Friday, November 21, 2008

Necrus 1, 31.

So I was fully intending to steer away from politics for awhile after the 2008 U.S. election, and I've mostly done so, avoiding speculation and commentary of Obama's cabinet picks and so-forth. But this current situation with the auto industry has cut too close, so I've been talking about that a lot instead. Hopefully things'll settle down a bit in the near future so that I can talk about the things I love the most, like Michigan and writing. I'm not holding my breath though.


How do you feel about that thing you did yesterday? (You know what I'm talknig about).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Event: More Reasons for the Bailout...

LeftHandedMan posted this brilliant comment on DailyKos:

The GOP never dreamed it would get to kill a massive part of organized labor and have an entire region of the country completely collapse on the Democratic parties watch to boot, but that is just the opportunity that has arisen for the Limbaugh/Coulter wing of the GOP.

A 25 billion dollar loan, with strings attached mandating the auto industry stay the fuck out of monkeying with healthcare reform and making them go green or else, could save hundreds of billions of dollars in social spending over the next 10 years alone.

10 to 12 million jobs lost, boom!, 200 to 1 trillion dollars in emergency social spending to deal with the collapse's impact on the region, the UAW dead and Wal-Mart the biggest employer in the region, Michigan in full economic collapse and millions of voters ripe for being in play in the next round of the Culture War.

The GOP, and the media pundits who are all clamoring for Obama and the Congress to let the auto industry die will be damning us and running against the Democratic Party as the party that 'Let Michigan Die' or 'Let Detroit Die' for a generation if the auto industry is allowed to die.

The auto industry is 4% of our GDP.

If it goes, thats several years added on to the economic crisis that we face.

And probably Bobby Jindal in 2012 running as Ronnie Reagan on a white horse to "save" America.

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Concept: National Address Tonight.

The Gothic Funk Nation Presents:
National Address
7 PM, Thursday, 20 November
1505 W. Chicago Ave
@ The Mercury Cafe

This month's project: What is all of this "change," anyway?

"In the 60's it was tie-dye and Easy Rider. In the 70's it was polyester and pet rocks. For us it was Slap Bracelets and NES. For my little brother it was Power Rangers and Playstation. So the question is, what do the kids care about these days? Let's talk Zeitgeist, people: who are we and who do we want to be? Discuss."

The National Addressis the Gothic Funk Nation's official reading circle, a safe and friendly place to informally workshop works-in-progress. Consisting of readings and round table discussions, the National Addressaims to provide a forum for writers of all Gothicly Funky stripes and a voice for the Gothic Funk Nation. Attendance is open and participants are welcome to bring unsolicited material.

Gravitane 29, 31.

So I was fully intending to steer away from politics for awhile after the 2008 U.S. election, and I've mostly done so, avoiding speculation and commentary of Obama's cabinet picks and so-forth. But this current situation with the auto industry has cut too close, so I've been talking about that a lot instead. Hopefully things'll settle down a bit in the near future so that I can talk about the things I love the most, like Michigan and writing. I'm not holding my breath though.

The United Auto Workers.

I've told you how I feel about the current crisis in the auto industry. How do you feel about it?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Event: Letter from the UAW.

This email arrived in my Inbox this morning (four days late). I pass it along in the interest of promoting a respondible loan to the Big Three through congress. Please consider writing a short letter. My thoughts and qualifications are here.

Dear Connor Coyne,

Please respond right away to this urgent request by calling your
Senators or Representative through this toll-free number: (877)
331-1223. Or send an e-mail:

The auto industry needs help in Congress right away -- and if we
don't get it, the jobs and benefits of hundreds of thousands of
our active and retired members and millions of other Americans
are at risk.

Next week the House and Senate are expected to vote on
legislation to provide an emergency $25 billion bridge loan to
GM, Ford and Chrysler to help weather the current severe credit
and economic crises. Without this assistance, there is a real
danger that the three companies will run out of cash and be
forced to cease all manufacturing and business operations in the
near future.

The collapse of these companies would be devastating:

-- In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Big Three workers
who would lose their jobs, up to 3 million other workers could
see their jobs disappear at dealers, suppliers of components and
materials, and other businesses that depend on the auto

-- Almost 1 million retirees and their spouses and dependents
could suffer cuts in their pension benefits and the loss of
health insurance coverage.

