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‘If Gun Control Worked, Chicago Would Be Mayberry Right Now.’



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No getting around it, a lot of bad news in today’s Morning Jolt — new explosions in Tripoli, Lebanon, today — but there’s at least one section that isn’t so grim:

‘If Gun Control Worked, Chicago Would Be Mayberry Right Now.’

My friend Cam Edwards spoke at the Independence Institute’s Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms event last weekend. His speech is supposedly going to air on C-SPAN sometime in the near future, but can be seen on YouTube here.

Two of the many good sections:

If gun control worked, Chicago would be Mayberry right now! And Weld County and El Paso County would be Thunderdome! You guys wouldn’t have [Weld County] Sheriff [John] Cooke, you would have Tina Turner and Mel Gibson running around! It would be horrible! But that’s not real life! Real life is gun control not working in Chicago. Real life is gun control failing in Camden, New Jersey, and Oakland, California, and a lot of other communities in this country . . . 

We are pushing back with the lawsuits, with the phone calls to our legislators, by electing officials and supporting elected officials who listen to us. But we’re also pushing back by being grownups, and by being okay at it. By having hundreds of people show up at a range and fire thousands of shotgun shells . . . and everybody’s okay! And now we’re enjoying cigars and drinks and we’ll all get home safely tonight, right?

Because we can control our lives! We can manage our lives! It’s not too difficult. We’re not perfect. We may eat a little too much dessert every now and then. We may not be able to beat that one bad habit, like smoking cigarettes, whatever. But we’re a heck of a lot more capable than our government gives us credit for, aren’t we?

Tags: Gun Control , Something Lighter , Chicago

What Can 955 Votes Get You? A GOP House Nomination!



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So, how many votes does it take to win a Republican primary in a special House election in a district that includes a portion of Chicago and its southern suburbs when there’s a snowstorm?

955 votes.

Congratulations, Paul McKinley.

The winner of the Democratic primary, Robin Kelly, had 30,799 votes.

Meet the Democratic nominee:

After Robin Kelly lost a 2010 bid for state treasurer, the office’s chief investigator alleged she violated ethics laws by improperly reporting time off from her taxpayer-funded job as chief of staff to then-Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Tribune has learned.

Kelly, now a top contender in Tuesday’s special Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District race to succeed Jesse Jackson Jr., was at the center of an investigation by the treasurer’s executive inspector general into whether timekeeping violations took place as she campaigned for treasurer, records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show.

Executive Inspector General David Wells recommended that Kelly be disciplined, according to a letter from Giannoulias. The punishment that Wells recommended was not made public, but Giannoulias said no action would be taken against Kelly because she had already resigned from state government.

Meet the Republican nominee, discussing his philosophy of “street repentance” from his conviction and incarceration for robbery:

McKinley finished with about 500 votes more than former Rep. Mel Reynolds. His message has been against the Chicago machine; he offers a brief “Machine 101″ talk that refers to “Rahm ‘Caliglius’ Emanuel” (presumably comparing him to Caligula).

Tags: Chicago , Paul McKinley , Robin Kelly , Special Elections

Early Voting Begins . . . in Chicago Today



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Today is the first day of early voting in the primaries for the special House election in Illinois second congressional district.

A small army of Democrats is running for the seat; 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 southern suburbs of Chicago, all the way to Kankakee County.

In alphabetical order, the Democratic candidates are: Chicago alderman Anthony A. Beale, John Blyth, O. Patrick Brutus, Clifford J. Eagleton, Ernest B. Fenton, former U.S. representative Debbie Halvorson, Gregory Haynes, state senator Toi W. Hutchinson, Victor O. Jonathan, Cook County chief administrative officer Robin Kelly, Fatimah N. Muhammad, Larry D. Pickens, Charles Rayburn, former U.S. representative Mel Reynolds, Joyce W. Washington, and Anthony W. Williams.

Kelly appears to be getting significant support from the city’s Democratic establishment, with Representatives Bobby Rush and Danny Davis endorsing her Sunday.

There are five Republicans running for the seat: Lenny McAllister, Paul McKinley, Beverly E. Reid, James H. Taylor Sr., and Eric M. Wallace.

I interviewed McAllister, a syndicated radio commentator, in January.

Tags: Chicago , Lenny McAllister , Special Elections

Obama to Discuss Guns in Chicago



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This is a good thing:

President Barack Obama will visit Chicago on Friday, when he will discuss gun violence as he focuses on his economic message from Tuesday’s State of the Union address, according to the White House.

