The Barbershop has re-located

The proprietor has moved the shop to ChicagoNow, a Chicago Tribune site that showcases some of the best bloggers in the Chicago area. You can logo on to the Barbershop home page here. The ChicagoNow home page is here.

You'll still be able to post comments with the same ease as in this location. The proprietor also will keep this web site alive if you wish to review old posts.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Northern Trust to Barney Frank: Kiss my ass.

Northern Trust seeks to repay bailout money

The golf tournament that Northern Trust sponsors has contributed more than$50 million to charity. How many people have been employed--servers, etc.--to host the tournament is no small matter...to the people who have the jobs.

Frank is engaging is class warfare, and the class he's warring against is the very people he claims to represent.

Let's hear it for Northern Trust.

Chicago gets FAA approval to spend $182 million on O'Hare expansion design

The FAA blows your money on a pie in the sky expansion of O'Hare. Aside from the questionable legality (the ticket tax was intended to be used for actual construction, not for plans), there is the sight of $182 million going down the drain for a project that the airlines say they don't even want. More proof that the FAA continues to be in the tank for Richard M. Daley

Details are here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Dist. 214 To Host Special Meeting On O'Hare Ring Road

You mean that after years of hemming and hawing, O'Hare expansion enablers finally are going to tell everyone where the ring road around the airport will go?

Read it here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jindal comparisons to Kenneth the Page abound online

It didn't take long for blogdolts to begin making fun of Jindal. (Follow the links from here.)

As these the same people who would not tolerate anyone making fun of Obama's ears?

Obama's automotive history rewrite

Will President Barack Obama's assertion that America invented the automobile get the same kind and amount of attention as did the misspelling of potato(e)?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Don’t resign, Senator Burris

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Daily Observer

Hang in there, Roland.

Don’t quit. Finish out your term as the Democratic senator representing the cheesy state of Illinois.

It’s your best, and perhaps only, way to get even with your fellow Democrats who have turned on you with a vengeance, who have knifed you in the back after your lifetime of subservience to Democratic rule. You are the Rod Blagojevich gift to fellow Democrats that would keep on giving.

Truth is, senator, your former compadres want you out, without a second to lose, even more than Republicans, who have much to gain by your hanging on. Your Democratic pals didn’t want you in there in the first place....

Continue reading in the Chicago Daily Observer

Obama could be reaching too far too quickly

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

In just a month, President Barack Obama has saved the banking, financial services and housing industries, changed the way that Washington does business, bailed out the auto industry, settled the Republican hash and saved the economy with the largest spending bill ever passed. In record time.

This week he goes on to save health care, tame entitlements, balance the budget and map the way to energy independence. At least that's all that's scheduled. Maybe he'll throw in a bonus, like curing cancer.

No disrespect intended, but it makes me think of the late comic genius Andy Kaufman, standing next to a phonograph on bare stage and lip-syncing to the Mighty Mouse song.

Obama's schedule this week includes a White House fiscal policy summit Monday, a speech to Congress on Tuesday and the unveiling of his budget Thursday.

Potomac decipherers describe this as Obama's breakaway week, in which he completes the onerous task of dealing with the mess he inherited and begins his own far-reaching agenda. Of course, the inherited mess includes finishing work on this fiscal year's budget, which—ahem—the Democratic Congress failed to pass even though we're five months into the fiscal year. My question is: When does Obama have the time to go over the budget "line by line" like he promised?

Obviously, he doesn't, but we won't count that as a broken campaign promise because, well, we'd get trashed by the White House for questioning the wisdom of this frenzy. Much as Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs racked Rick Santelli, the CNBC reporter in Chicago's futures pits, over the coals for audaciously saying what many Americans are: How fair is it when the irresponsible get rewarded by the government and the 90 percent of us who pay our mortgages on time don't? What kind of example does it set for a nation that has gone from an instant-gratification culture to one that demands instant and foolproof protection from all risk? You'll have to excuse the Chicago commodities and futures traders for raising the question, since they make their living by facing down pure risk. You would have thought the current White House would understand where the traders are coming from since the financial/investment sector was among Obama's biggest campaign contributors, according to OpenSecrets.org.