-- The federal pension guarantee program could be saddled with
enormous liabilities, jeopardizing its ability to protect
benefits for millions of other workers.

-- Because of the importance of the auto industry to our entire
economy, the collapse of the Big Three auto companies would
aggravate the current recession, creating further hardships for
working families and communities across the United States.

-- Revenues to federal, state and local governments would be
sharply reduced, forcing drastic cuts in vital social services
at the time they are most needed.

Congress can prevent these devastating consequences. The federal
government has already stepped forward to provide assistance to
Wall Street and financial institutions. It is now time for
Congress to help Main Street by providing urgently needed help
for the auto companies.

You have probably seen or heard some commentators who are trying
to blame you and your fellow UAW members for the current
situation of the companies by attacking our "overly rich" wages
and benefits. We need to rebut these false charges, and make it
clear that active and retired UAW members have already made
enormous sacrifices in the 2005 and 2007 collective bargaining

Other commentators have tried to blame the Big Three for their
current situation by saying it is attributable to their
insistence on producing "gas guzzling" vehicles. This overlooks
the major progress the companies are making in bringing forward
more fuel efficient vehicles. More importantly, it ignores the
fact that the current crisis is due to the huge drop in overall
auto sales that has been caused by the larger credit and
economic crises that have engulfed our entire nation.

Auto sales in October were a mere 10.8 million on an annualized
basis, the lowest level in 25 years. All automakers reported
steep declines in their sales. The problem is not that consumers
don't want to buy the quality products that GM, Ford and
Chrysler are making. The problem is that consumers have stopped
buying vehicles from any companies.

Please call your Representative and Senators now. Urge them to
vote for legislation to provide an immediate $25 billion bridge
loan to the Big Three auto companies. Tell them this is
essential to prevent the liquidation of these companies and
devastating consequences for millions of workers and retirees
and for our entire economy.

You can use the following toll-free number to call your
Representative and Senators: (877) 331-1223. Or send an e-mail:

The legislation to provide assistance to the auto industry will
likely be taken up by the House and Senate sometime next week.
So please call or e-mail right away!


Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this.

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for
UAWire at:

UPDATE: Here is the letter I sent to Jan Schakowsky, Dick Durbin, and Barack Obama.

Dear Senator Durbin and Congresswoman Schakowsky,

I know you're getting a ton of mail on this subject right now, and are well-versed in the pros and cons. I will try to be succinct.

I strongly opposed you both on your support for the Wall Street bailout because I saw it passed with what I saw as a lack of discretion. I registered protest votes due to this (something I haven't done since 1996), because I do think that congress should be penalizing any corporate interest that relies on the taxpayers to save them from bankruptsy. In practice, they are essentially holding the economy ransom to get what they need to continue.

This loan to the auto industry seems more sound to me than the other bailout. It is a much smaller amount (not that billions are anything to sneeze at), and I understand the myriad ways that the automotive industry impacts the American economy at large.

Here's the thing: you shouldn't have to write a blank check in order to help the auto industry. The Big Three have taken some steps in necessary retooling and restructuring; demand that they take more. Eliminate what fluff you can, and pass a bill with stringent requirements. You win with the Big Three for giving them breathing room. You win with the public for representing their interest. And with me, I will both happily and enthusiastically vote for you, because I expect my senators and representatives to fight for me, and I am proud when they do so.

I know that this sort of middle-road and straightforward approach is often taken off the table (and for all the wrong reasons); you cannot help the the environment in which you are debating this issue. But this is a straightforward case, and this is the most reasonable solution.


Connor Coyne

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Gravitane 28, 31.


Where is this?

What was the last time you were in a city starting with the letter P?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Event: Bailing Out the Big Three.

New York Times: Congress Remains Divided on Bailout.

New York Times: Clout Has Plunged for Automakers and Union, Too.

New York Times: How Many Jobs Depend on the Big Three?

* * * * *

New York TimeS: Saving Detroit from Itself.

Paul Krugman: Cars.

* * * * *

Daily Kos: Ideas for an Auto Plan - GM Edition w/ Poll.