Obama will “talk about the gun violence that has tragically affected too many families in communities across Chicago and across the country,” a White House official said in a statement.

The president’s visit answers calls from Chicago anti-violence activists that Obama talk about the recent spate of gun violence in the city, several of the activists said.

“This is an important issue,” said Cathy Cohen, founder of the Black Youth Project, which attracted about 45,000 signatures by Sunday night in an online petition that urges Obama to speak up. “We think of this as a victory for all of us.”

The cover story of National Review is currently Kevin Williamson’s “Gangsterville,” about the violence plaguing the city.

The question is, will President Obama address how Chicago and Illinois have adopted the president’s preferred policy solution to this problem — some of the strictest state and local gun-control laws in the United States — only to see the violence worsen?

The traditional argument from the gun-control groups is that their laws work just fine, as long as they’re adopted everywhere on earth, or at least the country. Our Robert VerBruggen examined the “guns come from surrounding areas” theory a week ago:

. . . the communities these guns come from typically have much lower crime rates than Chicago does.

If we were to spread Chicago’s gun control outward, the city’s gangs would need to get weapons that were originally sold farther away. But would fewer guns actually make it into the city? Given that America has something like 300 million guns, and that guns are easy to conceal and transport, I rather doubt it.

Frankly, I don’t think gun control has much to do with Chicago’s murder problem. It seems to be mostly gang-related, which means that (A) any guns that can’t be bought legally will be bought illegally and (B) arming the law-abiding won’t make much difference either, because the violence is taking place between criminals. We still should arm the law-abiding, so that they may defend themselves against burglaries and the like, but they are rarely the victims of gang murders.

The horrific violence in cities is oftentimes a gang problem, and a sentencing problem as repeat offenders get off with short prison sentences. One study of 35 years’ worth of crime data in Ohio “found that about 69 percent of weapons offenses appeared to be dismissed before reaching a court for a decision. Another 28.5 percent of weapons charges that reached the prosecution stage were dismissed, likely because of plea bargains to other crimes.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Chicago , Gun Control , Guns

Time for Republicans to Experiment in Getting Out the Vote



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

It’s Time for Republicans to Experiment in Getting Out the Vote

One of the recurring lines I’ve heard in my “where do Republicans/conservatives go from here” conversations is, “Why don’t the [Koch Brothers/Sheldon Adelson/wealthy GOP donors] take all the money they wasted on SuperPAC ads last year and this cycle spend it on [their preferred idea].”

Now, sometimes “[their preferred idea]” is a good one, sometimes it sounds like a bad one, and oftentimes we don’t really know if it’s a good one or a bad one, because it either hasn’t been tried, or it hasn’t been tried on the scale that the person is envisioning.

But usually the idea requires some massive investment of millions of dollars, and the speaker usually wants to be in charge of the budget for this multi-million project.

Now, there have to be some ideas out there that can be implemented without the support of a Koch brother or a Sheldon Adelson, ones that can be implemented by the grassroots. Because if our comeback is entirely dependent upon the wealthiest guys making the right choice when it comes to which political activity they want to finance, we’re in trouble.

The first congressional contest of this year is the special U.S. House election for Illinois’ 2nd congressional district in Chicago and a portion of its southern suburbs on April 9.

The 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. 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.

There are five Republicans running; they’re all relatively unknown. Breitbart’s Rebel Pundit has talked to Paul McKinley and Dr. Eric Wallace. Earlier this month I spoke to the one candidate who has something of a media presence, syndicated radio commentator Lenny McAllister.

I don’t know if this guy is going to win the primary; and I have no illusions at the near-miracle it would take for the Republicans to win this seat. But every Republican who’s depressed by seeing the results of the November election agrees that our party has to get better at getting out the vote, in friendly districts, unfriendly districts, and everywhere in between. This is our first opportunity, and we have a few things going for us: A Democratic primary with 17 (!) candidates, and the low turnout of a special election. (When Rahm Emanuel left to become White House Chief of Staff, there was an open-seat race in another corner of Chicago in 2009. Total turnout: About 41,000 votes, with the winner claiming about 31,000. Rahm Emanuel himself didn’t vote in it, saying he forgot to file for an absentee ballot.) In November’s House race, with Jackson Jr. on the ballot, 67,396 voted for the Republican candidate, Brian Woodworth. How many of those 67,000 can Republicans get out to vote on April 9?