There is something about this manic rush to set straight everything in America that bespeaks an incredible conceit, the same kind of hubris that argues that government policy can stabilize the global climate. While I detect a certain pride in the Obama administration at having "accomplished" more in a single month than Franklin Roosevelt did in an entire term, there's also the possibility that Obama may have done more damage in the opening week of his administration than President George W. Bush allegedly did in two terms.

In this feverish rush to solve everything, wouldn't it be prudent to pause a moment to appreciate the fact that no one, even by the administration's acknowledgment, knows whether the economic upheaval we've set in motion, including a change in the basic relationship between the American citizen and his government, will work? Much of what Obama and the Democrats have done already is irreversible, giving some of us the feeling that we're speeding down a dark highway at midnight with no headlights on.

Again and again, we hear that our only choice is not just to do something, but to do this something—a truly false dichotomy. But the question remains: What if we're wrong? What if we've spawned a monster—the kind of stagflation that gripped us in the early 1980s? What if the unprecedented debt we are creating is so huge that our children will have to spend so much of their wealth servicing it that they'll be denied the indulgences that this generation takes as its right. Or worse, what if the debt servicing consumes so much of the nation's wealth that future generations will be unable to afford the safety nets and government social spending that the left

Thursday, February 19, 2009

GM's Plan: Subsidize Our 48-Year-Old Retirees

Lots of taxpayers would like to get the deal UAW workers still get: Paul Ingrassia in the Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Obama Road Show Panned in Peoria

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Daily Observer

In a remarkably inept and embarrassing political stumble, President Barack Obama’s trek to the Caterpillar plant in East Peoria to pitch his stimulus package re-focused the spotlight on the Democratic death-grip on the Colombia free-trade pact.

Passage of the measure would mean for Caterpillar hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new or saved jobs, without costing the taxpayers any money—unlike the wildly extravagant $1.2 trillion (with interest) stimulus package. Yet, Obama opposes the pact and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stubbornly has refused to allow the agreement to come to the floor for a vote.

Caterpillar, the heavy equipment manufacturer, is one of the nation’s main exporters to Colombia and would be a chief beneficiary of free trade with the South American nation....

Read more in the Chicago Daily Observer

Slow drip of financial ruin

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

It's the death of reason.

Well, maybe not its death, but passage of the $787 billion stimulus package has sent reason to the intensive-care unit, possibly to draw its last breath. How ironic that at the very moment we were celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, who with Newton, Galileo and other rational minds, freed Western thinking from the manacles of faith, miracles and doctrine, Congress and President Barack Obama launched history's most expensive government giveaway, based entirely on panic, divination and ignorance.

The emotions of fear and loathing are what spawned this monstrosity; reason and logic had nothing to do with it. It's no better than sorcery. Democrats sold this package purely on gut feeling, sentiment and intuition.

I once had a college sociology professor—Bud Bloomberg, a man as liberal as you could find—who fulminated against slapdash solutions to society's problems. First, define the problem, he lectured, and then craft the most efficient, direct and cost-effective solution, a solution that often turned out to be the simplest. The repeated failure to follow that framework in favor of a vague, hope-inspired panacea was why so many complex societal problems either weren't solved or made worse by heartfelt concoctions.

Hence, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, an unpalatable stew of every imaginable ingredient hatched by every imaginable chef, has come upon us, not targeted to any particular taste or need, but guaranteed to give every American the heaves and heartburn for generations to come. No more reason went into this gelatinous slop than the ridiculous and dishonest assertion that it was either "this or nothing." It's the ultimate whine of the naive do-something crowd that surfaces with every trouble, natural or man-made.

