New Trier Dems’ Blog

Jim Crow Statues

These days, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the day-to-day pronouncements of our strange President. It has only been a week since Trump’s aggressive talk of war with North Korea had the entire world on alert. But Friday’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia shifted America’s attention to another threat to our nation that many of us hoped was close to becoming extinct. Neo Nazis and fanatic White Power nationalists have become newly emboldened by the language of Republican Candidate and now President Donald Trump.

The excuse these sociopaths used for the violence and tragic loss of life they brought to Charlottesville was that they were defending a historic monument to the Confederacy’s General Robert E. Lee. This is a bogus claim in so many ways. For example, these violent, misguided fools were marching through the streets chanting “Jews will not replace us.” – It’s not clear to me what that chant has to do with Civil War history.

But I don’t want to get into an analysis of what motivates these hate groups. In the past few days, thousands of words have been written about all of that. I just want to touch on an aspect of this Civil War monuments issue that, from what I’ve seen, hasn’t received much mention at all. In fact, I feel it’s the most basic reason to remove such statues. Really the only reason anyone needs. The existence of these statues in public spaces is a constant and painful insult to millions of American citizens. And it has been for over 100 years. Continue reading Jim Crow Statues

Donald The Diplomat

In the past week we’ve seen the nation of North Korea and their Supreme Leader, Kim Jon-un, launch a long range missile capable of reaching targets as far away as Chicago (Hey! That’s where we live!) We’ve also learned that North Korea now has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that might fit on such missiles.

That last bit of disturbing information came from classified intelligence reports leaked by Fox News. Nikki Haley, U.N. Ambassador and Trump appointee, quickly condemned the Fox leaks as “incredibly dangerous.” But just as incredibly, a short while before her condemnation of Fox, those dangerous leaks were verified as fact via tweets from guess who? – Our oblivious President, Donald Trump. What a guy.

Now, you might think that a rogue nation openly demonstrating missiles that can reach our shores is a situation serious enough to call for some intense White House discussions about how to respond. You would expect President Trump and key cabinet members – certainly including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – to put their heads together to craft the smartest possible position.  Instead President Trump, taking a break from a “working vacation” at his New Jersey golf resort, basically presented the United States’ stance on this international menace in one of his responses to a group of reporters. He said, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Continue reading Donald The Diplomat

The Oval Office Inspiration

Last week was a week filled with surprises — in other words, a typical week in the world according to Trump. The biggest surprise was the loss of the President’s dream White House buddy, Anthony Scaramucci, after only 10 days as the new White House Press Secretary. How sad it was to see President Donald lose such a perfect Oval Office confidant. I’m sure he saw “The Mooch” as someone who would be totally in sync with his own personality – a fellow loudmouth, braggart and bully. And wouldn’t he have been the ideal enabler? But it was not to be.

Also, last week we saw the President’s son, Donald Jr., get in deeper hot water caused by his less than forthright statements about his involvement with the Russians during last year’s political campaign. And now we learn that President Trump “weighed in” on the wording of his son’s misleading statements. Interesting choice of words — a bit like “Bonnie ‘weighed in’ on the route Clyde should take in the getaway car.” Was it obstruction of a federal investigation?
Time will tell.

What is becoming clearer every day is that President Trump is in way over his head. He has no idea how to conduct himself in the presidency. Perhaps that’s because he entered his job with very little understanding of how a democracy works. I’m not talking about a failure to understand the complexities of government at its highest level. This guy doesn’t appear to understand government at the level of an eighth grade civics class.  Continue reading The Oval Office Inspiration

What’s Your Dream For US?

Last weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, I spent a few of hours by the New Trier Dems’ table at the Wilmette Sidewalk Sale. It was the last of the sidewalk events held each summer in New Trier’s three largest communities, volunteering for it never gets boring. And this year because we offered the passing crowd a chance to fill out a straw poll rating President Trump’s job performance, we had plenty of visitors.

As usual, all of us at the NTD table swapped ideas and opinions with interesting passersby. But there was one lengthy conversation I had in Wilmette that I’ve continued to think about since then. It inspired some thoughts I want to pass on today. The fellow I spoke with may have been apolitical, simply a gadfly in any conversation. However, he seemed more than that. He tended to approach our conversation like a debate, stating premises about the Democratic Party that he hoped would draw a response.

For instance, he asked me about “how Democrats fail to recognize the role that biology plays in today’s society” (I can’t remember his specific wording). After I said, “Huh?” I asked him, “When you say ‘biology,’ are you talking about race?” He gave a vague response and promptly turned to another question. However, later he condemned the violent protests by college students objecting to the campus visit of Charles Murray, the co-author of “The Bell Curve.” (The book is an “academic study” that many respected scholars now view as a scholarly permit for racism.)

Continue reading What’s Your Dream For US?

Rauner’s Things To Come

Last week, Governor Bruce Rauner experienced a big set-back in his billionaire elitist dream of turning Illinois into another Indiana-but-with-significantly-more-class. A sufficient number of Republican legislators in Springfield finally recognized that Illinois was days away from disaster, and overcame their fear of the Governor’s wrath to help override his promised veto of the long overdue state budget. This meant Rauner’s long-term plan to make Illinois a “right to work” state with minimum respect for a minimum wage and hostility toward tax increases of any kind had to be reconsidered.

