Monthly archives: January, 2010

Obama Declares ‘I Don’t Quit’ in First State of the Union Address

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Declaring “I don’t quit,”‘ an embattled President Barack Obama vowed in his first State of the Union address Wednesday night to make job growth his topmost priority and urged a divided Congress to boost the still-ailing economy with fresh stimulus spending. Defiant despite stinging setbacks, he said he would not abandon ambitious plans for longer-term fixes to health care, energy, education and more.

“Change has not come fast enough,” Obama said before a politician-packed House chamber and a TV audience of millions. “As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, it’s time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.”

Obama looked to change the conversation from how his presidency is stalling — over the messy health care debate, a limping economy and the missteps that led to Christmas Day’s barely averted terrorist disaster — to how he is seizing the reins.

A chief demand was for lawmakers to press forward with his prized health care overhaul, which is in severe danger in Congress, and to resist the temptation to substitute a smaller-bore solution for the far-reaching changes he wants.

“Do not walk away from reform,” he implored. “Not now. Not when we are so close.”

Republicans applauded the president when he entered the chamber, and even craned their necks and welcomed Michelle Obama when she took her seat. But the warm feelings of bipartisanship disappeared early.

I don’t know how “embattled” President Obama is right now. Every president is “embattled.” I found the tone of the SOTU remarkable. But Congress needs to remember how to be a parliament, and they’re not there yet. Republicans say, “NO!” Democrats let the tail wag the dog and give up the fight. The intelligence factor in Congress is rather low right now, I fear, on both sides of the aisle. Republicans are too dumb to realize that there is more to life than cheap politics, and Democrats are too dumb to know how to make Congress work.

Too bad.

I’m glad this president does not “give up.” We still have work to do.

Christopher Hayes: Health Care Moving in the Right Direction

From Chris Hayes at The Nation:

For the first time since the Massachusetts debacle, I’m cautiously optimistic about the fate of health care reform. Here’s why: In the wake of Scott Brown’s election, what was most dispiriting was the total leadership vacuum and chaotic, every-man-for-himself atmosphere among congressional Democrats. There didn’t seem to be any hard consensus on what to do next. Some said: break it up into smaller pieces, radically pare down the bill, go back and find Republican support (ha!) or let the thing die. Every one of these options would actually spell the death of health care reform, and one of the most stunning legislative failures in recent memory. To even consider such a move seemed insane, and yet those of us paid to observe Congress have spent the last two weeks watching, with mouth agape, as congressional Democrats slowly raised a loaded gun to their collective mouths and volubly considered pulling the trigger.

But sanity has, tentatively, provisionally prevailed. After spending much of yesterday talking to folks on capitol hill, it’s clear there is increasingly consensus on a path forward: As I explained last night on Rachel Maddow, it involves a few steps, but is relatively straightforward. The House has to come up with a list of changes to the Senate bill that will get them to 218 votes (and will also pass muster with the procedural constraints of “reconciliation”. For more on that you can listen to last week’s episode of The Breakdown.) They then send those changes to the Senate leadership, which can pass them through reconciliation, a process that requires a simple majority. Once that process has moved forward or (better!) is completed, the House can then pass in quick succession the Senate bill, and the amended fix.

To be honest, I want to read this in depth later on.  Just placing a link to Hayes’ post here so I can come back to it later on.

But this is good news.

Original Anti-Gay Cartoon in Notre Dame’s Observer Was Equally Horrible

Notre Dame gay fine by me t-shirt

Both versions of the strip considered by editors, including the original rejected submission (second from the top). Beneath the strips is a gmail chat between one of the comic creators and an Observer staffer.

I was patient, I believe, with the flap over the anti-gay comic strip Mobile Party that ran in Notre Dame’s Observer earlier this month. I was patient and more forgiving until I saw the original comic considered by editors at the Observer. In the original, the punch line was uglier, if that’s at all possible.

From IrishCentral:

The cartoon depicts a conversation between two figures that reads:

“What’s the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?"