Senator after Democratic senator stood to disgorge this dishonest rhetoric during floor debate, repeatedly proclaiming the lie that Republican opponents had nothing of their own to offer. But you didn't have to search far to find examples of GOP solutions, such as the one on House Minority Leader John Boehner's Web site. You don't have to agree with his more moderate and targeted package of immediate tax relief for working families, more help for the small business sector (the nation's biggest job producer), no tax increases to pay for spending, jobless assistance and home price stabilization.

However, simple honesty should compel the Reids and Pelosis to refrain from saying the opposition has no plan. Democrats, of course, were able to get away with this slander because few in the media challenged it or bothered to report it. The media also have failed to challenge the economic methodologies that are the basis for claims that the stimulus will produce millions of jobs.

Reason is the facility of the mind used to intelligently form judgments, make decisions and solve problems. Emotions are feelings, desires, fears, hates and passionate drives—all of which are the tools that Obama deployed to sell the stimulus package to a gullible public. Endeavor to go through all 1,100 pages of this stuffed piggy and you'll find little rational connection between the nation's problems and its solutions—other than if we throw enough money out there, some of it will stick to the wall.

The lightning-like passage of this colossal spending package (amounting to more than the Iraq war) took just three weeks. Congress is supposed to be a deliberative body, making decisions judiciously, openly and unhurriedly. This was steamrolled.

Worse than the insult to the democratic process, however, is the substance of this lunacy. Our national debt will nudge close to 100 percent of gross domestic product, something that hasn't happened since World War II when the threat to our country was external, mortal and real, and not of our own making. Then, we had to sell war bonds to our own citizens, the only way we could finance the war. Now, with the possible drying up of foreign purchases of American debt, perhaps we'll have to revert to celebrity-studded beg-a-thons of the 1940s to buy our own debt. School kids could again pinch pennies and nickels for the cause. They'll love us for it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kinky links to O'Hare expansion

Chicagoist is the latest to take note of the monkey business at O'Hare and how it might threaten the expansion project.

Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan

Here is the first of many rats to be discovered lurking in the "stimulus" package: Cracking down on health care choices, loss of your doctor's ability to treat you as best he can and nationalization of your health care records, to be reviewed by a federal health czar to determine if you are being treated as the federal government decides you should be treated. Seniors will be most affected.

Tom Daschle may be gone, but his stink remains in this attempt to seek nationalized health care into the "stimulus" bill.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sun-Times Editor Michael Cooke leaving for Toronto Star

The last of the plague that Conrad Black brought to Chicago is leaving. This is the best news that the Sun-Times has had in years, and, at last, gives the paper a better chance for survival. The respected John Barron as publisher and the new editor (the current managing editor and real Chicagoan Don Hayner would be a good choice) should provide a shot in the arm.

In the Company Of Misery…Chicago is #3

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Daily Observer

Now comes Forbes magazine, dumping on Chicago as the nation’s third most miserable city. Local loyalty should compel me to come to poor Chicago’s defense, but Forbes didn’t lay it on heavy enough.

City rankings, of course, are total bull hockey; ever since newspapers and magazines discovered computers, they found they could gin up a cheap, but well-noticed story, by slicing and dicing the so-called data to arrive at rankings based on fraudulent methodology.

And one could conclude that the Forbes’ ranking is obviously bogus because it asserts that the nearly comatose Detroit is less miserable than Chicago. Even Forbes seemed surprised when its methodology determined that Chicago was more forlorn than Cleveland.

Not even the election of Chicagoan Barack Obama as president could offset the city’s “lousy weather, long commutes, rising unemployment and the highest sales tax rate in the country…. High rates of corruption by public officials didn’t help either,” the magazine said.

That’s it?

If you ask me, the list should have been longer, much longer.