The articles above pretty effectively stake out the boundaries of my position. With possibly over three million jobs at stake, it isn't with a lot of pleasure that I watch the Big Three work the nation over now as they've worked Michigan for decades. What do I mean by work over? I mean that they draw assistance from the government (whether in terms of tax breaks, incentives, and now a bailot) to rectify a mess they've made, and in exchange for which the best they can seemingly offer is a non-worst case scenario. If that. In Flint, throughout the eighties and nineties, GM continued to drink that city's tax pool dry in infrastructural and fiscal accomodations as if they were dying of thirst at a desert oasis. And yet they persisted in the manufacturing strategy that has put them in dire straights. The cities and states which invest in these companies, essentially at gunpoint, rarely see such speculations realized. There is a risk of this being mirrored on a national level. The Big Three's market share will presumably continute to dwindle in the near-future, albeit hopefully at a slower rate, they'll close plants and hemmorage jobs, and if everyting goes perfectly, it will still be a long, long time before they can offer a fleet as well-adapted to the next global environment as their competitors.

It's just like the Wall Street Bailout all over again. These were my original reservations with that bailout package, and here is the upshot after just two months.

Let's learn a lesson from this very recent history and not be handing out blank checks.

Let's encourage our representatives to cautiously support a bailout for the auto industry, but let us absolutely insist that it only come with serious and meaningful restructuring that will lead to an industry that can legitimately compete. Symbolic shuttling of executives will not be sufficient (and the Wall Street bailout didn't even achieve that obvious step); any Company that requires taxpayer money to fight for profit is fair game for prudent meddling. It's more than auto plants that will need restructuring; it's the Big Three's entire corporate structure.

I wrote more on this at Daily Kos: Don't Be Flint, Michiganized by the Big Three.

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Gravitane 27, 31.

"I am not a politician, I am football player and I know for a fact that sport helps bring the people together, it is unifying factor despite the problems you talk about."
- Who said this?

Describe the chair in which you surely sit.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Diary: November 1985.

Honestly, I remember nothing or near-nothing about this month. I certainly don't remember the upshot of Reagan v. Mondale. But does anyone, really?

I had been home-schooled for a few months now, so everything was fresh and bright and exciting. It was colder, so I doubt we were hitting any zoos; this might have been about when I had my brief stint in gymnastics (which went find, aside from my being a little hellion) until I got a piece of foam stuck in my eyes and cried and cried). We were probably visiting the Impressions 5 museum in Lansing. I was still pretty young -- only seven -- and so my ability to remember things is very much centered around dramatic events. This would have been a relatively placid month. I don't know. Maybe we watched Star Wars with the Steinbergs in the living room and ate cheese crunchies.

Where were you in November 1985?

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Gravitane 26, 31.

I don't know! This was a productive week. On Tuesday, Tuesday Funk was fun. On Friday I got a lot of writing done. Sky and Emma had people over for brunch on Sunday, and we played Apples to Apples. And later, Wraith.

- NEWS OF THE WEEK - The World's Ugliest Buildings.

What is a movie you would like to see performed as a play?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gravitane 23, 31.

South Africa via Absolute Vanilla... (And Atyllah).

When in your life were you at your most ick-able?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Body: Green Yearround.

There are several times throughout the year when I find myself thinking about evergreens.

I think about them a lot in the summer because whenever I see one it reminds me of camping. In Flint, we had two maples in our front yard, and so I really only saw a lot of needled things whenever I went camping, with Boy Scouts or with my dad, or when my family went on home school field trips. The pines and firs always seemed more muscular and stern than the broadleaf trees I saw elsewhere, and the evergreens have that kicking sharp sap smell. This discrepancy is one of the reasons that the city always felt more docile to me, more manageable and accessible, whatever Flint's reputation turned out to be.

When we moved out to Flushing, the suburbs, for many years there were two looming spruces that overshadowed our house, a farm-house; they made it feel like a cottage, they were so large and shadowy. So, of course, I also think of evergreens during the holiday season. When I was young I imagined that Santa Claus' domain was presided over by an absolutely gigantic pine tree (and it had to be a pine), thousands of feet high, with scaled-up ornaments serving as factories and workshops. The sleigh launched itself from the prong of the star on top, or more likely from the angel's arms. And the trees were prominent in my thoughts in December of 1992 (I think), when we visited three different Christmas Tree farms. We wanted the perfect tree, and when we finally got home with one, it was already dark out. We carried that small tree into the house between those towering spruces.

