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Compromise or Gridlock in Washington: Two Unpalatable Alternatives PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Mark W. Hendrickson   
Thursday, 27 December 2012 10:52

As soon as the elections were over, a wave of commentaries extolling the virtues of compromise appeared in the press. The common theme is that it is time for Democrats and Republicans alike to end partisan gridlock – to make compromises that will shrink federal deficits without driving us off “the fiscal cliff.”

That said, gridlock has its defenders. They fondly remember “the good old days” in the ’90s when divided government (Democratic White House, GOP Congress) produced a gridlock that kept spending increases relatively modest and eliminated budget deficits.

Gridlock today, however, is not as benign as it was then. Also, the ’90s constituted a special case that cannot be replicated today.

 
Despite Mass Murder, Stricter Gun Control Seems Unlikely PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 23 December 2012 05:41

It’s difficult to argue with a point by the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent shortly after news had broken of the mass murder at a Connecticut school.

“If today’s shooting doesn’t prompt action on guns,” Sargent wrote on his Twitter account, “then nothing ever will.”

You’d think that the shocking horror of 20 children and 6 adults murdered at that school by a crazed gunman using a semiautomatic assault rifle with high-capacity ammunition magazines would prompt some action, either nationally or at least locally.

But nationally the NRA has almost completely embedded itself within the Republican Party and allied itself closely with congressional GOP leaders. As a result, when one of its own members (Gabby Giffords) was nearly killed during an Arizona mass murder by yet another crazed gunman, the U.S. Congress did little more than applaud her return to the chamber.

 
EyeSee You and the Internet of Things: Watching You While You Shop PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 08:53

Gifts have been bought. Presents wrapped. Now all that remains is the giving and receiving. Oh, and the tracking, of course. Little did you know that all the while you were searching out that perfect gift, you were unknowingly leaving a trail for others – namely, the government and its corporate cohorts – to follow.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, the indifference of the general public to the growing surveillance state, the inability of Congress to protect Americans’ privacy, and the profit-driven policies of the business sector, the corporate state could write a book about your holiday shopping habits: the Web sites you’ve visited when trying to decide what to buy, the storefronts you’ve browsed while wandering the mall, and the purchases you’ve made.

Even the store mannequins have gotten in on the gig. According to the Washington Post, mannequins in some high-end boutiques are now being outfitted with cameras that utilize facial-recognition technology. A small camera embedded in the eye of an otherwise normal-looking mannequin allows storekeepers to keep track of the age, sex, and race of all their customers. This information is then used to personally tailor the shopping experience to those coming in and out of their stores. As the Washington Post report notes: “A clothier introduced a children’s line after the dummy showed that kids made up more than half its mid-afternoon traffic. ... Another store found that a third of visitors using one of its doors after 4 p.m. were Asian, prompting it to place Chinese-speaking staff members by that entrance.”

 
Ruling, Mass Shooting Put State’s Gun Laws in the Spotlight PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 16 December 2012 05:40

Before Friday’s horrific school shooting in Connecticut, people on both sides of the concealed-carry debate were saying privately that they did not expect Attorney General Lisa Madigan to appeal her major loss at the hands of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

A Seventh Circuit panel in Chicago voted 2-1 on December 11 to declare Illinois’ strict laws on carrying guns unconstitutional and gave the General Assembly 180 days to come up with a new, much less restrictive law.

"A right to bear arms ... implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home," the majority opinion decreed, saying that Illinois had failed to show that restrictions on gun owners – including bans on concealed carry – had any positive effect.

Appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court could be harmful to the anti-gun cause, both sides admitted last week. New York’s wealthy, influential, and legendarily anti-gun mayor could oppose an appeal out of fear that the conservative Supremes wouldn’t preserve his own state’s laws, which allow him to keep most concealed weapons off the street. Other states that allow limited concealed carry, such as Maryland and California, will also probably oppose an appeal for the same reason. They just don’t trust the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold their restrictive laws.

 
Congressional Candidate Faces Long Odds with Weapons Charge PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Monday, 10 December 2012 09:44

One of the most fascinating things about the media frenzy surrounding state Senator Donne Trotter’s arrest last week was that not one of his Democratic Second Congressional District opponents immediately jumped in front of the cameras to comment publicly about the matter.

They stayed silent even when Trotter (D-Chicago) announced after he was bonded out of jail the next day that he wouldn’t drop out of the race to replace disgraced former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Trotter was arrested Wednesday morning after allegedly attempting to bring an unloaded pistol through a security checkpoint at O’Hare airport. Reporters swarmed the courthouse after Trotter posted bond Thursday and then, when he refused comment, some descended on his home on Chicago’s South Side.

His arrest was one of the biggest news stories in the city, mainly because of his congressional bid, yet none of his dozen or so prospective Democratic opponents in the Second District special-election contest immediately issued a statement or responded on-the-record to questions about the case.

 
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