Read more in the Chicago Daily Observer

Daley hoping to land funds for O'Hare -- chicagotribune.com

Maybe Mayor Richard M. Daley can explain while he's asking for this money, why he needs it when he and his administration time after time assured us that the money was there to move ahead on this absurd expansion. Maybe he should be required to explain to American taxpayers why they should be called upon to fix his mistakes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Still waiting for a plausible explanation

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

For hours, a medicated Sycloria Williams lay ignored and feeling ill on a women's clinic table until she suddenly felt a sharp pain and expelled her 23-week-old fetus onto the floor, alive. Williams said she watched as a clinic worker scooped up the still-breathing infant, dropped her in a biomedical waste bag and tossed her in the garbage. From there, the infant, bag and all, allegedly traveled to the clinic roof to boil in the hot Florida sun, then back down into a cardboard box in a closet where police finally discovered it a week later, decomposing. An anonymous caller had alerted police to the killing, and it took police, search warrant in hand, three visits to the Florida clinic to find the hidden corpse. No telling exactly when the baby died, but an autopsy found she had taken air into her lungs, meaning that she had lived through at least a part of this savagery.

A doctor was supposed to have been present, but he didn't show up until an hour later. It was left to the clinic owner, who held no health-care license, to cut the umbilical cord. No one called 911, no one alerted a neonatologist to see what could be done to keep the infant alive.

Did I mention that all this occurred at an abortion clinic? Some people might say, "Oh, well, the fetus was supposed to die anyway, so what's the big deal?" Such crassness only makes the whole episode that much more appalling. Williams had sought an elective abortion after she discovered her pregnancy when she was treated for a fall. She had arrived at the clinic for a 9:30 a.m. appointment, and finding no one qualified there to do the abortion, returned to her parked car to wait. An hour later, she went back in, and a clinic worker gave her two pills. Then she returned to her car. About 11:45 a.m., she was back inside because she began to feel sick; she was told to lie down in a patient room. The clinic doctor who was scheduled to do the abortion now told staff he would arrive about noon. At 1:30 p.m., according to a later Florida health department report, she still was waiting and "feeling worse by the minute." About 2 p.m., she gave birth to her daughter; the doctor arrived at 3 p.m. This "incident" occurred in 2006, but it took until Friday for Florida to yank the license of Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique, the clinic doctor. Local authorities still are weighing whether to charge Renelique with a crime (although it seems negligent homicide would be a lay down). And Williams is suing for physical and emotional damage.

Even some pro-choice groups have found this example of a "live-birth abortion" appalling. "It really disturbed me," said Joanne Sterner, president of the Broward County chapter of the National Organization for Women. "I know that there are clinics out there like this. And I hope that we can keep [women] from going to these types of clinics." Well said, but cleverly deceptive. If there are "clinics out there like this," as Sterner said, why is that? Is society's job only to steer women away from such clinics, or is it also society's job to shut them down? Most pro-choice folks are liberals, and liberals are big on demanding more government regulation. Except when it comes to abortion clinics; every attempt to more strictly regulate abortions—even to protect women—is stoutly opposed by outfits like NOW and the abortion industry as an "intrusion on a woman's right to choose [abortion.]" Failure to require detailed reporting to and aggressive follow-up by regulators of live-birth abortions, as well as other tougher regulations, casts doubt on any claims that Williams' case is extraordinarily rare.

We could debate all day what laws should be passed to prevent such outrages, and not get anywhere. Witness President Barack Obama's vote, twice, in the Illinois Senate against a Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, and his defenders' endless determination to minimize the vote. But we won't get nearer to resolving this issue until the Obamas of the world acknowledge that a baby born alive is a person with all the rights the rest of us claim. Until the pro-choice crowd becomes as passionate about born-alive infants as they are about their pantheon of other victims. Until they finally show some humanity.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Haste makes Waste

The Obama administration has been deluging America with the propaganda that there’s not one second to lose. Even the slightest delay in passing the wasteful stimulus package will be, as they say, catastrophic.