Today, in Chicago, again, I don't see evergreens that often, although there are some. I remember last winter I was exploring Margate Park, a neighborhood near my own, small and secluded, with a psychiatric hospital, a lot of Vietnamiese immigrants, and a relatively affluent strip along Lincoln Park. There are some beautiful, if small, groves of evergreens there. I remember them now because last year I noticed that sharp smell, that bright green, jumped out in the middle of winter stink and slush. It was January.

I might go back again soon. Evergreens make the cold part of the year feel less desolate.

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Gravitane 22, 31.

Super Obama World.

When in your life were you at your most Ike-able?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Event: The Next Pressing Political Discussion...

We here at Blue Skies Falling understand that to most of the world, the issue of Norris the Gray's influence over Kuto's Well is an open-and-shut case; at the best he's a squatter, and at the worst he's a thief, guilty of robbery and aggrivated battery. But circumstances also compel us to observe that Norris has undeniably been operating under some amount of pressure, and this might plausibly have influenced his leadership.

We don't know how his career originated, but with recent reappropriations committees setting up in the Slums from New Phlan, the population pressure in the Kuto's Well region is considerable. It would be disengenuous to a rational policy to assume that Norris is not in pursuit of some legitimate political power; he very likely considers himself to be an alderman of sorts over Kuto's Well. It is known that he has cultivated support among the Orcs living there, and perhaps he plans to use this to consolidate his base in both the Slums and Podol Plaza. It remains, however, that firing arrows at others from hiding and then running away is going to strain the most even-keeled of diplomats, nor do his proclamations of "surrender or die" endear him to many outside of his immediate following. But for us, the most telling of Norris' controversial statements is his refusal to assist Sokal Keep against the gentrifying hordes of New Phlan, unless he gets to lead. Do the undead repel him? Somehow I doubt it. Rather, it would seem that Norris has written Sokal Keep off since it is likely to remain outside of his direct political influence. He sees collaboration as a waste of his time, money, as well as that of his Ogre retainer. Norris the Gray has appealed to a fickle and fanatical base in the hopes of creating an unlikely groundswell of support; in so marginalizing himself, he has hastened his own political obsolesence.

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Gravitane 21, 31.


- Where is this?

At what point in your life do you think you were at your least likeable?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CONCEPT: Tuesday Funk Tonight!

Tonight! The Gothic Funk Nation presents Tuesday Funk #8, featuring Kristy Bowen, Liz Levine, and Roberta Wilson.

7 PM at Flourish Bakery Cafe
1138 W. Bryn Mawr (near the Red Line)

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Gravitane 20, 31.

"But if cattle and horses or lions had hands, or were able to draw with their hands and do the work that men can do, horses would draw the forms of the gods like horses, and cattle like cattle, and they would make their bodies such as they each had themselves."
- Who said this?

At what point in your life do you think you were at your most likeable?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Diary: November 2003.

This was one of those months that came at a generally frustrating time in life, and so I really only remember a couple specifically memorable events.

I was tying to direct the Nocturnal's production of Shelley's Cenci, but I was running into just about every barrier along the way... lack of space, lack of fund, unable to find a full cast; ideally I would have either quit my job to pursue these problems full-time or have aborted the project then and there. But I was saving up to buy an engagement ring, and I couldn't quit my job. And I was too stubborn to give up on the project.

I did run an evening-long workshop where we discussed Radiohead and J.M.W. Turner and how they could interface with the play. And politics. Like I said: all ambition and brimstone, but short of hope.

It didn't help either that I was a month into a yearlong temp assignment, which would turn out to be stressful by dint of intradepartmental drama, if not the workload itself. I was getting paid $10 an hour, which was more than I'd made before, but not much, and not a whole lot considering what I was paying in rent and student loans.

But wait wait wait wait wait wait wait...

I'm missing important stuff...