Once the Governor saw that his two-year strategy of holding Illinois’ human services and educational system hostage to reach his goals had failed, he retreated to his executive suite to develop a new plan of attack. And it didn’t take long for Governor Bruce to reveal the new stance his administration and 2018 campaign will be taking.  He simply “doubled down” on his conservatism.

Virtually overnight, the flannel shirted, straight talkin’, cycle ridin’ man of the people has now dropped all pretense of being a socially moderate leader open to compromise now, or ever. Within days the Governor began firing his staff and replacing them with rigidly ideological conservatives. Now, other staff members seeing this writing on the wall, have started turning in their resignations.  Continue reading Rauner’s Things To Come

A Near Death Experience

This week began with the good news that the Illinois legislature had finally reached a (somewhat) bipartisan moment, putting the people of Illinois ahead of the Springfield power games that have been going on for two long years.

The state senate’s veto-proof passage of a budget appears to have saved Illinois from the calamity of being downgraded to junk bond status by S&P and Moody’s credit rating services. According to Moody’s, the downgrade was only days away – and I haven’t heard any credible argument that this prediction wasn’t true. Such a downgrade would have meant disastrously high interest rates for any future borrowing by our already debt-ravaged state. Something resembling bankruptcy would have become a much more likely possibility for Illinois. Time had run out.

Almost every observer knows, in honesty, that the two-year struggle to reach a budget agreement was continually sabotaged by ideological differences, personal politics and fragile egos. But, attempting to place 100% of the blame for the mess we’re now in on any individual or party is at this point not only unproductive, but inaccurate. – Although, I would say that the clearly personal agenda of Governor Rauner to enhance his national Republican credentials at the expense of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens is reprehensible. Continue reading A Near Death Experience

Dark Money Pursuits

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Yesterday, we celebrated our nation’s 241st birthday. By ancient history standards, we’re still far from being what one would call an old culture. But, compared to the vast majority of the world’s nation states, we are definitely getting old.

We’ve been operating with the same constitutional system of government (electoral college and all) for 228 years, that’s more than almost all of our world peers. Of course it’s not as if the mentality of our United States has remained frozen since our nation began. We’ve never stopped turning new corners, responding to new challenges — sometimes nobly, sometimes shamefully — shifting our views, reacting, rejecting, reconsidering.

When you’re a free people with the freedom to think and speak virtually however you choose, you can often find yourself in a nation with views that are “all over the map.” But as they say, our U.S. Constitution is a “living document,” open to amendments and fresh interpretations as the realities and sensibilities of our world and society continue to change. Continue reading Dark Money Pursuits

Minimum Concern

Last night, with close to 100 other interested spectators, I attended the Wilmette Village Board meeting. The issue that drew virtually all of the audience to the Village Hall was whether or not the Wilmette would opt out of the Cook County new minimum wage plan. I won’t keep you in suspense. The village trustees, with the exception of one board member, Trustee Kurzman, did vote to opt out.

This means that for the foreseeable future the minimum wage in Wilmette will remain the same as the seven-year-old state minimum wage of $8.25 per hour. So, a person working 40 hours a week, every week of the year, you’ll make about $17,000. Continue reading Minimum Concern

Wilmette, ALEC & the Minimum Wage

Next Tuesday night, June 27, at the Wilmette Village Hall at 7:30 pm,
there will be a Village Board meeting to decide whether or not Wilmette should opt out of Cook County’s pending graduated raises of the minimum wage…

Here’s what I know about minimum wages. When I was in high school, way back in the 1950’s, I worked in a grocery store before and after school. My first year I was paid the minimum wage of $0.75 an hour ($6.84 in today’s dollars). This had been the minimum wage for five years. After maybe six months, I got a raise to $0.85 (the equivalent of 8.83 today). But the next year I was pleased to see the minimum wage raised to $1.00 an hour ($8.99 today). When I look back on that now I realize that the government had raised the minimum by 33% in one single step. That would be the equivalent today of raising Illinois’ $8.25 minimum to $10.97 instantly. And that was under the Republican Party’s iconic President Eisenhower! — Surprisingly, our local economy did not collapse.

Continue reading Wilmette, ALEC & the Minimum Wage

Georgia — Almost

Yesterday, Democrats came close to scoring a major victory in Georgia. But since they weren’t competing in a game of horseshoes, “close” isn’t cause for much celebrating. True, a losing margin of less than 4% in a Republican area that is accustomed to double-digit GOP victories is an accomplishment. And it may mean that future races in these days of Trump can be won by Dems. But still, how nice it would have felt to see Newt Gingrich’s former congressional seat held by a Democrat. It also would have felt good to see a definitive statement of dissatisfaction registered against the party in control of our nation’s government. – Didn’t happen.

Now the analysis of the John Ossoff challenge has begun. Some of the comments I’ve read are pretty much in line with what I’ve been thinking since even before the Trump victory. So perhaps one positive product of yesterday’s loss will be a clearer realization by Democratic Party leaders of what they must do in the future if they expect to regain control of our government’s policies. Continue reading Georgia — Almost