The Grand Old Partisan of Illinois

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You can't spell Christkindlmarket without Christ

From the AP (via the Chicago Tribune):

Worried that ads for "The Nativity Story" would offend non-Christians browsing in the traditional German Christkindlmarket in the heart of downtown, the city asked the German American Chamber of Commerce to reconsider New Line Cinema, which made the film, as a sponsor. The group then told the studio it would not be part of the bazaar that began Thursday.

Read the whole story when you have a chance, but let me give you the highlights, as well as my (admittedly unoriginal) take.

“Christkindl” literally means “Christ child” in German. So you have to wonder why the Mayor's Office of Special Events feels that advertisements for a story about the Christ child would be “insensitive to the many people of different faiths who come to enjoy the market” named for Him (or him, if you prefer).

“Cindy Gatziolis, a spokeswoman for the Office, said the city does not want to appear to endorse one religion over another” (emphasis added). This is a City that has a public college named after Malcolm X and an expressway named after a Bishop. Apparently the city isn’t concerned about appearing to endorse the Nation of Islam or the Church of God in Christ with these taxpayer funded public properties. So why are they concerned that advertising space purchased by a private film study would appear as an endorsement of Christianity?

I think that the City's unreasoning attempt at "political correctness" is far more offensive to many more citizens than any inclusion of Christ's story in the Christkindlmarket would have been. I’d love to hear your thoughts, but I’d love even more for you to share your thoughts with the City and the GACC:

Mayor's Office of Special Events

German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Team of Rivals, Redux

Last October, a fascinating book was released called Team of Rivals, The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. The tome details how Lincoln, defying conventional political wisdom, turned his opponents for the Republican nomination into one of the finest Cabinets this country has ever had.

The one thing that our polarized electorate seems to agree upon is that these are perilous times. As we look towards the presidential race of 2008, I would like to submit that the Republican Party has a unique opportunity to revive this genius of Lincoln, and unify both themselves and this nation under an ensemble Administration of competent, experienced leadership.

The Republican contest is fast boiling down to a three-way race between Arizona Senator John McCain, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Each of these men would make a great President, and in the coming months I will be making a personal decision regarding which to support for the nomination. But regardless of whoever delivers the acceptance speech in St. Paul, each of the other two could and should play an important role in the next administration.

John McCain would be a natural and exceptional pick for Secretary of Defense. His credible voice in military matters would be extremely beneficial in an Administration headed by either a former Mayor or former Governor, especially in a time of war.

Mitt Romney, whose skilled leadership on the issue of healthcare in Massachusetts has earned him national recognition and attention, would be a fine pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, where he could tackle the nation’s chief domestic issue: our aging and faltering entitlement system.

Rudy Giuliani’s experience as a U.S. Attorney and 9/11 Mayor of New York would serve him well as either Attorney General or Secretary of Homeland Security.

I hope that there is a spirited, but cordial, contest between these three men over the next two years. America – and the Republican Party – wins no matter who comes out victorious.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Duckworth, Bean & AARP Dance the Social Security Two-Step

One of my favorite lines from post-Sorkin West Wing comes in an episode about the policy and politics surrounding Social Security. In a one-on-one conversation, Bartlet tells Toby:

you can't save Social Security without cutting benefits or raising taxes, and this is the largest meeting in Washington where anyone's ever admitted it."

Though the show is fiction, that statement couldn’t be any truer. The only other option is to reform Social Security, and fundamentally change the structure of the program, as President Bush proposed doing last year.

If only today’s real Democrats were as honest in public as their fictional standard-bearers are in private. Tammy Duckworth is vehemently opposed to reforming or structuring the program; and, according to a recent press release, she is also opposed to raising taxes or cutting benefits. So how exactly does she plan to save it? According to her website, by “solving the nation’s exploding federal budget deficit.”

I’m sorry, but can someone please explain how that – as unquestionably worthy and necessary a step as that may be – will solve the fundamental problem facing Social Security, which is that more money will soon be going out than will be coming in to replace it. Yes, we must pay back the money borrowed from the Trust Fund. But that is an oversimplified, temporary solution that only delays the inevitable.

Given that, I’m inclined to say that, when the AARP asked in their candidate questionnaire "will you support a balanced Social Security plan to continue the program's guaranteed benefits for future generations?” Tammy Duckworth lied by answering yes. She doesn’t seem to support any such plan.

You would think that the AARP might be angered by a candidate answering yes and then renouncing any plan that resembles their own stated definition of “balanced” (which according to their website, includes “additional contributions from high income workers with modest adjustments in future benefits can maintain guaranteed Social Security benefits for future generations"). Instead, they have assisted Duckworth, and her 6th District counterpart, Rep. Melissa Bean, in backpedaling their responses - explaining how answering yes to that question doesn’t necessarily mean that they support raising taxes or reducing benefits.

With their own positions sufficiently mirky, both Duckworth and Bean, with the help of AARP are hoping that they can shout "we're for saving it and the Republicans are for dismantling it" loud and often enough to avoid giving the voters of the 6th and 8th District the straight answers they deserve before Election Day.

Also posted, with comments, at Illinoize