This was the year that I did NaNoWriMo for the first time and drafted a novel called Adrift on the Mainstream, which would become Hungry Rats. Now I remember -- there was a launch party at a bar on Irving Park and Ashland, where I ended up spending the evening talking with a topologist from the U of C. Later that month we met up with a girl at the Med and discussed our novels-in-progress. And my own was finished at 41,000 words, so I had to scribble out 10,000 words of gibberish to cross the finish line. So artistically, this was a very memorable month for me, even if (evidently) short on good cheer.

I was running a role-playing game too, based in an Inca-derived cosmology that abutted J.R.R. Tolkien. So that helped to alleviate stress.

When I went home for Thanksgiving that year, I told my mom a secret; that I was going to propose to my girlfriend. That was why I had gotten a McKinley Park Studio for $435.00 instead of the Art Deco apartment I wanted off Bryn Mawr.

Character building?

It wasn't a bad yet; it was simply very fraught with.

Where were you in November 2003?

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Gravitane 19, 31.

What have I been up to for the last week-and-a-half? I went to National Address. I went to a Halloween Party. I went to friend's birthday party. I've gone to Dungeons and Dragons (twice) and ran a Wraith game (once). I've been to church. I blogged and wrote letters to editors, all in the name of the state of the nation. I elected Obama. I met by the lake and went for a walk. I walked back home with friends through Edgewater. I took a break and caught up on sleep. I spent a day in with the wife and saw Stiff Upper Lips and Syriana. I talked about education: English and Social Studies. I met to work on the Gothic Funk Literary Journal. A stayed up late and paid the bills. As you can see, I haven't been up to much the last week-and-a-half.

- NEWS OF THE WEEK - Calif. gov.: 'We will maybe undo' Prop 8.

So what's your big plan this week?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Event: Election Post-Mortem.

I couldn't post yesterday; I was just too exhausted. I won't post tomorrow either; I need at least a brief break. On election night we hosted a breakfast-at-dinnertime party while the results came in, drank orange juice and ate sausage and potatoes. A loud sound went up at Pennsylvania, then Ohio, and then, when Obama passed 270, everyone freaked out. It was like crowds at the Super Bowl or Lollapalooza, only bigger and better. The champagne flowed and we all went out into the streets, and the news was all about people running into the streets.

* * * * *

Yesterday I was nursing a hangover all day long, but by evening I felt better. I met up with some friends at Metropolis, and we all took a walk. Just to take a walk. To enjoy the unexpected late fine weather and to muse on just how big and momentous this week has been.

So this, then, is my election post-mortem.

It is good that Obama won the election so decisively. Already, this one move has served to bolster our status in the world. The breadth of Obama's support has opened up states that have not been in play to Democrats in decades. The Great Lakes region was united behind a presidential candidate for the first time since 1972. The press has been quick to point out the significance of this election as a civil rights victory; they are right to do so. We should not forget that it is also a victory for Democrats, who have been resurgent since 2006, for the Left, which will (presumably) be better represented by Obama than by it would have been by Hillary Clinton, and most importantly, as an emphatic refutation of Bush-era policies of division and marginalization.
And yet... concessions are already being made and it would seem that there is little time to rest on our laurels.

It is also good that the Democrats picked up seats in congress; it would have been better if they had picked up a supermajority. I've commented to a few people in the last several days that whenever one party achieves dominance, things start to go south for them pretty quickly, and I suspect it's because interal rigor and discipline become a liability in a rush to fast action. I believe this argument, and yet it is meant to be a qualification of, not a dissent from, victory as a unilateral Democratic majority.
In the first place, the U.S. is too sheltered from the effects we have on our neighbors and the world at large. There is a pendulum in U.S. politics, but it's motion is strictly determined by a relative understanding of what is "liberal" and what is "conservative." It is fine to consider these differences meaningful, but we needn't consider them objective. While I don't believe the U.S. is definitionally a center-right nation, it functionally is at this time. Our policy needs to move to the left in general to accomodate crises that can only be addressed through action that is both democratically and collectively determined.
In the second place, the horrific damage rendered under the Bush administration, propogated by Republicans and sometime abetted by Democrats in congress over the last 14 years, and often upheld by an inconsistent judiciary, are huge in magnitude and can must be addressed by broad and sweeping executive and legislative action. Given the abysmal performance of our congressional Democratic leaders (we're all thinking of Reid and Pelosi), we need a sufficient "vote cusion" to make action possible. In our current crises, action is necessary, and therefore, Democrats and Independents should hope to see more Democrats in office.
In the third place: The Republican Party of the 2000s is much like the Democratic Party of the 1850s: it is broken. While it still stands upright, it only wreaks damage on itself and those it represents. Today's Republican Party represents not a free market but a fanged market; it represents not American patriotism but American nationalism. The riven Democratic party of the 1800s recovered, and I believe that the Republicans will as well. But first they have to be broken. They have to reconstitute themselves along their original premise of individual liberties upheld at the expense of collective prerogative, of a correspondent expectation of individual sacrifice, and of a government that tries to excise unnecessary intervention. That Republican party, a party recognizeable to Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Barry Goldwater, can contribute to our political landscape. But this Republican party, hateful, angry, alienating, divisive, invasive, unscrupulous, and increasingly regional: it is walking around broken. It is wounded and wounding, and as such, this broken party needs to be further broken. It needs to be crushed. Only then can it recover.
Now the Democrats didn't get a supermajority, but they picked up enough support to pursue an agressive progressive agenda with executive support. I do hope they use that strength with rigor and discipline. But make no mistakes: I hope that they sustain and increase it, and above all else, use it.