The low chances of success in this contest might actually be liberating. Suppose the Republicans in this district try an idea that backfires terribly; it’s not like a mistake like that would botch a seat we should have won. If it doesn’t work, we scratch it off the list and try another one. This is the time to experiment and try new things. This year we have two more special elections in not-terribly-competitive districts, the South Carolina first district seat on May 7, and the Missouri eighth district seat sometime in the spring (the date isn’t set yet). Then we have the bigger fish, the Massachusetts special Senate election (date to be determined, sometime in late spring, but perhaps as late as around July 4) and this November’s gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia.

But note that these ideas are unlikely to come from the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican Governors Association, or the National Republican Senatorial Committee. It’s not that there are bad guys running those groups (although I know some of you disagree). It’s that they’re big institutions with large risks for putting resources – financial, time, manpower – into untested ideas. (You know the old anecdote – any CEO who needs an outside consultant goes with the biggest name, because they know they’ll never get grief for making the safe pick. If you hire somebody who’s relatively unknown, you look like a genius if it works out but you look like a fool if he falls flat on his face. You see the same phenomenon with the National Football League’s annual coaching carousel.)

Actions by the big party committees are guaranteed to attract scrutiny. If the NRCC tries some new strategy for direct mail or organizing volunteers online and it flops, you’ll hear the same mockery from the mainstream media about those hapless Republicans, and more grumbling from the grassroots, outside critics sneering they’re the gang who can’t shoot straight, etc. The grassroots organizers within these particular districts have a lot more leeway to try new ideas.

Patrick Ruffini continues his fascinating dissection of Obama’s successful 2012 campaign, examining the “legacy report” of the campaign:

“Three out of five team leaders and one in five team members volunteered 10 or more hours per week, much more than other volunteers.”

80% of Obama volunteers reported living within 10 miles of an office. 631 Obama offices in target states vs. 282 for Romney.

So, presuming you can afford it, a key step is having as many campaign offices as possible in as many different places as possible. You want your campaign to have a presence in every community, whether it’s red, blue, or purple, and to leave no vote unpursued…

Tags: Chicago , GOP , House of Representatives , Lenny McAllister

The Last House Race of 2012 and the First One of 2013



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The Morning Jolt returns from its holiday hiatus, with a look at two House races — one not quite resolved, another coming soon in 2013 . . .

So, What Fun Can We Have With Chicago’s Upcoming Special House Election?

Moe Lane has a crazy idea for the upcoming special House election in Illinois, where Jesse Jackson Jr. has resigned, after increasingly bizarre behavior, a long disappearance from the public eye, and an announcement that he was on medical leave earlier this year for treatment of bipolar disorder.

Hold on, hear me out. Let’s jump back for a second to 2009. You might remember that in 2009 Rahm Emanuel resigned his House seat (IL-05) in order to bungle being White House Chief of Staff. Well, that caused a special election to trigger, and at the time I took the position that hey, how’s about trying to, maybe, I don’t know: win it? . . . And I was told, quietly but firmly, no. Folks didn’t like the candidate, didn’t like the idea of spending the money, didn’t want to contest the seat. And that’s fine; but here’s the thing. The Democrat who won (Mike Quigley) the primary was cordially hated by the rest of the Illinois Combine, and the general election he beat Rosanna Pulido, 30.6K to 10.6K. Two years later, Quigley’s opponent David Ratowitz got 38.9 K votes in the 2010 general election. Didn’t matter then, because Quigley got 108.3K votes . . . but it shows that there were in fact enough potential Republican voters in the IL-05 to win a low-turnout special election, if sufficiently motivated.

Now, let’s look at IL-02. In the last election Jackson got 181K votes to Brian Woodworth’s 67.4K. But Jesse Jackson’s quitting in, frankly, disgrace: and there’s going to be a vicious internal Democratic fight for his seat; and it’s a special election, which means low turnout. If the GOP does nothing, none of that will matter. If the GOP decides to make the Democrats work for the seat . . . it still may not matter. But . . . then again, it might. We won’t know until we actually try. What we do know is that doing nothing doesn’t work*.

All of which leads up to the observation that if anybody reading this has a clever plan about how to boost turnout in traditionally unfriendly districts, then there’s going to be a Republican campaign in Illinois in the very near future that is probably going to want to hear from you.

You can check out the oh-so-precise district lines here.

Jazz Shaw appears game, and already talking tactics:

So how do you do it? The first thing to settle on is what you don’t do. You don’t dump a ton of money into an air war that gets the Democrats noticing that there’s a race going on. What you do instead is bring back a very old, but mostly forgotten idea which we used to great effect in 2010: Precinct Captains. Invest the available resources in identifying one solid Republican in each and every precinct. Get them the data from pouring through registration stats to identify every single Republican and potential independent in the few miles around their house. Help them round up a few friends and quietly begin going door to door explaining the situation. Save your money for the final week before the special election and then hit a direct mail bomb targeting only the people on those lists.

