The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Chicago getting "access to power"

Crain's Chicago Business crows that Chicago businesses will enjoy happy times now that so many political appointees in Washington will be from Chicago:

[F]or Chicagoans hoping to do business with the federal government or influence U.S. policy, the key won't be a high-level connection to the White House. It will be the ability to get a call back from the staffers who have direct lines to the powers that be as well as, in some cases, authority over bureaucratic functionaries. So while being from Chicago may not get you an audience with designated Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, it may help you get to his deputy chief of staff, Matthew Yale, a vice-president at Chicago-based Ariel Investments LLC.

One of my friends pointed out the flip-side of all this: lots of good people have left Chicago. Lots of them. I've kidded about my Congressman and junior Senator leaving, but really, it's hundreds of our best and brightest. The talent vacuum gives people like our soon-to-be-former governor and our new, I-guess-we-can-live-with-him-for-two-years U.S. Senator something to fill. Consequence: we have no state government right now.

Don't misunderstand: I am very, very happy that Obama will become President in 26 hours or so, but I also think it comes at a pretty steep cost for Illinois.

Ten take-aways from the Bush years

Via long-time reader SP, Bob Woodward's musings in today's WaPo concerning lessons we should learn from the last 8 years:

3. A president must do the homework to master the fundamental ideas and concepts behind his policies.

The president should not micromanage, but understanding the ramifications of his positions cannot be outsourced to anyone.

For example, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq in 2004-07, concluded that President Bush lacked a basic grasp of what the Iraq war was about. Casey believed that Bush, who kept asking for enemy body counts, saw the war as a conventional battle, rather than the counterinsurgency campaign to win over the Iraqi population that it was. "We cannot kill our way to victory in Iraq," Gen. David Petraeus said later. In May 2008, Bush insisted to me that he, of all people, knew all too well what the war was about.

Less than 50 hours remain in the worst presidency in U.S. history.

Laughing too loud for the office

The legal team representing the only governor Illinois has quit this afternoon. More precisely, they stuck their collective tongue out at the legislature because impeachment is just so unfair:

Blagojevich's lawyers believe the process has become "fundamentally unfair" because they have had too little time to prepare for the Senate trial and have been denied subpoena power to call their own witnesses.

The governor's lawyers had been asked to file an appearance on his behalf by Monday. The Senate trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 26.

"I had never committed to the Senate trial, and I will not file an appearance," said Ed Genson, who deferred further comment....

Perhaps it's only coincidental that one of Blagojevich's fundraisers just this morning turned state's evidence (same story), and one of his former staffers plead guilty to misusing corporate funds:

Christopher Kelly, a longtime friend and adviser to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, pleaded guilty in federal court this afternoon to filing false tax returns that concealed his use of corporate funds to cover gambling debts.

Kelly, 51, answered with a strong "guilty" when asked how he would plead by U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo. He admitted to underreporting his commercial roofing company's profits by nearly $500,000 between 2001 and 2005.

There's no denying the entertainment value, but in all seriousness, I'd kind of like a state government again.

Questionable use of JavaScript

The Chicago Tribune's home page this morning has this counter, which as a native Chicagoan I have to call pretty whiny:

Yes, it's colder right now in Chicago than at the North Pole, and yes, we've only had 44 days in the last 139 years when the temperature failed to go above -17°C, but this counter just seems silly. And it's so short-lived: we'll be out of the danger zone by noon today.

Now, a counter ticking down the 4 days, 4 hours, and 1 minute until Barack Obama is sworn in as President? Not silly at all.

And Crain's had a story this morning to warm my heart: Goose Island Beer is now available in Washington, just in time for a Chicagoan President to drink it.


In no particular order:

  • Three cheers for the US Airways crew who executed a good landing[1] in the Hudson River this afternoon. I'm not joking: it's hard enough to glide any airplane after a total power loss, something else entirely to land on water without flipping the plane or sinking immediately. That all 155 passengers got out means Capt. C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger and his first officer deserve medals. Let's remember that one kilometer in either direction would have led to a horrible outcome. This wasn't a 20-mile glide from 30,000 feet over flat farmland; this was a crippling bird strike[2] at 3,000 feet over Manhattan.

  • My cousin and I got our Cubs home-game tickets today, all 13 games worth. Woo hoo! First game: Friday April 17th against the Cardinals. But before that, as part of my continuation of the 30-Park Geas[3] I'm considering going to Houston to see the Cubs on April 7th.

  • I had a third point, but at my age I feel lucky to remember the first two.

[1] After a good landing all the passengers get out safely. After an excellent landing you can use the plane again.
[2] Yet another reason to declare open season on Canada geese. Disgusting birds.
[3] Speaking of geese...

Alaska's other export this year

The other-worldly cold that parked over Alaska at the end of December has now schlumped down to Chicago. For the first time since 3 February 1996, we've got more than 24 consecutive hours of temperatures below -18°C—officially bottoming out at -23°C overnight at O'Hare. (This is nowhere near the record set 15 January 1972 of -33°C.)

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You know, between this weather and their annoying governor, I'm wondering about whether we should have admitted the state in 1959....