Actually, the real reason for the haste is that the more that Americans begin to understand this $800-billion-plus (actually $1.3 trillion with the debt servicing) package, the more frightened they’ll become about what they’re doing to their kids and grandkids, and the more they’ll oppose it. One week of debate about passing the equivalent of an entire year’s budget is unprecdented, and not how a democracy is supposed to work.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Here's what's inexcusable, Mr. President

President Barack Obama bemoans the very idea that some in Congress would want to know something about what it is about to pass in the stimulus bill. "It is inexcusable and irresponsible to get bogged down in distraction and delay while millions of Americans are being put out of work," he said. (text here)

No, what's inexcusable is piling on the biggest single hunk of deficit spending since World War II with blinding speed, in two weeks. Here, Mr. President, we don't govern by edict.

So, mayor, when do we get to see the list?

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Daily Observer

Mayor Richard M. Daley isn’t releasing his “shovel-ready, wish-list” of projects he wants funded with the swelling economic stimulus package because, well, it’s “controversial.”

The unspoken premise being that the more controversial something is, the less right the public has to know about it. As the Chicago Tribune quoted Daley: “Yes, we do, we have our list, we’ve been talking to people. We did not put that out publicly because once you start putting it out publicly, you...

Continue reading at the Chicago Daily Observer

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Support for Stimulus Package Falls to 37%

Uh oh, there goes the mandate. See poll by Rasmussen Reports

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

1st order of business: Dump the free rides

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

Please. Give us a sign.

Not from some celestial body, but from way down below—the Illinois House and Senate. They need to do something right away that demonstrates they mean business when it comes to reform.

We heard senator after senator last week during Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial claim they were on the side of the virtues and pledge allegiance to reform. We can't tolerate this anymore, they proclaimed. We must set Illinois on a new path. No longer can we be the butt of late-night comedians' jokes. We owe the people of Illinois better. Blah and blah. Words. It's all just words, until they step up to the plate and prove they mean it.

And they can start by immediately repealing free train and bus rides for seniors.

If anything has Blagojevich's name stamped all over it (other than the quickly removed tollway signs that bore his tag) it is the free-ride program. The legislators didn't want to do it. Said we couldn't afford it. Said they had no other choice. Said they were exhorted into doing it. That it was all Blagojevich's fault.

If you recall, a year ago the state was facing another one of those unfailing transit crises, and if the legislature didn't provide more state aid, riders would have to face huge fare increases and severe service cuts. Lawmakers narrowly approved a bailout package that included a sales tax increase. But Blagojevich vetoed the legislation, adding the free ride for seniors as a surprise gotcha. It hadn't been on the bargaining table. There was no public groundswell; it caught even CTA brass off guard. But the legislature (read: mostly Democrats) gave in and presto, we had free rides. Blagojevich's ridiculous, pompadour-crowned head got bigger, crammed full, as it was, of thoughts of his own invincibility. Some leading Democrats took it personally; they lost another joust with the goofball governor. Outfoxed again.

The sly political move boxed the lawmakers, because opposing it would have denied yet another entitlement to one of the country's most greedy and powerful interest groups: seniors. Not that they don't get enough breaks already, this one came out of the blue and was welcomed with open arms by the what-has-government-done-for-me-lately crowd. Holster your vitriol, seniors. I'm one of you, and, yes, I admit I've used this freebie, once. However, I happily can say that I've encountered many other seniors who were outraged by the giveaway, proving that we're not all consummate moochers.

Insert here the usual yowl from naive idealists that canceling the freebie would hurt the poor and that anyone who would propose such a thing is a mean good-for-nothing. No doubt, some folks can use a free ride, but just how many has never been convincingly established. But here's a suggestion: If you believe there's a "desperate need" for free rides for the impoverished elderly, figure out a way to means-test a free transit pass, or raise the money privately yourself. I'm sure you and your well-intentioned friends would do a great job, as motivated as you are by your goodness.

