Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hey Bruce, welcome to power, buddy!

      Well, umm, this is awkward.
      Bruce, I mean, Mr. Rauner. Or, rather, governor. Allow me to be the first from the media jackal pack to extend a paw in congratulations.
     I’m hoping we can work together, let bygones be bygones, striving as fellow Illinoisans to try to push our beloved state out of the ditch it has undoubtedly fallen into.
     Sure, hard things were said during the campaign, by both sides. Well, by me at least—you don’t say a whole lot, do you? 
     So hard things, said on almost both sides. But isn’t that always the case? (And heck, you should have seen the barbs that my editor cut out, reluctant to have anyone’s physical abnormalities held up to ridicule, even a rich and, judging by the late returns, suddenly powerful individual who does indeed have lips, thin though they may be. But ho-ho, the less said about that the better!)
     Although, I’d debate how much power an Illinois governor really has. Oh sure, back in the day, he could commute death sentences, and that put a little spine into what is in effect the CEO of a broke and struggling public company, to occasionally have the phone line kept open to the death house, the midnight vigil, the governor like Solomon, weighing the scales of justice, life and death. 
     George Ryan wrecked all that.  Now the governor is inspecting the latest butter cow at the Illinois State Fair and presiding over the general collapse of the American dream, as China sprints past us and we fade.
     What will you do to fix that? We need to gauge our expectations. Those of us who backed Barack Obama expected him to do something, and while the sorta health care system he kinda installed over the frenzied howls of people like you is indeed an accomplishment, particularly from the perspective of  all those who now have access to health care and don’t have to die, we thought there would be more. I sure did. When I look at his first six years, I thought he would close Guantanamo Bay, like he promised, and do something about immigration, and a few other festering problems that instead were left to fester for another 2,000 days.

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  1. As a citizen who went to my polling place and discovered that they have no record of me, even though I have been a registered voter and voted here since 2008, I have no expectations. I don't know how they did it - I am a registered Democrat and have not moved since the last election. I am tired of the entire process and the way it has been perverted. I will never attempt to vote again, and do not care who wins what, because the country is owned by the capitalist "robber barons" and they will maintain control until they have sucked us dry, like a spider with a fly in its web. Those who have voted for these people have voted against their own best interests, and will not realize the consequences of giving these people the power until it is too late to reverse the damage they have done. We do indeed get the government we deserve. And the minority of us who did not vote for these monsters will not find any pleasure in being proven to be right.

  2. It was a depressing evening, and not one to inspire hope. However, a glance out an east facing window confirmed a rising sun, celestial evidence that that life will go on. And happily, at least for a time, absent the inescapable and mendacious cacophony of campaign advertising. On occasions like this, when things don't go one's way in the political sphere, I take comfort in a little couplet of Dr. Johnson's:

    "How small, of all that human hearts endure,
    That part which laws or kings can cause or cure."

  3. Here is a thought.

    We do not need bigger government or smaller government. We need government to be the optimal size and with optimal policies. And what is optimal differs from realm to realm. Suggestions need to be informed. They require the intellectual heavy lifting of professionals such as lawyers, economists, engineers, scientists, and business men who know things and how to run things.

    For example we do not need Washington DC telling us how to educate our children. That is quintessentially a local matter. On the other hand – we do indeed need Washington to actively regulate drug, food, and airline safety.

    Every major politically thinker of the last two or three centuries recognized the role of government to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Governmental charity should be offered to those who are indeed charity cases.

    It is also the role of government to enable all others to provide for themselves – not to provide for them.

    The U. S. from early on had the rich and the superrich. It also always had people who wanted to migrate here. The US. was always a prime destination for migration.

    I guess it is radical chic to be dissatisfied. But be careful for what you wish. There are no longer so called “robber barons” in Cuba and Venezuela. We must encourage and give opportunity for the super bright and the super talented to become super rich.

    The super bright will always make a good living. But it takes the opportunity to become superrich that entices them to quite their good paying “day jobs” and instead invent and innovated. That is “progress” and what provides jobs and makes the United States the magnet for all throughout the world.

    In another column Mr. Steinberg opined that only professionals write well enough to write decent fiction. I agree. I suggest that we are all amateurs in most things and only professionals in one or a few areas. Being a professional musician, philosopher, novelist, athlete or movie star really does not qualify one to make prescriptions as to how to optimally regulate the airline industry, the drug industry, or Wall Street.

    Radical chic and its attendant sense of irony and cynicism is merely a pose and thus the province of poseurs.



    1. Hey Jerry, welcome back. Though I'm having trouble finding a thought in there. Not to take the time to refute every point, but the federal government offers up educational standards so that local yahoos don't sink their children into ignorance even more than they already do. And I never said that "only professionals write well enough to write decent fiction." That post doesn't address fiction at all, and I wasn't thinking about fiction when I wrote it. It's true, but you're projecting. "Radical chic" is a 40-year-old term. It's like calling something "groovy."

  4. “Radical chic” is a 40 year old term coined by American “man of letters” Tom Wolf. And it is indeed a perfect term to describe a “particular type” that has always been with us.

    Does one need “style” if he or she has “substance?” Chicago area “man of letters” Joseph Epstein explored this in several books. His conclusion was that the former is most often offered as a poor substitute for the latter. He compared the literary faculty at NU to those that deal with the hard sciences. The latter he labeled as dealing with the cutting edge of the “truth.”

    There was also a good discussion of this with Charlie Rose and folk from the Paris Revue. They drew attention to those writers who scrupulously avoid the limelight because they only want to be considered for the words they put on the page. Pynchon and Salinger come to mind.

    I am always amused at those who consider how Einstein treated his first wife as somehow relevant.

    BTW: Do you consider the Bible and Shakespeare also chocked full of clich├ęs? I suspect "not".


  5. Jerry, that was SO close to having a point.


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