Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pajamas Media BWIR with Glenn Reynolds and John Podhoretz

Joining moderator Austin Bay for the latest Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review is Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds and author John Podhoretz, who among other things, is a regular contributor to National Review Online's "The Corner" and a columnist for the New York Post.

The trio first discuss General David Petraeus' testimony on the Iraq surge, and's coincidentally timed discounted full page ad in the New York Times. They then take the conversation into the 2008 presidential election--both Reynolds and Podhoretz are optimistic on the odds of the two candidates from the state of New York, Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, winning their party's nomination.

You don't need an iPhone or on iPod to hear the podcast, you can listen in right here.

If you do have one of those contraptions, just click here, and you can sign up for a free subscription to Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review via iTunes.

As always, Pajamas blogger Ed Driscoll produces.

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My Kansas Kronikles: McPherson, one of the 100 best small towns in America

My next stop on my Kansas trip was to McPherson, which is consistently ranked among the top 100 small towns in America. The unique attraction of the village is the McPherson Opera House, built in 1888 in the Romanesque Revival style. Operas aren't performed there anymore, there's a photo art gallery on the first floor of the building, selling prints of Kansas landscape. Of course you can get the same thing here for free--just remember to patronize the advertisers.

McPherson is the county seat of McPherson County, and it's another Kansas town blessed with a beautiful courthouse, pictured on the right and below. Like the opera house, this structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Besides the heat, another disadvantage of traveling there in July is that many wonderful buildings can't be properly photographed because they're blocked by trees sporting full foliage. However, making a trip to Kansas is definitely worth the minor hardships.

Next: Mushroom Rock

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hey Obama! Speak out on proposal to impose nation's highest sales tax in your hometown: UDPATED

I'm not entirely sure what exactly Sen. Barack Obama's "new kind of politics" is, other than it doesn't involve cynicism.

Besides his well-documented involvement with indicted political insider Tony Rezko, Illinois' junior senator has made a couple of endorsements that counter his claim that he is above politics-as-usual. The first was his surprising backing of political unknown Alexi Giannoulias in the Democratic primary for state treasurer last year. Obama made himself the kingmaker in the contest, the state party endorsed candidate was defeated by Barack's novice.

While serving as senior loan officer at his family-owned bank, Giannoulias approved loans to a man convicted of running prostitution and gambling rings, but that revelation wasn't enough to sink Giannoulias in the primary and general elections. As with the rest of the nation, 2006 was a great year for the Democrats in Illinois.

Then there's last year's race for the presidency of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

A week before the heated 2006 Democratic Party (Obama didn't make an endorsement in that contest), incumbent John Stroger suffered a major stroke but still eked out a victory over reformer Forrest Claypool, who vowed to clean up the patronage mess known as Cook County Government. Stroger hasn't made a public appearance since that stroke; that summer he resigned his office, and after an exhaustive search, the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization chose among the county's five million residents a man named Todd Stroger--the incumbent's son--to replace "Pop" on the November ballot. About this time last year, the Republican challenger, Tony Peraica, seemed poised to become the first GOP county board president since 1969, but a last minute push by the Democrats pushed the younger Stroger over the top.

Senator Barack Obama, along with fellow Senator Dick Durbin, was part of that push, as liberal Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn reported last fall:

Obama's staff released a profoundly disheartening letter to voters this week in which Obama, joined by Sen. Dick Durbin, endorsed Cook County Board presidential candidate Todd Stroger.

The letter, which puffs lots of hot air into the saggy balloon of Stroger's legislative resume, refers to him as "a good progressive Democrat" who will "lead us into a new era of Cook County government."

Todd Stroger was a "strong voice" in Springfield, the letter says. He has "worked assiduously" for the poor as an alderman. Yet, of course, the record reveals that Stroger is an unimaginative legislative drone whose reform credentials are wholly imaginary--an unlikely trailblazer to a new era.


And Obama has come too far as an inspiring new breed of politician on the national scene to muck around in local politics, endorsing machine hack candidates and substituting party for principle. Or so you'd imagine.

As I reported yesterday, on Monday, the Cook County Board of Commissioners, of which Stroger is president, will vote on whether to add a two percent sales tax to most purchases in Cook County--bringing the total up to 11 percent in much of the county, including Chicago. Stroger has not said how he'll vote, but his actions indicate that he'll vote for it. For more, read this Chicago Tribune article. Free registration is required.

Such a tax will hurt big business, small business, and most of all, poor people, the ones Obama claims Stroger "worked assiduously" for while serving on Chicago's City Council.

I live just 20 minutes from Lake County, if the tax increase is approved, I can assure you I will do more shopping in Lake. Other Cook residents will head to other counties, or Indiana, especially when buying big-ticket items.

Here's what the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce has to say about the tax increase:

To put this proposed increase in to context, Chicago already has one of the highest sales taxes in the country – higher than: New York 8.38%; Los Angeles 8.25%; San Francisco 8.5%; Houston 8.25%; Las Vegas: 7.125%.

The sales tax increase is a measure to pump more cash in a failed system, which is essentially an employment program for thousands of patronage-hires who pay their allegiance to their political sponsors, not to the taxpayers who foot the bill.

So far Senators Obama and Durbin have not spoken out on the tax increase. Since the pair participated in an effort to pump up Todd Stroger's meager accomplishments last fall, this fall they have a duty to voice their opinions on a tax hike that will effect over 40 percent of their constituents.

Hopefully, they'll say they're opposed, and give momentum to the drive to prevent an 11 percent sales tax in America's second most populous county.

And a message to you, Senator Obama: Is this the "new kind of politics" you're talking about?

UPDATE October 1: Drop all pretenses, Todd Stroger favors the tax increase. And a Hispanic commissioner, Roberto Maldonado, made a serious charge against Stroger's chief of staff, claiming that the president of the board of commissioners will pull the "sanctuary status" for illegal immigrants (not a bad idea, by the way) protection from Cook County.

From CBS 2 Chicago:

County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado (D-8th) says Stroger's chief of staff made threats last week. The threat: if Maldonado doesn’t vote for the tax increase, Commissioner Bill Beavers (D-4th) will introduce legislation to revoke the law that declares Cook County a sanctuary for immigrants. Revoking that law will undo Maldonado's latest achievements.

"If their position is to use the Latino community to get me to support things they want me to support, I will work against him – big time," Maldonado said.

Related posts:

Cook County Board may vote for nation's highest sales tax

Time for me to shop...outside Cook County?

Marathon Pundit Chicago River dumping follow up

Thanks for links:

Illinois Review
The Bench

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My Kansas Kronikles: Pro-life billboards

I've traveled all over this great country, and I've spent time not just on the interstates, but on byway roads in other red states besides Kansas. However, of the states I've visited, Kansas has by far the most pro-life billboards on its highways.

I'd be a dishonest journalist if I omitted this part of the Kansas landscape.

Before my July trip, I knew Kansas was a hot spot of pro-life, or if you prefer, anti-abortion activism. But in the week I was there, I easily saw 200 billboards such as the one I found near the village of St. John.

Our society is not one that makes its decisions based on the number of billboards placed on roadsides. However, I didn't see a single pro-choice billboard during my Kansas travels.

Next: McPherson

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