The message is fairly simple. “Hey. There’s an election on Tuesday, and for the first time in living memory you’ve got a chance to have your voice heard. All you have to do is show up, because the liberals aren’t going to. Hell, we’ll even come give you a ride.”

Would it work, even in such a dismally conservative-poor area? You won’t know unless you try. But if it did, it would send shock waves across the country and be used as a model for the next cycle, demonstrating that 21st century election science is a game that both parties can play, not just Team Obama.

The schedule is coming together:

Cook County Clerk David Orr said Wednesday that he hopes to hold a primary election in February to replace Jesse Jackson Jr.’s seat in Congress.

Jackson announced his resignation mere weeks after handily winning re-election.

Most of the precincts included in the 2nd Congressional District already have a special election February 26, and all precincts have general elections planned for April 9. Chicago is the only place in Illinois not already holding a primary election in February; those Chicago precincts would be the only added cost.

And at this early point, it looks like the Democrats will probably have a messy primary:

Since Jackson announced on Wednesday that he was leaving office after 17 years for mental-health reasons, the local media have cited a number of sources saying they want to represent Illinois’ Second District. They include his wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson; his brother, John Jackson; and former US Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who lost to Congressman Jackson in the March Democratic primary.

Other names include Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, and Sam Adams, an Illinois attorney who led former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s defense team.

Some Democrats see a danger in so many would-be members of congressman. “My fear is that there is going to be so many wannabes blinded by ambition . . . that we could find a tea party” candidate winning, said Rep. Bobby Rush, who represents Illinois’ First District, hours after Jackson’s resignation.

Both Jackson’s brother and wife are both thinking of running for his suddenly-vacated congressional office? Boy, and you thought there was tension at your Thanksgiving table.

Election 2012, Not Quite Over Everywhere . . .

There’s one more House race to be resolved, down in Louisiana, pitting two incumbent House Republicans against each other: Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry. If you feel like the GOP needs to be pushed in a particular direction after the 2012 general election, here’s the first chance to weigh in:

But in a field of five candidates, neither incumbent mustered more than 50 percent of the vote, which is required to claim an outright win.

In Louisiana’s open primary system, all candidates for an office appear on the same ballot, regardless of party.

Boustany, of Lafayette, drew 45 percent of the vote and Landry, from New Iberia, drew 30 percent, according to unofficial results from the Louisiana secretary of state.

Democratic challenger Ron Richard peeled off almost 22 percent of the vote, and two other candidates finished with less than 4 percent combined.

Boustany, considered a moderate Republican, raised $3 million for the campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, almost 50 percent more than Landry, who had support from the Tea Party movement for smaller government. But endorsements from conservative political groups including FreedomWorks, Citizens United, Tea Party Nation and the Family Research Council strengthened Landry’s run.

Tags: SuperPACs , Chicago , Jeff Landry , Jesse Jackson Jr.

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



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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

Counting on Obama to Resolve the Chicago Teachers’ Strike?



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The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features discussion of today’s 9/11 Anniversary, a note of caution about polling at this point, and then….

The Great Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012

One way or another, the nation will generate issues for the presidential candidates to talk about. Who had “a teacher’s strike in Chicago” as one of the big issues in early September?

I heard from one regular who thought this whole dispute in Chicago is being organized so that the Munificent Sun-King can fly in from Washington and calm the waters and bring everyone together in agreement “for the children.” Rush was theorizing along the same lines:

RUSH:  Last week I asked a stupid question, and it took me a couple of hours on Friday to figure it out.  I’ve been hoping I wouldn’t forget it all weekend.  And here we are, and I remember what it was.  The stupid question I asked was: “Why are the teachers in Chicago going on strike?”  The answer is very simple:  So Obama can solve it as a campaign issue.  That’s why they’re on strike.  It won’t be long before we hear Moochelle say that he’s up late at night on the campaign trail practically crying, reading letters from students in Chicago upset they can’t go to school.

The schools are open in Chicago for lunch and breakfast.  Teachers aren’t there.  Rahm Emanuel’s kids are at their $25,000-a-year private school.  The Chicago teachers have been offered a 16% raise.  How’s that compared to your raise at your job?  And they turned it down over some pension stuff.  You watch. Rahm Emanuel himself is the guy who said, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”  We know that the unions, Obama and Rahm Emanuel, the Democrats, are in bed with each other.  So this, to me, I think it’s a perfect setup.

