Recent column offers political thoughts that a new fan can sink his teeth into

My “influence” (if I may exagerate that term to make a point) continues to spread beyond the western suburbs.

This week, I wrote a column about how disorienting it was to have the Illinois primary held on Groundhog Day instead of around St. Patrick’s Day. The primary in 2008 was bumped up to the first Tuesday in February rather than the third Tuesday in March. So the feast of Ireland’s patron saint is no longer used by politicians as a last-minute push to get their (newly) Irish-sounding name before the voters.

To quote myself: “Sprightly leprechauns collecting signatures on behalf of candidates have been replaced by temperamental woodchucks with weather charts.” I pointed out that while Punxsutawney Phil from Pennsylvania saw his shadow last week, both Tumbleweed from Brookfield Zoo and Woodstock Willie did not see their shadow and “predicted” an early end to winter.

“Let’s hope the Prairie State’s two forecasters have the luck of the Irish with them this year, even if it’s not St. Patrick’s Day,” I concluded.

This resulted in an e-mail this morning from Ben Hughes, co-handler of the renowed Punxsutawney Phil. His e-mail reads:

“Phil and I read your recent article, and we have to admit what a better day to host a primary. But Phil only predicts the weather. He stays away from all politics, and the mere site of Glenn Beck on television sends him into convultions (no wait, that’s me, not him). We wish you the best for your fair districts, and winter will be over soon. Well, at least in six weeks. Phil is happy to get back to what he does best — resting. Maybe your politicians could spend a little time with our groundhog friend. He bites on occasion; he is all about territorial rights; he looks good on camera but sometimes creates a lot of messes. I guess they share a lot in common. So, from the weather capital of the world, Happy Groundhog Day.”

I am, by the way, taking this news as further proof that evolution is solid science. If we didn’t all share a common anscestor, would Punxsutawney Phil be able to read? I think not!

It’s nice to know my work has a growing audience, even if one new fan probably wants to chew up my newspaper column and use it as nesting. Bon appetit, mon ami.


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You’re in trouble when your own e-mail account won’t accept your e-mails

This absolutely has to beat all.

I created a word document while at work and wanted to save it for later use, so I sent it to myself using a personal e-mail account. This e-mail sent to my e-mail account from the same e-mail account ended up in my spam folder.

Talk about not getting any respect.

Referring to those annoying e-mail scams everyone gets daily, a co-worker asked, “What were you trying to sell?” That’s a good question, but I was too depressed to think up an appropriate response.

So who should I report this problem to? And will they accept my e-mail?

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I’m waiting for poor people in Cook County to riot over paying lower taxes

For the third time (let’s hope it’s a charm), the Cook County Board of Commissioners has reduced the sales tax. They voted 12-5 earlier today to scale back last year’s sales tax increase by one-half a cent.

Whereas supporters previously had only the right idea on their side, now they have the law. The Illinois General Assembly recently lowered the number of the board’s 17 commissioners needed to override a veto by the County Board president from 14 to 11.

Seeing that 12 commissioners voted to lower the sales tax today, I’m fairly confident the measure will stick this time. County Board President Todd Stroger vetoed the first two attempts to reduce the sales tax, and supporters of the measure were unable to collect the 14 votes needed to override it.

Of course, Stroger didn’t take the news well. He said he has opposed the notion of reducing the sales tax because this could impair the county’s ability to deliver health care to low-income people. An article in the Chicago Tribune, however, challenges this assertion.

“The independent board overseeing the system has proposed a 2010 budget that reduces the reliance on local county taxes by $73 million, and an analysis by the non-partisan Civic Federation concluded only $46 million of the new tax revenue went to fund health care this year,” according to the article.

Not a gracious loser, Stroger is now engaging in class warfare. He said today’s votes appeared to go along economic lines, with those representing the wealthier people voting to scale the sales tax back and those representing poorer people voting to keep the higher tax.

