The latest Illinois credit-rating downgrade from Fitch Ratings is chock-full of phrases that cou

There were several noteworthy pieces of legislation passed in the 11th hour of President Barack Obama’s administration that flew almost entirely under the radar. The most alarming concerns controlling how information will be filtered then disseminated to the public.

Readers are urged to familiarize themselves with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 (NDAA), signed December 23, as it relates to your personal security (RCReader.com/y/radar1). It includes a most disturbing new provision with the Countering Foreign Propaganda & Disinformation Act of 2016 (RCReader.com/y/radar2) that was slipped into the NDAA bill as a matter of political convenience.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, faces a great deal of opposition to her confirmation. Most of that opposition comes from Democratic politicians and Democratic organizations. But if both parties stuck to their stated principles and goals, the Senate would vote 100-0 against her nomination.

Question the timing all you want, but last week’s legal filing by Attorney General Lisa Madigan to stop paying state-employee wages without an official appropriation is long overdue and is completely consistent with a 2016 Illinois Supreme Court ruling and with her (and the governor’s) opposition to a lawsuit brought by social-service providers.


Donald Trump. Photo by Michael Vadon.

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide,” U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted in late November, “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Kind of a sore winner. And now that he’s no longer just president-elect but actually president, he’s doubling down and says he “will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD ... .”

That’s dumb. And dangerous.

On a fairly regular basis back in the day, state Senator Barack Obama would walk up to the Senate press box and bum cigarettes off me. That was back when people could smoke in the Senate chambers, and back when both of us smoked. Now we both chew nicotine gum, and smoking on the Senate floor is forbidden.

Obama was mainly an OPC smoker, meaning “other peoples’ cigarettes.” I’d usually give him a little grief about how maybe he should buy his own pack once in a while, but I never denied his request unless I was almost out. He’d always take the cigarette to a room in the back of the chamber, never seeming to smoke at his desk like others did.

One day as I was wandering through the Statehouse near his office, Obama hollered out my name and asked me to join him. I presumed he wanted to bum yet another cigarette, and I was right. I tossed my pack on his desk, he took one out and lit it, and we made a little small talk.

Let’s talk about fake news stories.

There’s the garden-variety fake news that is not really “news” so much as it is titillating, tabloid-worthy material peddled by anyone with a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and an active imagination. These stories run the gamut from the ridiculous and the obviously click-baity to the satirical and politically manipulative.

Then there’s the more-devious kind of news stories circulated by one of the biggest propagators of fake news: the U.S. government.

If I had to choose a word to describe the Democrats’ nominating speeches for House Speaker Michael Madigan’s re-election last week, it would be either “defensive” or “joyless.”

The speeches seemed directly aimed at Madigan’s toughest critics – and there are plenty of those out there. The nominators at times angrily justified their own votes for Madigan and their continued willingness to support him while under siege by a hostile kabillionaire governor and much of the state’s media. They literally cannot go anywhere without being asked about why they continue to back Madigan.

Governor Bruce Rauner was asked last month by a Chicago TV reporter if he planned to run for re-election. Rauner said he wasn’t focused on such things.

Three days later, Rauner contributed $50-million to his own campaign fund.

On the Friday before Christmas – the kind of time politicians pick to do things they hope you won’t notice – U.S. president Barack Obama signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Along with the usual terrible, horrible, no good, very bad NDAA stuff (all the little mandates involved in continuing to operate the most irresponsibly bloated and expensive military machine on the planet), this NDAA included an ugly little Christmas gift for incoming President Donald Trump: The Countering Foreign Disinformation & Propaganda Act.

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