Finally, it is good that some good ballot amendments passed: I'm thinking most fondly on Michigan's Proposal 2, which allows research on embryonic stem cells, and California approved a bullet train, which is pretty cool, and which may in the long run offset the two other environmental proposals the state rejected. Sadly, the success of Proposition 8 in Califoria would seem to trump many progresses made around the country, as it revoked marriage rights in one of only two states where gays and lesbians can truly enjoy marriage equality. Beneath the hubbub over California, similar amendments passed in Arizona, Arkansas, and Florida. And yet... amid all this... the challenges have begun, and they are built upon firm constitutional ground.

* * * * *

It is deceptive of the graveness of our times to pretend that this election was an unmitigated vitory; in fact there is more to worry about now than ever. It is equally deceptive to underestimate the genuine power, the profound importance of what was declared last Tuesday; as Tom Brokaw said on election night, "just over 150 years ago, Mr. Obama could have been owned, as a black man." The emphasis is mine, but the emphasis is what gives this often unspoken statement its force. I think that Clay Bennett said it even better.

To fall back on a common declaration these days, yes, we can. Yes, we did. Yes, we will.

Be delirious.

Be deliriously happy.

Take a day, a week, a month to feel this happiness, and as you do, use that energy to infect and infest your labor and your conversation.

We just lived through a big thing and it was good ...

and ...

... it has foreshadowed some of the hardest work our nation will ever have to do.


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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Event: Election Pre-Post Mortem.

I won't have enough time for a thoughtful post until later today.

In the meantime, read this:

CNN Obama win sparks celebrations outside White House.

It'll make you smile.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Event: Blue Skies Falling endorsements, 2008.

Information. Where to Get It and How to Use It.
What is Socialism? Is Obama a Socialist?
MICHIGAN : PROPOSAL 2008-02 : Embryonic Stem-Cell Research.
California Proposition #8.
MICHIGAN : PROPOSAL 2008-01 : Medical Marijuana.
Why I'm Voting Against Jan Schakowsky in the Illinois 9th District Race.
Understanding the Subprime Mortgage Crisis.
"Here's how Gov. Sarah Palin's Clearwater visit unfolded"
The Executive Branch is a Committee, with an Economic Example of Why it Matters.
Palin is a Footnote; Clinton is a Chapter.
A Few Thoughts on Abortion for Voting Catholics Like Me.

Chicago Tribune: Tribune endorsement: Barack Obama for president. The Chicago Tribune has a respected conservative-leaning editorial staff. Barack Obama is the first Democrat they have nominated for President since the newspaper was founded in 1841.
The Economist: An Endorsement of Barack Obama. The Economist is an editorial magazine based out of the United Kingdom. It has a well-respected global perspective, and is considered to be politically moderate by the standards of most American political discussions.
The Economist: Global Electoral College: What if the Whole World Could Vote?
EGAD or, (de)mythologizing the fetish of place: Flames.
New York Times: Barack Obama for President. The New York Times has a respected left-leaning editorial staff.
Purple Scarf: Harold and the Purple States.
Purple Scarf: In the Real America...
Third Rail Themes: Get Me a Beer, Bitch!
Third Rail THemes: Palin(g) in Comparison, Part the Second