“This has really become a battle of the haves and the have nots, and there are more haves than have nots,” Stroger is quoted as saying in the Tribune story. “When you don’t want to fund the services, the thing that gets hit hard the most is our universal health care. It’s not just about you, it’s about all of us. If we forget that, we forget what government is all about. It’s here to help people.”

Commissioner Tony Peraica, R-16th District, of Riverside countered Stroger’s remarks by saying higher taxes hurt poor people harder than they do affluent people. But Commissioner William Beavers, D-4th District, of Chicago suggested that his constituents don’t seem to mind paying high taxes.

“My people aren’t running across town to buy something from another county,” Beavers is quoted as saying in the Tribune story.

Yes, I’m sure Beavers’ constituents are going to revolt once they realize they’ll pay less for consumer goods. You just have to marvel at some people’s logic.

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Illinois GOPer now wants to divide members into champs and chumps

Wow, Doug Ibendahl has me stumped: When it comes to deciding which GOP gubernatorial debate I’d like to watch this week, am I a champ or a chump?

The Republican Young Professionals group, of which Ibendahl is a co-founder, sent out an e-mail yesterday highlighting an article he wrote for the Web site Champion News. Ibendahl was comparing the gubernatorial debates among Republican candidates being held tonight (Wednesday) by the Homer/Lockport Tea Party and Joliet Tea Party organizations and one being held tomorrow (Thursday) by the Illinois Republican Party Finance Committee.

“There are two debates this week featuring the Republican candidates for governor,” Ibendahl writes. “At the risk of playing favorites, I’ll just say the first event on Wednesday night is for patriotic, God-fearing, real Americans. The second one on Thursday night is for poor souls who want to throw their hard earned money away to a faction that continues to divide and destroy our once proud Republican Party.”

You see what I mean? Ibendahl doesn’t mince words here. He puts the GOP faithful on notice and demands they pick sides.

But who, exactly, qualifies as a patriotic, God-fearing, real American? Let’s break this down by adjective.

“Love of country” can be hard to define. One man’s patriotism is another man’s treason. Who gets to decide?

And what about flag-waving, national anthem-singing Americans who can’t bring themselves to acknowledge the existence of a deity? George Will, a conservative icon, told Stephen Colbert last year that he was an agnostic. Does this mean Will is a chump?

And how can we tell “real” Americans from un-“real” Americans? What’s the criteria? It used to be that Americans were people who held citizenship in the United States, regardless of their social/religious/political/economic views. It appears that’s changed.

So the champs vs. chumps battle in the GOP is on. Considering how badly Republicans fared in statewide elections last year (they didn’t win a single office), you’d think they wouldn’t be looking to exploit inner divisions.

But what do I know?


I strongly suggest that members of the Republican Young Professionals take thoroughly scrutinize their Web site. One link along the left-hand side shows a picture of John McCain and Sarah Palin with the words, “The ticket for America” (pssst, they lost last year). And below that is a link called the W Connection, which offers talking points about President Bush’s agenda (I don’t know how to break this news to you, but Dubya is no longer president).

Maybe this is just wishful thinking on the group’s part. Hey, we all have to hold tight to our dreams. But really, the Bush presidency and 2008 campaign are over. Let’s all move on, OK?

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Here’s my shameless plug for a radio program I’m doing Wednesday

I’ll be discussing current events with Ray Hanania at 8 a.m. tomorrow on his radio program on WJJG AM 1530. Ray streams the program live on his Web site for the show, He also has podcasts of his programs. So tune in to WJJG or check out Ray’s Web site. Rock on!

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Will gay activists actually buy tickets to Americans for Truth fundraiser?

Here’s a headline that’s sure to get attention: “Gay Activists Despise AFTAH Because We Expose their Radical Agenda.”

The AFTAH in question is the Carol Stream-based Americans for Truth about Homosexuality. Peter LaBarbera, the group’s president, posted an item a few days ago on his Web site pertaining to the “attack” to which he and like-minded individuals have been subjected.