But don't give a free lunch to people who don't need one. It's like that lunatic $800 billion-plus "stimulus" package that President Barack Obama and Democrats are rushing through Congress. It's based on the logic that if you fling enough pies at the wall, a few will stick.

Returning to the time when seniors paid merely half fare would be a towering symbol of the legislature's commitment to reform. Imagine the guts it would take to reverse a newly established entitlement. It would be a national, if not international, precedent.

But it also would be more than symbolic. It's estimated that the free rides for seniors are costing other riders and taxpayers $26.5 million in lost revenue in 2009.

True, compared with the trillions that Washington is tossing around these days without a thought about the long-term consequences, it's not much. But $26.5 million is $26.5 million and because it is a "small" amount of money, it would be a good place to start.

This is but the first step that the legislature should take to prove it is committed to reform. They (and our new Gov. Pat Quinn) can dismantle some of the other money-grabs Blagojevich did on his own, the very things that caused the House and Senate to dump him.

See, it's not just a matter of the legislature's getting rid of Blagojevich. More important is getting rid of the damage he created.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Local TV news blows it

By Dennis Byrne

This is for Chicago’s television newsrooms, and I’m sure it won’t make a bit of difference:

You reached a low point in Chicago journalism when you cut away from Gov. Pat Quinn’s live press conference last week to give live voice to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s ramblings and lies in his circus-like press conference outside his Ravenswood Manor house Thursday night after his eviction from office.

This goofball had enough opportunities to air his crud, to excess. Two days of non-stop interviews by the clueless New York media. A 50-minute-long speech before the Senate, in which he explained nothing.

Meanwhile, the new governor was, could have been, making news and a lot of us wanted to hear live what he had to say about this supposed new day in Illinois ethics and financial integrity. Would he raise the income tax? What specific ethic reforms does he have in mind? Why doesn’t he know what the state deficit is?

Maybe one of the reporters at Quinn’s press conference asked those and other important questions. But if they did, none of us got to hear his answers as he gave them. We’ve seen and heard everything that Blago has had to say in excruciating detail. A few of us wanted to know where the new governor would take us.

But every single local station I could find cut Quinn off, in mid-sentence as it were, to rush out to hang on Blago’s tired ravings one last time. What did they expect he’d say that was new? Did anyone really think that he would detail how he would explain to his children what happened to him, as at least one reporter asked? Would he write a book?

No, of course he wouldn’t say anything newsworthy. He talked again about how his father came from Yugoslavia, that America is a land of opportunity even for folks whose last name is long and hard to pronounce, that he did nothing wrong, that his conviction was a pre-ordained result and that he would tell us “the inside stuff” next week, if we want to listen. All the media crowd outside of his home did was feed this delusional man’s ego.

The man is disgraced. Sure, that doesn’t mean that he’s no longer a story. Sure, send a crew out to cover him if you must, as any newspaper city editor would. But suggesting that what the ex-governor had to say was more important than what the new governor was saying is bizarre. It’s as if all the TV networks had cut away from President Barack Obama’s first press conference to follow former President George Bush whine outside his home about unfair he was treated.

Quinn’s remarks at his House swearing-in were optimistic and eloquent. They pointed us in a direction where he thought we should go. He’s right that we’ve got much work to do, to restore trust and confidence. Big tests await those in whose hands the Illinois government now resides. That’s what the news is. Blagojevich is history; leave him to the academicians who study such things. We’re supposed to be journalists, bringing the public what’s new and important. That’s not what Chicago television stations gave us.

If we’re to get out of this mess, we’ll need better judgment in our newsrooms.

Study questions usefulness of animal-human embryos

The Associated Press reports

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Pat Quinn, Illinois' new governor, opposed O'Hare expansion

Will he continue to? It will be a test of his independence from the bi-partisan combine that runs Illinois.

Daily Herald | What Gov. Quinn means for the suburbs