The Power of Grassroots Appeal--John Edwards in Chicago

This past week I had the honor and privilege of attending a grassroots fundraiser for John Edwards called "Small Change for Big Change" in Chicago.  The event was held at a local bar and grill.  Being on Senator Obama's home turf, I honestly didn't expect much of a crowd.  And while it wasn't thousands of people, the energy in the room made it feel that way.

For those of you who don't know, I live in Indianapolis.  I decided to take a day off work, drive 360 miles round trip, and see Senator Edwards speak for the first time live.  I can't express enough how right that choice was.  I took with me my best friend, a Chicago resident and naturally an Obama leaner.  He was skeptical of John's sincerity and thought he came across as "fake."

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Corruption and the Daley Administration - Truth and perception

The Chicago Reader wrote an article about the pending sixth term of Mayor Richard Daley and 'why you should vote against him.'

I think corruption and nepotism in the Democratic Party is an issue progressives should pay more attention to because, if one reads conservative news, corruption in the Democratic Party is an issue they are always trying to brew up as a mainstream issue. It might be their only way to pin Dems in the next election. Besides that, we should be fighting corruption on all fronts otherwise we as progressives do not have a leg to stand on as champions of the regular guy -- not that a lot of 'Joe six pack' types read this site.

I want to clarify though that I have worked close to Mayor Daley's office, my former girlfriend worked for his wife and have seen a concern for ethics from his office. The entire political life of a city is not always under one man's eye.

However, I wonder why the Feds go after Daley and not Corey Booker or Angel Ortiz in Philly or Austin King in Madison, Wisconsin? All of these people have committed the same forms of 'corruption' as Daley but are praised as reformers. Booker's administration is even more inbred -- more so than Sharpe James. Booker is on the board of Yale Law school and he got a young associate, Yohanes Cleary, from the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, an organization which received several city contracts under the Booker administration no-bid, into Yale Law School. In Newark there are Booker associated non-profits doing both development in parts of the city with city funds AND selling condominiums out of the same non-profit office, as is the case with the Lincoln Park Cultural District office.

We need to call our own elected officials out on this on every front especially if they claim to represent the disadvantaged. At the same time, we need to defend unfair singling out as people with certain party affiliations. Chicago is corrupt but Philly and Newark -- contrary to the Reader's assumptions -- do the same things out in the open to greater degrees than what has been done in Chicago.

Reader series:

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Barak's biggest possible problem

Barak Obama biggest possible problem - should the Republicans get desperate for an issue - will be any relationship with Congressman Luis Gutierrez. Arguably the most powerful Latino politician, even trumping Senator Robert Menendez (D, NJ), Guiterrez has enjoyed a long, politically-intimate relationship with Dr. José Lopez, brother of Oscar Lopez the Puerto Rican Political Prisioner who refused the freedom offered to him by former president Bill Clinton during Clinton's last days pardon-a-thon.

Even after 9/11, the FBI was investigating Lopez for possible connection to possible planned terrorist acts involving the FALN, the armed faction of the Puerto Rican nationalist/independence movement.

Few talk about this relationship between Dr. Lopez and the Congressman despite Lopez' dominant presence during Gutierrez' campaigns and at his victory parties. Should the Republicans have an opportunity to use terrorism as a scare tactic (even they know it's becoming the sister of the boy who cried wolf yelling 'fire!') this relationship and the Dems sedintary attitude about Lopez' advisement to the Congressman could end up being a powder keg. Should Castro die any time during the election (a Republican wet dream) and 50's Mari Bras relations between the Puerto Rican Independence movement and Cuba's Communist Party rear their head as evident, this relationship could become additional problematic.

Of course, given that Hillary's husband gave the pardon, the issue could become a problem for her, too.

However, unless there is another small-scale attack on U.S. soil or solid evidence an intended attack has been twarted, there is a slim chance such assertions will work in painting any Democrat as weak on terrorism.

Meanwhile, here are some photographs taken of Obama on his 'home' turf, Chicago's South Side. These are some rare photos of him interacting in the African-American community, something he does quietly. ma_photos.html

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"Read my lips no new taxes" Dems.

"Read My Lips No New Taxes" Democrats. They're here. Have they gone too far?

How far will and should Democrats go to shed the "tax and spend" labels that have been foisted on them by the Republicans and the media?  How many legitimate government services can they allow to be cut on their watch without facing a backlash?  Do we need a Democratic party that simply echoes the Republicans on tax issues?

The George Bush tax cuts have already had severe impacts on state and local governments.  Thus far Democrats in my state, Illinois, have basically accepted the cuts without protest and cut services.

Should Democrats be making more of an issue about this?  Shouldn't we be braver about it?

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A Giant Died...

(cross posted at

30 years ago, a giant of the Democratic Party died.  Hizzoner, Mayor Richard J. Daley died of a heart attack at his doctor's office.

I admit, I don't know much about Mayor Daley.  He died before I was even born.  But, living in Chicago, I can see his legacy everywhere.

He was a giant in his time.  His power extended far beyond the borders of Chicago.  He had power everywhere from his home neighborhood of Bridgeport, on the city's near southwest side, to the White House.  He controlled the City, the County, heck the Governor, in many ways, was no better than a partner in state politics.  He exerted great influence over the national party.

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