“No idea.”

“A baseball bat.”

Earlier, the cartoonist, who has not yet been named, posted the original version of the cartoon on his blog. In this version, it shows the punch line as “AIDS” instead of “a baseball bat.” The paper, he claimed, preferred “not to make light of fatal diseases.”

The original chat between the Observer and creators of the comic strip is above. According to The Observer, the primary authors of the strip are Notre Dame seniors Colin Hofman, Jay Wade and Lauren Rosemeyer.

What were these young adults thinking? How could they have possibly thought that either of those jokes were acceptable?

From College Media Matters:

Among the criticisms emanating from faculty and students at Notre Dame and its sister school St. Mary’s, here is part of a statement from student representatives of St. Mary’s Straight and Gay Alliance (Notre Dame does not officially recognize a GSA-related group on its campus): “You may not like it but Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s is a home to lesbian, gay and bisexual students. Your call as both a Christian and as a human being is to respect them. Making light of the very real threat of homophobic motivated hate crimes is a poor excuse for humor and a despicable action. I completely support and defend a person’s freedom of belief, expression and speech. However, when expressing that belief takes the form of language which encourages violence against a group of people, you have crossed a professional and ethical line.”

Similarly, in a piece touching on the comic’s status as a symbol of a larger discriminatory and ignorant mindset at the school, a Notre Dame sociology professor writes, “This [the comic controversy] is no isolated incident on our campus. . . . Getting a cheap laugh at the expense of the abused, bashed, disabled and even murdered not only belittles these horrific experiences but encourages more violence.”

The administration at the University of Notre Dame must step up and do more. The administration must finally sponsor a gay-straight alliance. That takes courage in the face of the United States Catholic bishops who are so incredibly out of touch, and the Vatican, which exists in a parallel universe.

What would Jesus do? I know that’s a simple question.

The answer is simple too.

The University of Notre Dame must finally and completely embrace its gay and lesbian students, faculty and staff.

Notre Dame Students Rally Support for GLBT Community

Notre Dame gay fine by me t-shirt

From  Irena Zajickova at the Observer at Notre Dame:

Student, faculty and other members of the Notre Dame community will participate in events this week to demonstrate their desire for the administration to add sexual orientation to the University’s non-discrimination clause.

The events kicked off yesterday when students wore “Gay? Fine By Me” T-shirts to show their support for Notre Dame’s Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender (GLBT) community. Senior Patrick Bears, a member of the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students, said that in light of a controversial comic published in the Jan. 13 edition of The Observer, there has never been a more important time for students to show support for the GLBT community.

“Generally we try to coincide T-shirt day with StaND Against Hate week or National Coming Out Day, but given the controversy surrounding the comic we thought it would be better to do a weeklong initiative promoting these issues,” Bears said.

More students and alumni than ever expressed interest in obtaining T-shirts to wear, he said.

Former Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate said he wanted to get involved with the initiative to help show Notre Dame’s GLBT community that he and others on campus support their decisions.

“I wanted to participate in the project because just like everyone else, [the GLBT community] are people and have rights,” Tate said. “The Notre Dame community is a family and family members support one another to make the family stronger.”

Three cheers for old Notre Dame! These kids make you proud to wear the blue and gold.

The administration must take the lead and permit a gay-straight alliance group to meet on campus, fully sponsored by the University.  That is unquestionably the moral, ethical, and ultimately the Christian thing to do.

More here.

No, Commissioner Tony Peraica Did Not Pull A ‘Ross Perot’ With ‘Those Folks’

Give me a break.

Look, I would never vote for Tony Peraica, but he did not use a racial slur Tuesday at a meeting of the Cook County Board, and Commissioner Deborah Sims should be ashamed.

Here’s the rub from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Peraica, who is white and represents the western suburbs, was talking about how cutting the county’s share of the sales tax could help the unemployed — mentioning specifically how the African American community has been hit especially hard by joblessness and how "those folks" could benefit from slashing the tax.

