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.


Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin

In early 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell took the stage at the United Nations “to share with you what the United States knows about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” Powell justified the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq on the claim that Saddam Hussein’s regime continued to produce and stockpile chemical and biological weapons in violation of UN resolutions. He dazzled his audience with audio recordings and surveillance photographs that he claimed constituted evidence of Iraq’s perfidy.

Two years later, Powell called the presentation a “blot” on his record, admitting that he had deceived the UN. The “weapons of mass destruction” didn’t exist. All the Saddam-era chemical weapons recovered in Iraq since 2003 are of pre-1991 manufacture with no evidence linking them to the regime since the 1991 war.

How long can we expect to wait for the National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center to admit that its report “GRIZZLY STEPPE – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity” – pre- hyped as providing “evidence” of Russian government interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election – is a reprise of Powell’s UN speech?

Mike Schulz’s review of Manchester by the Sea prompts me to write this congratulatory note that’s been my intention for years. Recognizing, analyzing while not spoiling great films for potential viewers in a review is hard enough. Scolding those responsible for lame efforts, filmic messes, and acting disasters is easier but still hard to do without unnecessary snark.

Let’s take a look at headlines from just one day in December.

If you want to see how Governor Bruce Rauner's mind works, you should skim through the vast trove of e-mails from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's private account that a Better Government Association lawsuit finally forced into public view last week. 

In January, the first order of business for the Scott County Board of Supervisors will be to hold an election for its 2017 officers. Two incumbent supervisors serving the second halves of their four-year terms are purportedly vying for the position of chair: Diane Holst and Carol Earnhardt. There are five supervisors who will vote for this year’s chair, so a 3-2 vote will secure the position and associated responsibilities for the next 12 months. There is more to these responsibilities than meets the eye, and the taxpayers and citizens of Scott County would best be served with Diane Holst as the chair in 2017.

“This will be the most expensive race of our lifetime,” a Republican friend assured me last week about the apparently-already-begun 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

If Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker pulls the trigger and decides to run, we can expect that significant campaign spending could begin as early as next month – on both sides. And if last week is any indication, this is gonna be one nasty contest.

Top folks in the governor’s office said they didn’t quite understand last week why the Senate Democrats and the spokesperson for House Speaker Michael Madigan were so upset with them about canceling last Thursday’s leaders meeting to discuss ending the long Statehouse impasse and finishing up a budget.

On December 1, the Illinois legislature passed a bill that will extend the life of the Quad Cities nuclear-power plant at Cordova, Illinois, for another 10 years. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed the measure into law on December 7. At stake are 800 jobs on-site and thousands of ancillary jobs wholly dependent on plant workers. An article by Thomas Geyer published in the Quad-City Times on June 2, 2016, reported that the annual payroll at the Cordova plant is some $75 million, and its yearly Rock Island County property-tax bill amounts to nearly $8 million. Thus, the short-term preservation of jobs and revenue trumped common sense.

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