RUSH: This school teacher strike in Chicago? Let’s just see how long this thing goes on, and let’s see how it gets solved. Anybody want to bet against me that Obama’s the one that gets credit for this, in a few short days? Anybody want to bet that there might be a little bit of violence and finally Obama will have to move in and do something? He and Rahm will figure this out so they get credit for solving it. Because, I tell you: There is no union that is gonna go on strike right now for the express purpose of harming Barack Obama.

True enough, but I’ll cite Robert Heinlein on this: “You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.” We know from Wisconsin that unions are capable of taking enormously unpopular, short-sighted, self-destructive actions that disregard the advice of their allies. Some leader within the Chicago unions probably calculated that Rahm Emanuel and every other Democrat in public life would never defy the will of a major union two months before a presidential election. Ordinarily, they would be right.

Here’s the problem with the “Obama swoops in to save the day” theory: Everyone involved already has egg on their faces, mostly on the metaphorical visages of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the teachers’ unions. Under the conspiracy theory, all of these groups would have to be willing to take a tough PR hit from a multi-day strike. A bit of a hurdle, but possible.

But when you see stories like this one…

Parents didn’t know what to expect when they dropped off their children Monday at one of the city’s 144 schools that remained open as part of the district’s strike contingency plan. Some had to cross raucous picket lines where teachers were chanting about a fair contracts or banging drums and tambourines.

You start to wonder if some of the teachers are burying themselves in the part. This is going to stir up a lot of bad blood between parents and teachers, and that seems like a high long-term cost for the Chicago parties to play in order to help Obama play hero.

Finally, if Obama’s going to swoop in and play the hero… he can’t delay too long. At least for now, Obama is punting on this one, or at least he’s having Jay Carney do so on his behalf.

Q Thanks, Jay. A couple of topics, please. I’m wondering what the President’s reaction is to the teacher strike in Chicago, assuming he’s had a chance to follow that story, and whether he has any reaction to both the strike and how his former Chief of Staff is handling it.

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m sure he’s aware of it — I know he’s aware of it, but I haven’t spoken with him about it, so I can’t speak for his reaction. I can tell you that as a — more broadly, that our principal concern is for the students, and his principal concern is for the students and families who are affected by the situation. And we hope that both sides are able to come together to settle this quickly and in the best interest of Chicago’s students. But beyond that, I haven’t got a specific reaction from the President.

Q Is it fair to characterize the White House as sort of neutral in this dispute?

MR. CARNEY: Well, we certainly haven’t expressed an opinion on how it should be resolved. We’re urging the sides to resolve it.

Q This has been — there are some reports that there were some Chicagoans that have brought this to the President’s attention, this coming showdown before. Can you talk –

MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of. I mean, I’m not with him every moment of the day, but I — not in my presence, but I don’t know.

Tags: Barack Obama , Chicago , Jay Carney

Romney: Chicago Teachers Union ‘Turning Its Back’ on Kids



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Well, the Chicago teachers’ strike just became an issue in the presidential race. Here’s the just-released statement from Mitt Romney:

I am& disappointed by the decision of the Chicago Teachers Union to turn its back on not only a city negotiating in good faith but also the hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city’s public schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education. Teachers unions have too often made plain that their interests conflict with those of our children, and today we are seeing one of the clearest examples yet. President Obama has chosen his side in this fight, sending his Vice President last year to assure the nation’s largest teachers union that “you should have no doubt about my affection for you and the President’s commitment to you.” I choose to side with the parents and students depending on public schools to give them the skills to succeed, and my plan for education reform will do exactly that.

So, Mr. President, whose side are you on? The Chicago public-school teachers’ union, or your former chief of staff who is now mayor?

Anyone sense a “present” coming?

UPDATE: And, here we go, Charlie Spiering relays the non-statement from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:

“It’s our view that the sides on this dispute in Chicago can and should work it out,” Carney said adding that “the interests of Chicago’s children that must be preeminent as they work it out.”

When asked by ABC’s Jake Tapper if it was fair to characterize the White House as “neutral” on the strike, Carney reiterated that the White House wasn’t choosing sides.

Tags: Barack Obama , Chicago , Mitt Romney

Time to Put an End to the Chicago Way



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Over at RedState, Soren Dayton warns Illinois voters to watch out for telltale signs of voter fraud — i.e., more votes cast than registered voters.

Tags: Chicago

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