"What we need to do is concern ourselves with the taxpayers. We had 70,000 foreclosures in Cook County last year, we have conventions leaving, we have 11.2 unemployment rate in Cook County," he said.

"In the African American community, it’s probably 40, 50 percent unemployment, among males in particular. This is not the way to help them. The way to help those folks is to let them keep their money in their pockets."

At that point someone yelled out "Those folks?"

Peraica quickly responded: "All folks, all folks — everybody who makes up Cook County."

But the original two words set off Commissioner Deborah Sims, an African American whose district covers Chicago’s South Side and the south suburbs.

"I’m offended. ‘Those folks?’ If that isn’t the most racist statement that’s ever been made in this board," Sims fired back.

First off, Commissioner Sims, I’m sure that was not the ‘most racist statement that’s ever been made in [the Cook County] board." The board has had quite a ride. Peraica was obviously expressing empathy, and that’s a good thing. We could use more of that in Cook County.

More here at the Sun-Times, but it’s really not worth it. I’m not voting for Commissioner Sims in the primary. Hopefully others will follow suit.

Coward Shoots 15-Year-Old In Back Outside Hubbard High School

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

A 15-year-old student was shot in the back Tuesday afternoon just two blocks from a Southwest Side high school — one of 38 schools in the city receiving federal funding as part of a new anti-violence campaign.

The shooting happened at 63rd Street and Springfield Avenue at 1:05 p.m., police News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala said. A 15-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to the back, but ran in the direction of Hubbard High School at 6200 S. Hamlin Ave. and was attended to by an ambulance there.

Fire Media Affairs Chief Kevin MacGregor said one person was transported in serious to critical condition to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

Police said the boy was later listed in “stable” condition.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim, and we hope the shooter is brought to justice soon. May this be the last.

More here.

I Laughed A Solid 15 Minutes at the Walmart Screaming Clown Commercial

So I was watching the New York Jets lose to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday when this commercial aired. I laughed a solid 15 minutes. Out loud. And I was alone.

Enjoy the video. If you haven’t seen it yet, just watch and enjoy.

Congressman Jesse Jackaon, Jr. Endorses Toni Preckwinkle for Cook County Board President

Congressman Jesse Jackaon, Jr. endorses Toni Perwinkle for Cook County Board President.

As do I.

eNews Park Forest Editors Endorse Toni Perwinkle for Cook County Board Prez


The entire Chicagoland area needs the Cook County Board to work, and the fact is, for the past several years, it hasn’t. Besides the serious ethical questions it raises, political patronage is a horribly inefficient and expensive way to do government. In this, Cook County has excelled, and it needs to stop.

Board President Todd Stroger has shown repeatedly that he is not up to the task. From the beginning, Stroger isolated himself, starting with his attempt to reserve one elevator at the County Building for his use only.

Several things concern me about Dorothy Brown, from her “jeans days,” as well as reports from those close to her that employees felt compelled to give Brown cash for her birthday.

The Cook County Board needs an executive who is ethical, reform-minded and practical. Alderman Toni Preckwinkle is all three, and she will receive our votes.

This weekly, which we understand publishes news every day, is growing in popularity in the South Suburbs of Chicago. Park Forest is on the map again.

I think they made a wise move with their endorsement of Perwinkle.

Read the complete endorsement here.

Oakland A’s Prospect Grant Desme Leaving Baseball For Call Of Priesthood

From Yahoo! Sports:

Well, here’s a story you don’t see every day.

Grant Desme, a 23-year-old minor league outfielder in Oakland’s system, is retiring from baseball to follow a calling into the Catholic priesthood.

The story was first reported by Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi — perhaps appropriately with that first name of his — and this isn’t a case of a struggling player going through an early-life crisis. Desme was ranked the A’s eighth-best prospect by Baseball America after hitting .288 with 31 home runs and 89 RBIs in A ball in 2009 and he was just named MVP of the Arizona Fall League.

No, this is not something you don’t see every day.

Best of luck to Grant.

More here.