidate who will go to city hall and take out the trash, there’s Fredrick K. White, a truck driver for the city’s sanitation department.*

A recent Tribune poll put Emanuel at 32 percent, undecided at 30 percent, 9 percent each for former Chicago School Board president Gery Chico and Davis, followed by Illinois state senator James Meeks with 7 percent, Moseley Braun with 6 percent, and City Clerk Miguel del Valle with 3 percent.

For the past three days, Emanuel — the man who not long ago had the ear of the president of the United States — attended hearings where ordinary citizens of Chicago — some appearing to be physical residents of the city, but mentally not necessarily residents of this planet — shouted their objections and conspiracy theories in objection to Emanuel’s claim of residency.

This is not to say Emanuel hasn’t exhibited a bit of provocative nerve in his defense:

[Emanuel’s lawyer Kevin] Forde said Emanuel never sold his house here or took steps to establish a permanent residence in Washington. Even so, he should get an exemption for federal service, Forde argued, saying if serving as the president’s chief of staff isn’t serving your country, “I don’t know what is.” . . .

And Emanuel should get no exemption for government service, [attorney for the lead objectors, Burt] Odelson said, because that’s reserved for men and women in the military. “That law was passed in 1943, for obvious reasons,” Odelson argued.

And it sounds like Emanuel’s renter demonstrated a bit of chutzpah himself: “’He suggested to me that Mr. Halpin was looking for $100,000 to leave the house early,’ [Emanuel real estate adviser Paul] Levy said.”

* A dream of sanitary government dies: Steve Stevlic, director of Tea Party Patriots Chicago, writes in to share, “Fred White was knocked off the ballot for failing to reach the minimum of 12,500 signatures on his nominating petitions.”

Tags: Rahm Emanuel

His Rahm-page Through Washington Comes to an End


Word broke last night that Rahm Emanuel will leave his position as White House Chief of Staff in hopes to move on to a job with real power. The observations from the Jolt:


The Body of the Administration Is About to Lose Its Spleen

It’s easy to get tired of conservatives complaining about media bias, but with news that Rahm Emanuel will soon ride off into the sunset to run Chicago, it seems like a good moment to observe that the public reputation of Emanuel is one of the greatest examples of the Triumph of the Narrative in our modern political world. The narrative is that Rahm Emanuel is the toughest of the political world’s tough guys, shrewd, cunning, dedicated to his chief and exactly the kind of guy you want having your back in a no-holds-barred fight.

But between oft-told tales of ubiquitous, loud, relentless profanity, his sending a dead fish to a pollster, his alleged threatening warning, laced with f-bombs at then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, the tale of the naked shower confrontation with Eric Massa, and the rest, it would be equally easy for a media less charitable to paint a portrait of Emanuel as a maniacal rage-a-holic, a seething hatchet man with few if any principles and a one-man wrecking crew obliterating cooperation, comity, decency and decorum. You’re forgiven if wondering if Rahm had been the chief of staff of a Republican president, he would have stolen the nickname “The Prince of Darkness” from Bob Novak, or whether the media would have gone straight to serial killer metaphors.

Back when Massa was telling the shower tale, I wrote, “Massa declaring that “Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn” – Mr. Applegate’s grandson? — and “an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive.” Notice no one in Washington jumped up to deny that characterization; it’s not like any Democrat could honestly say, “oh, come now, that doesn’t sound like our Rahm.” It’s kind of tough to deny allegations of maniacal aggression when one of the most famous stories about Emanuel involves him violently stabbing a table with a steak knife and screaming that all of his enemies would be dead, the most bloodthirsty dinner interruption by a Chicagoan since Al Capone went Babe Ruth on his underling’s noggin.”

Really, will any parent tell their child, ‘when you grow up, I want you to be just like Rahm Emanuel’?

… “The President does not need this right now,” observes Patrick Ruffini. He adds, “I look at Rahm and all I can think is: Sam Seaborn,” who was, I believe, the Rob Lowe character on the West Wing who left a high-powered job to run for Congress. Of course, Rahm has already done that.

Dave Weigel is a little tired of glowing profiles of Rahm the super-genius: “Prediction: If Dems right the ship and hold Congress, the Village will find a way to give Rahm credit anyway… I’m looking forward to the hour-long C-SPAN special where Rahm announces his decision.”

Tags: Rahm Emanuel

Chicago Calls, ‘O Come, O Come, Emanuel’


From this morning’s Jolt . . .

I Guess the Daley Grind Got to Him

Small confession: I kind of like Chicago. The city, I mean, not the band.

I speak mostly as a tourist, as I’ve never lived there. But from a distance, Chicago seems pretty great. (I haven’t been there since . . . 1998, I think.) There’s a lot to love: giant skyscrapers, all kinds of entertainment including the SNL farm team known as Second City, all kinds of food usually served in gargantuan portions, a crazy quilt of ethnic neighborhoods, a sports-crazy town where people care about how the local baseball teams perform, even though one is legendary for making their fans suffer. Pizza, brats, cold beer, mustaches. It’s easy to be tempted to live there. . . .