A brief comment on "protest votes": Protest votes were one of many things that earned us the first Bush Administration, and unfortunately this entire class of political opportunity (theoretically equivalent to what is possible in Unions through striking) seems interminably linked to Ralph Nader.
Yet 2008 should be a great year for protest votes in low-risk national races. Many congressional Democrats will win by a large margin; yet since 2006, when the Democrats retook Congress with a mandate, their leadership has failed time and time again to use to tools at their disposal to stand up to the Bush Administration.
We don't want to unseat Democrats; a protest vote is a bad tactic in a closely contested race. However, votes are the ultimate currency in politics, and we can use it to demonstrate that our loyalty comes with a price. Democrats ought to behave as Democrats. Our Democratic led congress has lower approval ratings than President Bush; this is due to disillusionment by a base that feels that they have been represented by an unassertive and unmotivated congressional party leadership.

A brief comment on third parties: There is no time or space here to wade into the myriad and complex arguments about why we should or should not encourage the growth of third party movements in the U.S. My operational premise is that, while third parties in general expand our options and encourage a more mature and nuanced political perspective (both among the electorate and office holders), in the U.S. they are often manipulated by the major parties against each others. Voting Green, for example, is often promoted by the Republicans as a way of whittling away support for Democrats (and Republicans often lead in financial support for Green candidates). With this in mind, I generally discourage voting for a third party candidate unless, 1) you think they could actually govern well and 2) they have an active chance of winning. When these criteria are met, vote-away! For cases where the criteria are not met, but you still want to register a protest vote, consider a write-in instead.



Barack Obama - Democrat


Carl Levin - Democrat
Please follow up your vote with a letter to Senator Levin that he is on notice until he justifies through legislation that the Wall Street bailout is administered with both robust oversight and strict penalties for mismanagement among recipients.

Dale Kildee - Democrat
Please follow up your vote with a letter to Senator Levin that he is on notice until he justifies through legislation that the Wall Street bailout is administered with both robust oversight and strict penalties for mismanagement among recipients.




Dick Durbin - Democrat
Please follow up your vote with a letter to Senator Durbin that he is on notice until he justifies through legislation that the Wall Street bailout is administered with both robust oversight and strict penalties for mismanagement among recipients.

Morris Shanfield - Green

Heather Stearns - Democrat

Greg Harris - Democrat

Illinois Constitutional Convention - YES


Pat Rogers - Democrat

Pamela Elizabeth Loza - Democrat

North Side Judicial Ratings can be found at:

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Event: Illinois Constitutional Convention

In 2006 the Democratic Party was propelled by a slim but decisive mandate into control of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. And yet, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both bodies failed to substantally challenge President Bush and the Republican minority in a substantive way on any major issue, from the unending and futile Iraq war to the recent punitive measures attached to the recent Wall Street bailout.

Many Democrats feel that we should secure a more substantial majority before "holding their feet to the fire." I don't see why we can't do both at the same time. As a result this year I am registering a protest vote against Jan Schakowsky of the Illinois 9th district who voted for both the Wall Street bailout and promised to vote down legislation to fund the Iraq war without a withdrawal timetable before repenting at the last minute.

But Schakowsky is partly a product of her political situation; the Illinois Democratic machine is the home of many stereotypes, and they are more justified here than in many other parts of the country. The moneyed and connected Democrats have a lock on primary nomination and guarantee of success in a general election (except Harold Washington). This system is in nobody's benefit. I write this from a progressive perspective: Illinois is not prosperous when Chicago is not prosperous, and the Democrats have the sane policies this generation. However, Democrats here still lack the spine or drive or temperament to act on their constituencies impulses, and the Schakowsky votes illustrate this.

A constitutional convention is one more opportunity (whether a successful opportunity remains to be seen) to disrupt the all-too entrenched and stubborn local political dynasties. I'm not optimistic about its hopes for success, but a chance is better than none.

Vote for the constitutional amendment. With Democrats perpetually in control of the state senate and house, there is little to fear. With ruling dynasties having benefited from the current constitution for as long as anyone can remember there is very, very little to lose.

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