The most-recent harassment campaign, LaBarbera said, has come on the heels of AFTAH publicizing its upcoming fundraiser. The banquet will be held at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights.

(Imagine what the conversations will be like from one table to another at a banquet for a group called Americans for Truth about Homosexuality! Not only do you have a group solely dedicated to obsessing itself with what other people do in the privacy of their bedrooms, now you have supporters fueling such a group so it can continue obsessing itself with what other people do in the privacy of their bedrooms. How bizarre is that?)

LaBarbera pointed out that Joe Jervis promoted the AFTAH banquet on his blog, which in part covers gay culture. Jervis urged his readers to buy tickets to the event in order to spice it up. He also wrote that people who don’t want to buy tickets are invited to join members of the Gay Liberation Network at their protest of the banquet.

Jervis noted that Matt Barber will be at the event promoting his new book, “The Right Hook: From the Ring to the Culture War.” The blog posting also publicized the phone number to make a reservation for the fundraiser.

Here’s where the trouble really begins. LaBarbera said that gays have been making harassing phone calls to the Concerned Women of America member who’s been taking reservations.

I certainly don’t condone harassing phone calls, no matter how much you differ with someone’s opinion. There’s a way to register your opposition of someone’s viewpoint, but pestering someone with repeated calls isn’t an effective manner to accomplish this.

LaBarbera, however, overreacts a tad to the way Jervis publicized the information. LaBarbera has the woman’s name and phone number on a few of his Web posts, even the one where he’s objecting to Jervis publicizing this information. Is he the only one authorized to promote the event?

He also contradicts himself when he claims that some people lied when leaving bad reviews of Barber’s book on LaBarbera indicated that people couldn’t have read the book yet because it won’t be released until Nov. 3.

In the same post, however, LaBarbera said that signed copies of the book obtained in advance of its release will be available at tomorrow’s AFTAH banquet. So how does LaBarbera know that those who left bad reviews are lying? If AFTAH can get advanced copies of the book, why can’t other people?

And both and Barnes and Noble list the book as being in stock now through their Web sites and available for immediate shipping. So LaBarbera as well as two booksellers have demonstrated that people can access the book in advance of Nov. 3.

LaBarbera falls short in his claim to be exposing the radical gay agenda. The only agenda gay people have in opposing AFTAH is a desire to be looked upon as human beings worthy of equal treatment under our laws, which is our nation’s bedrock principle.

But however misguided their efforts, its AFTAH’s right to publicly state their opposition to homosexuality. In the same vein, it’s the right of gay people to publicly state their opposition to groups like AFTAH.

If gay activists actually show up at tomorrow’s event, it will certainly make for a lively banquet. Bon appétit, mon amis!

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How has the outbreak of the flu altered your daily routine?

OK, this whole germ thing is starting to get a little freaky.

When 972 students failed to show up yesterday, St. Charles East High School canceled its classes and extracurricular activities for the rest of the week. That’s almost one-half of the student population! Officials said many students exhibited flu-like symptoms.

Being a creature of the Cold War, I’m blaming the Ruskies for the widespread illness in the United States. I don’t care if the Soviet Union dissolved nearly 20 years ago — the commies are up to something.

The news that half a high school has been impacted by disease can’t be comforting at all to local hypochondriacs. I’ve never obsessed about picking up bugs from other people, but the empirical evidence has given me plenty of doubts.

Do I really want to pick up that telephone receiver? Can I trust that this dish doesn’t have some virus? Has this hallway recently been occupied by someone who’s passing out bacteria faster than Santa doles out gifts at Christmastime?

Perhaps people like Adrian Monk are on to something. Sure, they spend their lives afraid that their own shadow is going to make them sick. But I’ll bet they actually stay pretty healthy.

So, are you a germaphobe? Do you fixate over every tiny bug you may encounter? How has the outbreak of the flu (including H1N1) altered your daily routine?

I’d love to hear some stories, so please let me know. You can leave a message here, or you can e-mail me at But please wear a mask and surgical gloves when you contact me, just in case.

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