. . . and then you hear about how the city is run, and you wince. Beijing has a healthier two-party system than the Windy City. Graft, corruption, bribes, egos and authority run amok — apparently the city puts enormous effort into looking normal and functional to outsiders. Look a bit closer, and you see all the Morlocks who make sure the wheels greased, far away from the Eloi lifestyle that makes up the sitcoms and tourist sites. Like a movie with an unsympathetic protagonist, it often seems that there’s nobody to root for in Chicago politics.

But change is coming to the city that generated the guy who pledged change: “Mayor Richard Daley says he will not run for re-election in 2011, saying it’s “time for me, it’s time for Chicago to move on . . . The truth is I have been thinking about this for the past several months,” Daley said at a City Hall news conference that stunned the city. “In the end this is a personal decision, no more, no less.’”

Seven terms. This guy could look at a six-termer like Orrin Hatch and say, “rookie.”

The Hill’s Sam Youngman said on Twitter: “Daley not running for reelection. Rahm-shaped hole in the wall of the West Wing.”

. . . One of my regular readers in Illinois wrote in with his take: “Not a surprise about Daley not running again. His wife has been fighting cancer, his poll numbers (lower 30s approval) are terrible, and more and more he looks and sounds tired and clueless at what to do about the violence. (His Police Chief is a moron.)

“Don’t measure the 5th floor at City Hall for Rahmbo either. Dem Congressman from the city (Danny Davis and Luis Guitierrez) have been in Congress forever, and they know being in the minority means showing up to vote and no power they won’t give Rahm a free pass. The African American vote in the City is overwhelming, and they will pick the next Mayor. We’ll have to see if see if the Dear Leader annoints Rahm or stays neutral. (Maybe he’ll resign and run……Mayor for LIFE, ha ha ha.)” A few progressives seem determined to make sure Rahm never becomes mayor. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee declared, “Rahm is unfit to represent Democrats in office. He’s a cancer on the Democratic Party. Democrats’ current 2010 situation is due to a weak Rahm Emanuel mentality that says water down real reform at the urging of Republicans and corporations, thus making Democratic reform less popular with voters than the real deal would have been.”

Then there’s this classic exercise in self-delusion: “If Democrats had passed the overwhelmingly-popular public option and broken up the big banks when they had the chance, they’d be cruising for a landslide victory right now.”

No matter how far in one direction a White House goes, there will always, always, always be some grassroots organizer insisting that they were just one more lunge away from phenomenal popularity.

Tags: Rahm Emanuel , Richard Daley

The Obama Administration’s Strange Approach to Special-Needs Families


Over in the Examiner, Kirstan Hawkins examines the appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the nation’s Medicaid and Medicare system.

While I was helping my 1-year-old son, Gunner, do his life-prolonging breathing treatment, his president betrayed him and others who suffer from cystic fibrosis. Obama appointed a man who advocates rationing of health care and praises the disastrous British National Health Service to head one of the most important positions in the entire U.S. health care system…

Looking at Berwick’s project, British NHS, it looks like services for those who need it the most, the terminally ill and elderly, will be first to go.

Make no mistake about it, whatever Medicaid and Medicare decide to do, private health plans will follow their lead.

President Obama and Berwick’s goal is to turn the U.S. health care system into a redistributive system. Berwick has stated, “Any health care plan that is just civilized and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer to the poorer.”

For those like my son who need expensive, lifelong treatment, our only hope is that the U.S. system doesn’t “redistribute” to the British NHS extreme, where they won’t even let patients pay out of pocket for lifesaving treatments because it is unfair to those who can’t afford them.

Too harsh, you say? There’s no reason to think this administration’s policies would ever short-shrift parents of special needs, right? Eh, wait:

The “Special Needs Kids Tax” takes effect Jan. 1, 2011:  This provision of Obamacare imposes a cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500 (Currently, there is no federal government limit).  There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year.  Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education.  (Page 1999/Sec. 9005/$14 billion)

Well, I’m sure that’s just a necessary evil to keep costs in line. It’s not like medical experts cited by the administration openly write things like:

Services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia. A less obvious example is guaranteeing neuropsychological services to ensure children with learning disabilities can read and learn to reason.

Well, that’s just some doctor writing in a medical journal, I’m sure that this guy has no real influence over the administration’s thinking on this issue . . . oh, wait, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. Brother of Rahm. Ah.

Well, look, it’s not like the president has gone on national television and cracked jokes at the expense of special needs children. Oh, wait

Tags: Barack Obama , Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Favor-Trading With Blago?


Hmmm. Over at the Blagojevich trial:

  • Alonzo “Lon” Monk , Blagojevich’s first chief of staff, is the prosecution’s second witness. He was also charged along with Blagojevich in this case but Monk reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and is now a cooperating witness.

Lon Monk remains on the witness stand this afternoon, laying the foundation for a variety of alleged schemes supposedly participated in by former Gov. Blagojevich.

He described how then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel said he wanted a state grant for the Chicago Academy, a school in the congressman’s district, but that then-Gov. Blagojevich said the grant should be held up until more was learned about a possible fundraiser to be held for Blagojevich by the congressman’s brother, a California talent agent.

Tags: Rahm Emanuel , Rod Blagojevich

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