Friday, December 31, 2010

A new year, but same ol’ stories

In some respects, the point in time we’re commemorating Friday night is one of the most artificial in existence.

We may be flipping from 2010 to 2011. But it’s not like anything magically changes and some unbreakable barrier between us now and us then is erected.

IT’S LITERALLY JUST a date on the calendar. The circumstances of our society are going to remain the same. Anybody who doubts me ought to consider that some of the biggest stories that confronted our society this year were holdovers from ’09 that aren’t about to cease to exist just because it’s now 2011.

We still have Blagojevich to contend with. The trial that everybody was convinced was going to “take down” Democrats in Illinois is going to give us its sequel. Come April, federal prosecutors will take their second crack at getting criminal convictions against the one-time Illinois governor.

All they got from their last trial that cost federal taxpayers millions of dollars was one lone conviction on a “lying to FBI” charge. Which I still don’t fully understand how it can stand up without a conviction on some other charge?

I do realize that prosecutors with professional records at stake are going to keep at this case until they can find a jury willing to vote “guilty” on a sufficient number of charges that they can claim another notch on their belts.

BLAGOJEVICH GETTING AN “Oxford Education” is going to be the only result that appeases some people in our society. Anything short of him serving some time at the minimum-security correctional center in Oxford, Wis., will leave them lagging.

QUINN: Will he get a backbone?
So will we get the sight of Rahm Emanuel, the one-time chief of staff to President Barack Obama, having to take the witness stand in the weeks following the April 5 run-off election? Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel having to endure the embarrassment of justifying his behavior as pesky prosecutors persist in trying to nail Blagojevich on inconsistencies related to whether Milorod really tried to “sell” an appointment to the U.S. Senate to the highest bidder?

That kind of questioning could well cause Emanuel to have the emotional blow-up that some expected him to have in response to impertinent questioning by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners earlier this month.

But Blagojevich isn’t the only left-over news from 2010. Personally, I’m more intrigued by state government’s financial condition. Or should I say, the inability to resolve financial problems.

IT WAS EARLIER this week that state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, appeared on WTTW-TV along with conservative pundit Dan Proft to talk about possible financial solutions for the state. About the only thing the two men could agree upon is that the situation is complicated and there is no easy solution.

Yet I couldn’t help but notice that Lang seemed determined to label the possible solutions being put forth by Gov. Pat Quinn as the “governor’s proposal.” He specifically objected to them being referred to as the “Democratic proposal.”

At a time when we’re long past the point where difficult, painful and politically unpopular decisions have to be made for the good of the people of Illinois, do we have a Legislature that is determined to shove this problem off to a future year?

Last year, the logic behind not making the hard choices was that it was an Election Year. Now, it’s NOT an election year. But they still don’t want to act.

DO WE HAVE some serious cowards in the Illinois General Assembly? Or is the real coward going to turn out to be Quinn himself?

I’m hoping that at a time when the state government deficit could reach $15 billion by July 1 (the beginning of state Fiscal Year 2012) and an increasing number of businesses are struggling because they’re being paid so ridiculously late for the work or services they provide for state government that Quinn will develop the backbone to pressure his alleged political allies to do right by the people of Illinois.

OBAMA: A stronger opposition
Of course, Quinn is in the exact opposite position of Obama. The president has to deal with his political opposition, which in 2011 has made it clear they’re going to do what they can to make his professional life miserable.

The only difference is that the November elections gave them more influence by giving them a say in the House of Representatives. It will be those House GOPers who will lead the effort to repeal health care reform, push for immigration “reform” measures openly hostile to the people who need reform, and likely will continue with the cheap talk about whether Obama is a “real American.”

OF COURSE, THE Democratic majority in the Senate, along with the Obama veto pen, will keep the most heinous of measures (such as the stupid talk of repealing the 14th amendment taking citizenship away from people who were born in this country) from becoming reality.

But the nonsense level of the rhetoric tied to our federal government will continue for years to come. Tossing out the old calendar and hanging up a new one (mine this year consists of vintage photographs of CTA “el” trains) won’t change a thing.


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