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Friday, February 13, 2015

New York Times Columnist David Carr Dies at 58, Following Final Interview with Edward Snowden

New York Times Media Columnist David Carr conducted an interview on Thursday (see above with Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald.

When whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed the National Security Agency’s worldwide electronic surveillance program, it was to Oscar–nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. Don’t miss this special opportunity to hear the director of CITIZENFOUR – the film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature – the first journalist to write about Snowden’s revelations and Snowden himself (via live video) in conversation with New York Times media columnist David Carr about the film and the issues it raises.

Later that evening, he died at the age of 58 in the newsroom of the New York Times.  The following is from the New York Times Obituary published Thursday night:

David Carr, a writer who wriggled away from the demon of drug addiction to become an unlikely name-brand media columnist at The New York Times, and the star of a documentary about the newspaper, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 58.

Mr. Carr collapsed in The Times newsroom, where he was found shortly before 9 p.m. He was taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Earlier in the evening, he moderated a panel discussion about the film “Citizenfour” with its principal subject, Edward J. Snowden; the film’s director, Laura Poitras; and Glenn Greenwald, a journalist.

Mr. Carr wrote about cultural subjects for The Times; he initiated the feature known as The Carpetbagger, a regular report on the news and nonsense from the red carpet during awards season. He championed offbeat movies like “Juno,” with Ellen Page, and he interviewed stars both enduring and evanescent — Woody HarrelsonNeil YoungMichael Cera.

More recently, however, he was best known for The Media Equation, a Monday column in The Times that analyzed news and developments in publishing, television, social media — for which he was an early evangelist — and other mass communications platforms. His plain-spoken style was sometimes blunt, and searingly honest about himself. The effect was both folksy and sophisticated, a voice from a shrewd and well-informed skeptic.

“We want our anchors to be both good at reading the news and also pretending to be in the middle of it,” he wrote on Monday in the wake of revelations that the NBC anchor Brian Williams had lied about being in a helicopter under fire in Iraq in 2003.

“That’s why, when the forces of man or Mother Nature whip up chaos, both broadcast and cable news outlets are compelled to ship the whole heaving apparatus to far-flung parts of the globe, with an anchor as the flag bearer. We want our anchors to be everywhere, to be impossibly famous, globe-trotting, hilarious, down-to-earth, and above all, trustworthy. It’s a job description that no one can match.”

In a statement, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., The Times’s publisher and chairman said: “David Carr was one of the most gifted journalists who has ever worked at The New York Times.

“He combined formidable talent as a reporter with acute judgment to become an indispensable guide to modern media. But his friends at The Times and beyond will remember him as a unique human being — full of life and energy, funny, loyal and lovable An irreplaceable talent, he will be missed by everyone who works for The Times and everyone who reads it.”

Dean Baquet, The Times’s executive editor, informed the staff of Mr. Carr’s death in an email on Thursday night.

Mr. Carr, he wrote “was the finest media reporter of his generation, a remarkable and funny man who was one of the leaders of our newsroom.”

Mr. Baquet added: “He was our biggest champion, and his unending passion for journalism and for truth will be missed by his family at The Times, by his readers around the world and by people who love journalism.”

Mr. Carr’s rise to a prominent position at The Times is all the more remarkable for the depths from which he rose.

As he chronicled in his 2008 memoir, “The Night of the Gun,” by the late 1980s, he was addicted to crack cocaine and living with a woman who was both a drug dealer and the mother of his twin daughters, and one night shortly after the girls were born he left them in a car while he went into a house to score some coke from a dealer named Kenny.

“Kenny’s lip-licking coke rap was more ornate, somehow more satisfying, than that of most of the dealers I worked with,” Mr. Carr wrote as part of a horrifying confession. “His worldview was all black helicopters and white noise — the whispering, unseen others who would one day come for us. It kept me on my toes.'

“But tonight I had company. I certainly couldn’t bring the twins in. Even in the gang I ran with, coming through the doors of the dope house swinging two occupied baby buckets was not done. Sitting there in the gloom of the front seat, the car making settling noises against the chill, I decided that my teeny twin girls would be safe, that God would look after them while I did not.”

That, evidently, was the bottom. A few months later, Mr. Carr was in a treatment program, and by 2008, he could look back and write: “Today I am a genuine, often pleasant person, I do solid work for a reputable organization and have, over the breadth of time, proved to be an attentive father and husband.”

Mr. Carr, who joined The Times in 2002 as a business reporter covering magazine publishing, quickly became one of the paper’s more distinctive bylines.

A cancer survivor with a throaty croak of a speaking voice and a storklike posture, he was a curmudgeonly personality whose intellectual cockiness and unwillingness to suffer fools found their way into his prose. Mr. Carr became the embodiment of The Times as the surprise scene stealer of a 2011 documentary about the paper, “Page One: Inside The New York Times,” in which Mr. Carr is seen not only reporting stories but defending the honor of the paper against offhand insults.

“The moviemakers must have felt that they had found their Jimmy Breslin or their Hildy Johnson (the real and fictional archetypes of the crusty, hard-living journalist) when they found him,” Michael Kinsley wrote in reviewing the film (not terribly favorably) for The Times. “Mr. Carr is widely admired for his reporting, his intelligence and his Tough Old Coot routine.”

