Illinois BlagoBy John Ruberry

Isaac “Ike” Carothers used to be a Chicago alderman until he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from a developer seeking a zoning change. Ironically, his father, William, was convicted on similar charges three decades earlier  when he served as an alderman in the same part of Chicago.

Carothers is on the ballot again–this time he is running for an open seat on the Cook County Board. As the ex-con enjoys by far the biggest name recognition of the five candidates for that office, Carothers stands a good chance of winning in this month’s Democratic Primary, which will again make the Land of Lincoln a nationwide embarrassment, because in this heavily Democratic district, the general election will serve as a coronation.

In 2012, voters chose to send Derrick Smith, another Chicago Democrat, back to Springfield even though he was under indictment on bribery charges and had been expelled that summer from the state House of Representatives. An independent candidate was chosen by local pols to run against Smith in the heavily Democratic district–but Smith won easily anyway.

Smith, who is still awaiting trial, is on the ballot again this spring, but this time Democratic Party bosses are backing him.illinois lawyers

Not so with Carothers. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle held a joint press conference where they declared their support for Emanuel’s former political director.

Oh, I almost forgot. While state law prevents Carothers from running for a Chicago City Council seat, he can run for other offices, including US Congress.

This ignominy troubles the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn, a liberal, who is calling for what he calls “Ike’s Law,” which would prevent ex-cons running for any public office in Illinois. That’s a great idea.

In a column last week, Zorn wrote of down-ballot offices, “But in races for smaller offices, voters will be less well-informed.”

Zorn moves on from there, but in that sentence he hit at the core of the problem as to why Ike’s Law is needed. What Rush Limbaugh dubs “low-information voters” are a key constituency of the Democratic Party. Generations of party and labor bosses have drummed into their followers these two words: “Vote Democratic.” Added by, “Just listen to us–only listen to us.”

That is why Derrick Smith won his seat back two years ago.Cook County sign

And the problem low-info voters extends beyond Illinois. At an Occupy Milwaukee rally two years ago, I watched in disgust as Gilbert Johnson, an AFSCME local president remark about the Tea Party, “What you have is a bunch of haters, people that tell lies, people that want to go back to the ’50s. White man rule. White man only.”

I’m pretty sure that hate-speech–by Johnson and others–was parroted by other union bosses across the nation during the 2012 campaign. And by precinct captains and even preachers at rallies of all kinds–not just Occupy gatherings.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said on the floor of the Senate last week to “turn off the Fox News” so people can only hear her version of the truth about ObamaCare.

Also last week, in a speech to political supporters, Obama called on them to reach out to Republicans “who watch the wrong newscast.”

If the low-information in voters  in Illinois start watching “the wrong newscast” or researching issues on their own instead of listening to ward-heelers, community organizers, and demagogues, the presence of Ike Carothers on a ballot would be good for one thing–a plethora of chuckles.

But the Democratic Party needs those low-info voters. And shame on Zorn, a nice fella by the way, for leaving that crucial fact out of his column.

Oh, imagine that–a president making choices about the “right” or “wrong” newscast.

How far we have fallen as a people.

The Ryan Murray deal has now been out there for about two days and there are many different opinions on it.

Some think it’s a win for the GOP:

Though I, too, would like government to shrink, I think this is the right policy trade-off; shutdowns are making it harder and harder to talk about rational budget policy in this town. And tactically, I think this is a clear win for the Republican Party. The last thing they need right now is to take the focus off the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and revive Obama’s flagging poll numbers with an ill-timed budget battle. Their best shot at a budget they really like is, after all, to retake the Senate in 2014.

Some think it’s a disaster

I am old enough to remember when the GOP said not to worry about it caving on Obamacare funding because, by God, it would hold the line on sequestration.

Hell, that was a month ago.

Amazing how much can change in a month. Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray have decided to give up the last thing the GOP was fighting for — spending restraint. “Don’t worry,” Paul Ryan says with his boyish charm designed to induce sweats and heart palpitations among conservatives, “it’s only a little less restrained.”

The budget deal puts discretionary spending over $1 trillion, which is higher than the sequestration deal of 2011, which was at $967. This is, in fact, a spending increase.

It funds Obamacare.

It does not impact the national debt. It does not reform entitlements.

And it raises taxes, but with the more acceptable euphemism of “user fees”

And some who look at it pragmatically:

When I heard there was a budget deal, and that the deal didn’t amount to much, I had two thoughts. The first was, “Most conservatives probably aren’t going to like this; they’ll consider it just another case of weak Congressional Republican gruel and lack of Republican spine.” The second was, “Good. The Republicans weren’t going to win this battle anyway, and this deal will take away the Democrats’ most potent argument against them—the one that hurt them so much earlier this fall, the obstructionist argument—and allow Republicans to focus on the awfulness of Obamacare.”

The way I look at it is this: the best way to combat the Democrats is to win majorities in Congress next year, and to vote for people who are conservative enough to actually stick to their principles in the exceedingly tempting and corrupt atmosphere of Washington DC (no mean feat that, and it’s somewhat unpredictable who will stand firm and who will not). Republicans and/or conservatives can bluster all they want from a minority position, but it’s a weak position

All are valid opinions but as I see it there are three things for a conservative to judge this budget deal by:

1.  Are the military cuts due in sequestration so damaging that it’s worth making this deal to prevent them?

If you think the military can’t sustain these cuts or that they will go to the meat rather than the fat then this deal is a necessary move to stop it. 

If you think that this is simply not the case or that the military as well as the rest of the government need to live within its means then it’s a bad move.

2.  Is a short term deal, even one with tax (fee) increase worthwhile to achieve the political goals of depriving the media / democrats of an issue to use in 2014?

If you think the media would use a shutdown or even a continuing resolution continuing current funding would be used like a club to distract low information voters from Obamacare and the economy before the 2014 elections, it’s a smart move to made a deal that deprives them of it. 

If on the other hand you figure if the MSM doesn’t have an actual issue they will make one up anyway and this will cost us more votes in the base than it will win us or them in low information voters then it’s a waste of time to equivocate.

3.  Do you trust the GOP if successful in taking the senate in 2014 to actually advance meaningful budget restraint?

If you think the tactical move to make a deal will lead to a GOP congress that will make fiscal responsibility a priority and act accordingly then this is the right move, at times you have to regroup before you advance.

If however you have concluded that the GOP is more interested in getting chairmanships and the power of the purse than actually being responsible with it then it simply will not do to make this deal.

I think making a judgement on the budget deal based on these factors is smart.

Tomorrow I’ll give some advice on something concerning this bill that isn’t so smart.