Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Casual Guide to the 2018 Illinois Governor's Primary

I've been so caught up in the Washington garbage fire that I've barely had a chance to discuss the Illinois gubernatorial primary. (We're still seven weeks away, but still.) Incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner is no sure shot for reelection --the epic budget windfall will be his legacy, win or lose-- but the field is as uninspiring as its ever been. After alienating religious conservatives with his pragmatic stance on abortion, Rauner holds a narrow lead on his onetime ally, State Rep. Jeanne Ives. A self-made multi-millionaire, Rauner used his own money in 2014 and is doing so again; Ives, however has more endorsements and the state GOP's war chest. A recent debate where Rauner looked under-prepared and outmatched has further complicated things.

People have likely wised up to the idea of any candidate running the country like a business. *cough*  The Democratic gubernatorial race looks like it will be bought, not unlike Rauner four years ago. Philanthropist J.B. Pritzker has been running ads on TV since the summer, has spent more money than all his other opponents combined, and barring a scandal or fiasco will run away with the nomination come March 20th. Connections to Blago aside, the race has been a cakewalk; for lack of a better term, Chris Kennedy (son of RFK) and State Sen. Daniel Biss are splitting the anti-Pritzker vote, and Tio Hardiman (who also ran in 2014) has been a non-entity.

In short, this race is running against trends in other parts of the country. There are a greater number of female candidates for public office overall, but with the exception of Ives the women in this race are relegated to running mate status. I find none of the candidates all that inspiring, but in my home state everything could go bust in a second.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Random Notes, January 2018

So much to say:

+ There is reason to believe President Trump had sexual relations with a porn actress in 2006, a year or so after he married his current wife. If this were any other president, this would be beginning of the end. Michael Wolff believes Trump is still philandering as we speak.  Alas, one year in and the Trump Administration continues to defy logic and common sense. The machine keeps chugging...

+ ...or maybe it doesn't, since we just witnessed the fourth government shutdown in the last 25 years. Trump's inherent stubbornness (and his well-established race problem) triggered the shutdown, but the weak leadership of the Democratic Party brought it to a prompt end. With more voters identifying as independents, this was a misfire by a party that can't risk making any mistakes. Giving the GOP carte blanche on DACA is not something people will forget come November.

+ I'm training to become an improv coach! After doing improv for 8 1/2 years and having performed at One Group Mind in Wicker Park for four of them, it just seemed like the next logical step. This doesn't mean I'll be coaching a team immediately after this class ends (which will be in early March) but I'm benefiting somewhat from the insight.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Wolff in Sheep's Clothing

So... read any good books lately?

For the converted, Michael Wolff's tell-all Fire and Fury not only confirms their worst assumptions of the inner workings of the Trump White House, it exacerbates them. For the skeptics, Wolff is the next Kitty Kelley, a gossip-monger who wants to knock powerful people down a peg. The former seems more realistic than the latter; a gaffe involving a Beltway insider's name has been blown out of proportion. The inaccuracies are minor and arbitrary compared to the big picture: the president and his inner circle really don't know what they're doing.

Because the Trump administration continues to defy logic, the real loser of the story is Steve Bannon. A man who had the president's ear less than six months ago has been fired, vilified, and removed from the powerful media position on which he built his name. I almost want to take on him... I mean, if he wasn't the editor of a political news site that enabled anti-Semites.

If the first week of 2018 was dominated by a seemingly lurid tell-all, then the second week has been defined by an unexpected streak of profanity. President Trump is not going to apologize for his "shithole countries" remark; if anything, he'll inevitably say something worse to pander to his race-baiting base. Any notion that Trump wants to the unify the country went out the window with his tepid response to Charlottesville; this secures his lack of understanding.