David Michael Carr was born Sept. 8, 1956, in Minneapolis, and grew up just outside the city in Hopkins, Minn. His father, John, owned men’s clothing stores, and his mother, Joan, was a schoolteacher.

He graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he majored in psychology and journalism. He worked for an alternative weekly, Twin Cities Reader and later, Washington City Paper, before moving to New York. He wrote about media for a website,, and before joining The Times, was a contributing writer for publications including The Atlantic Monthly and New York magazine.

Mr. Carr lived in Montclair, N.J. His survivors include his wife, Jill Rooney Carr, international operations manager for Shake Shack; his daughters, Maddie, Erin and Meagan; and several siblings, Jim, John Jr., Joe, Missy and Lisa.

“I now inhabit a life I don’t deserve,” Mr. Carr wrote at the conclusion of “The Night of the Gun,” “but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn’t end any time soon.”

Thursday, February 12, 2015

David Axelrod Says President Barack Obama Knowingly Misled Everyone on Gay Marriage, the Chicago Way

How NOT to Improve Trust Between Police and Public - The Abuse of Resisting Arrest Laws

From Ferguson to New York and many more places and cases, there's widespread situations where police are using force against unarmed citizens that result in injury or, even worse, death.

Locally, Aurora Police Department's so-called Commander Kristen Ziman has argued that all this attention recently to the issue is unwarranted.  She believes all is generally well.

She's wrong.  There is a very serious problem that might be getting more attention, but it's because the problem has existed for too long.

Resisting arrest is a crime that is often a matter of perspective.  Trying to run from a police officer who already has a legal basis to arrest you could be a legitimate reason to charge you with resisting arrest.

A citizen questioning the police while standing in front of them often is charged unjustly as resisting arrest as well.

However, even worse, many times the charge of resisting arrest is to cover up the use of excessive force.  After all, if the citizen was resisting arrest, that would then justify the police officer's physical force.

Too often, it's the case where police officers who engage in excessive force are charging citizens with a crime.

So, what does NYPD Chief Bill Bratton suggest is the solution to improving and resolving this?

They say resisting arrest should be an automatic felony.

What?  Make what is most often a subjective crime even more serious?

Let's take protesters as an example.  Many times, in an act of civil disobedience, they will sit on the road or sidewalk, knowing they will be arrested.  If they fail to "cooperate" they could easily be charged with resisting arrest, usually a misdemeanor.

What if all those same people were charged with a felony?  Would that be appropriate to ruin their lives, hinder their job prospects and so on because they "resisted" arrest?

By no means are we saying legitimate acts of resisting arrest should be tolerated.  In fact, in cases where someone violently injures or harms a police officer, they should be charged with not just resisting arrest, but assault.

There is a real problem of police conduct in our society.  Bad cops are making it very difficult for the good cops to get the credit they deserve.

However, an even bigger problem is the lack of good police leadership.  Whether that's Bill Bratton in NYC or Kristen Ziman in Aurora.

The only way to insure the police on the street are using their authority in a responsible manner is to have very ethical and professional police leaders.

Maybe we should make it a felony for a police leader to say or do something stupid.

Jackie Robinson West Stripped of Little League Title - Should All Adults, Including Politicians, Who Exploited Team Be Punished Instead of Kids?

Should You Legally Have to Vaccinate Your Kids?

Investigation - Are Insurance Companies Ripping Off Consumers With Flimsy Repairs?

If you've ever been in an auto accident and had to get a repair covered by insurance, do you worry the body shop may scam you?  That's what often happens, but what if it's the insurance company that is the actual scammer?

Across the United States, body shops are saying insurance companies are pushing them to do flimsy repairs on vehicles to save costs and pad profits.  For every dollar the insurance company saves on a repair, that's an extra dollar of profit for them.

The problem with this is that most people assume the repair is being made with new parts or returning the car to the best possible condition before the accident.

The reality is this isn't often the case and you may not realize it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Announces Executive Order Eliminating Forced Union Dues for Public Employees for Freedom of Choice

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Bruce Rauner today signed Executive Order 15-13 eliminating unfair share dues for state employees who do not wish to fund government union activities and positions with which they may disagree.
The governor’s actions come after an extensive legal review of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Harris v. Quinn. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act violated the First Amendment by forcing certain state employees to involuntarily pay fees to a labor union.

In light of that decision, the Rauner administration has concluded that the so-called “fair share” provisions of the current collective bargaining agreements, that are similar to those invalidated by the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn, are also unconstitutional.

“Forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers. Government union bargaining and government union political activity are inexorably linked,” Governor Rauner said. “An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rights – and something that, as governor, I am duty-bound to correct.”

The executive order allows state employees who wish not to support government unions’ activities to stop paying the forced fees. It has no impact on those employees who wish to remain paying members of the union and fund union activities out of their paychecks.
Additional Background:
·         The federal government prohibited the forced collection of union dues in 1978 as part of the Civil Service Reform Act signed by President Jimmy Carter. That law passed the U.S. Senate 87-1 and the U.S. House of Representatives 365-8. Illinois Senator Charles Percy was one of the co-sponsors.
·         29 other states have laws that prohibit government entities from forcing public workers join or financially support labor organizations that they do not support.
·         While Harris v. Quinn only decided the constitutional issue as it relates to a subset of Illinois state employees (home care workers), the Supreme Court’s majority opinion found that much of the landmark case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education was ”questionable on several grounds.”
·         Notably, the Supreme Court said in Harris v. Quinn:

o   “Abood failed to appreciate the conceptual difficulty of distinguishing in public-sector cases between union expenditures that are made for collective-bargaining purposes and those that are made to achieve political ends. In the private sector, the line is easier to see. Collective bargaining concerns the union's dealings with the employer; political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government. But in the public sector, both collective-bargaining and political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government.”

o   “Abood failed to appreciate the difference between the core union speech involuntarily subsidized by dissenting public-sector employees and the core union speech involuntarily funded by their counterparts in the private sector. In the public sector, core issues such as wages, pensions, and benefits are important political issues, but that is generally not so in the private sector. In the years since Abood, as state and local expenditures on employee wages and benefits have mushroomed, the importance of the difference between bargaining in the public and private sectors has been driven home.”

§  “Recent experience has borne out this concern. See DiSalvo, The Trouble with Public Sector Unions, National Affairs No. 5, p. 15 (2010) ( ‘In Illinois, for example, public-sector unions have helped create a situation in which the state's pension funds report a liability of more than $100 billion, at least 50% of it unfunded’).”
o   “A union's status as exclusive bargaining agent and the right to collect an agency fee from non-members are not inextricably linked. For example, employees in some federal agencies may choose a union to serve as the exclusive bargaining agent for the unit, but no employee is required to join the union or to pay any union fee. Under federal law, in agencies in which unionization is permitted, 'each employee shall have the right to form, join, or assist any labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, and each employee shall be protected in the exercise of such right.’”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

College of DuPage Trustees Throw Taxpayers Under the Bus to Approve Buyout for Wild Spending President

College of DuPage Trustees approved a massive buyout for the wild spending outgoing President.

We note that College of DuPage and Waubonsee Community College have both been responsible for massive exploitation of students and taxpayers in recent years.

Waubonsee's wild spending President is Christine Sobek.  We don't know yet how much it will cost to get rid of her.

President Barack Obama Throws Citizens of Chicago Under Bus to Endorse Rahm Emanuel, Most Incompetent White House Chief of Staff in American History, for Mayor

President Barack Obama has lowered himself and the Office of President of the United States to get involved in the mayor's race in Chicago, backing political mafia buddy Rahm Emanuel over everyone else.

It's not really a surprise that he would back a political insider when he's surrounded himself with Chicago political mafia since becoming President, including David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, Arne Duncan and many more.

And, given Obama's low approval ratings, it's not likely that his endorsement really means much today compared to 2008 or even 2012 when he was re-elected.

However, what is worth noting is what Obama didn't say.  He didn't say how great Rahm Emanuel was as a White House Chief of Staff since even some of Obama's own closest advisors (such as Valerie Jarrett) despise Rahm after his incompetent failure.

In fact, as many observers of the White House know, Rahm may be ranked as the worst White House Chief of Staff in American history.  A close second would be William Daley, another member of the political mafia from Chicago, who also failed miserably.

Of course, doing a radio ad for Rahm at the same time Rahm is giving away taxpayer land to Obama for his library scheme doesn't hurt.  That's the Chicago Way.

Should Cities With Reverse Economic Development and Blight Such As Aurora Be Allowed to Create Right to Work Zones?

Given the mass exodus of taxpayers and business from Illinois after the fiscal irresponsibility of the Madigan era, what are bold ideas and solutions can be tried to fix the mess?

One idea floated by new Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is to allow local communities to create right-to-work zones.

It should be clear he's not suggesting the state implement mandatory right-to-work laws, even though most surrounding states have that.  Instead, he's suggesting that local communities be allowed to create it in areas that may help create an environment that encourages business to invest.

Aurora, which is second to none for all suburbs for corruption, high taxes, spending, debt and reverse economic development under Mayor Tom Weisner, has an epidemic of blight spreading across the city after 10 years of fiscal misconduct.

At the same time, the city's politics is heavily influenced by labor unions that oppose right to work options.  Some unions, such as AFSCME, have concerns over its impact on wages.

We should note not all unions are the same.  In Aurora, Painters District 30 is a mafia-like operation that pays off corrupt politicians with "contributions" and actively participates in sleazy tactics to attack anyone who stands up for taxpayers.  Goons such as Chuck "Shorty" Anderson and Mark Guethle are well-known for the mafia like misconduct that threatens any business or development from investing in the community that doesn't agree to follow their demands.

Aurora is a great example of where a right to work zone could be tested.  Aside from the Madigan-controlled legislature from allowing it, the chances of a corrupt mayor like Tom Weisner who already is in bed with the bad unions going along with it are slim to none.

However, looking ahead, could it work with fiscally responsible and ethical leadership and why shouldn't a community be allowed the option of choosing for itself?